A Brazilian industrial plantation project hoping to get a subsidy from the UN for sucking up carbon from the atmosphere has failed to make its case, according to the project's official validator.
Det Norske Veritas (DNV), a norwegian company assigned by the World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF) to check the project's claims, says that it can't determine whether carbon could be held in the project's eucalyptus trees long enough to make any difference to the climate system.
The Plantar Project (titled "Sustainable Fuelwood and Charcoal Production for the Pig Iron Industry") in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil hopes to help maintain charcoal-based production of pig iron at Plantar S.A. in Minas Gerais through the sale of carbon credits via the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. According to the PCF, the extra income derived from the sale of carbon credits would increase the profitability of Plantar’s charcoal-based pig iron production and will avoid the abandonment of Plantar's pig iron industry.
The project involves the planting of 23,100 hectares of plantations of high yielding clonal eucalyptus. It also involves improving approximately 2000 existing carbonisation kilns so that they emit less methane and particulates. But DNV's validation report notes:
“The project claims credits for the average storage capacity of the plantations. However, these credits only give long-term benefits related to the mitigation of climate change when the CO2 is removed in perpetuity by the plantations. . . in the absence of requirements by the UNFCCC [Convention on Climate Change] concerning the permanence of carbon sequestration activities under the CDM, DNV cannot arrive at a final conclusion as to whether the permanence of the carbon sequestration is sufficient to ensure long-term benefits related to the mitigation of climate change."
The implications of this are clear: the value of Plantar’s sequestration credits should be zero. If no provable long-term climate benefit arises from this activity, then the value of the credits they generate should be assigned a dollar value which reflects that. Otherwise, Plantar will be able to make millions of dollars from the sale of credits that are climatically worthless.
Article12.5(b) of the Kyoto Protocol requires that CDM emissions reductions come from activities that give "[r]eal, measurable, and long-term benefits related to the mitigation of climate change". Plantar's sequestration credits do not meet this requirement, according to DNV.
This in turn calls into question the viability of the entire project. Plantar claims that if they do not get credits to subsidise plantation establishment, they will not replant, and will therefore not be able to supply enough charcoal for their pig iron production facilities, from which they claim the rest of the credits. Ultimately, then, the entire project is based on the sale of credits which will result in no long-term benefit to the climate.
Anyone buying plantar's carbon credits would be complicit in establishing the appalling precedent that companies and governments can meet their carbon reduction commitments using credits which have no verifiable ecological or climate value. This would not only undermine the effectiveness of the CDM, but of the Kyoto Protocol as a whole.
Article based on information from: Ben Pearson, CDM Watch, Indonesia, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . The Plantar CDM project, "Why it must be rejected by the CDM Board and PCF investors", CDM Watch Briefing Paper, Ben Pearson, July 2002. PCF web page: http://prototypecarbonfund.org/router.cfm?Page=Topics&ECONFID=29