Note: As many of us have been warning for almost a decade (and some for much longer). This article also mentions the opposition to California’s forest carbon offset program by Indigenous villages in Chiapas, Mexico. GJEP helped uncover this opposition through a documentary expedition we undertook to the region in 2011, and the production of articles, photo essays and a video about these communities called A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests.
–The GJEP Team
By Ryan Jacobs, Oct 11, 2013. Source: The Atlantic
A forest village of the indigenous Matses tribe in the Amazon. (Rebecca Spooner/Survival International)
From the article: “There is something especially insidious about these fake forest carbon credits. Investors and corporations who buy voluntary credits believe they are buying into something grander than, say, the efficiency improvements of a single factory in China. They believe they’re funding not only the preservation of trees, but also the wellbeing of local forest communities. Unwittingly, they might be financing the destruction of both.”
When the balding Australian first stepped off the riverboat and into the isolated pocket of northeastern Peru’s Amazon jungle in 2010, he had what seemed like a noble, if quixotic, business plan.
An ambitious real estate developer, David Nilsson hoped to ink joint venture agreements with the regional government of Loreto province and the leaders of the indigenous Matses community to preserve vast thickets of the tribe’s remote rainforest. Under a global carbon-trading program, he wished to sell shares of the forest’s carbon credits to businesses that hope to mitigate, or offset, their air pollution.
The product is invisible, poorly understood, and regulation is extremely limited.
Located a six-day ride from the frontier city of Iquitos, the jungle’s vegetation, soils, and looming trees store an immense amount of carbon dioxide—roughly one ton, the equivalent of one UN-backed carbon credit, per tree.
In an ideal scenario, this is how it’s supposed to work: A community in a developing country works with an NGO or developer to design a plan to protect a large swathe of forest and thus prevent the release of the harmful chemical compound into the atmosphere, in accordance with the United Nations’ program called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). Then, it can get the emissions reductions certified by a third-party auditor and sell the resulting carbon credits to corporations in developed countries interested in reducing their own carbon footprints. (Deforestation accounts for roughly 17 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.)