Here we go again. “Plant more trees to combat climate change: scientists” is a Reuters headline from earlier this week. The article is based on a press release put out by The Nature Conservancy about a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper’s argument relies on the scientific fraud that the carbon stored in forests, soil, and landscapes is climatically the same as the carbon stored underground in fossil fuels.
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.
PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya Tbk (ANJ) is an Indonesian palm oil company, that is clearing forest in West Papua to make way for an oil palm plantation. George Tahija is a commissioner of PT ANJ and a member of both The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Indonesia Chapter Advisory Board and the TNC Asia Pacific Council.
“If it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.” That’s the slogan of the Fossil Free Movement, a campaign started by Bill McKibben and 350.org to persuade “educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good” to divest from fossil fuels.
On 13 September 2007, the Indonesian Government adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Five years later, Survival International announced that “Indonesia treats its indigenous and tribal people, especially in West Papua, worse than any other country in the world.” What went wrong?
“It would be better if we’d never heard of SPVS in this region,” says a farmer in Guaraqueçaba in southeastern Brazil, referring to Brazilian NGO Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem e Educacao Ambiemental. SPVS is the local organisation that The Nature Conservancy hired to run its carbon project.
In November 2011, African Wildlife Foundation and The Nature Conservancy gave an area of land covering 6,920 hectares to the Kenyan government to create the proposed Laikipia National Park. What African Wildlife Foundation doesn’t tell us in its press release is that people were violently evicted to make way for this conservation project.
In June 2011, FERN, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Rainforest Foundation UK produced a report which counters some of the misconceptions about the suitability of carbon markets to finance forest protection.
In November 2009, investigative journalist Mark Schapiro reported from Brazil’s Atlantic Coast about a project set up by the Nature Conservancy in a region called Guaraqueçaba. For his new film, “The Carbon Hunters”, Schapiro also visited another REDD-type conservation project in Brazil, the Juma Reserve project, set up with US$2 million by the Marriott hotel chain.
A six-part series in the latest issue of Christian Science Monitor investigates carbon offsets. The researchers look at several offset projects and conclude that “Carbon offsets are the environmental equivalent of financial derivatives: complex, unregulated, unchecked and – in many cases – not worth their price.”
Two weeks ago, journalist Johann Hari wrote a searing article in The Nation, raising important questions about conservation NGOs that accept funding from polluting corporations. Hari argues that the funding appears to have influenced the actions the NGOs take to address climate change. “Sometimes the corruption is subtle; sometimes it is blatant,” Hari writes.
“Why did America’s leading environmental groups jet to Copenhagen and lobby for policies that will lead to the faster death of the rainforests – and runaway global warming?” Good question. It comes from a new article by journalist Johann Hari in The Nation. In the article, “The Wrong Kind of Green”, Hari slams the corruption of US NGOs that receive corporate funding.