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.
In February 2020, Jeff Bezos announced the US$10 billion Bezos Earth Fund. Last week, he put out a list of 16 organisations that will receive a total of US$791 million. Five will get US$100 million each: Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund.
All five mention natural climate solutions in their press releases about receiving money from Bezos.
EDF will use some of the money “to build confidence in carbon credits by improving scientific understanding of the storage and removal of carbon using nature-based processes in forests, agricultural soils, and oceans”.
NDRC aims to “protect and restore ecosystems that store carbon (like forests and wetlands), and accelerate sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices”.
TNC’s CEO, Jennifer Morris said, “With this generous gift from the Bezos Earth Fund, The Nature Conservancy and our partners around the globe will be able to expand our pioneering work developing and implementing natural climate solutions.”
WRI will use part of the grant “to develop a satellite-based monitoring system to advance natural climate solutions around the world. The system will monitor carbon emissions and capture potentially harmful changes to the world’s forests, grasslands, wetlands, farms, and other critical areas”.
And WWF will use the money “to accelerate the most promising solutions that harness the power of nature to provide for communities and stabilize our climate”.
(Forbes gives a full list of Bezos Earth Fund recipients.)
Meanwhile, Amazon’s enormous carbon footprint continues to grow. Amazon’s workers continue to face appalling working conditions with high risks of COVID-19, and low wages. And Bezos gets richer and richer.
The Guardian has an article about a report that concludes that infrastructure megaprojects risk pushing the world’s forest past a “dangerous tipping point”.
The report is the 2020 New York Declaration on Forests Progress Assessment. A key finding of the report is that,
The pace of large-scale infrastructure development and natural resource extraction is increasing across many tropical forest regions, posing a rising threat to intact forest landscapes. Demand for mined metals and minerals and fossil fuels is still growing, putting increased pressure on highly biodiverse forests that play host to significant levels of deposits of these valuable commodities.
Five Amazon countries plan to invest a total of US$27 billion in the next five years to build or upgrade 12,000 kilometres of roads. The 4,000 kilometre-long Trans-Papua highway will cut through the Lorentz National Park. A railway in Kalimantan would open areas for coal mining and oil palm plantations. Development corridors in sub-Saharan Africa to export minerals and energy would cut across 400 protected areas and degrade an additional 1,800.
Mongabay reports that more than 2,500 major fires burned in Brazil’s Amazon between late May and early November, according the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project. Many were on recently deforested land.
41% of the fires were in standing forests. Almost 2.2 million hectares of standing forest in Brazil’s Amazon burned. 13% of the fires were in protected areas and Indigenous territories.
Brazil’s nationally determined contribution commits the country to reducing deforestation by 80% from 1996-2005 levels, and eliminating illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030. Climate Tracker notes that “Both of these are set to be missed.”
An article on CIFOR’s Forests News looks at a new CIFOR report about progress on REDD in the Democratic Republic of Congo: The context of REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
REDD started in DRC a decade ago. CIFOR states that,
However, the country’s rate of emissions from forest loss continues to be among the highest in the Congo Basin due to unsustainable logging, fuelwood collection, agricultural expansion and mining.
The report states that,
Our first DRC country profile, published in 2013, concluded that the DRC’s main REDD+ shortcomings were poor governance, an absence of state authority in many areas of the country, and a lack of domestic capacity, including financial and human resources. This second edition highlights that, between 2013 and 2019, little progress has been made on REDD+ in the DRC, as a result of conflicting interests among actors both at national and decentralized levels; information asymmetry; elite capture and corruption; and the pre- and post-election situation.
A new report by the World Resources Institute and ClimateWorks Foundation looks at the State of Climate Action and concludes that, “To keep the window open to limit global warming to 1.5°C, countries need to accelerate transformation towards a net-zero emissions future across all sectors at a far faster pace than recent trends”.
The report looks at six sectors: energy, building, industry, transport, forests, and agriculture. There is insignificant progress in all sectors and two (forests and agriculture) are going in the wrong direction.
Deforestation has increased since 2001. Irreplaceable primary forests continue to be lost. “While commitments to reduce supply chain deforestation have been increasing, they have not yet seen much success,” WRI notes.
Bloomberg reports on the “Green Gigaton Challenge”. The challenge was set up by UN-REDD together with a Delaware-registered company called Emergent Forest Finance Accelerators Inc to “guarantee enough credits to offset a billion tons of CO2 each year from 2025 to 2030.
Other founding partners in the Green Gigaton Challenge are Environmental Defense Fund, Forest Trends, and the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions. And (surprise, surprise) Norway is funding Emergent.
Bloomberg points out that companies including Microsoft, Walt Disney, and Shell are buying carbon offsets. The aviation industry’s CORSIA offsetting scheme will drive up demand for cheap offsets further.