Raising the Bar on Carbon Forestry Projects

Raising the Bar on Carbon ForestryProjects

16 July 2007

published by www.greenbiz.com

Global — There is growing recognition that rising greenhouse gas emission levels willcause serious and undesirable impacts for humans and ecosystems alike.

Furthermore, climate change is occurring while record numbers of people live inpoverty, and massive biodiversity loss continues unchecked. Making matters worse,climate change is expected to exacerbate poverty and environmental loss in manyof the poorest countries, and to significantly accelerate species extinctions.Therefore, we believe designing resilient actions that address theseinterconnected global problems simultaneously is one of humankind’s mostpressing and timesensitive challenges.

The Alliance

The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) was formed to respondto this challenge. The CCBA is a partnership convened by ConservationInternational to leverage the carbon market to support forest protection andrestoration projects around the world that deliver significant climate, localcommunity and biodiversity benefits.

CCBA members include six companies (BP plc, Intel Corporation, S. C. Johnson& Son, Inc, Sustainable Forestry Management Ltd, Weyerhaeuser Company andGFA Consulting Group) and six NGOs (Conservation International, CARE, theHamburg Institute of International Economics, Pelangi Indonesia, The NatureConservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society).

The Standards

We believe that carbon finance, if channeled to the right projects, could helprestore and conserve millions of hectares of threatened biodiversity-richhabitats around the world, while generating tens of thousands of sustainablelivelihoods in some of the poorest countries and slowing global climate change.Before this happens, however, there needs to be a set of internationallyaccepted standards for designing and evaluating multiple-benefit forestryprojects.

Recognizing this, the CCBA spearheaded the development of the Climate, Community& Biodiversity (CCB) Standards, which project developers and investors canuse to design and screen land-based carbon mitigation projects.

The CCB Standards were created through an intensive two-year internationalstakeholder development process, including: outside input from academia,business, environmental organizations, and development groups; a three-monthpublic comment period; field testing on four continents; and an independentexpert-review by the world’s leading forestry research groups in Africa, Asiaand Latin America.

The Standards have already garnered broad interest and acclaim from projectdevelopers, investors and regulators since their release in 2005, and havebecome the leading tool of this kind. It is great to see how many projects arenow using the Standards and the number of investors starting to request ‘CCBcarbon’ by name. In addition, the world’s preeminent investors and carbonproject consultancies, including the World Bank and EcoSecurities, are applyingthe CCB Standards to their extensive project portfolios.

Just a few months ago, the first two carbon forestry projects were independentlycertified using the CCB Standards . The first project, based in Yunnan, China,is being developed under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)and is restoring high conservation value land adjacent to a nature reserve. Andthe second one, in Panama, is a communitybased sustainable forestry managementproject that is Forest Stewardship Council certified. With several dozenprojects now using the CCB Standards, we expect to see many more ‘CCB certified’projects coming on line later this year.

Generating Credible Carbon Offsets

The Standards are a valuable tool for businesses investing in climate changemitigation activities that include forestry. Companies are using them to screenland-based carbon projects for a variety of climate, community and biodiversitybenefits prior to supporting them.

The Standards further enable corporate investors to identify exceptional,high-quality (and resilient) projects most likely to avoid implementationroadblocks and deliver their stated outcomes, including generating credible androbust carbon offsets. Equally important, supporting projects certified to havemultiple-benefits can generate valuable regulator, employee and customergoodwill.

To gain certification under the CCB Standards, carbon mitigation projects mustgo beyond the current CDM requirements by generating positive community andbiodiversity benefits. The Standards can be applied to any kind of land-usechange and forestry project (including forest conservation, restoration andmanagement) anywhere in the world, whether undertaken for compliance (e.g. CDM)or for voluntary carbon offsetting purposes. The CCB Standards:

  • Identify high-quality projects that will generate credible and robust carbon offsets, while supporting local communities and conserving biodiversity;
  • Provide a means for creating synergistic projects that further the goals of the U.N. Framework Convention on Cliamte Change, the Convention on Biological diversity and the Millennium Development Goals;
  • Mitigate project risk and miximize value creation for investors; and
  • Help developers design good projects and secure additional funding sources.

To become certified under the CCD Standards, independent 3rd-party auditors mustdetermine that the project satisfies fifteen required criteria, whichdemonstrate the project will help mitigate climate change, conserve biodiversity,and improve socioeconomic conditions for local communities. The mandatorycriteria further ensure that environmental and social monitoring programs are inplace, no invasive plant or tree species are used, local stakeholders areappropriately involved in the design of the project, and there are no unresolvedland tenure issues.

The CCB Standards also address the key carbon-related issues of additionality,leakage, measurement & monitoring, and permanence. Exceptional projects canearn a “Gold” or “Silver” rating depending on how many ofeight optional CCB Standards criteria are met, covering issues such as nativespecies use, climate-change adaptation, water and soil resource enhancement, andlocal capacity building.

Looking forward, there is growing recognition that tropical deforestation is oneof the biggest drivers of global climate change — generating twice theemissions of all the world’s cars and trucks. However, major barriers remainbefore the forestry sector can contribute its share towards mitigating thismassive threat. Specifically, policymakers need to capture potential synergiesbetween the global conventions on biological diversity (CBD), climate change (UNFCCC)and desertification (UNFCCD), as well as the Millennium Development Goals.Clearly, multiple-benefit forestry projects, as certified under the CCDStandards, can help us meet these international objectives. Now, all we need isthe leadership and will to create the necessary global, national and regionalpolicies to ensure that these outcomes are realized.

(Source: TobyJanson-Smith, Business.2010)

Toby Janson-Smith is Director of the Climate,Community & Biodiversity Alliance of Conservation International. Thisessay originally appeared in Business.2010,a newsletter published by the U.N. Secretariat on Biological Diversity.


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