The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, represents a landmark global effort to combat climate change. One of its key provisions, Article 6, outlines mechanisms for international cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, GHGs. While Article 6 holds great promise for nature-based solutions (NBS) carbon projects in Africa, it has also generated hesitancy among project developers due to a lack of transparency on policy declarations by many African nations on carbon credit sovereignty. This hesitancy has turned to concern in the case of Zimbabwe’s recent decision to upend the table on global carbon markets by invalidating all prior projects in the country and to claim 50% of all revenues of any carbon project moving forward.
Nature-Based Solutions and Carbon Sequestration
Nature-based solutions refer to actions that harness the power of nature to address climate change. These solutions often involve activities like afforestation, reforestation, wetland restoration, and sustainable land management. They can play a significant role in sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping countries meet their emission reduction targets. We at Oko, for example, fall under the reforestation category of NBS in our project targeting the restoration of at least 14,000 hectares of native woodland in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement provides a framework for international cooperation on emissions reductions through two key mechanisms:
Opportunities and Challenges for NBS Carbon Projects in Africa
To its core, these two aspects of Article 6 provide a key framework for Developed countries and private developers to invest in NBS projects in Africa that sequesters GHGs as well as supporting wider development goals. However:
While Article 6 of the Paris Agreement holds great potential for nature-based solutions carbon projects in Africa, it also presents significant challenges and uncertainties. The hesitancy among project developers and investors is understandable given the complexity of the mechanism, the risk of double counting, the lack of clarity surrounding its implementation and an uncertainty in how some nations will respond and develop their own carbon policies. To unlock the full potential of NBS projects in Africa and leverage Article 6 effectively, it is crucial for international climate negotiators to address these concerns and provide clear guidelines and mechanisms for secure project implementation in a format inherently repeatable across nations. Doing so would provide investors and developers the confidence to green light large scale NBS projects across the African continent and harness the power of nature to combat climate change and promote sustainable development while contributing to global emissions reductions.