Climate Talks Must Address REDD Fraud

A coalition of government, business and environmental leaders known as the Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests is pushing the Senate to allocate significant funds toward global deforestation mitigation initiatives. In a report released to Politico, the group is calling for the U.S. to invest $5 billion in programs designed to halt the destruction of forests in a number of developing countries.

While the need to conserve forests is clear (deforestation contributes an estimated 20% of global greenhouse emissions), market-based solutions to the problem are proving difficult to craft. The UN-sponsored Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation program (REDD), which is expected to be a key aspect of climate talks in Copenhagen this December, has drawn criticism from environmental and indigenous groups across the globe.

This week The Guardian (UK) released the results of an investigation that found REDD highly susceptible to fraud by criminal gangs, corrupt politicians and unregulated logging companies.

“Academics and environment groups with long experience working with the logging industry and indigenous communities said that both government and private schemes are being set up with no guarantees to protect communities who depend on the forests.”

According to environmental crimes specialist Peter Younger, REDD provides an incentive for land-grabs which may deprive indigenous peoples of their livelihoods. Instances of fraud have already been reported in Papua New Guinea, where government officials handed out approximately $100 million in fake carbon credits to forest communities.

“The potential for REDD rape and pillage is staggering,” said Rob Dodwell, a British conservationist setting up schemes in Kenya and Cameroon. “Logging companies may turn into carbon companies. All they have to do is count, not cut. It’s like giving a mass murderer money.”

Posted by Mary Tharin

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2 Comments

Filed under Environment, Foreign Policy

2 responses to “Climate Talks Must Address REDD Fraud

  1. Pingback: Copenhagen Week One: A Long Way to Go « DC Progressive

  2. Wes

    REDD is a fundamentally flawed concept unless the world demand for forest products is addressed. We have not resolved the problems associated with leakage and permanence. Not only can leakage occur as activity shifting to other regions or forest nations, it can also occur by substitution of other products to replace wood products – perhaps resulting in even greater carbon emissions. The debate has been overtaken by those whose goal is protecting forests for biodiversity, those who want to use it as a platform to advocate the rights of indigenous peoples, and those who hope to receive a lot of money – all irrespective of whether or not it results in lowered carbon emissions for the world.

    Countries like Indonesia mock the concept by offering concessions for forest carbon projects for 30 years with no certainty that they will be renewed. This is coincidentally the same amount of time that is needed for Indonesia’s already exploited forests to recover before the next cutting cycle. Why would any knowledgeable buyer buy carbon from these projects – especially the later vintages of a 30 year project?

    What is required is a global carbon accounting system for forests to ensure that real net benefits accrue and a commitment to protect forests included in carbon projects for a minimum of 50 years – for each vintage. These are difficult prerequisites to achieve and are not currently on the table. Without them, the goal of reducing carbon emissions (remember that is the objective) cannot be realized and truly verified.

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