in Canada, Indonesia

Shell REDD project slammed by Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth Nigeria

In August 2010, the Rimba Raya conservation project in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia hit the headlines. “Indonesia project boosts global forest CO2 market,” Reuters reported. But there’s a catch. Two companies that are responsible for vast greenhouse gas emissions are involved in the project: Shell and Gazprom.

Yesterday, Friends of the Earth Nigeria and the Indigenous Environmental Network put out a press release denouncing Shell’s involvement in REDD. Nnimmo Bassey, the Director of Environmental Rights Action (FoE Nigeria) and Chair of Friends of the Earth International, says,

“We have suffered Shell’s destruction of communities and biodiversity as well as oil spills and illegal gas flaring for decades. Now we can add financing REDD for greenwash and profits to the long list of Shell’s atrocities.”

The press release is posted below in English and Spanish.

The project is the first to have its avoided deforestation accounting method approved by the Voluntary Carbon Standard programme. For the curious, the 104-page “Methodology for Conservation Projects that Avoid Planned Land Use Conversion in Peat Swamp Forests”, is available here (pdf file, 2.0 MB). There’s also a 69-page assessment of the methodology by Rainforest Alliance, here (pdf file, 799.3 KB), and a 64-page assessment by Bureau Veritas Certification, here (pdf file 455.7 KB). In case you want to read more, the 300-page Project Design Document, as submitted to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), is available here (pdf file, 12.4 MB), with supporting documents here (zip file, 64.2 MB).

The methodology approved by VCS was prepared by Winrock International, under contract to Shell Canada Energy. Funding for preparing the methodology came from Shell Canada, Gazprom Marketing and Trading and the Clinton Foundation.

Yes, that’s the same Shell Canada that is mining tar sands. It’s the same Shell that continues to flare gas in Nigeria, with devastating impacts on local communities and the climate. It’s the same Shell that was the first western company to get its hands on Iraq’s gas reserves since the 1970s, after secret negotiations with the Iraqi government. And it’s the same Shell that is prospecting for oil in some of the Arctic’s most sensitive habitats.

Yes, that’s the same Gazprom that CorpWatch labelled a Greenhouse Gangster back in 1999 – at the time Gazprom was responsible for 4% of world carbon emissions. It’s the same Gazprom that says by 2014 it will overtake Exxon Mobil as the world’s largest publicly traded company.

And it’s the same Gazprom that is (along with Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Shell) exploiting oil and gas off the coast of Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East in the habitat of the last 100 or so Western Pacific grey whales:

And it’s the same William J. Clinton Foundation that launched the Clinton Climate Initiative “to create and advance solutions to the core issues driving climate change”, but apparently has no problem with helping to greenwash two of the biggest greenhouse polluters on the planet.

Shell bankrolls REDD

Indigenous Peoples and environmentalists denounce


7 September 2010

Oil giant Shell, infamous for the genocide of the Ogoni People and environmental destruction in Nigeria’s Niger Delta is now bankrolling REDD, a false solution to climate change that puts forests in the carbon market and has been denounced as potentially the “largest land grab of all time.”

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) allows polluters like Shell, Rio Tinto and Chevron-Texaco to buy their way out of reducing their greenhouse emissions at source by supposedly conserving forests. However, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network, REDD is rife with “perverse incentives” to convert natural forests into monoculture tree plantations and to actually increase deforestation.

Shell, Gazprom and the Clinton Foundation are funding the landmark REDD Rimba Raya project on 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) in the province of Central Kalimantan in Indonesia. According to Reuters, the Rimba Raya project marks “a milestone” in the development of a global market in forest carbon credits.

Shell’s REDD carbon offset project could be quite a money maker. Reuters calculates that “At about $10 a credit, that means about $750 million over 30 years.”

Renowned Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, Director of Environmental Rights Action and Chair of Friends of the Earth International, has a long history of opposing destructive oil extraction activities. “We have suffered Shell’s destruction of communities and biodiversity as well as oil spills and illegal gas flaring for decades. Now we can add financing REDD for greenwash and profits to the long list of Shell’s atrocities.”

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, noted that “Shell already committed genocide against the Ogoni People of the Niger Delta. REDD allows Shell and other polluting corporations to expand fossil fuel extraction and continue destroying the climate and violating Indigenous Peoples’ rights worldwide. As we speak, Shell is trying to expand its oil drilling operations in environmentally sensitive offshore Alaska, despite the protests of Alaska Natives.”

“Shell is compounding its devastating impacts on Mother Earth and Indigenous Peoples by financing REDD which may result in the largest land may grab of all time and more genocide against Indigenous Peoples,” Goldtooth warned.

According to Goldtooth, “Most of the forests of the world are found in Indigenous Peoples’ land. REDD-type projects have already resulted in land grabs, violations of human rights, threats to cultural survival, militarization, scams and servitude.”

For Teguh Surya, Campaign Director of WAHLI–Friends of the Earth Indonesia, REDD is simply “pathetic eco-business.” “Shell must not use our beautiful forests to greenwash the environmental crimes and human rights abuses it has committed in Nigeria and elsewhere.”

Last week, the 300 million-strong international peasant and farmer organization, Via Campesina, rejected REDD and denounced that forest conservation should not be used as “an excuse” so that “countries and corporations continue contaminating…” Furthermore Via Campesina noted that “carbon trading has proven extremely lucrative in terms of generating investor dividends, but has completely failed in reducing greenhouse gases.”

CITATION: David Fogarty and Sunanda Creagh. Indonesia project boosts global forest CO2 market. Reuters. Tue Aug 24, 2010.

CONTACTS: Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network

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La Petrolera Shell financia REDD

Pueblos Indígenas y ambientalistas denuncian


7 September 2010

La empresa petrolera Shell, mundialmente censurada por haber causado genocidio contra el Pueblo Ogoni y destrucción ambiental en la Cuenca Níger de Nigeria, ahora está financiando REDD, una falsa solución al cambio climático que mete los bosques en el mercado de carbono y que ha sido denunciado como posiblemente “la usurpación de tierras más grande de todos los tiempos.”

REDD (Reducción de Emisiones por Deforestación y Degradación) permite a los contaminadores como Shell, la minera Rio Tinto y la petrolera Chevron-Texaco comprar créditos de carbono provenientes de la supuesta conservación de los bosques y así evitar la reducción de sus emisiones del efecto invernadero en el lugar donde se originan. Sin embargo, según la Red Indígena sobre el Medio Ambiente, REDD está cargada de “incentivos perversos” para convertir los bosques naturales en plantaciones de monocultivos y en realidad REDD aumenta la deforestación y la tala.

Shell, la empresa de gas natural Gazprom y la Fundación Clinton están financiando el proyecto tipo-REDD Rimba Raya sobre 100,000 ha en la provincia de Kalimantan Central en Indonesia. Según Reuters, el proyecto Rimba Raya marca “un hito” en el desarrollo de un mercado mundial de créditos de carbono forestal.

Este proyecto REDD de Shell podría sacar muchísimas ganancias. Reuters calcula que “A una tasa de 10 dólares por cada crédito de carbono, se podría ganar hasta $750 millones en 30 años.”

Reconocido ambientalista nigeriano, Nnimmo Bassey, Director de Environmental Rights Action y Presidente de Amigos de la Tierra Internacional, tiene una larga historia luchando contra las actividades destructivas de la extracción petrolera. “Shell nos ha traído puro sufrimiento, la destrucción de comunidades y biodiversidad, así como los derrames petroleros y la quema ilegal de gas desde hace décadas. Ahora podemos añadir el financiamiento de REDD para lavar su imagen y sacar ganancias a la larga lista de las atrocidades de Shell.”

Tom Goldtooth, Director Ejecutivo de la Red Indígena sobre el Medio Ambiente, señaló que “Shell ya cometió genocidio contra el Pueblo Ogoni en la Cuenca Níger. REDD permite que Shell y otras empresas multinacionales expandan la extracción de combustibles fósiles y sigan destruyendo el clima y violando los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas del mundo. Actualmente, Shell está intentando perforar en las costas de Alaska a pesar de las protestas de los indígenas de Alaska.”

“Shell no solamente está perjudicando a la Madre Tierra y los Pueblos Indígenas sino ahora está financiando REDD que puede resultar en la usurpación de tierras más grande de todos los tiempos y más genocidio contra los Pueblos Indígenas,” avisó Goldtooth.

Según Goldtooth, “La mayoría de los bosques del mundo se encuentran en las tierras de los Pueblos Indígenas. Los proyectos tipo-REDD ya han resultado en despojos de tierra, violaciones de derechos humanos, amenazas a la supervivencias cultural, militarización, estafas y servidumbre.”

Para Teguh Surya, Director de Campanas de WAHLI–Amigos de la Tierra Indonesia, REDD es simplemente “un eco-negocio descarado y patético” “Shell no debe utilizar nuestras selvas hermosas para el lavado verde de los crímenes contra el medio ambiente y los abusos de los derechos humanos que Shell ha cometido en Nigeria y otros lados.”

La semana pasada, Vía Campesina, una organización internacional de 300 millones de campesinos, rechazó REDD y denunció que la conservación forestal no se debe agarrar como “excusa” para que “países y corporaciones sigan contaminando…” Vía Campesina también subrayó que “el comercio de carbono ha probado ser extremadamente lucrativo en términos de generación de ganancias para los inversionistas, sin embargo ha fallado rotundamente en la reducción de gases de efecto invernadero.”

CITA: David Fogarty y Sunanda Creagh. Indonesia project boosts global forest CO2 market. Reuters. 24/8/10.

CONTACTO: Nnimmo Bassey, Director Ejecutivo, Environmental Rights Action/Amigos de la Tierra Nigeria
Tom Goldtooth, Director Ejecutivo, Indigenous Environmental Network (Red Indígena sobre el Medio Ambiente)

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  1. Chris, this is a pathetic rant and does you little if no credit. It is the Shell’s and Gazprom’s of this world that we need to influence and persuade to change their strategies and practices. If you want a list of who else one should be wary of working with it would include many western and developing country governments, NGO’s and indigenous groups with alterior motives.

    We should take the venture at face value and accord it merit or not based on the facts and you, for one, should have a little less fervor for the questionable politics, and major donors of and to Friends of the Earth, Nigeria.

    After last week’s debate about the role and behavior of REDD Monitor you jump straight back into the frying pan. Shame on you.

    I have been a friend and advocate of your site. today i must revalue that judgment.

  2. Well said Stephen.

    The problem with Lang is that conformist view however healthy and balanced wont get the notoriety that he seeks. Rebellious and non-conformist ranting and raving will get him kudos and currency from all the do-gooders and those that shout slogans “our forests are not for sale” without understanding that it is THEM that stand to benefit massively from REDD.

    Chris is on a mission and when you are a cult-leader, no amount of reasoning, common sense, persuasion will do.

    The sad fact out of all his rantings is the massive dis-service that he is doing to those indigenous communities that stand to gain the most.

    Indeed, shame on you Chris.

  3. Chris, if Shell and Gazprom are doing something good with this REDD project why slam it? Feel free to attack them for their environmental record – I will support you in many instances – but not when they go on a venture that actually looks like an environmentally sound one. I only ask you deal with this project on its merits. If it is sound – support it. If it is not sound – slam dunk them. Maybe if they get some support with a venture like this that will influence them to change their otherwise destructive ways. The issue IS worthy of discussion but not premeditated bias and long jumps to conclusion.

    Who would I not take money from? many examples – Exxon for one because of their public position on climate change and the environment. But if any major corporate with a bad record wants to start doing good things I will give them all the help and encouragement I can!

  4. Thanks for the comments Stephen and Justin. Let’s just check that I’ve understood what you are saying: Shell’s tar sands mining, gas flaring and all round contribution to global climate change are irrelevant as long as they support REDD. Same for Gazprom. Instead of worrying about these trivialities, I should focus my attention on the real bad guys and their funders. Like Friends of the Earth Nigeria, for example. And unless I conform to your views on this, I’m a cult leader who should be ashamed of myself.

    My problem with this view is that unlike you, I think that when two of the world’s largest oil and gas firms get involved in a REDD project that it is, at the very least, an issue worthy of discussion.

    Is there any company that in your opinion it might be considered unethical to accept money from for REDD, because of that company’s on-going contribution to climate change?

  5. @Stephen: The reasons the likes of Shell and Gazprom should not be praised for their REDD projects are that: 1/ hypocrisy is not praiseworthy; 2/ transparent PR exercises should not be given any more currency than PR exercises deserve; 3/ it is a complete inversion of the ‘polluter pays’ principle. It’s bad enough that such companies are not being taxed massively for the carbon that they are gratuitously releasing to the atmosphere; but, in effect, paying them *not* to do so is the kind of gross perversity that future historians will wonder at in disbelief (as the planet’s climate spins into chaos…)

    @ Justin: Fine, if you find it all too much to read critical views, why don’t you just go away and bury your head in the sand of ignorance (or somewhere even darker…), and content yourself to dismiss all critics as ‘ranters’ and ‘ravers’. The reality will catch up with you and the rubbish REDD projects all in good time.

  6. @ Stephen: I agree that a company should be praised for adopting more sustainable practices. And so what if it is for PR, it is the results on the ground that count. The main reason companies purchase REDD offsets is for PR reasons. Does this mean they should be abused for doing so? Should we abuse BP as being hypocrites for producing solar panels? I for one congratulate them for moving, albeit very slowly, into renewable energy while totally disagreeing with their off-shore drilling practices. If any major corporate with a bad record wants to start doing good things I will give them all the help and encouragement I can! And this included oil palm companies, if it will help protect forests and grant land rights to indigenous people. As I said, it is the results on the ground that count – and not some airy fairy hippie ideology that is based on how the world ‘should be’. Unfortunately the people whose land I’m trying to save do not have time for the world to change.

  7. Spot on Brett

    I read through majority of the content produced by lang before reaching the conclusion and my subsequent posts few weeks ago about his “pure” ideology.

    The perfection or the nirvana he seeks has not existed and will never exist. What he fails to do is to be a flexible person and adopt to ground realities.

    Just look at the “protest”link that he has posted on this page with 6 people protesting about something… It is exactly the cult-mentality that he suffers from. Whilst by and large the world is inching ahead and plodding along to create some form of trading mechanisms and cap and trade schemes with polluters now joining the fray (Oh how soo pathetic for these capitalistic profit making companies to even dare to go after REDD ..) he would rather go the whole hog and scuttle everything that has been done to date for a model which only exists in his dreams.

    He discards 99% of the positive noise about all things carbon trading and REDD and only posts the 1% of the negative articles denouncing REDD, 6 men protests, do-gooders thoughts… whilst discounting or forgetting to add all the positive noise.

    It is indeed heartening to see that some of you have started to realise how counter productive REDD monitor and Lang is to actual cause of REDD and it will be better for the indigenous communities to realise this sooner too.

    I am sure he will be sidelined as the momentum grows towards a REDD credits inclusion in mandatory cap and trade schemes and emerging voluntary markets.


  8. Why do you guys bother to give this idiot Chris Lang any commentary

    As so many of us look at him, he hides behind a website

    There is no address, no phone number, and his domain name is protected so you can not find him

    What does it tell you about this idiot?

    It tells me he is a scared little boy, who throws sticks and stones.

    He uses words to insult smart people

    As one person wrote earlier he is a rock spider.

    Well Chris Lang you are a rock spider, an environmental terrorist, I am sure a variety of Governments including Indonesia would like to see your writings.

    Rest assured someone will come knocking ……..

    The Bells are ringing Chris Lang

  9. So this is what it has come to (as expected, though only somewhat quicker): REDD becomes a playground for cowboys and mafiosi who have to resort to threats against anyone that dares to raise concern about what is happening under the guise of ‘saving forests’.

    Mr Lang, I hope you will be able to trace down who ‘RINGING BELLS’ is that posted the above comment, and have the relevant authorities deal with them for libel and threatening behaviour.

  10. @THE BELLS ARE RINGING – Believe it or not, I write this stuff so that governments (including the Indonesian government) can read it. That’s why the posts are on a website where anyone with an internet connection can see them. There’s even a little box on the right near the top where you can subscribe so that you don’t miss a single post.

  11. I’m not quite sure how ‘the bells are ringing’ can accuse Chris Lang of being anonymous. We know his name for a start. It is a poor argument. As are the rest of his arguments.

    Offsets do not reduce emissions, they merely move emissions from one place to another. At best this means emissions do not increase (if forests do not die or burn down, logging companies do not relocate to another forest, and we are 100% certain that the forest was indeed going to be cut down and this was prevented by the purchase of credits). If all of that is the case, then a REDD offset means that we release a tonne of permantly locked away emissions from burning fossil fuels, for every tonne of emissions that we do not release from cutting forests down (these emisisons being part of the above ground carbon pool and certain to be released at some point in the near term future to cycle back into the atmospheric (the one we are trying to reduce) and ocean carbon pools before they very slowly, over millenia, join the long term carbon storage that is oil, gas and coal deposits).

    So far it doesn’t sound very good. But if the forest does die or burn down, or the loggers go and log somewhere else, than the REDD offset (burning more fossil fuels somewhere because we thought we had paid to keep a forest standing somewhere else) actually leads to an increase in emissions. This is not helpful. Therefore, if REDD is funded through ‘offset credits’ than it will not help to reduce climate change, but actually increase it, with a pretty negative effect on indigenous peoples, and all local communities who rely on natural resources and subsistance lifestyles. Perhaps that is why they oppose this idea of ‘REDD offsets’.

    I know the above arguments are rather complicated for someone who cannot tell which one is anonymous out of ‘the bells are ringing’ and ‘Chris Lang’, but these are really important concepts to understand. I suggest reading up on the carbon cycle.

  12. First of all, I thank Chris for making REDD news from around the world available to us on a regular basis.

    I believe in giving bad press when it is deserved – and good press when it is deserved. You cannot encourage positive action by “rewarding” it with criticism.

    What makes projects like Rimba Raya special is that the benefits derive from preserving the deep peat deposits that occur throughout much of Central & South Kalimantan. Preserving the aboveground biomass is a minor and insignificant component if it is replaced with plantations (from a C accounting perspective). If the world can preserve the peat & displace logging to non-peat areas, then the C benefits are truly additional.

    Regarding REDD, it it certainly flawed and I doubt that it will deliver significant C benefits for the world. Unless global demand for forest products decreases, logging will only shift from one area to another. If global demand is reduced it is likely to mean materials shifting, e.g. using more cement, bricks, plastic, etc with attendent C emissions consequences. Further, the issue of permanence has not been resolved for REDD offsets and the risk increases with each successive vintage for a given project.

    I have pondered who should be able receive REDD carbon credits – the party that prevents deforestation or the party that reduces its use of forest products? Without a reduction in use of new forest products, there can be no real reduction in deforestation – we simply shift the impacts to some other location in the world. Perhaps the strongest case would be to pair a REDD project with reduced new forest product consumption, e.g. a newspaper that increases use of recycled paper (taking into account the carbon footprint for recycling)…


  13. I believe Wes has a great idea: giving carbon credits to parties that prevent deforestation. This is the type of thinking that will provide pathways to innovative concepts and new ways of thinking – not the type of thinking that sees pollution and capitalism as a must, or as an irreversible fact of life and reality. The real illusions are that 1) the economy is necessary to sustain life 2) More Developed Countries are smarter and/or wiser than LDCs and indigenous peoples and need to care for them, and 3) buying the ability to pollute will result in anything but social injustice.

  14. As Jon commented this is what my global initiative is all about.

  15. Unfortunately Palm Oil plantations have nothing FUNDMENTALLY to do with replacing natural forest on peatlands. Palm oil existed as a food additive long before the debacle of deforestation on a large scale existed in South East Asian nations. Native and local populations have been growing the like for generations, without rampant deforestation; small swidden fields of up to 5% of the natural forest only. It arose only when the natural forests began to be exirtaped by illegal logging in the Suharto regime by criminal gangs directed central and local government “Bob Hansum” in East Kalimantan whose “back garden of 30,000kms2” is a wasted wilderness! -(hence 80-90% of forest destruction is destroyed by illegal logging…and it is very destructive for all the biodiversity, not just Orangutangs…but local human communities whose custormary lands have been laid waste).

    Yes the natural peatlands of Insular SEAsia are priceless. Their natural capital contains huge amounts of natural biomass. The forests associated with this is much more important to these nations to the world than an industrialised food additive which by the way is not that healthy for you.

    Would you like more information on this and join a growing group who are really beginnng to address this including the World Bank… me on my email address or leave a constructive comment here on Chris’s site.