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You asked, we answered | A response for our supporters


Cool Earth is open and transparent in all that it does. As such, we wanted to address some of the questions we have recently received from our supporters.

Doesn’t protecting rainforest with one community just shift the destruction to another?

We are often asked this one, usually in the context of how Cool Earth’s partnerships compare to REDD+ schemes (carbon credits created by reduced deforestation). This is probably because carbon credits must prove four things:

1. The reduced emissions must be measured from a specific point in time (“a baseline”) to confirm the size of the offset.
2. It must be proven that the reduction would not have happened anyway, sometimes termed additionality.
3. The reduction in emissions must be proven to be irreversible and therefore permanent.
4. The reduction in emissions must not simply displace the emissions to another location (so-called “leakage”).

The trickiest one is whether emissions are being shifted to somewhere else. In the parlance of the carbon industry, it’s called leakage and REDD+ projects struggle with it because it is so difficult to prove.

Cool Earth’s approach is different. We recognise that protecting rainforest in one place may put pressure on rainforest in another if drivers of destruction (logging, mining, agriculture) relocate. More often than not however, they don’t. This is because deforestation is far more complicated than it is sometimes portrayed (sometimes even by us).

Industrial clear cutting destroys millions of hectares of rainforest but it represents a declining proportion of deforestation. The majority of rainforest is lost at a much smaller scale to slash and burn agriculture, charcoal collection and illegal logging. Very often, these activities are led by communities driven not by profit but by desperation.

That is why building alternative livelihoods to logging, investing in alternative energy sources to charcoal and developing techniques to restore and sustain soil fertility is so effective at stopping deforestation. They can also empower communities, reduce poverty, maintain biodiversity, improve health and increase the time children spend in education.

But most importantly, by addressing the drivers to deforestation within villages, destruction is not shifted anywhere else. And because every year, every partnership presents its experience of what works, what doesn’t and what Cool Earth is like to their neighbours, the insights, the answers and the ideas spread.

Why does David Attenborough think that supporting Cool Earth could be the “biggest difference we can make” and what does “Smartest Climate Action” mean?

Forgive us for bundling these two questions together but the answer is the same.

Land use change makes up just under a fifth of controllable carbon emissions and its largest component is rainforest destruction. These emissions do not come from assets with a life of twenty or more years but from the clearance of ecosystems that are rarely given any value. Recognising their value and the role that local communities play in protecting them is the first step to keeping forests intact.

This is why Cool Earth has created a network of partnerships that use a broad range of approaches to keep forest safe. When these approaches work well, we explore how they can be replicated and scaled, if not by us, then by other conservation organisations. When they don’t work so well, the same partnership network can explore why.

Every single partnership is designed and delivered by local people. Whilst rainforest conservation is something that everyone benefits from, local people must be the first and greatest beneficiaries. This is why Cool Earth is making such a difference and why supporting local people to protect rainforest is the smartest climate action any of us can take.

Girl at school in Papua New Guinea

Aerial Rainforest Shot of the Peruvian Amazon
THANK YOU

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