Is Consulting Firm McKinsey Using REDD to Accelerate Deforestation?

REDD deforestation photo

Image: wakx via flickr

We knew there were plenty of drawbacks to and imperfections in the REDD program, but a recent Greenpeace report points out one that was a little more unexpected, and unforgivable, than most. Greenpeace explains that many countries eligible for funding through the REDD forest protection program have sought help from experts as they put together proposals for that funding, and that management consulting firm McKinsey & Company began selling itself as an expert in the area of forest protection.

But, Greenpeace continues:

With global network of offices, an accepted approach to carbon economics, and many of Fortune magazine's 'most admired' companies on their client list, rainforest nations could feel confident that bringing in McKinsey would provide the credibility needed to get their funding proposals past the donor countries.

It has taken our experts working in both rainforest and donor countries several months to go through these plans for forest funding. They looked at plans provided by Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Guyana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are all riddled with errors and inaccuracies, make unproven assumptions, and do not include the safeguards set out by nations at the Cancun climate talks.

They are all based on McKinsey advice.

In DRC, for example, one of the most biodiverse rainforest systems in the world, Greenpeace found that the McKinsey study allows for an increase in industrial logging and at least 10 million hectares given to logging companies, while in Indonesia, where deforestation is already one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world, a McKinsey proposal allows for an increase in plantations, potentially in crucial rainforest areas—increasing the release of carbon into the atmosphere.

The full Greenpeace report is available online; the organization also has a public letter to McKinsey asking it to stop work on forests until it has addressed the issues in the report and starts coming up with ways to truly help protect these ecosystems.

There are a lot of weaknesses in the REDD scheme, including the oversight of the role that global demand for timber inevitably plays in undermining forest protection, but proposals like the ones put forth by McKinsey need to be stopped if there's to be any hope of a legitimate plan at all.

More on REDD
REDD Forest Protection Program Could Threaten Rights of 350 Million People
Developed World Timber Demand Threatens to Undermine REDD Forest Protection Program
REDD Forest Protection Scheme Still Missing Key Safeguards as Barcelona Climate Talks Close

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