Forestry Team Greetings

Forestry Team Greetings

Greetings from the Forestry Team!

As of this blog’s posting, the Climate Action Reserve has issued over 100,000,000 (!!) offset credits to projects developed with the purpose of eliminating dangerous greenhouse gases from our atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of taking more than 21,000,000 cars off the road for one year! Our small team of five is proud to be a part of this critical effort to combat climate change, and we continue to push ourselves every day to drive the Reserve’s mission: to develop, promote and support innovative, credible market-based climate change solutions that benefit economies, ecosystems and society.

To that end, we are excited to unveil a suite of tools and carbon accounting methodology updates geared towards increasing equitable access to the carbon market for all landowner types. As forests have historically served, and will continue to serve, as an indispensable source of carbon sequestration, our team has set our sights on opening the carbon market to medium and small land owners by lowering the cost of project development. Check out this cool video from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute for why forests are awesome.

In 2003 when our team first hunkered down with diverse stakeholders to design the first Forest Project Protocol through a public process, our goal was to create a new revenue stream for forest managers to manage their lands for highly productive, structurally diverse forests that support natural ecosystem processes. We accomplished this goal by setting rules, standards, and rigorous carbon accounting methodologies that gave forest offset projects, and the credits that resulted from these projects, market legitimacy. This means when someone buys a Reserve offset credit (Climate Reserve Tonne or CRT), he or she knows and trusts that each credit holds the highest scientific and environmental integrity and truly represents one metric ton of carbon reduced compared with business as usual activities. Furthermore, our online registry ensures that anyone interested can track each credit back to the owner and follow the publicly available accounting methodology to validate the environmental value of credits.

Based on our expertise, compliance grade standards and methodologies, the California Air Resources Board adopted our Forest Project Protocol for early action credits to jumpstart California’s cap and trade market in 2012. Since then, forests in the compliance market have helped to sequester more than 88 million[1] metric tons of CO2e, generated approximately $792,000,000[2] for project owners, and protected more than 565,000 acres of forestland in California[3] alone.

Yurok Tribe Sustainable Forest Project: First project approved under ARB’s forest protocol, registered with the Reserve. Photo credit: Yurok Tribe

On average, it is easier for land owners with large holdings (about 10,000 acres or so) to enter into the carbon market. The technically complex forest carbon inventory and verification, monitoring and reporting requirements provided market legitimacy but also proved to limit the participation of small land owners.

So, last year our team hunkered down once more and harnessed the availability of new data, new technology, and new knowledge to improve our accounting system in ways that will also lower the barrier for market participation, all while maintaining the same high degree of scientific rigor.

With a USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant award, we developed the Climate Action Reserve Inventory Tool (CARIT) and a complementary Standardized Inventory Methodology to enable land owners to manage their carbon inventory in-house. This data management tool allows you to calculate and grow your forest carbon, facilitates complex analysis to support your cost/benefit projections and decision-making process, and is highly transparent, not to mention—completely free.

With your feedback, advice and support, the Forestry Team also updated the Forest Project Protocol to the newest version: 4.0. This latest version builds on our experience of working with more than 138 forest projects[4]. We identified areas for improvement and came up with solutions, clarifications, and guidance to make forest offset project development more accessible for all land owners interested in sustainably managing their forestland.

Our team will be touring northern California this fall to share information and best practices, connect foresters and forest owners to market players and help people become better informed. Please join us at a city near you to hear more about what we’ve been up to, how we can support you, and test drive these tools with us. Carbon project owners from the region will also share their experiences, market insights, and best practices. We will discuss opportunities for landowners, particularly smaller landowners, to participate in both voluntary and compliance projects. Guests will also receive a copy CARIT and the Forest Project Protocol Version 4.0. We hope to see you soon for local wines and beers, appetizers, and great company and conversation. Tour details below, and you can click here to register for an (free) event.


[1] Figure based on Climate Action Reserve and American Carbon Registry (ACR) reports on September 18th, 2017.

[2] market reports CCO8 prices at $11.87 on September 18th, this figure multiplies the credits issued by a conservative $9.

[3] This figure applies to listed and registered forest projects located in California, includes projects registered with the Reserve and with ACR.

[4] Includes completed, listed, transitioned, registered forest projects in the Reserve’s Projects Report on September 18th, 2017

Mexico Forest Protocol Version 1.5 Now Available

Mexico Forest Protocol Version 1.5 Now Available

Save the date for NACW 2018, April 4-6 in San Francisco

Save the date for NACW 2018, April 4-6 in San Francisco

Check out our schedule of upcoming Grassland, Landfill, and General verification training courses and exams

Check out our schedule of upcoming Grassland, Landfill, and General verification training courses and exams

A recording of the webinar “California extends cap-and-trade program – what it will look like post 2020” is now available.

A recording of the webinar “California extends cap-and-trade program – what it will look like post 2020” is now available.

AB 398: California extends cap-and-trade program

AB 398: California extends cap-and-trade program

After months of negotiations and intense support from Governor Jerry Brown, California extended its internationally-recognized cap-and-trade program July 17 with two-thirds super majority support in both chambers of the legislature. The bill, AB 398, reauthorizes the continuation of the program through December 31, 2030. Here’s a quick look at AB 398:


Reserve Board adopts Forest Project Protocol Version 4.0

Reserve Board adopts Forest Project Protocol Version 4.0

Tips for developing an effective climate advocacy campaign

Tips for developing an effective climate advocacy campaign

written by Trevor Anderson

According to recently released data from the Yale Program on Climate Communication, roughly 70 percent of the American public believes that global warming is happening and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. However, the other 30 percent, including some key elected leaders, still need a little convincing. This has left many in the U.S., including myself, wanting to advocate for climate progress.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps recently hosted a Climate Advocacy Workshop for a select group of Climate Corps alumni in Austin, Texas, and I was lucky enough to attend. EDF Climate Corps is a summer fellowship program that places trained graduate students inside leading organizations to accelerate sustainable energy projects and strategy. I was a Climate Corps Fellow in downtown Los Angeles in summer 2015, working for a commercial real estate company on green building, energy efficiency, and sustainability initiatives.

EDF Climate Corps Climate Advocacy Workshop Group Shot

At the advocacy workshop, Jared Carter of Vermont Law School detailed what it means to be a climate advocate, what others like us have done, and what actions we can take today, all while keeping our day jobs.

If you, too, want to advocate for climate progress, and may not be sure where to begin, here are some tips for developing an effective advocacy campaign:

  1. Identify the Issue and determine what specifically to work on
    e.g., carbon offsets
  2. Create an Entity (or find one), as it’s more effective to advocate on behalf of an organization than as an individual
    e.g. Southern Californians for Local Offset Projects (SCALLOP)
  3. Define big picture Goals and the clear, specific Objectives to move toward them
    e.g., Goal: The inclusion of carbon offsets in California state and local climate policy instruments to aid California’s goal of reducing GHG emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030
    Objective 1: Support the incorporation of carbon offsets in the California cap-and-trade program beyond 2020;
    Objective 2: Produce educational materials on the positive impacts of local level offsets and distribute to Southern California communities;
  4. Carry out a Behavior Gap Analysis and assess how best to mobilize public support
    e.g., Showcase the benefits – environmental, economic, and social – of developing offset projects in local Southern Californian communities and inform the public
  5. Identify your Primary – the people with the power to make decisions – and Secondary Audiences – supporters, opponents, and “persuadables”
    e.g., Primary – Elected officials, such as State Representatives;
    Secondary – Supporters, such as environmental nonprofits; Opponents, such as climate deniers; and Persuadables, such as Southern Californian residents
  6. Conduct a Power Analysis to understand the powers and weakness of all allies and opponents
    e.g., Local councilmembers have Positional Power – power by role; grassroots organizations have Collective Power – power in numbers; and nonprofits have Expert Power – power of knowledge and information
  7. Create a visual Action Map portraying and establishing the connections amongst stakeholders
    e.g., Draw a line connecting the grassroots organizations with environmental nonprofits, and write out the ways the two can work together
  8. Build a Platform of proposed solutions and Stand on It
    e.g., Offsets have proven to be a key policy mechanism that achieves numerous complementary and critical GHG policy goals, and rather than scaling back an already successful solution, the positive impacts of additional offset generation and usage should be evaluated
  9. Develop a Strategy of concrete actions to achieve specific outcomes;
    e.g., Attend town hall meetings to learn about local climate policy measures; call and/or email elected officials defending legislation for carbon offsets; etc.
  10. Focus on what’s achievable in the Short-Term
    e.g., open public comment periods, upcoming policy decision deadlines and/or elections, etc.

All in all, what’s most important to being an effective advocate, is the need for a positive approach with affirmative solutions.

Climate Action Offsetter: The City of Austin Advances Toward Carbon Neutral Operations by 2020

Climate Action Offsetter: The City of Austin Advances Toward Carbon Neutral Operations by 2020

written by the City of Austin Office of Sustainability

In 2007, the City of Austin’s Mayor and Council approved a resolution to make Austin a leading city in the fight against climate change by establishing the goal of carbon neutral municipal operations by 2020. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, at the time this was the most aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goal for municipal operations in the United States.

Downtown Austin

Since that time, City of Austin departments have been implementing greenhouse gas emissions reduction plans that have resulted in a 75% reduction from the baseline in 2007. These reductions were achieved through facility retrofits, as well as by using less gasoline and diesel and more B20-diesel, E85-ethanol, propane, and compressed natural gas, and electric-powered vehicles in the City’s fleet. In 2011, Austin became the largest local government in the United States to subscribe to 100% renewable energy to power all City-owned buildings and facilities, which avoided the greatest amount of emissions toward the carbon-neutral goal.

Convention Center (002)Even with implementation of these strategies, projections showed that we would not be able to eliminate all the sources of emissions associated with municipal operations by 2020. To meet the carbon neutrality goal, the City began purchasing carbon offsets in 2013 to reduce emissions by 5% per year. The first department to purchase offsets as part of their emissions reduction plan was the Austin Convention Center; over the next three years, all City departments will offset the remaining emissions.

The City of Austin identified several additional benefits to carbon neutrality that could be achieved with purchasing carbon offsets from local or regional projects:

  • A stronger local economy.
  • Reduced pollutants that can impact the health of our constituents.
  • Job creation for people in our community.

We established a scoring matrix to assess third-party-verified offset opportunities that gave priority to offset projects that are closest to Austin and provide additional benefits for our city.

Local government can play a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from direct sources – such as power plants, energy use in buildings, transportation, waste, and the production of material resources – through policies, initiatives, and incentives. In particular, because the City of Austin controls Austin Energy generation planning decisions, land use policy that affects transportation options, and waste management policies, we can implement strategic policies to achieve real results in greenhouse gas emission reductions.

However, even with these efforts, some emissions sources currently do not have technological or economical zero-carbon solutions. In these cases, carbon offsets offer the best means of achieving emissions reductions to the atmosphere in the most cost-effective manner. To the extent that those offsets also provide additional benefits to emissions reductions, everyone in Austin wins.

Climate Action Offsetter: American Licorice Company Makes Red Vines Green

Climate Action Offsetter: American Licorice Company Makes Red Vines Green


1. Please tell us more about American Licorice Company and its sustainability goals

In 1914, the American Licorice Company’s factory began in a small rented space in Chicago. The Company’s first product was Black Licorice Twists. At the time, every metropolitan center in the country (except for the southern states) had at least one licorice manufacturer. All the licorice was sold unwrapped and was generally not shipped outside the metropolitan areas. Over the years, the company grew, expanding our production, distribution, and product line. In the 1950s, American Licorice Co. expanded beyond traditional black licorice and began producing Raspberry Vines, which later were renamed Red Vines® twists. And in 1990 American Licorice Co. expanded into the sour candy market with the Sour Punch® brand candies, which have become fan favorites.


At the heart of everything ALC does is the concept that we are investing in the happiness of our key stakeholders, including our people, communities, and shared environment.

While a simple message, it has lead us to do some tremendous things, and to dream even bigger than before.

We were excited to enter new partnerships with The Conservation Fund to protect forests, and we enrolled in the NIPSCO Green Power and Constellation NewMix® Green-e-Energy Renewable Energy Certificate Programs. These were big investments to get us to our goal of being carbon neutral for scope 1 and 2 emissions.

We are conscious how our manufacturing processes affect our environment and resources. One of those valued resources is soil from which everything grows. And as our company grows, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to help preserve this essential resource. That’s why we’re Zero Waste Gold certified at both of our manufacturing facilities, which means we’ve diverted 90% of our waste from landfills through reducing, reusing, and recycling. We track this diversion ratio monthly and hope to become Platinum certified soon by diverting 95% of our waste from the landfill.

2. How did American Licorice Company choose to incorporate offsets into its sustainability program?

While reducing our direct energy footprint is our first priority, we were bothered we were still emitting a substantial amount of greenhouse gas.

We have made two investments to offset our carbon footprint. We purchase carbon offsets from The Conservation Fund for Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions associated with the natural gas usage we have been unable to eliminate, and to offset the emissions from 100% of the electricity generation of both of our facilities, we also invest in Green-e Energy Certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) through NIPSCO’s Green Power Program and Constellation NewMix®. The RECs supplied are sourced from wind energy facilities located in the lower 48 states.

Combined, these investments resulted in approximately 12,400 metric tons of CO2 e offset in 2016.

3. What elements of the chosen offset projects were most appealing?

Our partnership with The Conservation Fund hits close to home with a lot of our associates who work at our Union City, CA plant. Our COO John Nelson believes “that corporations have a responsibility to offset their environmental impact, and by partnering with The Conservation Fund we are also getting to ensure that future generations of Californians and Americans will have beautiful forests to enjoy, like my family and I have throughout the years.”

Our 2016 offset purchase from The Conservation Fund supports conservation and restoration of the Fund’s Garcia River Forest, which spans 24,000 acres in Mendocino County, California. In addition to trapping carbon, these forests are safeguarding important biodiversity and wildlife, like the endangered northern spotted owl.


John Nelson also added, “Hopefully, as time goes by, all companies will take up the cause of conservation within their businesses, and join us in protecting the environment. I believe that, together, leaders in their industry and in their trades, will be a significant piece of the solution in solving some most urgent and challenging issues we face for our planet.”

4. How has American Licorice Company benefited from using offsets?

We hope by making these investments that our consumers and associates can take pride in the company they buy from and work for.

We love challenging and incentivizing our associates to improve sustainability practices at work and at home. We promote carpooling among our associates, have water usage reduction challenges and offer LED lightbulbs and water saving devices in our “ALC Store” to name a few.

5. What lessons have you learned from using offsets?

In early 2016 we performed an internal audit to calculate our carbon footprint to understand our environmental impact and determine if we could offset our carbon footprint. We are very excited to report our 2016 carbon emissions data to the Climate registry and have our data audited and verified by a third party.