Documentary Filmmaker Rebecca Sommer with Indigenous leaders of the Alto Xingu Region
Activist and documentary filmmaker Rebecca Sommer filmed several statements from the Indigenous leaders of the Alto Xingu region. She has documented how certain co-opted NGOs try to convince the Indigenous Tribes that REDD is a good thing, how and why the Indigenous Peoples from the Upper Xingu don’t agree with it, and how they have NOT been informed about any of the problems and realities of the false solutions carbon market. Rebecca Sommers has made it her life’s work to inform the Indigenous Peoples of the dangers of REDD. She explained REDD in depth with the people speaking to many. She distributed brochures, text of the UNDROP, FPIC, REDD brochures, and had meetings with the Elders, paje’s, and leaders/casiques. She explained the truth about REDD to many indigenous teachers from various etnias indigenas.
The following article on REDD from the ‘Hoodwinked from the Hothouse. False Solutions to Climate Change’. The commentary below has been written by the Indigenous Environmental Network (Tom Goldtooth) (with Rising Tide North America).
Within the United Nations’ climate negotiations, a controversial agenda item for climate mitigation called “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD) has emerged. REDD is a mechanism for wealthy countries and polluting industries to pay cash-poor countries in the Global South to conserve their forests instead of cutting them down or allowing them to be logged illegally. The forests targeted by REDD include areas heavily populated by Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities whose rights, interests, and livelihoods are at stake.
The World Bank—whose long history of human rights and environmental missteps is the subject of many other publications—runs a similar project known as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). As the World Bank puts it, this program “provides value,” by monetizing standing forests. Proponents believe it will create an economic incentive to conserve these forests, discouraging clear cutting for timber or to create plantations, including for agrofuels and genetically modified trees.
REDD is still evolving; its final form is uncertain and being negotiated within the UN climate talks. It is likely that carbon credits from REDD will be sold on the market as carbon offsets so that developed industrialized countries, as well as polluting industries, will be able to purchase REDD credits instead of fulfilling emissions reduction requirements as part of national or international climate agreements.
Trees would thus become part of a property rights system, despite very few countries having legislation that recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local forest-dependent communities to forested areas. These rights have long been a major source of conflict. Safeguards currently proposed for REDD at the UN and for the World Bank’s FCPF do not guarantee REDD projects would avoid human rights abuses. National governments and carbon trading companies stand to make billions of dollars on the sale of forest carbon, while local communities—at best—would receive small cash payments ($25/month/family would be common). At worst, Indigenous and local communities would be given nothing and could be forced off their land, or end up by forced to pay rent on it. This would leave communities without traditional livelihoods, without jobs, and without real access to their ancestral land.
Companies want rights to the carbon in forests to use as greenwash licenses. For big polluters, it will be cheaper to buy permits to pollute through a REDD carbon offset mechanism than to reduce emissions. This will allow them to continue burning and mining fossil fuels from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to the Ecuadorian Amazon, and from the Niger Delta to the Appalachian mountaintops in the US.
With REDD negating existing efforts to mitigate climate change and exacerbating conflicts over the lands of Indigenous and forest peoples, it is clearly not a solution for climate change.
The Declaration created at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth clearly condemned REDD, stating that it violates “the sovereignty of our Peoples.”
Will the UN Help Us?
“In December 2009, the UNFCCC in Copenhagen saw people of the world coming together to question the false solutions being negotiated by world governments.
After participating in UN climate negotiations for many years, I have never witnessed the intensity of deception going on behind closed doors by industrialized countries of the North, elites of some Southern countries and of large non-governmental organizations. Even though using forests from developing countries for carbon offsets was rejected in UN climate meetings over ten years back, there has been a well-planned effort by Northern countries in the EU and the US to form an agreement for developing a global forest offset program called REDD and REDD+. The carbon market solutions are not about mitigating climate, but are greenwashing policies that allow fossil fuel development to expand.
As an alternative to the Copenhagen Accords, we are supporting the Cochabamba People’s Accord and the proposed Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth developed by members of social movements and Indigenous Peoples that came together in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in April 2010.”
– Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environment Network
Indigenous Peoples Alto Xingu-STOP pushing us for REDD
Pirakuma Yawalapiti, Xingu spokesperson speaking on the issue of money, greed, carbon trading, dams, FUNAI & IBAMA
Pirakuma Yawalapiti, Xingu spokesperson speaking on the issue of carbon trading