In a controversial move, Dubai-based firm Blue Carbon has inked a framework of collaboration (FOC) with Kenya's State Department of Environment and Climate Change, resulting in the concession of what is described as "millions of hectares" of Kenyan territory. The deal, aimed at carbon credit production, adds to a series of similar contracts across African nations.
According to a report by Middle East Eye, this FOC follows Blue Carbon's agreements with Liberia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, collectively covering an extensive 24.5 million hectares of land. These rapid deals have sparked concerns over the violation of customary land rights and potential displacement of local communities across these nations.
The flurry of contracts precedes the UN COP28 Climate Summit, scheduled for November in Dubai, where carbon credits are anticipated to be a key agenda item. The voluntary $2 billion carbon offset market enables major polluters to purchase credits from emission-reducing projects, primarily in forest conservation.
Founded just a year ago, Blue Carbon lacks experience in managing carbon offset projects. Led by Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, the company's close ties to the UAE royal family, heavily invested in oil and gas, have prompted concerns that these deals might serve to offset the Emirates' own emissions.
Speaking to Middle East Eye, Fadhel Kaboub, a senior adviser with Power Shift Africa, criticised the approach: “They're not reducing their emissions. But now they're buying a licence to pollute. And that licence to pollute is called the carbon market.”
The UAE positions itself as a leading investor in the African carbon market. At the Africa Climate Summit in September, an Emirati coalition pledged $450 million towards producing carbon offsets on the continent and acquiring land from African governments.
Despite growing scepticism about the environmental impact of carbon credits, carbon trading is expected to dominate the upcoming UN climate summit.
The lack of climate financing options leaves developing countries turning to carbon markets. A recent UN report highlighted the "growing gap" between climate adaptation needs and international funding.