SAN FRANCISCO, April 5, 2018 – Last night, the American Carbon Registry (ACR), a nonprofit enterprise of Winrock International, hosted its annual gala reception to recognize and thank its members and partners. ACR Director John Kadyszewski welcomed guests, presented highlights from the year and described the awards to be presented, including the individual Climate Leadership award as well as organizational awards based on ACR’s guiding principles of innovation, quality and excellence.
Kadyszewski presented ACR’s Climate Leadership award to environmentalist, entrepreneur and author Paul Hawken for a lifetime of practical leadership and thoughtful activism on policies that harmonize business and the environment, ecology and economics. His voice and range of engagements and collaborations continue to illuminate the grand imperative of climate action. Most recently, Project Drawdown (described in his best-selling book by the same name) has provided a blueprint to comprehensively address climate change with proven technologies and know-how. The quantification of GHG mitigation potential, alongside costs and savings, eviscerates the greatest barrier to action: entrenched economics that color GHG solutions as too costly. The code now cracked, policy and markets can advance the largest-scale, lowest-cost approaches vital to a habitable planet, and all solutions can be more appropriately applied.
“I am more than honored to receive this award from the American Carbon Registry,” said Hawken. “Like few other organizations, ACR has been far-sighted and visionary in its endeavor to restore climatic stability and reverse global warming by employing common sense and pragmatic economic solutions. It is a privilege to join other awardees who are reimagining what humanity can accomplish when we collaborate, innovate, and care about this miraculous world we share and call Earth.”
Airlines for America (A4A), the trade organization for the major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers, was honored with the ACR Commitment to Quality award for the organization’s leadership in helping to shape the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) GHG emissions reduction program and offsetting mechanism for airlines in a way that ensures quality, rigor and transparency.
Although ICAO’s 192 member states had long agreed to technology, operations and infrastructure measures to help address GHG emissions from international aviation, negotiations over a market-based measure (MBM) stalled for several years, leading to efforts by multiple countries to implement their own regulations or taxes on international aviation emissions. This helped spur ICAO to agree to a resolution in 2013 to develop a global MBM to support ICAO’s previously adopted goal for international aviation to achieve carbon neutral growth from 2020 onward. In 2016, only three years later, ICAO approved an Assembly Resolution setting out the terms for a global MBM for aviation, the first global sectoral approach of its kind, including a renewed commitment to achieve carbon neutral growth for international aviation starting in 2020. Currently 73 states representing over 88 percent of international aviation emissions have agreed to participate in the voluntary phases of the ICAO Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) from 2020 through 2026, including the U.S. and China. The historic accord, which becomes mandatory in 2027 for all states other than the least developed countries and those with very low levels of international aviation activity, is projected to result in emissions reductions of more than 2.5 billion tonnes through 2035. CORSIA will be implemented under a set of ICAO standards and recommended practices that are up for adoption by the ICAO Council this year.
A4A played a critical role in supporting ICAO’s 2013 agreement to develop an MBM to complement technology, operational and infrastructure measures and in finalizing the negotiations for the 2016 ICAO resolution. A4A continues to represent its members’ commitment to a single global agreement to support the ICAO-agreed emissions goals and avoid a patchwork of complex and costly regulations and taxes on international aviation. A4A has also played an important role in the development of CORSIA’s implementing provisions, ensuring environmental integrity and transparency in the carbon offset program.
“While the U.S. airlines have dramatically improved fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions by investing billions in fuel-saving aircraft and engines, innovative technologies like winglets and an array of operational and infrastructure measures, we are strong supporters of the ICAO CORSIA to complement these measures to achieve aviation’s internationally-agreed emissions goals,” stated Nancy Young, vice president of environmental affairs at A4A. “We are proud to work with governments, carbon market experts like ACR and the environmental NGO community to ensure CORSIA is implemented in an environmentally rigorous and practicable way.”
GreenTrees received ACR’s Innovation award in recognition of exceptional implementation of the world’s largest reforestation project both in terms of volume of high-quality verified emissions reductions issued and number of participating landowners and acres. The GreenTrees project is a one-million-acre conservation initiative that aims to plant over 500 million new trees for ecosystem repair and climate impact in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, North America’s largest rainforest and waterfowl migratory corridor. By partnering with close to 500 landowners on over 120,000 acres to date to reforest their degraded lands, GreenTrees has enhanced wildlife habitat, improved water and soil quality and delivered local economic development benefits in addition to generating over 2.5 million tonnes of verified carbon offsets for partners including Norfolk Southern, Duke Energy, United Airlines, Arbor Day Foundation, Blue Mountain Brewery and Skyway Air Taxi, among others.
“We highly value this award and thank the American Carbon Registry for its keen understanding of research and market-based programs, our corporate clients and carbon buyers for endorsing our work, our conservation community friends for their wonderful counsel over the years, and our landowners as partners. Their stake as equity brokers with us is the chief factor creating the prairie fire of steadily expanding healthy forest ecosystems, which is the leading reforestation co-benefit for our time,” said Jerry Van Voorhis, president and chief executive officer of GreenTrees. “We believe that ecosystem change in forestry alone will help bend the climate curve back most, replenish our earth, and let the tools of capitalism work for the greater good of the planet.”
The Corporate Excellence award was presented to Mars Food for the organization’s leadership role addressing climate change through its commitments to sustainable sourcing across its supply chains, notably rice. Rice is a food staple for half of the world’s peoples and accounts for 20 percent of the global population’s caloric intake. Mars Food is the maker of Uncle Ben’s, the world’s largest rice brand, therefore Mars’ commitment to sustainable rice production is essential. As a key partner of the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP), co-convened in 2015 by the U.N. Environment Program and the International Rice Research Institute, Mars has pledged to source all its rice from farmers working toward the SRP by 2020. To meet this ambitious goal and to increase the quality of rice for millions of families for decades to come, Mars has invested in research and farmer education and is partnering with growers, NGOs and universities to transform the production of rice farms around the world to enhance water use, reduce GHG emissions, improve yields and increase incomes. Mars is working with almost 2,000 farmers in India and Pakistan, where their efforts have resulted in significant increase in farmer incomes and rice yields, and has similar programs in Cambodia and Thailand.
In the U.S., Mars Food is collaborating with Winrock, also an SRP member, to adapt the SRP for the U.S. and grow its base of U.S. sustainably-sourced rice. U.S. growers working with Mars include those who earned the first carbon offsets in the world from sustainable rice production, issued by ACR in 2017. Several of Mars’ supplier partners source from farmers applying such new techniques as Alternate Wetting and Drying, which has reduced GHG by 40 percent.
“We are proud to be honored with this award, but more importantly, we’re proud of the work Mars Food is doing in partnership with Winrock. At Mars, we believe it’s important that we grow in a way that’s not only good for our business, but also for people and the planet. That’s why we have prioritized creating shared benefits for rice growers and the environment, while also producing a high-quality rice crop for the billions of people who depend on it for nutrition and a livelihood,” said Denis Winkler, vice president of supply chain for global Mars Food. “Our pilots with Basmati rice farmers in Pakistan show a 32 percent increase in farmer income and a 30 percent reduction in water used. As we extend these programs across our supply chain, we have the potential to make a notable global impact.”