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Cover Stories Series 2011
UPDATED: November 29, 2011
Forestry Carbon Trade Brings Inspiration

China has recently launched a pilot program in forestry carbon trading to offset carbon emissions. Many home enterprises are taking part and the program is getting recognition from overseas stakeholders. But the voluntary project's sustainability is still unknown.

Trading emissions for forestry credits is now in their early stages in China. Just a few weeks after the launch of the program the first overseas enquiry arrived.

Huadong Forestry Exchange is currently the only trial center to facilitate forest based carbon trade in China. The concept, in simple words, is to create extra forestry carbon absorption in an attempt to balance off the greenhouse emissions produced by human activities.

About 50 Chinese companies, ranging from the investment sector to high energy consumption are in the trading process. At present, all the purchases are voluntary. But to many pioneer participants, the opportunities are greater than sharing their corporate social responsibility, and saving the environment.

Shen Guohua, chairman of Huadong Forestry Exchange, said, "As the trade itself is still quite new, forestry carbon sink can now be bought at a relatively low market price, but in the future with more environmental policies coming out, it could become much more expensive. So the pioneers will be well prepared."

But still, it's not as easy as it sounds. What kind of land can be used to produce forest carbon sink? Who is to determine the amount of greenhouse emissions planted forests can absorb? How to obtain environmental recognition from international watchers?

Lou Guohua, director general of Zhejiang Forestry Department, said, "These are serious considerations. Right now our standards are set by China Green Carbon Foundation and are on track with international practices. But we have to yet further specify the regulations and policies."

Aside from companies asking for carbon credits, many forest owners have also approached the Exchange, in the hope of doing business with their green assets. But no deal was struck for them, as the enquirers all came with the wrong perceptions. So it seems public understanding is crucial not only for the development of the new trade, but also the preservation of existing forests.

(CNTV.cn November 28, 2011)

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