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Carbon Assessment Project Picked Up by United Nations

Posted By: Kyle Mulder    Published: Thursday, 26 Apr 2012

An MSU-led project focusing on carbon assessment in Asia and Africa was integrated into the U.N. Environmental Programme’s Carbon Benefits Project this year.

“This is funding our carbon-to-markets model,” says David Skole, professor of global change science in the department of forestry and leader of the project.

“The MSU carbon-to-markets model is a system for assigning values to the terrestrial carbon sequestration abilities of diverse landscapes around the world,” he says. Conceived by Skole and his colleagues at MSU two years ago, the project was initially funded by the Global Environment Facility, which joins 178 nations with international agencies and institutions to fund sustainable development initiatives.

Earlier this year, Skole’s team was selected to partner in a $5 million cooperative with the World Wildlife Fund to develop systems that measure, monitor and manage carbon around the world.

In May, the project became part of the $12 million Carbon Benefits Project led by the United Nations Environment Programme, focusing on measuring carbon sequestration in Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and China.

Leading a team of forestry and engineering researchers from MSU, in collaboration with researchers from Colorado State University, the World Agroforestry Center in Kenya and the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia (among others), Skole hopes to create a model that development programs worldwide could adopt to assess their carbon footprint.

The MSU team hopes to eventually make it as easy to measure carbon being sequestered by any given landscape as it is to measure carbon emissions from a factory or car. This would allow smallholders around the world to participate in carbon sequestration programs.

“When it comes to land-based carbon sequestration, there is a lot of uncertainty and uneasiness in the market,” Skole says, and that’s what he hopes to combat.

Currently, MSU researchers are monitoring carbon levels in landscapes near remote villages in Kenya, Senegal, Laos and Thailand.

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