World Rainforest Movement

Is REDD the New Green? Indigenous Groups Resist Carbon Market-Based Forestry Scheme to Offset Emissions

A controversial proposal to protect forests worldwide is on the table at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Cancún. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), would include forests in the emerging carbon markets, allowing governments and corporations to purchase permits to protect forests as a way to offset the carbon released into the atmosphere through its industrial pollution. Though often reported as a means to stop deforestation, there is widespread opposition to REDD from environmental and indigenous groups. We speak to Anne Petermann of the Global Justice Ecology Project. [includes rush transcript]



This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.


AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the U.N. climate talks in Cancún, Mexico. Is REDD the new Green? That’s R-E-D-D, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Well, it’s a mouthful, but to talk more about REDD, which is being talked about all over the U.N. climate talks, we’re joined by Anne Petermann, executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project.


There’s a real division, not only between rich countries who are very much for this and others, but also in the progressive community. You have a number of indigenous groups that are for REDD and also many who are opposed. Anne Petermann, talk about exactly what REDD is without using the U.N. diplo talk.


ANNE PETERMANN: Yeah, to avoid the jargon, yeah, as you said, it’s supposed to be about reducing emissions from deforestation. Unfortunately, if you really look at the agreements and what’s behind it, you find that that’s not exactly what REDD is designed to do. REDD is really — has been designed as a way for — and is being pushed by the United States — as a way for industries and Northern countries, industrialized nations, to avoid actually reducing their emissions at the source. So, countries and companies can continue polluting by saying that they’re protecting forests somewhere else that will supposedly sequester the carbon that they’re putting out into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no credible science behind the notion of offsets. So, in fact, what’s going to happen is, because they’re not reducing their pollution, because they’re not reducing their carbon emissions, global warming will continue, which will inevitably damage, destroy and completely eliminate forests, eventually, if global warming isn’t stopped.


AMY GOODMAN: Wait. Now, so explain how it works. Take a company and how they want to continue polluting somewhere, and then what exactly they do to get the carbon offset?


ANNE PETERMANN: Well, the idea is that instead of, for example, BP or Shell reducing their own emissions, they can buy some forests in another place, say Brazil, and protect the carbon in that forest so that that supposedly offsets the carbon that they’re putting into the atmosphere. But in order to actually secure that carbon and to say, OK, the carbon in this area is not going to be disturbed in any way, it requires making sure that there aren’t any people who could use that carbon, you know, either for shelter, for firewood or anything like that, which is why a number of indigenous groups are opposing this, saying that this is going to displace indigenous communities. This is going to have very serious impacts on indigenous communities while allowing pollution and global warming to continue.