Our favorite books read in 2014

Our favorite books read in 2014

We took a page from the New York Times, which recently published their list of “What’s the Best Book, New or Old, You Read This Year,” and created our own list of the best books, new or old, that our staff and friends read this year!

We’d like to hear about your favorite reads in 2014 as well! Please leave a comment sharing your favorite — and the first five commenters win an upcycled handmade (by Reserve staff) bicycle chain holiday ornament!

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Name Book Why it was your favorite read
Joel Levin The Lady in the Lake by Raymond ChandlerThe Lady in the Lake (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Cover I have not read Chandler before, but man is he a great writer. His descriptions of people and situations are so rich. Much of it seems so familiar because he created the whole “noir” detective genre and influenced so many writers after him. Also, everything takes place in very identifiable locations in Los Angeles. Philip Marlowe’s office was just a block from where I work!
Jennifer Weiss Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna AardemaWhy Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears Cover
Sarah Wescott We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley JacksonWe Have Always Lived in the Castle Cover We Have Always Lived in the Castle was recommended to me by a few people who were surprised that I had never picked up a Shirley Jackson novel before. I thought this book offered a really interesting look into what is presented in the story as sort of a socially disintegrating upperclass family, in addition to what it is probably best known for – its innocent but sinister young narrator, Merricat, and her strange psychological state. The story is riddled with dark humor, and seemed to be a bit ahead of its time. The Haunting of Hill House, which Stephen King has cited as a major influence on the Shining (another favorite of mine), is next on my list.
Gary Gero The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth KolbertThe Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History Cover An environmental science book that reads like a murder mystery but of course we all know whodunnit!
Gloria Gonzalez (Ecosystem Marketplace) The Closer by Mariano RiveraThe Closer Cover Most of the books I’ve read over the year were in some way related to journalism or environmental issues. But the one that I read purely for fun was the biography of Mariano Rivera, a now-retired New York Yankees pitcher who has been my favorite Yankees player for more than a decade. The book is called the Closer and I think it would be great read even if you’re not a baseball fan. He has lived an incredible life, rising up from abuse and extreme poverty in a small fishing village in Panama to become the greatest closer in baseball history. He is generally considered one of the good guys in a sport that has way too many bad guys who have tainted the game for many fans. A great book that even a Boston Red Sox fan could enjoy!
Katie Ordal (The Climate Registry) Lean In by Sheryl SandbergLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead CoverBright Shiny Morning by James FreyBright Shiny Morning (P.S.) Cover Nonfiction – Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I know there has been some criticism lodged at the book for various reasons but for me personally, her message (about women in the workplace) rang true and her perspective was one that I identified with immediately. I don’t think I have ever recommended a book to more people (both women and men) than this one.Fiction – Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey. Yes, THE James Frey that everybody loves to hate. Really, I think he is a flawed human being that has become the scapegoat for all of the things that are wrong with the publishing industry. All that aside, I’ve read quite a few books about Los Angeles and this one is my favorite. The man knows how to tell a good story.
Laura Zahn (The Climate Registry) The Power of One by Bryce CourtenayThe Power of One Cover The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay beautifully presents the tragedy and power of the human condition. I picked it up on a whim and couldn’t put it down until I turned the very last page. I wanted the book to go on forever.

Mexican forest project highlights how global initiatives have profound local impacts

Mexican forest project highlights how global initiatives have profound local impacts

San Juan Lachao project also illustrates strong support and success for cross-border collaboration on environmental initiatives between Mexico and California

LOS ANGELES, CA – A small community on the southern tip of Oaxaca, Mexico is highlighting not only how global activities to address climate change can have profound local impacts but also the success of cross-border environmental initiatives between California and Mexico. The community of San Juan Lachao has launched a forest offset project under the Climate Action Reserve’s Mexico Forest Protocol with support from Mexico environmental nonprofit Pronatura and The Walt Disney Company.

The project will improve the management of the forests and will be life changing for the native community of San Juan Lachao. The forests, which include cloud forests and pine/oak forests, contain diverse ecosystems. Historically, they have been grazed and have been left in poor conditions with an increased risk of wildfire and reduced water quality. The project will help provide clean water, an improved standard of living and improved habitat and future hunting value. Additionally, the community will receive financial revenue from the offset credits to support forest management and protection. Because of these benefits, the San Juan Lachao community should expect an overall improved standard of living that is compatible with its community values.

“The San Juan Lachao forest carbon project is the result of the collaboration of numerous stakeholders, including an international, a national and a local NGO, the private sector and an indigenous community. For Pronatura it is truly inspiring to see young men and women implementing a carbon project, from inventory development to the implementation of forest management activities. By developing capacities among community members the project will have not only environmental, but also important social impacts. Pronatura expects to develop numerous projects likes this in the future since it is an example of how we can fight climate change from the bottom up and foster sustainable development in indigenous communities,” said Adolfo Alaniz, General Director of Pronatura México A.C.

On a global level, the San Juan Lachao forest project illustrates the success of cross-border environmental initiatives between California and Mexico. Both have signaled their support of working together to achieve climate change goals, and activities like the San Juan Lachao forest project are expected to generate attention for bottom-up actions that can start generating results while climate negotiations are taking form leading up to COP 20 in Lima and COP 21 in Paris.

“California and Mexico have a strong history of collaborating together and now one of the most critical challenges we must face together is addressing climate change. Initiatives like the San Juan Lachao forest project show how we can continue working together to generate real results. This project will benefit the lives of the people of San Juan Lachao, a rural community from Chatino origin in the coast of Oaxaca, as well as the lives of citizens around the globe,” said Carlos Sada, Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles.

The San Juan Lachao forest project also illustrates the value of nonprofit-corporate collaboration on climate change initiatives. While participation from all involved parties has been necessary to make this project a reality, Disney’s contribution helped get the project off the ground.

“Investing in nature is one of the most powerful tools we have to curb climate change,” said Dr. Beth Stevens, senior vice president, Disney Corporate Citizenship, Environment and Conservation. “The work we do with dedicated environmental stewards, including Climate Action Reserve and Pronatura, helps maximize our investment, protecting forest ecosystems and creating jobs for the community of San Juan Lachao.”

“The San Juan Lachao forest project is truly symbolic of the international, collaborative approach the global community needs to take to address climate change and reach mitigation goals. It’s also a model for how global initiatives can have profound local impacts. The project is life changing in many respects and to many people. We hope to see many more projects like this follow the same path,” said Linda Adams, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of the Climate Action Reserve Board of Directors.

 

The Climate Action Reserve is the most experienced, trusted and efficient offset registry to serve the carbon markets. With deep roots in California and a reach across North America, the Reserve encourages actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and works to ensure environmental benefit, integrity and transparency in market-based solutions to address global climate change. It operates the largest accredited registry for the California compliance market and has played an integral role in the development and administration of the state’s cap-and-trade program. For the voluntary market, the Reserve establishes high quality standards for carbon offset projects, oversees independent third-party verification bodies and issues and tracks the transaction of carbon credits (Climate Reserve Tonnes) generated from such projects in a transparent, publicly-accessible system. The Reserve program promotes immediate environmental and health benefits to local communities and brings credibility and value to the carbon market. The Climate Action Reserve is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California. For more information, please visit www.climateactionreserve.org.

Pronatura is a nonprofit organization created in 1981. Its mission is the conservation of the fauna, flora and priority ecosystem of Mexico always considering society’s development. The Climate Change area was created to implement mitigation and adaptation projects. Its main program, called Neutralizate (carbon neutral), was created in 2008 and is aimed at promoting the voluntary forest carbon market. The program achieves its objectives by developing GHG inventories for companies, organizations and individuals and offsetting their carbon footprint through carbon emission reductions from forest carbon projects in Mexico.


Errata and Clarifications released for the Forest Project Protocol Versions 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2

Errata and Clarifications released for the Forest Project Protocol Versions 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2


Two climate professionals walk into Climate Week NYC…and here’s what they learned

Two climate professionals walk into Climate Week NYC…and here’s what they learned

Mark Havel and Max DuBuisson of the Climate Action Reserve attended events held as part of Climate Week NYC. The schedule for Tuesday consisted of Carbon Forum North America, organized by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and held at the offices of Morgan Stanley in Manhattan. The venue for the event is notable, as it is an indication of the economic vitality of carbon markets that such a large investment firm is taking a serious interest. The attendees at this event included numerous representatives of state and provincial governments, as well as industry, NGO and carbon professionals.

The various speakers and panels throughout this event were all focused on issues related to the U.S. EPA’s proposed rules for regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. These rules are still in a proposed form, but they are extensive, so there was much in-depth discussion on the mechanics of the program and the potential impacts on the power sector and GHG emissions.

The morning began with a discussion between analysts of various organizations. This was a great way to get a sense of the market’s projections for how the impacts of these new GHG rules would unfold. One notable assessment was that the program would cost the U.S. approximately $9B annually if each state figures out compliance on its own, without coordination or trading between states. On the other hand, this figure could be less than $2B annually if all states work together. The consensus was that the final result will be somewhere in between, as different states have different levels of willingness, but that this fact will motivate increased cooperation among states. There was discussion of the possibility of additional states joining the two major cap-and-trade programs which are already underway (AB32 in CA and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast).

Later discussions included power industry representatives and state regulators. The impact of these rules will be felt differently by different power companies. For example, Pacific Gas & Electric is already subject to AB32 and thus will not have to take additional steps to reduce emissions to comply with the EPA rules. On the other hand, American Electric Power is in a situation where they do not currently operate under GHG emission restrictions, and much of their power is provided by coal. They will feel much more pressure when complying with these rules. The industry had two major problems with the proposed rules: (1) they think the timeline for initial compliance is impossible, based on the expected pace of final rulemaking by EPA, and (2) they disagree with a number of the assumptions used to calculate each state’s obligation, and would like to see the EPA revisit this issue.

The afternoon included some discussion of how the current cooperative structures work, and how these could potentially be expanded or adapted to include more U.S. states. There was widespread agreement among panelists and attendees that state-level cooperation is needed to reduce the uncertainty and cost associated with GHG regulation. In fact, one industry representative conceded that they would prefer a Waxman-Markey-style national cap-and-trade program over the current proposed regulation. While it is unlikely that anything of that scale could be achieved by the U.S. Congress in the near future, pressure for an alternative to the EPA rules may grow as implementation gets going.

The final discussion included panelists who had participated in the UNFCCC negotiation process. They spoke of their experience with the Kyoto Protocol, whereby the CDM framework for credit trading between nations was not specifically included, leading to a delay in implementation until a later summit where additional language was added. Based on this experience, they are proposing that the next international climate agreement contain specific text allowing the trading of credits between nations. Paul Bodnar from The White House posed the provocative suggestion that nations should not wait for an international climate agreement. He suggests that perhaps it would be more productive for nations to move forward with bilateral emission reduction agreements, which should be easier to achieve, and potentially more effective, than a major, international agreement. This spurred some spirited discussion amongst the panelists, and helped provide a window into not only how the UNFCCC process works, but also the fatigue with this process that is felt amongst some of the nations.

Wednesday morning began with a carbon-pricing event organized by IETA and the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) and hosted by the law firm of Latham & Watkins, with keynote addresses from Quebec, Germany, Norway, South Korea, State of New York (RGGI), and the World Bank, which all agreed that putting a price on carbon is necessary to achieve a working international agreement on climate change mitigation. The World Bank emphasized that it is poised and willing to help nations who wish to move forward with carbon pricing.

With agreement on a high level that a carbon price is necessary, the next panels delved deeper into how that price should work. A carbon price needs to be strong, predictable, and rising. Using market-based approaches drives down costs of meeting emissions reduction goals, and allows market participants, such as energy companies, to achieve more than would be economically feasible without the carbon market.

States and provinces with a carbon price have started to see the benefits of their systems. California’s “boring” cap-and-trade program (boring is a good thing as that indicates strength and stability) has generated $800M in revenue to date. Massachusetts has seen a proliferation of green tech start-ups, in part due to the state’s participation in RGGI. In British Columbia, the carbon tax windfall was used to reduce personal income tax.

Wednesday afternoon involved an event focused specifically on regional climate action, hosted by the law firm of Baker & McKenzie. Oregon and Washington are looking closely at what California is doing (all three states are part of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, which also includes Alaska and British Columbia). And other regional opportunities abound. For example, four private companies are planning a large wind power project in Wyoming that will send electricity through Utah to serve southern California.

Linking programs achieves significant benefits associated with larger markets, including greater trade activity, price stability, lower costs, and more options for compliance. But linkage comes with its share of difficulties. Panelists cited that linking cap-and-trade schemes may be difficult due to potential differences in quantity, quality and/or governance/politics. Nevertheless, reports convey that Northeastern states successfully linked under RGGI, and California and Quebec’s linked programs are looking to further expand their partnerships geographically.

Overall, the atmosphere at Climate Week NYC 2014 was one of “bullishness” on carbon trading, which is not something we have experienced in recent years. Attendees and speakers believe that whether the proposed EPA rules are the final form it will take, we can expect some regulation of GHG emissions in the U.S. to begin soon. On the other hand, notably absent from these events were the governments of states which will likely fight the EPA on such regulation. It is safe to say the mood in those states is probably a bit more “bearish.”

 


Mexico ODS Project Protocol development process underway: workgroup applications now available and due October 10

Mexico ODS Project Protocol development process underway: workgroup applications now available and due October 10


Errata and Clarifications released for the Organic Waste Composting Project Protocol Version 1.1

Errata and Clarifications released for the Organic Waste Composting Project Protocol Version 1.1


Climate Action Offsetter: Sale of First Carbon Offsets from Maine Ecological Reserve

Climate Action Offsetter: Sale of First Carbon Offsets from Maine Ecological Reserve

Image Credit: Appalachian Mountain Club
Image Credit: Appalachian Mountain Club

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.

 


The Reserve supports clean air and a clean energy economy and opposes AB69

The Reserve supports clean air and a clean energy economy and opposes AB69

Climate Action Offsetter: Mercyhurst University

Climate Action Offsetter: Mercyhurst University

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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.

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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.

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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.

For more information check out our website, contact the Sustainability Officer, or Like Us on Facebook.


Request for Proposals to Assist in the Development of a Mexico ODS Project Protocol Due August 1

Request for Proposals to Assist in the Development of a Mexico ODS Project Protocol Due August 1