A forest carbon deal between Blue Carbon and the nation of Liberia would give the corporate unique rights to regulate 10% of the nation’s land mass for 30 years.Blue Carbon has additionally signed MOUs for related offers with Tanzania and Zambia (and others) and mixed with the Liberia deal, the land managed by the corporate in these three African nations represents an space the dimensions of the entire of the United Kingdom.“Carbon colonialism is a false resolution to the local weather disaster,” a brand new op-ed states. “The solely actual reply is to finish our fossil gas habit by dramatically decreasing our emissions, whereas financially supporting international locations and native communities to guard their forests, somewhat than wrest management of them.”This publish is a commentary. The views expressed are these of the writer, not essentially Mongabay.
It’s been referred to as a “new scramble for Africa”: a contemporary incarnation of European powers’ nineteenth century imperial seizure of huge swathes of Africa.
Under the guise of combating the local weather emergency, a non-public Emirati firm is about to take management of giant tracts of sub-Saharan Africa, enabling it to promote carbon credit to main polluters in alternate for managing forests on that land.
In July, a contract was leaked detailing an settlement between the Liberian authorities and Blue Carbon LLC, a United Arab Emirates-based (UAE) firm chaired by Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai’s ruling household. The UAE is a fossil gas state, and plans to vastly increase its oil and gasoline manufacturing.
George Weah, President of Liberia, with Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, within the UAE the place the Liberian authorities and Blue Carbon “signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the event of carbon offset tasks within the forest sector.” Image from Blue Carbon’s Instagram web page.
The deal, which is but to be signed, provides Blue Carbon unique rights to regulate a staggering one-tenth of Liberia’s land mass for 30 years. In return, the UAE and different governments will have the ability to offset their carbon emissions by shopping for credit linked to the carbon supposedly locked into the a million hectares of Liberian rainforest, which Blue Carbon is dedicated to protect.
Criticism from each inside and out of doors Liberia swiftly adopted. But since then, the large scale of Blue Carbon’s ambitions has change into even clearer as information emerged that the Liberia settlement was simply one in every of many the corporate has been pursuing.
Blue Carbon has additionally signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for related offers with the governments of Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The particulars stay opaque.
What we do know is alarming. In Zimbabwe, for example, a fifth of the nation’s landmass – or 7.5 million hectares – can be given over for producing carbon credit; whereas in each Tanzania and Zambia, Blue Carbon will assume management of eight million hectares of land. Combined with the Liberia deal, the land managed by Blue Carbon in these three African nations represents an space the dimensions of the entire of the United Kingdom.
What’s extra, Blue Carbon’s plans prolong past Africa: it has additionally agreed MOUs with Pakistan and Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea’s forests are residence to species like tree kangaroos, birds-of-paradise, and a complete sequence of endemic creatures. Image by Valerie Hukalo by way of Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
Mired in scandal
Later this month, the UAE will host the twenty eighth United Nations local weather summit (COP28).
The Blue Carbon offers will apparently be showcased there, and the carbon credit these offers would possibly generate are meant for use by the UAE (and presumably different governments) to offset their emissions and assist them meet their pledges underneath the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. These plans are more likely to meet resistance since they’re marred by issues each basic to offsets and particular to Blue Carbon.
In basic phrases, carbon offset schemes are an enormous diversion from the pressing process of decarbonizing our societies. One scheme after one other has been submerged by scandal, and proof has amassed displaying that they fail to ship the local weather advances they promise.
Earlier this yr, it was revealed that 90% of the rainforest offset credit authorised by Verra, the world’s largest carbon offsets requirements company, had been probably be “phantom credit” – which means they don’t characterize real carbon reductions. With such controversy swirling round land-based offset schemes, it’s no shock that the value for the carbon credit they generate has fallen tenfold for the reason that starting of 2022.
The very premise of land-based offsetting schemes is flawed: the concept polluters can declare their fossil gas emissions have been nullified as a result of they’ve paid for bushes to be planted or locked carbon into the land by different means, is constructed on the promise of drawing carbon out of the environment in a future marked with uncertainty. Meanwhile, burning fossil fuels now could be sure to contribute to the local weather disaster unfolding throughout the planet.
Specific criticisms have additionally been leveled on the Blue Carbon offers.
Liberian winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, Silas Siakor, is among the many critics of the Blue Carbon deal. Image of the activist photographing logged bushes courtesy of Silas Siakor.
Among the Liberians talking out is Goldman Prize winner Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor. While he stresses that cash is desperately wanted to assist native communities defending their forests, he additionally sees the deal as a menace to rural Liberians hard-won land rights.
More than 1.6 billion folks world wide depend upon forests and their sources, in keeping with the United Nations. This is particularly true in Liberia, which accommodates nearly half of the remaining Upper Guinea Forest, and the place half the inhabitants lives inside 2.5 kilometers of a forest. The majority of individuals there depend upon forest land.
“Around 70% of land in Liberia is owned by communities,” Siakor wrote not too long ago. “Roughly one third of our folks reside in forested areas, and the native individuals who reside on the land focused underneath the deal will solely be consulted about [the deal] after it has been signed – that’s, if they’re consulted in any respect.”
Siakor additionally argues that the deal’s legality is doubtful, because it seems to violate Liberia’s structure and numerous different native legal guidelines.
Meanwhile, the main points of the opposite international locations’ offers stay shrouded in secrecy.
“We don’t actually know the figures. We can’t even inform if the [value] of the land is precisely measured or if it tallies with the quantity being provided by the customer,” stated Tracy Mutowekuziva, a lawyer for the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, concerning her nation’s MOU with Blue Carbon.
All of this raises an pressing query: why ought to international locations be allowed to make use of Blue Carbon’s forest offset schemes – and others prefer it – to satisfy their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), that’s, the cuts to their greenhouse gasoline emissions they have to make to realize the Paris Agreement’s objectives?
Opinion amongst Paris Agreement signatories is split on the matter. As such, the principles on what carbon credit are acceptable for assembly local weather targets shall be a subject of intense debate at COP28.
See associated: Massive carbon offset cope with Dubai-based agency attracts fireplace in Liberia
According to a leaked draft of the contract, the Blue Carbon deal might override the customary land rights of communities residing in huge swaths of Liberia’s forests. Image by Terry Sunderland/CIFOR by way of Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Most events – together with the European Union (EU) – wish to exclude the commerce in so-called ‘prevented emissions’ credit (that’s, credit derived from preserving forests) from the carbon offset market.
Allied with the sharp decline in forest carbon credit’ value, this opposition will increase the uncertainty surrounding the way forward for land-based offsets on the whole, and places Blue Carbon’s plans on even shakier floor.
Those who oppose letting forest carbon credit contribute to different international locations’ nationwide local weather targets should stand agency. The EU and others should not give a inexperienced mild to fossil gas states’ – and different wealthy international locations’ – exploitation of typically impoverished international locations who’ve forests which want defending.
Carbon colonialism is a false resolution to the local weather disaster. The solely actual reply is to finish our fossil gas habit by dramatically decreasing our emissions, whereas financially supporting international locations and native communities to guard their forests, somewhat than wrest management of them.
Alexandra Benjamin is FERN’s forest governance campaigner specializing in Liberia and Ghana.
Related audio from Mongabay’s podcast: A dialog with Mongabay reporter Gerry Flynn and Indigenous activist Cynthia Ong about two large forest carbon offers proposed in Southeast Asia, pay attention right here:
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carbon, Carbon Credits, Carbon Finance, Carbon Market, Carbon Offsets, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Change Negotiations, Commentary, Community Development, Community Forestry, Conservation, Corporate Responsibility, Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporations, Environment, environmental justice, Forest Carbon, Forests, Governance, Land Rights, Social Justice, Trade, Tropical Forests
Africa, East Africa, Liberia, Southern Africa, Tanzania, West Africa, Zambia