Gabon REDD+ receipts
Gabon, the world’s second-most-forested nation, completed the verification of 90m carbon credits under the UN programme to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). The news was tweeted
by Prof Lee White, the country’s minister for forest, oceans, environment and climate change. White estimated that in the eight-year period over which these credits were calculated, Gabon’s forests “net removed just over a billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere”. The UN’s experts on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) who assessed
Gabon’s technical information on its forest carbon stocks and removals “commend[ed]” the country for “using a transparent and mostly consistent approach” and for “its significant long-term efforts” to monitor its forests. The assessment also noted that there are additional areas for improvement, such as data on fuelwood, soil organic carbon and other greenhouse gases.
CREDIT WHERE DUE:
What shape would these credits take, what price could they fetch and how would they be marketed? “My own ballpark would be $25 to $35,” said White during a webinar organised by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) on “sovereign carbon”, Bloomberg
reported. Akeem Daouda, the chief executive of Gabon’s sovereign wealth fund (SWF), also spoke at the webinar, which was attended by Carbon Brief. Daouda said that the fund had been designated as the receiver of the proceeds from the sale of credits and laid out that 10% of the revenue would go into a biodiversity fund, 15% to community empowerment and 25% for climate-resilient infrastructure. These 90m credits will be marketed by Gabon’s SWF and sold on the voluntary carbon market on a new platform called redd.plus, Bloomberg added.
SOVEREIGN OR VOLUNTARY CARBON
: However, going forward, CfRN and investors including Deutsche Bank are planning to count REDD+ credits as “sovereign carbon” that they deem to be a new “financial asset class” that will allow corporations and other investors “to align their net-zero targets with the Paris Agreement”. As Carbon Brief reported last year
from Glasgow, among the last “huddles” holding up the penultimate plenary at COP26 was one between CfRN, the US and others. This fight, reportedly led by Papua New Guinea, was to allow the use of legacy REDD+ credits as well as fast-tracking the use of credits from 2021 onwards under Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement
. While this effort failed, the COP26 decision left the door open to REDD+ schemes being used to generate credits that countries can voluntarily trade as “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” (ITMOs). “We’re part of the Congo basin, a block of rainforest that is best resisting climate change. We’re not just in a self-interested money grab here, not just that we want funding for ecosystem services. We’re talking about the lives of people and ecosystems,” he continued, pointing out that Gabon and Bhutan had already achieved their Paris goals “and some”. “We’ve committed to staying carbon-neutral unconditionally. Subject to carbon market rules, we can do more”, he said.
‘JUST’ CARBON PRICE:
During the webinar, CfRN’s executive director Kevin Conrad, said that “what is missing is a 1.5C-aligned carbon price”. Conrad likened “a just carbon price” to a just transition for developing countries, adding “we can’t keep giving pennies for dollars of emissions reductions”. When asked if Gabon would exclude oil and gas firms from purchasing the credits, White responded by saying that Gabon doesn’t have “a particular moral for who we sell these credits to”. White said: “60% of our economy comes from oil and gas which we offset. As a sovereign nation which is an oil producer, we can’t exclude them from buying our credits. Who’s going to buy our oil and gas in 30 years?” At the same time, all three speakers said they would not sell to the airline industry’s offsets programme Corsia
, calling it “a waste of time”.
Biodiversity claims blame game
The release of the Living Planet Report – a flagship report of WWF and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – led to a flurry of headlines about biodiversity loss and debates over what the metric actually means. Yahoo
carried a piece with the headline “Humans have wiped out 70% of animal populations in last 50 years”. The Guardian
carried the headline “Almost 70% of animal populations wiped out since 1970, report reveals”, which it later amended to “Animal populations experience average decline of almost 70% since 1970, report reveals”, after online criticism pointing out that the outlet had carried a similarly simplistic headline
in the past. “It’s clear that wildlife is suffering mightily on our planet, but scientists don’t know exactly how much,” said a story in the New York Times
, adding that “the report has repeatedly resulted in inaccurate headlines when journalists misinterpreted or overstated its results”.
: “Counting wild animals – on land and at sea, from gnats to whales – is no small feat,” said the NYT piece. It pointed out that the report focused only on vertebrates and not “creatures without spines [that] make up the vast majority of animal species (scientists have even less data on them)”. Our World in Data
head of research Dr Hannah Richie wrote that the Living Planet Index “measures the average change in the number of individuals across the world’s animal populations…but this does not tell us anything about the number of individuals, species or populations lost, or even the share of populations that are shrinking”, and that “effective conservation means we have to look past the average”. She notes that while the report’s authors have “significantly increased” the number of studies included from other languages as well as species coverage from Asia, Pacific, Africa and Latin America, the tropics are “still underrepresented relative to Europe and North America”, and these are highly biodiverse places “where wildlife is most threatened”.
Separately, Alaska’s snow crab fishing season was cancelled “for the first time ever”, after shellfish surveys showed “startling population collapses”, Gizmodo
reported, with state scientists reporting a 90% decline in populations in the Bering Sea over 2019-21. While “the exact cause of the crab crash is currently unknown”, scientists “think climate change is likely to blame”, Gizmodo said, given that “the Bering Sea has endured record-breaking, massive marine heatwaves in recent years, with a particularly catastrophic one known as ‘the blob’ occurring between 2014-16”. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries lab director Michael Litzow told CNN
that “human-caused climate change is a significant factor” and that “we call it overfishing because of the size level, But it wasn’t overfishing that caused the collapse, that much is clear”. However, journalist Spencer Roberts on Twitter
cautioned that NOAA’s explanation could let overfishing off the hook, noting that “evidence suggests melting sea ice created an opportunity for fishing vessels to wipe out crabs in habitat that was previously inaccessible in winter”.
The US- and United Arab Emirates-led Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C) has come under renewed scrutiny in the run-up to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, DeSmog
reported. The site wrote that the initiative has been “criticised for favouring big business and promoting uncertain techno-fixes”. A DeSmog analysis found that of AIM4C’s 300 or so “knowledge partners”, two-thirds are US- or Europe-based, with only 7% based in Africa and “not a single group representing Indigenous communities”. Looking ahead to COP27, DeSmog said the summit “is shaping up to be a battleground for two visions of the future of farming”, meaning an intensive, industrial farming system or an approach that centres sustainability and smallholder farmers. It noted that participants in AIM4C include meat industry groups and agrochemical groups. A spokesperson for the US department of agriculture told DeSmog: “AIM for Climate recognises the wide range of participants necessary to achieve the AIM for Climate goal. Each participant adds value, and AIM for Climate draws on all knowledge, experiences and cultures, and embraces inclusive excellence.”
In a separate piece, DeSmog
examined one such “knowledge partner” – the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), an industry association representing US meatpackers and processors. DeSmog noted that NAMI has “pushed back against measures to address climate change” and claims on its website that “the degree to which human activities lead to climate change is ‘unknown’”. Chloe Waterman, a senior programme manager at the environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth, said that AIM4C’s association with groups such as NAMI “undermined” the credibility of the initiative. She told DeSmog: “Meat industry trade groups use the same playbook as Big Oil to spew climate disinformation and obstruct even basic climate policies…Their membership in AIM4C indicates a total lack of standards within the initiative and undermines its legitimacy”. NAMI pointed to a “recent pledge” by its members “to put in place science-based targets to reduce emissions by 2030”.
Investigative outlet Lighthouse Reports
analysed 75 major European pension funds and found that around 15 of them are “currently investing” in commodity futures markets and “may be contributing” to the current food-price crisis. The site wrote: “Rising commodity prices are good news for the fund’s commodities portfolio, but in day-to-day practice fund members will have to pay more for goods and services.” EU Reporter
, which collaborated on the investigation, quoted Prof Jayati Ghosh, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as saying the funds are “engaging in actions which destroy the living standards of those workers”. Ghosh added: “Whether it is in food or energy, both are equivalently terrible from the point of view of workers and developing countries because a fuel price increase translates into prices of all other prices going up.” EU Reporter wrote that the funds in question “have defended their actions as having no connection to spiralling food prices”, but also noted that other funds analysed “have taken an unequivocal position against such speculation”.