California Tropical Forest Standard endorsement would put California stamp of approval on dubious plan of global aviation industry to address climate damage with carbon offsets and biofuels for “carbon neutral growth”
San Francisco, 19 June 2019 – A diverse coalition of environmental, indigenous, labor, environmental justice and faith organizations have joined Biofuelwatch (1) in sending a letter [link to letter] to California Governor Gavin Newsom and California Air Resources Board (ARB) Chair Mary Nichols denouncing the threat of the State of California unleashing a wave of unintended consequences by endorsing a tropical forest-based carbon offset protocol for use by the global aviation industry.
The letter, signed by more than 20 organizations (2) explains that, without understanding the full implications, California is on the verge of putting a stamp of approval on an aviation industry designed scheme to disguise the anticipated future emissions growth in the sector with dubious tropical forest-based carbon offsets and destructive biofuels that pose a serious new risk to forests and thereby the climate.
California air pollution authorities are considering the endorsement of the California Tropical Forest Standard (CTFS) [link to CTFS webpage], which is a controversial tropical forest-based offset protocol that the Air Resources Board has explicitly proposed for utilization by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) for achieving “carbon neutral growth.”
The two key mechanisms of CORSIA are carbon offsetting and “alternative aviation fuels.”
The intention of the global aviation industry to rely on offsetting to address climate impacts from future emissions growth is highly controversial due to the questionable science justifying forest offsets, as well as the litany of problems with human rights abuses and the failure to halt ongoing deforestation that have historically plagued tropical forest-based carbon credit schemes.
The letter also expresses concern that the extremely weak standards proposed for CORSIA are highly likely to allow palm-oil derived biofuels to be characterized as “sustainable aviation biofuels,” thus creating a large new global demand for palm oil. The rapid growth of palm oil production is recognized as a major driver of tropical deforestation. Tropical deforestation is a leading contributor to biodiversity loss and global climate chaos.
“By considering endorsing an offsets protocol for use in CORSIA,” reads the letter, California “could be unwittingly unleashing forces that instigate a spike in demand for palm-oil based biofuels.”
“Unfortunately, the Air Resources Board has refused to analyze CTFS in the context of proposed utilization in the global aviation CORSIA scheme,” stated Gary Hughes from Biofuelwatch. “The unintended consequences of failing to take a hard look at the aviation scheme would be tragic. In this letter we urge the ARB and the Governor to consider the hard evidence about the climate damage from the aviation industry and to fully assess the dangers inherent in relying on scandal plagued tropical forest carbon offsets and destructive biofuels to greenwash the climate impacts from the global aviation sector.”
The organizations signing the letter urge Governor Newsom and Chair Nichols to reject the California Tropical Forest Standard, and to instead be backing and implementing policies to directly reduce and reverse the growth in aviation greenhouse gas emissions, which is vital for averting the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
In California alone the greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation have climbed more than 40% in the 5 years between 2012 and 2016, setting an unprecedented record high for greenhouse gas emissions in the sector.
Gary Graham Hughes — +1-707-223-5434, firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Biofuelwatch is a UK/US non-profit organization researching and raising awareness of the impacts of large-scale bioenergy and campaigning against destructive bioenergy developments. See biofuelwatch.org.uk
(2) Signed on to the letter are Global Justice Ecology Project, Rootskeeper, Oakland Institute, Sequoia Forestkeeper, SEIU United Service Workers West, Alameda County Interfaith Climate Action Network, Interfaith Climate Action Network of Contra Costa County, Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, Good Neighbor Steering Committee, 350 Bay Area, Sacred America, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN), Forests Forever, Idle No More – SF Bay, Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sunflower Alliance, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace USA, Friends of the Earth – US, and Biofuelwatch.