Quote highlights from NACW 2014

April 10th, 2014

Special thanks to our speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, media partners and supporting organizations for helping make the Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2014 conference a success. Below are a few quote highlights from the distinguished carbon and climate professionals who spoke at NACW.

**Share your favorite climate quote from NACW or beyond in the comments by April 30 to be entered to win a candy jar filled with treats!**

roger-williams-photo “There’s a high level of excitement right now. The level of interest from buyers in the market and from suppliers of projects is unprecedented.”
- Roger Williams, President, Blue Source 
john-o-niles-photo “REDD needs to happen. California is a leader, but it can’t be a leader in isolation.”
- John O Niles, Director of Climate and Forests, WWFUS 
jason-gray-photo “We are continuing to consider international sector based credits.”
- Jason Gray, Staff Attorney, California Air Resources Board 
noel-perry-photo “The number one most important thing for the health of the market is that we have a target beyond 2020.”
- Noel Perry, Founder, Next10
jan-frommeyer-photo “If California greens its economy quickly, it might increase the odds of taking on more ambitious targets past 2020.”
- Jan Frommeyer, Director Market Analysis, ICIS
fahmida-ahmed-photo “People want a special story in an offset project that supplements their values.”
- Fahmida Ahmed, Associate Director, Department of Sustainability & Energy Management, Stanford University
hector-delatorre-photo “No matter what we do, we’re going to be sued, so we know anything we put out has to be airtight.”
- Hector De La Torre, Board Member, California Air Resources Board
peter-lehner-photo “If we had a federal AB32, we’d be better off. If we had a global AB32, that’d be even better.”
- Peter Lehner, Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
julian-richardson-photo “If the offset mechanism isn’t fully utilized, then something is wrong. It would be a real shame because the program wouldn’t be operational as intended.”
- Julian Richardson, CEO, Parhelion Underwriting Ltd. 
dan-kammen-photo “It’s pretty clear what the interim targets should be. At minimum, a linear connection between 2020 and 2050 means the target is 33 percent less by 2020 and 66 percent less by 2040.”
- Dr. Daniel Kammen, Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy University of California, Berkeley
henry-stern “There’s still a lot to do in the transportation sector between now and 2020. We have the regulatory capacity to get there and the market is robust.”
- Henry Stern, Principal Consultant, Energy & Environmental Policy Senator Fran Pavley
steve-cliff “We believe pricing carbon is important. In developing the policies, ultimately a cap and trade program was chosen largely because of the cap. The cap helps us know that we’re on track. The cap is essential.”
- Steve Cliff, Assistant Chief, Stationary Source Division California Air Resources Board
jack-broadbent-photo “The market is working. Folks are investing in futures in the market.”
- Jack Broadbent, CEO/Air Pollution Control Officer, Bay Area Air Quality Management District

NACW 2014: About our delegates

April 4th, 2014

Here’s a quick infographic analysis of delegates that participated in NACW 2014:
nacw-infographic-2014

California Compliance Offset Program: 2013 A Year in Review

January 10th, 2014

Under California’s Cap-and-Trade Program, covered entities may use offset credits for up to 8 percent of their total compliance obligation for each compliance period. Offsets are tradable credits that represent verified GHG emission reductions in sectors and sources not covered under the cap. The inclusion of offsets in the program support the development of innovative projects and technologies from sources not subject to a compliance obligation. Below is a quick recap of the first year of California’s compliance offset program.

california-offsets1

Golden CCOs and Risk

December 2nd, 2013

Guest blog by Julian Richardson, CEO of Parhelion Underwriting Ltd.

All that glitters is not gold!

The train has left the station and the California carbon market is now well on its way to its first birthday, and that in itself is worth celebrating for a program whose arrival was something of a challenging pregnancy and difficult birth. Nonetheless, this delay has given the ARB and other stakeholders the opportunity to benefit from the experiences and learn from the mistakes of other programs that started earlier – in particular the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

One important lesson learned from those programs was the importance of being able to challenge and, indeed, revoke any offsets that were not of sufficient environmental robustness and integrity. This integrity is crucial for any trading mechanism allowing offsets for compliance use. Without it, public and commercial trust is lost and the program will fail.

To achieve this integrity, the ARB has included within its regulations the opportunity to ‘invalidate’ offset credits that should not have been issued – also known as ‘buyer liability.’ Whilst ensuring the integrity of the program must be paramount, it does come at a cost to program participants. In this instance, the cost of including ‘invalidation’ provisions is that on one hand stakeholders are being encouraged to create and invest in an asset (offset credits), but on the other hand that asset is un-certain.

In the market, this has led to the development of a range of different grades of offset assets that can be bought and sold. The market has adopted the term ‘CCO’ to refer to California Carbon Offset. More specifically we hear about ‘CCO8s’ and ‘CCO3s’ and ‘Golden CCOs.’ But what exactly are these different grades and what does the price difference reflect?

Well, as is normal in any commodity market, the price difference reflects different risk profiles. The ‘3’ and ‘8’ refers to the length of ‘invalidation’ risk associated with a particular offset. Offsets that have been verified once have a liability tail of 8 years during which they may be invalidated by the ARB. This tail may be reduced to 3 years by having a second verification done by a different approved verifier. Simple!

What is less clear, however, is what is meant by a ‘Golden CCO.’ If you ask 5 people what they understand the term to mean you get 7 different answers. Equally the term ‘CCO’ itself is only a market expression and not defined anywhere in the regulations – but we’ll ignore that for the moment. Critically the issue seems to be whether ‘Delivery Risk’ is part of making CCOs Golden.

Like the ARB, Parhelion has had the benefit of learning from other carbon markets. The first product Parhelion developed was indeed a ‘Delivery Wrap’ for CDM credits. Strictly speaking ‘delivery’ is not actually a risk; it is a consequence. It is important to focus on actual real risks that lead to non-delivery which are many and varied. They include but are not limited to:

  • Regulatory risk
  • Credit risk
  • Physical risk
  • Operational risk
  • Technology risk

Each of the above risks can themselves be disaggregated. Parhelion identified over 70 individual risks that could lead to non-delivery of CERs. A similar set of risks will apply to the generation of offsets for the California market.

How ‘Delivery Risk’ applies to California offsets will depend on what is actually being sold. If a project developer is seeking to forward sell a future stream of offsets in order to raise finance for the project costs then Delivery Risk will constitute a significant proportion of any risk discount applied. The size of this delivery risk will also vary significantly from project to project and counter party to counter party.

If, however, the project developer has sufficient resources to develop the project to completion before selling any offsets, then they can sell physical offsets, be they ROCs / CRTs or ARBOCs. At this point Delivery Risk has been removed.

The only remaining risks are ‘Conversion Risk’ and ‘Invalidation Risk.’ Conversion Risk relates to whether a Registry Offset Credit (ROC) will be converted into an ARBOC. In view of the important QA/QC role played by the registries, such as the Climate Action Reserve, this risk is perceived as small, and as more ROCs are converted, I believe this risk will become insignificant.

This leaves ‘Invalidation Risk.’ Whilst Invalidation Risk is not in my view a large risk, it is a very real risk. The ARB has effectively dealt itself a ‘get out of jail free’ card should there be any questions over the robustness and integrity of the offset program. Therefore irrespective of the excellent work being done by project developers to implement good quality projects; and by verifiers to ensure accurate verification of offsets; and by CAR to implement QA/QC controls to ensure only fully compliant offsets are generated and issued at the registry level – the risk remains. Mistakes do happen and there have already been instances where registry-issued offsets have effectively been invalidated.

The figure below illustrates how offset price and risk change over project development time.

Golden CCOs

Since ‘Delivery Risk’ can be so different and only applies to forward contracts, it is not helpful to include it in the definition of ‘Golden CCOs.’ That’s not to say Delivery Risk is not relevant, it is. More importantly, however, Delivery Risk is extremely hard to define and extremely diverse. Therefore it is appropriate to define ‘Golden CCOs’ as issued offsets with no invalidation risk.

The question then remains: how do you deal with ‘invalidation risk’? There are three options for this. The first option is for the risk to remain with the seller. In this case, the seller will agree to indemnify the offset owner in the event of any invalidation. The problem here is that many offset project developers are not credit worthy counter parties and these promises are only as good as the credit rating behind them.  Buyers seeking to impose this liability on sellers may consider requiring the seller to hold insurance or demonstrate satisfactory creditworthiness.

The second option is then for the buyer of the offset to retain the risk. This decision will be down to the risk appetite of the buyer. However, if the buyer is willing to take this risk they will pay a lower price to the offset project developer – not an attractive option for the developer who should be keen to maximise the price they can achieve for their assets.

The third option is, therefore, to transfer the risk to a third party with a demonstrable ability to pay and an established reputation for a willingness to pay in the event of a loss. With the support of CAR, Parhelion has developed such a solution. There is, of course, a price associated with this but that price is well within the market spread between CCO3s and Golden CCOs.

To conclude, I think that trying to include ‘Delivery Risk’ within a broad generic definition such as a Golden CCO is a distraction. As Aristotle said “It is the mark of an educated mind to rest satisfied with the degree of precision which the nature of the subject admits and not to seek exactness where only an approximation is possible.”

© Parhelion Underwriting Ltd. 2013

About Parhelion
Parhelion has been the pioneer and recognized leader in the field of non-traditional insurance and risk finance solutions for the clean energy and climate finance sectors. This has included the successful development of innovative insurance products for the carbon trading, renewable energy and clean energy markets. Parhelion’s products are supported by leading Lloyd’s of London, International and Bermudan re/insurers. Parhelion provides advisory services to policy makers, multi-lateral and international financial institutions; investors; trader and project developers.

New approach to international forestry offset projects is introduced to the global market with adoption of Climate Action Reserve protocol

November 25th, 2013

(Spanish version posted on the Carbon Finance Platform (“Plataforma Finanzas Carbono”) website)

On October 23, 2013 the Climate Action Reserve, North America’s most trusted, experienced and knowledgeable carbon offset registry, approved a new methodology for quantifying international forestry offset projects. The Mexico Forest Protocol provides a standardized approach for quantifying, monitoring and verifying greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits of forest carbon enhancement activities in Mexico. It was specifically developed to allow integration into larger initiatives to address forestry and climate change under evolving Mexico REDD+ policies.

The product of several years of collaboration among a diverse and dedicated group of stakeholders, the Mexico Forest Protocol provides standardized guidance for carbon enhancement projects that addresses eligibility, baseline, inventory, permanence, social and environmental safeguards, and measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) requirements. The protocol provides accounting tools that enable multiple carbon enhancement activities to occur under one project implemented by individual landowners and/or local communities. The protocol design provides for efficient reconciliation of this project accounting framework with jurisdictional accounting, by creating a clear delineation between avoided deforestation, which will be credited under jurisdictional accounting rules, and enhanced carbon sequestration, which may be credited at the project level.
The protocol was developed with an unprecedented level of involvement from ejidos (local communities), and as a result, reflects a high level of social and environmental safeguards. Environmental and local community benefits from forest offset projects implemented under the Reserve’s Mexico Forest Protocol will include:

  • Improved forest health and resiliency to climate change.
  • Capacity building in communities and ejidos.
  • Increased employment opportunities in forest communities.
  • Significant improvements to biodiversity, water quality, and soil conservation.

Pilot Phase

The Mexico Forest Protocol is not currently open for project submissions from the general public. Instead, the Reserve is actively engaged in the development of a select number of pilot projects, which will allow the organization to learn from hands-on application of the protocol so that it may be improved and refined before being opened to the public more broadly.
The Reserve is working closely with several landowners and communities to ‘road test’ the protocol and develop software and other accounting tools to standardize monitoring and reporting activities. This deliberate process is intended to ensure the protocol is as clear and accurate as possible before being released for general use. Additionally, the Reserve will be working to facilitate investment by private entities, particularly entities operating in both Mexico and the United States, in the project credits generated under the protocol.
Currently, the Reserve’s efforts are focused on launching two to three initial pilot projects. Pilot projects are being developed with national and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Mexico and are following the advice and guidance of CONAFOR (the Mexican National Forestry Commission) and CONABIO (the Mexican National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity). One pilot project will be located in the state of Mexico and at least one pilot project will be located in the state of Oaxaca.

Seeking Partnerships

The Reserve has developed important partnerships throughout the process of developing the Mexico Forest Protocol. Current relationships with Mexican governmental agencies, NGOs, and communities in Mexico have been invaluable to creating a favorable environment for progress. The Reserve continues to seek a variety of additional partnerships that will improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of its work.

The Reserve is seeking corporate investors, private foundations, NGOs, and other potential partners interested in providing financial support and/or in-kind assistance to support the pilot forestry projects in Mexico. During this pilot phase, funding and in-kind assistance will enable the development of the data management systems and educational tools that the protocol will rely on for standardizing analysis and reporting. This pilot phase will also allow the Reserve to further refine protocol guidance, while creating real voluntary market offset credits that can be retired by pilot phase partners to demonstrate corporate and social responsibility.

For more information or to discuss potential partnerships, please contact the Climate Action Reserve at policy@climateactionreserve.org.

We’ve achieved over 40 million metric tons of GHG emissions reductions!

October 22nd, 2013

We recently reached the milestone of issuing over 40 million Climate Reserve Tonnes! Learn more about the significance of reducing 40 million metric tons of GHGs and the project types that led to the achievement.

infographic-40million

Climate Action Offsetter: Environmental Responsibility a Core Function at Seattle City Light

October 8th, 2013

SCLlogocolor

written by Seattle City Light

Environmental responsibility is a core part of Seattle City Light’s operations, starting with the statement of its mission:

Seattle City Light is a publicly owned utility dedicated to exceeding our customers’ expectations in producing and delivering environmentally responsible, safe, low cost and reliable power. 

In 2005, City Light became the first electric utility in the country to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions. It has maintained that carbon neutral status every year since, making City Light the greenest electric utility in the United States.

“We take our mission of environmental responsibility and stewardship seriously,” General Manager and CEO Jorge Carrasco said. “To fight climate change, we work to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as much as we can through energy conservation and renewable energy and then support projects that offset carbon emissions to make up for those we can’t avoid.”

City Light uses greenhouse gas offsets registered with the Climate Action Reserve and other third party organizations to offset its greenhouse gas emissions.

Seattle City Light uses hydroelectric resources for 90 percent of the power it provides to about 1 million people in the greater Seattle area. But that important resource is also one of the primary reasons City Light takes the additional climate action step of offsetting all its greenhouse gas emissions, including those created by the generation of electricity the utility buys, employees’ travel and the trucks and other equipment used in its operations.

Seattle City Light’s hydroelectric dams depend upon mountain snowpack to store water for generating electricity throughout the summer. Climate change that brings more precipitation as rain or starts the melt-off earlier in the spring would threaten the utility’s ability to generate the electricity it needs to serve its customers in late summer.  In addition, the City of Seattle’s water supply comes from nearby watersheds, and changes to precipitation patterns could also impact those important resources.

“We want to do something about that,” said City Light Strategic Advisor Corinne Grande, who leads the utility’s offset program. “Starting at home was a powerful motivator.”

Each year, City Light offsets 100,000 to 300,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, depending on how much electricity the utility has been able to generate from its hydroelectric resources and how much power it has to acquire elsewhere.

Among the projects Seattle City Light has purchased carbon offsets from are:

  • Biodiesel fuel for Seattle area busses, ferries and garbage trucks
  • Shore power for cruise ships at the Port of Seattle
  • Aerobic composting of local food and yard waste
  • And methane recapture and destruction at dairy farms and landfills.

“Our small amount of money is not going to change the world, but hopefully it will encourage new and innovative projects and act as a catalyst for others,” Grande said.

seattlecitylight

 

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Share a comment below on your favorite green initiative from your utility, school or municipality and we’ll randomly select five commenters to win a handy front bike light!

Top ten projects that have earned the most CRTs in the Reserve

September 11th, 2013

We recently achieved the significant milestone of issuing over 40 million carbon credits, each representing one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions reduced or sequestered from the atmosphere. Learn more about the top 10 largest offset projects in the Reserve that helped this achievement:

infographic-toptenprojects2

Share your thoughts about your favorite carbon offset project (whether in the Reserve’s top 10 or not) and we’ll randomly select five respondents to receive a Reserve bike light.

Climate Action Offsetter: The Climate Action Reserve

July 1st, 2013

Throughout the year, we hear interesting and inspiring stories about how companies, groups, events and individuals are using CRTs to balance out their emissions. But we are rarely the story teller. So this month, we’re taking the opportunity to be the featured Climate Action Offsetter and provide a view of a different side of our work.

Each year we calculate our emissions inventory using the General Reporting Protocol of The Climate Registry, a nonprofit GHG emissions registry that sets consistent and transparent standards for inventory reporting. Our emissions inventory is independently verified by an ANSI-accredited verification body and publicly registered for full transparency.

For our emissions profile, we calculate our direct emissions (fugitive scope 1 emissions from our office refrigerator), indirect emissions (scope 2 emissions from purchased electricity), and optional reporting emissions (scope 3 emissions from business travel and employee commuting, and optional scope 2 emissions from natural gas). We calculate our purchased electricity by using the TCR General Reporting Protocol Area Method, which applies our percentage of square footage in the building to the buildings usage and average occupancy rate. We track all business trips and calculate travel emissions based on mileage and method of transportation. And we conduct thorough employee surveys regarding staff commutes to and from work to calculate emissions based on the method of commute.

Reserve emissions profile

During the calendar year 2011, the Reserve was responsible for 124 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. The Reserve fully offset its annual emissions through the Climate Action Reserve Blind Trust, which was created to coordinate the purchase and retirement of Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRTs) while avoiding any potential conflict of interest or appearance thereof.

Offsetting our emissions inventory is the final component of our sustainability program. We recognize that offsets are an important tool to meeting emissions goals, but must be paired with a strategic plan to reduce emissions as much as possible. We have adopted several green initiatives to reduce our operational impact on the environment and climate.

We offer a flexible telecommuting schedule for staff to work from home one day or more per week, thus preventing transportation emissions. We also subsidize Metro cards to foster greater use of LA’s public transportation system by staff. Approximately 57 percent of our staff commute by public transportation on a regular basis.

Our office supply purchasing policy is to buy recycled or compostable products when available – in most cases, such options are available! Our communications materials are printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper with vegetable-based inks. We have completely done away with the traditional fax machine and have opted to receive/send fax messages electronically online via myfax.com.

We conduct the majority of our presentations via webinar which greatly reduces travel emissions, costs and time. Our webinar participants come from all over the globe, and have expressed appreciation for the online-based instruction as they may not otherwise have been able to participate.

Next on our list of green initiatives to tackle: looking at feasible options for composting in the office!

Our Favorite Climate Cartoons from Tom Toles, Washington Post

June 13th, 2013

Here at the Reserve, we really enjoy the wit and humor of editorial cartoons. In previous blog posts, we shared our favorite cartoons from Joel Pett (Lexington Herald Leader) and David Horsey (Los Angeles Times). Today, we’re very pleased to share our favorite climate cartoons from Tom Toles, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post. Mr. Toles provides hilariously smart commentary on the languorous progress of climate action through his cartoons. To view more of his work, please visit the Washington Post website.

Climate Action Offsetter: The Philadelphia Marathon

May 30th, 2013

written by the Philadelphia Marathon

phillymarathon-forblogPhoto by Jim McWilliams / The Philadelphia Marathon

The Philadelphia Marathon is a government-produced event that ranks among the nation’s top-10 largest marathons. At more than 30,000 runners, 60,000 spectators and 3,000 volunteers, the event has emerged as more than just a race, but a platform for many impactful causes.

Race organizers have created a sustainable event that helps preserve Earth’s natural resources while also transforming the Philadelphia Marathon into a model for eco-friendly sporting events.

Through new environmentally-responsible initiatives and partnerships, the Philadelphia Marathon achieved an 87-percent diversion of waste away from landfills during last November’s race.

The Philadelphia Marathon collaborated with Green Mountain Energy, the nation’s longest serving energy retailer, to offset about 1.3 million pounds of CO2 emissions – the entire carbon footprint of event. That act served the energy equivalent of taking 116 passenger cars off the road for a year or if 250,500 households turned off all their lights for one day. The marathon’s emission profile included emissions from race vehicles, electricity used on race day (from diesel generators and from being plugged into the grid), electricity used at the Health & Fitness Expo (a free two-day event that is open on Friday and Saturday, preceding Sunday’s Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon), runners’ mobile emissions, and runners’ air travel emissions.

A significant benefit of being one of a few municipally-operated marathons is that the Philadelphia Marathon shares strong relationships with City departments. The Philadelphia Marathon partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service to recruit Waste Watchers — volunteers stationed among hydration stops and at the start/finish line to educate race attendees on how to properly sort trash, recycling and compost.

The added sustainability initiatives and partnerships resulted in:

  • Recycling 700 lbs of used Heatsheets, which are made of a metalized low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and distributed to warm-up runners at the finish line
  • Collecting 9,840 lbs of discarded outer layers of warm-up clothing and donating them to the Bethesda Project, a local nonprofit organization assisting the homeless population
  • Recycling over 450 excess runner’s bags and recycling their contents
  • Composting more than 600,000 cups used during the races to drink water and replacement fluids
  • Melting down and recycling over 100 pounds of excess runners’ medals

The successful initiatives align with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and the City of Philadelphia’s sustainability plan which focuses on more than 160 initiatives in the targeted areas of energy, environment, and engagement, in addition to economy and equity.

Marathon sustainability efforts were the result of collaboration among City departments and programs including the Office of the City Representative, Streets Department, Police Department, Mayor’s Office of Community Service (R.I.S.E.), Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service.

Friday, Nov. 15 through Sunday, Nov. 17 will celebrate the Philadelphia Marathon’s 20th anniversary. Race organizers plan to continue serving as one of the most sustainable marathons in the country through eco-friendly initiatives. To register online, applicants can visit www.philadelphiamarathon.com.

Celebrating National Bike Month!

May 16th, 2013

Reserve staff members are pleased to celebrate National Bike Month with their favorite bicycling experiences, trails, and thoughts! Bicycling produces positive environmental, economic, health, and social benefits. These days more and more commuters are choosing two wheels over four. We hope you’re also celebrating National Bike Month and enjoying the ride!

Share a bicycle memory that has had a lasting effect on you in our comment section below to win one of five Reserve front bike lights! Thanks!

Stephen H. rides with Jesus
stephen
What is your ride?I have a 2009 Schwinn Le Tour. It has carbon forks and an aluminum frame. While it isn’t the fanciest road bike on the market, it gets the job done.What is your favorite bike trail?

Some of my favorite biking trails are in Minnesota outside of the Minneapolis/St Paul area. They have a fantastic rails to trails program and the paths are oftentimes meandering through beautiful lush forests and coinciding with rivers and lakes. As you push forward on your ride you can really feel the purity of the air rush through your lungs. I also really enjoy riding on the coast in San Diego. The bike lanes are plentiful and the pacific ocean is beautiful.

What is your best bike memory?

My favorite biking memory was when I went to Baja, Mexico to do a ride with my buddy Jesus. The ride is 50 miles from Rosarito to Ensenada. The ride traverses the coast and cuts inland through the Baja desert. Hundreds of people come to do the ride at one time and all the roads are blocked off to prohibit automotive traffic (http://www.rosaritoensenada.org/). It was a great experience to only share the road with fellow bikers and experience the rugged terrain of Baja on a bike. It was definitely a hard ride and at the end we enjoyed a little party by the beach in Ensenada. Luckily, my friends family owns a taqueria called Tacos El Chente so the food was endless.

What do you love most about bicycling?

The thing I find most enjoyable about biking is the fact that you can get to a destination while simultaneous exercising. Being in LA, which is mostly flat, it is easy to get around to fulfill daily routines on a bicycle. I also enjoy the fact that I am not contributing to our reliance on oil to get around. As cities become more condensed it will clearly be inefficient to operate a vehicle.

What do you think about LA’s bicycling infrastructure?

LA biking infrastructure is improving and I really appreciate the marketing campaigns the city is installing, which suggest that “every lane is a bike lane.” I feel that it’s very important for motorists to realize this because sometimes it feels slightly dangerous biking around the city. However, biking infrastructure in the city has a long way to go. I think LA could definitely use a bike sharing program as well as the installment of more electric bikes. Within the LA metropolitan area it seems that people are heavily dependent on personal transportation. I read some interesting statistics awhile back that suggested over half of all car trips are approximately 3 miles or less. It is amazing to consider this, because a 3 mile bike trip takes less than 30 minutes. Ultimately, I would like to see more people biking and utilizing public transportation because it would definitely help with localized sources of air pollution and contribute to a healthier population.

Heather R. does not let LA drivers deter her
heather
What is your ride?A Kona Dew Plus hybrid bike in sage green. My first vehicle purchase after moving to LA!What is your favorite bike trail?

I really like biking through Griffith Park. Cyclists are not allowed on the dirt hiking trails, but the roads are perfect for my hybrid bike and are mostly shaded, so it’s a pleasant ride even in the summer heat. Going into the park on Crystal Springs Drive, you can bike past the zoo, head down Zoo Drive, pass the Travel Town railway museum, then head up a challenging incline on Griffith Park Drive. You end up back on Crystal Springs Drive and ready to head home from there…or wherever your bike may take you! Griffith Park Map

What is your best bike memory?

My first adult bike purchase when I was 9 years old: a red mountain bike. I was finally able to head into the dirt hills with my big brother and straight through overgrown fields. I had that bike for about 15 years…definitely got my money’s worth!

What do you love most about bicycling?

When the physical challenge of some trails is completely overshadowed by the beauty of nature around you.

Any tips for biking in LA?

When road biking in LA, you have to assume that no one driving a car sees you. It’s the best safety tip I can give. But also to not let that intimidate you from venturing out on your bike. There are many quiet roads in LA that lead to beautiful parks or community gardens. You can also take your bike to Griffith Park for a ride without battling traffic, or out to some mountain trails within an hour from the city. There are so many areas to explore with your bicycle, don’t let those LA drivers deter you!

Teresa L. hits the mud-erlode
teresa
What is your ride?I absolutely love taking my bike down to the Strand (aka the bike path on the beach) where I live in Manhattan Beach. During the summer, I barely use my car on the weekends, and just bike along the Strand everywhere I need to go! There really is nothing like cycling along the beach in the summer sunshine.What is your favorite bike trail?

When I have time for a longer bike ride, I love to take my bike north along the beach. The best is to bike all the way from one end of Los Angeles’s coastal bike path to the other. It starts just south of me in Hermosa Beach, winds around the inner edge of the marina in Marina Del Rey, and then hits the beach again to take you through the Venice and Santa Monica boardwalks, under the pier, all the way north to Pacific Palisades, where Sunset Blvd. hits the Pacific Coast Highway.

What is your most lasting bike memory?

Definitely not the “best” memory, but by far the most memorable…. After living in Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a few years, I have come to be known as quite prone to cycling accidents. By far the worst occurred while I was living in rural Nicaragua. Once or twice a week, I had to visit the next town over to teach my ecotourism class. It was a 12 km trip (7 sort of flat, 5 uphill) on a dirt road in the middle of the rainy season. Sometimes I was able to hitch a ride or take a bus the first 7 km, but frequently I biked, and on one particularly rainy day, I didn’t make it…. At km 6.5, on the last gently sloping downhill prior to where the river that crosses the road (and yes, everyone has to ford the river, whether on foot, in car, or on bike), I started gaining way too much speed. On soft mud (as the road was that day), hand brakes don’t do a whole lot… In what can only be described as “fishtailing in the mud,” I managed to launch myself superman-style over the handle bars, landing face first in the mud in the middle of the road. Totally by myself, in the middle of nowhere, and hoping there wouldn’t be too much traffic on the road, I lay face down in the mud as I slowly checked, limb by limb, to make sure I wasn’t injured. Miraculously, I walked away with barely more than a few scratches and a handle-bar shaped bruise across my thighs, but my bike wasn’t so lucky — I managed to bend and break my bike wheel in the process, preventing me from biking home. After over an hour, one of my neighbors happened to drive by in a pick up truck, and graciously gave me a ride home — he definitely made me and my bike ride in the back though!! He and the other passengers also asked for permission to take photos of me (the town’s lone gringa) to show their families how ridiculous I looked!

What do you love most about bicycling?

I love the feel of wind in your face when riding fast. Especially if it’s a sea breeze with a view! Also, when I was living in Central America, I loved seeing a family of 4 managing to ride the same bike – Dad pedaling, Mom on the center bar holding the baby, and the older child perched on the handlebars. It’s not as easy as it looks!! (trust me I’ve tried)

Any tips for cyclists?

I think bicycling, especially in LA or other big cities, comes with responsibilities to know and follow traffic laws. Cars absolutely need to share the road, but bicyclists must keep their own safety in mind at all times – and that includes following the rules of the road! If bicyclists don’t do a good job of signaling turns or lane changes, or run red lights, our actions become unpredictable to others on the road, increasing the risk of accidents! After getting hit by a mo-ped while cycling in Costa Rica, I was mad at the mo-ped driver – but looking back now, I realize that accident was totally my fault and completely preventable because I didn’t signal properly.

Stephanie S. shares a tip on the best car-free stretch in LA
stephanie
What is your ride?Specialized brand. Lady-sized and perfect for short people.What is your favorite bike trail?

When I lived in Culver City it was great to jump on the Ballona Creek path and ride it down to the sea. And if so inclined I could turn left and keep going south to Palos Verdes. It’s the best car-free stretch in L.A.

What is your best bike memory?

Climbing the entire length of Big Tujunga (without stopping) up to Clear Creek on the Angeles Forest Highway. And this was on my old, heavy steel bike that had fewer gears.

What do you love most about bicycling?

Cycling is exhausting and I’ll never be comfortable with the cars. But one does get a great sense of achievement in a long ride, it’s great exercise, and if you are in a car-free area (bike path, country road) it is quite a high to zip along making no noise and being able to look at the scenery and be in the scenery.

Max D. tinkers, tailors, soldiers with his bike
max
What is your ride?An aluminum Vitus road bike made in France in the early 1990s. I removed the gears and converted it to a single speed with a freehub.What is your favorite bike trail?
The Strand along the beach.What is your best bike memory?

Commuting to UCSB on the trails along the Elwood Bluffs. There’s nothing like it!

What do you love most about bicycling?

I love the freedom of movement as compared to other forms of transportation, as well as the hobby aspect of puttering with the bike itself.

What are your thought’s on LA’s bike infrastructure?

New bikes paths and bike lanes aren’t going to help solve the issue of LA being completely sprawling and spread out, but it sure could make the neighborhoods more pleasant. We have possibly the most compatible climate for bicycling, and yet it’s not seen as a major mode of transportation as it is in other cities (Portland, Minneapolis, Copenhagen, etc.). Good bicycle infrastructure can go a long way toward changing that.

Anna S. enjoys the California sunshine on her cruiser
anna
What is your ride?Single speed 3G ladies beach cruiser, designed right here in Southern California.What is your favorite bike trail?

I like any bike path that provides an interesting or scenic journey to a deliciously refreshing end point. A few that come to mind are Crystal Cove State Park, which has Ruby’s Shake Shack at one end; riding along the Isar River from the center of town in Munich up to Gasthof Hinterbrühl; and riding around the historic town center of Oxford and through the surrounding fields, which provides many refreshing points throughout the journey.

What do you love most about biking?

Biking for me has a lot of the same benefits as walking (which I also love) but is just faster. It helps me grasp of the lay of the land and get an understanding of the place I’m visiting in a way that would be impossible by driving or even riding on public transportation. I like having the flexibility and accessibility that riding a bike affords when exploring new places.

What’s your best bike memory?

I think my best bike memory is yet to come. I’ve always been more of a recreational or tourist biker, but within the next few years I would like to take part in “Bike to the Beach,” an annual bike ride to raise awareness for autism. My cousins and a couple friends of theirs turned their annual bike ride from Bethesda, MD to Bethany Beach, DE into several 100-mile rides that now take place along the East Coast. Since officially becoming a 501(c)(3) in 2007, Bike to the Beach has raised over a million dollars for autism awareness. Even though it has grown quite large in recent years (over 2000 people ride and volunteer at the event), it still has a family and friends vibe. To date at least a dozen of my family members have participated in the ride, including three of my siblings. So my cruiser might be taking the backseat to a more serious (read: multiple speed) bike soon enough.

 

Update to Best Bike Memory:

Nil Volentibus Arduum
Nothing is impossible for the willing

In May I wrote that my best bike memory was yet to come. In early August I took the plunge and “Biked to the Beach,” 105 miles from downtown Washington, DC to Dewey Beach, DE. Before embarking on the ride I needed to train – and not on my beach cruiser. So after visiting CicLAvia, I went to the Bicycle Kitchen here in Los Angeles and got myself a “project bike” in the form of a 1983 Nishiki Sebring road bike (before and after pics below). It was pretty much ready to go once we cleaned off the dust and oiled up the chain, but I also updated the saddle and grip tape, added a Climate Action Reserve headlight and some other safety features, and named my new road bike “Yoshi.” I can safely say that along with the two training rides and raising over $1,000 for autism awareness,* Bike to the Beach DC 2013 is my favorite biking memory. Waking up at 3:30 AM to meet up with over 500 bicyclists to get on the road by 5:00 AM was exhilarating; riding out of the city in the dark with the DC Police Department was exciting; biking through the Maryland and Delaware countryside was both challenging and breathtaking; and completing the ride on time with my best friend and my little sister was incredibly gratifying.  Now I’m looking forward to exploring the LA and OC road trails with Yoshi, and of course to getting back on my beach cruiser too.

*90% of proceeds go to Autism Speaks, with the remaining 10% being apportioned out to smaller local (DC) autism charities and bike charities. Fundraising is open through September, so it’s not too late to donate!

 

 

 

Congratulations to our 2013 CARROT award recipients

April 16th, 2013

Reception 54

The Climate Action Reserve has always believed in the importance and power of collaboration, and we consider ourselves very fortunate to work with some of the most innovative, pioneering and driven people in our field. So, it’s a significant honor and privilege when we get to recognize specific individuals who have made very notable contributions to our work. Each year at our annual conference, Navigating the American Carbon World, the individual departments at the Reserve hand out the CARROT award to individuals who helped them in their work. This year’s CARROT award recipients were recognized at the VIP reception for the conference. The award recipients were:

J.P. Brisson, Latham & Watkins
Bill Salas, Applied Geosolutions
Patrick Wood, AgMethane Advisors
Robert Parkhurst and Eileen Tutt, Trustees of the Climate Action Reserve Blind Trust
Olaf Kuegler and Glenn Christensen, USDA Forest Service PNW Research Station

Thanks again to these seven individuals who played key roles in helping us achieve our goals!

Climate Action Offsetter: The University of Phoenix

March 5th, 2013

written by the University of Phoenix

With about 700,000 alumni, more than 300,000 students and tens of thousands of employees and instructors, University of Phoenix has a large and vibrant community.  Members of this global community proudly call themselves “Phoenixes.” And there are many reasons to take pride in being a Phoenix.  Since our founding in 1976, we have become one of the largest higher education providers in North America, and we’ve made the dream of attaining higher education degrees possible for hundreds of thousands of working adults.  For me, however, one of the most gratifying aspects of being a Phoenix lies in our commitment to clean energy and our work to support healthy and sustainable communities where our employees and students live.

As an institution, our motto is “Let’s Get to Work”, and this way of thinking is wholly manifested in our attempts to lower our carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Additionally, we have put programs in place to prevent pollution, minimize waste, and conserve energy and natural resources.  We believe vigilance today will go a long way toward preserving the environment for future generations.

One of the most important ways the University of Phoenix is working towards a cleaner future is through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).  These are created every time a megawatt-hour (MWh) of clean energy is generated and added to the power grid.  Once the electricity goes into the grid, the environmental attributes are bundled and sold.  The University of Phoenix has used green e-certified RECs to contribute to wind projects in Texas and throughout the Midwest.  This wind energy ultimately helps reduce fossil fuel-based energy.

We feel it is also very important to offset our carbon emissions that occur through the use of natural gas, on-site generators and emissions from transportation. We have set goals to reduce these emissions and then purchased carbon offsets to further reduce this impact. Carbon offsets are important because although we know they don’t remove our emissions, we believe they provide a positive net impact to the environment and climate, and promote innovative projects that help reduce the total amount of carbon in our atmosphere.

In addition to our investments in RECs and carbon offsets, the University of Phoenix furthers our sustainability goals with the implementation of comprehensive environmental policies and business practices.  For example, through our many channels of communication we encourage and educate employees on environmental actions they can take at home, at work, and in the community.  In the community, we support environmental education through a variety of non-profit partners, including the National Park Foundation, Cleantech Open and Green For All. You can learn all about our partnerships here.

At the operations level, we have taken steps to shift all copy paper to 30 percent post-consumer waste content and install energy efficient light bulbs.  In fact, our lighting retrofit project alone is estimated to reduce over 1.3 million kilowatt hours of energy annually.

Another way the University of Phoenix is looking ahead is through our sustainability-related degree programs.  Students can choose Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Science or Business, with a concentration in Sustainable Enterprise Management.  We also offer a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Energy Management.  By training the environmental stewards of tomorrow, we are taking positive steps toward our sustainability goals.

We are proud of our commitment to building healthier communities by reducing waste, saving resources, and reducing local and national demand for dirty energy.

Our Green New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthy & Environmentally Friendly 2013

January 2nd, 2013

2013 promises to be an exciting year of carbon emissions reductions. Not just from the activities in the California cap-and-trade program and voluntary carbon market, but also from individual efforts being made around to globe to reduce our footprint and live more sustainably. Reserve staff members are pleased to share our green new year’s resolutions as we wish you a healthy and happy new year.

 

I resolve to try and use cloth diapers more often than I use disposable diapers (for my baby, not myself).
-Max DuBuisson

My green resolution is to plant our yard with native, drought-resistant plants so we minimize our water consumption.
-Gillian Calof

My resolution is to take the Expo line at least twice a week. For a car-loving Angeleno, it seems like a decent start….
-Katy Young

I got my water carbonator back this weekend (finally), so no more bottles of sparkling water for me! :-D
-Anna Schmitz

My green resolution is to maintenance my bicycle by the end of the month so I can ride it to work come springtime (because winter here is so “cold”).
-Heather Raven

Meet Max DuBuisson, Senior Policy Manager

November 26th, 2012

1. What drives your environmental work and activism?

My environmental interests were shaped by growing up in North Carolina, where nature was very accessible, and being involved in the Quaker community, which generally places great value on the natural world. Plus, science was really the only subject in school that could keep my attention. I do not really consider myself an activist, but rather more of a pragmatist. Our economy is not constructed in a way that values the natural world, and I would like to help change that.

2. What was one of your most exciting and rewarding achievements?

Riding a bicycle without training wheels.

3. Who is your hero (or someone you admire greatly)?

As I child my heroes were always my summer camp counselors. I think that’s still a pretty good answer.

4. What are your favorite and frequently visited websites, and why?

The LA Times, to keep up with the news, local and otherwise, and Engadget, to keep up with nerdy stuff. For my really local news, I go to the Daily Breeze. And, of course, https://thereserve2.apx.com/, to stay informed on domestic carbon offset projects.

5. What was your most recent “That oughta be a law!” thought?

Lawmakers should have to simplify or remove an existing law for every new law that they want to introduce. There should also be term limits on all politicians; it should not be a lifelong career option.

6. What is a tip you’d like to share for leading a more sustainable life?

Small, personal changes are helpful, but so are big shifts. As a customer/client/constituent/investor/etc., use your voice to push for companies and lawmakers to adopt changes that can make a significant difference. We need activists on the outside with signs and slogans, but we also need activists on the inside who can create a culture of sustainability.

7. Please share a personal story that ties in with one of the Reserve’s protocol sectors.

Our first forest project outside of California is on the Alligator River in NC. When I was about 13, my family was on a weekend sailing trip down the NC coast, and ended up marooned in the middle of the Alligator River for four to six hours until someone could come free the boat and tow us to a marina. As far as I know, there are not actually any alligators there, but it’s still not a pleasant place to be stuck at night.

8. If you could spend one week in a natural area in the U.S., where would it be?

Rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park (in the fall).

9. What is an environmental book that you think should be required reading in schools?

An ecology text book.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Every time I go back to NC, I have to get a pulled pork sandwich and hush puppies, as soon as possible. Nobody in CA can make decent NC pulled pork.

11. What is something about you that your professional peers would be surprised to learn?

Prior to my time at the Reserve (4 years now), my longest stretch of professional experience was 3 years selling fancy olive oils and other Mediterranean goodies when I first moved to Los Angeles.

Meet Andrew Craig, Program Assistant

November 21st, 2012

Andrew Craig

1. What drives your environmental work and activism?

My work is driven by my desire to leave this world in a better state than how I found it. To me that means tackling the biggest man-made threat this planet has ever faced – climate change. Climate change is expected to drastically disrupt the world we live in with the worst effects borne by those least capable of adapting to it. It is our responsibility to be good environmental stewards and ensure future generations are able to enjoy the same natural wonders we have been able to.

2. What was one of your most exciting and rewarding achievements?

A couple years ago I attempted the “3-Peaks Challenge”, an effort to hike the tallest mountain in Scotland, England, and Wales all within a 24-hour period. My friends and I were able to raise over $6,000 for ShelterBox – a charity which sends immediate relief aid to victims of natural disasters.

3. Who is your hero (or someone you admire greatly)?

One person I have come to greatly admire is Bear Grylls who is most famous for his TV show, “Man vs. Wild”. I admire him if nothing else but for the fact that he climbed mount Everest less than 2 years after breaking his back from surviving a skydiving accident in Africa – all before he was 24 years old. How many people can say that?!

Another personal hero of mine is NFL quarterback Tim Tebow. I am amazed by how often he has been able to prove his critics wrong and be able to succeed at every given opportunity. He has a willingness to never give up and has demonstrated himself to be selfless person both on and off the field.

4. What are your favorite and frequently visited websites?

I am a big sports fan so I find myself checking espn and nfl.com to keep up with all the latest sports news. I also enjoy finding good deals on craigslist and ebay.

5. What is a tip you’d like to share for leading a more sustainable life?

In some areas of the country, transportation emissions account for the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions. As an alternative to driving, taking public transportation is often more convenient, safer, and cheaper than driving your own car. I try to take public transport at every opportunity, or otherwise look for ways to carpool with others.

6. What is your opinion of the Obama administration’s environmental record?

I’m disappointed more was not done during Obama’s first term to address the need for a national carbon trading program. However, I am optimistic that California will create a roadmap for what a successful system should look like that might later inform the foundation of a federal program.

7. If you could spend one week in a natural area in the U.S., where would it be?

I have been to many of the U.S. national parks but so far I’ve missed out on arguably the most magnificent of them all – Yellowstone National Park. It was the first to be established and I have heard great things from friends of mine who have gone camping, hiking, and fishing in one of the most beautiful areas in the whole country.

8. What is an environmental book that you think should be required reading in schools?

Eaarth by Bill McKibben. The reason for the unusual spelling in the title is to convey the author’s message that the planet is recognizable, yet not the same as it once was as a result of human influence on the environment. However, the book provides a great deal of hope and logical steps towards correcting this problem with technologies currently available to us today.

9. What is your favorite meal?

I like all sorts of food – Thai, Mexican, Indian, even haggis! I will try just about anything once. But if I have to choose, nothing beats a good steak dinner!

10. What is something about you that your professional peers would be surprised to learn?

I used to drive an SUV that got 15 miles to the gallon *GASP!*

Meet Mark Havel, Program Associate

November 12th, 2012

1. What drives your environmental work and activism?

33 percent interest in science, 33 percent appreciation of nature, 33 percent sense of responsibility, and 1 percent crippling desire to seem cool and interesting.

2. What was one of your most exciting and rewarding achievements?

I got a job at the Climate Action Reserve. Gary reads these, right?

3. Who is your hero?

Anyone who values ecosystem services and therefore considers environmental impacts when making decisions.

4. What are your favorite and frequently visited websites?

The total number is embarrassing, so here are a few highlights. I visit the Times and the BBC sites for news, CleanTechnica and Climate Progress for my climate change and alternative energy fix, and Serious Eats because food is great.

5. What was your most recent “That oughta be a law!” thought?

I probably think about national marriage equality (pro) and creationism in schools (anti) every day. Those seem like pretty easy laws to me.

6. What is a tip you’d like to share for leading a more sustainable life?

I think the first general step is moving away from an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality and considering the entire life cycle of the goods you consume. It’s a little tedious at first, but over time it’ll become second nature.

7. Please share a personal story that ties in with one of the Reserve’s protocol sectors

I had a great time composting my recycled refrigerator in a coal mine under a forest full of dairy cows last week. Sorry, I haven’t been on any oversights, so I got nothing. Can we get rid of this question?

8. What is your opinion of the Obama administration’s environmental record?

Not bad*, but should be better (*meme reference). It’s understandably difficult to crack down on corporate carbon emissions when the economy is in dire straits, and the new fuel efficiency standards are a pretty big deal. Still, there should have been a bigger effort to move the topic of climate change from political talking point to significant concern in the public sphere.

9. If you could spend one week in a natural area in the U.S., where would it be?

Hawaii. Nah, too easy. I’d say it’s a toss-up between the Great Basin Desert in Nevada and the temperate rainforests in Washington.

10. What is an environmental book that you think should be required reading in schools?

Parts of Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman. The tone is a fairly informal and there are quite a few personal anecdotes, but it hits home on several key issues and, more importantly, it’s inspiring.

11. What is your favorite meal?

Dinner? The truth is that I go through phases of obsession with specific cuisines or dishes, usually based on what’s readily available in the community. When I lived in Houston, it was mostly Texas-style BBQ and Vietnamese. The Bronx was all Italian-American all the time. Living in LA, I will eat Thai street food or Mexican seafood any day of the week.

12. What is something about you that your professional peers would be surprised to learn?

I have a car and a TV. Seriously, Kristen is inexplicably and consistently surprised by that fact.

Meet Heather Raven, Policy Coordinator

November 7th, 2012

1. What drives your environmental work and activism?

My passion for severe weather which led me into the climate change path in the first place. My belief that human compassion for the welfare of others will lead people to make the right choices about the environment surrounding them. My belief that personal actions will make a difference in slowing climate change.

2. What was one of your most exciting and rewarding achievements?

It may not sound like a huge accomplishment, but graduating with my master’s degree in Climate & Society from Columbia was not something I had planned on doing: I received notice of the program early in 2006, applied just in the nick of time, and moved to NYC a few months later. It was a whirlwind adventure and exhausting one-year program that brought me to where I am today.

3. Who is your hero (or someone you admire greatly)?

David Suzuki, Canadian scientist and environmentalist, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. I grew up watching David Suzuki’s television program The Nature of Things which was centered on environmental issues. He was one of the first environment-focused influences in my life and someone I still greatly admire to this day.

4. What are your favorite and frequently visited websites?

Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family across the globe. National Weather Service (NOAA) because I’m a weather geek and they present the most accurate weather and severe weather updates. Wikipedia, not for official research, but to help answer all those useless trivia questions running through my head; you never know when those tidbits of info will come in handy.

5. What is a tip you’d like to share for leading a more sustainable life?

Don’t buy bottled water. Seriously. It’s no different than your tap water. If you have older pipes then just use a jug filter and keep water in your fridge. The plastic waste from bottles is astounding and unnecessary.

6. Can you share a personal story that ties in with one of the Reserve’s protocol sectors?

Growing up, I was always excited to help my dad take large items and waste to the local landfill and help my mom compost kitchen waste out in the backyard. As a child, the landfill was like a huge depository of other peoples’ lives and I was always fascinated with what was left there and what I would see next. Composting in the backyard was more of a gross fascination with rotting food and how waste broke down and actually could help our gardens. Both experiences (and thanks to my mom and dad!) taught me about how unnecessarily wasteful people can be and yet how some waste can be beneficial. To this day, I’ve recycled, reused, repurposed, and donated items to others as much as possible. I would compost organics, but I don’t think my landlord would approve.

7. If you could spend one week in a natural area in the U.S., where would it be?

The Mojave Desert. Deserts tend to be under-appreciated because the flora and fauna are not as obvious as when trekking through a forest. Learning about desert wildlife and spending more time in the desert has been such a pleasure since I moved to LA. I would love to spend more time exploring the desert and camping in Death Valley…in the late fall or early spring, perhaps.

8. What is your favorite meal?

I love a great plate of loaded nachos or cheese enchiladas, but I think Greek chicken souvlaki, rice, roasted potatoes, dolmades, and tzatziki sauce would beat those other two favorites.

9. What is something about you that your professional peers would be surprised to learn?

I hiked Mt. Whitney in one day, and yes, I bought the t-shirt to prove it. It only took me 21 hours with small breaks. Yeah, not planning to do that again. Physically and mentally exhausting, but yet so rewarding to have done it.

Climate Action Offsetter: NativeEnergy Leads the way with Reserve Offsets

November 2nd, 2012

written by NativeEnergy

When NativeEnergy signed on as the Offset Partner for the 2012 Climate Leadership Conference, we knew that we would need to use credible, high-quality offsets to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the conference. We selected carbon offsets from a project verified to the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) U.S. Landfill Gas Protocol.

The consortium that puts on the conference – the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), The Climate Registry, and the U.S. EPA – are among the most prominent organizations in the United States addressing climate change. Given the stature of the consortium partners, you can imagine the emphasis they placed upon have offsets with “integrity, transparency, and . . . value,” qualities that CAR highlights. Ultimately, we selected a landfill gas offset project from Casella’s Clinton County, NY. This small, voluntary, community project fit the bill admirably.

The role of a conference offset partner can vary. Some conference producers simply offset venue operations, which are a relatively small part of the footprint—typically less than 10 metric tons. For the Climate Leadership Conference, we offset the venue and activities there, hotel stays for conference attendees, plus air and local travel. That footprint was approximately 219 tons, a substantial difference from simply offsetting venue operations. We also wanted to work with the partners to tell the story in a manner that would resonate with attendees. Using the same approach we took with ACCO at their Climate Change Leadership Summit in 2011, we developed materials with the headline “Who let the herd of bull elephants into the room.” The pachyderms vividly conveyed the footprint related to producing the event.

As we know, you can’t be a 21st-century institution and not have a carbon footprint. Add carbon footprints to death and taxes as an inevitable consequence of being.

The institutions we engage with—businesses, non-profit organizations, and events—are all thoughtful and deliberate actors. They are energy-efficient. They support renewable electric generation. They reduce waste; better still, they turn waste into raw material. Still, they have a footprint. Hence the role of carbon offsets. The projects we’ve brought to market—often verified to CAR standards—have provided an important resource to these institutions.

CAR’s work supports the development of credible projects that result in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions over and above business as usual. For a dozen years now, NativeEnergy has been working with responsible entities across the country to turn on new projects that mitigate climate change. In the aftermath of heat, drought, and humongous storms, our work and CAR’s have never been more important.

About NativeEnergy

NativeEnergy is an expert provider of carbon offsets, renewable energy credits, and carbon accounting software. With NativeEnergy’s Help Build™ offsets, businesses and individuals can help finance the construction of wind, biogas, solar, and other carbon reduction projects with strong social and environmental benefits. Since 2000, NativeEnergy’s customers have helped build over 50 projects, reducing more than 2.5 million tons of greenhouse gases, and the company has over 4 million tons under contract. All NativeEnergy carbon offsets undergo third-party validation and verification. Learn more at www.nativeenergy.com.

Meet Gillian Calof, Operations Director

October 30th, 2012



1. What drives your environmental work and activism?

Growing up on a farm in rural Canada I was surrounded by the natural environment and countless species of birds and other wildlife. My family has always been active in our community volunteering for many different organizations so a career in nonprofit environmental work was a natural fit for me.

2. What was one of your most exciting and rewarding achievements?

Completing my Masters degree in Nonprofit Administration was a very rewarding achievement, but nothing compares to the enriching experience of having two healthy and happy boys.

3. Who is your hero (or someone you admire greatly)?

I greatly admire Margot Feuer, one of the three inspiring women who fought for the preservation of the Santa Monica Mountains. She campaigned and lobbied Congress to protect the mountains and open space in the Los Angeles area.

4. What are your favorite and frequently visited websites?

The Daily Grail – it’s an alternative source for news that highlights thought-provoking articles in the area of science, history and science fiction. I also visit www.mlb.com as I am a huge baseball fan!

5. What was your most recent “That oughta be a law!” thought?

My most recent “That oughta be a law” thought was more a, “I wish they’d enforce the law” moment. Gas powered leaf blowers are banned in Los Angeles but their use is widespread. The dust and other airborne particles they spread are detrimental to our health.

6. What is a tip you’d like to share for leading a more sustainable life?

Plan your meals in advance so that you shop with focus and waste less food.

7. Can you share a personal story that ties in with one of the Reserve’s protocol sectors?

I once had an internship with a company that surveyed electricity usage at hog and dairy farms in Ontario, Canada. I visited over 30 farms that summer and became intimately familiar with their operation and challenges. I also met some of the nicest, friendliest people.

8. If you could spend one week in a natural area in the U.S., where would it be?

I’d hike and camp in the Desolations Wilderness in the South Lake Tahoe area. It has some of the most beautiful alpine lakes, waterfalls and scenery!

9. What is an environmental book that you think should be required reading in schools?

I like the idea of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson being read in schools. It marks an age of awareness and of the human potential to damage our natural environment.

10. What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is a BBQ shared with our neighbors.

11. What is something about you that your professional peers would be surprised to learn?

For our first dance at our wedding my husband and I recreated the 1984 Saturday Night Live ‘Men’s Synchronized Swimming’ sketch. Yes, we had our first dance in a pool.

Meet Derik Broekhoff, Vice President of Policy

October 16th, 2012

1. What drives your environmental work and activism?

40 percent force of habit, 10 percent sublimated idealism, 30 percent worrying about the world my daughter will inherit, 20 percent a deeply conservative streak concerning preservation of the natural world.

2. What was one of your most exciting and rewarding achievements?

Arriving in Yosemite shortly after midnight, pitching a tent in Camp 4, immediately hiking halfway up to Yosemite Falls to see it in the moonlight, getting up early the next morning to hike up Half Dome, scaling to the top even though the cables were down, stumbling into Camp 4 for dinner.

3. Who is your hero (or someone you admire greatly)?

Bond. James Bond.

4. What are your favorite and frequently visited websites?

The Atlantic.com – To keep tabs on the chattering class.

Ars Technica – To learn about what hackers are up to, gadgets, and the occasional deep dive on climate science, astronomy, and subatomic physics.

Realclimate.org – An antidote to the peanut gallery that attaches itself in comments to every article written on climate change.

Unfccc.int – Just kidding!

5. What was your most recent “That oughta be a law!” thought?

Glass-Steagall

6. What is a tip you’d like to share for leading a more sustainable life?

Don’t cut switchbacks.

7. Please share a personal story that ties in with one of the Reserve’s protocol sectors (ie story about your experiences composting, enjoying a forest, recycling your refrigerator)

I used a worm bin to compost food scraps for a while. Then my housemate’s Siberian husky tore the plastic liner off in the middle of winter and the worms froze to death. One of the Reserve’s composting projects is near an airport and for safety reasons they have a dog to chase birds away. Dogs will be dogs; sometimes that’s bad, sometimes it’s good… I’m sorry, what was the question?

8. If you could spend one week in a natural area in the U.S., where would it be?

Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon. Reasonably remote, great hiking, you can bag an easy peak, lava beds!

9. What is an environmental book that you think should be required reading in schools?

The World Without Us. Very imaginatively conveys the full breadth of human impact on the natural world – and is strangely uplifting.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Tuna Helper® without the tuna, after a hike up Half Dome.

11. What is something about you that your professional peers would be surprised to learn?

Like Paul Ryan, I can say I ran a marathon in 3.5 hours or less. Unlike Paul Ryan, I actually did.

Making Your Office a Lean, Green, Emissions-Cutting Machine

October 15th, 2012

Blog Action Day 2012: The Power of We

Reserve staff riding public transportation in downtown Los Angeles

We get excited to read about company sustainability initiatives. We love culling through these articles to learn how companies are going green and to inspire change in our own office. And while Fortune 500 companies, such as Google, UPS, Chevrolet and Disney pursue large-scale ambitious projects, small nonprofits can make an impact in cutting emissions, too! Here are some of our green initiatives at the Climate Action Reserve:

  1. Flex Your (Purchasing) Power

    We like to purchase the greenest options available – such as FSC certified paper, office supplies made from recycled or biodegradable materials, and natural and botanical cleaners. Our coffee is organic, fair trade and shade grown. Our pens are made from biodegradable, compostable corn plastic.

  2. Sustainable Operations Policies

    We got rid of our fax machine a few years ago and use an electronic online based fax service called myfax.com. All outgoing and incoming faxes are electronic documents.

    In addition to reducing our usage of resources (such as limiting printing to strictly necessary items), reusing available materials (such as packaging materials), and recycling everything that’s recyclable (paper, batteries, equipment), we are also excited to embark on composting food waste in the office via a worm-free, bug-free, odorless system.

    We also allow our staff to work from home one day a week to reduce transit impact on the environment.

    Speaking of transit impact, we are pleased to report that we have extremely high rates of ridership in the local public transportation system. Downtown Los Angeles is a difficult area to traverse via automobile during rush hour, with its one-way streets, congestion, honking, and pedestrians. So, instead of offering staff a reserved parking spot or full reimbursement of parking costs, we partner with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to offer discounted bus/rail passes to our staff.

  3. Green Meetings and Events

    When holding meetings and events, we use online webinar programs to the maximum extent possible. This allows our audience to participate without requiring any air and ground travel, and results in higher participation rates, reduced costs and much reduced emissions.

  4. Measure and Offset

    As a Member of The Climate Registry, we adhere to their rigorous General Reporting Protocol to measure our carbon footprint. For our emissions inventory, we measure our office electricity usage, heating and cooling, air and ground travel for events, and travel to and from the office during the weekday commute. Upon determining our annual emissions inventory, we purchase and retire carbon credits, called Climate Reserve Tonnes, through a blind trust to offset our emissions.

    We also measure and offset the emissions associated with our annual conference, Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW). Our conference is the largest carbon conference in North America, drawing approximately 600 leaders in business, environment, government and academia. We partner with a leading carbon offset retailer (TerraPass in 2011 and 2012) to calculate the travel for attendees, electricity and air conditioning usage for conference facilities and event-related occupied guest rooms during the duration of the conference.

The efforts of the organization to minimize our impact on the environment are successful because of the involvement and support of our staff. We’re always looking for additional ideas on improving our sustainability profile and we’d love to hear about green initiatives at your workplace! Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting the Power of We.

My CicLAvia Experience

October 8th, 2012

by Sarina Tounian

CicLAvia is a community event that temporarily closes streets to vehicle traffic, creating a web of public space on which residents of Los Angeles are able to bike, walk, skate, socialize, celebrate, and learn about neighborhoods and cultures.

As a daily commuter to downtown LA, I was intrigued by the idea of Los Angeles being traffic-free and open for pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters and more. I regularly sit in Los Angeles traffic and gridlock in my Insight, and I couldn’t wait to experience the streets on a bicycle.

So, a few days before CicLAvia, my friend and I went to Linus Bike, a bike store in Old Town Pasadena, and purchased our dream bikes. I am now the proud rider of the Linus Dutchi 3 (in Sage). I also walked down the street to Incycle Bicycles in Pasadena and got the best accessories for my bike, including a bike rack, a powerful lock, a frame adapter, and a click headlight and taillight.

 

We excitedly arrived at CicLAvia at 10:00AM. From a distance, I saw hundreds of bicyclists on both sides of the road casually riding their bicycles as though Los Angeles streets were truly meant to be this way. I power-biked my way to the crowd, feeling extremely liberated and stress-free. As we slowly hit our brakes at a traffic light, we moved closer and closer together, and I felt an immediate sense of community and camaraderie with my fellow Angeleno bicyclists. We passed through every street in downtown Los Angeles, experiencing the streets, restaurants and businesses from a new perspective.

CicLAvia organizers estimate that 100,000 bicyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders participated in the event, which closed nine miles of city streets stretching from Boyle Heights to MacArthur Park and from Chinatown to Exposition Park to motor vehicles for five hours.

I watched thousands of interesting people skate, rollerblade, play music, dance, and play amongst the crowds. And, I received a lot of compliments on my new bicycle. Although it got a small scratch from the ride, it bears its scar proudly like a war wound. This is truly one of the greatest events I have ever been to, and an event that Los Angelenos should cherish in their lifetime. It helps residents of the city rediscover their love for the bicycle, get great outdoor exercise, and spend time appreciating their community. I will definitely attend CicLAvia in the years to come, and hopefully get all of my friends to join! See you all next year.

Meet Sami Osman, Policy Manager

October 8th, 2012


1. What drives your environmental work and activism?

Two things – an ultra-conservatism (the green kind) when it comes to resource usage and a keen interest in applying carbon revenues to social development goals. Both of these stemming from my child-hood in sub-Saharan Africa, where there was simply not enough to go around for there to be anything to waste.

2. What is one of your most exciting and rewarding achievements?

Being accepted into law school. My last two years of high school were really tough, due to personal and family circumstances, so opening that envelope and seeing my scores, was like receiving a ticket to freedom. The future seemed to open up in front of me, promising a world full of light and life.

3. Who is your hero (or someone you admire greatly)?

My father. As a boy he walked two days to get to his uncles house, where he stayed so that he could go to school. He borrowed one robe from his uncle, so that on alternate days he could wash his own. He was the first from his village to attend high school, going on to receive University scholarships in Japan and Russia. Throughout his life he has remained pious, always seeking and sharing knowledge, embodying a gentle compassion and kindness.

4. What are your favorite and frequently visited websites?

Do email providers and search engines count? Hotmail and google follow me everywhere, collecting and selling my thoughts and data, keeping me plugged in and occupied. “Lovely morning, lovely view” says the train driver as we cross over the 110.

5. What was your most recent “That oughta be a law!” thought?

N/A, I’m an anarchist.

6. What is a tip you’d like to share for leading a more sustainable life?

Read, listen, learn, take the time to analyze your default positions… Are these really necessary, helpful to me, who or what do these affect? Ask yourself whether you really care about any of this ‘sustainability’ stuff anyways. If you do… then there are many many simple little things which can make your life easier and more productive (ie less resources used for the same levels of output).

7. Please share a personal story that ties in with one of the Reserve’s protocol sectors (ie story about your experiences composting, enjoying a forest, recycling your refrigerator)

One day I was mining coal, it was very dirty. So I stopped and planted a tree. Not true.

8. If you could spend one week in a natural area in the U.S., where would it be?

A treck up to Big Sur would be a great start.

9. What environmental book do you think should be required reading in schools?

I don’t know any – but “The End of Charity” (by Nic Frances) is an easy to read and inspiring intro into to carbon finance.

10. What is your favorite meal?

One shared with good people.

11. What is something about you that your professional peers would be surprised to learn?

It’s a secret.

David Horsey’s Environment and Climate Cartoons

October 4th, 2012

As a Los Angeles-based organization, we are excited to share some of our favorite environment and climate cartoons from David Horsey, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and columnist who recently joined the Los Angeles Times after an extensive run at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. To view more of his cartoons, check out Top of the Ticket: Political Commentary from David Horsey at LA Times or an archive of his work at Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

What are some of your favorite David Horsey cartoons? Please feel free to share a link below.

The Reserve Adopts Environmental and Social Safeguards Policy

September 28th, 2012

The Reserve always seeks to ensure that the projects it registers not only help to mitigate climate change, but also avoid causing environmental or social harms more broadly. To this end, all projects are required to pass a “regulatory compliance” test demonstrating that they are in material compliance with applicable laws. Some protocols (e.g., forestry) have additional environmental and social “safeguard” criteria as well. On September 26, the Reserve’s Board of Directors formally adopted a proposed update to the Reserve’s environmental and social safeguard policy that clarifies their potential scope and application. Specifically:

  • As always, project activities may not directly cause significant environmental or social harms. Such activities will either be declared ineligible, or the Reserve will refuse to issue credits for reductions achieved when harms were occurring.
  • In some cases, the Reserve may impose restrictions or penalties for harms associated with project activities but not directly caused by them. This will only occur, however, if the harms: (1) occur in the vicinity of the project; and (2) are caused by an individual or entity that – according to the relevant protocol – is required to be involved in implementing project activities.

For example, the Reserve may review overall regulatory compliance on agricultural fields where nitrogen management projects are taking place, even though project activities may not directly affect that compliance. For these kinds of projects, the same individuals (farmers) are responsible for both the project activity and the environmental and social impacts of the fields where the activity takes place.

For coal mine methane projects, on the other hand, project developers are frequently independent entities that install methane-destruction equipment at mines owned and operated by another company. Because the Reserve’s Coal Mine Methane Protocol does not require mine owners to be involved in project implementation, the Reserve will not hold projects responsible for environmental or social harms caused only by the mine owners.

Finally, it should be noted that to date, the Reserve has never withheld credits or denied eligibility to a project that was found in violation of legal requirements or other protocol criteria. We hope that such violations continue to be exceptionally rare. This updated policy is meant to clarify how and when the Reserve will consider such violations if they do occur. Please see the Environmental and Social Safeguards Policy Memo released September 27 for more details and contact policy@climateactionreserve with any questions.

Environmental Cartoons by Joel Pett

August 31st, 2012

Joel Pett, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Lexington Herald-Leader and keynote speaker at our NACW 2012 conference, celebrates his birthday tomorrow, September 1. In honor of his birthday and his great work, we would like to share a few of his best environmental cartoons.

One Man’s Trash Really is Another’s Treasure

July 25th, 2012

Landfill carbon offsets are the most popular in the Climate Action Reserve

A great treasure is hidden in the depths of local landfills. Mining this treasure brings benefits to the global climate, local air quality, and green economy. And companies and individuals are demonstrating that this new commodity is both valuable and necessary.

The treasure is carbon offsets which are generated by capturing and destroying the highly potent greenhouse gas (GHG) methane that’s created by decomposing trash. By adhering to the Reserve’s Landfill Project Protocol, which provides standards on measuring, monitoring and verifying emissions reductions, landfills can earn offset credits, called Climate Reserve Tonnes (CRTs), equivalent to the metric tons of GHG emissions reductions. CRTs can be sold on the carbon market to consumers who wish to offset their GHG emissions. The Reserve carbon offset program supports emission reductions in forests, urban forests, livestock operations, landfills, coal mines, organic waste digestion, composting, nitric acid plants, ozone depleting substances, rice cultivation and nitrogen management.

Of the 27 million carbon offsets issued by the Climate Action Reserve, over 4 million have been retired by organizations and individuals including Google, Disney, CBRE, and UPS to reduce their impact on the environment and meet their sustainability goals. With a large selection of respected project types, consumers may consider a variety of factors when deciding what offsets to buy, including how the offset project complements the company’s mission, the proximity of the project location to the community the company serves, or the important environmental co-benefits of the project. Here are the top carbon offset project types in the Climate Action Reserve which has 150 registered projects to date located throughout the United States and Mexico:

1. Landfills

The most popular offsets among the Reserve’s 11 project types are generated by landfill gas capture and combustion projects. More than 2.5 million CRTs have been retired from landfill projects; that is the equivalent of removing more than 498,000 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.

Davidson County Landfill Gas Destruction Project in Lexington, North Carolina

Landfills release methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Landfill projects capture methane gas and send it to a flare for destruction or to an energy producing device for combustion. In addition to addressing climate change, these projects also result in improved water quality, reduction in hazardous air pollutants and, when converted to energy, provide an alternative to limited non-renewable sources such as coal and oil.

2. Forestry

The second most popular offsets in the Reserve are produced by forestry projects. More than 937,000 forestry offsets have been retired to date. Forest projects permanently increase carbon storage in trees and protect forest ecosystems. The Reserve requires natural forest management practices which promote native species, mixed age classes, and sustainable harvest. These provisions reverse the history of intensive industrial timber management on forest lands and rebuild forest habitat for many species. The Reserve requires the long-term (100 year) increase of carbon storage in the forest, thereby significantly enhancing and preserving forests for generations.

Lompico Forest Carbon Project in Santa Cruz County, California

3. Ozone Depleting Substances

To date, more than 381,000 CRTs from ozone depleting substances (ODS) projects have been retired. In addition to destroying the stratospheric ozone layer, these gases, which are used as refrigerants, are thousands of times more potent than CO2 in trapping heat in the atmosphere. ODS have been prohibited from new production because of the danger they pose, but the gases are not prohibited from being recycled back into use from old appliances. ODS projects ensure that the dangerous refrigerants and foam blowing agents are never used again, by collecting them from old appliances and destroying them. The Reserve has two protocols addressing the destruction of ODS – one for ODS sourced in the United States and the other for ODS sourced from the 147 countries identified in Article 5 of the Montreal Protocol, such as India and Mexico.

4. Nitric Acid Production

Nitric acid is a compound used primarily to make synthetic commercial fertilizers. Nitrous oxide, N2O, is formed as a byproduct of the nitric acid production process and is 310 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects that install and operate abatement technology to reduce N2O emissions at nitric acid plants earn carbon credits through the Reserve. N2O is a precursor to ozone formation, particulates, and a component of acid rain and so reductions also provide local air quality benefits. Over 149,000 CRTs have been retired from nitric acid projects.

5. Livestock Operations

Cow and pig manure releases methane, but farmers can install new technologies, specifically anaerobic biodigesters, to facilitate the breakdown of manure and convert it into renewable energy and a nutrient-rich fertilizer. More than 37,000 CRTs have been retired from livestock gas capture and combustion systems.

Bridgewater Dairy in Montpelier, Ohio

In addition to the top five carbon offset types, the Reserve supports emissions reductions in coal mine methane, organic waste digestion, organic waste composting, rice cultivation methane, urban forestry and agriculture nitrogen management.

CRTs have consistently been in high demand, as buyers have sought assurance that offsets are real (reductions have actually occurred), additional (reductions occurred because of the incentives associated with the carbon market), permanent (reductions provide ever-lasting benefits to the environment), verified (reductions are confirmed by an independent third party) and enforceable (reductions are subject to penalties for non-compliance). The purchase of offsets supports emissions reductions in key sectors, achieves important environmental co-benefits, allows sustainability goals to be met at lower cost, supports innovation in green technologies and grows the green economy. And with many offset types available, buyers can be choosy to find the best fit.

Climate Action Offsetter: Chevrolet’s Carbon Reduction Commitment

July 2nd, 2012

written by Chevrolet

At General Motors, we believe that we need to increase fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions as far across the spectrum as possible. That is why we are developing more fuel-efficient vehicles that fit customers’ lifestyles, and striving to increase energy efficiency and use of alternative energy resources throughout our operations.

While we are making good progress in reducing our environmental impact, we are always looking for new and innovative ways to do more. The Chevrolet carbon-reduction initiative is an example of this approach. After all, the solution to environmental challenges goes beyond vehicles.

Chevrolet, our largest brand, made a bold carbon-reduction commitment in November 2010 to connect with Chevy customers through greenhouse-gas reducing projects in local communities here in America. Chevy now has 16 carbon-reduction project agreements in place around the nation, accounting for half of its 8 million metric ton goal, with more projects to be announced soon. This goal was based on the estimated emissions from the 1.9 million Chevy vehicles sold and driven in the United States in roughly a one-year period.

To give you an idea how much 8 million metric tons is, according to epa.gov, it equals the CO2 emissions of one year of electricity use in 970,874 homes. Or, the annual carbon dioxide reduction from 1.7 million acres of pine forest.

We have focused our investments in community-based programs that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy savings, renewable energy and conservation. For example, Chevy is supporting three landfill methane capture and combustion programs in Kentucky, North Carolina and Maryland. Chevy is also helping a greenhouse that grows gardening plants in Huntersville, N.C. replace natural gas with renewable biomass. It’s also supporting a 108-turbine wind farm, including seven community-owned wind turbines, that provides rural farmers and residents with locally generated power and financial returns.

From the start of this initiative, Chevy has engaged with environmental experts, non-government organizations and academics through the Climate Neutral Business Network to guide and inform the investments. The nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation is helping find and support the projects. Their expertise and guidance has enriched the program in many ways.

We know a lot more needs to be done, but we feel that investing in these projects is a positive step for our environment and for local communities. Learn more about Chevy’s voluntary carbon-reduction initiative and show your support by planting a virtual tree on your Facebook wall.

Reserve Achieves Milestone of Issuing More Than 25 Million Carbon Offset Credits

June 28th, 2012

The Climate Action Reserve has reached the milestone of issuing more than 25 million carbon offset credits, which is the equivalent to removing 4.9 million passenger vehicles from the road for one year. Each credit, called Climate Reserve Tonne (CRT), represents one metric ton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that has been prevented from release in the atmosphere. In just over four years, the Reserve has established a highly valued commodity sought by major businesses and organizations to offset their emissions. With 141 registered offset projected located in 45 U.S. states and Mexico, the Reserve has developed a significant volume of CRTs to meet the growing demand for offsets in both the voluntary and regulated carbon markets, including California’s upcoming cap-and-trade program.

The project that pushed the total CRT tally beyond 25 million is the 200-acre Granger South Jordan Landfill Gas Destruction Project located in the Salt Lake area of Utah. Landfills release methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. This Utah landfill captures methane gas and sends it to an energy plant for combustion or destroys it onsite.

“With 25 million metric tons of GHG emissions reductions achieved to date, the Climate Action Reserve has demonstrated the viability of the carbon market in mitigating climate change in a cost-efficient manner,” said Linda Adams, Chair of the Reserve Board of Directors. “As more companies look to reduce their impact on the environment, they are turning to the most trusted carbon offsets program. The stringent standards, transparent processes and multi-stakeholder participation that the Reserve employs have earned market confidence that its emissions reductions are real, additional and permanent.”

From small businesses to international corporations, many organizations – including Sokol Blosser Winery, UPS, Google, NHL and Lollapalooza – are using Reserve offsets to reduce their impact on the environment and meet their sustainability goals. Of the 25 million issued CRTs, 3.5 million have been retired by organizations and individuals to offset their GHG emissions.

“We are proud to include Reserve offsets in our sustainability plan for carbon neutrality,” stated Matt Ellis, Associate Director of Sustainability at CBRE. “As the world’s largest commercial real estate services company, CBRE has strived to reduce our environmental footprint when possible and mitigate emissions that are unavoidable. Reserve offsets have been instrumental to our effort. The Reserve provides some of the highest quality carbon offset projects in the world, and has enabled us to make investments in emissions reduction projects in communities we serve.”

The Climate Action Reserve carbon offset program launched in May 2008, under its then-parent organization the California Climate Action Registry, to encourage market-based solutions to achieve GHG emissions reductions. The Reserve worked to ensure the environmental integrity, financial value and liquidity supply in the North American carbon market. The Reserve program encompasses 11 project protocols approved for use throughout the United States and two project protocols for use in Mexico that address emissions reductions from forests, urban forests, livestock operations, landfills, coal mines, organic waste digestion, composting, nitric acid plants, ozone depleting substances and rice cultivation.

In a strong testament to the high quality of the Reserve program, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted four Reserve protocols (forest, urban forest, livestock and ozone depleting substances) into the state’s cap-and-trade program. The use of offset credits generated through these protocols will allow for cost-efficient compliance by regulated entities, increased investment in low-carbon technologies, growth of green jobs and skillsets, and the integration of a broader range of our economy in the fight against climate change. The Reserve is currently the only registry whose standards have been adopted by the ARB.

NACW 2012 Videos & Highlights

May 29th, 2012

Thank you for attending and supporting the Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2012 conference in San Francisco, California. The event featured the most forward-thinking minds that are driving action to address global climate change and advance carbon markets. The conference provided key information, insights and collaborative resources for 600 active and pioneering leaders in the climate policy and carbon management landscape.

Below are videos and quote highlights of the NACW keynote and plenary sessions:

NACW 2012: Welcome by Gary Gero and Linda Adams

NACW 2012: Diane Wittenberg Interviews Mary Nichols

Mary Nichols quoting Gov. Jerry Brown: “When we examine something as common and basic as the air we breathe, we are confronting not only an environmental issue or even an economic issue, we are confronting a basic moral question about our own values, our social definitions and the values we project to the rest of the world.”

Mary Nichols quoting Gov. Jerry Brown: “I see the clean air debate and the global warming debate as a great opportunity to deepen our commitment as a people to values that benefit us all and that benefit generations that follow…Most of the opposition to taking action on global warming is based on the cost. Problems of red tape, problems of regulation. We hear that is just too expensive and that we ought to allocate our money to something else; that something else is producing more goods for people. But what about the air we breathe, the common resource on which all human beings depend. Shouldn’t they have a pre-eminent value? Our society is the richest in the world. Certainly, we must take the lead in setting the proper balance between individual comfort and our long term survival and social values.”

Mary Nichols: “Our scoping plan under AB 32 shows that most of the emissions reductions – about a little over 80 percent of all the carbon and other GHGs that we are working to take out of the atmosphere – are gonna come from specific targeted regulations with our vehicle emission standards at the very top of the list, but also including low carbon fuel standard, mandatory efficiency audits and a host of very specific regulations on things like refrigerants. So we’re doing everything we can think of to do that makes sense in regulation. The cap-and-trade program, which is the thing thats most talked about because its the newest and therefore its easy to scare people about or misinterpret, is in many ways the last piece of the pyramid that we’re building here, but its also one that affects everything else because by setting the cap obviously we have our target in place, we know how many tons we’re trying to get, we know what the absolute limit is.”

Mary Nichols: “If by 2020 we don’t have a government in the United States and I would say a government in Canada as well that have stepped up to the plate and adopted some form of national commitment to reduction of greenhouse gases and joined in some sort of an international program to accomplish this goal, then I would say our claims of leadership are not all that they’re cracked up to be. We clearly – our intent here is to be superseded, to be lapses, to be incorporated into something bigger.”

Mary Nichols: “We need offsets in order to moderate the price of allowances under our program. As the cap gets tighter, the number of allowances is reduced between now and 2020, we know that there’s going to be a need for offsets in order to help keep the prices of allowances in line and keep the participants in the market in compliance. So we worry about whether there will be enough offsets. On the other hand, if there are too many offsets and they flood the market, that isn’t good for the offset sellers and it isn’t good for the market either. It just discredits the whole program. So our path in this direction has been to keep very tight control over the quality of the offsets that we will accept. I mean everybody sort of throws around the word additionality and enforcement, but we have taken that to a degree of rigor that we think people would expect of California. We want our offsets to be the prime offsets.”

Mary Nichols: “The fact that a bunch of California elected officials with the support of a lot of segments of the private sector including companies like Chevrolet and PG&E and so forth have been able to do this really just does make me feel proud being a Californian.”

NACW 2012: Tim Profeta and William Reilly

William K. Reilly: “The cap-and-trade program here if it is successful can have a profound influence on the readiness of the rest of the country and the rest of the world to follow suit.”

William K. Reilly: “I’m not aware of a CEO in today’s American economy who doesn’t expect that we will eventually get carbon regulation and isn’t preparing his or her company to deal with it.”

William K. Reilly: “This is a profoundly consequential moral issue. I think the United States is sleeping through climate change. The nearest analogy I can think of is the British population in the 1930s when they knew that Germany was re-arming but found other things to preoccupy themselves with.”

NACW 2012 Plenary: Guide Stars: State and National Leadership Across the Globe

James Mack: “Climate change is actually a big issue in British Columbia so it is a top of mind issue for British Columbians. A couple of things to understand that is we have a relatively small economy, relatively small population, but a lot of land and a couple of things that have happened is over the last 20 years we lost over 10 percent of our glacier mass in British Columbia. In some areas, that’s as high as 20 percent. We’ve had 16 million hectares of pine destroyed by the pine beetle, which was due to 10 years of unseasonably warm winters and we’re now in the process of looking at our coast communities and seeing the impacts of extreme weather and sea level rise.”

Dirk Forrister: “We’re in an era where experimentation is good and real world examples are good and actually collaboration between a state like California & Quebec is a good thing that we would all learn from and potentially it could blossom into a model thats good for others.”

Linda Adams: “AB32 has some very strong language that we took to heart and it requires that protocols ensure that offsets are real, permanent, quantifiable, verifiable and enforceable. It was very controversial to even allow them, but there is a recognition now that yes we can meet these goals, and in fact the Climate Action Reserve has I believe the highest standards in the world and the most stringent protocols in the world. and I think that’s why the ARB allowed them into the market.”

NACW 2012 Plenary: Full Steam Ahead: WCI Update

James Goldstene: “The rule in California has been completed, the rule in Quebec has been completed, and we’re planning to bring to my Board in June of this year a linking regulation to link our two programs together and then after that, we expect that the province of Ontario, and then the province of British Columbia will follow. And then of course, depending on what happens after the election in November, maybe we can get some more states to join us back.”

Tim Lesiuk: “The reductions – as long as the quality is there and they’re real, it doesn’t matter where they actually occur to have an effect on the climate. So they can occur in other states. It’s ensuring that you have a way to guarantee the quality of the offsets that matters. And the WCI and jurisdictions are figuring out how that works in the offset programs and the rules and regulations that they’re writing right now. The supply and demand for offsets, by their very nature, they’re not included in the system. They’re not capped sources. you got pretty comprehensive whether its a carbon tax in British Columbia or a cap-and-trade program in Quebec or California, the coverage of those programs doesn’t leave a lot of emissions outside of the capped sectors. So those can’t become your major route to compliance. There aren’t enough of them to do that, and so its inherent that those offsets get used to moderate the price early on until people figure out what their abatement costs are and their options and their technologies and there the industries will start to take action.”

Jean-Yves Benoit: “In terms of offsets, I think we have quite a rigorous design criteria to develop our protocols which we’re going to be working together and try to really set a new standard in terms of stringency, making sure that an offset credit is really a reduction, a real one that happened, that it cannot be turned around.”

Tim Lesiuk: “We don’t have a central regulator and the UN approach and the European approach both have a central regulator that can make some rules and then all of the jurisdictions participate by those rules. We don’t have a central regulator, we are linking the programs and maintaining the sovereignty of each jurisdiction, that was important in our design.”

Michael Gibbs: “We are each doing our programs under our own authority, so we have our own processes and our own way of writing rules. We also have a set of stakeholders that we’re being responsive to and working together with, so in addition to our own individual jurisdictional process, we also had the WCI process on top of that.”

NACW 2012 Plenary: California Serving as a Beacon

Secretary Matt Rodriquez: “Everybody knows about our cap-and-trade program and I’m reminded on a daily basis of the significance of that program by the number of inquiries and calls I get from literally all over the world. What are we doing with our program – the whole world is watching what California’s doing to address climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And as I tell the folks at ARB, there’s no pressure, we just can’t make any mistakes, we’ve gotta make this program work.”

Secretary Michael Peevey: “I think across the board almost, California has done a remarkable job. In energy efficiency we’ve been able to hold per capita usage at about the same level it was 30 years ago. That is a dramatic thing. No other state has done that, probably no other nation has done that.”

Secretary Karen Ross: “We have almost 2 million cows in the state and it is a renewable resource, cows eat, it comes out, it is a huge potential source of energy for us. And more important, unlike wind or solar this is not intermittent; this is all around the clock. It can be stored, we can figure out how to transport it. So yes that’s been the place where we’ve worked across cabinet to really figure this out: how to get more dairy digesters. And in fact its a place where we’re not the leader. We have the most cows in the state, we have less than 8 operating dairy digesters. Wisconsin has 1.2 million cows, they have 24 digesters. Vermont has less than a million cows and they have 12 digesters. So I think there’s a real opportunity to seize this as part of our renewable portfolio.”

Secretary John Laird: “I was a mayor in the 80s when the legislature enacted a goal of diverting 50 percent of what went into landfills. They said we’re going to do it in 10 years. And I remember us local elected officials we said that’s nuts, that will never happen, that’s a great goal, we will work toward it. And we are now diverting 60 percent out of landfills of what we put in in 1989… because we’ve done recyclables, because we’re recycling plastic and wood and many different things at levels that weren’t anticipated 20 years ago. The harder nut is the last 40 percent.

Secretary Matt Rodriquez: “Offsets are a necessary component in any cap-and-trade program. So we’re going to obviously oppose the lawsuit… I wouldn’t be too concerned. We’ll press ahead and keep looking at offsets. They’re an important part of any cap-and-trade program.”

Secretary Michael Peevey: “They’re not only an important part, they’re an absolutely critical part. You can’t have an effective cap-and-trade program without them … In all these precedent setting efforts you’re going to find litigation and challenges, and its our job just to overcome them, grounded as best we are with facts and the history and legislation and so forth.”

Secretary Michael Peevey: “Its not enough for us to congratulate ourselves about California doing this and that. We also have to proselytize a bit in other states and other places about the seriousness of all this and why it should not be seen as a sharp political issue as evolution was 50, 60 years ago… We have to try to talk about this in a non-ideological way and to point out the economic benefits, social benefits and environmental benefits.”

Secretary Matt Rodriquez: “Internationally, a lot of people are looking at what California is doing and its not at all lonely on that level… the rest of the world is literally watching what we’re doing.”

Congratulations to the 2012 Climate Action Champions

April 24th, 2012

The Climate Action Champion Awards recognize individuals and organizations that exemplify leadership and commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For their efforts in the “fight” against climate change, the Reserve awards these outstanding and deserving recipients with a special championship belt.

The 2012 Climate Action Champions are: Pacific Forest Trust; The Nature Conservancy – California Program; Jan Schori, retired, General Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District; and Peter Miller, Senior Scientist, Natural Resources Defense Council. In announcing the awards, Gary Gero, president of the Climate Action Reserve, said that “This year’s winners have each show a long-standing and deep commitment to addressing climate change and have been pioneers and innovators in their actions.”

For more information on the winners, please visit our news page.

Climate Action Offsetter: TerraPass Your Gas at Mom’s Organic Market

March 30th, 2012

TerraPass Your Gas

written by TerraPass

MOM’s Organic Market is an innovative and progressive green business at its core, and it came as no surprise when they wanted to team-up with us to take it one step further by offsetting the emissions created by their customers’ shopping trips with their “TerraPass Your Gas” initiative.

MOM’s, a homegrown organic grocer in the DC/Baltimore region, started collecting their customers’ zip codes in late 2011 to determine the average distance the customer travelled for each shopping trip. On behalf of their customers, MOM’s now purchases carbon offsets from TerraPass projects in direct proportion to the emissions from its customers’ shopping trips. MOM’s estimates it will be able to offset over 6,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of eliminating the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 1,067 passenger vehicles.

To make things even more local TerraPass included CRTs in MOM’s region. Their portfolio to offset the “TerraPass Your Gas” initiative will include a CAR verified landfill gas capture project at either Dorchester County New Beulah Landfill in Dorchester County, Maryland, or Worcester County Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project in Newark, Maryland. Both projects benefit climate change strategies by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases (methane) that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Both projects have various environmental benefits such as improvement in air quality, and significantly reducing the carbon footprint in the areas where the projects are located, and where MOM’s customers live and work.

MOM’s mission is to protect and restore the environment. It has launched several other campaigns, including “Plastic Surgery”, which eliminated all bottled water and replaced unnecessary plastic waste (plastic produce bags) with packaging made from biodegradable materials, “Stop the Trash”, an effort to increase landfill diversion (they achieved an 85% recycling rate), and “Think Outside the Bag”, eliminating plastic bags since November 2005

And the campaigns are just a few highlights. MOM’s is the consummate example of an environmentally-run business which walks the walk. Their practices include sourcing local and organic whenever possible; selling only sustainable seafood; supporting renewable energy; composting; providing Green Benefits for employees, and much more.
Moms Market

Climate Action Offsetter: Sokol Blosser Winery Achieves Carbon Reduction, Works Toward Carbon Restoration

February 6th, 2012

written by Sokol Blosser Winery

In 2007 Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski initiated a challenge to the Oregon wine industry: “Make 20 wineries carbon neutral in 18 months.”  As one of the founding wineries in Oregon and a leader in sustainability, Sokol Blosser Winery was one of the first to sign up.

We felt the first step was to better understand Sokol Blosser Winery’s carbon footprint.  An initial carbon audit through Ecos Consulting in 2009 let us know where changes needed to be made.  We were able to reduce our carbon footprint dramatically through a combination of reducing waste, reducing energy usage, and implementing recovery efforts which include our 25kW solar panel system, native plant riparian zones in the vineyard, and carbon offset purchases.

There are several ways we have invested in renewable energy and carbon offset projects.  In 2010, we offset 22 metric tons of carbon through the PGE Clean Wind Program.  We also use GreenShipping.com to help us offset the carbon value of shipping wine directly to customers.  These offsets include investments in clean energy supported by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF).  Essentially, this allows our packages to arrive at a customer’s door with zero carbon footprint from shipping.  Also, alongside other participating wineries in the Carbon Neutral Challenge, we have purchased other offsets through BEF in the agriculture sector that have significant climate benefits, such as investments in a dairy methane digester project registered with the Reserve.  The dairy digester facilitates the breakdown of methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas.

Sokol Blosser now undergoes detailed yearly carbon reporting through The Climate Registry, which highlights our carbon usage and recovery each year.  Reporting our carbon usage to a certifying agent adds legitimacy to a statement like carbon neutrality, something we feel is important for any claim that carries a marketing benefit.  However, we feel that being carbon neutral is not enough to reverse the damage that has already been done to our environment.  Our next goal after reaching full carbon neutrality is carbon restoration, or the reversing of negative effects.

The wine industry is a great place to initiate a movement toward this way of thinking because it is largely populated with forward thinking people who are tied to the land.  It is an agriculture-based industry with a major tourism component, which gives us an opportunity to teach as well as execute.  For Sokol Blosser, we are still in the carbon reduction stage.  We are working to better understand the full range of environmental implications of our business.  If you consider only what we own and operate, our carbon footprint is rather small.  What about the companies that ship our wine?  What about the air travel our sales people use?  Who is responsible for that – is it the winery or the companies that profit from it?  These are the tricky questions we continue to explore as we work towards our ultimate goal of carbon restoration.

For more information visit: http://www.crchallenge.org/

Nominate a Climate Action Champion by Wednesday, February 29

January 30th, 2012

Our annual Climate Action Champion awards are an opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations that exemplify leadership and commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For their efforts in the “fight” against climate change, we award these outstanding and deserving award recipients with a special championship belt.

We are pleased to accept nominations from Reserve account holders, staff and Board Members. You can nominate any individual, company, academic institution, government agency and/or non-profit organization that you believe has demonstrated excellence in reducing GHG emissions. Eligibility is not limited to Reserve affiliates and self-nomination is allowed. For more information on the nomination process and to make a nomination, please review the nomination form below:

Climate Action Champion Nomination Form

In 2011, the Reserve recognized the following Climate Action Champions:

  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, State of California
  • Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Terry Tamminen, former secretary of the California EPA and founder of Seventh Generation Advisors
  • PG&E

From l-r: Linda Adams, Gary Gero and Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger

From l-r: Gary Gero, Steve Kline from PG&E, Gina McCarthy from U.S. EPA
and Terry Tamminen from Seventh Generation Advisors

Climate Action Offsetter: CBRE

December 5th, 2011

written by CBRE

Commercial real estate is responsible for approximately 18 percent of U.S. GHG emissions. As the world’s largest commercial real estate services company, CBRE has as much an opportunity as it does an obligation to seek meaningful ways to reduce the environmental footprint of both our company and our industry. Our corporate carbon neutrality commitment, under which we strive to both reduce our emissions and mitigate those that are unavoidable, is one way we go about meeting our environmental goals and responsibilities.

In 2010, CBRE became our industry’s first carbon neutral company and the second ever to earn certification of carbon neutrality under the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard. To earn these distinctions, CBRE implemented rigorous carbon mitigation programs, including green leasing standards and sustainable operation protocols, and retired high quality carbon offset after a process of audits, part of which included diligent selection of carbon offset projects and standards.

The Climate Action Reserve provides some of the highest quality carbon offsets projects in the world. The Reserve is credible and also provides a selection of project types that CBRE was excited to support. The Reserve’s domestic focus also gave us a means to make investments in local projects and economies, and participate in the system that will underpin the meaningful work of AB 32 in setting up California’s cap and trade system.

CBRE purchased and retired offsets from several socially responsible projects in communities we serve, including the Davis Landfill Gas Offset Project, a methane capture and destruction project in Layton, Ohio; Sioux Falls Regional Sanitary Landfill in Minnehaha County, South Dakota; and the Denton Landfill Gas Destruction Project in Denton, Texas. Reducing emissions from landfills is an important objective of our company, and we have innovative policies to reduce and recycle construction waste to further support the greening of landfills. And as a commercial real estate services firm that supports the use of green building materials, we also support forest preservation efforts. We are proud to include the Garcia River Forest, a conservation-based forest management project that increases sequestration and storage of carbon in Mendocino County, California, in our portfolio of offsets to achieve carbon neutrality.

Our Favorite Climate Videos

November 15th, 2011

Climate Action Reserve staff members are pleased to share and recommend their favorite climate-related videos. There’s a wealth of content available online that inform, inspire and entertain viewers while advancing climate solutions. We encourage you to share your favorite videos with us via the comment box below. (First five comments will win a Reserve stainless steel water bottle!) Thanks!

Tim DeChristopher Power Shift 2011 Keynote
suggested by Rhey Lee:
Tim DeChristopher is a climate activist who is currently serving a 2-year jail sentence for his protest of a BLM auction for oil and gas leases on federal lands. DeChristopher’s act of nonviolent civil disobedience was an earnest effort to prevent further environmental degradation and climate change. Many environmental activists commend his courage and moral conviction, and consider his actions to be an important act of civil disobedience akin to Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of the bus.In his Power Shift 2011 keynote, DeChristopher discusses the need to reduce emissions, stand against injustices and maintain our humanity. He reminds us that we have the power to create our vision of a healthy and just world. He encourages people to make real sacrifices, force political leaders to make tough choices and unite in the movement.
Frontline: Heat
suggested by Scott Hernandez:
Easily one of the most comprehensive accounts of the complex issues and challenges related to combating climate change. Frontline’s Heat is a good primer for anyone wanting to learn about climate change; from someone who’s new to the debate to those with years of experience in the issue, this video has something for everyone and it is presented in the straight-forward, matter-of-fact style that has made Frontline the gold-standard in documentary journalism.Also, it serves as a nice reminder of that brief time when both Democrats and Republicans supported aggressive action to avoid the extreme impacts of climate change…oh, the good ol’days.
Planet Earth: The Climate Puzzle
suggested by Gillian Calof:
My pick is the 1986 documentary called “The Climate Puzzle”, an episode of the 7-part PBS series called ‘Planet Earth’. I think the concepts were fairly groundbreaking at the time as climate science was not widely understood or discussed in the general media or by the masses back then. The video is a scientific look at the forces that generate our weather and a modeling of our past and future climates. It’s a fascinating look at climate science and I really marvel the fact that it is 25 years old!
Dan Barber: How I fell in love with a fish
suggested by Mary Alvarez:
Chef Dan Barber does an excellent job of presenting this very interesting topic in a clear, humorous, and passionate manner. This video covers a fantastic example of blending the necessity to produce fish through farming and the ability to do it in a purely sustainable way. It really hits home for me because my husband is studying to be a chef, and fish shortages are something he will have to face. In addition, I really enjoy eating fish, but am so jaded by all of the negative press about farmed fish and fish shortages that I am typically reluctant to buy it. This video gives me hope that more fish farmers will adopt these methods and become true champions of the environment and a source for healthier eating for people.
Confronting Climate Change, narrated by Al Gore
suggested by Katy Young:
This video features Al Gore describing Google Earth’s Climate Change software, which uses Google Earth as a platform for showing the devastating effects of climate change. In a matter of fact way, the video provides a holistic overview of global climate change through striking imagery and useful, straightforward information.
The Story of Stuff
suggested by Teresa Lang:
The Story of Stuff is a great video for both younger and older audiences, tracking the life of all the “stuff” that we use day-to-day, from extraction to production to distribution, consumption, and eventually disposal. I recommended this video, even though it isn’t focused directly on climate issues, because it really helps put in perspective how much each individual consumer contributes to how much waste is produced and eventually disposed in landfills. Though I think the video could be improved with a chapter about what happens to your stuff if it’s disposed in a landfill with a methane capture and destruction project, this still is a great lesson on the lifecycle of all that “stuff” we use in our daily lives.
The Daily Show: Weathering Fights
suggested by Rob Youngs:
I thought it was funny, and it is crazy how little coverage that study has received.
Senator Whitehouse speech on climate
suggested by Mark Havel:
This is a video of Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) delivering an impassioned speech on climate change and the lack of appropriate action in Washington. Fair warning, this is video is just over 23 minutes long, but it’s a great introduction to the science behind the issue and the risk of inaction. I highly encourage you to watch it, but if you can’t spare 23 minutes and 2 seconds, the transcript can be found here: http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/10/19/347768/senator-whitehouses-climate-speech/
The Secret – Planet Earth
suggested by Jennifer Weiss:
I love opportunities to see images showing how breathtaking our planet is. They remind me of the importance of everyone’s work to protect it.
Tapped
suggested by Sarina Tounian:
The movie Tapped really goes into depth about corporate giants like Nestle that find rich sources of groundwater in the US and sell the water back to the US, ultimately depleting the resource from the area. It shows real stories concerning major health and environmental effects of using and manufacturing plastic bottles, and how drinking tap water is the same as drinking bottled water, minus the environmental damage.
The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy
suggested by Heather Raven:
The Story of Agriculture and the Green Economy showcases the linkages between climate change, farming, economic growth, sustainability, gender, and other social issues. The video focuses on developing countries but has global applicability. The animated video will appeal to a wide age-range and variety of audiences as it discusses the issues in a direct and simplistic manner, so I recommend viewing and passing it along to friends, family, and colleagues. The agriculture sector will undoubtedly play an important role in the future of climate change, and education is key to understanding and enacting change.
A Way Forward: Facing Climate Change
suggested by Max DuBuisson:
It’s a good, broad overview of climate change, including its origins, impacts, and potential solutions. Also, National Geographic always makes good stuff.
PBS Nova Episode: Dimming the Sun
suggested by Syd Partridge:
The NOVA series on PBS has arguably been the most successful program in television history in terms of conveying groundbreaking science to the public in an easily palatable format. The ‘Dimming the Sun’ episode, which originally aired back in 2006, provides, in my opinion, one of the clearest and most alarming depictions of our (incomplete) understanding of the drivers of climate change. This episode provides evidence that the ‘cooling effects’ of particulate air pollution have actually been masking the extent to which the global temperature is increasing due to greenhouse gas emissions. While this episode may be depicting what one would consider a worst case scenario, it is a clear reminder that we do not fully understand the potential risks we are facing from our continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Climate Action Offsetter: NW Natural customers get Smart (Energy)

November 7th, 2011

written by The Climate Trust

“Use less. Offset the rest.” That’s the slogan for NW Natural’s Smart Energy voluntary offset program, now in its fifth year.

And the Smart Energy symbol? A cow (more on that later).

NW Natural delivers natural gas to customers in the most populous areas of Oregon and SW Washington.

Company leaders know their customers expect utility providers to be local leaders in environmental protection and energy efficiency. So NW Natural became the nation’s first stand-alone gas (that is, not affiliated with an electric company) to help customers offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with their natural gas use.

In 2007, the company launched Smart Energy. Residential customers can choose to pay a monthly flat fee of $6 or a per-therm option of just over a penny to purchase carbon offsets. Businesses can participate for as little as $10 a month.

Smart Energy works with The Climate Trust to ensure offsets retired on behalf of customers are high quality. Through The Climate Trust, Smart Energy is investing in biodigesters on Northwest dairy farms. Here’s the logic (and where the cows come in):

• A typical cow produces 120 pounds of waste each day.
• Decomposing manure creates methane – 21 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide.
• Biodigesters trap methane while creating an on-demand renewable energy source: biogas.

As of October 2011, 13,744 NW Natural customers were participating in Smart Energy. Their investments will keep more than 115,000 tons of emissions from reaching the atmosphere – the amount created by more than 1,300 auto trips from Portland to New York.

NW Natural still encourages their customers to conserve energy. But now they can go one step farther toward protecting the environment.

Use less. Offset the rest.

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Would you like to be featured in the Reserve newsletter and earn a free reusable Reserve water bottle? Each monthly newsletter, the Reserve will showcase an individual or organization who has retired CRTs to offset their emissions. To submit an entry, please share a few paragraphs (up to 350 words) about you and your decision to offset. Photos are welcome! Featured submissions in the newsletter will earn water bottles, and all submitted entries will be posted on the Reserve web blog. Email your entries to: rhey@climateactionreserve.org.

This is an excellent opportunity to highlight your environmental stewardship and advancement of climate solutions. This is also an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of outstanding GHG reduction projects.

Got Carbon-Neutral Milk?

October 16th, 2011

Milk sourced from cows is a popular and nutritious beverage enjoyed the world over. According to the National Dairy Council, milk is filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health, including calcium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin A, riboflavin and niacin.

When making purchasing decisions for milk, we face a variety of choices: whole milk, reduced fat, low fat, skim, organic, raw, strawberry and even chocolate … and we could also opt for rice milk, soy milk or almond milk.

Another important consideration you may not have yet contemplated in the dairy aisle – but should – is the carbon footprint of the milk production process. Cows are a significant source of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) 20 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Dairy farmers can reduce their carbon footprint through the installation of new technologies, specifically anaerobic (without oxygen) biodigesters.

Anaerobic dairy digesters are enclosed tanks that create an oxygen-less environment. The digester facilitates the breakdown of manure and converts it into renewable energy and a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

One example of a successful dairy emissions reduction project is the Farm Power Rexville Regional Digester in Mount Vernon, Washington. Two local dairy farms, Harmony Dairy and Beaver Marsh Farms, participate in the program with a combined 1500 Holstein cows. The dairies produce about 100 cubic meters/day of manure volume, 50 cubic meters/day of wastewater volume and 30 cubic meters/day of cow bedding and food processing waste.

The Rexville digester pumps cow waste from the two dairies into a one million gallon tank. The waste is heated to 100 degrees, causing bacteria to grow, which produces methane. The methane from the tank is sent to an internal combustion engine that creates 750 kW of power, which is enough to power 500 homes annually.

In addition to renewable energy, the digesters produce a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer and pathogen free fiber straw that can be used for bedding. Not having to buy straw or sawdust for cow bedding has saved the Washington farms nearly $100,000. The project also earns carbon offsets from the Climate Action Reserve, which can be sold to help other organizations meet their sustainability goals.

This process reduces the amount of methane from cow manure that is released into the atmosphere, which benefits our global climate.

Milk does a body good. And biodigesters do the climate good.

This blog post supports Blog Action Day 2011, an international effort to focus bloggers around the world on one important global topic on the same day. This year, Blog Action Day coincides with World Food Day and so the theme is FOOD. #BAD11

Climate Action Offsetter: Rocking a Smaller Carbon Footprint at Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza

September 29th, 2011

written by Green Mountain Energy

Music festivals may not be the first place you think about reducing your carbon footprint, but C3 Presents and Green Mountain Energy Company are working together to change that. The Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits music festivals, both produced by C3 Presents, bring together hordes of music lovers with substantial carbon footprints from traveling to the three-day festivals. Green Mountain helps balance out that environmental impact by offering the Green Mountain Energy® Fan Tag, a quick and easy way for attendees to ‘green up’ their festival travel by purchasing Climate Action Reserve certified carbon offsets.

This year, Green Mountain Energy Fan Tag sales supported landfill methane capture projects located in the same region as each festival. Austin City Limits Fan Tag sales went toward the SouthTex Greenwood Farms project in Taylor, Texas, while Lollapalooza Fan Tag sales supported the Central Sanitary project in Pierson, Michigan. Both projects are certified by the Climate Action Reserve, helping assure fans that their Fan Tag purchase is backed up by high quality emissions reductions. More than 2,300 Fan Tags were sold in 2011, helping offset over 500,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. Over the five year partnership between C3 Presents and Green Mountain, nearly 17,000 Fan Tags have been sold, resulting in over 16.7 million pounds of CO2 emissions balanced out by fans!

The Green Mountain Energy Fan Tag program has been an integral part of greening up the festival experience for attendees, but C3 Presents has gone even further by committing to offset 100% of the carbon footprint of each festival, along with its own Austin, TX, office operations. For the first time ever, this impressive commitment was expanded in 2011 to include offsetting artist travel to and from the festivals. Green Mountain provided carbon footprint calculation services, procured high quality renewable energy certificates and CAR certified carbon offsets, offered marketing guidelines for C3’s environmental purchases and helped promote and sell the Fan Tags.

Together, C3 Presents and Green Mountain have helped spread awareness among fans about their carbon footprint, while making the festivals a little bit greener.

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Would you like to be featured in the Reserve newsletter and earn a free reusable Reserve water bottle? Each monthly newsletter, the Reserve will showcase an individual or organization who has retired CRTs to offset their emissions. To submit an entry, please share a few paragraphs (up to 350 words) about you and your decision to offset. Photos are welcome! Featured submissions in the newsletter will earn water bottles, and all submitted entries will be posted on the Reserve web blog. Email your entries to: rhey@climateactionreserve.org.

This is an excellent opportunity to highlight your environmental stewardship and advancement of climate solutions. This is also an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of outstanding GHG reduction projects.

Climate Action Offsetter: The Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle

September 2nd, 2011

written by the Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle

Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle is a luxury hotel located in the innovative South Lake Union neighborhood in Seattle, home to cutting edge technology companies and innovative life sciences organizations. In 2010, the hotel made a conscious decision to institute a comprehensive sustainability program called PanEarth, which honors the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

The program began as a conscious effort to place sustainable and environmentally friendly practices as a top priority. Through the PanEarth program, Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle offers guests two options to offset their hotel stay and travel time. The sustainable travel option allows guests to mitigate the impact of their air and car travel by purchasing Climate Reserve Tonnes from a landfill project through our partner, Seattle-based OneEnergy Renewables. Transparency and legitimacy are important values of the PanEarth program. Having our offsets issued by a highly esteemed organization such as the Reserve supports these values. In addition, our program provides our guests the opportunity to follow the life cycle of their contribution, from verification through implementation.

The second option is the environmentally neutral hotel stay, which encourages conscientious environmental practices during a guest’s hotel visit. When guests financially match the electricity use of an average stay in one of our rooms, their contribution supports about 40 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean, wind energy going onto the US electricity grid. The wind energy for our hotel stay program is supported in the form of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which are sourced from facilities in both Washington State and North Dakota.

We chose to incorporate offsets into our PanEarth program because we are committed to being a hospitality leader in the area of Global Social Responsibility and believe that sustainable practices enhance guests’ and associates’ health as well as their experience with the property. In short, we believe makes business sense. It’s a win win for all of us.


P.S. Would you like to be featured in the Reserve newsletter and earn a free reusable Reserve water bottle? Each monthly newsletter, the Reserve will showcase an individual or organization who has retired CRTs to offset their emissions. To submit an entry, please share a few paragraphs (up to 350 words) about you and your decision to offset. Photos are welcome! Featured submissions in the newsletter will earn water bottles, and all submitted entries will be posted on the Reserve web blog. Email your entries to: rhey@climateactionreserve.org.

This is an excellent opportunity to highlight your environmental stewardship and advancement of climate solutions. This is also an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of outstanding GHG reduction projects.

Summer Reading Recommendations from the Reserve Staff

August 12th, 2011

Hopefully your summer days are filled with lazing around in the warm afternoon sun with a good book. As you enjoy the sun’s heat on your beach towel or hammock or even airplane seat, you may find yourself pondering about the growing accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Climate Action Reserve staff would like to recommend the following books with a connection to climate change solutions. We are as intent on fighting climate change as Harry Potter is about defeating Voldemort! Reparo climate!

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
A must read for any environmentalist, Diamond’s 2005 book Collapse artfully tells the story of how natural resource management decisions of societies (both past and present) influenced those societies’ ultimate successes and failures. Diamond’s attempt to apply lessons learned by these societies to problems facing our society today, like deforestation and climate change, helped propel me into a career in the environmental sector.
Teresa Lang, Policy Associate
The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
I love the book for its vivid depictions of the hard beauty and expanse of the West and for the strong passion that its characters bring to protecting that beauty. Even while I disagree with the tactics employed by the protagonists, I cannot help but admire their motivation and the lengths that they are willing to go for a cause they believe in. I also appreciate how utterly American the characters are in their fierce independence and iconoclasm. And, it is a good story well told.
Gary Gero, President
Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet by Edward Hume
I may not entirely agree with all of the conclusions drawn in this book, but I found it to be a pretty interesting backstory on a number of major environmental players in the U.S. today. The sections on forest conservation in Maine and the Center for Biological Diversity were especially thought-provoking.

Max DuBuisson, Policy Manager
In Search of Nature by Edward O. Wilson
This book is a collection of essays ranging from the beauty and diversity of species to mankind’s apparent assault on the planet (with a mention of rising CO2 levels and the ultimate consequences). It is at the same time heart-wrenching and uplifting, while brilliantly written. Wilson’s contrasts of nature and human nature are eye-opening and provocative and he reminds the reader just how much we have to fight for.

Gillian Calof, Operations Director
Acme Climate Action by Provokateur
The best interactive activity book for adults: teach your family and friends about climate change and what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Includes appliance stickers, postcards, envelope address stickers, carbon footprint counter, environmental performance report cards, posters, climate change trivia cards, and a detachable booklet about climate change and simple solutions. All in one stylish, retro package. All pages can be removed, passed along, used and reused. Share the knowledge and have fun! http://www.acmeclimateaction.com/

Heather Raven, Policy Coordinator
The Sixth Extinction: Journeys Among the Lost and Left Behind by Terry Glavin, 2007
Glavin does a great job at capturing and laying out the value of biodiversity and our planet’s ecological history in descriptions of his travels and examples of uncommon species.  The bad news is that it’s all in the context of one of the largest extinction events in Earth’s history, the one happening right now.  This mass extinction of animals, plants, languages, and culture, Glavin argues, is unique in that the root causes are anthropogenic activities.  The reasoning is not always air-tight, but his research is sound and the statistics he cites are very convincing, if not shocking.  To give you an idea, we (as a planet) lose “a distinct species every minute, a unique vegetable variety every six hours, [and] an entire language every two weeks.”   If you have any interest in biodiversity and conservation, or even if you just like learning about cool stuff like the monster fish in the Amur River or that apples are members of the rose family, I recommend checking out this book.  The writing style is very anecdotal as well, which makes for a quick read.

Mark Havel, Program Assistant
Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
David Byrne takes you on a journey of cities around the world from the point of view of a musician/artist/bicyclist traveling on a folding bicycle. He provides insights into urban planning as he’s experienced the streets and shares how cities could be smartly designed to accommodate and encourage the bi-pedal mode of transportation. Complete with colorful and unique stories of interactions with local culture, this book is an excellent celebration of bicycling. If we all chose to travel by bicycle, no matter the difficulties and potholes and traffic circles and sweaty pits, we would have a healthier climate and healthier communities.

Rhey Lee, Communications Associate
Uno’s Garden by Graeme Base
I honestly don’t read too many grown up books on environmental issues these days as I am mostly reading parenting books when I have the time or energy. But I do enjoy reading children’s books with my kids that celebrate the environment. A current favorite is Uno’s Garden. The book is about the multi-generational effects of not caring for the environment and the importance of being good stewards of the earth. The story reinforces appreciation of forests, plants and animals, while teaching kids about our impact on nature and opportunities to live more sustainably. The book also features games with number concepts.

Katie Bickel Goldman, Senior Policy Manager

Q&A with Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board

December 3rd, 2010

The Climate Action Reserve recently had the opportunity to ask Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, a few questions about California’s climate change policies and the future regulatory landscape for carbon.

Given your experience working on behalf of the environment and the public health at both the state and federal levels, what impact would you say AB 32 has had outside California?

Since AB 32 passed in 2006, it has had considerable success with other states interested in getting involved in their air and greenhouse gas programs. It’s not a long statue, but it has been influential. Some of the specific rules developed under to implement the law, especially the low carbon fuel standard, have been studied by other states. Also, the idea that the State of California created this program and used the air regulatory agency as the planning agency to develop a plan of achieving a targeted emissions goal has been inspiring to our colleagues in other air pollution agencies.

Cap-and-trade was demonized in the recent national elections. Why do you believe it should be included in the policy mix for addressing climate change?

Cap-and-trade was used as a tool to attack some existing members of congress who voted for the Waxman-Markey bill. It was used because the term “cap-and-trade” doesn’t mean much to people but it sounds in some way sinister, especially when people are worried about manipulation and fraud in the world of finance. It has the potential connotation for people on the left and right as government-condoned manipulation of the market. Obviously, that‘s not a desirable program. But when people are questioned in polls, they are in favor of putting a lid on the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted and when asked if they are in favor of polluters being able to meet their regulatory requirements through buying allowances, the public, in general, is very supportive of those kinds of tools. The concept that cap-and-trade isn’t selling well in the market doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable policy; it means we need to do a better job of explaining it.

If California is going to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, we need to find a way to ensure we are going to meet this target and do it in a way that sends a signal to businesses that aren’t currently involved in any existing regulations that there’s a value in reducing carbon. The way to do that is to put a price on carbon emissions. The cap-and-trade program is about the easiest way to do that. The alternative would be to impose a carbon tax, as British Columbia did — a revenue neutral carbon tax in that case. Reducing greenhouse gases through that program has proved to be quite acceptable to the public there. Now in California, what people dislike even more than regulation is taxes. That was not considered to be a political starter when we were figuring out the regulation here.

What are some of the most important lessons from past cap-and-trade programs that ARB has incorporated into the design of the California cap-and-trade regulation?

There were positive and negative lessons. The positive lessons were the successes of the federal acid rain program and the 1990 Clean Air Act amendment. If you have a good measurement, monitoring and reporting system, you can run a very well regulated market in emissions allowances — and, you can do it in a way that demonstrates you really have reduced the pollution without any market scandals and failures at all. Another very positive lesson was that you can make these programs work well if you set up the structure of the program correctly, have strong enough enforcement tools, and make the reporting transparent and visible to the public.

On the negative side, we learned from the European trading system launch that if you don’t have very good information about the level of total emissions you’re trying to reduce, and if you give away too many allowances at the beginning of the program, it takes a very long time before you get to any real improvements. We’re being very careful in the launch of our program to make sure we are not overallocating allowances.

How important do you think the role of offset credits is in California’s cap-and-trade program?

Offsets are a very important tool in assuring regulated industries and the public that the costs of a cap-and-trade program can be managed within reasonable bounds. If you didn’t have high quality offsets that can be used for compliance purposes, you could see situations where a company might be unable to grow or expand in California or to meet its limits without having a huge run-up in prices of the allowances. The offsets serve as a way to keep the prices of the allowances within a reasonable boundary. Offsets also provide a way for businesses that aren’t under any compliance obligations to participate in the cap-and-trade program, make money and help reduce overall emissions. For example, offsets created by better management of dairies provide multiple benefits: they help with manure management, they provide the dairy farmer with revenue, and they produce another energy source. It is really a win-win proposition.

When do you anticipate ARB will look at additional protocol types for inclusion in the cap-and-trade program?

I expect we’ll be starting right after the first of the year to work on a priority list.

You also served as Chair of ARB under Governor Jerry Brown from 1978 to 1983. When Governor-elect Brown assumes his new position next year, what changes do you think ARB might see?

First of all, Governor-elect Brown has a very strong record of accomplishments with ARB.. During his first terms in office, California led the way nationally on setting strong emissions standards for motor vehicles. We were the pioneer with the catalytic converter, taking the lead out of gasoline and converting our utilities from fuel oil containing sulfur to generate electricity. You don’t see any of that in California now. Measures taken under Governor Jerry Brown were extremely important in achieving breakthroughs in pollution control. I would expect that focus on public health to continue.

As Attorney General, Jerry Brown also has an impressive list of accomplishments. He worked with Governor Schwarzenegger in setting greenhouse gas standards for vehicles and requiring local governments to consider the impact on climate when they make decisions on development projects.

It will be a seamless transition from Governor Schwarzenegger to Governor Brown on climate policy, but in regards to overall focus, I see two potential changes. Governor Brown has indicated his major priority is dealing with the state’s financial crisis and getting our budgetary issues in order. His focus is going to be more on solving that crisis, at least initially, rather than on attending international climate change conferences. But I don’t expect him to spend his entire term in office on those issues. He has a strong interest in international issues and he will also play a role on the world stage. Also, I expect that the creation of green jobs will be a higher focus of concern than it has been for the current administration. Governor Brown undoubtedly is going to be focused on finding ways to further enhance California’s attractiveness to developers of renewable energy and clean tech projects.

An inspirational end to a memorable trip

November 18th, 2009

November 18, 2009
Gary Gero

pasture

"Pasture near Rio Branco" - Secretary Chrisman (far left) and Secretary Adams (far right) on a farm located on a recovered pasture near Rio Branco

cattle

"cattle" - cattle on the ranch

pasture

"Mahogany tree" - our translator (in blue) and others on the cattle ranch with a young Mahogany tree in the background

As most people know, large parts of the Amazon rainforest are being cleared (cut down or burned) every day. This process is known as “deforestation” and is estimated to be responsible for between 15%-20% of global CO2 emissions. Today we visited two sites that had been previously deforested to create pastures for cattle ranching, which is one of the major causes of this deforestation (along with logging and road building).

First, we stopped to visit a family farmer who is growing fruits and vegetables and raising fish and chickens on a former ranch whose pasture was no longer viable (which, we were told, is something that typically occurs after about 10 years of intensive cattle grazing). This farmer and his family were once part of the urban poor that the state government recruited to this program in an effort to create jobs, alleviate unhealthy conditions in the cities, repopulate the surrounding rural areas, bring local produce to market, and restore forest lands. The farmer not only has a profitable farm on this land, but is also planting native trees on the non-farm areas to help reforest the area with the support of the Acre state government.

Our next stop was a cattle ranch on which an innovative rancher is working to increase the number of cattle that can be raised per acre of pasture and to extend the life of such pastures without using chemicals or other destructive techniques. Both of these improvements will reduce pressure for deforestation to create new and larger pastures. He has additionally planted more than 3000 Mahogany and other native trees on parts of his land as part of his commitment to sustainability. Secretary Chrisman, who is a rancher in the Visalia area, was extremely impressed with the health of the animals, the lack of flies and other pests, and the overall operation.

Finally, we returned to Rio Branco to quickly shower and change clothes for a closing meeting with Governor Binho Marques and his senior staff to discuss what we had seen and to identify further actions to strengthen a partnership between California and Acre. We identified several important next steps that we would take to consider how Acre’s efforts to avoid deforestation and restore forests might be supported.

Then, we returned to the hotel to pack and rest before boarding our 2:20 a.m. flight that was the first leg of our journey back home to California.

We are deeply indebted to the Government of the State of Acre, especially Governor Binho Marques, and to the Environmental Defense Fund for sponsoring and hosting this eye-opening and memorable tour. It is truly inspiring to see the deep commitment of people working to solve the difficult issues of our time in a holistic way. Acre is clearly working toward a sustainable model by promoting social justice in recognizing and defending the rights of indigenous peoples, prioritizing and creating educational opportunities for all, generating real economic opportunity and growth, and fighting global warming.

We could all learn from the work in this corner of the Amazon.

Rubber tapping in Xapuri

November 17th, 2009

November 17, 2009
Gary Gero

Rubber tapping

Rubber tapping

Yesterday we saw how indingenous peoples are using intact forest lands, and today we learned about the use of managed forests (and – here’s a preview – tomorrow we consider restoration of deforested areas). We travelled to the town of Xapuri in the southern part of Acre near the Bolivian border to see an “extractive reserve” on which rubber tapping and FSC certified forest management is exercised. This, too, is a way of having the existing forest resources provide economic benefits to reduce the pressure for deforestation. Here the government of Acre is creating economic development opportunities in the city by supporting operations that make use of the natural resources. Seventy families practice rubber tapping in the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve to obtain natural latex from rubber trees.

Observing the traditional and largely unchanged extraction process in the forest was fascinating. After the latex is extracted, it is then processed at a condom factory, which employs 150 people, in the nearby city of Xapuri. Our visit to this facility to see the production process demonstrated the full cycle of this strategy as the entire output of more than one million condoms are purchased by the Brazilian government for free distribution as part of the health initiative. Similarly, sustainably harvested woods are processed at a mill here into finished FSC certified, high-end flooring boards that are sold around the world. The mill, which we also visited, uses the sawdust and other detrius from this process to run a power plant that generates more than sufficient energy for the plant operations.

We finally settled in for the evening at a lodge built by the rubber tappers association. The lodge has a wood burning stove that also generates electricity for the facility. We had much discussion with Acre state government officials on the possibility of a state-to-state initiative to use carbon markets to support state-wide avoided deforestation.

Ashanika: a study in sustainable practices

November 16th, 2009

November 16, 2009
Gary Gero

Motorized canoes used to transport us on the river

Motorized canoes used to transport us on the river

The enormity of the Amazon becomes readily apparent after flying for hours over thick forests only to see on the map that we have covered but a sliver. Today we travelled by small turboprop airplane west from Rio Branco through rain clouds to an area near the Peruvian border and the foothills of the Andes mountains. From the town of Marechal Thaumaturgo, we continued several hours up river in small boats to visit with the Ashanika, a tribe of indigenous people who are developing a small scale economic model using sustainable agricultural and forest practices. By demonstrating that the forest can provide livelihoods without relying on destructive logging or land

Aerial view of deforested patch

Aerial view of deforested patch

clearing practices, the Ashanika are providing a real world

example for other forest people in the Amazon. Indeed, we spent the night at a training facility in Marechal Thaumaturgo that they created using the proceeds from their activities in partnership with several NGOs. This spare but functional facility is used to teach others about their sustainable business model.

Studying rainforests in the Brazilian Amazon

November 15th, 2009

November 15, 2009
Gary Gero

I’m very excited to be writing today from the town of Rio Branco in the state of Acre (pronounced “ah-cray”) in the Brazilian Amazon where Linda Adams, Secretary of California EPA; Mike Chrisman, Secretary of California’s Natural Resources Agency; and I are studying the pressures on the rainforest and learning about efforts to prevent deforestation. This study trip is a follow up to the Governors Global Climate Summit and the MOU that was signed by 30 state and provincial leaders from around the world.

We got started early this morning during our four hour layover in the city of Manaus with a visit to Dr. Phillip Fearnside, a leading researcher on climate change in the Amazon. The day was capped with a long visit with Governor Binho Marques and his environmental and forestry directors to understand the tremendous efforts that Acre has undertaken to reduce deforestation while simultaneously addressing the important economic and social issues facing this state in the northwest portion of Brazil. Governor Marques provided our small group with a personal tour of a museum dedicated to the local area that includes a great tribute to the environmental activist Chico Mendes who started and led a peaceful movement to protect the forest until his murder in 1988. His efforts continue to resonate today in Acre, where there is a clear sustainability consciousness.

We are very fortunate to have Dr. Steve Schwartzman from Environmental Defense Fund guiding and helping us here. He has a long history working in the Amazon and has been keenly focused on avoided deforestation issues. I will do my best (cell/internet service allowing) to send short posts along this week on our studies to share will all of you what we are learning here.