By Chris Lang
I’ve been on holiday, so this week’s REDD notes covers the last month. Follow @reddmonitor on Twitter for more links to news about forests, the climate crisis, natural climate solutions, the oil industry, greenwash, carbon offsetting, etc.
In 2020, fires in Brazil’s Amazon could be even more devastating than last year. In July 2020, Greenpeace flew over the state of Mato Grosso. The photographs Greenpeace took show how ineffective the government’s ban on forest fires has been.
With more than 4,000 hotspots, Mato Grosso has the highest number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon so far this year. Greenpeace states that,
To properly protect the forest and its Peoples, the Brazilian government must properly fund environmental agencies, reinforce environmental laws and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In July 2020, Nazir Foead, the head Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), told Channel News Asia that he is “very optimistic” there will be no fires this year in peatlands under BRG’s supervision. Indonesia’s meteorological, climatological, and geophysical agency (BMkG) predicts a wetter dry season this year.
There are about 2.6 million hectares of peatland in seven Indonesian provinces (Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and Papua). Of this total, about 1.7 million hectares are inside corporate concessions, and are the responsibility of palm oil, pulp and paper, and timber companies.
Foead’s BRG is responsible for 900,000 hectares of peatland on non-concession lands. Foead told Channel News Asia that 89% of the peatland on non-concession peatland had been restored by the end of 2019.
In July 2020, the Jakarta Post reported that BRG’s tenure will expire at the end of this year unless it is renewed. As part of a streamlining exercise, the government is considering whether BRG’s responsibilities could be taken over by other ministries, such as the National Disaster Mitigation Agency and the Agriculture Ministry.
Apple is the latest tech company to announce that it is going “carbon neutral”. Apple has previously announced other climate targets, aimed for example at powering all its facilities with renewable energy.
Apple aims to cut 75% of its emissions within 10 years. The remaining 25% will be addressed by a “carbon solutions fund”. This is the offset part of the deal, which will invest in “the restoration and protection of forests and natural ecosystems globally”.
Apple will work in partnership with Conservation International, for example through the Chyulu Hills REDD+ project in Kenya.
Shell is buying Select Carbon, an Australian company that develops carbon farming projects. The deal is still pending regulatory approval. RenewEconomy reports Shell Australia as saying that this is the first global acquisition for the company’s “nature based solutions” business.
Shell has set a target of “net zero emissions” by 2050. Shell Australia chairman Tony Nunan told RenewEconomy that Shell aims to reduce “the emissions footprint of the energy the company sells to customers”, and to offset or capture emissions for industries “that are hard to switch to zero emissions alternatives”.
REDD-Monitor wrote about Shell’s US$300 million investment in natural climate solutions in April 2019:
Shell’s Nunan told RenewEconomy that,
“The scale of Australia’s rangelands, ecological diversity and integrity of intact primary forests make this market a natural choice for Shell’s first acquisition globally for our Nature-Based Solutions business and to further scale Shell’s investment in this area here in Australia.”
Select Carbon has set up more than 70 offset projects covering an area of 9 million hectares in Australia since it was founded in 2010.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic Tesla’s share price has gone up about five-fold. Tesla’s total value is now bigger than than Toyota, even though Toyota sells 25 times as many cars as Tesla.
In the first half of this year, Tesla sold fewer cars than the same period last year, and made less revenue. But Tesla sold US$428 million of carbon credits, cut costs, and made a US$104 million profit.
In May 2020, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO got a US$700 million bonus. With Tesla’s recent share price increase, Musk will get an additional US$2.1 billion. Musk owns 20% of Tesla. When Tesla’s share price goes up, Musk’s wealth goes up.
Last year, Fiat Chrysler “pooled” its more polluting cars with Tesla’s. Fiat Chrysler thus avoided paying a fine under EU regulations, and can continue to manufacture polluting cars. This is a clear loophole in EU climate regulations.
Forbes notes that “To date, Tesla has reported $3.1 billion in lucrative [carbon] credit sales, which are essentially free money.”
In July 2020, WWF and Proctor and Gamble announced a project “to advance restoration in the Atlantic Forest on Brazil’s eastern coast”. WWF comments that,
As companies work to meet their own sustainability goals, many are recognizing that it’s no longer enough to just reduce emissions within their own operations and supply chains. They are starting to redirect their work to where it can be most impactful: at the nexus of climate and nature.
The reality is that this is greenwash. As Bloomberg points out, P&G is “moving to cut some of its climate-warming emissions, while continuing to send the vast majority into the atmosphere”. 98% of P&G’s emissions are produced in its supply chain or through the use of goods by consumers.
P&G’s greenwash relies mainly on offsets, not emission reductions. In addition to WWF, P&G will fund tree-planting in California through a project run by the Arbor Day Foundation, and mangrove protection in the Philippines through a Conservation International project.