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Gazprom, Shell and Clinton Foundation back rainforest carbon deal in Borneo

A forest conservation project backed by Shell, Gazprom Market and Trading and the Clinton Foundation on the island of Borneo has won approval under a carbon accounting standard, reports Reuters.

The Rimba Raya project, which covers nearly 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) of peat forest in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province, could reduce projected emissions by 75 million metric tons over the next 30 years, generating hundreds of millions in carbon finance under the reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) program backed by the U.N. and World Bank.

Rimba Raya is being developed by Hong Kong-based InfiniteEARTH in partnership with Orangutan Foundation International, which aims to protect red apes and their habitat. The project avoids carbon dioxide emissions by protecting peatlands and forests, which sequester massive amounts of carbon in their vegetation and soils.

Draining and clearing of peat forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Rhett A. Butler.

According to Reuters, Rimba Raya marks “a milestone” in the development of a global market in forest carbon credits.

“The project has earned the first-ever approval of an accounting method for measuring the reduction in carbon emissions under REDD,” wrote David Fogarty and Sunanda Creagh for Reuters. “The Voluntary Carbon Standard program, the most respected standard for voluntary carbon offsets, approved the methodology after it passed a mandated double auditing process. The project itself is now undergoing third-party validation and is likely to become the world’s first VCS-approved REDD project later this year.”

Fogarty and Creagh say Rimba Raya’s approval will pave the way for other REDD projects currently in development, reducing some of the uncertainty that has plagued the nascent forest carbon market.

Gazprom, which controls 17% of the world’s natural gas reserves and is the world’s largest gas producer, agreed in a statement.

“This is seen as a landmark moment for the carbon market,” said Gazprom in a press release.

Deforestation, forest and peatlands degradation are a larger source of greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships, and planes combined. Tropical forest conservation is now seen as one of the most cost-effective ways to fight climate change, although the details surrounding a potential mechanism for compensating reduced deforestation remain unsettled.

CITATION: David Fogarty and Sunanda Creagh. Indonesia project boosts global forest CO2 market. Reuters. Tue Aug 24, 2010.

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