Archive for January, 2014

A Pathetic REDD Package

Friday, January 31st, 2014

NO REDD pencil (by Rebecca Sommer)

On 12 November 2013, the Global Forest Coalition made the following intervention during the UN Climate negotiations in Warsaw on methodologies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and enhance forest carbon stocks (REDD+):

“The Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide coalition of 54 NGOs and Indigenous peoples’ organizations promoting rights-based forest policies shares the concerns of our NGO and IPO colleagues about the extremely weak draft decisions that have been developed in the areas of drivers of forest loss and safeguards. We particularly wonder what we are doing here if this body, and the REDD+ mechanism it is designing, is not capable of addressing the real drivers of forest loss, most of which are linked to international commodity trade. Frankly, if REDD+ is not about addressing the real drivers of forest loss, we don’t think it is a mechanism that should be supported. So we strongly urge governments to focus on developing more effective non-market based approaches to address the international drivers of forest loss, and if they feel they cannot do that within the framework of the REDD mechanism, we urge them to do so within other Frameworks for Various approaches.”

The text that was adopted by the 19th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on the drivers of forest loss is without doubt the weakest text any international forest-related body has ever adopted on this issue. The negotiators could at least have had the decency to refer to the far more elaborate Proposals for Action and recommendations on addressing the underlying causes of forest loss the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests and the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity adopted 13 resp. 11 years ago. The REDD+ drivers text does not include any reference to the broadly recognized fact that the most important drivers of forest loss are linked to international commodity chains, and that these drivers will per definition lead to transboundary leakage of emissions if actions to address them are implemented at the national supply-side level only. Such transboundary leakage can already be detected as a result from the Brazilian efforts to reduce forest loss in neighboring countries like Paraguay and Colombia, where both soy expansion and the expansion of large-scale cattle ranching is mainly driven by Brazilian immigrants, and the massive leakage of emissions caused by the Chinese logging ban. For the climate, this means there is no positive result of such supply-side measures, but the countries themselves will be able to claim results-based payments, which is exactly what motivated a country like Brazil to suddenly become a pro-REDD champion. And please note it was Brazil that played the key role in derailing the REDD negotiations in 2012. To what extend the recent Norwegian contribution to the Amazon fund has played a role in buying their support for the 2013 deal can only be guessed, admittedly the clumsy EU suggestion in 2012 that middle income countries would not need financial support for REDD+ policies also caused the negotiations to turn sour in Doha. It is clear that REDD+ was always a profitable deal for Brazil, provided they have full and unlimited access to the funding.

Meanwhile, none of the big forest countries had any interest in a REDD+ decision that hinted at taking demand-side action to address the drivers of forest loss, even though reducing demand for key commodities is the only way to reduce forest loss without causing leakage. Especially biofuel policies provide a lot of opportunity for reducing commodity demand (as the demand is artificially created in the first place) but they are a red flag, especially for Brazil and Argentina, which acted fast to kill any reference to demand-side measures in the drivers text in June 2013. The chairs of the negotiations and many other countries were fine with this, in fact, one of the co-chairs stated openly at an NGO briefing in June that he felt that “drivers are better addressed somewhere else”, and not in the REDD+ mechanism. In fact, GFC itself already concluded in its latest report on REDD+ and the underlying causes of forest loss that through its focus on national results-based payments REDD+ is per definition not the right mechanism to address the main drivers of forest loss. We also found that in the countries we analyzed (Brazil, Colombia, Uganda, Tanzania and India) the REDD+ policy discussions had not lead to any concrete measures to address the main drivers of forest loss in practice, even in the cases where they had been identified in the readiness process.

The Coalition of Rainforest Nations, as usual totally dominated by PNG as many of its members are not able to follow the (English….) negotiations themselves, Norway (especially trying to convince its own new government its billions were not wasted) and key other countries, including the Philippines as co-chair of the working group, had very strong financial interests to get any kind of deal on REDD+ as well. Sadly, the EU was coordinated on this issue by a country with at least as much interest in REDD+ offsets as Norway, namely the Netherlands – quite fascinating how two of the biggest fossil fuel producers in Europe played such a big role in these negotiations. So there was a strong willingness to agree on any kind of text, including on issues like MRV, reference levels and safeguard information systems, where countries are more or less free to provide any kind of information according to any kind of system they want, with only some vague principles and a rather non-sensical verification system to guide them on reference levels and MRV. In our report on the REDD+ negotiations in June we already classified the emerging package of REDD rules as the “Whatever Approach”.

All the REDD decisions adopted are pathetically vague and non-sensical from a legal point of view, using clauses like verifications that “might” happen, technical assessments that should be limited to ”facilitative, non-intrusive exchanges”, and “summaries” of information on things as important as safeguards without any further guidance. Frankly, such texts are an insult to international law. Especially the weak decision on reference levels will lead to REDD+ contributing very little to additional emission reductions. Of course, there is a clear relation between the weakness of the reference level text and the weakness of the drivers text: If drivers remain unaddressed at the demand side, this inflates the baseline, and makes it possible for countries to demand far more funding to reduce forest loss.

So REDD+ has been developed as a mechanism that will not address the main drivers of forest loss. In fact it provides an incentive for the international community not to address demand-side drivers. Due to the ‘whatever approach’ it has taken to its own rules there is a great risk it will not contribute anything to mitigating climate change, in fact, if REDD+ would be financed through offsets it would seriously undermine the climate regime. The safeguards and safeguards information systems discussion has taken up a lot of attention from the NGO community following the negotiations, but only in countries where the NGOs and especially Indigenous peoples were able to put a very strong fist on the table, like Indonesia, these safeguards have provided instruments for some positive policy measures. In most other countries (like Paraguay), the NGO and IPO community is far too weak to promote or even monitor their implementation, and as a result the Government will be able to provide any kind of artificial information in its “summary” on how it has implemented the safeguards.

Last but not least, REDD has been developed as a results-based payment system with a small but quite significant omission: It is as yet not defined who or what will actually pay for the results. The fact that the REDD+ mechanism was adopted at the darkest and most unproductive Conference of the Parties the UNFCCC had even seen is significant for the real intentions of the mechanism, which was developed by a small group of isolated negotiators that seemed untouched by the drama’s that took place in the other negotiations, which ranged from tears and hunger strikes to walk outs by country negotiators and most of the NGOs. However, the lack of a clear financial agreement on what was previously announced as “the finance COP” will have very serious consequences for REDD as well. In fact, contrary to all existing international forest policies, REDD+ is 100% dependent on financial support. It is always easy to talk about ‘other people’s money’, and this is precisely what the REDD negotiators did when they mainly referred to the Green Climate Fund as having a “key role” as the potential source for results-based payments. Alas, finance negotiators have proven to be less interested in REDD+ than REDD+ negotiators interested in finance; when the Board of the Green Climate Fund discussed its priorities earlier in 2013 REDD+ was chosen as 1 of the 14 results-based areas only, side by side with entirely independent “sustainable forest management” and “sustainable land use” areas, making it clear that REDD+ is only one of the forest-related policy areas to be funded. More importantly, this fund remained basically empty in Warsaw, which rather saw a controversial declaration by the US that it expected most of the 100 billion USD that was promised by the developed countries in 2009 to come from the private sector. The EU had already clarified in 2010 that it did not expect more than 40% of this 100 billion to consist of public support from the developed countries to developing countries. A quick calculation (40/14 results-based areas) learns that public funding levels for REDD+ should not be expected to rise significantly above current levels of readiness support, and this is in the very best case scenario that the 100 (or rather, 40) billion commitment is ever fulfilled. According to the EU a remaining 40% is supposed to come from the private sector, but according the latest State of the Forest Carbon Market report forest carbon offset markets have already declined with some 20% since 2011 and Conservation International recently calculated that supply of REDD+ offsets on the carbon markets is currently some three times higher than demand. More importantly, a small victory for the climate justice movement and countries concerned about carbon markets in the dark Polish days was that negotiations on a new market mechanism were postponed due to profound disagreements about the need for an evaluation of existing market mechanisms before such a new one is established. It is not yet sure whether agreement on a New Market Mechanism will be reached before 2015 at all.

Meanwhile, other forest policies continued to gather momentum at the Warsaw COP. They are explicitly mentioned in the decision on results-based finance, and influential events like the Global Landscapes Forum showed clear support for holistic, integrated policies that fully take into account the many non-carbon benefits of forests, and the interactions between different types of land use. Here again, the REDD+ mechanism simply does not provide the right incentives for such holistic approaches as its financial incentives target carbon benefits only, with non-carbon benefits being at most something to ‘take into account’ as it is suggested they make the carbon-oriented approach of REDD+ easier to implement. Alternative non-market based approaches like the joint mitigation and adaptation approach proposed by Bolivia seem far more in line with the outcomes of the Global Landscapes Forum, and while these are still to be developed, they could very well provide a better framework to address international drivers of forest loss as well. These approaches also do not pretend to be 100% finance-dependent, which is not unimportant in light of the bleak financial outcomes of Warsaw.

In summary, this pathetic REDD package deal might as well mark the beginning of its end.

Simone Lovera
Executive Director
Global Forest Coalition
Bruselas 2273
Asuncion, Paraguay
tel: +595-21-663654
Skype: simonelovera

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples visits Leonard Peltier

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Jan. 24, 2014, James Anaya, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, made a historic visit to American Indian political prisoner Leonard Peltier, Turtle Mountain Ojibway, in the United States (US) Federal Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida.  He was accompanied by Leonard “Lenny” Foster, member of the Board of Directors of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and representative of the National Native American Prisoners Rights Coalition.

Leonard Peltier was convicted in 1977 for “aiding and abetting” in the deaths of two FBI agents during a fire fight on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975.  Two other defendants were acquitted based on self-defense. Although the US courts as well as Amnesty International have acknowledged government misconduct, including forcing witnesses to lie and hiding ballistics evidence indicating his innocence, Mr. Peltier was denied a new trial on a legal technicality.  The late Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, 55 Members of the US Congress, the National Congress of American Indians, Assembly of First Nations, the US Human Rights Network and many others — including a judge who sat as a member of the Court in two of Mr. Peltier’s appeals — have called for his release.

Lenny Foster confirmed that “the visit today by Special Rapporteur James Anaya to Leonard Peltier in prison is very significant and historic for us and we thank him for working with IITC to make this possible.  This will support efforts for Executive Clemency for Leonard Peltier and promote reconciliation and justice in this case.”

In April and May 2012, UN Special Rapporteur Anaya carried out an official visit to the US to examine the human rights situation of Indigenous Peoples in this country.  After visiting and hearing testimony from Indigenous Nations, Peoples, organizations and communities around the US he issued a report “The situation of indigenous peoples in the United States of America” [A/HRC/21/47/Add.1].  It was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012 and contained observations regarding the case of Leonard Peltier:

“A more recent incident that continues to spark feelings of injustice among indigenous peoples around the United States is the well-known case of Leonard Peltier… After a trial that has been criticized by many as involving numerous due process problems, Mr. Peltier was sentenced to two life sentences for murder, and has been denied parole on various occasions.  Pleas for presidential consideration of clemency by notable individuals and institutions have not borne fruit.  This further depletes the already diminished faith in the criminal justice system felt by many indigenous peoples throughout the country.”

Special Rapporteur Anaya’s recommendations to the US government included the following:

“Other measures of reconciliation should include efforts to identify and heal particular sources of open wounds. And hence, for example, promised reparations should be provided to the descendants of the Sand Creek massacre, and new or renewed consideration should be given to clemency for Leonard Peltier.”


Monday, January 27th, 2014

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the regional human rights organ of the
Organization of American States, today advised IHRAAM that its Petition 879-07 against Canada on
behalf of Lil’wat mother, Loni Edmonds, has been admitted.  The Petition contests the seizure of Ms.
Edmonds’ six children by the BC Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD), and their placement
in foster care.

The Petition was originally submitted in 2007 by international legal specialist Dr. Y. N. Kly, Chair of
IHRAAM, an international NGO in consultative status with the United Nations, at the instigation of Lil’wat
elder, James Louie.  The Petition addresses not only individual human rights issues germane to the
human rights of mother, Loni Edmonds, and her children, but also links them to issues raised by
Canada/BC’s imposition of jurisdiction over Lil’wat families when the Lil’wat have no treaty with Canada.

IACHR admission of the case is seen as a great victory.  The case not only challenges the right of the
MCFD to seize indigenous children, it brings to international scrutiny the lamentable plight of native
children the MCFD has placed in foster care. Further, the Commission’s Report on Admissibility No.89/13
made explicit note of contextual issues raised by the Petition related to the case, such as Canada’s
historic policies of forced assimilation and its ongoing efforts toward “transforming them from the Lil’wat
Nation to a Municipality within the Province of British Columbia without their consent.”

The IACHR first responded to the Petition in 2011, passing the pertinent parts of the Petition to Canada,
which responded extensively, including 10 documentary attachments. The Commission then passed this
to IHRAAM for its Observations, which were then returned to Canada.  IACHR facilitation of this dialogue
carried on until September, 2012, by which time Canada had responded four times.  Canada then
ceased to proceed further with the exchange, despite IACHR request.

The Report on Admissibility submitted to IHRAAM dated January 23, 2014 sets forth the Commission’s
view that domestic remedy has been exhausted—a primary requirement for access to international
tribunals—despite Canada’s arguments to the contrary.

Should the Commission make a positive ruling on the substantive aspects of what is now IACHR Case
12.929, the consequences could be highly significant for all indigenous nations within territory that
Canada regards as a part of Canadian territory
.  The admission alone draws attention to an avenue of
international legal recourse long sought by indigenous peoples seeking redress for their grievances
against states that cannot be resolved in domestic courts.

BRAZIL – Indigenous Xingu Park reservation: Indigenous leaders falling for REDD

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Mato Grosso, Brazil: Leaders from indigenous reservation Xingu Park agreed 2 days ago to REDD project.

Obama’s NSA ‘reforms’ are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Obama is draping the banner of change over the NSA status quo. Bulk surveillance that caused such outrage will remain in place

Glenn Greenwald,  The Guardian, Friday 17 January 2014

Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency on 17 January 2014 from the Justice Department in Washington. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

In response to political scandal and public outrage, official Washington repeatedly uses the same well-worn tactic. It is the one that has been hauled out over decades in response to many of America’s most significant political scandals. Predictably, it is the same one that shaped President Obama’s much-heralded Friday speech to announce his proposals for “reforming” the National Security Agency in the wake of seven months of intense worldwide controversy.

The crux of this tactic is that US political leaders pretend to validate and even channel public anger by acknowledging that there are “serious questions that have been raised”. They vow changes to fix the system and ensure these problems never happen again. And they then set out, with their actions, to do exactly the opposite: to make the system prettier and more politically palatable with empty, cosmetic “reforms” so as to placate public anger while leaving the system fundamentally unchanged, even more immune than before to serious challenge.

This scam has been so frequently used that it is now easily recognizable. In the mid-1970s, the Senate uncovered surveillance abuses that had been ongoing for decades, generating widespread public fury. In response, the US Congress enacted a new law (Fisa) which featured two primary “safeguards”: a requirement of judicial review for any domestic surveillance, and newly created committees to ensure legal compliance by the intelligence community.

But the new court was designed to ensure that all of the government’s requests were approved: it met in secret, only the government’s lawyers could attend, it was staffed with the most pro-government judges, and it was even housed in the executive branch. As planned, the court over the next 30 years virtually never said no to the government.

Identically, the most devoted and slavish loyalists of the National Security State were repeatedly installed as the committee’s heads, currently in the form of NSA cheerleaders Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the Senate and Republican Mike Rogers in the House. As the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza put it in a December 2013 article on the joke of Congressional oversight, the committees “more often treat … senior intelligence officials like matinee idols”.

As a result, the committees, ostensibly intended to serve an overseer function, have far more often acted as the NSA’s in-house PR firm. The heralded mid-1970s reforms did more to make Americans believe there was reform than actually providing any, thus shielding it from real reforms.

The same thing happened after the New York Times, in 2005, revealed that the NSA under Bush had been eavesdropping on Americans for years without the warrants required by criminal law. The US political class loudly claimed that they would resolve the problems that led to that scandal. Instead, they did the opposite: in 2008, a bipartisan Congress, with the support of then-Senator Barack Obama, enacted a new Fisa law that legalized the bulk of the once-illegal Bush program, including allowing warrantless eavesdropping on hundreds of millions of foreign nationals and large numbers of Americans as well.

This was also the same tactic used in the wake of the 2008 financial crises. Politicians dutifully read from the script that blamed unregulated Wall Street excesses and angrily vowed to rein them in. They then enacted legislation that left the bankers almost entirely unscathed, and which made the “too-big-to-fail” problem that spawned the crises worse than ever.

And now we have the spectacle of President Obama reciting paeans to the values of individual privacy and the pressing need for NSA safeguards. “Individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress,” he gushed with an impressively straight face. “One thing I’m certain of, this debate will make us stronger,” he pronounced, while still seeking to imprison for decades the whistleblower who enabled that debate. The bottom line, he said, is this: “I believe we need a new approach.”

But those pretty rhetorical flourishes were accompanied by a series of plainly cosmetic “reforms”. By design, those proposals will do little more than maintain rigidly in place the very bulk surveillance systems that have sparked such controversy and anger.

To be sure, there were several proposals from Obama that are positive steps. A public advocate in the Fisa court, a loosening of “gag orders” for national security letters, removing metadata control from the NSA, stricter standards for accessing metadata, and narrower authorizations for spying on friendly foreign leaders (but not, of course, their populations) can all have some marginal benefits. But even there, Obama’s speech was so bereft of specifics – what will the new standards be? who will now control Americans’ metadata? – that they are more like slogans than serious proposals.

Ultimately, the radical essence of the NSA – a system of suspicion-less spying aimed at hundreds of millions of people in the US and around the world – will fully endure even if all of Obama’s proposals are adopted. That’s because Obama never hid the real purpose of this process. It is, he and his officials repeatedly acknowledged, “to restore public confidence” in the NSA. In other words, the goal isn’t to truly reform the agency; it is deceive people into believing it has been so that they no longer fear it or are angry about it.

As the ACLU’s executive director Anthony Romero said after the speech:

The president should end – not mend – the government’s collection and retention of all law-abiding Americans’ data. When the government collects and stores every American’s phone call data, it is engaging in a textbook example of an ‘unreasonable search’ that violates the constitution.

That, in general, has long been Obama’s primary role in our political system and his premiere, defining value to the permanent power factions that run Washington. He prettifies the ugly; he drapes the banner of change over systematic status quo perpetuation; he makes Americans feel better about policies they find repellent without the need to change any of them in meaningful ways. He’s not an agent of change but the soothing branding packaging for it.

As is always the case, those who want genuine changes should not look to politicians, and certainly not to Barack Obama, to wait for it to be gifted. Obama was forced to give this speech by rising public pressure, increasingly scared US tech giants, and surprisingly strong resistance from the international community to the out-of-control American surveillance state.

Today’s speech should be seen as the first step, not the last, on the road to restoring privacy. The causes that drove Obama to give this speech need to be, and will be, stoked and nurtured further until it becomes clear to official Washington that, this time around, cosmetic gestures are plainly inadequate.


Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Isso mesmo! A pirotecnia financeira fará do famoso arroz com feijão, arroz com REDD!
Agora está em discussão a produção de arroz transgênico e derivados da biotecnologia com um novo experimento BIO-GEO-QUÍMICO para emissão de Créditos de Carbono com REDD e, sem dúvida alguma as outras culturas seguirão o mesmo caminho.

Vozes de todo mundo se unem para defender o arroz, cultura tradicional e essencial para garantir a soberania alimentar de muitos povos. O arroz é fonte de alimento e de vida!

O Estado da Califórnia pode aprovar a negociação de contratos de REDD o que provocará o deslocamento de produções em outros Estados com trocas de títulos de Créditos de Carbono vinculando a produção a pressão do sistema financeiro internacional. Essa deliberação está prevista para ocorrer entre Abril-Junho de 2014 interligando o Comércio de Emissões da Califórnia com Quebec.
O manifesto “CONTRA REDD COM ARROZ” está aberto para receber assinaturas de organizações, grupos, redes, associações e coletivos com PRAZO até dia 10 de Janeiro (quinta-feira) enviando email para:
Segue a versão em español e inglês postada no link:
Nossa posição é a de endossar o manifesto.