February Newsletter: First REDD credits; New VCS name and logo coming soon
First quarter 2011 brings exciting changes for VCS…
Letter from CEO David Antonioli
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
The coming weeks will bring exciting new changes for VCS, among them a new name, a new trademark and the latest, updated version of VCS Program documents. In the midst of all this, we have an important first – a project in Kenya has become the first to issue VCUs for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) under the VCS Program. More on the REDD credits below.
By now most of you know the VCS name will change to the Verified Carbon Standard on 1 March 2011. Also on 1 March, we will roll out a new trademark to carry our name into new markets and link your VCS projects and credits to new sources of supply and demand. Read on to see a first glimpse of the new trademark.
Our next major step will come a few days after we release the new trademark. On 8 March, we will launch the latest, updated version of VCS program documents, to be called VCS Version 3. Read more about the launch of VCS version 3 below.
The new name and updated VCS Version 3 documents are really just the symbolic face of a much broader initiative to boost support for VCS users and broaden our reach to connect your projects and credits to new opportunities. We have already increased support for methodology approvals, developed new policy requirements for areas like reduced deforestation and streamlined and updated VCS documents to make the program easy to use. These efforts will continue in 2011 and 2012 as we advance into important new policy areas.
New name, VCS Version 3… and first REDD credits
First REDD credits: Wildlife Works’ Kenya project issues first VCS REDD credits
On 7 February, a project in Kenya became the world’s first Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project to issue verified carbon credits under the VCS Program. The Kasigau corridor REDD project – Phase I, developed by Wildlife Works in the Rukinga Sanctuary in Southeast Kenya, issued 1.16 million credits for the initial six-year monitoring period of its 30-year project life, representing 80 percent of the total 1.45 million metric tonnes of GHG emissions avoided during the period. The project deposited 290,066 ‘buffer credits’ – or 20 percent of the net GHG benefit – to the VCS pooled buffer account, where they will be held to insure against the potential loss of credits across all projects in the VCS AFOLU portfolio. Prior to this issuance, Wildlife Works had successfully developed its own REDD methodology and had it approved by the VCS Program on 13 January 2011. The Kasigau corridor REDD project lies in semi-arid tropical forest, but the methodology can be used more broadly in projects throughout the tropics. Read more about the first REDD credits
Updated VCS Program documents – VCS Version 3 – to be released 8 March
The latest, most up-to-date version of VCS Program documents will be released on 8 March 2011, just a few weeks from today. And the new version of documents will be called VCS Version 3 – not “VCS 2011,” as we had called the update previously. We have decided that the name “VCS Version 3” is a user-friendly name that will streamline VCS versioning conventions going forward. It will allow us to update individual documents (i.e., version 3.1 or version 3.2), without having to issue an entirely new version of all program documents. The work that went into the VCS Version 3 update advances VCS Program usability by light years. Version 3 is a fully streamlined set of documents that uses the overarching VCS Program guide as a reference point. In addition, all policy updates and refinements have been fully incorporated into a single streamlined VCS Standard document, with AFOLU and ODS requirements separated into standalone documents for ease of reference. The final VCS Version 3 documents will be posted on 8 March. Stakeholders will have a six-month grace period to transition to using the new documentation.
A first glimpse of the new VCS trademark…
And now for a first glimpse of the new VCS trademark and tagline… we hope you are as excited as we are about our new look! We think the new VCS trademark is sober and serious enough to convey our core business value – standardized quality assurance – and yet also bright and fresh enough to convey our core environmental value – clean air. Of course what matters most is that our trademark is attractive and immediately conveys what we do and why it’s important. VCS exists to offer people a trusted standard for verifying carbon reductions, and we are universal, user-friendly and global enough that we can be used as a reference, or a benchmark. This is our vision for positioning your projects and credits, and we think our new trademark conveys the message right away. We hope you are eager as we are to start using the new trademark. We will make it available on 1 March to all stakeholders who have signed trademark-use agreements. Anyone wishing to sign an agreement should write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Security check: Could VCUs be vulnerable to illegal transfer or theft?
It remains to be seen whether software vulnerabilities lie at the heart of the illegal transfers and thefts that caused the temporary closure of the EU Emissions Trading System last month. But we are not taking the matter lightly at VCS. In February we launched an internal initiative to identify any potential security vulnerabilities in our own registry system. We take comfort in knowing that the VCS registry system is a closed system, which means VCUs can only be transferred among the three VCS registry operators and every VCU can always be individually tracked in the VCS project database. But this is no reason to assume we are immune to the risks that face all organizations in the internet age. We will work diligently in the coming months to identify all potential security risks and to address any issues we uncover. In the meantime, we remind registry account holders to be vigilant. Be alert to unusual account activity, keep your anti-virus software up to date and only deal with communications from trusted sources (to avoid falling victim to scams like phishing for passwords, etc). We will continue to evaluate potential vulnerabilities as the EU Commission discloses more information about the recent cyber-attacks. And we will continue to evaluate the appropriateness of implementing security upgrades in the VCS registry system on an ongoing basis.
New methodology pipeline
New methodology revision accepted for assessment
In February, the Field Museum submitted a methodology revision for approval under the VCS Methodology Approval Process. The methodology revision to VMD0007, the module for estimating the baseline for unplanned deforestation, adds an alternative approach for the quantification of unplanned baseline deforestation based on population drivers. The methodology is posted on the VCS website and will be open to public comment until 11 March. See methodology pipeline