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Oregon Should Create its Own Rules | Scorcher

Published: October 2, 2017 by Editorial Team

Peter Weisberg, The Climate Trust
Weekly Policy and Finance Update – October 2, 2017

Bottom line | Oregon is being left out of the decisions that determine which forests can generate carbon credits. Passing a cap and trade bill could change that.

As Oregon debates implementing a cap-and-trade program through Senate Bill 1070, we should take note of a recent Stanford paper, Forest carbon offsets partner climate-change mitigation with conservation. The study reviews existing forest carbon projects that have participated in the California cap and trade market and notes, “The national distribution of projects generally matches the distribution of private forestland in the U.S., with the notable exceptions of Oregon (no projects) and Washington State (one project). Sustainable forest management rules mandated by the offset program are stringent and may reduce the fraction of projects in regions with less stringent versions of such rules.”

Oregon’s forests are eligible to participate in California, Quebec and Ontario’s linked carbon market—but to do so they must qualify to generate credits under the protocol created by the California Air Resources Board. As the study above alludes to, potential forestry projects in Oregon have had a very difficult time conforming to the “sustainable forest management” criteria required by the protocol, which generally restricts forest management practices to those allowed under California Forest Practice Rules.

As the California-oriented forest protocol demonstrates, when we let other states create the rules, Oregon is left out of an emerging $5 billion market for carbon sequestration. By moving forward with a cap and trade system, Oregon has an opportunity to draft its own forest protocol to ensure reductions are real, permanent, quantifiable, verifiable, enforceable and additional. Determining what “sustainable forest management” in Oregon looks like, of course, will not be easy and will require a significant debate between the environmental, industrial and small-landowner communities; we want to see that debate happen.

Research and Resources

Forests Contribute to California’s Climate Change Goals
Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Winter-Spring 2017

Forest offsets partner climate-change mitigation with conservation
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, August 14, 2017.

Top News Headlines

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Image credit: Flickr/Bemep