Forests and other natural ecosystems absorb about 11 GT CO2 annually , making them a critical carbon sink, a safety net for the climate, and a buffer against catastrophic climate change. They also hold over 2,000 GT of CO2, and, as such, are a critical global carbon sink (see Fig. 1). If we continue releasing the carbon stored in these ecosystems it will increase the risks of catastrophic climate change, making outcomes more severe and occurring more quickly than we are currently experiencing.
Deforestation and forest degradation cause approximately between 4.3-5.5 GT CO2 emissions per year , or about 10% of annual global emissions. Therefore, ending deforestation and degradation and expanding sustainable land-use could deliver about one-third of the emissions reductions required to keep temperature rise under 2oC . This is the largest and most-cost effective immediate opportunity to reduce global emissions.
To achieve this goal of stopping and reversing deforestation and degradation, several instruments exist and can be complementary. Global and local policies are first and foremost and shall be the stepping stone for any action; in support of these policies, financial incentives, either negative, such as fines and penalties for emissions or deforestation, or positive, such as payments, tax breaks or any other mechanisms that ensure that forests are more valuable when left standing.
The United Nations’ REDD+ programme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is the globally-approved mechanism that allows us to place a value on the carbon stored in our forests so that positive incentives can be implemented, through different source of financing (public funding -although quite limited-, carbon markets, etc.). UN REDD+ includes provisions for environmental and social safeguards in addition to emissions reductions accounting and financing arrangements, and the 2015 Paris Agreement has formally recognised it as an effective mechanism for forest protection. It allows communities, governments, institutions, and individuals in developing countries to be paid for improved conservation outcomes and associated social benefits, and by extension, for all the other social and environmental benefits, such as protection of important biodiversity and ecosystem services, that forests provide.
So, REDD+ allows us to properly value standing forests and to correct the perverse economic incentives that lead to their loss. And by channelling finance to protecting these landscapes, we also deliver an incredible range of additional benefits which contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Forests uplift impoverished communities; are home to millions of wild species of flora and fauna; enhance resilience for adapting to the changes we are already seeing in our climate; and provide food, clean water, and, of course, fresh air. All our benefits are reported annually in our Impact Report.
At Althelia Ecosphere, we believe that paying for the carbon we use, and investing in forests and in sustainable landscapes, is the most realistic, achievable, and effective step we can take to achieve our climate and sustainable development goals.
Our REDD+ projects are validated and verified to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standard (CCB), as well as being in compliance with our ESG Standard.
Projects certified to VCS must follow a rigorous quantitative assessment process to enforce strict carbon accounting, to make sure that emissions reductions are real and are occurring in addition to what would have occurred otherwise, and to prevent issues such as double counting of savings or leakage.
The CCB standard ensures that projects, in addition to combating climate change, are improving livelihoods, creating employment, protecting traditional cultures, supporting land and resource tenure, protecting biodiversity, and safeguarding a range of ecosystem services such as flood control, soil erosion control, and water resource regulation.
 UNEP (2015) The emissions gap report 2015, Nairobi.
 IPPC (2014) ‘Agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU)’. In: IPCC AR5, WG3.
 UNEP (2015) The Emissions Gap Report 2015.