Indigenous peoples’ representatives in Cancun, México have flatly rejected the market-based approach to global warming called REDD (United Nations Reduction of Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Thousands of indigenous peoples’ organization members and supporters marched in Cancun in front of Moon Palace where Climate Change delegates were meeting to make the point that the plans being made by states’ governments and corporations are unacceptable.
(Led by the multi-colored flag of the original peoples of the Americas
indigenous representatives demonstrated their opposition to climate
decisions on 7 December.)
Perhaps the clearest point of controversy in the Climate Change negotiations for indigenous peoples has all along been the topic of REDD. Like the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) plan agreed to by states’ governments in 1998, REDD is a market-based climate mitigation proposal aimed at paying states’ governments to not cut trees while allowing corporate polluters to continue polluting as long as they pay for growing trees. It suggests that buying indigenous territories can “offset” industrial carbon emissions. This plan is based on the unproven premise that it is possible to balance the levels of emitted pollutants with the ability of growing forests to absorb the carbon emissions–forests as “carbon sinks.” Forests and the land under them are described as natural “carbon sequestration” mechanisms which they are. The problem is that there is no correlation between forest planting and increased carbon emissions from industrial plants.
Most forest dwelling indigenous peoples adamantly oppose REDD not only because of the unproven “carbon sink” purchase plan, but because their lands will become exposed to purchase by corporations with the help of states’ governments. The states’ governments and corporations stand to gain economically while indigenous peoples’ stand to lose their lives and way of life.
One can compare the REDD plan to the US, Russian, British, French and South African practice of using indigenous territories to test nuclear bombs and as places to dump nuclear and industrial hazardous waste. Simply look around the world on a map and you immediately see that the nuclear countries have used and are continuing to use indigenous peoples’ territories to bomb test and store radioactive and poisonous waste. This is waste from nuclear plants, bomb testing and development, hospitals and chemicals and other industrial production of computers, telephones, cars, houses, household appliances and even toys.
Just as nuclear and chemical wastes are disposed of in indigenous peoples’ territories “away from the prying eyes of urban dwellers” who benefit from nuclear power and television sets, REDD becomes the commercial “market-based” approach to hiding the continuation of carbon emissions at unsustainable levels.
REDD as a plan for climate change actually has no real effect on climate. It is actually a commercialization of carbon emissions to enrich corporations, the already rich countries. So called “developing countries” are being urged to accept REDD in exchange for “50 pieces of silver.”
Reducing or stopping carbon emissions altogether to levels that will in fact prevent the world’s temperature rising 2 decrees by 2020 has been a “non-starter” since the beginning of climate change negotiations. China and India have basically claimed that they should be able to develop to economic levels set by Europe and North America. Meanwhile, the US, so absolutely convinced that their is a “market solution” to everything wants to avoid reductions by pushing “offset” schemes. All of the key parties are more worried about their pocket book than the ability of indigenous peoples or any other peoples in the world to survive the already evident climate changes due to carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions that have essentially overloaded the natural cleans system provide by Earth’s atmosphere.
The “market-based climate scheme” will doubtless be accepted by States’ governments and their corporate supporters while indigenous peoples will not be able to prevent the insatiable demand for short-term economic gain that is represented by REDD.
Now that leading indigenous nations have rejected REDD they have an obligation to develop alternate strategies for ensuring their survival in the face of the relentless drive for short-term wealth and the expense of indigenous peoples. With a few allies in various states’ governments (Bolivia most prominent among them), supporters in non-governmental organizations and a tenacious resilience indigenous peoples must now set a new agenda for how they will deal with global warming. The United Nations Conference of Parties (COP16) on Climate Change ends today.
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