August 2022 – The global challenges we are facing remind us how the different dimensions of our life on this planet are closely interconnected. The direct and indirect consequences of the climate crisis affect the natural balances of animal and plant biodiversity, but they also disrupt the complex socio-economic networks of the most vulnerable regions, causing knock-on crises such as increased malnutrition and hunger, growing inequalities and social tensions, and ultimately poverty.
Identifying 17 macro areas of intervention to support more equitable and sustainable global development, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework confirms the need to look at global challenges in an integrated manner. The advantage of holistic approaches is increasingly recognised internationally as a strength in programming humanitarian and sustainable development interventions, including climate change mitigation programmes.
This is how the more than 40 mitigation projects developed by Carbonsink in Africa, certified by major international standards such as Verified Carbon Standard (VERRA) and Gold Standard, have a two-fold positive impact. In addition to reducing or avoiding the emission of large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, our mitigation projects support local communities, responding to their specific needs and concretely improving their living conditions.
Investing today in climate mitigation projects through the purchase of carbon credits is a key step in the net-zero climate and corporate social responsibility strategy to offset unavoidable emissions.
Here are some examples of how action today is necessary and, above all, possible.
In nature, there are very powerful mechanisms for carbon capture and storage that, if left undisturbed, regulate the amount of carbon in the atmosphere through a cycle of emission and absorption that is beneficial to life. Forest systems and coastal habitats are the largest carbon capture mechanisms, storing it in the soil and seabed respectively. Increasing anthropogenic emissions disturb these delicate mechanisms, destabilising the balance between carbon absorbed and carbon released into the atmosphere, an equation that ends with a 4% annual increase in the atmosphere, which natural systems can no longer balance.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are activities that help address climate change by improving the functionality of ecosystems that naturally capture CO2 and store it in biomass. Examples include the protection of primary forests and coastal ecosystems such as mangroves and wetlands and marshes, reforestation and soil regeneration agricultural practices. It is estimated that nature-based solutions can provide up to 37% of the emission reductions needed by 2030 to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2°C – a huge potential that justifies their growing recognition. Furthermore, the sustainable management of natural ecosystems has a strong positive impact on the living conditions of local communities.
“Nature-based mitigation projects give us the opportunity to act for the climate while protecting biodiversity and improving the lives of communities, promoting sustainable local socio-economic development.” – Tania Cencetti, NBS Manager, Carbonsink
For some years now, NBS projects have become part of Carbonsink’s project portfolio in Africa. One example is the Agri-Smart project in Zambezia, Mozambique, an area that until recently was characterised by sub-optimal management of natural resources. Due to increasing agricultural pressure, local farmers were pushed to implement very harmful farming practices such as slash and burn or lack of crop rotation, compromising the productivity of the soil and its ability to store carbon. Since the Agri-Smart project began, the first positive results have already been seen. By introducing Climate Smart Agriculture practices into local farming systems with the involvement of around 300 farmers, the Agri-Smart project promotes sustainable natural resource management and conservation agriculture through good practices that will both store more carbon in the soil and improve the climate resilience of the farming system, increasing food yields and production, resulting in higher incomes for the households involved, reduced inequalities and decreased malnutrition.
Technology for climate and communities
To mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, there are also another type of projects that use technology – established or new – to reduce or avoid emissions. When these projects involve the transfer of technology to local communities, or the implementation of technology to improve their quality of life, we speak of community-based projects.
One of the projects that Carbonsink and South Pole carry out in several communities in Africa and Asia is the replacement of traditional cookstoves, which are highly polluting and harmful to health, with efficient stoves for domestic use. Taking advantage of the presence of the local company Carbonsink Mozambique, Carbonsink has since 2018 implemented one such project in Maputo, where it was estimated that 74% of the population used traditional, low energy-efficient cooking systems fuelled by charcoal. The problems associated with traditional cooking systems are both environmental – deforestation and the release of high amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere – and health-related, linked to the constant exposure to smoke that causes or aggravates respiratory, eye and skin diseases of the people in charge of their use and most vulnerable such as women, the elderly and children.
“Local populations are showing an increasing interest in the use of improved cooking devices. In addition to the environmental, social and economic benefits of using more efficient stoves, the creation of local supply chains for their production and distribution provides employment in communities” – Viola Stefanizzi, Climate Project Manager e Mozambique Focal Point
The Gold Standard-certified project saw the close collaboration of Carbonsink and local stakeholders, a synergy that ensured that the activities met local needs and particularities, and also facilitated the introduction of the new Mbaula A stoves onto the market. With an estimated annual reduction of 80,000 t/CO2, the project continues to grow. To date, more than 35,000 efficient cookstoves with low environmental impact have been distributed, improving the living conditions of as many families. In addition to reducing exposure to smoke and the risk of disease in local communities, the new stoves also reduce the time it takes to cook food, leaving more time for families to perform other basic tasks such as education or other income-generating activities, thus reducing poverty.
Towards a sustainable energy future
The shift from fossil to renewable energy sources plays a key role in the process of decarbonisation and transition to a net-zero future. However, the current volume of investment in renewables does not even come close to what is needed to mitigate the effects of climate change and meet the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.
Mitigation projects focusing on renewable energy involve replacing fossil-fuel based power plants with renewable energy solutions such as wind farms, photovoltaic panels and hydroelectric facilities. By sustainably exploiting local natural resources, these solutions have a direct impact on climate change mitigation and contribute to the energy self-sufficiency of the communities and countries that implement them, giving them access to cheap, reliable, quality and sustainable energy. In fact, these projects often reduce the dependency of the countries where they are implemented on imported energy, driving economic growth and improving local infrastructure.
Henrietta Solar is one of the projects that Carbonsink has been supporting since its implementation in Mauritius, creating synergies between renewable energy production and agriculture. The project, through the construction of 53,700 solar panels, is able to provide sustainable energy to 40,000 people, preserving an agricultural area of over 20 hectares and avoiding the emission of over 25,000 tCO2 per year. By replacing the country’s energy mix with clean, renewable energy, Henrietta Solar provides concrete economic help to Mauritius by reducing dependence on imported energy, mainly coal and oil, and generating new job opportunities for the local community.
“The agri-voltaic approach represents the added value of Henrietta Solar, the first project of its kind on the island. The project makes it possible to combine renewable energy production with beekeeping and grazing within the same perimeter” – Ernesto Gonnella, Portfolio Manager, Carbonsink
Carbonsink has more than 40 mitigation projects in Sub-Saharan Africa under its belt, which fit into South Pole’s global portfolio of more than 1,000 projects, and in which companies committed to decarbonisation can invest by purchasing carbon credits generated by these projects.
Contact us for more information on how you can support our projects and make your corporate climate strategy more solid