7 December 2015 - Today marks the start of the second week of the UN climate change negotiations in Paris. After a week of negotiations we have a Draft Paris Outcome.

The draft outcome contains 940 pairs of square brackets. There’s nothing in there about fossil fuels. The word forest appears 11 times and the word deforestation once. REDD appears 11 times.

There’s a REDD paragraph (Article 3 bis), which does little more than refer to the Warsaw Framework for REDD Plus.

Negotiations on REDD were completed in June 2015, so there’s no real need to mention REDD in Paris. But Kevin Conrad and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations have spent a large part of the last ten years telling us how important REDD is, and they are not likely to stop any time soon.

New carbon markets to be created in Paris?

The word “market” only appears once in the Draft Paris Outcome, and its in the context of enhancing “non-market-based approaches”. However, as Oscar Reyes points out, this is partly because markets have been replaced by variations on the theme of internationally transferred mitigation options. Clever, eh?


By Chris Lang 11 December 2015, REDD MONITOR


While REDD is edging its way into the Paris Outcome, a series of protests and statements against REDD have taken place at the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris. Here’s a round-up, with photographs, of some of the No REDD! activities in Paris over the past two weeks.

A crime against humanity

On 30 November 2015, the Indigenous Environmental Network put out a press release under the headline: “UN Paris Accord could end up being a Crime against Humanity and Mother Earth”. REDD is one of the false solutions targetted in the press release.

Nnimmo Bassey, co-coordinator of the No REDD in Africa Network, says,

“REDD may result in the largest land grab in history. It steals your future, lets polluters off the hook and is new form of colonialism. We demand that states and corporations stop privatizing nature!”


Carlos Klink, secretary of the climate change unit at Brazil’s environment ministry, recently told Bloomberg that Brazil would use REDD credits generated in the country to meet its own emissions targets. Where does that leave California, which is considering using REDD credits from the Brazilian state of Acre?

California adopted its climate legislation (Assembly Bill 32, or AB 32) in 2006. Jeff Conant of Friends of the Earth US has described it as “one of the most forward-thinking pieces of climate legislation in the country”, but one that is undermined by the use of carbon offsets. California launched its cap and trade scheme in 2013, but has not yet reached a decision on whether to allow REDD credits into the scheme.

The obvious problem with using REDD credits is that it would create a loophole in AB 32 allowing continued pollution in California.



La REDD+ et sa finance carbone ne résoudront pas la crise climatique


A l’instar d’autres mécanismes plébiscités par la « gouvernance climatique mondiale », nous doutions depuis le début de la possibilité du mécanisme Réduction des Emissions provenant de la Déforestation et de la Dégradation des forets (REDD) à résoudre la crise climatique mondiale depuis son intrusion dans les débats sur les changements climatiques. Aujourd’hui plus que jamais la face cachée de ce mécanisme apparait avec le nouveau mécanisme de marché qui est en train de se concocter et qui risque d’être adopté à la COP 21 de Paris en Décembre 2015. Le sol est un bon puits carbone et les spéculateurs, les businessmen et les multinationales y voient une belle occasion de se faire de l’argent, d’augmenter leurs chiffres d’affaires. Et cette fois ci cela risque de faire mal comme on le dit. Très mal même car cette fois l’enjeu est de taille et l’agriculture est aussi la cible de ce commerce carbone.

L’agriculture qui pourtant avait bien été reléguée depuis plusieurs années à un rôle minimal dans ces négociations sur les changements climatiques est donc de retour mais visiblement contre les populations et pour le bonheur de la finance carbone et du système financier mondial. Un retour applaudi par certains mais qui pour nous pose problème.



Attac Gabon and Grain recently put out a statement opposing REDD and carbon trading as a way of addressing climate change. The statement is posted here in full in English and French.

Attac Gabon and GRAIN

As with other mechanisms supported by “world climate governance”, we doubted from the beginning that the Reduction of Emissions caused by Deforestation and the Degradation of Forests (REDD) mechanism would be likely to resolve the global climate crisis, ever since it was introduced in discussions on climate change. Now more than ever, the hidden face of this mechanism is revealed with the new market mechanism that is being devised and that may be adopted at the COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. The ground is a good place to sequester carbon, and speculators, businesses and multinationals see a great opportunity to make money and increase their profits. This time, real damage can be done. Very serious damage, because this time, the stakes are high; agriculture has become another target of the carbon trade.

Agriculture, which has been relegated to a minor role in these negotiations on climate change for some years, has reappeared, obviously not to the advantage of the people but to benefit the carbon trade and the world financial system. A few welcome the renewed focus, but it poses a problem for the rest of us.



Founded in October 2011, the Rio de Janeiro Green Exchange (Bolsa Verde do Rio de Janeiro, BVRio) is a market for trading “environmental assets”, including carbon credits, forest credits, industrial effluent credits, tire disposal credits, and recycling credits.

BVRio was set up by Pedro Moura Costa, co-founder of the UK-based carbon trading company, EcoSecurities. Moura Costa made his millions when he sold some of his shares in the company. Moura Costa left EcoSecurities in 2009.


Moura Costa’s brother, Mauricio, is Chief Operating Officer of BVRio and President of BVTrade, the trading platform.


BVRio is a not-for-profit company, but the trading platform is a commercial firm. Here’s how BVRio explains this in its 2011-2013 Operational Report:


“[I]t was decided that [BVRio’s] trading activities should be conducted by BVTrade as a separate vehicle, structured in a way that it can leverage private sector capital to scale up the concepts initially
developed by BVRio.”


BVRio has received financial support from the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (via Forest Trends), the UK Prosperity Fund, the Climate and Land Use Alliance, Climate Works Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Oak Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, and E2 Brasil Sócio Ambiental (Moura Costa’s company).


“Facilitating compliance” with watered down forest laws


BVRio’s mission is “To promote the use of market mechanisms to facilitate compliance with social and environmental laws.” And BVRio operates hand-in-glove with Brazil’s controversial 2012 revision of its Forest Code. The first market on BVTrade was in Environmental Reserve Quotas (Cotas de Reserva Ambiental, CRAs), which were created through the 2012 Forest Code.


Under Brazil’s Forest Code, farmers cannot clear all the forest on their land. An area of forest has to be preserved as a Forest Legal Reserve. This varies between 20% and 80% of the total area of the property. (Forest Legal Reserves are 80% of the property in the Amazon region, and 20% in Atlantic Forest, Cerrado, Pampa, Caatinga and Pantanal.)


In its 2011-2013 Operational Report, BVRio quotes a study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography that found that about four million rural properties in Brazil don’t have a large enough forest reserve (out of a total of more than five million rural properties). Under the previous version of the Forest Code owners of properties with too little forest had the option of planting trees or regenerating forest, at their own expense.


Impunity for forest destroyers under the 2012 Forest Code


The 2012 Forest Code grants amnesty to “small” properties, ranging in size from 20 hectares in southern Brazil to 440 hectares in the Amazon. According to a 2014 study in Science, 90% of Brazilian rural properties qualify for the amnesty. The study found that an area of about 50 million hectares of forest had been illegally cleared up to 2008. But under the 2012 Forest Code amnesty, the area to be restored is reduced by 58% to about 21 million hectares.


Even worse, the 2012 Forest Code allows the legal destruction of 88 million hectares of forest on private properties, including 40 million hectares of the Cerrado. “Allowing that to happen would be an environmental disaster,” says Marcia Macedo, of the Woods Hole Research Center, one of the co-authors of the study.


As well as the amnesty, the 2012 Forest Code creates two offsetting mechanisms: Environmental Reserve Quotas; and Consolidation of Conservation Areas Offsets. The Science study calculated that if these offset mechanisms are fully implemented, only 550,000 hectares of farmland will legally need to be restored. Nevertheless, Woods Hole Research Center describes the offset mechanisms as one of two “key conservation measures” in the Forest Code. (The other being an online land registry system.)


We’ll look at these two offset mechanisms in turn.


Environmental Reserve Quotas (CRAs)


One CRA represents one hectare of forest legal reserve (or regenerating forest) above the legal minimum requirement. BVRio explains:


CRAs can be used to compensate for the lack of legal reserve in another rural property provided the latter is located in the same biome and in the same State where the CRAs are created.


In the three months after BVRio launched its trading plaform, more than 800 participants were offering Forest Reserve Credits on the platform. Now BVTrade has 2,500 participants offering CRAs, with a total area of 2.3 million hectares of rural properties.


BVRio explains on its website that this not enough for a spot market in CRAs. So BVRio developed a contract to allow CRAs to be traded before they are created: Contracts for the development of Forest Reserve Credits for Future Delivery (CRAFs).


Under these contracts, sellers (i.e. land owners with more forest area than legally required under the 2012 Forest Code) have an obligation to create CRAs and deliver them to buyers (i.e. land owners with less forest area than legally required under the 2012 Forest Code). The buyer pays for the CRAs on delivery, and the price is agreed when the contract is signed.


Conservation Area Offsets


The other type of offset that rural property owners can trade on BVRio are Conservation Area Offsets (Compensação em Unidades de Conservação). Under this type of offset, rural property owners who are in breach of the Forest Code pay the owners of land inside Conservation Areas to transfer the land to a government environmental agency.


BVTrade will allow landowners inside Conservation Areas to offer their land as an offset to rural property owners with less than the legally required area of forest on their land. So under this mechanism an area of already protected forest will change ownership, from privately-owned to government-owned. And as a result, an equivalent area of forest somewhere else will be destroyed.


Creating loopholes in watered down forest laws


The obvious problem with both of these forest offsets is that they provide a loophole in an already watered down Forest Code. The fact that the 2012 Forest Code created an amnesty for past illegal forest clearing creates the probability that the powerful agricultural sector in Brazil will continue to deforest in the expectation of another exemption from the law.


The offset mechanisms do nothing to protect the already heavily deforested Atlantic Forest or the Cerrado.

Meanwhile, the offset mechanisms allow land-owners to destroy forest that should be protected under the Forest Code, as long as they “offset” the destruction by buying Environmental Reserve Quotas or Conservation Area offsets.


In his recent encyclical “Laudato Si,” the Pope urges action on climate change and specifically criticizes the sale of “carbon credits.”
The Earth “is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her, because of the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed on her. We have grown up thinking that we were her owners and dominators, authorised to loot her.”
Buying and selling carbon credits, the Pope  wrote, “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
Here’s the official translation of paragraph 171 of the encyclical:
The strategy of buying and selling “carbon credits” can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.



“U.N. climate deal in Paris may be graveyard for 2C goal,” is the headline of a recent Reuters article, which points out that the chances of keeping global warming below 2°C are rapidly disappearing.

The article includes a quotation from Oliver Geden, of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs:

“It’s just not feasible. Two degrees is a focal point for the climate debate but it doesn’t seem to be a focal point for political action.”

Christine Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, disagrees. Reuters reports her as saying that new mechanisms for future rounds of pledges, perhaps in 2025 and 2030, can hit the 2°C mark. “You don’t run a marathon with one step,” Figueres comments.



The UN climate negotiations that will take place in Paris are sponsored by a series of polluting companies. Among these companies are two that are also involved in REDD projects: Air France and BNP Paribas.

Today we’ll look at Air France, and at BNP Paribas in a future post.

Air France is an airline company. Aviation is the world’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. The aim of the UNFCCC is supposedly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So why on earth would the organisers of COP21 accept money from an airline company?



NOTE: The No REDD in Africa has documented that the forced relocation of the Sengwer People from the Cherengany Hills in Kenya is linked to World Bank REDD; threatens the cultural survival of this Indigenous People; and proves the urgency of canceling REDD.

Since December 2013, REDD-Monitor has been following the evictions of the Sengwer indigenous people who live in the Cherangany Hills. The evictions have been going on for many years, at the hands of armed Kenya Forest Service guards, who have evicted the Sengwer and burned down their homes.

In March 2015, a meeting took place in Eldoret, organised by the World Bank and Kenya’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. The meeting aimed to find a positive way forward following years of evictions from Kenya’s forested areas.

The Sengwer were one of the indigenous peoples represented at the meeting in Eldoret. But just before the meeting started, the Sengwer released a statement describing how the Kenya Forest Service had started a new wave evictions and had burned down more than 30 houses.