California sets stage for global forest protection through state’s cap-and-trade program

Statement from EDF Senior Vice President for Climate, Nathaniel Keohane

September 5, 2018
Jennifer Andreassen, +1-202-288-4867,

California laid the groundwork today to leverage the state’s ambitious climate program to help protect tropical forests around the world. A draft standard proposed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) sets out comprehensive requirements for credits from large-scale reductions in emissions from tropical deforestation to be considered for inclusion in California’s cap-and-trade program. Tropical deforestation adds as much carbon pollution to the atmosphere every year as all the cars and trucks in the world combined, and stopping it is a critical step to avoiding dangerous global warming and meeting the goals of the Paris climate accord. Adoption of the standard by the Board would be a pivotal first step toward California becoming the first compliance carbon market in the world to recognize such credits.

The proposed California Tropical Forest Standard specifies that rainforest credits would be allowed in California’s market only if they meet requirements for safeguarding the rights of indigenous and other forest communities, as well as additional oversight, enforcement, and transparency requirements. The use of these and any other international credits will be limited to 2% of an entity’s annual compliance obligation. The public has the opportunity to offer comments before CARB considers the standard at a public meeting scheduled for November.

“California has an opportunity to help save forests around the world by setting the bar for programs that want to sell rainforest credits into its carbon market, creating an economic incentive that will make forests worth more alive than dead.

“The most significant climate action California can take for the planet today, building on all that the state has already done, is to support the protection of tropical forests. California’s ambitious climate target is a significant contribution to the global fight against climate change. Yet even as California succeeds in cutting its own emissions, the state can’t solve global warming on its own. Addressing tropical deforestation is key to avoiding catastrophic climate change and meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement – and California is now positioned to make an enormous impact.

“California has proposed a high bar for the rainforest credits it would allow in its carbon market. The state is doing this right by ensuring these credits will meet strict environmental criteria and requiring the direct engagement of groups that are the best protectors of the forests, indigenous people and other forest communities, who should also benefit socially and economically. The California Tropical Forest Standard will solidify the state’s role as a global climate leader, setting the gold standard for cap-and-trade programs to reduce tropical deforestation and providing a model that others can replicate.”

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