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I was reading Naomi Klein's book recently, and it mentioned tree planting for offsetting emissions is bad (or at least a poor solution). Can someone who has worked with some of these organizations or talked to people on the ground verify this? This will impact some donations. This narrative contrasts that of Doing Good Better, which said that Cool Earth helped train indigenous people transition away from slash and burn agriculture to more sustainable forms. I'm more inclined to believe Klein, based on recency, but would like some input.

Here's the book excerpt (Klein):

This points to a broader problem with offsets, one that reaches beyond the official trading systems and into a web of voluntary arrangements administered by large conservation groups in order to unofficially “offset” the emissions of big polluters. Particularly in the early days of offsetting, after forest conservation projects began appearing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, by far the most persistent controversy was that—in the effort to quantify and control how much carbon was being stored so as to assign a monetary value to the standing trees—the people who live in or near those forests were sometimes pushed onto reservation-like parcels, locked out of their previous ways of life. 


This locking out could be literal, complete with fences and armed men patrolling the territory looking for trespassers. For instance, in Paraná, Brazil, at a project providing offsets for Chevron, GM, and American Electric Power and administered by The Nature Conservancy and a Brazilian NGO, Indigenous Guarani were not allowed to forage for wood or hunt in the places they’d always occupied, or even fish in nearby waterways. As one local put it, “They want to take our home from us.” Cressant Rakotomanga, president of a community organization in Madagascar where the Wildlife Conservation Society is running an offset program, expressed a similar sentiment. “People are frustrated because before the project, they were completely free to hunt, fish and cut down the forests.”

Indeed the offset market has created a new class of “green” human rights abuses, wherein peasants and Indigenous people who venture into their traditional territories (reclassified as carbon sinks) in order to harvest plants, wood, or fish are harassed or worse. Near Guaraqueçaba, Brazil, locals have reported being shot at by park rangers while they searched the forest for food and plants inside the Paraná offset project hosted by The Nature Conservancy. And in a carbon-offset tree-planting project in Uganda’s Mount Elgon National Park and Kibale National Park, run by a Dutch organization, villagers described a similar pattern of being fired upon and having their crops uprooted.

In the wake of such reports, some of the green groups involved in offsetting now stress their dedication to Indigenous rights. For example, in the Bajo Aguán region of Honduras, some owners of palm oil plantations have been able to register a carbon offset project that claims to capture methane. When the Big Green groups refer to offsets as the “low-hanging fruit” of climate action, they are in fact making a crude costbenefit analysis that concludes that it’s easier to cordon off a forest inhabited by politically weak people in a poor country than to stop politically powerful corporate emitters in rich countries—that it’s easier to pick the fruit, in other words, than dig up the roots.

Thank you




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There's not necessarily a contradiction here, as both DGB and Klein describe specific instances (both could be true at the same time).

That said, EAs have, by and large, moved away from recommending forestry offsets for a host of reasons, including difficulty to ensure additionality and permanence.

You might also find this relevant: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/RnmZ62kuuC8XzeTBq/why-we-have-over-rated-cool-earth

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