To avoid negative impacts on biodiversity, the Post 2020 draft emphasizes addressing climate change. Shifting to renewable energy is problemtic, however; some renewable energy projects are leading to the destruction of biodiversity. Palm oil power plants are just one of the issues.
As is well known, monoculture palm oil plantations occupy large land areas. In producer countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, we see serious biodiversity loss, through the destruction of old-growth tropical forests, land drainage contributing to major forest fires, wild-life habitat loss and ecosystem destruction. Large scale greenhouse gas emission from peatlands, and human rights violations are also significant global issues. And now, palm oil for biofuel is becoming a major issue in Japan. Japan has a policy of promoting renewable energy. and supports power plants by buying energy at a high price. In the policy, palm oil is identified as renewable biomass, and the number of licenses granted to palm oil power plants rapidly increased until 2017, when the amount generated reached 4,600 MW. The reason for this explosion is the price, which is 1.8 times higher compared with other countries. This policy is a subsidy that harms biodiversity as described in Aichi Target 3. In addition, the EU is moving towards a ban on food-crop biofuels.
Can we make the post 2020 GBF targets effective for protecting biodiversity!? As IPBES pointed out, some approaches to limiting global warming will have significant impacts on biodiversity. The framework to address direct driver such as land-use change, and to transform the driver industries and social systems are urgently required. Not only for climate change but also for biodiversity.
-Resource dreams: case of the elusive
private sector and on-going
It is imperative to place the 2008 Resource Mobilization strategy in its political and economic context: forged in the afterglow of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the document is infused with wider excitement of the time for innovative financial mechanisms evidenced in the MEA and the then-recent announcement of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study (TEEB).
Since the 2008 report was drafted conservation impact investing has grown in prominence, allowing us to assess its results to date – results which paint a less promising picture. A recent OECD report notes that biodiversity finance reporting is patchy and inconsistent, making it difficult to assess the sector as a whole. But our own and others’ scoping research, based on assessments of the grey literature (often financed at least in part by the financial sector), shows that these capital flows are tiny in relation to the size of the problems, and essentially infinitesimal in relation to subsidies exacerbating biodiversity loss and the world of capital flows writ large. For instance, whereas the 2008 the Eliash review predicted that carbon offsetting could generate up to US$ 7 billion by 2020, the most recent Ecosystem Marketplace “State of the Forest Carbon Market” report notes that the forest-based emission reduction market peaked in 2014 with US$ 257 million in value, down to US$ 120 million in 2016. From forest carbon to biodiversity offsets, the promised windfall of private capital for conservation has consistently failed to materialize. Why is this the case, and why is the enthusiasm for private finance so persistent?
As research has consistently shown, it is notoriously difficult to make conservation an investable asset. The capital that is flowing into conservation finance is deployed by investors who are satisfied with low liquidity (assets that cannot be bought and sold quickly) and who are willing to make investments with high risk and low to no returns, terms that are not palatable to most investors. Return-oriented conservation finance thus relies on the deployment of public and charitable capital that essentially “de-risk” the investments – often known as “blended finance.”
Yukiko Takeda, JCN-UNDB
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