• The American Lawyer Lauds Dentons Climate Change Work
  • February 18, 2015 | Author: Alex G. MacWilliam
  • Law Firm: Dentons Canada LLP - Calgary Office
  • The American Lawyer presented Dentons with its highest honor, the Global Citizenship Award - Grand Prize 2014 at its Global Legal Awards gala held on September 15, 2014 in New York City. The award recognizes the Firm's exceptional cross-border legal work to help the nation of Cambodia monetize sustainable environmental practices. The Firm's pro bono involvement in the matter created a simplified contracting approach to help sales of Cambodia's first Reduced Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project after years of development, allowing for access to private capital. The Firm also won the Global Pro Bono Deal of the Year (Environmental) award for the project.

    With the assistance of local counsel, a pro bono Dentons team led by Chicago Climate Change partner Jeff Fort advised the Forestry Administration of the Royal Government of Cambodia on an avoided deforestation project for the northwestern province of Oddar Meanchy. Specifically, the Firm negotiated for the Emission Reduction Purchase Agreement (ERPA) between the Forestry Administration and Terra Global Capital (TGC), a carbon development and trading firm. This ERPA, executed in late 2013, facilitates the sale of carbon credits essential to funding the project based on REDD protocols and delivering high impact emission reductions.

    REDD protocols use market and financial incentives to reduce greenhouse gases that result from deforestation. Degradation and deforestation are a significant source of carbon dioxide globally, exceeding the entire amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the entire transportation sector. Its implementation is supported by a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which helps developing countries design and execute national programs based on these mechanisms.

    The REDD+ protocols take this concept a step further, focusing on enhancing carbon stocks and concentrating investments in local communities of indigenous peoples within the forest areas in need of protection. The need for reductions far exceed governmental funds, and the verification steps taken to create the REDD carbon credits prove that the reductions are real and open those projects to private capital.

    Over the course of the Oddar Meanchy project's 30-year lifespan, a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of approximately 7.1 million metric tons will be achieved, generating a significant potential income stream for the 58 villages and 13 community forestry groups who are involved in protecting the Oddar Meanchy’s forest land. The continuation of the project depends on the further sales of these verified carbon credits.

    Jeff successfully navigated the project’s unique complexities by leveraging his specialized experience with REDD protocols on projects in Brazil, Kenya, Malawi and the US in order to close the ERPA between the Cambodian Forestry Administration and TGC. The agreement sets the terms for TGC’s obligations as the Exclusive Sales Agent of the carbon credits generated from the Oddar Meanchey REDD+ project. In addition to the complex legal work involved in carbon credit protocol creation, Dentons lawyers also engaged extensively with government leaders and local partners to ensure understanding of the ERPA terms.

    The project is one of the world’s first community-based REDD+ initiatives, and is also the first to complete verification of emission reductions under the Verified Carbon Standard, while delivering the highest community, biodiversity, and adaptation impact benefits, as well as robust accounting for emission reductions. Using the conduit structure created by Dentons lawyers, the project continues to generate credits and has a substantial supply immediately available for purchase.