Gabon incentivized to save forests and cut emissions

Photo JB Dodane

Gabon is set to receive $150 million over ten years for cutting emissions from forest degradation and deforestation and for the CO2 sequestration of its natural forests. The deal, under the UN REDD+ programme, was brokered with the country by the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) on behalf of funder Norway. It was announced by Gabonese Forests Minister Lee White at the Climate Action Summit at the UN in September.

The initiative, which will be subject to third party verification, sets a carbon floor price of $10 per certified ton to incentivize forest maintenance and emissions reduction. Payments will also be retrospective, covering Gabon’s achievement in this area going back to 2016.

“We have to raise the value of Gabonese rainforests to ensure conservation and sustainable exploitation can be used as tools to improve living standards by creating jobs and livelihoods, whilst also sustaining natural capital,” said Mr White. “Norway’s agreement to double the price of a ton of rainforest carbon dioxide is highly significant and gives us hope that the international community will move towards a realistic price that will provide a real incentive for rainforest countries to follow our example.”

Norway  Minister of Climate and Environment Ola Elvestuen described the project as ‘historic’. “It properly takes into account Gabon’s special status as a country with high forest cover and low deforestation,” he said. “It is 88% covered with forests, and I hope our partnership can help them reach their goal to maintain 98% of that for the future.”

According to CAFI, Central African forests and peatlands store up to 70 billion tons of carbon, equivalent to 5-10 years’ global greenhouse gas emissions. Emmanuel Groutel expert in strategy and international markets at WALE welcomed the Gabonese initiative and said it could be a model for fellow supplier states. “The whole world must support Gabon because what it is proposed is an example of virtuous development that preserves the environment and shows the way forward for other countries in the region,” he said.

ATIBT President Robert Hunink applauded the Gabon initiative. “I hope that other Congo Basin countries consider following this example. It would truly be a great contribution towards climate change mitigation,” he said. “However, in other to convince governments that forest conservation could be an alternative income model to conventional harvesting, carbon prices need to reflect this. And last but not least, socio-economic development should not be negatively impacted by these agreements.”

In 2018, Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba stated that all forest concessions in the country must be certified by 2022.