Cool Earth and Climate Action

Many individuals and businesses get in touch with Cool Earth looking to support mitigating emissions from deforestation. But how does protecting the rainforest help the climate, and what makes Cool Earth different from traditional offset schemes?

Protecting rainforest is the most effective climate action anyone can take. And the best-placed people to protect rainforest are those that depend on it most.

This insight is the reason Cool Earth was founded in 2007. It is also why we continue to work alongside rainforest communities to find the best ways to keep the canopy intact and achieve 11 key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Many market mechanisms are available for those who wish to directly offset their carbon emissions. The carbon market is, without doubt, an important tool for encouraging countries, the private sector and civil society to achieve their sustainable development and climate action goals.

However, we believe it’s much more effective, and cheaper, to prevent the release of the carbon in the first place through avoided deforestation programmes. Protecting rainforest with Cool Earth does not create a formal carbon offset as no partnership, community or forest is the same. Being community-led and adaptive to the changing threats and drivers of deforestation, Cool Earth’s unique model is incompatible with the common approaches of carbon certification. This is despite avoided deforestation being an effective means of preventing the release of the carbon.

Protecting rainforest is one of the most effective actions we can take to tackle climate breakdown. Deforestation releases as much carbon into the atmosphere as the global transport sector and destroys the best carbon capture and storage technology we have. Tropical forests have the highest carbon density of all forest types due to their ability for vast carbon sequestration. They could provide 23% of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed before 20301. Without this, we have no chance of preventing catastrophic climate breakdown.

Cool Earth was created to develop the best ways of working alongside rainforest communities to address multiple drivers of deforestation. Mitigating carbon emissions from deforestation is therefore central to our mission and by supporting Cool Earth you are supporting innovation in rainforest protection and emissions reduction.

This does not earn you a carbon credit or an offset because rainforest protection is too complex and multifaceted to fit rules designed for solar lanterns and rocket stoves.

Building sustainable partnerships to halt destruction is nonetheless key to cutting emissions. So whether you are an individual, a business or a foundation, Cool Earth provides you with everything from satellite data to personal testimony to understand the impact you are making. Supporting Cool Earth earns you a place alongside 35,000 people who believe rainforest is best protected by the people who live there and best-done hand in hand with clear sustainable development goals.

It is also the smartest climate action we can take. In the opinion of many people, including Sir David Attenborough, this makes it the most important thing you may ever do.

This is why Cool Earth focuses on halting deforestation and degradation that can result in very large and rapid changes in carbon stocks over a short period of time. As such, while we cannot provide a calculation (or metric) for a direct offset from specific carbon quantities, by supporting Cool Earth in our avoided deforestation projects, you are helping to mitigate climate change and carbon emissions from deforestation. It is an approach to rapid and effective mitigation of climate change that also happens to support numerous other benefits from flood prevention, control of soil erosion, reduced river siltation, protection of biodiversity and the preservation of culture and traditions.

Supporting Cool Earth’s partnerships is the smartest climate action. It just happens to do a great deal more.

Cool Earth’s model is unique, we:

  • Put local communities at the heart of rainforest protection.
  • Implement a detailed and transparent monitoring system.
  • Work to understand in detail the threats and drivers of deforestation in our partnerships and understanding that this changes over time.
  • Share knowledge with local communities to support them as stewards.
  • Co-design conservation strategies with local communities.

Indigenous peoples and local communities manage at least 24 percent (54,546 MtC) of the total carbon stored above ground in the world’s tropical forests, a sum greater than 250 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global air travel in 2015.

“Recognizing the knowledge, innovations and practices and values of indigenous peoples and local communities and their inclusion in environmental governance often enhances their quality of life, as well as nature conservation, restoration and sustainable use, which is relevant to broader society.” - IPBES Report, 2019


Can I protect specific acres of rainforest with Cool Earth?

Can I protect specific acres of rainforest with Cool Earth?

This option isn’t available unless a donor very generously undertakes to fund an entire partnership over a considerable period of time.

This is because the work streams that are involved in each partnership to protect rainforest are usually specific to that area and can also vary in cost over time. Cool Earth is also scaling our work in the coming years, and this makes a single figure that applies across the board for acre protection challenging.

We are also conscious that the messaging of protecting a specific acre of rainforest evokes ideas of ‘buying forest’, which is something we do not, and will not do. Cool Earth works with rainforest communities to keep them in control of their trees, land and rights. We are not placing any form of external ownership on this.

We used to donate £60 to mitigate carbon by the acre; is this still the case?

We used to donate £60 to mitigate carbon by the acre; is this still the case?

As the threats to rainforest are different in all of our partnerships, some are immediate while others are more persistent, they can change over time. This is why a cost per acre or cost per tonne of carbon approach has become challenging.  

Cool Earth is currently working on financial analysis to evaluate how the level of support to our partnerships has changed over the years and this will be examined alongside deforestation impacts data.

Our aim is to build financial resilience in our partner communities, which will be maintained after we cease funding, with the ultimate goal that the community will continue to resist the threats to their rainforest after the partnership has ended. Even after partnerships have officially come to a close, we’ll continue to monitor key indicators such as canopy cover for several years.

With a newly recruited Monitoring & Evaluation team, the remainder of 2019 will be spent developing these methods and collecting trial data, in the hope that our financial projections to protect rainforest will be more accurate going forward.

With this in mind, we’re reviewing our ‘cost per acre protected’ and focusing our communications on what we’ve learned in each partnership and providing quality data and analysis that reflects how effectively each pound is spent.

Where is my money spent?

Where is my money spent?

Protecting rainforest with Cool Earth does not create a carbon offset. Cool Earth’s model, being community-led and adaptive to the changing threats and drivers of deforestation, is incompatible with approaches and complex requirements of carbon certification.

The Cool Earth method focuses on a longer-term partnership approach with communities, to build financial resilience and resist threats to the rainforest and whilst Cool Earth’s primary objective is certainly to mitigate climate change through avoided deforestation, working in partnership with indigenous communities, we don’t translate this into a price per tonne of carbon.

On average Cool Earth donors give around £60 per person and while not offsetting their carbon footprint, does much more to support communities in their key role as guardians of the rainforest while mitigating emissions from tropical deforestation.

The SDGs

Cool Earth and Climate Action But the benefits reach much further than the climate. A carbon mitigation programme with Cool Earth also directly contributes to two other goals. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Cool Earth and Climate Action Cool Earth works with communities to put them back in control of their resources: providing funds and support to help them out of poverty and keep their most valuable assets standing. End poverty in all its forms: Deforestation begins with poverty.
Cool Earth and Climate Action Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss: This is what our partners do best. They are best placed to keep the rainforest healthy. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.
Cool Earth and Climate Action Working in partnership with smart organisations and individuals, Cool Earth has leveraged funds to support rainforest communities across the globe. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development
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