Carbon Credits are part of the Solution to Global Warming
Our situation cannot be understated: The world must take immediate action to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.Companies and organizations need to utilize every available tool to achieve emission reduction goals. “Carbon offsets” are one such tool that – if used responsibly can accelerate action to avert dangerous climate change.
The term “carbon offset” is shorthand for GHG emission reductions or removals (or an increase in carbon storage ) that compensate for CO2 emissions elsewhere. A carbon offset credit is an instrument that people use to assign a commercial dollar to one metric ton of GHG, so they can measure, buy, sell, and trade it.
The mechanics of the carbon market are simple. A carbon sequestration program is implemented, subsequently lowering GHG emissions and generating carbon credits. The credits are then purchased by companies to claim the underlying reductions towards their own GHG reduction goals. Effectively, the companies purchasing the credits are paying someone else to do what they can’t do or don’t want to do themselves.
Carbon credit programs are now internationally adopted for voluntary and compliance markets. Credits are certified by governments and international certification bodies and are traded privately and on numerous exchanges worldwide.
Author: Suzette Brewer
It’s an idea so simple that it sounds almost too good to be true: Tribes across the country are using their forest lands to generate income by selling carbon credits in the California emissions trading industry while preserving their lands for future generations.
“These type of projects focus on preservation of tribal natural resources while still being able to derive revenue,” says Bryan Van Stippen, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and program director for the National Indian Carbon Coalition, “even if a tribal entity has a commercial logging operation.”
California, which has the fifth largest economy in the world, launched its “cap and trade” program in 2013 with the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions to pre-1990 levels by 80 percent by 2050. Currently, 11 tribes from Alaska to Maine have received approval to participate in the program.
Based on the European Union Emissions Trading System that was enacted in 2005 to fight global warming, the carbon trading industry in North America is a market-based system designed to reduce pollution in the atmosphere by “capping” (or limiting) the harmful emissions of fuel companies and other big polluters that emit 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year or more. These companies can then buy carbon off-set credits from tribes and other entities to help meet their required goals.
Currently, there are two markets in the carbon credit industry: The compliant markets in California and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, which have joined together to allow businesses to buy credits issued within those jurisdictions; and a voluntary market which is used by companies, individuals and governments purchasing carbon offsets.
The compliant markets have certain restrictions and requirements for tribes—including a 100-year commitment and a limited waiver of sovereign immunity―that have dissuaded many tribes from participating in the program due to concerns over how their needs may change over time and what that may mean in regards to control over their lands.