Climate 411

What ProPublica’s forest carbon credits story still gets wrong – and right (with update)

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

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

***Please read on for our response to ProPublica’s follow-up article***

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 »

Also posted in Brazil, California, Carbon Markets, Forest protection, Indigenous People, Paris Agreement, REDD+ / Read 5 Responses

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 »

Also posted in Aviation, Carbon Markets, Paris Agreement / Comments are closed

Will governments disappoint again on carbon accounting at upcoming aviation meetings?

https://www.pexels.com/photo/silhouette-of-airplane-during-sunset-99567/

Silhouette of Airplane during Sunset. Pexels.com

Some major companies, including airlines, took the lead last December in Katowice, Poland in rejecting the use of dubious carbon credits toward their climate efforts. Despite this drumbeat against bad rules for cooperative approaches under Article 6 of the Paris agreement, experienced government negotiators fell short and did not finalize these guidelines in Katowice. This month in Montreal, governments could decide the fate of carbon credits for the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction System for International Aviation (CORSIA), but will they ignore business demand for good credits by allowing aviation emissions reductions to be double counted?

Let’s look behind the negotiating curtain and unpack how companies got involved, why governments should pay attention to companies’ push for environmental integrity and what governments can do in Montreal to maintain the integrity of CORSIA.

Read More »

Also posted in Aviation, Carbon Markets, International, Paris Agreement / Read 1 Response

Could aviation loopholes swallow climate progress?

Letting CDM credits into the aviation climate agreement could cut CORSIA’s effective participation from about three quarters down to less than 20 percent, negating its climate impact.

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Airplane taking off from San Francisco. Flickr/ dsleeter_2000

As bleary-eyed negotiators at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) in Katowice, Poland, struggle through late nights of haggling over rules for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, one challenge they face is how to energize a global competitive market for cutting climate pollution, while ensuring the integrity of that market.

Technical talks in the far recesses of the giant conference center are focused on two key issues: carbon credit quality, and accurate book-keeping.

Read More »

Also posted in Aviation, Carbon Markets, News, Paris Agreement / Read 2 Responses

Momentum Builds for Agriculture at COP 24

Plenary at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland. Flickr/ UNclimatechange

Agriculture negotiators arrived in Katowice, Poland eager to get to work on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) during COP 24. The KJWA is a UNFCCC initiative directing the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to jointly consider how to tackle agriculture issues in the context of climate change.

Following the creation of the KJWA roadmap during the May 2018 intersessional in Bonn—which laid out an agenda of workshops, topic submissions, and workshop reports every six months between the 2018 intersessional and the end of 2020—negotiators agreed to continue their joint work on addressing issues related to agriculture, beginning with the first in-session workshop during COP 24 in Katowice. Over the course of the first week of the COP, it became clear that the negotiators were determined to keep the momentum going.

Read More »

Also posted in Agriculture, Forest protection, Paris Agreement / Comments are closed

COP 24: Transparency, ambition and carbon markets on the Paris rulebook agenda in Katowice

See EDF’s COP 24 materials and meet our Katowice team at edf.org/cop24.

COP 24 Opening Plenary in Katowice, Poland. Flickr/ UNclimatechange

As the world’s leading climate scientists made clear in a recent special report, we are in the race of our lives against climate change, and we need to move faster. The Paris Agreement’s rapid entry into force in 2016 broke records, but records are also being broken outside of the UN that emphasize the urgency of action: record wildfires, record temperatures, record storms, record levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

So the stakes are high in Katowice, Poland, as countries meet to finalize the operating manual for the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. In 2016, countries set themselves a deadline of this year to complete their task. Once agreed, the Paris “rulebook” will guide them in their efforts to implement the Agreement, including how countries will measure, report and hold each other accountable to their Paris commitments.

Two interrelated issues will be particularly important for the rulebook discussions in Katowice.

First is how to operationalize the Paris Agreement’s transparency system; transparency is vital to strengthening ambition and to the success of the agreement itself.

Second is how that transparency system should link to a new framework for international carbon market cooperation designed to spur the deeper emissions cuts that climate science demands. Read More »

Also posted in Carbon Markets, Paris Agreement / Comments are closed