Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa: The Role of False Climate Solutions (Oakland Inst)

The Oakland Institute / December 2011

(Oakland Institute. Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa)This briefing argues “private investors and corporations are increasingly in control of land and resources that could feed a continent plagued by hunger”. Investments are focusing on returns to be made from increasing demand for agrofuels and carbon trading. These trends are leading to local communities, especially indigenous peoples, being displaced from their lands.

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Targets to increase the use of agrofuels in the United States and the European Union have pushed up demand. An estimated 5 million hectares of land in Africa were being used for agrofuels in 2010. Almost all of this production is exported. In one project the Chinese government bought up 2.8 million hectares in the Democratic Republic of Congo for palm oil production.

The authors argue agrofuels are not “clean” or “green” because they use huge quantities of water and pesticides. They also use oil and coal when they are produced and transported. Clearing land for agrofuel production releases so much CO2 that the net emissions of greenhouse gases are higher even if they are used as a “cleaner” fuel. This could be around 44-73 million additional tons of CO2 equivalent per year (around the amount Austria releases each year).

The briefing concludes that carbon markets (based on reforestation or soil) are a new source of profit that are also a cost-effective way for polluting industries to offset their emissions – rather than making expensive changes to modify their operations.

Selected quotes from the report

“Another driver of land grabs in Africa today are carbon trading and credit schemes which are also promoted as “green” solutions to climate change.”

 A proposal known as “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD) may make land an even more valuable asset in the carbon market by treating land and forests as speculative commodities.

If the REDD mechanism becomes integrated into the UN-backed carbon market, it will lead to governments and corporations seizing control of forest areas, especially in Africa, where the forests sink over 1.2 billion tons of CO2 annually.


This summary was prepared by Why Green Economy?. The views expressed have been paraphrased. See the original source for more information.

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