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Why the U.S. Expo Pavilion Should Be Congratulated

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Whilst we were interested to read Bob Jacobson's article ("Privatizing Public Diplomacy: Clinton's Shanghai Expo Sustainability Pledge Goes Awry", 28 Sept), we would like to clarify several major factual inaccuracies in the report, highlight the rigorous, thorough and transparent technical process through which projects are subjected in order to become Gold Standard certified, and point out that the Gold Standard, as the article suggests, is in no way connected to the Voluntary Carbon Standard.

Mr. Jacobson writes that two of the three Gold Standard Projects that the US Pavilion has invested in to offset its emissions are "slow-motion ecological trainwrecks" a highly emotive and inaccurate claim. Contrary to his claim, the Jiangsu Landfill Gas Recovery Project will not "produce CO2 plenty" but convert methane (a greenhouse gas twenty-one times more intensive in its global warming impact than carbon dioxide) from landfill waste to CO2, while generating, on average, almost 24-thousand MWh of electricity a year. This power will replace an equivalent amount of electricity that would have been generated by coal from the East China Power Grid. The expected average annual emissions reductions are about the equivalent of 117-thousand tones of CO2 during the first crediting period and, due to the conservative approach of the Gold Standard, additional emissions reductions from steam generation are not counted. More than fifty jobs were created during the construction period and there are another twenty operational positions to be filled on an ongoing basis.

Mr. Jacobson seems to link the Gansu Hydroelectric Power Project to "dam building and deforestation" which has caused disasters such as landslides. In fact, the project is a run of the river plant with no dam in sight and an annual injection of around 5-thousand MWh of electricity generation into the Northwest China Power Grid. It contributes to the alleviation of power shortages by contributing to a more stable power supply, promotes the local economy and improves the livelihood of the locals by creating 14 permanent jobs and by improving the access to energy services for residents.

The Gansu Wind Project is a 100 megawatt wind farm -- 100 times smaller than the 10 gigawatts Mr Jacobson suggests -- to generate renewable electricity to meet the ever-increasing demand in the Gansu and Northwest China Grids. Far from being developed at the "expense of the local economy and population" it is contributing to sustainable development through the supply of zero-emitting renewable energy; saving coal and water resources and improving the local energy infrastructure; providing 26 local jobs; donating money to the local "Hope School"; and decreasing emissions from fossil-fuel fired power stations, particularly nitrogen and sulfur oxides and dust.

Contrary to Mr. Jacobson's article the Gold Standard Foundation is not a private firm administering a carbon sale and trading scheme. In 2004 an alliance of large non-governmental organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), established the Gold Standard Foundation to define a "high quality" offset in a market awash with illusory emissions reductions. WWF, along with sixty-five other NGOs, remains a primary supporter of The Gold Standard. The Gold Standard project cycle is the most technically rigorous project cycle in the carbon market, requiring third-party checks and audits at several points before credit issuance. Each project in the Gold Standard's 500+ project pipeline must undergo scrutiny before it can be registered. Instrumental to this certification process is the Gold Standard Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which is an independent body composed of market specialists, including engineers, policymakers and lawyers. The expertise and guidance of the TAC has significantly contributed to the credibility of the Gold Standard as it stands today. In purchasing carbon offsets from these high quality projects, the United States has joined other governments in recognizing the Gold Standard for its excellence in certification.

Our buyers and supporters include: the United Nations Foundation; Governments of the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany; the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), which represents multiple European governments; and Fortune 500 companies, such as Virgin Atlantic and Newscorp. As climate change is a global issue, surely quality, not geography must be a primary consideration in determining which emissions reduction projects to support. The Gold Standard Foundation congratulates the United States Pavilion in recognizing this criteria and purchasing its offsets accordingly.