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 investigation by Greenpeace, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Guardian, and ITV News reveals that chickens on sale in UK supermarkets are linked to massive deforestation and fires in Brazil’s Cerrado.
The Cerrado is being deforested faster than the Amazon. Much of the deforestation is for soy plantations for animal feed. Cargill, one of the world’s biggest agriculture firms, is the biggest importer of Brazilian soya to the UK. Cargill ships more than 100,000 tonnes of soybeans to the UK every year from the Cerrado.
The soy is processed and sent to feed mills run by Avara, a company jointly owned by Cargill. Chicken farms contracted to Avara buy the soya. Chickens are slaughtered and packaged at Avara abattoirs, then sold to Tesco, McDonald’s, Asda, Lidl, and Nando’s.
Avara told Greenpeace it has committed to eliminate deforestation in its soy supply chain by 2025.
Despite the COVID-19 lockdowns this year, levels of CO2 have continued to rise according to the World Meteorological Organisation. WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said,
“We breached the global threshold of 400ppm in 2015. And just four years later, we crossed 410 ppm. Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records. The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph. We need a sustained flattening of the curve.”
CO2 in the atmosphere is now 50% higher than in 1750. Methane is 2.5 times higher, and nitrous oxide is 23% higher than in 1750.
In a WMO press statement, Taalas called for a “complete transformation of our industrial, energy and transport systems”. But Taalas also talked about reaching “net zero” and added that, “It is to be welcomed that a growing number of countries and companies have committed themselves to carbon neutrality.” Which suggests he hasn’t actually grasped how bad things are, or how urgently we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground.
The International Air Transport Association has launched the Aviation Carbon Exchange (ACE). Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s CEO, said, “Airlines are serious in their commitment to reduce emissions. And they need a reliable tool to access quality carbon credits in real time. ACE will be a key tool helping airlines efficiently manage these important transactions.”
On 25 November 2020, JetBlue Airways completed the first trade on the ACE platform. JetBlue bought credits from the Larimar wind farm project in the Dominican Republic.
ACE will trade carbon credits in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), and will also trade voluntary offsets outside CORSIA. Climate chaos, here we come.
The Jakarta Post reports that on 27 November 2020, Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry signed a REDD deal with the World Bank. Under the agreement, Indonesia will be eligible for up to US$110 million under the Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.
The Jakarta Post writes that,
The emissions reduction program aims to protect 12.7 million hectares of rainforest and other biodiverse biomes in East Kalimantan, which is home to about 3.5 million people.
The agreement is expected to improve land management and provide local jobs, in addition to protecting the habitats of vulnerable and endangered species. It also seeks to improve the issuance of forestry permits, encourage small-scale plantations and promote community planning for forest areas.
East Kalimantan covers an area of 12.7 million hectares. Of this, 6.5 million hectares (54%) is forested, according to a presentation made at the 19th Carbon Fund meeting in February 2019. Oil palm plantations are responsible for 51% of the deforestation in the province.
The agreement is not yet available on the FCPF website. It remains to be seen how the REDD agreement will deal with President Joko Widodo’s plans to move the country’s capital from Jakarta to Sepaku district in East Kalimantan. The plans are currently on hold because of COVID-19.
In 2018, deforestation in East Kalimantan increased by 43% compared to 2017.
In a recent study, Professor Michael Köhl at Hamburg University, and his research team mapped 100 hectares of forest in Belize, Guyana, Surinam, and Trinidad. They measured more than 80,000 trees, collecting what Köhl describes as “a veritable treasure trove of data that’s likely the only one of its kind”.
The research aimed to find out whether “sustainable forest management” leads to more carbon being stored in forests. In tropical forests, only a few tree species can be marketed and are therefore worth felling. “On average, only one or two trees per hectare are suitable for commercial use,” Köhl writes.
To make room for the crowns of future crop trees, four weaker trees have to be removed. Köhl and his team asked, “Does this allow the final crop tree to grow so well that it stores more carbon and therefore more than compensates for the carbon loss due to the felled trees?” Their answer was that, “we would have to wait over 130 years for this to be the case – an unrealistic timespan.”
In the areas studies, the research team found that “sustainable forest management” could more than double harvesting losses, for example by cutting transport corridors, or knocking down neighbouring trees during felling.
“We need mechanisms that target the causes of rainforest destruction,” Köhl suggests, to address forest destruction for plantations of sugar cane, palm oil, and soybeans.