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New Report Sheds Light on Corporate Attitudes Toward Forestry Carbon Offsets

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OXFORD, U.K. and OAKLAND, Calif. — A new study released today from EcoSecurities, Conservation International, the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, and analyzes the perceptions and expectations driving corporate decisions to buy forestry carbon offsets.

The study, “The Forest Carbon Offsetting Survey 2009,” sampled 120 corporations and 21 carbon market companies about their attitudes toward carbon offsets from forestry projects. The findings reveal the types of forestry projects and standards considered most desirable, as well as regional differences in perception of forestry carbon offsets.
forestry report cover

Buyers, for example, overwhelmingly consider avoided deforestation and reforestation projects as the most worthy, while those outside Europe are more likely to view forestry carbon offsets favorably.

The study, one of the first to explore corporate attitudes toward forestry carbon offsets, comes at a time of increasing debate on the sector’s role in addressing climate change Post-Kyoto. Deforestation is responsible for roughly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“With the U.S. significantly increasing its focus on climate change and the U.N. COP15 negotiations taking place at end of 2009, this is an extremely important year for forestry,” Pedro Moura Costa, EcoSecurities president, upon the release of the study. “It’s tremendously encouraging to see that companies are starting to recognize the benefits from forestry projects, not only in terms of the robustness of the carbon offsets, but also in creating sustainable co-benefits and helping to reduce the problem of climate change and deforestation.”

Offset buyers in the study — roughly 90 percent — view avoided deforestation and native tree reforestation projects as the most desirable of all forestry projects, followed closely by agroforestry and peatland conservation, with 81 percent and 75 percent, respectively. In comparison, only 40 percent see commercial tree planting as an attractive forestry project.

The most important factor companies considered when buying forestry carbon offsets was the type of standard used, with the Voluntary Carbon Standard and Clean Development Mechanism being the most recognized and most desirable for more than half of respondents. Yet there remains a gap in knowledge of standard type; between 40 percent and 60 percent admitted they just don’t know enough about other standards. Buyers also prized the experience and reputation of the project developer and the co-benefits created by forestry projects, such as impacts on local communities and ecosystems.

Approval of forestry carbon offsets, however, is not universal. The survey shows a difference in attitudes by region: Companies outside of Europe are more likely to view forestry carbon offsets in a positive light, which may be explained in part by the exclusion of forestry offsets from the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

The partners behind the report will hold two webinars on the results.

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