Press message 18-12-2018
The Treesolution: How Germany could have removed 15% of the world's CO2 emissions instead of being Europe's largest burner of coal
This week the Guardian wrote that "Global warming is a crisis for civilisation and a crisis for life on Earth. Human-caused climate change was behind 15 deadly weather disasters in 2017, including droughts, floods and heatwaves. The world’s leading climate scientists have warned that there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C. To meet that target, global carbon emissions need to drop by 45% by 2030. Instead they are going up. We need radical, urgent change." I also read in Yale Environment 360 that "Germany has been a leader in moving to decarbonize its economy, which is Europe’s largest. But the country’s much-heralded plan to transition to clean energy is faltering and at a crossroads. Germany has spent approximately EUR 160 billion over the last five years to shift to renewables, but its carbon emissions have stagnated at roughly their 2009 level and the country remains Europe’s largest burner of coal."
Global carbon emissions are going up, but the public opinion is also concerned about the increasing cost of living (partially due to expensive climate change mitigation measures) and migration (partially as a consequence of climate change). Then there are the climate-change deniers such as Mr Trump, who dispute the link between the rising CO2 concentration in our atmosphere and climate change. Whether or not this link exists can be debated - but it is undisputable that since the industrial revolution mankind has been eagerly 'polluting' our atmosphere with CO2 and over the past 800,000 years the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere has never been as high as today.
Yes, we need radical and urgent change. It's time for the politicians to look at the facts and listen to the population, rather than to industry lobbyists. It's time to acknowledge that as the population grows and as millions of people strive to have the same standard of living as us in the West, CO2 emissions are likely to grow. It's time to acknowledge that, rather than developing complex and expensive new technologies, nature has already given us the perfect tool in our struggle to remove the CO2 pollution from the atmosphere - the tree. As a tree grows it uses photosynthesis to remove CO2 from the atmosphere - it needs the carbon to grow and make the soil fertile and releases the oxygen back into the atmosphere.
By simply planting more trees on fertile land we can somewhat improve our planet’s CO2 absorption capacity – but if we plant on fertile land these projects are frequently competing with the local population (there are plenty of stories about landgrabbing and local farmers being removed from land their livelihood depends on). Real change is made if we start restoring barren, degraded land. There are 2 billion hectares of severely degraded land on earth. This land used to be covered by plants and trees and was fertile and productive, but today it isn’t. Mankind exploited this land, cutting down the trees and overgrazing it. This land cannot be planted without irrigation; however, this is too expensive and there is not enough water to be applied on a large scale. In 2003 we founded Groasis with the vision of realising the Treesolution: making these 2 billion hectares of degraded land productive again in order to eradicate hunger, mitigate water scarcity, and lessen climate change.
Groasis has spent 15 years to perfect the technology. The Groasis Technology allows planting 99% of the earth’s degraded land with trees without using irrigation and energy, and at substantially lower costs. We have demonstrated our technology in 43 countries around the globe and noticed a 'triple benefit': we can plant using less water, at lower cost, and with a very high survival rate. This can be done for agroforestry (where valuable crops are harvested) or as eco-system restoration (to restore biodiversity).
If Germany would have invested her EUR 160 billion in a revolving fund, by using the Groasis Technology we could have restored 67 million hectares of degraded land each year (an area the size of France and the Netherlands), removed 1 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year, created more than 60 million jobs, and produced around 400 million tonnes of food each year - to help feed the world's 821 million who still go to bed hungry every night. If this fund would have been active for the last 5 years, then by now we would have restored enough degraded land (more than 330 million hectares - an area the size of India) to remove 5 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year (that's 15% of today's global CO2 emissions) - and created more than 300 million jobs (thus reducing the migration pressures from developing countries to the West). Continue this for another 35 years and we would have reached the Treesolution: we would have restored the world's 2 billion hectares of degraded land, eradicated hunger, created millions of jobs, and completely neutralised mankind's CO2 emissions. As a matter of fact, we would have started to remove historical CO2 emissions from the atmosphere and would be able to bring atmospheric CO2 levels back to pre-industrial revolution levels. Imagine all this impact – just with the money that Germany spent over the last 5 years.
Groasis believes that reaching the Treesolution is a goal that should be adopted during the transition period. We are firm supporters of the energy transition and the Treesolution should not be used as an indulgence. It is not an excuse to simply continue polluting the atmosphere with CO2. The aforementioned tipping point, where the atmosphere is cleaned from historical CO2 pollution, can be reached even earlier if mankind makes good progress with the energy transition.
Whilst for a successful energy transition more research into cost-efficient technologies is required - which takes time and money - the beauty of the Treesolution is that it can be implemented at scale today. As the above numbers demonstrate, the Treesolution is a low-cost instrument to clean the atmosphere from mankind's CO2 pollution - and the Treesolution brings massive benefits to mankind and earth. Barren, degraded land is restored into lush orchards and diverse forests that provide a safe haven for wildlife. Productive land generates enough food to feed the planet. We create local jobs in rural, degraded areas, with people staying where they find work, and we can keep unemployment in developing countries in check.
I ask your support to help Groasis reach the Treesolution. Please write to your politicians, donate money so we can restore the Sahara desert, become a shareholder in Groasis or plant some trees yourself!
Wout Hoff, Groasis