Offset Schemes Failing to Benefit Indigenous People, Report Finds


Increasingly, businesses are writing off their carbon emissions by funding the conservation of forests. A new report finds that while such schemes have made “limited” progress in curbing deforestation, they have largely failed to alleviate poverty among Indigenous forest people.

“We are too late on in the game to use win-win narratives,” said Daniela Kleinschmit of Freiburg University, a lead author of the report.

Published by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations and presented this week at a U.N. meeting on forest loss, the report looked at both carbon offset programs and programs that certify goods as not contributing to deforestation. It found that such schemes frequently operate at the expense of forest dwellers.

Indigenous people often see no income from offset schemes and are sometimes forcibly evicted from their lands in the name of protecting forests, the report said. A recent investigation by Human Rights Watch detailed how Indigenous Chong people in Cambodia’s Cardamon Mountains were violently ejected from their homes for an offset program.

The new report also found that programs aimed at cleaning up supply chains, such as an EU ban on chocolate linked to deforestation, often prove ineffective and can sometimes lead to small farmers being pushed off their lands.

To benefit forest dwellers, authors call for greater investment in community-led projects. Yale E360 recently reported one one such offset project spearheaded by tribes in the Solomon Islands. The scheme has preserved vital rainforest while generating income that villagers are using to build toilets and solar panels, and pay for school fees.

The new report comes as the Science Based Targets initiative, which verifies corporate climate targets, is under pressure to allow for greater use of carbon offsets. A loosening of rules could drive up demand for offsets as businesses scramble to meet their climate goals.


Solomon Islands Tribes Sell Carbon Credits, Not Their Trees