Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/02/18/world-shifting-net-zero-emissions
Unfortunately, the term “Net Zero Emissions” is based on a disastrously flawed and knowlingly fraudulent carbon accounting system created by the nation states who shaped the Kyoto and Paris climate agreements. That accounting system includes carbon accounting loopholes you could drive a doomed planet thru. Here are just four of them:
The UK proudly proclaims to be headed for Net Zero Emissions. That is technically true. However, under the Kyoto and Paris agreements the burning of wood for energy was credited with being carbon neutral. Originally thought to be scientifically true, new studies have shown this to be false. But the UK has ignored the new science, as has the EU mostly, as they rush to convert coal power plants to burn wood pellets. But cutting down forests (even plantation forests) and burning them to provide energy produces massive amounts of CO2 emissions — the process is far from carbon neutral. First off, a pine forest (or plantation) cut down and burned today may take 70 years to regrow and achieve carbon neutrality — time the human race doesn’t have (the UN itself says we have 12 years to slash emissions or face climate catastrophe). Second, you must burn far more wood than coal to get the same energy output, which makes wood dirtier than carbon in the carbon it produces. Scientists and NGOs have tried to get the UK and EU to see the light and revise the policy. They’ve stonewalled at last 2 climate conferences. US is complicit: the wood pellets largely come from the US Southeast. Read the science here:
Another loophole: Dams, thousands now planned for, or being built, in the tropics were also declared carbon neutral under Kyoto, a policy which was carried over to Paris. Not even close. Science again is outdated. We now know that vegetation dies in hot tropical reservoirs, sinks to bottom and produces methane gas more than 20 times more powerful than CO2. Another carbon accounting lie still maintained by UN nation states so the developed world’s dam building corporations and investors can continue constructing dams in developing nations, where big infrastructure projects are great for hiding massive amounts of graft flowing to elites.
Deforestation is a leading cause of carbon emissions. And while the UN counts tree loss in its carbon accounting, it does not count fires as a cause of deforestation. But fire set by human beings is the primary tool for illegally clearing forests in places like Brazil. For example, studies have shown that the August 2019 Amazon fires were mostly blazes prepared in the first seven months of the year. Illegal land grabbers - mostly wealthy elites - expanded their cattle ranches and croplands by hiring the poor to clear Amazon forest sometimes in national forests and on other conserved lands starting in January 2019 when anti-environmental president Jair Bolsonaro came to power. There was virtually no enforcement of deforestation laws as those forests were cleared. The cut rainforest trees were then allowed to dry in tropical heat. In August, as dry season got well underway, all those downed trees were set afire all at once. Fire is an illegal deforestation tool of land thieves. Fire needs to be counted for the carbon emissions it produces in the nations where elites are burning up trees to clear land for lucrative ranching and industrial agribusiness projects. Until fire’s carbon emissions are counted, it is another UN member nation-rigged bogus carbon accounting practice.
Deforestation can be reversed by reforestation. A great idea, and true. But again, the Paris Agreement corrupts and twists the concept, allowing plantation forests of eucalyptus, rubber, oil palm, and pine (burned as wood pellets for energy) to be counted as carbon neutral. Which they absolutely are not: You can’t keep cutting down a forest every few years to harvest it for toilet paper and be getting the amount of carbon storage you get from primary and secondary forest left to grow and provide habitat for wildlife and plants. Another loophole you can drive a doomed planet through.
Here’s the thing: Any good accountant can cheat the system and make lots of rich people richer. Unfortunately, they can’t cheat nature. Nature knows precisely how much carbon cheating nations like the UK and the countries of the EU are producing and pumping into the atmosphere.
Until the UN member nations get honest and stop trying to game the carbon accounting system, the world will continue to warm, and warm quickly — with quite possibly Apocalyptic results. The author of this “Net Zero Emissions” story is either aware of these and other carbon loopholes and concealing them, or seriously needs to educate herself. This is not a game folks — the governments of the EU, UK, US, China, Russia, etc. etc. are playing Russian Roulette with the only Earth we have, and UN nation state carbon cheating is just adding more bullets to the chambers.