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Green Cities Accord June 2024 Newsletter

City of Saint Paul Joins Twin Cities Urban Tree Carbon Offset Program in Collaboration with Green Cities Accord

On May 8, the Saint Paul City Council unanimously approved participation in Green Cities Accord’s urban tree carbon offset program. The program is designed to increase funding for Twin Cities municipalities to support and sustain urban forestry initiatives, leveraging the capability of trees to combat the impacts of climate change and enhance the livability of urban communities. The City of St. Paul joins Hennepin County and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as participants in the program.

“By partnering with Green Cities Accord, the tree planting that we are already doing will help pay for additional tree planting and maintenance,” said Russ Stark, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Saint Paul. “This is a win-win for our community and helps us further develop our urban tree canopy, which has incredible benefits for public health and will better support our efforts to address climate change.”

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Announcing Our Third Urban Tree Carbon Offset Project in Partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Green Cities Accord is excited to announce our third urban tree carbon offset project in partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). The success of our initial pilot project in 2022 paved the way for Green Cities Accord and the MPRB to pursue annual urban tree carbon offset projects, and the approval of this 3rd project reflects our commitment to expand the protection of newly planted trees and provide new funding to plant and maintain additional trees across Minneapolis.

The funds generated from the sale of the carbon offsets sales have bolstered the MPRB’s forestry budget, ensuring the continuity of tree planting and maintenance efforts. To date, Green Cities Accord has provided over $100,000 in carbon offset sales proceeds to the MPRB.

In addition to our carbon offset projects, Green Cities Accord has secured significant funding to support MPRB’s forestry budget. We successfully advocated for $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that were entirely allocated to the MPRB, enabling the planting of thousands of additional trees across Minneapolis in 2023 and 2024.

We are also excited to share that through the Green Cities Accord, the Minnesota Vikings have donated $10,000 to the MPRB to plant trees. This generous donation was celebrated at this year’s Arbor Day event, where Vikings legend Justice Alan Page participated in a ceremonial tree planting to mark the occasion.


Hennepin County and Minnesota Department of Transportation Agreement Expands Urban Forest

Over the last year, Green Cities Accord has fostered a relationship between Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to explore opportunities for Hennepin County to plant and maintain trees on MnDOT right-of-way lands in the County. In May, MnDOT and Hennepin County signed a multiyear agreement that streamlines the process for Hennepin County to plant and maintain trees on MnDOT land. Beginning with a pilot tree planting project in 2024, the agreement envisions Hennepin County planting and maintaining thousands of additional trees on MnDOT right-of-way in the coming years.

The agreement addresses the need for more tree canopy along freeways to reduce heat islands and particulate air pollution. The agreement also helps solve Hennepin County’s need for more places to plant trees across the County. In addition, Hennepin County intends to enroll trees planted under this agreement in a future urban tree carbon offset project in partnership with Green Cities Accord, which would ensure that the trees are protected and maintained for a minimum of 25 years and providing additional funding for more tree planting in the County.

This year’s pilot project under the agreement includes 160 trees planted across seven sites along the Interstate 94 corridor, targeting the North Minneapolis neighborhoods of McKinley, Webber-Camden, and Near North, and will be carried out during the spring and fall of 2024. The next planting under this agreement is currently being defined and is slated to begin in the spring of 2025.

“Hennepin County is committed to expanding urban tree canopy to address the worst effects of climate change on County residents. Our partnership with MnDOT to plant trees on MnDOT right-of-ways expands the County’s capacity to plant trees to sequester carbon, mitigate urban heat islands and reduce air pollution along freeways and highways,” said Hennepin County Environment and Energy’s Assistant Director, John Evans.

Green Cities Accord is excited by the possibilities for this collaboration model to expand the Twin Cities’ urban tree canopy along our community’s freeways and highways, and is advocating for other metro area counties to explore similar partnerships with MnDOT.

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Federal Government Unveils New Guidelines to Enhance Integrity of Carbon Offsets

The Biden administration has introduced a set of federal guidelines to bolster confidence in carbon offsets, a tool for combating climate change. These guidelines aim to ensure that carbon offsets are effective and reliable in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The guidelines define “high-integrity” offsets as those providing real, additional, and quantifiable emissions reductions.
  • Businesses are urged to prioritize reducing emissions within their own supply chains before purchasing offsets.
  • The guidelines aim to support the growth of high-quality voluntary carbon markets.
  • Voluntary carbon markets are viewed as essential for mobilizing private capital to fight climate change.


“Voluntary carbon markets can help unlock the power of private markets to reduce emissions, but that can only happen if we address significant existing challenges,” said Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen.

The new federal guidelines for carbon offsets represent a significant step toward improving the integrity and effectiveness of carbon offsetting as a climate tool. By addressing key criticisms and establishing robust standards, these guidelines aim to enhance the credibility and impact of carbon offsets, ultimately contributing to more effective climate action.

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The Science Behind City Forest Credits’ Urban Tree Carbon Standard

Trees are nature’s own carbon capture technology. But how do we measure that carbon capture? And how do we quantify the co-benefits of urban trees, like rainfall interception, air pollution reductions, and energy savings?
City Forest Credits (CFC) emerged as a pioneer in addressing these questions. Their groundbreaking work established a methodology for calculating and verifying the benefits of urban trees, culminating in the first and only urban tree carbon offset standard to earn a prestigious International Carbon Reduction and Offset Accreditation (ICROA) endorsement.
As a leading nonprofit carbon registry, CFC has issued offsets for more than 55 carbon offset projects, facilitating the planting of nearly 300,000 trees and the preservation of 2,000 acres of woodland. These efforts have successfully secured over 400,000 metric tons of carbon.
In our latest blog post, discover how CFC uses sophisticated statistical modeling and extensive research to precisely quantify the contributions of urban trees. And learn why every Green Cities Accord project is registered through CFC, and how their scientifically rigorous carbon standard plays a crucial role in our Twin Cities Climate Resiliency Initiative.

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Green Cities Accord Launches New Website

We are excited to announce the launch of our new website for Green Cities Accord, formerly known as Green Minneapolis. This new website marks the last milestone in our evolution to Green Cities Accord, which has also included our new name and an updated mission and vision. Thank you to Neka Creative for the wonderful design!

We invite you to explore our new website to learn more about our initiatives and how you can get involved.

Your support continues to be crucial to our success as we work to protect and grow our urban tree canopy, enhancing the health and quality of life for all urban residents. We look forward to continuing our work together to grow climate resilient communities!

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