By Chris Lang
This week’s REDD notes. Follow @reddmonitor on Twitter for more links to news about forests, the climate crisis, natural climate solutions, the oil industry, greenwash, carbon offsetting, etc.
An article by Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer, Anuna De Wever, and Adélaïde Charlier in the Guardian marks two years since the first school strike for the climate. A lot has happened, they write, including millions taking part in protests, the EU Parliament declaring a “climate and environmental emergency”.
But over past two years the world emitted more than 80 gigatonnes of CO2. They write that,
Today, leaders all over the world are speaking of an “existential crisis”. The climate emergency is discussed on countless panels and summits. Commitments are being made, big speeches are given. Yet, when it comes to action we are still in a state of denial. The climate and ecological crisis has never once been treated as a crisis. The gap between what we need to do and what’s actually being done is widening by the minute. Effectively, we have lost another two crucial years to political inaction.
The Financial Times has a long article this weekend about carbon trading in the EU. For 15 years, the EU has had a carbon trading mechanism – the EU Emissions Trading System. The price of emissions allowances over the past three years has steadily increased, but fell from about €25 to about €15 in March 2020, as carbon traders worried that a recession caused by the coranavirus would lead to an oversupply of allowances.
The price has since recovered, as the Financial Times‘ graph shows:
The Financial Times article includes comments from several hedge fund managers, energy traders, and commodity traders, as well as politicians.
The thought of hedge funds or banks getting rich off carbon while other industries struggle sits uneasily with some politicians, even if they back the longer-term goal of making the cost of polluting more expensive.
“Some people might be betting on increased climate ambition in the EU, but you want the EUA price to reflect market decisions rather than speculator ones,” Bas Eickhout, the Dutch Greens MEP, told Carbon Pulse, an industry publication, in July.
Carbon Pulse reports that on 24 August 2020, the price of EUAs increased 8%: “traders said a bullish weekend Financial Times article and wider market optimism about prospects for effective COVID-19 treatments stoked carbon buyers”.
Baker McKenzie recently put out a Client Alert about CORSIA, covering the “New baseline for CORSIA and proposals for integration within the EU ETS and the UK ET”. Predictably, the airline industry has welcomed CORSIA’s decision to adjust its baseline to 2019 CO
using the 2020 CO2 emissions figures would have resulted in a reduction in the CORSIA baseline. This, in turn, would have led to an increase in the number of carbon credits to be purchased by airlines once air traffic (and hence emissions) rebound and therefore increased CORSIA compliance costs.
Baker McKenzie points out a key difference between CORISIA and the EU ETS: “CORSIA [is] an offsetting scheme and the EU ETS [is] a cap and trade scheme”. Baker McKenzie lists six options for incorporating CORSIA with the EU ETS.
Under the UK ETS, the aviation industry will be subject to an annual cap on emissions. Baker McKenzie notes that “the interplay between the UK ETS and CORSIA is not yet clear”.
Alessandro Vitelli points out in a recent blog post that the UK has not yet reached a decision on whether to go for an emissions trading scheme, or a carbon tax.
Climate Home News reports on the Green Climate Fund’s approval of US$103 million REDD “results-based” payments to Indonesia for the period 2014-2016, despite the fact that deforestation in Indonesia spiked under the coronavirus lockdown.
Climate Home News notes that,
A pilot funding window for Redd+ projects has so far paid out nearly $230 million to Brazil, Ecuador, Chile and Paraguay. In each country, deforestation has risen following the claim period, according to Global Forest Watch data.
Climate Home News reports that,
Board members expressed “serious concerns” about the Indonesian proposal, including the methodology for calculating avoided emissions and the implementation of safeguards to protect local communities and indigenous people.
The Green Climate Fund also approved a “results-based” payment of US$28 million to Colombia for the period 2015-2016. But deforestation is increasing in Colombia and REDD has done nothing to address the drivers of deforestation in the country.
Voice of America reports that thousands of fires are burning in the Panatal, the world’s largest wetland. In the first two weeks of August, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reported more than 3,100 fires. That’s five times as many as the same period last year.
NASA reports a greater risk of drought this year for key parts of the Amazon rainforest, as a result of warm Atlantic Ocean surface temperatures. Satellite images reveal large areas of forest being cleared in recent months.
NASA researchers have developed new tools to monitor what type of fires are burning, where the fires are, and how much risk they pose to the rainforest.
NASA’s graph of fires from 1 June to 15 August 2020, illustrates how little impact the 120-day ban on firest in the Amazon rainforest has had:
California has declared a state of emergency because of the wildfires in the state. On 16 August 2020, the temperature in Death Valley may have reached a world record with a preliminary recording of a temperature of 129.9°F (54.4°C).
In case it wasn’t already blindingly obvious, the climate crisis has already arrived.