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Archive for December, 2010

31 December, 2010

Dear Friends of Global Justice Ecology Project,

Happy New Year!  In celebration of the New Year that is just around the corner, I am sending this one last appeal to ask for your support for the programs of Global Justice Ecology Project.

You’ve heard a lot about what we’ve accomplished in the past year, so here is summary of some of the things we have planned for 2011.

Chiapas, Mexico—California—Acre, Brazil Climate Deal

While we were in Cancun, Mexico for the UN Climate Conference earlier this month, a deal was announced between California; Chiapas, Mexico and Acre, Brazil for agrofuel (biofuel) production and forest carbon offsets.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, shortly after the Zapatista uprising. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

GJEP Co-Director has worked in support of the Zapatistas since 1994; and our new Media Coordinator, Jeff Conant, who works out of our Oakland, California office, has a long history with Chiapas as well—making this a perfect campaign for us.  In fact, he just released a new book titled, “A Poetics of Resistance: The Revolutionary Public Relations of the Zapatista Insurgency.”

We will be sending a delegation to Chiapas, Mexico in March to investigate the impacts of this deal—which is designed to allow polluting companies in California to continue polluting at the expense of forests and communities in Chiapas, Brazil and California.

Chiapas is home to the Zapatistas—the Indigenous people that rose up against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.  They are still active, and we will investigate whether this California-Chiapas deal is designed to displace Zapatista communities to make room for plantations of African Palm or Jatropha for agrofuel production.

Strategic Media Program

We created this program with the goal of supporting the efforts of communities that are resisting/suffering the impacts of climate change, fossil fuels or false solutions to climate change like forest offsets.

Our Strategic Media Partners include the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, EcoViva (which supports community efforts to protect the environment in El Salvador), and we have also supported the media efforts of the global Climate Justice Now! network, ETC Group (which identifies and exposes dangerous new technologies like synthetic biology), and Global Forest Coalition.

Fiu Elisara of Samoa speaks during an Indigenous protest at the UN Climate COP in Bali in 2007. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Addressing climate change in a just and effective way is one of the goals of this program. We believe that highlighting the voices of people deeply involved in either finding real and just solutions to climate change, or stopping the causes of or false solutions to climate change is one of the most effective ways we can be involved.

STOP GE Trees Campaign

GJEP was part of a lawsuit filed against the USDA over their approval of a series of “test plots” involving 260,000 GE eucalyptus trees planted across the US South.

We anticipate the lawsuit will go to court this spring, which will mean a major media campaign and a lot of organizing with groups based in the regions threatened by the GE trees.

In July we head to Brazil.  We will meet with groups around Brazil to advance the campaign against GE trees there and will organize an action against a major industry conference on GE trees that is being held there.

The Future of Forests

Regrown forest in Vermont near Camel’s Hump. Vermont forests are threatened by plans to turn them into electricity. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

All of our work to protect forests and the peoples that depend on them will culminate in a project called “The Future of Forests.”  2011 is the International Year of Forests and we will be using that occasion to collaborate with our allies on a series of papers about the current and emerging threats to forests.  This includes:

• Genetically engineered tree plantations—still stoppable, with your help.

• Wood-based energy—using trees to produce everything from diesel fuel to electricity is becoming a major threat to forests globally.  We are exposing the dirty lie of this supposedly “green” way to make fuel.

• Forest offsets—Using standing forests or industrial tree plantations to supposedly offset the emissions of industries in industrialized countries like the US is worsening climate change, which is in turn threatening the survival of forests.

In addition, using forests for offsets requires the removal of communities living there.  These displaced people—many of them Indigenous—then have nowhere to go.  We are working with our Indigenous allies to stop this false climate solution.

Photography Book

One thing that makes Global Justice Ecology Project unique is the fact that we have a highly talented professional photographer as one of our Directors.  GJEP Co-Director Orin Langelle has been a concerned photographer since the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach.

Vietnam Veterans protest the war at the Republican National Convention in 1972. Photo: Langelle

He is taking this year to put together his four decades of photography into a book that can tell the story of the movements—from forest protection, to Indigenous Rights, to the anti-Vietnam War, to climate justice—and how they can weave together to make one powerful transformative international movement that can successfully tackle the global crises we face today.

Please support all of these plans with a year-end donation today.  We need your support to succeed.

Thank you and have a wonderful New Year.

Sincerely,

Anne Petermann

Executive Director

 

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

By Patrick Bond
Business Day (Johannesburg), 2010/12/31
THE recent Cancun climate- change agreements’ fatal flaw is simple: faith in fickle markets. A year from now in Durban, the apparently unifying strategy of combining ever- broader emissions trading with a modicum of north-south aid to resolve contradictions between national blocs will again become a destructive wedge.
As world negotiators stared into the abyss of failure, markets became a lifeline. The World Bank was everywhere in Cancun, applying neoliberal economic theory where it’s rarely gone before: into new Chinese emissions markets, lurking within tropical forests, burrowing into the topsoil of agricultural land, and even tackling large “charismatic” endangered species.
All are sites for extended corporate investments and offsets against planet- threatening emissions.
The idea is lowering the business costs of the transition to a post-carbon world. After a cap is placed on total emissions, high-polluting corporations can buy increasingly costly carbon permits from those that don’t need so many, or which are willing to part with them for a higher price than the profit they make in production or energy- generating or transport activities.
However, a global civil society network — the Durban Group for Climate Justice — was formed in 2004 in opposition to “the privatisation of the air”. We worried that the main test case, the European Union’s (EU’s) Emissions Trading Scheme, not only failed to reduce net greenhouse gases there, but suffered extreme volatility (five crashes from 2006 to this year), an inadequate price of €15/ton (down from a high of €30/ton 30 months ago and far less than is required for post-carbon transition investments), and worsening fraud scandals.
The market fix is also being tried in the third world through Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects, whereby investment strategies to prevent “additional” pollution also qualified for carbon credits, reaching about 6% of total trading at peak in 2008. But, illustrating the pitfalls, Sasol argued that its Mozambique gas pipelines, far less damaging than burning Mpumalanga coal, were “additional” because they wouldn’t have been built without CDM incentives. The specious claim was rejected by United Nations (UN) authorities after a complaint by Earthlife Africa last year.
With Europe as the base, world emissions trade grew to more than 130bn in 2008 and — while flat since then due to economic meltdown, corruption investigations and despondency induced by the Copenhagen round of talks — the market is projected to expand to 3-trillion a year by 2020 if the US signs on.
Last month, a new estimate of up to 50bn in north-south market-related transfers and offsets each year emerged from a UN financing commission, which included Planning Minister Trevor Manuel . World climate managers evidently hope to skimp on grants and instead beg business to push vast sums into CDMs instead.
Durban is an important guinea pig for at SA’s lead CDM pilot, the Bisasar Road landfill, where methane from rotting rubbish is converted to electricity. After helping set it up, the World Bank refused to take part in marketing or purchasing Bisasar Road emissions credits. Local activists say the reason was growing awareness of Durban’s notorious environmental racism.
In early 2005, just as the Kyoto Protocol came into force, a Washington Post front-page story revealed how community organiser Sajida Khan suffered cancer from Bisasar Road’s toxic legacy. Back in 1980, the landfill — Africa’s largest — was plopped in the middle of Durban’s Clare Estate suburb, across the road from Khan’s house, thanks to apartheid insensitivity.
Instead of honouring African National Congress politicians’ promises to close the dump in 1994, the municipality kept it open when R100m in emissions financing was dangled.
After Khan died of cancer in mid- 2007, civic pressure subsided and Durban began raising €14/ton for the project from private investors.
Similar controversy surrounds the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (Redd) programme. In theory, Redd sells investors forest protection. But it’s seen as a boon to voracious commercial forestry and a danger to indigenous peoples, given that proper safeguards were not adopted in Cancun.
And everyone from EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard to Greenpeace warns that Redd could wreck fragile carbon markets, not only due to socioecological forest controversies but because a fresh glut of credits would again crash the price.
Financial gaming also remains rife in the EU, and last week even the ordinarily pro-trading World Wide Fund for Nature and Öko-Institut attacked steel producers Thyssen- Krupp and Salzgitter as fraudulent carbon profiteers, demanding “the EU put a halt to the use of fake offsets”.
In short, the recent market mania was a dangerous diversion from a daunting reality: the US, China, SA and most other big emitters came to Cancun to avoid making the binding commitments required to limit the planet’s temperature rise in the 2000s, ideally below the 1,5° C scientists insist upon. Naturally the (binding) Kyoto Protocol is a threat to the main emitting countries, which want to replace it with the voluntary, loophole-ridden Copenhagen Accord. And, naturally, the north’s failure to account for its vast “climate debt” continued. Pakistan suffered 50bn in climate-related flood damage alone this year, yet the total on offer from the north to the whole world is just 30bn for 2010- 12.
And even that’s funny money, according to Hedegaard. When last February she complained (according to WikiLeaks) that Tokyo and London were trying to pay their share partly in the form of loan guarantees, not grants, US state department deputy climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing registered his approval: “Donors have to balance the political need to provide real financing with the practical constraints of tight budgets.”
The Copenhagen Accord, signed by Jacob Zuma , Barack Obama, Wen Jiabao, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Manmohan Singh, is already compromised by bribery. The Maldives and Ethiopia — once leaders in the Group of 77 and Africa — dropped their resistance to that shoddy deal in exchange for payola, WikiLeaks revealed. After Hedegaard told Pershing that the Alliance of Small Island States “could be our best allies, given their need for financing”, he provided a 50m aid package to the Maldives. The island’s ambassador to the US, Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed, told Pershing on February 23 that if “tangible assistance” was given to his country, then other affected countries would realise “the advantages to be gained by compliance” with the US climate agenda.
Whether a comprehensive Durban deal replaces Kyoto, continuing climate-market failures and worsening corruption are distracting the world from the more serious work required to go post-carbon.
To prevent the ozone hole from growing, an outright ban was required against chlorofluorocarbon emissions, and the Montreal Protocol achieved this starting in 1996. There’s our model for serious mitigation action.
Given SA’s own carbon addiction and the lamentable role SA’s climate negotiators play, slowing progress out of self-interest, Cancun’s desperate turn to the market will backfire next year. In Durban, an uncivil society starved for climate change mitigation and the rerouting of cheap electricity from guzzling metals smelters to the masses will be especially noisy.

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

GE Trees Protest, Charleston, SC, 2006. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

December 30, 2010

Dear Friends of Global Justice Ecology Project,

2010 was a banner year for Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP)–especially for our work to help stop climate change by protecting forests (and the communities that depend on them) through our STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign.

But our work is only beginning. We need your support today.  ArborGen is moving closer than ever to commercially releasing some of their devastating GE trees and we are mobilizing to stop them.

But to be successful, we need your help.  Please help us end this threat with a year end gift to the STOP GE Trees Campaign today.

Here is a summary of what we accomplished with the support of our donors in 2010:

In May we learned that the USDA had approved a request from GE tree company ArborGen to plant 260,000 GE eucalyptus trees in so-called “test plots” across the U.S. South.  We immediately mobilized, speaking to the media and making plans  with our campaign partners.

In July, we filed a lawsuit against the USDA over their approval of ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus test plots.  The brilliant attorneys at the Center for Food Safety (who have won several lawsuits against GMOs) and the Center for Biological Diversity (who have an excellent track record of protecting forests) are leading the charge, and Dogwood Alliance and Sierra Club are also on board.

GE eucalyptus trees provide no food or shelter for wildlife. Eucalyptus consume enormous quantities of water and have even been known to exacerbate droughts.  They are flammable.  They are invasive.

In August, the Charlotte Observer, North Carolina’s largest paper, issued an editorial slamming ArborGen’s plans to mass produce GE eucalyptus trees.  It was called “Could Eucalyptus Trees be the Kudzu of the 2010s?“.

In September we produced a 5 minute video on the threats of GE trees and industrial timber plantations.  It was produced jointly with Dogwood Alliance for the International Day Against Monoculture Timber Plantations organized by World Rainforest Movement.

Then recently we got some very exciting news. The USDA turned down a second request by ArborGen to sell billions of GE eucalyptus trees every year for vast tree plantations across the U.S. South–which would utterly devastate the forests and lands of this region.

This victory happened with the support of people like you who submitted comments or signed our petition to the USDA opposing GE trees.  If you haven’t signed our petition yet, you can do so here.

But this victory is not permanent. While we have, for now, protected forests across the Southern U.S. from genetically engineered eucalyptus plantations, ArborGen is still working hard to commerically release their GE eucalyptus, poplar and pine trees in the near future.

And GE trees are a threat not just here in the U.S. but in Latin America and around the world.  But we can stop them for good with your help.  Please send a donation to the STOP GE Trees Campaign today.

Some of our international work to STOP GE Trees included a tour through Europe with Global Forest Coalition about the threats posed to forests and forest peoples from GE trees and from electricity made from burning trees.

The use of trees to make electricity is already resulting in massive deforestation.  This so-called green energy is not so green once you see the clearcuts that result from it.

You can read the report on the issue that we co-produced with Global Forest Coalition called “Wood Based Bioenergy: The Green Lie.”

In October, we traveled to Japan for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to meet with campaign allies and present to UN delegates about the dangers of GE trees and wood-based bioenergy.

In 2011 we’ll be traveling to Brazil to campaign with our allies there against GE eucalyptus trees.

To stop the GE tree threat permanently, we must continue to expand and strengthen the STOP GE Trees Campaign.

And that’s why I’m writing you today to ask your support one more time.  Please send a year end donation to Global Justice Ecology Project today.

And if you have not yet signed our petition to the USDA opposing these GE eucalyptus test plots, please do.  And forward the link to your friends.

Thank you and best wishes for a wonderful New Year.

Sincerely,

Anne E. Petermann
Executive Director

P.S. For your donation of $50 or more, we will send you a copy of Lacandona: The Zapatistas and Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico.  This film describes the work of Indigenous Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico to protect the Lacandon jungle. It is especially relevant now as Indigenous communities in Chiapas are struggling to protect their forested lands from carbon offset schemes and agrofuels.

To receive the film, when you donate over the web, or when you send a check, simply write “DVD” in the designation line.

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

The blog is taking a break for the holidaze.  We will see you again starting on January 2nd, 2011.

In honor of the Holidaze, we offer you the scene below, shot in Cancun, Mexico immediately prior to the beginning of the UN Climate Conference there.

Additionally, we have re-released onto DVD our film “Lacandona: The Zapatistas and Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico,” which we produced through our previous organization in 1996.  The film includes extensive interviews with Commandante Tacho of the Indigenous-led Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) about their work to protect their rainforest homeland.  For more about the film and how to order it, visit our website

 

Happy Holidaze from Cancun! Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

Exposé | The 2º Death Dance – The 1º Cover-up

Part two of an investigative report. http://bit.ly/gZ0prF (Part 1: http://bit.ly/fqm0BI)

By Cory Morningstar

Above: Courtesy of Stephanie McMillan | CODE GREEN

Bolivia Versus the World

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable …” George Orwell

11 December 2010. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 16 in Cancún, Mexico.

Bolivia repeatedly opposes attempts to pass the text. Bolivia’s UN Ambassador, Pablo Solon, objects on the grounds that the draft proposals are far too lax to stop global warming. Solon stands his ground until conference chair Patricia Espinosa bangs the gavel at 3:31 a.m. saying: “The objections and complaints will be noted duly.”

A key clause of United Nations rules is that all agreements must be reached in harmony. However, Espinosa seems to have a very broad interpretation of this rule. Harmony, Espinosa stated, does not necessarily mean unanimity. Despite the lack of unanimity, Espinosa approves the text, which includes a deadly 2-degree limit for global warming. The negotiators and heads of state cheer like ravenous hyenas, drowning out Bolivia with rapturous applause. Bolivia stood alone, strenuously opposing the pyrrhic victory.

The overruling of Bolivia’s position demonstrates the clear disdain and callous disregard for vulnerable countries who refuse to be coerced – reflected clearly by the jettisoned UN principle of consensus. This clear abuse of the framework agreement on climate protection would never have been attempted or tolerated if the state in opposition had been a rich, powerful state such as the United States or the European Union (EU). (One may recall COP13 in Bali – American resistance stood in the way of an agreement. Papua New Guinea had to suggest that they “lead or get out of the way” before the US would join the consensus.) Bolivia, the world leader in the battle on climate change, has vowed to file a complaint with the International Court of Justice against the text approved in Cancún.

A primary reason why Bolivia opposed the so-called Cancún “agreements” was the fact that the 2ºC target – identified as extremely dangerous – completely disregards the climate science as well as the accelerating climate impacts and climate feedbacks already happening today. Another very revealing component to this document is the language: ”4) … with a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and that Parties should take urgent action to meet this long-term goal ….” The word “should” in policy does not demand commitment. In legal documents, “shall” is considered mandatory. If I tell my son he “should” clean his room rather than he “will”, “shall” or “must” clean his room, I know damn well it is never going to happen. A future binding or non-binding agreement, one that parties “should” take urgent action on, demands no accountability whatsoever. The word “should” appears in the document 38 times. In stark contrast, the word “must” appears only four times.

The fact that the Cancún Agreements passed without consensus (the UNFCCC consensus rule is adoption by virtue of no objection or unanimity – meaning all 192 members voting in favour) is revealing. On 7 December 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, Papua New Guinea proposed that, rather than descend to the lowest common denominator, the parties should strive for consensus with a fallback of 75%. This proposal was summarily dismissed by the Chair. [1]

21st Century Suicide Pact

SOLD. Our Earth’s shared atmosphere. A catastrophically dangerous 2ºC temperature rise, as well as the commodification of Earth’s final remaining natural resources, was accepted by all countries save Bolivia. Over 70% of atmospheric space (the US is historically responsible for 29% of greenhouse gas emissions; the EU, 27%) has been designated to the wealthiest 20% of the world, thus denying developing and vulnerable countries the opportunity to achieve the fundamental development necessary in order to meet their basic needs and transition to zero carbon societies. This leaves 80% of humanity competing for the less than 30% remaining interest. The suffering and devastation that will result from the greatest heist in history is unparalleled desperation, starvation and death on a massive scale.

SOLD. Life itself. During the last days of the Cancún climate summit, 5,000 Latin American campesinos blocked the main (and only) highway leading in and out of Cancún. In stark contrast, the rich of the wealthy obstructionist states lit a candle in the window of their warm, comfortable homes. How will citizens react when they finally realize – after wading through the rubbish heaps of corporate media propaganda – that the value of human life was tossed on the garbage heap in Cancún in order to protect the global economy? It is true that those in the Pacific Ocean, the vulnerable atolls, Bolivia and Africa will be burying their children and loved ones before the wealthy, obstructionist states, such as my own, must bury theirs. But make no mistake. Very few people, if any, will escape nature’s final performance. Without urgent emergency action, rapid climate shifts resulting from runaway climate change are practically inevitable with the suicide pact that was passed – without consensus – in Cancún.

The art of propaganda has been nothing less than brilliant. The deceit is so thick – you need a knife to cut through it. The corruption and greed so deep you need wings to stay above it and thigh high boots to wade through it.  An alluring tapestry of luminous lies, interwoven with finely textured deception and silk-like corruption – as smooth and seductive as freshly churned butter. The pursuit of man’s mind by way of domination has been the greatest and most successful experiment – the manipulation of man’s mind has resulted in a massive erosion of empathy, which has allowed status quo “business as usual” to continue uninterrupted with little resistance. Capitalism effectively bred a contempt for our Earth that multiplied like a virus. The pollution of mind mutated into narcissism with inflicted self-hatred to form a suicidal Molotov cocktail. Those who have succumbed now hold hands in a circle and taunt the very planet that gives us life. The ugly side of humanity continues to violently pierce our Earth Mother with drills and slash her beautiful skin with razors. She is losing breath. She is dying. Yet, when she lashes back, it will be with an Armageddon deathblow against which our own actions will resemble childish prattle. And perhaps not until this time will global society finally recognize that our shared purpose was not to compete with one another and claim dominance and superiority over our Earth Mother – but rather our role was to protect, defend and nurture. The human family – under the arm of its EuroAmerican “big brother” – will have finally succeeded in conquering our shared planet, only to find that we have destroyed ourselves.

Climate Genocide

Major greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting developed states continued to dominate the climate talks in Cancún as the Earth burned. Corporate media continued to pander to those who own them, those who control the system. The major GHG-emitting developed states have and will continue to coerce, bribe and bully the strong developing states such as Bolivia and the vulnerable states such as Tuvalu. Such vulnerable states, as well as Africa, will be decimated if temperatures are allowed to rise by 2ºC. In reality, we are now looking at 3ºC to 5ºC. Further, a global temperature rise of 3ºC to 5ºC will mean much higher temperature extremes for Africa – a furnace for African agriculture. Certain death. The harsh history of the continued exploitation, the raping and pillaging of beautiful Africa and her people, will finally be complete. There will be nothing left for rich nations to steal except for the sun’s energy falling on an empty landscape void of life – and there is little doubt the world’s wealthiest, ethically-bankrupt states will steal this, too.

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. While a precise definition varies among genocide scholars, a legal definition is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” Because of the influence of Joseph Stalin, “this definition of genocide under international law does not include political groups.”

It should. This genocide is being carried out openly by the world’s wealthiest – individuals and corporations alike – in collusion with the governments of the obstructionist states, with full knowledge of the consequences.

Agriculture | The Disappearing Bread Basket

Strangely and eerily absent in scientific papers and IPCC reports is any reference to protection of agriculture. This is not an oversight. In 1987, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee noted the threat to agriculture in particular, and stated its belief that “global warming is a potential environmental disaster on a scale only exceeded by nuclear war.” Once the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) low risk temperature rise of 1ºC was dismissed and essentially buried, the emphasis on protecting agriculture disappeared as well.

When global temperatures increase by more than 1ºC, approximately half of the world’s agricultural regions will experience crop decline. But due to the ocean heat lag effect, that 1ºC of increase will commit us to more than 1.5⁰C, which is food catastrophe for low latitude (the most climate change vulnerable) nations and disastrous for food security and agricultural productivity in other regions. Above 2⁰C is global food catastrophe with agriculture in decline globally, taking civilization with it.

Keep in mind that scientists believe the “agreements” from Cancún represent a real life 3⁰C to 5⁰C temperature rise this century (as early as 2040-2050) and a global 7⁰C if even the paltry commitments are not honoured.

This coming loss of agriculture – known yet ignored – will amount to certain mass genocide as millions, becoming billions around the world, will be left without food. There will be no sharing of food as even wealthy countries will be hard pressed to feed their own people. Importing for wealthy countries will be a thing of the past as vulnerable countries struggle to feed their own people. And all the while the Monsanto’s of the world will be salivating over the potential profits of genetically engineered foods, which could come to dominate and control the entire remaining food chain. An economy – no matter how strong – cannot provide nourishing soil, nor the right conditions to grow food. An economy – no matter how strong – cannot magically create water. Bolivians will lose access to water and, following, Africa will lose the ability to produce food. And all of the money in the world will not make this not so. [2]

Read the rest of this entry »

From the Plurinational State of Bolivia

Earlier this week, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved by consensus two resolutions presented by Bolivia. The first, entitled “Harmony with Nature,” asks to convene an interactive dialogue on International Mother Earth Day on April 22nd, 2011. Topics will include methods for promoting a holistic approach to harmony with nature, and an exchange of national experiences regarding criteria and indicators to measure sustainable development in harmony with nature.

This resolution recognizes that “human beings are an inseparable part of nature, and that they cannot damage it without severely damaging themselves.” It also seeks to contribute to the preparatory process for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.

The second resolution convenes in 2014 a World Conference on Indigenous Peoples with the objective of contributing to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Both resolutions make reference to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which took place this year in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

In the last two years, the UN General Assembly has approved five resolutions initiated by the Plurinational State of Bolivia. Four were approved by consensus, and one in a vote with no country opposed (the resolution on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation). Never before in the history of Bolivian diplomacy has has the country had such an impact in the UN.

Links to documents in PDF format: Indigenous issues (link 2) / Harmony with nature (available in all official UN languages)

http://boliviaun.net
http://cmpcc.org

_______________________________________________

 

Los primeros días de esta semana, la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas aprobó por consenso dos resoluciones presentadas por Bolivia. La primera titulada “Armonía con la Naturaleza”, que convoca a un diálogo interactivo a realizarse durante las sesiones de conmemoración del Día Internacional de la Madre Tierra, el próximo 22 de abril del 2011 sobre “a) Medios para promover un enfoque holístico respecto del desarrollo sostenible en armonía con la naturaleza; y b) Intercambio de experiencias nacionales en lo que respecta a criterios e indicadores para medir el desarrollo sostenible en armonía con la naturaleza.”

Esta resolución reconoce “que los seres humanos son una parte de la naturaleza y que no pueden dañarla sin causarse un daño severo a ellos mismos”, y busca contribuir al proceso preparatorio de la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Desarrollo Sostenible para el 2012.

La segunda resolución convoca para el año 2014 a una Conferencia Mundial de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Pueblos Indígenas con el objetivo de hacer un seguimiento a la implementación de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas.

Ambas resoluciones resaltan la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático y los Derechos de la Madre Tierra, celebrada este año en Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Es de destacar que en los últimos dos años se han aprobado en la Asamblea General de la ONU cinco resoluciones a iniciativa del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia. Cuatro por consenso y una  por votación, sin ningún voto en contra, que fue la del Derecho Humano al Agua y al Saneamiento. En toda la historia de la diplomacia boliviana jamás se tuvo este accionar, receptividad e impacto en Naciones Unidas.

Enlaces a documentos en formato PDF: Cuestiones indígenas (enlace 2) / Armonía con la naturaleza (disponibles en idiomas oficiales de la ONU)

http://boliviaun.net
http://cmpcc.org

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

REDD in the Congo Basin

WRM, December 2010

The forest of the Congo Basin expands over an area of continuous tropical rainforest cover only second to that of the Amazon forest. The region’s forests are found in Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.

Those forests are currently receiving a lot of attention within the Climate Change negotiations, because they store enormous amounts of carbon, that might be released to the atmosphere if they were to disappear, thus further contributing to climate change. As a result, they are being geared towards their inclusion in a scheme called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)”, which would imply payments for “carbon credits” resulting from having reduced carbon emissions.[1]

Though extremely difficult to prove and quantify, the idea is that countries should be financially compensated for avoiding a certain level of deforestation or forest degradation that would have occurred in a business as usual scenario. Compensation would be based in the avoided carbon emissions resulting from forest conservation. Those “avoided emissions” would be traded in the international market and paid for by governments or companies as “offsets” for their own carbon emissions.[2]

Low deforestation rates

However, in spite of what many might think, deforestation in the Congo Basin is relatively low -particularly when compared to the Amazonian and Indonesian forests- ranging from as low as 0.1 percent forest loss per year in the Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic to 1 percent deforestation in Cameroon.[3]

This good news is, however, very bad news for those who seek to profit from a carbon market-based REDD system, because such type of REDD is based on the sale of carbon credits generated by the reduction of emissions from deforestation. This means that countries that do not destroy significant areas of forests are not particularly interesting for market-based REDD projects.

There are however some “opportunities”, that large organizations – ranging from the World Bank to the World Resources Institute[4], WWF[5] and Conservation International[6] – are trying to benefit from, focused on the second part of the acronym REDD: reduction of carbon emissions from “forest degradation”.

Emissions from forest degradation

While some organizations blame forest degradation on either shifting agriculture or fuelwood collection for local consumption, most of it is in fact the result of large-scale industrial logging within forest concessions granted by governments to logging companies. Most of the Congo Basin countries already have enormous logging concession areas, largely in the hands of foreign corporations.

Although industrial logging does in fact degrade forests, it is very difficult to calculate with any level of certainty the amount of net carbon emissions resulting from the process. Among other issues, the following serve to clarify the problem: 1) the huge logs extracted are exported for the production of high quality wood products; as a result, the carbon stored therein may not be released for many decades; 2) many trees are destroyed during the logging operation and left to rot at the site, which means that the carbon contained in them will be slowly released over a number of years; 3) natural re-growth of the logged forest starts immediately; this means that part of the total amount of carbon released as a result of logging will be absorbed by the growing vegetation acting as a carbon sink.

Given the above, it is extremely difficult to estimate net emissions resulting from the logging operations and therefore to establish a figure for the “emission reductions” that would result from halting industrial logging, thereby making carbon credits an almost worthless “guesstimate”. This does not mean that industrial logging should not be stopped: it certainly must, but not only because of the resulting carbon emissions but because of all the social and environmental impacts it entails, ranging from biodiversity loss to human rights abuses.

Where would REDD money go?

But even if “reduced emissions” could be calculated, a second important question is: where would the REDD money go? The answer is simple: to the actors that are responsible for deforestation or forest degradation that are willing to collect REDD money instead of that obtained through logging. This means either governments or logging companies or both.

In the case of governments, they would need to demonstrate that their development plans include the logging of large areas of forest – which in the Congo basin mostly “belongs” to the state – and that the only way of preventing this would be for them to receive a similar amount of money to the one they would “lose” if they were to conserve the forest.

As respects to logging companies, they would need to be paid for the profits they would have gained through logging. As has been documented elsewhere,[7] the money received could be used for simply carrying out the same logging operations but in another country. Which for the climate of course means that global emissions from their activity would not have been reduced at all. Another important actor has appeared in the REDD scenario: large conservation businesses. Smelling the possibility of raising money for conservation projects through the REDD mechanism, organizations such as Conservation International are quickly investing time for finding out ways through which to convince the carbon market that their projects may be eligible for REDD-related carbon credits. This is not an easy task, because conservation projects will only work in areas with little economic pressure and hence with little risk of carbon emissions from deforestation or forest degradation. However, the fact that these kind of projects will contribute little in reducing emissions will probably not be a major hurdle for their approval. The reason is that their role as showcase projects will serve for paving the way for the approval of much more ugly REDD dealings in forest areas, including the payment of large amounts of money to logging companies with a long history of social and environmental destruction in the region.

And what about communities living in forests? Given that Congo Basin forest communities are not usually destroying or degrading forests in a significant manner, they would not be entitled to REDD carbon market money, nor would those living in logging concession areas, because the money would be received by the logging company responsible for “reducing” emissions.

The market works … when pushed by those keen to create it

While the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has not yet taken any decision about REDD, a number of actors have been pushing it through as if it had already been approved. Such is particularly the case of the World Bank, that has been putting pressure on UNFCCC for the acceptance of the carbon market in general and REDD in particular before any decisions on this issue had been taken by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention.

For the achievement of those aims, the Bank created its “ Carbon Finance Unit”, which in turn established the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in 2007.

At the same time, three UN agencies (FAO, UNEP and UNDP) got together and created the UN-REDD Programme (United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries).

Later on, the FCPF and the UN-REDD Programme decided to “work together both at the international level, harmonizing normative frameworks and organizing joint events, and at the national level, where joint missions and sharing of information are producing coordinated support interventions.”[8]

As a result, a number of governments are receiving financial and technical support for preparing conditions for future REDD projects, defined as “REDD-readiness plans”. Such plans are largely dependent on how much funding and support a country receives to create them.[9]

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) currently stands as the regional leader in attracting REDD money. The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), allocated US$3.4 million for this country’s REDD strategy. The DRC also received substantial financial support from UN-REDD and the Congo Basin Forest Fund. According to a media article “Thanks to this funding, the Democratic Republic of Congo is now awash with pilot projects.”[10]

The Republic of Congo (holding the second largest area of forest within the Congo Basin) will be also receiving US$3.4 million from the FCPF after its readiness plan was approved in 2010. The UN-REDD will be also providing financial support to address the shortcomings of the plan as regards to lack of participation.[11]

Unlike the two Congos, other nations in the region have received limited funds to prepare their readiness strategies. As a result, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea are making slow progress, while Gabon is confronting political in-fighting over who is responsible for implementing REDD.[12]

Will REDD money subsidize plantations?

Many forest areas in the Congo Basin have been converted to monoculture oil palm and rubber tree plantations[13] and–to a lesser extent- eucalyptus trees[14]. At present there is a very strong push for the establishment of even larger plantations, mostly oil palm[15] (aimed at the production of agrofuels) and rubber tree plantations.

A few examples serve to illustrate the issue: 1) In the Republic of Congo, Spanish company Aurantia, Italian energy companies ENI and Fri-El Green plan to plant a total of more that 100,000 hectares of oil palm;[16] 2) In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Canadian company TriNorth Capital would plant some 70,000 hectares of oil palm while Chinese company ZTE Agribusiness announced its intention of establishing oil palm plantations over 1 million hectares of land;[17] 3) In Gabon, Singapore-based Olam International would plant some 140,000 hectares with oil palms.[18]

In relation to REDD, the question is: will these plantations receive carbon credits? Will the area covered by them be considered as “forests” and therefore not included as deforestation? In this respects, it is important to note that according to the FAO definition – adopted by the UNFCCC- rubber plantations are “forests”, while oil palm plantations are not. One can expect strong lobbying from the oil palm industry – as well as from governments in countries with extensive plantations such as Indonesia and Malaysia – to have these plantations defined as forests too. The end result could be that such plantations might be entitled to REDD money.

A different approach

The forests of the Congo Basin are crucially important, but not only as mere carbon reservoirs. These forests provide habitats for countless species of animals and plants; they act as local and regional climate regulators; protect soils and the water cycle and provide for the livelihoods of tens of millions of people that have inhabited and protected them since time immemorial. The need for their conservation therefore goes far beyond carbon-focused schemes that could impact negatively on local peoples’ livelihoods and rights over these forests.

Northern governments – past and present – have played a key role in forest destruction and in the disempowerment of those peoples over their forests, either directly –through colonialism – and/or indirectly – via consumption of products extracted from them.[19]

As a result, Northern governments need to acknowledge their past and present role in deforestation and forest degradation in the region – as well as in global climate change – and commit themselves to supporting forest conservation in the Congo Basin. Contrary to the prevailing market-based REDD approach, financial support should be provided – not exchanged for carbon “offsets – to countries that put in place and implement policies that ensure both the conservation of forests – not plantations – and the rights of forest and forest-dependent peoples. Mechanisms should be established to ensure that the money will be fairly shared between relevant government agencies and the communities involved in forest conservation. At the same time, Northern countries should identify and adequately address the role that their own policies and corporations play in deforestation and forest degradation in the region. Corporations involved in forest destruction should not be “compensated”.

WRM, December 2010


References:

[1] ^^ Unless Bolivia’s suggestions are adopted at the UN-level and carbon trading is excluded from REDD. Currently Bolivia’s suggestions are in square brackets.[2] ^^ Unless Bolivia’s suggestions are adopted

[3] ^^ http://www.forestcarbonindex.org/congo-basin-and-west-africa.html

[4] ^^ http://www.wri.org/stories/2010/08/preparing-redd-republic-congo

[5] ^^ http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/jobs/?uNewsID=194703

[6] ^^ http://www.conservation.org/sites/celb/Documents/2010.03.05_Disney_Factsheet_LR.pdf

[7] ^^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/11/greenwash-noel-kempff-forests

[8] ^^ http://www.un-redd.org/NewsCentre/Newsletterhome/1Feature2/tabid/1588/language/en-
US/Default.aspx

[9] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id
=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[10] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[11] ^^ http://www.bicusa.org/en/Article.12053.aspx

[12] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id
=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[13] ^^ Mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon

[14] ^^ In the Republic of Congo

[15] ^^ See at http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/

[16] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/congo-r/

[17] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/congo-r-d/

[18] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/gabon/

[19] ^^ Some economically powerful Southern countries – such as Brazil, China, Malaysia, Singapore – are now also starting to play a similar destructive role in the Congo Basin.

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

REDD in the Congo Basin

WRM, December 2010

The forest of the Congo Basin expands over an area of continuous tropical rainforest cover only second to that of the Amazon forest. The region’s forests are found in Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.

Those forests are currently receiving a lot of attention within the Climate Change negotiations, because they store enormous amounts of carbon, that might be released to the atmosphere if they were to disappear, thus further contributing to climate change. As a result, they are being geared towards their inclusion in a scheme called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)”, which would imply payments for “carbon credits” resulting from having reduced carbon emissions.[1]

Though extremely difficult to prove and quantify, the idea is that countries should be financially compensated for avoiding a certain level of deforestation or forest degradation that would have occurred in a business as usual scenario. Compensation would be based in the avoided carbon emissions resulting from forest conservation. Those “avoided emissions” would be traded in the international market and paid for by governments or companies as “offsets” for their own carbon emissions.[2]

Low deforestation rates

However, in spite of what many might think, deforestation in the Congo Basin is relatively low -particularly when compared to the Amazonian and Indonesian forests- ranging from as low as 0.1 percent forest loss per year in the Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic to 1 percent deforestation in Cameroon.[3]

This good news is, however, very bad news for those who seek to profit from a carbon market-based REDD system, because such type of REDD is based on the sale of carbon credits generated by the reduction of emissions from deforestation. This means that countries that do not destroy significant areas of forests are not particularly interesting for market-based REDD projects.

There are however some “opportunities”, that large organizations – ranging from the World Bank to the World Resources Institute[4], WWF[5] and Conservation International[6] – are trying to benefit from, focused on the second part of the acronym REDD: reduction of carbon emissions from “forest degradation”.

Emissions from forest degradation

While some organizations blame forest degradation on either shifting agriculture or fuelwood collection for local consumption, most of it is in fact the result of large-scale industrial logging within forest concessions granted by governments to logging companies. Most of the Congo Basin countries already have enormous logging concession areas, largely in the hands of foreign corporations.

Although industrial logging does in fact degrade forests, it is very difficult to calculate with any level of certainty the amount of net carbon emissions resulting from the process. Among other issues, the following serve to clarify the problem: 1) the huge logs extracted are exported for the production of high quality wood products; as a result, the carbon stored therein may not be released for many decades; 2) many trees are destroyed during the logging operation and left to rot at the site, which means that the carbon contained in them will be slowly released over a number of years; 3) natural re-growth of the logged forest starts immediately; this means that part of the total amount of carbon released as a result of logging will be absorbed by the growing vegetation acting as a carbon sink.

Given the above, it is extremely difficult to estimate net emissions resulting from the logging operations and therefore to establish a figure for the “emission reductions” that would result from halting industrial logging, thereby making carbon credits an almost worthless “guesstimate”. This does not mean that industrial logging should not be stopped: it certainly must, but not only because of the resulting carbon emissions but because of all the social and environmental impacts it entails, ranging from biodiversity loss to human rights abuses.

Where would REDD money go?

But even if “reduced emissions” could be calculated, a second important question is: where would the REDD money go? The answer is simple: to the actors that are responsible for deforestation or forest degradation that are willing to collect REDD money instead of that obtained through logging. This means either governments or logging companies or both.

In the case of governments, they would need to demonstrate that their development plans include the logging of large areas of forest – which in the Congo basin mostly “belongs” to the state – and that the only way of preventing this would be for them to receive a similar amount of money to the one they would “lose” if they were to conserve the forest.

As respects to logging companies, they would need to be paid for the profits they would have gained through logging. As has been documented elsewhere,[7] the money received could be used for simply carrying out the same logging operations but in another country. Which for the climate of course means that global emissions from their activity would not have been reduced at all. Another important actor has appeared in the REDD scenario: large conservation businesses. Smelling the possibility of raising money for conservation projects through the REDD mechanism, organizations such as Conservation International are quickly investing time for finding out ways through which to convince the carbon market that their projects may be eligible for REDD-related carbon credits. This is not an easy task, because conservation projects will only work in areas with little economic pressure and hence with little risk of carbon emissions from deforestation or forest degradation. However, the fact that these kind of projects will contribute little in reducing emissions will probably not be a major hurdle for their approval. The reason is that their role as showcase projects will serve for paving the way for the approval of much more ugly REDD dealings in forest areas, including the payment of large amounts of money to logging companies with a long history of social and environmental destruction in the region.

And what about communities living in forests? Given that Congo Basin forest communities are not usually destroying or degrading forests in a significant manner, they would not be entitled to REDD carbon market money, nor would those living in logging concession areas, because the money would be received by the logging company responsible for “reducing” emissions.

The market works … when pushed by those keen to create it

While the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has not yet taken any decision about REDD, a number of actors have been pushing it through as if it had already been approved. Such is particularly the case of the World Bank, that has been putting pressure on UNFCCC for the acceptance of the carbon market in general and REDD in particular before any decisions on this issue had been taken by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention.

For the achievement of those aims, the Bank created its “ Carbon Finance Unit”, which in turn established the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in 2007.

At the same time, three UN agencies (FAO, UNEP and UNDP) got together and created the UN-REDD Programme (United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries).

Later on, the FCPF and the UN-REDD Programme decided to “work together both at the international level, harmonizing normative frameworks and organizing joint events, and at the national level, where joint missions and sharing of information are producing coordinated support interventions.”[8]

As a result, a number of governments are receiving financial and technical support for preparing conditions for future REDD projects, defined as “REDD-readiness plans”. Such plans are largely dependent on how much funding and support a country receives to create them.[9]

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) currently stands as the regional leader in attracting REDD money. The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), allocated US$3.4 million for this country’s REDD strategy. The DRC also received substantial financial support from UN-REDD and the Congo Basin Forest Fund. According to a media article “Thanks to this funding, the Democratic Republic of Congo is now awash with pilot projects.”[10]

The Republic of Congo (holding the second largest area of forest within the Congo Basin) will be also receiving US$3.4 million from the FCPF after its readiness plan was approved in 2010. The UN-REDD will be also providing financial support to address the shortcomings of the plan as regards to lack of participation.[11]

Unlike the two Congos, other nations in the region have received limited funds to prepare their readiness strategies. As a result, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea are making slow progress, while Gabon is confronting political in-fighting over who is responsible for implementing REDD.[12]

Will REDD money subsidize plantations?

Many forest areas in the Congo Basin have been converted to monoculture oil palm and rubber tree plantations[13] and–to a lesser extent- eucalyptus trees[14]. At present there is a very strong push for the establishment of even larger plantations, mostly oil palm[15] (aimed at the production of agrofuels) and rubber tree plantations.

A few examples serve to illustrate the issue: 1) In the Republic of Congo, Spanish company Aurantia, Italian energy companies ENI and Fri-El Green plan to plant a total of more that 100,000 hectares of oil palm;[16] 2) In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Canadian company TriNorth Capital would plant some 70,000 hectares of oil palm while Chinese company ZTE Agribusiness announced its intention of establishing oil palm plantations over 1 million hectares of land;[17] 3) In Gabon, Singapore-based Olam International would plant some 140,000 hectares with oil palms.[18]

In relation to REDD, the question is: will these plantations receive carbon credits? Will the area covered by them be considered as “forests” and therefore not included as deforestation? In this respects, it is important to note that according to the FAO definition – adopted by the UNFCCC- rubber plantations are “forests”, while oil palm plantations are not. One can expect strong lobbying from the oil palm industry – as well as from governments in countries with extensive plantations such as Indonesia and Malaysia – to have these plantations defined as forests too. The end result could be that such plantations might be entitled to REDD money.

A different approach

The forests of the Congo Basin are crucially important, but not only as mere carbon reservoirs. These forests provide habitats for countless species of animals and plants; they act as local and regional climate regulators; protect soils and the water cycle and provide for the livelihoods of tens of millions of people that have inhabited and protected them since time immemorial. The need for their conservation therefore goes far beyond carbon-focused schemes that could impact negatively on local peoples’ livelihoods and rights over these forests.

Northern governments – past and present – have played a key role in forest destruction and in the disempowerment of those peoples over their forests, either directly –through colonialism – and/or indirectly – via consumption of products extracted from them.[19]

As a result, Northern governments need to acknowledge their past and present role in deforestation and forest degradation in the region – as well as in global climate change – and commit themselves to supporting forest conservation in the Congo Basin. Contrary to the prevailing market-based REDD approach, financial support should be provided – not exchanged for carbon “offsets – to countries that put in place and implement policies that ensure both the conservation of forests – not plantations – and the rights of forest and forest-dependent peoples. Mechanisms should be established to ensure that the money will be fairly shared between relevant government agencies and the communities involved in forest conservation. At the same time, Northern countries should identify and adequately address the role that their own policies and corporations play in deforestation and forest degradation in the region. Corporations involved in forest destruction should not be “compensated”.

WRM, December 2010


References:

[1] ^^ Unless Bolivia’s suggestions are adopted at the UN-level and carbon trading is excluded from REDD. Currently Bolivia’s suggestions are in square brackets.[2] ^^ Unless Bolivia’s suggestions are adopted

[3] ^^ http://www.forestcarbonindex.org/congo-basin-and-west-africa.html

[4] ^^ http://www.wri.org/stories/2010/08/preparing-redd-republic-congo

[5] ^^ http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/jobs/?uNewsID=194703

[6] ^^ http://www.conservation.org/sites/celb/Documents/2010.03.05_Disney_Factsheet_LR.pdf

[7] ^^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/11/greenwash-noel-kempff-forests

[8] ^^ http://www.un-redd.org/NewsCentre/Newsletterhome/1Feature2/tabid/1588/language/en-
US/Default.aspx

[9] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id
=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[10] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[11] ^^ http://www.bicusa.org/en/Article.12053.aspx

[12] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id
=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[13] ^^ Mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon

[14] ^^ In the Republic of Congo

[15] ^^ See at http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/

[16] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/congo-r/

[17] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/congo-r-d/

[18] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/gabon/

[19] ^^ Some economically powerful Southern countries – such as Brazil, China, Malaysia, Singapore – are now also starting to play a similar destructive role in the Congo Basin.

REDD in the Congo Basin

WRM, December 2010

The forest of the Congo Basin expands over an area of continuous tropical rainforest cover only second to that of the Amazon forest. The region’s forests are found in Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic.

Those forests are currently receiving a lot of attention within the Climate Change negotiations, because they store enormous amounts of carbon, that might be released to the atmosphere if they were to disappear, thus further contributing to climate change. As a result, they are being geared towards their inclusion in a scheme called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)”, which would imply payments for “carbon credits” resulting from having reduced carbon emissions.[1]

Though extremely difficult to prove and quantify, the idea is that countries should be financially compensated for avoiding a certain level of deforestation or forest degradation that would have occurred in a business as usual scenario. Compensation would be based in the avoided carbon emissions resulting from forest conservation. Those “avoided emissions” would be traded in the international market and paid for by governments or companies as “offsets” for their own carbon emissions.[2]

Low deforestation rates

However, in spite of what many might think, deforestation in the Congo Basin is relatively low -particularly when compared to the Amazonian and Indonesian forests- ranging from as low as 0.1 percent forest loss per year in the Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic to 1 percent deforestation in Cameroon.[3]

This good news is, however, very bad news for those who seek to profit from a carbon market-based REDD system, because such type of REDD is based on the sale of carbon credits generated by the reduction of emissions from deforestation. This means that countries that do not destroy significant areas of forests are not particularly interesting for market-based REDD projects.

There are however some “opportunities”, that large organizations – ranging from the World Bank to the World Resources Institute[4], WWF[5] and Conservation International[6] – are trying to benefit from, focused on the second part of the acronym REDD: reduction of carbon emissions from “forest degradation”.

Emissions from forest degradation

While some organizations blame forest degradation on either shifting agriculture or fuelwood collection for local consumption, most of it is in fact the result of large-scale industrial logging within forest concessions granted by governments to logging companies. Most of the Congo Basin countries already have enormous logging concession areas, largely in the hands of foreign corporations.

Although industrial logging does in fact degrade forests, it is very difficult to calculate with any level of certainty the amount of net carbon emissions resulting from the process. Among other issues, the following serve to clarify the problem: 1) the huge logs extracted are exported for the production of high quality wood products; as a result, the carbon stored therein may not be released for many decades; 2) many trees are destroyed during the logging operation and left to rot at the site, which means that the carbon contained in them will be slowly released over a number of years; 3) natural re-growth of the logged forest starts immediately; this means that part of the total amount of carbon released as a result of logging will be absorbed by the growing vegetation acting as a carbon sink.

Given the above, it is extremely difficult to estimate net emissions resulting from the logging operations and therefore to establish a figure for the “emission reductions” that would result from halting industrial logging, thereby making carbon credits an almost worthless “guesstimate”. This does not mean that industrial logging should not be stopped: it certainly must, but not only because of the resulting carbon emissions but because of all the social and environmental impacts it entails, ranging from biodiversity loss to human rights abuses.

Where would REDD money go?

But even if “reduced emissions” could be calculated, a second important question is: where would the REDD money go? The answer is simple: to the actors that are responsible for deforestation or forest degradation that are willing to collect REDD money instead of that obtained through logging. This means either governments or logging companies or both.

In the case of governments, they would need to demonstrate that their development plans include the logging of large areas of forest – which in the Congo basin mostly “belongs” to the state – and that the only way of preventing this would be for them to receive a similar amount of money to the one they would “lose” if they were to conserve the forest.

As respects to logging companies, they would need to be paid for the profits they would have gained through logging. As has been documented elsewhere,[7] the money received could be used for simply carrying out the same logging operations but in another country. Which for the climate of course means that global emissions from their activity would not have been reduced at all. Another important actor has appeared in the REDD scenario: large conservation businesses. Smelling the possibility of raising money for conservation projects through the REDD mechanism, organizations such as Conservation International are quickly investing time for finding out ways through which to convince the carbon market that their projects may be eligible for REDD-related carbon credits. This is not an easy task, because conservation projects will only work in areas with little economic pressure and hence with little risk of carbon emissions from deforestation or forest degradation. However, the fact that these kind of projects will contribute little in reducing emissions will probably not be a major hurdle for their approval. The reason is that their role as showcase projects will serve for paving the way for the approval of much more ugly REDD dealings in forest areas, including the payment of large amounts of money to logging companies with a long history of social and environmental destruction in the region.

And what about communities living in forests? Given that Congo Basin forest communities are not usually destroying or degrading forests in a significant manner, they would not be entitled to REDD carbon market money, nor would those living in logging concession areas, because the money would be received by the logging company responsible for “reducing” emissions.

The market works … when pushed by those keen to create it

While the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has not yet taken any decision about REDD, a number of actors have been pushing it through as if it had already been approved. Such is particularly the case of the World Bank, that has been putting pressure on UNFCCC for the acceptance of the carbon market in general and REDD in particular before any decisions on this issue had been taken by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention.

For the achievement of those aims, the Bank created its “ Carbon Finance Unit”, which in turn established the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in 2007.

At the same time, three UN agencies (FAO, UNEP and UNDP) got together and created the UN-REDD Programme (United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries).

Later on, the FCPF and the UN-REDD Programme decided to “work together both at the international level, harmonizing normative frameworks and organizing joint events, and at the national level, where joint missions and sharing of information are producing coordinated support interventions.”[8]

As a result, a number of governments are receiving financial and technical support for preparing conditions for future REDD projects, defined as “REDD-readiness plans”. Such plans are largely dependent on how much funding and support a country receives to create them.[9]

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) currently stands as the regional leader in attracting REDD money. The World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), allocated US$3.4 million for this country’s REDD strategy. The DRC also received substantial financial support from UN-REDD and the Congo Basin Forest Fund. According to a media article “Thanks to this funding, the Democratic Republic of Congo is now awash with pilot projects.”[10]

The Republic of Congo (holding the second largest area of forest within the Congo Basin) will be also receiving US$3.4 million from the FCPF after its readiness plan was approved in 2010. The UN-REDD will be also providing financial support to address the shortcomings of the plan as regards to lack of participation.[11]

Unlike the two Congos, other nations in the region have received limited funds to prepare their readiness strategies. As a result, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea are making slow progress, while Gabon is confronting political in-fighting over who is responsible for implementing REDD.[12]

Will REDD money subsidize plantations?

Many forest areas in the Congo Basin have been converted to monoculture oil palm and rubber tree plantations[13] and–to a lesser extent- eucalyptus trees[14]. At present there is a very strong push for the establishment of even larger plantations, mostly oil palm[15] (aimed at the production of agrofuels) and rubber tree plantations.

A few examples serve to illustrate the issue: 1) In the Republic of Congo, Spanish company Aurantia, Italian energy companies ENI and Fri-El Green plan to plant a total of more that 100,000 hectares of oil palm;[16] 2) In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Canadian company TriNorth Capital would plant some 70,000 hectares of oil palm while Chinese company ZTE Agribusiness announced its intention of establishing oil palm plantations over 1 million hectares of land;[17] 3) In Gabon, Singapore-based Olam International would plant some 140,000 hectares with oil palms.[18]

In relation to REDD, the question is: will these plantations receive carbon credits? Will the area covered by them be considered as “forests” and therefore not included as deforestation? In this respects, it is important to note that according to the FAO definition – adopted by the UNFCCC- rubber plantations are “forests”, while oil palm plantations are not. One can expect strong lobbying from the oil palm industry – as well as from governments in countries with extensive plantations such as Indonesia and Malaysia – to have these plantations defined as forests too. The end result could be that such plantations might be entitled to REDD money.

A different approach

The forests of the Congo Basin are crucially important, but not only as mere carbon reservoirs. These forests provide habitats for countless species of animals and plants; they act as local and regional climate regulators; protect soils and the water cycle and provide for the livelihoods of tens of millions of people that have inhabited and protected them since time immemorial. The need for their conservation therefore goes far beyond carbon-focused schemes that could impact negatively on local peoples’ livelihoods and rights over these forests.

Northern governments – past and present – have played a key role in forest destruction and in the disempowerment of those peoples over their forests, either directly –through colonialism – and/or indirectly – via consumption of products extracted from them.[19]

As a result, Northern governments need to acknowledge their past and present role in deforestation and forest degradation in the region – as well as in global climate change – and commit themselves to supporting forest conservation in the Congo Basin. Contrary to the prevailing market-based REDD approach, financial support should be provided – not exchanged for carbon “offsets – to countries that put in place and implement policies that ensure both the conservation of forests – not plantations – and the rights of forest and forest-dependent peoples. Mechanisms should be established to ensure that the money will be fairly shared between relevant government agencies and the communities involved in forest conservation. At the same time, Northern countries should identify and adequately address the role that their own policies and corporations play in deforestation and forest degradation in the region. Corporations involved in forest destruction should not be “compensated”.

WRM, December 2010


References:

[1] ^^ Unless Bolivia’s suggestions are adopted at the UN-level and carbon trading is excluded from REDD. Currently Bolivia’s suggestions are in square brackets.[2] ^^ Unless Bolivia’s suggestions are adopted

[3] ^^ http://www.forestcarbonindex.org/congo-basin-and-west-africa.html

[4] ^^ http://www.wri.org/stories/2010/08/preparing-redd-republic-congo

[5] ^^ http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/jobs/?uNewsID=194703

[6] ^^ http://www.conservation.org/sites/celb/Documents/2010.03.05_Disney_Factsheet_LR.pdf

[7] ^^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/mar/11/greenwash-noel-kempff-forests

[8] ^^ http://www.un-redd.org/NewsCentre/Newsletterhome/1Feature2/tabid/1588/language/en-
US/Default.aspx

[9] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id
=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[10] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[11] ^^ http://www.bicusa.org/en/Article.12053.aspx

[12] ^^ http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id
=7846section=news_articleseod=1

[13] ^^ Mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon

[14] ^^ In the Republic of Congo

[15] ^^ See at http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/

[16] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/congo-r/

[17] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/congo-r-d/

[18] ^^ http://oilpalminafrica.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/gabon/

[19] ^^ Some economically powerful Southern countries – such as Brazil, China, Malaysia, Singapore – are now also starting to play a similar destructive role in the Congo Basin.

California’s new cap-and-trade legislation, approved last week, makes it clear exactly why market-based solutions will only serve to deepen the climate crisis. As the Center for Biological Diversity points out, the new legislation endorses clear-cutting; it also endorses, de fact, other devastating practices such as the rapid increase of monoculture plantations for agrofuel production, leading to landgrabs and the potential for more massacres of smallholder farmers in Honduras, Guatemala, Chiapas, and throughout the global South.
– GJEP Team

___________________________________________________

Cross-posted from Center for Biological Diversity

California Board Endorses Forest Clearcutting in Fight Against Global Warming

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— A cap-and-trade program approved Thursday by the California Air Resources Board includes damaging loopholes that would incentivize clearcutting in the name of reducing carbon emissions. The program — adopted as part of California’s effort to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions — would allow industrial polluters to purchase carbon “offset credits” instead of reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions. Among the options is buying offset credits from forest clearcutting.

“Clearcutting forests is not the solution to global warming,” said Brian Nowicki, California climate policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Including forest clearcutting not only threatens forest ecosystems and important wildlife habitat, but the integrity of California’s cap-and-trade program as a whole.”

Dozens of representatives of forest conservation organizations and residents of rural communities in California’s forested areas testified at the air board’s hearing Thursday in opposition to the inclusion of forest clearcutting in the rule. Air Resources Board member Dorene D’Adamo proposed an amendment to protect against forests being converted to tree farms for the purpose of generating carbon credits, but the board ultimately voted to allow forest clearcutting to remain in the rule.

“At best, this will subsidize, at the expense of the people of California, the operations of some of the most damaging forest management going on today,” said Nowicki. “At worst, this will incentivize the clearcutting of natural forests to be replaced by tree farms.”

Other loopholes in the new regulation will allow big timber companies to claim offset credits for forest growth and other management actions that likely would have occurred anyway, even in the absence of a forest offset program. These so-called “non-additional” credits do not represent actual emissions reductions, yet under the cap-and-trade rule can be sold to industrial polluters, who then can evade responsibility for reducing their own emissions. The result will be an overall increase in greenhouse gas pollution.

The Air Resources Board had outsourced the development of the forest offset protocol to the Climate Action Reserve, a nongovernmental organization that registers carbon offset projects. The Climate Action Reserve developed rules that reflect the strong influence and preferences of the timber industry, particularly Sierra Pacific Industries, California’s largest private landowner and greatest practitioner of forest clearcutting.

“Last night the board voted to make clearcutting the face of California’s efforts to fight global warming,” said Nowicki. “Industrial polluters, instead of making positive changes to improve their operations and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, will be able to simply buy dubious offset credits from industrial tree farms. This is a serious blow to the state’s forests as well as its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We can and must do better, and that starts with closing these dangerous loopholes.”

The cap-and-trade regulations adopted Thursday also allow industrial polluters to avoid responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning forest “biomass” — including whole, live trees — for the generation of energy and other industrial uses. This not only would encourage the wholesale logging of California’s forests to provide fuel for industrial processes and electrical power generation, but also threatens to increase overall greenhouse gas emissions because the actual greenhouse gas emissions from burning wood can be higher than from burning fossil fuels.

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

Cross-posted from The Guardian

We were accused of being obstructionist, obstinate and unrealistic. But we feel an enormous obligation to set aside diplomacy and tell the truth

Bolivian ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solon. Photograph: Paulo Filgueiras/UN Photo

Diplomacy is traditionally a game of alliance and compromise. Yet in the early hours of Saturday 11 December, Bolivia found itself alone against the world: the only nation to oppose the outcome of the United Nations climate change summit in Cancún. We were accused of being obstructionist, obstinate and unrealistic. Yet in truth we did not feel alone, nor are we offended by the attacks. Instead, we feel an enormous obligation to set aside diplomacy and tell the truth.

The “Cancún accord” was presented late Friday afternoon, and we were given two hours to read it. Despite pressure to sign something – anything – immediately, Bolivia requested further deliberations. This text, we said, would be a sad conclusion to the negotiations. After we were denied any opportunity to discuss the text, despite a lack of consensus, the president banged her gavel to approve the document.

Many commentators have called the Cancún accord a “step in the right direction.” We disagree: it is a giant step backward. The text replaces binding mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with voluntary pledges that are wholly insufficient. These pledges contradict the stated goal of capping the rise in temperature at 2C, instead guiding us to 4C or more. The text is full of loopholes for polluters, opportunities for expanding carbon markets and similar mechanisms – like the forestry scheme Redd – that reduce the obligation of developed countries to act.

Bolivia may have been the only country to speak out against these failures, but several negotiators told us privately that they support us. Anyone who has seen the science on climate change knows that the Cancún agreement was irresponsible.

In addition to having science on our side, another reason we did not feel alone in opposing an unbalanced text at Cancún is that we received thousands of messages of support from the women, men, and young people of the social movements that have stood by us and have helped inform our position. It is out of respect for them, and humanity as a whole, that we feel a deep responsibility not to sign off on any paper that threatens millions of lives.

Some claim the best thing is to be realistic and recognise that at the very least the agreement saved the UN process from collapse.

Unfortunately, a convenient realism has become all that powerful nations are willing to offer, while they ignore scientists’ exhortations to act radically now. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that in order to have a 50% chance of keeping the rise in temperature below 1.5C, emissions must peak by 2015. The attempt in Cancún to delay critical decisions until next year could have catastrophic consequences.

Bolivia is a small country. This means we are among the nations most vulnerable to climate change, but with the least responsibility for causing the problem. Studies indicate that our capital city of La Paz could become a desert within 30 years. What we do have is the privilege of being able to stand by our ideals, of not letting partisan agendas obscure our principal aim: defending life and Earth. We are not desperate for money. Last year, after we rejected the Copenhagen accord, the US cut our climate funding. We are not beholden to the World Bank, as so many of us in the south once were. We can act freely and do what is right.

Bolivia may have acted unusually by upsetting the established way of dealing with things. But we face an unprecedented crisis, and false victories won’t save the planet. False agreements will not guarantee a future for our children. We all must stand up and demand a climate agreement strong enough to match the crisis we confront.

• Pablo Solon is the ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations.


Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

Cross-posted from AlterNet

By Stephanie Rogers

Snow in the South, ice gain in Antarctica and scientists seemingly fudging climate data: is the global warming debate over? Definitely.

But skeptics aren’t on the winning side. Global warming deniers have gleefully seized on recent scandals and misinterpreted data to bolster their collection of arguments, but there are these pesky things called facts that keep getting in the way of their agenda.

But how do you respond to that impassioned neighbor, cranky uncle or annoying cocktail party guest who uses sunspots, Al Gore’s supposed greed and a limited grasp of climate science to claim that global warming isn’t really happening? Presenting the top 10 global warming denier arguments, and the facts that thoroughly debunk them. Today’s installment features numbers 10-6, check back tomorrow for the top 5.

10. It’s all a hoax perpetuated by money-hungry Al Gore

“You fools are being taken for a ride! Al Gore just made all this stuff up about ManBearPig global warming so he can roll in the Benjamins at his mansion.”

Fact: Gore donates all of the proceeds from both the book and DVD of An Inconvenient Truth to environmental causes. He also donated 100 percent of his Nobel Peace Prize award as well as the salary from his venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, to the Alliance for Climate Protection.

Al Gore isn’t the only target. Some claim that scientists “follow the money right onto the man-made global warming bandwagon.” But most funding for global warming research comes from government grants, and the money is doled out before the results are determined.

Meanwhile, dirty energy companies and anti-climate-action groups shower scientists who are willing to argue against climate change with cash. ExxonMobil was one of the largest sources of funding for such scientists for over a decade, and purported to stop in 2008. Surprise! They lied. Recently released records show that the oil giant paid out $75,000 that year to several climate action opposition groups.

9. But look at all the snow!

“It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries “uncle,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC) on February 9th as a fierce winter storm dropped foot after foot of snow on the nation’s capital. “Record snowfall illustrates the obvious: The global warming fraud is without equal in modern science,” trumpeted an editorial in the conservative Washington Times. And let’s not even get started on The Donald.

Right, because winter is never cold, and all that snow can’t possibly have anything to do with a near-record amount of moisture in the air. Meteorologist Jeff Masters explains that heavy precipitation events are increasing as the world warms, and guess what — at the freezing point and below, that means snow (and lots of it). Global warming doesn’t mean winter is going to go away.

The U.S. isn’t the entire world — it’s only 1.5 percent of the globe. The Earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer, but different climates will be affected in different ways. Local weather is becoming more volatile across the board due both to warming and normal variability, but while that has translated to more frequent, more severe snow events in North America, Brazil is experiencing a near-record heat wave at the same time.

8. Warming is a good thing

“Break out the grill, swimsuits and daquiri mix because a huge chunk of the world is about to turn into tropical paradise!” Okay, so not everyone using this argument paints such a laughably simplistic picture of supposed global warming benefits, but it’s still bad: many believe that global warming would be good for the Earth and us.

Some cite fewer winter deaths, an ice-free Northwest Passage and increases in the number of certain species. Others argue that if the climate were to cool instead, even a little bit, a feedback effect would make things worse as growing Arctic snowfields caused more sunlight to reflect away from the ground. And another Ice Age wouldn’t exactly be kind to humanity. But while a few select regions could benefit from a warmer overall climate, most of the world would suffer on a nightmarish scale, and the feedback effect applies to warming as well.

Raging wildfires, extreme water scarcity, expanding deserts, changing ecosystems. Heatwave deaths, the spread of deadly mosquito-borne diseases, growing dead zones in the oceans, death of healthy trees and other vegetation, coral extinction. War. Climate refugees. That’s only a small fraction of the projected consequences, but it’s surely more than enough.

7. Climate change is part of a natural cycle

“How can we, petty little humans that we are, possibly alter something as huge in scope as the planet’s climate? After all, when you think about just how complex the Earth really is, we’re just not that important. So why should we change our habits?”

That might have been true until about two centuries ago, when the Industrial Age came along and we first started burning massive quantities of filthy, CO2-producing coal. Since then, as technology has advanced and our population has multiplied to over six billion people, we’ve gotten a bit big for our britches, pushing the limits of just how much pollution we can pump into the air before seeing catastrophic global effects.

There’s no doubt that historically, temperatures and greenhouse gas levels have fluctuated naturally, but those fluctuations are nothing compared to what we’ve seen in the past century (see charts in #6.)

6. Temperature data is unreliable

Skeptics like to claim that temperature records showing a warming trend are unreliable because weather stations are often located in areas that absorb and radiate heat, like rooftops and asphalt parking lots. But in reality, the Urban Heat Island Effect has had a very small influence on temperature readings and climate scientists adjust the data to account for it.

1000-yr-temp-records

All major temperature reconstructions for the past 1,000 years published in peer-reviewed journals show some variability in surface temperatures over centuries (above graph), with a dip in the Little Ice Age and a huge uptick during the last century. Even if those reconstructions are excluded and we only look at the last 150 years (below graph), there’s a significant rise.

100-yr-temp-record

When it comes down to it, surface temperature records are far from the only evidence of global warming. With borehole analysis, weather balloon temperature data, satellite measurements, glacial melt observations, sea level rise and other indicators can be used completely independently of surface temps.

Stephanie Rogers covers lifestyle and news topics for EcoSalon and is also an MNN contributor and Beauty Editor at Eco Chick.


Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog

Cross-posted from AlterNet

By Stephanie Rogers

Snow in the South, ice gain in Antarctica and scientists seemingly fudging climate data: is the global warming debate over? Definitely.

But skeptics aren’t on the winning side. Global warming deniers have gleefully seized on recent scandals and misinterpreted data to bolster their collection of arguments, but there are these pesky things called facts that keep getting in the way of their agenda.

But how do you respond to that impassioned neighbor, cranky uncle or annoying cocktail party guest who uses sunspots, Al Gore’s supposed greed and a limited grasp of climate science to claim that global warming isn’t really happening? Presenting the top 10 global warming denier arguments, and the facts that thoroughly debunk them. Today’s installment features numbers 10-6, check back tomorrow for the top 5.

10. It’s all a hoax perpetuated by money-hungry Al Gore

“You fools are being taken for a ride! Al Gore just made all this stuff up about ManBearPig global warming so he can roll in the Benjamins at his mansion.”

Fact: Gore donates all of the proceeds from both the book and DVD of An Inconvenient Truth to environmental causes. He also donated 100 percent of his Nobel Peace Prize award as well as the salary from his venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, to the Alliance for Climate Protection.

Al Gore isn’t the only target. Some claim that scientists “follow the money right onto the man-made global warming bandwagon.” But most funding for global warming research comes from government grants, and the money is doled out before the results are determined.

Meanwhile, dirty energy companies and anti-climate-action groups shower scientists who are willing to argue against climate change with cash. ExxonMobil was one of the largest sources of funding for such scientists for over a decade, and purported to stop in 2008. Surprise! They lied. Recently released records show that the oil giant paid out $75,000 that year to several climate action opposition groups.

9. But look at all the snow!

“It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries “uncle,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC) on February 9th as a fierce winter storm dropped foot after foot of snow on the nation’s capital. “Record snowfall illustrates the obvious: The global warming fraud is without equal in modern science,” trumpeted an editorial in the conservative Washington Times. And let’s not even get started on The Donald.

Right, because winter is never cold, and all that snow can’t possibly have anything to do with a near-record amount of moisture in the air. Meteorologist Jeff Masters explains that heavy precipitation events are increasing as the world warms, and guess what — at the freezing point and below, that means snow (and lots of it). Global warming doesn’t mean winter is going to go away.

The U.S. isn’t the entire world — it’s only 1.5 percent of the globe. The Earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer, but different climates will be affected in different ways. Local weather is becoming more volatile across the board due both to warming and normal variability, but while that has translated to more frequent, more severe snow events in North America, Brazil is experiencing a near-record heat wave at the same time.

8. Warming is a good thing

“Break out the grill, swimsuits and daquiri mix because a huge chunk of the world is about to turn into tropical paradise!” Okay, so not everyone using this argument paints such a laughably simplistic picture of supposed global warming benefits, but it’s still bad: many believe that global warming would be good for the Earth and us.

Some cite fewer winter deaths, an ice-free Northwest Passage and increases in the number of certain species. Others argue that if the climate were to cool instead, even a little bit, a feedback effect would make things worse as growing Arctic snowfields caused more sunlight to reflect away from the ground. And another Ice Age wouldn’t exactly be kind to humanity. But while a few select regions could benefit from a warmer overall climate, most of the world would suffer on a nightmarish scale, and the feedback effect applies to warming as well.

Raging wildfires, extreme water scarcity, expanding deserts, changing ecosystems. Heatwave deaths, the spread of deadly mosquito-borne diseases, growing dead zones in the oceans, death of healthy trees and other vegetation, coral extinction. War. Climate refugees. That’s only a small fraction of the projected consequences, but it’s surely more than enough.

7. Climate change is part of a natural cycle

“How can we, petty little humans that we are, possibly alter something as huge in scope as the planet’s climate? After all, when you think about just how complex the Earth really is, we’re just not that important. So why should we change our habits?”

That might have been true until about two centuries ago, when the Industrial Age came along and we first started burning massive quantities of filthy, CO2-producing coal. Since then, as technology has advanced and our population has multiplied to over six billion people, we’ve gotten a bit big for our britches, pushing the limits of just how much pollution we can pump into the air before seeing catastrophic global effects.

There’s no doubt that historically, temperatures and greenhouse gas levels have fluctuated naturally, but those fluctuations are nothing compared to what we’ve seen in the past century (see charts in #6.)

6. Temperature data is unreliable

Skeptics like to claim that temperature records showing a warming trend are unreliable because weather stations are often located in areas that absorb and radiate heat, like rooftops and asphalt parking lots. But in reality, the Urban Heat Island Effect has had a very small influence on temperature readings and climate scientists adjust the data to account for it.

1000-yr-temp-records

All major temperature reconstructions for the past 1,000 years published in peer-reviewed journals show some variability in surface temperatures over centuries (above graph), with a dip in the Little Ice Age and a huge uptick during the last century. Even if those reconstructions are excluded and we only look at the last 150 years (below graph), there’s a significant rise.

100-yr-temp-record

When it comes down to it, surface temperature records are far from the only evidence of global warming. With borehole analysis, weather balloon temperature data, satellite measurements, glacial melt observations, sea level rise and other indicators can be used completely independently of surface temps.

Stephanie Rogers covers lifestyle and news topics for EcoSalon and is also an MNN contributor and Beauty Editor at Eco Chick.


Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

Cross-posted from AlterNet

By Stephanie Rogers

Snow in the South, ice gain in Antarctica and scientists seemingly fudging climate data: is the global warming debate over? Definitely.

But skeptics aren’t on the winning side. Global warming deniers have gleefully seized on recent scandals and misinterpreted data to bolster their collection of arguments, but there are these pesky things called facts that keep getting in the way of their agenda.

But how do you respond to that impassioned neighbor, cranky uncle or annoying cocktail party guest who uses sunspots, Al Gore’s supposed greed and a limited grasp of climate science to claim that global warming isn’t really happening? Presenting the top 10 global warming denier arguments, and the facts that thoroughly debunk them. Today’s installment features numbers 10-6, check back tomorrow for the top 5.

10. It’s all a hoax perpetuated by money-hungry Al Gore

“You fools are being taken for a ride! Al Gore just made all this stuff up about ManBearPig global warming so he can roll in the Benjamins at his mansion.”

Fact: Gore donates all of the proceeds from both the book and DVD of An Inconvenient Truth to environmental causes. He also donated 100 percent of his Nobel Peace Prize award as well as the salary from his venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, to the Alliance for Climate Protection.

Al Gore isn’t the only target. Some claim that scientists “follow the money right onto the man-made global warming bandwagon.” But most funding for global warming research comes from government grants, and the money is doled out before the results are determined.

Meanwhile, dirty energy companies and anti-climate-action groups shower scientists who are willing to argue against climate change with cash. ExxonMobil was one of the largest sources of funding for such scientists for over a decade, and purported to stop in 2008. Surprise! They lied. Recently released records show that the oil giant paid out $75,000 that year to several climate action opposition groups.

9. But look at all the snow!

“It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries “uncle,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC) on February 9th as a fierce winter storm dropped foot after foot of snow on the nation’s capital. “Record snowfall illustrates the obvious: The global warming fraud is without equal in modern science,” trumpeted an editorial in the conservative Washington Times. And let’s not even get started on The Donald.

Right, because winter is never cold, and all that snow can’t possibly have anything to do with a near-record amount of moisture in the air. Meteorologist Jeff Masters explains that heavy precipitation events are increasing as the world warms, and guess what — at the freezing point and below, that means snow (and lots of it). Global warming doesn’t mean winter is going to go away.

The U.S. isn’t the entire world — it’s only 1.5 percent of the globe. The Earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer, but different climates will be affected in different ways. Local weather is becoming more volatile across the board due both to warming and normal variability, but while that has translated to more frequent, more severe snow events in North America, Brazil is experiencing a near-record heat wave at the same time.

8. Warming is a good thing

“Break out the grill, swimsuits and daquiri mix because a huge chunk of the world is about to turn into tropical paradise!” Okay, so not everyone using this argument paints such a laughably simplistic picture of supposed global warming benefits, but it’s still bad: many believe that global warming would be good for the Earth and us.

Some cite fewer winter deaths, an ice-free Northwest Passage and increases in the number of certain species. Others argue that if the climate were to cool instead, even a little bit, a feedback effect would make things worse as growing Arctic snowfields caused more sunlight to reflect away from the ground. And another Ice Age wouldn’t exactly be kind to humanity. But while a few select regions could benefit from a warmer overall climate, most of the world would suffer on a nightmarish scale, and the feedback effect applies to warming as well.

Raging wildfires, extreme water scarcity, expanding deserts, changing ecosystems. Heatwave deaths, the spread of deadly mosquito-borne diseases, growing dead zones in the oceans, death of healthy trees and other vegetation, coral extinction. War. Climate refugees. That’s only a small fraction of the projected consequences, but it’s surely more than enough.

7. Climate change is part of a natural cycle

“How can we, petty little humans that we are, possibly alter something as huge in scope as the planet’s climate? After all, when you think about just how complex the Earth really is, we’re just not that important. So why should we change our habits?”

That might have been true until about two centuries ago, when the Industrial Age came along and we first started burning massive quantities of filthy, CO2-producing coal. Since then, as technology has advanced and our population has multiplied to over six billion people, we’ve gotten a bit big for our britches, pushing the limits of just how much pollution we can pump into the air before seeing catastrophic global effects.

There’s no doubt that historically, temperatures and greenhouse gas levels have fluctuated naturally, but those fluctuations are nothing compared to what we’ve seen in the past century (see charts in #6.)

6. Temperature data is unreliable

Skeptics like to claim that temperature records showing a warming trend are unreliable because weather stations are often located in areas that absorb and radiate heat, like rooftops and asphalt parking lots. But in reality, the Urban Heat Island Effect has had a very small influence on temperature readings and climate scientists adjust the data to account for it.

1000-yr-temp-records

All major temperature reconstructions for the past 1,000 years published in peer-reviewed journals show some variability in surface temperatures over centuries (above graph), with a dip in the Little Ice Age and a huge uptick during the last century. Even if those reconstructions are excluded and we only look at the last 150 years (below graph), there’s a significant rise.

100-yr-temp-record

When it comes down to it, surface temperature records are far from the only evidence of global warming. With borehole analysis, weather balloon temperature data, satellite measurements, glacial melt observations, sea level rise and other indicators can be used completely independently of surface temps.

Stephanie Rogers covers lifestyle and news topics for EcoSalon and is also an MNN contributor and Beauty Editor at Eco Chick.


Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

GJEP staged the occupation in protest of the silencing of dissent and the marginalization of the voices of women, Indigenous Peoples, youth, developing countries, small island nations, small farmers and environmental groups inside its fenced off grounds.

Photo by Orin Langelle/ Global Justice Ecology Project-Global Forest Coalition

For Orin’s Photo Essay: Moon Palace Occupation, click here.

Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog