Dec 17, 2008

Carbon Markets - What's In It for the Poor?

While (VIA-EcoEarth) Stephen Leahy goes into  a lengthy part on how Climate experts meeting in Poznan, Poland, promise to create a new pot of carbon-credit gold for the rural poor as guardians of rural lands and forests through biological sequestration of carbon in plants, trees and soils.
The talks in Poznan seemed to be more about trade and money for private enterprise than about reducing emissions or helping the poor, Lovera told Tierramérica from that Polish city.
"There is an aggressive promotion of market mechanisms as the only way to solve the climate crisis," he said.
It is also doubtful that a carbon finance system can compete with the profits that can be made converting forests into soybean fields or palm oil plantations, according to Lovera.
"Strong policy decisions by national governments to protect forests are what is needed not complex market mechanisms," he said.
Kjørven agreed that complexity must be avoided, but he stressed that "it is even harder to see how halting deforestation can be done without creating market-governing rules that can shift investments in favor of conservation and sustainable practices."
"We must include forests in our strategies to deal with climate change. If we do not, we could face a nightmare scenario, a positive feedback loop, in which emissions from deforestation and degradation feed global warming, which in turn accelerates forest loss," Seymour said.
The lack of land tenure for the rural poor in many parts of the world would be a major block to accessing carbon finance, acknowledges Kjørven.
The precarity of land rights in the new era of global carbon finance will deprive the poor of potential revenues and "inevitably lead to exploitation, loss of livelihoods, further marginalisation and a plethora of other social and environmental damages," he warns.
There are no guarantees the poor will benefit under such as system, and the reality could be quite the opposite, says Miguel Lovera, chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition, an international non-governmental organisation headquartered in Paraguay.