Fern: IPCC report discredits the burning of forests: NGOs outline the alternative
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.
The IPCC report gives short shrift to the idea that we can geo-engineer our way out of the climate crisis, and thankfully, a move away from the false hope of BECCS appears near.
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.