in Colombia

Colombian government warned a year ago against “Oxygen buyers”

Colombian government warned a year ago against Oxygen buyers

A couple of months ago, Kevin Conrad commented that “because Papua New Guinea was advocating a regime shift in forests, we had every carbon cowboy in the world descend upon Papua New Guinea.” Unfortunately, it seems that PNG is not the only country in the world that is facing an influx of “carbon cowboys”.

More than a year ago, the Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development in Colombia issued a warning about “Oxygen buyers” (in English and Spanish, below). Even more unfortunately, the notice seems to have little effect.

Neither does the problem appear to be restricted to a single organisation attempting to “buy oxygen”. In June 2009, Economist journalist Natasha Loder posted a note on her blog from a carbon trader who had recently visited Colombia:

On my last trip to Colombia I was contacted by various “brokers” or “in-betweens” that offered me “500,000 ha of virgin Amazonas forest” or similar areas to “buy oxygen”. Prior to these meetings, they had “secured” the “oxygen sales rights” from native people’s forests. I tried hard to explain them how things work but the carbon bonanza there seems strong. Other carbon companies in Latin America seem to face the same problems. I understand there was even an MP of the Colombian parliament that referred to oxygen credits (instead of CO2 credits) when proposing draft legislation on climate change.

There appear to be close similarities between what is happening in Colombia and what has been more widely discussed in PNG. The PNG government issued a warning against dodgy REDD deals seven months later than the Colombian government, in November 2008.

Here’s an unofficial English translation of the Colombian Notice:

Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development of the Republic of Colombia

How Can Oxygen Be Bought?

The Ministry has received a significant number of complaints and questions about a supposed NGO that says it buys oxygen from the owners of land with forests. In the first place, it raises suspicions that persons who purport to be specialists in climate change and forestry issues do not use the correct terminology since the sale of oxygen does NOT EXIST.

What does exist is the possibility to do REFORESTATION projects in the framework of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. These projects can be done by any person, community or entity that has eligible areas and takes the necessary steps WITHOUT the need of intermediaries or NGOs. This is reforestation for CO2 CAPTURE which is measured and turned into Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) which are exchanged on the international carbon market. The Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development has an Office on Climate Change with specialized personnel to give advice on these kinds of projects and to help persons to evaluate if the offers that are made are real or if they are potential scams. We urge those who are interested to use this service.

As for the areas with natural forests, please be advised that unfortunately international mechanisms that provide incentives for conservation or avoided deforestation still DO NOT EXIST. Colombia is taking the lead in the international negotiations so that in the near future this kind of project is accepted and there is a payment for avoided deforestation; but the negotiations are ongoing and there are still no methodological guides nor parameters that allow for the creation of a market with the characteristics that these supposed oxygen sellers are promoting.

Here’s a copy of the notice (click on the image to enlarge):

Comunicado venta de oxigeno MAVDT

And here’s the version of the notice on the website of the Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development:

Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Dessarollo Territorial República de Colombia

Atención estafa: no se compra ni se vende oxígeno

Bogotá, 1 de Abril de 2008 (MAVDT) Al Ministerio le han llegado ya un buen número de quejas y preguntas sobre una supuesta ONG que dice comprar el “oxigeno” a dueños de predios con bosques.

Debemos lanzar una precaución urgente a las personas que están siendo abordadas para este supuesto negocio. En primer lugar, despierta muchas dudas que unas personas que dicen ser especializadas en el tema de cambio climático y bosques no utilicen la terminología correcta, pues la venta de oxígeno NO EXISTE.

Lo que existe, es la posibilidad de realizar proyectos de REFORESTACIÓN en el marco del Mecanismo de Desarrollo Limpio (MDL) del Protocolo de Kioto. Estos proyectos los puede realizar cualquier persona, comunidad o entidad que cuente con áreas elegibles y desarrolle los pasos necesarios, SIN la necesidad de intermediarios u ONGs. Se trata de la reforestación para CAPTURA de CO2, la cual se mide y transforma en Certificados de Emisiones Reducidas (CERs), que se transan en el mercado internacional del carbono.

El MAVDT cuenta con una oficina de Cambio Climático, con personal especializado para asesorar este tipo de proyectos y ayudar a las personas a evaluar si las ofertas que se les están haciendo son reales o potencialmente una estafa. Animamos a los interesados a hacer uso de este servicio.

En cuanto a zonas con bosques naturales, el Ministerio informa que desafortunadamente NO EXISTEN aún mecanismos internacionales que provean incentivos para la conservación o deforestación evitada. Colombia lidera las negociaciones internacionales para que en un futuro cercano este tipo de proyectos sí estén acogidos y tengan un retorno por deforestación evitada, pero las negociaciones están en curso y no hay todavía guías metodológicas o parámetros que permitan generar un mercado de las características que promocionan estos supuestos negociantes de oxígeno.

PHOTO credit: Threat to Democracy.

Leave a Reply

  1. Me gustaria saber si ahora ya esta funcionando lo de la venta de oxigeno, porque veo que esta información es del 2008 y en la actualidad por esta zona se han presentado una ong, ofreciendo su asesoria para este tema.

    Les agradezsco su información



  2. I have a land with many trees and i need a company that buy me this pls contact me if you are intrested in this thankyou