Thursday, July 24, 2008

Recommendations are released for the Western Climate Initiative: includes forests

The seven states and four provinces that are partners to the Western Climate Initiative released their recommendations of the cap-and-trade design today.

The recommendations include three possible ways for including forests:

1. Afforestation, forest management, forest preservation/conservation and forest products are included in a list of priority areas to be considered for offset project types. Offset credits would be available to offset up to 10% emissions allocations, which could be as much as 50% as a company's emission reduction target. The recommendations make it clear that being a priority does not mean that these project types are guaranteed to be in the system (Recommendation 9.3).

2. A minimum percentage of the value of each Partner’s allowance budget may be dedicated to promoting emission recuctions and sequestration in agriculture and forestry as uncapped sectors (other possible uses of these funds are also mentioned) (Recommendation 8.2).

3. The recommendations acknowledge the role of other greenhouse-gas reducing policies to achieve their 2020 reduction goal. Ontario's recent announcement to protect 225,000 km2 of northern boreal forest (roughly the size of the United Kingom) in part to protect carbon stores is an example of such a complementary policy (Recommendation 5.1).

Western Climate Initiative

Seattle PI article
Globe and Mail article


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

First a question: Will there be an opportunity to affect these recommendations?

Specifically the exclusion of Biomass emissions? This is a huge problem as it allows the burning of forests with no penalty. With a 25 tonne trigger all bioenergy projects would be under regulation if it were not for the exemption. For example, just one plant producing 60 MWh of power emits 537,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. This CO2 cannot be re sequestered in under a century so to exclude it in these times of necessary mitigation is unconscionable. With the proposals on the books right now in central B.C alone, the possible emissions will be 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Then we have the boreal.....

Secondly...on the forest products issue In the interior only 35 percent of the forest logged makes it into durable forest products. However, these products would have to last at least the life of a tree to be counted. In this case 125 to 250 years. I doubt that many products could pass this test. When you add in the emissions created by logging,(which I don't think are counted) the emissions from soil disturbance and the fact that a clearcut is a net CO2 contributor for 20 years after logging (again not counted), I seriously doubt that forest products can account for significant sequestration. The whole forest products issue is moot indeedtppkmva

Chris Henschel said...

Thank-you for your comment, Anonymous.

The WCI is holding a stakeholder meeting on July 29 in San Diego to discuss the recommendations. You can join by webinar; go to and follow the links to the July 29 webinar.

I don't think that a lot of people are paying a lot of attention to the biomass issue. It seems like it could be a real spoiler if what is going on in SE Asia is any indication (deforestation for oil palm for biofuel).

I will pass your concerns along through the Western Climate Advocates Network and Climate Action Network.

You might want to connect with Trevor Hesselink at CPAWS-Wildlands League (; he has also been doing some research on this.

Finally, CPAWS has produced a factsheet on woody bioenergy. It would be interesting to get your feedback.