Documenting change and progress

Report: Net-zero transport and heavy industry sectors ‘possible by 2060’

It will be "technically and financially" possible for the global transport and heavy industry sectors to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, new research from the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) has concluded. Read more

10 countries demand net-zero emission goal in new EU climate strategy

Ministers from ten EU countries have urged the European Commission to chart a "credible and detailed" path towards net-zero emissions in 2050, ahead of the launch of a landmark climate strategy next week. Read more

‘Far too slow’: MPs investigate UK’s energy efficiency progress

MPs have launched an inquiry which will examine the Government's approach to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in the UK, with current progress deemed as "far too slow"". Read more

London Mayor launches five new low-emission bus zones across capital

Saqid Khan has unveiled five new Low Emission Bus Zones (LEBZs) across London, in a drive to tackle the city's air pollution problem. Read more

Volume-based renewable auctions needed to meet emissions targets

Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions must be reformed to fill a looming hole in the UK's carbon budgets, Cornwall Insight has argued in a new report. Read more

Cross-Sector Consortium Launches A New Portfolio Of Biodiversity Solutions For Business And Government

19 November 2018 | In the wake of a major new report from WWF and ZSL (Zoological Society of London) showing dramatic declines in biodiversity over the last fifty years, over 100 members of the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme (BBOP) are meeting in Paris this month to launch a new portfolio of practical solutions for companies and policy-makers to contribute to biodiversity protection. In particular, the new roadmap for business sets out steps enabling a company to make the transition to delivering a Net Gain for Biodiversity.

A central driver of the biodiversity crisis is economic growth itself, as wildlife habitat is lost through new infrastructure development, industrial expansion, and commercial agriculture. But BBOP says it is possible to reconcile economic development and biodiversity conservation – and that proven strategies are ready for use by governments, financial institutions, and businesses.

“Decision-makers sometimes think they have to choose between environmental protection and economic development,” says BBOP Director Kerry ten Kate of Forest Trends. “But it’s often a false choice – practical solutions to reconcile them do exist.  There are ways to support development, so people have access to food, materials, energy, infrastructure and jobs, while conserving biodiversity.  BBOP is releasing a set of tools that we are confident can help companies, banks, and policy-makers rise to the challenge.”

The meeting in Paris, to be held on 27 November at French bank CDC represents the culmination of 15 years of collaboration between over 100 government agencies, companies, financial institutions, NGOs and individual experts, together representing over 2300 people from 45 countries that have been involved in BBOP’s “Community of Practice” over the last decade and a half.  (For conference registration details, contact Together, the members have developed and tested best practice on how to design biodiversity-friendly development to ensure “No Net Loss” and preferably a “Net Gain” in biodiversity.

“If you follow what’s known as the mitigation hierarchy and avoid the most serious impacts, minimize your footprint, restore affected areas after the project and finally offset any remaining losses, it’s possible to plan development projects to result in the same level of, or more, conservation, instead of an overall loss of biodiversity,” explains Samir Whitaker, Business and Biodiversity Programme Manager at ZSL. BBOP has been the principal global forum for collective learning in this area and has developed an internationally recognized Standard to achieve Biodiversity Net Gain and roadmaps for government and business.

“There are many achievements to celebrate over the last 15 years, really spearheaded by BBOP,” says Jessica Nordin of forestry company Sveaskog, and the current Chair of BBOP’s Executive Committee. “BBOP can close, confident that it leaves an amazing legacy of useful tools, knowing that it has changed the standards to which mitigation of impacts is undertaken around the world, and that the work it inaugurated has now been taken on by many governments, companies, programmes and initiatives.”

There are already some encouraging results.  In 2014, 39 countries had existing laws or policies on No Net Loss or a Net Gain of biodiversity, biodiversity offsets or compensation, and now over 100 countries require or enable offsets. 94 financial institutions have set “safeguard” conditions for project finance that require no net loss of natural habitat and a net gain in critical habitat. Over 60 companies have also made public, company-wide commitments or have stated aspirations related to No Net Loss or Net Gain of biodiversity.

The roadmap for business explains the “why and what” of planning for Biodiversity Net Gain, including the opportunities and risks of doing so.  It helps companies work towards Biodiversity Net Gain in individual operations and partnerships at the site or project level; and/or across their business; and/or through their value chain; and/or support BNG as financial institutions through their investment strategy and engagement.

“We’ve learned so much in fifteen years of trial and error, working with companies in the field and supporting governments writing laws and policies,” explains ten Kate. “High quality policies and practices for Biodiversity Net Gain help the economy and the environment.  Poor ones result in costs, protests and liabilities. This is really a case of ‘If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.’  That’s why such a varied group of organisations worked hard over 15 years to produce our Standard and all our handbooks and guidelines. We have the tools.  We hope that governments, business, and the financial community will join us in Paris to help us launch them at scale.”

The final BBOP conference (“Working for Biodiversity Net Gain: Taking stock and prospects for the future”) will be held on Tuesday 27 November at the Caisse des Dépôts, 15 quai Anatole France, 75007 Paris. To register, please contact

Topics on the agenda include:

  • Experiences of Biodiversity Net Gain planning from Eiffage, CDC and the governments of France and Luxembourg
  • Building expertise in finance for Biodiversity Net Gain, including financial mechanisms for mitigation.
  • Ensuring that Biodiversity Net Gain covers social issues: How to make sure people are left at least as well off after development projects and mitigation measures (including offsets) as they were before?
  • Using the Business Roadmap to plan for Biodiversity Net Gain for products, projects, whole companies, value chains, and through finance; and connecting biodiversity and natural capital.
  • How the scientific community can estimate losses and gains and provide evidence to support governments – a new scientific initiative and an example from Malaysia.
  • How Uganda, Mozambique, Guinea and Madagascar have brought governments, companies and conservation groups together to plan for Biodiversity Net Gain.
  • Four experts debate the motion, “Net Gain of biodiversity is realistic,” with speakers from the UK, Australia and South Africa, representing government, the private sector and academia.
  • Conclusions: What are the biggest remaining challenges to the vision of Biodiversity Net Gain?  Getting the right tools into the right hands: What further work and collaboration is needed?

For information about BBOP, see:

The post Cross-Sector Consortium Launches A New Portfolio Of Biodiversity Solutions For Business And Government appeared first on Ecosystem Marketplace.

UK energy revolution creating a ‘two-tier’ economy

The UK's transition to a low-carbon economy is masking stark regional divides, according to new research, with regions such as the North of England and East Midlands being left behind. Read more

Spain targets 100% renewable power by 2050

Spain's government has published a new climate plan that targets a 100% renewable energy electricity system by 2050, with goals that outstrip those adopted by the EU and a ban on new gas and oil exploration. Read more

Pukka Herbs joins select group of businesses to have 1.5C science-based target approved

Organic herbal tea producer Pukka Herbs has become the smallest UK company to have its science-based targets approved, putting it on a trajectory to reduce emissions in line with a 1.5C future. Read more

Businesses accelerate progress towards renewables in drive for 1.5C world

Last year marked a "dramatic upsurge" in corporate demand for renewable energy, according to new research by The Climate Group, which suggests that many big-name businesses are exploring alignment with a 1.5C trajectory. Read more

‘Fundamental’ agriculture reforms needed for UK to reach carbon neutrality, says CCC

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has today (15 November) urged ministers to implement policies that will "fundamentally reform" the way in which the UK's land is used, in order to create carbon sinks and accelerate progress towards carbon neutrality. Read more

International Airlines Are Shaping Up As Big Force In Carbon Offsetting

14 November 2018 | Global climate talks are set to begin two weeks from now in Katowice, Poland, but quieter talks have been taking place out of the limelight, in Montreal, Canada, where negotiators from 192 countries are meeting under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to design a global carbon market for offsetting emissions from international flights, which aren’t included in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The offsetting program, called “CORSIA” (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation), will be phased in over seven years, with a pilot phase running from 2021 through 2023, during which countries can opt in or out (most have opted in), then a second voluntary phase from 2024 through 2026, and a final phase, running from 2027 through 2035 that is mandatory for all countries except the very poor. In essence, airlines will begin rigorously monitoring emissions in January, 2019, then capping emissions at 2020 levels beginning in 2021.

Ecosystem Marketplace Manager Kelley Hamrick has been following carbon markets for five years, and we sat down for her take on how CORSIA is evolving and its role in global carbon markets. This conversation has been edited for clarity.

How long have you been tracking carbon markets?

I’ve been tracking carbon markets since joining Ecosystem Marketplace in 2013, but the organization published its first “State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets” report in 2007 – two years after the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) began.

Amazingly, companies not regulated by the EU ETS program wanted to reduce emissions too, and many began buying voluntary carbon offsets, after they reached the financial or technological limit of what they could do in-house.

That report was critical in tracking voluntary carbon offset purchases, and it provided legitimacy to this nascent market by providing data around the market size, average prices and more. That and subsequent reports also tracked the evolution and increasing use of third-party standards that provided necessary documentation of voluntary offsets’ on-the-ground impacts. Our reports have been used to engage new voluntary offset buyers and help policymakers value the standards and impact of voluntary carbon markets.

How have voluntary markets changed over the years?

Buyers quickly learned that “voluntary” offsets still needed some sort of regulation or structure, and voluntary standard bodies played a crucial role in providing legitimacy to emerging carbon offset activities around the world. In 2007, only 64% of offsets were approved by a third-party standard bodies – compared to 99% in 2016.

We’ve also seen a proliferation of project types – particularly in the supply of and demand for offsets related to land-use. A study was published last year that suggested that through these so-called “natural climate solutions,” we can achieve more than a third of the mitigation needed by 2030 to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius. That has led a lot of people to take a deeper look at forest and land-use offsets.

Another big change is the way voluntary markets have influenced the compliance markets, largely because the participants – the project developers, standard bodies, registries and others – have been free to test new methods, with standard-setting bodies capturing and codifying what works to ensure environmental integrity. The most recent and in-progress example of this is the upcoming Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) program, overseen by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

What is CORSIA?

Climate negotiators have always struggled with emissions from activities like international aviation and shipping, which are generated between countries rather than inside of them. For the former, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) delegated this to ICAO, which is the UN agency charged with overseeing international flights.

Like the UNFCCC, CORSIA is comprised of member states – in this case, 192 of them – and in 2013, the members set an aspirational goal of capping emissions from international flights at 2020 levels, even if the number of flights continue to increase. At the moment, airlines can improve fuel efficiency, shift to cleaner-burning fuels, and reduce the weight of planes… but the technology only goes so far.

While we hope for – and expect – technological breakthroughs on those issues in the future, it is likely the airlines will need to use offsets in the short-term for some or all of their emissions. That’s where CORSIA comes in. The CORSIA program will allow airlines purchase offsets to meet the goal of carbon neutral growth post-2020.

So CORSIA means airlines will only offset some emissions from flights?

Correct – just their emissions above 2020 levels, and only for international flights. But that’s still a big amount! International air travel is a rapidly growing industry; the International Air Transport Association expects international air travel to almost double between 2016 and 2035. Throughout the industry’s history, increased air travel has meant increased emissions, that’s why decoupling them is so important. The way CORSIA plans to do that is by putting a price on carbon, and linking the airlines’ emissions with its balance sheet.

Also, CORSIA isn’t just about offsetting: airlines can make use of alternative aviation fuels (like biofuels) or offsets. With a price on carbon, airlines will have an incentive to reduce emissions and catalyze investments in new low-emissions technology to do so.  There are some cool examples of airlines beginning to make some big investments into biofuels, like Virgin, United and Cathay Pacific, which is all needed to bring down the cost of the fuel and the supply infrastructure needed at airports.

Your v-carbon quarterly report included a special section on CORSIA. Why is it a big deal? It’s just one industry.

First, climate impact. International aviation is responsible for an estimated 1.3% of global emissions. This program will help cap those emissions by ensuring future growth is carbon neutral.

Second, global cooperation. All ICAO member states have already agreed to CORSIA’s overarching goal of carbon neutral growth. This is one of the first instances of developed and developing countries taking similar approaches in reducing emissions – and emissions reductions supply could similarity be completely global.

Third, and finally, the impact on carbon markets. Research organizations have estimated that CORSIA could generate demand for 1.6-3.7 billion tonnes of emissions reductions. This could become one of the largest sources of demand worldwide.

We know it’ll be a big deal, but exactly how the deal shakes out remains to be seen. While the emissions reduction goal has been agreed to, the details around implementation of CORSIA – for instance, which standards, protocols and vintages will be eligible – are still being ironed out. With CORSIA set to begin in 2020, the coming months and years will be an interesting time to follow CORSIA developments.

What does this mean for airlines already offsetting?

That’s a good question. Right now, some airlines offset a portion of their emissions, either for compliance purposes (i.e. they are required to under a carbon pricing program) or voluntarily, usually through passengers who purchase offsets for the emissions associated with their flights. Currently, only a handful of compliance programs cover  airline emissions: namely, the EU-ETS and several of China’s pilot provincial cap and trade programs– and even those only apply to flights within the country or European Union.

Some airlines voluntarily offset some of their emissions, or offer passengers the option to offset their flight’s emissions. In fact, half of the world’s ten largest airlines offer passengers the option to offset their emissions, including at least one airline from every region around the world. Many of these airlines were some of the first companies to engage in voluntary offsetting – either by offsetting some of their own emissions or by allowing customers to offset emissions associated with their flights.

The question remains whether airlines will continue to offset voluntarily in addition to meeting their compliance obligations under CORSIA. Once CORSIA takes effect, there will still be an opportunity for voluntary offsetting, either by customers or airlines. That’s because CORSIA caps post-2020 international aviation emissions growth; airlines will still need to do more to reduce current rates of emissions. ICAO and airlines will need to figure out how to avoid double counting, but so will almost every other industry once the Paris Agreement goes into effect.

Rank (by revenue) Airline Offer offsetting to customers? Headquarters Country
1 American Airlines Group No United States
2 Delta Air Lines Yes United States
3 Lufthansa Yes Germany
4 United Continental Holdings Yes United States
5 Air France-KLM Yes France/Netherlands
6 International Airlines Group No Spain/United Kingdom
7 Southwest Airlines No United States
8 China Southern Airlines No China
9 All Nippon Airways Yes Japan
10 China Eastern Airlines No China

Source: Forbes’ The World’s Largest Public Companies and Ecosystem Marketplace’s own research

So what kind of offsets can airlines buy? Are they the same as what they’re using now for their voluntary offsetting?

That’s jumping the gun a bit – right now, the question is whether or not the CORSIA program will allow the use of offsets certified by voluntary carbon offsets standards. In February of this year, I attended the first ICAO Seminar on Carbon Markets in Montreal, where ICAO brought their policymakers and negotiators to hear directly from members of the carbon markets community and gain a better understanding of how existing markets work. I gave a presentation about voluntary carbon offsets alongside representatives from a variety of existing carbon markets and standard bodies, including the Clean Development Mechanism, voluntary market standards and country program officials from Japan, China, Korea, Canada and the EU. This seminar provided airlines, industry groups, ICAO officials and others a chance to learn more about things like the available supply of offsets, how standard bodies certify offsets, and how registries track offsets throughout their lifecycle.

In June of this year, ICAO released its Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs), which detail the implementation of CORSIA, including: the program’s administration; information about how airlines should conduct their emissions monitoring, reporting, and validation (MRV); and offsetting and low carbon fuel use requirements. What the SARPs do not include much information on is what types of offsets will be eligible.

Some immediate, and much awaited next steps for the ICAO Council (represented by 36 member states), are to discuss and approve the criteria for eligible “units” – ICAO-speak for offsets. The Council will also establish a Technical Advisory Body (TAB), which will consist of a smaller group of representatives who will make recommendations to Council on specific offset programs and whether they meet the criteria. Ultimately, the ICAO Council will make final decisions on what offsets are eligible for use by airlines. This is a big task ahead – and one which we are excited to see unfold.

So what’s happened since CORSIA was announced? Are you starting to see any of those shifts in the voluntary markets?

In the data we have tracked and market actors we hear from, there’s a lot of enthusiasm and anticipation to engage with CORSIA but little in the way of market activity. That could be just a reflection of what we’ve seen, and what is public; however, I also think it is likely that market participants are wary of investing ahead of clear signals regarding offset eligibility.

Earlier this year, we conducted a survey asking market participants and other experts how they thought upcoming markets – like CORSIA, developments under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and domestic carbon pricing programs – may affect the voluntary carbon markets. Most respondents viewed CORSIA as a positive new opportunity, regardless of which offsets CORSIA recognizes as eligible. That’s because the survey respondents found value in raising overall awareness of offsetting, and thought that engagement with voluntary offsets would rise because of that. However, despite this generally favorable outlook, nearly all respondents reiterated the same word when describing the future of voluntary carbon markets: uncertainty.

In short, we’ve seen a lot of interest in CORSIA but not a lot of actual activity. While there may be some airlines looking to get experience with voluntary offsetting before CORSIA officially starts, most will probably hold off until the market kicks off. Project developers, in turn, will likely wait for more guidance around offset eligibility before investing in new projects or expanding capacity in their existing projects.

So what’s the debate about vintages? Why does it matter what year the offsets were issued?

Simply put, an offset’s vintage is the year that offset was produced. Scientifically, a unit of emissions reductions is equivalent, no matter how, where, or when it was achieved. But economically, which vintages are and are not accepted under CORSIA could drastically affect offset supply and demand.

At the end of the day, there are valid arguments on both sides of the fence, and the best thing regulators can do is to make their decisions available as quickly as possible to market participants.

I know there have been concerns raised about double counting. What are those? Will ICAO address these? Or is this a matter for UNFCCC?

There are a handful of different ways in which ‘double accounting’ can happen – from the double counting of a claim to an emission reduction itself to double use of an issued credit. The basic principle is to make sure multiple claims aren’t happening over the same actions, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

ICAO will inevitably have to look to what is happening under the UNFCCC, which is currently in the process of developing guidance to address double counting of markets under the Paris Agreement. Ultimately, though, the ICAO Council must make decisions for CORSIA. In doing so, the ICAO Council has a responsibility to make sure offsets they deem eligible under CORSIA do not result in double counting. This was captured in the 2016 Assembly Resolution on CORSIA and in work done by the Global Markets Based Task Force (GMTF) on emissions unit criteria (which is now viewed by the Council).

Will EM track CORSIA offsets?

Yes! Assuming all goes according to plan, the first phase of CORSIA will be up and running by 2020. Until then, we’ll keep reporting on how the market is preparing to launch. After 2020, we’ll keep covering how the market is unfolding, especially focusing on how it is impacting the voluntary carbon markets and finance flows towards forest and land-use carbon. Stay tuned J




The post International Airlines Are Shaping Up As Big Force In Carbon Offsetting appeared first on Ecosystem Marketplace.

Report: G20 nations off track to meet Paris Agreement goals, despite clean energy promises

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Irish businesses pledge to slash carbon emissions

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World has no capacity to absorb new fossil fuel plants, warns IEA

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Wind power delivered 98% of Scotland’s electricity demand in October

Wind turbines across Scotland generated enough power to account for 98% of the country's electricity demand last month. Read more

Drax facing legal action over plans for large-scale gas turbine project

Power company Drax is facing legal action over plans to open a four-turbine gas generation facility at its Selby power plant in Yorkshire, with environmental law firm ClientEarth claiming that the project breaches the Government's planning and climate change policies. Read more

Report: Oil and gas industry failing to invest in low-carbon projects

Global oil and gas firms have collectively invested just 1.3% of their combined capital expenditure (CAPEX) into low-carbon technologies and projects since the start of 2018, new research from CDP has concluded. Read more

WATCH: How can business harness energy innovation?

With companies increasingly moving past energy efficiency measures and exploring innovative energy technologies such as battery storage, a group of business experts recently met in Birmingham to discuss what the future of energy looks like for the UK's business community. Here, edie rounds up their key takeaways. Read more