Back in March, The Walt Disney Company released a landmark set of strategic environmental goals and challenging 3 to 5 year targets to reduce its emissions, electricity and fuel use, waste, and its impact on water and ecosystems.
Today, they made history with the announcement of a landmark agreement to provide $4 million to develop large-scale Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) forest carbon demonstrations in Peru and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
This commitment is much more than merely a step in the right direction in achieving their targets – it represents the single largest corporate commitment to date in activities that reduce emissions from deforestation.
For years, CI has been urging our corporate partners to invest in forest conservation as a climate solution because deforestation is responsible for about 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than all the world's cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined.
By making a commitment to protect the Tayna and Kisimba-Ikobo Community Reserves in eastern DRC and the Alto Mayo conservation area in Peru, Disney is demonstrating the business case for pursuing innovative climate solutions. Over the next five years, Disney's investment will prevent more than 900,000 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.
The protection of these areas will not only prevent carbon emissions, but secure vital watersheds and habitat for a wide-variety of plants and animals, many of them threatened or endangered. These include gorilla (Gorilla gorilla graueri) and okapi (Okapia johnstoni) in Congo and the Andean spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) and the yellow-tailed woolly monkey (Oreonax flavicauda) in Peru.
The program also provides long-term economic benefits for local communities by supporting a range of activities, including: building a hospital and clinics to provide basic medical care; ensuring the provision of water supplies to local communities; and, guiding the disbursement of future revenues or local people involved in community conservation.
To provide assurance that these demonstration activities achieve real emissions reductions, protect biodiversity and provide benefits to local communities they will be independently validated under the rigorous requirements of the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standards (CCBS) – the world's leading standards for assessing these kinds of activities.
CI's Conservation and Community Carbon Fund is managing the grants and providing technical support to the activities and partners. Activities were required to go through a detailed application process that involves development of milestones and budgets necessary to reach the point where they can retire voluntary carbon credits.
With these demonstration activities, Disney and CI are protecting and restoring forests – some of the most cost effective and immediate ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – while also conserving threatened biodiversity and creating sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable communities.