As climate breakdown gets worse, the corporations most responsible are looking for ways to continue profiting from ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Norway’s oil company Equinor is a classic example of this. The company plans to continue drilling oil – including in the Arctic – while investing in “natural climate solutions” to offset its emissions.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, was in Weimar, Germany this week. In her first speech since COP 24, she said that the UN climate meeting in Katowice reached an “extremely successful outcome”. Of course Espinosa doesn’t mean that the meeting was successful in addressing climate change. She just means that it was successful in continuing the never-ending farce of the UN climate negotiations.
Norway is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter. As a result, Norway is a very rich country. At the same time, Norway cares about addressing climate change. Or, to be more honest, it wants to appear on the world stage as caring about climate change.
On 20 November 2018, Equinor, one of the largest oil and gas firms in the world, wrote to Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The first sentence spells trouble. “The way you lead the important work to deliver solutions to the global climate challenge is of great inspiration to us,” Equinor’s CEO Eldar Sætre writes.
Last month saw the Oslo Tropical Forest Forum 2018, 10 years after REDD was included in the Bali Road Map, at the UN climate negotiations in December 2007. “The goal of the forum is to celebrate results and identify remaining challenges,” according to the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation’s website about the event.
Hanne Svarstad and Tor A. Benjaminsen have been carrying out research into REDD in Tanzania for several years. Svarstad is a political ecologist, sociologist and professor in Development Studies at Oslo Metropolitan University. Benjaminsen is a human geographer and professor of Development Studies at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Over the past ten years, Norway has handed out almost US$3 billion (NOK 23.5 billion) on stopping tropical deforestation. On 15 May 2018, the Office of the Auditor General completed its investigation into Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative. The report is critical.
Norway has spent NOK 1 billion on saving the rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But deforestation in DRC is increasing rapidly. On 12 May 2018, Dagsrevyen, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s daily news programme reported on Norway’s failure to address deforestation in DRC.
In December 2007, Norway’s then-prime minister Jens Stoltenberg launched Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI). Stoltenberg announced that Norway would be handing out more than US$500 million a year “to prevent deforestation in developing countries”. Stoltenberg was convinced that stopping deforestation would be quick and cheap.
“The operations of Green Resources — a Norwegian industrial forestry plantation and a carbon offsets company — have resulted in loss of lands, livelihoods and increased hunger for the local communities at Kachung and Bukaleba — its two sites in Uganda.”
In March 2009, Norway launched its REDD programme in Tanzania. This was a “nested approach”, that was to include developing a national REDD strategy, national forest monitoring, and local pilot projects. About one-third of Norway’s US$90 million went to eight NGOs. One of these NGOs was the Jane Goodall Institute.