Colonialism and the Green Economy: The Hidden Side of Carbon Offsets

By Daniel C Marotta and Jennifer Coute-Marotta , Truthout

Excerpts:

Nueva Colombia is a coffee growing hamlet straddling the border of a natural protected area within the Sierra Madres of Chiapas. A cloud forest of incredible biodiversity, the area is the one of the few remaining homes of the Quetzal bird, revered by the Aztecs and Mayans alike. Nueva Colombia is a coffee growing hamlet straddling the border of a natural protected area within the Sierra Madres of Chiapas. A cloud forest of incredible biodiversity, the area is the one of the few remaining homes of the Quetzal bird, revered by the Aztecs and Mayans alike.

Although some market-based strategies to mitigate global warming do benefit some communities, they more often serve as a cheap way for the world’s biggest polluters to avoid true ecological reforms and deprive people who can least afford it of their livelihoods, their land and their homes.
……….. One of the fastest growing international mechanisms for combating climate change, it is based on the theory that a ton of carbon sequestered by a forest in the Global South is identical in function to a ton prevented from leaving a smokestack in the Global North. However, the logic becomes suspect when one considers the burning of fossil fuels as an injection of greenhouse gases into an otherwise closed system known as the carbon cycle. Although some carbon offset projects do good for local populations, they more often serve as a cheap way for the world’s biggest polluters to avoid true ecological reforms and continue on with business-as-usual.

A Surprising Realization

A REDD project has been in existence in the coffee region buffering the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve since 2008. Managed by Conservation International and in partnership with Starbuck’s Coffee, the project creates carbon credits by growing trees as a shade cover for the coffee farms dominating the first slopes of the Sierra Madres. Starbuck’s buys the shade-grown coffee, which conforms to their Coffee and Farmer Equity (CAFE) practices, while participating farmers receive a subsidy to make up for the lower yield shade-grown produces. The subsidy comes directly from the Mexican government which, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, controversially obtains the rights to the generated carbon credits………
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