California issues 2.2 million offset credits

California issued 2.2 million carbon offset credits on Wednesday, the majority of which were for a forest protection effort, the largest single project registered for the cap-and-trade program.

The Forestland Group, a forest management company, and Blue Source, an offset project developer, were behind the project, which covers 220,000 acres (89,000 hectares) of land in Michigan.

California’s program allows businesses to surrender offsets to meet 8 per cent of their compliance obligation. In November, businesses will for the first time hand in emissions permits and offset credits to the state to cover their output in 2013.

Wednesday’s issuance brings the total number of credits registered by the state to nearly 11 million since the cap-and-trade program launched a year and a half ago.

Earlier this month, the California Air Resources Board, which polices the program, froze 4.3 million credits while investigates whether violations at an incinerator in Arkansas interfered with the integrity of some credits. The investigation is expected to take about two months.

The California program allows offset credits derived from various forest protection efforts, livestock methane destruction, and the incineration of heat-trapping ozone-depleting substances to count for compliance with the program. It is expected to begin recognizing projects that reduce methane emissions from rice farming next year.