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Green Resources' pine plantation at Bukaleba. Credit: Kristen Lyons / The Oakland Institute.

Green Resources' pine plantation at Bukaleba. Credit: Kristen Lyons / The Oakland Institute.

At the Oakland Institute, we combine rigorous research and international advocacy campaigns to defend land rights and work for climate justice around the world. I write to share the story of a win in one of these struggles.

In 2014, the Institute revealed that thousands of Ugandan villagers had been forcibly evicted to establish a non native pine-tree plantation, run by a Norwegian firm, Green Resources. The scheme was set to produce and sell carbon credits to polluters in the name of climate change mitigation but took away land that was essential to the livelihoods of the locals living in 17 surrounding villages.

This first report secured important wins — the company’s only carbon credit buyer, the Swedish Energy Agency (SEA) suspended funding and outlined ten actions for Green Resources to undertake for payments to be reinstated. The company’s major shareholder, Phaunos Timber Fund, divested from it.

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In late 2017, we documented how, contrary to the findings of a company-sponsored audit undertaken to appease the SEA, local communities continued to face an acute hunger crisis with access to water, firewood, and land for grazing animals denied. This led us to campaign for the SEA to cancel its contract with Green Resources once and for all.

Amidst denials by Green Resources, in August 2019, we released copies of eviction notices and official letters, not made public before — providing irrefutable evidence of the land grab and how people were forced out of their land to make way for the plantation. This evidence was released alongside a new report, Evicted for Carbon Credits, which identified additional actors complicit in this ongoing disaster — including government development agencies such as Norfund and Finnfund, and international certification bodies, such as the Forest Stewardship Council and the UN Clean Development Mechanism.

Once again, our work has borne results.

This timely report was released the same week as when the Swedish Energy Agency was about to resume the purchase of carbon credits with a planned disbursement of SEK 10 million (US$1,035,000) to Green Resources. Once again, SEA has had to announce it will delay payments. Green Resources’ financiers and certifiers are now on the defensive, finding it increasingly difficult to justify their ongoing support.

Let us be clear: We are not going to address a climate crisis largely created by rich countries by forcibly evicting African farmers from their land. Pine-tree plantations that enable developed countries to keep polluting are not the solution we need.

As people around the world strike for the climate this week, following the bold, visionary leadership of youth, we must demand true solutions that protect people and the planet. For our part, we will continue to expose false climate solutions like those pedaled by Green Resources, hold the actors behind these false solutions accountable, and campaign for bold, courageous, equitable action to solve the climate crisis.

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With gratitude,

Anuradha's Picture Anuradha's Signature

Anuradha Mittal
Executive Director