World Economic Forum on carbon credits

Wednesday 9 Jun 2021

(World Economic Forum) How to save the world's forests with carbon credits - A decade ago, a stretch of land in Kenya became the foundation for a new source of finance with the potential to save the world’s forests: carbon credits.

The premise is simple. Forest countries and communities have historically faced intense economic and political pressure to cut down trees for logging, mining and industrial agriculture, releasing millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in the process. They need an alternative – more specifically, a tangible incentive – to preserve and restore their forests instead of cutting them down.

Enter the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Under the VCS, proponents can propose and implement a project to protect a forest: for example, hiring community members to patrol it, building fire lines to prevent the spread of wildfires, and working with farmers to enhance agricultural productivity, which reduces pressure on the forest. The impact is compared against what would have happened in the absence of the project, and carbon credits are issued: one for every tonne of CO2 that would have otherwise been released.

> The Verified Carbon Standard can unlock the power of carbon credits to halt deforestation.

> By the end of last year, 185 million carbon credits had been issued under this programme for forest preservation.

> Now we need to scale this up – and that will require investment from the public and private sectors.

These carbon credits can be sold to governments, companies or individuals seeking to complement their internal emission reductions and to further decrease their carbon footprints. Finance from the sales is channeled to forest countries and communities, providing alternative livelihoods for people who until then had relied on depleting the forest cover. This finance also supports new jobs, wildlife protection, education, clean water and other initiatives that seek to transform the local economy away from reliance on the forest.

The results speak for themselves. Keeping carbon in the forest becomes an economically attractive option. By the end of 2020, 77 projects for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” (REDD) were registered under the VCS and 185 million credits were issued.

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