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The United Kingdom’s Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) has been launched on the Markit Environmental Registry, enhancing transparency and accountability in the trade in British Woodland Carbon Units.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestered, or absorbed, by WCC-validated woodlands in the UK can be traded, and the development enables changes of ownership of each tonne to be tracked. The registry will also record when projects are registered and credits are listed, and when carbon units have been “used” by a company in its carbon account.
Forestry Minister David Heath, who spoke at the launch event in London, said,
“The Woodland Carbon Code provides an authoritative means of assurance to those who wish to invest in new woodland planting to compensate for some of their unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions. By investing in new woodlands validated as meeting the code’s standards, they receive assurance that their investment will be wisely spent on well managed, sustainable woodlands which really will deliver the carbon benefits claimed.”
Units of carbon sequestered by Code-validated woodlands are accurately measured and recorded by a robust carbon-accounting system, and Mr Heath added,
“The Code's launch on the Markit Environmental Registry takes that process an important step further by allowing anyone to see who owns individual units of carbon. It also tracks changes in ownership and, importantly, use of carbon units.
"It also adds assurance to carbon buyers by tracking forwards sales of carbon units in long-term woodland carbon projects. This brings welcome clarity, transparency and accountability to the developing woodland carbon market in the UK.
“By enhancing the attractiveness of private investment in woodland establishment, this initiative has the potential to make a valuable contribution to our priority goals of growing the rural economy and improving the environment for everyone.”
Kathy Benini, managing director of the Markit Environmental Registry, said:
“It is an honour to work with the Forestry Commission and provide the infrastructure for this important initiative.
“Our registry is a centrepiece of environmental programmes worldwide, and we look forward to providing the tools needed to create a transparent and efficient market for credits in the innovative Woodland Carbon Code programme."
The Markit Environmental Registry also provides an introductory mechanism for bringing together buyers and sellers of woodland carbon units, although it is not a trading platform.
The WCC is administered by the Forestry Commission, and further information is available from www.forestry.gov.uk/carboncode.
The Markit Environmental Registry provides infrastructure to the global carbon, water and biodiversity markets, enabling participants to track environmental projects, and issue, transact and retire serialised environmental credits. It lists 150 million environmental credits across 20 market-based standards and programmes for users in nearly 80 countries. Further information is available from www.markit.com .
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- CO2 is the most common of the greenhouse gases causing the atmospheric warming which is changing Earth’s climate. Growing trees sequester, or absorb, CO2 from the atmosphere, and use carbon atoms to form wood while emitting oxygen back to the atmosphere.
- From April 2013, UK-quoted companies have been required to report their gross CO2 emissions. Under the Government’s Environmental Reporting Guidelines (including greenhouse gas emissions), all companies have an opportunity to report verified carbon units created through carbon sequestration in WCC-verified woodland creation projects. (Validated projects must be ‘verified’ after five years, and then at least every 10 years to check that sequestration targets are being met.) Companies can invest directly in woodland establishment projects on their own land, or by buying the rights to the carbon sequestered in woodlands established by others. They can buy units before they are created and verified, but they cannot report them until after they have been verified.
- Traders of woodland carbon must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
- A total of 133 projects were registered (notified intention to seek validation) under the code at 30 June 2013, covering an area of 14,200 hectares and projected to sequester 5.2 million tonnes of CO2.
- Of these, 42 had been validated, covering 2100 hectares and projected to sequester 1.0 million tonnes of CO2, comprising 256,000 tonnes in England, 662,000 tonnes in Scotland and 33,000 tonnes in Wales. No projects have yet been validated in Northern Ireland.
- When companies ‘use’ verified units of CO2, for example, in an annual environmental report or in claims of carbon neutrality, this is demonstrated in the registry by moving units to their ‘retired’ (or used) account.
- Projects can only be validated under the Code if they meet its rigorous requirements for sound forest management, sustainability and carbon ‘accounting’. Project proposals are audited by independent certification companies approved by the UK Accreditation Service.
- Once registered, a proposal is audited against the standards required by the Code, and if it satisfies the requirements it is ‘validated’. Validation provides evidence of the quality of the proposal, not only in carbon terms, but also in sustainable forest management terms, and is critical for attracting investors. Woodland established under the Code must attain high standards of forest management in line with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) and its associated Climate Change Guidelines for Forestry. The UKFS sets out the government vision of sustainable forest management, and is the ‘yardstick’ used by all four governments in the UK when assessing applications for forestry grants, tree felling licences and approvals of forest design plans.
- About 13 per cent of the UK’s land area is covered by woodland, which is more than double the woodland cover of 100 years ago.
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