• Press Release

Global: UN Special Rapporteur Is Right to Raise Human Rights Concerns about Carbon Markets

April 27, 2024

( Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

Reacting to a call by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples to consider a moratorium on carbon markets, Amnesty International’s Advisor on Indigenous Rights, Chris Chapman, said:

“The UN Special Rapporteur is right to raise human rights concerns about the workings of carbon markets. Polluters can use them to offset – rather than actually reduce – their greenhouse gas emissions by buying carbon credits for schemes involving Indigenous Peoples’ lands. These schemes do little or nothing to benefit Indigenous Peoples, and in some cases actively harm their rights.

“The carbon markets system has inadequate human rights and environmental safeguards, leaving it open to abuse, and providing the fossil fuel industry and other big polluters with a mechanism to continue their harmful activities.

“Strong safeguards, including an effective grievance mechanism, are required to ensure carbon markets don’t become a barrier to the climate action we need to ensure protection of the planet and human rights.

“Governments are legally obliged to ensure that their actions – or those of companies operating in their territories – do not violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, whose consent must be obtained for projects on their lands.

“Amnesty International believes the only real answer to truly curb greenhouse gas emissions is a full, fast, fair and funded phase out of fossil fuels and a just transition to human rights compliant renewable energy, accessible to all.”


Carbon markets and carbon trading systems allow polluters to buy carbon credits, issued for areas of land protected from development or exploitation, but there are concerns that many projects do not lead to genuine emissions reductions. UN guidelines on carbon markets regulation are under discussion, and if adopted at COP29 this year, pilot projects under these guidelines could begin as early as January 2025.

Francisco Calí Tzay, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples this week said that a moratorium on carbon markets could be a solution to prevent abuses of Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

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