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.
According to Schroders, we are on course for global heating of 3.9°C.
Schroders is an asset management company responsible for assets worth more than £500 billion. In 2017, the company developed a Climate Progress Dashboard aimed at monitoring progress governments and industries are making towards meeting the Paris Agreement target of 2°C.
While the Covid-19 crisis will reduce emissions this year, Andrew Howard at Schroders writes that,
We believe that as economies recover from the Covid-19 crisis, falls in emissions are likely to be reversed, if recoveries from past crises provide any guide.
Tougher structural changes are needed if we are going to avert the equally devastating long-term impacts of the climate crisis.
On 2 September 2020, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and former Bank of England governor Mark Carney launched a private sector “Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets”. In a statement, Carney says,
“Companies and the investment community are increasingly focused on supporting the transition to a net zero economy and developing credible transition plans. To achieve net zero, they will need to decarbonize and many will need to offset some emissions as part of the transition, creating a surge in demand for offsets. The financial sector can use their expertise in building market infrastructure to create a carbon offset market which connects this demand with supply.”
The Taskforce members include major polluters such as Shell, RWE, Tata Steel, Total, along with bankers, and carbon traders. Obviously, no one in the Taskforce will point out that carbon trading does not reduce emissions and was never intended to do so. The Taskforce is putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
Wildfires in the Arctic have already emitted 35% more CO2 than in the whole of 2019. Data from the EU’s Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service shows that 245 megatonnes of CO2 had been released by wildfires up to 24 August 2020. In 2019, the figure for emissions for the whole year was 181 megatonnes.
The wildfires coincided with a heatwave in Siberia, that saw temperatures reach more than 30°C. Dr Thomas Smith, assistant professor in environmental geography at the London School of Economics, told the Guardian that, “We have seen two years of anomalously high activity, according to the satellite record that goes back to 2003.”
Smith warned that the fires were destroying ancient peat bogs that have stored carbon for thousands of years. Smith’s analysis found that “Around half of the fires are on peat soils, with a big increase in total fires on peat in 2019 & 2020.”
A year after fires in the Amazon caused a global outcry, the fires are back. The Guardian reports on a two-hour flight around Novo Progresso in the state of Pará, organised by the indigenous NGO Instituto Kabu.
The Guardian reports seeing, “Giant columns of white and grey smoke rising from supposedly protected forests below” and illegal goldmines within the Baú indigenous territory. “Newly deforested areas of fallen and charred trees were visible within the Iriri forest reserve.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands are worse this year than any year since 2005.
According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), an estimated 63,000 fires have been detected so far this year. About 74% of the fires recorded by INPE were registered after the government banned fires in July 2020.
Emissions increased dramatically during California wildfires, the Independent reports. In the second half of August 2020, carbon monoxide levels were, on average, nearly double levels before the fires started.
James Poetzscher, Greenhouse Maps founder, told the Independent:
“California’s increasing temperatures, attributable to climate change, are largely responsible for the state’s uptick in devastating forest fires.
“The unfortunate reality is that, as bad and frequent as these fires are in 2020, due to climate change, temperatures are inevitably going to continue rising for at least the next 20 or 30 years resulting in more frequent and more severe fires.”
Mongabay reports that in June 2020, during a two-day meeting with the country’s protected areas’ managers, Madagascar’s environment minister Baomiavotse Vahinala Raharinirina said,
“The conservation of our biodiversity through Madagascar protected areas’ system for 30 years was a failure. We have to change the paradigm and to move toward a system which doesn’t exclude humans and [doesn’t] put local communities on the sidelines; it should be deeply social.”
Madagascar has 144 parks. The ministry of environment and forest manages only 15. Madagascar National Parks, a quasi-governmental organisation manages 46. The remaining 92 parks are managed by domestic and foreign NGOs. The Malagasy government allocates about 2% of its budget to the environment ministry.