Durban, South Africa – If ordinary people are struggling to understand what is going on in the COP17 Climate Change negotiations in Durban, they should not feel too bad as they can take comfort in knowing that they are certainly not alone. To date the climate change solution ideas produced by the UNFCCC meetings have had little success, and this trend seems set to continue.
There has been much effort spent trying to implement convoluted schemes to offset carbon emissions from industrialised countries by setting up so-called ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ (CDM) projects in developing countries, which were supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting sustainable development that would benefit the host country.
In tandem with both official and voluntary carbon offsets, carbon trading schemes have boomed and bust, after being plagued by white-collar crimes involving carbon credit theft, double-counting of credits, and the dishonest awarding of credits to polluting projects that if anything should have actually earned carbon DEBITS!
Together with carbon offset projects, many polluting countries have also embarked on land-grabbing sprees in developing countries in the name of reducing their emissions through claimed ‘renewable energy’ in the form of agrofuel (also called biofuel) crop plantations. However, most of these projects, especially jatropha plantations, have floundered and failed thanks to the stupidity and greed of consultants and investors looking to make a quick buck off the backs of poor communities.
Despite the non-performance of UNFCCC sanctioned ‘climate solutions’ till now, the negotiations continue to churn out proposals for all kinds of cock-eyed schemes that carefully circumvent actually reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil-fuel powered industrial activities and transportation at source. One crazy idea involves trying to stuff carbon from smoke-stacks back into the earth by first liquidising it, and then pumping it into declining oil wells, not so much to get rid of the carbon, but to further increase fossil-oil production!
The best known of these crazy schemes is REDD+, which was originally conceived to help reduce global emissions by reducing deforestation and forest degradation, but has now developed into something more of a REDD ‘herring’, distracting global attention from the major sources of emissions, and placing the responsibility for, and inconvenience of, emission reduction projects onto mostly poor forest communities and Indigenous Peoples in developing countries.
At the same time, the root causes of deforestation, mainly excessive demand for timber from real forests, and the forest-destroying monoculture plantations that produce items such as palm oil, sugar and paper, that are mostly consumed or wasted by affluent communities in developed countries, are steadfastly ignored.
Real and workable solutions to rectify the situation are available, but the burning desire of wealthy industrialised nations to maintain their wasteful ways is effectively undermining a commonsense approach to the problem. Put simply, humanity must learn to live within the finite and renewable limits of our planet. Poor people do it as a matter of course, but the ruthless gluttons of the world need to tighten their belts, and those who have accumulated indecent wealth at the expense of abused ecosystems and through exploiting other people need to pay their debts to society.
Therefore it is time to stop legitimising confused capitalist carbon schemes such as REDD+, which are delaying meaningful climate change action.