Sunday, June 10, 2012

Google helps Amazon tribe get into carbon markets

Android to the Amazon's rescue. 

Smart phones running Google's operation system together with Google Earth satellite technology have helped the Surui tribe create a forest carbon inventory, says blog Mashable, and as a result have been approved to sell carbon credits.

The tribe members submitted a proposal to the Rainforest Alliance, which was approved last month, enabling the tribe to sell their carbon offsets on the global carbon market. 

The approval makes the Surui’s project the first emmissions reduction effort in Brazil to be certified by both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Gold Standard. The tribe will now be able to trade carbon offsets from its forests on the global market for the next three decades.

The Surui live on the southwestern edge of the Amazon in the state of Rondonia, which has for years been favored by cattle ranchers. Ironically the place is named for Candido Rondon, the Brazilian military officer who led early 20th century explorations of the Western Amazon. The son of an indigenous Brazilian woman, he was an early crusader for the rights of indigenous people and carefully avoided conflict with even the most violent of tribes as he carried out jungle surveys for a planned telegraph. That technology died shortly thereafter, leaving only the beginnings of a road, which paved the way for settlement and today's mess.

I'm curious how the carbon offset sales actually work. That market is not doing to well these days, like many markets. The Mashable post mentions the "global carbon market," though I'm guessing this is more likely to be the voluntary market for carbon offsets, where credits fetch around 10 percent of the value of credits qualified under the U.N. Clean Development Mechanism. 

Will they actually be able to sell this stuff?

Chief Almir of the Surui seems savvy enough to figure it out. He has caught the attention of a lot of tech gurus with his Google partnership. The image of a tattooed head-dressed indigenous chief posing with a Mac book pro is also a pretty clever form of marketing.

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