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Alfredo Sirkis: "We must recognise the convertible value of the" less carbon "

For the former coordinator of the Brazilian Climate Change Forum, the priority is to end coal and stop deforestation in Brazil, Indonesia and Africa. And then reforest the equivalent of a large area like the United States. Alfredo Sirkis is executive director of the Brazil Climate Center (CBC). The Brazilian Green congressman acted as coordinator of the Brazilian Climate Change Forum (FBMC), before being removed from office by President Jair Bolsonaro.

What do you think of companies that want to offset their CO2 emissions by planting trees?

In my opinion, a diversified strategy is needed, because the situation is terrible. In Brazil, Norway and Germany, which no longer believe in the desire of President Bolsonaro to protect the forest and have stopped subsidizing the Amazon Fund. As a result, the Brazilian states are trying to take control, including with the help of companies willing to finance reforestation, bio-economy and biodiversity conservation projects.

Some Amazonian governments with whom we work wish to create voluntary carbon markets, similar to the one already developed in the State of Acre.

Can these projects have a positive impact on the forest?

Yes, despite a few detours found here and there in carbon markets, they can help preserve forest and financial projects to exploit their products without destroying them, as well as reforesting and establishing sustainable projects that would benefit the region's poor. The ecological and social must go hand in hand. In this sense, voluntary markets - which do not count for national contributions (NDC) from the countries of origin of the companies - are one modality among others. But make no mistake, their scale is small and they will not solve the problem of financing needed to reduce deforestation or other vectors of action against climate change.

So, what should be done?

The priority would be to put an end to coal, even if it means paying a golden pension to all employees in the sector and investing heavily to accelerate the energy transition. We must drastically stop deforestation in Brazil, Indonesia and Africa - between 2004 and 2012, Brazil managed to reduce its deforestation by 80%, this shows that it is possible - and then reforest a large area like the United States, as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Finally, it is necessary to drastically reduce the demand for oil: in twenty to twenty-five years, most transportation will be electric, to hydrogen (power cell) or biofuels; develop urban planning; more radically offset emissions from commercial aviation. In short, to complete this transition, we need about $3-5 trillion a year. Developed countries, which should contribute $100 billion every year from 2020, seem unable to do so. Moreover, 100 billion is nothing, given what is needed.

How can we put decarbonization at the heart of the economy?

The convertible value of "less carbon" must be recognized, that is, the verified and certified actions of carbon reduction or absorption in the atmosphere. We could consider it the new "gold" and put it at the heart of finance! I have nothing against the "stick" - the carbon rate - but politically, we saw it with the "yellow vests", in France which is sensitive. It would be better to highlight the "carrot", that is, the economic value of the "less carbon". This "positive price" already exists. In Brazil, when the Norwegian government paid to reduce deforestation in the Amazon, those square kilometers could easily be converted into tons of avoided carbon.

In the future, maybe hackers, pop stars, "green" tycoons or young people will invent a cryptomeda based on this "less carbon" pattern, it will probably be much more useful than bitcoin that consumes a lot of energy. Because to avoid ecological disaster, we need a cultural and financial revolution.

Interview with Marjorie Cessac, to Le Monde

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