‘On CO2 reduction Dutch corporates need to stand shoulder to shoulder’
Seven questions about the importance of REDD+
On Thursday May 21st Eneco hosted the ‘Discovering REDD+’ event. Almost one hundred leading Dutch companies were invited. We found organizers Mark Meyrick (Head of Eneco Carbon Desk) and Kate Dillon (Director of Membership with Code REDD) willing to answer some questions on REDD+ and the importance of a corporate alliance.
Why should we look after primary forests?
Kate: ‘All my life I have been a great lover of nature -‐ whether marine or forest ecosystems I always believed in treating the planet with great care and respect. The happiest moments of my life occurred in wild places, and I want to keep these places wild for my son, and his children, and their children…
‘Approximately 350 million people live in forests, but we are all dependent on the world’s forests to some extent. And forests are more relevant to private companies than many might realize. Almost every economic field is impacted by forests, and change in forest cover is a significant factor in supply chain resilience whether through its role in global climate regulation or in agriculture and commodity production. Some companies prefer to build windmills, plant trees or install solar panels. Those initiatives are great, but REDD+ is different because the social and ecological impact is so large. REDD+ achieves CO2 reductions because it is conservation at the landscape scale, but also vital biodiversity preservation, community empowerment and sustainable economic development.’
How did Eneco get involved in REDD+?
Mark: ‘Over the past years Eneco reduced its carbon footprint of their internal operations by 50%. Unfortunately, in the current state of technology it’s not yet possible to be entirely carbon neutral. To further reduce our footprint we needed a partner and found one in WWF. In 2009 we got involved in REDD+; a method for compensating CO2 emissions. REDD+ is still relatively unknown and ‘of the beaten track’. After five years we feel REDD+ is all grown up and deserves more attention. If Dutch corporates stand shoulder to shoulder we can really accelerate and scale support for REDD+. Eneco can let others reap the benefits from our experience. Hopefully this event will inspire many others to join in.’
How do companies benefit from buying CO2 rights?
Kate: ‘Companies are more and more concerned about the impact they have on the environment. Not only to compensate or reduce CO2. Companies that want to manage their carbon footprints want to do so with high-‐impact carbon projects. These projects motivate and inspire their shareholders, employees, and consumers. Companies currently buying REDD+ credits message their REDD+ engagement in different ways, but all agree it provides them with a compelling story to articulate their sustainability values. And as a result they find they attract higher-‐quality talent, their employees are proud, and their brand value increases.’
How do companies benefit from buying CO2 rights?
Kate: ‘Companies are more and more concerned about the impact they have on the environment. Not only to compensate or reduce CO2. Companies that want to manage their carbon footprints want to do so with high-impact carbon projects. These projects motivate and inspire their shareholders, employees, and consumers. Companies currently buying REDD+ credits message their REDD+ engagement in different ways, but all agree it provides them with a compelling story to articulate their sustainability values. And as a result they find they attract higher-quality talent, their employees are proud, and their brand value increases.’
What impact will hosting an event at Eneco HQ really have?
Mark: ‘This event is not about selling carbon credits or selling Eneco, although selling some credits would be nice. (laughs) I’m happy if we only plant an idea in their minds. Don’t forget: a lot of companies are already engaged in environmental projects. There are policies in place. I can’t tell Philips or Unilever to get involved in REDD+, because they already have a strong vision on sustainability. All I can do is plant a little seed.’
What responses did you get from the attendees?
Kate: ‘Most of the comments I heard were about how the event made REDD+ much clearer to them and they were impressed by Eneco’s April Salumei project and Qantas’s corporate engagement. One attendee even said we had transformed his opinion of and view on REDD+, and I think this is a result of how high--quality our speakers were.’
Can you tell us about your personal motivations to get involved in REDD+?
During graduate school I was intrigued by the idea of ‘payments for ecosystem services’ as a way to value natural capital and finance sustainable land use. REDD+ is a payment for the carbon storage service forests provide. I like that these approaches to conservation encourage inclusivity. They include the needs of the people living in forest communities as well as the interests of corporations and governments who want to do good things, but don’t knowhow. Rather than making people feel badly about environmental degradation, REDD+ offers a positive solution with for a potentially enormous impact locally and globally. In the US we call it a ‘triple win’ solution -- a win for the planet, a win for the people, and a win for business. These kinds of ‘triple win’ solutions are very attractive to me.’
How do you look back on the 'Discover REDD+' event?
Do you believe it inspired the attendees? What reactions did you get from the attendees?Kate: ‘We called the event ‘Discovering REDD+’ because REDD+ has evolved so much over the past few years. We wanted to provide an excellent line--up of speakers to explain in a simple way how REDD+ now has incredible results all over the world. We received great feedback from attendees, including some who actually said we’d transformed their thinking about REDD+. We had Stephen Hooper from Eneco’s April Salumei project give a presentation about his project, and I think that was a highlight for many of the attendees. It’s an incredible project and really demonstrates the enormous potential value of REDD+.
I also think hearing from Megan Flynn of Qantas was very inspiring to everyone as we all try to understand how get more companies to buy REDD+ credits to support projects Like April Salumei. Megan has a very clear vision of environmental stewardship, and manages to connect it to Qantas's overarching corporate values.’
REDD+ is a worldwide initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation andforest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests.. Through REDD+ Eneco is investing in the preservation of
633.000 hectares of primary forest in Papua New Guinea. Read also our press release on Eneco and REDD+?