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Climate Change and Your Business

You can't help but come across news about climate change these days. Time Magazine recently published a cover story about global warming. Former Vice President Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. A national public service campaign produced by The Ad Council features a small girl in the path of a speeding train. But what does all that mean for your company? We asked Michael Totten, CI's Climate Change expert, to provide an analysis of the leading issues surrounding climate change as well as an update on how CI is engaging corporate partners to develop solutions to one of the planet's most pressing environmental problems.

CELB eNewsletter: What are the latest climate change policy movements impacting biodiversity?

Totten: Well, the most important ones are Kyoto COP-11 in December 2005 and Avoided Deforestation. After many years of inaction, the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decided to reinitiate discussions looking at incentives for reducing emissions from tropical deforestation as a means to mitigate climate change. This discussion was initiated by a number of country delegations working as the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. CI and partners such as The Nature Conservancy worked through the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) to assist this effort at the December COP 11 in Montreal, Canada.

The “L2 Document” as the COP 11 decision is known calls on accredited observers and UNFCCC parties to submit suggestions for policy measures and positive incentives to reduce emissions by avoiding deforestation. Parties and observers were invited to submit suggestions for the negotiations by March 31, 2005. CI and our partners coordinated submissions in order to inform the debate and shape future policy options.

CELB eNewsletter: What is the Current United States Policy?

Totten: CI is following the various climate change discussions taking place in the United States. Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) are supporting the idea of a mandatory market-based greenhouse gas regulatory system. CI supports the establishment of a cap-and-trade system in the United States, which if adopted, would accelerate actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

CELB eNewsletter: How is the market developing for land-use carbon mitigation projects; i.e. the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme?

Totten: The CCBA has been working with numerous governments and partners to improve the rules regarding the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) and amend what kinds of developing-country projects are eligible for crediting. CI, CCBA and our partners are helping to organize a key Brussels meeting in March to discuss the inclusion of land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities in the next round of EU ETS. The EU ETS is the largest market for emissions reductions and it would be a substantial step forward in terms of providing new sources of conservation finance if LUCLUF projects were allowed into the EU ETS.

CELB eNewsletter: Voluntary Carbon Markets; what has CI been doing lately to tackle climate change?

Totten: CI has drafted a climate strategy for the coming five years that outlines activities CI will pursue in the area of climate change science and research, policy interventions and carbon market development and field implementation of climate mitigation and adaptation projects. CI will soon be working to involve a greater number of corporate, NGO and government agency partners in our emerging climate change initiative.

— In Ecuador

CI’s project in Ecuador is developing well and the nursery activities were started in late 2005 with support from the Ricoh Corp. The Project Design Document and updated methodology will be resubmitted to the CDM Executive Board in March. The new methodology addresses the most recent technical and methodological developments and we are hopeful it will pass through the long and arduous CDM procedures and approvals. The project will result in approximately 150,000 of CDM-eligible certified emissions reductions over 30 years.

— In Madagascar

The Government of Madagascar project in the Mantadia-Zahamena corridor is being heavily supported by CI-Madagascar and CELB. The community level efforts are progressing well and the nurseries have the capacity for over 90,000 seedlings for over 40 species destined for the initial native forest restoration sites. The government declared the corridor area a protected area in December 2005 and the Project Design Document is being finalized and will be submitted to the CDM Executive Board in the coming months for approval. The project will result, over 30 years, in approximately one million CDM-eligible emissions reductions from restoration activities and over eight million voluntary emissions reductions from avoided deforestation activities.

— In China

In the past year, CI-China organized a series of workshops to introduce the CCBA standards and Clean Development Mechanism to partners. Yunnan and Sichuan provinces went through a site selection process to identify potential sites for habitat restoration, which will be partially funded through the sale of the carbon offsets generated by the projects.

The CCB standards have been launched in China and over 100 major forestry officials in Yunnan, Sichuan, and Beijing received training regarding their application in a variety of Chinese settings. In addition, an application was received from the China Forest Science Academy, the most prominent forestry research institute in China, to become a CCBA certifier.

CELB eNewsletter: What can a business do to assist CI and others to combat climate change and support conservation?

Totten: There are many ways companies and individuals can help win the “war on climate change.” Companies and individuals can:

  • Assess and quantify their greenhouse gas emissions footprint,
  • Make a public commitment to reduce these emissions through aggressive energy efficiency gains and the purchase of green power, and
  • Offset some or all of the remaining emissions through investing in multiple-benefit forestry projects, which simultaneously deliver climate change, biodiversity and community benefits.

CELB eNewsletter: Any final words?

Totten: Yes, collective action by every country, business and individual is required if we are to fully combat climate change. Future generations will surely pay a hefty price if we do not take ownership for our own climate footprint today.

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© CI

Michael Totten's Biography

CI's Climate Change Program
• Official Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance Website

Conservation Carbon Overview Fact Sheet (pdf, 1.13mb)
Ecuador Project Fact Sheet (pdf, 251 kb)
Madagascar Project Fact Sheet (pdf, 987 kb)
Article: Biodiversity, Climate, and the Kyoto Protocol: Risks and Opportunities (pdf, 1.74 mb)

 Photo credits for banner image: (Zebras in Botswana) © CI, Chris Brooks