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What are negative emissions?

Most proposals to limit global temperature rises to well below 2° Celsius rely on ‘negative emissions’ – the removal of carbon from the atmosphere.

This can be done naturally, such as by protecting and restoring degraded forests so they become carbon sinks. Some also claim that it can be done through geo-engineering, for instance by burning bioenergy, capturing the carbon released, and pumping it into underground geological reservoirs. This is known as Bioenergy, Carbon, Capture and Storage (BECCS).

Fern believes there are three main risks in relying on geo-engineering projects:

  1. They are used as an excuse to keep burning fossil fuels despite unproven benefits
  2. They will have unacceptable ecological and social impacts if used at an industrial scale
  3. They cannot ensure stored carbon is not released through human or natural forces, including climate change

For more information see the outcomes of a meeting Fern hosted on negative emissions.

Most recent publications

Comment on the COP21 - a forest perspective

Forests barely feature in the draft text, but runaway climate change could devastate the forests which more than a billion people directly rely on for their survival. Forests also play a crucial role in regulating the climate. Whichever way you look at it, the outcome of the Paris agreement is also an outcome for forests.
 
Kate Dooley  is in Paris, tracking the developments in the UN climate summit. She has written this overview of the talks from a forests perspective for Fern. Check back later in the  week for  further perspectives from Kate and other contributors.

Coal’s hidden ‘double whammy’: global map reveals 12 million hectares of forest at risk

A new report released at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris reveals that a forest area larger than Portugal is at risk from coal mining worldwide, with forests in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, India, Colombia and the United States particularly vulnerable.

The report, which provides the first global map of where forests are being destroyed for coal mines, argues that granting land rights to forest communities can keep forests standing and coal in the ground

What role should land and forests play in the Paris agreement?

A new briefing paper issued at the start of the Paris climate talks says that restoring degraded forests can meet the world’s need to remove emissions from the atmosphere, if fossil fuel emissions are simultaneously brought to zero by 2050, and that forest communities should play a central role in this restoration. The briefing, co-written by Fern with the Rainforest Foundation Norway and Friends of the Earth Norway, also rejects the need for dangerous carbon dioxide removal such as Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) and large-scale plantations.

Read our press release on this briefing here.

Designing a LULUCF pillar that works for forests and climate

This report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy was commissioned by Fern to develop proposals for how best to include the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector's emissions and removals in the EU’s climate target framework. Our underlying objective is to bring LULUCF into the framework in ways which genuinely add to the EU’s mitigation contribution to tackling climate change.

Read our press release about this briefing here.

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Addressing land use vital for Paris climate agreement

A group of NGOs, including Fern, has outlined its position ahead of the COP21 Climate Conference in Paris. They emphasise that land use has a crucial role to play both in attempts to tackle climate change, and to ensure food security, and should underpin strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to their consequences.

Mending the circle – How the Circular Economy could work for forests

As the European Commission considers an ambitious strategy that can spur a circular economy in the EU, Fern has prepared a position paper on how to break the ‘take-make-use-dispose’ model in favour of one that re-uses, repairs, refurbishes and recycles – and outlines the role that forests can play.

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