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Eni's commitment to protecting and conserving forests

Forests cover 31% of the dry land on the planet and are a fundamental absorber of carbon from the atmosphere.

01 December 2020
6 min read
01 December 2020
6 min read

Protecting forests – a pillar of our decarbonization strategy

According to FAO data, the years 2015 to 2020 saw a deforestation rate of 10 million hectares a year. Forests are degraded and the area they cover is reduced for unsustainable farming, illegal logging, unsustainable biomass for energy and building towns. All of these increase mankind's CO2 emissions and seriously reduce the Natural Carbon Sink, while emissions from industry continue to rise.

That is why we have made forest conservation projects one of the pillars of our decarbonization strategy, recognising the important and growing role of Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) in limiting global warming to below 2°C. We are mainly focused on tropical forests, which account for about 45% of the world's forest area and have a high capacity to absorb and store carbon, and on developing countries which are seen as among the most significant at international level when it comes to climate change mitigation strategies.

More broadly, our emissions reduction strategy aims at reaching net zero carbon footprint for Scope 1 and 2 from Upstream activities by 2030 and net zero carbon footprint from all the company’s activities by 2040 and, finally, by 2050, reaching an 80% reduction in net emissions from the entire life-cycle of energy products sold, including scope 1,2 and 3 emissions.

Carbon credits generated by REDD+ projects are then a key lever to compensate the part of residual emissions that are difficult to reduce with current technologies (the so-called hard to abate emissions).

REDD+: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

Our decarbonization strategy includes voluntary projects to support the fight against climate change, including REDD+ projects. The REDD+ scheme was designed by the United Nations (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - UNFCC). It involves conserving forests to reduce emissions and improve the natural storage capacity of CO2, as well as helping local communities develop through socio-economic projects in line with principles on sustainable management, forest protection and nature conservation. We expect these types of projects to progressively reach a carbon credit portfolio of 10 million tonnes per year of CO2 equivalent in 2025, 20 million tonnes in 2030 and more than 30 million tonnes by 2050.

We support national governments, local communities and UN agencies in their REDD+ strategies, in line with the NDCs, (Nationally Determined Contributions), national development plans and especially Sustainable Development Goals 1 (no poverty), 5 (gender equality), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land) and 17 (partnerships for the goals), set out in the 2030 Agenda.

As such, we have built solid partnerships over time with international developers like BioCarbon Partners, the Peace Parks Foundation, First Climate and Carbonsink, which allow us to oversee every phase of our REDD+ projects, from design to set-up to monitoring of whether emissions are reduced, with an active role in governance of the project.

With this in mind, we work to reduce the causes of deforestation and degradation of biodiversity, always with absolute respect for local communities, and with their active participation. We come up with alternatives for local development that are in keeping with the local area. In the main, they involve economic diversification, with projects of sustainable farming and eco-tourism, initiatives for improving energy access and clean cooking, and programmes for education and vocational training.

The carbon credits we generate are validated and verified according to the highest international standards, such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB) Triple Gold, issued by the international certifying body VERRA, which certifies their social and environmental impact.

Our first partnerships in Africa

Eni is currently considering a range of different initiatives in various countries. Currently, we have begun our first partnerships with governments and international developers in Zambia, Mozambique, Vietnam, Mexico, Ghana, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, where we aim to compensate for all the direct emissions from our Upstream sector by 2030.

In Zambia, in particular, Eni has become active in the governance of the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), an REDD+ project. ). Thanks to this project, in November 2020 we achieved our first carbon credits generation, offsetting GHG emissions equivalent to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2. Within the LCFP, we have committed to acquiring certified carbon credits under VCS and CCB standards until 2038, which guarantees the long-term success of this REDD+ project.

The LCFP was launched in 2014 and is managed by BioCarbon Partners in collaboration with the Zambian government and local communities. It covers an area of about 1 million hectares, involves over 170,000 beneficiaries and is currently one of the biggest REDD+ projects in Africa to have got the "Triple Gold" Standard Certification for its outstanding social and environmental impact.

The importance of these initiatives, within the wider scope of our activities, is shown by our choice to set up an organisational structure just for developing and managing them.