All posts tagged 'permanence'

Global Warming Is Cooking Ice Hockey's Goose. But Not If The Western Climate Initiative Has Its Way.*

March 6, 2012 20:39
by J. Wylie Donald
There was dismal news out of the North yesterday.  Researchers in Canada have concluded that climate change threatens the national pastime.  In a March 5 article in Environmental Research Letters, researchers Nikolay Damyanov, Damon Matthews and Lawrence Mysak investigated changes in the outdoor skating season over the period 1951 to 2005.  They found "that the outdoor skating season (OSS) in Canada has significantly shortened in many regions of the country as a result of changing climate conditions."  The implications of that are dire:  "This suggests that future global warming has the potential to significantly compromise the viability of outdoor skating in Canada."  Fending off this looming cultural disaster is the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), which just this past Friday held a teleconference to discuss with stakeholders the recently released (February 21) WCI final recommendations for the Offset System Process.  Offsets are an alternative way to meet emissions reduction limits imposed by, for example, a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program.  A party wishing to emit a quantity of greenhouse gas in excess of its allowance, may create or purchase an "offset" where certain activities have been completed which prevent the emission of other greenhouse gases, or sequester them, or otherwise reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  To quote from the WCI's Offset Systems Essential Elements document:  "An offset certificate represents a reduction or removal of one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e)."  Certain attributes of the offset are mandatory:  it must be "real, additional, permanent, and verifiable."  The only one of these attributes that bears additional comment is the concept of additionality, that is, "the portion of greenhouse gas emission reductions or removals that would not have happened under a baseline scenario."  Additionality can be difficult to demonstrate. Establishing the process to achieve these real, additional, permanent and verifiable reductions in atmospheric greenhouse gases are the February 21 Offset System Process recommendations.  They set forth the requirements for 1. Pre-Verification Activities a. registration - ”Project registration requires the submission of information for each project to the responsible WCI Partner jurisdiction."  b.  validation - "Validation is intended to provide the project developer and the WCI Partner jurisdiction with assurance that the project, when implemented, is likely to meet all of the WCI criteria [including reductions that are real, additional, permanent and verifiable]and is likely to result in emission reductions qualifying under the WCI offset system."  c. monitoring - "Monitoring of an offset project is intended to allow for the complete and transparent quantification of GHG reductions or removals." d. quantification - "Quantification is the process of estimating emissions reductions achieved from project activity data collected through monitoring."  e. reporting - "Reporting refers to the process of summarizing project monitoring data, quantifying the GHG reduction achieved in the applicable period according to the calculation methodology in the project plan, and documenting that information in a project report. ... The WCI Partner jurisdictions will establish overall reporting requirements to ensure adequate oversight of the offset system." These pre-verification activities can be completed in any order but must be completed before moving to verification, certification and offset issuance. 2.  Verification- "Verification is the process of reviewing offset project information to ensure that claimed emissions reductions have been achieved in accordance with the appropriate protocol and project plan." 3.  Certification - In the certification step the jurisdiction “accepts” "that the documentation provided and reviewed indicates that the reduction upon which the offset certificate may be based is real, additional, permanent and verifiable." 4.  Issuance of offsets - When all of the above steps are completed, "the WCI Partner jurisdiction will issue offset certificates in a number equal to the reductions credited to the projects, with each issued offset certificate representing one metric tonne CO2e reduced or removed." This protocol is required so that there is "transparency" between the member WCI jurisdictions and an offset project valid in one state or province is accepted and valid in another.  In the event that a project fails to permanently provide the reduction promised (either because of failure of the project, through fraud, or for some other reason) the recommendation provides for the reversal of the offset thus "maintaining the environmental integrity of the program by ensuring every certificate in the system is supported by an emission reduction that is real, additional, permanent and verifiable." Readers are familiar with the facts that Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol and is vigorously promoting development of its tar sands to the detriment of reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions.  Readers also are aware that the WCI is, to be charitable not robust as only California and four Canadian provinces remain active.  See Soldiering On: The Western Climate Initiative and RGGI in 2012 and Beyond.  Will the slow demise of ice hockey change any of that?  Some think so.  In an excellent piece by Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian, Professor Matthews is quoted:   ""I think this is going to strike a chord with Canadians," Matthews said. "When I think of things that are vulnerable to climate change that people care about in Canada I would place outdoor ice hockey very close to the top of that list." *We apologize for the title of this post. Competition for tired metaphors was heavy. The Montreal Gazette captured the title with a double:  Thin ice:  Outdoor rinks face meltdown.  

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