A Joint Letter to Swedish Energy Agency Regarding Green Resources Carbon Credit Project in Uganda

January 22, 2018
Carbon Colonialism: Failure of Green Resources’ Carbon Offset Project in Uganda

 

Att: Erik Brandsma, Caroline Asserup, Christina Ljunggren and Kenneth Möllersten, Swedish Energy Agency
Subject: Green Resources’ non-compliance to Swedish Energy Agency’s demands

Dear Erik Brandsma, Caroline Asserup, Christina Ljunggren and Kenneth Möllersten,

Given the Swedish Energy Agency’s decision in 2015 to suspend payments for carbon credit from Green Resources’ plantations in Uganda, we are writing to bring to your attention the following information.

The Oakland Institute’s report Carbon Colonialism Failure of Green Resources’ Forestry & Carbon Offset Project in Uganda released on December 12, 2017 details Green Resources’ sustained failure to address the many issues raised by their tree plantation in Kachung, Uganda. The report also demonstrates the failure of Green Resources’ to take the actions you required of them as a condition to reinstate carbon credit payments to the company.

Drawing from extensive field research conducted between November 2016 and August 2017 in the villages surrounding the tree plantation, the Oakland Institute’s findings are significantly different from those of the Kachung Community Development Performance Audit report, which you commissioned and was released in March 2017. A comparison of the findings is presented in Appendix 1.

The research concurs with the audit’s findings on only one issue, which is a major one: Green Resources is deemed ‘non compliant’ on food security, and is called out for failing to take effective steps to address the food security crisis in the area. We are however appalled that the audit finds the company ‘fully compliant’ in addressing land issues. This compliance is largely based on its efforts to make people aware of the laws that evicted them from lands that were essential for their livelihoods. The auditors thus allow Green Resources and its financers to shirk their responsibility by placing the onus on the government to address the land issue. While Green Resources may be deemed legally compliant, their activities are conducted on land grabbed from the people and therefore violate their basic human rights, undermine their livelihoods, and threaten their very survival. Beyond the legal aspects, growing pressure on land and natural resources in the area, combined with the detrimental impact of the plantation on water resources and soil fertility, is resulting in a food security crisis for the local villagers, and undermining their long-term development opportunities.

In other instances, Green Resources are deemed ‘partially compliant’ or ‘compliant’ to the Swedish Energy Agency’s demands, yet the research ascertains differently. The company demonstrates a poor understanding of its social and economic impact on the local villagers. For instance, it misrepresents and over-inflates the employment opportunities it provides. The company’s approach to the reduced availability of firewood resulting from its activities is also highly disconcerting. Green Resources’ key intervention in this field has been to train a number of villagers in the construction of energy saving cook stoves. However, this intervention was inadequate, and largely failed, with very limited uptake in villages. It missed the acute daily challenge villagers face to secure adequate firewood for cooking.

Furthermore, as documented in Appendix 2, the establishment of tree plantations such as Green Resources’ in Uganda has a major environmental impact on biodiversity, ecosystem health, the availability of water and soil fertility.

Lastly, the research exposes the bias of audit reporting in favor of the company; with corporate compliance commensurate with the violation of basic human rights and undermining of local livelihoods.

Overall, the industrial monoculture plantation forestry run by Green Resources at its Kachung site is simply incompatible with the presence and needs of local people who rely upon the same land for their livelihoods. Local villagers are forced to carry the social, environmental and other costs of this project. Green Resources’ partners and financers share responsibility with the company in supporting a project that has such a detrimental impact on local populations.

Given the findings of the report, we call for the SEA to take the following actions immediately:

  1. Swedish Energy Agency suspend future payments to Green Resources and cancel the deal for purchase of carbon credits.

  2. The assessments and audit systems for carbon markets must be critically evaluated and revised so that they actually take into account the livelihood and environmental impacts of forestry plantations.

  3. Given the role of many governments in facilitating land grabs in their own countries, international bodies and agencies involved in carbon markets must set higher standards for the recognition of common and customary land rights than just the legality of contracts and land leases.

We remain at your disposal in case you have any question or feedback to share,

Sincerely,

Signed:
The Oakland Institute, USA
Protect the Forest, Sweden
African Groups of Sweden
FIAN Sweden
Climate Action, Sweden
Friends of the Earth Sweden
Friends of the Earth Australia
GeaSphere, South Africa
Timberwatch, South Africa
União Nacional de Camponeses (UNAC), Mozambique
National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Uganda