Have you ever seen an orangutan make its way through a forest? It is a magical, breathtaking sight! To move through the canopy, the largest arboreal mammal swings tree branches back and forth to get across often unimaginably large spaces. Despite their size and weight, the orangutans often look almost weightless while doing so, at times suspended in mid-air with all four limbs extending into different directions.
This past summer, I had the unique opportunity to take in such a sight first-hand. As part of a family vacation in Indonesia, we visited the Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo where you can see wild and rehabilitated orangutans in their habitat. I also got to meet Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas who leads the Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the conservation of orangutans and the rainforest they live in. In their Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) facility and in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve they rehabilitate rescued orangutans and release them back into the wild. Needless to say, meeting Dr. Galdikas was another highlight of the vacation given that she is an eminence in the field of primatology and has dedicated her entire professional life to saving orangutans.
One reason we chose to visit Borneo and see orangutans in the wild was because the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve project, a VCS and CCB project, is also restoring wild habitat for orangutans. Last year, the project area became home to 25 orangutans that had been rehabilitated in OFI’s OCCQ – and there is hope that more orangutans can be reintroduced to Rimba Raya in the future.
Seeing how these incredibly strong and yet graceful animals, who are under such dire threat, are getting a second chance because a group of people figured out how make preserving their forest habitat an economically viable option was hands-down one of the best summer vacation experiences ever.
Now that I am back in the office and getting used again to the daily work routine, it is incredibly satisfying and motivating to see how the team here at Verra has been working on standards and related programs that drive finance towards climate action and sustainable development and that ultimately help make projects like Rimba Raya a reality.
Finally, we would like to thank all of you for voting the VCS Program as the “Best Voluntary Standard” in the Environmental Finance survey. The program team works hard to answer queries, resolve issues, and keep everything running smoothly, so your support means a lot to us – many thanks!
As always, this newsletter is full of what we hope is interesting and helpful information. Please read on.
Verra Builds New Market and Standards Development Teams
As Verra expands its range of standards and looks forward to the new opportunities the Paris Agreement brings to carbon markets, we are establishing a new team to foster the uptake of Verra standards and frameworks. The Market Development team will tackle issues related to Article 6; pursue new market opportunities like CORSIA and emerging domestic markets; work with project developers, partners, and corporates to build awareness of and demand for all of our standards; and secure key insights to inform standards development and evolution. This new team will be built from existing and new staff, including:
- Naomi Swickard – Chief Market Development Officer
- Anne Thiel – Communications Manager
- Angelo Sartori – Manager, REDD+ Market Development
- Summer Montacute – Forestry and Land Use Advisor
In addition, we are building out our standards development team to support Verra’s efforts in establishing new frameworks and partnerships to help tackle some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges of our day. This team includes:
- Toby Janson-Smith – Chief Innovation Officer
- Julianne Baroody – Director, Standards Development
- Sinclair Vincent – Manager, Standards Development
We are excited to create these new teams and focus our standards experience and expertise on new opportunities that will drive additional finance to high-impact climate and sustainability efforts around the world.
VCS Version 4 – Update and Next Steps
In May, we launched a 60-day public consultation on several proposals which were intended to serve as the basis for the next version of the VCS Program: VCS Version 4. We are very appreciative of the overwhelming number of comments submitted through the consultation and we thank everyone for their detailed and thoughtful submissions. We are currently in the process of evaluating the feedback we received with a view towards revising our proposals to take account of your comments. In terms of next steps, we aim to launch a second 60-day consultation early next year. This will give us the time needed to properly digest the feedback we’ve received. We’ll also plan to develop the actual program documentation for VCS Version 4 in the interim, and that documentation will be available during the second consultation period. We therefore expect to launch VCS Version 4 sometime in 2019 after the next consultation.
VCS Program Wins Environmental Finance’s “Best Voluntary Standard” for 2018
We are honored to announce that voters have chosen the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) Program as Environmental Finance’s “Best Voluntary Standard” for 2018. More than 1,000 votes were submitted for this category. This is the 6th time the VCS Program, which is managed by Verra, has won this award.
Environmental Finance’s awards acknowledge the expertise and ingenuity of leading players in the environmental markets. We appreciate the endorsement of all those who voted for the VCS Program and look forward to continuing to support projects around the world that work hard to mitigate the impacts of climate change. To date, the more than 1,400 certified VCS projects have collectively reduced or removed more than 270 million tonnes of GHG emissions from the atmosphere; these projects are a critical force in moving climate action forward.
You can learn more in this article by Environmental Finance.
Opportunity to Pilot ICAT Guidance
The Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) is inviting expressions of interest to pilot the ICAT guidance (view the full series of guidance here). The guidance can be used to assess the impacts of climate policies and actions to inform decision-making and reporting, and to build capacity on policy assessment methods and processes. Piloting ICAT guidance provides users with access to technical support during the assessment process and the opportunity to be included as a case study in the final version of guidance.
If you are interested in piloting the ICAT guidance to assess a policy or action, please send an e-mail expressing interest for consideration by 21 September 2018. The Terms of Reference that sets out the information to be included in the expression of interest and the description of the piloting process are available here. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Ms. Sinclair Vincent at firstname.lastname@example.org
Methodology for Electric Vehicle Charging Systems Approved
In an effort to accelerate the deployment of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and reduce emissions in the transportation sector, the EV Charging Carbon Coalition (EVCCC), a coalition of vehicle manufacturers, EV charging service and equipment providers, utilities, financial services and cities, working with the Climate Neutral Business Network, have developed a new methodology to quantify the emission reductions achieved by the charging of electric vehicles (EVs) through EV charging systems, including their associated infrastructure. The approved methodology provides easy-to-use monitoring parameters to quantify emission reductions and also establishes default factors for certain parameters for projects located in the United States and Canada as an alternative to project-specific calculations. The methodology also includes a positive list of 40 countries which have been demonstrated to have less than five percent market penetration of electric vehicles.
Verra Event Participation
Verra is planning to participate in a number of industry conferences and events. We would love to connect if you’re planning on attending any of them.
- Global Sustainable Aviation Summit, October 2-3 (Geneva)
- BSR Conference, November 6-8 (New York)
- COP24, December 3-14 (Katowice, Poland)
VCS Projects Open for Public Comment
Six VCS projects are currently open for public comment – a cookstove project, two REDD+ projects (VCS/CCB projects), two hydroelectric VCS projects, and one wind project.
The cookstove project is located in Mexico and involves the promotion and installation of ONIL-certified stoves (ICS), a fuel-efficient stove type that reduces the amount of firewood required by households by as much as 58%; this allows rural residents to save time on collecting wood for fuel which, in turn, enables them to spend more time on other activities, such as work or education.
The REDD+ project in the native community of Bélgica, Madre de Dios Region, Peru, will benefit 2,549 families. The project is expected to avoid net emissions of 126,168.88 tCO2e annually and will strengthen the community’s technical capacities for forest management and administration of natural resources, develop productive alternatives to generate income, improve forest governance, and enhance the surveillance system.
The Alto Mayo Conservation Initiative, also in Peru, is starting a public comment period before its fourth verification under both programs. During the most recent monitoring period, this REDD+ project resulted in reduced deforestation on an additional 2,600 ha of forest, for a total of over 17,000 ha protected over the lifetime of the project, and emissions reductions of 1,028,498 tCO2e.The project also protected habitat for 18 critically endangered and endangered species, including the giant otter, the upper Amazon stub foot toad, and the white-bellied spider monkey.
The Santa Rosa-Altamira hydroelectric project in Colombia is considering the installation of two run-of-river renewable small hydroelectric plants and is expected to generate 99,804 tCO2e in emissions reductions annually. The second hydroelectric project in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh, India is expected to generate 56, 726 tCO2e in emissions reductions annually. The wind project consists of the installation of 68 new (greenfield) wind power turbines on approximately 87,224 acres of land in South Dakota with a total installed capacity of 260 MW.