Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

Read More Show Less
Flames from the Lake Fire burn on a hillside near a fire truck and other vehicles on Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Hughes, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

Read More Show Less
Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

Read More Show Less

A film by Felix Nuhr.

Thailand has a total population of 5,000 elephants. But of that number, 3,000 live in captivity, carrying tourists on their backs and offering photo opportunities made for social media.

Read More Show Less
Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."

Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods speaks during a press conference after a shooting at Forest High School on April 20, 2018 in Ocala, Florida. Gerardo Mora / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

A sheriff in Florida is under fire for deciding Tuesday to ban his deputies from wearing face masks while on the job—ignoring the advice of public health experts about the safety measures that everyone should take during the coronavirus pandemic as well as the rising Covid-19 death toll in his county and state.

Read More Show Less