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Lifestyle-block owners claim carbon credits with help of NZ tech firm

If people could earn carbon credits for every tree they had growing in their backyard, they might currently be entitled to a dollar or two per year for each tree.

But as it is, land-owners need to have a hectare of land to benefit from farming carbon credits under current legislation, which is designed to make the issuance of carbon credits manageable.

Even then, it has been difficult in practice for individuals, including those who own lifestyle blocks, to claim credits for reforesting such small blocks of land.

That is changing though, thanks to Nelson-based start-up CarbonCrop which is aiming to build a global niche in taking the hassle out of claiming credits on blocks of land as small as one hectare.

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When Ron, a retired motelier who wanted to be identified only by his first name, decided to buy a 7 hectare block of land between Kaeo and Mangōnui in Northland in 2015 to live on and permanently reforest, he found earning and selling carbon credits was something of a big boys’ game.

He wanted to reforest the hillside property, which was mostly grass but had a small patch of native bush, to make a permanent contribution to the environment.
“I’m very comfortable leaving it, not as a legacy, but knowing it will become a small pocket of bush over time.”

He started off by planting manuka and since then has had success with natives including matai, kowhai and pigeonwood.

“It can be a little bit of hard work obviously and sometimes I get frustrated because trees take a little while to grow, but it is very rewarding.

“What I’d like to do is put a covenant on it. We’re probably looking at about 500 years before it really turns into proper forest.”

For him, the possibility of earning carbon credits was just a bonus.

“I couldn’t find out anything about carbon credits really. It is very difficult to get anything sensible out of the Government websites.”

But he is expecting his first annual receipt of carbon credits worth about $2000 in the next few weeks, after getting CarbonCrop to deal with the red tape and then set him up with a carbon-credit account.

“I got in touch with CarbonCrop to get set up and they did everything from that point.”
Overall, he expects the reforested land will earn a total of about $136,000 in credits.
“It goes up progressively, peaks and then starts to decline.”

Ron has now also found a business, Transpower subsidiary EmsTradePoint, through which he expects to be able to sell the credits once they do start to flow.

“If you’re a large company, then it’s no problem trading credits, but for an individual it’s very difficult,” he says.

EmsTradePoint was the only option he could find that allowed it.

CarbonCrop co-founder Nick Butcher says it found there were a lot of people who were put off by the application process for carbon credits, which is complicated for some good reasons.
To earn credits, landowners need to electronically map the land to certain technical standards and get aerial imagery to prove that it was not forest some time between 1990 and 2008, he says.

The value of credits they receive and the length of time they will receive them will also depend on the species that is growing on the land, ranging from about $700 per hectare per year for up to about 100 years for slower-growing natives to about $1400 a hectare for faster-growing pines, he says.

When it comes to applying for credits, “a lot of it’s just knowing what you have to provide on form and the necessary supporting data”, Butcher says.

“Professional forestry companies have staff to do this, but for the typical landowner it usually just ends up in the ‘too hard basket’.”

Butcher says CarbonCrop uses artificial intelligence to pull together and if necessary “de-blur” data from the likes of satellite images and aerial photographs, creating “a nice little data bundle that we can send to the regulator”.

“You can pull up an image from an old website, but the work required to actually turn that into something that meets the potential threshold for registration is quite significant.”

Applying for credits through a specialist forestry consultant is another option, but Butcher says some landowners are put off by non-refundable, upfront fees.

CarbonCrop charges a fee of 10 per cent of carbon credits earned on blocks up to 50 hectares, with volume reductions after that, and no charge if applications are unsuccessful.

Butcher is most interested in encouraging the planting of native bush.

“If you retire marginal farmland and return it to high-biodiversity, native bush I think that’s worth doing.

“I don’t like the fact that the carbon price is driving mass, exotic forestation which may not be what we want as a nation.”

But as a business, CarbonCrop is switching up a gear to a faster growth path itself.

The company, which employs 20 staff, has appointed former Timely chief revenue officer and Xero marketing manager Jo Blundell as its chief executive.

Timely is a Wellington cloud software firm that was sold for more than $100 million last year.
CarbonCrop has also just raised $1.9 million in its second seed funding round.

Investors in the business include The Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 fund and government grants agency Callaghan Innovation.

The New Zealand market, where CarbonCrop has more than 1000 hectares of forest registered or in train to earn credits, is growing fast.

Butcher says about $400m-worth of carbon credits are issued to foresters each year.
About another $1b of entitlements to credits from forest growth for the five years between 2018 and 2022 will expire at the end of this year if landowners don’t put their skates on and register claims, he says.

He wants CarbonCrop to also become an international company and help drive forest restoration globally, with its next move likely to be into a country in South-East Asia or South America.

“If it is not one of those two I’d be surprised.”

Encouraging tree-planting by making carbon credits easier to claim is not a silver bullet for tackling climate change, but can make a worthwhile contribution, Butcher believes.

“We need to suck 10 gigatons of carbon out of the atmosphere. Best case scenario, you might do one or two with forestry.

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FAA investigating contact between 2 United airplanes on Boston Logan tarmac

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a Monday incident between two United Airlines flights at Boston Logan International Airport, the agency said in a statement to CNN.

“As a tow tug was pushing it back from the gate at Boston Logan International Airport, the right wing of United Airlines Flight 515 struck the tail of United Airlines Flight 267 around 8:30 a.m. local time this morning,” the FAA statement said.

“Both aircraft were Boeing 737s that were scheduled for departure,” the statement added.

has reached out to United Airlines and Massport for more information about the incident.

A sudden jolt’
Passenger Nicholas Leone took a photo after the incident and described to CNN what happened.

“I felt a sudden jolt and look to my right to see that the plane had crashed into the still plane, ” he said. “After seeing the fire trucks and police cars, people were a little rattled. Thankfully everyone was able to offboard quickly.”

Passengers said the incident was a little jarring, according to CNN affiliate WHDH in Boston.

“It was just a pretty big shake,” said passenger Martin Neusch. “While we were on the plane, it just clipped the wings, so the two wings clipped each other on the plane.”

The station said passengers on both planes were rebooked on other flights set for Monday afternoon.

The contact between two aircraft on Monday morning follows a string of five close-call incidents earlier this year, including one at Boston Logan last week.

Air traffic controllers stopped a departing private jet from running into a JetBlue flight as it was coming in to land at Logan last Monday night, according to the FAA.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating that incident.

The two planes involved came within 565 feet (172 meters) of colliding, according to Flightradar24’s preliminary review of its data.

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The NTSB is also investigating four other runway incursions involving commercial airliners at major US airports this year.

It’s investigating a possible “runway incursion” in Burbank, California, involving Mesa and SkyWest regional airliners.

Three other incidents have occurred at Honolulu, Austin and New York’s JFK airport this year.

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Flambéed pizza thought to have sparked deadly Madrid restaurant fire

A fire believed to have been started by a flambéed pizza has killed two people and injured 12 others at a restaurant in the Spanish capital Madrid, city officials said Saturday.

“It appears the fire started when a flambéed pizza was being served, which set fire to the decorations in the restaurant,” Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida told Spain’s state television TVE at the scene on Saturday, hours after the late Friday night blaze.

Spanish media reported that a specialty of the restaurant was a pizza in the flambé style – a cooking procedure where spirits are poured on the food and briefly set alight.

“Firefighters told me it was a ferocious fire in the way it started and the smoke it generated, and if the fire station wasn’t just 100 meters (around 330 feet) away, the number of fatalities could have been higher,” said Almeida, speaking to TVE.

Carlos Marin, a Madrid fire department night supervisor, said the restaurant “had just one exit, and since the fire was very close to the door, people went back to the rear of the restaurant, and they were completely trapped,” in videos tweeted by Madrid city emergency services.

The fire was quickly extinguished. Firefighters pulled 12 injured people from the restaurant, and six were taken to a hospital. That was in addition to the two fatalities, said Montse Marcos, a supervisor with the Madrid city ambulance services.

The fire was in the Plaza de Manuel Becerra, on the edge of the Spanish capital’s upscale Salamanca neighborhood.

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As Ukraine prepares counteroffensive, Russia appears in disarray

Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive appears imminent – and the way each side is preparing speaks volumes about their readiness.

Kyiv’s front lines are abuzz with vehicle movement and artillery strikes, with regular explosions hitting vital Russian targets in occupied areas.

Its defense minister has said preparations are “coming to an end” and President Volodymyr Zelensky has assured a counteroffensive “will happen,” while demurring on any exact start date.

It may have already started; it may be weeks away. We don’t know – and that fact is a strong measure of Ukraine’s success as this begins.

Moscow, on the other hand, is in the closing-time bar brawl stage of their war. After losing Kharkiv and Kherson, they have had at least seven months to ready the next likely target of Ukrainian attack: Zaporizhzhia.

That has happened, with vast trench defense networks that can be seen from space. That recognition of their enormity is not necessarily a compliment in 2023. They are big, yes, but they are also something anyone can peruse on Google. That’s not great in an era of precise rockets and speedy armored advances.

But it’s the last 72 hours that have perhaps most betrayed Russia’s lacking readiness.

First, the apparent firing of the deputy defense minister in charge of logistics, Mikhail Mizintsev. The Russian Ministry of Defense has not spelled out his dismissal, merely issuing a decree that Aleksey Kuzmenkov now has his job.

(A caveat: Prigozhin is not the most trustworthy source, and provides little evidence for what he says. But this sort of public spat isn’t something Moscow would encourage at this sensitive moment).

Russia’s eroding ammunition supplies were long known, but to suggest imminent failure just ahead of the counteroffensive smacks of a major bid to shift blame.

The bottom line is, the hours before Ukraine moves are shrinking. The amount we know about their emotional state, or target, is almost zero. And the extent of Moscow’s internal indecision, rivalries and disunity only grows.

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