From the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark report showing that we have just 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C, to the devastating heat wave that gripped the Northern Hemisphere this summer, the message is the same: the need for action has never been starker.
Scientists agree that rapid carbon dioxide emission cuts will not be enough: we must also remove them from the atmosphere. They disagree about Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), the “saviour technology” that proposes to achieve cuts by capturing carbon emissions from burning trees and vegetable oils and burying them underground (FW 238).
Putting our faith in BECCS – especially on a large-scale – is loaded with dangers and uncertainties for people and nature. At worst BECCS could even accelerate climate change for instance, given the vast land area that would be required to grow dedicated crops (1 or 2 times the size of India), the emissions released all along the BECCS production chain, and the scientifically flawed notion that burning wood is carbon neutral.
So, what could work? The surprisingly simple answer builds on one of the great recent success stories in forest conservation: recognition that strengthening community land tenure is the best way to protect forests, and the carbon they hold.
A new scientific report commissioned by a group of NGOs including Fern underlines that we can limit warming to 1.5˚C by combining deep emissions cuts with efforts to end deforestation, reduce meat consumption, improve agricultural practices, and restore natural forests.
And those best placed to protect and restore the forests on which the future of the planet depends are the Indigenous Peoples and local communities who live in and survive off them. Return to FW239