July 24, 2022, New York
The 50th anniversary gathering of the UN Environment Summit in Stockholm, Sweden – known as Stockholm + 50 -- took place on June 2nd and 3rd. Leaders from business, finance, and government gathered to discuss key recommendations for accelerating action towards a healthy planet for the prosperity of all. Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN)’s Executive Director Kevin Conrad and Managing Director Federica Bietta were in attendance, along with the environment ministers from Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two CfRN member nations which are net emissions removers.
Together, CfRN representatives launched the concept of REDD+ sovereign carbon credits at the Positive Summit, an official event within the larger conference. The concept for the Positive Summit was pioneered by Kaj Törö, Sustainability Manager of Sweden’s MAX Burger, the popular burger chain that believes being climate neutral is not enough and offers the world’s first “climate positive” menu. “Every single bite helps our climate,” according to their Sustainability Report. MAX Burger and CfRN were both among the sponsors of the Positive Summit, at which companies were challenged to follow in MAX Burger’s footsteps and go beyond carbon neutrality so that every new product sold makes a positive contribution to atmospheric carbon.
The Climate Positive Summit was a great launch point for REDD+ sovereign credits. These emissions reduction and removal credits earned by CfRN member countries including Gabon, a nation that is climate positive as a net remover of emissions from the atmosphere thanks to its rainforests, are assessed and verified under the REDD+ mechanism of the UNFCCC. The sale of sovereign credits will help provide a financial incentive to keep rainforests standing. Conrad and the ministers spoke before an audience of over 150 businesses.
One of the advantages of the REDD+ mechanism is its scale. “The recent science is clear — it’s too late for isolated projects. The Paris agreement requires ‘the highest scale possible’. UNFCCC REDD+ is national in speed and scale. Without rainforests, 1.5 degree is impossible. Time is running out,” said Conrad.
While the REDD+ mechanism has produced over 8 gigatons of verified emissions removals, few participating countries have been paid for their efforts because previously the mechanism was based on bilateral funding. The Positive Summit showcased the fact that sovereign carbon credits are now available for sale to businesses and countries.
Another advantage Conrad highlighted is that sovereign credits qualify under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which allows nations to use “cooperative approaches" to achieve their nationally determined contributions to decarbonize, including through the use of "internationally transferred mitigation outcomes" or ITMOs.
Illustrating how the concept works on the ground, two ministers from CfRN member countries, Her Excellency Ève Bazaiba, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Environment, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Lee White CBE, Minister for Environment, Gabon spoke about how the issuance of REDD+ sovereign credits will help to fund their national schemes to preserve the Congo Basin’s rainforest.
The Congo Basin’s tropical rainforest, the world’s second largest, covers an area roughly the size of Europe and houses rich biodiversity. It stores one-third more carbon dioxide each year by land mass than the Amazon. Receiving proceeds from the sale of credits helps protect the Congo Basin’s forests in the face of competition from the timber trade or clearing for farming. In turn, the Congo Basin’s forests help regulate rainfall across the Ethopian highlands, the Nile valley, and the southern Sahel. Aside from implications for the planet at large, the disappearance of the Congo Basin rainforest would spell trouble for the region and lead to drought and displacement of millions of people.
The Positive Summit culminated in drawing up the Stockholm Pledge to help countries, cities, companies, and citizens to go beyond net-zero, and help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement by being Climate Positive. REDD+ sovereign credits are part of the solution.