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Thread: Carbon offset credits offered as economic development incentives

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    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Carbon offset credits offered as economic development incentives

    It was mentioned to me in passing (without the person mentioning it having any more information) that some communities are considering (or have actually done so) establishing carbon credits through their urban forestry activities and then offering to give them to industry as an inducement to locate there. Has your fair city considered? Do you know of any examples?

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    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richi View post
    It was mentioned to me in passing (without the person mentioning it having any more information) that some communities are considering (or have actually done so) establishing carbon credits through their urban forestry activities and then offering to give them to industry as an inducement to locate there. Has your fair city considered? Do you know of any examples?
    I'll ask on an urban forestry forum I belong to & pass on replies.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    Thanks, Dan. I know that the idea of "additionality" (would the trees have been planted even if credits couldn't be sold) is a real issue with many. However, in these strapped times many places will not be doing any new urban forestry/street tree projects. And when it comes to who do you lay off- the firefighter or the guy tending the trees, guess who goes?

    Some exchanges are allowing trees planted several years ago to count, so an inventory might allow at least some additional $. If its an annual return (often is) then the income from credits can be spent to maintain and plant more trees until some industry takes the bait and uses the credits as part of its cap & trade or "green" image program.

    The problem with urban trees is that they are very valuable, but it's very hard to pin down the value in $.

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    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richi View post
    Thanks, Dan. I know that the idea of "additionality" (would the trees have been planted even if credits couldn't be sold) is a real issue with many. However, in these strapped times many places will not be doing any new urban forestry/street tree projects. And when it comes to who do you lay off- the firefighter or the guy tending the trees, guess who goes?

    Some exchanges are allowing trees planted several years ago to count, so an inventory might allow at least some additional $. If its an annual return (often is) then the income from credits can be spent to maintain and plant more trees until some industry takes the bait and uses the credits as part of its cap & trade or "green" image program.

    The problem with urban trees is that they are very valuable, but it's very hard to pin down the value in $.
    De nada, Richi.

    First, we have a good idea of a tree's value, both residential and commercial. The canopy in toto as well.

    We don't have a good idea - because of our poor sensory perception of the world around us and it's pace of change - of the forest's health and cover change over time. So this means that politicians cut budgets without assessing the result on the health of the forest; fortunately for budgets, the decline is slow and hard to pin on policy or budget failures.

    Second, the GF heads one of the largest tree-planting programs in the country. She plants ~65k trees a year with little public funding - she scrambles for private funding, volunteers, etc. So planting can be done. Is this process easy or always successful? Sadly, no. But will more funding be available soon? No.

    Most folks want trees and are sad when they go. But rather than paying for greenery, they'd rather pay for a Wendy's cheeseburger, cheap trinket from Walmart or GameBoy to make them feel better.

    Third, you should look into GASB34. Will your little town's Finance Dept play along? If you can make this work, that's a fat resume bullet for sure. Can't advise you on whether you want to take on that battle...

    Last, no word from my urban forestry listserv. In my view the silence is due to no one doing what you ask about above. It's likely I'd have heard of it if it was happening today (not 100% certain, but 95).

    I like your questions and what's beneath them. Keep up the good work.

  5. #5
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan Staley View post

    Last, no word from my urban forestry listserv. In my view the silence is due to no one doing what you ask about above. It's likely I'd have heard of it if it was happening today (not 100% certain, but 95).

    I like your questions and what's beneath them. Keep up the good work.
    Got some replies and one from someone working on this very thing at UVM. Sacramento Tree Foundation is trying a pilot with offsets, but not for incentivization. There is some development of carbon calculators out there, but it is too early yet.

    You're ahead of the curve!

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