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Carbon Offset and Value Opportunities for Airports 17 Safety regulations prevent airports from placing new landfills on airport grounds, limiting proj- ects in this offset project category to airports with existing landfills. Composting Organic Waste--Aerobic composting operations are recognized by some offset standard bodies and represent a potential offset project type for airport sponsors. Research has shown that in most landfill gas collection systems, for rapidly decaying organic waste such as food, a greater proportion of the methane will go un-captured in comparison to slower degrad- ing waste. By diverting rapidly degrading food waste to aerobic composting operations and away from landfills, airport sponsors can avoid large amounts of methane emissions. Wastewater Treatment--Wastewater from domestic and industrial sources is treated at wastewater facilities to remove certain organic and chemical matters. These processes produce and release methane. Some offset standard bodies are beginning to develop protocols for cap- turing and destroying methane from wastewater facilities. There are other methane capture and destruction offset project types that likely have less ap- plicability to airports. Most of the leading United Statesbased offset standard bodies allow methane destruction for coal mining to qualify for offset credit origination. Farmers and other managers of livestock often manage the waste produced from their livestock in tanks or ponds specifically designed for holding manure. These holding systems are often liquid-based systems that, with time and under anaerobic conditions, decompose and produce methane. Owners of manure management systems who install biogas control systems that capture and destroy the methane gas are often eligible for offset credits. 2.1.3 Land Use Changes Key Takeaways for Airports Forest land is a natural carbon sink. The protection or enhancement of forest lands are common forms of recognized offset projects. Although no offset forestry projects at airports in the United States have been developed to date, the Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in Mirabel, Canada, is participating in a forestry project. Airport participation in forestry projects is limited due to the safety concerns associated with attracting wildlife to or near airports. Forest land represents one of the largest natural carbon sinks on the planet. The maintenance, protection, and promotion of forestry is seen as a critical element in reducing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. Forests are complicated, constantly changing, integrated sys- tems of living organisms, in which carbon is continually absorbed and released by trees, soil, and other organic material. A 2009 study funded by the Royal Society and the Natural Environment Research Council showed that tropical forests absorb about 18% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere each year from burning fossil fuels (Lewis 2009). When forests or trees are disturbed by natural events like disease, pests, or fire, or when they are disturbed by manmade events such as harvests, the stored carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere. While new forests have the potential to absorb and store additional carbon dioxide, creating a net decrease in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, existing forests, if they are cut down, have the potential to release the carbon dioxide already stored resulting in a net increase in carbon

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18 The Carbon Market: A Primer for Airports dioxide in the atmosphere. For this reason, many offset standard bodies recognize both projects that create new forests, composed of tree and vegetation species that rapidly sequester carbon, and those that help ensure that existing forests remain in a form that continues to store carbon dioxide. Airports face a number of hurdles in participating in these types of forestry offset projects. First, many airports do not have the acreage to plant a large number of trees or to convert non-forest land into forest land. Secondly, and perhaps more restrictive, FAA has safety concerns with attract- ing wildlife to the airfield or even close to the airport. Trees provide habitats to wildlife and there- fore planting of any vegetation is carefully considered and often restricted by airport sponsors. For these reasons, airport participation in large forestry offset projects may be difficult, unless the land holdings of the airport were such that new forestry would not create any new safety concerns. Case Study 1 examines a proposed reforestation project at the Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in Mirabel, Canada. The airport was approached by a forestry offset credit project developer to plant approximately 96,000 trees, which are expected to sequester more than Case Study 1: Montreal-Mirabel International Airport, Mirabel, Canada The Montreal-Mirabel International Airport in Mirabel, Canada, is a non-hub air- port serving the needs of cargo carriers flying into and out of the province of Que- bec. The airport is located 34 miles northwest of downtown Montreal. In 2009 Mirabel handled about 100,000 tons of cargo. Aroports de Montral (ADM), a not-for-profit corporation responsible for the man- agement, operation and development of Montreal-Mirabel Airport, was approached by CO2 Environnement (the developer) to partner in a tree plantation/reforestation project that will result in the generation of reforestation offset credits. Reforesta- tion offset credits are generated from projects that restore forests on land that was once forested. The developer specializes in reforestation by planting trees on land owned by its partners, which in this case is ADM. The reforestation project between ADM and the developer will begin when 96,000 saplings--jack pine, black spruce and white spruce, all of which are native to Quebec--are planted away from air- field activity between Montreal-Mirabel's east and west access roads, which con- nect the airport terminal building to the local highway. Over the lifetime of the project, the trees will create what is called a carbon sink where atmospheric CO2 is sequestered through the natural process of tree growth. By this carbon seques- tration, the developer will generate reforestation offset credits and sell them in the voluntary carbon market. The project is expected to begin in July 2011 and is the first example in North Amer- ica of an offset credit reforestation project at an airport. The developer estimates that 16,382 tonnes of CO2 will be sequestered over a crediting period of 50 years, accord- ing to the quantification methodology ISO 14064-2. The project will be verified by Skoven Inc., a third-party carbon verifier, according to ISO 14064-3. The 16,382 refor- estation offset credits will be issued to the developer when the trees are in the ground and Skoven Inc., has completed the verification audit. While the developer expects to sell the 16,382 offset credits on the voluntary market, ADM will not receive any finan- cial benefit from the sale of the voluntary credits. ADM is largely interested in the environmental and community benefits associated with the project--namely aiding in the reduction of greenhouse gases and improved air quality. There can be great dis-

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Carbon Offset and Value Opportunities for Airports 19 Case Study 1: (Continued). crepancy in what offset credits can be sold for. In the United States, a reforestation offset credit might sell between US$3 and $15 on the voluntary carbon market. Therefore, the developer could expect to take in a one-time revenue between US$49,146 and $245,730 (ForestTrend n.d.). All preparation, planting, and mainte- nance service costs, as well as quantification, verification, and certification fees, are borne by the developer. In the past, the developer has sold voluntary reforestation credits to paper mills, refineries, and financial institutions looking to retire the voluntary credits and claim the green benefit or resell the voluntary credits for profit. It is worth noting that while ADM can claim environmental goodwill by partnering with the devel- oper and hosting forest growth, ADM cannot claim the carbon reduction--this goes to the end buyer of the voluntary credits. The 79-acre project site at Mirabel airport is well suited for a reforestation project. The area was unused before the project and met reforestation project standards, and future tree growth will not conflict with airport operations. In order for the credits to be certified by CarbonFix, a leading carbon standards body for reforestation proj- ects which is certifying the credits, ADM and the developer must state that neither the trees nor the project land is intended to be developed in the foreseeable future. However, in the event that ADM must remove some of the trees or a percentage of the trees die prematurely, surplus offset credits built into CarbonFix's portfolio of projects--required by the ISO 14064-2--will cover any reduction at the Mirabel site. For an airport in the United States looking to host a reforestation project, there are many eligibility preconditions the project must meet. As well as meeting the eligi- bility preconditions, U.S. airports looking to host a reforestation project might not be permitted if it has accepted federal airport grants because these airports are regulated by federal statutes, policies, and Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant assurances. The following issues might create challenges: Both federal law and the grant assurances strictly limit the use of airport revenue for non-airport purposes. "Airport revenue" is defined broadly and includes, by way of analogy, proceeds from timber sales, mineral extractions, and agricultural use on airport property, which is similar to this situation. Therefore, the airport might need to be compensated by the developer for the sale of the offset cred- its, minus the cost to the developer to generate the sale proceeds. Airports are not permitted to donate land for "goodwill" purposes, not even to their parent city, county, or state owner. Airport owners must charge a minimum of fair market value to lease property for non-aeronautical use, with the excep- tion that subsidies may be offered in certain circumstances such as for community purposes to maintain positive airport-community relations, subject to restrictions. In the case of this tree plantation project, ADM is neither donating land nor leas- ing land to the developer. The project land will remain owned by the government even though the developer will plant trees and generate offset credits. Provided U.S. airports can successfully navigate federal statues and policies, there exists wide potential for non-revenue and revenue earning reforestation projects on airport property that do not interfere with airport operations.