The Carbon Commission

By: - December 5, 2007 6:23 pm

carbon offset cartoonThe Legislative Commission on Global Climate change met yesterday to discuss the benefits of carbon offsets as part of a climate change reduction strategy.  Featured speakers included William L. Chameides, Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke, William C. McDow III, Southern Forest Projects Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund, and Stephan Roe, Senior Scientist at the Center for Climate Strategies.  The CEO of the Center for Climate Strategies, Thomas Peterson also had some time at the podium (you may remember him from his presentation of Climate Action Plan Advisory Group's recommendations in October).

The majority of the time was spent discussing the potential gains from carbon offsets, particularly within agriculture and forest industries.  Carbon offsets have been receiving somewhat negative press recently with critics calling it a "get out of jail free card" for big polluters.  Speaker Chameides provided a simple presentation on the basic science of carbon offsets and their potential as a tradable commodity in the future.  He stressed the importance of establishing a "gold standard" for carbon offsets and ensuring that those who claim to be offsetting their carbon emissions are doing so in a proper manner.  For example, a North Carolina swine farmer receiving carbon credits for storing his pig manure would receive regular audits from an expert who can verify that he is in fact containing his carbon emissions properly.  It would be proper regulation such as this that would give traders
in a "carbon market" the confidence

In addition to implementing the necessary steps for an international carbon offset program, William McDow of the Environmental Defense Fund talked about "…a growing wave of an economic market in carbon offsets."  According to McDow, North Carolina is increasingly being seen as a growing leader in the field of carbon waste management.  The investment firm Tudor Jones recently identified North Carolina as one of only five states in which they plan on committing some $100 million on carbon management.

Finally, Peterson presented a quick list of CAPAG recommendations of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Waste Technical Working Group.  Of note among those recommendations are:

-Utilize manure as a source of energy.

-Promote bio-diesel production in addition to ethanol.

-Improve land-management strategies in both the agriculture and forestry sector.

Overall, this was a fairly uneventful meeting in terms of disagreement among those present.  Even the outspoken climate change denier, Sen. Robert Pittenger (R-Mecklenburg) kept quiet for the most part.  Future meetings will be on January 16th, February 11th and 12th at NC State, Marth 5th, April 16th, and May 7th.

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