According to NASA, the Amazon is drier at the start of this year’s dry season than any year since 2002. The reason is reduced rainfall during the wet season because of El Niño. The result could be intense fires in the Amazon later this year.
A paper published this week in Nature concludes that the Amazon is losing its capacity to absorb carbon. In the past decade, the carbon absorbed by the Amazon each year has decreased by about one-third.
In his book “Foreclosing the Future”, Bruce Rich notes that one of the lessons of 20 years of the World Bank is “governance first”. Even the best designed projects will fail in the absence of proper institutional and legal capacity.
BluForest describes itself as “a publicly traded carbon offsets marketing company that is setting a new standard for sustainable business in carbon offset credit trading.” BluForest owns 135,000 hectares of forest in Ecuador, “from which it will generate tradable carbon credits”.
A new report from INTERPOL describes the crimes that have already taken place in global carbon markets and warns that “The intangible nature of the global carbon trading markets puts them at risk for exploitation by criminal networks”.
In February 2013, Siri Gedde-Dahl, a journalist with Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper, investigated corruption in a REDD project in Tanzania funded by Norway. In a recent Aftenposten article, Gedde-Dahl reports that Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, the Tanzanian NGO that was running the project, has collapsed.
In 2006, an evaluation of Norwegian aid to Tanzania revealed that about US$30 million had been lost to corruption and mismanagement in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. The money was about half of the total that Norway spent on a Management of Natural Resources Programme. This week, Norwegian aid is in the headlines again over allegations of corruption in Tanzania.
In November 2011, PricewaterhouseCoopers warned that “The implementation of REDD+ in DRC will face numerous challenges because of the widespread nature of corruption in the country”. As in all other sectors, PwC added, corruption is “likely to be ever present”.
One of the difficulties that REDD faces is corruption. “Talking about corruption in many of the countries participating in REDD+ isn’t easy; often it’s the large and menacing elephant in the room,” points out Rick Jacobsen of Global Witness.
“REDD+ is being promoted and funded in countries where corruption has been, or continues to be, a pivotal factor in the political economy of forest use.” This statement is from a recent briefing by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway.
Since October 2008, Global Witness has been working on a project called “Making the Forest Sector Transparent”. The project has recently released its 2011 Annual Transparency Report, looking at the transparency record in seven countries: Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Here, as promised, is my presentation from last month’s meeting in Bangkok about carbon markets in Southeast Asia. My presentation contrasts the way the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative and others still promote carbon trading despite the fact that the carbon markets have been in the doldrums for well over two years.