2.3 Contradictory carbon reduction policies: the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF)

Another programme launched in Bali (by the World Bank) was the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), whose goal is ‘to jump-start a forest carbon market that tips the economic balance in favor of conserving forests’. The World Bank claims that it involves ‘a high degree of consultation with civil society and indigenous peoples' organizations’; however, the FCPF was launched without prior consultation with indigenous groups. Meanwhile, in the Bali Action Plan, REDD is covered by the statement ‘Policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries’, often referred to as REDD-plus. In June 2008, a World Bank FCPF document stated that reforestation might be undertaken through the promotion of new commercial plantations and that companies establishing them could receive subsidies through the CDM of the Kyoto Protocol. Plantations would be on ‘degraded’ land even though this might have been degraded due to the destruction of primary rainforest with the companies responsible potentially in receipt of FCPF subsidies to ‘reforest’ them with commercial plantations. A New Scientist article (22 March 2008) sums up the problem as follows:

Meanwhile, some huge forest destroyers are drawing up plans to get compensation. On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, for instance, giant pulp mills are responsible for vast amounts of carbon being released into the air as they log rainforests and drain peat bogs to plant new trees. One of them, Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL), wants to set up a REDD pilot project under which it will block the canals that now drain the Kampar swamp. APRIL could receive tens of millions of dollars a year in compensation for protecting the forest and not releasing the peat carbon. The project is genuine and is based on sound science, but the reductions are only possible because the company has been so destructive in the past.

Unsurprisingly, paying large sums of money to the very companies responsible for deforestation has led to controversy – more so as it is widely understood that plantations do not relieve pressure on native forests. An article by the World Bank even states that ‘plantations have had no discernible global impact on reducing deforestation’, while the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) states that ‘there is little evidence to suggest that fast wood plantations have taken pressure off natural forests elsewhere’. Both Brazil and Indonesia have rapidly expanding industrial tree plantations and rapid deforestation.

2.4 Contradictory carbon reduction policies: biofuel targets