The Indonesian government talks a good talk on climate change, particularly relating to reducing deforestation. But does it walk the walk? Unfortunately, the reality falls far short of the rhetoric.
Dorjee Sun is the CEO of Carbon Conservation, a company set up 10 years ago to run REDD projects. The company’s first REDD project was the Ulu Masen REDD project, in Aceh province on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. Sun partnered with Aceh’s “green governor”, Yusuf Irwandi, and Flora and Fauna International, to run the carbon trading project.
In 2007, the Forest Peoples Programme put out a briefing paper about reduced emissions from deforestation, or RED, as REDD was called back then. The briefing warned of the risks of the rapid expansion of avoided deforestation schemes without due regard to rights, and social and livelihood issues.
Last week, Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The Governor of California, Jerry Brown reacted swiftly on a press call organised by the World Resources Institute. Brown called Trump’s decision “tragic”, “wrong”, “misguided”, “insane”, and “deviant behaviour”.
Yesterday, the World Bank’s private sector arm, the International Financial Corporation launched a US$152 million bond aimed at supporting REDD and carbon trading. The deal demonstrates just about everything that’s wrong with REDD.
A few weeks ago, REDD-Monitor took a look at how the Asian Development Bank appears to have changed its tune on REDD. In 2010, the ADB was promoting the region’s “huge potential to benefit from REDD+”, but by 2015 the ADB acknowledged the “considerable uncertainty about the actual contribution that REDD will make”.
On 5 February 2013, Asia Pulp and Paper announced a Forest Conservation Policy. This included an immediate stop to clearing forest in any concessions controlled by APP and its suppliers. It was a dramatic change in policy for a company that is responsible for destroying vast areas of forest in Indonesia.
On 31 December 2015, Accreditation Services International terminated SGS Malaysia’s accreditation with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. REDD-Monitor wrote about this in February 2016: “Transparency and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil: Why was SGS Malaysia’s accreditation terminated?” Neither RSPO nor ASI were willing to explain why SGS Malaysia’s accreditation had been terminated.
Two days ago, REDD-Monitor wrote a post about a trip to Indonesia by Norway’s climate and environment minister, Vidar Helgesen. The trip took place in early February 2016, and Pilita Clark, a Financial Times journalist, accompanied Helgesen on his trip. In her article, Clark quoted Helgesen as saying, “We would obviously have hoped things would have progressed more quickly. We haven’t seen actual progress in reducing deforestation.”
Six years ago, Norway and Indonesia signed a US$1 billion REDD deal. This week the Financial Times published an article about how the attempts to preserve Indonesia’s forests are going. The only good news is that in more than 3,800 words, Pilita Clark, the FT journalist, doesn’t mention REDD once.
A new paper in Conservation Biology starts with the following sentence: “Increasingly, one hears furtive whispers in the halls of conservation: ‘REDD+ is dead; it’s time to cut our losses and move on.’”
“It’s very attractive. The earnings are very high and we’ve got hybrid material now. You harvest in the 24th month, and the repayment period is about seven years at the most… For the next 20 years it’ll be laughing yourself all the way to the bank.”