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Carbon valuation and ecosystem services are essential to tackle climate change

The Brazilian Coalition on Climate, Forests and Agriculture stresses the importance of economic mechanisms for carbon and ecosystem services in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), to promote reforestation and maintenance of forests, and to generate income.

São Paulo, November 25, 2015 — It is crucial to expand the economic valuation mechanisms of carbon and ecosystem services in order to contain the rise of up to 2°C in average global temperature compared to the period prior to the Industrial Revolution and to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The so-called carbon market must have as one of its cornerstones the recovery of degraded areas, water sources protection, Permanent Preservation Areas and Legal Reserves, as well as wood supply expansion for multiple use forests. A global mechanism of annual payment for ecosystem services of various biomes would set a value for what ecosystems can provide, such as water, soil conservation, pollination by bees, carbon storage etc., and it would remunerate who preserves and guarantees these natural services.

“It is crucial that the Paris climate agreement takes into account the creation of policies and instruments that promote liquidity of carbon assets, stimulating demand and ensuring an effective and sustainable market”, says Alexandre Prado, project manager of Instituto Arapyaú.

There is already a legislation in Brazil — the National Policy on Climate Change (Política Nacional sobre a Mudança do Clima, PNMC), Act nº 12,187/2009 — which deals with carbon mechanisms in our economic reality. However, there is a general uncertainty about how carbon should be priced. Therefore, depending on the company and the country, the value ranges from US$1 to US$300.

The carbon market has emerged from the Kyoto Protocol (1997), which stated that from 2008 to 2012 developed countries should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG): 5.2% on average compared to 1990 levels. One of the instruments created for this market was the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). It establishes certified reductions for the emissions and affirms that GHG emission reduction projects in developing countries can generate carbon credits that can be marketed with those who have targets to meet.

Changing the game

References to mechanisms such as REDD+ (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) were included in the COP’s base text in the last round of climate agreement negotiations held in October, in Bonn, Germany. They still appear in brackets, what means that the countries have not reached an agreement yet.

“REDD+ does not only meet GHG emission reduction targets, but also generate benefits for local communities, because the investment received in exchange for the preservation brings health, education and infrastructure to the region. The community realizes that it is worth keeping the forests, and this starts to change the situation”, says Miriam Prochnow, Executive Secretary of the Brazilian Forest Dialogue (Diálogo Florestal) and Counselor of the Association for the Preservation of the Environment and Life (Associação de Preservação do Meio Ambiente e da Vida, Apremavi). “It is important to emphasize that REDD+ promotes sustainable management and protection of biodiversity and ecosystems.”

In the case of a global mechanism for the payment of ecosystem services, the amount would go directly to those responsible for the maintenance of the areas. “Landowners with riparian forest, for example, would be encouraged to preserve it. This would reduce emissions by avoiding deforestation and protect springs that supply the entire region”, explains João Paulo Capobianco, Chairman of Instituto Democracia e Sustentabilidade (Democracy and Sustainability Institute).

From the perspective of the Brazilian Coalition, it is crucial that we continue to recognize all the accumulated experience that came along with the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism and expand it, or create a new mechanism to replace it.

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