Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cool Earth: no good deed goes unpunished

Cool Earth is a cooperative effort led by a Conservative businessman and a Labour politician aimed at preserving rainforests by enabling individuals and organizations to pool their resources and purchase large areas of them:
WHEN millionaire businessman Johan Eliasch decides to head for his country estate, it involves a slightly longer trek than a drive to the Cotswolds.

After leaving his office in London’s Mayfair, it is a 12-hour journey by air and road before he can view his 400,000-acre plot in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The estate is the size of Greater London.

Eliasch, 43, a banker, film producer and chief executive of the Head sports equipment company, has bought it from a logging company to protect the plants and wildlife. He sees himself as a pioneer on the new frontier of climate change.

Eliasch, who is also deputy treasurer of the Conservative party, is part of a growing trend towards “green colonialism”. Link.

According to Cool Earth, an average acre of rainforest locks in more than 100 tonnes of carbon. Sponsors are invited to contribute about $140 to protect one acre. Eliasch has suggested that the entire Amazon could, in theory, be purchased for about $50 billion. Such an astronomical investment seems like a promising proposal when you consider that logging in the rainforests is thought to contribute more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than all of the human activity in China or the United States.

More background on Cool Earth here and here.

Unfortunately, Cool Earth’s plans seem to have been completely misunderstood by some in the Brazilian government:
. . . the daily O Globo from Rio de Janeiro reveals that a private report by the Abin, Brazilian Intelligence Agency found out that Johan Eliasch, a Swede businessman who works as a consultant for British prime minister Gordon Brown, estimated that the whole Amazon Forest can be bought for about US$ 50 billion.

Apparently, Eliasch's purpose is to encourage British businessmen to buy real estate in the area. Brazilian authorities have been investigating Eliasch's participation in the acquisition of 160,000 hectares of land in the states of Amazonas and Mato Grosso.

Eliasch is head of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Cool Earth, which is in the Brazilian government's black list as suspect of doing monkey business in the Amazon. Link.

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