November 26, 2010 – Ahead of the United Nations climate talks in Cancún that start on Monday, November 29, Friends of the Earth International calls on governments to reject the role of carbon markets in international climate agreements.

Carbon trading does not lead to real emissions reductions. It is a dangerous distraction from real action to address the structural causes of climate change. Developed countries should radically cut their carbon emissions through real change at home, not by buying offsets from other countries.

Carbon offsetting has no benefits for the climate or for developing countries – it only benefits private investors and major polluters and allows rich countries to avoid their emission reduction commitments.

Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey said:

“We have so little time to make the radical societal changes necessary to tackle climate change and safeguard our planet. Carbon trading should be immediately swept aside by governments and made history so that we can have a future. We are calling on rich industrialized countries to set us on a just, rapid transition towards decarbonization. Cancún will fail if they do not commit to steep domestic cuts with no offsets, and appropriate public finance which excludes the World Bank.”

Proposals related to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) are progressing rapidly, but there is a major risk that they will be linked to carbon markets. This would lead to developed countries paying for forest offset projects that essentially privatize developing country forests in order to buy the right to pollute. Forest carbon offset schemes risk taking forest ownership out of the hands of local communities and prevent real action from rich industrialized countries to make their necessary emission cuts at home.

Climate finance – developed countries’ financial contributions to developing countries that suffer from climate change – also risks being linked to carbon markets. Friends of the Earth International calls on governments in Cancún to agree on the establishment of a global climate fund under the authority of the UNFCCC, with no role whatsoever for the World Bank.

Note to editors

1. The 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be meeting in Cancún, Mexico, from 29 to 10 December 2010.

2. At the talks, Friends of the Earth International is calling for rich countries to cut their emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2020, without resorting to carbon offsetting, and for them to commit to this under a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol – the internationally agreed mechanism for legally-binding emissions reduction targets.

Friends of the Earth International is also calling for public money to be made available for developing countries to grow sustainably and adapt to the effects of climate change already causing damage to their people’s livelihoods and families.

The international campaigning federation is calling for this money to come from public sources, not carbon markets.

Friends of the Earth International believes that, because the price of carbon is notoriously unpredictable, this approach would do nothing to supply developing countries with the reliable sources of finance they need. Likewise, carbon trading does nothing to actually reduce emissions.

In addition, Friends of the Earth International believes the World Bank should play no part in providing, managing or distributing this money – its role in tackling climate change has already been discredited because it is one of the largest lenders for fossil fuel projects in the world.

Finally, the international, grassroots federation is also calling on Governments to not resort to finance for monoculture tree plantations and to end existing forest carbon trading proposals. An approach to deforestation must safeguard and enforce community rights.

Friends of the Earth International will be present at the United Nations climate talks in Cancún (COP 16) with a delegation of observers from member groups all over the world.

For more information please contact

Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International chair and Head of the Friends of the Earth International Cancún delegation, Tel: +234 80 37 27 43 95 (Nigerian mobile number) or email

Marlijn Dingshoff, Friends of the Earth media coordinator in Cancún, Tel +31-6-51 00 56 30 (Dutch mobile number) or + 521 998 108 02 78 29 (Mexican mobile number) or email

If you want to receive our press releases, a copy of our national spokespeople contact details in Cancún (from November 28-December 12, 2010), our Cancún Media Briefing or our Cancún Events Calendar, please send a request to

Friends of the Earth International is the world’s largest grassroots environmental federation with 76 national member groups and more than 2 million individual members and supporters.