Currently — January 24th, 2023
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Indigenous communities in the Amazon claim that “carbon pirates,” or those who capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, are a threat to their lives, as western carbon offsetting companies continue to insert themselves into their territories and secure deals for various projects.
Many proponents of carbon markets claim that they’re a good way to pay Indigenous peoples for their protection of the land and vital ecosystems. But of course, these markets are nowhere near perfect nor are they harmless. Many Indigenous leaders believe that they could be taken advantage of by these lengthy, less-than-transparent deals. Communities are also often displaced by the projects.
Wilfredo Tsamash, from the Awajun community in northern Peru, says community members are taking it upon themselves to learn how to navigate the carbon markets, so they don’t fall victim to extraction and can instead, buy their own credits.
“They are trying to divide us. Carbon pirates enter communities but we often do not know where they come from, how they work or who they are,” he told The Guardian. “It’s a big issue. Some of these NGOs are ghosts, working in the background. I do not think we should sell the credits to oil companies or mining firms. They are the ones doing the damage.”
Similarly, Julio Cusurichi, a Shipibo Indigenous leader from the Madre de Dios region of Peru, says money from carbon credits could be beneficial to the community and go towards better education and health facilities. However, this rarely happens.
“It’s important to strengthen the structures of Indigenous communities [as part of these offsetting projects]. This issue of carbon pirates is happening across the Amazon. They can be 30-, 40-, 100-year projects. Who has the money, has the power,” he told The Guardian.
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