Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Saving the Amazon Rainforest

At a time when most news from the environment front is discouraging, I was pleased to read during the Christmas New Year break a report in The Solutions Journal by Doug Boucher titled How Brazil Has Dramatically Reduced Tropical Deforestation.

The report details how Brazil has cut deforestation in the Amazon by 70 percent, compared to the average level in 1996-2005, making zero deforestation by 2020, or even sooner, achievable.

While the Brazilian Government deserves great credit for taking legislative action such as setting up protected areas and increasing the enforcement of environmental laws, the report clearly sets out the key roles played by both non-government bodies, and also by the Norwegian Government.

For example in 2006 Greenpeace released a report called Eating Up The Amazon, which linked the soybean industry to deforestation and water pollution, focusing on two multinational companies, the grain trader Cargill and the fast food chain Mc Donald's. This led to the Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries and the National Association of Cereal Exporters announcing that their members would not buy any soybeans produced on Amazon farmland deforested after June 2006.

This soy moratorium was followed in 2009 by a beef moratorium, again in the light of hard hitting reports, by Greenpeace and local civil society groups. Slaughterhouses have signed agreements under which ranchers are required to provide the GPS co-ordinates of their property boundaries to the slaughterhouses in order to sell their beef to them. This made it possible to use remote sensing data to detect deforestation and trace it.

Norway also deserves a bouquet. They promised up to $1 billion for Brazil's Amazon Fund, on a strictly pay for performance basis – money flowed only as the goal of reducing deforestation was met. To date over $670 million has been paid under this agreement.
It is noteworthy that this is a non-market, non-offset program. Norway does not get the right to emit a single ton more of carbon dioxide in exchange for this funding. It is also noteworthy that the Norwegian contribution to REDD efforts worldwide ($2.5 billion over five years) amounted to $100 annually for each of its citizens, which compared pretty favourably with the US contribution of $1 annually for each if its citizens.

1 comment:

  1. " in 2006 Greenpeace released a report called Eating Up The Amazon, which linked the soybean industry to deforestation and water pollution.." Most people associate soy with tofu and soy milk, and vegetarians and vegans. However, only a small portion of soy is consumed directly by humans. In fact, most of the world’s soy crop ends up in feed for poultry, pork, cattle and even farmed fish. To feed people of the future, and keep up with population growth and diet preferences, the world must produce 70% more food by mid century. Soybeans are the largest source of protein in the world, but most of it is used to produce food via animals, rather than be directly consumed. Conservationists should be consistent and make the transition to a veg*n diet, to protect our environment and increase food efficiency.