Climate 411

New program pays landowners to protect forests on their farms in Brazil

Join us during London Climate Action Week for the webinar Demonstrating on-the-ground incentives to protect forests in Mato Grosso, Brazil on November 16th, 11:30 am EST where we’ll be discussing this issue and more.

By Breno Pietracci, Ph.D., economist at Environmental Defense Fund

Many Brazilian farmers have large tracts of Amazon rainforest and Cerrado tropical savanna on their properties. According to the 2012 Brazilian Forest Code, landowners in the Amazon must maintain at least 80% of their farms as standing forests while those in the Cerrado must keep no less than 35%. Farmers have the right to clear all vegetation above these legal thresholds.

But what if over-compliant farmers were financially rewarded to keep those forests they can legally deforest alive? That’s the aim of CONSERV, a novel and groundbreaking forest protection program recently launched in Brazil, with international debut scheduled for the London Climate Action Week. CONSERV is a systemic, scalable initiative that constitutes part of a set of strategies that can reduce deforestation at a jurisdictional (national or state-level) scale.

Brazil has successfully reduced deforestation by deploying an arsenal of command-and-control forest conservation policies over the last decades. From 2004 to 2012, deforestation in the Legal Amazon fell by more than 80% with a combination of increased law enforcement, expansion of protected areas – indigenous territories and conservation units, rural credit reforms and supply chain initiatives. Such remarkable achievement has mainly relied upon using “sticks” (penalties) and only limited “carrots” (incentives).

Over those years, some multilateral programs have attempted to use incentive-based payments for performance in reducing deforestation at large scales, namely the Amazon Fund and the REDD+ Early Movers program in the states of Acre and Mato Grosso. However, these have not yet been deployed at a scale to significantly change the behavior of rural producers.

As few positive incentives have materialized in the effort to reduce Amazon deforestation in Brazil, since 2013 the gains in preventing deforestation have stalled and are now under threat with weakened command-and-control and law enforcement. CONSERV is a first step in providing the missing positive incentive piece of the equation.

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Also posted in Brazil, International, REDD+ / Comments are closed

Indigenous Peoples face challenges to effective participation in international climate policy forums

This post was coauthored by Bärbel Henneberger.

Versión en español.

Opening of LCIPP meeting at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, December 2019.

Opening of LCIPP meeting at COP25 in Madrid, Spain, December 2019. UNclimatechange/Flickr

The negative impacts of COVID-19 span beyond direct health effects, particularly among Indigenous Peoples—who have been among the most drastically impacted by the pandemic. Human rights violations have skyrocketed and environmental conflicts have intensified, forcing Indigenous communities to grapple with these circumstances and what they mean for their ability to continue participating in political processes integral to advocacy for their rights and equality.

COVID-19 has prevented Indigenous Peoples from participating in person at the international climate change negotiations convened by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as these have been postponed or moved online. The presence of Indigenous Peoples at these negotiations ensure that human rights are central to all discussions, and also help reduce the possible negative environmental and social impacts of new international policies. Their perspectives are key to painting an accurate picture of what is happening on the ground in their territories, and how climate change is already having a significant impact on their way of life.

The Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform

Ensuring the effective and active participation of Indigenous Peoples, both physically and virtually, so that they may raise their concerns and contribute to this process is one of the main priorities of the Indigenous movement. A key avenue through which Indigenous Peoples can participate in the UNFCCC process is the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP).

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Also posted in Indigenous People, United Nations / Comments are closed

COVID-19, protecciones ambientales debilitadas y violaciones a los derechos amenazan los territorios indígenas y las áreas protegidas de la Amazonía

Esta publicación fue corredactada por Bärbel Henneberger.

English version.

Hombre Kichwa cruzando el Río Arajuno, Amazonia Ecuatoriana. Bärbel Henneberger

Los Pueblos Indígenas que habitan en la Amazonía son conocidos como “guardianes de los bosques” debido a su eficacia para mantenerlos intactos. Los territorios indígenas y las áreas protegidas conjuntamente cubren el 52% de la Amazonía y almacenan el 58% del carbono, superando así a las tierras circundantes en términos de almacenamiento de carbono y limitando las emisiones netas de carbono, según un estudio publicado en la revista Proceedings of the National Academy of Science a principios de año.

Aun así, los territorios indígenas y las áreas protegidas se enfrentan a nuevas amenazas. Los líderes indígenas de la Amazonía informan del incremento de casos de violación de sus derechos. Las invasiones por parte de los mineros, ganaderos y madereros ilegales que invaden las tierras indígenas protegidas quedan en la impunidad y, al parecer, todos ellos se sienten alentados por las declaraciones de los líderes políticos y los esfuerzos legislativos para permitir en los territorios indígenas nuevas concesiones mineras.

Las concesiones para la extracción de petróleo y minería otorgados por los gobiernos se superponen a cerca de una cuarta parte de los territorios indígenas reconocidos, lo que aumenta sustancialmente su vulnerabilidad a los impactos adversos.

Al momento el COVID-19 agrava estas amenazas en un escenario en que las autoridades nacionales no han podido patrullar las reservas naturales y territorios indígenas con la frecuencia requerida; situación que las organizaciones criminales y madereros ilegales han estado usando a su favor.

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Also posted in Indigenous People, International / Comments are closed

COVID-19, weakened environmental protections, and rights infringements threaten the Amazon’s Indigenous territories and protected areas

This post was coauthored by Bärbel Henneberger.

Versión en español.

Kichwa man crossing Arajuno River, Ecuadorian Amazon. Bärbel Henneberger

Indigenous communities living in the Amazon rainforest are known as the ‘guardians of the forest’ because of their effectiveness in keeping forests intact. Indigenous territories and protected areas, which cover 52 percent of the Amazon and store 58 percent of the carbon, outperform surrounding lands in terms of storing carbon and limiting net carbon emissions, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science earlier this year.

But now Indigenous territories and protected areas are under threat. Indigenous leaders in the Amazon are reporting increasing instances of a violation of their rights. Miners, ranchers and illegal loggers who encroach on protected Indigenous land face impunity, and are apparently encouraged by statements from political leaders and legislative efforts to open territorial land to new mining concessions.

Further, government concessions for oil extraction and mining overlap almost a quarter of all recognized territorial land, substantially increasing their vulnerability to adverse impacts.

COVID-19 is compounding these threats, as authorities haven’t been able to patrol nature preserves and Indigenous territories as often— a situation that criminal organizations and illegal loggers have been using to their advantage.

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Also posted in Indigenous People / Comments are closed

As Amazon deforestation rises, so does the need for urgent action

Deforestation in the Amazon. iStock.

The year 2020 was expected to be a “super year” for global action on climate change. Instead, it’s become an “extraordinary year” for a global community trying to cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amidst this backdrop, deforestation throughout the Amazon has been rising steadily, jumping 55% in the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. This is no coincidence. Loggers, miners, land-grabbers and individuals clearing land for soy and livestock are taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to illegally clear the forest.

Enforcement of forest protection was already severely weakened across the Amazon, due in part to anti-environmental leadership and rhetoric, such as that of President Bolsonaro in Brazil. The virus has forced many of the field agents responsible for keeping forest invaders out to retreat, making it virtually impossible to enforce environmental laws and leaving these areas open to destruction. As we enter fire season, deforestation could get much worse due to warmer than average sea surface temperatures which could exacerbate the spread of fires. It all makes for a “perfect storm” that is threatening the Amazon forest and is already having disastrous impacts on the Indigenous communities who depend on forests.

Increased deforestation will jeopardize the rainforest’s rich biodiversity and extensive carbon stocks. It’s pushing the Amazon closer to the tipping point where deforestation will be irreversible. And it’s hindering global climate change mitigation efforts.

If the global community is going to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, Convention on Biological Diversity, the New York Declaration on Forests and other frameworks, then countries and companies need to prioritize forest protection.

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Also posted in Brazil, Indigenous People, International, Jobs, REDD+ / Comments are closed

Firms can manage climate policy uncertainty. Here’s how.

shutterstock_194915288

Shutterstock

This post was authored by Ruben Lubowski, Chief Natural Resource Economist at EDF, and Alexander Golub, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Science at American University.

For companies that are large emitters of greenhouse gases, uncertainty about policies to address climate change can be a real challenge. But our new paper in the journal Energy shows how companies that invest now in a novel approach to climate mitigation could help manage their risk of future policy obligations more effectively and at a lower cost.

The challenge

In Energy, we demonstrate how policy uncertainty puts greenhouse gas emitting companies in a bind, raising risks for these companies and making it likely that carbon prices—an indicator of costs—will rise in a series of sudden bursts, rather than following a smooth transition.

Policy uncertainty discourages private investment in low-carbon technologies. However, when credible climate policy is finally in place, industry will have missed out on prudent investment opportunities and face spiking costs as they rush to catch up with tightened emissions controls requirements.

In the paper, we show that companies have a latent demand for suitable strategies that can help manage these risks.

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Also posted in Carbon Markets, International, REDD+ / Read 1 Response