12/02/2009 12:17:20 PM EST
Marten Law PLLC: Carbon Offsets Protocol Unlikely to Satisfy Competing Interests
California-based Climate Action Reserve (CAR) has released version 3.0 of its Forest Project Protocol, which allows forest lands located anywhere in the country to generate carbon offset credits by following CAR's accounting and verification procedures. On September 24, 2009, California's Air Resources Board (CARB) approved this revision to a 2007 protocol, clearing the way for use of the revised Protocol in the voluntary emission market administered by CAR. CARB is still developing terms and conditions for use of these credits in California's mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade system, slated to begin in 2012.
“The revised Protocol is not without controversy,” Alyssa Moir of Marten Law PLLC writes in this Emerging Issues Analysis. “Environmental groups opposed a provision that limits even-age management of timber stands registered under the Protocol, saying that any acknowledgement of that practice would encourage clearcutting. Some of these groups recently challenged timber harvest plans in California for what they claimed was inadequate mitigation of timber harvest impacts on GHG emissions.
“However, their objection to the Protocol appears unrelated to the ability of managed forests to sequester carbon. The real test for the Protocol will be whether a wider range of timberland owners choose to enroll their lands under the program, as only a handful of projects were registered under its earlier versions. State and national cap-and-trade proponents are banking on a robust offset credit market to limit the cost of reducing GHG emissions. CAR's Forest Project Protocol offers an early test of that premise.”
Ms. Moir discusses forest offsets generally, the Climate Action Reserve developed out of the California Climate Action Registry and Forest Protocol 3.0.
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