Civil Society CDM Workshop Brazil (Newsletter #11)

CDM Watch organized a 2-day CDM Workshop for NGOs, Activists and Citizens in Brazil’s capital Brasilia on 26 and 27 October. The steadily rising number of CDM projects in Brazil is observed with growing concern. The projects’ poor environmental integrity and lack of transparency paired with fraudulent activities to maximize credit issuance have put Brazilian Civil Society on guard. Attempts to improve the CDM’s governance are welcomed in principle but seen as totally unsatisfactory at the moment.

At the workshop, NGOs, activists and citizens discussed the role of civil society in climate mitigation projects. More than 40 participants from various regions of Brazil and Chile shared their experiences with specific CDM projects, and discussed the issuance of carbon credits related to forestry and biofuels, waste-management projects and hydropower plants. Participants called for stronger civil society involvement and for strict monitoring of the CDM and other offsetting mechanisms in Brazil.

Since 2005, 230 CDM projects have been implemented in Brazil which makes it the third largest CDM host country, just after China and India. Another 173 projects are in Brazil’s CDM project pipeline with numbers rising steadily. NGOs, activists and citizens are very concerned about the development of the CDM and its failure to meet its dual objective to support climate change mitigation and foster sustainable development. In the experience of many Brazilian Civil Society groups CDM projects lack transparency and accountability and project information is often inaccessible for stakeholders.   In some cases CDM projects are clearly having a detrimental effect on the climate while encouraging practices that are counterproductive to global emission reductions. Such projects clearly undermine the goal of climate protection as stated in the UNFCCC and reiterated at every single climate change meeting ever since.

Meet Brazil’s most (in)famous CDM project –  What is wrong with the Plantar case?

Plantar SA is a pig-iron and plantation company whose CDM projects in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil are amongst the most contested and controversial ever submitted to the CDM Executive Board. Prior to its latest successful registration, Plantar SA had sought registration for its large scale (re)planting of eucalyptus for charcoal production under the CDM several times before – without success.

Over many years, the company has been heavily criticised for distorting the truth about the project’s significant negative social and environmental impacts. Most recently, procedural violations including deficient civil society participation activities led to further delay for the projects registration. However despite numerous reservations, the Plantar project was approved in July 2010. This is a serious blow to the legitimacy of the global stakeholder consultation process and moves the CDM further away from its original goals:

Despite all its negative impacts, the project is now registered and slated to generate more than 3 million CERs by 2012. This flawed project will be able to keep generating credits until 2030. The following buyers are listed for the project:

  • Netherlands – Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (11 Jan 2010)
  • Electrabel S.A. (16 Sep 09)
  • World Bank Prototype Carbon Fund (26 Jan 07)
  • Plantar Carbon Ambiental Ltda.
  • Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch (22 Jul 09)
  • Swedish CDM and JI Programme (13 Jul 09)
  • Statoil ASA (22 Jun 09)
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Norway (18 Aug 09)
  • BP Alternative Energy International Ltd (16 Oct 09)
  • International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (as Trustee of Prototype Carbon Fund)

What’s wrong with Plantar

Additionality remains as questionable as when the project was first submitted in a different version in 2003[1]. Observers continue to harbour serious doubts about the credibility of the baseline scenario.

Local stakeholder consultation was not sufficient:

– Failure to explain the scope and context of project plans to affected local communities

– Repeated threats to the local community reported by eyewitnesses and civil society organisations[2]

– Plantar’s unethical methods bordering on blackmailing[3]

Substantial Social and Environmental impacts[4] including inter alia:

– Local flora and fauna biodiversity drastically reduced

– Water resources depleted and polluted (The company Plantar now generously supplies water tankers to fulfill the villagers right to clean water access)

– Desertification of surrounding areas accelerated

– Livelihoods of local communities adversely affected

[2] idem

[3] Calanzas, M. Et al. (2006) “Brazil: Handouts for Repression as Usual” in Lohmann, L. ed. Carbon Trading, Uppsala. Valentim, R. Et  al. (2003) Where the Trees are a Desert: Stories from the Ground, Amsterdam. Hammond, Herb (2004) Initital Review of Forest Stewardship Council Certiciation of Plantation Forests of PLANTAR S.A., Gilbertson, T. Et al (2006): Carbon Connection. Cummunity video letter excahnge between communities affected by the Plantar operations and communities in Grangemouth, Scotland. Available at, Civil Society letter (2010) ‘Plantar S.A. CDM project: Global warming continues unabated’. Civil Society letter to the CDM Executive Board signed by over 50 organisations. Participation of repesentative of affected community San Jose de Buritis (Felixlandia, Minas Gerais) to the CDM-Watch workshop in Brasilia on October 26 and 27 2010.

[4] idem

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