The Ecosystem Marketplace's Forest Carbon News
Tracking Terrestrial Carbon
If you build it, will they come? That's the question that the authors of blue carbon methodologies are now asking.
"Blue carbon" ecosystems include seagrasses, tidal salt marshes and mangroves that provide a myriad of benefits and store an incredible amount of carbon. These coastal oases are also some of the most threatened natural places on the planet and are being lost at a rate of about 2% per year, due mainly to aquaculture and coastal development.
Despite their importance, the significance of coastal ecosystems to climate change was not widely recognized until recently. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) didn't release its Wetlands Supplement for national-level wetlands carbon accounting until 2013. Before that, wetlands were not considered to be a "managed" land base.
However, over the last five years, coalitions such as The Blue Carbon Initiative, which aims to develop financial incentives and policy mechanisms for restoring and conserving blue carbon ecosystems, have emerged rapidly. The group released a manual for measuring blue carbon stocks last month and hopes that the guide will be used to produce data that will flow into emerging carbon methodologies, as well as IPCC accounting.
The American Carbon Registry (ACR) released the first carbon methodology for wetlands restoration in the Mississippi Delta in 2012 and now hopes to expand its geographic scope to California. At the global scale, the Verified Carbon Standard's (VCS) methodology for Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration is wrapping up its first assessment and is expected to be available early in 2015.
Could carbon finance be a game-changer for these fast disappearing ecosystems? It depends.
"Generally I think the price of carbon is too low to support really most land-use activities, including wetlands. And wetlands projects are expensive," said Steve Emmet-Mattox, one of the lead authors of the VCS methodology, speaking at the Restore America's Estuaries Summit last week.
Some project developers hope that blue carbon restoration methodologies will pave the way for blue carbon conservation methodologies that will function more like the avoided deforestation (REDD) methodologies available for forest ecosystems – and perhaps achieve economies of scale..
Blue carbon and other emerging land-use carbon methodologies are discussed in more detail in our State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report, to be released next week. This year's report is chock full of data-driven findings on pricing, standard use, and project types as well as new findings on project co-benefits, payments for emissions reductions at the jurisdictional level, and the climate risks that forest carbon offset buyers are facing.
If you're located in Washington, D.C., we'd love to have you join us for our launch event at the World Bank on Friday, November 21st at 4 p.m. We'll present findings from the report, followed by commentary from an expert panel. Forest Trends' President Michael Jenkins will moderate the discussion.
If you plan to attend, please email Ben McCarthy with your RSVP (please include your name and organization). Details will follow.
Can we count on your support to publish this year's report? Please take a look at the sponsorship prospectus and contact Molly Peters-Stanley or Allie Goldstein with any interest.
More news from the forest carbon marketplace is summarized below, so keep reading!
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team
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