Ceramica Gomes de Mattos raises the sustainable investment bar for the Brazilian ceramic industry

Bricks and Roof titles produced at CGM.

Bricks and Roof titles produced at CGM.

Sustainable community development is seldom a focal point for a ceramic factory operating in underdeveloped areas of Brazil, but one ceramic facility has found a way to reprioritize this initiative, while managing to increase productivity and reduce its negative impact on the environment.

Situated in Crato, a city located in the state of Ceará, northeast Brazil, the ceramic facility Gomes de Mattos (CGM) produces products such as bricks and roof tiles for the local construction industry. In 2008, CGM partnered with Sustainable Carbon to stop using native forest wood as an energy source to fire its kilns and instead use renewable biomass – a more sustainable approach to production resulting in the creation of environmental commodities called carbon credits.

When asked about the motive for agreeing to such a project, Stephenson Ramalho de Lacerda, Forest Engineer at CGM said, “The ceramic sector always received pressure from society for having a lot of [negative] impact on the environment”.

“We saw the project as a way to reduce our environmental impact, and to improve energy efficiency [of the facility]. In this way, we tried to change the negative vision of the ceramic sector, while making socio-environmental improvements in the region”.

Before the project activity, CGM utilized approximately 22,800m³ of native wood annually to fire its kilns. This production system was directly contributing to the destruction of the fragile Caatinga ecosystem – an exclusively Brazilian biome that occupies around 10% of the country’s territory.  Although being rich in natural resources, the Caatinga is one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. This critical biome faces a strong threat of desertification and its deforestation increases this possibility. Furthermore, the loss of natural vegetation experienced, is leading to a change in the river flow, increasing the scarcity of water supply for local communities and farming.

By committing to the project, CGM is now contributing to the preservation of the Caatinga, managing to reduce its carbon emissions and invest revenue from the sale of the resulting carbon credits into sustainable, socio-economic development for the surrounding community.

To further compensate for its impact on the fragile Brazilian environment, CGM has become the first facility in the Brazilian ceramic industry to partner up with a GeoPark – an ecological territory with defined boundaries, which contains sites of high scientific value. As a partner of Araripe, the first GeoPark of the Americas, CGM provides financial support and educational tours for students and visitors of the park.  Such a partnership represents a quality stamp for companies which collaborate for the sustainable development of the region.

Besides affecting the owners’ attitude towards prioritizing environmental protection, CGM invests in education programs, provides medical support, and sponsors recreational events for community members.  CGM coordinates regular visits from educational institutions in the area, and organizes community events where doctors, dentists, and beauticians are connected with people who don’t have the means or access to such services. CGM also sponsors a local soccer team for employees to have a chance to compete in local championships.

“Being ecological is profitable” says Ronaldo Gomes de Matos, the owner of Ceramica CGM.

“Everything that we reinvest is coming from the carbon credit sales…we had return from everything we invested [in the project]”.

Matos’ comment suggests that an emission reduction project can actually bring additional benefits to employees and the surrounding community while keeping stakeholders satisfied and ensuring continued investment in sustainable development of the project area.

For more information or questions about Sustainable Carbon, or the renewable biomass fuel-switching project at Ceramica Gomes de Mattos, please contact Larissa Tega Fonseca at larissa@sustainablecarbon.com or visit our Projects Page at www.sustainablecarbon.com/Projects

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Visit of the Project Menegalli with EcoAct

by Sarah Gregoire, Carbon Advisor at Sustainable Carbon

Visit of the Project Menegalli with EcoAct

I recently went on trip to the North of Brazil (São Miguel do Guamá, State of Pará, surrounded by the Amazonian tropical rainforest) with EcoAct. Together, we went to visit a Sustainable Carbon fuel-switching project at Cerâmica Menegalli, a manufacturer or brick and tiles. The purpose of the trip was to get to know the project and its social, economic and environmental benefits.

This trip was an amazing experience because during the two days we had the chance to:

  • visit the Ceramic and understand its reality,
  • get to know the local people,
  • talk to the Mayor of São Miguel do Guamá, Márcia Cavalcante,
  • learn about the actions of the city to protect the Amazon and the actions to improve the social conditions of the inhabitants of the city,
  • visit a church and school partially financed by the ceramic owner. Meeting children at the school was particularly emotional as they had learned some French words and sang a nursery rhyme to us.

Read more about my experience in Sao Miguel do Guama here.

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Voluntary Market Shrinks as VCS+SOCIALCARBON Appreciates

In 2009, the Voluntary Carbon Market experienced its most difficult year, according to “Building Bridges – State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2010,” an Ecosystem Marketplace and Bloomberg New Energy Finance joint-report. Despite a tumultuous year for the carbon markets, the market for fuel-switching projects, in particular projects that were validated with both the SOCIALCARBON® Standard and the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS), performed exceedingly well.

The study shows that in last year, the average transactions in the voluntary carbon market declined 26% to 94 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) compared to 2008. In monetary terms, negotiations declined 46.8% compared to 2008 to US$387 million. The transactions on the over-the-counter market, however, where SOCIALCARBON® + VCS credits are traded, decreased by 5.5% in volume and 22.4% in price compared to 2008. Continue reading

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On Climate Change and Communication

As the Carbon Expo gets underway in Cologne, Germany, undoubtedly there will be many participants who will ask their colleagues “why the sudden skepticism about climate change, even in science-savvy Europe?” Indeed, this is an interesting question, as 2009 was yet another year that global temperatures were considerably above average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States has found; however, in many parts of the world, especially in developed countries, it was an unusually cold and snowy winter, leaving us with one question: Whatever happened to “global warming?”

Yet it is precisely this last winter’s turn of events that some formerly ardent climate change believers find themselves doubting their previous impermeable certainty. If the winter was so cold, yet the almanac says that (globally) it was a hot year, what are we to believe?

You are to believe that this is a direct result of climate change. Yes it was a snowy winter in the US; so much so, in fact, that the Capitol had not seen so much in decades. It snowed in Texas. It rained relentlessly in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, causing deadly mudslides. Because your experience in, say, Washington DC could have been so different from what it usually is and so different from what someone experiences (and expects) in southeastern Brazil, scientists and communication experts prefer to use the term “climate change” instead of “global warming.”

But this is not enough to address the skeptics. So we would like to take the time to discuss the ways in which communicators (being of particular interest to this writer) are helping climate scientists convey their findings in ways that impact civil and political action.

The most interesting of these communicators is the visual artist Adam Nieman, a graduate in physics and philosophy from Edinburgh University. His work shows how much water the Earth actually has (surprisingly, really isn’t that much), how many greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each country is responsible for (represented in a circular graph), and other scientific tidbits presented in a charismatic, visual manner. Andrew Revkin, a wonderful commentator on climate issues and sustainable development for the New York Times, comment on Mr. Nieman’s work and the potential impact it could have on young minds in shaping the climate change debate for generations to come.

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Book Launch “Biodiversity and Social Carbon” at the Carbon Expo in Cologne, Germany

The cover of the book The Instituto Ecológica, SOCIALCARBON Standard and Environmental Finance are pleased to announce the launch of “Biodiversity and Social Carbon: Sustainable Development and the Carbon Market” which will take place at Carbon Expo, May 26-28, in Cologne, Germany. Co-authored by Divaldo Rezende, managing director of CantorCO2e Brazil, and Stefano Merlin, CEO of Sustainable Carbon, it is the sequal to their first book, “Social Carbon: Adding Value to Sustainable Development.”

This book picks up where the other left off: addressing biodiversity issues through the Social Carbon concept. At the heart of the Social Carbon methodology, which was developed by Divaldo Rezende and Stefano Merlin after they co-founded the Instituto Ecológica, is the belief that communities can harmonize economic activity and development with the surrounding environment. “Social Carbon” is carbon dioxide that is sequestered or prevented from entering the atmosphere by collective community action that improve quality of life while combating climate change. By keeping the surrounding environment intact, communities on the front lines of climate change have better livelihoods than they would have if they destroy the environment in order exploit its resources.

In this book, the focus is on how biodiversity is maintained and thrives via the Social Carbon methodology. The methodology provides a framework by which communities in developing countries can sustainably develop while combating climate change and preventing species loss.

If you are interesting in purchasing this book for research or general interest, contact the publisher, Environmental Finance.

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The Social Carbon Company is now SUSTAINABLE CARBON!

Starting from today, the Social Carbon Company is now known as Sustainable Carbon!

While we have changed our name, our comittment to sustainably developing tens of communities throughout South America via greenhouse gas emission reduction projects has not. We still have Stefano Merlin as our CEO and we are still a joint-venture with CantorCO2e, part of the Cantor Fitzgerald family of companies.

What is new, though, is our site! Now you can take a look at our projects, and we have a glossary of sustainable development terms with various links to great sites and sources of information.

Our blog is young (this is our first post) but we know you will come to find The Sustainable Carbon Blog a great source of information on all topics related to sustainable development, the international carbon market, biodiversity preservation and much more.

Welcome to the new Sustainable Carbon | Climate Solutions!

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