‘No REDD in Africa Network’ Writes Letter to California Officials Opposing the State’s REDD Inclusion

 

Earth Day, April 22, 2013
Maputo, Mozambique

redd

Dear People of the State of California;

Dear Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California;

Dear Mary Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board;

Dear Ashley Conrad-Saydah, Assistant Secretary for Climate Policy, California Environmental Protection Agency;

Dear Arsenio Mataka, Subsecretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs, California Environmental Protection Agency;

Dear La Ronda Bowen,Ombudsman, California Environmental Protection Agency;

The No REDD in Africa Network writes you to express our adamant rejection of the inclusion of REDD in the State of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, AB32. Outraged by the rampant land grabs and neocolonialism of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest degradation), Africans at the World Social Forum in Tunisia on March 28, 2013 took the historic decision to unite against REDD colonialism and to join the global movement against REDD by launching the No REDD in Africa Network.

As you know, REDD+ is a carbon offset mechanism whereby the State of California is already using forests as supposed sponges for its pollution instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source. Major California polluters like oil giants Chevroni and Shell, which have caused horrific destruction in Africa, and in the case of Shell, the ecocide of the Ogoni environment, are already doing REDD to green-wash their image and shirk their responsibility to cut emissions. Despite being renowned for its environmentalism, the State of California, by doing REDD, becomes an accomplice to climate criminals and flagrant violators of human rights like Shell and Chevron.

In Africa, REDD+ is not just a false solution to climate change but is emerging as a new form of colonialism, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab. REDD-type initiatives to try and grab 30% of the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congoiv and almost 20% of the total surface area of Mozambiquev have been detected. We launched the No REDD in Africa Network to defend the continent from precisely the carbon colonialism that the State of California is proposing.In the UN-REDD Framework Document, the United Nations itself admits that REDD could result in the “lock-up of forests,” “loss of land” and “new risks for the poor.”

As the UN predicted, in Africa, REDD and forest carbon projects are already resulting in “loss of land” in the form of massive evictions, as well as “new risks for the poor” in the form of servitude, slavery, persecutions and killings. REDD originally just included forests but its scope has been expanded to include soils and agriculture. Members of the La ViaCampesina, the world’s largest peasant movement, are concerned that REDD projects in Africa could threaten food security and could eventually cause hunger.

A recent Via Campesina study on the N’hambita REDD project in Mozambique found that thousands of farmers were paid meager amounts for seven years for tending trees, but that because the contract is for 99 years, if the farmer dies his or her children and their children must tend the trees for free.This constitutes carbon slavery. Nonetheless, the N’hambita project was celebrated by the UN on the website for Rio+20, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro last year.viii The last thing Africa needs is a new form of slavery. According the The New York Times, over 22,000 farmers with land deeds were violently evicted for a REDD-type project in 2011 and Friday Mukamperezida, an eight-year-old boy was killed when his home was burned to the ground.

REDD is already contributing to the persecution and criminalization of activists, including in Cross River State, Nigeria where the State of California intends to have REDD projects. Odey Oyama, Executive Director of the Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC) in Cross River State, Nigeria suffered police harassment and intimidation and had to flee his home for several weeks in the months of January and February 2013 for opposing REDD activities (aimed at extracting more forest estates from indigenous communities) and other similar land grab operations (e.g. for large scale plantation farming). “One of the activities placing me in confrontation with the Cross River State Government of Nigeria is my stand against the REDD programme. My reason for rejecting the REDD programme is because it is geared towards taking over the last vestiges of community forest that exist in Cross River State of Nigeria,” denounced Mr. Oyama.

In other parts of Africa, REDD is exacerbating threats to the cultural survival of Indigenous Peoples. Despite Amnesty International’s recommendation to “stop immediately the practice of forced evictions, as Kenya’s Mau Forest is made “ready” for a UNEP-funded REDD+ project, members of the Ogiek People continue to suffer violent evictions, and Ogiek activists are attacked for protesting land grabs. Minority Rights Group International includes the Ogiek People in their list of “Peoples Under Threat” from genocide, mass killings or violent repressionxii and this latest wave of evictions could threaten the cultural survival of the Ogiek People.

According to “The DRC Case Study: The impacts of carbon sinks of Ibi-Batéké Project on the Indigenous Pygmies of the Democratic Republic of Congo” published by the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, Batwa Pygmies suffer “servitude”on the World Bank Ibi-Batéké Carbon Sink Plantation. An employee of the project says “this must not be understood…as if it were slavery.” This REDD-type forest carbon plantation for fuel wood and charcoal is the DRC’s first Clean Development Projectand claims to contribute to sustainable development and climate change mitigation.xviHowever, Pygmy leaders have repeatedly denounced the World Bank for funding deforestation of their ancestral forests which not only releases emissions but also violates their rights, leads to the destruction of their livelihood and causes social conflict. Furthermore, according to “Advance Guard” published by the United Nations University,“Indigenous Peoples’ rights, experiences, and cultural and spiritual traditions are being ignored. Nothing to ensure the Pygmy’s preliminary consent, which was mandated within the framework of the project, has been done since consultation began.”

The People of Africa appeal to Californians, Governor Jerry Brown and the California Air Resource
Board to heed our plead and reject REDD. California, make the historic decision to stop REDD, a false
solution to climate change, in in its tracks. Do not let your misguided attempts to cut pollution cause
land grabs and human rights violations in Africa. We are counting on you to see the light.

Sincerely,

Nnimmo Bassey
Co-Founder of the No REDD in Africa Network
Alternative Nobel Prize Laureate
Executive Director of HOME, Nigeria
Tel: +234 803 7274395
Email: nnimmo@eraction.org

Anabela Lemos
Director of JA ! Justiça Ambiental!/Friends of the Earth Mozambique
Rua Marcono 110, 1st floor
Tel : +258 21 496668
Email: anabela.ja.mz@gmail.com

SEND TO

The Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
c/o: Clifford Rechtschaffen, Senior Advisor
cliff.rechtschaffen@gov.ca.gov
Mary Nichols
Chairman, California Air Resources Board
1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812
mnichols@arb.ca.gov

Ashley Conrad-Saydah
Assistant Secretary for Climate Policy
California Environmental Protection Agency 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812
acsaydah@calepa.ca.gov
ArsenioMataka
Subsecretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs
California Environmental Protection Agency
1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812
amataka@calepa.ca.gov

La Ronda Bowen
Ombudsman
California Environmental Protection Agency
1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812
lbowen@arb.ca.gov
Jason A. Gray
Staff Counsel, California Air Resources Board
1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95812
jagray@arb.ca.gov

 

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