Blue Carbon Markets: Mainstreaming a Funding Mechanism for Restoration

Session Number: 16

Wednesday June 2 @ 1:00 – 1:50 PM

 

Keywords: Economics, Policy, Planning, & Law; Human Dimensions; Technology and Innovation Human Dimensions; Continuing Legal Education

 

Moderator: Rick Johnson, Entergy

 

1.A. Climate Change Coastal Impact Mitigation: Entergy’s Efforts to Decarbonize the Gulf South Economy and Address Wetlands Loss

Presenter: Rick Johnson, Entergy

 

Abstract: Some of the territories and communities in which Entergy operates face significant physical risks as the result of increases in global average temperature. While various impacts are predicted throughout the company’s service territory, they are especially pronounced in coastal Louisiana and Texas. These risks generally include wetlands loss, sea level rise and coastal erosion/land loss and the risk of increased damage from tropical weather systems to territory along the Gulf Coast.  Businesses in the Gulf Coast region are increasingly motivated to reduce carbon emissions because the coastal area is uniquely vulnerable to the physical risks posed by climate change. Stakeholders also are increasingly interested in how business and industry will respond to these challenges.

 

Mitigation of these physical risks can be achieved through carbon emission reduction efforts. Various industry group and think tank studies find that decarbonization of the economy requires collaboration across and between sectors. Entergy Corporation and the US Business Council for Sustainable Development invited businesses from a wide range of sectors to create the Gulf Coast Carbon Collaborative, a cross-sector platform aimed at reducing the region’s carbon emissions using all solutions, including natural solutions to restore coastal wetlands that absorb carbon.

 

Challenges to the reduction of carbon emissions include access to technology, information and capital to fund change. This ongoing cross-sector collaboration structure specific to our region will address these challenges and empower managers and decision-makers to create strategies through shared experiences that will help protect regional assets and economic opportunity.

 

Establishing and supporting this collaborative is part of Entergy's long-term commitment to the sustainability of its communities and operations. Entergy leaders understand that the company’s growth potential depends on the health and sustainability of the four-state area it serves. This region offers a rare combination of resources: a business-friendly, central U.S. location with direct access to raw materials and markets; an expansive infrastructure; and a skilled, affordable workforce. Entergy intends to reduce the overall carbon emissions from and impacts to its region and help businesses thrive in a responsible, sustainable way.  Other energy utilities and solution providers in the region are participating and invited to participate

 

The US BCSD is an action-oriented and member-led nonprofit business association, founded in 1992, to give leading US businesses a shared space to design, implement and scale sustainability solutions. US BCSD collaboration platforms provide ongoing venues for stakeholders to act together on issues of common concern.

 

 

1.B.  Status and Challenges of Wetlands in Carbon Markets

Presenter: Sarah Mack, Tierra Foundation

 

Abstract: Global, national, regional and state-level governmental participation in the stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gases has facilitated several emissions trading market initiatives.  Wetland restoration techniques have proven to be effective climate change mitigation strategies that promote enhanced carbon sequestration via increased vegetative productivity and carbon burial, as well as avoided carbon release when wetlands are lost.  A carbon market that facilitates financial investment into wetland restoration can potentially create offsets that provide a wealth of co-benefits such as storm surge reduction, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, job creation, and economic development that are vital to the sustainability of coastal Louisiana.

 

Wetlands were first introduced to carbon markets in 2012.  To-date the only wetland carbon projects that have transacted globally were a handful of projects that are classified under forestry.  The world’s first sectoral carbon market that will apply to all international air travel will be launching in 2020.  With an increasing focus on nature-based solutions to climate change there has never been a more important time to prove wetlands viability in carbon markets. 

 

This presentation will provide an update on regulatory and voluntary emissions trading markets with an emphasis on wetland carbon offset development.  International market trends, emerging new markets, and evolving industry commitments will also be explored.  Louisiana’s wetlands will be discussed within the broader context of the opportunities and challenges that wetlands face within current carbon markets.  Findings from the Luling Wetland Carbon Pilot that has recently been third-party verified and is awaiting transaction as the first wetland restoration carbon offsets globally will be detailed.

 

1.C. The World’s First Wetland Carbon Project

Presenter: Robert Lane, Comite Resources

 

Abstract: Wetlands were first introduced to carbon markets in 2012 when the American Carbon Registry (ACR) certified the methodology, Restoration of Degraded Deltaic Wetlands of the Mississippi Delta, which was developed by Tierra Resources to transact wetland carbon credits derived from wetland restoration.  The ACR methodology, Restoration of Degraded Deltaic Wetlands of the Mississippi Delta, provides a rigorous scientific framework for project development and aims to give offset credit for a wide range of restoration techniques including hydrologic management as well as reforestation with a variety of species.  The methodology addresses each aspect of the project from establishing a baseline, monitoring of eligible carbon pools, and estimating carbon offsets that can be transacted as carbon credits. 

 

The first wetland restoration carbon credit pilot project, located in St. Charles Parish approximately 19 miles from New Orleans, was launched in 2012.  This was the first wetland offset pilot project to demonstrate a public private partnership that leverages carbon finance.  The objective of this pilot project was to deliver a proof-of-concept carbon offset project at the wetlands near Luling, Louisiana, to address science gaps, “road test” the developed methodology, determine costs, benefits, and barriers to implementation, identify cost-saving measures, and potentially produce commercially viable offsets.  The presentation will provide a detailed description of project results including monitoring efforts, carbon modeling, carbon quantification, challenges and lessons learned.  This project was recently third-party verified and is anticipated to be the first wetland restoration carbon offset project to be transacted globally.  Transacting the first wetland restoration carbon project opens the door to wetland carbon finance.  The results will inform managers and developers on how to develop wetland carbon credits that are compliance eligible, and scientifically defensible.

 

1.D. The World’s First Wetland Carbon Project

Presenter: Karly A Kyzar, Louisiana Sea Grant

 

Abstract: Demand for blue carbon credits will likely increase into the future, and the high cost of coastal restoration is often a barrier to private landowners conducting blue carbon projects on their property.   State funding could serve to fill the need for carbon credits from blue carbon projects and serve as a potential funding stream to increase the capabilities of the state to engage in needed – but expensive – actions, such as long-term monitoring of projects. For example, a significant funding stream is the BP settlement, and it may be possible to leverage some of those funds for carbon credit projects, maximizing the benefits gained from the restoration.

 

Louisiana Sea Grant is working with Tierra Foundation on a research project aimed at examining the legal considerations encountered when utilizing restoration funding for the development of blue carbon projects. This presentation will examine preliminary research findings related to several questions, including: what sources of restoration funding can be leveraged for the development of projects that would meet eligibility requirements in the carbon market, what considerations should be given when drafting landowner agreements, and what concerns are there to related to long-term monitoring, maintenance, and liability.