California Forest Carbon Credit Standards to go National

by | Sep 4, 2009

forestsThe board of the California-based Climate Action Reserve (CAR) voted for the final adoption of Version 3.0 of its Forest Project Protocol, which paves the way for national application of the standard, and helps improve the environmental integrity of carbon credits in the U.S., reports Carbon Positive. Germany’s CarbonFix Standard also released the latest version of its protocol for afforestation and reforestation activities.

Until now, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) voluntary carbon trading regime has been the primary market for forest owners to participate in for preserving or sustainably managing their trees, reports Carbon Positive.

Offering forest project developers independent verification of carbon sequestration in their projects, the protocol covers activities that avoid conversion of forest land to other uses, improved forest management and reforestation of previously-cleared land, said Carbon Positive. It also requires sustainable harvest operators to account for what happens to the carbon in harvested wood products.

As the official carbon offset standard used by the California state government, CAR’s protocol was included in the House’s Waxman-Markey emissions trading bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, reports Carbon Positive.

However, the Pacific Forest Trust (PFT) has criticized the protocol for its weak protection of mature forests, reports Carbon Positive. PFT said the baseline measurement for avoided conversion projects is set too high, reducing the volume of carbon credits paid for carbon-rich forest well above that benchmark, and the financial incentives for owners to conserve these forests, according to Carbon Positive.

American Forests supports the Climate Action Reserve for its approval of the revised Forest Project Protocol, which expands the participation of forest landowners in carbon offset markets. The conservation group said it also enhances the legitimacy of forest-sector carbon offset projects by establishing a model for environmental credibility that can be applied to state, county, municipal, and private forest lands nationwide.

American Forests said it is coordinating the first public lands reforestation project to seek approval under the Climate Action Reserve’s Forest Project Protocol. American Forests, together with Conoco Phillips and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, will provide conifer reforestation to 2,500 acres of the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, which was devastated by the 2003 cedar fire. This project will generate more than 500,000 metric tons of carbon offsets.

At the same time, the CarbonFix Standard, a German-based carbon project verification protocol, has launched the third version of its standards for afforestation and reforestation activities, reports Carbon Positive.

These standards offer credibility to verified emission reduction (VER) carbon credits generated for sale in the voluntary carbon market. which has grown to $700 million worldwide in 2008, according to Carbon Positive.

CarbonFix v3.0 offers more flexibility to project developers in how and when carbon credits are generated and streamlines processes for those seeking dual certification with other land-use standards, according to Carbon Positive. It also formally offers ex-post crediting as well, which Carbon Positive said is more attractive to carbon credit buyers who want to know they are paying for emissions reductions that have already taken place.

The new version also formalizes the recognition of the certification schemes of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Climate Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard.

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