Although the COP20 was a couple months ago, one moment of clear inequity will be an indelible memory in my mind. In our climate change governance course, we learned that indigenous peoples had an observer’s status at the United Nations Climate Change Conferences. However, there’s always a difference between reading about something and actually seeing the thing you read about. Six of my classmates and I were fortunate enough to attend the COP20 as observers for the first week. I didn’t realize just how fortunate we were until I was interviewing an Amazonian indigenous chief. He discussed how difficult it was for him to gain access to the COP and how he was the only one representing his entire community. I looked down at my tag and then looked at his, I felt extremely guilty and wanted to tear the blue lanyard from my neck and hand it over to him. This chief, who’s highly respected amongst his peers and was fighting for his rights, had the same role as me. An observer.
He was at the COP to create awareness and protect his lands from being further threatened by REDD+, land claims and deforestation. While, I was at the conference for an undergraduate research project to gather information about his situation. This situation felt so unfair. In negotiations, delegates and members of the World Bank would discuss the future of the Amazon territory, while Amazonian indigenous peoples could only observe the discussion about the lands they inhabit. In addition, when the room was full or the negotiators did not want to answer any questions, all the observers were asked to leave the room, meaning they couldn’t even observe negotiations. Indigenous peoples are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change since they often depend on the environment for their livelihood. Hence, I believe that indigenous peoples should have full participation in negotiations to express their concerns and situation.
Although, this video below is a little off topic, I thought it’s message was really interesting!
In today’s class lecture we discussed Brazil’s progress towards mitigating climate change. Brazil has made an enormous effort in reducing tropical deforestation,“Brazil has kept 3.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere since 2004″ (Atkin, 2014). Brazil once had the highest deforestation rate in the world mainly due to livestock and logging. Rainforests are an important carbon sink, however deforestation emits large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus changing the climate. Although Brazil’s 70 percent decline in deforestation has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions, other parts of Brazil are still feeling the effects of climate change. Sao Paulo is suffering from one of the worst droughts to have hit Southern Brazil in several decades. The water scarcity is causing violent conflicts between residents. As the climate continues to change, and droughts become more prevalent we can expect to see more violent conflicts and citizens protesting for access to resources like water, which are necessary for survival. Rainy seasons in Brazil have shown a pattern of less rainfall each year, “The Sao Paulo metropolitan area ended its last rainy season in February with just a third of the usual rain total only 9 inches” (Gomez-Licon, 2014). The government is being blamed for the issues of water scarcity, which shows that as the climate keeps changing and water becomes more limited there must be systems implemented for distributing water equally. Otherwise the world’s poor will be exposed to more vulnerabilities, and violent conflicts will increase.
Atkin, Emily. “Brazil Has Done More To Stop Climate Change Than Any Other Country, Study Finds.” ThinkProgress. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/06/06/3446097/brazil-cuts-carbon/>.
Gomez Licon, Adriana. “Sao Paulo Drought Leaves Brazil’s Biggest City Desperate For Water.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 07 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/07/sao-paulo-drought_n_6118888.html?utm_hp_ref=green>.
The Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) is a transnational network involved in climate change governance through an intersectional approach involving a diverse range of actors. Conservation International and a collection of five non-governmental organizations comprising its membership, including CARE and the Rainforest Alliance, founded the network in 2003.[i] In addition to these members the CCBA has an advising group of international research institutions (three in total, including the World Agroforestry Center) and the donors to the network (including philanthropic foundations and corporations such as the Rockefeller Foundation and British Petroleum).[ii],[iii] The goal of this alliance is to validate and verify projects that attempt to mitigate climate change through land management while positively serving the native population of that area, from the project’s conception throughout its implementation.[iv] CCBA does this through creating a set of Climate Community and Biodiversity (CCB) standards that generates reliable carbon credits. The CCBA acts as a transnational governing force rather effectively by setting a reputable and premium standard to assist in the regulation of the global carbon market.
In the international climate change discussion, ideas of equity and justice are often raised, and so is the case when discussing issues of land use. The way land is used has huge implications for global climate change; it can be a large contributing factor to emissions through activities such as deforestation or can aid in mitigation through activities such as conservation of biodiversity. Plans of mitigation through “carbon forestry” raised concerns that these projects would inevitably be unjust to native communities because of the high potential of consequences such as displacement of communities.[v] The foundation of CCBA and the CCB standards was to address these concerns in a meaningful way. The creation of CCBA dealt with this issue by not only creating a set of standards that would prohibit adverse effects of land use mitigation projects on native peoples but would also promote and require positive gains or, “co-benefits” for both the community and the environment in projects they validated.[vi]
The CCBA is able to promote and instigate these net positive projects through its CCB label. This is a process that involves a certification of “validation” that is an acknowledgment that the project has been heavily analyzed, reviewed and decidedly fulfills the CCB standards.[vii] Validation builds support for the project that then makes implementation and success of the project more likely. After a project has been validated it is then “verified,” which enforces accountability to follow through on promises for co-benefits.[viii] When carbon credits have the CCB label, it signifies they have passed validation and verification and is a high quality credit to the buyer.[ix] A study by the Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Market showed that the investors and offset buyers were more likely to pay extra for the CCB label due to its multilateral approach and diverse range of benefits.[x] This positive reputation has gone hand in hard with increasing number of projects voluntarily seeking approval of CCB standards. In 2010 there were 19 validated projects and 21 in the process, however, over the course of the next three years there 70 projects total were validated, 19 undergoing validation, and 12 projects receiving the CCB label.[xi],[xii] The success of this process of transnational governance is illustrated by the estimated 8 million hectares of land conserved, 180,000 hectares of land restored, totaling roughly 40 million tons of CO2 emissions sequestered.[xiii] Presently, the number of CCB standards approved projects is, in the global picture, minimal. However, the fact these numbers have been increasing rapidly over the past few years eludes to a growing capacity of governing global climate change
Overall, the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance and the resulting standards appears to be quite effective in achieving its goal of filling a governance function to regulate land use projects that claim to be equitable to communities, have net positive mitigation benefits for the climate and increase the biodiversity and ecology of the land. It has done so by establishing its network and certifications as a reputable marker of governance through its enforcement of accountability and transparency, while engaging market based solutions to global climate change.
This video is an example of the types of projects CCBA deals with.
Melo, Isabel, Esther Turnhout, and Bas Arts. “Integrating multiple benefits in market-based climate mitigation schemes: The case of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity certification scheme.” Environmental Science & Policy 35 (2014): 49-56. Web.
Wood, Rachel Godfrey. Carbon finance and pro-poor co-benefits: the gold standard and climate, community and biodiversity standards. London: Sustainable Markets Group, International Institute for Environment and Development, 2011. Web.
[i] Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing climate change. London: Routledge, 2010. Print. Pg 65.
[v] Wood, Rachel Godfrey. Carbon finance and pro-poor co-benefits: the gold standard and climate, community and biodiversity standards. London: Sustainable Markets Group, International Institute for Environment and Development, 2011. Web.