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Forest carbon conservation projects top $100 million

New report documents billions of dollars in losses from Indonesia’s reforestation fund between 1989 and 2009.

The market for carbon credits generated through forest conservation topped $100 million from 2007 through the first half of 2009, despite a global recession and plunging carbon prices in regulated markets, reports a new assessment by Ecosystem Marketplace.

The study, State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2009: Taking Root & Branching Out, found that the market for forestry-based carbon credits has “matured substantially” over the past three years, transacting 20.8 million MtCO2 at rising prices [average voluntary over-the-counter [OTC] prices rose from $7.12/tCO2 in 2008 to $8.44/tCO2 by June 2009; prices in compliance markets increased from $10.24/tCO2 [weighted average over the period] to $12.31/tCO2 in June 2009]. The trend may be a sign that investors are expecting a post-Kyoto Protocol framework to include market-based mechanisms for mitigating climate change via forest conservation and restoration. A U.N. scheme known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries [REDD] — wide won wide support at December’s climate conference in Copenhagen — may include carbon-trading as a means to finance forest conservation. Until then, most forest carbon credits will be traded in voluntary, rather than compliance markets. The report found that OTC projects made up 90 percent of the total number of projects, 6 percent came under the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), and 4 percent were from regulated markets (CDM afforestation/reforestation projects and the New South Wales Greenhouse Gas Reduction Scheme, launched by Australia in 2003].

The report, which surveyed more than 100 market participants accounting for 230 projects across 40 countries, found that in 2008 North America accounted for 42 percent of the volume of forest carbon credits transacted that year, followed by Africa (26 percent) and Latin America (21 percent).

Katherine Hamilton, Unna Chokkalingam, and Maria Bendana (2010). State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2009: Taking Root & Branching Out [PDF]. Ecosystem Marketplace January 14, 2010

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