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Ecowatt Blog News & Media

Reforestation vs Afforestation: what is the difference?

Habitat loss and deforestation are one of the most critical threats currently facing Earth’s biome. It is no secret that forests provide indispensable biodiversity to keep the planet’s ecosystems in balance, but more than that, they are crucial components in Earth’s equilibrium of chemical elements and gasses. 

We’ve covered comprehensively here on the EcoWatt blog that one tree absorbs ~21kg of carbon each year. The benefits of this absorption cannot be understated. With the amount of CO2 that mankind is dumping into Earth’s atmosphere, these carbon absorption machines are our ticket to survival. Leveraging this ticket as best as we possibly can, organisations around the world are working to ensure that there are enough mature trees to stabilise the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. 

These organisations are working to prevent extensive deforestation as well as repopulate previous forests that once were thriving biological ecosystems. But one of the challenges with forest repopulation is determining the right balance of biodiversity. An easy method is to plant new trees of the same species just as their mature counterparts are removed for various consumption purposes, this is known as “reforestation”. But something a little more nuanced is the work of planting new forests where there were none before, this is known as “afforestation”. So let’s take a look at the difference…

Strong beautiful fog and sunbeams in the forest

The Difference Between Reforestation And Afforestation

Reforestation is a very common form of sustainable forestation. Many timber, fuel, and paper companies use this method to consume trees within a specific space and re-plant new trees in a sustainable way. Once an area and environment has been assessed and evaluated, the right species of tree is identified, and often planted at intervals that are adequate for a plantation to replenish its population within good time.

Afforestation on the other hand is primarily driven by the need of capturing carbon in the atmosphere. With such frighteningly high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, scientists and eco friendly organisations are frantically identifying vast open spaces of land in order to plant as many trees as is humanly possible. IE. Afforestation is the planting of new trees and new forests where before there was only smaller forms of plant life.

Afforestation can come with a fair set of challenges, because in many areas identified, there are already complex ecosystems in place. These ecosystems rely on smaller, thinner grasses for instance, or open patches of land for sunlight or grazing. Planting entire forests in these areas can have a negative impact on these ecosystems, which is why thorough research is needed before new forests can be planted.

There is no doubt that large trees planted en masse are crucial tools in the fight against man-made climate change, but it is seriously irresponsible to do so at the detriment of other equally important biospheres.

Vivid colours in a water-rich forest

Ecowatt’s Forestation Work

At Ecowatt, our forestation projects are carefully researched and surveyed before going ahead, and make use of the best scientific data to ensure as little negative impact is made on local ecosystems as possible. We currently have multiple reforestation projects on the go as this blog is being written:

Uganda: Reforestation  

With the explosion of coffee culture globally, Uganda has seen horrific deforestation in key regions in order to plant coffee beans. The same can be said for banana crops as well.

Part of Ecowatt’s work in this region has been to educate families who have planted coffee or banana crops in unsustainable fashion, and now sit with very little because these crops have been severely hampered by mudslides in the rainy season. These mudslides occur because the now removed forests acted as natural binding agents for the soil.

Ecowatt is helping these families re-plant deep rooted, multi-purpose trees intercropped with the banana and coffee plantations in order to stabilise soil during the rains and also improve soil fertility, thereby increasing yields, food security and income.

We have partnered with the “Trees for the Future” organisation on a “Forest Garden Program” to train 500 families in the area to plant enriching trees and teach sustainable farming practices. The program has a goal to plant a total of one million trees, and with government support we are planning to scale this project and plant a further 100 million trees by 2025. 

Hungary: Afforestation 

We are delighted at the development of our first “Ecowatt Nature Park” in Hungary! It will be the first of its kind, with a 6000 hectare plot of land in the Eastern European Country being transformed into a thriving and diverse forest environment. 

Part of the project includes the rewilding of numerous keystone animal and plant species, because many of them have disappeared due to unsustainable construction projects in the middle of the twentieth century. Human development of dams, bridges and roads has wrought havoc on certain regions, and this first Ecowatt Nature Park will remove specific human artefacts and reintroduce flagship species along with the planting of over 100,000 biologically diverse trees to ensure a sustainable biome.

In Conclusion

Reforestation is not the only carbon capture process available in our fight against climate change. Afforestation, when done sustainably, can be a critical element as well.

Both forms of environmental fightback require different types of research and engineering, and must be approached and leveraged with wisdom and discretion. As a company committed to the longtime survival of all species on Earth, the sustainability of our work is paramount, which is why we are so dedicated to using the right methods for the right place and time.

References:

Afforestation:

https://www.treehugger.com/what-is-afforestation-definition-examples-5114137

Siberian Elm Trees:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulmus_pumila 

Rewilding in Biology:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rewilding_(conservation_biology)

Keystone animal species: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_species
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Ecowatt Blog News & Media

What are Green Bonds?

The need for sustainable economies has never been more apparent. With just over 6 and a half years left on the “Climate Clock”, where humans must stop the planet from warming by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, technologies and innovations are afoot to prevent catastrophe. And on a planet that is overwhelmingly complex economically, many of those innovations are indeed financially sustainable.

One of the more recent innovations that have become a huge asset to both financial institutions and even the planet itself are “green bonds”. These are financial instruments that finance significant environmental regeneration projects, all the while providing their owners (investors) a fixed income annuity. This annuity currently averages 9% per annum, which is a remarkable return considering the dire state of the global economy at the moment. Never has it been more beneficial to invest in environmentally regenerative projects.

What Are Green Bonds?

A green bond is in essence a loan packaged by a large financial institution and then allocated to a promising environmental company or project which is set to generate sustainable revenue once it is up and running. This company or project would not be able to get started without the loan, and the financial institution receives the loan paid back with good interest.

How financial institutions do this is by packaging the loan into smaller percentage allocations that are provided by their customers (this is where the capital comes from), and then the capital repayments and interest are paid back to those customers. The added bonus to these bonds is that there are substantial tax incentives for investors due to the regulatory structure of green energy financing.



Green Bond History

Technically, green bonds were first rolled out in 2001 in San Francisco in order to finance hefty solar installations. The project was so successful that the European Union took notice and quickly moved to issue similarly structured bonds in 2007. First issued by the European Investment Bank as a “Climate Awareness Bond”, the bond was linked to equity in wind, hydropower, geothermal power, and energy loss reduction projects. However, it wasn’t until 2008 when the term “green bond” truly took root, with the World Bank issuing a product named as such for solar installations in Sweden to the value of 2.3 billion Swedish Krona (US $210 billion).


Ecowatt And Green Bonds

Green bonds are exactly the type of investment product that Ecowatt plans to leverage in our own climate action. Our model involves key partnerships with leading institutions, and through these collaborations we can then procure considerable capital deployment in the form of Green Bonds to fund promising renewable energy projects around the globe. Green bonds offer investors a solid, reliable, low risk return model alongside a valuable ESG portfolio component.

Through these procurements, we have already begun the process of building renewable energy power plants including a solar power station in Hungary that will generate 36 MW. Our pipeline of projects sits with a future total capacity of +700 MW. This capacity will be generated through highly efficient solar, wind, hydrogen, and even geothermal, and the intention is to expand this output ten fold within the next 3 years.

Without economically sound and well regulated financial structures like green bonds, this kind of capacity would be difficult to fund, especially at the speed with which we are operating. Ecowatt has an extraordinary team of business analysts and finance executives who have extensive experience in green energy, and with their expertise at our disposal, we are able to execute on lucrative and sustainable green energy projects in an innovative way.



References:

Green Bond investing:
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/green-bond.asp

San Francisco climate bonds plan: 
https://www.local.org/yesonhf.html

EU’s Green Bonds announcement:
https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/BEI_13_109

World Bank’s green bonds announcement:
https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2015/10/01/green-bonds-access-investor-capital-to-fight-climate-change

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Ecowatt Blog

Ecowatt Announces Xylo Carbon as Climate Impact Project Originator

The ultimate green investment platform Ecowatt has partnered with Xylo Carbon to ensure the feasibility and sustainability of strategic capital allocation.

DUBAI, 7 November 2022.

The ultimate green investment platform Ecowatt has partnered with Xylo Carbon to ensure the feasibility and sustainability of strategic capital allocation.

Ecowatt accelerates climate action by directing significant funding into two main portfolios which generate carbon credits. The ‘Green Asset portfolio’ contains existing and forthcoming wholly-owned renewable power stations and wind farms. The ‘Impact portfolio’ contains a host of climate and social impact projects across Africa and Europe, including both nature-based and technological solutions.

Ecowatt CEO Thomas Puskas said: “One of the most important aspects of finding and funding projects that generate carbon credits is to ensure they are both legitimate and sustainable. A rigorous due diligence is required to ensure that they are investment ready and do indeed perform as they allege. This is why our partnership with Xylo Carbon is so beneficial to our operation.”

Xylo Carbon is a sustainability consultancy based in London who assist in bridging the gap between private capital and high-quality, large-scale, nature-based and technological solutions. Thanks to Xylo Carbon’s in-depth industry knowledge and expertise, this notable partnership will ensure each project incorporated into Ecowatt’s Impact Portfolio is legitimate and sustainable for all stakeholders, including the communities directly affected.

As a green investment platform aiming to accelerate climate action through democratised sustainability investments, Ecowatt’s partnership with Xylo Carbon looks set to be a perfect fit.

Nature-based solution projects will be developed in accordance with Verified Carbon Standard or Climate, Community & Biodiversity methodologies, in line with the IUCN global standards to ensure validity and quality of the offsets.

“We are delighted to join forces with Ecowatt,” said Xylo Carbon MD Suhul Haile. “We have already begun to leverage our extensive industry network to develop, conduct due diligence and monitor the global pipeline of carbon and social projects that have the highest potential and integrity.”

The considerable partnership comes off the back of the Future Innovation Summit 2022 held in Dubai, where Ecowatt was bestowed the Climate Impact Accelerator Award.

Ecowatt’s Global Marketing Director, Lauren Haworth said, “2022 has been an extraordinary year for us. We have been recognised by numerous role players in the industry, and after the success of the Future Innovation Summit in Dubai, we are now ready for our next chapter. We have an explicit focus on authenticity, transparency and sustainability of everything that we do, starting with the collaboration with Xylo Carbon.”

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Ecowatt Blog

5 Ways to Combat Climate Change

In his scientific exploration “Enlightenment Now”, Harvard University’s DR Steven Pinker outlines how humanity is making sensational progress, citing real data that will surprise you. The data is real, verifiable and encouraging. But one challenge is highlighted as a critical need to be addressed: Climate change.

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Ecowatt Blog

Is Green the new Gold?

The year is 1848, Sacramento Valley is sprinkled with white powder from the heavens in a cold January. The USA is in the midst of a tense negotiation with possessors of the land, Mexico, who days later would cede their territory to the Yanks.

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Ecowatt Blog

What is Impact Investing?

The investment space has grown into an entire industry with its own verticals and niches. Venture capital has never before seen such prominence, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Five decades ago, when someone referred to “investment”, it was usually a simple trust fund with a well structured portfolio providing solid dividends. Today, the term could mean a myriad of different things.

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Ecowatt Blog

How does Reforestation Combat Climate Change?

With a population now teetering on 8 billion people, the amount of carbon dioxide we as a developed species are releasing into earth’s atmosphere is astonishing. The current data shows that humanity is emitting 99.45 million tonnes of CO2 each day, which, as anyone with any comprehension of the “greenhouse effect” would know, is a recipe for global disaster.

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Ecowatt Blog

How is Climate Change Creating Food Scarcity?

It’s now glaringly obvious that climate change is having a serious impact on everyday human life. We’ve recently witnessed devastating floods in Pakistan and India, and scorching drought in most of Europe. Every month seems to bring more news of severe calamity brought on by mother nature. 

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News & Media

How can Clean Energy Impact the Bottom Line?

Clean energy is given an enormous amount of media attention these days, so much so that it’s hard to imagine that 80% of the world’s energy is still produced from the combustion of fossil fuels. And while that share is projected to drop to 56% by 2050, it’s still staggering considering we are told daily about renewable energy exploits.

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Ecowatt Blog

Bringing The Carbon Credit Economy into the Web3 Era

It could be argued that the world has never before experienced such unified fear over the climate emergency. While the UK recently endured its highest temperatures ever recorded, Italy finds itself in the throes of one of its worst droughts in history, and across the pond the USA has placed thousands of cities and towns on heat advisory warnings. This all in conjunction with unprecedented flooding in the likes of South Africa and India, and hail and snow storms ravaging Mexico and New Zealand.

The catalog of climate catastrophes is getting longer by the day, and solutions are arguably humanity’s most prized necessities right now. While some of the planet’s largest conglomerates (long guilty of being the worst contributors) are now frantically exploring ways to reduce and even turn back their environmental impact, some experts propose that carbon credits are the easiest method to start reining in the carnage.

Carbon Credits: A Financial Product to Offset Environmental Footprints

A carbon credit is a type of asset that a person or organization can purchase to offset their carbon footprint. One carbon credit represents an emission reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2). They’re most commonly used in the corporate industry, where companies purchase them to offset the negative impact they’re having on the climate via their CO2 emissions.

In addition to offsetting their own climate impact, the purchasing of carbon credits also contributes to the funding of environmental projects actively working to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This strategically innovative economic system was introduced in 1997 at the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol, and is an ingenious way to not only incentivize the reduction of carbon emissions, but also that of carbon capture technology. By creating a regulated economy whereby corporations can offset their CO2 emissions by purchasing “credits”, forward-thinking entrepreneurs and engineers are motivated to create and run efficient carbon capture technology because of the revenue it will generate.

Carbon neutral product in craft corrugated box.

In essence, the purchasing of a carbon credit is akin to buying a certificate that states an individual or corporation has emitted a specific amount of CO2 whilst conducting business, and have now funded a project that counters that emission with an equal or greater amount of O2, thereby offsetting their pollution. Thanks to the carbon credit system, many of the world’s largest companies are now carbon neutral, and some are even able to venture into “carbon negative” territory due to their investments into carbon capture tech. While some of the world’s more famed companies like Google and Microsoft have a lengthy history of purchasing carbon offsets, the economic mechanism has now inspired them to engineer their own carbon capture technology

Web 3.0 Driving Climate Change Through Carbon Credits

Traditionally, the Web 3.0 industry has been on the receiving end of intense backlash when it comes to climate change. This is mostly due to the amount of energy required for securing “Proof of Work” blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. In recent years, however, the scrutiny has led many Bitcoiners to seek renewable energy sources and has motivated Ethereum to shift to the energy-conserving “Proof of Stake” algorithm.

But beyond the two largest blockchains in the industry, there are a considerable number of ways that Web3 tech is empowering climate action. From solar farming to carbon credit tokenization and everything in between.

Abe Cambridge, a climate scientist from the UK who recently moved to South Africa to establish a solar panel network in the country, is of the firm belief that blockchain technology is a boon for taking the carbon credit economy to the next stage of development.

Solar power plant on hillside

“Solar panels are so effective that subsidies are not required to provide a double digit return on investment,” Cambridge said in a recent interview. “By combining the power of cryptocurrency with solar, we’re able to close the solar funding gap by connecting the world to the sun.”

Cambridge’s “Solar Exchange” aims to motivate retail investors to partner in the building of new solar plants and earn passive income on their contributions based on the amount of energy produced.

In a similar vein, EcoWatt envisions a future where carbon credits can be tokenized and traded as easily as any cross border digital asset. By taking advantage of the global, cross-border nature of cryptoassets, EcoWatt is reducing the friction of carbon credit purchases.

“The carbon credit economy is one that needs to scale, and scale fast,” tells CEO Thomas Puskas. “There has never been a more urgent time in human history than right now to move toward carbon negative industry. I believe this can only be achieved through a carefully engineered carbon credit economy.”

Puskas and his team at EcoWatt aim to be part of that engineering solution by introducing NFT technology to the carbon economy in addition to the tokenization of their generated carbon credits. The company has a portfolio of renewable energy, clean tech and reforestation projects that generate carbon credits, which are in turn tokenized using blockchain infrastructure and sold as digital assets. These assets can be purchased by corporate or retail investors alike, who can then earn utility NFTs that certify their environmental contributions over two decades.

Is The Future of Web3 Green?

While blockchain networks certainly came under fire in their formative years, their evolution has shown that they are a powerful ally in the fight against climate change. If implemented securely, using carbon neutral Proof of Stage consensus, it is highly likely that public perception about the technology will change when confronted with projects like EcoWatt, Solar Exchange, and others.

The global and instant nature of blockchain and cryptocurrencies makes them a perfect fit for both the tokenization of considerable assets like carbon credits, as well as the cross-border funding of important environmental projects.

Web3 looks to have matured, and it couldn’t have come at a more critical moment.