SAN DIEGO, May 5, 2016 – 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 and presented highlights from the year. He described the awards to be presented to recognize outstanding environmental achievements including the individual Climate Leadership award, as well as corporate awards based on ACR’s guiding principles of innovation, quality and excellence.
Kadyszewski presented ACR’s Climate Leadership award to Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change from 2009 to 2016 in recognition of his leadership, insight and singular determination to secure international commitments to combat climate change. As the apex of seven years of persistence and diplomacy on a global climate deal, Todd played a pivotal role leading up to and in Paris of securing the agreement of nearly 200 nations to commit to holding global warming to below two degrees Celsius and to transparently submit their national contributions to this goal for review by the rest of the world. To build consensus from Copenhagen to Paris on a new climate deal was an achievement that required Todd to skillfully navigate domestic and international politics and to build confidence and ambitions of nations. The United States’ bilateral agreement with China in November 2014 was hailed as a catalytic event that built momentum for other countries to make similar pledges in Paris. The result of these accomplishments is meaningful, not only to send an uncontestable message that the countries of the world are united in transforming to a low carbon economy, but to create a framework to incentivize further actions that can be taken up by both the private and public sectors.
“I am honored to receive this award from the American Carbon Registry,” stated Stern. “Paris was a landmark agreement and the culmination of a huge team effort over many years. It reflects broad buy-in, strong ambition and transparency and puts a structure in place that now allows us to try to greatly accelerate the transformation from high to low carbon economies. Every tool we can use to advance that objective is essential and carbon markets have a very important role to play. I salute ACR for being a leader in this field and for doing the hard work that make it possible for carbon markets to have environmental integrity.”
The ACR Innovation award was presented to EOS Climate for the company’s development of the groundbreaking ACR approved offset methodology for the use of certified reclaimed HFC refrigerants and advanced refrigeration systems. U.S. industry made commitments at a White House event late last year to leverage the methodology to realize HFC emissions reductions under the U.N. Global Refrigerant Management Initiative, which will reduce global HFC emissions by 30 to 50 percent in 10 years. Last week, ACR issued the first verified carbon credits to EOS Climate for the reclamation and re-use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.
“We are honored by this recognition from ACR. Controlling HFC emissions has become a priority for governments and businesses around the world,” stated Jeff Cohen, Senior Vice President of EOS Climate. “This new methodology directly incentivizes deployment of advanced climate-friendly commercial refrigeration technologies, as well as the recovery, reclamation, and re-use of HFC refrigerants, preventing powerful GHG emissions. ACR has been a great organization to work with on our ODS projects, and likewise, forward thinking and technically superb in establishing this methodology. By reducing the aggregate quantity of HFC production required during the transition to alternative refrigerants, we see this new methodology as an immediate, market-based complement to regulatory efforts to phase down HFCs.”
The ACR Commitment to Quality award went to Mid-South rice farms Whitaker Farms, Isbell Farms and Sullivan Farms, which have collectively formed the sustainable rice alliance Nature’s Stewards, in addition to Wolf Creek Farms and Murrell Farms. The farms were all honored for their work to improve rice production systems and to earn the first carbon offsets from low emission rice production. Since 2012, these farms have been dedicated to testing methods and measuring results for reducing GHG emissions and water usage under the ACR offset methodology for Emissions Reductions in Rice Management Systems. The methodology specifies requirements to measure reductions in methane, a GHG 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The first rice offset credits will be issued this summer, and the farms plan to verify emissions reductions this growing season for the California compliance offset market.
The Nature’s Stewards farms also plan to be the first rice producers in the world to be certified as sustainable under a new U.S. Sustainable Rice Certification Standard in development by Winrock and the American Carbon Registry to be launched this summer under a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant. The sustainability certification will require independent verification of a range of sustainability criteria and practices for food safety, GHG emissions, water use, fertilizer use, biodiversity, and labor practices.
“Conservation and environmental stewardship is a collaborative effort, and we are grateful for the researchers, organizations, and fellow farmers that we learn from,” said Mark Isbell on behalf of Nature’s Stewards LLC. “We are grateful to ACR and Winrock International for this honor and look forward to working together as we build on the work of the past and grow toward a greener future.”
The ACR Corporate Excellence award was presented to Microsoft for the company’s leadership in setting an internal price on carbon in order to achieve 100 percent carbon neutrality while driving company-wide efficiency and innovation. The fee works by making the cost to achieve carbon neutrality a line item in the operating budgets of Microsoft’s business units across more than 100 countries, establishing a powerful incentive for each group to find lower-carbon alternatives and to invest in carbon-saving initiatives and innovations.
This simple, replicable carbon fee model has demonstrated impressive results. Since 2012, the program has generated more than $48 million for investments in efficiency, green power and carbon offset community projects that have collectively reduced the company’s emissions by 9.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. To date, Microsoft has purchased more than 14 billion kilowatt hours of green power and helped reach more than 6 million people globally through carbon offset community projects that support low-carbon economic development and sustainable livelihoods.
“We are honored to receive this award recognizing Microsoft’s internal carbon fee, which has been a catalyst for driving sustainability, innovation and efficiency across our company,” said TJ DiCaprio, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability, Microsoft. “The carbon fee program has helped Microsoft reduce our overall carbon emissions by more than 9.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Through the funds raised, we are proud to support a portfolio of more than 30 carbon offset community projects around the world, including reforestation activities in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.”