This report takes a critical look at the impacts on food sovereignty and land from proposals that make up the ‘net-zero’ package – including ‘nature based solutions’, ‘natural carbon removals’ and ‘carbon offsets’. It shows why nature based carbon offsetting poses a real threat to peoples’ livelihoods, territories and rights. It highlights how the transformative solutions to the climate and food crises – specifically agroecology for food sovereignty – risk being coopted and weakened in the rush for these seductive-sounding false solutions. 

Double Jeopardy: The rising threat to food sovereignty and agroecology from false climate solutions

More than 1,500 corporations have made net zero emissions pledges in recent years, from oil and gas majors to industrial food giants. Such pledges involve making a public commitment to cancel out their emissions by a certain time in future.

This “cancelling out” of emissions, or ‘carbon offsetting’, can happen in two ways. One is through projects that prevent, avoid or reduce emissions. The other is through projects that seek to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon removals can happen through natural or technical methods. These “natural” methods are typically known as ‘nature based solutions’, or sometimes ‘natural climate solutions’.

After explaining the history and meaning of these often confusing concepts, the report unpacks different types of so-called solutions, with examples from around the world. It reveals the motives of the governments and corporations that are pushing these concepts, including agri-food corporations.

Nature based solutions threaten people and planet

The report highlights the risks of land grabbing and dispossession faced by Indigenous Peoples, peasant farmers and other rural communities, for the massive land requirements of corporate ‘net zero’ pledges. For example:

  • Nestlé’s offsetting plans could require planting trees on at least 4.4 million hectares of land every year. That’s larger than the whole of Switzerland! 
  • Shell’s “extensive scale-up of nature-based solutions” would require planting trees over an “area approaching that of Brazil”.

Furthermore, it zooms in on the rise of soil carbon sequestration as a source of carbon credits for offsetting. It shows how much agri-food, fossil fuel and tech corporations stand to gain from a massive data and land grab. Carbon farming will lock small-scale farmers and peasant producers in to intensive farming practices for decades.

Finally, the report details the transformative principles that underpin agroecology, and how they are incompatible with the concept of ‘nature based solutions’. Agroecology is based on principles of resource efficiency, resilience, social equity and environmental responsibility. It is the transformative way to produce food, whilst cooling the planet and boosting biodiversity. It puts people in control of their lands and livelihoods. Agroecology must not become a tool to promote false climate solutions!