Part one: UAE carbon credit company shows COP28 host dripping in green-grabbing hypocrisy

Rainforest in Zimbabwe.
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The COP28 climate summit’s host has launched a neocolonial green-grabbing crusade across the Global South. Naturally, it’s yet another nifty ‘net-zero’ carbon con.

In part one of this two-part article, we’ll look at how UAE-based carbon credit company Blue Carbon LLC has been amassing land agreements with governments across Africa and the Pacific.

Blue Carbon

On 14 August, Blue Carbon announced it had inked its latest deal with Zimbabwe. Specifically, the country has signed over 7.5m hectares of exclusive land development rights to Blue Carbon. There, the company will swallow up vast tracts of land for forest and agriculture-based carbon offsetting projects.

Carbon offsetting refers to the practice of generating “carbon credits”. Specialised carbon credit companies and bodies create these through projects that purportedly reduce or prevent emissions. These companies and bodies then act as credit brokers. In essence, they will sell these credits to countries, companies, and individuals seeking to ‘offset’ their emissions.

However, as the Canary has pointed out previously, the emissions savings claims of these schemes are frequently overstated, and often manifestly bogus. Not to mention that – as the Canary’s Tracy Keeling has also highlighted – these offset forests are “quite literally going up in flames”.

Given the ever-worsening climate stakes, global governments have been scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel of climate ‘solutions’. Crucially, they champion solutions that license them to pump out billions more barrels of oil. Blue Carbon is among the latest of these green grifters to crawl out of the carbon credit woodwork.

Another carbon offsetting scam

Blue Carbon LLC is the brainchild of sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum. Sheikh Ahmed is a senior member of the ruling family of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Read on...

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Of course, the UAE also happens to be this year’s climate host. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), it will hold the upcoming COP28 climate summit in the very city governed by the Maktoum royal family.

Set up by sheikh Ahmed’s private office in October 2022, Blue Carbon LLC professes that its vision is to:

Become a globally recognised enabler of Blue and Green economy operational frameworks that set the agenda towards implementation of international climate agreements.

It makes its vague claim only marginally clearer with a cursory mention of:

the transferability of credits under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Article 6 of the Paris climate accord governs carbon markets between nations. In essence, the article enables governments to exchange carbon credits with other countries. Nations earn these credits through activities that reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Purchasers can then claim these towards meeting their national decarbonisation targets.

Ostensibly, Blue Carbon’s spiel is souped-up sustainability-speak for its plans to cash in on the carbon credit market.

Green-grabbing across Africa

Yet while Blue Carbon is cashing in, communities in multiple countries will likely lose out. The deal with Zimbabwe follows a series of similar agreements with Papua New Guinea, Liberia, Tanzania, and Zambia.

In early August, Blue Carbon’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Liberia drew particular ire and scrutiny from climate justice campaigners and non-profits.

French media outlet Le Monde broke the story with the headline ‘Liberia set to concede 10% of its territory to Emirati company for carbon credit production’.

The article detailed Blue Carbon’s plan to gobble up nearly one million hectares of Liberia’s land to harvest carbon credits. Significantly, it highlighted that the MoU afforded the company rights to approximately 10% of Liberia’s land territory for 30 years.

An alliance of environmental and human rights non-profits called out the agreement. It argued that the deal risked:

the livelihoods of up to a million people. It would also extinguish community land ownership in the selected areas, while violating peoples’ legal right to provide Free, Prior and Informed Consent for any developments on their land.

It appears that Blue Carbon may have cottoned on to the criticism of its Liberia MOU. As REDD-Monitor’s Chris Lang pointed out, the company peppered the carefully crafted press release for its Zimbabwe announcement with references to community “well-being”, “welfare”, and “empowerment”. However, Lang also highlighted the hypocrisy of the claims. In particular, the company has offered no evidence of even consulting communities in the process of formulating the agreement.

Doubling the Liberia land-grab

Therefore, it seems likely that Blue Carbon is gearing up for a gargantuan green-grab in Zimbabwe too. The 7.5m hectares in Zimbabwe exceeds Liberia’s land-grab by over sevenfold. Staggeringly, this amounts to nearly 20% of Zimbabwe’s territorial land mass – double the proportion of the Liberia land-grab.

All told, including Zimbabwe’s agreement, the company has secured the right to develop carbon offsetting projects across 24.5m hectares of land across Africa.

Moreover, in case you were in any doubt that the carbon credit company is a front for maintaining the environmentally-destructive status quo, part two of this two-part article will examine Blue Carbon’s relationship with Oracle Power PLC – a mining and fossil fuel firm.

Feature image via ninara/Wikimedia, cropped and resized 1910 by 1000, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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