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Oakland Institute, Press release, December 12 2017

Oakland, CA — As the One Planet Summit begins in Paris, the Oakland Institute's new report, Carbon Colonialism: Failure of Green Resources’ Carbon Offset Project in Uganda, lays bare the false solutions to climate change promoted by Western corporations and institutions in Africa. This scathing exposé reveals how Green Resources, a Norwegian industrial forestry and carbon offset project, continues to undermine food security and livelihoods by excluding people from their own land in Kachung, Uganda. The project, supported by a number of international financial institutions, illustrates how climate change is increasingly misused as a pretext to impose a new form of colonialism in Africa.

Following the Institute’s exposé in 2014, revealing the mistreatment and violence perpetrated by the company in Uganda, Green Resources’ only carbon credit buyer, the Swedish Energy Agency, suspended funding in 2015 and outlined ten actions for the company to undertake to reinstate payments. The following year, Green Resources’ major shareholder, global forestry investment firm Phaunos Timber Fund, divested from the company.

As the Swedish Energy Agency reassesses whether to resume payments to Green Resources in early 2018, Carbon Colonialism is an irrefutable indictment on the failure of Green Resources to address the harmful impacts on local communities as a result of its project.

“Our field research reveals that communities surrounding the plantation face an on-going hunger crisis resulting from restrictions placed by the project on access to land, water, firewood, along with perilous working conditions for Green Resources’ workers,” explained Kristen Lyons, lead author of the report and Senior Fellow at the Oakland Institute. “It is simply unacceptable that a Norwegian company seeks to extract a profit in the face of such dire conditions,” she continued.

The firsthand accounts presented in the report debunk recent audits of Green Resources that present the company as being compliant in most areas of reform demanded by the Swedish Energy Agency. Such audit findings are difficult to reconcile with Green Resources disregard for the desperate conditions local communities face.

“Green Resources continues to misrepresent their negative impact in the region,” commented David Ssemwogerere, co-author of the report. “They champion the meager impacts that they’ve had, while downplaying the fact that their project is threatening the very survival and livelihoods of villagers.”

“The industrial monoculture plantation forestry run by Green Resources at its Kachung site is incompatible with the needs of local people who rely upon the same land for their livelihoods and existence,” stated Frédéric Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute. “In the wake of our latest findings, it is imperative that the Swedish Energy Agency suspend all future payments to Green Resources and cancel the deal for purchase of carbon credits. This is the only viable response in the face of the worsening impact of Green Resources on the livelihoods of local villagers in Uganda.”

The full report is available at www.oaklandinstitute.org/carbon-colonialism-failure-green-resources-carbon-offset-project-uganda

The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.

Media Contact: Frédéric Mousseau

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Comment from Protect the Forest on the Swedish Energy Agency's carbon credit project in Kachung, Uganda:

Green Resources converts grasslands, savanna and small-scale farmers’ cultivated land into plantations of invasive alien tree species. These trees consume large amounts of water. This has a devastating impact on the natural environment and the ecosystem services it provides. Also, uncertainties remain regarding the potential of tree plantations to sequester carbon. Studies show a general pattern of a decrease in carbon pools in tree plantations when compared to natural forests. The most effective form of climate change mitigation is to avoid carbon emissions from all sources. Emissions of carbon dioxide can also be avoided by protecting natural ecosystems from land-use changes, but they cannot offset ongoing emissions from other anthropogenic carbon sources. The Swedish Energy Agency is encouraged, in an open letter in 2016, by Protect the Forest, Timberwatch, Oakland Institute, Global Forest Coalition and a senior lecturer from University of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa, to reduce the national energy consumption and to improve energy efficiency. The carbon stored in Swedish forests can also be increased by protecting old natural forests and bringing degraded forests back to a more natural state, instead of enriching the land-grabbing shareholders of Green Resources.

Read more in the document “Impacts of Green Resources’ tree plantations at Kachung, Uganda”.