Why Brazil Needs to Rethink its Restrictions on Carbon Trading
At the United Nations climate talks last week, we heard a loud and clear message from science: global warming is moving at an alarming rate, faster than predicted. The scenarios are very worrisome, with the melting of glaciers, more frequent super storms and other extreme climate events. These have been responsible for huge waves of human migration to cities with low capacity to absorb them, resulting in conflicts, civil war and even the collapse of societies as a whole as we have seen in Syria.
The commitments made by countries in the Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, can reduce current trends by half. However, this is not enough. We need to multiply those commitments by two. This requires new approaches and innovative thinking now.
Brazil could position itself as a leader in the development of a low carbon economy. Reducing deforestation is the key to meeting the massive short-term emission reductions that science is demanding. It can be reduced rapidly, as the case of the Brazilian Amazon well illustrates. Deforestation went from 27,000 square kilometres to 6,000 square kilometres in the 2005-2015 period, resulting in emission reductions of 5.6 billion tons of CO2 — more than the European Trade Scheme has achieved.
The problem is that reducing deforestation costs money - it is not a matter of simply enforcing the law. Moving from an era of agricultural expansion as means for economic development, to one where forests are worth more standing than cut down is extremely costly. Tens of billions of dollars are pumped into cattle rearing and agriculture every year. Yet, for the forest’s part, extremely poor populations need to improve their livelihoods, especially in terms of education and health.
We need to place a value on the ecosystem services provided by forests, including their ability to capture and store the carbon that is warming our planet. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, plus forest conservation and the enhancement of carbon stocks, is referred to in the UN system as REDD+. REDD+projects prevent deforestation from happening where the trend of land clearing for agriculture is apparent.
Investing in protecting forests has been proven to be much more advantageous for the planet and for people than other approaches. For example, REDD+ projects help maintain rainfall regimes, conserve biological diversity and generate income opportunities for local populations, improving their access to healthcare and education resources. REDD+ thus is a driver of sustainable development in forested areas.
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