Climate 411

What ProPublica’s forest carbon credits story gets wrong – and right

By Steve Schwartzman, Senior Director, Tropical Forest Policy, and Christina McCain, Director, Latin America

Amazon Canopy. Warwick Lister-Kaye / istockphoto.com.

ProPublica’s recent piece An (Even More) Inconvenient Truth is a deeply reported story on very real problems – and even bigger potential problems – with offset projects in existing and emerging carbon markets. But the evidence the article lays out does not support its conclusion about forest carbon crediting. And readers might come away without understanding that protecting forests, including through forest carbon credits, is one of the most important solutions to climate change out there, and the planet can’t afford to dismiss this opportunity to solve the climate crisis.

Missing: The critical distinction between individual “projects” and large-scale, state-level programs to reduce deforestation

It’s not news that bad carbon credits won’t solve climate change. Lots of studies have shown that there are all kinds of bad offset projects, and definitely not just forest projects. But today’s jurisdictional forest credits aren’t your parents’ forest project offsets: they’re real emissions reductions. Though you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the ProPublica story.

The ProPublica piece fails to distinguish large-scale national or provincial programs to reduce emissions from deforestation – known as “jurisdictional” programs – from one-off, small “projects” to reduce deforestation. ProPublica’s implication that old projects had failings and therefore now so must contemporary jurisdictional programs, is like saying flip phones had all sorts of problems, so all cell phones must be unreliable and we should shun smartphones.  Read More »

Posted in Brazil, California, Carbon Markets, Forest protection, Indigenous People, Paris Agreement, REDD+, United Nations / Leave a comment

In strong WCI auction, prices clear significantly above floor. Here’s why.

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The California coast. Shutterstock.

The strong results of today’s California-Quebec cap-and-trade auction once again illustrate the stability of the market as all current and future allowances sold. At the same time, we are seeing some interesting market trends.

May auction at-a-glance

  • All 66,321,122 current allowances sold, clearing at $17.45, $1.83 above the floor price of $15.62. This is the highest price and highest premium on the floor price seen in a linked Western Climate Initiative (WCI) auction, and $1.72 higher than the February 2019 clearing price.
  • More than 14.5 million fewer allowances were offered for sale than at the February auction because there were no previously unsold allowances from California. This is the first time an offering has not included previously unsold California allowances since August 2017.
  • All of the 9,038,000 future vintage allowances offered also sold at $17.40, $1.78 above the $15.62 floor price. These allowances are not available for use until 2022.
  • The auction raised over approximately $740 million for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which California uses to support climate investments in agriculture, transportation electrification, and improving local air quality.
  • Quebec raised over approximately $250 million CAD (approximately $190 million USD) to fund climate investments in the province, adding to the $3 billion CAD in revenue already generated.

So why is the price significantly above the floor price? A couple of different factors could be contributing to the clearing price in May’s auction:  Read More »

Posted in California, Carbon Markets / 1 Response

There’s progress on climate standards for international aviation, but more needed

https://www.flickr.com/photos/140970794@N06/30345941512

Airplane flying above tropical sea at sunset. Adam Clark, Flickr

If you fly, aviation emissions are likely the largest part of your personal carbon footprint. Absent policy change, aviation’s emissions are slated to triple in the coming decades, making it one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution worldwide.

To achieve the Paris Agreement goals of holding warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we need to address emissions from all sectors. This includes international aviation and international shipping, which most countries do not include in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. Back in 1997 when the Parties to the Climate Treaty couldn’t agree on how to allocate these international emissions, they asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UN body that sets standards for international flights, and the International Maritime Organization, for ships, to address these emissions. How are their strategies stacking up?

In a forthcoming post, we’ll look at what’s happened lately in IMO. Here’s an update on ICAO. In 2018, ICAO adopted a set of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) to implement the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA. As an annex to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, the SARPs bring into effect an agreement reached in ICAO in 2016 to cap the net carbon dioxide emissions from international flights at 2020 levels through 2035. If implemented with integrity, CORSIA could prevent up to 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s 10 times what U.S. households emit each year. It could do even more if CORSIA’s targets are extended and tightened.

To comply with CORSIA, all international airlines must monitor, report and verify their CO2 emissions. Effective January 1, 2021, airlines flying between participating countries will need to limit the emissions of those flights to the average of their 2019-2020 levels. To meet these emissions limits, airlines can reduce their direct emissions, or purchase and cancel carbon offset credits. Airlines can reduce the amount of offset credits they need by using sustainable, CORSIA-eligible alternative fuels that emit significantly less CO2 than conventional fuels when evaluated on a lifecycle basis.

In March 2019, ICAO took another step forward, agreeing on broad criteria that carbon offset programs will have to meet in order to be eligible to sell emissions units for use in CORSIA. The adoption of these criteria has sparked a sharp uptick in interest in carbon markets.  Read More »

Posted in Aviation, Carbon Markets, Paris Agreement, United Nations / Leave a comment

Oregon’s cap-and-invest program clears first legislative hurdle

By Pam Kiely, Sr. Director of Regulatory Strategy for U.S. Climate, and Katelyn Roedner Sutter, Manager for U.S. Climate

Mount Hood, Oregon. Image by David Mark from Pixabay.com

Oregon today advanced nationally-leading policy that would catapult Oregon into the top-tier of U.S. states taking ambitious climate action.

The cap-and-invest bill (HB 2020), which passed 8-5 out of its first committee late Friday afternoon, places a firm limit on the state’s climate pollution while ensuring continued investments in resilient communities, green jobs and clean energy.

Oregon’s cap-and-invest program sets the bar for what true climate leadership demands: putting in place policies that actually will achieve pollution reductions consistent with what scientists say is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change. Read More »

Posted in Carbon Markets, Cities and states, News, Policy / Read 1 Response

Four reasons why Wheeler’s Clean Power Plan “replacement” will lead to more pollution

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has sent a draft rule that would roll back the Clean Power Plan to the White House for review – a step that suggests the rule is close to being finalized and released.

If this final rule looks anything like the hopelessly flawed and inadequate proposal that was released last August, it will scrap the Clean Power Plan – our nation’s only national limit on carbon pollution from the power sector – in favor of a “do-nothing” program that could actually increase pollution from inefficient, highly-polluting coal-fired power plants.

Even as the nation reels from wildfires, flooding, and hurricanes exacerbated by climate change, Wheeler’s proposal would place no meaningful limits on one of our nation’s largest contributors to climate-destabilizing pollution.

If our experience with the proposal is any guide, we can also expect the release of the final rule to be accompanied by a bevy of misleading assertions that Wheeler’s “replacement” for the Clean Power Plan is just as effective in protecting climate and public health.

Wheeler has already been making such claims. For instance, in testimony before the House of Representatives last month, Wheeler said that EPA’s proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan would reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 34 percent once fully implemented, and would go a long way towards meeting our carbon reduction goals for the country. These comments build on Wheeler’s claims during his Senate confirmation process that equated his replacement to the Clean Power Plan.

Here are four reasons why his claims are false: Read More »

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Power Plan, EPA litgation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy / Comments are closed

Colorado charges forward with Zero Emission Vehicle proposal

This post was written by EDF attorney Laura Shields 

Colorado moved farther down the road toward a cleaner, less-polluting transportation sector today.

The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission unanimously voted to move forward with a formal hearing to consider adoption of state Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) standards.

The ZEV standards would provide for manufacturers to sell a certain number of clean zero-emitting vehicles in Colorado. That would deliver vital reductions in climate pollution, smog, and other harmful air pollution. At the same time, it would help save Coloradans hard-earned money through major fuel cost savings.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Division’s initial economic impact analysis projects Colorado ZEV standards would reduce the state’s greenhouse gas pollution by roughly 2.2 million metric tons between 2023 and 2030.

The analysis also projects that a ZEV program would decrease the contaminants that contribute to ground-level ozone (otherwise known as smog) in the state. Colorado has struggled to meet both the 2008 and 2015 health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone, and the American Lung Association’s 2019 State of the Air report ranked Denver the 12th most ozone-polluted city in the nation.

Read More »

Posted in Cars and Pollution, Cities and states, Climate Change Legislation, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, News, Policy, Smog / Comments are closed