Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament de Ciències Polítiques i Socials
Worldwide, the number of forest carbon offsetting projects has been increasing rapidly over the past decade. Advocates of these projects frame them as a triple-win by allowing continued economic growth for those that purchase the carbon credits generated, enabling socioeconomic development in host countries, while contributing to climate change mitigation. However, this narrative is increasingly contested by academics and environmentalists alike. This thesis contributes to this debate by evaluating how forest carbon offsetting projects can contribute to social conflict in targeted areas. It identifies new mechanisms by which projects can lead to conflict and demonstrates that their impact can go much beyond the community level. First, by exploring the broad effect 22 REDD+ projects in Sub-Saharan Africa have on violent and non-violent conflict, the thesis shows that these projects increase the likelihood of both types of conflict. This impact was not only detected within the project boundaries, but there was also a significant spillover effect. Second, by studying REDD+ projects in the Colombian Amazon, the thesis demonstrates that these projects can lead to internal (non- violent) conflict within and between Indigenous communities. In the sampled communities, the projects led to disputes, internal divisions, and decreasing trust in local leadership as they were closely associated with elite capture. Third, the thesis argues that these projects can also lead to political conflict at the national level in post-conflict countries. Survey evidence collected in Colombia showed that projects that promised socioeconomic benefits were widely supported among the respondents. Projects that included peacebuilding measures, however, were more controversial and the degree to which respondents supported them was influenced by their existing political attitudes. In sum, the thesis provides new evidence about how and to what extent forest carbon offsetting projects can contribute to conflict at the community level and beyond.
REDD+; Offsetting; Forest carbon; Forest conservation; Biodiversity conservation; Climate change mitigation; Colombia; Latin America; Sub-Saharan Africa
32 - Politics