Banks and global NGOs are ready for the big leap towards biodiversity credits, as announced by a 40-page OECD document on biodiversity credits. However, the introduction of carbon credits since the Kyoto Protocol have not improved anything 15 years later. Let's see why it is imperative to refuse these kinds of solutions to the decline of biodiversity.
A carbon credit is equivalent to one ton of CO2 or its equivalent in greenhouse gases. Carbon credits are based on the idea that global warming is a global problem, and therefore that we can reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming anywhere in the world. These credits can be the subject of exchanges and transactions, with the objective of putting a price on the emission of greenhouse gases. Does it make sense that countries can trade their right to pollute? For example, does it make sense that workers in certain countries that receive lower wages are forced to compensate for deforestation in countries with higher wages?
We see in this video the positions of a Huni Kui leader on carbon compensation project
First, in the case of carbon credits, you have to open the Pandora's box of historical CO2 emissions. Indeed, in the Treaty of Paris, as in previous treaties, the greenhouse gases produced in each of the countries are used. This does not take into account, for example, that Asia produces the vast majority of our electronic devices. Wouldn't it be more reasonable, since not every country in the world has benefited equally from oil (and the automobile hell it led to) since the 1930s, to consider the historical emission of different countries to see who hasn't burned up their fossil fuel quota yet? This would certainly be reasonable, but it would appear to everyone that Canada, the United States and Europe, being the biggest polluters, have already exceeded their quotas. However, carbon credits are for those who can pay 10% more for their plane ticket to Cancun to see the greenhouse gas offset. Or to put it more directly: carbon credits are used to legitimize the consumption of the richest people in the richest countries. But on the contrary, it should be the rich of the most affluent countries who stop the destruction of the planet as soon as possible.
Applying this logic to biodiversity will bring the same problems: we shovel the problems into the backyard of the poorest countries. It is a way of guaranteeing that we continue to eat GMOs cultivated in monoculture for a long time to come... but that these monocultures are compensated by the preservation of the animal threatened with extinction which costs the least to save.
You don't really have to look any further to see how absurd the idea is, but patience, it gets better. For a species to be deemed “capable of compensating”, four conditions must be met: additionality, permanence, non-duplication and consideration of side effects. These are the principles that are applied to currently determine whether a carbon credit can be granted, and these principles make sense… for people who want to continue to pollute. Let’s take a closer look to see the extent of the problem.
First, for a credit to be granted, it must be based on an estimated environmental damage. The more a company plans to pollute, the more it is eligible for large credits. So companies have every advantage in presenting their projects more polluting than they really are, in order to obtain credits to make their projects "greener". Obviously, the scandals pile up because the mechanisms require a lot of specialists, lawyers, accountants and financial investments. With biodiversity credits, corporations will literally hold animal species hostage in their planning: "If you don't give us another $4 million, we'll use enough glyphosate to kill the last chorus frogs in our plantation of corn ".
Secondly, the transformations must be permanent. That is to say that the trees that are planted, for example, remain planted in the ground. It is excessively complex in the context where ecosystems are moving. Unless, for example, the plants are turned into charcoal which is put back into the ground. Wouldn't it be simpler not to extract fossil fuels and just keep them where they have been for millions of years? We imagine the same thing with the preservation of species: without ecosystem balances, it is impossible for an animal to survive for long.
Third, projects should not be counted twice. The disputes on this specific issue are interesting: Brazil asks to count the efforts it is making to slow down the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. At the same time, with global warming, the forests at the poles are spreading all the more towards the north and the south, because of the destruction of the permafrost. What should be counted then, the melting of the permafrost which releases CO2 or the growth of trees? Think especially of international lawyers, actuaries, negotiators, diplomats who salivate over the contracts they will have to resolve these issues, eating caviar at international summits.
But the icing on the cake is the question of side effects. You can imagine the problem: in several countries, if we plant trees on land that was occupied by peasants, or even worse on land where nomadic communities came to pick plants seasonally, these people risk using adjacent lands. There is therefore a secondary effect: the protection of one area leads to the destruction or use of another. To avoid these side effects, if we "save a forest", we must then protect it, monitor it, that's obvious. In short, to ensure biodiversity, there must be “good governance”, that is to say that we make sure to repress peasants and indigenous communities who are at risk of to deforest further when their land is stolen to preserve endangered species. So it's going to take more cops.
Biodiversity credits, like carbon credits, only serve to legitimize the continued consumption of the richest countries in the global North. Worse, they favor a tangle of politicking which comes to ensure the maintenance of the domination of the poorest populations of the globe. Peasant and indigenous populations are among the most marginalized and disadvantaged, but these populations are the ones who destroy the planet the least through consumption, simply because they cannot afford to buy much. Even some indigenous communities could have a beneficial effect on their territories. Indeed, they still have the most sustainable strategies for the planet, as several agronomists suggest. They will also be the most affected because they directly depend on ecosystems for their survival. Instead of taking their experiences into account, we are going to give money to people who spit on the poorest by trying to force them to save the planet for them. Let's not give them this chance, let's block COP15.
GMOs, Agriculture and biodiversity
Our food production methods are part of the globalization of food production where our role is limited to particularly profitable production in the territory. Farms are now businesses: the average farm in Quebec is now worth $3.1 million. In this context, 47% of agricultural land is devoted to soy and corn, 78% genetically modified. These genetic modifications mainly serve to immunize plants against a herbicide, Roundup, which prevents the growth of other plants that would compete with the crop. There is therefore no reason to pay for these GMOs if we do not use Roundup, so much so that it is 7200 square kilometers (16 times the area of the island of Montreal) of land that is sprayed with almost 2 million kilos of the product. If we add the other pesticides used, we can imagine both the accumulation in the soil, the flow into the rivers and the effects on biodiversity downstream. But since the majority of processed corn and soy is used to feed livestock which is then traded on the world market, banning Roundup means the price is no longer competitive, destroying a large agricultural production sector. However, this defeatism must be reversed: by chasing away these harmful food mega-productions, it becomes possible to produce more diversified products that will have local outlets. The consequences on the biodiversity of our food are enormous as we poison ourselves slowly.