Lilongwe, Malawi ;PACJA, development stakeholders Wraps up 3 days intense deliberations on loss and damage

Leaders from civil society, development networks, government, the African Union, The United Nations Economic Commission, faith-based organizations, and the private sector converged to address one of the most pressing challenges of our time: climate change.

The discussions were profound, with powerful remarks echoing across the spectrum. Our goal? To fortify African communities on the frontline of the ClimateCrisis, enhancing our capacity for adaptation and erecting robust structures to shield us from its adverse effects.

The stakeholders delved deep into the exploration of securing enhanced action and optimizing the benefits of the loss and damage fund. It’s about shaping our narratives, ensuring we break free from the confines of victimhood status. The shift must happen, and it must happen now.

Today, the consolidated voices speak volumes in a post conference declaration, highlighting critical aspects of the African loss and damage agenda.

PACJA Lilongwe Conférence ; Declaration of the Third African Regional Conference on Loss and Damage

The third Africa Regional Conference on Loss and Damage, aimed at providing a platform for African stakeholders to develop strategies for accelerating access to loss and damage funds took place at Lilongwe, Malawi, on March 20 -22, 2024.

The Conference was hosted by the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Civil Society Network on Climate Change (CISONECC) and the Government of Malawi, in partnership with Trocaire, Oxfam, Concern Worldwide, Save the Children, Habitat for Humanity, Give Directly, CARE International, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF), ActionAid, Pelum Association and Christian Aid.  

Aware of the first meeting of the Advisory Board of the Santiago Network held from 18 to 20 March 2024 in Geneva, Switzerland, and whose main agenda was to consider the technical report by the UNOPS-UNDRR on the cost-effectiveness, including a cost-benefit analysis of various locations around the world as options for the location of the head office of the Secretariat from a pool of potential locations;

Further aware that UNOPS-UNDRR strongly recommended Nairobi as the optimal location to host the Network based on their thorough analysis using scientifically-proven methodologies from a shortlist of various other locations such as Addis Ababa, Bonn and Geneva;

Gravely concerned that the Advisory Board blatantly and contemptuously ignored recommendations from UNOPS-UNDRR and selected a third candidate – Geneva – that ranked third in the analysis;

Aggrieved that the hosting right for a Platform which embodies the struggles of the communities at the frontline of the climate crisis, and whose location should symbolise the very palpable rationale of tackling Loss and Damage has once again been unjustly snatched from a third country through a clandestinely nefarious process of manipulation, carrot-dangling and intimidation;

Conscious of the power imbalance in the Loss and Damage Fund’s Board as currently constituted, with developed countries potentially using their monetary and material advantage to ostensibly render developing County representatives decorations in the Board;

Recalling the IPCC-ARC6 report that asserts that Africa will be impacted by climate change under all mitigation scenarios, setting a stage for agitation for accelerated adaptation and response measures on loss and damage actions to enable communities at the frontline of the crisis to cope with the impacts of climate change.

Further recalling the Adaptation Gap Report 2023 points to the inevitability of loss and damage as underfinancing, under-preparedness, inadequate investment and planning on climate adaptation continue to leave people exposed to the full force of climate impacts without any shield.

Sceptical of of World Bank’s constraining Policies, bureaucracy and transparency deficit, especially when administering a Fund expected to respond to emergencies;

Disappointed by paltry pledges of USD700 million to the Loss and Damage Fund, fatally insufficient to meet the recovery responses to a single episode of climate disaster such as that caused by Cyclone Freddy in Malawi estimated at USD900 million;

 James Murombedzi of ECA teaching by example :
 How to get carbon markets right.

Carbon markets have been variously lauded as a critical part of addressing the climate crisis, and criticized as empty greenwash. Either way, they’re moving some serious cash: the global carbon credit market traded value was almost USD 1 trillion in 2022, and is tipped to reach USD 2.68 trillion by 2028.

They work by allowing individuals, companies, governments, and other organizations to offset some of their greenhouse gas emissions by funding projects that reduce or remove greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the atmosphere.

The ethics and implications of doing so are complex. For a start, there are legitimate concerns with purchasers buying credits in place of prioritizing their own emission reductions, leading to accusations of ‘greenwashing’, and hampering any ambition at an urgently needed fast and dramatic drawdown of emissions – after all, 2030 is only six years away, and the planet has already warmed more than 1.5 degrees Celsius in 2023.

Meanwhile, many carbon credit programmes’ sequestration claims have not stood up to critique, putting buyers’ green credentials into question: oil and gas giant Shell, for instance, was recently criticized for counting over a million discredited carbon credits towards its climate goals.

At the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), we’ve followed carbon markets and projects for years, starting in 2009 with our work on REDD+. Now, we’ve put together a list of principles for engagement in carbon markets, that can help to bring about projects that make positive impacts for people and landscapes – and avoid some of the common pitfalls that have made the media of late.trees, and all other assets being invested into; to develop clear policies on decision-making and benefit sharing; to have explicit processes and adequate participatory tools to ensure project participants’ voices are empowered and taken into account every step of the way; and to ensure that Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) and social and environmental safeguards are in place.

 For all their intricacies and challenges, carbon markets are one way – of many – of making the much-needed shift towards valuing critical ecosystem services whose contributions need to be internalized in the real economy. If they’re well-designed, -executed, and -monitored, carbon markets can serve this goal. We already have a whole suite of principles, tools, and approaches underway to preserve and restore ecosystems, whilst improving livelihoods for the people whose lives are anchored within them. We simply need to use them.
We don’t know where the money is going’: the ‘carbon cowboys’ making millions from credit schemes.

By. David Greenfield .

Carbon schemes are touted as a way to transfer billions in climate finance to the developing world – but people at the Kariba project in Zimbabwe say most of the profits never arrive. In the districts surrounding Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe, most people have little idea their villages were at the centre of a multimillion-dollar carbon boom. Punctuated by straw-thatched mud houses, the Miombo woodlands on the edge of the enormous artificial lake are mostly home to smallholder farmers. The gravel roads are full of potholes; cars are infrequent, as are medical facilities and internet connections. Data on the region is patchy, but Hurungwe district, that covers a number of the villages has an average poverty rate of 88%.

These communities fall within the vast, lucrative Kariba conservation project, encompassing an area almost the size of Puerto Rico. It is among the largest in a portfolio of forest offsetting schemes approved by Verra, the world’s largest certifier. Since 2011, this project alone has generated revenue of more than €100m (£85m) from selling carbon credits equivalent to Kenya’s 2022 national emissions to western companies, according to now-deleted figures published by the project developer. Proponents say these schemes are a quick way of transferring billions of dollars of climate and biodiversity finance to the developing world through company net zero pledges.More than a decade on from the project’s inception, however, many local people say the projects and infrastructure they anticipated never emerged. Only a fraction of the €100m has been distributed to the villages within the project.

‘We are not seeing money trickle down’
“Surely a reward must come,” says Rogers Kavura, a 46-year-old who lives in Chikova village in Hurungwe district. He became a forest ranger with the local council, funded by the offsetting projects.“We hear reports that the company has been making lots of money, but we do not know where this money is going. The community is complaining because they are not seeing money trickle down,” Kavura says. South Pole, the carbon scheme’s broker and technical lead, walked away from the Kariba scheme in October saying it was determined to learn from its experience on the project. The changes followed exposés by Follow the Money, Die Zeit and the New Yorker, which raised concerns about its financial transparency and undisclosed trophy-hunting activity in the project area. The confusion leaves Kariba’s villages and forests with an uncertain future. And after a year of controversies, the wider carbon market is in crisis – with some experts concerned other schemes around the world could be abandoned amid evidence that many projects are producing huge numbers of worthless credits that many believe do not mitigate global heating.

Under this kind of carbon offsetting scheme, communities are meant to be rewarded – via cash or investment in local infrastructure – for keeping trees standing. In reality, however, there are no legal or contractual obligations for companies selling offsets to share revenues, which are often kept secret by project developers.Much of the €100m revenue generated by Kariba has been carved off along the way by the project developers in fees and expenses: €86m went into costs and profits assigned to the broker and technical lead South Pole and to the project coordinator Carbon Green Investments. In the end, only a maximum of €14m went to Kariba’s communities through cash transfers and infrastructure improvements.The Guardian reviewed project documents, approached district council officials, contacted Verra, South Pole and Steve Wentzel, the Zimbabwean entrepreneur who owns land for the Kariba project and owns Carbon Green Investments, the company responsible for distributing the funds; and sent a reporter to Kariba to interview people and look for evidence of projects. While there was evidence some funds had been distributed to communities in the area, we found that only a fraction of the project’s revenue reached ground level.

South Pole – which was not involved in providing any services on the ground – made €18m (£15m) profit, according to its figures, since deleted from its website – more than was spent on Kariba itself. The Swiss firm deducted €24m in costs before sending €57m to Wentzel for his 30% share of revenue, project costs and local communities.

“On paper, the money has been given. But in practice, it has not been seen on the ground,” says Bigboy Mangirazi, a teacher living in the carbon project area.“I have been speaking with local chiefs. They have nothing to show for it,” he says. “There is a small agriculture field and a few borehole projects. We need to see visible things on the ground. People are very angry. How much are we benefiting from the carbon project?”

Under the rules of Verra – which approves three-quarters of all voluntary carbon offsets – project developers are not required to disclose or audit where the money from credits goes.

The ‘carbon cowboys’
For companies that traded in Kariba’s carbon credits, however, there is little doubt of the financial benefits generated by the project. During the pandemic, prices for forest carbon credits rose dramatically, from less than $1 a tonne to more than $30 a tonne (78p to £23.30) for some schemes. In the process, projects like Kariba were transformed from struggling conservation schemes into financial assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The credits have been traded by a growing number of carbon desks at investment banks and oil companies at lucrative premiums.

Experts say that the Kariba example is illustrative of wider issues within the market, where forest-preservation projects often benefit international traders over local communities.After the New Yorker and Follow the Money published reports on the Kariba project and South Pole left the scheme, Renat Heuberger, the longtime South Pole CEO, stepped down. The company would not speak to the Guardian about the scheme, instead pointing to two previous statements defending Kariba as a positive example of carbon markets working, which had benefited local people. South Pole said distributing funds from the project had not been its responsibility and announced senior leadership team changes in 2024.

Wentzel, the owner of Carbon Green Investments, has faced significant scrutiny of the financial management and book-keeping on the project. He was ultimately able to provide the Guardian with internal documentation explaining €14m of distributed funds, including detailed receipts and invoices for about €4.5m of that total. He is undertaking a voluntary audit with Deloitte.There are also questions about whether companies that bought the offsets from the unregulated market have had the environmental impact they were promised. Analysis by Renoster concludes that the project has massively overstated the threat to the forest. The methodology used to generate the credits has since been discontinued by Verra.

Verra said it could not comment on many of the issues raised about Kariba while it is under review, but says it is an outlier.

“Kariba represents an unprecedented situation … and remains an outlier in the long history of impactful Redd+ projects around the world. Verra-registered projects have kept forests standing and are a critical solution to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change,” a spokesperson says.A teetering market
The Kariba mega-project is unlikely to be alone in facing uncertainty. In January 2023, a joint investigation by the Guardian found more than 90% of offsets from a large proportion of projects were likely to be worthless. Many of the largest rainforest offset projects produced huge numbers of worthless credits, according to studies analysed in the investigation. Verra is reforming the system, introducing new rules for dozens of projects. But the reforms could mean schemes like Kariba are caught in between if they receive far fewer credits under the new system.( culled from The Guardian British online news)