SACRAMENTO (CN) – California has withdrawn its carbon credit accounting protocols that counted clearing all life off of 40 acres at a time a good thing.
The protocols, which the Center for Biological Diversity called “Carbon Credits for Clearcuts,” were discarded in response to a letter from the environmental group, complaining that the policy violated the California Environmental Quality Act.
The California Air Resources Board adopted the voluntary protocols as a step toward implementing California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which authorizes market-based mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gases.
The latest version of the policy – which the board abandoned after a Feb. 25 vote – would have given logging companies “carbon credits” for clearcutting. The credits could have been sold to other companies required to mitigate the carbon they put into the atmosphere.
The theory behind the abandoned policy was that clearcutting allows new trees to grow that will sequester carbon.
But carbon is released by felling the trees, the Center for Biological Diversity argued in a Nov. 10 letter. If carbon credits from clearcutting are then sold to a polluter, carbon goes into the atmosphere twice.
Since there is a limit to how much carbon the atmosphere can take before climate change becomes catastrophic, the environmental group said, releasing large amounts of carbon in the short term in quest of sequestering it in the long term is not a good idea.
The abandoned policy also expanded the types of properties that could be used to earn credits for carbon sequestration, and allowed for carbon sequestration in timber to count toward credits.