Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

3 Ways the Marketplace Could End Rainforest Deforestation

Climate
3 Ways the Marketplace Could End Rainforest Deforestation

There was a lot of talk about deforestation at the latest round of international climate talks in December 2015 and it's no mystery why: Tropical deforestation and forest degradation account for as much as 19 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions today.

The good news? Powerful market-based strategies for tackling such emissions are emerging with several Brazilian states leading the way. They show that, if scaled up, we can, in fact, halt emissions from deforestation in the Amazon—the largest remaining tropical forest in the world—within a matter of years.


Here's how we get there:

1. States Using Financial Incentives to Spur Change

The Brazilian state of Acre, home of world-renowned rubber tapper and environmental leader Chico Mendes, is developing a market-based system to reward landowners and forest communities financially for conserving forest.

This and other policies resulted in a 70-percent reduction in deforestation between 2005 and 2014, keeping 177 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. At the same time, Acre significantly improved incomes and social indicators.

The state recently did the first-ever international REDD+ credit transaction with the German development bank and 70 percent of the proceeds were invested in projects in indigenous and forest communities.

Two other Brazilian states, Para and Mato Grosso, are following suit.

Pedro Taques, governor of Mato Grosso, has proposed an ambitious and collaborative zero-deforestation rural development plan for a vast area of native forest and savanna. It would protect 60 percent of the state's territory, an area almost the size of France, while ramping up agriculture in already cleared or degraded land. The plan also promises to improve incomes for 100,000 poor family farmer families.

2. Carbon Markets Connecting to Gain Strength

All three states consider carbon markets to be critical to their success, along with zero-deforestation zones needed to build the sustainable supply chains consumer-goods companies now demand to meet their own climate and conservation commitments.

For all of this, the timing is right: California, with the world's most comprehensive carbon market and ambitious emissions reductions targets is moving ahead on a regulatory process to allow states that reduce deforestation to sell emissions reductions into its markets.

This step would send an enormously powerful signal to the Amazon that forest protection can indeed be good business—for farmers, ranchers and forest communities.

3. Corporate Supply Chains Are Coming Onboard

Major consumer goods companies are playing a growing role in the effort to halt deforestation and forest degradation. Some examples:

  • Walmart, Unilever, Nestlé and more than 400 other companies joined the Consumer Goods Forum, which has committed to zero net deforestation in major commodity supply chains by 2020.
  • European Union oilseed buyers prompted Brazilian soy traders to call on their suppliers to furnish deforestation-free Amazon soy after 2006.
  • Brazil's biggest supermarkets called on their meat packers to provide deforestation-proof beef after the Brazilian Attorney General's Office warned Walmart and other retailers in 2008 that they could be held liable for beef grown on illegally deforested lands. This sends a strong signal to Brazilian farmers that deforestation is bad business.

Potential Setbacks

There are also some new and remaining challenges ahead.

After a decade of progress, deforestation in Brazil hit a historic low in 2012—but has since risen about 22 percent above that level. With the country in political turmoil and economic crisis, proposed federal incentives for forest protection have not materialized and some members of Brazil's Congress are now proposing to roll back forest protection.

Meanwhile, the demand for REDD+ carbon credits needed to end large-scale deforestation is not there just yet, which could lead to delays.

But as global pressure builds to address climate change, there is also a new resolve to address and, importantly, fund efforts to halt deforestation. When working in tandem with the market-driven changes under way today, they can keep us on the path to zero deforestation.

A view of Lake Powell from Romana Mesa, Utah, on Sept. 8, 2018. DEA / S. AMANTINI / Contributor / Getty Images

By Robert Glennon

Interstate water disputes are as American as apple pie. States often think a neighboring state is using more than its fair share from a river, lake or aquifer that crosses borders.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Plugging and capping abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells in Central Appalachia could generate thousands of jobs. StushD80 / Getty Images

Plugging and capping abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells in Central Appalachia could generate thousands of jobs for the workers and region who stand to lose the most from the industry's inexorable decline.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less