What's wrong with a company pursuing a green seal for 'sustainable forest management' and a climate-friendly credit for planting trees that help soak up carbon from the atmosphere? Potentially a lot, especially when both of these claims are rather dubious, as the WRM Bulletin coverage on the Brazilian company Plantar S/A indicates. And even more problematic if a company, when faced with criticism about its carbon sinks project, resorts to such tactics as the distortion of facts to discredit its critics.
And yet again, Plantar serves as a case in point: In a letter to prospective buyers of Plantar's 'carbon' credits, the company claimed that a Brazilian civil society letter dated 26 March 2003, which was critical of the company's envisaged sale of 'carbon' credits, included signatures which had been added to the civil society letter without the signatories having been informed about this. The allegation was then repeated unquestioningly at public conferences in Europe by the Management of the World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund, under whose auspices Plantar's 'carbon' credits will be sold.
This is a rather serious allegation, clearly aimed at tarnishing the reputation of those raising their voices against the company's activities. The allegation is false, and a simple comparison of names mentioned in the different letters would have revealed the falsehood of the company's allegation. Given the impact that the repetition of these false allegations by a senior World Bank official had on their credibility, 77 Brazilian groups have recently demanded a written apology and public correction of facts from the PCF Management.
What the PCF will learn from this episode, and a recently announced investigation into the "NGO allegations raised in the civil society letters" remains to be seen. For SinksWatch, such unquestioning repetition of company information certainly raises even more questions about the scrutiny the PCF applies to project information received from project proponents. Following the PCF approach of 'learning by doing', SinksWatch has learned that the PCF's Plantar project's 'carbon' credits are doing nothing to help avert dangerous climate change but increasing hardship for local people. The lesson: no 'carbon' credits from Plantar are good 'carbon' credits.
By: Jutta Kill, SinksWatch, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; http://www.sinkswatch.org