How carbon credits helped a Native American tribe buy back its land and revitalize it

Originally published at: How carbon credits helped a Native American tribe buy back its land and revitalize it | Boing Boing


While “market solutions” are typically suspicious to me, I’ve never heard a criticism of them that wasn’t, “Well, we should be doing something better instead.” when there’s no evidence that carbon credits would get in the way of doing any of the “better” things.


I’d argue that it will if we keep pretending that the “free market” can be employed to solve all our problems, though. These are often proposed in lieu of more comprehensive state regulation programs, rather than along side it, because a good deal of people seem to legitimately buy into the notion that regulation by the government is a worse evil than actually solving our problems.


When given the opportunity, Native American tribes have proven themselves very adept at turning the white man’s rigged “free”-market solutions to their own advantage. It’s usually not pretty, but it is satisfying.


They are deeply problematic and they clearly get in the way of doing better things as they are being used as an excuse to delay the deployment of the hard mitigation measures that definitively reduce emissions.

Rather than spending tens or hundreds of dollars per tCO2e to mitigate emissions, companies are instead spending a few dollars per tCO2e on schemes that allow them to claim carbon neutrality when we have little idea as to how much additional carbon they will remove from the atmosphere or how permanently they will remove it for.

We need to find other ways to finance GHG removals.


Unfortunately, the history of unprivileged groups beating the white man at his own game is full of examples of last minute rule changes or extralegal violence to maintain the hierarchy. I wish the Yurok better luck.


Some of the more common other problems are that they create a larger burden on the poorest, allow for more lucrative industries to skate by, while imposing a heavy burden on industries that may have a lower rate of return but be near their carbon floor. While each of these can be addressed with enough tweaking and exemptions, each of those adjustments requires a great deal of political capital and allows for the types of regulatory capture that a market solution is supposed to avoid. Carbon markets with a falling cap on emissions would have been a great way to great a cleaner market, in the 80s. Using them at this point essentially guarantees massive problems for our entire species.


Agreed, whether it’s carbon credits or casino gambling, some tribes are using the $ to quietly buy back property stolen from them.

One of the bigger issues are then bringing those lands into federal tribal trusts so there’s no property tax…


From the program:

Even though Indigenous peoples right now are only five percent of the world population, their territories encompass 22 percent of the world’s land surface. And on that land lives 80 percent of the planet’s biodiversity.

A somewhat problematic statement, that’s sure to be picked up by any number of nationalist movements.

Define pretty.

I love it and I have to say, they looked at the “rules” and played them better… And in unexpected ways and won.

I’d call that pretty!

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Not involving turning the rapacious “free”-market solutions usually used against them to their benefit. Things like carbon credits or casinos aren’t really pretty tools to use, but they’re the ones available so I’m not going to begrudge Native Americans’ using them.

It’s a matter of opinion, of course. If you think carbon credits are an elegant solution to global warming and think that milking degenerate gamblers is a wonderful way to make money, I can see why you’d call that pretty.


Well… I’m not overly fond of watching sausage made, but I DO like a nicely cooked bratwurst so I tend to overlook the method. As I do when “they” aren’t supposed to benefit from the methods, but those ARE the rules and “they” play them so elegantly and do in fact benefit so nicely. And without getting REALLY gross about it, the bad guys can’t do anything about it.

It’s kind of nice to see the good guys win some.

BTW, no fair just quoting part of things :wink:

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Carbon credits are a rightwing (previous generation rightwing) idea to help companies continue to pollute. They are a solution in that they help companies do things they shouldn’t be allowed to do.

Up in Washington, various tribes have been playing this game by building cigarette factories and selling the tobacco products with no taxes so they can massively undercut the national brands.

I can’t call this pretty. But I also don’t have a problem with it, and part of me loves it.

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Robin Williams : There was once a documentary. They asked a Peruvian Indian chief, they said, “Chief, what’s cocaine?” He looked right in the camera and said, “Cocaine? That’s our gift to the white man for what you did to us. You take our land, we give you monkey for your back .”

As you say, it’s not pretty, but ya gotta love it

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