VIII – Summary and Conclusions


Summary of findings

The voluntary carbon market has evolved tremendously since its early days and now provides a multitude of standards to certify the carbon credits and guarantee that the carbon credits are real, additional, verifiable, permanent and unique. The compliance market has been unable to produce forestry projects that reduce carbon emissions while the voluntary market has developed innovative tools and methodologies to fulfil the demand for these types of credits.

In 2009, the voluntary carbon standards invested heavily in the release of new and improved forestry methodologies. Most of the voluntary carbon standards provided new tools for project developers to start the certification process in order to sell the carbon credits.

VCS released new methodologies, opening the door to project developers to certify forestry projects with the VCS AFOLU and REDD (Module, Frontier, Mosaic and Baseline & Monitoring) methodologies.

CCAR released a new version 3.0 of its forest methodology in September 2009 improving the quality of its previous forest methodology version 2.1 which displayed weaknesses in its assessment of permanence and leakage. CCAR is not showing any signs that it will change its additionality assessment as it did not happen between version 2.1 and 3.0.

CarbonFix also released their CarbonFix standard Version 3.0 which is a more comprehensive and simplified methodology to certify a forestry project.

Plan Vivo is developing six more projects and therefore new research should assess if there have been improvements in the standardization of the certification process.

CCX has not made any changes in 2009 and provides fewer guarantees that CCX carbon credits are real, additional, verifiable and permanent.

CCBS released their methodology in 2008 and has increased its cooperation with VCS. This has encouraged the project developer to double certify their forestry projects.

The aim of this research is to provide a tool for organizations, businesses and individuals to identify which carbon credits they should buy according to their objectives and interests. The tool is a clear table that assists the reader in comparing the varying standards based on each criterion and reaching their own conclusions.

In addition, the development of a new forestry carbon standard based on the best tools from all standards assists the reader in locating the most comprehensive instruments the standards have to offer.

The limitation of this study is that it is unable to provide full details about the tools to the reader. The tools used by the standards are often between 5 and 20 pages and it would be unpractical to add it to this thesis although it would be valuable. In addition, the tools have only been assessed against each other and not against a new framework.

The current literature about the standards is very limited and becomes out of date very quickly as standards tend to update their methodologies while researching and listening to expert opinions.

Recommendation for further research

More research is needed on the validity of the tools and methodologies. Many tools are simply guidelines and therefore do not provide enough details to critically assess them. The research should focus on the project design documentation retrieved from varying projects and all standards, in order to understand if the base principles of the standards remained during the implementation of the project.

In addition, further work should assess which standards will exist in the near future, as the market will favour only a few standards. Special attention should be given to the US as it is very likely that the US will play an integral role in leading the forestry carbon market and composing its rules and regulations.

Concluding remarks

In summation, the author believes that organizations, businesses and individuals should only buy carbon credits from VCS, CCBS, CarbonFix or CCAR. Although other standards may have positive aspects, they do not deliver enough guarantees to create a stable and efficient market. The carbon market was created with the purpose to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere. If the carbon credits sold in the market do not fulfil their purpose, the market will receive pressure from the public and organizations and eventually collapse.

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