By Chris Lang
Rising Tide North America‘s new report, “Hoodwinked in the Hothouse”, provides a survey of bogus climate change solutions.
The report covers a wide range of false solutions including “Clean Coal”, nuclear power, agrofuels, geoengineering and carbon offsets. There is also a section titled: “Seeing REDD: The World Bank’s Anti-Solutions”, written by AlterEco, Transnational Institute and Rising Tide North America. Focussing on the World Bank, the report notes that “The Bank’s record of failed forest conservation projects is worse than its efforts at green development.” It also concisely sums up the problem with carbon credits as a way of paying for forest conservation: “the more trees a country or company saves or pays to save, the more it earns the right to pollute.”
The full report can be downloaded here (pdf file 2.9 MB) and the section on REDD is extracted below.
Seeing REDD: The World Bank’s anti-solutions
By AlterEco, the Transnational Institute, and Rising Tide North America
Tragically, the World Bank is a central agent for delivering “green” development within the UN’s climate treaties. The Bank, a powerful and deeply undemocratic international institution, has a long and controversial history of assisting large corporations in “developing” poor countries.
The Bank manages the massive Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF), a corporate and government investment pool that claims to “pioneer the market for project-based greenhouse gas emission reductions while promoting sustainable development,” making the Bank a kingmaker within the offset market.
Despite the stated goal of the PCF, less than a quarter of its offset projects are linked to development and a mere 6% of funds are set aside to promote sustainable development. More than 80% of the funds released have gone to heavily polluting industries in the oil, gas, cement, iron and steel production and industrial gases sectors. Communities living in the wake of these projects have been devastated by their environmental and health impacts.
Will the UN help us?
Activists from Climate Justice Now! described the atmosphere during the 2008 UN climate meetings in Poland: “Private investors are circling like vultures, swooping in on every opportunity for creating new profits. Business and corporate lobbyists expanded their influence and monopolized conference space at Poznan. At least 1,500 industry lobbyists were present either as observers or as members of government delegations.”
The UN process on climate has been blighted and continually sidetracked by an all-encompassing focus on the inner working of carbon markets. This approach was introduced when the United States, under Al Gore’s tenure as lead negotiator, stated it would not ratify the Kyoto protocol without a central role for carbon markets within the plan. More then ten years after weakening the protocol, the US has still declined to sign on.
The Bank’s latest scheme, called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD) is part of the “Bali Roadmap” established by the UN in 2007, and is slated to be a key component of any post-Kyoto climate treaty. This new plan offers a means for rich countries to avoid responsibility for over-consumption and evade emissions cuts by buying offsets.
The logic underpinning REDD is fairly simple: at present, the short-term economic gains from deforestation outweigh the long-term benefits of forest conservation. The Bank argues that investing up to $10 billion globally per year into saving forests will change the economic balance in favor of conservation. This money would be paid in the form of carbon credits–the more trees a country or company saves or pays to save, the more it earns the right to pollute.
The Bank’s record of failed forest conservation projects is worse than its efforts at green development. During the 1980s, human rights activists and environmentalists worldwide campaigned against the Bank’s funding of logging projects, mega-dams and road building programs. Recently, in massive logging and agrofuels projects in the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo, in Indonesia, and in the Amazon Basin, the Bank has been harshly criticized for funding environmental destruction and encouraging social unrest.
Given the Bank’s past record, there are other reasons to be concerned as well. In many tropical countries, governments have attempted to legally define remaining forests as leaseable state lands, so that indigenous peoples who have lived in forests for millennia are being evicted from their homes. With the World Bank and their corporate partners’ interests in protecting lucrative forest carbon “reservoirs,” the risks to forest-dwelling people will surely grow.
A second edition of “Hoodwinked in the Hothouse” was released in 2010 – available here.