Forests, both at a national and a global scale, constitute as the vast majority of natural capital and resources, consisting of both intrinsic economic and humanitarian value. It has been confirmed that as of now, around 20% of global greenhouse emissions at an international scale are caused by deforestation, which much to the surprise of most people, constitutes more than transportation, which is expected to culminate in 14% of greenhouse emissions. REDD+ carbon credits may provide part of the solution.
These percentages might not be alarming to countries where forests are not given wide importance, however, figures have shown that deforestation in countries like Paraguay and Brazil are considered to be the main source of greenhouse emissions at a national level, which not only affects their rural communities, but it also affects the wellbeing of their wildlife. As a solution to this particular issue within the fight against climate change, the UNFCCC approved at the COP13 what is determined to be the more sustainable and profitable solution, REDD+. The term REDD+ stands for both developing and developed countries’ efforts to “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.” From these project has come the initiative to have positive incentives that might encourage both individuals and corporations to participate in forest conservation.
Until recently, forests were thought to be more valuable when cut down. However, this practice has become progressively unsustainable, which has called for a change in course of action, raising awareness towards the increased value at different levels, of forests alive rather than dead. Combatting deforestation and forest degradation while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions at a global scale has been found to be the most cost-effective way to lower the global greenhouse emissions whilst collectively preserving the countries’ wildlife and ecosystems.
Carbon footprint and carbon credits
It is common knowledge that everyone has a carbon footprint, especially companies that rely on fossil fuels in order to be successful. In order to have an efficient fight against climate change, both individuals and companies must reduce their carbon emissions. Unfortunately, it is harder than it may seem, seeing how it is unavoidable to generate carbon emissions. Organisations and private entities that carry out REDD+ projects have created a financial value to the preservation of said forests, which are typically found in developing countries, through the sales of verified emission reduction units, or carbon credits. By doing so it helps avoid further environmental, social and economic issues that deforestation and forest degradation might carry.
Investing in high-quality carbon credits compensates for these high carbon emissions that have greatly affected our planet. By doing so also increases the health and prosperity of communities around the world. Investing in organisations and project developers that carry out REDD+ programs results in the direct support of more sustainable forms of growth in developing and developed countries.
Several corporate leaders around the globe have started to realise the need of taking responsibility for their corporate carbon footprint whilst maintaining their businesses at a profitable level. Until now, tropical forests have only had economic value when cut down for their wood or for their land. REDD+ provides corporates with the opportunity to compensate for their unavoidable GHG emissions from manufacturing and supply chain, through the purchasing of verified carbon credits. Not only does this become financially beneficial for both the companies and the regions that receive this economic incentive, but it also accelerates their climate change mitigation. If this initiative is adopted by a substantial number of companies and corporate leaders globally, it would create a higher demand in REDD+ projects, which would stimulate said initiative, turning an emissions reduction liability into positive action that will, later on, conclude in climate change mitigation.
Without large-scale measures to halt deforestation, it will be hard to find a solution to climate change in the near future. Together with climate change mitigation, the preservation and protection of our forests supports sustainable management of such, including the reduction of run-offs, flooding, and water resource. By supporting projects like such it directly correlates to the preservation of biodiversity and local traditions and cultures.
The importance of the scalability of REDD+ programs has proven to be economically effective for organisations and private sectors whilst having a significant environmental impact. As depicted by the World Bank Organisation, in terms of REDD+ programs, one size does not fit all, which is why programs focused on emission reduction worldwide and in Latin America, are scaling up their REDD+ activities, which will have a great impact on future national and international REDD+. This notion of environmental governance, in which the public and private sector engage on seldom levels, further assists to the scalability of REDD+ programs, especially in areas like Latin America.
USAID’s brief also outlined how the scalability of REDD+ projects in Latin America has proven to be a key element to large-scale conservation of forests and therefore reducing emissions. Higher-scale practices can further develop local and national systems to leverage benefits and sustain the conservation of forests.
Alternatives and solutions
Quadriz recently announced its first REDD+ conservation project ‘Corazón Verde del Chaco’ in the Paraguayan Chaco, which is a great example of how local private actors take action through carbon financing to establish a high-impact project with an array of additional co-benefits that contribute to the UNSDG’s. The project is a private REDD+, however, it is anticipated to nest in Paraguay’s national emissions baseline with the corresponding adjustment to be done.
REDD+ not only provides a positive initiative towards the growing issue that is deforestation and forest degradation, but it also assists in the acceleration of corporate climate change mitigation. The importance within the design of REDD+ projects, consisting of the preservation of not only the wildlife but also in providing sustainable development opportunities to local communities and significant social, economic and humanitarian benefits at a local and global level, have been widely recognised. The aim, as outlined by the UNFCCC is for REDD+ projects to function on a global scale which not only pursues the efforts of forest conservation but it also establishes compensation methods that promote sustainable environments and livelihoods.
Achieving these benefits requires new levels of collaborations among different actors, at a local, national and at an international scale. Furthermore, it is worth noting that by having a financial incentive, through the purchasing of high-quality carbon credits, it assists corporations and organisations activate their climate change mitigation, whilst also being the catalyst of change in the course of the reduction of greenhouse emissions.
Aguilar-Støen, M., Toni, F. and Hirsch, C. (2016) ‘Forest Governance in Latin America: Strategies for Implementing REDD.’ In Environmental Governance in Latin America. Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 205–233.