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.
One of humanity’s greatest, present threats is the belief that real sufficient climate action is being taken, that things are being taken care of — when in fact they’re not. Not at all. The time for ”little steps in the right direction” is long gone and yet this is — at best — exactly what our leaders are trying to achieve. They are literally stealing our future right in front of our eyes.
That’s Luisa Neubauer, Greta Thunberg, Adélaïde Charlier, and Anuna de Wever van der Heyden writing about the EU’s climate policy. They point out that the 1990 baseline is the wrong date. We need to reduce dramatically from current emission levels, particularly when the EU has spent the last 30 years exporting its manufacturing emissions outside the EU.
International aviation and shipping is not included in the EU’s proposed reductions. And the proposals ignore the danger of tipping points, and the issue of equity. The proposals “rely on future removal of enormous amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere with technologies that are very unlikely to exist at the scale assumed in time.”
With forest fires blazing around the world, the World Economic Forum is pushing nature-based solutions to “increase the resilience of businesses and livelihoods”. An article on the WEF website presents a mixture of wishful thinking and dangerous distractions from the real solutions to the climate crisis.
It’s very much like the fanfare that REDD received more than a decade ago. Here’s an example of how WEF is promoting nature-based solutions:
The safeguarding of natural ecosystems is crucial if we are to meet both biodiversity and climate goals. Stopping deforestation and restoring forests, for example, is one of the best options available to halt climate change; it also brings vast benefits for biodiversity. Such win-win scenarios are central to nature-based solutions and natural climate solutions.
Predictably, there is no mention of fossil fuels in WEF’s article, or of the need to leave them in the ground. Instead, WEF tells us how destructive corporations such as Nestlé, Unilever, Kering, Bayer, Shell, and Amazon are investing in nature-based solutions.
Of course WEF doesn’t mention the people who live on the land that WEF’s members are hoping to grab in order to avoid taking meaningful action to address the climate crisis.
An article in the Wall Street Journal looks at how investors can profit from European carbon credits. Following the 2008 financial crisis, the price of EU allowances (EUAs) crashed.
The EU has limited the supply of EUAs and from next year, more companies will have to buy EUAs. The reduced supply and increased demand has pushed up the price. The price is currently about US$30 per ton, still way below the US$200 per ton that Shell estimates it needs to be by 2050. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t point out that the price in 2050 is more or less irrelevant because what we need are dramatic reductions in emissions from fossil fuels now, not in 30 years’ time.
The article also doesn’t mention that the price of carbon offsets (Certified Emission Reductions, issued by the Clean Development Mechanism) also crashed following the 2008 financial crisis and has stayed crashed.
Al Jazeera reports on data from Brazil’s space agency INPE that shows that the fires in the Brazilian Amazon are the worst in nearly ten years.
In September 2020, INPE recorded more than 32,000 hotpots, a 61% increase compared to September 2019. In 2019, INPE data shows that fires peaked in August and fell in September. This year both August and September were higher than last year’s single-month high. In the first nine months of 2020, fires have increased 13% compared to 2019.
The fires in September 2020 are increasingly burning primary forest – which suggests that the rainforest is becoming drier and more prone to fire. About 62% of Amazon fires in September 2020 were in forests, compared to 15% in August 2020.
A paper published in the journal Science Advances found that losses of carbon storage in the Amazon have been undermeasured because losses at the edges of forests were omitted.
When part of a forest in the Amazon is cleared, the trees remaining at the edges of the forest are weaker than trees further inside the forest. Trees at the edge of the forest are more exposed to pollution, pesticides, herbicides, etc. But the reduced carbon sequestration of these trees is not included in studies of carbon sequestration losses as a result of deforestation in the Amazon.
The researchers found that the edge effect resulted in 947 million tons of carbon entering the atmosphere between 2000 and 2015. This is approximately one-third of carbon sequestration loss due to deforestation, as currently calculated.
The executive board of the Clean Development Mechanism is considering extending the scheme beyond 2020, reports Climate Home News. It is doing so behind closed doors, and without a political mandate.
Climate Home News reports that,
Industry is lobbying the CDM board to keep registering projects and issuing carbon credits until countries strike a deal on new carbon market rules. The earliest that can happen is November 2021, at Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, UK.
Talks on a global carbon market at the UNFCCC have failed to advance since Article 6 was included in the Paris Agreement. Brazil and India want to include CDM credits in a new global carbon market. Europe and climate-vulnerable countries warn that this risks flooding the market with cheap credits.
Climate Home News quotes representatives of EDF, Öko-Institut, IETA, Carbon Market Watch, the World Bank, and a climate expert from Algeria, all of whom make suggestions for “improving” the CDM. Bizarrely, no one opposes carbon markets on the grounds that we are facing a climate emergency that doesn’t allow for yet more time wasting on neo-liberal false solutions.