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kassy

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Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« on: March 24, 2021, 01:44:33 PM »
Big Oil’s Net-Zero Plans Show the Hard Limits of Carbon Offsets

If you can’t pay the interest on your debts, an IOU isn’t going to be enough to save you from bankruptcy.

That’s the problem with the succession of net zero commitments emerging from companies and governments. The carbon emissions generated by our current industrial and agricultural systems are going to lead to a disaster far worse than insolvency without vigorous efforts to reduce them. If promises to offset them with carbon-absorbing activities are to be worth anything, they’re going to need to be more than aspirational words on paper.

Take Royal Dutch Shell Plc. It was the first oil major to make a commitment to cutting the emissions from its customers — known as “Scope 3 emissions” —  making it one of the most progressive oil companies on climate.

That was 2017.  Last month, Shell set out its latest plan to get to net zero. The big reveal left climate experts mostly unimpressed, in part because the company plans to increase its total fossil fuel output in the near term by boosting gas production, and the majority of its capital expenditure will continue to go towards oil and gas. To get to net zero while doing that, it plans to capture 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year via “nature-based” offsets by 2030.

Days after Shell’s announcement, Italian oil company Eni SpA updated its own net-zero strategy. A Greenpeace UK study of its earlier 2019 pledge to use forest conservation to offset its emissions said such a promise would have to account for as much as 6% of the world’s capacity to absorb carbon in forest land. Eni’s update increased its 2030 forestry offset target by a third, to 40 million tons of CO2 per year.

Plenty of other companies and governments have jumped on the bandwagon. A tracking project from American University lists dozens of large companies that, as of December 21, cited carbon dioxide-removal (CDR) in their pledges for climate neutrality. They include Apple Inc., Walmart Inc., British Airways Plc, and many of their peers. It’s not just companies. The European Union’s promise to cut emissions 55% by 2030 has been criticized for relying in part on land-based “carbon sinks” to soak up some of the pollution.

As more companies follow suit, the total volume of offsets they rely on will quickly exceed the ability of the planet to provide them. Without more concrete near-term actions, “net zero” risks becoming a fairytale providing cover for the heavy emitting industries, particularly those in the fossil fuel sector who have aggressively blocked climate action.

...

There’s work underway to impose more rigor on the flurry of aspirational pledges. The Science-Based Targets initiative, the closest thing to an arbiter of emissions reductions plans for companies, is aiming to release guidance on net zero ahead of the COP26 climate conference in November. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which has been developing standards for measuring and managing emissions since 1998, plans to publish final guidance on negative emissions by next October.

One popular proposal suggests having each net-zero pledge break out how much will come from actually reducing emissions, versus the portion of emissions the company or government assumes it will offset.

That would be welcome, but also doesn’t necessarily give enough useful information on ambition, as Stephen Smith, executive director of the Oxford Net Zero initiative, argued in a recent comment in Nature Communications Earth & Environment. What would be more helpful, he writes, is information on three things: how CDR will be achieved, how emissions will be kept permanently out of the atmosphere, and near-term targets.

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/big-oil-s-net-zero-plans-show-the-hard-limits-of-carbon-offsets-1.1570273

So exhibit A since it is everyone´s favorite solution we are already running out of budget (and also all the trees we plant now will be 10 by then so that is a smallish gain).
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kassy

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2021, 01:50:13 PM »
The question of whether carbon offsets actually help in the transition to a net zero economy is a thorny one for many companies. The recent Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, set up by Mark Carney, says there is a role for carbon offsets (see our recent interview with Alex Hanafi of the Environmental Defense Fund).

But many researchers insist that offsets don’t actually reduce carbon emissions and could make it harder to achieve a fully decarbonized economy. Kate Dooley is a research fellow at the University of Melbourne who studies the impact of carbon accounting, including offsets.

DOOLEY: My work looks at whether or not offsets in carbon trading are actually doing anything to mitigate climate change, because if these aren’t helping us to reduce emissions, then we’re just moving deck chairs on the Titanic.

For various reasons, carbon offsets tend to primarily focus on forest offsets, forest and land. And that’s where the real problem is, because continuing to dig up and burn fossil fuels and emitting fossil fuel emissions into the atmosphere, and then removing these by growing forests doesn’t actually reduce atmospheric emissions or atmospheric concentrations over a century-long time scale.

The Fast and the Slow Carbon Cycle
Half of what we emit gets taken up by natural systems — the land and ocean carbon sinks. But these are known as the “fast” carbon cycle, as carbon cycles continuously between the atmosphere, ocean and land. When we take up extra carbon through the planting of trees, it stays in the fast carbon cycle, cycling back into the atmosphere. But it doesn’t return to geological storage on time scales relevant to humans — the process of carbon moving from the fast carbon cycle to the effectively permanent geological (fossil fuel) reserves doesn’t happen in anything less than a millennia.

So what we’re doing when we burn fossil fuels is adding emissions to the carbon cycle in aggregate. Then, when we pull carbon into trees, it’s still in the carbon cycle and has not been fully eliminated.

BRINK: Can you explain what is meant by the carbon cycle — why is it that this lasts only a relatively short time?

DOOLEY: The simple answer is that trees (like all living things) die and their carbon is returned to the atmosphere. It’s not really as simple as that, because forests can live for centuries, but it’s a much shorter time than carbon needs to be stored if it is to properly compensate for the release of fossil emissions, the majority of which stay in the atmosphere for over 1,000 years.

The Problem of Permanence
This is referred to as permanence, which is a time scale issue: When we plant more trees, we can’t guarantee that we’ve taken this carbon up for 1,000 years. The carbon cycle of trees is cycling on years and decades, whereas geological reservoirs are essentially permanent.

Additionally, burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide emissions immediately; growing trees to remove these emissions takes many decades, during which time carbon dioxide continues to accumulate in the atmosphere, causing warming.

BRINK: Given what you have just laid out, can you conceive of a carbon offset that would actually reduce the net amount of carbon in the atmosphere?

DOOLEY: Carbon offsetting is not really designed to reduce the net amount of emissions in the atmosphere — it’s designed to not increase the amount of emissions in the atmosphere. Offsetting essentially means for every ton we remove, we emit a ton somewhere else.

...

https://www.brinknews.com/carbon-offsets-do-not-reduce-carbon-emissions-only-delay-them/

Exhibit B: It actually does not help that much.
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kassy

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2021, 01:56:16 PM »
So of course the actual reductions we need is reducing actual emissions, not BS pledges.

Any carbon reduction proposal by companies using offsets should also set out a reduction towards zero overall compliant with the Paris goals.
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2021, 10:33:21 PM »
Thanks Kassy, The permanence issue of forest carbon offsets has always bothered me. I think of carbon in the carbonate sink as permanence when it settles on the continental shelf and fast cycle carbon when it dissolves below the saturation horizon. The forest carbon cycle is much faster than dissolved CO2 in the deep oceans and that doesn’t seem like a good place to put it because a thousand years doesn’t seem long enough to me either. 
 
 

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2021, 11:18:22 PM »
I assumed emission calculations assumed we kept the forests we have not that we removed them all. It seems like double counting to me.

gerontocrat

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2021, 11:41:02 PM »
So of course the actual reductions we need is reducing actual emissions, not BS pledges.

Offsets, vague pledges, blah blah, meanwhile the big banks' support to fossil fuel companies, if anything, accelerates.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/24/big-banks-trillion-dollar-finance-for-fossil-fuels-shocking-says-report
Coal, oil and gas firms have received $3.8tn in finance since the Paris climate deal in 2015
Quote
The world’s biggest 60 banks have provided $3.8tn of financing for fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2015, according to a report by a coalition of NGOs.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic cutting energy use, overall funding remains on an upward trend and the finance provided in 2020 was higher than in 2016 or 2017, a fact the report’s authors and others described as “shocking”.

Oil, gas and coal will need to be burned for some years to come. But it has been known since at least 2015 that a significant proportion of existing reserves must remain in the ground if global heating is to remain below 2C, the main Paris target. Financing for new reserves is therefore the “exact opposite” of what is required to tackle the climate crisis, the report’s authors said.

US and Canadian banks make up 13 of the 60 banks analysed, but account for almost half of global fossil fuel financing over the last five years, the report found. JPMorgan Chase provided more finance than any other bank. UK bank Barclays provided the most fossil fuel financing among all European banks and French bank BNP Paribas was the biggest in the EU.

Overall financing dipped by 9% in pandemic-hit 2020, but funding for the 100 fossil fuel companies with the biggest expansion plans actually rose by 10%. Citi was the biggest financier of these 100 companies in 2020.

A commitment to be net zero by 2050 has been made by 17 of the 60 banks, but the report describes the pledges as “dangerously weak, half-baked, or vague”, arguing that action is needed today. Some banks have policies that block finance for coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, but almost two-thirds of funding is for oil and gas companies.

The last 2 images are from the IEA. as is this quote..

Quote
Clean energy investment has been relatively resilient in the downturn, but a flat trend of spending since 2015 is far from enough to bring a lasting reduction in emissions
[/size]

click images to enlarge
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KiwiGriff

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2021, 07:09:40 AM »
Well worth a watch.

Rethinking Energy — The Great Stranding: How Inaccurate Mainstream LCOE Estimates are Creating a Trillion-Dollar Bubble in Conventional Energy Assets.



I know it does not quite fit here.
But am not sure where to place it to get the most attention from those who should be thinking about this .

Animals can be driven crazy by placing too many in too small a pen. Homo sapiens is the only animal that voluntarily does this to himself.
Notebooks of Lazarus Long.
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Iain

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2021, 10:56:15 AM »
Lesson to be learned here, beware of arguments which start with an unfair comparison then witter on for 18 mins with non applicable comparisons and analogies, hoping you didn’t spot the unfair comparison.

Did you spot it?

Dispatchable vs Renewable + 4 hours of storage

If it was dispatchable vs Renewable + whole winter season of storage in batteries it would be totally different.

See the Hydrogen Economy thread – discussion around repurposing the existing gas grid and depleted gas fields for long term storage of H2
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kassy

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2021, 04:24:12 PM »
The problem is simple:

1) We emit way too much carbon.
2) To get that to zero we should limit the production of that ensure our increase is zero then decrease it ASAP.
3) All the trees we plant as offsets only displace the problem a bit in time as long as our overall emissions do not decrease.

PS: last two posts seem off topic (not about offsets) so pursue on another thread.
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Iain

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2021, 05:44:36 PM »
Given non dispatchable renewables (except Hydro, though there will not be enough of it) and variable demand, heavily skewed to winter use, closer to a need in the case of space heating,  to get to net zero involves transition from FFs to renewables, which requires a mix of:

Overcapacity of renewables – wind, PV

Offsets which work long term – build with wood, not concrete. The nearly-all-wood, five story Horyu-ji temple in Ikaruga, Japan is 1414 years old

Very Large scale seasonal storage, that’s where H2 storage is relevant to net zero

NB Production and emission are different – e.g. stripping produced methane for it’s hydrogen and storing the CO2 has no CO2 emissions
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Iain

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2021, 11:02:56 PM »

ref #1
"trees (like all living things) die and their carbon is returned to the atmosphere"

Not true of the vast majority of trees in the UK which are used for construction (OK, some for paper, but that's on the decline)

It's a carbon sequestration programme with houses as a byproduct which has been running for 100 years+

https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/statistics-by-topic/timber-statistics/uk-wood-production-and-trade-provisional-figures/
NB "Green" means newly cut living timber in teh ref.

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gerontocrat

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2021, 11:34:00 PM »

ref #1
"trees (like all living things) die and their carbon is returned to the atmosphere"

Carbon in the soil is, I understand 3 times the amount of carbon in living plants.

In forests, trees die and the carbon goes into the ground. New farming techniques based on natural processes seek to increase the carbon content of the soil.

In the tundra of parts of Siberia are carbon rich deposits of organic matter built up over many thousands of years of plant growth in several inter-glacial periods.

In Africa. e.g. the Congo are forests on top of immensely thick peat from dead plant life.

Every lump of coal is the remains of plant life buried for up to several hundred million years

I don't understand the quote.
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kassy

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2021, 06:03:32 PM »
https://phys.org/news/2021-04-trees-world-offset-society-carbon.html

...

Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, transforming it into leaves, wood and roots. This everyday miracle has spurred hopes that plants—particularly fast growing tropical trees—can act as a natural brake on climate change, capturing much of the CO2 emitted by fossil fuel burning. Across the world, governments, companies and conservation charities have pledged to conserve or plant massive numbers of trees.

But the fact is that there aren't enough trees to offset society's carbon emissions—and there never will be. I recently conducted a review of the available scientific literature to assess how much carbon forests could feasibly absorb. If we absolutely maximized the amount of vegetation all land on Earth could hold, we'd sequester enough carbon to offset about ten years of greenhouse gas emissions at current rates. After that, there could be no further increase in carbon capture.

https://phys.org/news/2021-04-trees-world-offset-society-carbon.html

Article is long and detailed but this is the crux. We cannot compensate our stupidity with trees.

To go net zero you stop emitting.
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kassy

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2021, 03:28:30 PM »
Permanence of Nature-Based Climate Solutions at Risk

Conserving native ecosystems helps sequester carbon and mitigate climate change, but new statistical modeling questions the permanence of California’s carbon-rich forests with climate change.

...

Mitigating climate change will require both reduced emissions and increasing carbon sinks. Nature-based Climate Solutions (NCS) refers to efforts to conserve ecosystems that could serve as effective carbon sinks to help mitigate climate change. But what if projected climate change renders these same ecosystems vulnerable to loss of carbon storage rather than gain?

Coffield et al. [2021] use several complementary statistical approaches to evaluate the projected permanence of carbon stored in forests and other wildlands of California. They project that several proposed areas for ambitious expansion of NCS may not be able to support carbon-rich forests at the end of this century.

In a companion Viewpoint piece, Anderegg [2021] explains the need to understand these risks when promoting NCS. He argues that NCS still has good potential, but it must be paired with significant emissions reductions to be a viable contributor to overall climate mitigation.

https://eos.org/editor-highlights/permanence-of-nature-based-climate-solutions-at-risk
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kassy

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2021, 01:45:08 PM »
Why I refuse to collude with polluters in the carbon offsetting lie

By Yeb Saño

And so it’s come to this. The inspiring mobilisation of Gen Z, the ever more urgent warnings from scientists, and the heartbreaking impacts of a world living in a changed climate have made straight out climate denial untenable. But we’re a long way still from climate justice.

Big polluters that have continuously failed to stop their business models pumping out carbon or driving deforestation are now hoping they can simply throw money at the problem to make it go away.

That ‘away’ they’re relying on – through a reliance on carbon offsetting to deliver their net zero claims – is the Global South. It’s the forests whose indigenous stewards are already fighting deadly battles to defend their rights. It’s the lands of communities who are already on the frontline of devastating climate impacts. It’s the ecosystems that need enforceable protections through laws won at home – not an accounting trick in a corporate spreadsheet.   

No matter how much Shell’s net zero scenarios count on the creation of ‘Brazil-sized forests’, the Global South is not a blank space for polluters to fill with trees that serve their interests, rather than the species, nourishment and self-determination of the local area. Offsetting has a long history of not actually reducing overall levels of carbon, while exacerbating problems over land rights, food security and biodiversity across the majority of the world – in countries that have the least responsibility for driving the climate crisis.

These injustices are magnified and deepened by its central flaw: offsetting allows big polluters to delay and distract from reducing their own emissions. The most significant win at the heart of the Paris Agreement – fought for by movements across the global south and developing country negotiators at the UN – was making the goal to keep global temperature rise below 1.5C a collective shared mission. But as thousands of companies announce net zero plans, far too many are failing to grasp the true transformation required to align with this crucial path. 

If major companies can’t make themselves compatible with staying below 1.5C, their business models have no future. Yet oil companies, airlines and food giants are not just hoping no one calls them out for this ruse – they’re launching schemes like the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets to force through a “consensus on legitimacy of offsetting”. They’re courting CEOs and politicians to entrench this false solution in the run-up to the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, UK, where negotiations will focus on options for trading emissions. Most cynically and shamelessly, this week the Taskforce pitched offsetting as a win for the Global South. 

We have seen this kind of spiel before. The lie that coal is necessary to alleviate poverty. The falsehood that fossil fuels provide accessible energy. It is greenwashing at its most patronising and dangerous. 

This Taskforce talks of an offsetting market worth $100bn. That figure has a hollow echo in the broken promises made by rich nations to provide $100bn each year to support climate action across the Global South. Buying up our forests, our lands, our nature to greenwash their business as usual is no substitute for climate finance to empower and enable economic transformation. 

Offsetting is based on exploiting natural carbon sinks of the Global South to justify continued pollution. Voluntary carbon market proponents are now trying to exploit the needs of Global South governments for financial flows to protect nature and transition to 1.5C-compatible economies, by serving up these false solutions as the only thing on offer. Something that people like me should gratefully accept and collude with.

I refuse and I resist. We need justice from these polluting companies – not passing the buck because they can’t be bothered to reduce their own emissions. Just as climate justice litigation closes in to sue the polluters most responsible for the climate crisis, they’ve managed to evolve a new trick to screw us all.

Demanding any less than emissions reductions to keep global temperatures under 1.5C is non-negotiable. This murky business is not climate action. Don’t fall for it.

Yeb Saño is director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and a former climate negotiator for the Philippines.

https://www.climatechangenews.com/2021/09/23/i-refuse-collude-polluters-carbon-offsetting-lie/
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NeilT

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2021, 07:00:27 PM »
It all sounds very good now.  But in the 1980's and early 90's Greenpeace had no interest in CO2 emissions or global consumption of fossil fuels.

The only word you could get out of Greenpeace in those days was "Recycle"!

Now they want to focus on CO2. Whilst removing Nuclear power I might add.

The irony is stark.
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NeilT

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2021, 08:53:03 PM »
The UK has published it's Net Zero strategy document.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1026655/net-zero-strategy.pdf

One of the things which struck me was the wording on page 190.

It would appear to me that the UK is intending to encourage local biomass and then burn the biomass in a CCS setting.  Essentially sucking the carbon out of the atmosphere with the trees then burning it for energy and locking the carbon in permanent storage.

The feasibility is open to doubt right now with CCS technologies being in their infancy.

But the idea is, at the very least, interesting.  Far from producing zero emissions power, it appears to be promoting negative emissions power.

I will continue watching to see how this turns out.  Because you can plant a forest and that forest will suck up CO2 for some time.  However it will eventually start returning carbon back to the carbon cycle.  By taking it away and removing the carbon through burning it for power, then sequestrating that carbon in permanent sinks, it increases the long term retention of the carbon removed from the atmosphere.
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kassy

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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2021, 05:44:19 PM »
Missing forests are messing with climate targets

Countries are using forests to pad their climate commitments. New satellite images might call their bluff

In late 2018, the Vietnamese government submitted a document it thought would be worth $51.5 million. The country was expecting to be paid through a UN-backed scheme called REDD+ that pays countries if they reduce emissions by keeping forests standing. By the reckoning of the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the country had done pretty well: it calculated that forest cover in Vietnam had increased over the previous 25 years, from 28 per cent in 1990 to about 41 per cent in 2015.

There was just one problem: satellite data told a very different story. Keiko Nomura, who at the time was getting her PhD in geosciences from the University of Edinburgh, compared the deforestation rates submitted by seven countries to satellite-based observations of tree cover change. Nomura, who had previously worked as a program officer for the UN Environment Program on several REDD+ projects in South-East Asia wanted to assess whether the interventions countries were planning would actually target those areas with the highest rates of deforestation. To her surprise she found that, contrary to what the country had claimed, deforestation of natural forests in Vietnam had actually increased over the time period, a trend other satellite-based studies have also noted.

This wasn’t the first time researchers had noted discrepancies between country deforestation estimates and satellite images. A few years earlier, Do-Hyung Kim, then a PhD student at the University of Maryland, was attempting to verify a claim made by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that deforestation in the tropics had reduced by 25 per cent between the 1990s and the 2000s, based in large part on estimates countries had provided to the FAO. Kim analysed 5,444 satellite images, comparing past and present forest cover. His study completely contradicted the FAO’s report. Instead of a decrease, he found there had been a 62 per cent acceleration in net deforestation over the same time period.

These studies hint at a crucial and contentious problem in climate policy: uncertainties in how we define and monitor forest cover and emissions could jeopardise global climate change commitments. But forests are a key component of the Paris Agreement. According to a 2017 estimate, a quarter of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that countries have pledged will come largely from forests; either BY increasing their carbon sucking potential, or decreasing the rate at which they are being destroyed.

 

Now scientists have a new and powerful tool at their disposal. Rapid advancements in space-borne technologies, high resolution imagining, as well as enhanced computing power has ushered in what some have called the “golden age” of forest monitoring, giving scientists unprecedented information about how much carbon is actually stored and released by forests. Experts say it is the first step in creating a global standard for calculating forest carbon and emissions, but it could also highlight large discrepancies between the amount of carbon countries say is locked up in their forests and what is actually there.

...

The real test will come to a head as early as this year when countries come together to start defining the rules about how they will measure their collective progress towards achieving the Paris agreement’s climate goals, known as the “global stocktake.” Under the Paris Agreement, every five years the parties conduct a massive bookkeeping exercise to look at what countries said they would do and what has actually been done. The first one, set to start next year and conclude in 2023, will be one of the most important benchmarks against which countries decide when and how much to ramp up their climate commitments.

...

According to published study by Grassi and his colleagues, there’s a 5.5 billion ton difference – roughly the annual emissions of the United States – between what largely independent, satellite-based global models are telling us about what forests are emitting and what country-level greenhouse gas inventories are telling us. In large part, it’s because satellites differentiate between natural causes of forest emissions and human-causes, and countries don’t. The difference can be alleviated if satellite models essentially reduce the complexity of their assessments, but “in the absence of these adjustments," the study states, “collective progress would appear to be more on-track than it actually is.

much more:
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/forest-counting-climate-change
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Re: Net-Zero plans and the hard limits of carbon offsets
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2021, 11:17:18 PM »
We can’t let markets decide the future of removing carbon from the atmosphere


Net zero emission pledges by countries and companies are everywhere at the moment. Most of these pledges rely on massive amounts of carbon removal, yet details on how this will transpire remain largely absent. The COP26 agreement suggests that markets will play a central role, but there are significant problems with this approach.

Carbon removal, also known as “negative emissions”, is the process of removing large amounts of CO₂ from the atmosphere. The most popular version involves planting trees, but there are other methods as well. These include combining bioenergy power plants with carbon capture and storage, or a technology called direct air capture. Both of these currently only exist at tiny scales.

Many activists and scientists consider large-scale carbon removal an unachievable pipedream and a major distraction from near-term emission reductions. Others maintain that the window for achieving ambitious climate targets through emissions cuts alone has closed and that it would be irresponsible or even unjust to write off carbon removal completely.

Irrespective of where you stand in this debate, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: we cannot leave it to markets to decide whether and how to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Yet that is exactly what is happening. With everyone from European oil majors to big tech eyeing up investments, the carbon removal agenda is rapidly becoming a function of market demand.

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The new market mechanism that countries agreed to at COP26 promises to amplify this trend. Proponents hope it will bring about a veritable boom in carbon offsets, where removals will likely play an increasing role. While it wouldn’t be the first time such high hopes end up deflated, many corporations clearly see the prospect of (cheap) removal credits as an appealing alternative to direct emission cuts.

In light of the corporate-friendly, market-based regime that has dominated climate politics for decades, it is hardly a surprise that carbon removal governance is moving in this direction. But this approach closes down a conversation on some crucial questions: if large-scale carbon removal is to be used, then what and whose emissions should it compensate for, and how should those decisions be made?

Whose emissions are “unavoidable”?
In scientific models, one of the main features of carbon removal is its ability to “cancel out” continued greenhouse gas emissions, creating a climate-neutral balance between emissions and removals (hence the “net” in net zero). This allows some carbon-intensive activities to continue while still meeting climate goals.

This balancing act is necessary, the argument goes, because some emissions are particularly hard (or uneconomical) to eliminate, at least over the coming decades. Commonly mentioned examples are emissions from steel and cement production, agriculture, shipping, and aviation. While this might sound reasonable, there are no binding rules or criteria for deciding which emissions belong in this “hard-to-abate” or “residual” category. Despite efforts by NGOs and private actors to define voluntary standards it is, in effect, countries and companies themselves that currently get to define what emissions are hard-to-abate, hence how much removal they will need to rely on.

This obviously creates opportunities for greenwashing – and corporate net zero pledges already offer countless examples in this direction. But there is an additional concern: the demand from corporations seeking compensation for what they consider “necessary” emissions risks overshooting the realistic maximum amount of carbon removal, and takes away opportunities from those with a more legitimate need for continued emissions in the near-term.

It is important to remember that realistic carbon removal capacity is limited. The more removals that countries and companies rely on, the more energy, land and resources they will require. To minimise undesirable outcomes for people and ecosystems, it is crucial to limit the need for carbon removal.

and more:
https://theconversation.com/we-cant-let-markets-decide-the-future-of-removing-carbon-from-the-atmosphere-171379

Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.