The California Air Resources Board (ARB) tabled its rice cultivation protocol for consideration next spring. While disappointed by the delay, many groups understood the need for better environmental safeguards and robust stakeholder engagement, as this protocol is set to be the first land-based offset protocol adopted by the ARB.
This article was originally published in the Forest Carbon newsletter. Click here to read the original.
28 August 2013 | The California Air Resources Board (ARB) disappointed many stakeholders in its cap-and-trade program with news that its planned rice cultivation protocol – expected to go before the board this October for approval –
Many were hoping to see draft versions of both protocols, but the ARB explained that the recent stakeholder process raised several issues with the current rice cultivation protocol. Environmental groups are particularly concerned about the impact of early drainage activities on late broods, mosquito abatement and the wetlands and the rice straw baling effects on bird populations.
The general sense is that the protocol, while delayed, will still go through. Harold Buchanan, CEO of CE2 Carbon Capital, says the rice cultivation protocol is not expected to provide a material volume of offsets to the California market – suggesting the delay is unlikely to significantly impact the shortage of offset supply projected for the second and third compliance periods of the state’s cap-and-trade program.
While disappointed by the delay, many groups understood the need for better environmental safeguards and robust stakeholder engagement, as this protocol is set to be the first land-based offset protocol adopted by the ARB.
Belinda Morris, California director for the American Carbon Registry, cited advantages to the delay, including being able to incorporate the latest growing season data into the protocol and further examining cost-effective aggregation mechanisms for projects.
Robert Parkhurst, the Director of Agriculture Greenhouse Gas Markets for the Environmental Defense Fund, noted that the success of the offset program rests on its integrity, and this delay “reflects the fact that they are committed to carefully considering the range of issues, doing it right, and not cutting corners.”
Meanwhile, the mine methane capture protocol will be considered by the ARB board at the October 24-25 board meeting; if adopted, it could be effective as early as next year. But the debate continues over the ARB’s draft version of the protocol, which currently restricts early action activity to projects produced under the Climate Action Reserve versions. Stakeholders countered that mine methane projects produced under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) could easily find a place in the compliance program, an argument that the ARB appears willing to embrace.
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