GLASGOW, November 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Billions of dollars in tropical forest investments pledged at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow should help strengthen indigenous peoples’ rights, not just help businesses reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, carbon market experts said Wednesday.

“Much of the discussion revolved around what (carbon trading) can do for big companies in the western world,” said Adriaan Korthuis, co-founder of the Climate Focus think tank in Rotterdam.

A growing number of companies have signed voluntary net zero emissions pledges, which they must now meet by reducing their own emissions or buying offsets elsewhere – often through forestry projects.

This should lead to an increase in the demand for nature-related compensations.

But “indigenous peoples and local communities … so far their position, their rights, their interests have been mostly neglected,” Korthuis said at a forestry seminar at the United Nations climate conference. COP26 in Glasgow, via a video link.

On Wednesday, banks, insurers and investors with $ 130 trillion at their disposal pledged to put climate change mitigation at the center of their work.

Earlier on Monday, more than 100 world leaders pledged to stop and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030, backed by $ 19 billion in public and private funds to invest in protection and restoration forests.

“The announcements are fantastic,” said Naomi Swickard of Verra, who helps set standards for carbon credit certification.

Yet, she said, the planned $ 19 billion was “nowhere near enough” to harness the full power of nature to help solve climate change.

LACK OF SUPERVISION

Data from Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace, which tracks the rapidly changing nature of carbon trading, indicated that the average price paid for a tonne of carbon dioxide absorbed in 2020 was $ 2.51.

So far in 2021, 54% more offsets have been issued compared to 2020, according to the data.

But carbon and forest trade experts at COP26 said host governments are doing too little to oversee transactions in expanding voluntary carbon markets (VCMs).

“Most governments don’t know what’s going on with VCMs in their countries,” Korthuis said, urging them to start by creating a database of projects before turning to more difficult issues, including how to do a fair and precise carbon accounting.

“The hot potato is how you compare the emission reductions” claimed by voluntary carbon markets and those from formal government-run carbon markets, he said.

“We really don’t know how these two systems compare.”

Talks are underway at the two-week Glasgow conference to develop rules governing carbon markets – one of the latest pieces of a rulebook governing the Paris Agreement.

Carbon market rules could in turn help expand and strengthen confidence in voluntary markets.

A voluntary carbon markets scaling task force, overseen by former Bank of England chief Mark Carney, is looking to help set the rules.

Some environmental groups oppose expanding carbon markets, saying companies and countries should focus on reducing their own emissions, not buying credits to offset emissions by preserving or planting. forests.

“We are extremely, extremely skeptical of this solution,” said Charlie Kronick, climate activist at Greenpeace.

The best way to limit the average increase in global temperatures to the 1.5 degree Celsius ceiling of the Paris Agreement “is to reduce emissions. This cannot be done through offsets,” he said. .

Investing in forest protection and other “nature-based solutions” to climate change through voluntary carbon markets “can help bridge the gap” when investors need to reduce more carbon than they can. do in their operations, said Annie Groth, analyst at Biofilica, a Brazilian carbon credit company.

“But this is not a quick fix,” she said.

She said voluntary carbon markets were often wrongly described “as a loophole by governments and companies not taking action” on their own to reduce emissions.

FAILED EFFORTS

Damian Fleming of the environmental group WWF said there have been many largely unsuccessful efforts to halt the still accelerating forest loss around the world, especially in major tropical forest nations.

These include the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF), the United Nations sustainability goals, and many targets set by global household brands.

The new efforts launched at COP26 to protect forests should, however, give “grounds for cautious optimism” given the broad support from governments and the pledge of billions of dollars.

But, “the objectives of the Paris Agreement are impossible without the effective participation of indigenous peoples and communities,” he added.

Reporting by Alister Doyle; edited by Laurie Goering: (Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit http: // news. trust.org/climate))

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