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“We must take advantage of low-hanging fruit solutions such as forest conservation”: Interview with Jeff Horowitz

Two interviews with Jeff Horowitz, the founder of Avoided Deforestation Partners, were published earlier this month. The interviews reveal a great deal about why AD Partners is so interested in carbon trading. For example, Horowitz estimates that “protecting tropical forests will cut the cost of U.S. climate legislation almost in half – saving Americans billions.” This week, REDD-Monitor asked Horowitz some further questions.

Rhett Butler of and journalist Marc Gunther interviewed Horowitz. Butler gushes about a side event that AD Partners held in Copenhagen. Perhaps that’s not surprising, since AD Partners managed to invite more than 20 speakers. The heads of some of the biggest US conservation NGOs were there: Environmental Defense Fund; National Resources Defense Council; Conservation International; The Nature Conservancy; World Wildlife Fund US; and IUCN. They shared a platform with several of the polluting companies who are keen to get their hands on cheap REDD credits: Dennis Welch, Executive Vice President of American Electric Power; Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group; and Jim Rogers, Chairman, President and CEO of Duke Energy.

During the meeting, Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, announced a US$1 billion commitment to financing REDD readiness activities. “REDD has arrived!” Horowitz told

Here, then, is REDD-Monitor’s interview by email with Jeff Horowitz.[1]

REDD-Monitor: In your interview with Rhett Butler of you say that “protecting forests is a way to buy time.” But if avoided deforestation is a carbon offsetting mechanism, it will not reduce emissions – the emissions will simply be transfered from one place to another (assuming the problems of baselines, leakage, additionality and permanence are addressed – if not emissions will increase). In other words, this will allow polluting industries to continue business as usual. Coal fired power stations built now (and declared “carbon neutral” because of REDD offsets) will continue to operate for 50 years, thus locking in polluting technology. This is only buying time for industry – not for the climate. How do you respond to this argument?

Jeff Horowitz: We need to reduce emissions from the energy sector as well as emissions from deforestation. It doesn’t matter to the atmosphere if a ton of pollution comes from a coal-fired power plant or a burning forest. Tropical forest conservation is a critically strategic climate change solution because it is more affordable than technologically intensive solutions therefore allowing bigger pollution reductions than would otherwise be economically or politically feasible. We of course agree that reductions from deforestation must be achieved with careful consideration given to issues such as leakage, additionality and permanence. Payments for the reduction of deforestation must only be made in exchange for climate benefits that are real, measurable and verifiable.

A cap is just one legislative tool we have for reducing pollution. To realize the goal of a low-carbon society we need a collection of complimentary policies which include investment incentives in energy efficiency, clean energy standards, requirements to use more wind and solar power, and better management of public and private lands to promote maximum carbon sequestration. Here in California, for example, we have an offset program, but we also have laws which mandate that by the end of 2010, California utility companies are required to provide 20% of their power from non-fossil fuel sources (with stiff penalties for non-compliance). It will take time to achieve a clean energy society but no matter how fast or slow it happens, we urgently need to reduce climate pollution from all sources, as quickly as possible. To do so, we must take advantage of low-hanging fruit solutions such as forest conservation.

REDD-Monitor: The proposed US climate legislation is pathetically weak (3-4% reductions against 1990 levels) and weakened still further by the inclusion of offsets (IRN and RAN calculate that no US emissions cuts would take place until 2026). This isn’t just a problem of “dodgy” offsets (of which there are many), it’s a problem of all offsets. By definition offsets do not reduce emissions. The chair of the CDM Executive Board acknowledged this recently when he said, “[T]he CDM, at its best, is a zero sum game, because its credits are used to offset reduction obligations of Annex 1 countries.” Given all this, why do you think that offsets will help prevent runaway climate change?

Jeff Horowitz: The reductions contained in the House-passed legislation and the proposed Senate legislation are stronger than those percentages referenced in your question. With the supplemental pollution reductions achieved through tropical forest conservation, Waxman- Markey reduces pollution 17-23 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

We believe offsets achieve significant additional emissions reductions. It is not a zero sum game, because without the ability to leverage credible and environmentally robust REDD offsets, the reduction targets achievable by policy makers would be significantly scaled back. Having a credible offset system enables more ambitious reduction targets, while at the same time achieving real reductions in global GHG emissions in the short term. This combination (steep long term reduction targets and robust offsets) will create the underlying catalyst for the technology we need to transform the existing economy into a low carbon economy and achieve essential short-term emission reductions as well. Ultimately, policy makers must determine what is best, most cost efficient way to achieve the necessary reductions in global GHG emissions, and they are limited by what is politically achievable. If you take offsets off the table, the existing short term reduction targets (which may not in your view be significant) would be even further reduced and the mid and long term policy signal for very steep cuts would be significantly hampered, if not impossible to achieve.

Last point: we agree that the CDM has major flaws and we oppose its use as a financing tool for environmentally destructive projects such as dams. We’ve worked to ensure that the standards for financing in U.S. climate policy are much stronger than those in the CDM – and that they include a more robust role for forestry.

REDD-Monitor: In response to Rhett Butler’s question about activists campaigning against offsets, you responded “We’re working alongside many watchdog organizations to make sure that offsets are being used properly.” Which watchdog organizations is AD Partners working with (or “alongside”)? How, in your opinion, can offsets be “used properly”?

Jeff Horowitz: We need to be careful of private sector investment, just as we must be careful to make sure that government to government direct aid programs work the way they are intended. In short, both options are in need of being watched closely.

Market based solutions to REDD are not the ultimate panacea or the magic solution to climate change and tropical deforestation. The problem is much more complex than that. The problem is that current legal paradigms have been wholly inadequate to address the problem and the level of sustained financing, both from the public and private sectors, is greater than anything we have been able to mobilize to date. Therefore, as part of a broader series of complimentary policies and measures, we believe private investment has an important role to play. We do not see how we can achieve the level of funding needed without an investment system that incentivizes private capital flows toward forest preservation. The bottom line is that trees today are worth more chopped down and/or burned for alternative land uses than they are as the living lungs of the planet. The reason for this is that we as a collective society have not put a price on the carbon emissions that arise from destructive practices or a value on the ecosystem services that our in tact tropical forests provide. As part of several legal, policy and financial steps, we believe that a well-constructed and regulated carbon market is a valuable tool and could work quite well in conjunction with government provided capacity building funding.

Regarding “watchdog” allies, we work mostly with larger organizations so our allies are organizations such as the Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, NRDC, the Rainforest Alliance, CCBA and others.

REDD-Monitor: There is already a considerable amount of fraud within the carbon markets. In Europe, millions of euros have been lost to carousel fraud and recently internet/phishing fraud. In Papua New Guinea the government appears to have issued fake carbon credits and one indigenous leader says he was forced at gun point to sign a REDD-type agreement. Meanwhile, carbon derivatives are already being trading that are so complicated it’s almost impossible to know what they actually are. This type of complexity was one of the triggers that led to the financial crisis in the past two years. One hedge fund trader estimated in June last year that there is a 30% chance of the carbon market collapsing (and his firm is looking forward to huge profits if it does collapse). Do you really believe that the carbon market can be regulated? Or that it is a reliable way of fundraising when the future of the planet’s rainforests are at stake (and its climate)? What happens to REDD if the carbon market collapses?

Jeff Horowitz: Neither we nor any other credible environmental group would endorse a carbon market that wasn’t subject to rigorous oversight and the highest standards for transparency and integrity. The recent market collapse was a terrible tragedy for many millions around the world but at the same time it was a great wake up call.

But let’s be clear: the only path to secure the $40 billion annually that may be needed to end and ultimately reverse deforestation is through creating incentives for private investment. Governments have shown very little ability to provide sustained funding for conservation – at the first hint of a budget crisis, government funds are raided for other purposes – deficit reduction, tax cuts, or some favored pork barrel project. International spending is in general very vulnerable.

Of course, we can’t save forests with private funds alone, and for that reason we have built a powerful broad-based coalition behind the goal of setting aside five percent of the allowances in U.S. climate policy for rainforest conservation, supplying $3-5 billion per year in U.S. government funding to combat illegal logging, establish national baselines, build capacity in rainforest nations. As a final note, we endorse quantity limits on use of offsets. The legislation under consideration in Congress allows companies to meet only 10-15 percent of their compliance obligation with international offsets.

REDD-Monitor: I understand that payments for REDD are to be performance based, that the money will only be handed over when the avoided deforestation has already happened. But what happens if the payment is made and the forest is cleared the following week (or month, or year)? What happens if carbon credits are forward traded but the project ultimately fails to get the necessary certification as a REDD project? (This is assuming that there will be an international REDD agreement and some sort of international certification system, similar to the CDM, say.) Is it possible to remove those forward traded carbon credits from the market (given that by that time they will have been securitised and packaged up in various sorts of innovative financial instruments)?

Jeff Horowitz: There are a variety of mechanisms in pending U.S. climate legislation that attempt to address this issue. Most importantly, the administrator is required to hold allowances in reserve that are cancelled in the event of a reversal such as a naturally occurring fire or intentional destruction of a forest. In addition, project developers are required to return any allowances credited in the event of intentional reversals and half in the event of unintentional reversals. Finally, most project developers maintain a reserve of extra protected land as part of a project that is set-aside to compensate for any reversals. This is one of the protections we were able to help secure in the legislation.

[1] ^ Horowitz requested that “Given the complexity of the questions and answers, I would appreciate your keeping my responses complete.” Neither the questions nor Horowitz’s replies have been edited.

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  1. I am surprised by Jeff Horowitz´statement: “The reductions contained in the House-passed legislation and the proposed Senate legislation are stronger than those percentages referenced in your question. With the supplemental pollution reductions achieved through tropical forest conservation, Waxman- Markey reduces pollution 17-23 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.” Could somebody verify or clarify this statement?
    I would interpret Section 311 of HR. 2454 as described by Chris Lang, or am I missing out somewhere?

  2. Please kindly allow me to air my concern. it is so interesting to read about Mr Jeff Horowitz comments, but, I also want to know if the Watchdog Allies, namely Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, NRDC, The Rainforest Alliance and CCBA & others. have already planned to support the Global Tropical Rainforest Nations, with a flexible Trading mechnism that with this scheme, will slow down the illegal logging within this 10 tropical rainforest nations.

    Let us not blame people in Papua New Guinea, because the indigenous people in PNG, and other 9 Tropical Nations are not fully taught what Carbon Trade, what is carbon, and why Carbon, and hwo it is converted from seeing it into a bankable instrument in order that it has a value of money to be traded and create new money in Billions of dollars.

    Let us confuse the indigenous people, they had enough of exploitation of their right and Natural Resources

    Thank you again for allowing me.

    Genewa S Livinai

  3. When we will learn that forest conservation in tropical countries can not be achieved through funds? Show us one good instance when international funds alone have conserved forests.Deforestation is a complex socio-political and economic event, factors leading to which can never be controlled by funding.In case of REDD, there’s also the threat that involvement of private companies and market compulsions of generating carbon credits will severely limit forest-dependent communities’access to ‘conserved’ forests, and neither public-private nor government-government funding,however effective those may be, will be able to ‘mitigate’ the loss and the ensuing anger. Secondly,the use of forests is essentially a local issue,and communities leaving in the forest holds the first and sometimes the only rights to that. Why should the rights of forest people in India,Malaysia or Brazil have to be sacrificed because the US government can not regulate/control its own carbon-emitting corporations? No govermental sanction(the governments will willingly sell their people and countries for much less money)will wash the injustice inherent in schemes like REDD,or,for that matter,any carbon trading scheme.Thirdly,given the rampant fraud in CDM, why should anyone believe that REDD will be a better and more ‘transparent’ process?

  4. The idea of using the Rainforest Alliance as a “watchdog organisation” is so absurd as to be laughable. As well as all the dodgy and illegal logging operations that the Alliance has certified under the FSC scheme – regardless of whether these companies actually comply with the FSC’s Principles and Criteria – there is also the interesting ‘Watchdog’ relationship that the Rainforest Alliance has with tropical agricultural (and forest-destroying) companies such as Chiquita. This company continues to be featured on the Alliance’s website as ‘ethical’ and Alliance-certified – despite the fact that, in March 2007 Chiquita was fined $25 million in a Federal court for doing business with Colombian terrorist organisations.

    If Horowitz had the first idea of what he is talking about, he’d know that some of his ‘watchdogs’ are in fact blind, evidently unable to see past the thick wodges of dollar bills in front of their eyes.

  5. I don’t see any “gushing” in the mongabay interview of Jeff Horowitz. It would be helpful if you could try to keep your rhetoric in check

  6. @Glenn Hurowitz – The WRI website that you linked to includes this statement: “Implementation of the cap would require emissions reductions from covered sources to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Total U.S. GHG emissions would be reduced, as a result, by 15% below 2005 levels by 2020. This exceeds President Obama’s goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (approximately 14% below 2005 levels).”

    Waxman-Markey and WRI refer to 2005, not 1990. (And that’s before we start discussing the fact that offsets mean that US corporations won’t need to reduce anything until 2026. International Rivers and RAN produced an interesting graph, as well.)

  7. @Charles – I like That doesn’t mean I agree with everything written there, but I enjoy reading it.

    I do think that the description on of AD Partners’ side event in Copenhagen is gushing though. Butler writes that “The roster was a ‘who’s who’ of conservation as well a [sic] business and political leaders”. Having listed all the speakers (one of whom is Thomas Friedman, who is a journalist not a conservation, business or political leader – but don’t get me going on Friedman), Butler writes, “It may seem surprising that such an esteemed group would come together to discuss deforestation, but Jeff Horowitz, founder of Avoided Deforestation Partners, says the gathering is a testament to the opportunity tropical forest conservation offers in helping mitigate climate change.” That seems to me to be just a tinsy winsy little bit gushing.

  8. Here is my answer to Jeff Horowitz´statement “With the supplemental pollution reductions achieved through tropical forest conservation, Waxman- Markey reduces pollution 17-23 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.” This figure came from the World Resources Institute report: See Table 1 on page 3. WRI is a member in the infamous US-Climate Action Partnership (, themselves helped writing the Waxman-Markey bill, so little wonder their analysis is slanted in favor of the bill. See more criticism of WRI on that front from the Breakthrough Institute (, not that I think Cantwell-Collin’s CLEAR is much better, as Nordhaus and Shellenberger believes. I’ll post a critique about that bill soon on

    Anyway, under the cap alone W-M only achieves about 1% reduction below 1990 by 2020 (not even the oft-repeated 3-4%), and even that 1% could mostly be met through offsets, so Horowitz’s arguments that without offsets the targets would be too hard to meet is just bogus. He’s making excuses for polluting industries, while providing a huge profiteering opportunity for forestry and agribusinesses as well as Wall Street.

    The WRI “caps plus all complementary requirements” scenario (which they say yields 17% below 1990 by 2020) is described at the bottom of page 5 and 6 of the WRI report. The vast majority of the additional reduction in this scenario as compared to the “caps only” scenario, is through funding international forestry projects, using the revenue from the auctioned allowance under the cap (only a small part of allowances are auctioned, most given away for free). The problems with this arrangement include:

    1. It is important to end deforestation, but that should be part of how US repays its climate debt to the world, not to be used to count towards US’s own emission reductions. And,
    2. the funding for these projects depends on the market value of allowances, so accurate assessment ahead of time on the extent of reduction it can achieve abroad is very questionable. And,
    3. REDD and REDD+ has bogus definition of “forests”, ending up incentivizing monoculture plantations to displace biodiverse and carbon dense natural forests, causing land grabs and evictions of indigenous peoples and forest dwellers who live in harmony with the forests…

    With the even more optimistic scenario in the WRI report, which includes “potential range of additional reductions”, W-M supposedly achieves 23% below 1990 by 2020, even more ridiculous assumptions are made, such as assuming that ALL international offsets are completely real (despite many authoritative studies repeatedly finding offsets in the UN scheme to be mostly bogus/non-additional/non-permanent), so that the 1.25:1 conversion ratio required under W-M for international offsets as a partial safeguard against the unreliability of these offsets, will be discarded, and therefore 1.25 fold of reduction will be assumed.

    There are other faults with their assumptions laid out on page 4 of the WRI report. For example, “This analysis does not take into account potential leakage of emissions from capped sources to uncapped sources either within sectors or between sectors”. Which means that if one considers leakage, the cap will not at all be where it is said to be. In fact, W-M incentivizes biomass power plants, rather than requiring emission allowances from them. This will lead to not only leakage from fossil fuel power generation into biomass power generation and associated huge emissions, but also threatens the very survival of forests just when we most depend on them to help sequester carbon, right here in the USA.

    What we need is ditching cap and trade, replace it with rule-based regulations, and carbon pricing using a simple carbon fee with most of the revenues returned to consumers. Ending international deforestation must be a priority funding area, some of the money for that may come from a small portion of the carbon fees, but I see diverting US military spending (nearly $1 trillion/year if you add up all the hidden military budgets under other departments, plus veterans benefits, plus interests on deficits due to past military spending, etc.) as the major and most logical, just and sane source of that funding. It is a shame that no major US enviro orgs have dared calling for that!

  9. Perhaps Maggie Zhou has said enough to explain why, technically, most of what Jeffrey Horowitz says is, at best, misguided. Given that, up until 3 years ago, Mr Horowitz’s professional experience came no nearer to environmental issues than being one of the leading architects of a glitzy Los Angeles shopping mall, then perhaps he can be forgiven for being plain wrong about the complex business of trying to protect tropical rainforests.

    Plain wrong? His approach seems to be founded upon one simple view-point, summarised in the statement that “tropical forest conservation is a critically strategic climate change solution because it is more affordable than technologically intensive solutions”. Where is the evidence that tropical forest conservation is “more affordable”, Mr Horowitz? Please show us a single scrap of empirical evidence that, for example, tinkering with the survival economics of maybe half a billion slash-and-burn subsistence farmers in poor countries is going to be ‘lower-hanging fruit’ than, say, getting Americans to stop driving 5-litre engined cars and leaving their lights burning all night? It seems to me that REDD is only the “lowest hanging fruit” if you assume that changing the profligate Californian life-style is safely at the top of the tree, not to be touched.

    Mr Horowitz would not be the first person that has been seduced by the reassuring (though ignorantly over-simplified) appeal of REDD. But maybe he is not so naïve. His only other professional touch-point on environmental issues recently has been to help his nephew, Gerrity Lansing, set up a ‘for-profit environmental company‘, Equator LLC, which majors in – you’ve guessed it – trading in forest-based carbon credits. Equator’s website does not indicate any continuing involvement of Mr Horowitz, but his Linked-in profile describes him as former ‘Vice-Chair’ of the company. (Gerrity Lansing’s other major role is as Director of Operations of Chatham Energy LLC, a primarily fossil fuels-based energy brokerage firm).

    So we can speculate on what Uncle Horowitz’s underlying motivations might be, and the ‘big pollution’ ADP members’ motivations are probably only what one would expect them to be. But what exactly do all those big so-called conservation organisations think they are doing in this disinformation collective?

    Given that the likes of Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defence, Conservation International are such major undertakings that they claim to speak on behalf of global conservation interests, employ thousands of expert and highly-paid staff, and run hundreds of overseas programmes, how is it that they have failed to identify the glaring technical errors, and the gross strategic mistakes, in the approach taken by ADP? Or maybe it’s that they know full-well how flawed the approach is, but have an interest in pretending otherwise?

    Finally, I feel compelled to make one other point. Horowitz states that “Neither we nor any other credible environmental group would endorse a carbon market that wasn’t subject to rigorous oversight and the highest standards for transparency and integrity”. This is an outright lie. Neither ADP nor any of the NGOs involved in it have had anything sensible whatsoever to say about “rigorous oversight” of forest carbon markets, nor about “transparency” or “integrity”. None of them have ever made the point that the regulation, transparency and integrity has to come first, be an essential precondition for forest carbon trading. On the contrary, the NGOs in particular have aggressively promoted forest carbon trading, regardless of the concerns that have been made about the clear potential for corruption, criminality and abuse of power.

    Perhaps this all only goes to show that the NGOs involved in ADP are not “credible” conservation groups…

  10. @ “A Witness”
    I would like to address your disparaging comments about the Rainforest Alliance. First of all, the Rainforest Alliance is a member of ISEAL, an international organization that accredits certification programs. As such, we adhere to the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards, along with other organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council, Fair Trade, IFOAM, FSC and more. FSC certification is the internationally recognized gold standard of responsible forestry, supported by organizations like Greenpeace, WWF and The Nature Conservancy. FSC certification prevents illegal logging and if you have proof of violations of the principles and criteria, we urge you to report them here:

    To address your second “point,” Rainforest Alliance certification prevents deforestation, so deforestation cannot occur on certified farms, and landowners cannot clear forest and then get certified. The farms are evaluated by auditors of the Sustainable Agriculture Network against a rigorous standard. The certification is not an “ethical” certification as that term is very subjective. It evaluates farm management rather than companies as a whole.

    To your second comment, take heart that we are working on the sustainable palm oil issues as it is a problem that greatly threatens rainforests. We are working with Mars on their sustainable sourcing policy and require that any companies that buy a certified main ingredient (cocoa, for example), must have a sustainable sourcing plan in place for secondary ingredients that are a threat to biodiversity (in this case palm oil). You can read more here:

    On another note, and the one most relevant to the original blog post, the Rainforest Alliance has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute to ISO 14065:2007, the international standard for greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies.


  11. Mr. Horowitz says that “We need to reduce emissions from the energy sector as well as emissions from deforestation.” I agree with that fully. What I don’t understand is how promoting offsets goes with that statement: offsets are not reducing emissions because what is claimed to be reduced in one place allows a fossil fuel user somewhere else to release greenhouse gas emissions above what they would have been allowed otherwise – a zero-sum game at best, not a reduction. Offsets are about cost-management, not about reducing emissions – they allow companies whose emissions are capped to avoid investment costs into low-carbon technologies and buy their way out of these necesary investments that are needed NOW by using the low-cost carbon offset option. Low-cost for the largest polluters, high cost, increasingly counted in homes and lives lost for those already feeling the impact of climate change, for everyone else. And one only needs to scroll through the REDD Monitor postings to realise that this best-case scenario hardly ever meets reality – in which case the result of an offset is not a reduction but an increase in emissions, in other words the very opposite of what Mr. Horowitz rightly states is needed if we are to avoid runaway climate change. Is Mr. Horowitz aware that offsets by design do not reduce emissions, ever – even if they were “subject to rigorous oversight and the highest standards for transparency and integrity”? What existing offset scheme or project would he consider to fulfill these requirements of rigorous oversight and highest standards for transparency and integrity – leaving aside for a moment that even in the case such examples existed, as offsets they would still not contribute to reducing emissions?

  12. If we want to take climate change by hand and turn it back from the path it is on now. Then why low hanging fruits? The high impacting and long-lasting “fruits”/actions include consciously cutting back on fossil fuel consumption and stopping the demand for tropical hard woods. That is going to have a more lasting impact then trying to go for the low-hanging fruits.

    We in the west are well aware that you in Annexe 1 have a lifestyle that you have to maintain (two cars in the garage, a five bedroom house) – would you sell your two vehicles and move into my hut of grass to save the planet earth??

    And another irony – you Annexe 1 set the standard of living and we in the west, well your calculations show that we live in poverty (less then US$1 per day), and we aspire to get over US$1 per day and reach where you are. So would you share with me your excess so instead of me adding one more vehicle to what you have, you share and we halve the pollution problem. Or would you invite me to live with you, when I come to your land, I can leave my forest to do what it has to do for the good of everything and everyone. If not then let me use my natural resources to raise the currency I need to raise my living standards, only when I reach the standard you set than we can address climate change as citizens of the world with equal stake if the situations gets any worse.

  13. @ Abbey from Rainforest Alliance:

    You’ve obviously never seen Search on it for Rainforest Alliance, and you’ll see why your organisation is regarded the way it is.

  14. Like “REDD Monitor visitor”, I’m fascinated by Jeff Horowitz’s inability to respond — through five long paragraphs — to a simple point posed by REDD Monitor.

    As REDD-Monitor points out, offsets do not reduce emissions. They cannot, since every offset includes both a sell side and a buy side. Whatever climate benefits a seller of carbon credits gives, the buyer takes away. Even a perfect offset project would have a net emissions result of … zero. (And since few or no offset projects could ever be even close to perfect, it follows that the net emissions result of offsets must be … to make global warming worse.)

    How does Horowitz respond to this elementary point?

    Paragraph 1: No response.

    Paragraph 2: “We urgently need to reduce climate pollution from all sources”, including deforestation. True — but if prevention of deforestation is used to license continued climate pollution from fossil fuel combustion, then no net reduction of climate pollution occurs. Indeed, as noted above, due to the many additional problems with offsets, net climate pollution is likely in fact to increase.

    Paragraph 3: No response.

    Paragraph 4: At last, an argument — sort of. Offsets, Horowitz claims, are “not a zero sum game, because without the ability to leverage credible and environmentally robust REDD offsets, the reduction targets achievable by policy makers would be significantly scaled back.” Here the idea is that although offsets themselves do not reduce climate pollution, the availability of extra pollution licenses from REDD and other offsets have an indirect climate benefit. Using these extra pollution rights as a sweetener, policymakers — so the argument goes — will be able to impose stricter targets on society than fossil fuel users would stand for otherwise.

    The problem is, who tastes the sweetener? If the sweetener goes to rich fossil fuel users, then the climate suffers. It is rich fossil fuel users, after all, that have to change the most if global warming is to be addressed. Contrary to what Horowitz asserts, it in fact matters very much to the climate whether a ton of CO2 “comes from a coal fired power plant or a burning forest.” The first ton adds to the overall burden of carbon dioxide circulating among oceans, air, soil, rock and vegetation. The second ton does not. It is the first ton that we have to worry about more. A CO2 molecule from a coal-fired power plant may be chemically the same as a CO2 molecule from a burning forest, but it is not climatically the same. Nothing is more important in the climate debate than not confusing chemistry with climate history.

    What’s more, if the sweetener goes to rich fossil fuel users (and that is, after all, the point of creating such a sweetener), then the climate will not be the only thing that suffers. The people living in the forests that REDD would convert into commercial carbon warehouses — including many Indigenous Peoples — would suffer as well. They would have to bear the burden of “compensating” for a problem that the fossil fuel users have played the biggest part in creating.

    People in societies like the US have enjoyed many benefits of industrialization. But the burden of dealing with the associated pollution problems has historically fallen on poorer communities of color where the factories are disproportionately located. This is what has become known as environmental racism. REDD threatens a similar form of environmental racism, as the burden of dealing with fossil fuels’ downside is foisted largely on those who have benefited the least from their use.

    Paragraph 5: No response.

    What is the upshot of this mysterious inability to come to terms with the issue that REDD-Monitor has raised? Jeff Horowitz is an intelligent person. It would be disrespectful to assume that the reason he has not addressed REDD-Monitor’s simple question is that he does not understand it. There must be some other reason. What this reason is is not something I’m in any position to speculate about. What does strike the eye, however, is Horowitz’s statement in a previous interview: “protecting tropical forests will cut the cost of U.S. climate legislation almost in half – saving Americans billions.”

    Maybe so. The question is what the cost is to the climate of cutting the cost of US climate legislation.

  15. Hi,
    I want to ask you some questions:
    1.have you ever been to a tropical rainforest? can a the tropical rain forest be a system?
    3.what are the parts of this system? dose this system works?

    hope you answer soon and tank you.

  16. @herry – I’m not sure who your questions are directed to, and I’m not entirely convinced that this isn’t just spam, but just in case:

    Yes, I’ve been to several tropical rainforests, in Asia, Africa and Latin America. A rainforest is an ecosystem. For more information, I’d suggest the following websites: wikipedia, WRM and Oh and google.