Climate 411

Resolving scientific uncertainties in nature-based climate solutions: Location, location, location

Drone shot of mangrove trees off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

Drone shot of mangrove trees off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Carlos Aguilera / EDF Mexico

The world needs nature-based climate solutions (NbCS). These approaches use conservation, restoration, and management of natural and agricultural systems to retain existing, and sequester additional, carbon while reducing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. NbCS have been suggested to meet 20-30% of the world’s climate goals. Correspondingly, nature-based actions are included in the national commitments of 63% (104 of 168) of the signatories of the Paris Agreement.

However, defining the climate impact of different solutions requires accurate scientific measurement and accounting of greenhouse gas mitigation, including how long that benefit lasts. Where we lack accurate measurements and estimates of future durability, we cannot yet rely on NbCS to meet our climate goals.

Assessment of the science on NbCS
Environmental Defense Fund recently worked with experts in academia and other conservation and research institutions to assess the scientific confidence in more than 40 NbCS that have been proposed. The results of that inquiry are both optimistic and sobering.

The four most frequently credited NbCS by the four major carbon credit registries have high scientific confidence – tropical and temperate forest avoided conversion or degradation and reforestation. The confidence of the scientific community in those NbCS supports investing in these as climate solutions and demonstrates that we can develop sufficient understanding of process, measurement, and accounting methods necessary to meet high quality crediting requirements.

However, the experts concluded that 90% (39/42) of the proposed NbCS assessed in the study currently have insufficient scientific evidence for having climate impact we can count on. Within that 90% are NbCS like avoided conversion and degradation of systems as different as mangroves and boreal forests (see below for why).

Promisingly, the experts do have confidence that we can remedy this situation: focused research over the next five years could resolve many of the remaining questions for two-thirds of those pathways. Given that some, like agroforestry, tropical peatland conservation, and biochar additions are also estimated to have large-scale climate impacts, this study provides a roadmap for prioritizing research efforts.

The importance of location
Every NbCS is different, and so are the specific uncertainties and research needs. Prediction of how natural systems may change as the climate changes – affecting their carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions – is inherently uncertain. We are better at modeling some systems (like tropical forests) than others (like seagrass beds). But all NbCS pathways have something in common – location matters.

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Also posted in Basic Science of Global Warming, Forest protection, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News, Oceans, Plants & Animals, Science / Comments are closed

Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement: What is High Integrity and Why It Matters

Under the Paris Agreement, Article 6.2 allows countries to exchange emissions reductions and removals through bilateral agreements—country to country. Despite stalled progress on final details for Article 6.2 at COP28, the mechanism is in operation with guardrails that push countries toward high-integrity programs. New bilateral agreements continue to emerge under the mechanism and mobilize needed capital.

In a webinar hosted by Browning Environmental Communications and Environmental Defense Fund (available to stream here), we discussed the key elements of high integrity under Article 6.2, and why it’s critical for effective climate action under the rule.

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Also posted in Paris Agreement / Tagged | Comments are closed

Auction results and budget decisions emphasize importance of investments from Washington state’s Climate Commitment Act

This blog was co-authored by Janet Zamudio, Western States Climate Policy Intern

The last week has been eventful in Washington, seeing the end of legislative session last Thursday and the first quarterly cap-and-invest auction of 2024, which posted results today. With the legislative session wrapped up and budgets passed, we now know what additional spending lawmakers plan to do with the revenue generated by these cap-and-invest auctions thanks to the supplemental budget passed last week. And with the results from the first auction of 2024 now in the books, it seems the Evergreen State will continue to see significant revenue from this program to reinvest in communities, clean energy projects and climate resilience. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s start with the auction results:

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Also posted in California, Cities and states, Economics, Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Health, Policy / Comments are closed

As it enters its eleventh year, California’s cap-and-trade program continues to raise revenue to fight the climate crisis

This blog was co-authored by Katelyn Roedner Sutter, California State Director 

Results of the latest Western Climate Initiative auction were released today, and we continue to see strong demand for allowances. This was the first quarterly auction of 2024, and it was a strong start for this marquee climate program.

This auction is expected to generate roughly $1.31 billion for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which will invest in projects around the state that electrify transportation, reduce household energy costs, strengthen resilience to natural disasters, and more. This funding comes at a crucial time, as California faces both ongoing impacts from climate change and a challenging budget year.

February auction results

  • All 51.2 million current vintage allowances offered for sale were purchased, resulting in the 14th consecutive sold-out auction. This is 11% or 6.4 million fewer allowances than were offered at the previous auction.
  • The current auction settled at a record price of $41.76, $17.72 above the $24.04 floor price and $3.03 above the November 2023 settlement price of $38.73.
  • All of the 7.2 million future vintage allowances offered for sale were purchased — these allowances can be used for compliance beginning in 2027. This is about 366,000 allowances fewer than were offered at the previous advance auction.
  • Future vintage allowances settled at $41.00, $16.96 above the $24.04 floor price and $3.60 above the November settlement price of $37.40.

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Also posted in California, Cities and states, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, News / Comments are closed

Progress to catalyze jurisdictional REDD+

Boat on a river in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest

Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo by Leslie Von Pless, EDF.

This blog post is authored by Angela Churie Kallhauge, Executive Vice President, Impact at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with contribution from Katie Goslee, Director of Nature-Based Solutions, Winrock International; Stephanie Wang, Associate Director, Wildlife Conservation Society; Jason Funk, REDD+ Strategy Director at Conservation International; and Daniela Rey Christen, Director, Climate Law and Policy

In the fight against the climate crisis, high-integrity jurisdictional REDD+ is intended to be transformational, giving forest communities and governments the ability to tap into the voluntary carbon market to access climate finance needed to ensure that large areas of tropical forests remain intact.

Jurisdictional REDD+ can deliver results, to the benefit of people, nature, and climate. Research shows that larger scale programs to pay for emission reductions from forest conservation – the scale of a whole forest region, state, or nation – are better able to ensure additionality and prevent leakage than are smaller-scale carbon programs. And larger scale programs do so for a longer period of time.

Ensuring high-integrity jurisdictional REDD+ programs are fully functioning has therefore become a key priority for many actors working to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, including businesses, governments, and Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

One problem is that forest nations looking to establish jurisdictional REDD+ programs may not currently have the technical capacity needed to deliver high-integrity carbon credits. This is holding back their access to carbon markets, even as demand for high-integrity jurisdictional tropical forest credits seems poised to accelerate.

The task at hand is to support these jurisdictions in fully unlocking the promise and potential of high-integrity carbon markets at the rapid pace and large scale needed to address the climate crisis. We don’t have much time. If we don’t end and reverse tropical deforestation and degradation by 2030 – only six years from now – the effects could be irreversible.

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Also posted in Forest protection, Indigenous People, International, REDD+, United Nations / Comments are closed

Want to understand Natural Climate Solutions Crediting? We have a handbook for that.

Cover image of the Natural Climate Solutions Crediting Handbook

The Natural Climate Solutions Crediting Handbook

This blog was authored by Christine Gerbode, EDF’s Manager of Jurisdictional Alliances and Britta Johnston, Senior Policy Analyst for Natural Climate Solutions at EDF.

Natural climate solutions are essential to achieving our global climate goals. A range of studies suggest that a major global scale-up of NCS activities (that is, ways of protecting, restoring, and better managing ecosystems and working lands) can contribute as much as a third of the climate mitigation needed to keep us on track with global climate goals by 2030. That’s in addition to the many other benefits that NCS can bring to people and the planet.

Well-designed NCS crediting systems can help channel urgently needed finance to the people, communities, and countries that steward natural ecosystems and working landscapes.

But NCS crediting remains controversial, in part because it can be a challenge to understand: new crediting methods, business models, and policy frameworks are evolving quickly at local and international levels, and competing messages come from passionate voices working on all sides. If uncertainty, misunderstandings, and confusion lead to unwarranted mistrust of NCS crediting, well-intentioned actors might be pushed to unnecessarily abandon one of the most powerful potential tools in the climate fight.

Stakeholders across the climate space need urgent help to cut through the noise on NCS crediting. The NCS Crediting Handbook aims to meet this need by clearly laying out how high-quality NCS crediting can work—for credit sellers, for credit buyers, and as part of an effective and ethical global climate response.

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Also posted in Forest protection, News, REDD+ / Comments are closed