Dallas to Consider Selling Carbon Credits

The city of Dallas is considering selling carbon credits, according to a story from The Dallas Morning News published on August 1.

The proposed credits would be generated through both planting and preserving trees in the Great Trinity Forest, a 6,000-acre forest located southeast of the city’s downtown core. Both citizens and businesses would be able to purchase the carbon credits. Arun Agarwal, president of the Dallas’ Park and Recreation board told the paper that credit sales could generate between $20-$25 million over 40 years.

There was no information given on how many trees would be planted or how many acres of forest would be preserved under the proposed plan. 

John Jenkins, the director of the city’s Park and Recreation department, said the idea is still in its early stages and that the department’s board members will receive a briefing of its pros and cons by October.

Tony Shidid, chairman of the city’s planning commission, presented the idea as a win-win to The Dallas Morning News.

“It’s a scenario where nobody loses,” Shidid said. “The Great Trinity Forest gets protected and the city of Dallas monetizes it in a way that it can finance other projects in the parks department.”

The Rise of Urban Carbon Credits

Typically, nature-based carbon credits are generated through large-scale tree-planting or preservation projects in massive forests, like the Amazon rainforest. However, in the United States, there is a movement to generate nature-based carbon credits in cities and densely populated urban areas.

The first sale of such credits in the U.S. occurred this year and generated $1 million, per an Axios story from April 4. The credits were sold as a bundle, with 31,533 in total changing hands for an average value of $31.71 per credit. 

For reference, the average price for a nature-based carbon credit on the Verra registry—the premier standard-setter and registry—was $7.34 on August 2 according to CarbonCredits.com, a carbon credit news and pricing site. Doug McPherson of Otium Business Consulting, which represented the cities in the sale, said in a press release announcing the sale that the high cost per credit came down to the “immense value of our city forests.”

The credits came from 13 different projects located in Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Boise, Chattanooga, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Richmond were a few of the cities where projects took place. 

The credits were certified by City Forest Credits (CFC), a nonprofit headquartered in Seattle that also operates an urban nature-based carbon credit registry. The credits themselves were sold to Regen Network, a blockchain company that tokenizes carbon credits.

Rather than focusing solely on sucking CO2 out of the air, CFC also makes it a point to emphasize and quantify the benefits that planting trees in urban areas creates. Bloomberg covered the nonprofit in 2018 and detailed a few of its pilot projects from that time. 

This included working with the city of Austin, Texas, to reforest land along a local creek and plant trees at a local park to provide shade to citizens. Planting trees near running water sources helps keep pollutants out of them during heavy rains, with the trees also serving as a buffer against erosion. According to CFC, the yearly value of the city of Austin’s tree-planting project is $4,900, a figure that includes savings from reduced electricity and natural gas consumption and the associated CO2 emissions avoided by the reduced energy use.

CFC also worked with officials in King County, Washington, to preserve 1,500 acres of unprotected tree canopies in and adjacent to urban communities. While the city of Austin purchased the credits its pilot project generated to offset its emissions, King County’s credits were part of the recently completed deal with the Regen Network according to a June 3 story in the Seattle Times. The outlet noted that the credits were generated by a 46-acre forest parcel in Issaquah, a city of 40,000 people that’s around a 20-minute drive from Seattle.

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