Carbon credits drive brutal land grab

an evicted woman

Ugandans left homeless, child dies

The UN’s ingenious global warming money-making scheme, called the clean development mechanism (CDM), was predicted to lead to abuse and fraud. The essence of the CDM is built around trust, so you just know it’s headed for disaster. Another scandal has come to light, in Uganda.

A reader posted a link to a dramatic headline at Prison Planet, Armed Troops Burn Down Homes, Kill Children To Evict Ugandans In Name Of Global Warming. Which quickly took my attention away from the All Blacks’ fine win against France.

The Prison Planet story was taken from a NY Times story with a milder headline: In Scramble for Land, Group Says, Company Pushed Ugandans Out. In that story, it turns out that a single child was murdered when his house was burned down.

The NY Times article, in turn, was taken from an Oxfam report about land grabs. So some of the lurid flavour of the story has been watered down, though there’s plenty left of concern.

According to the Oxfam report released on Wednesday, more than 20,000 people say they were evicted from their Ugandan homes in recent years to make way for a tree plantation run by a British forestry company.

The company concerned, New Forests Company, promises a thorough investigation. In 2005, the Ugandan government granted New Forests a 50-year licence to grow pine and eucalyptus forests in three districts, and the company has applied to the United Nations to trade under the mechanism. The company expects that it could earn up to $1.8 million a year.

People had apparently been living on some of the land involved for many years. They disputed the government’s order to leave, saying they had rights, but were eventually driven off the land and their houses burned down by New Forests security men, assisted by police and soldiers. It’s easy to imagine that officials were bribed to accomplish this.

The government there is certainly corrupt to some degree, or the company wouldn’t have stood a chance of interfering, even if the residents had been squatters.

Here’s how the Times begins its coverage:

KICUCULA, Uganda — According to the company’s proposal to join a United Nations clean-air program, the settlers living in this area left in a “peaceful” and “voluntary” manner.

People here remember it quite differently.

“I heard people being beaten, so I ran outside,” said Emmanuel Cyicyima, 33. “The houses were being burnt down.”

Other villagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.

“They said if we hesitated they would shoot us,” said William Bakeshisha, adding that he hid in his coffee plantation, watching his house burn down. “Smoke and fire.”

A nasty story, on any level. Of course, it has nothing to do with saving the planet from global warming — only with ruthlessly making the most of a commercial opportunity.

Let us hope there is a good investigation promptly. Let us hope (surely against all reason) that the Ugandan government will recognise its duty to protect each of its citizens.

Regrettably, I know of no government in Africa which already does this, so Uganda would have to be a pioneer. Though I would be very happy to be corrected on that point.

18 Thoughts on “Carbon credits drive brutal land grab

  1. Yesterday I received an email from a UK based charity, Action Aid UK,

    They have a petition to stop the biofuels land grab there

    http://forms.actionaid.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=539&ea.campaign.id=11645&utm_source=ActionAid%20Bulletin%20September%202011%20%281%29&utm_medium=email

    I think NZ still has a mandatory percentage of biofuels in petrol, so in effect we have built this land grab into our legislation.

    We also have seen WWF lock up a good part of the Amazon for carbon credits. ($60US billion according to Christopher Booker) . This is another example of “eco-imperialism” that is driving indigenous people into poverty (I noticed – via blog posts – a good number of protesters at Cancun that were indigenous people protesting against REDD).

  2. Mike Jowsey on September 26, 2011 at 8:37 am said:

    Good coverage of this story here, with clear outrage expressed in the comments:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/25/they-had-to-burn-the-village-to-save-it-from-global-warming/

  3. Richard C (NZ) on September 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm said:

    I can’t think of anything except outrage and repugnance as a response.

    The ethical investing sector should avoid New Forests Company like the plague – along with any other carbon credit created likewise (will they and will we hear of their reaction?), as should the NZ govt when purchasing credits.

    Not holding my breath until I see this story in NZ MSM either (they’ll be preoccupied with Rugby World Cup buzz), and I will be watching the Sydney Morning Herald Environment section with interest.

    • Richard C (NZ) on October 1, 2011 at 9:08 am said:

      Nick Smith informs us (H/T Andy) that:-

      “The Government wants to maintain the integrity of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. There are legitimate questions about these types of international units”

      But this is in respect to HFC Certified Emission Reduction Units.

      Will the same “integrity” apply and “legitimate questions” be asked about New Forests Company units (along with any other carbon credit created likewise)?

      Andy’s link here: http://www.climateconversation.wordshine.co.nz/2011/09/quote-of-the-week-3/#comment-68021

  4. Richard C (NZ) on September 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm said:

    Meet The Real Climate-Change Refugees

    20,000 poor Uganadan’s were forced out of their village to make way for some company trading in Kyoto carbon-credits:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/planet-gore/278368/meet-real-climate-change-refugees-greg-pollowitz

    I wonder what the world-wide total is to date?

  5. Richard C (NZ) on October 1, 2011 at 9:25 am said:

    I watched “Global 3000″ from DWTV (the German equivalent of BBC, CCTV) that extols the virtues of green schemes and German schemes in particular. The programme screened on Central TV a couple of days ago and may be repeated before the end of the week (see Central’s timetable).

    They featured an investigation of a major coal mine (in global terms) in Columbia that carried out similar actions several years ago but has since been working on mending its ways. The intro from the presenter was:-

    “When money is to made, the people have to clear out”.

    The irony (lost on DWTV), is that the bulk of the coal is shipped to……..Germany.

    • Richard C (NZ) on October 1, 2011 at 9:59 am said:

      Video not available at the Global 3000 website (although the others from that episode are) but they say this:-

      “Colombia is Germany’s second most important coal supplier after Russia, and Berlin’s decision to pull out of nuclear power will up the need. Such, at least, is the hope of international coal companies operating in Colombia.

      The Latin American country produces and exports 30 million tons of coal annually. According to the largest mining venture in Colombia, the local population is no longer adversely affected by the industry. Transport is allegedly cleaner and land is being re-cultivated.”

      http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15356866,00.html

      So “Green” Germany is to use more coal than ever and there’s the chance that they will offset some of the emissions with New Forests Company carbon credits.

      Does anyone else see the duplicity in Germany’s “Green” smokescreen?

  6. Richard C (NZ) on October 4, 2011 at 10:42 am said:

    State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2011

    http://www.forest-trends.org/documents/files/doc_2975.pdf

    The Changing Face of Projects

    The private sector has emerged as a new torchbearer for forest carbon projects. Taking cues from the early and persistent progress of non-profit conservation organizations, a host of new private sector players are entering the marketplace, from project development companies to major financial firms such as BNP Paribas and Gazprom Marketing & Trading. On the ground, the impacts of this transition remain uncertain. The broad application of co-benefits certification under the Climate, Community & Biodiversity (CCB) Standards suggests that the market has set a key requirement that projects must deliver benefits to biodiversity and communities to find a broad appreciation among buyers, but the project-level approaches to doing so still vary widely. Projects continue to be developed using a variety of forest management strategies,
    species mixes, and across a broad spectrum of sizes.

    One of the most persistent challenges in forest governance, from well before carbon markets entered the scene, has been the resolution of conflicts regarding the land rights of local peoples and ensuring that carbon projects benefit local peoples with the best track record of forest conservation. In terms of land tenure, the data for 2010 indicate that there is an increasing attraction to siting projects on privately owned and managed lands. This preference showed up for both nonprofit and for-profit developers, who developed 62% and 77% of projects in areas including private landholding, respectively.

    There has been less activity to date developing projects in areas with communal or customary ownership and tenure, and for-profit and non-profit developers showed different propensities for developing these projects. Although 30% of projects from non-profit developers included lands with communal or customary use or ownership rights within the project area, only 17% were exclusively on these types of lands; for for-profit developers, the contrast is more stark, with 25% of projects including communal or customary lands in the project area, but only 2% of projects developed exclusively on these lands. In their current implementation, most successful forest carbon projects have focused on projects where legal environments are relatively stable and ownership and land tenure are clear. Encouraging the resolution and clarification of land rights in areas of conflict holds immediate potential for improving forest governance and conservation, as well as offering expanded opportunities in the forest carbon markets by creating a more stable legal environment that project developers and investors need to bring carbon finance to bear at greater scale

  7. Richard C (NZ) on October 4, 2011 at 11:45 am said:

    EU Carbon Trading Rocked By Mass Killings

    Monday, 03 October 2011 09:19 Arthur Neslen, EurActiv

    The reported killing of 23 Honduran farmers in a dispute with the owners of UN-accredited palm oil plantations in Honduras is forcing the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) executive board to reconsider its stakeholder consultation processes.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/international-news/4009-eu-carbon-trading-rocked-by-mass-killings.html

    EU carbon trading scheme pays for murder of 23 farmers in Honduras

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/10/eu-carbon-trading-scheme-pays-for.html

    Murdering Peasant Farmers For Fun And AGW Profit

    http://cbullitt.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/murdering-peasant-farmers-for-fun-and-agw-profit/

    • Richard C (NZ) on October 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm said:

      Honduras: Human Rights Violations in Bajo Aguán

      International Fact Finding Mission Report

      A recent example of a significant international loan is project 27250 by the International
      Financial Corporation (IFC), an entity of the World Bank Group that co-finances the project,
      providing 30 million USD of the sum total of 75 million USD to the Dinant Corporation, owned
      by businessman Miguel Facussé.

      30 However, on the 11 April 2011, the German Investment and Development Society (DEG)
      decided to suspend their contractual relationship with the Dinant Corporation and not grant the agreed upon loan. DEG received the preliminary report and began a dialogue with the international fact finding mission. After analysing the situation, the public bank that manages German development funds, decided to withdraw their final support from the project. Furthermore, the Clean Development Mechanism´s Executive Board (CDM) and the British government are reviewing their authorisation of controversial carbon offsetting project in the Bajo Aguán: Due to the reported human rights situation, EDF Trading, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Electricité de France SA and one of the biggest CDM investors, pulled out of a contract to buy carbon credits of around 2.8 million dollar from the project.

      See “Forced evictions in Bajo Aguán” and “The transfer of lands to the MUCA communities” and “The transference of CREM lands to the MCA communities”

      http://www.fian.org/resources/documents/others/honduras-human-rights-violations-in-bajo-aguan/pdf
      —————————————————————————————————————————
      NZ Govt take note, but then as the GWPF reports:-

      An official with the European Commission’s directorate-general for Energy told EurActiv that including human rights in the criteria for assessing CDM projects would be “very difficult”.

      “You can say that ‘human rights’ means the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and check every project for compliance, but I think that takes us very far and the practicalities of it would be very difficult,” he said.

  8. Richard C (NZ) on October 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm said:

    Where carbon trading fits in to The Climate Change Scare Machine

    See – Financial houses
    *******************************************************************************************************
    Map: The Climate Change Scare Machine — the perpetual self-feeding cycle of alarm

    Climate Change Scare Machine Cycle: see how your tax dollars are converted into alarming messages

    http://joannenova.com.au/2011/10/map-the-climate-change-scare-machine-the-perpetual-self-feeding-cycle-of-alarm/

  9. Richard C (NZ) on October 27, 2011 at 9:49 am said:

    RIO DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

    Principle 1

    Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.
    They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

    Principle 22

    Indigenous people and their communities and other local communities have
    a vital role in environmental management and development because of their
    knowledge and traditional practices. States should recognize and duly support
    their identity, culture and interests and enable their effective participation
    in the achievement of sustainable development.

    Principle 23

    The environment and natural resources of people under oppression,
    domination and occupation shall be protected.

    http://www.un.org/documents/ga/conf151/aconf15126-1annex1.htm

    But CMD land grabs are OK (especially when the UN gets a cut of the action – Principle 28).

  10. Richard C (NZ) on October 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm said:

    UK firm’s failed biofuel dream wrecks lives of Tanzania villagers

    The collapse of Sun Biofuels has left hundreds of Tanzanians landless, jobless, and in despair for the future

    A quarter of the village’s land in Kisarawe district was acquired by a British biofuels company in 2008, with the promise of financial compensation, 700 jobs, water wells, improved schools, health clinics and roads. But the company has gone bust, leaving villagers not just jobless but landless as well. The same story is playing out across Africa, as foreign investors buy up land but leave some of the poorest people on Earth worse off when their plans fail.

    [..]

    Why Sun Biofuels went bust is unknown, as attempts to contact the previous owners were unsuccessful. Whatever the reason, the company is far from alone. A large jatropha plantation created by a Dutch firm called Bioshape in the southern Tanzanian district of Kilwa has also gone bankrupt, leaving locals complaining of missing land payments. Also in Tanzania, a large ethanol biofuel project set up by Swedish company Sekab went bust. In both cases, the land has not been returned to its owners.

    Further afield, in Ghana, a Norwegian-backed jatropha project has collapsed, while in Mozambique a UK-linked company called Procana, behind a huge ethanol project, has folded in acrimony. The Observer’s investigations and those of journalist Stefano Valentino have identified at least 30 abandoned biofuels projects in 15 African countries.

    The thirst for biofuels to meet the UK and EU’s rising targets has led British companies to lead the charge into Africa. Half the 3.2m hectares of biofuel land identified is linked to 11 British companies, the biggest proportion of any country. ActionAid’s estimate suggests that up to 6m hectares has been acquired. But with landowners frequently illiterate and unaware of their rights, the potential for exploitation is high.

    >>>>>>>>>

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/30/africa-poor-west-biofuel-betrayal

  11. Richard C (NZ) on November 16, 2011 at 8:48 am said:

    Inhofe Calls for Investigation into Alleged Human Rights Violations Sanctioned by UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

    […]

    Hello, I’m Jim Inhofe, conservative Republican Senator from Oklahoma.

    For over the past decade, I have been successful in leading the opposition in the United States Senate against the global warming alarmist agenda.

    Throughout my fight, one of my primary concerns has been the affect of the global warming movement’s so-called “solutions” on the poor – whether here in the United States or around the world. Much of my concern comes from my extensive travel to Africa where I have seen and heard firsthand the negative impacts of the United Nations’ environmental policies.

    What I am now going to tell you will likely shock you. But it is important that you know the truth about the agenda embraced by radical environmentalists.

    In just two weeks the United Nations will host their latest global warming conference in Durban, South Africa. You remember these conferences – such as the one last year in Cancun or the one before that in Copenhagen? These are opportunities for the world’s diplomats to get together for a lavish extravaganza subsidized largely by you, the American taxpayer. The biggest travesty is usually when they run out of caviar.

    Yet the brutal irony this year is that while these diplomats enjoy yet another expensive, extravagant trip, the policies implemented at these conferences are having a devastating impact on the world’s poor.

    Consider that in Uganda, 20,000 farmers were brutally kicked off their lands to allow a British company to plant trees for carbon credits. This news, by the way, comes from a recent report issued by Oxfam – by no means a conservative organization. Oxfam tells us that armed guards burned houses to the ground, which, at least in one case, resulted in the death of a child. According to one victim who was interviewed by Oxfam investigators, her family was beaten by soldiers and no longer has enough food to eat.

    In Honduras, a United Nations sanctioned industry stole farmland and murdered 23 farmers and their families between January 2010 and March 2011. This is according to a report by the International Fact-Finding Mission that was presented to the European Parliament. Private security guards employed by this industry were reported to be directly involved, feigning accidents and shooting farmers.

    In addition to these atrocities, some governments have been seeking credit or recognition by the United Nations for using population control as a way to mitigate greenhouse gases. China, for example, is seeking climate credit for its national policies on family planning. According to the government of China’s 2007 National Climate Change Program, “Since the implementation of the family planning program, over 300 million births have been averted nationally by 2005…Averted births have resulted in an annual reduction of CO2 emissions by about 1.3 billion tons in 2005.” As a proud father and grandfather of twenty kids and grandkids, this makes me sick.

    >>>>>>>>

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=a84de6c3-802a-23ad-4cb0-bd75a1e8422a&Region_id=&Issue_id=

  12. Richard C (NZ) on December 16, 2011 at 7:28 am said:

    Carbon credits were not the reason for this land grab reported by the Guardian but forest conservation was:-

    Kenya’s Samburu people ‘violently evicted’ after US charities buy land

    Around 2,000 Samburu families have stayed squatting on edge of disputed territory, says NGO Survival International

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/14/kenya-samburu-people-evicted-land

    More at redd-monitor.org, needless to say the president of one of the “charities”, Helen Gichohi AWF is a big fan of REDD:-

    A question for African Wildlife Foundation: “Is this what conservation is really about?”

    In November 2011, African Wildlife Foundation and The Nature Conservancy gave an area of land covering 6,920 hectares to the Kenyan government to create the proposed Laikipia National Park. What African Wildlife Foundation doesn’t tell us in its press release is that people were violently evicted to make way for this conservation project.

    http://www.redd-monitor.org/2011/12/14/a-question-for-african-wildlife-foundation-is-this-what-conservation-is-really-about/

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