New climate change mitigation schemes could benefit elites rather than the rural poor

It’s nice to see somebody worried about elitism and climate change. The Climate Change Conference (COP16), to be held later this year in Cancun, Mexico may be yet another demonstration of private jets, limos, and excess in the name of climate change. Frankly thoughy I think it will be muted compared to the consumption orgy we witnessed at Copenhagen COP15.

A key event in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference stresses role of improved forest governance in determining whether REDD+ will flounder or flourish

This press release is available in Spanish.

Oaxaca, Mexico (3 September 2010)—With governments across Latin America preparing to implement a new financial mechanism aimed at mitigating climate change by curbing carbon emissions from the destruction of tropical forests, experts gathering here today warned against a “one-size-fits-all” approach, calling instead for flexible, balanced solutions to the thorny dilemmas surrounding this new mechanism. Among the experts’ chief worries is that the wealthy and powerful could capture many of the benefits, largely at the expense of rural communities, including indigenous groups.

Organized by Mexico’s National Forestry Commission and the Swiss government, with scientific support from CIFOR, this conference—which opened on August 31 and convenes through Friday, September 3—is the fourth in a series of country-led initiatives focusing on forest governance and decentralization in support of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). It will feed into a UNFF meeting to take place in early 2011, marking the launch of the International Year of Forests. It brought together scientists, as well as representatives of governments and nongovernment organizations, for discussions on governance, decentralization and REDD+ in Latin America.

Under REDD+ (for reducing deforestation and forest degradation), industrialized countries will provide developing nations with sizeable sums of money in exchange for verifiable storage of carbon in forests, in addition to the conservation and sustainable management of forests. Forest destruction currently accounts for 12 to 18 percent of annual global carbon emissions. Several Latin American countries, including Mexico, have taken the lead in designing REDD+ schemes and stand to benefit significantly.

“Good forest governance – involving transparent and inclusive relationships between governments, forests and the people who depend on them – is fundamental for ensuring that REDD+ helps forest-dependent communities move out of poverty, instead of fueling corruption and funding entrenched bureaucracies,” said Elena Petkova, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “REDD+ schemes could either flounder on governance failures or flourish under successful governance.”

The central aim of the conference in Oaxaca – was to provide science-based advice on the design and implementation of REDD+ schemes, so these schemes can capture carbon and reduce emissions effectively, while at the same time generate significant benefits from sustainable forest management that are equitably shared.

“About 40 years of public sector investment in curbing deforestation, while producing many local successes, has fallen far short of its goal,” said CIFOR scientist Andrew Wardell. “REDD+ might be our last chance to save the world’s tropical forests. So, it’s extremely important to get it right in Latin America and elsewhere. This region holds nearly a quarter of the world’s forests, upon which millions of people depend, and over the last five years, it has accounted for 65 percent of global net forest loss.”

The conference in Oaxaca also marks a key milestone in preparations for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16), to be held later this year in Cancun, Mexico. Among other contributions, it will help shape the content of Forest Day 4, the fourth in a series of influential events taking place alongside COP16, which have heightened awareness of the important role forests play in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Last year’s event attracted 1,500 forestry experts, policymakers, activists and others, including three Nobel Laureates and two former heads of state.

The note of caution about REDD+ sounded by participants in the Oaxaca conference reflects extensive evidence of major barriers to forest governance reform in Latin America, including burdensome, unrealistic and contradictory government regulations; widespread disregard for owners’ rights to forest use, even when these have been legally granted; and continuing corruption and illegal logging.

Yet, forestry experts are not necessarily pessimistic, citing a number of positive developments. Among these are Brazil’s extraordinary progress in monitoring forests to detect illegal logging and Costa Rica’s simplified standards for sustainable forest management. Such achievements provide grounds for hope and useful models from which to learn in designing successful REDD+ schemes.

Another encouraging trend, according to several conference presentations, is the wave of land tenure change that has swept Latin America since the 1980s, often building on earlier agrarian reforms. This has helped greatly to clarify the rights of diverse rural groups, especially those of indigenous people, thus meeting an important, though not sufficient, requirement for sustainable forest management.

As a result of far-reaching land tenure reforms in Mexico, for example, most of the country’s 64 million hectares of forest are now owned by rural communities, including many indigenous groups. Much evidence in Latin America has shown that such communities, as local custodians of forest resources, are often more successful in protecting them than are formally protected areas overseen by governments.

Rural people have also proved to be a powerful force for creating local forestry enterprises, which raise rural incomes and foster sustainable practices. In the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca, for example, community forest management has gained ground economically through commercial timber production, ecotourism and other enterprises, while also registering a modest increase in forest cover.

“Mexico’s long tradition of community forest management provides a strong foundation for local action, which is highly relevant to the design and implementation of REDD+,” said José Carlos Fernández Ugalde, head of international affairs at CONAFOR, Mexico’s National Forestry Commission.

Despite such experiences, some indigenous groups fear they will receive little but crumbs from the REDD+ table, to paraphrase one conference presentation. During recent conferences in Bolivia and Costa Rica, representatives of such groups complained that, just as they have historically been deprived of benefits from the use of natural resources in their territories, including timber, minerals and hydrocarbons, history will likely repeat itself, as “carbon cowboys” descend upon them with new, but ultimately empty, promises of big benefits.

Their fears are fueled by the broader concern that REDD+ will prompt governments to recentralize forest management, reversing many of the gains that have accrued to rural people from recent land tenure and decentralization reforms. The temptation to seize control of large sums of money, the argument goes, on the pretext that only governments can be held accountable for the use of this money to reduce carbon emissions, could prove irresistible.

In the case of Brazil at least, that is an unlikely outcome, according to one conference presentation, because the central government of such a large country cannot possibly monitor land use across its entire territory and must therefore rely heavily on local authorities to perform this function efficiently.

“Far from reversing the decentralization of forest management,” the author said, “REDD+ could provide new incentives and resources for building local capacity. Besides, if local populations believe they are being harmed or deprived of due benefits, they can simply sabotage REDD+ schemes.”

“If REDD+ is to succeed, it must not come from central government decrees that undermine rural communities,” said Christian Küchli of Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment. “It must have local support and involve increased resource flows to rural areas, with adequate safeguards in a balanced regulatory framework.”

###

Center for International Forestry Research

CIFOR advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing countries. CIFOR is one of 15 centres within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CIFOR’s headquarters are in Bogor, Indonesia. It also has offices elsewhere in Asia as well as in Africa and South America.

Editor’s note: For additional photos, stories on forests and climate change, and live updates, please visit http://ciforblog.wordpress.com/

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38 Responses to New climate change mitigation schemes could benefit elites rather than the rural poor

  1. Ric Werme says:

    The graphic you use above may have copyright issues as (despite appearances) it doesn’t come from the UN. However, I suspect they’d be more than happy with a free plug. E.g. http://despair.com/viewall.html

    N.B. I disclaim all responsibility if this thread is hijacked by commenters noting their favorite demotivators. I won’t do that, so I won’t mention that http://despair.com/ambition.html fits certain people we’ve discussed here.

  2. richard telford says:

    “It’s nice to see somebody worried about elitism and climate change”

    Nice that you’ve noticed our concern.
    Concern at the potential for elites to capture the benefits from climate mitigation measures was a constant theme at the Klimaforum organised in parallel with COP15 in København last December. There was almost uniform contempt for cap-and-trade and offsetting; REDD was strongly critisised for the potenital for rich landowners and corperations to capture the benefits, with the costs falling on the forest dependent people; and biofuels were scarcely more popular than tar sands.

  3. Bill Tuttle says:

    The demotivator looks like one on my wall:

    Good Leaders Are Like Eagles

    We don’t have any eagles here, either.

  4. simpleseekeraftertruth says:

    Cutting down a tree then replanting an equivalent only reduces the life expectancy of the felled tree. Within a brief period of time, the sapling is mature. I hope the watermellons and tree-huggers don’t get a toe-hold here otherwise lumberjacks will be called to the Hague for crimes against humanity! The alternative to timber is usually plastic or cement and both produce CO2 during manufacture. Any sign of clear thinking for Cancun or will we see the usual bunfight?

  5. Alexander K says:

    I was under the impression that the elites of the world were the ones pushing the scary AGW messages in order to ‘save the world’ with our taxes while spending staggering amounts of money on silly toys such as windmills and and electric automobiles.

  6. simpleseekeraftertruth says:

    Oaxaca. Cancun. Getting confused here, looks like Oaxaca leads on to Cancun later in the year. This statement on the UN website makes it clear that it is not only about wood from trees.
    ” “The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun must do what Copenhagen did not achieve: It must finalize a functioning architecture for implementation that launches global climate action, across the board, especially in developing nations,” said Mr. de Boer.”

  7. Trees have a much greater effect on climate as they take up and evaporate water than through storing carbon and the time frame is much shorter. They lower and moderate surface air temperature. We have long known that forest managment and green areas in cities is good. That said, paying governments to do what they know they should do is like paying children to do their home work. Paying some green organization through carbon offsets is a very bad idea.

  8. Enneagram says:

    With the carbon market value at ZERO, this is like trying to resuscitate a dead body. Though they may try to fabricate something resembling to be alive, like a voodoo zombie.
    In such a case, if there are somo clients around, the market will revive, though artificially. In that event this will be true:
    Among the experts’ chief worries is that the wealthy and powerful could capture many of the benefits, largely at the expense of rural communities, including indigenous groups.
    Because, for everyone to be happy there should be a nice “spread”, a great difference between what it would be given as “credits”-they have already planned, and said so, to give the indigenous groups of the Amazon basin, US$3.- per each hectare of jungle, and what it would be graciously “collected” from polluters (which btw will keep on polluting) and tax payers paying for their “carbon footprint”, through progressive laws as “Cap&Trade”, which it was estimated to be at the level of US$25 per hectare of forest. Then IF this succeeds, there would be enough “corpse meat” for the “birds of prey” to share.
    Conclusion: Global Warming/Clima Change/Green policies are a PONZI SCHEME, the same as “derivatives”.

  9. Ralph says:

    …….Good Leaders Are Like Eagles……..

    And good scıentısts too.

    Galıleo saıd that most scıentısts were lıke starlıngs .. flockıng together and foulıng the ground beneath them. Good scıetısts were lıke eagles, soarıng on theır own ındıvıdual flıghtpaths to enlıghtement.

    .

  10. PhilJourdan says:

    Another example of “World Governance”? In this country, we have national partks and wild life preserves where development, drilling, logging and mining are forbidden. While the original purpose may have been to preserve the area for people to ogle at, the reality is it serves to ensure that we maintain some of the forests (the “lungs” of the world). This conference seems to extend that thought beyond national borders to different countries.

    Regardless of the intent, the outcome is easy to see. Wyoming does not have the political or economic muscle that New York does, yet has 100 times the “preserved” space. In other words, they are the “serfs” for the “lords” of New York to walk around with puffed chests so they can crow about how “green” they are, when in reality they are one of the brownest states in the nation – and apparently proud of it.

    So now they seek to make Brazil or Ecuador a “garden” spot, providing some pittance of money for the “nobless oblige” of the “state” to enjoy, while condemning the vast majority of the people to an, at best, subsistent living.

    But it is for our own good.

  11. Juraj V. says:

    To organize a climate conference at the bottom of la Nina isn’t good idea, either.
    “Yeah gentlemen, global temperatures are back on the level of 1940s even per HadCRUT, so we have to act NOW!”

  12. Henry chance says:

    Timing is important. They should have done the conference in high heat July when Russia was burning and washington was sweating. Now is too late.

  13. Enneagram says:

    Mistake:
    which it was estimated to be at the level of US$25 per hectare of forest.
    It must read like this:
    US$25 per ton of captured carbon/hectare, or about US$137,500/HA., which, means a difference or “spread” of US$137,497/HA, enough for nice and pretty birds of prey.

  14. paulw says:

    “New climate change mitigation schemes could benefit elites rather than the rural poor”

    Anthony, you post a press release with a short (one paragraph) commentary of yours. Could you please add in these commentaries some text that refers to the choice of the post title?

    You comment on the limos that the world leaders will be driving, and I accept that.
    But I would like to see commentary for the part that elites could benefit rather than the rural poor.

    Brazil has amazing rainforests and considering what we did (in the US, Britain, Europe) where we cut down our forests for development, it is ironic to ask them (Brazil) not to develop their land.
    Wouldn’t it make sense to pay Brazil simply for the purpose to keep the rainforests intact (instead of developing the land)? Would that be such an unreasonable request?

  15. Enneagram says:

    Be very attentive everyone, as the biggest forest area is the AMAZON JUNGLE. This would represent a big percentage of the GW ponzi scheme, being recovered after the Copenhagen fiasco.
    This is worst than a ponzi scheme as there are not any real assets behind, only the imaginary CO2 positive feedbacks.

  16. Enneagram says:

    Just remember YOU have been chosen and honoured to be the DONOR.

  17. Enneagram says:

    Henry chance says:
    September 3, 2010 at 7:20 am
    Timing is important. They should have done the conference in high heat July when Russia was burning and washington was sweating. Now is too late.

    The meeting ends TODAY, and as it is not in the news, it will achieve its goal of reviving the CARBON MARKET for a few poor guys in Wall Street.

  18. Pascvaks says:

    New York has a ‘vested interest’ in preserving their natural environment as much as Wyoming, or Mexico, or Brazil, or any other state or country. This idea that a nation should pay any state or the world should pay any nation to maintain their own natural environment is idiotic, insane, blackmail, etc. There are just too many idiot PhD’s and lawyers and politicians and stupid ‘private citizens with too much time and money’. We really are way over due for another Great Depression, Plague, or Meteor Impact, or Ice Age. The idiots far outnumber the sane folks by about 33,000% and that percentage is growing by leaps and bounds. It probably has something to do with CO2 levels, or the Federal Budget, or the value of the dollar. While we’re solving all these problems, let’s revalue the dollar: let’s make the penny worth a dollar, a dollar worth $100, etc., you know, back to the value of money a hundred or so years ago. We are talking about solving everything, left?

  19. hunter says:

    And the earlier AGW inspired climate management schemes did exactly the same thing.
    The Who’s classic “Won’t Get Fooled Again” comes to mind:

  20. Douglas DC says:

    The bird in the graphic should be a vulture….

  21. John T says:

    I wonder if they started being concerned about those “elites” when someone mentioned the vast expanses of forest in the US, much of it on government owned land?

    Wish I could find that report I saw several years ago calculating net carbon footprints by country, showing the US being one of the few with a net negative footprint due to the expanses of forest and farmland acting as CO2 sinks. After all, a farmer maximizes profit by maximizing yield, which means maximizing biomass created, which means maximizing CO2 sequestration.

  22. Tommy says:

    I hope there is protected wilderness, including forests, for my descendents to visit. I hope there is diverse wildlife in the future.

    But I don’t think it’s a good idea to base the protection of forests on some carbon quota system. What happens if someone decides there “isn’t enough” carbon in the air in the future? Wouldn’t the same reasoning call for destroying the forests?

  23. latitude says:

    “to be held later this year in Cancun, Mexico”

    Are any bookies taking odds on it snowing?

  24. Enneagram says:

    Pascvaks says:
    September 3, 2010 at 7:54 am
    It is not idiotic as you say. Yes, of course, you are a man of honor, you could never profit without working hard, but they like it, this is their way of living. Just imagine, for a second, being one of them, hey buddy! we’ll get US$137,497 per hectare of the amazon jungle every year!!, paid by “idiots” like me or you.

  25. Enneagram says:

    Hope someone could send this WUWT post to the members of that conference, just to let them know that they are being surveyed, they are not safely hidden to sign anything.

  26. Enneagram says:

    If signed this will boost to the sky carbon shares at Al Baby, Maurice Strong, et Al. Chicago stocks exchange, providing the “clients” it needs.

  27. Tim Clark says:

    Don’t forget that the WWF owns significant lease rights to the carbon in the Amazon Forests. Google it.

    Fred H. Haynie says: September 3, 2010 at 6:05 am
    Trees have a much greater effect on climate as they take up and evaporate water than through storing carbon and the time frame is much shorter. They lower and moderate surface air temperature. We have long known that forest managment …

    Good forest management takes into account that younger, fast growing trees are more efficient at utilization of available substrate, including CO2. The rate of growth varies between species. I’m not familiar with Amazonian trees.
    For southern red oaks, growth rates (and total accumulated mass/ unit area/year, assuming comparative density) decline after ~30 years. Selective cutting following BLP’s state that red oaks between 18″ and 24″ DBH are considered the most efficient. It’s tough to leave a 24″ red oak when logging, trust me.

  28. John F. Hultquist says:

    Fred H. Haynie says:
    at 6:05 am “(Trees) . . . lower and moderate surface air temperature.”

    This is a complicated issue. While green areas (trees) in cities seem good the idea of planting millions of trees may have the opposite effect. There is some research that suggest that when trees are planted in latitudes beyond the tropics (say, N or S of 30 degrees) they absorb sunlight and generate net warming. I get the same result if I put in a fence post where there was none before. Railroad ties are commonly used. Being upright they are then almost perpendicular to a low winter sun. The side facing the sun will warm and melt snow near its base and feel warm to the touch while the shadowed side is cold. A large evergreen tree multiplies this effect. I have seen swarms of ladybugs (some say ladybird beetles) covering old stumps and the nearby exposed ground when the local area is covered with snow.
    Here is a summary of the issue from 2006.
    http://www.albionmonitor.com/0612a/temperatetrees.html

  29. John from CA says:

    The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is one of the largest in the world but they appear to like sand.

    What in the world leeds you to believe the class warfare is likely to change there or in any other 3rd world Despot?

  30. John from CA says:

    “CIFOR advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing countries.”

    Sorry Anthony but there isn’t “anything” that can save the rain forests. One way or the other they will destroy them. Its simply what we do and we’ve need to throw in the UN towel on this one.

    NO they don’t understand, even though they have former Industrial Revolution History on File, it will ultimately change the landscape for their children’s future forever.

    Its sad but get over it, however planting forests around windmill farms is logical. Why not use the land grab for wind farms and replicate the rain forest carbon sync at the same time?

    Note: The location of aquifers is an interesting look at the current UN ignorance. But, if “wishes were horses, beggars would ride”.

  31. E.M.Smith says:

    I gain more respect for The Founders of the USA every day. They knew the only decent solution was a very very limited government. Somehow the world has managed to not learn that lesson and the USA is busy forgetting it.

    Don’t know how to do it, but the UN needs one heck of a good pruning, the US Feds need to get back to 5% or less of GDP, and all the NGOs need to be removed from the money trough the two of them provide… As it is now, it’s just asking for a load of bright but greedy folks to fabricate ‘troubles’ to fix…

  32. John from CA says:

    E.M.Smith says:
    September 3, 2010 at 12:27 pm
    Don’t know how to do it, but the UN needs one heck of a good pruning, the US Feds need to get back to 5% or less of GDP, and all the NGOs need to be removed from the money trough the two of them provide…

    ===

    I couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said.

    But, the question isn’t if but when and the when looks like now.

    No more US World Police (if they want to go up in flames — you go girls), no more unfunded mandates, no more pie in the sky taxation, no more EPA ignorance… the list could go on forever.

    Sorry, sounding a bit like Ron Paul but isn’t everyone sick of this elitist diatribe?

  33. I can’t wait for the COP16 Wealth Redistribution Conference.

  34. Edward Lowe says:

    Um…so let me see how this will work …. the governments of wealthy nations will tax their citizenry by taking some of their wages from labor or profits from business… then send some of that money to landowners in the 3rd world for sitting on the thumbs and *not* cutting trees. And this is a good outcome for all involved because … ?

    PS: Guess who always ends up owning the land? (hint, it’s not those noble rural custodians of the land)

  35. ROM says:

    Just curious!
    Quote from the above article ;

    “Forest destruction currently accounts for 12 to 18 percent of annual global carbon emissions”.

    The following is an assessment of the failure to accurately measure CO2 emissions from well understood and highly specific industrial technologies in the most developed countries.
    CO2 Discrepancies between Top Data Reporters Create a Quandary for Policy Analysis;
    http://www.co2scorecard.org/home/researchitem/17

    So as they can’t even accurately measure CO2 emissions in fully developed industrialised countries, just what and where is the real actual science to justify this Forest Destruction statement and the postulated CO2 emissions arising therefrom or is it just another wild eyed and deliberately catastrophic type guess or number plucked from out of nowhere by some radical green tax payer funded NGO that is pushing a radical agenda, an agenda that has now being adopted by some rent seeking “scientists” and “researchers”.

    Thanks to the revelations about the abject corruption in climate science and amongst climate “scientists”, [ ? ] I no longer trust scientists or researchers in any fields to be truthful and totally honest in their pronouncements to the public or in their research results.
    Now, as a very average non science member of the public, I am starting to look at everything that supposedly pertains to any science with a somewhat jaundiced eye.

  36. rbateman says:

    And what exactly will the elites do with thier newfound opulence as they play Global Climactic Monopoly?
    Shakle the rest of the world into minnions to carry out thier King of the Hill schemes.
    There is only room at the top for one, and absolute power has never been shared, only fought over.
    When they have outgrown thier bounds, they will be at each others throats, with the pawns doing the bidding, and dying.
    The world can ill afford to waste the few centuries it has accumulated, and might still accumulate, of technological advancement over petty dictatorial squabbles.

  37. Lawrie Ayres says:

    Before David Suzuki went totally Green he wrote of forestry as a means of creating primary and secondry industry; tree to table so to speak. Good management allows for timber in perpetuity. The Greens, at least in Australia, want every tree saved much to the detriment of biodiversity and rural employment. I fully support the use of forests as a totally renewable resource and for the general benefit of our environment.

    I feel that use of forests as carbon sinks to fix a problem that does not exist will inevitably lead to their ruination by the powerful at the expence of those who could really benefit. The argument for sustainable forestry should be decoupled from the fraud of MMCC.

  38. paulw says:

    Edward Lowe: Um…so let me see how this will work …. the governments of wealthy nations will tax their citizenry by taking some of their wages from labor or profits from business… then send some of that money to landowners in the 3rd world for sitting on the thumbs and *not* cutting trees. And this is a good outcome for all involved because … ?

    Because rainforests are good for you. They have amazing diversity of animals and most importantly of plants (for potential new cures).

    We already pay billions for military aid to illegitimate governments, and in some cases for worthless things such as to keep the friendly (to us) government in power.
    We already shell out billions.

    I think you are being individualistic. Think of the universe. Think of the billion of galaxies in our universe. Think of the Milky Way (our galaxy) out of the billions of galaxies in our universe. Think about our sun out of the billions of suns in our galaxy.
    Finally, think about our planet Earth, out of the few planets of our solar system.
    It is shameful to be individualistic while we are a tiny tiny bit of the whole universe.

    PS: Guess who always ends up owning the land? (hint, it’s not those noble rural custodians of the land)

    I do not think it is hard to imagine that the (remaining) rainforests are NOT privatised. They belong to their respective governments.

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