This page last reviewed September 9, 2019

California Tropical Forest Standard


Recognizing that addressing climate change requires a comprehensive look at the causes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32; Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006) directed the California Air Resources Board (CARB or Board) to consult with the federal government and other jurisdictions to identify the most effective strategies and methods to reduce GHGs, manage GHG control programs, and to facilitate the development of integrated and cost-effective regional, national, and international GHG reduction programs.  CARB began assessing emerging international mitigation actions as it developed the AB 32 Climate Change Scoping Plan in 2008.  One of the most studied sectors within which mitigation actions have been proposed internationally has been tropical forests.

Emissions from the deforestation and degradation of tropical forests accounts for an estimated 11-14% of all global CO2 emissions.  Given the scale of GHG emissions from tropical deforestation, robust climate efforts must include mechanisms to reduce these emissions.

CARB will conduct a public meeting as specified in the July 2019 Public Notice, included below, to consider the endorsement of a California Tropical Forest Standard.  This item is not proposing any regulatory action.

Additional Information

The California Tropical Forest Standard (Standard) was originally released in September 2018 for a November 16, 2018 Board hearing.  No action was taken on the Standard at the November 16, 2018 Board hearing.  Following the Board hearing, CARB continued to assess issues raised by stakeholders and received additional input from members of the Assembly.  Based on consideration of these issues and input, CARB has updated the Standard for Board consideration at the September 19, 2019 Board hearing.  The updates serve to strengthen, bolster, and clarify provisions of the Standard to further address stakeholder comments.  The Standard provides a strong signal to value the preservation of tropical forests over continued destructive activities such as oil exploration and extraction, and ensures rigorous social and environmental safeguards for indigenous peoples and local communities.

The Standard specifies criteria to assess jurisdictional sector-based offset crediting programs that reduce emissions from tropical deforestation for immediate use by jurisdictions across the globe that are taking action to reduce GHG emissions from tropical deforestation.  Much the same as other California international leadership initiatives (such as the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy), this jurisdictional approach to tropical forest programs is anticipated to serve as a robust, replicable model for other GHG emissions mitigation programs such as the International Civil Aviation Organization's Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation and other emerging programs.

The Standard would also leverage nearly a decade of work of the California-founded Governors' Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force and build on Under 2 MOU commitments.  The Standard expands upon existing norms and requirements from the United Nations and other international bodies such as the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, previous staff work evaluating expert recommendations and public input, voluntary carbon market tools and efforts, and GCF Task Force member programs.  In brief, the Standard establishes minimum criteria jurisdictions should consider including in a sector-based crediting program to be assessed by emissions trading systems and other programs seeking to use the Standard.

The proposed Standard would not result in any linkage with any jurisdiction, nor would it allow any tropical forest offsets into the California Cap-and-Trade Program.


September 9, 2019

July 30, 2019

November 9, 2018

September 2018

Written Comment Period and Submittal of Comments

PLEASE BE ADVISED that the current public comment period for this item began July 30, 2019, and comments must be received no later than August 29, 2019.  The original public comment period was from September 14, 2018 through October 29, 2018.

Further inquiries regarding this matter should be directed to Jason Gray, Branch Chief, Climate Change Program Evaluation Branch, at (916) 324-3507 or (designated back-up contact) Greg Mayeur, Manager, Program Operation Section, at (916) 324-8031.

Climate Change