Ten facts about carbon sinks

From SinksWatch, a criticism of tree plantation carbon sequestration projects,

1. Carbon in trees is not equivalent to carbon in fossil fuels: Tree-stored carbon is easily released into the atmosphere through fire, natural decay and timber harvesting. Carbon in fossil fuels is locked away and only released through human intervention. Carbon credits that equate the two are based on a false premise.

2. One-way road: Trees provide temporary carbon storage as part of the normal cycle of carbon exchange between forests and the atmosphere. The release of carbon from fossil fuels is permanent and, over relevant timescales, will accelerate climate change by increasing the active carbon pool and destabilising carbon flows.

3. Fake credit: Carbon sink credits in the Kyoto Protocol use temporary tree plantations to justify permanent releases of fossil-stored carbon into the atmosphere. Carbon sink credits are fake credits for the climate.

4. Footprint chaos: Carbon sink credits increase the ecological debt of the North. The more fossil fuel a Northern country uses, the more land it is entitled to use to ‘offset’ its emissions. This is unfair and undermines global efforts towards sustainable development.

5. Subsidies for mega-plantations: The Kyoto Protocol stands to provide a new subsidy for the plantations industry. Documented evidence shows how large-scale plantations have negative impacts on forests and forest peoples. Kyoto includes no meaningful safeguards to rule out large-scale monoculture tree plantations from receiving carbon credits.

6. Communities suffer twice: First, climate change affects the livelihoods of forest peoples and rural communities through increased droughts, floods, forest fires and deforestation. Second, carbon sink credits promote the expansion of large-scale tree plantations, which indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities are opposing in many parts of the world.

7. Arming a time bomb: Avoiding climate change requires drastic reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, but carbon sink projects do nothing to help solve this problem; in fact they mask the real crisis. This is sentencing future generations to live with fewer choices and worse conditions.

8. Forest fraud: Forests play a vital role in storing carbon and buffering extreme weather events. But linking forest restoration with carbon credits is a dead-end for forest peoples as well as for the climate. Halting the forest crisis requires action against the underlying causes of deforestation, not a bigger active carbon pool and more monoculture tree plantations.

9. Blind guess: Measuring carbon pools is fraught with uncertainties. Scientists have found that estimates of the carbon balance in Canadian forests could vary by 1000 per cent if seemingly small factors, such as increased levels of atmospheric CO2, are taken into account.

10. Phony climate fix: Real and lasting solutions to the forest crisis and the climate crisis lie in providing incentives for forest-dependent communities and indigenous peoples to restore their forests and practice sustainable forest management. Small-scale pilot projects are already showing positive results, while large-scale carbon sink projects are attracting criticism and protest.

The document is here (pdf). “Small-scale pilot projects are already showing positive results.” Hm. I have heard that one before.

Notice how SinksWatch’s Ten Facts talks about “peoples” and “communities”, never about “people” or “individuals”. This is a deeply reactionary regression to pre-Enlightenment ideas, where groups had rights and privileges that were more important than individual, universal human rights.


3 thoughts on “Ten facts about carbon sinks

  1. Its nice to know some intresting facts about carbon credit.
    if u have more information about this SUBJECT please let me know on my email id.
    thank u .

  2. My valve had almost blown reading this one-sided mhhh…. article. I am planting trees for over 10 years in areas were trees have been illegally cut, not to forget I am paying for this out of my own pocket and pay local farmers for it. Until know I have over 600.000 trees planted. I use only a specific specie of tree that has shown to be fast growing and is withstanding severe soil conditions and plant on land that has not been used for over 10 years. It even was found that this tree is a great fertilizer for the surrounding areas. The second year after planting the soil greatly improved and so did the flora and fauna. Other tree species are now growing wild which didn’t happened before; birds, small animals and other flying insects are back. I am sure that you have never seen any other areas than the South American rainforest, take your sunglasses off and travel throughout Asia. Yes, sure it may apply what you said to the rainforest but this is too general and too narrow minded to apply it to all other plantations. And yes sure there are not the best controls in place to account for real improvements. But this comes with the beast called human who always tries to manipulate something in his own favor. One may come to the conclusion that trees planted in a large scale are bad for our environment reading you scribble. It always depends how you manage it, it has to be sustainable. One thing has to be done with the other, reducing the major greenhouse gases emitted by industries (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydroflurocarbons, etc) all of which increase the atmosphere’s ability to trap infrared energy and thus affect OUR climate worse than anything else, and rebuild our natural ecosystem by afforestation/reforestation. Almost 20 million hectares of forests are being leveled each year. Some countries will lose all of their forest within 10 years and destroying our natural ecosystem. I hope that someone in the future in your department is going to read what you write before publishing it since people like you are the real problem for our environment.

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