The California Air Resource Board (CARB) on Thursday, Sept. 19 approved the Tropical Forest Standard (TFS) at the request of nations and climate advocates, including the IPCC, for over a year.

This comes at a suspicious time when tropical forests are burning at unprecedented rates around the globe; more than 30 football fields per minute; 20 million acres of tropical forests lost in the last 10 months; 80% increase in fires since 2018 in Brazil alone where their government head of state ordered the burning of the forest.

I attended the CARB hearing and found the issue of California developing this TFS a heated mixed bag.

Indigenous people of tropical forests around the globe came to this hearing proving to be divided on the issue. What is clear is that carbon markets create a business around carbon credits and cap and trade where someone or rather corporate capitalists can invest in saving a forest, then continue to pollute the air.

Carbon cap-and-trade evades transparency, legitimacy and true reduction in greenhouse gas emission. Unless there is rigorous auditing, accountability, strong enforcement and independent peer review of the carbon markets a lot of cheating and corruption can occur.

According to some indigenous people who came to testify, they are against the TFS because it smacks of colonialism, robs them of their land, takes away their rights, causes division among the indigenous tribes and it creates a shelter for corporations that don't want to reduce their carbon emissions.

If you look at the tragic increase in tropical forest fires, it parallels the TFS process of approval raising the questions of capitalism at work among the carbon cap-and-trade territories. California pressured by environmentalists and carbon emitters who created the TFS are creating a means for territories to protect tropical forests verses Brazil and Indonesia who have been madly burning down the forests as TFS is being hotly debated.

It is a win-win for governments burning the tropical forests because once the forest is burned they can then exploit the land for profit or it burns and they get paid to save the rest through the carbon markets/TFS.

TFS may have caused an unprecedented rate of burning of the tropical forests around the world or a type of collateral damage in the making. So to speak, a rush to burn the tropical forests to capitalize on the burned areas for profit seekers or being paid through the carbon markets to protect the forests that remain.

One has to wonder why California is imposing our idea of tropical forest standards on sovereign nations when we have timber harvest plans being approved that will destroy soils that can produce forests every day. In Napa alone for 2019-2020, there are 1,010 acres of mixed conifer and oak woodlands in the pipe line to be converted to vineyards.

Instead of a TFS program that is highly flawed, California should set the example and require all forest products to be labeled that the products are hazardous to your health due to carbon emissions.

Chris Malan


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