written by Kasey Krifka, The Climate Trust
The Climate Trust recently purchased carbon offsets from The Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Katahdin Iron Works conservation property in Maine. By encouraging natural forest growth on AMC’s 10,000-acre ecological reserve, the project preserves stored carbon in the forest and enables an additional revenue stream through the sale of carbon offsets. AMC’s property was established as part of the organization’s Maine Woods Initiative—a strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region. The initial offset sale represents over 100,000 carbon reduction tons—the equivalent of removing 21,000 gasoline-powered passenger cars from the road—which have been retired on behalf of The Trust’s Oregon and Massachusetts Programs.
Forests cover about one-third of the United States and are of great importance as habitat for wildlife, to clean air and water, to supply timber and other products, and for recreation. However, these vital lands face continued pressure from development and conversion for other uses. The Northern Forest is threatened by fragmentation and development. Since the 1990s, when timber companies—who had owned large tracts of forest—began to sell these lands, the threat of fragmentation and loss of functional ecosystems and habitat has grown. Carbon markets provide an important incentive to preserve intact, healthy forests.
The carbon offsets have been verified under the Forest Project Protocol of the Climate Action Reserve. AMC is committed to continued monitoring and verification of the project to ensure that its climate benefits persist for a period of 100 years following issuance of any carbon offsets for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by the project. The protocol also includes standards that ensure the project is sustainably managed and ecological “co-benefits,” such as wildlife habitat and soil and water quality, are maintained.
“We see carbon credits as having the double benefit of supporting our overall climate policy by reducing atmospheric carbon, and providing financial support to conservation projects like our Maine Woods Initiative,” said Walter Graff, Senior Vice President of AMC. “We are pleased to be among the early users in the conservation community of forest carbon credits to support land conservation in New England.”
The Climate Trust was able to support this project because of funding received from a number of partners.
“The Climate Trust invested in Maine because the local environmental and social benefits such as recreation, forest education opportunities for children, wildlife habitat and water quality improvements perfectly fit our focus on land-based multi-benefit projects,” said Sheldon Zakreski, Director of Programs for The Climate Trust. “The offsets purchased from AMC’s project have enabled us to effectively fulfill our obligations for an innovative effort in Massachusetts several years ago to address carbon emissions from fossil-fired plants. This is a prime example of how states can partner together to tackle climate change.”
Proceeds from the sale of these offsets will be directed toward AMC’s conservation programs in Maine.
The Maine Woods Initiative is AMC’s strategy for land conservation in the 100-Mile Wilderness region, addressing regional ecological and economic needs through outdoor recreation, resource protection, sustainable forestry, and community partnerships. As part of this initiative, the Appalachian Mountain Club acquired and permanently protected 66,500 acres of forest land in the 100-Mile Wilderness region of Maine. Working with what was formerly industrial forest, AMC has set aside 21,000 acres as permanent ecological reserves where no timber harvesting will take place and the forest will be allowed to grow naturally. Other smaller, no-harvest areas have been designated to protect specific ecological, recreational or scenic values. The remaining area, about half of the property, is managed using sustainable forestry techniques.
More About The Trust’s Oregon Program:
As the nation’s first compliance carbon provider and manager, The Trust has a long history of meeting the unique needs of utilities and their stakeholders. We remain the only organization qualified to administer the Oregon Carbon Dioxide Standard, the first legislation in the nation to curb carbon emissions. New fossil fuel-fired power plants provide us with funding to comply with the law and we invest those funds into high quality projects that reduce pollution.
Since its inception, The Trust has managed over $19 million in carbon ﬁnancing for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects. The cornerstone of our business, the Oregon Program, has built a strong legacy of innovation that delivers results for our compliance partners and the environment year after year.
The majority of our projects and programs are locally focused, enabling The Trust to grow strong grassroots support for climate action. In fact, 60% of the money we invest on behalf of utilities stays in Oregon. Additionally, our Oregon-based projects are from diverse sectors, including transportation, renewable energy, forestry, biogas, energy efficiency, and landfill & waste.
written by Mercyhurst University
Mercyhurst University is a fully accredited, four-year, Catholic comprehensive institution, founded in Erie, PA, by the Sisters of Mercy in 1926. With our commitment to sustainability, Mercyhurst has been working on a variety of initiatives both for our campus, but also for the community.
One of Mercyhurst’s overarching sustainability goals is carbon neutrality. We have been working with the American University and College Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) since 2007 on monitoring annual carbon emissions while trying to decrease emissions where and when we can. In addition to actually decreasing carbon emissions, in 2003 Mercyhurst began purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to help offset the carbon emissions produced through electricity consumption. In 2010, the purchase of RECs was increased to offset 100% of our electricity consumption. In 2014, the university’s sustainability committee decided to add carbon offsets to help offset transportation emissions which include commuter transportation and staff business or research trips. The carbon offsets are purchased from Blue Ridge Landfill, a landfill located near Chambersburg, PA, which captures the methane released from trash decomposition and uses it to produce electricity; this allows Mercyhurst to help support a local carbon offset project. Both the RECs and carbon offset purchases are funded in part by the Student Sustainability Fund, used only for campus sustainability projects. The cost of the offsets from Blue Ridge Landfill combined with the RECs was only a little more than last year’s purchase of just the RECs, which made the decision all that more easy to make. Between the annual RECs purchase and the new carbon offset purchase, Mercyhurst University now offsets 65% of the Erie Campus’s annual emissions.
Mercyhurst has been working on instituting and maintaining a fantastic recycling program on our campuses. Recycling has been condensed to single-stream, which should make recycling easier and more convenient for our students. In addition, all of our dumpsters on campus have been painted blue for recycling and green for trash to make recycling in the upperclassman housing area easier as well.
To assist with our efforts to reduce solid waste, the university’s Erie Campus installed two Earth Tubs in the fall of 2012, funded in part by the students, through their green fee, and through the university operations. The composters are a partnership between the Sustainability Office and Parkhurst Dining Services, the university’s dining services provider. The reason for composting is a simple one; it helps to close the loop on our food use. At Mercyhurst, we understand that we cannot move from the disposal of food waste in a landfill to composting all of it; it will be a slow process until we smooth out all of the wrinkles with the collection process and also until we have the ability and space to collect all of the food waste.
Our students have also contributed to our sustainability work by literally greening campus. The Senior Class of 2010 gifted a green roof to the Erie Campus, which was installed on the Ceramic Lab in our Zurn Hall. Two students during the spring and summer of 2013, planted an edible landscaping and perennial garden along the Mercy Walkway as a dedication garden to Sister Maura Smith for all of her contributions to the university’s environmental education and conservation efforts. Our largest garden effort, the Mercyhurst Farm, is heading into its fifth season, though it has moved from Girard, PA at our West Campus to North East, PA. at our North East Campus. The farm is run through the efforts of a full-time garden manager, student workers over the summer, and volunteers. All of the vegetables are grown organically and the food is either sold to our employees and students or the community, or donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.
Out in the community, we are working just as hard to educate about the need to live sustainable. We work with the Erie School District through education programs during the regular school year and during the summer. Topics include energy and water conservation, how to start a school garden or a a recycling program, and the idea of LEED buildings. We are also working with the Sisters of Mercy Erie Motherhouse with their Sustainability Task Force and their list of priorities, which include energy monitoring, energy conservation, and sustainability education for the sisters who live in the motherhouse. Our most recent effort was assisting with their recycling, and we were able to get bins donated from Busch Systems International, the company from whom we purchase our recycling bins.
written by The Climate Trust
Seattle City Light, a public utility serving 740,000 residents in Seattle, Wash., signed a contract with Portland-based nonprofit, The Climate Trust, to launch the first-ever national project to voluntarily purchase carbon credits sources from reductions made with organic composting. Seattle City Light purchased 35,000 carbon reduction tons (CRTs) of verified emission reductions from two organic material composting projects within the state, eliminating harmful methane emissions. The methane removal from these projects is equivalent to 6,200 cars being driven annually!
“Seattle City Light’s long-term goal is to meet all of Seattle’s electricity needs through conservation, new renewable sources, and with renewable energy credits to maintain zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Corinne Grande, Seattle City Light Power Analyst from the Environmental Affairs Division.
The projects operated by Cedar Grove Composting prevent the emission of methane into the atmosphere. Methane has a global warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Typically, food and other organic materials are sent to a landfill, where organics decompose in an anaerobic manner, generating high levels of methane. Composting breaks down organics using an aerobic process—which results in substantially reduced methane emissions.
Cedar Grove Composting worked with Environmental Credit Corp (ECC); an experienced carbon offset project developer, to develop the projects in adherence to CAR’s Organic Waste Composting Project Protocol; managing the verification process, and structuring carbon credit transactions. The two projects are distinguished as the first projects quantified and verified under this new protocol, and also as some of the first carbon transactions involving organics composting domestically. The facilities accept material from a variety of residential and commercial sources including Seattle and King County, Wash. as well as other counties in the state.
In addition to the credits purchased by Seattle City Light, other environmental and economic benefits of the methane reduction project include the ability to utilize recycled food material as compost; improving soil health and structure; increasing drought resistance; and reducing the need for supplemental water, fertilizers, and pesticides.
“This project illustrates that investment in innovation such as organics composting projects can pave the way towards more sustainable methods of handling long-time problems like community waste, in addition to helping protect the climate,” said Derek Six, Portfolio Manager & CFO for Environmental Credit Corp.
Utilities such as Seattle City Light have relied on The Climate Trust (TCT) to finance and effectively manage numerous greenhouse gas reduction projects on their behalf. While The Climate Trust is well-versed in helping businesses and utilities meet their carbon reduction commitments, the heart and soul of our operations is in working with project developers such as ECC to achieve our mission and help mitigate climate pollution. For more information on The Climate Trust, please visit www.climatetrust.org
Climate Action Reserve adopts new version of its Urban Forest Project Protocol
SACRAMENTO, CA – The Board of Directors of the Climate Action Reserve, an environmental nonprofit organization and North America’s premier carbon offset registry, today adopted an updated version of the Urban Forest Project Protocol (UFPP). The protocol provides a standardized approach for developing offset projects from managing and planting trees in urban areas and significantly expands the land area that’s eligible to be developed into an offset project. This expansion and other updates aim to make urban forest offset projects more feasible for more cities and urban areas.
“There’s tremendous potential to store carbon in trees and reduce urban heat island effects, and cities across the country have expressed great interest in doing this. This was a challenging project type under the previous versions of the Urban Forest Project Protocol, but we expect there will be widespread use of the updated protocol,” said Linda Adams, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of the Climate Action Reserve Board of Directors. “The protocol presents a wonderful opportunity for cities to address climate change, improve the beauty of their surroundings and earn revenue that they can either invest in more urban forest management or in other sustainability initiatives.”
The most significant update of the new protocol version, which was developed with support from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CalFIRE) and extensive contributions from a diverse workgroup, is the introduction of urban forest management. Cities and urban areas can earn offset credits across an entire urban area by adopting activities – such as managing healthy, vigorous trees that are well-spaced and avoiding tree removals – that increase the total amount of carbon stored in the trees. As established under the previous versions of the protocol, cities and urban areas can also still earn offset credits by planting trees to increase the amount of carbon sequestered and stored. The protocol adopted today, though, addresses increases in carbon throughout a community, which means there is greater potential for more trees to be part of an urban forest project.
Other updates to the protocol include revisions to the guidelines for monitoring and verification of the projects and rules for project aggregation.
“Our main goal with the update of the Urban Forest Project Protocol was to increase the accessibility and usability of the protocol without compromising the integrity of the standard. Thanks to feedback from cities like Santa Monica and CalFIRE and the contributions from the protocol workgroup members, we have a strong urban forest protocol that can serve as an important tool for cities to not only address climate change, but also to reduce the urban heat island effect, provide habitat, and help clean the air,” said Gary Gero, President of the Climate Action Reserve.
Parties holding or considering purchasing ozone depleting substances (ODS) credits issued for projects that took place at the Clean Harbors Incineration Facility in El Dorado, Arkansas should be cognizant of a current review by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and are strongly advised to not engage in any transactions with those credits until the review is complete.
On May 29, ARB issued a notice regarding ARBOCs issued to ODS projects that took place at the Clean Harbors Incineration Facility. While ARB believes the GHG reductions from those projects are real, quantified and verified, it is reviewing whether the facility was not in compliance with provisions of its operating permit issued under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The notice advises the review process could take 55 days. To aid in the review, involved parties may submit information and ARB may request additional information during the next 25 calendar days. After all information is received, the ARB Executive Officer has 30 calendar days to make a final determination regarding the invalidation of the credits under review.
Questions about ARB’s review should be directed to ARB. Questions about the Reserve’s actions and CRTs it has issued to affected ODS projects can be directed to Kristen Gorguinpour at email@example.com or Katy Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.