Should Maine Sell Carbon Credits for Weatherization?

The State of Maine has an ambitious goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. To meet this objective, Maine has engaged in several efforts, most notably participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the first mandatory cap-and-trade system in the US. As of July 2010, the state has generated approximately $20.4 million from the sale of 7.9 Million RGGI allowances.

But efforts do not stop there. Maine has long been a proponent for weatherization as a strategy for energy savings and the state received $41.9 million from the Recovery Act to supplement its weatherization programs. Since April of this year the state has weatherized over 1,500 homes.

In an unprecedented move, the state hopes to sell carbon credits from greenhouse gas reductions achieved through these weatherization initiatives. Revenues from the sale of credits would then be reinvested to further energy reduction programs. As reported by Environmental Leader, the Maine State Housing Authority believes it can potentially sell 8,000 credits in per year.

However, the weatherization project must first be approved by The Voluntary Carbon Standard Association. In 2005, VCS was founded by The Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The intention of the organization is to maintain a global standard for approval of voluntary offset programs. Final approval by the VCS for Maine’s weatherization proposal is pending.

Even if approved, questions linger as to whether or not the money earned will warrant the costs associated. If the program can only sell 8,000 credits per year at current RGGI rates, is it worth it? The state will also have to determine which carbon markets will buy these credits.

The folks in Maine remain optimistic. They have excellent plans to weatherize all homes in the states, as well as half the businesses, by 2030, and they intend to use the funds generated by the sell of carbon, no matter how small, to help reach this goal. Time will tell if the plan meets with approval and success, but rest assured the world is watching. If Maine succeeds in selling carbon from weatherization, no doubt other states will soon follow.

Leslie is a Sustainable MBA student at Green Mountain College. Study interests include sustainability, social responsibility and the power of corporate and non-profit partnerships to bring about positive change. Other areas of interest include social media, fundraising and public policy. She holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and is certified in the Global Reporting initiative for Sustainability Reporting. Additionally, she holds an MA in Organizational Management and a BS in Leisure Management. On the rare occasions when she is not studying, she enjoys writing, reading, running, nature walks and yoga. She hopes to use her skills, talents and education to make a positive impact with an environmentally and socially conscious organization. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

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