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5 April 2017 | As March 21 was International Day of Forests, now seems a good time to reflect on the carbon benefits of conserving forests. Forests, farms, and fields in the United States absorb about 850 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, which removes about 16 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that the US energy and industrial sectors generate.
Meanwhile, across the globe, corporate efforts are underway to cleanse forest loss from their supply chains. And on March 15, Forest Trends’ Supply Change project released a new report: Tracking Corporate Commitments to Deforestation-free Supply Chains, 2017. The report analyzes businesses’ sustainability commitments related to the “big four” commodities linked to forest destruction: palm oil, soy, cattle and timber and pulp.
The good news is a growing number of companies are sharing their progress toward these pledges. Public information is available for over half of the commitments Supply Change tracks, up from one in three last year.
“As companies move to address these demands – and the ever-growing threats to their supply chains, including climate change – we’re learning that meeting these goals is easier said than done,” said Stephen Donofrio, Senior Advisor for Supply Change.
On the other hand, commitments to reduce deforestation in cattle and soy supply chains remain dismally low in number, and that’s in large part due to their complexities and lack of well-established certification systems.
Supply Change researchers also found a third of the 447 companies with commitments have at least one “dormant” pledge where the company has never reported any progress and the deadline date has either passed or was never set.
“Having an honest and open dialogue with stakeholders about why things are challenging and writing that up on the website is better than leaving a commitment dormant,” Hannah Hislop, Senior Global Advisory Manager at Unilever, said during the report launch webinar.
Unilever was an exciting presence at the webinar as the consumer giant is a longtime leader of corporate sustainability. It’s now forging a path that aims to sustainably certify entire jurisdictions rather than individual farmers. The company is partnering with an Indonesian village on becoming the first “certified sustainable palm oil village,” a model it hopes to replicate.
Michael Jenkins, CEO and Founding President of Forest Trends, says private sector initiative in the space is critical.
“With the possibility looming that certain governments will step back, private sector leadership on ending deforestation and fighting climate change becomes even more important,” he said.
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HERE’S THE DEAL
Sun, surf and carbon-less skies
Australia’s Sunshine Coast Airport has achieved carbon neutrality under the Airport Carbon Accreditation program, a climate program for aviation initiated in Europe in 2009 that has expanded to the Asia-Pacific and beyond. As one part of its carbon neutral efforts, Sunshine Coast Airport purchased 1,435 Australian Gold Standard carbon offsets related to protecting and restoring Australia’s native forests. Meanwhile, San Diego International Airport’s Good Traveler Carbon Offset program is taking off as airports across the United States joined this past winter. The program enables flyers to purchase offsets for the carbon emitted on their trip. Many airports particpating are in the early days of implementation, but San Diego says it offset 11.5 million flight miles under the program since 2015.
Insuring less emissions
British insurance provider, Co-op Insurance, launched a carbon offset program designed to offset 10% of emissions generated in the first year of new customers’ vehicle and home insurance plans. The insurer will back two emissions reductions projects in Africa. Co-op Insurance has an offsetting program in place already, which offers to offset its customers’ emissions from their vehicle plans. This new program, however, applies to both car and home insurance policies and isn’t an option but a standard component of all new plans. “We are now offering a carbon offset as standard on all home and motor policies in the first year, at no extra cost to our customers,” said Mark Summerfield, chief executive of Co-op Insurance.
Floorplan for sustainability
Custom Building Products, a California-based flooring company, is walking the walk when it comes to being a sustainable building company. It purchases carbon offset credits from TerraPass, a carbon offset developer focused on greenhouse gas destruction and renewable energy, buying another bunch in March. The offsets are largely to compensate for the carbon intensive cement production Custom does. The company has annually purchased 1,200 metric tons of offsets from TerraPass since 2011.
Where’s the price on carbon?
Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP), which represents roughly 7,000 producers, is proposing a carbon pricing policy, a critical step as new research from the Supply Change project reveals sustainability efforts in cattle supply chains remain at a dismal low. Manitoba’s provincial government is seeking input on its Climate Change and Green Economy Action Plan, which aims to leverage carbon pricing and land-based conservation to sequester carbon. MBP does not recommend a carbon tax for on-farm emissions in the beef industry as part of the province’s plan—arguing it’s burdensome for the industry. MBT is in favor – or at least interested in – payments for ecosystem services programs and policies that encourage agricultural lands are maintained or returned to their natural state.
Better off alone?
China and New Zealand recently signed an agreement to closely cooperate on carbon markets, but not everyone is sure linking carbon markets is a good idea. Some economists say linking markets is the next logical step as it will promote trading and lead to an international price on carbon, which will lower the overall cost of reducing emissions. However, Jessica F. Green of New York University argues linked systems are difficult to manage because of regulatory loopholes and competing authorities. Linkages between markets are anything but a sure thing. This month, a Chinese official hinted that a national trading system may prove too difficult, suggesting instead a carbon tax. Also, in early March, China’s National Development and Reform Commission placed a hold on its carbon offset project pipeline, much to project developers’ frustration.
Read more of Jessica F. Green’s thoughts on market linkages at Nature. Also, get more from Carbon Pulse on China and New Zealand’s potential connection and China’s market activity (subscription to Carbon Pulse required.)
New and improved mangrove management
Villages along the southern coast of Kenya are leveraging carbon finance to fund mangrove conservation. Mikoko Pamoja is a community-led project that Scotland-based Association for Coastal Ecosystem Services coordinated. Mikoko Pamoja was registered as a Plan Vivo project in 2014 and to date, has issued 4,144 Plan Vivo Certificates. According to its latest update report, the project earned almost $30,000 from selling carbon credits though developers note finding buyers is a challenge. The project also involves planting trees specifically to be harvested for timber. It’s an economic win-win, says Salim Abdallah, a project coordinator. Locals have access to less expensive timber and can earn cash through a carbon trade.
Bonding over carbon
In order to leverage Canada’s vast natural resources to address climate change, a motley group of entities including agribusiness, universities, NGOs and farm organizations are coming together to form the Coalition on Offset Solutions. Canada’s 2017 budgeting plans mention leveraging millions of dollars of government investment toward research and innovation “hubs,” and this coalition essentially plans to build a global Bio-Offset Hub that will come with a $30 million fund for research on the economic and environmental benefits of offsets. The hub will essentially function as a collaboration center to develop emissions reduction programs and policies that focus on the carbon storing powers of Canada’s wetlands, grasslands, forests, and agricultural lands.
Milking dairy farms for carbon offsets
Roughly five years ago, the giant food company Danone was looking for sustainable investment for its Livelihoods Fund and found it in Kenyan smallholder farmers that produced milk and stored carbon. The fund partnered with the Kenya Agriculture Carbon Project that used agroforestry and “methane efficiency” to reduce emissions and generate offsets. Meanwhile, the sustainable practices hold potential to boost milk yields among the group of Kenya dairy farmers implementing them. This collaboration is very much ongoing but, if successful, could deliver a win for the project’s investors, smallholder farmers and the local dairy market. This story is one part of a series exploring how a multinational company is partnering with smallholder dairy farmers to implement sustainable agriculture that could have far-reaching benefits for the climate while delivering returns for local farmers and communities.
Wonderful world of carbon
Are you ready for Navigating the American Carbon World 2017 (NACW)? The annual event brings together business and industry with NGOs and governments to figure out the big issues of today’s carbon realm. It’s hosted by the Climate Action Reserve and will take place in San Francisco from April 19 – 21. It will focus on domestic and international climate policy, carbon markets and green investments. Sessions throughout the three-day conference will focus on a variety of critical issues: the status of climate regulations currently tied up in court, the status and growth of California’s cap-and-trade, emerging carbon markets and climate finance.
Trillions are needed to fund national climate action strategies, which is why business, finance and government leaders will focus on ways in which to unlock it at the Innovate4Climate event. Formerly known-as Carbon Expo, Fira Barcelona and the World Bank will host Innovate4Climate in Barcelona, Spain from May 22 – 25. Created in partnership with Climate Action and the International Emissions Trading Association, the conference’s themes include carbon markets, scaling up Nationally Determined Contributions and shaping future climate policy among several other topics. Interested in attending? Friends of Ecosystem Marketplace receive a 10% discount on registration!
Director of Forest Carbon Modeling, Bluesource
Based in San Francisco, the Director of Forest Carbon Modeling will play a lead role in the Bluesource forestry team’s carbon modeling efforts and support business development in the forest carbon space. Day-to-day responsibilities will cover a broad spectrum of activities ranging from optimizing project baselines to leading a field verification. Responsibilities include statistical analyses and database management of forest inventories as well as identify new business opportunities in the ecosystem services space. Successful candidates will have a unique mix of technical and practical skills and feel at home both in the office and in the woods. S/he will need advanced knowledge of forest carbon policy, carbon protocols and carbon accounting standards, and an advanced degree in forestry or related field.
Carbon Projects Officer, CO2balance
Based in Taunton, England, the Carbon Projects Officer will assist CO2balance’s project team to develop, implement and coordinate community-based carbon projects, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Carbon Projects Officer will assist in the development of project documentation including report writing as well as analyze quantitative and qualitative data from project monitoring studies. Qualified candidates will possess post-graduate education in environmental management, sustainable development or a related field. S/he should also have knowledge of carbon project methodologies including Gold Standard, VCS and CDM.
Sales Manager, Climate Neutral & Green Energy Markets, First Climate
Based in Bad Vilbel, Germany, the Sales Manager for the climate neutral and green energy markets will acquire companies interested in voluntary carbon offsetting and green energy purchases in Europe and beyond. S/he will also support product development for First Climate’s international green energy business and provide intelligence on industry developments. Successful candidates will have a relevant educational background and at least 2-3 years of working experience in sales. Fluent spoken and written German and English is essential as is familiarity engaging with both national and international companies.
Policy Summer Internship, Center for Clean Air Policy
Based in Washington D.C., the Center for Clean Air Policy has an opening for a graduate-level, policy summer internship. S/he will contribute to research activities related to such topics as climate finance, carbon markets and climate change mitigation policies. Responsibilities include research and quantitative analysis on developing country policies as well as offering support on several projects including literature review of international and domestic carbon markets. A successful candidate will be a current graduate in a public policy-related program with coursework or experience from the climate and energy realm. Excellent writing skills required and fluency in Spanish a plus.