Corporate Green Nature Conservancy Earns $4M Selling (False Solution) Carbon Credits in Canada

"…many European firms buy the offsets to claim to be carbon-neutral for both environmental and marketing reasons."

View Larger ImageTerri Theodore, The Canadian Press

Jun. 8, 2011

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is selling the forest to save the trees. The group is raising millions from its protected forest land by selling carbon credits for protecting the land.

The conservancy announced it is earning $4 million with the largest forest carbon-credit project in North America from its 55,000-hectare Darkwoods forest in southeastern B.C.

The carbon-offset value on 700,000 tonnes of emissions is based on preserving a forest that is private land which could otherwise be aggressively logged, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said Wednesday.

"It is a great time to announce a project like this, being Clean Air Day and we know the role that forests play in keeping our air clean and removing the carbon dioxide," Lake told a crowd gathered for the announcement.

Pacific Carbon Trust — the B.C. Crown corporation that helps market carbon offsets — purchased 450,000 credits from the conservancy and the private Vancouver company Ecosystem Restoration Associates bought 250,000 credits.

Both firms will resell the credits to clients who want to meet carbon reduction goals.

John Lounds, president of the Nature Conservancy, said they’ve created a model for other land owners to follow for preserving forests and protecting the environment.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada owns more than 800,000 hectares of ecologically significant land nationwide, and the Darkwood property carbon plan is considered a pilot project for the conservancy.

The conservancy purchased Darkwoods in 2008 and has reduced the logging to what it calls a "conservation harvest," from 50,000 cubic meters to 10,000 cubic metres. Much of the cut wood is from trees killed by the pine beetle epidemic.

The sale of the conservancy’s carbon credits is equal to removing 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the air, or taking about 120,000 sport utilities vehicles off the road for a year.

The carbon figure was calculated through international standards.

Ecosystem will sell the 250,00 credits it purchased from the conservancy through the European voluntary market through its German partners, Forest Carbon Group.

Michael Streck, with the Forest Carbon Group, said much of the voluntary carbon purchase market comes from Europe and those companies like the idea of saving forests.

"These are the projects we look for, this is the stuff we’d like to sell, because it is extremely attractive, it has all the sexiness if you want."

He said many European firms buy the offsets to claim to be carbon-neutral for both environmental and marketing reasons.

But still, that market in Europe is just 0.1 per cent of the total carbon-trading market and 50 per cent of that is the purchase of forestry carbon offsets.

"Forestry is the most attractive sector to buy offsets from," Streck said.

The idea of a carbon-trading program has been slow to take off in Canada because the federal Conservative government is opposed to any plan for a carbon-trading market without the participation of the United States.

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