forests help to decarbonize the planet

Concern about climate change is on the rise. According to a United Nations survey, the majority of people around the world think it's the biggest challenge that we'll face in the next decade. The exponential growth of urban centers, agriculture, and extensive stock-breeding, together with other factors, have contributed to the disappearance of enormous forest areas, which play a vital role in pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. This is why carbon sinks – systems or processes that extract gases out of the atmosphere – are so valuable as a natural, complementary solution that will help with the challenge of slowing down global warming

What is reforestation?

Reforestation consists in recovering forested areas destroyed in recent times by planting new trees and sowing seeds from tree species, among other strategies.

It is the major solution to two of the phenomena that most impact the deterioration of the earth: desertification and deforestation. These two have numerous negative effects on the environment:

  • Loss of habitat for millions of species, which could become extinct.
  • Changes in the water cycle: Reduces the availability of drinking water and rain is concentrated in greener areas.
  • Erosion leads to the loss of fertility in the soil and a greater risk of landslides and floods. 

The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement see reforestation as one of the activities that will bring about “clean development,” making it an excellent option for recovering biodiversity and green spaces.

Reforestation and other natural solutions for achieving decarbonization

Plants and trees extract and “sequester” carbon dioxide through photosynthesis by absorbing it into their tissues and preventing it from remaining in the atmosphere. Their role is essential for decarbonization, or else known as the reduction of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, particularly in the form of CO2.

a man planting a tree, reforestation is one of the nature-based solutions

Nature-based solutions (NBS)

Corporations and institutions can take part in initiatives to try to offset carbon emissions outside their production area by making voluntary financial contributions to invest in projects to absorb, reduce, or prevent CO2 emissions. Some of the outstanding initiatives are nature-based solutions (NBS), designed to protect, restore, and manage ecosystems sustainably. Among their advantages are the immediacy with which they can be applied on a large scale and the lower costs per tonne of CO2 compared to other solutions. They can be grouped into three large categories: 

  • Forest management
  • Agricultural and pasture land
  • Wetlands and bodies of water

These solutions are able to capture up to 37% of the emissions needed to limit global warming to 2º C by 2030. They have a greater capability to store carbon and water, reduce soil erosion, increase biodiversity, and generate income. Even though their implementation can lead to risks (such as introducing species that are not native to the area when repopulating), these strategies have a great potential to slow down the pace of climate change and mitigate the risk of natural disasters.

Repsol and reforestation: A key factor in our energy transition strategy

Green Engine

At Repsol, we are aware that decarbonization includes expanding forested areas. Therefore, we are investing in initiatives like Green Engine, which promotes the creation of forests and the reforestation of burned land or wastelands. 

Institutions like the Government of Asturias have signed agreements to back Green Engine, which will allow the reforestation of 3,500 hectares of burned or waste land, offset 1.1 million tonnes of CO2, and create 700 local jobs.

In December 2019, Repsol also acquired a 21.39% stake in Sylvestris, a social enterprise specializing in forestry, the environment, development cooperation, and rural development.

This partnership is proposing targets as ambitious as the following ones:

  • Restoring 10,000 hectares a year of forest to absorb more than 2.5 million tonnes of CO2
  • Creating job opportunities for more than 2,000 people a year
  • Signing 1,200 employment contracts and giving 10,000 hours of training to people belonging to vulnerable groups
In addition, thanks to technology, we can now offer our customers initiatives like Waylet and Vivit that enable them to offset the CO2 emissions from the fuel or gas they consume. 

Trees are not only a treasure of incalculable value, they are also one of the most powerful weapons for fighting global warming. Let’s take care of them.

Today, one of the great goals is to reduce CO2 emissions by any means possible. There are negative-emission technologies that make it possible to capture carbon dioxide from the air to store it or reuse it to manufacture fuels, chemical products, and construction materials. It's also possible to reserve it in isolated geological deposits and fix it in agricultural or forested land. For reforestation, drones have been developed that are able to speed up and optimize the planting of tree species at much higher levels than now. All in all, the most important technology that we have today is preservig our forests, recovering green spaces, and planting trees where there haven't been any for the last fifty years.