About the carbon market

Forest Carbon Works uses the carbon market to help smaller landowners earn revenue by sequestering carbon in their forests. Learn how carbon credits work and why reducing emissions has market value.

Green ferns on a mossy log.

What is a carbon credit?

A carbon credit is a tradeable asset issued by the California Air Resources Board that represents a reduction or removal of one metric ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon credits are bought and sold through California’s compliance program, cap-and-trade.

How is forestland defined?

Forestland is defined as real estate of ten acres or more that supports, or has the potential to support, at least ten percent tree canopy cover.

How does the forest carbon market work?

The forest carbon market is a complicated process which involves a lot of moving pieces. It is best described in this video produced by the United States Forest Service. In this webinar, Ecosystem Services Specialist Sarah Hines discusses the functions of forest carbon offsets in compliance cap-and-trade markets, complexities in quantifying carbon credits and considerations for landowners.

To view this video, please click here: http://www.fsl.orst.edu/fs-pnw/pep/carbon/hines/

What is the Air Resources Board (ARB)?

The California Air Resources Board is the “clean air agency” in the government of California. ARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare and ecological resources through the effective and efficient reduction of air pollutants in recognition and consideration of the effects on the economy of the state.

Can I decide who buys credits created by the project?

No. As part of the Membership Agreement, members agree to receive an annual payment from Forest Carbon Works, not the credits themselves. Forest Carbon Works will transact credits on the landowner’s behalf, and the landowner will receive annual payments from the sale of credits.

What carbon market does Forest Carbon Works operate in?

Forest Carbon Works functions under California’s compliance market, operating within the cap-and-trade program. All reporting is made to California’s Air Resources Board. The cap-and-trade system was effectively started through the passing of Assembly Bill 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. You can read more about AB 32 here: https://www.arb.ca.gov/cc/ab32/ab32.htm

What is the price of carbon?

The price of carbon varies depending on market conditions. You can check the current price of carbon here (Look at the price for “CC08”): http://californiacarbon.info/

What is tCO2e?

tCO2e stands for tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. This is the standard unit in carbon accounting used to quantify greenhouse gas emissions, emissions reductions and carbon credits.

What are emissions?

Emissions are the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from sources and processes in a facility, including from the combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum products, and natural gas liquids.

What are emissions reductions?

An emissions reduction is the term used to quantify the amount of release of a greenhouse gas, notably used in terms of prevention of a release. This term is put in place by the California regulating body and it represents the standard unit of measurement for carbon projects. A single emissions reduction unit is equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent.

What are GHGs?

The term GHGs stands for greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are gases within our atmosphere which absorb and emit radiation within the thermal infrared range. Excess of these gases due to human activity are widely accepted as a major contributor to global climate change. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the mostly widely recognized greenhouse gas and is the only greenhouse gas pertinent to forest offset projects. It is also used as the standard unit of measurement for carbon projects.

What is additionality?

In order for a property to be eligible for a carbon project, it must demonstrate that it is additional. Additionality means that actions that are taking place (i.e., implementing a carbon project and maintaining carbon stocks on a property) are beyond what would be otherwise required by law, regulation, or legally binding mandate, and that they exceed what would otherwise occur in a conservative business-as-usual scenario.

What is a crediting period?

The crediting period is a pre-determined period for which an offset project will remain eligible to be issued credits (and in which landowners will receive their annual payment). For forestry related carbon offset projects under the Air Resources Board, the crediting period is 25 years.

What is a project lifetime?

The project lifetime is composed of the crediting period plus a 100-year monitoring period. It is the time period over which project activities (i.e. carbon storage and subsequent crediting) and monitoring are implemented. The 25-year crediting period is renewable in additional 25-year increments. Thus, the minimum project lifetime is 125 years.

Curious about starting a forest carbon project?

Learn how to check your eligibility and apply.

How to start a project