I called in to the conference call that the Western Climate Initiative was holding today to answer questions about the final recommendations released last month. There were about 300 people on the call - so many that there weren't enough lines at the start of the call and more had to be added!
I asked a couple of questions of the WCI partners:
1. The final recommendations say that each partner can decide whether or not biomass sources of energy are carbon neutral. I asked whether the WCI was going to do anything to ensure that these decisions took full account of actual emissions, warning that a carbon neutrality assumption for energy from burning forest biomass could mask actual emissions. The partners essentially answered that the jurisdictions have very different approaches to assessing carbon neutrality and WCI would not interfere. The answer indicated to me a lack of willingness to police this issue.
2. The final recommendations include a 49% limit on the extent to which a partner's emission reduction commitment can be met through offsets. Have the partners considered whether a separate (smaller) limit might be placed on the use of forest offsets to deal with concerns about permanence and emission allowance prices. The partners responded that they have not yet decided to place any additional limits on offset categories, leaving me with the impression that this discussion could still be had.
Many other questions were asked including a couple of more about offsets:
3. How would the 49% limit placed on partners be transferred to companies? The partners answered that they really hadn't figured this out yet.
4. What will be the process for developing offset protocols? The partners answered that a process in 2009 would be designed that would allow all partners to participate in the development of protocols. They said that they would make use of existing protocols as appropriate and perhaps adapt them for use in the WCI region.
The final WCI recommendations are online.
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