The African nation of Gabon is planning to make the largest carbon credits issuance ever. 187 million carbon credits will be issued and 50% of which will be sold on the offsets market.
Gabon comes second to Suriname as the most forested nation. The country wants to harvest its forests in a sustainable manner to generate income for the country.
Last April, Gabon submitted an application to be part of ART’s TREES program. It’s the standard for quantifying, monitoring, reporting, and verifying emission reductions and removals from REDD+ activities.
This application covers Gabon’s entire forest spanning 23.5 million hectares. This is where the carbon credits will be from. They’ll most likely end up on the market before the COP27 event.
Carbon Credits from Protecting Forests
Gabon is 88% covered by tropical rainforest. Its forests are part of the Congo Basin, the Earth’s second-largest tropical forest after the Amazon.
Lee White, Gabon’s environment minister, said that preserving forests is “almost a moral responsibility” and a matter of national security. He also said that:
“The Congo Basin forest sends rainfall to the Sahel, Ethiopia and beyond… and a plunge in precipitation elsewhere could destabilize parts of Africa.”
The country is finding ways to preserve its thick carbon sink while diversifying its economy from oil at the same time. It’s the first African nation to be paid for its forest protection efforts. Such an initiative helps forests capture and store more carbon.
In fact, it received its first payment of $17 million from the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) for such work.
The carbon credits Gabon plans to sell can be at around $291 million. It depends on the average price for similar projects calculated by a carbon offsets data provider.
This huge issuance may flood the one billion carbon market if the country sells the credits all at once.
Each carbon credit represents a ton of planet-warming CO2 that’s avoided, reduced, or removed from the atmosphere. Firms use these credits to offset their carbon emissions. They can buy credits traded on carbon exchanges or they can also invest in projects that generate them.
There are some doubts in the impact of REDD+ projects in reducing emissions. Other heavily forested countries suspended their carbon credits programs to ensure proper regulation. Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are some examples.
Yet, REDD+ projects remain the most popular in the voluntary carbon market. In fact, they receive the highest prices and have the biggest share of the market value.
Gabon’s carbon credit generation
White addresses the concern by claiming that Gabon has reduced its emissions by 90 million tons yearly. That’s in comparison to its 2000-2009 baseline emissions. And this is due to preserving its forests and avoiding deforestation/degradation.
In particular, the forest elephants in the country’s jungle increase by over 50% to 95,000. Plus, there are several protected wetland sites, heritage sites, and national parks put up. They help preserve and protect the thick forests.
These vegetation-dense forests suck up more CO2 than they emit. Hence, they’re known as carbon sinks.
The environment minister also revealed the plan of TotalEnergies SE to use the credits as its offsets. This would be via the oil major’s acquisition of Compagnie des Bois du Gabon (CBG). It controls more than 1.48 million acres of forest which is about 2.6% of the country’s land mass.
The oil company plans to produce carbon offset credits along with developing a forest management model. The credits generation will be through reforestation, agroforestry and forest conservation.
But the minister said that they’re relying on allowances (concessions) to fuel their timber transformation efforts. They’d banned the export of unprocessed logs to boost this industry.
About a dozen Chinese firms own forest concessions in Gabon, with over 30 others processing the wood.
He also commented that selective logging is one way to boost carbon capture in the long run than no logging.
That’s because the former lets the sunlight reach the soil ground of the forests. And that’s beneficial as it promotes more tree growth. In effect, more carbon is sequestered.
Meanwhile, Gabon is creating its national REDD+ registry to track payments from different projects. All carbon credits created must enter the registry. And even if issuances are from voluntary carbon standards, the government still owns full rights to them.
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