Indigenous leaders rejecting California REDD hold governor responsible for their safety

As California lawmakers prepare to launch the state’s cap and trade program as part of its Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB32, indigenous leaders traveled to Sacramento to urge officials not to include an international forest-based carbon offset mechanism, known as REDD, in the law.

REDD, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, is a controversial market-based policy mechanism that proposes to protect tropical forests in order to capture and store carbon dioxide pollution. But REDD-type projects have led to serious human rights violations, and many indigenous leaders have denounced REDD projects as a false solution to climate change, the delegation charged.

Members of the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life traveled from Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador to Sacramento last week to testify before the California Air Resources Board and meet with officials from Governor Jerry Brown’s office and the state Environmental Protection Agency. Alliance members have experienced persecution and threats for speaking out against these programs, the group’s spokespeople said.

According to Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, “REDD is a perverse forest offset scam that allows polluters like Chevron to keep destroying the environment. The United Nations recognizes that REDD may result in ‘the lock-up of forests,’ the majority of which are on Indigenous Peoples’ land. REDD is potentially genocidal.”

In 2010, California signed agreements with Chiapas, Mexico; Acre, Brazil, and other states that may bring REDD into AB32, linking California’s climate policy to these tropical regions. The visitors to Sacramento told lawmakers that they are suffering harassment, intimidation and vandalism of their homes and offices for rejecting REDD-type projects.

José Carmelio Alberto Nunes (Ninawá), president of the Federation of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil, says he and his wife have received anonymous phone calls warning them, “be careful what you say and who you talk to, or you may have an accident.”

“I think my coming to California threatens those interests that hope to make money from REDD,” the Huni Kui leader said. “Anyone who speaks out against REDD in Acre is persecuted.”

As the policy moves forward, Ninawá says he is not afraid to speak out. “If I am assassinated for resisting REDD and defending my land, other Ninawás will continue the struggle.”

Despite voluntary safeguards, REDD-type projects are already resulting in deaths, violent evictions, forced relocation, imprisonment, armed guards and prohibitions to access and use land essential for the survival of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities.

Rosario Aguilar, a health promoter from Chiapas, Mexico, and a member of the delegation to California, said, “Even before California has established its market, the REDD-type project being implemented in our communities is causing conflict and displacement. As part of their plan to move indigenous people off the land, the government cut off medical services to the village of Amador Hernández in the Lacandon Jungle. This is why we say that REDD is promoting death, not life.”

The State of Chiapas itself notes in its Climate Change Action Program that 172 communities have already been “relocated” as part of its avoided deforestation efforts, another name for REDD.

“Given California’s REDD agreements, we hold the State of California and Governor Jerry Brown responsible for the moral and physical safety of those who speak out against REDD,” said Goldtooth.

Michelle Chan, director of economic policy for Friends of the Earth, reported that in the delegation’s meeting with Cliff Rechtschaffen, Brown’s senior advisor on climate change, “Friends of the Earth specifically requested that if any of the participants, as a result of meeting with the governor’s office, experience increased harassment or threats upon returning home, that the governor do whatever he can to help remedy the situation.”

Rechtschaffen replied that the governor’s office would endeavor to do whatever would be appropriate.

The California Air Resources Board is expected to decide in 2013 on whether or not to continue pursuing REDD credits as part of California’s cap and trade program.

Marlon Santi, a K’ichwa leader from the Sarayaku community in Ecuador, renowned for resisting oil development and speaking out against REDD, said that Indigenous Peoples are not just holding the Governor’s office responsible. “We are taking our case to the United Nations. We must stop REDD from threatening the survival of our peoples.”

Contact:
Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, 218-760-0442
Jeff Conant, Friends of the Earth, 575-770-2829

###

Indigenous Peoples Bring Concerns to
Impacts of AB 32


by Govinda Dalton
Wednesday Oct 17th, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 17, 2012
CONTACT: Michelle Chan, Friends of the Earth, 202 427 3000

California’s Global Warming Trading Scheme Could Endanger Indigenous Forest Peoples
International Delegation Warns Against Carbon Offsets Rejected by Other Global Governments

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 17 – Leaders of indigenous forest peoples warned today that California’s proposed carbon credits trading scheme – intended to help reduce global warming – could in fact threaten the survival of those who live there.

At issue are so-called REDD credits that may be part of the state’s cap-and-trade carbon market. These credits would allow California polluters to meet limits on greenhouse gas emissions by buying carbon offset credits from international initiatives intended to prevent destruction of tropical rainforests.

“In Acre, the demarcation of indigenous territories is paralyzed because they want to take our lands to make profits from environmental services, through programs like REDD,” said José Carmelio Alberto Nunes, known as Ninawá, the President of the Federation of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil. “We will not and cannot trade our hunting, our fishing, and our lives for pollution. You cannot trade pollution for nature. We are for life – therefore we are against REDD.”

Ninawá is among a delegation of indigenous leaders from Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador who are traveling to Sacramento this week to testify before the state Air Resources Board and meet with officials from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office and Cal-EPA.

“We support California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Minnesota-based Indigenous Environmental Network. “But REDD amounts to nothing more than a plan to grab the lands that our indigenous peoples have always cared for, in exchange for permits that let industries continue to pollute.”

“REDD plus indigenous peoples equals genocide,” Goldtooth said.

Although the Air Resources Board has yet to issue a draft rule to accept REDD credits into its carbon trading system, the state has been actively exploring the option through initiatives such as the Governors Forests and Climate Task Force. The task force is an initiative started by California in 2008 to create a supply of REDD credits for California’s carbon market. Under a 2010 agreement, Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil are the two states that will be the first to potentially supply California with REDD credits.

The Task Force held its annual meeting last month in Chiapas, Mexico, where the meeting was met with public protests.

Rosario Aguilar, a health promoter from the region and a member of the delegation to California, said, “Even before California has established its market, the REDD+ project being implemented in our communities is causing conflict and displacement. As part of their plan to move indigenous people off the land, the government cut off medical services to the village of Amador Hernández in the Lacandon Jungle. This is why we say that REDD is promoting death, not life.”

Opposition to REDD credits is also building within California. In July, over 30 California groups, including Friends of the Earth, Communities for a Better Environment, the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment and Greenpeace wrote to Governor Brown, urging him to reject REDD credits from California’s cap and trade system. The groups pointed out that because REDD credits lack environmental integrity and pose unacceptably high social risks, “to date no regulatory carbon market in the world has allowed the use of sub-national forest offsets for compliance.”

“While Chevron explodes in Richmond and causes over 15,000 people to be hospitalized, it’s clear that we need real climate solutions to address greenhouse gases and toxic pollution in California,” said Nile Malloy, Northern California Program Director at Communities for a Better Environment. “REDD is not the solution. We need equitable, renewable and just solutions to solve the climate crisis at home and not negatively impact the Global South and other communities in the process.”

The following members of the delegation are available for interviews:

  • Rosario Aguilar, a health promoter and social anthropologist from the town of Las Margaritas in Chiapas, Mexico.
  • José Carmelio Alberto Nunes (Ninawá), President of the Federation of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil.
  • Berenice Sanchez Lozada, a Nahua from Mexico, one of the founding members of the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Against REDD and for Life.
  • Marlon Santi, a Kichwa from Ecuador and leader of Ecuador’s indigenous movement.
  • Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Minnesota-based Indigenous Environmental Network.
  • Gloria Ushigua, is a member of the Association of Zápara women, Ecuador, and a vocal critic of both conventional extractive industries and REDD-type programs as they are being implemented in Ecuador.

NGOs Square Off Over REDD in California

Author: Kelli Barrett and Selene Castillo

Indigenous groups across Latin America are exploring the use of carbon finance to save their forests and provide income. Some NGOs, however, fear mechanisms like REDD will backfire – resulting in higher rates of both deforestation and poverty. The two opposing views are converging this week in California, and each side accuses the other of not playing fair.

18 October 2012 | In February of this year, exasperated indigenous leaders from 11 organizations in the Brazilian state of Acre sent an open letter to CIMI (Conselho Indigenista Missionário), a Catholic missionary organization that has won high marks over the years for its support of indigenous rights.

The letter (see “Open Letter to CIMI”, right) thanked the organization for its past good works but then – in a stunning and public rebuke – accused the organization of playing loose with facts and even of adopting a paternalistic stance towards the very people it had done so much to help.

“No one is forcing the indigenous organizations to do anything,” they wrote. “We will not be treated as Indian wards who need NGOs to defend their rights.”

At issue was an affidavid that CIMI had filed with federal authorities – nominally on behalf of indigenous groups, but without their consent – claiming that indigenous people had been tricked and harangued into participating in carbon finance programs like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).

Indigenous organizations across the Amazon have been exploring such mechanisms, which make it possible to earn carbon credits for saving endangered rainforest and capturing carbon in trees. The 11 leaders denied that they’d been pressured or deceived into anything, and they also implored people on boths sides of the debate to embrace reason over rhetoric.

“Both those in favor of and those against REDD must be serious and ethical in conveying correct information and establishing continued dialogue,” they wrote. “Those in favor of REDD cannot promote it as something that can resolve all the problems of our communities; those against it cannot terrorize our peoples using western capitalism as a backdrop and creating a climate of distrust and fear based in suppositions and untruths.”

That letter surfaced again this week – both in form and spirit – when environmental NGO Friends of the Earth (FoE) brought a contingent of Latin American indigenous leaders to California as part of what it’s calling “No-REDD Week.” FoE wants California to back away from a 2010 agreement with the Mexican state of Chiapas and the Brazilian state of Acre under which those states can earn carbon credits under California’s cap-and-trade program if they protect their forests.

The program starts in 2013 under Assembly Bill 32 (AB32) and is administered by the state’s Air Resources Board (ARB). The FoE contingent will make its case to ARB on Thursday.

Protecting Indigenous Rights

At issue is whether REDD will help indigenous people by paying them to maintain their forests, as proponents claim, or whether it will hurt them by sparking a land-grab, as opponents claim.

“There is no guarantee that there would be safeguards to prevent land grabs, evictions and other human rights violations to the indigenous people,” says Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and part of the delegation to California.

He argues that REDD would lead to the creation of protected areas that prevent indigenous people from continuing their traditional ways of using the land.

Almir Surui, who was not invited to speak before ARB, takes a different view. As chief of the Paiter Surui indigenous nation of Brazil, he spearheaded the creation of the first indigenous-led REDD project in Latin America, and he sees REDD as a vehicle for preserving the tribe’s traditional way of life.

“Deforestation and logging are destroying us,” he says. “REDD is an alternative – a good alternative – that makes it possible for us to earn money by maintaining the forest.”

Warwick Manfrinato agrees. He runs the University of São Paulo’s Amazon in Transformation Program (Programa Amazônia em Transformação).

“I have a great number of land owners that will continue to have no real option but to deforest if such opportunity for their standing forests are not provided,” he wrote in an open e-mail to REDD opponents. “These are people that exploit the forests, [but]… they found in REDD a way to maintain what they like most, which is the forests they own.”

Juan Carlos Jintiach sees validity in both arguments. As economic director for the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations for the Amazon Basin (COICA), the main indigenous federation in the Amazon, he represents thousands of indigenous people from all Amazonian countries. Long leery of REDD, he now believes the mechanism can help recover the “ecological debt” owed by industrial country polluters – but only if projects are designed in cooperation with the tribes and in a way that supports a holistic approach to forestry and secures indigenous rights to their lands and customary practices.

When climate talks begin in Doha later this year, he’ll be advocating a mechanism he calls “Indigenous REDD,” which requires clarity of land tenure, strengthens the collective rights of tribes in general, and calls for accreditation mechanisms and state-sanctioned regulation to combat fraud.

False Claims?

Core to opposition arguments are stories about indigenous people being forced from their homes in Chiapas and Acre – stories that Mónica Julissa De Los Rios says are misleading.

“[Opponents] supported their arguments with anti-capitalism ideology and not facts,” says de Leal, who is Head of the Regulatory Department for the Institute of Climate Change and Regulation of Environmental Services. She adds that Acre’s capacity building programs in support of the state’s System of Incentives for Environmental Services (Sistema de Incentivo a Serviços Ambientais, or “SISA”) have been explicitly created to ensure the rights of indigenous people.

The capacity-building programs are being spearheaded by the Pro-Indian Commission of Acre (Comissão Pró-Indio do Acre, or CPI-AC), which has been supporting indigenous peoples in Acre for 30 years, with support from the Communities and Markets Program of environmental non-profit Forest Trends (publisher of Ecosystem Marketplace).

No Decision Yet

In the first meeting of the Community Peer Forum on REDD and PES, participants said they are open to REDD, but not completely sold.

“I think that if REDD is done with respect to indigenous rights, first and foremost, respecting territorial rights, that this project is in control, in the power, of the indigenous community, it can really help their community projects,” said Laura Soriana of the Yawanawa indigenous community. “I think this would be a good opportunity.”

Victor Lopez of Ut’z Che, a Guatemalan Community Forestry Association, agreed.

“We are in a process of first understanding, before forming final opinions,” he said. “Given that the mechanism is still in construction, we do not have definitive opinions yet.”

Kelli Barrett is an editorial assistant at Ecosystem Marketplace. She can be reached at kbarrett@ecosystemmarketplace.com —- Selene Castillo is a carbon markets program research assistant at Ecosystem Marketplace. She can be reached at scastillo@ecosystemmarketplace.com.

Original Article: Ecosystem Market Place.


Indigenous Peoples speak out against California’s carbon offsets scheme: “You cannot trade pollution for nature”


By Chris Lang, 19th October 2012

An international delegation of indigenous leaders from Brazil, Mexico and Ecuador is currently in California to oppose California’s proposed carbon offset scheme. The scheme could allow companies in California to meet limits on greenhouse gas emissions by buying carbon credits rather than reducing pollution at home.

The recent meeting of the Governor’s Climate and Forest Task Force in Chiapas (which links several provinces and states in the Global South with California) was met by protests, a People’s Forum against REDD, statements opposing REDD, and a report from Greenpeace opposing REDD offsets.

Indigenous peoples are now taking the protest to California.

 

California’s Global Warming Trading Scheme Could Endanger Indigenous Forest Peoples

International Delegation Warns Against Carbon Offsets Rejected by Other Global Governments

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 17 – Leaders of indigenous forest peoples warned today that California’s proposed carbon credits trading scheme – intended to help reduce global warming – could in fact threaten the survival of those who live there.

At issue are so-called REDD credits that may be part of the state’s cap-and-trade carbon market. These credits would allow California polluters to meet limits on greenhouse gas emissions by buying carbon offset credits from international initiatives intended to prevent destruction of tropical rainforests.

“In Acre, the demarcation of indigenous territories is paralyzed because they want to take our lands to make profits from environmental services, through programs like REDD,” said José Carmelio Alberto Nunes, known as Ninawá, the President of the Federation of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil. “We will not and cannot trade our hunting, our fishing, and our lives for pollution. You cannot trade pollution for nature. We are for life – therefore we are against REDD.”

Ninawá is among a delegation of indigenous leaders from Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador who are traveling to Sacramento this week to testify before the state Air Resources Board and meet with officials from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office and Cal-EPA.

“We support California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Minnesota-based Indigenous Environmental Network. “But REDD amounts to nothing more than a plan to grab the lands that our indigenous peoples have always cared for, in exchange for permits that let industries continue to pollute.”

“REDD plus indigenous peoples equals genocide,” Goldtooth said.

Although the Air Resources Board has yet to issue a draft rule to accept REDD credits into its carbon trading system, the state has been actively exploring the option through initiatives such as the Governors Forests and Climate Task Force. The task force is an initiative started by California in 2008 to create a supply of REDD credits for California’s carbon market. Under a 2010 agreement, Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil are the two states that will be the first to potentially supply California with REDD credits.

The Task Force held its annual meeting last month in Chiapas, Mexico, where the meeting was met with public protests.

Rosario Aguilar, a health promoter from the region and a member of the delegation to California, said, “Even before California has established its market, the REDD+ project being implemented in our communities is causing conflict and displacement. As part of their plan to move indigenous people off the land, the government cut off medical services to the village of Amador Hernández in the Lacandon Jungle. This is why we say that REDD is promoting death, not life.”

Opposition to REDD credits is also building within California. In July, over 30 California groups, including Friends of the Earth, Communities for a Better Environment, the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment and Greenpeace wrote to Governor Brown, urging him to reject REDD credits from California’s cap and trade system. The groups pointed out that because REDD credits lack environmental integrity and pose unacceptably high social risks, “to date no regulatory carbon market in the world has allowed the use of sub-national forest offsets for compliance.”

“While Chevron explodes in Richmond and causes over 15,000 people to be hospitalized, it’s clear that we need real climate solutions to address greenhouse gases and toxic pollution in California,” said Nile Malloy, Northern California Program Director at Communities for a Better Environment. “REDD is not the solution. We need equitable, renewable and just solutions to solve the climate crisis at home and not negatively impact the Global South and other communities in the process.”

CONTACT: Michelle Chan, Friends of the Earth, 202 427 3000

The following members of the delegation are available for interviews:

Rosario Aguilar, a health promoter and social anthropologist from the town of Las Margaritas in Chiapas, Mexico.
José Carmelio Alberto Nunes (Ninawá), President of the Federation of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil.
Berenice Sanchez Lozada, a Nahua from Mexico, one of the founding members of the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Against REDD and for Life.
Marlon Santi, a Kichwa from Ecuador and leader of Ecuador’s indigenous movement.
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Minnesota-based Indigenous Environmental Network.
Gloria Ushigua, is a member of the Association of Zápara women, Ecuador, and a vocal critic of both conventional extractive industries and REDD-type programs as they are being implemented in Ecuador.

Ten of the worst REDD-Type Projects

Affecting Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities 1

Click here to Download the No REDD Papers PDF

Latin America

  1. Chevron uses armed guards for a REDD-type proj­ect in Brazil. The Nature Conservancy, General Motors, American Electric Power, Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education, and Chevron (previously known as Texaco), infamous for destruction caused in Ecuadorian Amazon, have implemented the Guaraqueçaba Climate Action Project in the ancestral territory of Guarani People with uniformed armed guards called “Força Verde” or “Green Force” who intimidate and persecute local communities; jailing and shooting at people who go into forest as well as forcibly entering and searching private homes without due authorization2 “…[T]he project has caused devastating impacts on the local communities…”3
  2. An Indigenous leader was criminalized for defending his people and territory from an Australian carbon cowboy who duped the Matsés People of the Peruvian Amazon into signing a REDD-type contract for perpetu­ity and written in English, which grants the carbon trader total control over the Matsés People’s land, way of life, intellectual property, forests and car­bon. The contract also stipulates that anyone who denounces this scam will be sued.4 The carbon trader has brought charges against Indigenous Matsés Leader Daniel Jimenez. National and international Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations, AIDESEP (National Organization of the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples of Peru) and COICA (Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin), demanded the expulsion of the carbon trader from Peru.5 The carbon trader has censored and attacked the freedom of expression and freedom of press of a journalist who covered the story for REDD Monitor.6
  3. Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation are threatened by REDD-type plantation projects related to the Inter-Oceanic Highway and logging concessions to be implemented near their territories in the Peruvian Amazon. Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation avoid contact with other people and societies and live in remote regions. They are highly vulnerable for a number of reasons including their lack of defenses against common diseases. Contact with others such as REDD-type project implementers in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon could be disastrous for the Yora People and the Amahuaca People who live in voluntary isolation.7
  4. In Bolivia, BP, whose oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the biggest environmental disaster in the history of the United States, participates in the biggest REDD-type proj­ect in the world in the Chiquitano People’s territory, which helps it to greenwash its destruction of bio­diversity and communities’ liveli­hoods.8 Yet another example of the extractive industries like Dow, Rio Tinto, Shell, Statoil, BP Amoco, American Electric Power—AEP and BHB Billiton which have histori­cally caused pollution and deforesta­tion and are promoting REDD as a profitable opportunity to “offset” their ongoing pillaging of the planet. As noted in the New York Times, “…programs to pay for forest preserva­tion could merely serve as a cash cow for the very people who are destroy­ing them.”9
  5. In numerous places in the world, REDD-type projects and policies are being implemented in violation of the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). In Ecuador, the government continues to develop a REDD program despite the fact that the most representa­tive organization of Indigenous Peoples, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, (CONAIE), has explicitly rejected the implementation of all REDD+ policies and projects in the country.10

Africa

  1. Despite Amnesty International’s recommendation to “stop immediately the practice of forced evictions,”11 as Kenya’s Mau Forest is made “ready” for a UNEP-funded REDD+ project, members of the Ogiek People continue to suffer violent evictions, and Ogiek activists are attacked for protesting land grabs.12 Minority Rights Group International includes the Ogiek People in their list of “Peoples Under Threat” from genocide, mass killings or violent repression13 and this latest wave of evictions could threaten the cultural survival of the Ogiek People.
  2. Over 22,000 people were violently evicted from the Mubende and Kiboga districts in Uganda to make way for the UK-based New Forests Company to plant trees, to earn carbon credits and ultimately to sell the timber.14 According to the New York Times, “New Forests Company, grows forests in African countries with the purpose of selling credits from the carbon dioxide its trees soak up to polluters abroad.”15 The New York Times also reports “…[V]illagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.16 New Forests Company is 20% owned by the HSBC bank and investors in the project include the World Bank. Evicted successful farmers are reduced to becoming poorly paid plantation peons on the land they were evicted from. “Homeless and hopeless, Mr. Tushabe said he took a job with the company that pushed him out. He was promised more than $100 each month, he said, but received only about $30.”17

Asia

Two of the biggest greenhouse polluters on the planet, oil giants Gazprom and Shell, which is infa­mous for the genocide of the Ogoni People and environmental destruc­tion in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, bank­roll the Rimba Raya REDD project in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.18 The project is also supported by the Clinton Foundation and approved by the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VSC) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA). 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 gas flaring for decades. Now we can add financing REDD for greenwash and profits to the long list of Shell’s atrocities.”19

Oceania

  1. In Papua New Guinea, “carbon cowboys” are running amok, conning and coercing communities into sign­ing away their land rights with fake contracts.20 The land and power of attorney of 45,000 indigenous in East Pangia was handed over to a carbon trader.21 “Carbon finance and REDD have triggered a ‘gold rush’ mental­ity.”22 Scandals, scams and fraud abound.23 State to State: California, USA and Chiapas, Mexico
  2. The State of California is promoting subnational carbon market REDD in Chiapas, Mexico, Acre, Brazil, Aceh, Indonesia and Cross River, Nigeria.24 In Chiapas, Mexico, Tzeltal People of the community of Amador Hernandez denounce the California REDD project as a climate mask “to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples.”25 The community has denounced what they perceived as a land grab. A year before, the villagers said, all govern­ment medical services, including vaccinations, had been cut off; several elderly people and children died due to lack of medical attention. This neglect, they believed, was due to their refusal to capitulate to the demands of REDD. “They’re attacking our health as a way of getting access to our land,” Martinez said. 26 The community has asked the governor of Chiapas to “suspend the state REDD+ project in the Lacandon Community Zone, as it constitutes a counterinsurgency plan that promotes conflicts between neighboring communities.”27

Notes:

1.REDD-type projects are not neces­sarily official REDD projects but they are relevant to understanding potential impacts of REDD insofar as they involve forest carbon credits.

2. PBS/Frontline World, Carbon Watch, Centre for Investigative Journalism, http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/sto­ries/carbonwatch/moneytree/. REDD Monitor, “Injustice on the carbon frontier in Guaraqueçaba, Brazil,” http://www.redd-monitor.org/2009/11/06/injustice-on-the-carbon-frontier-in-guaraquecaba-brazil/. Mother Jones, “GM’s Money Trees,” http://motherjones.com/environment/2009/11/gms-money-trees. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Fall 2011, “Conversations with the Earth,” http://www.conversation­searth.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=35&Itemid=5&88c60d09cbeb0c0f5ab56c802eeadb5c=d2fc690bda16802103d60a27ea8bed21.

3. World Rainforest Movement, “Forest of deforestation and persecution of local communities,” http://wrm.org.uy/.

4.AIDESEP (National Organization of the Amazonian Indigenous Peoples of Peru), “Declaración de Iquitos,” http://www.aidesep.org.pe/index.php?codnota=2000.

5.REDD Papers—Volume I (2011), “Colonizing territories with REDD: An Australian ‘Carbon Cowboy’ and the Matsés People in the Peruvian Amazon”; REDD Monitor, “AIDESEP and COICA condemn and reject ‘carbon cowboy’ and demand his expulsion from Peru,” http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/05/03/aidesep-and-coica-condemn-and-reject-carbon-cowboy-censored-and-demand-his-expulsion-from-peru.

6.REDD Monitor (2011), “A ‘carbon cowboy,’ internet censorship and REDD-Monitor,” http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/08/10/a-carbon-cowboy-in­ternet-censorship-and-redd-monitor/, and “‘Carbon cowboy’ [CENSORED] denounces indigenous chief in Peru,” http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/08/05/carbon-cowboy-censored-denounces-indigenous-chief-in-peru/.

7. NO REDD: A Reader (2010), “Enclosure of forests and peoples: REDD and the Inter-Oceanic Highway in Peru,” http://noredd.makenoise.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/REDDreaderEN.pdf.

8. Cardona, T. et. al., “Extractive Industries and REDD,” in No REDD:A Reader (2010).

9.New York Times, Elisabeth Rosenthal (2009), “In Brazil, Paying Farmers to Let the Trees Stand”, August 21.

10. CONAIE, “Open Letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanding cancelation of all REDD projects,” REDD Papers—Volume I, original in Spanish, http://www.movimientos.org/enlacei/show_text.php3?key=19549.

11. Amnesty International, Kenya: Nowhere to Go: Forced Evictions in Mau Forest, “Incidents of forced evictions have been reported in different areas of the Mau Forest since 2004, affecting thousands of families,” http://www.amnesty.org/fr/li­brary/info/AFR32/006/2007, p.1-2.

12. See: International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (2011), “Kenya’s ‘Forest People’ in Bitter Fight for their Ancestral Homes,” April 15. Minority Rights Group International (2011), “Minority Rights Group Condemns Targeted Attacks on Ogiek Activists,” March 7. First Peoples International (2011), “In new Kenya, old guard ‘land-grabbers’ attack key leaders -Ogiek land activists survive assaults.” Interim Coordinating Secretariat, Office of the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government of Kenya, “Rehabilitation of the Mau Forest Ecosystem.” Los Angeles Times (2010), “Kenyan tribe slowly driven off its ancestral lands.” Survival International (2010), “Kenyan tribe’s houses torched in Mau Forest eviction,” April 8. REDD Monitor (2009), “Ogiek threatened with eviction from Mau Forest.”

13. The Standard, http://www.standard­media.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=1144018627&catid=16&a=1.

14. The Guardian (2011), “Ugandan farmer: ‘My land gave me everything. Now I’m one of the poorest’,” http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/sep/22/uganda-farmer-land-gave-me-everything. Wall Street Journal (2011), “African Land Acquisitions Comes Under Scrutiny,” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904563904576584673419328758.html.

15. New York Times (2011), “In Uganda, Losing Land to Planted Trees—Slide Show,” http://www.nytimes.com/slide­show/2011/09/22/world/africa/22uganda-3.html.

16. New York Times, “In Scramble for Land, Group Says, Company Pushed Ugandans Out,” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/world/africa/in-scramble-for-land-oxfam-says-ugandans-were-pushed-out.html?_r=1.

17. Ibid.

18. REDD Monitor (2010), “Shell REDD project slammed by Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth Nigeria,” http://www.redd-monitor.org/2010/09/08/indigenous-environmental-network-and-friends-of-the-earth-nigeria-denounce-shell-redd-project/.

19. Ibid.

20. Gridneff, I. (2011), “Carbon conmen selling the sky,” The Sydney Morning Herald.

21. “A Breath of Fresh Air,” video by Jeremy Dawes, http://www.redd-monitor.org/2009/09/11/more-questions-than-answers-on-carbon-trading-in-png/.

22. Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/environ­ment/australian-firm-linked-to-pngs-100m-carbon-trading-scandal-20090903-fa2y.html.

23. REDD Monitor, “REDD Projects in Papua New Guinea ‘Legally untenable’,” http://www.redd-monitor.org/2010/09/14/redd-projects-in-papua-new-guinea-legally-untenable/.

24. REDD Monitor, Just what REDD Needed. Carbon Offsets and another Abbreviation. Welcome R-20 http://www.redd-monitor.org/2010/11/19/just-what-redd-needed-carbon-offsets-and-another-abbreviation-welcome-to-r20/#more-6500

25. REDD Monitor (2011) Statement from Chiapas, Mexico: REDD project is a climate mask “to cover up the dispossession of the biodiversity of the peoples” http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/09/07/statement-from-chiapas-mexico-redd-project-is-a-climate-mask-to-cover-up-the-dispossession-of-the-biodiversity-of-the-peoples/.

26. Ibid.

27. Climate Connections (2011), “Environmental, Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Groups Reject International Offsets in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act,” http://climate-connections.org/2011/08/23/environmental-indigenous-peo­ples-and-human-rights-groups-reject-international-offsets-in-californias-global-warming-solutions-act/.

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Funds and phases: Prep Cooks, Midwives and Assembly Plants for Carbon Market REDD


Indigenous Environmental Network

Click here to Download the No REDD Papers PDF

The much hyped “fund-based approaches,” be they “public”, “hybrid” or “market-linked” or otherwise dubbed, are not a bonanza of benefits nor, alternatives to carbon market REDD. Instead, funds are slated to serve as phase one or phase two subsidies for “readying” and birthing1 REDD projects for carbon markets. International aid,2 foundation3 and big “conservation” NGO4 monies, “green” taxes, investments from polluting corporations eager for cheap greenwash5 and venture capital from carbon speculators6 will all chip in to line the coffers of a variety of such funds for getting REDD up and running and “ready” to be profitable in the nascent REDD carbon markets.

Carbon market enthusiasts are quick to lament the funding gap for REDD’s birth. “We are probably three, four or five years away in terms of having a really significant liquid private sector market so the issue is how do we fund it at the moment.?”7 “There is direct funding from governments such as Norway or through the World Bank, but the key issue is how much do we rely on public sector financing or on private sector financing,” said Martijn Wilder, head of Baker & McKenzie’s global climate change and emissions trading practice.8

By its own omission, the purpose of the World Bank Carbon Forest Partnership Facility is to “jump start a forest carbon market.”9 But there are also signs that international aid agencies may be significantly restructuring to focus primarily on REDD.10 Despite developing countries’ clamor for “fresh money”11 for REDD, i.e. in addition to current aid,12 it is increasingly clear that REDD money could substitute donor country support for social pro­grams. Already crucial Australian international aid for poverty relief has been axed and replaced with seed money for carbon forestry projects in Indonesia.13 While Australia hurriedly passes legislation to offset 100% of its emissions eductions,14 both Australian and Indonesian civil society have lost no time in resoundingly  condemning the human rights abuses and environmental destruction of Australia’s foray into REDD.15

As for Norway, it seems to have donned a REDD Santa costume, flying around the world in a carbon off-setted contraption to deliver huge financial gifts16 for REDD start-ups (i.e. multimillion dollar donations to UN-REDD,17 the Amazon Fund,18 Indonesia19 and the Interim REDD+ Partnership20).

However, despite its apparently saintly interest in forests, Norway does not seem to mind the flagrant conflict of interest of the manager of the Amazon Fund, the Brazilian Development Bank,21 which naugh­tily funds massive deforestation of precisely the world’s largest rainfor­est the fund purports to protect.22 Furthermore, that Norway has wasted no time in calculating that the Amazon conveniently “offsets” ten times Norway’s yearly emissions only further fuels speculation that, despite assurances to the contrary, that the Amazon Fund will soon transition to the carbon market.23 But regard­less of the Amazon Fund’s ultimate framework, Norway’s much trum­peted initial donation has already served as green-wash for Norway’s state oil company Statoil partner­ship with Petrobras24 to aggressively expand agro-fuels, an infamous driver of deforestation, and plunder Brazil’s vast offshore oil reserves which risks devastating the biodiversity and livelihoods of communities of Brazil’s stunning coast.

The advent of Gourmet REDD points to a very special role that foundations could play as REDD prep cooks and midwives. Gourmet REDD pretend to compensate for environmental destruction by com­bining REDD carbon credits with Payment for Environmental Services provided by water, biodiversity, wet­lands, Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge systems, culture and even survival. Over the years, foundations and NGOs have accumulated an impressive command of the intricate workings of grass roots communi­ties and organizations. Now these relationships and intelligence could be harnessed for assembling “socially adept,”25 “cute and cuddly,” “charis­matic carbon” and the elite, “gourmet niche of REDD.”26 Major funders like the Ford Foundation are now turning to REDD as the new frontier in philanthropy.27

Meanwhile, back at the UN, the superpowers are bickering about whether they want two or three phases for REDD.28 Some want to cut to the chase and prep and pack­age REDD projects in the first phase and quickly get down to selling it in the second phase, while others, like the EU and the World Bank,29 prefer more REDD foreplay and as many as three phases. But regard­less of the numbers or the names, the end result will be the same. As the New York Times bluntly noted, the ultimate purpose of REDD is to generate “carbon credits that can then be sold for cash on the global carbon market,”30 and REDD could end up being “a cash cow for forest destroyers.”

As we well know, the Copenhagen climate summit pro­duced no legally binding emissions reduction targets. Instead, the divisive Copenhagen Accord hails “the im­mediate establishment of a mecha­nism including REDD-plus” and proposes funding REDD by a variety of ambiguous “approaches” includ­ing the carbon market.31 Some UN delegates and analysts foresee that REDD funding will not be a nifty gift without strings but ultimately negotiated as loans32 that will simply increase spiraling foreign debt and economic neo-colonialism. Debt-for-nature swaps are also a potential REDD financial mechanism but a country has to fork over forests to get in on the action.33

REDD funds are a motley crew of prep cooks, midwives and assembly plants34 that go by many names but are united in the intent to hijack the world’s forests and promote plan­tations to generate carbon credits and profits. Those who strive to actually protect forests and supports Indigenous Peoples’ rights, well-being and survival must reject REDD outright and discard “fund-based ap­proaches” and other thinly veiled car­bon market-promoting euphemisms or lend themselves to green-washing carbon market REDD.

Real alternatives to carbon market REDD cannot simply re-spin REDD. It is not enough to add a clever adjective, purport to be “fund-based,” get certified or pretend to not ultimately rely on the carbon market and the privatization and commodification of trees, forests and air. Fortunately, real alterna­tives to REDD already exist and include collectively demarcating and titling Indigenous Peoples’ territories and land where most of the world’s forest are found, which has been proven to be one of the most effec­tive measures for reducing defor­estation; implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant international instruments; slashing demand for beef, pulp, lum­ber, palm oil and agrofuels; drastically reducing monoculture plantations and logging concessions, declaring a moratorium on new fossil fuel and mining extraction and dam construc­tion on or near indigenous land as well as addressing the underlying causes of deforestation. In the event that a new buzz word is absolutely imperative to refute REDD then Indigenous Peoples’ Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources and Forests35 based on respect for the Sacred and the non-commodification of life has a nice ring to it.

Notes:

1. Or ‘incubating” as the case may be. See Katoomba’s “Incubator,” http://www. katoombagroup.org/~katoomba/documents/ publications/IncubatorENGLISH.pdf.

2. According to the Head of the World Bank forest Carbon Partnership Facility: “On the financing side, then, you can, we can list a number of sources. For readiness there’s the FCPF Readiness Fund, there’s the UN-REDD programme, we have col­leagues from UNDP here, the Congo Basin Forest Fund can participate, the Global Environment Facility, and of course a whole series of sources from Official Development Assistance.“ http://www.huntingtonnews. net/columns/090521-lang-columnsworld­bankredd.html.

3. For example, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, http://www.moore.org/ search.aspx.

4. The Nature Conservancy: forest offsets more important than emissions reduction targets, http://www.redd-monitor. org/2009/06/05/the-nature-conservancy-forest-offsets-more-important-than-emissions-reduction-targets/. Conservation International: “Controversial Deal between US-based NGOs and Polluting Industries Slammed,” http://www.redd-monitor. org/2009/05/28/controversial-deal-between-us-based-conservation-ngos-and-polluting-industry-slammed/.

5. For example, BP, Amoco, and AEP alliance with The Nature Conservancy for the world’s largest REDD project. See Indigenous Environmental Network, No REDD Booklet, p.7, http://www.ienearth. org/REDD/redd.pdf. Chevron and General Motors: http://motherjones.com/ environment/2009/11/gms-money-trees.

6. Nobelist Krugman on the fear of carbon markets and speculation, http://www.grist.org/…/nobelist-krugman-fear-of-carbon-markets-and-speculation-is-99-wrong-and-bad/.

7. Martijn Wilder of the Baker and MacKenzie lawfirm in a forum of REDD project developers and policy-makers in Jakarta, “Indonesia Needs To Refine Forest-CO2 Rules: Lawyers,” http://www.planetark.com/enviro-news/item/54556.

8. Ibid.

9. World Bank, http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:21581819~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html.

10. “The Australian government is misusing aid money and its bilateral relationship to set up cheap forest offset schemes in Indonesia, according to a report released today by AidWatch, Friends of the Earth Australia and Friends of the Earth Indonesia.” “‘The Australian government makes it quite clear that the use of aid to promote REDD is entirely self-interested. It is predicted that offsets for reduced deforestation will be much cheaper than those currently available under the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism. This is a flagrant misuse of aid money for cut-price Australian offsets,’ said James Goodman of AidWatch,” in “Aid monitor­ing NGO slams 200m in Australian ‘aid’ for offsets schemes,” http://www.sydney.foe.org.au/news/cprs-bad-indonesia-well-australia-groups-warn.

11. “The REDD Initiative: EU Funds and Phases” prepared by the Swedish EU Presidency for the Interparlaimentary Conference, September 2009, http://the_redd_initiative-EU-Funds and Phases.pdfthe_redd_initiative-EU-Funds and Phases.pdf

12. An new kind of “additionality” challenge?

13. AidWatch: “The Australian govern­ment is misusing aid money and its bilateral relationship to set up cheap forest offset schemes in Indonesia,” in ‘“Aid monitoring NGO slams 200m in Australian ‘aid’ for offsets schemes,” http://www.sydney.foe.org.au/news/cprs-bad-indonesia-well-australia-groups-warn.

14. “What A Scam: Australia’s offsets for Copenhagen,” details Australia’s strategic approach to offshoring its emis­sions– unlimited access to international offsets for companies covered by the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, and a push in the international climate negotiations for United Nations mandated offsets. http://tiny.cc/8XIOl.

15. “‘The Indonesian government passed their REDD regulation in the face of UN concern that these laws fail to recognize indigenous rights. Unless indigenous rights are protected, millions of Indonesians are at risk of being excluded from the forest resources that provide them with a sustain­able subsistence livelihood,’ said Teguh Surya of Friends of the Earth Indonesia . . . ‘Australia must pay its carbon debt and make emissions cuts here, not export emissions cuts to developing countries like Indonesia,’ said Ellen Roberts of Friends of the Earth Australia.” http://www.sydney.foe.org.au/news/cprs-bad-indonesia-well-australia-groups-warn REDD; Wrong Path: Pathetic eco-Business WAHLI, http://www.redd-moniotr.org/wordpress/wp-con­tent/uploads/2009/07/WAHLI-REDD.pdf.

16. Norway is the lead donor to both UN-REDD and the Amazon Fund. The Norwegian aid agency NORAD is also ac­tively promoting grass roots work that may serve as the foundations for Gourmet “so­cially adept” REDD. The Prime Minister of Norway launches UN-REDD with the UN Secretary General: http://www.un-redd.org/UNREDDProgramme/tabid/583/language/en-US/Default.aspx.

17. “UN Admits Climate Change pro­gram Threatens Indigenous Peoples,” http://www.huntingtonnews.net/political/080929-staff-politicalclimatechange.html.

18. Amazon Fund: http://www.amazon­fund.gov.br/.

19. Corruption allegations cloud the Indonesia-Norway billion dollar deal, http://www.redd-monitor.org/2010/09/21/corruption-allegations-cloud-the-indonesia-norway-billion-dollar-deal/.

20. Multilateral Interim REDD+ Partnership Established in Oslo, http://www.forestcarbonportal.com/resource/interim-redd-partnership-established-oslo.

21. Brazilian Development Bank is the manager of the Amazon Fund, http://inter.bndes.gov.br/English/news/not1919_08.asp.

22. “Slaughtering the Amazon,” Greenpeace Report. http://www.green­peace.org/usa/press-center/reports4/slaughtering-the-amazon.

23. Brazil accepts REDD: “Brazil to Propose 10% Forest-Credit Cap in Copenhagen,” http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=a5jThoDmk6tk.

24. Scandinavian Oil and Gas Magazine, “Energy giants Petrobras, Statoil sign duo pact,” http://www.scandoil.com/moxie-bm2/alternative_energy/biofuels/energy-gi­ants-petrobras-statoil-sign-duo-pact.shtml.

25. Katoomba Group’s “socially adept” REDD posterchildren, http://www.katoom­bagroup.org/~katoomba/documents/publi­cations/IncubatorENGLISH.pdf.

26. “Gourmet REDD,” in Indigenous Environmental Network, No REDD Booklet, p.7, http://www.ienearth.org/REDD/redd.pdf.

27. The Climate and Land Use Alliance is a multi-foundation collaborative focused on REDD. “The Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) is a philanthropic collaborative whose member foundations (the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation) have joined forces to address one of the most challenging and critical aspects of climate change mitigation: reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation and other land use changes, otherwise known as REDD.” http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/greendreamjobs.display/id/3050549.

28. “The REDD Initiative: EU Funds and Phases” prepared by the Swedish EU Presidency for the Interparlaimentary Conference, September 2009, http://the_redd_initiative-EU-Funds and Phases.pdfthe_redd_initiative-EU-Funds and Phases.pdf. In addition to its summary of the EU proposal on REDD funds and phases, it also notes that “A system, where the value of a forest increases, can create problems for indigenous populations (sic) since in many places the issue of ownership is unclear. When states and companies see growing opportunities of making money from standing forests it can lead to increased pressure on the traditional living spaces of indigenous populations. A prob­lem with the recently acquired economic value of forests is that social and ecological values are lost.” Other poignant observa­tions include REDD “could become a cheap alternative to reducing domestic emissions caused by for example burning fossil fuels. There is concern in developing countries that they could lose their sovereignty when other parties have strong views as to how to minimize deforestation.”

29. “How the World Bank explains REDD to Indigenous Peoples,” http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/090521-lang-columnsworldbankredd.html

30. Disney Invests In Saving Forests, http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/disney-invests-4-million-to-save-forests/?scp=4&sq=REDD&st=cse.

31. What came out of Copenhagen on REDD, http://www.redd-monitor.org/2009/12/22/what-came-out-of-copenhagen-on-redd/.

32. The role of grants versus loans in development cooperation—lessons for climate finance and REDD+, http://redd-net.org/resource-library/the-role-of-grants-versus-loans-in-development-cooperation-lessons-for-climate-finance-and-redd+.

33. “U.S. signs debt-for-nature swap with Brazil to protect forests,” http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0813-dfns_us_brazil.html.

34. For example, see the Katoomba Group’s funders and partners, http://www.katoombagroup.org/.

35. See UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Indigenous peoples’ permanent sovereignty over natural resources: Working paper by Erica-Irene A. Daes, former Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, 30 July 2002, E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/23, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3d5a2ce3e.html.

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Why REDD/REDD+ Is NOT a Solution


Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

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All humans and all life are affected by climate change, however, Indigenous Peoples and local land-based communities worldwide are more vulnerable and therefore are confronting immense challenges. Changes in the climate, environment, the exploitation of economic globalization, free trade agreements and a continuation of western forms of development threaten indigenous and local land-based communities on a local and global level. The survival of indigenous cultures worldwide, including the languages and right to practice their cultural heritage continue to be affected by a modern industrialized world with an economic growth paradigm that lacks awareness and respect for the sacredness of Mother Earth. As “guardians” of Mother Earth, many indigenous tribal traditions believe that it is their historic responsibility to protect the sacredness of Mother Earth and to be defenders of the Circle of Life which includes biodiversity, forests, flora, fauna and all living species.

Indigenous Peoples participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate negotiations and other the UN Convention on Biological Diversity are in the frontlines of a power structure that minimizes the importance of indigenous cosmologies, philosophies and world views. These power structures reside within the UN process and prop up inequalities found in  industrialized countries, the more developed of the developing countries, the World Bank and financial institutions. These powerful actors have economic systems that objectify, commodify and put a monetary value on land, water, forests and air that is antithetical to indigenous understanding. Indigenous peoples, North and South, are forced into the world market with nothing to negotiate with except the natural  resources relied on for survival.

With many indigenous communities it is difficult and sometimes impossible to reconcile their traditional spiritual beliefs within a climate mitigation regime that commodifies the sacredness of air, trees and life. Climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management must be based on different mindsets which give full respect for nature, the rights of Mother Earth and not on market-based mechanisms. History has seen attempts to commodify land, food, labor, forests, water, genes and ideas, such as privatization of our traditional knowledge. Carbon trading follows in the footsteps12 of this history and turns the sacredness of our Mother Earth’s carbon-cycling capacity into property to be bought or sold in a global market. Through this process of creating a new commodity – carbon – Mother Earth’s ability and capacity to support a climate conducive to life and human societies is now passing into the same corporate hands that are destroying the climate. Carbon trading will not contribute to achieving protection of the Earth’s climate.

It is a false solution which entrenches and magnifies social inequalities in many ways. It is a violation of the sacred – plain and simple.

We recognize the need for industrialized countries to focus on new economies, governed by the absolute limits and boundaries of ecological sustainability, the carrying capacities of Mother Earth, a more equitable sharing of global and local resources, encouragement and support of self sustaining communities, and respect and support for the rights of Mother Earth.

Long term solutions require turning away from prevailing paradigms and ideologies centered on pursuing economic growth, corporate profits and personal wealth accumulation as primary engines of social well-being. The transitions will inevitably be toward societies that can equitably adjust to reduced levels of production and consumption, and increasingly localized systems of economic organization that recognize, honor and are bounded by the limits of nature that recognize the draft Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.1

“In recognizing the root causes of climate change, participants call upon the industrialized countries and the world to work towards decreasing dependency on fossil fuels. We call for a moratorium on all new exploration for oil, gas, coal and uranium as a first step towards the full phase-out of fossil fuels, without nuclear power, with a just transition to sustainable jobs, energy and environment. We take this position and make this recommendation based on our concern over the disproportionate social, cultural, spiritual, environmental and climate impacts on Indigenous Peoples, who are the first and the worst affected by the disruption of intact habitats, and the least responsible for such impacts.

Dialogue is needed amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders and especially the public/civil society and their governments to re-evaluate a colonial law system that doesn’t work. A body of law needs to be developed that recognizes the inherent rights of the environment, of animals, fish, birds, plants, water, and air outside of their usefulness to humans.

This would address the question as to the law and rights of nature, however with the framework of indigenous natural laws or within the framework of indigenous Original Instructions. Most colonial western law limits nature and what North America Indigenous peoples term as the Circle of Life, as mere property or natural “resources” to be exploited.

Many Indigenous Peoples in Copenhagen at the UNFCCC COP 15 were demanding action; not false hopes and empty promises. Developed countries use tactics to continue carbon13 colonialism. As Indigenous Peoples, many of us are raising the bar. We are mobilizing with social movements, workers, women, youth, small farmers and the business sector with a consciousness for social responsibility and will make demands in Cancun at the COP 16 and beyond Cancun to South Africa in 2011 and the Rio +20 in 2012 the most stringent emission target reductions and real solutions. As Indigenous Peoples, we are the guardians of Mother Earth, and making principled stands for the global well-being of all people and all life.

On my mother’s bloodline, I am On my mother’s bloodline, I am Dine’, an indigenous tribal nation spanning from Alaska, throughout Canada to the southwestern region of the United States. The deep profound spiritual concepts of Mother Earth and Father Sky being part of us as the Dine’ and the Dine’ being part of Mother Earth and Father Sky is woven into our “Way-Of-Being” even before we are born, when we are in the womb of our birth mother.

It is our belief the Dine’ must treat this sacred bond with love and respect without exerting dominance for we do not own our mother or father.

The four sacred elements of life: air, fire/light, water and earth in all their forms must be respected, honored and protected for they sustain life. These sacred elements cannot be owned and traded as property. We, the Dine’, the people of the Great Covenant, are the image of our ancestors and we are created in connection with all Creation. Mother Earth and our place in the Universe embody deep thinking, what we call “Nahasdzaan doo Yadilhil bitsaadee beehaz’aanii” or in the closest English translation, “Natural Law”.

On the other side of my family, amongst our Dakota Oyate (People), we understand our relationship and responsibilities to the natural world and to all life – animate and inanimate. We have an expression concluding our prayers whereby we say, “Mitakuye Owasin”, in English translation meaning “All My Relations”. This saying defines the relational precepts we have towards recognizing the rights of Mother Earth, and all life, and the responsibilities we have to remember the responsibility of our place in creation.

REDD/REDD+ in the negotiations2

Many Indigenous Peoples are starting to call REDD/REDD+ “CO2lonialism of forests” or capitalism of the trees and air”. The newspaper The Australian calls it a “classic 21st century scam emerging from the global climate change industry.”

This is because in reality, REDD/REDD+ is bad for people, bad for politics and bad for the climate. It will inevitably give more control over Indigenous Peoples’ forests to state forest departments, loggers, miners, plantation companies, traders, lawyers, speculators, brokers,14 Washington conservation organizations and Wall Street, resulting in violations of rights, loss of livelihood – and, ultimately, more forest loss.

The reasons are simple. Industrialized-country governments and corporations will pay for the preservation of Indigenous Peoples’ forests only if they get something in return. What they want is rights over the carbon in those forests. They need those rights because they want to use them as licenses to continue burning fossil fuels – and thus to continue mining fossil fuels at locations like the Albertan Tar Sands in Canada, the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Niger Delta and Appalachian mountaintops in the United States. They will get those rights by making deals with – and reinforcing the power of – the people that they regard as having “authority” over the forests, or whoever is willing and able to steal forests or take them over using legal means. These people are the very governments, corporations and gangsters who have time and again proved their contempt for the rights and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples. The result is bound to be new and more extensive forms of elite appropriation of Indigenous and other territories.

REDD/REDD+ can’t be fixed by attempts to detach it from the carbon markets

Existing REDD/REDD+ projects have already set in motion this transfer of power, nor is there any way that REDD/REDD+ can be “fixed” to alter these political realities. It can only reinforce them. For well-meaning environmentalists to deny this is to indulge in a very dangerous naiveté.

First and foremost, REDD/REDD+ is – and is always in danger of being – a component of carbon markets. While many of the details of REDD/REDD+ are being worked out by well-intentioned economists, lawyers, environmental NGOs, and forest conservationists and technicians with no particular commitment to carbon markets, the money behind it was always going to come mainly from industrialized countries and large corporations looking for more pollution licenses to enable them to delay action on climate change. Even among the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, the consensus is already clear: finance for REDD/REDD+ projects will come from carbon markets.

If REDD/REDD+ plans go forward, billions of tones of demand for tradable REDD/REDD+ pollution licenses will be generated by UN-backed carbon markets including the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme, bilateral agreements and the voluntary market. Even the technical structure of REDD/REDD+ reflects its market orientation: REDD/REDD+ posits a numerical climatic equivalence between saving forests and reducing the burning of fossil fuels. This equation is indefensible scientifically; its only function is to make different things tradable15 in order to generate fossil fuel pollution licenses.3  A non-market REDD/REDD+ would not need to claim this false equivalence between biotic and fossil carbon.

As an alternative to the carbon market mechanisms of REDD/REDD+, there is an emerging movement of friendly countries, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples organizations (IPOs) proposing a hypothetical REDD/REDD+ that is not connected with the carbon markets. However, these strategic and tactical solutions are risky with no guarantees that these proposals will end up being pushed aside by the more powerful actors with a stake in developing this prospective trillion-dollar market.4 To act as if REDD/REDD+ might someday be financed by a repayment of the ecological debt the North owes the South, or by a benevolent fund using public or non-market donations, could be naïve. Red flags go up expressing the danger zones of blindly supporting REDD/REDD+, of any kind, as well as any attempt to “fix” REDD/REDD+, that would inevitably mean support for the carbon markets.

Assuming REDD/REDD+ is irretrievably linked with carbon markets, then at least three important conclusions follow:

(1)   There is no way to stop REDD/REDD+ from dividing Indigenous and forest dependent communities from each other. Every time a forest dependent community signs a contract to provide pollution licenses for fossil fuel-dependent corporations, it will be potentially harming communities elsewhere who are suffering from the fossil fuel extraction or pollution for which those corporations are responsible. No possible reform or regulation of REDD/REDD+ could prevent this; it is built into its structure as a carbon market instrument.

(2)       Of course, it would be theoretically possible, with great effort, for Indigenous and forest dependent communities who wish to sign REDD/REDD+ contracts to secure the free, prior and informed consent of all the other communities elsewhere who would be harmed. Many local communities of these forested areas have values respecting humanity and the concepts of the well-being of community, however, most members of these REDD/REDD+ projects have not been thoroughly informed of the offset reality on how these projects create toxic hotspots violating the indigenous and human rights of communities far away. But unless this consent is obtained in every case – and the list of communities across the globe who would need to be consulted would be huge with many REDD/REDD+ projects – REDD/REDD+ is bound to pit community against community. Already, a project using aboriginal North Australian Indigenous knowledge of fire management practices to generate pollution licenses for ConocoPhillips has provoked the following reaction from Casey Camp-Horinek, a tribal member of the Ponca indigenous nation in the US, which suffers from the actions of the company in North America: “Indigenous Peoples who participate in carbon trading are giving ConocoPhillips a bullet to kill my people.”5 16

(3)   There is no way to stop REDD/REDD+ from dividing Indigenous and forest dependent communities who sign REDD/REDD+ contracts from other communities for whom climate change is a concern. As part of carbon markets, REDD/REDD+ will inevitably slow action on global warming; that is what carbon markets are structured to do.6 REDD/REDD+ will thus heighten climate dangers for Arctic, indigenous lands, small-island states and low-lying and coastal communities, as well as, eventually, everyone else. Again, no possible reform of REDD/REDD+ could prevent the damage it would do to the climate cause, as long as it is linked to carbon trading. Pretending that such reforms are possible only perpetuates the damage. The very structure of REDD/REDD+ makes it impossible that it could ever be made “Indigenous-friendly”.

(4)   There is no way to stop REDD/REDD+ from being a speculative plaything of the financial markets – to the detriment of the climate and human rights alike. Already, the biggest investors in carbon credits are not companies that need them in order to meet their government-regulated pollution targets.7

REDD/REDD+ can’t be fixed by trying to ensure that the money “goes to the right place”

REDD/REDD+ proponents often assert that, even though REDD/REDD+ may be bad for the climate, at least it will be good for forests because it will channel large sums of money to nature conservation and biodiversity protection. Leaving aside, for the moment, the difficulty that any program that accelerates global warming will also accelerate forest destruction, this is to overlook the historical lesson that every proposal to solve the problem of deforestation and forest degradation through large sums of money has failed.8 This failure is due to at least three reasons:

(1) The problem of deforestation is not caused by too little money. It is caused by too much money – money in the wrong hands. More specifically, it is caused by the disproportionate political power and global political organizational capabilities of forest destroyers. What is needed to stop deforestation is not well-funded forest global conservation schemes or new markets for ecosystem services, but, rather – for example – a restructuring of trade, finance and consumption, moratoriums on oil extraction and large infrastructure projects in forests, curbs on logging, agrofuels and commercial plantations, and an increase in the political power of those with the deepest interest in saving forests: the communities that depend directly on them. Making supplementary sums of money available – no matter to whom, and no matter in what amounts – will not help forest conservation unless the underlying causes of deforestation are both understood and addressed. There is no evidence that any major supporter of REDD/REDD+17 has the slightest inclination to tackle these underlying causes, although they are well known. Quite the reverse – all of these actors support the forces that have been most responsible for deforestation in the first place.

(2) Even if REDD/REDD+ could be reformulated as a plan to make available huge financial rewards for the Indigenous protectors of forests, it does not follow that Indigenous Peoples would be able to collect and use the rewards. As ecological anthropologist Michael R. Dove from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies has observed, “whenever a resource at the periphery acquires value to the center, the center assumes control of it (e.g., by restricting local exploitation, granting exclusive licenses to corporate concessionaires, and establishing restrictive trade associations). The pattern is clearly expressed by a peasant homily from Kalimantan, which states that whenever a ‘little’ man chances upon a ‘big’ fortune, he finds only trouble. He is in trouble because his political resources are not commensurate with his new-found economic resources. He does not have the power to protect and exploit great wealth and so, inevitably, it is taken from him.”9

The truth of Dove’s words are borne out by the record of recent schemes to reward Indigenous and other communities for “traditional knowledge” used in corporate drug development. In the end, the communities that were originally pictured as beneficiaries turned out to be inconvenient entities for buyers and bio-prospectors to deal with, leading to their replacement by ranchers (Argentina), governments (Chile), urban plant merchants (Mexico), or state land agencies and universities (Mexico). Planners were unable to find sites that contained “in one neat package the plants, knowledge, people, territory and decision-making authority, all congealed in the name of [a] participating community” that would receive funds for community development and conservation. Troubled researchers at the United States National Institutes of Health concluded that, in Mexico, treating plant collection as a commodity transaction “breaks the link” among people, plants and territory that the whole deal was supposed to encourage. Anthropologist Cori

Hayden observes: “offers of market-mediated inclusion also contain within them the conditions for ever-greater forms of exclusion and stratification.”10

An even more brutal kind of property rights evolution has taken place in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – of which REDD/REDD+ could soon become a part. In the beginning, sellers of CDM carbon credits were supposed to be local developers of renewable energy, community-friendly tree-planters and other actors who could help the South move toward a low fossil-fuel development path while defending local rights. Given the realities of buyers, developers, lawyers, brokers, bankers and consultants, this turned out to be unworkable. Transaction costs and the predicament of political bargaining, measurement, contracting, investment, cost control, “risk management” and regulation meant that the sellers turned out instead to be the big-corporates Jindal Vijaynagar Steel in India, Rhodia Group that makes specialty18 chemicals, Tata Group, a conglomerate of corporations in India, and the Votorantim Group, the largest private economic conglomerate in Brazil, all in the business of collecting a premium for activities that on the whole thwarted the struggle to moderate climate change. Nor was it usually possible in practice for carbon money to be used to benefit local people. Instead, carbon money has harmed them and rewarded their oppressors.11

The pattern is already being repeated in REDD. Out of 100 pilot projects – almost all of them connected with carbon trading – many are already stained with the blood of the Indigenous and other peoples they claim to benefit, involving land grabs, evictions, human rights violations, fraud and militarization. In Kenya, the Mau forest is being made “ready” for a UNEP-funded carbon offset project by forceful and often violent eviction of its inhabitants, including the Indigenous Ogiek People.12 In Papua New Guinea, carbon traders are accused of coercing villagers to “to sign over the rights to their forests” for REDD/REDD+.13 The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) was explicit at the Bali climate negotiations in 2007:

“REDD/REDD+ will not benefit Indigenous Peoples, but in fact will result in more violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It will increase the violation of our human rights, our rights to our lands, territories and resources, steal our land, cause forced evictions, prevent access and threaten indigenous agricultural practices, destroy biodiversity and cultural diversity and cause social conflicts. Under REDD/REDD+, states and carbon traders will take more control over our forests.”

(3) REDD/REDD+’s very design ensures that money will flow to forest destroyers, not to forest protectors. To create a REDD/REDD+ commodity, precise measurements of how much deforestation REDD/REDD+ projects prevent is necessary. That market requirement automatically produces a perverse incentive for countries with low levels of deforestation to cut more trees now in order to be able to claim later that they are sharply reducing deforestation and thus deserve more REDD/REDD+ finance.14 These perverse incentives are already at work in Guyana, where President Jagdeo has launched an “avoided threatened deforestation” scheme.

An editorial in Guyana’s Kaieteur News in May 2009 argued that Guyana “should precede full steam ahead with the exploitation of our forestry resources. In addition to placing our future development more firmly in our own hands, it will ironically make our arguments for REDD/ REDD+ even stronger.”15 Adding to the likelihood of REDD/REDD+ money flowing to the worst forest destroyers is the definition of “forests” used by the UNFCCC, which includes monoculture tree plantations and clear cuts (euphemistically referred to as “temporarily un-stocked areas”).

Under this definition, the Brazilian government’s plans to replace part of the Amazonian forest with oil palm plantations would not count as deforestation.16 Industrial loggers could also benefit from REDD/REDD+ by claiming to be practicing “sustainable forest management,” while criminalizing Indigenous agricultural and forest practices.19

REDD/REDD+ can’t be fixed by saying that efforts are being made for REDD/REDD+ projects to require the “Free Prior Informed Consent” (FPIC) of affected communities or compliance with the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) or other codes or principles

 

(1)   To act as if REDD/REDD+’s structural dangers could be “controlled” by pressing for principles such as FPIC, UNDRIP or World Commission on Dams standards to be applied is to indulge corporations and governments in a false-sense of hope that could damage millions of people’s lives. First, many countries do not even recognize the existence of Indigenous Peoples, let alone their rights, so neither the principle of FPIC nor UNDRIP will act as protection. Neither FPIC nor UNDRIP are considered legally binding by the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC nor by any state except Bolivia. During the Nairobi climate negotiations, the President of the Executive Board of the CDM stated publicly that the “Clean Development Mechanism has nothing to do with human rights.”17 In recent negotiations in the “REDD text” within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action, efforts by Indigenous Peoples to negotiate strong language on indigenous rights in accordance with UNDRIP has resulted in attempts by the US and other countries to respond with weakened language. It is important to be mindful that the right to FPIC has already been violated in REDD/REDD+ pilot projects and in preparatory plans in several countries.18  Other internationally-recognized principles such as the standards urged by the World Commission on Dams have similar limitations.

(2)   Even if FPIC and UDRIP magically became legislated, implemented and be enforceable law across the world within the next few years, it is our opinion as an Indigenous-based advocate organization that they would have to be applied to all the communities affected by each REDD/REDD+ project, not just the one hosting the project. For example, to get the free prior informed consent of Indigenous communities affected by the Northern Australia fire management offset project, the consent of Indigenous communities affected by ConocoPhillips operations in North America would also need to be obtained, as well as other communities damaged by ConocoPhillips practices elsewhere. This would obviously make REDD/REDD+ commercially unviable: either REDD/REDD+ or FPIC would have to be scrapped. Hence, to avoid delay, it would be more practical to oppose REDD/REDD+ straightforwardly, at the outset.

(3)   Whatever the merits of FPIC and UNDRIP, they are, again, incapable of forcing REDD/REDD+ projects to address the underlying causes of deforestation. Even if it were possible to make compliance with the principles of FPIC and UNDRIP a condition for every REDD/REDD+ project, REDD/REDD+ would remain a contributor to both deforestation and global warming, as well as an additional piece of artillery for the use of the corporate and nation-state forces that oppose 20 Indigenous rights. To proceed as if FPIC and UNDRIP could “fix” REDD/REDD+, therefore, is ironically ultimately to endorse the violation of the rights of Indigenous people as well as all others who value climatic stability.19

Conclusion

The bottom line concerning the question of how to address the issues of increasing climate change is to stop extracting and combusting fossil fuels. There are no other solutions. REDD/REDD+ is not a solution. The push at the Cancun UNFCCC 16th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) will be to reach an agreement on a REDD-plus (REDD+) mechanism in Cancun, Mexico. The UN-REDD Programme, the World Bank and others want to launch the REDD+ readiness initiatives. The link between emissions trading and the world of offsets to the vested interests of the pro-REDD marketers is deeply rooted. Real alternatives to the carbon market mechanism of REDD/REDD+ cannot simply become a re-spin of REDD. It is not enough to add a clever adjective, purport to be “fund-based”, get certified or pretend to not ultimately rely on the carbon market and the privatization and commodification of trees, forests and air.

Fortunately, real alternatives to REDD/REDD+ already exist and include:

Focusing on land tenure dilemmas in forested countries. Collectively demarcating and titling Indigenous Peoples’ territories and land where most of the world’s forests are found. This has proven to be one of the most effective measures for reducing deforestation; Implementing at the global, national, regional and local levels the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other relevant international human rights norms and standards which establish moral and legal obligations to protect and promote the full enjoyment of Indigenous Peoples rights and sovereignty in all issues related to climate change, including rights to lands, territories and resources, their traditional knowledge and their free, prior and informed consent;

For other forest dependent communities, ensure the implementation at global, national, regional and local levels international human rights norms and standards which establish moral and legal obligations to protect and promote the full enjoyment of human rights related to climate change, land, water, and a healthy environment; Efforts to stop deforestation must address the underlying causes of deforestation and focus on ending the demand-side drivers in importing countries; Addressing governance and poverty;21 In so far as finance is required to stop deforestation, funds should be invested in national programs and infrastructure that directly support alternative rights-based forms of forest conservation, sustainable management, natural regeneration and ecosystem restoration that are already known to work, such as community-based forestry.

  • Slashing demand for beef, pulp, lumber, palm oil and agrofuels;
  • Drastically reducing monoculture plantations and logging concessions;
  • Declaring a moratorium on new fossil fuel and mining extraction and dam construction on or near indigenous land;
  • It is becoming clear that to separate REDD/REDD+ from the carbon market, it would need to be totally reframed and renamed within the debates and UNFCCC negotiating texts. This would be difficult within the UNFCCC “Bracket-UN-bracket Community” and would require countries with political will to step up to this need.

The mining and combustion of fossil fuels must be drastically reduced with a commitment to a carbon-free economy by 2050. Within the UNFCCC, the governmental parties to the climate negotiations must be lobbied to target aggregate GHG emissions of developed countries by 50 per cent from 1990 levels by 2017.20 The world governments must commit to the global goal of preventing Mother Earth’s temperature from rising more than 1º Celsius. Given the important role the Arctic plays in the global climate system, a precautionary approach would therefore suggest a long-term target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentrations at levels at or below 300 parts per million (ppm).21 This is more aggressive then the 350ppm target, but mitigating the climate crisis demands drastic action. This would rule out a domino effect of sea-ice loss, what is called an “albedo flip”, a warmer Arctic, a disintegrating Greenland ice sheet, black carbon (black soot), more melting permafrost, and further secondary or “knock-on” effects of massively increased greenhouse gas emissions, rising atmospheric concentrations and accelerated global warming.22 It must be noted that industrialized developed countries are advocating for only a 450ppm stabilization goal.

The “Shared Vision” text within the UNFCCC Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) must have strong language mobilized by the People of the World undertaking  a balanced, comprehensive series of financial, technological and adaptation measures, measures addressing capacity building, production patterns and consumption, and other essential measures such as recognition of the rights of Mother Earth in order to restore harmony with nature and to save our native forests.

There is a need for a new paradigm in this world, in relation to how it defines its’ relationship to Mother Earth. This paradigm requires a change in the human relationship with the natural22 world from one of exploitation to one that recognizes its relationship to the sacredness of our true mother/grandmother – Mother Earth. Economic globalization and industrialized societies’ economic system is not sustainable.

“We confront the terminal crisis of a civilizing model that is patriarchal and based on the submission and destruction of human beings and nature that accelerated since the industrial revolution. The capitalist system has imposed on us a logic of competition, progress and limitless growth. This regime of production and consumption seeks profit without limits, separating human beings from nature and imposing a logic of domination upon nature, transforming everything into commodities: water, earth, the human genome, ancestral cultures, biodiversity, justice, ethics, the rights of peoples, and life itself. Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are.” – Cochabamba Peoples’ Agreement (Accord), April 2010

Mother Earth is turned into nothing more than a source of raw materials. Human beings are seen as consumers and a means of production, that is, persons whose worth is defined by what they have, not by what they are. Humanity is at a crossroads: we can either continue taking the path of capitalism, depredation and death, or take the road of harmony with nature and respect for the Circle of Life.

The world must forge a new economic system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings. We can only achieve balance with nature if there is equity among human beings. The industrialized economic system has imposed upon us a mindset that seeks competition, progress and unlimited growth. This production-consumption regime pursues profits without limit, separating human beings from nature. It establishes a mindset that seeks to dominate nature, turning everything into a commodity: the land, water, air (carbon), forests, agriculture, flora and fauna,  biodiversity, genes and even indigenous traditional knowledge.

 

1 The Mystic Lake Declaration, From the Native Peoples Native Homelands Climate Change (National) Workshop II: Indigenous Perspectives and Solutions, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Prior Lake, Minnesota, November 21, 2009. http://pwccc.wordpress.com/2010/02/07/draft-universaldeclaration-of-the-rights-of-mother-earth-2/

2 The following four sections are revisions from the paper, “Just Say No to REDD”, written and published by the Indigenous Environmental Network, November 2009.

3 Larry Lohmann, “Toward a Different Debate in Environmental Accounting: The Cases of Carbon and Cost-Benefit’, Accounting, Organizations and Society Vol. 34, Issues 3-4, April/May 2009. pp. 499–534, available at www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/subject/climate.

4 These countries were not even able to ensure that a reference to the Conference on Biological Diversity was included in the REDD/REDD+ methodology text at the meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice of June 2008 in Bonn. 23

5 See National Indian Education Association http://www.niea.org/media/news_detail.php?id=291&catid.

6 See, e.g., Larry Lohmann, ed., Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatization and Power, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, 2006. available at http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/subject/climate.

7 Corner House Briefing No. 40, “When Markets Are Poison: Learning about Climate Policy from the Financial Crisis”, , http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/subject/climate.

8 The Tropical Forest Action Plan of the late 1980s and 1990s is one example.

9 Michael Dove, “Centre, Periphery and Biodiversity: A Paradox of Governance and a Developmental Challenge,” in Stephen B. Brush and Doreen Stabinsky, Valuing Local Knowledge: Indigenous People and Intellectual Property Rights, Island Press 1996. pp. 41–67.

10 Hayden, Cori, “Bioprospecting: The ‘Promise’ and Threat of the Market”, NACLA Report on the Americas 39 (5), 2006. pp. 26-31. See also “Chronicles of a Disaster Foretold: REDD/REDD+ with Carbon Trading”, www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/subject/climate.

11 See, for example, Carbon Trading, op. cit. supra note 6, and Mausam (Indian journal on climate), both available at http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/subject/climate.

12 REDD/REDD+ Monitor, http://www.REDD/REDD+-monitor.org/2008/10/06/global-forest-coalitionattacks-REDD/REDD+/.

13 Sydney Morning Herald, 3 September 2009, http://www.smh.com.au/environment/i-am-a-topforeigner-in-papua-new-guinea-says-carbon-kingpin-20090903-fa0m.html

14 REDD/REDD+ Monitor, “World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility would Reward Forest Destroyers in Indonesia,” http://www.REDD/REDD+-monitor.org/2009/03/02/fcpfs-poster-child-wouldreward-forest-destroyers-in-indonesia/; and New York Times, 22 August 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/22/science/earth/22degrees.html.

15 REDD/REDD+ Monitor, 24 June 2009, http://www.REDD/REDD+-monitor.org/2009/06/24/offsettinga-dangerous-distraction/.

16 Global Forest Coalition, REDD/REDD+ without Rules: Another Disaster in the Making, http://www.globalforestcoalition.org/img/userpics/File/forest%20cover/ForestCover-no27-september2008.pdf; REDD/REDD+ Monitor, “REDD/REDD+ will Fail with the Current Definition of Forests,” http://www.REDD/REDD+-monitor.org/2009/09/08/REDD/REDD+-will-fail-with-the-current-definition-offorest/#more-2776. See also UNFCCC Decision 11/CP.7 Annex 1 (a), http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/spanish/cop7/cp713a01s.pdf.

17 In response to a question from an Indigenous representative of the Assembly of First Nations, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer, in a meeting with civil society in June 2009 in Bonn, read a previously prepared statement that stated that the UNFCCC Copenhagen deal will not be bound by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples because it is not a legally binding instrument.

18 REDD/REDD+ Monitor, “Lack of Meaningful Consultation on R-PINs in Suriname, Indonesia, Liberia and Panama,” http://www.REDD/REDD+-monitor.org/?s=R-PINS.

19

20 International Indigenous Peoples Technical Workshop with States on the UNFCCC Negotiations Xcaret, Quintana Roo, México, 27-29 September 2010.

21 http://target300.org/index.html

22 Climate Change and Trace Gases, by Hansen, Sato, Kharecha, Russell, Lea and Siddall, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute, Published online 18 May 2007, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, http://www.planetwork.net/climate/Hansen2007.pdf 24

What are ‘carbon offsets’?

Carbon trading allows industrialized countries and corporations to avoid reducing emissions at source. It takes two main forms: “cap and trade” and “carbon offsets.”

Carbon offsets are ‘emissions-saving projects’ that in theory ‘compensate’ for the polluters’ emissions. The UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is the largest such scheme with 2,400 registered projects in developing countries and almost 3,000 further projects awaiting approval, as of October 2010.

This scheme allows polluting governments and corporations, which have the historical responsibility to clean up the atmosphere, to buy their way out of the problem with cheap projects that exacerbate social and environmental conflicts in the South. Moreover, it delays any real domestic action where a historical responsibility lies and allows the expansion of more fossil fuel explorations and extractions.

The ‘carbon credits’ generated by these projects can be used by industrialized governments and corporations to meet their targets and/or to be traded within the carbon markets. In addition to the CDM there are also voluntary markets, undertaken largely for purchase by individual consumers in the North at the expense of communities and biodiversity in the South. Therefore, while cap and trade in theory limits the availability of pollution permits, “offset” projects are a license to print new ones, thus, supporting the same industries and practices that cause social and environmental problems for local communities, such as gas flaring, incineration and large dams. Offsets provide legitimacy for continued fossil fuel-based energy use and consumption in the North and act as a backdoor to avoid the responsibility of reducing emissions at source.

Click here to Download the No REDD Papers PDF

NO! REDD Tour Events

REJECT INTERNATIONAL OFFSETS in AB32

The State of California’s cap and trade regulations currently include a “placeholder” to allow sub-national REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) carbon credits to enter into its cap and trade system. In order for this to occur, the (California) Air Resources Board (ARB) must first promulgate draft rules on REDD credits, subject them to public comment, and vote to approve them.

The ARB has not yet begun a formal rule-making process on REDD. The Governors Forests and Climate Task Force and the REDD Offsets Working Group – are paving the way for California REDD credits to become implemented – from a political and technical standpoint.

The Governors Forests and Climate Task Force (which California founded) is working with several States/Provinces – most notably Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil – to potentially supply California with REDD credits. The REDD Offsets Working Group (on which California is an observer) is expected to come out in October with a set of recommendations/ options for how California can structure a REDD offsets program.

In 2013, the board is expected to make a decision about whether to continue exploring REDD (with the eye towards issuing rules) or whether to drop its efforts.

Need:
There is a need to educate policymakers, funders, environmental and social justice activists and the public about the human rights and social and environmental harms caused by REDD, particularly its impacts on Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

There is an immediate need to stop California from accepting REDD credits into its carbon trading system.

Indigenous Peoples Confront False Climate Change Solutions

The David Brower Center

2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, California 94704

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 – 6:30pm in PDT

Presented by Friends of the Earth and the Indigenous Environmental Network. Co-hosted by Amazon Watch, Abya Yala Nexus, Global Exchange, and International Development Exchange

Indigenous Peoples’ territories harbor most of the world’s remaining biodiversity and intact forests; under the guise of emerging climate policies, these territories are being targeted as ‘carbon sinks’ to allow industry to continue polluting. Emerging forest-carbon deals such as the agreement linking California with Chiapas, Mexico, and Acre, Brazil, threaten to undermine indigenous sovereignty, to privatize forests, and to commodify the sacred.

Hear from Indigenous leaders working to protect community land rights and promote equitable, rights-based climate solutions that respect traditional knowledge and the principles of environmental justice.

6:30-7:00 – Light refreshments and networking

7:00-7:30 – Screening of A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests

7:30-9:00 – Presentations from Indigenous leaders

  • Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Berenice Sanchez (Nahua, Mexico)
  • Santiago Martinez (Tzeltal, Chiapas, Mexico)
  • Marlon Santi (Quichua, Ecuador)
  • Gloria Ushigua (Zapara, Ecuador)

Please RSVP to noreddbayarea@gmail.com

2012 Bioneers Conference
San Rafael, CA
Indigenous Forum Tent

Friday, October 19, 1:15 – 2:30 p.m.

Screening: A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests, 30 min.

Focus: California AB32 International Offsets in Chaipas, Mexico

Presentation of Film: Jeff Conant, San Francisco

Speakers:

  • Berenice Sanchez Lozada, Nahua from Mexico, founding member of the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Against REDD and For Life and participant in UN climate negotiations and the recent Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil
  • Rosario Aguilar, Tsunel Bej, Chiapas, Mexico, social anthropologist and health promoter and works with communities in the Lacandon Jungle

Saturday, October 20, 1:15 – 2:30 p.m.

Commodification of the Sacred: Carbon Offsets, REDD + Indigenous Peoples and Genocide

Moderator: Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, Minnesota

Speakers:

  • Marlon Santi, historic leader of the Sarayaku and Ecuador’s indigenous movement. He was instrumental in Sarayaku’s resistance to oil drilling plans, and led the organization of peace camps that monitored and ultimately kicked out the oil company. He most recently led Ecuador’s national indigenous confederation CONAIE – one of the post powerful indigenous movements in South America. Santi has been a vocal advocate for indigenous rights in the UN climate negotiations.
  • Gloria Ushigua, Zápara from Ecuador, leader of indigenous women’s movement and fought the invasion of her territory by oil companies and now by REDD-style government programs
  • José Carmelio Alberto Nunes, Ninawá, President of the Federation of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil. A young indigenous leader vocal on community-based forestry solutions and territorial sovereignty

Videos: REDD, Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Indigenous Peoples

Chief Oren Lyons speaks about Climate Change

CLIMATE: CARBON TRADING NOT ETHICAL- Indigenous Elders from the North

©SommerFilms, for EARTH PEOPLES

Clayton Thomas-Mueller: Indigenous Peoples opposed to REDD are often excluded

©SommerFilms, for EARTH PEOPLES

Clayton Thomas-Mueller: Carbon Markets

©SommerFilms, for EARTH PEOPLES

Ben Powless: REDD Not Protecting Forests

©SommerFilms, for EARTH PEOPLES

Ben Powless: Indigenous Peoples Solutions to Climate Change

©SommerFilms, for EARTH PEOPLES

Ben Powless: REDD Reducing Emissions Deforestation Degradation

©SommerFilms, for EARTH PEOPLES

Indigenous in Rio: ‘NO!’ to False Green Economy and Carbon Cowboys

Indigenous march on Wednesday to deliver Kari-Oca declaration to world leaders in Rio

By Brenda Norrell ~ Photos by Ben Powless, Mohawk, IEN, Rio

Indigenous Peoples are gathered at the Kari-Oca II Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, as the governments and corporate profiteers attempt to place a price on nature as a commodity at the United Nations Conference on Sustainability Rio+20.

The declaration of Kari-Oca II, signed by 500 Indigenous, will be delivered to world leaders during a march from Kari-Oca encampment to Rio+20, on Wednesday, July 20, 2012.

“We see the goals of UNCSD Rio+20, the ‘Green Economy,’ and its premise that the world can only ‘save’ nature by commodifying its life-giving and life-sustaining capacities as a continuation of the colonialism that Indigenous Peoples and our Mother Earth have faced and resisted for 520 years,” the declaration states.

“Indigenous activists and leaders defending their territories continue to suffer repression, militarization, including assassination, imprisonment, harassment and vilification as ‘terrorists.’ The violation of our collective rights faces the same impunity. Forced relocation or assimilation assault our future generations, cultures, languages, spiritual ways and relationship to the earth, economically and politically,” the declaration states.

Calling it a new wave of colonialism, Indigenous Peoples from around the world are fighting to protect their rivers and forests, their air and land from green scams and false climate solutions. They are also remembering the Indigenous environmental activists from around the world who have been murdered protecting their homelands from mining and drilling.

Indigenous Peoples from the United States and Canada are focused on halting the environmental nightmare of Alberta’s dirty tarsands, which has already destroyed Cree homelands in Canada, and the Keystone pipelines, which could pollute even more waterways and lands in the US.

The Indigenous Environmental Network is battling “carbon cowboys,” and exposing the false climate solutions and scam carbon credits of the carbon market, which allows the world’s worst polluters to continue polluting.

Photo IEN’s Tom Goldtooth, and Clayton Thomas Muller, at Kari-Oca II in Rio. Photo Ben Powless, Mohawk.

Dirty coal more desperate on Navajo Nation

The worst polluters in the United States include the coal fired power plants on the Navajo Nation, the latest target in a public relations scheme using the carbon credit scam, with so-called green credits, as part of the coal industry’s desperate scheme to keep the Navajo Generating Station operating and polluting near the Grand Canyon.

Operated by the Salt River Project in Arizona, the Navajo Generating Station is one of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the United States, and one of three coal fired power plants on the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation is also targeted by water rights theft schemes of Arizona senators and polluted by widespread oil and gas drilling and radioactive tailings from Cold War uranium mines. The Navajo Nation in New Mexico, and Lakota homelands in Nebraska and South Dakota, are both now targeted with new uranium mining that could further contaminate aquifers.

Rights of Nature

At the gatherings underway in Rio, Indigenous Peoples who gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010, are carrying forward the Rights of Nature, mandated by the World’s Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Declaration of the Rights of Nature states: “The so-called ‘developed; countries must reduce their levels of over-consumption and overexploitation of resources of the world in order to reestablish harmony among human beings and with nature, allowing for the sustainable development of all developing countries.” It also demands a world climate court, redistribution of wealth, and the halt to carbon credits and false climate solutions.

Carbon cowbows, the REDD hoax

Meanwhile, at the Kari-Oca II in Rio, Indigenous demand a halt to the corporate destruction of their forests and rivers, land and air.

Indigenous Peoples denounced the Green Economy and REDD privatization of nature, which is aimed at selling the air and destroying the future.

Indigenous Peoples warn of the REDD scam, which constitutes a worldwide land grab and gigantesque carbon offset scam.

REDD+ is an UN-promoted false solution to climate change and the pillar of the Green Economy. Officially, REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation.

Tom Goldtooth, Exec. Director of Indigenous Environmental Network, said that “REDD+ really means Reaping profits from Evictions, land grabs, Deforestation and Destruction of biodiversity.”

Just as Chief Seattle over a hundred years ago asked, “How can you sell the air?,” Marlon Santi of the Ecuadorian Amazon, condemns carbon trading and REDD+ and asks, “How can you sell Mother Earth and Father Sky?”

But apparently someone is trying, as the recently inaugurated Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro (BVRio), a Brazilian stockmarket for forest carbon credits, shows.

Berenice Sanchez of the Nahua People of Mexico said, “Not only does REDD+ corrupt the Sacred and fuel financial speculation, it also serves as greenwash for extractive industries like Shell and Rio Tinto.”

Indigenous Peoples said that REDD+ is a “new wave of colonialism.”

From Peru to Papua New Guinea, carbon cowboys are running amok trying to rip off native communities and grab the forests of the world, 80 percent of which are found in Indigenous Peoples´ lands and territories.

Marife Macalanda of the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network said, “The environmental crisis is getting worse because of capitalists´ false solutions such as REDD+. The real solution to the climate crisis affecting the people of the world, especially Indigenous Peoples, is to protect Mother Earth, uphold social justice and respect the Indigenous Peoples’ decisions and right to say no.”

The first Kari-Oca summit in Rio was held in 1992, before the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. More than 700 Indigenous leaders signed the Indigenous Peoples Earth Charter.

Petition to US Hillary Clinton

The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance said, “The global 1% is converging in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this June at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to unveil their “Green Economy” strategy—but we know that just calling something ‘green’ doesn’t mean it’s good for people or for the planet. The Rio+20 Conference is a key moment when world government have an opportunity to either act to protect our future, or continue on the same failed strategies that are threatening our future.”

Photo: Clayton Thomas Muller, Cree, signs Declaration at Kari-Oca II. Photo Ben Powless.

“The 99% are also mobilizing to Brazil this June. Grassroots Global Justice and other grassroots groups in the Climate Justice Alignment will join thousands of people from social movements around the world converging in Rio to demand an end to profit-driven dirty energy industries like oil drilling and pipelines, market-based strategies like carbon-trading and forest exploitation, and extreme energy like fossil fuels and incinerators.”

The alliance is gathering signatures to be sent to US Rio+20 Lead Negotiator John Matuszak, and to the US State Department’s Office of Correspondence and Records who tracks and documents comments for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

To US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Rio+20 Lead Negotiator John Matuszak,

At the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, I urge you to reject the false solutions of the “Green Economy” and instead invest in solutions to the root causes of the ecological and economic crises that put our communities to work, cool the planet, and transition environmental control back to local economies.

In particular, I urge you to: Stop destructive climate projects and unsustainable energy developments including the Canadian Tar Sands, the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, and proposed oil drilling in the off-shore Outer Continental Shelf areas of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of Alaska.

Reject REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and other carbon offset models as the pillar of the Green Economy that furthers the privatization of Nature and displaces indigenous communities.

End the Era of Extreme Energy: Create just transition pathways out of resource and carbon-intensive industries such as fossil fuels, waste incineration, biomass energy, nuclear power, and industrial agriculture.

Commit to reducing emissions by 90% from 1990 levels by 2050.

Commit to full-scale investment in inclusive Zero Waste systems, with a transition goal for 2040.

–Sign the Petition at Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

http://ggjalliance.org/RioPetition2012

Phone contacts at Kari-Oca II in Rio:

Tom Goldtooth, ien@igc.org (English/Portuguese)
+1 (218) 760 – 0442 (USA) www.ienearth.org

Berenice Sánchez, ixachitlanti@gmail.com (Spanish) +52 044 55 23 39 39 28

Mother Earth Should Not Be “Owned, Privatized and Exploited”

Aline Jenckel interviews, TOM B.K. GOLDTOOTH, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network – IPS News.Net

Tom Goldtooth, an activist for social change in Native American communities and is the executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network.

UNITED NATIONS, May 9, 2012 (IPS) – For centuries, indigenous peoples and their rights, resources and lands have been exploited. Yet long overdue acknowledgment of past exploitation and dedicated efforts by indigenous peoples have done little to end or prevent violations of the present, stated indigenous leaders in the Manaus Declaration of 2011.

The declaration, part of preparations for the upcoming U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, frequently referred to as Rio+20, in June, recounted the “active participation” of indigenous groups in the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and similar efforts in 2002 that led to the adoption of the term “indigenous peoples” for the United Nations (U.N.) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Despite this work, “the continuing gross violations of our rights…by governments and corporations” remain major obstacles to sustainable development, the declaration continued. “Indigenous activists and leaders defending their territories still continue to be harassed, tortured, vilified as ‘terrorists’ and assassinated by powerful vested interests.”

As Rio+20 approaches, IPS interviewed Tom B.K. Goldtooth, who has been an activist for social change in Native American communities for more than three decades and is the executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), an alliance of indigenous peoples that combats the exploitation and contamination of the earth and will participate in the Rio+20 conference.

Goldtooth called for a “new paradigm of laws that redefine humanity and its governance relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth and the natural world”.

The activist explained that the most effective measures for reducing deforestation, protecting the environment from unsustainable mineral extraction and preserving a better world for future generations are to strengthen international, national and sub-national frameworks for collectively demarcating and titling indigenous peoples’ territories.

U.N. Correspondent Aline Jenckel spoke with Tom Goldtooth about the main threats faced by indigenous peoples and how the Rio+ 20 conference could be a success.

Q: At the Rio+20 conference in June, you will speak on behalf of indigenous peoples and their human rights, in terms of protecting their natural environment and creating sustainable development. What is the key message you hope to convey?

A: The thematic discussion of green economy and sustainability creates differences in views between the money-centred Western views and our indigenous life-centred worldview of our relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth.

Many of our indigenous peoples globally are deeply concerned with the current economic globalisation model that looks at Mother Earth and nature as a resource to be owned, privatised and exploited for maximised financial return through the marketplace.

With this development model, indigenous peoples continue to be displaced from their lands, cultures and spiritual relationship to Mother Earth, and destruction to the life-sustaining capacity of nature and the ecosystem that sustains us and all life continues as well.

For the sake of humanity and the world as we know her, to survive, there must be a new paradigm of laws that redefine humanity and its governance relationship to the sacredness of Mother Earth and the natural world.

This includes the integration of the human-rights based approach, ecosystem approach and culturally- sensitive and knowledge-based approaches. The world must forge a new economic system that restores harmony with nature and among human beings.

We can only achieve balance with nature if there is equity among human beings.

At Rio+20, global governments must look cautiously at any green economy agenda that supports the commodification and financialisation of nature and take concerted action to initiate the development of a new framework that begins with a recognition that nature is sacred and not for sale and that the ecosystems of our Mother Earth have jurisprudence for conservation and protection.

Full recognition of land tenure of our place-based indigenous communities are the most effective measures for protecting the rich biological and cultural diversity of the world.

Q: What are the biggest threats to Indigenous people’s livelihoods today, and how can they be addressed?

A: Indigenous peoples from every region of the world continue to inhabit and maintain the last remaining sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots in the world.

Destructive mineral extractive industries continue to encroach on indigenous peoples’ traditional territories. Unconventional oil and extreme energy development, with the real-life effects of climate chaos, are directly affecting the wellbeing of indigenous peoples from the North to the Global South.

Indigenous peoples can contribute substantially to sustainable development, but they believe that a holistic framework for sustainable development should be promoted.

With the knowledge that development that violates human rights is by definition unsustainable, Rio+20 must affirm a human rights-based approach to sustainable development.

Particularly, the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must serve as a key framework which underpins all international, national and sub-national policies and programs on sustainable development with regard to indigenous peoples.

Q: Recently, some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) expressed deep concern about the reversals on agreements made by governments in 1992 and say there’s no country taking leadership of or acting as a visionary role in the conference. Do you believe there is still hope for new, binding commitments?

A: Because of the climate chaos, financial instabilities and ecological devastation, the world doesn’t have an option to reverse the agreements made in 1992.

World leaders must remember the active participation of indigenous peoples in the Rio Earth Summit (UNCED 1992) and the parallel processes indigenous peoples organised, which resulted into the Kari- oca Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration.

Agenda 21 embraced the language of Kari-Oca that recognised the vital role of indigenous peoples in sustainable development and identified Indigenous Peoples as a Major Group. Rio+20 must reaffirm the commitments made by UNCED to indigenous peoples in 1992.