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Will the World Bank fund Guyana’s hot air proposal?

2015-05-14-154858_1128x1024_scrotAt the end of April 2015, the World Bank’s Carbon Fund held its 12th meeting in Paris. James Singh, head of the Guyana Forestry Commission, gave an “Early Idea Presentation” on Guyana’s Emission Reductions Program Idea Note (ER-PIN).

Singh’s presentation starts with an overview of Guyana. “One of Guyana’s most valued natural assets is its forests,” Singh writes. Forest covers 85% of the country, with 8% in Protected Areas and nearly 15% titled to Indigenous Peoples, “making Amerindians the second largest land owner in Guyana after the Government”.

The annual rate of deforestation for the past 23 years is between 0.02% and 0.078%.

Singh describes Guyana’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System. Guyana has carried out four annual assessments (2010-2013). The most recent assessment is for 2013, and is available here. The 261-page report is “issued jointly by Indufor and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC)”, suggesting that it is not entirely independent.

Singh’s presentation mentions “sustainable mining”, “sustainable forestry”, and “community forestry”. He mentions Guyana’s “strong political commitment dedicated to natural resources management”, the National Land Use Plan, consultation and participation, stakeholder engagement, safeguards, generating co-benefits, and Guyana’s status of REDD+ readiness.

Obviously, Singh’s presentation doesn’t mention the fact that Guyana has done precisely nothing to improve governance in the forestry or mining sectors. As John Palmer noted in June 2014,

Since the signing of the Norway-Guyana MoU in November 2009, the GoG has made no changes to policy, strategy, laws, regulations or procedures concerning forestry or mining.

The most (perhaps the only) interesting slide in Singh’s presentation is this one:

Guyana is aiming for approximately 22.8 MtCO2e of reductions. This breaks down as follows (the figures are rounded off):

  • 2 million tCO2e reductions from the mining sector
  • 1.3 million tCO2e from the forestry sector
  • 19.5 million tCO2e from “upward adjustment of Guyana’s reference level”

So, Guyana’s early idea for joining in the World Bank’s Carbon Fund party amounts to 14% wishful thinking about forestry and mining, and 86% cooking the books on the reference level.

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  1. I have always wondered about the comments regarding the reference level deforestation, and in fact, if reference level can even be related to historical deforestation at all. As far as I can see, REDD+ is more or less a trade contract between two countries. Like every trade relationship, the parameters of the trade are agreed by the buyer and the seller. Since REDD+ is a performance contract and countries like Guyana are always free to ignore the contract (and give up the transfer for “avoided” deforestation) should they find it in their interest, “donors” and environmentalists need to make sure that the baseline is generous enough to accommodate swings in timber prices if deforestation is to be avoided. Ideally, one would like to see the price of avoided deforestation (so far 5 USD per ton) being contingent on carbon price and the baseline deforestation being contingent on the market price of the core driver of deforestation. Otherwise, anchoring the baseline deforestation on historical deforestation is a powerless incentive that cannot and will not save trees from deforestation.

  2. Dissected as usual with surgical precision. Oh my, the inside truths are unpleasant.