Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Climate change: the great carbon offsetting scam

Carbon offsetting seems quite a good deal:
How Carbon Offsets Work - HowStuffWorks

Planting trees is always a good thing, isn't it?
Carbon Footprint Ltd - UK Tree Planting

And companies are really behind it:
Carbon offsetting Programme | Virgin Atlantic

But 'offsetting' is not 'reducing':

Are carbon offsets good or bad?

Some consider offsetting an unwelcome distraction from the real business of cutting emissions and charge companies who boast about offsetting with "dodgy accounting" and "greenwash." Individuals who gleefully offset are accused of denial and self-deception. George Monbiot, a noted critic of offsetting, pithily comments that "Buying and selling carbon offsets is like pushing the food around on your plate to create the impression that you have eaten it."

What are carbon offsets? Are they a con? - Explain that Stuff

There are various mechanisms to help reduce carbon emissions:
Clean Development Mechanism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

... in particular the 'REDD' agreement:
Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

However, these have led to widespread abuses:

Land tenure, carbon rights and benefit distribution[edit]

According to some critics, REDD+ is another extension of green capitalism, subjecting the forests and its inhabitants to new ways of expropriation and enclosure at the hands of polluting companies and market speculators.[citation needed] So-called "carbon cowboys" - unscrupulous entrepreneurs who attempt to acquire rights to carbon in rainforest - have signed on indigenous communities to unfair contracts, often with a view to on-selling the rights to investors for a quick profit. In 2012 an Australian businessman operating in Peru was revealed to have signed 200-year contracts with an Amazon tribe, the Yagua, many members of which are illiterate, giving him a 50 per cent share in their carbon resources. The contracts allow him to establish and control timber projects and palm oil plantations in Yagua rainforest.[36]
There are risks that the local inhabitants and the communities that live in the forests will be bypassed and that they won't be consulted and so they won't actually receive any revenues.[37] Fair distribution of REDD+ benefits will not be achieved without a prior reform in forest governance and more secure tenure systems in many countries.[38] So how can the benefits from REDD+ be distributed to forest communities in a just, equitable way that minimizes capture of the benefits by national governments or local elites?[39]
The UNFCCC has repeatedly called for full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities without becoming any more specific. The ability of local communities to effectively contribute to REDD+ field activities and the measurement of forest properties for estimating reduced emissions and enhanced emissions of greenhouse gases has been clearly demonstrated in various countries.[40]
In project-based REDD+, some projects are unaccountable and dodgy companies are taking advantage of the low governance.[41]

Indigenous Peoples[edit]

Safeguard (c): Respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities, by taking into account relevant international obligations, national circumstances and laws, and noting that the United Nations General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;Safeguard (d): The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular indigenous peoples and local communities, in the [REDD+] actions (...) [and when developing and implementing national strategies or action plans];
Indigenous peoples are important stakeholders in REDD+ as they typically live inside forest areas and/or have their livelihoods (partially) based on exploitation of forest resources. The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) was explicit at the Bali climate negotiations in 2007:
"REDD/REDD+ will not benefit Indigenous Peoples, but in fact will result in more violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It will increase the violation of our human rights, our rights to our lands, territories and resources, steal our land, cause forced evictions, prevent access and threaten indigenous agricultural practices, destroy biodiversity and cultural diversity and cause social conflicts. Under REDD/REDD+, states and carbon traders will take more control over our forests."[42]
Putting a commercial value on forests neglects the spiritual value they hold for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.[2]
Some grassroots organizations are working to develop REDD+ activities with communities and developing benefit-sharing mechanisms to ensure REDD+ funds reach rural communities as well as governments. Examples of these include Plan Vivo projects in Mexico, Mozambique and Cameroon.[43]

Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This video makes things very clear;

Not for Sale: the fantasy of carbon offsetting - YouTube

This video starts with a simple explanation of this political development of carbon offsets and REDD, from climate change summits in Kyoto, in 1998, to Bali in 2007 and beyond. 
It then considers REDD in Indonesia in more detail. In 2007 for example, the Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership (KFCP) was launched, in cooperation with the governments of Indonesia and Australia, and under the control of the Australia-Indonesia Forest Carbon Partnership (AIFCP). Another 750,000ha pilot project, Ulu Masen is being developed in Aceh by the local government and Flora and Fauna International (FFI).  
Forests play an important role for  local communities, who thus work to ensuring the perpetuation and sustainability of their forest resources. They have mastered the strategy of forest management and stewardship over the centuries, and any new initiative should actively involve them. They should be well informed about REDD but it clear that few people have heard of it. District level officials also complain that they have not been invited to consultations about the implementation of REDD. Testimonies in this video state that it is difficult to regard REDD as a solution to climate change as industrialised and developed countries continue to pollute, failing to solve the main causes of climate change, whilst ptoentially creating conflict and poverty in countries hosting REDD projects. But the Ministry of Forest and Agriculture still keeps on saying REDD is good. 
Produced by Teguh Surya supported by Friends of the Earth International, WALHI-FoE Indonesia, Bingkai Indonesia. 2011.

Global Forest Coalition: Carbon: schemes, scams & cowboys

In fact, it seems the whole thing of 'carbon offsetting' has become a massive scam:

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Carbon Scam by UN and World Bank Behind “Genocidal” Land Grabs

Written by  

Under the guise of fighting “climate change,” United Nations and World Bank “carbon” programs in Africa are leading to massive land grabs, the forced relocation of indigenous people at gunpoint, and even what some critics are calling “cultural genocide.” Now, a coalition of activist organizations is demanding an end to the controversial UN-linked plots that are devastating communities while endangering indigenous peoples and cultures already at risk of extinction. Criticism surrounding the ongoing promotion of “carbon credits” is also escalating worldwide from across the political spectrum.
The latest accusations of terror and brutality perpetrated against innocent civilians to supposedly battle “global warming” — on“pause” for 18 years and counting, according to undisputed temperature data — come from Kenya. While the UN-linked forced evictions are not new, they are accelerating. Just last year, the UN also unveiled a massive eugenics program for the East African nation aimed at slashing the population. Whether the ruthless carbon-dioxide machinations by the UN and the World Bank are related remains unclear.
The victims in the most recent abuses are the Sengwer communities in Kenya’s Embobut forest and Cherangany Hills. According to reports by the Forest Peoples Programme, a U.K.-based non-profit organization that supports the rights of forest dwellers, more than one thousand Sengwer homes were torched by World Bank-funded authorities earlier this year as the Kenyan government works to evict some 15,000 members from their ancestral lands. Inaccurately referring to the indigenous peoples as “squatters,” officials claim the effort is aimed at promoting “sustainability."

Carbon Scam by UN and World Bank Behind “Genocidal” Land Grabs - The New American
Kenya evictions: foreshadowing future World Bank forest work? - Bretton Woods Project
World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme 'complicit' in genocidal land grabs - NGOs | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | The Guardian

In an article in the latest Observer, it appears that governments are using this idea of 'trees good, people bad' when it comes to measuring carbon emissions.

But it depends on what 'people'...

How the Kalahari bushmen and other tribespeople are being evicted to make way for ‘wilderness’

‘Racist’ governments are forcing native people from their land, supposedly to benefit wildlife and environment, according to a report

A Kalahari bushman
A Kalahari bushman: 700 tribes­people have been exiled to settlements on the edge of the park, forbidden to hunt.  Photograph: Michele Westmorland/Getty Images

When Botswana’s president, Ian Khama, opened a giant $4.9bn diamond mine in the heart of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in September, there were some notable absentees among the invited guests: the 700 bushmen whose hunter-gatherer families had been the traditional inhabitants of the desert, but who have been exiled to impoverished settlements on the edge of the park and are forbidden to hunt the wildlife.
According to a Survival International report, launched at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, the world’s biggest conservation meeting, the San of the Kalahari are just one among hundreds of tribal peoples who have been evicted or are under threat of expulsion from the world’s 6,000 national parks and 100,000 protected conservation areas, which together are thought to cover nearly 13% of the Earth’s land surface.
The Survival study states: “In an attempt to protect these areas of so-called ‘wilderness’, governments, companies and NGOs forming the conservation industry enforce the creation of inviolate zones free of human habitation. Tribespeople who live in them are expected to change their way of life and relocate. They are given little, if any, choice about what happens.”
Stephen Corry, director of Survival, said: “This [trend] is based on unscientific assumptions that tribal peoples are incapable of managing their lands, that they overhunt, overgraze and overuse the resources on their lands.
“But it is also based on an essentially racist desire by governments to integrate, modernise and control tribal peoples.”
The number of “conservation refugees” forced out of protected areas is growing, as deforestation threatens water sources and aid linked to climate change becomes more widespread. Academic studies suggest that nearly 20 million Africans were evicted from their traditional homes to make way for conservation in colonial times, but that nearly 50,000 people, including pygmy groups, may have been evicted more recently by central African governments and “eco-guards” working for conservation groups. Meanwhile, groups such as the nomadic Masai and the forest-dwelling Batwa have lost much of their traditional land to conservation projects in Kenya and central Africa.
In Thailand, nearly 500,000 people face being evicted in the name of forest and watershed protection, and in India an estimated 100,000 people have been moved out of tiger reserves and national parks. “Globally, many millions of people must live with the threat of eviction hanging over them,” say the report’s authors.
Forest peoples are being removed to protect water resources for burgeoning urban areas. Last month Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, appealed to the Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, to resolve a Bank-backed Kenyan conservation project that has led to the eviction of thousands of Sengwer people living in the Embobut forest. That follows the forced removal of thousands of Ogiek families from the Mau forest.
In a new development, governments are using climate change as an excuse to move people out of reserves. Because forests act as carbon “sinks” and can qualify for lucrative carbon credits, governments are threatening to evict indigenous peoples who traditionally cut wood. “Climate change has raised the stakes, leading governments and corporations to anticipate that they can secure vast amounts of money for laying claim to forest,” says Tom Lomax, a human rights lawyer with the Forest Peoples Programme.
The policy of creating “inviolate” core zones for tiger conservation in Indian reserves has also led to many human rights violations, says the study. Last year hundreds of Munda families living inside the Similipal tiger reserve in Odisha “voluntarily” left the national park, but villagers claim they were barely compensated and that promises of land have not been honoured. Earlier this year thousands of tribal people living in the Kanha tiger reserve were also evicted.
Leading Indian conservationist and writer Prerna Singh Bindra, a former member of the Indian National Board for Wildlife, said many families had left tiger reserves in search of a better standard of living. “There has been voluntary relocation of people within tiger reserves – largely driven by people themselves. Thousands have petitioned governments and even courts seeking rehabilitation, as they live in extreme hardship, lacking basic facilities like electricity, healthcare and education in remote forests and seek a better life outside mainstream society, and with better amenities and opportunity. It is a win-win situation for people and wildlife, especially large mammals like tigers and elephants, which need inviolate forests to survive.”
For those who want to stay in their traditional homelands, however, there is mounting concern among environmentalists. Lomax said: “Conservation groups recognise that indigenous peoples have the rights to the lands, territories and resources that they have traditionally owned, yet in practice they continue to exclude local people from using forest and other resources. Many still practise an outdated ‘fortress conservation’ model, which entails eviction and exclusion of all human presence through continued enforcement.”
Research by the Centre for International Forestry Research, the World Bank and academics has found that traditional communities often protect forests and the environment efficiently and cheaply. In a letter last month to Kenyatta, Paul Kibet, secretary of the Sengwer council of elders, said: “We need to change the mindset of the colonial conservation which fails to recognise that these communities’ traditional lifestyles, economies and knowledge is in harmony with nature.”
How the Kalahari bushmen and other tribespeople are being evicted to make way for ‘wilderness’ | World news | The Observer

The RSPB, the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe, has a clear policy on this:

RSPB policy on carbon offsetting for tropical forest projects
The RSPB will:
1. Continue to advocate that governments, companies and individuals must concentrate on reducing their own carbon emissions, and we will not recommend or endorse carbon offsetting in the UK;
2. Secure long-term financing for our biodiversity conservation work in tropical forests through the generation and sale of carbon credits on the voluntary carbon market, subject to strict criteria on purchasers; with the intention of eventually selling credits only on the compliance market once this becomes operational;
3. Use all income from the sale of credits on the carbon markets to directly fund our biodiversity conservation work in tropical forests; 
4. Use our projects as ‘proof of concept’ models for others to learn from and replicate;
5. Advocate an effective REDD mechanism that explicitly addresses forest and biodiversity conservation through the compliance market;
6. Advocate the development of a credible voluntary carbon market based on sound science with proven climatic benefits;
7. Advocate, and work to improve, the highest possible quality assurance standards within the voluntary carbon market;
8. Ensure that local indigenous communities directly benefit in a fair and equitable manner from any carbon revenues;
9. Respect internationally proclaimed human rights as contained in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights; support and promote the realisation of human rights wherever appropriate within the scope of our forest conservation programme; strive to avoid harming the most vulnerable; and promote the improvement of governance systems that can secure the rights of local people, as they relate to conservation and the ecologically sustainable use of natural resources.

The RSPB: Projects: The Gola Rainforest: Sierra Leone's first Rainforest National Park

And the UK's National Parks are carrying out carbon offsetting projects:
Peat captures carbon in Snowdonia: National Parks UK

See also:
Futures Forum: On the Transition: "Future Primitive"

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