There is new evidence from a report created by the World Resources Institute that suggests the modest investments needed to secure land rights for Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon will generate billions of dollars in returns.
The benefits would be economic, social and environmentally sound for governments, investors and communities.
The report Climate Benefits, Tenure Costs: The Economic Case for Securing Indigenous Land Rights quantifies the economic value of securing land rights for the Indigenous communities who live in and protect forests, with a focus on Colombia, Brazil, and Bolivia, and implications for the rest of the world.
We now know that there is a clear economic case to be made for ensuring that Indigenous Peoples have secure rights to their land.
“Not only is securing land tenure the right thing to do, it’s one of the world’s most cost-effective climate mitigation strategies,” said Andrew Steer , President and CEO, WRI. “National governments should take note–and move quickly–to secure Indigenous lands and incorporate land rights into their climate change strategies and commitments to the Paris Agreement.”
“In the pursuit of inclusive growth and climate action, we must recognise the profound value of securing land rights for those communities who best protect our forests,” said Lord Nicholas Stern , Chair, Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics. “Rising to the challenge of the climate crisis requires that we find new and sustainable ways to develop and grow.”
Previous WRI research found that when Indigenous Peoples and communities have secure rights to land, both deforestation rates and carbon emissions in those lands often go down significantly. In the new report, matching analysis data show that the average annual deforestation rates in Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia were significantly lower in tenure-secure indigenous forests than in similar areas without secure tenure: 35% lower in Bolivia, 40% lower in Brazil, and 50% lower in Colombia.
Building on this analysis, the authors calculated the economic value of carbon and other ecosystem services benefits of secure indigenous lands in the Amazon and found billions of dollars in value. The report finds the total estimated benefits of secure indigenous lands in Bolivia are $54 to 119 billion, Brazil $523 billion to 1.165 trillion, and Colombia $123 to 277 billion over the next 20 years, when factoring in global carbon benefits and ecosystem services like clean water, soil retention, pollination, biodiversity, flooding control, and recreation and tourism fees.
The numbers are even more staggering because the costs to secure indigenous land rights in the Amazon are just a few dollars per hectare of forest per year, less than 1 percent of the total economic benefits. The report did not include additional social benefits such as job creation and increased social services, like healthcare and education for local communities.
Moreover, WRI’s report finds that securing indigenous and community lands is cost-effective when compared with other climate mitigation options like carbon capture and storage (CCS). Analysis shows that using CCS to reduce emissions costs 5-29 times more in coal-fired power plants and 7-42 times more in natural gas-fired power plants than achieving the same emissions reductions through securing indigenous forestland tenure.
“Indigenous Peoples and local communities have a long history in using natural resources wisely and adapting to the changing climate in an integrated and sustainable manner,” said Naoko Ishii , CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). “Protecting and enhancing the land rights of Indigenous Peoples is a necessary step towards greater economic prosperity and safeguarding our global commons.”
As attention shifts toward implementing the Paris Agreement, too few national climate contributions take secure land rights into account. The new report finds indigenous lands with secure tenure can reduce deforestation and sequester carbon, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and helping curb climate change. The report estimates avoided emissions over 20 years would be at least 31.76 Mt CO2 per year in Brazil, the equivalent to taking more than 6.7 million cars off the road per year.
Estimates for Bolivia are 8.04 Mt CO2 per year and for Colombia 3.01 Mt CO2 per year. Had the Indigenous Peoples in these countries not maintained secure tenure over their lands, the CO2 emissions of each country would be higher — about 9 percent more per year in Bolivia, and 3 percent more per year in Brazil and Colombia. Securing indigenous lands is an effective and cost-effective carbon mitigation strategy that can help countries meet their contributions to the Paris Agreement.
However, analysis by RRI found that only 21 of 197 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) included clear commitments to implement community-based tenure or natural resource management strategies as part of their emissions reduction plans; including only Bolivia and Guatemala from Latin America. The only country to set a measurable target for the expansion of secure tenure rights was Cambodia.
WRI’s new report shows that securing indigenous land rights could help Colombia meet its national climate commitment. Colombia committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2030, a total of 67 Mt CO2. The authors calculate that through avoided deforestation on indigenous lands, Colombia could save a minimum of 45 Mt CO2 between 2016-2030, which could achieve 69 percent of its NDC emissions reduction target.
“Securing land rights for indigenous communities in the Amazon truly would have a global impact,” said Helen Ding , lead author and Environmental Economist,WRI. “At the local level, secure land rights would mean clean water, reduced pollution, revenue from ecotourism and forest products, and more. In terms of global carbon mitigation, there are billions of dollars to be gained from slowing deforestation and sequestering carbon in Indigenous forests.”
The report sets forth recommendations for decision-makers from government and other sectors who can establish laws and direct resources toward titling and protecting indigenous and community lands. It also recommends that donors, international development funds and climate finance mechanisms have a role to play to direct new resources to secure indigenous and community lands.
The full report is available at: http://www.wri.org/publication/climate-benefits-tenure-costs
Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations
Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?
The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.
New Construction Options
One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.
In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.
The Simple Retrofit
From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?
Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.
Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.
Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.
In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.
Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.
It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.
How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions
Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Public Health Crisis
It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.
It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.
Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.
With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.
The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.
With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.