By Kofi Adu Domfeh
Ghana is one of several African countries taking a keen interest in the carbon trading scheme, which offers payment for planting and protecting forest areas.
Adoption and promotion these schemes – including the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the REDD plus, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation – present financial opportunities.
The World Bank, in 2010, put the value of the global carbon market at $142 million.
Farmers and other groups are concerned about whether they will ever enjoy such benefits.
George Amankwaah has been growing trees for over 10 years in Ghana’s Brong Ahafo region. Like most Ghanaian agro-foresters, he wants to benefit from this global carbon market.
“This carbon credit, some African countries are earning money out of it but in Ghana here, we don’t understand carbon credit because we have not been trained on how to earn income for farmers,” he complained.
Ghana has joined the international REDD+ readiness process through the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which aims at creating capacity to fully engage in and utilize the REDD+ mechanism to address climate change adaptation and mitigation.
In 2012, the country was also included in the UN-REDD program, though no financial support has yet been allocated to Ghana.
To benefit from carbon trading, farmers are provided technical support to calculate the payments they are entitled to – according to how much carbon is stored in the trees over their life span.
Funding for the scheme comes from a variety of international sources, including the United Nations, the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility.
The payments are made by polluting companies in Europe and America who want to reduce their environmental impact by compensating for their carbon dioxide emissions.
This is a valuable opportunity creating income for local farmers, restoring the degraded land and also helping to tackle global warming.
Farmers living in deforested and degraded land in parts of Africa have begun earning carbon credit payments by planting trees.
However, climate justice activists are contesting the credibility of such schemes in mitigating climate change.
“Carbon credit is not the way out because what the world needs is the physical elimination of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. There is no way that the North will continue their ways of production and consumption, emitting more carbon and thinking that whatever they are doing here, they are paying us to suck it out; it will never work,” stated Augustine Njamnshi of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).
According to him, “carbon trade is a false solution; land grab, the non-recognition of rights of indigenes and local communities over resources will be happening if we don’t go into it and start fighting from within.”
Civil society organizations in Africa have declared that the “opportunities and limitations of REDD+ remain uncertain and Africa should exercise caution in matters of REDD+ and carbon markets.”