Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Panda Standard

The "Panda Standard" is a new voluntary carbon offset standard being developed for the Chinese market. What makes it noteworthy is that the Standard is expressly designed to support both emissions reduction and emissions removal projects in China, which offers a significant opportunity to advance CDR in the world's second-largest economy. Importantly, the Panda Standard has official state backing from both the China Beijing Environment Exchange (CBEEX) and the China Forestry Exchange (CFEX). In functional terms, the Panda Standard resembles other voluntary offset standards and closely adheres to CDM practices and procedures. One unusual feature of the Panda Standard is the requirement that projects demonstrate "ancillary benefits": "The project shall generate net positive impacts on the environment as well as on the social and economic wellbeing of communities and shall mitigate potential on-site and off-site negative effects caused by the project activity" (p. 7).

So far, work on the Standard has focused on land use management. The first sector-specific protocol, Panda Standard Sectoral Specification for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (PS-AFOLU), was released for public comment late last year (the comment period ended in January). This draft protocol explicitly recognizes both reforestation/afforestation ("Forestation and Vegetation Increase") and biochar ("Cropland Management") as eligible project types. Needless to say, the elaboration and adoption of PS-AFOLU and other protocols warrants close attention going forward.

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