Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

3 Ways the Marketplace Could End Rainforest Deforestation

Climate

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

Workers convert the Scottish Events Campus, where COP26 was to be held, into a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP via Getty Images

The most important international climate talks since the Paris agreement was reached in 2015 have been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
An aerial view of a crude oil storage facility of Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) in the Krasnodar Territory. Vitaly Timkiv / TASS / Getty Images

Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Examples (from left) of a lead pipe, a corroded steel pipe and a lead pipe treated with protective orthophosphate. U.S. EPA Region 5

Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.

Read More Show Less
ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

Read More Show Less

By Richard Connor

A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.

Read More Show Less