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.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that REDD projects overestimated their impacts on protecting forests in the late 2000s because they didn’t account for the Brazilian government’s conservation efforts.
The paper is titled, “Overstated carbon emission reductions from voluntary REDD+ projects in the Brazilian Amazon” and it is available here.
In an interview on NC State University’s website, co-author Erin Sills, professor at NC State and interim department head of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, explains the findings of the study:
We found that the REDD+ projects overstated their carbon credits in that they didn’t account for the fact that the government was also reducing emissions. These projects claimed too much credit compared to their actual impact on deforestation. This means that companies and individuals who bought credits from these projects were not offsetting their own emissions as much as they thought. This happened because the Brazilian government was also effectively reducing deforestation.
Matto Mildenberger and Leah C. Stokes, assistant professors at the University of California Santa Barbara, have written a piece for the Boston Review under the headline “The Trouble with Carbon Pricing”.
It’s a good article, highlighting the failure of carbon pricing to address the climate crisis. Mildenberger and Stokes argue for passing large-scale industrial policy, strong regulatroy enforcement, holding polluters accountable, and for climate justice. “Carbon pricing ignores all of these strategies because it ignores political power,” they write.
But the article completely omits the grassroots resistance to carbon pricing and carbon trading.
For example, the article starts with a look at California’s cap-and-trade programme. Mildenberger and Stokes write that “while the policy looks good on paper, in practice it has proven weak”. They write that “legislators aimed to tighten the law in 2017”, when California’s cap-and-trade legislation was extended through AB 398. But they fail to mention that the legislation was written with the help of the oil industry. They fail to mention the role of so-called environmental NGOs who sided with the oil industry or the huge coalition of environmental justice and climate groups that opposed the legislation. They fail to mention then-governor Jerry Brown’s links to the oil industry. And they fail to mention the enivronmental racism inherent in California’s cap-and-trade scheme.
Launched by the Consumer Goods Forum, the Forest Positive Coalition of Action aims “to drive collective, transformative change in order to remove deforestation, forest conversion and degradation from key commodity supply chains and support forest positive businesses”. Companies involved in the Coalition include Carrefour, Walmart, General Mills, Mars, Nestle, Unilever, and PepsiCo.
In 2010 the Consumer Goods Forum set a goal of reaching “zero-net deforestation” by 2020. Jeff Conant at Friends of the Earth US said in a statement about the new Coalition that,
“Massive and deadly climate-fueled fires and tropical storms are here and now. Keeping forests standing and respecting the rights of forest-dwelling people is our best defense. We’ve seen agribusiness and consumer brands make empty promises for a decade while continuing to profit from the destruction, and we’ve seen their financial backers turn a blind eye. Until and unless we see real action, we can expect that whatever the CGF says about being ‘forest positive’ is pure utter greenwash.”
In a paper published in the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Mark B. Bush, of the Institute for Global Ecology, Florida Institute of Technology, concludes that,
“The risk that our generation will preside over theirreversible collapse of Amazonian and Andean biodi-versity is huge, literally existential. Past ice ages andpeak interglacials did not diminish Neotropical bio-diversity, but the destructive power posed by the synergistic triumvirate of anthropogenic climate change,ENSO variability, and human-induced deforestation isunparalleled.”
In a statement, Bush said, “Warming alone could induce the tipping point by mid-century, but if the present policies that turn a blind eye to forest destruction aren’t stopped, we could reach the tipping point much sooner.”
Meanwhile the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project reports that it has documented 1,650 major fires in the Brazilian Amazon so far this year. 60% of the fires happened in September. MAAP estimates that 1.8 million hectares have been impacted by these fires.
In the Jakarta Post, Adisti Sukma Sawitri looked at how a Job Creation Bill, currently under discussion in Indonesia’s House of Representatives, would undermine forest protection in the country. The Indonesia Trade Union Confederation is opposed to the Bill, because it would eliminate the minimum wage and result in exploitative working hours.
Sawitri writes that the Bill would also centralise environmental management. Licensing authority and oversight would no longer be shared between central and local governments. Central government would be the only authority to settle overlapping land claims and permits relating to land and forests.
Environmental Impact Analyses would be eliminated and central government would conduct environmental feasibility studies, thus removing all mechanisms that allow people to challenge environmental permits in court. Central government would become the single supervisor and law enforcer in the natural resources sector.
A new report by Greenpeace found that animal farming in Europe produces 17% of the EU’s total emissions. That’s more than all EU cars and vans put together. “European policymakers must acknowledge the magnitude of animal farming emissions and commit to immediate and lasting reductions in industrial meat and dairy production and consumption,” Greenpeace wrote in the report.
Both the Guardian and the Independent quoted a spokesperson for the UK’s National Farmers’ Union saying that, “British farmers are already leading the way in climate-friendly red meat and dairy and we have an ambition to become net zero by 2040. If we are to achieve this, we must reduce all our greenhouse gas emissions.”
More than 71% of all agricultural land in the EU is dedicated to feeding livestock. Greenpeace used data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and other peer-reviewed research. Including indirect greenhouse gas emissions from animal feed production, land use, and deforestation, the total emissions from EU animal farming reaches 704 million tonnes of CO2 each year.