I'm currently writing an article for our forthcoming issue of the New Internationalist magazine that looks at some of the potential dangers of relying on carbon markets for preserving forests and biodiversity. The global carbon market is worth $64 billion but has yet to produce much in the way of reductions in emissions. It has however delivered huge profits to some of the world's worst polluters who have been investing heavily in carbon trading, offsets and 'environmental services'.
Unfortunately many governments, industry and institutions (and sadly some NGOs as well) seem unwaivering in their blinkered pursuit of free-market environmentalist 'solutions' like carbon trading instead of supporting real solutions to climate change. Fortunately there is opposition to this dead-end strategy of market gimmickry.
Indigenous groups participating in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues were incensed by what they felt was the forum's complete disregard for their concerns including their rejection of carbon trading and offset markets such as the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, the World Bank's many capital ventures in this space, and the newly agreed Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) agreement recently approved at the climate talks in Bali last year. In a protest statement circulated by email, the indigenous representatives challenged the UN Forum's endorsement of the carbon market arguing that the global carbon market:
‘...will increase the violation of our rights to our lands, territories and resources; cause forced evictions; prevent access and threaten indigenous agriculture practices; destroy biodiversity, cultural diversity, traditional livelihoods and knowledge systems; and cause social conflicts.’
Fortunately you can see a video of the encounter first hand filmed by Rebecca Sommer with commentary by First Nations leader and representative of Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, Arthur Manuel, and Indigenous Environment Network's Tom Goldooth.