Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club urge CARB to get clearcutting out of cap and trade
Groups give billionaire timber baron Red Emmerson mock “climate champion” award
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – Today, a coalition of environmental groups including Sierra Club California and Friends of the Earth delivered a letter to California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols and Climate Action Reserve Chair Linda Adams urging them to fix a fundamental flaw in the cap and trade regulations implementing AB 32, the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, that allows companies to sell offset credits for “even-age management” — a practice that involves clearcutting forests and replanting monoculture stands of uniform age.
The letter charges that California’s current forest protocol “undermines the credibility of California’s cap and trade system by incentivizing the destruction of old-growth forests,” and calls on CARB and CAR to adopt an immediate moratorium on registration of carbon credits from forest projects that entail clearcutting.
At a carbon trading conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco’s financial district last week, a group of forest community members awarded a mock “Climate Champion” award to the multi-billionaire owner of Sierra Pacific Industries, Red Emmerson, dubbing the timber magnate “King Clearcut.” Notorious for its rampant clear-cutting practices across California’s forested watersheds, SPI is also a primary player in the forest offset market, a cornerstone of the state’s cap and trade program.
The conference, Navigating the American Carbon World, which had a registration fee of $1375, was sponsored by the state’s Climate Action Reserve and a range of industry groups and carbon trading firms, and attended by California’s top air quality regulators.
SPI stands to earn huge profits selling carbon offset credits for growing tree plantations despite new scientific findings affirming that older trees fix carbon much better than young trees. Forest and labor advocates have long highlighted SPI’s track record of widespread deforestation, cultivation of industrial tree plantations, air pollution violations, union-busting and starting forest fires.
“It’s time to cut the incentives for clearcutting from the cap and trade program,” said John Trinkl of Ebbets Pass Forest Watch, a group that advocates for the protection of Sierra forest lands in Calaveras County, where SPI is actively clearcutting. “SPI stands to gain $100 million for selling offset credits from growing tree plantations after clearcutting old growth forests. They should be punished, not rewarded,” Trinkl said.
“Californians need real climate solutions: keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground, cut greenhouse gas pollution at the source, and restore — don’t clearcut — our precious forests,” said Jeff Conant, international forests campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Will the architects of cap and trade — CAR and ARB — take heed and remove clearcutting from the policy, or will they continue to undermine the effectiveness of the state’s landmark global warming law?”
Among other sources, see the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board Violations Issued to Sierra Pacific Industries