SACRAMENTO - Staff of the Air Resources Board (ARB) announced today it has approved the first California forest carbon credits issued under the cap-and-trade offset protocols.
The Willits Woods project developed by Coastal Ridges, LLC was issued 1.2 million Air Resources Board-approved carbon offset credits. Coastal Ridges, LLC is located in Willits, California and the Willits Woods project covers approximately 19,000 acres in Mendocino County.
“This action recognizes the important role forests play in fighting climate change,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “Forests managed under the protocol not only furnish additional compliance options for covered businesses, they also provide habitat for wildlife and a wide range of improved watershed benefits for California.”
Carbon offsets accepted by the ARB come from sectors not covered by the cap-and-trade program, and must be additional -- that is, above and beyond the carbon that would have been stored in the forest if it had been managed on a ‘business-as-usual’ basis.
The carbon credits approved today are from what are known as “early-action” projects and recognize voluntary projects developed under earlier versions of the offset protocols before the current protocols were adopted as part of the cap-and-trade Program.
As with all carbon offsets projects, this forestry project had to first be verified by an ARB-accredited verifier. The project, the related number of carbon credits, and all the relevant documents and data were then rigorously reviewed by ARB staff before being given final approval.
Offset credits approved by the ARB can be used by companies to comply with California’s cap-and-trade program. Each offset credit generated under an ARB protocol is equivalent to one metric ton of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent greenhouse gas, and the largest driver of climate change.
The Forest Offset Protocol was one of four offset protocols approved by the ARB in 2011. Credits are issued based on the number of metric tons of carbon sequestered in trees in the forest that are specifically managed for each offset project. In order to qualify for the carbon credits, projects under the forestry protocol must be managed for the purpose of carbon storage for at least 100 years. In addition, the forest management plan will provide wildlife habitat and provide the fullest range of improved watershed benefits.
Carbon offsets act as a cost-containment mechanism under the program because offsets generally cost less than state auctioned carbon allowances. A covered business may use offsets to account for up to 8 percent of its Cap-and-Trade compliance obligation.
ARB also issued 242,000 compliance offset credits for the Farm Cove Community Forest Project located in Maine. This project also increases carbon stocks through improved management of the forest.
CARB is the lead agency in California for cleaning up the air and fighting climate change to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards. Its mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through the effective reduction of air and climate pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.