in Brazil, Mexico, USA

Five questions for Air Resources Board’s Dave Clegern about California’s REDD plans

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CaliforniaDave Clegern is a Public Information Officer at the California Air Resources Board, a position he’s held since November 2011. In April this year, he appeared on Capital Public Radio promoting REDD. It was only a short news clip, but it’s revealing none the less.

The Forests 4 Climate Network, which consists of The Nature Conservation, Earth Innovation Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, Code REDD, and National Wildlife Federation, obviously liked Clegern’s comment and posted it on its website, without further comment.

Here’s what Clegern said on Capital Public Radio:

Clegern“The projects that we’re looking at are supported by the locals. They are what is known as sector-based projects, which means that they would be run in conjunction with the government of that country which would provide the opportunity for regular monitoring, verification of the quality of the offsets.”

REDD-Monitor has some questions for Clegern about his statement. I sent these questions to Clegern on 29 June 2016, and again today. I’m still waiting for his response. When Clegern responds, I will post his replies in full.

  1. As I understand it, California is looking at REDD credits from the state of Acre in Brazil and the state of Chiapas in Mexico. The population of Acre is 790,101, and the population of Chiapas is 3.4 million. Are you saying that everyone in Acre and Chiapas is in favour of REDD, and in favour of selling REDD credits to California? And if not, which “locals” are you referring to?
  2. Has a process of free, prior and informed consent been carried out with the populations of Acre and Chiapas? Or was a referendum carried out? (While the UK recently voted in a referendum to leave the EU, I’m sure you’re aware that a claim that the “locals” in the UK support leaving the EU would be extremely contentious.)
  3. Brazil’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, submitted to the UNFCCC in September 2015, states that,

    “Brazil will not recognize the use by other Parties of any units resulting from mitigation outcomes achieved in the Brazilian territory that have been acquired through any mechanism, instrument or arrangement established outside the Convention, its Kyoto Protocol or its Paris agreement.”

    California’s proposed REDD deal with Acre is outside the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. Yet you say that the REDD project that California is looking at in Brazil, “would be run in conjunction with the government of that country”. How do you resolve this contradiction?

  4. If California decided to go ahead with REDD credits, the credits would come from Acre state in Brazil. You state that there would be “the opportunity for regular monitoring, verification of the quality of the offsets”. This presumably refers to monitoring and verification within Acre. But how do you propose to address the risks of deforestation increasing as a result in Amazonas state, or Bolivia, or Peru, or even further afield?
  5. How do you propose to address the issue that restricting forest clearing (and thus increasing land scarcity) is likely to increase agricultural land values and commodity prices? At some point selling carbon credits to California will be less attractive financially than clearing the land to produce soy, beef, timber, pulp, palm oil, biofuels, etc. What then?
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  1. This is valuable information. Why do you say (#3 above) that California’s proposed REDD deal with Acre is outside the UNFCCC? I believe there is a refence in the Paris agreement to REDD.

  2. @Anonymous – Thanks for this question. You’re right, there is a reference in the Paris Agreement to REDD. But that doesn’t mean that every REDD project, programme or negotiation is part of the UNFCCC. The REDD deal between California and Acre has been negotiated outside of the UNFCCC process.