Programs for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD, REDD+, etc) are widely promoted at the global level as a solution to the climate crisis; yet, mounting evidence shows that REDD projects exacerbate conflicts over land, incentivize forest destruction, and encourage government and corporate actors to bypass legal mechanisms such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
While REDD programs lead to the privatization of land and the exclusion of forest communities and peoples, they also worsen climate vulnerability and pollution in industrialized areas by allowing emissions to be permitted through the purchase of offsets, rather than through actual reductions. Environmental Justice communities have long advocated for direct regulation of industry; yet, under REDD, the very industries most in need of regulation will now be permitted to continue polluting.
Due to lack of lack of a commitment to and consensus on ways to address climate change at the national and United Nations levels, the fast-track for REDD has shifted from the UN to sub-national REDD agreements. The Chiapas (Mexico)-Acre (Brazil)-California REDD agreement initiated in 2010 by the Governors’ Climate Change Task Force is widely regarded as the model for such agreements. In California, this agreement is part of AB32, the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which mandates statewide emissions reductions to 1990 levels by 2020; under a controversial proposal made by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), a significant percentage of emissions reductions are mandated to be achieved through offsets. The program will thus gravely undermine any potential emissions reductions and leave fence-line communities, and all of us, at risk from toxic co-pollutants.
An as-yet-to-be-determined percentage of these offsets will be drawn from international REDD credits, in an act that will establish the very first sub-national compliance market for REDD credits. In August, the agency tasked with developing the sub-national REDD protocol (the REDD Offsets Working Group) will release a draft proposal, to be finalized by February, 2013.
With California as the front-line of the REDD debate, we propose taking strategic advantage of several converging opportunities to organize a set of events in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, San Rafael, Davis, and Sacramento, to raise awareness of the immediate impacts of REDD on Indigenous peoples and local communities in the Global South, and on pollution-adjacent communities in the North.
We propose a set of speaking events, film screenings, and meetings featuring Indigenous leaders and their allies, who are already experiencing REDD or offsets programs on their lands, to offer the public an opportunity to hear critical perspectives on the negative impacts of REDD. These events will be timed to follow quickly on the heels of the release of CARB’s proposals, the Governors Climate Change Task Force meetings in Chiapas in September, to coincide with the annual Bioneers Conference, which brings together an important constituency in the REDD debate, and to occur within the time-frame of the development of the REDD Offsets protocol, which will create opportunities for citizen engagement and action. As California is a timely model case, and the lessons to be shared by Indigenous, community, and Environmental justice leaders will be relevant in many other places, we will document, video and webcast events so they can be shared globally.
- To educate the public, funders, legislators, environmentalists and the press about how REDD and other forest offset programs affect stakeholders in both industrialized and forest regions.
- To present the first-hand perspectives of several leaders of forest peoples who are assessing the impacts of REDD.
- To demonstrate ways in which REDD encourages violence against women, land-grabs, and other forms of conflict
- To produce workshops or presentations on REDD, featuring a panel of Indigenous leaders whose peoples are directly impacted.
- To show “A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests,” an educational documentary film focusing on the Chiapas-California-Acre agreement
- To address the Bioneers audience and the Bay Area environmentalist community, so that they are fully informed about REDD and enabled to recognize false solutions to climate change. We plan to demonstrate to progressive environmentalists within the Bioneers , (as well as Womens’ Rights, Human Rights, and environmentalist) communities that the way to protect both Indigenous Peoples’ and their own local environments is to reject offsets.
- To bring to light the effects of REDD and similar programs on women, in particular Indigenous women
- To lobby California’s Governor Brown, the California Air Resources Board, and other legislators to inform them of inherent problems with REDD, as well as problems specific to the California-Chiapas-Acre context
- To educate funders regarding the negative impacts of REDD and to connect our panelists with potential funders for their work
- To create several media events on REDD by creating an informative and visually interesting event for news media
- To connect California community members impacted by pollution and pollution offsets with Indigenous leaders whose land is targeted to offset the pollution.
- Bring together impacted communities from the North and South to build and strengthen the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Against REDD and for Life