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Page added on August 29, 2007

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The other side of carbon trading

Planting trees in Uganda to offset greenhouse-gas emissions in Europe seemed like a good idea – until farmers were evicted from their land to make room for a forest.


(Fortune Magazine) — Planting trees in Mount Elgon National Park in eastern Uganda seemed like a project that would benefit everyone. The Face Foundation, a nonprofit group established by Dutch power companies, would receive carbon credits for reforesting the park’s perimeter. It would then sell the credits to airline passengers wanting to offset their emissions, reinvesting the revenues in further tree planting. The air would be cleaner, travelers would feel less guilty and Ugandans would get a larger park.


But to the farmers who once lived just inside the park, the project has been anything but a boon. They have been fighting to get their land back since being evicted in the early 1990s and have pressed their case with lawsuits.


Last year, when the courts granted three border communities an injunction against the evictions, the farmers took it as permission to clear the land they consider theirs. Now a stubble of stumps all that’s left of the trees meant to absorb carbon dioxide dots the rows of newly planted maize and budding green beans.


The project in Uganda is part of a growing trade in voluntary carbon offsets, in which environmentally concerned consumers pay to have others remove an amount of carbon equal to what they emit. Vendors earn carbon credits by planting trees, which capture carbon from the atmosphere, or by modifying existing factories to consume fewer fossil fuels.


CNN



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