VCS Program development initiatives full steam ahead

Letter from CEO David Antonioli

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

With VCS Version 3 now up and running, in April we turn our attention to several new program development initiatives already underway. Below I will update you on the progress of our major 2011 program development initiatives – first on our steering committee developing guidance for standardized approaches to baselines and additionality, and second on our advisory committee developing requirements for the accounting of nested REDD projects and programs at the jurisdictional level. I am also pleased to report the launch of an important smaller initiative to develop guidance for crediting wetlands conservation. We also have a new forest carbon methodology approved and advanced three more methodologies to second assessment.

Before going further, let me quickly recap the launch of the streamlined VCS Version 3documents. The new v3 documents were successfully released on 8 March 2011 – and we answered a slew of questions in a series of webinars attended by roughly 200 stakeholders. Please don’t delay in downloading and starting to use the V3 documents –now fully accessible on our website – and always feel free to email with your questions.


David Antonioli

VCS Program Announcements

Steering Committee on Standardized Approaches gathering steam

The 15-member steering committee tasked with developing guidelines for standardized approaches to baselines and additionality gathered steam in the first quarter. The steering committee broke out into a number of working groups to analyze existing work, to develop high-level principles for standardized approaches and to establish specific requirements for technology test approaches to additionality. In the next phase, steering committee members will draft specifications for establishing performance benchmarks. A draft of some of these requirements will be put forward for peer review and public consultation in the second half of 2011.

Advisory Committee on Nested REDD off to a running start

The Advisory Committee for Jurisdictional and Nested REDD got off to a strong start in the first quarter. Convened in February to develop guidance and requirements for integrated, jurisdiction-wide crediting of REDD projects and programs, the Committee has held its first meetings and the initiative is fleshing out the final scope of technical work and a list of technical experts. In coming months, the committee will work withtechnical experts to analyze existing work and develop high-level criteria and good practice guidance for jurisdictional and nested REDD. The work is scheduled to be put forth for peer review and public consultation in the third quarter.

Restore America’s Estuaries to develop Wetlands Guidance for VCS Program 

The VCS Program embarked in March on a new initiative to develop requirements for crediting wetlands conservation projects. The work will be led by Restore America’s Estuaries, who will oversee a working group of scientists and technical experts from VCSA, Silvestrum, ESA PWA, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the US Forest Service. The initiative will expand the scope for crediting wetlands projects under VCS, likely to include project types such as mangroves and coastal and tidal wetlands. Draft requirements should be completed in the second half.

New Methodology Pipeline

IFM methodology, by Carbon Planet approved in March

On 21 March, a new methodology was approved under the VCS Program that would credit the GHG benefits of projects that curb selective logging within project boundaries. Developed by CarbonPlanet Limited, this flexible Improved Forest Management (IFM) methodology aims to use carbon finance to provide an alternative to revenues from selective logging. Effective 21 March, projects may use the methodology to quantify their GHG benefits generated by their activities in order to issue VCUs.

Three methodologies advance to second assessment 

Three methodologies completed first assessment and advanced to second assessment in March, coming nearer to approval under the VCS Program. First, a methodology designed to promote Sustainable Agriculture Land Management and developed by the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund advanced to second assessment. This approach can be used by projects that use sustainable agriculture practices to enhance soil carbon where it would otherwise remain constant or decline, a methodology designed to estimate GHG emission reductions from switching to renewable biomass fuels, developed by Carbono Social, moved to second assessment. This approach can be used by projects switching to carbon-neutral renewable biomass where otherwise more carbon-intensive fuels would be used. Finally, a methodology developed by USG Umweltservice to credit emission reductions from the destruction of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) moved to second assessment. This approach can be used by projects that destroy ODS that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere.

VCS Association Highlights

VCS attends April Point Carbon Conference in Hollywood: 14-15 April

CEO David Antonioli and senior staff will be in Hollywood 14-15 April attending the Navigating the American Carbon World conference. We look forward to sharing information and ideas with all the thought leaders, innovators, policy makers, companies and VCS stakeholders who will be there to explore opportunities linked to California’s new cap-and-trade system and the emerging Western Climate Initiative.