Saturday, December 11, 2010

Seeing REDD on climate change As climate change negotiations come to a close in Cancun, Birginia Suarez-Pinlac is seeing red. The environmental lawyer from the Philippines is worried that a plan for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) constitutes a land grab, transferring natural wealth from the poor to the rich under the auspices of saving the planet.

Last year, she says, an Australian coal company tried to forge an agreement with an indigenous tribe on Mindanao Island in the Philippines, a poverty stricken area known for its high mountains and lush green rainforest. "The company offered poor tribes people money in exchange for their atmospheric space. They don't want to cut their own emissions domestically. They want to find a way to profit from the carbon they produce."

Forests help take climate changing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, reducing global warming - a human induced process linked to wild weather patterns including this year's deadly flooding in Pakistan and crop destroying wild fires in Russia.

…"The biggest buyers of REDD credits are the worst polluters - big oil and big coal," says Bill Barclay, the research director for the Rainforest Action Network in California. "They are looking for a cheap 'get out of jail free card' - it's basically green-washing."

In the Philippines, indigenous people "didn't understand that they were giving away their atmospheric space to Australians" when they were approached by a non-governmental organisation working with the coal miners, Suarez-Pinlac says….

Mt. Ugo, Cordillera Central, Luzon, Philippines; shot by anne_jimenez on Flickr, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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