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