Top scientists have submitted a rebuttal to the West Et Al paper (August 2023) to Science for peer review, and urged the retraction or major revision of the study which discredited avoided deforestation projects.

Prof. Ed Mitchard (Space Intelligence) and colleagues affiliated to ao NASA, Conservation International, UCLA and the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences found major flaws in the research of West et al. A pre-publication of the West et al paper earlier this year, lead to critical articles in The Guardian and Die Zeit, which had a serious impact on the market. The findings of Mitchard et al are therefore highly relevant.

Key flaws found by Mitchard et al include issues with the comparison sites chosen, the global deforestation datasets used, and the incorrect calculation of carbon benefits from projects. They conclude that West and colleagues made numerical errors when calculating the carbon benefits of projects. Two different calculation errors meant together that the proportion of credits that represented real carbon benefits should be increased from 6 % to 68 %.

Serious errors impair an assessment of forest carbon projects: A rebuttal of West et al. (2023)

The REDD+ Business Initiative is proud to announce that Heliox, an internationally operating company based in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, has joined our network. Michael Colijn, CEO of Heliox, stated, ‘We are proud to join the REDD+ Business Initiative as it clearly contributes to our efforts to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, with a contribution to the UN-SDGs, biodiversity conservation, and social responsibility as important added values. We strongly believe that working together and sharing knowledge with other like-minded companies, as in RBI, is the only way forward for impactful climate action.’

Heliox provides smart energy solutions tailored to and scalable within the fast-changing e-mobility landscape. The company is a market leader in fast charging systems for public transport, e-trucks, marine, mining, and port equipment. Michel Schuurman, chair of RBI, commented, ‘We are delighted that Heliox has joined the RBI network. It is an important player in the world of decarbonization, with a broad perspective on solving wider sustainability challenges’.

There is an interesting event coming up that I would like to invite you to. This is a public meeting of the REDD+ Business Initiative entitled

Forest conservation in the tropics; indispensable for achieving your climate goals

Date: March 27th, 2024, 15:30-17:30 uur
Place: Planetarium Meeting Center, Kroonwijkdreef 11, Amsterdam (Gaasperplas, metro 53)

As a company, you can make a significant contribution to tropical forest conservation while also advancing your ambitions in climate action, biodiversity preservation, and sustainable economic development.

The REDD+ Business Initiative (RBI) cordially invites you to a special meeting where you can learn from leading companies about their approaches to this crucial issue, as well as the benefits of joining the RBI network. Our network extends both nationally and internationally through partnerships such as the NCS Alliance of the World Economic Forum and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. We will delve into developments in the voluntary carbon market, which is vital in realizing climate ambitions and is currently undergoing rapid development. In summary an afternoon of inspiration and motivation!

Program

  • 15:00  Walk in
  • 15:30  Introductie to RBI Michel Schuurman Chair RBI/Treevive
  • 15:45  Company perspective
    • Thomas Leneveu Tarkett
    • Rudi Daelmans Heliox
    • Jop Weterings McKinsey
  • 16:25  Audience discussion
  • 16:25  Co-operation NCS Alliance Jennica Gordon WBCSD/WEF
  • 17:00  Lobby and Advocacy
    • VCM framework proposal NL/EUVera Olgers Ministry EZK
    • Good Climate PracticeAdriaan Korthuis Climate Focus
  • 17:20  Closing and drinks

Registration

To register your attendance, please fill in the form below or email .

The mission of the REDD+ Business Initiative is to support companies in integrating REDD+ into their business strategy, providing information and encouraging other companies and governments to participate and support our cause. The attached RBI Nieuwsbrief provides a recent overview of the most relevant developments in this area. If you would like to receive our newsletter more often, sign up here or by sending an email .

 

Register

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Despite ongoing high deforestation rates in 2022, there is also encouraging news, particularly in Brazil. The Amazon rainforest witnessed a 22% reduction in deforestation for the year ending July 31, 2023, according to data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE). This positive trend is credited to initiatives led by President Lula da Silva, including the reinstatement of monitoring programs, the reinvigoration of conservation efforts, the formation of alliances with other tropical forest nations, and a commitment to eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030.

While this marks a notable improvement from Jair Bolsonaro’s era, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon remains higher than mid-2010s levels. The concentrated deforestation areas are Pará (36.4%), Mato Grosso (23.2%), and Amazonas (17.3%), with only Mato Grosso experiencing an increase in deforestation in 2023. An increase is also observed in neighboring Bolivia, where government-supported soybean cultivation is a significant driver of deforestation.

https://news.mongabay.com/2023/11/deforestation-in-the-brazilian-amazon-falls-22-in-2023/

The overall outcome of COP28 was hopeful in terms of commitments made to move away from fossil fuels, tripling renewable energy, and providing additional funds for the South. Another encouraging development was the announcement made by Brazil, the host of COP30 in 2025, to establish the ‘Tropical Forests Forever’ investment fund, aiming to encourage conservation of tropical forests and strongly discourage deforestation and forest degradation. The fund aims for an initial capital of 250 billion dollars.

However, there was also cause for concern about the outcome of COP28. The tripling of renewable energy will stimulate the large-scale use of biomass, with a considerable risk of converting primary forests into plantations. Additionally, the lack of progress on Article 6 is concerning for the future of voluntary carbon markets, although it leaves room for bilateral agreements.

https://bosplus.be/nieuws/de-uitkomst-van-cop28-verre-van-voldoende-maar-wel-het-begin-van-het-einde-voor-fossiele-brandstoffen/

A recent study conducted by the rating agency Sylvera reveals that companies integrating carbon credits into their climate strategies achieve a higher level of decarbonization compared to those that do not. This contradicts the prevailing concern that carbon credits are often used for greenwashing.

The study analyzed data from 100 companies across diverse sectors spanning the years 2013-2021, with half of the companies incorporating carbon credits and the other half not. The average annual emissions reduction in Scope 1 and 2 for all companies was approximately 5%. Companies utilizing carbon credits demonstrated a robust performance, achieving an average reduction of 6.2% per year. In contrast, companies abstaining from carbon credit purchases exhibited a lower annual reduction of 3.4%.

It’s crucial to highlight that companies utilizing carbon credits do not apply them for Scope 1 and 2 emission reductions but use them as additional contributions to the broader fight against climate change. Among the companies with the highest decarbonization rates, combined with the purchase of (nature-based) carbon credits, are notable names such as Bank of America, Visa, Telefonica, and Audi (Volkswagen Group).

Source: Sylvera

Rating agency Sylvera has awarded Tambopata an AA rating, the second-highest score on a scale of 8. Tambopata serves as a noteworthy example for all REDD+ projects discussed in Sylvera’s “The State of Carbon Credits 2023” (1). Tambopata has achieved a perfect score of 103% on CO2 effectiveness, along with high scores in additionality, permanence, and co-benefits such as biodiversity conservation and contribution to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To date, Sylvera has granted only four REDD+ projects an AA rating, the highest available in the market. In contrast, the other 49 assessed REDD+ projects are mostly of average quality. Notably, reforestation projects and those dedicated to improving forest management tend toreceive lower scores than REDD+ projects. Furthermore, projects focusing on technicalsolutions receive even lower ratings. This trend is reflected in the pricing dynamics. Whileprices for all project types have fallen this year to where they were in 2021, REDD+ projectsand other nature based projects have maintained their premium.

While the current challenging market offers buyers the opportunity to acquire high-qualitycarbon credits, this situation could change rapidly as more companies actively strive for theirnet-zero targets.

1) https://www.sylvera.com/resources/the-state-of-carbon-credits-report

The Dutch Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) states that global climate justice is a necessary condition for a successful climate transition (1). According to the council the Netherlands should expedite its emissions reduction efforts to achieve the goal of net zero before 2050. This would leave leave a larger share of the remaining carbon budget available for developing countries, a crucial requirement for a just transition. To accomplish this acceleration, the Netherlands must achieve a 90 percent reduction in emissions by 2040. These recommendations align with those in a recent advice (2) from the European Scientific Advisory Council on Climate Change, which also emphasizes that we can only achieve these tightened targets if we contribute directly to emission reductions outside the EU.

The AIV encourages companies to take responsibility and recommends the use of international carbon markets fort his purpose. According to the council, these markets can bring, under the right conditions, more sustainable investments to developing countries. The council also recommends that the Netherlands actively engage in international efforts to strengthen the regulation of these markets to prevent greenwashing.

The advisory council fails to mention that the Dutch government itself can also contribute to climate justice through the carbon market. Under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, the Netherlands could purchase carbon credits (ITMOs) from developing countries. This approach represents a significant financial contribution to the climate ambitions of developing countries and helps achieve stricter climate goals at home. Switzerland is one of the countries already implementing this approach. In particular, the purchase of forest credits from countries with an active REDD+ policy makes an important contribution to climate justice, as the companies in the RBI network have shown.

  1. Publication: Klimaatrechtvaardigheid als noodzaak
  2. Publication: Scientific advice for the determination of an EU wide 2040

A group of researchers, led by Jesús Aguirre-Gutiérrez from the University of Oxford, has found that the actualimpact of planting trees is quite disappointing: biodiversity declines while carbon storage remains limited.

Planting trees to offset CO2 emissions has become a trend, particularly in the tropics where large monoculturetree plantations are established because trees grow faster there, sequestering carbon more quickly. The concept seems logical: trees remove carbon from the atmosphere, so if we plant enough of them, we can naturallymitigate climate change.

However, carbon sequestration tree plantations are usually monocultures dominated globally by just five tree species: teak, mahogany, cedar, silk oak, and acacia. Economically, this makes sense, but biodiversity in thoseforests is often lacking. Sometimes, infertile old forest soil is used, but more often, trees are planted in areas thatwere never forests but healthy biodiverse grasslands.

Moreover, an even more critical point made by the researchers is that even with significant efforts, the carbon storage capacity of such tree plantations is limited. “The current trend of planting trees for carbon storage leads to extensive homogenization for a small carbon gain,” state the researchers. “An area as large as the US, the UK, China, and Russia combined would need to be forested to sequester one year’s worth of emissions.” This is completely unfeasible. “In conclusion, prioritizing the preservation of the original ecosystem and maximizing itsfunctions should take precedence over the economic focus on carbon storage projects,” they emphasize.

Sources:

Valuing the functionality of tropical ecosystems beyond carbon: Trends in Ecology & Evolution (cell.com)

While the ICVCM aims to ensure the quality of the carbon credits, the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) is directed towards corporate claims. The VCMI Claims Code of Practice was published on June 23d, 2023. It offers companies guidelines for the credible utilization of high-quality carbon credits and the associated climate-related claims. The VCMI underscores that companies can use investments in high quality carbon credits to complement their science-based decarbonization strategies. Such actions can play a pivotal role in limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

RBI welcomes the initiatives of the VCMI and the IC-VCM as they are crucial in aiding companies to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims, thereby mitigating potential risks such as reputational damage and potential fines from domestic authorities.