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Protecting forests – a pillar of our decarbonization strategy
According to FAO data, from 2015 to 2020, the deforestation rate was 10 million hectares per year, equivalent to approximately 1/3 of the entire surface of Italy. Forests are degraded and the area they cover is being reduced due to unsustainable farming, illegal logging, unsustainable use of biomass for energy use and increased urbanization. All of these phenomena increase anthropogenic CO2 emissions and considerably reduce the natural absorption capacity of the carbon present in the atmosphere (known as Natural Carbon Sink), in the face of increased emissions linked to industrialisation.
This 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 1.5°C, as set out in the more ambitious Paris Agreement target. Regarding NCS, we mainly focus 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, according to the Special Report on Climate Change and Land of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have the greatest potential to mitigate emissions.
More broadly, our decarbonization strategy aims to abate scope 1 and 2 net absolute emissions for our Upstream business by 2030, and for all Eni businesses by 2040, and to achieve net zero scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions from the entire value chain of of the energy products sold by Eni by 2050.
In this context, carbon credits generated by REDD+ projects are a key lever in neutralising part of the residual emissions that are “hard to abate” using current technologies.
REDD+: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
Achieving our decarbonization targets will involve using carbon credits mainly generated by REDD+ projects. The REDD+ scheme was designed and promoted by the United Nations (under its Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC) and it involves conserving forests to reduce emissions and improve the natural storage capacity of CO2, as well as supporting local communities development through socio-economic projects in line with the principles on sustainable management, forest protection and nature conservation.
We expect these types of projects to lead over time to a portfolio of carbon credits amounting to over 6 million tonnes per year of CO2 equivalent in 2024, 20 million tonnes in 2030 and over 40 million tonnes by 2050.
In carrying out forest protection and conservation activities, we work with national governments, local communities and the relevant UN agencies to develop REDD+ projects, in line with UNFCCC guidelines, the NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) and 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 over time solid partnerships with international developers and other companies working in the REDD+ field, such as BioCarbon Partners, the Peace Parks Foundation, First Climate, Carbonsink and Terra Global, which allow us to play an active role in project governance and to oversee and drive every phase of our REDD+ projects, from design to set-up to monitoring of the actual emissions reduction.
With this in mind, we work to reduce the causes of deforestation, forest degradation and biodiversity loss, with absolute respect for local communities, and with their active participation offering alternatives for local development that are compatible with the local context. The main activities proposed involve economic diversification, with projects of sustainable farming and eco-tourism, initiatives for improving energy access and clean cooking, and programmes for education and professional training.
Projects are then validated and verified according to the highest quality international standards, such as the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB), by the international body VERRA, which certifies their positive social impact, biodiversity conservation and the increased resiliency towards the effects of climate change (principally, adaptation), as well as the effective reduction of emissions, through the generation of carbon credits known as Verified Carbon Units (VCU).
Our first partnerships in Africa
Eni is assessing various initiatives in a number of countries including Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana, Angola and Congo.
In particular, in Zambia in 2019, Eni became active in the governance of the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP), an REDD+ project. Thanks to this project, in November 2020, the first carbon credits were generated and used by Eni to offset GHG emissions equal 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 sustainability 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 about 200,000 beneficiaries and is currently one of the biggest REDD+ projects in Africa to be certified CCB "Triple Gold" 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 a constantly growing organisational structure dedicated to developing and managing them.
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