Communities, not BECCS, crucial for limiting warming to 1.5°C

15 December 2016

A briefing released last week by Fern, Rainforest Foundation Norway and Friends of the Earth Norway dismisses the need for dangerous carbon dioxide removal (CDR) measures, such as Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), and for environmentally damaging large-scale forest plantations to limit global warming to 1.5˚C.

The briefing tackles head-on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which indicates the need to increase carbon sequestration in order to limit warming to 2˚C or 1.5˚C, and points towards BECCS as a way to do so. It fails, however, to consider the major social and environmental impacts BECCS could have, given the vast amounts of land it would require.

Drawing its findings from a forthcoming report by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), The risks of counting on tomorrow’s “negative emissions” to guide today’s mitigation ambition, the briefing says halting forest loss and restoring natural forest ecosystems can meet the world’s need to remove emissions from the atmosphere, but only if fossil fuel emissions are brought to zero by 2050.

So how should ecosystems be restored; how should this restoration be approached geographically; and, most importantly, who should take the lead?

If efforts to restore ecosystems are to be successful, local communities must be given a central role, and they must be geographically appropriate, say the NGOs that authored the briefing, as forest communities are best placed to protect and manage forests.

Fern calls on governments to speed up work to recognise their customary land rights as a key solution to keeping forests standing and mitigating climate change.

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