Climate 411

Good for the planet: At COP27, Lula da Silva positioned Brazil to be a climate leader

Lula da Silva at COP27

Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets with Indigenous leaders at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on November 17, 2022. Photo by COICA Communications.

“Brazil is back,” said President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in his Nov. 16 address to COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt. But it’s a Brazil far more attuned to climate change, Amazon deforestation and Indigenous peoples’ rights than the one Lula assumed responsibility for when he first became president in 2003.

During his speech, Lula promised zero deforestation in Brazil by 2030, a first-ever Ministry for Indigenous Peoples, and crackdowns on the environmental crime that has run rampant under the Jair Bolsonaro government. He also talked about a return to the “civilizing values” championed by his former Environment Minister and now congresswoman-elect, Marina Silva.

These announcements were all met with great enthusiasm by Lula’s audience in Sharm El-Sheikh, where climate negotiators, civil society, businesses and others with a stake in the climate fight convened over the last two weeks.

The prospect of Brazil’s return to leadership in the international climate negotiations – and the promise of effective action to combat climate change – are both very important developments in the climate movement. Read More »

Posted in Brazil, Forest protection, Indigenous People, United Nations / Leave a comment

We need to go big to solve the climate crisis

Johnny Lye. iStock

The environmental integrity of emissions reductions depends on scale and systemic changes, not on sector of origin of the emissions

We urgently need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions far beyond current climate pledges, even if these were fully attained. But there’s a completely doable way to make major progress, near to hand.

Natural climate solutions can provide 20% of all the emissions reductions we need by 2050 to keep average global warming under 2 C. Stopping tropical deforestation, allowing tropical forests to regenerate and restoring degraded lands are the most important methods, particularly in the next decade. Letting countries or companies that exceed ambitious targets trade their surplus emissions reductions to those who fall short would permit much greater global emissions reductions than not trading. Countries could reach their targets more quickly, and trading would create more incentive to protect and restore land.

Some researchers and policy makers have held that nature-based solutions, such as stopping deforestation, are too risky. A forest you protect today could burn down tomorrow. But in fact, this problem exists with all emissions reductions, not only those based in terrestrial carbon. And nature-based solutions are worth considering as many of the highest quality and highest value emissions reductions that are feasible in the coming years.

A new article in Environmental Research Letters by scientists and economists from the Environmental Defense Fund and Princeton University shows that the best way to execute emissions reductions – whether they are from protecting forests or cutting down on fossil fuel –is to go big.

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Posted in Brazil, Carbon Markets, Forest protection, International, REDD+ / Comments are closed

What ProPublica’s forest carbon credits story still gets wrong – and right (with update)

By Steve Schwartzman, Senior Director, Tropical Forest Policy, and Christina McCain, Director, Latin America

Amazon Canopy. Warwick Lister-Kaye / istockphoto.com.

***Please read on for our response to ProPublica’s follow-up article***

ProPublica’s recent piece An (Even More) Inconvenient Truth is a deeply reported story on very real problems – and even bigger potential problems – with offset projects in existing and emerging carbon markets. But the evidence the article lays out does not support its conclusion about forest carbon crediting. And readers might come away without understanding that protecting forests, including through forest carbon credits, is one of the most important solutions to climate change out there, and the planet can’t afford to dismiss this opportunity to solve the climate crisis.

Missing: The critical distinction between individual “projects” and large-scale, state-level programs to reduce deforestation

It’s not news that bad carbon credits won’t solve climate change. Lots of studies have shown that there are all kinds of bad offset projects, and definitely not just forest projects. But today’s jurisdictional forest credits aren’t your parents’ forest project offsets: they’re real emissions reductions. Though you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the ProPublica story.

The ProPublica piece fails to distinguish large-scale national or provincial programs to reduce emissions from deforestation – known as “jurisdictional” programs – from one-off, small “projects” to reduce deforestation. ProPublica’s implication that old projects had failings and therefore now so must contemporary jurisdictional programs, is like saying flip phones had all sorts of problems, so all cell phones must be unreliable and we should shun smartphones.  Read More »

Posted in Brazil, California, Carbon Markets, Forest protection, Indigenous People, Paris Agreement, REDD+, United Nations / Read 5 Responses

Indigenous mobilization wins battle in President Bolsonaro’s war on indigenous peoples

https://www.flickr.com/photos/agenciasenado/47651605312/

Indigenous people mobilizing for land rights during the Free Land Encampment (Acampamento Terra Livre) in Brasilia, Brazil on April 25, 2019. Photo: Leopoldo Silva/Agência Senado via Flickr

Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s personal crusade to extinguish indigenous rights and devastate indigenous territories just hit a wall. Two, actually. Both Brazil’s Supreme Court and Brazil’s top congressional leaders handed Bolsonaro setbacks over his executive decision to move control of protecting indigenous lands to the agriculture ministry, which is controlled by members of the agribusiness lobby known for its opposition to indigenous land rights.

Taken together, this means that Bolsonaro’s signature action to start the rollback of indigenous territories and declare open season on Amazon deforestation – which needs both congressional and judicial approval to fly – looks to be crashing on takeoff. It’s also a glimmer of hope for indigenous and environmental protections in a country now led by a president openly hostile to Brazil’s indigenous peoples and Amazon rainforest – repositories of its vast social and biological diversity, and key to stabilizing the global climate.

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Posted in Brazil, Forest protection, Indigenous People / Comments are closed

Defending the Amazon, and our planet, from “Trump of the tropics”

DeforestationWithCattle&Forest_19735891_Shutterstock.com_RF

Cattle grazing at a ranch where burned trees and the edge of the rainforest are still visible in Brazil. Shutterstock.

Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro had a lot of common ground to share when they met in Washington last week – racism, misogyny, conspiracy theories, and contempt for science and journalism (the high quality type). They also converge on an early 1900’s view of development and environment as a zero-sum game. The more you have of one, the less there is of the other.

The economics don’t add up for either of them. Trump crows about “beautiful” coal, but the market says coal is a loser compared to renewables and cleaner fuels. Bolsonaro wants to get out of the Paris climate accord and roll back indigenous land rights in favor of agribusiness and mining. Meanwhile, the executive director of the powerful Brazilian Agribusiness Association says “Whoever wants to leave the Paris Agreement has never exported anything.”

Climate denial is central to Trump’s and Bolsonaro’s mindsets, and here the conspiracy theories really go to town. Trump thinks climate change is a Chinese conspiracy to strangle the US economy. Bolsonaro’s Foreign Minister thinks climate change is part of a “cultural Marxist” plot to keep down western democracies and build up Marxist China (he also thinks the “cultural Marxists” want to criminalize red meat and heterosexual sex). Interestingly, former President Dilma Rousseff’s first Minister of Science and Technology, former Communist Party of Brazil Congressman Aldo Rebelo, thought climate change was a capitalist conspiracy to crush Brazilian development. Why let political differences spoil a good conspiracy theory?

You can really only hold on to that early 20th century dichotomy if you ignore the costs of climate change – and the economic opportunities that arise from fixing the problem.

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Posted in Brazil, California, Carbon Markets, Forest protection, Indigenous People / Comments are closed

Tropical Trump bodes ill for the planet

DeforestationWithCattle&Forest_19735891_Shutterstock.com_RF

Cattle grazing at a ranch where burned trees and the edge of the rainforest are still visible in Brazil. Shutterstock.

Jair Bolsonaro, the winner of Brazil’s presidential election, has been dubbed “Tropical Trump.” The parallels are strong – both Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump show clear contempt for democratic institutions, are on the record with racist and misogynist statements, and play on and inflame the fears and hatred of their supporters.

They are also both dangerous to the planet.

Both think they can put up a wall around their countries, ignore or affront the rest of the world, and stoke up their national economies with no regard whatsoever for the environment. Both believe that solving climate change would impede the ability to profit from exploiting natural resources.

This bedrock “me-first” provincialism isn’t just based on generic ignorance. It ignores the fact that we all share a single planet and increasingly, things that happen in one place affect other places – ecologically and economically.

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Posted in Brazil, Forest protection, Paris Agreement / Comments are closed