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The coming tragedy of Paris: A disastrous climate deal that will see the planet burn

Monday October 5th, 2015 | Originally Posted in Global Forest Coalition


By: Mary Louise Malig*

Like reading the ancient Greek tragedy of Homer, we are at the pages of the Iliad where we can see what hell ahead shall befall Troy. We are now in that exact moment, seeing in the horizon the fires that will burn for ten years. However, we are not looking in the horizon of the ill-fated Trojans, but rather, we are looking at the future of humanity, nature and the planet.

There are only 5 negotiating days left before the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). From October 19-23, 2015, the UNFCCC is supposed to hammer out the modalities of the Paris deal. At this point, we should have a good sense of what the Paris deal will be. After all, since the COP17 in Durban, South Africa, where the mandate to draft a new climate agreement until 2030 was adopted, there have already been a total of 85 negotiating days, a carbon filled amount of flights for 193 parties to the convention, and at the wayside thousands of dead and displaced from destructively intense typhoons, hurricanes, floods or droughts. In the Philippines alone, the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan, killed 6,000 and left thousands more homeless and without livelihood.

However, at this point, there is no agreed text yet for a Paris deal. Instead, there are a number of documents. First you have a “Co-Chairs Tool”(1) that lays out the possible scenario. At the last intersessional in Bonn in September, the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) presented a tool for the negotiations that has three parts: The first part includes the issues that can be included in a potential Paris agreement, the second part those issues that will be listed in a decision and the third part includes those issues that need further negotiation and will neither be in the COP21 agreement nor decision. In the Co-Chairs tool, the elements of a Paris deal are clear: emission cuts will be voluntary, flexibility mechanisms will be continued, more market mechanisms will be proposed and accounting loopholes and techno-fixes will abound. Already, the term “net zero” emissions indicates an accounting trick because “net zero” is a term to mean you’ve balanced your accounting columns out. “Net zero” emissions therefore does not translate to zero emissions, which is what the climate urgently needs.

This week, the co-chairs of the ADP, Ahmed Djoghlaf of Algeria and Daniel Reifsnyder of the US, as mandated have produced, in addition to the Co-Chair’s Tool, a non-paper note by the Co-Chairs (2) in time for the coming intersessional in Bonn. There is certainly an element of Greek tragedy in the fact that one of the co-chairs is from one of the biggest emitters and the one who, as a matter of irony, never ratified the last climate protocol. The October 5, 2015 non-paper details a draft agreement and a draft decision for Paris. The Chairs have also issued a draft decision on workstream 2 or the pre-2020 ambition. (3) All these documents are still under negotiation.

Another critical reason as to why we know that Paris is going to be a deal that burns the planet, is that, as of writing, following the October 1 deadline of the UNFCCC, 119 submissions of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) have been made. This includes the 28 member states of the EU as 1. All major emitters are in these 119 submissions. These INDCs are the voluntary pledges of the countries on how much emissions they are targeting to reduce by 2030. (4) An issue of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development reporting on these submissions states, “although some estimates contend that the actions outlined thus far would result in a planetary warming of three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, overshooting an international commitment by one degree.”(5) A recent study however by Stern etal, details that the reduction pledges from US, EU and China – who together account for 45 percent of global emissions will miss by almost double the 2030 target of 35 gigatons of CO2e emissions.(6) Emissions should be cut by 2030 to 35 gigatons of CO2e and with the current INDCs of the most important countries annual global emissions will be around 60 gigatons of CO2e in 2030.


This 2 degree target was internationally agreed on in 2007, after the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fourth Assessment Report (7) which detailed that to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, that emissions had to be kept to below 2 degrees by 2020. It is now 2015, and the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report has come out to reiterate that danger and has even highlighted that “Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped. The risks of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of the warming increases.” (8) This means that the longer the delay in reducing emissions, the higher the danger that the feedback mechanism of the climate system will go beyond the 2 degree “safe” limit.

This is the heart of the problem of the Paris deal. The emission targets of the countries are not under negotiation. They are voluntary promises that they may or may not implement and may even use market mechanisms to cheat their way out of. Emissions need to be cut deeply, at source, without loopholes or market mechanisms, today, not 10 years from now. The decade lost waiting to reduce by 2030, will be a decade lost forever. The climate system does not work like the movies – where warming stops the moment the protagonist saves the day – the emissions put into the system now will burn well beyond 2030. There may not be a planet to “save” by 2030.

The whole process being captured by corporations especially by the fossil fuel and extractive industry – the main source of emissions – is most evident in the support of business as usual. In the entire 88 pages of the Co-Chair’s Tool, “fossil fuel” is only mentioned once and only to encourage governments to reduce or eliminate incentives for fossil fuel subsidies: “52 a. [Parties [are encouraged] to [take steps to] [reduce][eliminate] [international support][public incentives] [for][phase down] high-carbon investments[, [including][and] international fossil fuel subsidies];] {paras 102, 103 and 113 bis d. SCT}” (9)

In the statement of the Climate Space, it reiterates the demand of social movements for 80 percent of the fossil fuel reserves to be left underground in order to stay below the 2 degree limit. (10) And how will this demand be met if the sponsors of the COP21 are from fossil fuel and large carbon emitting corporations such as EDF, Engie, Air France, Renault-Nissan and BNP Paribas? (11)


In addition to not addressing the main sources of emissions, the climate agreement, since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, has allowed the use of market mechanisms. The creation of this carbon market has led to the massive cheating by Annex 1 countries (37 industrialized countries), escaping their legal commitment to cut emissions by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008-2012. The Kyoto Protocol flexibility mechanism allowed Annex 1 countries to “offset” their emissions by doing “clean development” projects in developing countries or by buying and selling their carbon credits.

The Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) scheme, the final rules of which are supposed to be formally adopted in Paris, adds significantly to this cheating by allowing countries to present any kind of tree planting or protection as a contribution to mitigation, even when such activities are not additional or permanent, or when they trigger deforestation in other areas or countries or are otherwise environmentally or socially damaging. It allows countries to commodify or even sell their forests as carbon sinks, ignores the real drivers of forest loss, but blames indigenous peoples and small farmers for deforestation instead. As the NO-REDD in Africa Network has stated, “Reports show that deforestation and the related emissions continue, and that REDD+, instead of reducing them, is harming and vilifying forest-dependent communities and those who produce the majority of the world’s food – small scale farmers.” (12)

The belief in carbon markets as panacea extends to the proposed Paris agreement, with proposals on the inclusion of land use related emissions and emission reductions. Already a loophole by itself in the flawed accounting approaches it proposes, combined with market mechanisms, will create an entire new grab for land as it creates a REDD+ for agriculture and soils.

The impermanence of land in the first place, makes it a far more theoretical carbon sink for emissions compared to the very real continued burning of fossil fuels. More importantly, the logic of carbon accounting determining agricultural policy means that agriculture will prioritize the needs of the carbon market rather than feeding people and that of food sovereignty.

The World Bank and other transnational corporations (TNCs) in the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture are pushing for this Climate Smart Agriculture – a system that produces more food on less land, while being weather resistant and absorbing carbon. The production of more food on less land is clearly supported by corporations pushing the use of GM seeds. But it is the creation of a new market for soils and agriculture that poses the greatest attraction to TNCs. Just how the monetary incentive of REDD+ displaced Indigenous Peoples, the potential financial gains will displace small farmers and add further to the already existing land grab. As La Via Campesina, the world’s largest movement of small farmers states, “Climate smart agriculture will lead to further consolidation of land, pushing peasant and family farmers towards World Bank Projects, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other institutions, creating dependency on so-called new technologies through their complete packages that include prescriptions of “climate smart varieties”, inputs, and credit, while ignoring traditional tried and true adaptive farming techniques and stewardship of seed varieties in practice by farmers.” (13) It continues, “The possibility of big profits with investments in carbon credits generated from farmlands involved in climate smart agriculture projects will increase speculation in the carbon market, leading to further “carbon land grabs” by large-scale investors and producers, and the further displacement of peasant and smallholder farmers, just as REDD displaces indigenous people. Under this climate smart agriculture framework, there is little hope of reducing and removing greenhouse gases, trying to solve food insecurity or any significant rural economic and social development.” (14)


This story does not need to end in tragedy. In fact, it is being challenged valiantly, everyday, with all the daily struggles being carried out by frontline communities, Indigenous Peoples, small farmers, women, workers, students, activists and heroes and heroines of Mother Nature. The future needs to be reclaimed, the system changed and peoples alternatives be pushed forward.

The draft Chairman proposals for the Paris deal: the agreement and the decision – need to be squarely rejected. The real danger of a bad deal is the fact that it will lock us into a permanent agreement of business as usual of burning the planet. The extreme hype around the Paris deal being desperately needed to “save the world” is scaremongering people into accepting a disastrously bad deal. Reminiscent of the days campaigning against the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Development Agenda, the call for no deal is better than a bad deal, rings true. No Paris deal is better than a bad and false Paris deal – exactly because just like the WTO Doha Development Agenda has locked the world into unfair trade rules on food and agriculture; will a false Paris Climate Agreement lock the world into a laissez faire regime of polluting as always, countries making cuts when they feel like it, manipulating accounting loopholes to cheat their way out of emissions cuts, and using and creating even more market mechanisms to commodify, financialize and profit from the remaining resources of the planet. If we are to make Paris about saving the planet, then it should be about rejecting the false deal that is on the table.

The original Climate Convention that was adopted in 1992 and ratified by practically every country in the world, including the US and other big polluters, is a rather generic but important agreement. It obliges countries to prevent dangerous climate change and is firmly based on the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities. Ever since the Kyoto Protocol was established and introduced a cap and trade regime based on quantified accounting and flexibility mechanisms, the climate negotiations have moved nowhere but backwards. Legally binding commitments have turned into voluntary pledges, and then into intended nationally determined contributions. Common but differentiated responsibility has turned into a vague regime applicable to all parties, disregarding both historical accountability and responsibility of Annex 1 countries and the fact that those who have done the least are least responsible. The long-standing demand of real compensation for loss and damage has just been paid lip service with the acknowledgement of the impacts of climate change.

A no Paris deal scenario in December is not a disaster – it is an opportunity. It will create the space for a recuperation to the original goals of the climate convention to halt dangerous climate change by holding polluters to account. It would also create the space for community-driven solutions some of which are already in practice and are cooling the planet – from peasant agroecology and community-based sustainable energy solutions to community forest conservation. It would allow for alternative proposals such as holistic policies and measures that are not centered on carbon accounting and markets. It will give space for transformative measures to be implemented to accomplish the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals including the historical zero deforestation by 2020 target. There are many more alternatives and proposals that can be given space for – rights of nature, climate jobs, “buen vivir”, food sovereignty, degrowth, deglobalization, and many more.

A world without a Paris deal is not only possible, it is necessary if we are to avoid tragedy. There are no limits to the alternatives.

*Mary Louise Malig, a researcher and trade analyst, is Campaigns Coordinator of the Global Forest Coalition.



(14) ibid



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Durban Declaration on REDD: “Stop the disastrous REDD+ experiment”

Stop the disastrous REDD+ experiment!


We are united to oppose and reject the commodification, privatization and plunder of Nature, which include REDD+ and other market-based mechanisms including biodiversity and conservation offsets that put profit above the well being of humanity and the planet.


Sign the declaration and join us today!

Durban Declaration on REDD


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Durban Declaration on REDD 2015

Durban Declaration on REDDYesterday, activists in Durban, South Africa launched the Durban Declaration on REDD. The Declaration opposes REDD, and rejects the “commodification, privatisation and plunder of Nature”.

The Declaration was launched at an event organised under the Civil Society Alternative Programme, which runs parallel to the World Forestry Congress, also taking place this week in Durban.

Renowned environmental and social activist Nnimmo Bassey, co-coordinator of the No REDD in Africa Network, explained why he opposes REDD:

“All forms of REDD amount to two things: licensing polluters to keep polluting and grabbing lands and other resources from forest and peasant communities. REDD+ started as land grab, in Africa it is becoming a continent grab and if not checked it will turn into a planet grab.”

On the panel with Bassey was Anabela Lemos of Justiça Ambiental – Friends of the Earth Mozambique. She said that,

“Both the World Forestry Congress and the United Nations want to use REDD to grab Africa as a sponge for Northern industrialized countries’ pollution, instead of cutting emissions at source. Mozambique is already struggling with land-grabbing and human rights violations, REDD is going to exacerbate those problems and create more poverty. Already a third of Mozambique has been targeted for REDD.”

Durban Declaration on REDD

The Durban Declaration on REDD

September 2015

We, local communities, peasants movements, Indigenous Peoples and civil society organizations from Africa and all over the world, call upon the United Nations, the World Forestry Congress, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank and states to reject top-down forms of development, including false solutions to climate change and forest and biodiversity conservation that only serve the dominant market economy.

We are united to oppose and reject the commodification, privatisation and plunder of Nature, which include REDD+[1] and other market-based mechanisms including biodiversity and conservation offsets that put profit above the wellbeing of humanity and the planet.

These mechanisms include the “financialization of nature,” which commodifies, separates and quantifies the Earth’s cycles and functions of carbon, water, forest, fauna and biodiversity – turning them into “units” to be sold in financial and speculative markets. However, Mother Earth is the source of Life, which needs to be protected, not a resource to be exploited and commodified as a ‘natural capital.’

REDD+ is also the pillar of the Green Economy. REDD+ is being misleadingly billed as saving the world’s forests and climate and is the anticipated main outcome of the UN’s Paris Accord on climate change in December 2015. In addition, REDD+ is a false solution to climate change that is already including forests, plantations and agriculture in the carbon Reports show that deforestation and the related emissions continue, and that REDD+, instead of reducing them, is harming and vilifying forest-dependent communities and those who produce the majority of the world’s food – small scale farmers. Furthermore,

    • REDD+ promotes monoculture tree plantations and genetically modified trees


    • REDD+ increases land grabs and human rights violations


    • REDD+ restricts access to forests, threatening livelihoods and cultural practices


    • REDD+ causes violence against peasants, Indigenous Peoples, women and forest-dwelling communities


    • REDD+ is combined with other offsets including payment for environmental services (PES)


    • REDD+ imposes market driven neo-liberalism on forests, which undermines and monetizes community conservation and social/cultural processes and creates inequalities


  • REDD+ projects tend to force subsistence communities into the cash economy and exploitative wage-labor

REDD+ hinders and prevents much needed policies that support endogenous, bio-cultural approaches to biodiversity conservation and restoration.

Therefore, we join with the No REDD in Africa Network and the Global Alliance against REDD to demand that governments, the United Nations and financial institutions stop the disastrous REDD+ experiment and finally start addressing the underlying causes of forest loss and climate change!

Put forward by the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN) and the Global Alliance Against REDD, with endorsement and support by the following. To be presented to the World Forestry Congress 2015, the UNFCCC COP21 and beyond:

No REDD in Africa Network
Global Alliance Against REDD
Indigenous Environmental Network
JA!/Justica Ambiental – Friends of the Earth Mozambique
All India Forum of Forest Movements/India
CENSAT Agua Viva – Friends of the Earth Colombia
Womin (Womens on Mining)
Foundation Help/Tanzania
Centre from Civil Society/University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
Democratic Left Front

[1] REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is a global initiative to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests and all other ecosystems to compensate governments and companies or owners of forests and agriculture in developing countries not to cut their forests or to reduce their rate of deforestation and forest degradation as a market mechanism to avoid GHG emissions. REDD+ expands REDD to develop methods for carbon sequestration through conservation of forest (and wetlands, agricultural systems) carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.


PHOTO Credit: Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project.

Africans to UN and loggers: Hands off our forests!


Durban, Sept.8, 2015 – Loggers and the United Nations want to grab African forests for REDD+, which promotes monoculture plantations and genetically modified trees and violates human rights, denounced the No REDD in Africa Network at the World Forestry Congress held in Durban, South Africa.

“Hands off Africa! Loggers go home! No REDD!” activists from the Civil Society Alternative Space chanted outside the World Forestry Congress. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is a carbon offset mechanism that is a false solution to climate change and the pillar of the Green Economy, the privatization of Nature and the upcoming Paris Accord of the UN climate convention.

“All forms of REDD amount to two things: licensing polluters to keep polluting and grabbing lands and other resources from forest and peasant communities. REDD+ started as land grab, in Africa it is becoming a continent grab and if not checked it will turn into a planet grab,” Nnimmo Bassey, renown Nigerian environmentalist and co-coordinator of the No REDD in Africa Network.

“Stop the disastrous REDD+ experiment!” demand the No REDD in Africa Network, the Global Alliance against REDD and over 65 organizations from all over the world, who signed the Durban Declaration on REDD.

REDD-type projects in Africa have resulted in violent evictions, threats to cultural survival, multi-generational carbon slavery and constitutes neocolonialism, according to the Worse REDD-type Projects in Africa, a compilation of the Network.

Anabela Lemos of Justiça Ambiental –Friends of the Earth Mozambique explains that “both the World Forestry Congress and the United Nations want to use REDD to grab Africa as a sponge for Northern industrialized countries pollution, instead of cutting emissions at source. Mozambique is already struggling with land-grabbing and human rights violations, REDD is going to exacerbate those problems and create more poverty. Already a third of Mozambique has been targeted for REDD.”

Ruth Nyambura, a political ecologist and eco-feminist from Kenya, has analyzed the official narrative to promote REDD. “REDD  de-centers critiques of the extractivist economic policies, and weaves a narrative that not only allows the scape-goating of communities at the frontlines of the impacts of the climate crises, but also requires that they adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change using the same framework of markets, which caused the crises in the first place.”


Nnimmo Bassey  +234 803 727 4395  (English)

Ruth Nyambura +27 78 575 2106 (English, Swahili)

Anabela Lemos + 258 82 332 5803  (English, Portuguese)

Pope rejects carbon trading

In his recent encyclical “Laudato Si,” the Pope urges action on climate change and specifically criticizes the sale of “carbon credits.”
The Earth “is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her, because of the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed on her. We have grown up thinking that we were her owners and dominators, authorised to loot her.”
Buying and selling carbon credits, the Pope  wrote, “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
Here’s the official translation of paragraph 171 of the encyclical:
The strategy of buying and selling “carbon credits” can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.
Since REDD is intrinsically linked to carbon trading, the Pope is also implicitly rejecting REDD.
The Vatican recently hosted governors and mayors from around the world to talk about climate change, including Governor Jerry Brown of California, a champion of cap-and-trade and REDD. We hope that the Pope challenged the Governor and made him see the light.
Both the Global Alliance against REDD and the No REDD in Africa have rejected California REDD.
NO REDD in Africa Network opposes inclusion of REDD o…

On 22 April 2013, the No REDD in Africa Network sent a letter to Jerry Brown, Governor of California, opposing the inclusion of REDD offsets in California’s Global …
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Press Statement: Tom Goldtooth – Behind the backs of the…

San Francisco, Oct. 17 – Governor Jerry Brown of California was slated to receive the Blue Green Alliance’s Right Stuff award for environmentalism in San
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Air France: Sponsor of COP21 and REDD

By Chris Lang 10 July 2015

2015-07-10-124410_1127x970_scrotThe UN climate negotiations that will take place in Paris are sponsored by a series of polluting companies. Among these companies are two that are also involved in REDD projects: Air France and BNP Paribas.

Today we’ll look at Air France, and at BNP Paribas in a future post.

Air France is an airline company. Aviation is the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. The aim of the UNFCCC is supposedly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So why on earth would the organisers of COP21 accept money from an airline company?

Aviation accounts for 2% of global emissions, but in rich countries it’s way more…

Air France points out on its website that, “The air transport sector contributes around 2% of global CO2 emissions”. The source for this statement is the IPCC’s fourth Assessment Report, published in 2007. So far, so good.

But the 2% figure hides a multitude of sins. More people in rich countries fly than in poor countries. Many people (especially poor people) don’t fly at all. In 2010, the Guardianestimated that in the UK, aviation’s impact is around 13-15% of total greenhouse gas emissions. A small number of regular flyers accounts for a large proportion of these emissions.

So what is an airline company to do? More flights presumably means more profits. And vice versa. No company has a mandate from its shareholders to reduce profits. So here’s Air France’s corporate vision on climate change:

We aim to reach a sustainable balance between aviation growth and the control of CO2 emissions by playing our part in the worldwide effort, mobilizing our industry and reducing our own impact.

Which amounts to handful of words promising very little.

REDD in Madagascar

In 2008, Air France decided to take action. Not by encouraging people to stop flying, obviously. Instead it invested €5 million over four years in a REDD project in Madagascar, the Holistic Conservation Programme for Forests (HCPF). (Incidentally, in 2014, Air France had revenues of €24.9 billion.)

Air France is delighted with the HCPF. “We have achieved or exceeded all our targets”, Air France’s Pierre Caussade told Sophie Chapelle from the news website Basta!.

“This project was developed partly to help local communities better manage their livelihoods and improve their living conditions. But there was also a scientific aspect, consistent with our concerns about climate change. We estimate that the programme will enable us to reduce emissions caused by deforestation by 35 billion tons of CO2.

(Caussade was quoting from the website of Good Planet, one of the NGOs that worked on the project. The page has now been removed, but here’s an archive copy. The Good Planet website now lists the project as completed, and corrects the figure to 35 million tons of CO2 over 20 years.)

The reality, as Amis de la Terre points out, is that large areas of forest have been taken away from local communities.

So that a small minority can continue to pollute the planet, we require the world’s poorest people to change their way of life: forests and land are no longer natural areas but have become stocks of carbon that must be protected. Worse, to keep an eye on fraudsters, a forest police has been set up: its mission is to track down villagers who clear patches of forest to grow food to feed themselves. Anybody caught in the act risks a heavy fine. If the individual is unable to pay, they are sent to prison. And as if patrols on the ground were not enough, aeroplanes fly above the villages to keep a better eye on them!

Conservation by coercion

The project is run by WWF Madagascar. One of the villagers affected by the REDD project explained how WWF had failed to consult with villagers, let alone carry out a process of free, prior informed consent:

“We are asking the WWF to show us which areas are protected and which are not, that is, where we can get firewood and wood to build our houses in order to provide for our families. But above all, these things must be discussed with all the villagers. We can’t make decisions on our own.”

Another villager pointed out that neither information about the project nor money reaches the villages. “There is no compensation, only penalties to pay.”

In a recent article about forest conservation in Madagascar, Julia Jones, Professor of Conservation Science at Bangor University, notes that,

Key questions remain about how benefits from REDD+ payments will be distributed locally – the question of whether resources will be sufficient to compensate for lost livelihoods – and how the rights of those affected will be protected.

Bruno Ramamonjisoa, a professor of forestry at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar, told Jones that,

[F]orest conservation in Madagascar will only be successful if the people dependent on forests, and their needs, are fully incorporated into conservation plans. Those developing the REDD+ policies must understand the real challenges facing forest-edge communities in Madagascar.”

Changes for the poor, not the rich

There is a serious ethical question here, as Sophie Chappelle points out in her 2013 report about the project published by Basta! and Amis de la Terre. Instead of addressing the root cause of climate change (burning fossil fuels) and changing the behaviour of the rich (who have most responsibility for climate change), this type of offset project allows the rich to continue their polluting lifestyles. Meanwhile, the poor are forced to change their behaviour. Chappelle writes:

When, for example, a company offers its clients the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions by financing a project like the HCPF, it equates leisure activities (air travel for holidays, the purchase of a computer) with fundamental rights (feeding oneself using slash-and-burn agriculture to clear land).


UN finalises forest protection initiative at Bonn climate talks

Rules for how REDD+ scheme will work are now agreed, work can start on ramping up projects say experts

Damar Forests of Indonesia (UN Photos)

By Ed King

One of the key elements for a global climate deal was unexpectedly resolved in Bonn on Tuesday, with governments signing off on plans for a UN-backed forest protection scheme.

Envoys told RTCC of their surprise at the agreement, which will see the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme form part of a Paris pact in December.

“It was successful… we all got a little of what we wanted,” said Ghana negotiator Yaw Osafo, who represented the Africa group at the meeting.

A US official in Bonn said the draft text, which will be formally agreed in Paris, was a big moment for efforts to slow deforestation and protect regions holding vast stores of carbon.

“It is big. It has been ten years of work. It concludes all of guidance around a really important issue which is how you reduce emissions from forests in developing countries,” she told RTCC, speaking in a background briefing.

One major issue was the “non-carbon benefits” generated from protecting forests, said Osafo, which include the protection of indigenous peoples and valuable ecosystems.

Many communities have complained of forest carbon initiatives which failed to consult or at worst displaced villages and in some cases did not share revenues with locals.

In Africa, where forest degradation is a bigger problem than industrial scale logging, this meant initiatives needed to be better coordinated with local communities, said Osafo.

In another well documented case, a Panama forest tribe engaged in a year-long campaign against REDD+, which it said ignored their rights and effectively sold off their traditional lands to outside investors.

VIDEO: What went wrong with the REDD+ programme?

With Paris looming and pressure mounting for a decision in other venues at the Bonn talks, it appears countries that previously held tough positions backed down for the sake of progress.

Norway, the EU and Switzerland had demanded tougher measures to ensure environmental and human rights “safeguards”, and faced a Brazil-Africa coalition resistant to new guidelines.

What emerged was a compromise, suggested Gustavo Silva-Chávez from the DC-based Forest Trends NGO, with countries keen to see a full package ready by the end of the week.

“In simple terms in the last several years the UN has provided the rules for how to provide a REDD+ mechanism… they have the written guidance,” he said.

Even Bolivia, long an opponent of the role of carbon markets in the REDD+ mechanism, agreed not to block a deal which leaves the door open for a variety of funding flows.

“Many others told Bolivia – some of us want to use them… maybe not now but we want to keep options open,” added Silva-Chávez.

Report: Panama rainforest tribes settle UN REDD dispute

Experts warn the decision leaves plenty of work for negotiating teams and those charged with implementing REDD+ on the ground in the coming months.

Deforestation and land degradation is on the rise, and accounts for around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s IPCC climate science panel.

Tougher safeguards and transparency would generate more confidence from the finance sector, said the US official, with the UN’s Green Climate Fund and World Bank forest carbon fund other potential donors.

Ghana estimates it needs half a billion dollars to roll out a full REDD+ programme said Osafo.

Around $4 billion of the $10bn pledged at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit was supposed to be directed towards forests, but in reality the figures have been far smaller, he added.

Report: China, India reject calls for tougher climate goal at UN talks 

Still, the early agreement on forests has boosted confidence in the UN process at a time when the main strand of talks on a global deal appear stuck in an 80-page long quagmire of a text.

Often, said Silva-Chávez, this strand of negotiations was used as bargaining chip to call for more progress on finance or make other demands. That didn’t happen when matters came to a crunch.

In 2000 disagreements over what was then called “REDD” led to the collapse of talks in the Hague at the annual UN summit. Since then careful confidence-building measures have developed relationships among envoys.

“Most people are foresters and understand issues and appreciate different situations in other countries… it’s not too had to empathise and try and find ways to accommodate each other,” said Osafo.

Better communication and more field visits were key to this result, said the US official, allowing better understanding between countries – which negotiate individually rather than in blocks.

“It’s a really important thing we have done… probably made possible because of the tight knit community working on forests and climate,” she said.

“A deep base of sharing and knowledge and a lot of trust… that’s what has allowed us to move forward.”

– See more at:

Add Your Name to the List of Indigenous Women and Organizations who Strongly Oppose Carbon Trading, CDM and REDD+

Carbon Trading, CDM and REDD: New Forms of Violence against Women NOT Women’s Empowerment!

As women and our allies, please add your name and/or your organization’s support to the letter below to voice your opposition to the World Bank’s, the United Nations’ and the State of California’s false solutions to climate change, which include carbon trading, carbon offsets, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

We demand that the World Bank, the United Nations and the State of California reject these market-based, land grabbing false solutions to climate change, which are bad for the planet, violate the rights of Indigenous Women, children and youth, do not protect forests and increase violence and abuses against Indigenous and local communities.

A copy of the letter below will be delivered to the listed recipients and will include a list of the individuals and organizations who have endorsed this letter/petition.


  • The World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim;
  • His Excellency Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General of United Nations;
  • To the Honorable Governor Jerry Brown of the State of California, United States of America;

RE: Carbon Trading, CDM and REDD: New Forms of Violence against Women NOT Women’s Empowerment!

As you know, carbons markets, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) are false solutions to climate change, which commodify, privatize and sell the air we breathe to generate permits to pollute. These permits to pollute also known as carbon credits are used by polluters and climate criminals like Shell, Chevron and Rio Tinto to avoid reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source. [1] The World Bank and the United Nations are at the forefront of promoting these false solutions to climate change. Meanwhile the State of California is on the verge of launching a global model for implementing REDD and the CDM.

As women, we know that carbon trading and carbon offset projects violate our right to life because they increase pollution and make global warming worse. Carbon offset projects have resulted in land grabs, human rights abuses, violations of the rights of women, children, and Indigenous Peoples, forced displacement, armed guards, jailings, persecution and criminalization of activists.[2] The carbon trading scam also means more asthma, heart disease and cancer for communities living near sources of pollution. Carbon markets cynically greenwash increased fossil fuel exploitation, extraction and combustion, which create toxic hot spots and toxic body burdens for women, affecting the right of future generations to a healthy life.

As women who are guardians and collectors of water, we know that these false solutions allow polluting industries and governments to increase toxic emissions and releases, which poison our precious water. Furthermore, these false solutions to climate change cause more droughts, floods and natural disasters, during which women and children are 14 times more likely to die than men. [3]

We, the under-signed organizations and individuals celebrate Mother Earth and women. We reject carbon trading, the CDM and REDD, and denounce them as new forms of violence against women, children, local communities and Indigenous Peoples. We also reject the Women’s Carbon Standard,[4] “gender sensitive carbon offset projects,”[5] “women and children methodologies”[6] and the promotion and certification of carbon trading and carbon offset projects of any kind, in terms of women’s empowerment and leadership or our families’ and children’s wellbeing.

We, the undersigned, defend life and human rights and demand climate justice and gender equality now!


  • UN-REDD;
  • Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana     Figueres;
  • UN Women;
  • Commission on the Status of Women;
  • UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo;
  • The Committee on the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
  • The Committee of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • The Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD);
  • The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues;
  • UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya;
  • UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda
  • Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board
  • Ashley
Conrad-Saydah, Assistant  Secretary for Climate Policy, California Environmental
Protection Agency
  • Arsenio Mataka, Subsecretary for  Environmental
Justice and
Tribal Affairs California Environmental
 Protection Agency
  • La
Bowen, Ombudsman, California Environmental Protection
  • Jason A. Gray, Staff
Air  Resources Board

[1] No REDD in Africa
[2],, Women against REDD Statement

[emailpetition id=”2″]

Firma la carta de mujeres indígenas y organizaciones que se oponen contundentemente al comercio de carbono, al MDL y REDD+

Como mujeres y aliados, por favor firme la carta con su nombre y/o con su organización para oponerse a las falsas soluciones al cambio climático del Banco Mundial, las Naciones Unidas y el Estado de California de EEUU, que incluyen el comercio de carbono, las compensaciones de carbono, el Mecanismo de Desarrollo Limpio (MDL) y la Reducción de Emisiones de la Deforestación y la Degradación forestal (REDD+).

Exigimos que el Banco Mundial, las Naciones Unidas y el Estado de California rechacen estas falsa soluciones basadas en el mercado neoliberal que resultan en despojos de territorio, y que son malas para el planeta, violan los derechos de las Mujeres Indígenas, los niños y la juventud, no protegen los bosques y aumentan la violencia y abusos contra los Pueblos Indígenas y las comunidades locales.

Una copia de la carta será entregada a los destinarios e incluirá una lista de los individuos y organizaciones que han firmada la carta/petición.


  • Presidente del Banco Mundial Dr. Jim Yong Kim;
  • Secretario-General de las Naciones Unidas Su Excelencia Ban Ki-moon;
  • Gobernador Jerry Brown del Estado de California, Estados Unidos;

¡Mercados de carbono, MDL y REDD son
Nuevas Formas de Violencia contra la Mujer
NO el empoderamiento de las mujeres!

Como ustedes saben, los mercados de carbono, el Mecanismo de Desarrollo Limpio (MDL) y REDD (Reducción de Emisiones por Deforestación y Degradación de bosques) son falsas soluciones al cambio climático, que mercantilizan, privatizan y venden el aire que respiramos para generar permisos para contaminar. Estos permisos para contaminar también conocidos como créditos de carbono son utilizados por los contaminadores y los criminales del clima como las petroleras Shell y Chevron-Texaco y la minera Rio Tinto para evitar la reducción de las emisiones de gases del efecto invernadero en el lugar donde se origen. [1] El Banco Mundial y las Naciones Unidas están a la vanguardia de promover estas falsas soluciones al cambio climático. Mientras tanto, el Estado de California está al punto  de lanzar un modelo mundial para implementar REDD y el MDL.

Como mujeres sabemos que el comercio de carbono y los proyectos de compensación de carbono violan nuestro derecho a la vida, ya que aumentan la contaminación y empeoran el calentamiento global. Proyectos de compensación de carbono han resultado en el despojo de tierras, violaciones de los derechos humanos, las violaciones de los derechos de las mujeres, los niños y los Pueblos Indígenas, la reubicación  forzosa, guardias armados, encarcelamientos, la persecución y la criminalización de activistas.[2] La estafa del comercio de carbono también significa más asma, enfermedades del corazón y cáncer para las comunidades que vivan cerca de las fuentes de contaminación. Los mercados de carbono hacen un “lavado verde” de más explotación, extracción y quema de combustibles fósiles, lo que crean basureros tóxicos y cargan de veneno a los cuerpos de las mujeres, así perjudicando el derecho de las generaciones futuras a una vida sana.

Como mujeres guardianas y recolectoras del agua, sabemos que estas falsas soluciones permiten a las industrias  y los gobiernos contaminadores a aumentar sus emisiones y fugas tóxicas, que envenenan el agua sagrada. Además estas falsas soluciones al cambio climático resultan en más sequias, inundaciones y desastres naturales, durante los cuales es 14 veces más probable que las mujeres y niños mueran que los hombres.[3]

Las organizaciones e individuos abajo-firmantes celebramos la Madre Tierra y la mujer. Rechazamos el comercio de carbono, el MDL y REDD, y los denunciamos como nuevas formas de violencia contra las mujeres, los niños, las comunidades locales y los Pueblos Indígenas. También rechazamos el Estándar de Carbono de la Mujer,[4]  “los proyectos de compensación de carbono con perspectiva de género”, [5] “las metodologías con las mujeres y los niños” [6]  y la promoción y la certificación de comercio de carbono y los proyectos de compensación de carbono de cualquier tipo, en términos del empoderamiento y el liderazgo de las mujeres o el bienestar de nuestras familias y niños..

¡Defendemos la vida y los derechos humanos y exigimos justicia climática y la igualdad de género ya!


  • Secretaria Ejecutiva de la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Cambio Climático Christiana Figueres,;
  • ONU Mujeres;
  • Comisión de la Condición Jurídica y Social de la Mujer;
  • Relatora Especial de la ONU sobre la violencia contra la mujer, Rashida Manjoo;
  • El Comité de la Convención para la Eliminación de la Discriminación contra la Mujer (CEDAW);
  • El Comité de la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño;
  • El Comité de la Convención sobre la Eliminación de todas las formas de Discriminación Racial (CERD);
  • El Foro Permanente de las Naciones Unidas para las Cuestiones Indígenas;
  • Relator Especial de la ONU sobre los derechos humanos y las libertades fundamentales de los Pueblos Indígenas, James Anaya;
  • Relatora Especial de la ONU sobre la extrema pobreza y los derechos humanos, Magdalena Sepúlveda;
  • Mary Nichols, Presidenta de California Air Resources Board;
  • Ashley
Conrad-Saydah, Assistant  Secretary for Climate Policy, California Environmental
Protection Agency;
  • Arsenio Mataka, Subsecretary for  Environmental
Justice and
Tribal Affairs California Environmental
 Protection Agency;
  • LaRonda
Bowen, Defensoría, California Environmental Protection
  • Jason A. Gray, Asesor Jurídico, California
Air Resources Board.

[1] No REDD in Africa
[2],, Women against REDD Statement


World Slams California’s Offsets

World Slams California’s Offsets

Opposition Mounts as California Expands its Cap-and-Trade Market Regime

to Include Methane Capture from Coal Mining and Rice Farming


For Immediate Release: April 25, 2014
Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, 218-760-0442,
Mari Rose Taruc, Asian Pacific Environmental Network and AB32 Environmental Justice Advisory Committee member, 510-258-1878,

Sacramento – Global civil society, Indigenous Peoples, environmental organizations and social movements from over 30 countries slammed the State of California’s plans to include methane offsets from coal mining and rice cultivation in its cap-and-trade program because they are false solutions to climate change that greenwash mining and use food for carbon trading.

“The peoples of the world reject offsets and carbon traders, big polluting corporations like mining companies and oil giants Shell and Chevron, defend offsets,” notes Americans against Offsets.

This resounding international outcry has already opposed other forms of offsets in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) including offsets from urban trees, domestic and Canadian forests, and REDD (Reducing Emissions form Deforestation and Degradation) in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and other tropical forest countries. Furthermore, the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee of AB32 echoed this opposition to offsets when it submitted its final recommendations to the California Air Resource Board on April 11, 2014.

“Offsets are a carbon trading scam to supposedly compensate greenhouse gas emissions and are used by polluters instead of reducing pollution at source”, says Tom BK Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, who has 16 years of experience participating in national and United Nations climate negotiations.

The California Air Resource Board (CARB) is slated to adopt the Mine Methane Capture Protocol today at its board meeting in Sacramento. The Rice Cultivation Projects Compliance Offset Protocol is slated for adoption in September 2014. This follows CARB’s actions fast tracking the implementation of REDD, a highly controversial forest and plantation offset with uncertainties that beset offsets, including measurement, verification and environmental and human rights concerns.

“The use of offsets, and the possible allowance of offsets from coal mines, is completely counterproductive to any real progress in reversing the root causes of climate change,” Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch stated in the public comment process of CARB in October 2013. “Offsets do not lead to real, additional, or permanent emissions reductions… Addressing climate change requires direct pollution reductions, as well as the use of sustainable and renewable energy sources.”

California Assembly member Nancy Skinner, who serves on the committee on natural resources and public safety, wrote to CARB requesting it postpone indefinitely the adoption of the methane offsets protocol. According to Ms. Skinner, “The protocol, as written, will subsidize coal mining, likely for export… Mine Methane Capture [offsets] could actually increase carbon emissions…We cannot have a policy that directly incentivizes coal mining. The best way to reach our AB 32 goals is to keep coal in the ground.”

Goldtooth agrees, “IEN just released a brief report, “Burn, Baby, Burn: California’s Methane Offsets”, that shows the MMC has extremely strong potential to become a major driver of national coal mining. The proposed offset protocol purports to be about the environmentally motivated capture and destruction of methane gas for offsets.   However, it actually incentivizes and subsidizes the development of additional and potentially major coal mining and natural gas extraction operations, including flaring and burning, in existing and future coal mines. And let us not forget that coal is the biggest contributor to climate change.””

CARB is moving aggressively to include its first agricultural-based offsets into its cap-and-trade program. The Rice Cultivation Project Protocol will open the door for carbon offsets from growing rice. Over 125 civil society organizations from 30 countries sent the “No REDD Rice Manifesto” to the CARB demanding the rejection of the rice cultivation offset protocol and denouncing the use of sacred staple crops and food for carbon trading. The public comment log shows that 90.7% of the respondents are against rice offsets, and only 7.4% in favor.

According to Kartini Samon of GRAIN’s Indonesian office, “REDD is another form of privatization of our natural resources including land, water, seeds and air. REDD rice will increase land grabbing of farm land all over the world. We really need to fight REDD rice.”

“I thought California wanted to be a leader for real climate action. If they do, they need to cancel all offset regimes,” Goldtooth concluded.

Concerns have also been raised about the lack of transparency of the Air Resources Board’s comment log and attempts to minimalize the overwhelming opposition to offsets.

“We refuse to be erased,” said Americans against Offsets. “Stopping offsets is a matter of life and death for Americans and the planet.”

Download the Report: Burn, Baby, Burn:California’s Methane Offsets (PDF)


For more info:





P.O. Box 485

Bemidji, MN 56619


Forced Relocation of Sengwer People proves urgency of canceling REDD

February 25, 2014

We, the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN) together with the undersigned organizations and individuals, strongly condemn the massive evictions and forced relocation of the Sengwer Indigenous People, one of the few remaining hunter-gatherers of the world, from their ancestral home in Kenya’s Cherangany Hills.

SIGN BELOW – DEADLINE March 6, 2014 

2pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time


[emailpetition id=”3″]


The Kenyan government calls the Sengwer People ‘squatters,’ despite the fact that they and their ancestors have lived in the Cherangany Hills since time immemorial; and that Article (63d) of the Kenyan constitution (2010) grants them inalienable rights to their ancestral lands.

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” carried out by a combined force of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, now evicting the Sengwer, destroying property and burning homes[1]. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction,” he said.[2] According to international human rights law such as the Convention on Genocide, forced relocation of ethnic or racial minorities is a very grave violation and can constitute genocide.

World Bank’s complicity

We take great exception to the press statement issued by the World Bank[3] in which it attempts to distance itself from the forced relocation of the Sengwer People. The cause and effect is perfectly clear; the Bank in its highly controversial role as both carbon credit financier and broker is aiding and abetting the forced relocation of an entire Indigenous People through its Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP) which includes REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), in the Cherangany Hills.

What is perhaps most disturbing about the statement is the World Bank’s offer to the Kenyan government, “to share best practices in resettlement in line with its safeguard policies. These seek to improve or restore the living standards of people affected by involuntary resettlement.” The World Bank is both admitting its complicity in the forced relocation of the Sengwer People as well as offering to collude with the Kenyan government to cover-up cultural genocide. Claims of being able to restore and improve the living standards of evicted people such as the Sengwer are crude, paternalistic, colonial in nature and above all smack of sheer arrogance on the World Bank’s part.


From 2007 till date, there have been almost yearly forced evictions of the Sengwer People[4] with the latest evictions being the most violent of them all. It is no coincidence that the evictions began in 2007, the very same the year that the World Bank’s Natural Resource Management Project started[5].

In 2013, the Sengwer People moved to court to file an injunction against their imminent removal from their homes and in May an interim injunction was secured at the Eldoret high-court. These orders were further extended in November and on 18 January 2014; the same court issued further orders requiring that the police arrest anyone breaching the injunction until the matter of community rights to their land is resolved. The government of Kenya has continued to ignore these court orders, taking upon itself the role of judge and prosecutor of the Sengwer People’s case.

The Sengwer People are being accused of encroaching on and destroying the forests in the Cherangany Hills, leading to the drying up of rivers that provide water to nearby towns and villages. The government of Kenya states that evicting these ‘squatters’ is the only way to begin the ‘conservation’ of the ecosystems and specially the forests in the area. This is a complete obfuscation of the truth. The Sengwer People have always preserved these ecosystems in their ancestral land by practicing by living sustainably and are now facing complete annihilation under the guise of ‘conservation’ under REDD.

The Kenyan government insists on not distinguishing between the Sengwer People and a large group of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), including those affected by the 2007-2008 post-election violence, and victims of landslides who have settled in the Embobut Forest area. The government’s refusal to make this distinction is an attempt to falsely label the Sengwer People as “squatters.”

REDD driving Land Grabs and Forced Relocation of Indigenous Peoples

We are alarmed at the obvious connection between these evictions and the World Bank’s funding of the Kenyan government’s REDD+ ‘readiness’ program in the Cherangany Hills through the bank’s Natural Resource Management project (NRMP). REDD is a highly controversial emissions reduction scheme that uses forests, plantations and lands in the Global South as carbon offsets and supposed sponges of the fossil fuel carbon emissions and pollution from the Global North.

The head of conservation at the Kenya Forest Service, Mr. Solomon Mibei, is on record stating that “REDD+ mechanism is a future option.” He also admitted that the KFS is doing carbon financing workshops with communities. “At the moment, the KFS is conducting workshops with communities living around the Embobut forest and the Kakamega forest to educate them on carbon financing.” Furthermore, the Kenya Forest service has been designated as the REDD+ focal point for the coordination of national REDD+ readiness activities.

REDD+ allows rich polluting countries to shirk their historical responsibilities for and contribution to the climate crisis we now face by enabling them to shift the burden to ‘developing’ countries like Kenya. Instead of reducing emissions at source, which is the only sustainable way to stop the climate catastrophe, such schemes allow them to pretend to reduce emissions elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately as the Sengwer case shows, it is the poorest and most marginalized in developing countries who not only suffer the most from climate change but also the negative effects of the false solutions to climate change like REDD. These false solutions, above all, enable global economic interests to benefit from massive land grabs and the abuse of human and environmental rights.

The World Bank project initially claimed to address land claims of the indigenous communities, as part of the process of ensuring the fair and effective management of the Cherangany Hills forest. This was welcomed by the Sengwer People who thought it would be a great opportunity to address decades of marginalization and loss of access to their ancestral lands which they had faced under the hands of successive Kenyan governments.

But this initiative was soon dropped by the Bank which claimed that it was ‘too complicated’ but at the same time continued to fund the Kenyan government’s REDD+ work in the Cherangany Hills, thereby further entrenching the marginalization of the Sengwer People[6].

In January 2013, members of the Sengwer People made a formal complaint to the World Bank’s Inspection Panel, the organ tasked with the duty of reviewing the impacts of the projects funded by the World Bank[7]. The Inspection Panel visited Kenya in May 2013 to assess the eligibility of the complaint and members of the Sengwer People described the loss of access to much of their ancestral lands as well as their traditional right to protect the forests which they have always depended on for their survival[8]. The Inspection Panel found the complaint to be admissible and a full investigation was recommended, with the final outcome of the investigation expected by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

Unfortunately, the abuses against the Sengwer People are not an exception. The violent eviction of the Ogiek People from the Mau Forest for UNEP-funded REDD is another example of Indigenous Peoples in Kenya being evicted for REDD.[9]

The No REDD in Africa Network’s Maputo Declaration (2013)[10], declared that REDD-type projects are leading to the displacement of forest dependent communities, servitude, killings, repression and other human rights abuses, and the Sengwer Peoples’ plight is a clear example of what we condemn and why there must be no REDD in Africa.

The No REDD in Africa Network has repeatedly denounced that  REDD+ is not merely a false solution to climate change, but is emerging as a new form of colonialism, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab.[11] We must defend the continent from carbon colonialism.

The forced relocation of the Sengwer People by the AK-47 touting Kenya Forest Service is reminiscent of the forced removals of rural communities by the then South African government during the apartheid era. We had hoped that this kind of history would not repeat itself in the continent.

Demands to Government of Kenya:

1. We demand that the government of Kenya immediately and definitively halt the evictions of the Sengwer Indigenous People, return their ancestral lands and provide full reparations and compensation and provide guarantees that they will not be attacked again.

2. We demand that the government of Kenya should issue a formal apology to the Sengwer, duly recognizing these law-abiding citizens of Kenya of as the owners and best custodians of their territory and forests in the Cherangany Hills.

Demands to Governments and the United Nations:

  1. We request that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Special Adviser on Genocide, the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples,  the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the UN Expert Mechanism on Indigenous Peoples immediately coordinate, issue statements and take measures to halt the forced relocation and extinction of the Sengwer People, as well as propose concrete measures for the recovery of their territory, reparations, justice and guarantees of non-repetition.
  2. We demand that governments, companies, carbon traders, the World Bank and the United Nations including UN-REDD, UNEP, UNDP and others immediately cancel these harmful REDD and other carbon offset schemes.
  3. We request that the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Adviser on Genocide prepare a report on how REDD and carbon offsets are causing violations of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. We demand the creation of an International Truth Commission on the forced relocation of the Sengwer People and abuses associated with REDD, REDD-type projects, the Clean Development Mechanism and carbon trading and carbon offsets in the world; composed of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and experts on human rights, the environment and the climate.

Request to African Commission:

  1. We invite the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to prepare a report on the impact of REDD and carbon offsets on the Indigenous Peoples, local communities and land grabbing in Africa.

In closing, we cordially request that the Government of Kenya, the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to respond to these demands and requests, and take the corresponding action.

For the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN),

Signed by: Nnimmo Bassey & Anabela Lemos



  • President – Uhuru Kenyatta
  • United Nations Secretary General – Ban Ki-Moon
  • President of the World Bank – Jim Yong Kim
  • UN High Commissioner on Human Rights – Navi Pillay
  • UN Special Adviser on prevention of genocide – Adama Dieng
  • UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples – James Anaya
  • UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition – Pablo de Greiff
  • UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect – Jennifer Welsh
  • United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and its Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa
  • Coordinator of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Programme on Indigenous Peoples – Dr. Albert Barume
  • UN-REDD Programme Policy Board and Secretariat
  • UNEP, Executive Director Achim Steiner
  • UNDP, Administrator Helen Clark
  • Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR)


International and Regional level organisations

No REDD in African Network (NRAN)

African Biodiversity Network

Indigenous Environmental Network

Health of Mother Earth Foundation

The Rules

World Rainforest Movement

National-level organisations

Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique)

Timberwatch, South Africa

Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC), Nigeria

[2] Kenyan government forcing us into extinction’: evictions of Sengwer tribe escalate , Survival International, 24 January 2014

[4]World Bank Inspection Panel, Report and Recommendation KENYA: Natural Resource Management Project (P095050),  29 May ‘13, pg. 70, available on

[5] Project Appraisal Document, World Bank, February 26, 2007, available on

[6]Kenya defies its own courts: torching homes and forcefully evicting the Sengwer from their ancestral lands, threatening their cultural survival.

Available on:

[7]How the World Bank is implicated in today’s Embobut Evictions,

[8] World Bank Inspection Panel, Report and Recommendation KENYA: Natural Resource Management Project (P095050),  May 29, 2013, page 70,

Kenya preparing for REDD in the Embobut Forest and forcing Sengwer People “into extinction”




January 31, 2014

Last year the Government of Kenya was getting “ready” for REDD in the Embobut Forest, now it is violently evicting the Sengwer People and forcing them “into extinction.” According to Survival International, “as many as a thousand homes have already been torched.”[i]

Sengwer spokesman Yator Kiptum denounced the “disaster” caused by combined force of the Kenya Forest Service and Administration Police, a paramilitary unit of the police, which is now evicting the Sengwer not just from the Embobut Forest but from the entirety of the Cherangany Hills, destroying property and burning homes. “The government of Kenya is forcing us into extinction,” he said.[ii]

The extension of the evictions to all other areas in the Cherangany Hills forest complex to include Kapolet and Lelan/Kamolokon “means the removal of the entire population of Sengwer indigenous people living in the Cherangany Hills from their ancestral lands.”[iii] Some13,500 Sengwer live in the Cherangany Hills in Kenya’s Northern Rift Valley, and are one of the few hunter-gatherer groups left in eastern Africa.[iv]

According to Forest Peoples Programme, the Sengwer are not squatters. “The Sengwer have their rights to their ancestral forest lands enshrined in the Constitution and international law.” [v] The Sengwer obtained court orders to prevent further evictions to no avail.

Inspector Stephene Chessa who works for the Kenya Forest Service and is in charge of the Embobut evictions, denied anyone had been evicted by force. According to Mr. Chessa, the presence of the security forces is to ensure that the process is smooth.[vi] Funders of the Kenya Forest Service include the World Bank and the government of Finland.[vii]



Forest guards arrive in Kenya’s Embobut Forest in preparation for the evictions. © FPP

Last year, the World Bank funded the Government of Kenya’s REDD+ Program exclusively through its $68.5 million dollar Natural Resources Management Program, in the Cherangany Hills.[viii]

According its Inspection Panel report No. 77959-KE, the World Bank was “financing REDD+ readiness activities” as part of this program. As of last May, activities started include: “Identification of Grazing Systems as a REDD+ Strategy Option [and] Development of a Methodology for Monitoring Community Engagement in Forest Management and REDD+.”[ix] REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) is a carbon offset mechanism that uses forests and land as sponges for Northern pollution.[x]

Solomon Mibei, Head of Conservation at Kenya Forest Service (KFS), said that “At the moment, the KFS is conducting workshops with communities living around the Embobut forest and the Kakamega forest to educate them on carbon financing.”[xi]


Homes of the Sengwer People in Kenya’s Cherangany Hills torched by forest guards © Justin Kenrick/ Survival

However, according to Forest Peoples Programme, KFS does not have a good track record protecting forests. “…when the KFS is in control then indigenous forest is fast destroyed, as profit-making plantations and agriculture replace the biodiversity of the indigenous forest.”[xii]

Possible partners for eventually doing REDD in Kenya include the Africa Development Bank, which is already working with communities on “forest conservation” exchange programs through a programme known as Green Zones Development Support Project (GZDSP).[xiii] Toyota[xiv] and Coca-Cola[xv] may also be prospective partners.

Last year, Sengwer representatives denounced previous KFS evictions in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 as well as the alleged shooting of the Sengwer woman Mrs. Beatrice Chepkorir in The Cherangany Hills Project Operation area of the World Bank-funded Natural Resources Management Project.[xvi] The Sengwer representatives also demanded that the Bank suspend funding for REDD+ until these injustices are addressed.[xvii]

This is not the first time in Kenya that Indigenous People suffer violent evictions from their ancestral territory that is slated for REDD. “The Mau Forest was made “ready” for UNEP-funded REDD with violent evictions of the Indigenous Ogiek People,” which threaten their cultural survival.[xviii] A landmark ruling on these evictions is expected to be handed down by the African Court this year.

The evictions of the Sengwer join the growing roster of land grabs and grave human rights violations caused by REDD ‘readyness” initiatives and forest carbon projects, which also include persecution, imprisonment, and killing.[xix] The evictions of the Sengwer may also confirm Friends of the Earth International’s concern that REDD could “foster an ‘armed protection’ mentality that could lead to the displacement of millions of forest-dependent people, including by force.”[xx]

“A false solution to climate change, REDD+ is emerging as a new form of colonialism, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab. We must defend the continent from carbon colonialism,” declares the No REDD in Africa Network.

Even the United Nations admits that REDD+ could result in the “lock-up of forests,” “loss of land,” “conflict over resources,” “new risks for the poor” and “marginalize the landless.”[xxi]

There has been some debate as to whether REDD could potentially cause cultural genocide.[xxii] The evictions of the Sengwer People indicate that it very well may.



[i] Kenyan government forcing us into extinction’: evictions of Sengwer tribe escalate , Survival International, 24 January 2014
[ii] Ibid.[iii] Kenya Burns Indigenous People Out of Ancestral Lands, Environmental News Service, January 22, 2014
[iv] Sengwer, Marakwet and other inhabitants of the Embobut Forest are being told to move by authorities, Survival International, March 2013.
[v] Ibid. and Indigenous Peoples evicted and their homes set on fire; Embobut forest, Kenya, REDD Monitor

[vi] Interview with Inspector Stephen Chessa, by Kenyan journalist Isaiah Esipisu. January 19, 2014.
[vii] Miti Mingi Maisha Bora (MMMB) – Support to the Forest Sector Reform in Kenya, Embassy of Finland in Kenya, “…while components 2 and 3 are primarily implemented by KFS;” Note promotion of “trade in bio-energy.”
[ix] World Bank Inspection Panel, Report and Recommendation KENYA: Natural Resource Management Project (P095050), May 29, 2013, page 70
[x] See No REDD Papers, Volume 1 No REDD Reader,
[xi] Interview with Solomon Mibei Head of Conservation Kenya Forest Services by Kenyan journalist Isaiah Esipisu, January 18, 2014.
[xii] Kenya Burns Indigenous People Out of Ancestral Lands
[xiii] Interview with Solomon Mibei Head of Conservation Kenya Forest Services by Kenyan journalist Isaiah Esipisu, January 18, 2014.
[xiv] Interview with Sayoko Morita, Assistant to Managing Director, and in charge of the Cooperate Social Responsibility – Toyota Kenya by Kenyan journalist Isaiah Esipisu,, January 2014;
Cherangany water tower gets new lease on life, The Standard, 11 may 2011, “We presented a proposal to Toyota and they agreed to fund part of the rehabilitation of this important water tower,” said Core Country Chairman Kiyoshi Kita.”
[xv] Introduction to PES and REDD, Nairobi, 2011, Coca Cola listed as a funder (slide 6): “Kerio Valley Development Authority, Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (Eldowas), Marakwet County Council and Coca Cola have also come together to save the forest.” The Standard,
[xvi] “Shooting of a woman in Kapolet forest – in 2009 when the forest guards entered Kapolet forest to arrest members of Sengwer families they used live bullets. During the shootings, Mrs. Beatrice Chepkorir a Sengwer indigenous woman was shot from the back and left for death.” page 28 REQUEST FOR INSPECTION PANEL REVIEW OF THE KENYA: NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PROJECT (P095050) received by the Inspection Panel on January 14, 2013 and registered on January 30, 2013 (RQ13/02).(Annex 1)
World Bank The Inspection Panel,,contentMDK:23350855~pagePK:64129751~piPK:64128378~theSitePK:380794,00.html
[xvii] Ibid, page 30.

[xviii] The Worse REDD-type Projects in Africa: Continent Grab for Carbon Colonialism , No REDD in Africa Network,
[xix] Ibid and A Dozen of the Worst REDD-type Projects, Carbon Trade Watch,
[xx] Friends of the Earth International, REDD: Critical questions and myths exposed,, Summary
[xxi] UN-REDD Framework Document, , p. 4-5 A Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP) Policy Brief, Based on the report “Making REDD Work for the Poor”, (Peskett et al, 2008) PEP includes UNDP, UNEP, IUCN, OCI, SIDA, ADB, DFID, WCMC
[xxii] Launch of No REDD in Africa Network: “REDD could cause genocide.”
“In 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which defines genocide as follows: ‘genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.’

Does this definition apply to REDD? Potentially, it does. REDD could involve a vast area of land (theoretically covering the area of forest land – including large areas of agricultural land – in the global south). The rights to the use of that land could be taken away from Indigenous Peoples who depend on their forests for their livelihoods. Destroying livelihoods on this scale could conform to the parts (a), (b), and (c) of the definition of genocide, above.”

REDD Monitor

Without a doubt, the massive evictions and burning of their homes are causing the Sengwer People mental harm, and, thus, conforming to criteria (b) of genocide.


Kenya prepara para REDD en el bosque Embobut Forest y
fuerza al pueblo Sengwer “a la extinción”

31 Enero 2014
El año pasado, el Gobierno de Kenya estaba “preparándose” para REDD en el Bosque Embobut, ahora está  desalojando violentamente al Pueblo Sengwer y forzándoles “a la extinción.” Según la ONG Survival International, “nada menos que un millar de casas ya han sido incendiadas”.

El portavoz Sengwer, Yator Kiptum, denunció el “desastre” causado por la fuerza combinada del Servicio Forestal de Kenia y de la Administración de Policía, una unidad paramilitar de la policía, que ahora está desalojando la población Sengwer no sólo desde el Bosque Embobut sino de la totalidad de las Lomas de Cherangany, destruyendo sus propiedades y quemando casas  “El gobierno de Kenia nos está forzando a la extinción,” ha dicho.

La extensión de los desalojos a todas las otras áreas en el complejo forestal Lomas de Cherangany incluyendo a Kapolet y Lelan/Kamolokon significa la eliminación de toda la población del Pueblo Indígena Sengwer que viven en las Lomas de Cherangany desde sus ancestros. “Alrededor de 13,500 Sengwer viven en las Lomas de Cherangany al norte del Valle Rift de Kenia, y son uno de los pocos grupos de cazadores-recolectores que quedan en el este de África.

De acuerdo con el  Programa Forest Peoples, los Sengwer no son colonos ilegales. “El poblado Sengwer tienen sus derechos a sus tierras y bosques ancestrales consagrados en la Constitución y el derecho internacional.” Los Sengwer obtuvieron órdenes judiciales para evitar más desalojos  pero ha sido en vano.

El Inspector Stephene Chessa que trabaja para el Servicio Forestal de Kenia y está a cargo de los desalojos del Bosque Embobut, negó que nadie haya sido desalojado por la fuerza. Según el Sr. Chessa, la presencia de las fuerzas de seguridad es para asegurar que el proceso sea tranquilo”. Los financiadores del Servicio Forestal de Kenia  incluyen  el Banco Mundial y el gobierno de Finlandia.

Guardias forestales llegan al bosque Embobut para preparar los desalojos. © FPP

El año pasado, el Banco Mundial financió al Gobierno de Kenia con el Programa REDD+ de Kenia exclusivamente a través de sus 68.5 millones de dólares del Proyecto de los Recursos Naturales de Gestión, en las Lomas de Cherangany.

Según el informe del Panel de Inspección N º 77959-KE, el Banco Mundial estaba financiando REDD+ “actividades de preparación”. A partir del pasado mes de mayo, las actividades iniciadas incluyen: “Identificación de sistemas de pastoreo como una opción de estrategia REDD+ [y] Desarrollo de una Metodología para el Monitoreo de Participación de la Comunidad en la Gestión Forestal y REDD+.” REDD (Reducción de Emisiones provenientes de Deforestación y Degradación) es un mecanismo de carbono que utiliza los bosques y las tierras como esponjas para la contaminación de los países del norte.

Solomón Mibei, Jefe de Conservación en el Servicio Forestal de Kenia (KFS), dijo que “Por el momento, el KFS está llevando a cabo talleres con las comunidades que viven alrededor del bosque Embobut y el bosque Kakamega para educarles sobre la financiación del carbono.”

Casas del pueblo Sengwer People en Las Lomas de Cherangany de Kenia quemadas por los guardabosques. © Justin Kenrick

Sin embargo, de acuerdo con el Programa Forest Peoples, KFS no tiene un buen historial de protección de los bosques. “…Cuando el KFS está en el control, el bosque nativo se destruye rápidamente, ya que las plantaciones con fines de lucro y la agricultura reemplazan la biodiversidad del bosque nativo.”

Los posibles socios para hacer REDD en Kenia incluyen el Banco de Desarrollo de África, que ya está trabajando con las comunidades en los programas de intercambio de “conservación de bosques ” a través de un programa conocido como Proyecto de Apoyo a Espacios Verdes (GZDSP). Toyota y Coca-Cola también pueden ser posibles socios.

El año pasado, los representantes Sengwer denunciaron desalojos previos por KFS en 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 y 2011, así como el presunto asesinato de la mujer de la mujer  Sengwer  Beatrice Chepkorir en el área  de las Lomas de Cherangany del Proyecto de Manejo de Recursos Naturales, financiado por el Banco Mundial.  Los representantes Sengwer también exigieron que el Banco suspenda la financiación de REDD+ hasta que estas injusticias sean resueltas.

Esta no es la primera vez en Kenia que los pueblos indígenas sufren desalojos violentos de su territorio ancestral que está programado para REDD. “El bosque Mau ya fue “preparado” para REDD financiado por PNUMA con violentos desalojos del Pueblo Indígena Ogiek, los cuales amenazan su supervivencia cultural. Se espera un fallo histórico sobre los desalojos que se dicte por el Tribunal Africano de este año.

Los desalojos de los Sengwer se unen a la creciente lista de los despojos de tierras y las graves violaciones de los derechos humanos causadas por las iniciativas de REDD, la preparación para REDD y los proyectos de carbono forestal. Tales violaciones incluyen la persecución, el encarcelamiento y asesinatos. Los desalojos de los Sengwer también pueden confirmar la preocupación de Amigos de la Tierra Internacional que REDD puede causar “el desplazamiento de millones de personas que dependen de los bosques, incluso por la fuerza.”
“Una falsa solución al cambio climático, REDD+ está emergiendo como una nueva forma de colonialismo, subyugación económica e impulsa despojo de tierra tan masivo que puede constituir un despojo de todo el continente africano. Debemos defender el continente del colonialismo del carbono”, declara la Red contra  REDD en África.

Incluso las Naciones Unidas reconoce que REDD+ podría resultar en la “clausura de los bosques”, “pérdida de la tierra”, “conflictos por los recursos”, “nuevos riesgos para los pobres” y “marginar a los sin tierra.”

Ha habido un debate sobre si REDD podría potencialmente causar genocidio cultural. Los desalojos del Pueblo Sengwer indican que sin duda REDD puede causar genocidio.

Red contra REDD en África    Comuníquese:

No REDD Rice Manifesto: No WTO! No REDD! No to using Rice for Carbon Markets!

Print the: No REDD Rice Manifesto: No WTO! No REDD! No to using Rice for Carbon Markets! w/o signatory. (PDF)

No REDD Rice Signatories (PDF)

Published: 04 December 2013

December 6, 2013 ● Bali, Indonesia

We, the undersigned Indigenous Peoples, peasants, fisherfolks, immigrants, women, youth, cooks and civil society of the world gathered in Bali to protest the WTO, know that rice is a sacred staple crop which feeds billions of peoples worldwide. We, who courageously resist efforts to impose the use of genetically modified so-called “Golden Rice” of Monsanto, now unite to defend rice from being used as a part of capitalism of nature and carbon markets – “REDD Rice”.

Since 2007, the United Nations, World Bank and fossil fuel polluters like Shell and Chevron and mining company Rio Tinto, have been pushing a carbon trading regime called REDD1 (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). REDD uses agricultural land, soils, forests and tree plantations as sponges for greenhouse gas emissions. Now these climate polluters want to use rice as an offset for their pollution instead of reducing emissions at source. Market-based solutions for addressing the climate crisis are a false solution.

We do not want our rice paddies or rice beds to be excuses for more pollution which causes global warming and typhoons. For peasant farmers, REDD+ constitutes a worldwide counter-agrarian reform and perverts the task of growing food into “farming carbon.” The UN and northern industrialized countries have introduced other false solutions to climate change such as “Climate-Smart Agriculture”. In Africa, where climate-smart carbon credit projects are being promoted, peasant farmers are starting to resist the use of their lands and soil for carbon sequestration, which is a carbon market scheme of capitalism. These new soil carbon markets are opening the door for more GMO crops and land grabs.

“Climate-ready” seeds and other supposed GMO climate fixes like “REDD Rice” are just more attempts of the biotech industry and agribusiness to deform, patent and control our seeds, grab our fields, privatize our soils and turn us into landless, indentured servants of capitalism.

Slated for next spring 2014, California may include rice cultivation as carbon offsets in its climate change law known as California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32). The proposed rice cultivation offset protocol will pretend to reduce emissions through a cropland agricultural protocol using for the first time, a BIO- GEO-CHEMICAL model, which supposedly “emulates” soil processes. One of the methods for supposedly cutting emissions is to replace wet seedlings with dry seedlings. This will include growing GMO rice and the use of genetically modified “soil nutrients”.

China and California would be working with biotechnology companies that would privatize, patent and sell genes that supposedly allow rice plants to use less fertilizer. As part of economic globalization, this gene-knowledge and rice offsets would be sold to the highest bidder to meet their emissions reduction targets on the emerging global market for carbon credits.

If applied on a massive scale, genetically modified REDD Rice could contaminate rice farmers’ lands and seeds with enormous adverse environmental, social and cultural consequences.

· No to Privatization and Commodification of Rice!

· No WTO of our RICE!

· No WTO of Nature, Food and Life!

· NO REDD Rice!

Honoring our martyrs who have fallen for defending our land and territories, we commit to defend rice as Life and part of our movement for food sovereignty. We oppose using rice as part of the carbon market. We oppose the corporate genetic manipulation of our rice. We oppose the Green “Greed” Economy being pushed by the WTO that privatizes Nature as “environmental goods and services”. Defend our Mother Earth and say NO! to the trading of Life and the air that we breathe and the food that we eat.


1 REDD is a global initiative to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests to compensate governments and companies or owners of forests in developing countries not to cut their carbon-rich forests or to reduce their rate of deforestation and forest degradation as a market mechanism to avoid GHG emissions. REDD+ (plus) expands REDD to develop methods for carbon sequestration through forest, wetlands, agricultural systems, soil, carbon stocks, “sustainable management of forests” (logging) and “enhancement of forest carbon stocks” in developing countries.


In China, a Plan to Turn Rice Into Carbon Credits

Biotech Firm Pushes Using Less Fertilizer; Ban on Altered Seeds

By Lauren Etter
Wall Street Journal

YINCHUAN, China — Agriculture contributes more to total global greenhouse-gas emissions than the entire world transportation sector, according to a United Nations-sponsored panel. To Eric Rey, that sounds like the makings of a business plan.

On a recent day, Mr. Rey pulled on a pair of rubber boots and waded into a muddy rice paddy — the place where he hopes to battle global warming and earn a fortune for his budding biotech company.

Mr. Rey, president and chief executive of Arcadia Biosciences of Davis, Calif., has ventured to this remote corner of northern China — a patchwork of flower fields and emerald rice paddies punctuated by ornamented mosques — to sell farmers a genetically engineered rice seed. He says the seed, still in development, will cut their need for nitrogen fertilizer, which is among their biggest costs — and a huge source of greenhouse gases. He then aims to sell the resulting carbon credits on a growing global exchange.

“Here’s an opportunity for farmers to make more money, for us to be more profitable and for the environment to benefit,” said Mr. Rey, a lanky 51-year old, beaming as he brushed his hand across the tips of the rice grains. “It’s a triple win.”

Entrepreneurs around the globe are racing to feed a $30 billion market for carbon credits, which offer companies a way to comply with emissions-reduction requirements without actually cutting their own output of greenhouse gases. The market arose in the wake of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in which most industrial countries except the U.S. agreed to a collective 5% reduction in their greenhouse-gas emissions by 2012.

Tapping Agriculture

In a typical transaction, an industrial company that is having trouble reducing emissions can buy credits from another company that has figured out a cost-efficient way to cut its own carbon output beyond what is required. Many early carbon-credit projects focused on curbing emissions at industrial facilities, including reducing methane emissions at landfills. But entrepreneurs like Mr. Rey see huge potential in tapping into agriculture — the No. 4 producer of global-warming gas.

Agriculture contributes about 14% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That is smaller than emissions from energy use, forestry and industry, but larger than transportation.

By focusing on rice in China, Mr. Rey may be tapping into a treasure trove. Much of the greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture come from nitrogen fertilizer. China is the biggest user of fertilizer and the world’s largest rice producer.

But his quest to turn Chinese rice into carbon credits faces big hurdles. His company needs to do field tests in China to prove that its genetically modified seeds can thrive there. China’s intellectual-property laws are weak and its farmers are set in their ways, leaving biotech firms stumped over how to make money from its vast agriculture sector. Monsanto Co., a pioneer in the Chinese market, has retreated in frustration.

Most daunting, he must persuade the Chinese government to allow companies to sell staple food crops, like rice, that have been bioengineered. Though genetically modified seeds are common in the U.S., European and Asian countries have been more cautious about their use.

Mr. Rey, a biotech veteran who enjoys adventures such as flying aerobatic planes or tracking baboons in Tanzania, isn’t deterred by the odds. “A set of rules is something that somebody made up in their mind,” he says.

He spent 15 years at Calgene, developer of the “Flavr Savr” tomato, the first genetically modified whole food approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Calgene was acquired by Monsanto in 1997 and that year, Mr. Rey set up his own consulting firm.

Growing Concern

  • The Situation: Eric Rey has a plan to profit from the vast amount of global-warming gases created by the fertilizer used in growing rice in China.
  • The Background: He is trying to sell a gene his company owns that he says allows rice plants to use less fertilizer. He plans to sell the reduced emissions on the growing global market for carbon credits.
  • What’s Next: He is testing Chinese rice fields to get a base line for how much gas is emitted and is working with Chinese researchers on developing local rice that contains his company’s gene.

Read More

One day in 2000, he got a call from John Sperling, a billionaire who made a fortune creating University of Phoenix, an online college. Mr. Sperling, an investor in biotech projects including cloning and human longevity, was seeking help on a project in Eritrea trying to raise plants that could grow in salt water to aid poor farmers. The project wasn’t successful, but the two found a common interest in using biotechnology to solve hunger and help farmers.

“The grand design is someday to create plants that are salt-tolerant, nitrogen-efficient and drought-resistant,” says Mr. Sperling. “That is the nirvana of agricultural engineering.”

In 2002, Mr. Rey, with funding from Mr. Sperling, formed Arcadia. Today, the company’s staff of 75 scouts research institutions for new technologies, hoping to develop and eventually license them. So far, it has nine technologies in the pipeline, including salt-tolerant plants, safflower oil enhanced with omega-6 fatty acids and tomatoes with a longer shelf life. The company expects to commercialize its first product in 2008.

Forgot to Fertilize

The year Arcadia was formed, its researchers came across work at the University of Alberta in the field of nitrogen-use efficiency. The Canadian researchers had been trying to create a plant that could thrive in salty soils. Instead they stumbled upon a plant that thrived without fertilizer after a lab director forgot to fertilize one of the trial seeds. Arcadia licensed the technology in 2002 for an undisclosed amount.

To date, Mr. Rey says Arcadia has invested “tens of millions of dollars” into the nitrogen technology — to develop genetically modified seeds or plants than can grow with half the amount of fertilizer normally required. The amount hasn’t exceeded $40 million, he says, but “the ongoing investment rate is pretty aggressive.”

In 2005, Mr. Rey’s company signed an agreement giving Monsanto rights to develop and commercialize the nitrogen-efficient technology for canola. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Others are also trying to develop such seeds. “Essentially all of the biotech companies have some program involving nitrogen use,” says Fred Below, professor of crop physiology at the University of Illinois. He says developing countries will be beneficiaries of this technology because they have a hard time affording fertilizer.

Rice’s Role

Mr. Rey first came across the idea that rice was a big contributor to air pollution in China in a conversation with researchers from the International Fertilizer Industry Association in January 2006.

A few weeks later, he was reading an article about carbon credits at power plants as he worked out on an elliptical trainer at a gym near his garden-surrounded home in Berkeley. If power plants could generate carbon credits, he thought, why couldn’t rice fields?

He began doing more research on sources of greenhouse-gas emissions. He learned that the biggest source of agriculture-related greenhouse gases is nitrogen fertilizer. That’s because only about half the fertilizer applied to fields is typically consumed by the plants. The rest seeps into the ground, becoming a primary contributor to water pollution, or is emitted into the air as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas nearly 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

In October 2006, Mr. Rey met with agricultural researchers visiting the U.S. from Ningxia, a tiny mountainous province in China near Mongolia. The researchers explained that China, the world’s biggest user of fertilizer, had a huge problem with runoff that was leaving lakes and rivers devoid of life. Rising fertilizer prices are hurting poor farmers.

Harsh Land

In Ningxia, the land is harsh and water is limited. To help crops grow, farmers dump heaps of fertilizer on the land, making the province one of China’s biggest per-acre fertilizer users. The researchers invited Mr. Rey to visit Ningxia to see if his nitrogen fertilizer technology could help.

Mr. Rey was intrigued, but was confronted with a problem other biotechnology companies face: How to make money in China?

Chinese farmers tend to save seed from harvest to replant the following year. Others save seeds and repackage them illegally to sell on the black market. Both practices deny biotech companies their main source of revenue — a fresh supply of seeds that must be bought or licensed each year.

Biotech firms also struggle to keep track of China’s myriad farms. The average size of a Chinese farm is less than one acre, compared with 440 acres in the U.S.

That problem is familiar to veterans like Monsanto, which became one of the first foreign companies to introduce a genetically modified cotton seed in China in the late 1990s. The company has since scaled back investments there and refrained from introducing its latest seed technology in part because of “the inability to effectively control the spread of the technology illegally,” according to Brett Begemann, executive vice president.

For Mr. Rey, the threads of a solution began to come together with what he calls the “carbon wrinkle.” Rather than charging farmers a premium for genetically modified seeds — the traditional business model — farmers would pay for the price of regular seed, plus about half of the carbon credits generated by their reduced fertilizer use.

That would give farmers an incentive not to cheat: The more of his rice seed they plant, the less fertilizer they use and the more carbon credits everyone gets to cash in.

In January, Mr. Rey arrived in Ningxia, a place he says he never could have located on a map a year ago, to meet with local officials. Decreasing fertilizer use is a potential “big savings for farmers and the regional economy,” says Liu Rong Guang, president of the government-run Ningxia Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences.

But one of the first questions locals had was how poor farmers would pay for genetically modified seeds. Mr. Rey explained the carbon-wrinkle idea and interest increased, he says. It helped, he says, that Ningxia is already home to other carbon-credit projects, mostly generated by large wind farms.

His idea is still at least five years away from being fully implemented, in part because the carbon credit methodology needs to be accepted by a U.N. body.

To help make the case to the U.N., Mr. Rey recently journeyed about 100 miles outside Yinchuan to join Chinese researchers from the Ningxia Academy in an experimental rice paddy growing conventional rice. He plunged in with the researchers, to tend to a series of yellow metal boxes equipped with plastic tubes. The boxes were trapping nitrous oxide being emitted from the fields. Syringes sucked out the air into malleable metal bags.

Measuring Emissions

The measurements will show how much nitrous oxide is emitted from conventional rice using different amounts of fertilizer. That information will be the basis for research submitted to the U.N. seeking approval for the carbon-credit methodology.

So far, China has allowed the commercialization of genetically modified versions of cotton and some minor food crops, including tomatoes and sweet peppers. Commercializing bioengineered seeds for major food crops — such as corn, soybeans and rice — remains forbidden.

Some government agencies in China still harbor reservations about the safety of such crops, says Jikun Huang, director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. But he thinks that will eventually change as China’s population grows. “China considers biotechnology as a major importance to promoting agricultural productivity in the future,” he says.

By some estimates, China is expected to soon surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Mr. Rey thinks that by the time his technology is ready in a few years, China will have warmed up to the idea of using biotechnology to benefit the environment.

“It’s a no-brainer,” he says.

Click here to read: Rice, carbon markets and the Environmental Defense Fund

California ARB- Proposal:

Potential New Compliance Offset Protocol Rice Cultivation Projects


The potential new Compliance Offset Protocol Rice Cultivation Projects will provide methods for quantifying reductions in methane emissions from flooded rice fields.  Methane emissions are a result of anaerobic decomposition caused by the flooding of fields containing organic matter.  The organic matter originates from soil amendments, plant residues and root exudates.  Methane production is affected by the duration of flooding, the rice variety and the availability of crop residues and organic matter.

All reductions must be fully documented, and accurately quantified.  ARB is considering using the DeNitrification-DeComposition (DNDC) biogeochemical process model to quantify changes in N2O and CH4 emissions due to the eligible practices.  Projects would be limited to the major rice growing regions in California and the Mid-South (Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas) for which the DNDC model has been calibrated with empirical data.  ARB is considering three eligible practices for California: 1) replacing wet seeding with dry seeding, 2) early drainage at the end of growing season, and 3) rice straw removal after harvest; and four eligible practices for the Mid-South: 1) early drainage at the end of growing season, 2) rice straw removal after harvest, 3) intermittent flooding, and 4) staggered winter flooding.

The Offset Project Operator or Authorized Project Designee would be required to use this protocol to quantify and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions.  The protocol would provide eligibility rules, methods to quantify GHG emission reductions, offset project monitoring instructions, and procedures for preparing Offset Project Data Reports.  All offset projects would be required to submit to independent verification by ARB-accredited verification bodies.  Regulatory requirements for verification of Offset Project Data reports will be provided in the Cap-and-Trade Regulation

This protocol will be designed to ensure the complete, consistent, transparent, accurate, and conservative quantification of GHG emission reductions associated with a Rice Cultivation project.  The protocol will be comprised of both quantification methodologies and regulatory program requirements to develop an Rice Cultivation project for generating ARB offset credits.

ARB conducted a workshop on March 28, 2013 discussing protocol requirements, eligibility, and timeframe.  Workshop materials can be found at:

Reference Documents:

American Carbon Registry Rice Protocol

Climate Action Reserve Rice Cultivation Protocol Version 1.0 (December 14, 2011)

Climate Action Reserve Rice Cultivation Protocol Version 1.1 (June 3, 2013)

DNDC model

ARB is forming a technical working group to provide technical expertise and assistance in developing the potential protocol.  Contact Yachun Chow at (916) 322-7450 or via email at if you are interested in participating.

Technical Working Group Materials:

May 10, 2013 Technical Working Group Meeting         Agenda        Presentation

July 19, 2013 Technical Working Group Meeting         Agenda

October 1, 2013 Technical Working Group Meeting     Agenda        Presentation 1        Presentation 2


August 19, 2013 Workshop Materials:

We have been working diligently with stakeholders and the public to develop an ARB Compliance Offset Protocol to reduce methane emissions from rice cultivation.  That process has raised some questions which require more time to address.  Work is now underway to resolve these issues, and we expect to bring a Rice Cultivation Project Protocol before the Board by spring 2014.

A Pathetic REDD Package

On 12 November 2013, the Global Forest Coalition made the following intervention during the negotiations in Warsaw on methodologies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+):

“The Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide coalition of 54 NGOs and Indigenous peoples’ organizations promoting rights-based forest policies shares the concerns of our NGO and IPO colleagues about the extremely weak draft decisions that have been developed in the areas of drivers of forest loss and safeguards. We particularly wonder what we are doing here if this body, and the REDD+ mechanism it is designing, is not capable of addressing the real drivers of forest loss, most of which are linked to international commodity trade. Frankly, if REDD+ is not about addressing the real drivers of forest loss, we don’t think it is a mechanism that should be supported. So we strongly urge governments to focus on developing more effective non-market based approaches to address the international drivers of forest loss, and if they feel they cannot do that within the framework of the REDD mechanism, we urge them to do so within other Frameworks for Various approaches.”

The text that was adopted by the 19th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on the drivers of forest loss is without doubt the weakest text any international forest-related body has ever adopted on this issue. The negotiators could at least have had the decency to refer to the far more elaborate Proposals for Action and recommendations on addressing the underlying causes of forest loss the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests and the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity adopted 13 resp. 11 years ago. The REDD+ drivers text does not include any reference to the broadly recognized fact that the most important drivers of forest loss are linked to international commodity chains, and that these drivers will per definition lead to transboundary leakage of emissions if actions to address them are implemented at the national supply-side level only. Such transboundary leakage can already be detected as a result from the Brazilian efforts to reduce forest loss in neighboring countries like Paraguay and Colombia, where both soy expansion and the expansion of large-scale cattle ranching is mainly driven by Brazilian immigrants, and the massive leakage of emissions caused by the Chinese logging ban. For the climate, this means there is no positive result of such supply-side measures, but the countries themselves will be able to claim results-based payments, which is exactly what motivated a country like Brazil to suddenly become a pro-REDD champion. And please note it was Brazil that played the key role in derailing the REDD negotiations in 2012. To what extend the recent Norwegian contribution to the Amazon fund has played a role in buying their support for the 2013 deal can only be guessed, admittedly the clumsy EU suggestion in 2012 that middle income countries would not need financial support for REDD+ policies also caused the negotiations to turn sour in Doha. It is clear that REDD+ was always a profitable deal for Brazil, provided they have full and unlimited access to the funding.

Meanwhile, none of the big forest countries had any interest in a REDD+ decision that hinted at taking demand-side action to address the drivers of forest loss, even though reducing demand for key commodities is the only way to reduce forest loss without causing leakage. Especially biofuel policies provide a lot of opportunity for reducing commodity demand (as the demand is artificially created in the first place) but they are a red flag, especially for Brazil and Argentina, which acted fast to kill any reference to demand-side measures in the drivers text in June 2013. The chairs of the negotiations and many other countries were fine with this, in fact, one of the co-chairs stated openly at an NGO briefing in June that he felt that “drivers are better addressed somewhere else”, and not in the REDD+ mechanism. In fact, GFC itself already concluded in its latest report on REDD+ and the underlying causes of forest loss ( that through its focus on national results-based payments REDD+ is per definition not the right mechanism to address the main drivers of forest loss. We also found that in the countries we analyzed (Brazil, Colombia, Uganda, Tanzania and India) the REDD+ policy discussions had not lead to any concrete measures to address the main drivers of forest loss in practice, even in the cases where they had been identified in the readiness process.

The Coalition of Rainforest Nations, as usual totally dominated by PNG as many of its members are not able to follow the (English….) negotiations themselves, Norway (especially trying to convince its own new government its billions were not wasted) and key other countries, including the Philippines as co-chair of the working group, had very strong financial interests to get any kind of deal on REDD+ as well. Sadly, the EU was coordinated on this issue by a country with at least as much interest in REDD+ offsets as Norway, namely the Netherlands – quite fascinating how two of the biggest fossil fuel producers in Europe played such a big role in these negotiations. So there was a strong willingness to agree on any kind of text, including on issues like MRV, reference levels and safeguard information systems, where countries are more or less free to provide any kind of information according to any kind of system they want, with only some vague principles and a rather non-sensical verification system to guide them on reference levels and MRV. In our report on the REDD+ negotiations in June we already classified the emerging package of REDD rules as the “Whatever Approach” (See:

All the REDD decisions adopted are pathetically vague and non-sensical from a legal point of view, using clauses like verifications that “might” happen, technical assessments that should be limited to “facilitative, non-intrusive exchanges”, and “summaries” of information on things as important as safeguards without any further guidance. Frankly, such texts are an insult to international law. Especially the weak decision on reference levels will lead to REDD+ contributing very little to additional emission reductions. Of course, there is a clear relation between the weakness of the reference level text and the weakness of the drivers text: If drivers remain unaddressed at the demand side, this inflates the baseline, and makes it possible for countries to demand far more funding to reduce forest loss.

So REDD+ has been developed as a mechanism that will not address the main drivers of forest loss. In fact it provides an incentive for the international community not to address demand-side drivers. Due to the ‘whatever approach’ it has taken to its own rules there is a great risk it will not contribute anything to mitigating climate change, in fact, if REDD+ would be financed through offsets it would seriously undermine the climate regime. The safeguards and safeguards information systems discussion has taken up a lot of attention from the NGO community following the negotiations, but only in countries where the NGOs and especially Indigenous peoples were able to put a very strong fist on the table, like Indonesia, these safeguards have provided instruments for some positive policy measures. In most other countries (like Paraguay), the NGO and IPO community is far too weak to promote or even monitor their implementation, and as a result the Government will be able to provide any kind of artificial information in its “summary” on how it has implemented the safeguards.

Last but not least, REDD has been developed as a results-based payment system with a small but quite significant omission: It is as yet not defined who or what will actually pay for the results. The fact that the REDD+ mechanism was adopted at the darkest and most unproductive Conference of the Parties the UNFCCC had even seen is significant for the real intentions of the mechanism, which was developed by a small group of isolated negotiators that seemed untouched by the drama’s that took place in the other negotiations, which ranged from tears and hunger strikes to walk outs by country negotiators and most of the NGOs. However, the lack of a clear financial agreement on what was previously announced as “the finance COP” will have very serious consequences for REDD as well. In fact, contrary to all existing international forest policies, REDD+ is 100% dependent on financial support. It is always easy to talk about ‘other people’s money’, and this is precisely what the REDD negotiators did when they mainly referred to the Green Climate Fund as having a “key role” as the potential source for results-based payments. Alas, finance negotiators have proven to be less interested in REDD+ than REDD+ negotiators interested in finance; when the Board of the Green Climate Fund discussed its priorities earlier in 2013 REDD+ was chosen as 1 of the 14 results-based areas only, side by side with entirely independent “sustainable forest management” and “sustainable land use” areas, making it clear that REDD+ is only one of the forest-related policy areas to be funded. More importantly, this fund remained basically empty in Warsaw, which rather saw a controversial declaration by the US that it expected most of the 100 billion USD that was promised by the developed countries in 2009 to come from the private sector. The EU had already clarified in 2010 that it did not expect more than 40% of this 100 billion to consist of public support from the developed countries to developing countries. A quick calculation (40/14 results-based areas) learns that public funding levels for REDD+ should not be expected to rise significantly above current levels of readiness support, and this is in the very best case scenario that the 100 (or rather, 40) billion commitment is ever fulfilled. According to the EU a remaining 40% is supposed to come from the private sector, but according the latest State of the Forest Carbon Market report forest carbon offset markets have already declined with some 20% since 2011 and Conservation International recently calculated that supply of REDD+ offsets on the carbon markets is currently some three times higher than demand. More importantly, a small victory for the climate justice movement and countries concerned about carbon markets in the dark Polish days was that negotiations on a new market mechanism were postponed due to profound disagreements about the need for an evaluation of existing market mechanisms before such a new one is established. It is not yet sure whether agreement on a New Market Mechanism will be reached before 2015 at all.

Meanwhile, other forest policies continued to gather momentum at the Warsaw COP. They are explicitly mentioned in the decision on results-based finance, and influential events like the Global Landscapes Forum showed clear support for holistic, integrated policies that fully take into account the many non-carbon benefits of forests, and the interactions between different types of land use. Here again, the REDD+ mechanism simply does not provide the right incentives for such holistic approaches as its financial incentives target carbon benefits only, with non-carbon benefits being at most something to ‘take into account’ as it is suggested they make the carbon-oriented approach of REDD+ easier to implement. Alternative non-market based approaches like the joint mitigation and adaptation approach proposed by Bolivia seem far more in line with the outcomes of the Global Landscapes Forum, and while these are still to be developed, they could very well provide a better framework to address international drivers of forest loss as well. These approaches also do not pretend to be 100% finance-dependent, which is not unimportant in light of the bleak financial outcomes of Warsaw.

In summary, this pathetic REDD package deal might as well mark the beginning of its end.

Simone Lovera
Executive Director
Global Forest Coalition
Bruselas 2273
Asuncion, Paraguay
tel: +595-21-663654
Skype: simonelovera

“It’s time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks

Last updated on 11 November 2013, 2:27 pm

Yeb Sano tells UN summit in Warsaw “colossal devastation” from Typhoon Haiyan should serve as warning to planet

Photo Credit: RTCC:

Philippines lead negotiator Yeb Sano has just addressed the opening session of the UN climate summit in Warsaw – calling for urgent action to prevent a repeat of the devastating storm that hit parts of his country at the weekend. A full transcript of his speech is below.

Mr. President, I have the honor to speak on behalf of the resilient people of the Republic of the Philippines.

At the onset, allow me to fully associate my delegation with the statement made by the distinguished Ambassador of the Republic of Fiji, on behalf of G77 and China as well as the statement made by Nicaragua on behalf of the Like-Minded Developing Countries.

First and foremost, the people of the Philippines, and our delegation here for the United Nations Climate Change Convention’s 19th Conference of the Parties here in Warsaw, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your expression of sympathy to my country in the face of this national difficulty.

In the midst of this tragedy, the delegation of the Philippines is comforted by the warm hospitality of Poland, with your people offering us warm smiles everywhere we go. Hotel staff and people on the streets, volunteers and personnel within the National Stadium have warmly offered us kind words of sympathy. So, thank you Poland.

The arrangements you have made for this COP is also most excellent and we highly appreciate the tremendous effort you have put into the preparations for this important gathering.

We also thank all of you, friends and colleagues in this hall and from all corners of the world as you stand beside us in this difficult time. I thank all countries and governments who have extended your solidarity and for offering assistance to the Philippines. I thank the youth present here and the billions of young people around the world who stand steadfast behind my delegation and who are watching us shape their future. I thank civil society, both who are working on the ground as we race against time in the hardest hit areas, and those who are here in Warsaw prodding us to have a sense of urgency and ambition. We are deeply moved by this manifestation of human solidarity. This outpouring of support proves to us that as a human race, we can unite; that as a species, we care.

It was barely 11 months ago in Doha when my delegation appealed to the world… to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face… as then we confronted a catastrophic storm that resulted in the costliest disaster in Philippine history. Less than a year hence, we cannot imagine that a disaster much bigger would come. With an apparent cruel twist of fate, my country is being tested by this hellstorm called Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has been described by experts as the strongest typhoon that has ever made landfall in the course of recorded human history. It was so strong that if there was a Category 6, it would have fallen squarely in that box. Up to this hour, we remain uncertain as to the full extent of the devastation, as information trickles in in an agonizingly slow manner because electricity lines and communication lines have been cut off and may take a while before these are restored. The initial assessment show that Haiyan left a wake of massive devastation that is unprecedented, unthinkable and horrific, affecting 2/3 of the Philippines, with about half a million people now rendered homeless, and with scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of a tsunami, with a vast wasteland of mud and debris and dead bodies. According to satellite estimates, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also estimated that Haiyan achieved a minimum pressure between around 860 mbar (hPa; 25.34 inHg) and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimated Haiyan to have attained one-minute sustained winds of 315 km/h (195 mph) and gusts up to 378 km/h (235 mph) making it the strongest typhoon in modern recorded history. Despite the massive efforts that my country had exerted in preparing for the onslaught of this monster of a storm, it was just a force too powerful and even as a nation familiar with storms, Super Typhoon Haiyan was nothing we have ever experienced before, or perhaps nothing that any country has every experienced before.

The picture in the aftermath is ever so slowly coming into clearer focus. The devastation is colossal. And as if this is not enough, another storm is brewing again in the warm waters of the western Pacific. I shudder at the thought of another typhoon hitting the same places where people have not yet even managed to begin standing up.

To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce. Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America. And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.

The science has given us a picture that has become much more in focus. The IPCC report on climate change and extreme events underscored the risks associated with changes in the patterns as well as frequency of extreme weather events. Science tells us that simply, climate change will mean more intense tropical storms. As the Earth warms up, that would include the oceans. The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm.

This will have profound implications on many of our communities, especially who struggle against the twin challenges of the development crisis and the climate change crisis. Typhoons such as Yolanda (Haiyan) and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action. Warsaw must deliver on enhancing ambition and should muster the political will to address climate change.

In Doha, we asked “If not us then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?” (borrowed from Philippine student leader Ditto Sarmiento during Martial Law). It may have fell on deaf ears. But here in Warsaw, we may very well ask these same forthright questions. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here in Warsaw, where?”

What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness.

We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw.

It is the 19th COP, but we might as well stop counting, because my country refuses to accept that a COP30 or a COP40 will be needed to solve climate change. And because it seems that despite the significant gains we have had since the UNFCCC was born, 20 years hence we continue to fail in fulfilling the ultimate objective of the Convention.  Now, we find ourselves in a situation where we have to ask ourselves – can we ever attain the objective set out in Article 2 – which is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system? By failing to meet the objective the Convention, we may have ratified the doom of vulnerable countries.

And if we have failed to meet the objective of the Convention, we have to confront the issue of loss and damage. Loss and damage from climate change is a reality today across the world. Developed country emissions reductions targets are dangerously low and must be raised immediately, but even if they were in line with the demand of reducing 40-50% below 1990 levels, we would still have locked-in climate change and would still need to address the issue of loss and damage.

We find ourselves at a critical juncture and the situation is such that even the most ambitious emissions reductions by developed countries, who should have been taking the lead in combatting climate change in the past 2 decades, will not be enough to avert the crisis. It is now too late, too late to talk about the world being able to rely on Annex I countries to solve the climate crisis. We have entered a new era that demands global solidarity in order to fight climate change and ensure that pursuit of sustainable human development remains at the fore of the global community’s efforts. This is why means of implementation for developing countries is ever more crucial.

It was the Secretary general of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro, 1992, Maurice Strong who said that “History reminds us that what is not possible today, may be inevitable tomorrow.”

We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway.

I speak for my delegation. But more than that, I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves after perishing from the storm. I also speak for those who have been orphaned by this tragedy. I also speak for the people now racing against time to save survivors and alleviate the suffering of the people affected by the disaster.

We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons are a way of life. Because we refuse, as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan become a fact of life. We refuse to accept that running away from storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life. We simply refuse to.

We must stop calling events like these as natural disasters. It is not natural when people continue to struggle to eradicate poverty and pursue development and gets battered by the onslaught of a monster storm now considered as the strongest storm ever to hit land. It is not natural when science already tells us that global warming will induce more intense storms. It is not natural when the human species has already profoundly changed the climate.

Disasters are never natural. They are the intersection of factors other than physical. They are the accumulation of the constant breach of economic, social, and environmental thresholds. Most of the time disasters is a result of inequity and the poorest people of the world are at greatest risk because of their vulnerability and decades of maldevelopment, which I must assert is connected to the kind of pursuit of economic growth that dominates the world; the same kind of pursuit of so-called economic growth and unsustainable consumption that has altered the climate system.

Now, if you will allow me, to speak on a more personal note.

Super Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in my family’s hometown and the devastation is staggering. I struggle to find words even for the images that we see from the news coverage. I struggle to find words to describe how I feel about the losses and damages we have suffered from this cataclysm.

Up to this hour, I agonize while waiting for word as to the fate of my very own relatives. What gives me renewed strength and great relief was when my brother succeeded in communicating with us that he has survived the onslaught. In the last two days, he has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands. He is hungry and weary as food supplies find it difficult to arrive in the hardest hit areas.

We call on this COP to pursue work until the most meaningful outcome is in sight. Until concrete pledges have been made to ensure mobilization of resources for the Green Climate Fund. Until the promise of the establishment of a loss and damage mechanism has been fulfilled; until there is assurance on finance for adaptation; until concrete pathways for reaching the committed 100 billion dollars have been made; until we see real ambition on stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations. We must put the money where our mouths are.

This process under the UNFCCC has been called many names. It has been called a farce. It has been called an annual carbon-intensive gathering of useless frequent flyers. It has been called many names. But it has also been called the Project to save the planet. It has been called “saving tomorrow today”. We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now. Right here, in the middle of this football field.

I call on you to lead us. And let Poland be forever known as the place we truly cared to stop this madness. Can humanity rise to the occasion? I still believe we can.


During his speech, Sano added an unscripted pledge to fast during the conference, until meaningful progress had been made. He said:

“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

– See more at:

Climate Summit: Don’t turn farmers into ‘climate smart’ carbon traders!

Published on Thursday, 07 November 2013 20:26

Media release of La Vía Campesina | GRAIN | ETC Group

7 November 2013. Farmers produce food, not carbon. Yet, if some of the governments and corporate lobbies negotiating at the UN climate change conference to be held in Warsaw from 11-22 November have their way, farmland could soon be considered as a carbon sink that polluting corporations can buy into to compensate for their harmful emissions.

“We are directly opposed to the carbon market approach to dealing with the climate crisis,” says Josie Riffaud of La Vía Campesina. “Turning our farmers’ fields into carbon sinks – the rights to which can be sold on the carbon market – will only lead us further away from what we see as the real solution: food sovereignty. The carbon in our farms is not for sale!”

Carbon trading has totally failed to address the real causes of the climate crisis. It was never meant to do so. Rather than reducing carbon emissions at their source, it has created a lucrative market for polluters and speculators to buy and sell carbon credits while continuing to pollute. Now the pressure is increasing to treat farmland as a major carbon sink which can be claimed as yet another counterbalance to industrial emissions. The governments of the US and Australia, the World Bank and the corporate sector have long argued for this, and for the creation of new carbon markets where they can purchase land-based offsets in developing countries. Agribusiness is well positioned to profit from these, and some developing country governments hope that offering their forests, grasslands and farmland to polluters in the North could earn them revenue.

The November United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Warsaw risks pushing us deeper into this carbon market mess. Marcin Korolec, Poland’s minister of the environment and main organiser of the event, proudly announced that for the first time ever, representatives of global business will be formally part of the negotiations. A look at the list of official partners of the conference shows that they are amongst the most polluting industries of the world.

Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, but Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN points out that: “It is the industrial food system – with its heavy use of chemical inputs, the soil erosion and deforestation that accompanies monoculture plantation farming, and the ever-growing drive to supply far away export markets – which is the main culprit behind the climate crisis. Rather than promoting this with carbon markets, the world’s leaders should support peasant farming and agroecology as the solution.” GRAIN’s research has shown that a sustained focus on peasant-based agroecological practices oriented toward restoring organic matter to soils could capture 24-30% of the current global annual greenhouse gas emissions.

A week after the climate negotiators have flown home from Warsaw, most likely without having agreed to any meaningful action on the climate crisis, the World Bank and the governments of the Netherlands and South Africa will convene an international conference in Johannesburg to promote ”climate smart agriculture”, and set up a new alliance to achieve it.

But a look at the proposals on the table shows that it entails nothing more than business as usual: new genetically modified seeds developed by biotechnology corporations, more chemical fertilisers and pesticides by the agrochemical giants, and more ‘bio-intensive’ industrial plantation farming. “Climate smart agriculture has become the new slogan for the agricultural research establishment and the corporate sector to position themselves as the solution to the food and climate crisis,” says Pat Mooney of the ETC Group. “For the world’s small farmers, there is nothing smart about this. It is just another way to push corporate controlled technologies into their fields and rob them of their land.”

At the same time, these very corporations are developing other high-risk technologies, ranging from synthetic biology, to nanotechnology and geoengineering. There is no clear understanding of their impacts and these new dramatic technologies will wreak more havoc on our already fragile planet than cure the climate and environmental crises.

Agriculture’s central role of feeding people and providing livelihoods to smallholders around the world should be defended, says Elizabeth Mpofu, from Vía Campesina. “Rights over our farms, lands, seeds and natural resources need to remain in our hands so we can produce food and care for our mother earth as peasant farmers have done for centuries. We will not allow carbon markets to turn our hard work into carbon sinks that allow polluters to continue their business as usual.”

For more information:

Josie Riffaud, La Vía Campesina

Henk Hobbelink, GRAIN
 +34 933011381

Pat Mooney, ETC Group
 +1 6132412267


* La Via Campesina is the global movement of peasant farmers struggling for food sovereignty. GRAIN and ETC Group are international organisations that fight the industrial food system and support peasant based alternatives. They have joined forces in a partnership to advance peasant based agroecology.

* For Via Campesina’s positions on food and climate, see the Via Campesina position paper “Small Scale Sustainable Farmers Are Cooling Down The Earth”.

* For GRAIN’s paper on the role of the industrial food system in the climate crisis, and how peasant led agroecology is the real solution, see: “Food and climate change, the forgotten link”

* For ETC Group’s poster on the contributions of the Peasant Food Web to feeding the world compared to the industrial food chain, see:  “Who Will Feed Us? The Industrial Food Chain/The Peasant Food Web”.