Biodiversity offsets are a form of conditional environmental financing. Like their more well-known cousin, carbon offsets, various parties (e.g. governments, companies or individuals) look to compensate the damage they cause in one location by benefitting bidoversity somewhere else.
The International Standards Organisation has developed a series of standards that specify principles and requirements for organisations involved in greenhouse gas emission reporting. The ISO standards can be seen as guiding protocols providing general guidelines for the development of other programmes or standards.
The ISO standards relevant to GHG emissions are:
The Clean Technology Fund (CTF) is a Climate Investment Fund (CIF) administered by Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and is designed to finance demonstration, deployment and transfer of low emissions technologies to middle-income countries.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) looks to limit the negative impact that some regulations and standards may have on free trade, while also allowing members the right to implement legitimate policy objectives including the protection of fauna and flora.
The overarching goal of the aggreement is therefore ensure that ‘unnecessary obstacles to trade’ are avoided. Such obstacles may include:
The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is an independent financial organisation that invests in projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a voluntary international agreement signed by 175 national governments. It provides a framework for subjecting the international trade of certain specimens to monitoring and control. It is legally binding and signatories must ensure that adequate national measures are undertaken to comply to it.
Species covered by the convention can be categorised into three main types (detailed in Annexes).
The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) (Version 3, 2011) is a Greenhouse Gas Programme, describing itself as a ‘comprehensive quality assurance system used to account for greenhouse gas emission reductions and credits’. It applies to offset projects in the voluntary carbon trading sector and was established by the Verified Carbon Standard Association (VCSA).
The American Carbon Registry (ACR) has developed a number of standards to validate and verify carbon emissions reduction projects in diverse sectors including landfill gas, fuel switching, methane capture, forest carbon, truck idling, anaerobic digestion, carbon capture and storage, and rural solar power.
The American Carbon Registry publishes standards, methodologies, protocols and tools for greenhouse gas accounting. The 3 standards published to date are:
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of the three market based instruments included in the Kyoto Protocol (1997). It is designed to help countries meet emissions reductions, encourage private sector involvement and contribute to sustainable development.
The Ceres Coalition of investors, environmental organisations and other public interest groups states it’s mission as: ‘Integrating sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and people’. The coalition includes many Fortune 500 companies and is involved in improving the dialogue between multiple stakeholders through engagement and disclosure.