This week, Benedict Bengioushuye Ayade, the governor of Nigeria’s Cross River State, will be in Guadalajara, Mexico taking part in the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force Annual Meeting. The aim of the GCF is to link states and provinces running REDD programmes with carbon markets in the rich countries.
But before getting carried away with the REDD promotion tour in Guadalajara, it’s worth taking a quick look at Ayade’s record so far in Cross River State.
In April 2015, Ayade won the election to become governor of Cross River State. He quickly announced a series of massive infrastructure projects in Cross River State. The Calabar Deep Seaport. The biggest garment factory in Africa. Several new cities. And a six-lane, 260-kilometre-long superhighway.
The superhighway through the forest
The superhighway is particularly controversial. Construction started in October 2015, before an environmental impact assessment had been carried out. After complaints from the National Park authorities, the route of the road was changed, to avoid going through the Cross River National Park. But large areas of forest remain under threat, including the Ekuri Community Forest.
The road would cost US$3.5 billion, but it is unclear where the money would come from. Little is known about the company building the road and the deep sea port, Broad Spectrum Industries Limited, apparently has no experience of road construction. The company may be based in Israel, Germany, or Port Harcourt, depending on which news report you’re reading.
On 22 January 2016, a Public Notice of Revocation was published in a local newspaper. It was signed by the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development. The Notice stated that,
“all rights of occupancy existing or deemed to exist on all that piece of land or parcel of land lying and situate along the Super Highway from Esighi, Bakassi Local Government Government Area to Bekwarra Local Government Area of Cross River State covering a distance of 260km approximately and having an offset of 200m on either side of the centre line of the road and further 10km after the span of the Super Highway, excluding Government Reserves and public institutions are hereby revoked for overriding public purpose absolutely”.
Which would look something like this:
In March 2016, construction of the road was stopped, until an environmental impact assessment is carried out. While an EIA has now been carried out, Nigerian environmentalist Emmanuel Unaegbu writes that it is “inadequate and lacks merit”.
In June 2016, in a post on the Cross River Facebook page, Eval Asikong, an advisor to Ben Ayade, explained that “The Government is not claiming 10 km of land from both sides of the Super-Highway”. Instead, he explains that the “essence” of 20 kilometre wide strip, was for development control where house structures and every piece of land that is contiguous to the super highway is managed for development control and aesthetic value addition. Government does not forbid individuals from building around this perimeter but strongly frowns at indiscriminate building of structures. Besides, the state government intends to build new cities all along the super highway. Government can even paint structures within those areas for the dwellers as long as they adhere to the control measures. Government intent to provide commercial and social infrastructures like hotels, filling stations, etc to improve the environment.
The impacts of REDD in Cross River State
Meanwhile, Cross River State has started to implement REDD programmes that are having an impact on local communities’ livelihoods.
A report by the Nigerian NGO Social Action exposes the costs to forest communities. A task force in the Forestry Commission has a mandate “to enforce a moratorium on forest activities as part of the implementation process”.
Social Action reports that,
With neither adequate consultation nor alternative livelihoods options for communities, the task force has been harassing community members that have depended on the forests for generations. Movement and trade of products deemed to have been derived from the forests are confiscated. At Nwanga Ekoi in Akpabuyo Local Government Area (LGA) for instance, the task force routinely seizes agricultural products like kola nuts and fruits meant for the market on account that they are derived from forests earmarked for REDD + . The harvesting of Afang leaves, a local vegetable consumed in West and Central Africa, is now banned in affected forests. The hunting for bush meat, a main source of protein in the communities, as well as the tapping of palm wine from the raffia palm and associated brewing of kaikai, a local beverage, have been stopped.
In 2008, Liyel Imoke, then-governor of Cross River State, put in place a logging moratorium – a complete ban on wood cutting in all forests. In effect, forests that were under the control of communities have become forest reserves, under the control of the government.
The moratorium also includes harvesting leaves for food and medicine, and subsistence hunting. Bush meat was an important source of protein for forest communities.
Chief Owai Obio Arong of the Iko Esa Community told Social Action that
“I and my people have suffered for five years now since government stopped us from entering our forest because REDD is coming and till now I have not received anything from them.”
Ayade: “The conservation of forests is only a small aspect of the bigger picture”
On 24 August 2016, in a speech at a UN-REDD meeting, Governor Ayade argued that, “The conservation of forests is only a small aspect of the bigger picture”.
Ayade acknowledges that for eight years, forest communities have not been allowed to benefit from the forests.
Ayade demonstrates his ability to say what his audience wants to hear:
“UN-REDD plus is not about finances, it’s not about gross carbon stock, it’s not about monitoring the forests. It’s about social safeguards. It’s about livelihood security of the people.”
He got a round of applause for that.
He spoke “from his soul”, urging UN-REDD to move into the implementation phase:
“That implementation phase will address the pain and neglect, the harrowing poverty of our people, who for the last eight years have suffered a complete ban on their dependence on their forests. Who will now begin to see a legacy of hope.”
Perhaps predictably, he wants more money:
“I understand from statistics that reached us so far that you are proposing about US$12 million in your initial fees in the REDD-ready plus phase and we will move into the implementation phase. US$12 million is very exciting. But the relationship of pain and agony of our people in the last eight years, the relationship to the responsibilities ahead of us, it is very insignificant.”
He asks UN-REDD to focus on tree planting:
“There is a delicate balance between conservation and management. That is what I am asking for UN-REDD plus to focus as they move into the implementation phase. To focus agressively on tree planting. Because when you do, you increase the amount of rainfall. When you do, you reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”
Then he talks about the green economy, the decarbonisation of Africa and the world, and about stopping using fossil fuels. He gets quite excited:
“Africa is challenged to seek alternatives for our crude oil. While Africa is struggling with that, Africa is also told, stop cutting your forests.
“Africa therefore is a whipping child. Standing before the world. We don’t have the technology for alternative research.”
At the end of his little speech, Ayade tells us that,
“The modalities and procedures, the validation process must focus on African philosophy of protection of the environment. It must be indigenous. It must be customised to reflect African heritage. Then a man who owns the forest, that pays from the forest, you only teach him how to depend on the forest without exploiting it to the detriment of the future.”
But of course Ayade made no mention of his proposed 260 kilometre-long superhighway in his speech
Source: REDD Monitor
Yesterday, California’s Air Resources Board released a preliminary draft of proposed amendments to its Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) aimed at extending the cap and trade scheme beyond 2020. The big news for REDD watchers is that the ARB’s preliminary draft excludes making a decision on whether to allow REDD credits in California’s cap and trade scheme.
The preliminary draft is available here.
Tucked away on page 22 of the The 443-page preliminary draft is the following:
ARB staff is not proposing any regulatory amendments related to sector-based offset crediting or tropical forests in this rulemaking; rather, ARB staff anticipates that ongoing discussions with stakeholders will resume with additional informal public meetings outside of this rulemaking starting in the fall of 2016.
REDD, then, is being given a decision-making process outside the rulemaking process outlined in ARB’s preliminary draft. The REDD process will “resume” in Autumn 2016.
The rulemaking process
The process for the rulemaking (not including REDD) is as follows. On 19 July 2016, the Air Resources Board will present the preliminary draft to the Office of Administrative Law, which will conduct a review of the draft.
The Air Resources Board may revise the draft based on the Office of Administrative Law’s review. On 2 August 2016, the Air Resources Board will post the revised version of the draft on its website.
A formal public comment period will then run from 5 August to 19 September 2016.
On 22-23 September 2016, the Air Resources Board will hold a hearing to discuss the proposed amendments. A second hearing to vote on the proposed amendments will take place on 23-24 March 2017.
The REDD process
Here are the two paragraphs relevant to the decision about REDD in California:
4. Linkage with External Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Systems and Programs
b. Other Linkages and Linkage-Related Partnerships
Sector-Based Crediting Programs, including Acre, Brazil
As described in Chapter I of this Staff Report, ARB held public workshops on a number of topics that helped inform the amendments contained in this proposal. Four of those workshops addressed the potential of approving the use of sector-based offset credits from the tropical forestry sector within the Cap-and-Trade Program by developing a set of regulatory standards against which potential partner jurisdictions’ tropical forestry programs would be assessed for linkage. More information on these workshops is presented in Chapter IX and Appendix F of this Staff Report. ARB staff identified the jurisdictional program in Acre, Brazil as a program that is ready to be considered for linkage with California. ARB staff received numerous informal comments following the workshops. Some comments suggested specific recommended approaches, some opposed any action, some supported ARB staff’s initial thinking as outlined in an October 19, 2015 staff paper and as described in the four workshops, and some recommended that staff conduct additional stakeholder engagement before proposing any regulatory amendments.
ARB staff has presented information about how linkage with a state-of-the-art, jurisdictional sector-based offset program can provide significant benefits to California’s Cap-and-Trade Program by assuring an adequate supply of high-quality compliance offsets to keep the cost of compliance within reasonable bounds, up to the quantitative usage limit for sector-based offsets. Linkage would also support California’s broad climate goals, as well as global biodiversity and tropical forest communities. (ARB 2015a) After reviewing the workshop results, and in order to ensure coordination with Québec and Ontario, ARB staff is proposing to continue discussing with stakeholders and partner jurisdictions, including Acre and others in the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, on the regulatory path to optimize the multiple benefits of including sector-based offsets in California’s program, including through a linkage with Acre, in time to be used to meet compliance obligations incurred in the third compliance period and thereafter. ARB staff is not proposing any regulatory amendments related to sector-based offset crediting or tropical forests in this rulemaking; rather, ARB staff anticipates that ongoing discussions with stakeholders will resume with additional informal public meetings outside of this rulemaking starting in the fall of 2016. These meetings will also solicit and consider additional tools the State of California could employ to mitigate tropical deforestation, including measures to encourage sustainable supply chain efforts by public and private entities.
So discussions on REDD in California will re-start in Autumn 2016, separate from the rulemaking process outlined above.
ARB’s pro-REDD, pro-carbon trading, pro-neoliberal bias
The bias in the second paragraph is blatant. As is the bias in the White Paper on REDD that the Air Resources Board produced in October 2015.
The ARB makes no mention in this second paragraph of the problems associated with REDD, just the “significant benefits” to California’s cap and trade scheme of providing cheap carbon credits.
According to the ARB, REDD would support California’s climate goals. Of course the ARB doesn’t mention the awkward fact that carbon trading does not reduce emissions. For every REDD credit sold from Brazil, an additional tonne of CO2 would be emitted in California.
The ARB argues that REDD will benefit “global biodiversity” and tropical forest communities. Then again, it could undermine peasant farming and lead to increased land conflicts, without protecting biodiversity.
The ARB does not mention the low-income communities and communities of colour in California who are opposed to letting polluting industry continue to poison their air.
Kicking the REDD can down the road
Nevertheless, ARB staff are not proposing making a decision on including REDD in this preliminary draft. Instead ARB proposes discussions with “stakeholders and partner jurisdictions”,
on the regulatory path to optimize the multiple benefits of including sector-based offsets in California’s program, including through a linkage with Acre, in time to be used to meet compliance obligations incurred in the third compliance period and thereafter.
The third compliance period runs from 2018 to 2020.
One possible reason for the ARB’s decision to delay a decision on REDD is to try to avoid additional controversy. The most recent auction sold only 10% of the allowances put up for sale. The cap and trade scheme faces a lawsuit from the Chamber of Commerce that argues that allowance auctions function as a tax – an unconstitutional tax since it was introduced without the two-thirds majority in the Legislature that is required for new taxes.
Brown in talks with big oil
Meanwhile, oil industry leaders are talking to California Governor Jerry Brown’s administration. The purpose of the talks, according to Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, is “to improve the state’s current climate change programs.” WSPA has spent US$12.8 million on lobbying in the 2015-2016 legislative period, making it the top spending lobby group in California.
As Dan Bacher points out,
Underneath California’s reputation as a “green leader” is a dark and oily reality—the state is the third largest petroleum producer in the nation, and the oil industry is California’s largest and most powerful political lobby.
No wonder Brown’s administration is so keen on REDD and carbon trading.
by Chris Lang – REDD Monitor
At a recent workshop in Sacramento, Environmental Defense Fund’s Steve Schwartzman was waving around copies of a letter in favour of California using REDD offsets in its cap and trade scheme. Following the letter was a list of NGO logos, including that of Greenpeace Brazil. But Greenpeace has consistently opposed REDD offsets in California. How did Greenpeace’s logo appear on a letter supporting REDD?
California’s Air Resources Board is currently considering whether to include REDD offsets in its cap and trade scheme (AB 32). The ARB is holding a series of technical workshops about this proposal, one of which took place in Sacramento on 28 April 2016.
The day before the workshop, Carlos Rittl, Executive Secretary of the Climate Observatory, a coalition of 40 NGOs in Brazil, sent a letter to California’s Governor, Jerry Brown. The letter was in support of California including REDD in AB 32:
We write to express the support of the Brazilian Climate Observatory to the State of California for its significant efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions domestically, and also for considering the importance of tropical forest conservation and the involvement of local communities in these efforts.
A day after the workshop in Sacramento, Steve Schwartzman, Senior Director of tropical forest policy at the Environmental Defense Fund referred to the letter in a tweet:
The link in Schwartzman’s tweet is to the letter from Carlos Rittl, posted on EDF’s website.
For the meeting in Sacramento, Schwartzman printed out copies of the letter. Schwartzman’s version of the letter was the same as that on EDF’s website, but with one very important difference. Schwartzman had added several pages to the letter, featuring the logos of the member organisations of Climate Observatory – including Greenpeace Brazil.
A few days later, Jonah Busch at the Center for Global Development, tweeted about Schwartzman’s version of the letter:
A colleague sent REDD-Monitor a link to Busch’s tweet, with the following comment:
“I have to admit that I’m more than average surprised that Greenpeace supports to include REDD+ as an offset mechanism in California.”
I was also surprised, given Greenpeace’s vocal opposition to California’s REDD plans.
So I asked Greenpeace about this. And Greenpeace asked Climate Observatory. Very soon, a clarification letter appeared from Carlos Rittl. It turns out that the original letter to California’s Governor Brown was signed by Rittl only. It was a “network-led initiative that contains its single signature”.
Rittl’s explanatory letter is posted below. Busch, at least, tweeted Rittl’s clarification.
Schwartzman didn’t bother.
To whom it may concern.
The Brazilian Climate Observatory (OC) is a network comprising a broad spectrum of Brazilian civil society organizations. OC’s positions and recommendations on any issue are developed after consultation processes among its members aiming to reach consensus.
OC’s position about any given issue represents the average views of its members, and does not necessarily correspond to any individual organizations’ views or positions on the same specific subject.
OC has recently submitted a letter to the Honorable Governor of California, Mr. Jerry Brown, expressing its support for the inclusion of REDD+ activities on the States’ AB32 program. That letter was a network-led initiative that contains its single signature.
It has come to our attention that third parties have shared that letter with stakeholders from different groups in the United States alongside a list of OC members, without previous consent of any or all network members. Unfortunately, that could have been mistakenly understood as a list of associated signatures to the letter from each individual OC member. That was not the case. The referred members list does not represent a list of additional signatures to the letter.
Greenpeace Brazil is one of OC members. Its well-known public positions, as well as the positions Greenpeace International, Greenpeace US or any other Greenpeace national organization, have not changed and do not endorse the inclusion of REDD+ activities in any offset mechanism or legislation worldwide. However, during the Climate Observatory internal consultation process, Greenpeace Brazil has kindly not expressed its opposition to the OC letter to the Governor of California as a matter of respect to the views of some other members.
In last few days, external stakeholders have approached Greenpeace USA about the issue with questions related to its positions on the subject of the letter. Therefore, I hereby certify what has been already stated above. The letter to Governor of California expresses the average views of OC members for its own position on the issue only. It was not signed by OC individual members and do not necessarily expresses the position of each network’s member organizations.
By Ben Powless
July 14, 2012
It’s been twenty years since the first Earth Summit. That’s nearly 500 months, or over 7,000 days. Yet, during all that time, state governments around the world have nearly completely neglected their responsibilities to the natural world, and it’s starting to show.
Almost to highlight the point directly, a heat wave hit North America just as the Rio+20 summit was taking place. Global climate change is being felt just about everywhere, challenging humans and other species’ ability to adapt. Species are going extinct at a rate never before observed. These issues were all the impetus to the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where world leaders pledged to resolve these crises to avoid environmental collapse. Twenty years later, they returned, with full knowledge that the problems were worse than ever, and seemingly without any grand intentions to resolve the situation.
Of course, if you listened to many of the countries who were present, they came up with a credible plan to avert ecological disaster. Their plan contains a few measures, including plans to develop a set of “Sustainable Development Goals”, modeled
Indigenous leaders march to deliver the Kari-Oca Declaration.
on the Millennium Development Goals, as well as general goals of improving environmental management, and advocating for a so-called ‘green economy’.
However, before the planes left Rio de Janeiro to carry world leaders back home, environmental activists, anti-poverty groups, women’s representatives, youth organizations, and Indigenous Peoples had already condemned the final document as a failure, completely insufficient for the global environmental crises ongoing.
Instead, civil society groups announced their intention to work more closely together, to move forward on various proposals developed in a series of alternative conferences. Many groups took part in the People’s Summit, in addition to two separate conferences organized by Indigenous Peoples. The biggest of these, the Kari-Oca Gathering, was organized by Indigenous groups in Brazil with an open invitation to Indigenous participants from everywhere.
Those who attended the Kari-Oca gathering put together a scathing declaration, indicative of the general disdain held by many civil-society groups towards the direction the UN is seen to be moving. In the declaration, the group rails against the ‘green economy’ proposal as another tool to expand capitalism and globalization to Indigenous communities, and as a code-word for the further destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity over the world.
A Kayapo leader signs on to the Kari-Oca Declaration.
Instead, Indigenous groups urge people to transform production and consumption based on human needs, to build sustainable communities founded on traditional knowledge, and to empower Indigenous Peoples worldwide to protect and manage their traditional lands and territories, as is dictated by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
At the official UN summit, Canada was up to its usual bag of tricks. While some countries cathme to the meeting with genuine intentions of achieving some progress, Canada continued its same bag of tricks from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, where for years they have been blocking significant progress on a new climate treaty, going so far as to drop out of the Kyoto Protocol last year. At the summit, Canada joined with Venezuela to stop any attempts to limit the amount of subsidies going to fossil fuel companies – a significant cause of not just global warming, but impacts on frontline communities around the world. Canada also joined with other nations to actually block attempts to protect oceans that are outside of national jurisdiction.
Canadian civil society groups were direct in their denouncement of the dearth of action, ripping up the negotiated text the second day of the meetings. “We were promised leaps and bounds, but this agreement barely moves us forward by inches,” Cam Fenton of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition yelled to a crowd of youth who staged a sit-in at the UN talks.
Ta’Kaiya Blaney is boosted above the crowd by Kandi Mossett (IEN) as she addresses the group of young people staging a sit-in.
“What are we going to leave for future generations? There’ll be no environment left without change. It needs to come not tomorrow, but today,” declared Ta’Kaiya Blaney, an eleven-year old from the Sliammon First Nation in BC, after ripping up the document at the sit-in. Ta’Kaiya was in Rio as part of the Indigenous Environmental Network delegation to speak out on the impact of the tar sands and Enbridge pipelines coming through BC.
The same day, a few hundred Indigenous groups marched to the UN summit site, fully decked in their traditional dress and paint from the Amazon. They were there to deliver the Kari-Oca Declaration, which they were eventually able to do, under heavy military surveillance, as helicopters hovered overhead, and armoured personnel carriers sat by idly. The document was received by a minister from the Brazilian government, and an official of the UN, despite the final negotiation text having already been signed. Indigenous groups were disappointed that the final text neglected to include any protections for Indigenous rights or culture as part of its main principals.
“Our people’s cultural world view is that humanity must be in harmony with mother nature. We should treat nature as a source of living, not extraction. The multiple crises that the world is facing today – economic, social, political and climactic – we, indigenous people, have much to offer in terms of solutions,” offered Windel Bolinget, of the Cordillera People’s Alliance from the Philippines.
In the end, many observers left with feelings of frustration, but also some hope. For their lack of progress, the talks managed to bring together thousands of representatives of civil society and social movements from across the globe, and by the end emboldened many of them to link their fights and continue their struggles even stronger back at home. It has become much clearer over the past years – under the Harper government in particular, and with the state of international relations generally – that the United Nations was not the place to look for solutions to trickle-down from the top, but that the solutions to the plethora of environmental issues and injustices would have to boil-up from the grassroots.
For more photos please see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/powless/sets/72157630254233700/