A new report from the United Nations lays out how fast the world is hurtling towards climate disaster. Released on 9 August 2021, the report sounds what the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls ‘code red’ for humanity.
The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is our starkest warning yet that we are on a path to self-destruction. But initiatives like the Katingan Mentaya Project (KMP) are contributing to the ongoing fight against the climate crisis.
The world is at a tipping point as part of the climate crisis.
According to the UN, the world will face enormous disruption due to climate change, possibly for centuries to come. And while fast action right now to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will limit some of the impact of the climate crisis, we have passed the tipping point for others.
The IPCC report uses more than 14,000 scientific studies to give the most probable prediction for humanity’s future should the world fail to act. Unless massive scale action is taken immediately to lower emissions, the average global temperature will cross the threshold of 1.5-degree Celsius increase within just two decades.
The UN’s original Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed to collectively ensure that this didn’t happen at least until 2050, and preferably not at all. However, experts say that measures taken so far to cut emissions made around the world are nowhere near enough. GHG levels must come down immediately – and this mostly means the carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.
Human activity to blame for the climate crisis.
The report details human activities have already increased the global temperature by 1.1 degrees Celsius from its pre-industrial average. This is why we are experiencing more extreme weather every year.
Just this year so far, a once in 1,000-year heatwave killed hundreds of people in the Pacific Northwest, record levels of carbon dioxide emissions have been released from Siberia forests and previously unrecorded viruses are being discovered in melting permafrost.
Scientists say that certain damage is now irreversible, such as the melting of Greenland’s ice layer. This will cause the sea levels to rise for centuries to come due to oceans becoming warmer and expanding.
However, the more we do right now, the more we can slow down the changes. If we can collectively slash emissions by 2030, then the temperature will still probably reach an increase of 1.5 C by 2040, rising again to 1.6 C by 2060 before stabilisation. It’s also possible that global warming could trigger an emission loop that would push temperatures up to 4.4 C higher than preindustrial averages by 2100.
Global leaders will meet at the UN Climate Change Conference COP 26 in Scotland in October, expecting to see much firmer commitments to lower emissions.
How the Katingan Mentaya Project helps to lower emissions.
While the world attempts to come to terms with the enormous changes that must be made to safeguard the future, the Katingan Mentaya Project ￼(KMP) has been quietly contributing to climate mitigation as well as the SDGs by investing in precious peat forest conservation since 2008.
Our model of ecosystem restoration and protection comprises carbon trading with forest conservation and community development. Founded and managed by PT Rimba Makmur Utama, the KMP works thanks to the collaboration with Permian Global, Puter Indonesia and Wetlands International.
The kind of carbon credit revolution that the project represents is the future of global climate action through the pioneering use of carbon credits to save this 157,000-hectare region of Indonesia’s peat forest.
The forest area isn’t just a vast carbon sink that must be contained; it’s also home to 10% of the world’s Bornean orangutans, Southern Bornean gibbons and proboscis monkeys. Peat swamps contain far more carbon trapped in the soil than other types of tropical forests, making them even more important to conserve.
More than 90% of the carbon stored in the KMP’s forest region is trapped in the peat soil. By saving it from being converted into industrial acacia plantations, which is what would have happened had the project not intervened, the project has stopped the release of a considerable amount of carbon dioxide. If the forest had been industrialised, it would have led to forest clearance and the release of GHG equivalent to around 450 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 60 years.
So, the KMP is the biggest forest-conservation based avoided emissions initiative in the world. Our climate impact in total roughly matches the entirety of annual emissions of France – that’s a massive contribution towards fighting the worst impacts of climate change.
The Katingan Mentaya Project supports eleven of the UN SDGs.
Here’s how the Project is supporting the following SDGs as laid out by the UN. Something that sets the Project apart is the fact that the KMP is a real-life, tangible example of how the carbon market can work with conservation in a way that brings actual, measurable results. As of 2020, the project directly contributed to 11 SDGs (up from 9 SDGs, as reported in the 2019 Monitoring Report) encompassing the following:
SDG 13: Climate Action
The forest area was selected because it’s a natural carbon sink, and so the project actively prevents emissions from being released into the atmosphere which helps to eliminate the damage caused by GHGs. The project also works with local villagers and communities to find practical ways to build a wall of resilience against the damage caused by the climate crisis.
SDG 15: Life on Land
Tropical forests like Katingan Mentaya are packed with biodiversity that must be preserved. The project covers one of the largest areas of intact peat swamp forest in the country. The project provides, maintains and safeguards the forest as a vital refuge for the survival of many endangered and protected species.
SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals
With its long-term work in partnership with local communities , the project is building a pathway to a better future by working directly with local people and partnering with the private, civil, and public sectors.
SDG 1: No Poverty
The project is funded through carbon-based finance, which has enabled a comprehensive and ongoing community development strategy. A core part of this involves working with people from the surrounding villages to facilitating sustainable local livelihoods, such as coconut sugar products, sustainable agricultural practices and local retail. By working with the communities, the project is constantly working to eliminate poverty across the region.
SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing
Naturally, having a healthy forest means a robust ecosystem for the health of people. The protection of the forest helps maximise the process of water and air filtration .
SDG 5: Gender Equality
An important feature built into the design of the community development strategy is to ensure equality, especially that equal opportunities are presented to women. This can be seen from the women-only consultations that helped shape the strategy through to providing opportunities for women-run local enterprises.
SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
Water is the life force of the forest and its people. The project actively ensures that it’s as clean as possible for the benefit of all.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
By facilitating and supporting sustainable livelihoods for local communities, the project is helping to reduce the pressure on the forest itself and preserving it from industrialisation.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Accountability and transparency are the foundations of everything the project has achieved so far and will achieve in the future.
SDG 2: Zero Hunger
Facilitating good agricultural practices that improve land and soil quality in the project which both increases productivity and supports healthy ecosystems, while also helping farmers to become more resilient in the face of climate change, ensure that food production is continuous for the communities.
SDG 17: Partnership for the goals
Collaboration with the different stakeholders is the key to success with a project like Katingan Mentaya. By Coordinating research and development programs with national and international institutions, we are able to keep focus on improving climate, community and biodiversity benefits.
The Katingan Mentaya Project will continue to adapt our work as global goals are inevitably altered to fit with the new climate projections. We are living proof that carbon credits are a viable way to reduce emissions, conserve peat forest and support local communities.