in Norway, USA

Results-based payments for REDD, but cash on the nail for Climate Advisers

Climate Advisers is a Washington-based think tank. As an anonymous Guest Post on REDD-Monitor revealed last week, it’s the think tank behind the New York Declaration on forests, set to be launched at the UN Climate Summit in New York next week.

Climate Advisers has a bit of a history with controversial sign-on statements about REDD. In 2009, Climate Advisers “facilitated” an agreement aiming to “Harness the power of U.S. carbon markets” to save the rainforests.

Following on from this agreement, Climate Advisers created and staffed the Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests. According to Climate Advisers, this “included the ‘cream of the cream’ of US public policy elites and national business and civil society leaders.

What Climate Advisers describes as the ‘cream of the cream’ was a toxic mixture of polluting companies and pro-carbon trading BINGOs. The agreement saw The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society in bed with American Electric Power, Duke Energy, El Paso Corporation, Marriott International, PG&E Corporation, Starbucks Coffee Company, and The Walt Disney Company.

Creating demand for REDD+

Climate Advisers is currently working with the Center for Global Development on a Norwegian-funded project called “Creating demand for REDD+”.

The project aims to “strive to foster an international consensus in support of enhanced results-based REDD+ financing”. It aims to double results-based REDD funding globally and from the USA.

Climate Advisers will receive 55% of the US$5.4 million grant from Norway over the three year period of the project. Development Today reveals that “Norad officials had concerns about the high rates charged and the role of the consultant, Climate Advisers.”

Nigel Purvis, the founder, President and CEO of Climate Advisers, told Norad that the sums “reflect billable rates, not salaries” and include “all our overhead costs”.

Poverty alleviation – for Climate Advisers

But Development Today reports that according to a Norad breakdown, Purvis is paid at an hourly rate of US$639. For his work over the three-year period of the project, Purvis will pocket US$383,400.

Of course, Climate Advisers isn’t asking for results-based payments from Norway for its services. On 30 September 2013, Purvis wrote to Knud Nyfløt at Norad, asking him to help avoid any “financial hardship”, for Purvis and his colleagues:

I wonder whether you might have any news on when we might receive comments from Norad on the project document we submitted in early June. Right now we are self-financing our Norad supported program and, as you will appreciate, this is a bit of a financial challenge. We would greatly appreciate any assistance you might provide to expedite the review. As it could take us time to address comments you may have and then perhaps additional time for Norad to review our revised submission, it seems there’s a risk of not receiving the second tranche of 2013 funding until November or December, which could create additional, unintended financial hardship.

In fact, one project document admits that Climate Advisers and the Center for Global Development may well not achieve the results specified in the project:

[T]he probability of success on our most ambitious goals – doubling global, US and Indonesian REDD+ finance – may be only 50%, smaller if the timeframe for success is confined to the three years of the project proposal.

Purvis “spearheaded the creation” of the FCPF

Purvis has an interesting history. Before founding Climate Advisers, he was a “leader in US REDD+ policy”. He was a senior US climate negotiator until 2002, then between 2005 and 2007 he was global vice president for The Nature Conservancy.

Project documents submitted to Norad reveal that while Purvis was at TNC, “among other things he spearheaded the creation of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF)”.

It’s a fascinating revelation. The World Bank’s carbon trading mechanism for REDD was “spearheaded” by a vice president of TNC, a US BINGO with several forest conservation projects that it hopes to finance through carbon trading.

TNC was a founding member of the FCPF, sits on the governing panel of the FCPF and donated US$5 million (along with BP) when the FCPF was launched in Bali in 2007. The chair of the Carbon Fund is TNC’s Duncan Marsh. Cosy.

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  1. So these are the people that are designing REDD+ ‘policies’ mostly in order to take away the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people (subsistence farmers in tropical forests), right? Nice.

    I wonder what Purvis’s carbon footprint looks like compared, say, to a peasant in Amazonas…