October 6, 2009

Feed the Tree

Recently, I've blogged about climate change (I know!), the rise of organized crime around the world, and the need for better governance, both in this country and abroad. So why not have a post that combines them all together?

From the Guardian:
Interpol, the world's leading policing agency, said this week that the chances were very high that criminal gangs would seek to take advantage of Redd [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation] schemes, which will be largely be based in corruption-prone African and Asian countries.

"Alarm bells are ringing. It is simply too big to monitor. The potential for criminality is vast and has not been taken into account by the people who set it up," said Peter Younger, Interpol environment crimes specialist and author of a new report for the World Bank on illegal forestry.

"Organised crime syndicates are eyeing the nascent forest carbon market. I will report to the bank that Redd schemes are open to wide abuse," he said.
I'm not as knowledgeable about the details of REDD as I am about other aspects of carbon markets, but as with other carbon offset programs, there are serious questions about how to monitor and verify that reforestation and anti-deforestation projects are resulting in actual, permanent emissions reductions. That said, it's important to separate the question of the value of REDD in itself from the question of corruption and organized crime in countries where REDD projects are likely to be concentrated. It should go without saying that stable governance that is free from corruption is a good thing in itself; but it also has the side benefit of making it easier for developed and developing countries to cooperate on matters of global import, like climate change. This is one instance where it's helpful to break out of the policy silo mindset, which is all too easy to slip into.

At the same time, we in the West can't wave a magic wand and wipe out all the criminality and corruption in places like, say, Indonesia (which cleared 28.1 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2005 and in 2008 was rated 126 on Transparency International's Corruption Index). We can, however, insist on high standards of quality for international offsets of all types, including REDD, thereby creating incentives for countries generating offset credits to root out fraud. Let us hope, then, that the offset provisions in the Kerry-Boxer climate bill in the Senate are preserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment