Carbon credits have not helped curb emissions

| Updated on September 09, 2019 Published on September 09, 2019

A multilateral body just for funding green initiatives, especially afforestation, must be set up

In a welcome move, India has committed to restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, in the process creating “a carbon sink of close to three billion metric tonnes through additional tree cover”, in the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His commitment at the UN Convention to Combat Climate Change reflects a growing realisation that climate-change-induced extreme weather events have become alarmingly commonplace. The financial and human costs of these calamities can no longer be relegated to the margins of policymaking. While the policy push to solar power and the efforts to shift to EVs must count as notable steps to reduce carbon emissions, afforestation is what matters most. This is because, as a recent report released by the Centre for Science and Environment points out, soil degradation accounts for more emissions than any other activity since the ‘soil stores three times the amount of carbon as the atmosphere’. Carbon sequestration, or the creation of carbon sinks, therefore must assume centrestage. An intensive afforestation programme requires adoption of the right forestry practices, and above all, a good amount of money.

It is here that ‘carbon credit markets’ have failed to generate funds for the developing world. When the world moved from a regime of mandatory commitments on the part of the industrialised countries under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to voluntary ones under the 2015 Paris accord, it also impacted the shift towards clean development engineered by ‘carbon credits’ or carbon emission reduction certificates. These certificates were bought by EU countries for funding clean projects in the developing world, while also working as a sort of fine for not meeting emission targets. But since these certificates were often underpriced and the wrong projects identified, neither party met their obligations. After the Paris pact, targets became nebulous, knocking the bottom out of the carbon credits market. Not surprisingly, as the UNEP report on ‘emissions gap’ released last November observes, global emissions peaked in 2017 after three years of stagnation. There is little time to be lost in fixing an alternative financial mechanism. Global funding for afforestation — Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) — has failed due to faulty carbon pricing and the poor negotiating rights of traditional communities. A multilateral body just for funding green initiatives must be set up.

But the best recourse is to leverage a corpus set up under the initiative of the Supreme Court in 2002 — the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority. Under this, projects in forest areas have to compensate for the forest cover destroyed by depositing a value in the CAMPA corpus, which will be used for forestry programmes. CAMPA, managed well by an autonomous authority, should put a price on dirty development. That’s the best way forward.

Published on September 09, 2019

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!


Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.