"Markets And Forests: 7 Takeaways From Our Series On The Forest Carbon Trade"

"Mongabay recently published a five-part series on the carbon trade and its use as a tool to address climate change. The exchange of carbon credits, typically used to offset emissions, bore unprecedented criticism in 2023. A lot of the ire focused on credits from REDD+ projects. (REDD+ is short for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.”) Detractors have long charged that offsetting with these and other credits often allows wealthy individuals, companies and countries to continue polluting. At the same time, critics argue, the strategy forces less-industrialized, tropical forest countries to shoulder the conservation and restoration work that’s supposed to result in those emissions reductions.

Then, in 2023, research emerged that questioned whether those reductions — and the cuts in deforestation underpinning them — are happening on the scale claimed. Dissections of the voluntary carbon trade revealed that a lot of money has changed hands but with little transparency around its direct impacts. And concerns around carbon accounting methods arose around whether the trade has translated into progress toward winnowing away the amount of carbon in the atmosphere that’s led to surging temperatures since the Industrial Revolution.

The greater scrutiny has unearthed other issues, such as abuse of community members by REDD+ project staff. More broadly, Indigenous and community leaders, some of whom actively support the voluntary carbon trade as a way to get money into the hands of people on the ground, have called for a larger voice in the design of REDD+ projects and initiatives to secure local land rights before work begins.

Amid these challenges, supporters say they realize that they need to be more vocal in asserting what they see as the benefits the voluntary market can provide. They acknowledge the challenges, from calculating spared emissions to protecting and engaging communities, but they often return to the notion that investments in forest conservation are a vital tool in avoiding the worst effects of climate change. They argue that the voluntary carbon trade provides an avenue for channeling private investment into these projects, particularly as governments have been slow to act despite rising temperatures and the loss of biodiversity worldwide."

John Cannon reports for Mongabay January 17, 2024.

Source: Mongabay, 01/18/2024