We are pleased that Bloomberg is reporting on the challenges and opportunities facing the market for forest carbon offsets.
While the sensationalist headline did not accurately reflect the substance of the article, Lyme’s views on the evolving carbon markets were generally represented. However, we were disappointed that the reporter did not describe the many ways in which the carbon protocols have evolved over the years as feedbacks from early forest offset projects were studied and evaluated. One important example is that the current protocol requires the terms of any conservation easement to be factored into project baselines, and additionality can only be claimed with respect to increases in carbon stocks “beyond what has already been agreed to through a working forest conservation easement.” This means that the example from the article of our first carbon project in Tennessee would no longer be permissible under the protocol.
One of Jim Hourdequin’s objectives in agreeing to be interviewed was to point out that progress has been made since 2011 and to support the further evolution of forest carbon offset markets.
We should also note that the 200,000+ acres that Lyme has enrolled in carbon sequestration projects are subject to strict, enforceable limitations on timber harvesting for over 100 years. These forests will remain conserved and carbon stocks will be maintained even if future log markets make it financially advantageous to increase harvest levels and thereby reduce carbon stocks. The buyers of offsets from these projects are purchasing compliance credits that meet all the requirements of the protocols, and they are doing so in good faith as part of their compliance and/ or internal commitments. They have contributed to the conservation of sustainably managed forestlands and helped to ensure that current, above baseline standing carbon stocks are maintained for 100 years.
While we believe there is room for improvement in the regulatory mechanisms for forest carbon, we applaud the registries, regulators, carbon developers, and offset buyers who are working to sharpen the tools by which carbon markets create meaningful and durable climate benefits.