Open letter to the California Air Resources Board on their proposed new Tropical Forest Standard: please sign!

Dear friends and fellow scholars,

A few of us have drafted an open letter to the California Air Resources Board that we hope you consider signing. We’ve had a great initial response and hope to get many signatures by Nov. 11 and present the document at a pubic ARB session on Nov. 15-16. Here’s the story:

The ARB may soon approve yet another way for the state’s biggest greenhouse-gas emitters to buy their way out of their legal obligations by purchasing dubious offsets, this time in the global South. ARB’s proposed new Tropical Forest Standard would link California’s cap-and-trade program to subnational states in the forested tropics. This is a bad idea for reasons we have tried to summarize in the letter. It would set a terrible international precedent as California officials continue to promote the state’s climate policy as a model for the world.

Until now the ARB has mainly taken its cues from environmental economists, its own technical staff, big green NGOs, carefully vetted officials and indigenous spokespeople from Brazil and Mexico, and consultants with personal and career interests in carbon trading and forest conservation financed by offsets. The ARB board and staff seem unaware of the actual record and problems of REDD+ PES, and when told about this, respond that their proposed “jurisdictional REDD” would surmount such problems. Our letter voices widespread concerns about forest carbon offset programs shared by so many geographers and other researchers who are closer to understanding how these projects are working on the ground.

We three authors are approaching this from different perspectives but we think the case against this TFS initiative is very strong. We are not condemning REDD+, etc., nor offsets in general in the letter. We are stressing the ways that the TFS could implicate the state in harmful practices, would fail to achieve any net environmental gain, and fails to meet California’s legislated requirements.

Please sign if you agree, and circulate the letter to other scholars with academic credentials who have worked on REDD/PES, carbon trading/offsetting, tropical forests/conservation/development, etc. We will be adding more citations: suggestions appreciated.

** You can add your name to the letter at this link:

Here is a link to the letter (it’s also attached).

And here is information about the Tropical Forest Standard and how to submit individual letters to the ARB.  Do let us know if you have questions or comments.


Kathleen McAfee

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