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Vermont Forest Carbon
Vermont Forest Carbon Report

Quantifying carbon stocks on conserved land

Carbon market participation will not work for everyone or everywhere. It will work best through project aggregation of properties that are medium (several hundred acres) to large (>1,000 acres) in size, well-stocked, and managed—and where the potential to provide co-benefits that are attractive to buyers in the voluntary market is greatest. Your land trust may also benefit from tracking the development of "aggregated" lands to meet acreage requirements and see how you could replicate it in your area.

Carbon project development in Vermont is compatible with, and in fact would be aided by, participation in other forest stewardship programs. These include forest certification, cost-share by EQIP and the Forest Legacy Program, and Vermont’s Use Value Appraisal (UVA) Program (also known as Current Use).

All three major certification Vermont Forest Carbon: a market opportunity for forestland owners 4 systems in the U.S. (Forest Stewardship Council [FSC], Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and American Tree Farm System) can be employed to meet various requirements under CARB and the voluntary markets, such as the need to have a comprehensive forest management plan…

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Brooklyn Bridge Covid Times

After the Coronavirus, two sharply divergent paths on climate

Some policy experts are optimistic that victory over the Coronavirus will instill greater appreciation for what government, science, and business can do to tackle climate change. But others believe the economic damage caused by the virus will set back climate efforts for years to come.

A year from now, how will the battle to slow global warming look in a post-Coronavirus world? That’s a question being asked a lot these days by policy experts and activists, and it’s one with huge implications.

Some hope it will bring out the best in us and our leaders, and that the resurgence of government action during the pandemic offers a way forward for fighting climate change. Others fear the worst, that the rush to resuscitate a badly battered global economy will push climate back down the international agenda…

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Harvard And Yale Student Protests
Nic Antaya | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

As big endowments spurn fossil fuel stocks, there’s one thing making this decision easy

This article might be of interest to those considering financial investments and how land trusts can walk the walk.

As big endowment funds face mounting pressure to reduce their exposure to the fossil fuel industry, there’s one thing making their decision easier: the energy sector’s underperformance…

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Smoke Stacks Video Screenshot

Your land trust has a chance to be strategic and proactive

This video from Yale Climate Connections may be helpful to your board and/or those involved in financial decisions. No longer is divestment just a moral decision. Increasingly, it's a strategic financial decision—and many donors are looking for land trusts to walk the walk.

Calls for decarbonization are now coming from the boardrooms and executive suites of the world’s largest corporations and investment funds, in a fast-moving change that could reshape the global energy system and economy. Listen to why investment firms and companies are divesting.

I’ll be posting more about alternatives, but in the meantime, check out PIMCO’s climate investment funds.

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Farms and Land in Farms 2018 Summary (April 2019)

“The number of farms in the United States for 2018 is estimated at 2,029,200, down 12,800 farms from 2017. Total land in farms, at 899,500,000 acres, decreased 870,000 acres from 2017. The average farm size for 2018 is 443 acres, up 2 acres from the previous year.

Farm numbers and land in farms are differentiated by six economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these six sales classes by summing the sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000. Producers were asked during the 2018 mid-year surveys to report the value of sales based on production during the 2017 calendar year…”

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Solar Panels And Field Birds Eye View
Tim Gruber for the Wall Street Journal

Struggling Farmers See Bright Spot in Solar

“U.S. farmers are embracing an alternative means of turning sunlight into revenue during a sharp downturn in crop prices: solar power.

Solar panels are being installed across the Farm Belt for personal and external use on land where growers are struggling to make ends meet. The tit-for-tat tariffs applied by the U.S. and China to each other’s goods have cut demand for American crops. Futures prices for corn, soybeans and wheat are all trading around their lowest levels since 2010. Making matters worse, record spring rainfall…”

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Solar Panels In Early Spring
Judy Anderson

What businesses [including land trusts] should know about the evolution of rural solar

Solar projects certainly are growing rapidly throughout the United States, with total installed capacity just shy of 70 gigawatts and a contracted pipeline of 27.9 GW, according to SEIA. A recent Wall Street Journal analysis of EIA data reported that solar projects occupied 258,000 acres in 2018, while NREL estimates that solar will occupy 3 million acres by 2030.

That may be a small fraction of the nearly 900 million acres of farmland in the United States (PDF), but it’s enough to make agricultural communities apprehensive about the advance of solar onto previously pastoral land. While landowning farmers are grateful for the steady income that comes from leasing to solar projects, others in rural areas—including many state agricultural departments—are still grappling with what the growth of solar will mean for their concept of rural land and role as agricultural boosters…

And with wind and solar cropping up in more rural communities, the bar is being set higher. “The future for renewable energy has to include a sustainable land use component,” Hoosier Energy’s Cisney said. In leveraging new partnerships and co-location opportunities among developers, farmers and local communities, rural America has the potential to assume a more active leadership role in cooperatively advancing the clean energy transition…

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One of the world’s biggest investors is preparing its $178B portfolio for climate change

Land trusts around the country are starting to think about how they, too, can walk the walk—as well as protect their investments over the long-term.

Dutch investment giant PGGM is undertaking a radical exercise to find out which assets and areas in its portfolio are most exposed to climate change and using the data to shape future investment decisions, including where it buys new buildings.

PGGM owns stakes in 4,000 assets around the world with a total value of €160B ($178B). Its equity stake in that portfolio is €14B ($15.5B). With the roughly $16B of listed real estate stocks it also owns, it is the world’s 12th-largest owner of real estate, according to IPE Real Assets…

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Rhode Island Capitol

Urban forestry takes on the world. But first, Rhode Island

Urban forests comprise 17 percent of the total U.S. carbon sink, or 1.8 percent (and rising) of U.S. emissions every year, according to a 2018 report by the Environmental Protection Agency. We can help people know that urban conservation—and trees/parks—can make a difference.

Among dozens of new trees transforming a muddy Catholic elementary schoolyard, the pastor opened his Bible only a handful of pages, going full Old Testament in his impassioned spiritual plea for more trees.

Beside him stood Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo, who had just given an equally impassioned speech about the many scientific and public health benefits of trees. And when the children were unleashed with shovels to plant the final tree, it reminded everyone what perspective matters most: creating a stable future together…

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Farm in Upstate NY
Judy Anderson

Startups aim to pay farmers to bury carbon pollution in soil

Last summer, Boston-based Indigo Agriculture made headlines in business media with the announcement of its Terraton Initiative, which aims to pay growers to sequester one trillion tons of carbon dioxide.

Although Indigo is involved in a range of farm-related activities, from microbial seed treatments to agronomy (expert farm consulting, essentially) and crop transportation, soil carbon is a major focus. The company has promised that farmers who signed up for its carbon program before the end of 2019 will receive at least $15 per metric ton sequestered. Payments will be financed partly through the sale of offsets, which go for $20 per ton. As of late January, growers had committed more than 17 million acres to the program, according to Indigo’s website…

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