A deal between the Liberian government and a Dubai-based company would rely on the West African nation’s trees to provide carbon offsets, but it’s raising questions about how Liberia would relinquish nearly 1 million hectares of forest to allow others in the United Arab Emirates and beyond to meet their own climate targets.
Blue Carbon LLC was set up less than a year ago by Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of the ruling family in Dubai, according to a report from Le Monde. The agreement with Liberia, seen by Le Monde, would allow for control over affected Liberian land for the next 30 years; it was launched in March and is believed to be nearing completion.
Blue Carbon says its programs are meant to help governments and corporations in the market for carbon credits to assist in compliance with their climate goals. The company also has plans to partner on carbon credit projects with Tanzania and its Africa Carbon Agency, along with managing forests for carbon sequestration in Zambia.
Last year, Blue Carbon CEO Josiane Sadaka met to discuss similar plans with officials in Angola, where more than half of the country is forest.
“Climate change is happening,” says Blue Carbon. “We act as an investment vehicle that identifies gaps, realizes opportunities and develops net-zero strategies to build a climate resilient economy.”
But there’s growing concern over the Emirati firm’s control over resources in other nations. The Independent Forest Monitoring Coordination Mechanism (IFMCM) in Liberia, a group of seven civil society and environmental groups, urges caution and raises legal questions.
For example, a US$150 million commitment between Liberia and Norway runs through 2025, and funds to protect Liberia’s forests have not yet been completely used up. It’s not clear how a new deal would affect the existing one. Further, the Blue Carbon deal may rest on land that Liberia doesn’t actually own while failing to engage the communities that do.
“If the proposed agreement is opting to grant exclusive carbon rights to Blue Carbon, it will violate the rights of communities that own the land and forest that are the subject of the agreement,” said the IFMCM in July.
Image: Liberia Forest Sector Project file