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Market Based Solutions for CO2 in Bonn: What's the latest for indigenous people and REDD?

indigenous peoples climate summit environment deforestation carbon CO2

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation or REDD, which was later repackaged as REDD+ has been on the sustainable development agenda for over thirty years. Reducing Emissions focuses mainly on the concept of offsetting carbon dioxide emissions in areas where CO2 can easily be sequestered so long as there is someone to be paid on the receiving end. Where does Reducing Emissions stand ahead of COP23 which started today? REDD monitor and expert Jutta Kill provided the latest on the carbon economy and its prospects at the People's Climate Summit in Bonn on Monday November 6th.

500 grams of carbon produce a €1 turnaround. The average German's annual output is ten tonnes. One tonne is equal to a Euro. What I know from my trip to Brazil in 2016 is that the market for carbon is small and the price has only got lower. What German's aren't addressing in light of their renewable energy projections is their coal industry which is the world's largest, totally hampering their prospects of meeting the 2 degree Paris target; a low target in itself.

Since the creation of the Clean Development Mechanism, a product of the Koto Protocol in 1997 big polluters were able to reduce emissions fast by innovating chimneys to filter emissions in homes and factories in the early 2000s. Therefore they were left with an abundance of so called "compensation certificates" which polluting companies could (and still can) purchase to redeem their carbon footprint and they cost around 0.20 cents. Large companies dished these out to small firms when they realised they had too many. The criteria for a compensation certificate is to basically define what you're compensating and whether or not that carbon would have been emitted without your investment. Both the monetary cost and the CO2 cost of travelling to the region to redefine the price of carbon fall by the wayside.

But where's the independent research? Companies are also required to hire an external scientist. I've seen this in action. Biologists in Brazil getting paid to tick a few boxes and make regular visits to reserves adjacent to construction sites. Kill, who published A Collection of Conflicts, Contradictions and Lies in 2015 visited REDD projects in Africa and Latin America most of which were trying to reduce traditional forest practices resulting in the marginalisation of native people. The projects she visited were land rights and biodiversity certified but rights were limited nonetheless. The arrival of REDD projects caused conflict in the areas she visited and indeed there is much scepticism surrounding their ability to introduce a culture that values money to communities based on the value of nature.

According to a Canadian initiative called Gathering Voices, protecting indigenous land rights makes "good economic sense" as indigenous peoples and other communities hold and manage 50 to 65 percent of the world's land although only 10 percent is recognised as legally belonging to these groups with another eight percent designated or demarcated for them by governments. Projects executed by Gathering Voices involve Ecosystem Services Programs aimed at improving livelihoods and adopting traditional management techniques.

Despite this, REDD can only apply to legally protected land but logging in Brazil is mostly illegal. The positive effects of REDD in Uganda and Tanzania according to Kill's travels included the sequestration of carbon on degraded land. Among the negative effects was monoculture; a model of food production that Africans are fighting hard to keep out. Will the consent of indigenous people get a mention during the furthering of market based mechanism discussions over the course of next week?

So far, Raoni Metuktire is due to reappear for this round of negotiations and side events, however his delegation's access to information on the progress of REDD is very limited back home in the Amazon according to inside sources. Towards the end of 2016 a little more focus was apparently given to addressing Kayapó families in their settlements as REDD type projects are rumoured to have a comeback. Staunch opponent to the carbon credit market Tom Goldtooth and his son Dallas are also due to appear at tomorrow's International Rights of Nature Tribunal held at LandesMuseum in central Bonn, hailing from North Dakota after a few summers of fighting the extension of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Meanwhile the pressure is on the President of the vulnerable COP23 host state of Fiji to lobby for such measures up until the closing ceremony on November 17th.

As for the acronym REDD, it has become widely used to refer to carbon sequestering for a financial incentive although many of these projects are unofficial private partnerships between companies and on-the-ground teams reforesting in particular reserves. Jurisdictional REDD however which is said to replace sporadic REDD projects and take over by 2020 is a series of partnerships between companies and either whole States, departments or provinces such as the State of Acre in the Brazilian Amazon. What raises doubt among the World Rainforest Movement is the accounting process this would result in whereby the conversion of stored carbon to euros or Brazilian reales may eventually be calculated twice and paid off on two occasions both to the project executers as has been the case all along, and also to the State, thereby claiming that emissions have been offset in two places when in actual fact they were the same emissions.

Carbon stays in the atmosphere for 400 years but CO2 is only sequestered in trees temporarily and REDD projects are active for twenty to thirty years. For a REDD project to succeed it would have to be active for ninety years. 2% of German firms have succeeded in reducing their emissions via these mechanisms. REDD is to be tightened and by 2020 no firms in the EU will be able to purchase compensation certificates. The EU trading scheme was shocked by this because it was invested in a huge stock of projects.

During last October's ratification period when countries subscribed to the Paris deal one by one, the global aviation industry opted in only on a voluntary basis stating that airlines would commit, under their own conditions, to innovating aircraft and adopting the use of biofuels which by any means cannot be produced on a large scale due to the Earth's surface area capacity. The industry is said to grow by 300 to 700 percent by 2050. Essentially airlines will purchase a lot of papers before 2020.

Discrediting the aims of the Paris accord is a taboo among advocates that hang their hopes on policy change. "It's our only hope!" they cry. However all is not lost when you put your faith in traditional knowledge and there's a lot to be said for the large scale sequestering of CO2 in our living spaces instead of offsetting it just in rural areas or abroad.

The International Rights of Nature Tribunal will take place tomorrow at LandesMuseum, Bonn Germany. Jutta Kill pertains to the World Rainforest Movement.

Gathering Voices is based in British Colombia and works with local indigenous communities. Follow Dallas Goldtooth on Instagram @DallasGoldtooth.

Felix is a grassroots conservationist and real life student of ecotourism and green economies.

#sustainabledevelopment #economy #drought #Brazil #indigenousrights #activism #conservation #greeneconomy #anthropocene #environmentalism #LatinAmerica #climatechange #Deforestation #globalwarming #ecology

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