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New Project Videos from India’s East Khasi Hills

March 28th, 2015

COTAP partner Community Forestry International recently released several new videos about the Khasi Hills Community Carbon Project. Here they are!

When the Forest is Home (2015)

This 25-minute film documents the story of India’s first internationally certified community forest project to receive funds from sales of carbon offset credits under the United Nations REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) program. It tells the story of the charismatic former youth leader of the indigenous Khasi who helped unite ten kingdoms into a Federation to protect and restore the forests of the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. This project demonstrates the success of community management and innovation in helping to conserve India’s environment in the Northeast, while improving local livelihoods.

Restoring India’s Cloud Forests (2014)

This 4-minute film highlights the efforts of the indigenous Khasi who are enabling thousands of people to engage with forest protection in north east India. They are also enabling businesses to balance their carbon footprint, work with communities close to the forests, and help protect forest ecosystems.It is a Plan Vivo project that reduces carbon emissions from deforestation, protects forest ecosystems and helps to create income for rural families.

Trekking through History (2015)

This 4-minute film highlights the community restoration of a 16 km segment of the David Scott Trail, an historic horse-cart route constructed by the British in the 19th century to connect the modern states of Assam, Meghalaya, and Bangladesh. The trail is an eco-adventure meandering up and down through forests, across arched stone bridges, and sparkling vistas.

Meet A Farmer: Frank & Anastazia Solomon

February 13th, 2015

Anastazia Solomon

Community: Mkokamwendo village, Dowa district, Malawi
Year joined: 2008
Number of trees planted: 467 trees over 1 hectare of dispersed inter-planting and 8 100-meter segments of boundary plantings.
Carbon benefit created by Anastazia & Frank: 193 tonnes of CO2
Earnings to date: $360
Total expected earnings: $600 (over 10 years, based on successful maintenance of plantings)

Frank Solomon and his wife Anastazia Solomon are from Mkokamwendo village in Dowa and have a family of 8. They were motivated to join Trees of Hope Project after listening to a radio message on how climate change is affecting farmers in Malawi. After joining the Trees of Hope Project, the couple was able to not only manage and sufficiently provide for their household, but also improve the environment. Frank and Anastazia received money from their Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) agreement in 2013 used the money to buy pigs. Under the PES agreement, their tree-based land use systems sequestered carbon that was sold as credits on the Markit Registry for managing global carbon credits. They are hoping to increase their pig farming and expand their tree planting projects to sequester more carbon so that he can continue to pay for their children’s school fees and make improvements on their home.

Learn more about the Clinton Development Initiative’s Trees of Hope Project at Create income for farming families like the Solomons by calculating and offsetting your CO2 emissions here.

COTAP is pausing allocations to the Sofala Project

February 5th, 2015

What We’re Doing and How It Affects Cotappers

Effective today, COTAP is pausing its allocations to Envirotrade’s project in Sofala, Mozambique until further notice. It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that COTAP is “dropping” the Sofala project or anything draconian like that.

The Sofala project may not be able to generate credits sufficient for satisfying COTAP demand in the near term. This means that if you were offset your CO2 emissions through Sofala today, then it’s quite possible that carbon credit retirements pertaining to your transaction wouldn’t occur until well over a year from now. Credits for Sofala-related transactions occuring before today should be retired by the end of this month.

For those offsetting through all COTAP projects on or after today (2/5/15), your tonnes and funds will be allocated evenly to COTAP’s four other projects in Nicaragua, India, Malawi, and Uganda. The donation rate for both the Nicaragua and Uganda projects has been increased from $8.80 to $9.90 per tonne to maintain our average portfolio rate. As before, 90.9% of offset donations goes to projects and 100% of offsetting costs is tax-deductible for individuals in the U.S.

Factors Affecting Sofala’s Near-Term Availability of Credits

1) Crediting period. When the pioneering Sofala project was initiated in 2002, a 100-year crediting period was not unheard of for forestry carbon projects. That’s changed, and as a measure of good governance, Sofala’s crediting period was reduced to 40 years. As a result, Sofala’s projected net carbon benefit from forest protection or “REDD” which was originally 796,005 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) is now likely to be less than 200,000 tCO2e.

2) Rejected “No Burn” Intervention. Further, the Plan Vivo Foundation has disallowed inclusion of CO2 reductions from a project intervention called “No Burning.” The No Burning intervention counts carbon emissions avoided when farmers agree to not burn agricultural residues. This has further reduced the project’s totals, likely by another 60,000 tCO2e.

3) Other buyers. European orders for Sofala credits have continued to come in, meaning that nearly all credits to be issued upon the 2013 report’s approval by the Plan Vivo Foundation are already spoken for.

4) Planned project lifecycle. The project has always had a finite, planned lifecyle and it ceased signing new agroforestry contracts with farmers in 2009. Sofala has effectively sold out of agroforestry-related credits, and generating more would require a project expansion to more farmers. Such an expansion, in turn, would require a minimum viable size in order to cover its fixed costs. So, the project can’t just accept and fulfill a COTAP order for 2015 vintage credits on the order of a few hundred or even a few thousand tonnes right now.

In total, Sofala’s estimated overall CO2 removals have been reduced from an initial 1.1 million tCO2e to around half of that, with a finalized figure to be disclosed upon the 2013 report’s release.

Additional Issues Influencing The Decision to Pause Allocations

In addition to the above, the project has experienced a significant number of canceled and suspended farmer contracts and is due for a third-party carbon verification in 2015. There have also been gaps in monitoring results and farmer payment data, which are due in part to turnover of Envirotrade staff and which are in the process of being resolved.

It’s COTAP’s prerogative to decide where to allocate tonnes and funds when Cotappers elect “all projects,” as you often do. We could have chosen to continue to include Sofala and either hold onto the funds for them, or pre-pay them, for credits to be issued later, potentially much later. But that comes at the expense of funding for our other projects whose annual reports are on time and who have sufficient available credits. Accordingly, we’ve chosen to pause allocations to Sofala for now.

Return To This Post for Further Updates

The Sofala project has requested approval from the Plan Vivo Foundation for operational and administrative amendments. When and if such amendments are approved, the Sofala project will be able to receive issuance of additional credits beyond what is currently expected, and COTAP allocations to the project could resume shortly thereafter.

All this said, the finalized 2013 report is forthcoming, and so is the one for 2014, the project has not sold more carbon credits than it’s expected to generate, and no issued credits have been invalidated. These issues are resolveable, and so we sincerely look forward to resuming our financial support of this project.

This post is to be updated with further details. Last updated 2/26/15.

COTAP in “100 Under $100” by Betsy Teutsch

February 4th, 2015

COTAP’s pleased to announce that we’ve 100Under$100-sidebarbeen included in a new book called “100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women” written by Betsy Teutsch and to be released on March 6, 2015.

100 Under $100 is a comprehensive look at effective, low-cost solutions for helping women in the Global South out of poverty. Most books on this subject focus on one problem and one solution; author Betsy Teutsch instead spreads her net wide, sharing one hundred successful, proven paths out of poverty in eleven different sectors—including tech, public health, law, finance, and more—in a visually striking book full of images of vibrant, strong women farmers, health practitioners, entrepreneurs, and
humanitarian tech stars doing exciting, cutting-edge work. Eye-opening and compelling, 100 Under $100 is an accessible entry point for globally-attuned readers excited about using a broad range of tools to empower women and help alleviate poverty in the developing world.

Learn more about the book and author on the official 100 Under $100 website and order the book on Amazon.


Q&A with Bansaralang Nongbri, Khasi Hills, India

December 16th, 2014

Bansaralang Nongbri

Project: Khasi Hills Community REDD+ Project, India
Name: Bansaralang Nongbri
Age: 25 years
Community: Dympep Village, East Khasi Hills, India

What are your contributions towards the project?

I’m a member of the Local Working Committee (LWC) which oversees the Dympep village cluster.

COTAP Note: Local Working Committees link the project’s federation of 9 indigenous governments to its 62 villages, and are integral to developing, implementing, and monitoring each village cluster’s natural resource management plan. Read more about the Khasi Hills REDD+ project’s organizational structure in its Project Design Document.

How do you feel about the project?

The project is conserving and restoring our village’s forests while also improving our livelihoods. It addresses several problems, one of which has been an insufficient awareness about the many important roles of trees.

It’s been an eye-opener that’s changing our mindset towards better forest management and socio-economic strategies. It has deepened our communities’ understanding of the importance of collective environmental responsibility and that improved livelihood approaches can coexist with sustaining our forests.

Do you think the project can improve family incomes?

We are very hopeful and confident that the project will improve our livelihoods, one reason being its multiple sources of support. The carbon fund is one part of the projects’ financial incentives for restoring and protecting the forests, the other part comes from the government.

What impacts is the project having?

The forests are regenerating and water bodies are being replenished, and even growing, as a result. Now people are much more environmentally engaged and also equipped to be able to take up small projects through Self Help Groups (SHG’s) and Farmers’ clubs.

What are some things you are learning?

I have learned about forest conservation, tree nurseries, and how our forests and water are inseparable. This has heightened our recognition of the need to protect and restore the forest. The socio-economic aspects of the project are teaching our villages about savings, bookkeeping, micro enterprise and team work. This broadens the social mindset of our community, and even reduces issues like jealousy and gossiping!

What have been some of the project’s challenges?

There haven’t been that many serious problems yet because the project leaders have been keen to engage communities with ongoing training and awareness programs.

Learn more and support this project

Learn more about the Khasi Hills REDD+ Project here, and create economic benefits for project participants like Bansaralang Nongbri by calculating and offsetting your CO2 emissions here.