‘Compensating’ rather than ‘reducing’ carbon, is it a fool’s game for companies?

“100% carbon-free exceptional coffee”; . The Promise of Nespresso, The coffee brand of the Nestle Group, which it widely displays on its advertising sites and on the Internet. The company notes that the company is “one of the first brands to communicate about a carbon neutral product.”
The NGO CCFD-Terre Solidaire, before dismantling the argument.

Nespresso aims to achieve carbon neutrality at all stages of the supply chain and lifecycle of its products
by 2022. This does not mean that the company will not emit any greenhouse gases anymore. In fact, like many others, it aims to “zero emissions”, by making it possible to play on the arm
carbon offset. In other words: financing projects that would remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as those that did not. Classically by planting trees.

Compensation is not deserving of a reduction.

The whole problem for Mirto Telianaki, CCFD-Terre Solidaire’s advocacy officer, is that Nespresso “only plans to reduce its emissions by 5% by 2022 and offset the remaining 95% of emissions,” she explains. Nespresso is not the only one. in a Its report “Carbon Offset, Anything But Neutrality”, published October 6, identifies CCFD-Terre Solidaire and Total Energies, which also aim for carbon neutrality. “The strategies remain very vague, but we understand that they are based largely on carbon compensation mechanisms,” explains Mirto Telianaki.

for example If the program “A Journey and a Tree” The study illustrates Air France, whose customers can donate to fund tree-planting projects in France or elsewhere. or
Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) module Created by Total in 2019, which plans to invest $100 million annually in creating or maintaining natural carbon sinks (forests, mangroves, other ecosystems that capture carbon dioxide naturally, etc.).

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The whole problem is that “reduction” and “compensation” are not equal, according to CCFD-Terre Solidaire. At least, “the compensation cannot be an excuse not to seek to reduce its emissions, which must be done urgently,” insists its president, Sylvie Bukhari de Pontiwal. Last August, in His report is ‘unclear’.Oxfam France has already denounced these “diversions for the need to reduce emissions” in front of “the recent doubling of carbon-neutral declarations – from countries as well as from companies – on the basis of disproportionate promises to plant trees.”

Unrealistic promises?

Conversion isn’t the only pitfall. “We identify a few compensation projects that tick all the boxes they should,” says Frederic Amell, Coordinator. earth friends. This means the real added value in CO2 capture, but also taking into account biodiversity challenges [ne pas faire de la monoculture d’arbres, par exemple] and the locals.”

However, “for a long time, due to the vigilance of NGOs, this carbon offset was mainly confined to the preservation and restoration of existing forests,” continues Frédéric Amell. Borders about to collapse? says Elise Nakarato, director of Climate Campaign atOxfam France. For example, we analyzed net zero emissions targets for the four largest oil and gas producers (Shell, BP, TotalEnergies and Eni). On their own, their plans may require reforestation
An area twice the size of the United Kingdom. “

This is the fear of Oxfam and CCFD-Terre Solidaire: that this carbon offset will very quickly lead to the planting of new forests, at the expense of the use of vast tracts of land. Especially in low income countries. “A cover from nature that would harm the local population, their lifestyles and their food sovereignty,” worries CCFD-Terre Solidaire.

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40,000 hectares of acacia forest raises questions

For Myrto Tilianaki, the project really symbolizes this drift: the cultivation of a A new acacia forest of 40,000 hectares That Total Energy and its partner
Forest Resources Management (FRM) A plan on an area of ​​55,000 hectares was acquired
batik hills, in the Republic of the Congo. Target ? Sequestered more than ten million tons of carbon dioxide over twenty years. But the project also has an “environmental and agroforestry” profession, advocates Paul Berto, Technical Director of the FRM Group.
In an interview with local media Makanisi. Of this 55,000 hectares, “15,000 protection zones will be created allowing the scattered natural forests to reconfigure themselves or even expand,” explains Paul Berto. “Between the rows of acacias, farmers will grow and grow cassava,” he continues. At the end of eight years, the wood of this acacia forest will be exploited to make charcoal sold in the surrounding markets, replacing that generated by natural deforestation, he explains in the interview.

CCFD-Terre Solidaire gives a whole new perspective by relying on the certification of a local partner association. “The project area is a dense savannah with gallery forests,” says Mirto Telianaki. Destroying this ecosystem of growing the vast majority of acacia – a species native to neither the Congo nor Africa – would affect wildlife. But also the indigenous people of the Batyki plateaus, who are partly dependent on these lands. These on-site relays also tell us that there is no evidence of consultation with neighboring communities. » Last April, Simon Counsellor, Former Director of Rainforest UKI have already photographed this acacia forest
Like a huge green wash “which likely masks serious local environmental and social damage.”

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“Excluding land from compensation mechanisms”

Do we expect an increase in the number of projects to plant new forests in the future? Total’s “NBS” unit is already suggesting this. For his part, Frédéric Amell says he sees more and more happening. “The number of companies wanting to compensate begins to increase while a large number of forests are already under restoration and conservation programmes.” Above all, the UN did not want a strict framework for reparations. “

COP26, which opens in Glasgow October 31, is an opportunity to partially rectify the situation. “States will resume their examination of the implementation guide that sets the rules for implementing
2015 Paris Agreement, Sylvie Bukhari de Pontoal explains. Discussions promise to be difficult,
In particular Article 6, which provides for the establishment of a trading system for greenhouse gas emissions [appelé aussi marché carbone] Between countries that emit more and those that export less. “The land sector (forests and agricultural soils) must remain completely outside these carbon markets, whether it is excluded from the potential compensation mechanisms identified in this Article 6,” insists CCFD-Terre Solidaire, which will go to Glasgow to defend this position…

Tess Larson

<p class="sign">"Tv geek. Certified beer fanatic. Extreme zombie fan. Web aficionado. Food nerd. Coffee junkie."</p>

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