The end of the year always offers us the chance to reflect back, as well as look ahead. With the launch of our Offset Project Registry within the California cap-and-trade program, along with our assuming the management of the CCB Standards, 2014 was a year of big changes at the VCS; for the first time in our existence we were able to expand our reach beyond just the world of voluntary carbon. We hope these new offerings will be of use to you and others in the marketplace as we continue our collective efforts to address climate change.

Last Call; Open your OPR Account for Free!
With the VCS OPR up and running, you’re running out of time to open your account for free. As a reminder, we’ve waived all the account opening fees for the remainder of 2014. As such, we encourage you to take advantage of this one-time only offer before it’s too late.

If you are still not sure how your organization might fit into the California market we have a wealth of information on our page. I also want to encourage you to email any specific question you have about the California market to our OPR secretariat:

VCS Expands Past Carbon
The latest Ecosystem Marketplace State of the Forest Carbon Markets Report shows that more than 40 percent of all REDD projects worldwide use the VCS; of those, 80 percent are also validated and verified to the CCB Standards, which help ensure net positive social and environmental benefits, while protecting the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized people. Clearly, saving forests often saves more than just trees.

Which is why we’re thrilled to now manage, and grow, the CCB Standards, to help ensure they can play an even bigger role in international development in 2015 and beyond. For this important effort we’ll continue to receive guidance and support from the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) through their membership on the VCS + CCB Standards Steering Committee.

Debrief from COP
Now that the dust has settled a bit, it does seem like there was a major breakthrough in Lima, led by the fact that the thorny issue of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) has now finally moved beyond an unworkable black and white paradigm to one that accommodates varying shades of gray. This has provided some needed flexibility for all countries to contribute to the solution in some way or another, which is very good news given a future agreement is more likely to be one that includes broad participation – as opposed to only seeing commitments by developed countries as under the Kyoto Protocol.

It still remains to be seen whether the contributions put forth by countries will be sufficient and transparent enough, but we are moving towards a new framework that we believe bodes well for the process. In the meantime, we expect that there will be more emphasis in accounting for emission reductions efforts across the globe, which will encourage the development of robust accounting frameworks at the national level.

A particular highlight of the trip was noticing the level of enthusiasm exhibited by a number of individuals who visited a VCS REDD+ project in the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park in Peru prior to the COP. Everyone we spoke with was amazed at how the project was operating on the ground, helping to conserve the forest by providing sustainable livelihoods to people. The VCS meeting with the project proponent (Aider) was also incredibly uplifting as they were proud to be playing a key role in this new market.

2014 Year End Numbers
As the year comes to a close, it is always good to review the numbers, and this year has had some notable successes. To begin, 127 new projects registered with the VCS in 2014. While overall VCU issuances were down slightly, the number of VCUs that were retired continues to grow. Buyers of VCUs retired more than 19 million VCUs in 2014, a number that represents the annual emissions of four million cars or five coal fired power plants. Of the roughly 160 million VCUs issued since 2009, almost half have been retired.

Thank you again for supporting the VCS. If there is ever anything we can do to make your work a little easier, please do not hesitate to let us know. In the meantime, we wish you and yours a happy holiday season, and a safe and prosperous new year.