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Elements of a certification system for forestry-based carbon offset projects

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Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol will require theestablishment of procedures for monitoring,verification and certification of carbon offsetprojects. In this paper, the steps required forindependent certification of forestry-based carbonoffset projects are reviewed, based on the proceduresused by the international certification companySociété Générale de Surveillance.Firstly, a project must be evaluated for itssuitability in relation to eligibility criteria of theKyoto Protocol. These eligibility criteria areclassified under four headings: (a) acceptability tohost country parties and international agreements; (b)additionality, in terms of demonstrated positivegreenhouse gas effects additional to the`business-as-usual' case; (c) externalities orunwanted side effects; and, (d) capacity to implementproject's activities. Secondly, the scientificmethodology for calculating the carbon offsets and themethodology for data collection and statisticalanalysis must be evaluated. Additionally, the amountof carbon offsets quantified must be adjusted toreflect the uncertainty associated with themethodology and data used. Only when these steps havebeen completed can carbon offsets be certified.Finally, the paper discusses the importance ofstandardization of methods and procedures used forproject monitoring and verification, and the need foraccreditation to ensure that the activities ofcertifiers are regulated.

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Moura Costa, P., Stuart, M., Pinard, M. et al. Elements of a certification system for forestry-based carbon offset projects. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 5, 39–50 (2000).

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