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FACTBOX-U.S. climate bill backs carbon offsets

(Updates with details)

May 13 (Reuters) - A compromise U.S. climate bill unveiled on Wednesday would allow polluters to offset up to 2 billion tons of their carbon dioxide emissions, under a proposed emissions trading scheme.

The bill, called the American Power Act, would allow project developers to sell emissions cuts from forests, peat lands and farms as carbon offsets to polluters. It also supports a fight against deforestation in developing countries. [ID:nN12244039]

The allocation comprised up to 1.5 billion tons of offsets from domestic, U.S. projects, and the rest from overseas.

The bill backed a U.N. scheme called reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) that could usher in a global trade in carbon offsets from forest preservation.

Key qualifying criteria for domestic offset projects:

-- Fugitive methane emissions from coal mines, landfills, and oil and gas distribution facilities; agricultural, grassland, and rangeland sequestration and management practices; and changes in carbon stocks attributed to land use change and forestry activities.

Key qualifying criteria for international offsets:

-- Sector-based, credits issued by an international body, or those from reduced deforestation.

-- Prohibits offset credits from projects based on the destruction of hydrofluorocarbons.

Aid to curb deforestation in developing countries:

-- an assistance programme to drive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in poor nations

-- programme to achieve emissions reductions of at least 720 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent in 2020, a cumulative amount of at least six billion tons of CO2 equivalent by end-2025, and additional subsequent cuts

-- aim to help poorer nations build the capacity to reduce deforestation at a national level. Steps to prevent forest clearance that might simply be pushed into another location is another focus.

-- projects should improve the livelihoods of forest communities, maintain natural biodiversity and carbon storage capacity of forests, promote native forests and ecosystems and give due regard to the rights of indigenous peoples.

-- a national deforestation baseline must take into account the average annual historical deforestation rates of the country during a period of at least 5 years (Reporting by David Fogarty, Nina Chestney and Gerard Wynn; editing by James Jukwey)