“We have to reduce emissions from deforestation if we’re to prevent catastrophic climate change,” WWF argues on its website. At a first glance, it seems like a no-brainer. Forests store an awful lot of carbon. When forests are cleared for cattle ranching, or to make way for oil palm plantations, the carbon dioxide goes back into the atmosphere.
Celestial Green Ventures is an Irish carbon trading company, registered in November 2010. In 2011, the company claimed to have carbon rights to 20 million hectares of Brazil’s rainforest. The company aimed to become the “leading global supplier of REDD carbon credits in the Voluntary Carbon Market”.
The Jari Amapá REDD+ project covers an area of 65,980 hectares in the Jari Valley in the state of Amapá, Brazil. The project is run by three companies, one of which, Jari Florestal, has just had its Forest Stewardship Council certificate suspended after being caught in an illegal timber scheme.
On the first day of the UN climate negotiations in Paris, the governments of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom pledged US$5 billion for REDD, between 2015 and 2020. The GNU countries say they “have signaled they will increasingly target results-based finance for countries who deliver verified REDD+ emission reductions”.
“Instead of thick jungle… The smoke is so thick. The trees were burning all around us. We had to turn around because it was too hot to continue. We stopped next to a huge swathe of land that was scorched black. The trees had been cut and stacked up in piles like a dozen funeral pyres.”
Carlos Klink, secretary of the climate change unit at Brazil’s environment ministry, recently told Bloomberg that Brazil would use REDD credits generated in the country to meet its own emissions targets. Where does that leave California, which is considering using REDD credits from the Brazilian state of Acre?
Dr. Maria Fernanda Gebara is a social and political scientist who has been working with climate and forests issues for more than 10 years. She is currently working as a consultant with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and is a research associate at the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences.[*]
In 2008, Norway agreed to pay US$1 billion to Brazil’s Amazon Fund, if Brazil reduced deforestation in the Amazon. Norway has so far handed over US$900 million and will pay the final US$100 million before the end of this year.
São Félix do Xingu is a large municipality in the state of Pará, Brazil. Since 2001, it has had one of the highest rates of deforestation in the Amazon. Covering an area of 8.4 million hectares, with more than two million head of cattle and a little over 106,000 people, it easy to see what the main driver of deforestation is.