The main drivers of deforestation in Brazil are aimed at the commodification and privatisation of land through land grabbing and conflict. They dispossess original, traditional and peasant communities from their rights through the conversion of collective rights into individual property rights aiming at profit and accumulation. The processes that consider indigenous peoples through objectification, seeing them as a means to the maintenance of the forest standing initiatives, including through compensations aimed to reduce emissions, do so to serve the capitalist aspirations for REDD+, the green economy and the carbon market. Despite occupying a relevant space within climate negotiations for decades, so far these "solutions" have not been able to mitigate the advance of deforestation in countries that have their highest emissions from this source. At the same time, the ways in which these mechanisms have been applied generate distinct impacts on indigenous peoples and traditional communities, ranging from intensified conflicts between different groups to forced expropriation in territories. In contrast, deforestation rates in demarcated indigenous lands are the lowest in the country (when compared to conservation units and private properties). Despite this, the right of these communities to their territories was never completely guaranteed through demarcation by the Brazilian State, putting many communities that live on lands not yet demarcated into legal uncertainty. This legal uncertainty often translates into violent conflicts with land grabbers, miners and agribusiness sectors.
In the carbon markets strategy, nature becomes a financial “asset” and therefore subject to financialization and monetization. With this, pollution is allowed to be commercialized, through the establishment of a carbon market that legitimizes the corporations' right to emit. They are, therefore, allowed to continue to profit from pollution, as long as mitigation mechanisms are put in place. These mechanisms, in turn, allow corporations that adopt them another form of very profitable entry: the visibility and washing of their brand, the attraction of consumers and investors from an appearance of concern with the future of the planet and the commitment to “doing the right thing”, a practice known as greenwashing and corporate social responsibility measures. The problem, therefore, is not just in the creation of “assets” from nature and their conservation, in the commercialization of “avoided emissions” and “the right to emit” or in their insertion in the financial logic. It is also in the dispossession of the original peoples of their territories, of their traditional ways of life and in the abstraction of the fact that guaranteeing the demarcation of the territories of these peoples is a faster, cheaper and more fair climate solution.
The climate crisis cannot be used as a way of legitimizing predatory mercantile practices based on the necessity or imperative of reducing target emissions. As important as eliminating, for example, the use of fossil fuels is eliminating the carbon market, which treats pollution as a commodity. This “market” should not be presented as an alternative nor used to justify the continuation of predatory practices that generate social and environmental impacts, such as projects that violate human rights and impact the environment. The extractive and market logic of thinking about paths for development is the reasoning responsible for taking us to the scenario of imminent climatic collapse. The search for solutions to this phenomenon within this same logic did not prevent global emissions from continuing to increase even more in recent decades. In this sense, traditional and indigenous communities have been providing examples of sustainable coexistence with the planet for centuries and, not surprisingly, they have never needed to use carbon markets to do so. The fundamental question is whether we really want to solve this problem at its roots or generate market opportunities instead. The two things at the same time are hardly possible and the costs of following this path may end up being too expensive for us to pay.
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