The past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind here at the VCS — new methodologies, new staff, and even a supporting role for the world’s biggest athletic competition thrown into the mix for good measure. I ask for a couple of minutes of your time to bring you up to speed on what has already been an incredibly exciting 2014.

Offsetting the World Cup!
For the past month, the eyes of the world have been focused on Brazil. Indeed, more than a billion people watched the final match this past weekend. Did you know they were also watching the VCS in action? BP Target Neutral teamed up with FIFA to offset its operational emissions from the tournament, mainly using credits issued from VCS projects to accomplish the task. TAM Airlines also used VCS credits to offset the emissions of those who traveled to see the games, and the City of Salvador used VCUs to address the emissions from its FanFest gatherings.

This is just the latest in a series of large-scale events that have relied on emission reductions achieved through VCS projects. The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, along with their sponsors, also offset a significant portion of their respective carbon footprints through the purchase and retirement of VCUs. With other similar events now just around the corner, we can only hope this trend continues. Moving forward, we continue to look for opportunities to work directly with project developers, carbon retailers and government officials to help tell the story of how VCS projects are helping quantify and personify positive social and environmental change throughout the world.

New Methodologies
Two particularly exciting methodologies are now approved and ready for use. The first (VM0026) represents a key collaboration between the United Nations FAO, the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science, the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology to help farmers account for emission reductions resulting from the sustainable management of grasslands. While the methodology is eligible for use in degraded, semi-arid  grasslands worldwide, in the near term it will be particularly relevant in China where project development is underway and will help sustainably feed a growing population and possibly link to the country’s emerging carbon markets.

Secondly, we approved a revision to VM0009, which expands the methodology’s reach to account for avoided conversion of grasslands and shrublands (ACoGS). Grasslands and shrublands cover roughly 25 percent of the earth’s land surface and have the potential to store an enormous amount of carbon, particularly in soil. This methodology provides a pathway for project developers to quantify and monetize the emission reductions that result from project activities that conserve these vital ecosystems.

Looking at the latest Ecosystem Marketplace report one quickly sees just how important it is for GHG projects to account for non-carbon benefits in addition to the carbon reductions they achieve. To facilitate this process, we developed joint templates with SOCIALCARBON to enable project developers to validate and verify projects simultaneously to both standards, while only having to complete one set of documents. You may remember we also developed similar templates with the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards (CCB) last year which were rather popular with both project developers and VVBs.

New Staff
Finally, I’d like to virtually introduce you to some new members of the VCS team. Our new Development DirectorMeridith Little now heads up all fundraising operations for VCS, and is helping us secure the necessary funds to launch new initiatives in the coming months and years. Our newest REDD+ Coordinator Julianne Baroody will be working to support JNR pilot programs in Africa and Asia. And, Senior Program Officer Rachel Steele and Program Officer Sinclair Vincent have joined the program team to help us continue to manage and oversee the VCS Program.