Probably the most controversial forest carbon offset tasks in Africa is that of oil firm TotalEnergies in Congo. On this nation situated within the coronary heart of the Congo Basin, the French large has begun planting a 40,000 hectare forest on the Batéké plateaux. Solely, in December 2022, the French information web site Mediapart unveiled inner Congolese authorities paperwork and testimonies proving that TotalEnergies appropriated land from farmers with out their free consent. A case that revives the controversy on “greenwashing”, and extra typically on offsetting forest carbon.
Forest carbon offsetting was initially considered a strategy to offset the emissions of people and companies looking for to scale back their carbon footprint whereas mitigating the results of local weather change. However critics of this mechanism argue that it’s a “a type of greenwashing (or greenwashing, editor’s word) which serves to delay the adoption of pressing local weather measures within the North, which reduces forests to the worth of their carbon alone and which, due to the appreciable uncertainties on easy methods to measure carbon, can result in the manufacturing of “fancy” credit, and even fraud “, emphasizes the Fund of the Rainforest Basis.
The pitfalls of a “resolution”
In keeping with the Middle for Worldwide Forestry Analysis and World Agroforestry (Cifor), forest carbon offsetting, together with the REDD+ program, will help cut back deforestation and forest degradation. Applied in recent times in a number of sub-Saharan African nations, notably within the Congo Basin and Madagascar, this system for Lowering greenhouse fuel emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) is supported by growth finance establishments such because the World Financial institution.
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In keeping with Cifor, carbon offsetting is known as into query, particularly due to the displacement of populations induced by the implementation of tasks in growing nations the place land is commonly scarce. As well as, these tasks are sometimes applied in distant or difficult-to-access areas, making it tough to observe and confirm the precise sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Compensation, on what situation?
Extra essential once more, “It is typically a short-term resolution to a long-term drawback. Bushes and forests take time to mature and attain their full carbon sequestration potential, and even then they could not be capable to absolutely offset the emissions produced,” emphasizes Cifor, which proposes to rethink compensation mechanisms, particularly via the safety of intact forests, and largely intact, to protect biodiversity and ecosystem providers. And the lands managed by the natives play a significant function on this regard.
Whereas encouraging the institution of science-based, honest and clear carbon offset programs, Cifor proposes higher administration of manufacturing forests and plantations, so as to present the supplies mandatory for the transition from a fuel-based economic system. fossil fuels to a bio-based economic system, and changing high-carbon supplies comparable to cement and metal. Options are being developed in nations like Ghana to exchange clinker, the primary part of cement, with calcined clay…
Past offsetting, decreasing emissions…
“This doesn’t imply that carbon offset tasks ought to cease, fairly the opposite. We should proceed to revive forests and peatlands whereas increasing renewable vitality and vitality effectivity tasks via offset applications,”says Dr Robert Nasi, the performing director common of Cifor.
We also needs to restore “in a regionally tailored and accepted approach, the huge tracts of degraded land on our planet, so as to produce a set of important ecosystem items and providers”, presents Cifor. However within the face of local weather change, the answer lies above all in decreasing greenhouse fuel (GHG) emissions via the gradual elimination of fossil fuels.
Jean Marie Takouleu