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☁️ "Sequestering Carbon, Increasing Biodiversity & Alleviating Poverty"

Climate 21

Photo by Matthias Heyde / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Tom Raftery
Guest: Walid Al Saqqaf | Co-Founder | Rebalance Earth
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:54] “Ralph Chami, the Assistant Director of the IMF […] had valued the great whales at $2 million for their carbon sequestration services. And yet, there was $50,000 dead for the meat […]. And that just blew my mind. […] The difference is enormous. […] He very kindly agreed to speak to me. And that's when he also told me about his valuation of the forest elephants. $1.75 million for their carbon sequestration services, $40,000 dead for their ivory.”

[10:17] “Our mission has evolved, but […] the latest iteration is that we're here to build this global platform for ecosystem services to fight both climate change, biodiversity loss, and to reduce poverty. Because those three points all interlinked. […] Keystone species, such as forest elephants, great whales, […] or an ostrich are a type of species which are small in number, but have a massive impact on their ecosystem. […] They can regulate water, nutrition, food, […] they just manage the whole ecosystem, in terms of all the different species that are around. If they disappear, the whole ecosystem risks collapsing. The point is, is that what they do within those ecosystems is what's called the ecosystem services, they maintain it.

[11:48] “For example, the forest elephant, what he or she does, is that as he moves around the forest, and as he eats, he has a tendency of destroying a lot of the small plants, a lot of their shrubs, which means that the core trees do not have to fight so much for natural resources, sunlight, water, nutrients, which means they grow thicker trunks, and they grow taller, i.e. they become much better at absorbing carbon. The elephant also is one of the few animals who can reach and eat the fruits of that tree. And as he goes, or she goes around the forest, he or she will dump one metric ton of dung every week. […] That's a lot of seeds. And so that's why the forest elephant is also known as a great gardener of the rainforest. […] As he weeds around the forest, he thins out the forest means a forest is more resistant to drought, it's more resistant to the impact of climate change. And as he spreads out the seeds, he can ensure that the forest maintains its size and potentially could grow a bit more.”

[13:12] “If you lose the elephant, the forest will lose its capacity to resist drought. It will potentially shrink. […] You're going to lose the capacity of that forest to carbon offset. […] If you look at the Congo Basin, forests with elephants catch 7% more carbon than those that have lost their elephants. So you're going to lose that carbon sequestration that the elephant provides through its ecosystem services.”

[13:59] “[Elephants] do a whole range of ecosystem services and one of them is as they work around the forest, they're ensuring that the forest maintains its high level of humidity. Why is this important? Because humidity will rise and through the air currents provide rainwater to the people in Nigeria, into other parts of Africa. The forest elephant disappears, humidity level drops, less rainfall, less water to be drunk by people in Nigeria. And some studies have shown that if you lose the forests from the Congo Basin, you're going to have up to 150 million people migrating out of those arid territories.

[14:48] “That creates alarm bells in the West, where suddenly we will spend hundreds of millions in building fences, in arming our troops to keep the people at bay. When he could have used this money to protect the elephants, to make sure that they're safe, that they can repopulate and maintain the forest. And the money that is used to protect the elephant can also raise the living standards of local communities. So they have a decent job. They don't need to migrate, they are getting rainwater. […] This is what we can do by buying ecosystem services credits. By buying those credits that [are] produced every day that we at Rebalance Earth can prove that this elephant is alive, […] households, an enterprise, a capital market can purchase [them]. And that money pays for the protection of the elephant in terms of a forest ranger. That money goes in the form of micro investments to local communities. […] The more women are empowered in the society, the healthier the society is. It's all interconnected. And that's why we at Rebalance Earth are looking at fighting climate change, biodiversity, loss in poverty, because it all comes down to those ecosystem services. And by tokenizing them, where firms can purchase them, and making sure that the funds are distributed in a fair, transparent and traceable manner. You have a system that touches all these three parts.”

[17:43] “We at Rebalance Earth are registered as what's called a community interest company, which means that we can never be acquired, we can never be listed on the stock market. […] We're for profit, but the profits are used to reinvest in protections of many keystone species. And the basis of our business model is that we offer households, enterprises and capital markets the opportunity to purchase those ecosystem services for those buyers to meet their corporate social responsibility targets, for them to meet their ESG targets, for them to have a positive impact and also to [have] a carbon offset, because those ecosystem services are priced along a carbon offset. […] And the value of those tokens, part of them goes in the form of paying for the State Department just to protect the elephant, […] investments in local communities. Why do we use a digital form of coupon or of a token? It is because it enables us to provide traceability, transparency and trust to both the buyer and to the recipient.”

[46:06] “We want to adopt […] a common Amazon Marketplace model, which is we want to open up our platform for nation states, for NGOs, for conservation groups, or even startups. If they want to upload a keystone species onto our platform, as long as they follow our rigorous science model […] that proves a link between a keystone species and carbon offset, they can upload it and they can start monetizing it. And that means that you're protecting the keystone species from going extinct, you're protecting the ecosystem which they sustained, i.e. protecting biodiversity, and you're lifting communities out of local poverty.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 52 min | 🗓️ 10/27/2021
✅ Time saved: 50 min