Obama Endorses Problematic Avoided Deforestation

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wricontest/">WRI Staff</a> (Creative Commons)

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


About a week before President Obama is scheduled to attend the climate conference in Copenhagen, he’s already making some discouraging statements about climate change mitigation strategies. The Guardian reports that after receiving his Nobel Peace Price this morning, Obama said that avoided deforestation projects, like the ones proposed in Brazil and Norway, are “probably the most cost-effective way for us to address the issue of climate change—having an effective set of mechanisms in place to avoid further deforestation and hopefully to plant new trees.”

He’s right that avoided deforestation is cost-effective. It allows developed countries to opt out of emissions restrictions and developing nations to collect subsidies while protecting their abundant natural resources. But Obama needs to read more Mother Jones. In our current issue, Mark Schapiro reports from a 50,000-acre reserve in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest that has been protected on behalf of three of America’s largest carbon emitters: General Motors, Chevron and American Electric Power. This preservation project comes with an unintended cost, displacing the indigenous population that has lived off the land for generations. In many cases, small farmers are being arrested for cutting down a tree for construction or firewood so that American companies can dodge emissions restrictions. 

The Guardian says that the carbon sink plan, dubbed Reduced Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), is critical for Brazil because its deforestation is responsible for a large portion of the world’s forest emissions and “it has the largest swath of trees in the world and therefore stands to make more money than anyone else by protecting them.” That’s true, Brazil and American corporations have a lot to gain from avoided deforestation; they can essentially say they will cut down the rainforests unless they’re paid not to. So let’s hope they don’t take the world hostage just to make a buck. 

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate