Last week, at a side event in Durban, the Green Belt Movement presented what they have learned so far about forest carbon finance. A paper released at the side event explains the problems with relying on carbon trading to finance forest projects, with important lessons for REDD.
Forests in exhaustion is one of the more absurd proposals to emerge from the UN negotiations on climate change. The proposal came from Brazil during 2008 and it was discussed during the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol held in Poznan in December 2008. It amounts to nothing more than a subsidy for industrial tree plantations.
The headline is the title of a new report by the Italian NGO Campagna per la riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM) questions the role of the World Bank in financing responses to climate change. It’s a funny question to ask, particularly given the current state of the global economy (which, just in case you’ve not noticed, hasn’t recovered from a massive meltdown in 2008 – a result of massive deception in the financial markets).
Of all the topics under discussion at Cancún, perhaps the oddest is a proposal from Brazil to include something called “forests in exhaustion” in the clean development mechanism. In short, it is a subsidy to the plantations industry either to re-establish plantations or to clear forests and establish new plantations.
In 2005, a Japanese company called Oji Paper took over a project to plant 50,000 hectares of mainly eucalyptus plantations in central Laos. The following year, as part of his research in Laos, a Canadian researcher took a series of photographs of forests cleared by Oji’s bulldozers. Now, Oji Paper wants to get REDD funding for its plantations in Laos.
Vía Campesina is an international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers. It is a coalition of around 150 organisations, with an estimated 300 million members. Vía Campesina recently put out a statement about COP-16 in Cancún.
LULUCF (land-use, land use change and forestry) became a hot topic at the Bonn meeting in June 2010, when it became clear that rich countries were attempting to use LULUCF to “hide increased emissions while trying somehow to create the illusion they are stopping catastrophic climate change,” as CAN International put it.
“If you wondered whether capitalism could ever produce the perfect weapon of its own destruction, try this heady mix of carbon fuels, the trade in financial derivatives, and more than a dash of neo-colonialism, and boom!” This is Professor Stefano Harney, University of London, commenting on a new book: “Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets”.
The first thing that you need to know about “forests in exhaustion” is that they are not forests. According to the Clean Development Mechanism, the photograph on the left is a forest. All of it.
In 1988, Applied Energy Services (AES) was constructing a 183 MW coal-fired power plant in Connecticut. AES hired World Resources Institute to find a forestry project to “offset” the 14.1 million tons of carbon that would be emitted over the power plant’s 40 year life. The following year, AES signed an agreement with the NGO CARE to fund an ongoing agroforestry project in Guatemala.
Friends of the Earth released a new report during the recent UN climate negotiations in Bonn: “A Dangerous Distraction – Why offsetting is failing the climate and people: The Evidence” (pdf file 889 KB).