The Air Resources Board (ARB) has released the first listings for carbon offset projects with voluntary offset credits to be considered for possible use in California's Cap-and-Trade Program.
Recognizing these existing projects supports the requirements of AB 32 to ensure that early voluntary reductions receive appropriate credit and helps create an initial supply of compliance offset credits for the Cap-and-Trade Program.
The Cap-and-Trade Program allows some greenhouse gas emission reductions and removal enhancements from qualified projects issued credits under ARB-approved early action registries (the American Carbon Registry and the Climate Action Reserve) to transition to compliance offset credits. These projects are only eligible to transition if they followed earlier versions of the protocols that were formally included in the Cap-and-Trade Regulation, adopted in 2011.
Listing these projects is the first step in a rigorous process to determine if voluntary offsets meet the same stringent standards as offsets generated under the compliance offset protocols that are now part of the Cap-and-Trade Program.
"We have determined that every single California offset credit allowed into the program represents a real ton of greenhouse gas reductions." says ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "These voluntary projects will be held to the same rigorous verification standards as credits generated by the compliance offset protocols."
The early action projects played an important role in helping develop a broad-based commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.
They also played an important role in the development of the existing protocols.
The listing, which includes general information about the offset project, signifies that the project developer has notified ARB that it is seeking approval to transition voluntary offset credits to compliance offset credits under the Cap-and-Trade Program.
After listing the project, the offset project developer is required to hire an ARB accredited third-party verifier—with no previous connection to the project—to perform a regulatory review to assure voluntary offset credits to be transitioned were correctly calculated and verified under the early action offset program. Failure to receive approval at this stage triggers a full verification of the project by an ARB accredited third-party verifier.
After successful completion of verification, ARB staff will review the project documentation to ensure that the project meets the Board's rigorous standards. If the review shows the voluntary offsets conform to the regulatory requirements, compliance offsets will be issued for the amounts and years the project developer has requested.
For ARB to issue a compliance offset credit the voluntary offset credit must represent a reduction or removal enhancement that is real, additional, quantifiable, verifiable, enforceable and permanent.
The listing of these 25 projects as of March 7, 2013, represents a significant step toward eventual issuance of compliance offset credits. Should all of these projects be given approval (and that remains to be determined as noted above) these projects could potentially result in up to three million offset credits made available for compliance under the cap-and-trade program.
To see the list of early offset projects go here.