The Amazon Rainforest-Sized Loophole in Net Zero

Amazon Watch July 2021

Trading forest protection for continued greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) presents a false and dangerous “solution” to the climate crisis. Instead, emissions must be drastically reduced, forests must be protected for their own sake, Indigenous forest stewardship must be recognized and respected, and the root causes of deforestation – namely commodity extraction and production in forests – must be halted.

Following the 2015 Paris Agreement, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations scientific institution that provides updates on climate science, released a report on how to curb global warming. Subsequent IPCC reports and corroborating scientific research unequivocally show that in order to keep global average temperature rise below 1.5°C – and thus have a shot at avoiding the worst impacts of climate change – requires deep and immediate cuts in the burning of fossil fuels, the complete phaseout of fossil fuel burning before mid century, and drastic reductions of emissions from industries, like agribusiness, whose current business models rely on deforestation.

Many companies and financial institutions, and even some governments, are attempting to appear as if they are reducing emissions without actually doing so. Instead, they want to perpetuate business-as-usual while “compensating” for it with schemes such as forest offsets.

After 25 years working alongside Amazonian Indigenous communities, Amazon Watch knows that pay-to-pollute schemes like this are false solutions to the climate crisis, do not address the root causes of forest loss, and risk severe harms to Indigenous communities. This is because:

  • Nature-based offsets cannot “compensate” for large-scale emissions production.
  • Offsets perpetuate environmental injustice.
  • Forest offsets can result in violations of the rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples.
  • The primary driver of rainforest loss is large-scale commodity production.

The way forward means making zero emissions central to “net zero”

So what should be done to mitigate the climate crisis, protect forests, and support Indigenous peoples? Companies, financial institutions and governments must keep their climate plans simple and transparent, with separate targets for:

  • Rapid reductions in emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and other industrial activities;
  • Rapid elimination of commodity production that drives deforestation; and
  • Increased commitments and contributions to rights-based nature protection and restoration.

Failure to adopt truly effective emissions reductions that do not rely on pay-to-pollute and compensation schemes will ultimately fail to meet the Paris Accord’s essential Net Zero goals and set us on a course towards runaway climate chaos.

To download the PDF visit Amazon Watch.

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

The Role of Eucalyptus in Brazil comes under the Crosshairs of the International Anti-Transgenic Tree Network (June 2, 2023)

Impact of monoculture in territories was the subject of visits led by FASE in Espírito Santo


Note: FASE were co-organizers of the tour to the communities of Espírito Santo.

The article (included below in full) is written by Claudio Nogueira (FASE Communications Coordinator) and originally appeared June 2nd, 2023, on FASE’s website. It is available in both Portugese and English through Google Translate.


The pulp industry writes a sad story in Brazil. Its role in land occupation with eucalyptus monoculture imprints a perverse logic that suffocates traditional communities and goes far beyond false ideas of reforestation and environmental concern. This was the scenario encountered by members of the campaign “Stop GM Trees” (No to Transgenic Trees) and the Alert Against Green Deserts Network, in a tour organized by the FASE Espírito Santo team, visiting locations in the north of Espírito Santo and the extreme south in Bahia, between the 24th and 29th of May.

In all, around 25 people, including popular educators, quilombola and landless leaders, environmentalists and foreign researchers from Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Ireland, Argentina and Chile were able to verify the impact of eucalyptus plantations on the way of life of family farmers and traditional communities in the region. For three days, the group got to know the experiences of agroecological practices in areas taken over by the Landless Workers Movement (MST) at the Egídio Brunetto Training School and at the Índio Galdino settlement, in addition to hearing reports of the difficulties faced by the quilombola communities of Volta Miúda and Angelim 2 with monoculture plantations. After the visits,

eucalyptus espirito santo

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

For Beto Loureiro, educator at FASE in Espírito Santo, the tour was important for the researchers to realize that the impacts are already terrible, and the transgenic trees are going to be one more aggression in the historical series that monoculture causes in the territories, “since the expulsion of traditional communities, passing through the depletion of water resources and the enormous amount of poisons that they apply now, even by air”. “They are spraying the monocultures by drone, and this poison is spreading, falling on the communities’ plantations, falling on their homes, on their schools. In short, a real chemical war, which takes place here in the green desert, ”he explains.

Transgenic trees, a new threat

Brazil was chosen to host the meeting due to the extension of activities in the paper industry and approval by the company Suzano, in 2021, for the planting of genetically modified eucalyptus trees to tolerate the herbicide glyphosate. This follows the previous approval, in 2015, of FuturaGene’s fast-growing transgenic eucalyptus tree, which was not planted commercially. The country is the only one in Latin America where field tests seem to be taking place today with genetically modified trees.

Genetic engineering directly changes the genetic makeup (DNA) of an organism, bypassing normal plant or animal reproduction to create new traits. Genetic engineering includes techniques that make changes to DNA by inserting genetic material from the same, similar or wholly unrelated organisms, or, with genome editing (also called gene editing), by introducing genetic material that acts as “editor” to change the DNA. Genetic engineering applied to trees is a technical challenge fraught with serious environmental and social risks.

Photo: Claudio Nogueira

Most research is focused on increasing the productivity of planted trees for various industrial purposes. These objectives include pulp, paper and wood production; as well as the use of trees as “bioenergy” crops – to produce biomass and liquid “cellulosic biofuel”. There is also some interest in genetically modifying trees to produce other industrial materials such as pharmaceuticals, using the trees as “biofactories”, as well as experiments to sell carbon credits and proposals to release these trees into the wild to “restor” endangered species. of extinction.

“It made us realize that it is another problem that we will have to deal with”, ponders Beto. “These transgenic eucalyptus trees grow very quickly. Therefore, they must also suck water very quickly, they are resistant to poisons. We can imagine that the burden of poisons in monocultures will increase, and that is what we expect from these researchers: that they return to their countries also understanding that non-transgenic eucalyptus is already a tragedy”, he concludes.

The foreign delegation continued its tour of Brazil with audiences at UnB and Esplanada dos Ministérios, in Brasília, and will continue to Mato Grosso do Sul, also to verify the role of eucalyptus plantations in the environmental imbalance in the state.