LOS ANGELES, April 25, 2019 – 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 Jonathan Pershing, Environment Program Director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, for a lifetime blending thought leadership with the negotiating skills of a diplomat to mobilize global action to address climate change. Pershing understands the key role markets play in finding the most efficient path forward. An early contributor to technical reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, his knowledge of the science and the data helped him play an instrumental role in securing the Paris agreement as Deputy Special Envoy under Todd Stern. Taking over as Special Envoy after Paris, Pershing was the principle architect of the Obama Administration Global Climate Change Initiative which provided over $1 billion a year to support climate change.
Mobilizing capital for action has been a hallmark of Pershing’s career. Before Paris, he was the key architect of the Department of Energy “Mission Innovation” commitment to double climate and clean energy research and development budgets. His skills at analyzing the date have allowed him to see where we need to go before others and his cheerful, upbeat, open demeanor have motivated others to do more than they might have thought they were prepared to do, bringing together business leaders, civil society, governments and investors. He continues with these efforts in his new position with the Hewlett Foundation drawing attention to an increasingly obvious challenge to act more quickly.
“I am honored to accept this award from the American Carbon Registry. The impacts of climate change are becoming ever more severe and widespread, from wildfires in California to floods in the Midwest, to droughts in Australia to unprecedented and powerful cyclones in Africa and Asia,” said Pershing. “Solving the problem and avoiding even more dire future consequences is going to require us all to pull together, with markets, investors, governments and civil society all working collectively for the greatest impact. That in turn will require a heightened degree of transparency and a collective commitment to environmental integrity in our efforts. ACR’s leadership in this arena is important, not only for the market stability and legitimacy it provides, but also for the model it sets globally for a pivotal element of the future climate solution.”
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma accepted the ACR Commitment to Quality award on behalf of the State Treasurer’s Office, which was honored for its dedication to the creation of a robust green bond market in California — a market that elevates greenhouse gas mitigation and climate resiliency considerations while valuing and executing high-quality climate-aligned infrastructure projects. The leadership from the Treasurer’s Office began in 2016 with a listening tour to identify barriers and challenges in the market, and it again convened stakeholders in 2018 to define actionable strategies and solutions for growth. The state has issued over $2 billion in green bonds to date and was one of the first signatories of the Green Bond Pledge, committing to align all future bond issuances financing long-term infrastructure projects with climate resiliency and mitigation benefits where relevant. The Treasurer’s Office continues to support the emergence of a consistent set of best practices, including further standardization, that will help streamline the market and serve as a model for other jurisdictions. Long a leader on social and environmental issues, the state’s commitment to quality only deepens with the extension of non-financial performance filters into project financing, helping to ensure community transformation through the critical infrastructure decisions of tomorrow.
“Climate change threatens our quality of life, our economy, and poses material risk to our communities, especially those that will feel the adverse effects of climate change disproportionally,” stated Ma. “Green bonds are a vital part of an integrated strategy that address the economic dangers and quality of life issues that face all Californians. We need to leverage California’s market presence and leadership to develop a strategy that ensures that green bonds marketed to investors truly are green. I look forward to working with Winrock and ACR to accomplish our shared goals and a more sustainable, resilient future in California.”
ACR honored both Etsy and Lyft with the Corporate Excellence award for their ambitious corporate offsetting programs. Etsy was recognized for bringing climate responsibility to internet retailing as the first global e-commerce company to offset 100 percent of shipping emissions. This commitment addresses the 98 percent of Etsy’s climate impact that is associated with shipments between independent buyers and sellers. Furthermore, Etsy’s support of the UPM Blandin Native American Hardwoods Conservation Project demonstrates the abundant co-benefits of climate action. Some 188,000 acres of Minnesota forest are now managed to increase carbon sequestration, while protecting 30 miles of trout streams, 47 species of birds, and over 30 species of mammals including black bear, grey wolf and moose. Aside from offsetting, Etsy intends to power its offices and computing infrastructure with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020. And in 2018, the company achieved its goal of running zero-waste operations in its offices globally, two years ahead of schedule. Etsy is demonstrating that the e-commerce revolution can deliver climate benefits.
“We are honored to be recognized by the American Carbon Registry for this prestigious award,” said Chelsea Mozen, Etsy’s sustainability lead. As a two-sided marketplace, we do not directly manage the shipping process, yet we still feel a pressing need to take accountability for its environmental impact. While our ultimate goal is to find long-term solutions that will completely eliminate carbon emissions, offsets are a crucial step in our sustainability journey.”
Lyft was recognized for making ride-sharing on its platform a carbon neutral transportation alternative. The company has committed to retire offsets against all rides, along with using offsets and renewable energy credits for the remainder of business operations. In 2018 alone, Lyft offset more than a million metric tons of CO2. Further cementing its climate commitments, Lyft is making electric vehicles available for rent to drivers; offers micro-mobility solutions; created an option for riders to request electric or hybrid vehicles; partnered with public transit agencies; and committed to increasing shared rides. With real understanding of how urban mobility impacts climate, Lyft is driving towards a greener transportation ecosystem.
“Lyft was founded with the mission of improving people’s lives with the world’s best transportation. One of the key ways we work to improve people’s lives is environmentally — by driving carbon out of the transportation ecosystem. This is why last year Lyft became the first and only ridesharing company committed to making all rides on our platform carbon neutral,” said Sam Arons, Lyft’s Director of Sustainability. “We thank the American Carbon Registry for recognizing our efforts to take bold action to address climate change, and we look forward to continuing to work with our communities and all of our partners to make transportation cleaner and more efficient.”
ACR honored TerraCarbon and the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for their innovative work developing the methodology for Restoration of Pocosin Wetlands. A type of freshwater wetlands unique to the Atlantic Coastal plain of the U.S. extending from southern Virginia to northern Florida, pocosins store substantial amounts of carbon. At one time they covered over one million acres in eastern North Carolina alone. Only about 280,000 acres remain today, mirroring the trend across the United States of massive wetland loss following settlement. Pocosin wetlands were ditched and drained for agriculture and forestry beginning in the late 1700s. When pocosin wetlands dry up, carbon is released. The ability to generate carbon offsets from the restoration represents an innovative opportunity to attract carbon finance to avoid further carbon loss.
“TerraCarbon is honored to work with The Nature Conservancy on this innovative and important effort to restore pocosin wetlands, which are critical to mitigating and adapting to climate change,” said Scott Settelmeyer, Managing Director of TerraCarbon LLC. “Pocosin wetlands store vast amounts of carbon in their waterlogged soils, which is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide if the wetland is ditched and drained. The new ACR methodology opens the door to new sources of funding for landowners to restore degraded pocosin wetlands and prevent future emissions of carbon dioxide.”
“We appreciate ACR’s recognition of this pioneering effort by TNC and primary partners, including TerraCarbon and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to research and develop the methodology,” noted Chuck Peoples, Director of Conservation for the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. “While there are ample opportunities for restoration of this important habitat, funding remains a limiting factor and the new ACR methodology provides additional incentive for landowners and project developers to take on critical projects.”