Notes to broadcasters on carbon credit:

    | November 16, 2009

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    The trade in carbon credits, also known as carbon offsets, is growing quickly. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has identified carbon offsetting as an efficient way to guide investments towards greenhouse gas reductions. Companies that release large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere can “offset” these emissions by investing in initiatives such as tree planting that store carbon. Individual consumers can also purchase carbon credits to offset the carbon emissions they create, for example, through their personal air travel.

    In this week’s story from Mozambique, we saw that local farmers are benefiting from an international carbon credit scheme. They received money for planting trees and protecting forests, and their communities maintained ownership of land. But carbon credit schemes do not always turn out well for local communities. In September, we ran a news story from Uganda about locals being displaced from their traditional lands by a tree planting project. You can review this story online, here:

    Whenever an outside investor is interested in farmland, there are potential risks and benefits for local communities. The following questions may serve as a starting point for investigating cases of farmland investment in your area:

    -Who are the investors (company, government, or other) who have leased or bought land (or are interested in leasing or buying land)?
    -Did the national government consult local, small-scale farmers about the negotiations? If yes, then what was the process? If not, what was the outcome?
    -What sort of agriculture (for example, small-scale or commercial) is being practiced on the land in question and what sort of crops are being grown? What type of agriculture do the investors wish to practice?
    -Who will control the land? Who will profit?
    -Will the local community benefit from the land investment? What guarantees do they have that the investors will deliver any benefits they promise?
    -If rural people have been or will be displaced by the land investment, where will they go? How will they meet their food needs?
    -Are there alternatives to permitting the sale or lease of local land that would benefit rural communities?