(continued from page 15) (continued from page 9) Those who wish to combat climate change can then buy these offsets, claim- ing the credit for the reduction in carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of their own activities that might be generating greenhouse gasses. Landowners looking to quantify and sell the carbon from their landholdings typically begin by working with a carbon project developer to put together a project. Several types of forest carbon projects exist, but the most common is the “Improved Forest Management” (IFM). An IFM project begins with a feasibility analysis and involves inventorying the property to determine how much carbon it will store over time. When the land’s carbon amount is documented and verified by a third party, it can be registered with one of the three national carbon registries which then issue the credits. The credits can then be sold on the carbon market. Carbon credits can be developed for sale in either the voluntary market or the compliance market, each of which has specific carbon accounting and eligibility rules.Forthecompliancemarket,acarbonprojectmustbemaintainedfor100years following the final credit issuance, the forest inventory must be updated at least every 12 years, and the monitoring documentation must be updated every year to accountforharvesting,growth,oranysignificantdamagefromnaturaldisasters.On the voluntary market, the time commitment can be negotiated between the parties. BIA: General guidance on carbon credit but no official policy While many tribes consider whether a carbon project is or is not in their best interests, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has yet to publish an official policy on the issue. The agency’s lack of regulations concerning carbon credits is based in part on a lack of directive from Congress. Because Congress has not enacted laws relevant to carbon credits, nor provided any type of funding to develop carbon sequestration projects, there is little for the BIA to act on. Another factor underlying the BIA’s lack of policy guidance is that carbon credits may or may not be considered a trust asset. If they are not, the agency does not need to approve a tribe’s carbon project as a sale of a trust asset. But the agency still requires general review of a tribal carbon project to evaluate whether the project implicates other regulations or policies. Contracts greater than seven years, for example, require secretarial approval, as do other situations that may arise in a carbon project. WhiletheBIAofficiallyneitherencouragesnordiscouragescarbonagreements, it recommends that any tribe considering a carbon project proceed with caution, emphasizing that agreements in the compliance market require a limited waiver of sovereign immunity as well as a 100-year commitment (although projects sold in the voluntary carbon market may involve a much shorter time commitment). A carbon agreement might require modifications in a tribe’s current land man- agement practices and—depending on the property and the terms of the carbon agreement—could contradict good forest management practices. DespitealackofguidancefromCongress,theagencydoeshaveadraftcarbon policy in development that it hopes to publish within the year. Potential rewards and pitfalls of tribal carbon projects For some tribes, carbon projects can provide an opportunity to develop a revenue stream while at the same time protecting or restoring forest land. Others take a different approach, seeing carbon projects as a way for polluters to continue polluting. Certainly a big sticking point for any tribe, however, is the requirement that a tribe sign a waiver of sovereign immunity relating to the agreement, meaning that a tribe can be sued in court if disagreements arise concerning the requirements of the program or the rules they committed to. Carbon credit agreements also cannot contradict a tribe’s existing land man- agement plan: If a tribe’s Forest Management Plan specifies a certain amount of harvest, and that amount conflicts with the carbon agreement, one or both will need to be modified. And exiting a carbon agreement can be very costly if a party changes its mind down the road. But others appreciate the benefits of a tribal carbon project, including the potentialrevenuestream.ErnestNeptune,forestsupervisorforthePassamaquoddy Forestry Department, calls himself a “carbon credit fan” mostly because he sees it as “a stewardship program that holds polluters accountable for their destructive nature.” For his own tribe and forest lands, Neptune says: “I couldn’t believe we would be paid millions of dollars to keep doing what we were already doing.” In going forward with the project on its tribal lands, the Passamaquoddy Tribe considered its existing forestry reporting efforts (already being done with the BIA) and felt the demands of the carbon project would not be difficult to meet. The tribe recently submitted a 98,000 acre project for a net revenue of $30 million dollars. Neptune recommends that any tribe considering a project seek an experienced developer that has successfully worked in Indian Country. Neptune also stressed the need for a tribe to have a solid Integrated Forest Management Plan in place, and be educated about the 100-year commitment and waiver of sovereign immunity. For tribes looking to learn more One organization assisting tribes with their carbon projects is the National IndianCarbonCoalition(NICC).NICCformedseveralyearsagofromapartnership with the Indian Land Tenure Foundation and the Intertribal Agriculture Council. The organization provides education, training and technical assistance to tribes and Indian landowners who are interested in entering the carbon credit market. NICC also assists tribes and landowners with baseline assessments of their reservation carbon assets and helps to identify resources and potential partner- What are you observing in the Ceded Territories? Ozhibii’an ezhiwebak noopiming. ***Please record the date, location, and species (if applicable) for each observation. Return to GLIFWC by June 30, 2018. Miigwech! Climate change and carbon credits (see Carbon credits, page 22) & MAZINA’IGAN PAGE 16 WINTER 2017/2018 • CLIMATE CHANGE •