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Assigning rights to carbon in Indonesia: Feasible in the forests of Indonesia?

Mouritz, Thomas (2011) Assigning rights to carbon in Indonesia: Feasible in the forests of Indonesia? Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Tropical deforestation contributes significantly to climate change. The concept of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries has now been accepted in the international climate regime as a strategy for mitigating the dangerous effects of climate change. Under an international ‘REDD+’ framework, it is proposed that developed countries will compensate developing countries for the carbon offsets generated by avoided deforestation and other forest conservation activities. Clarifying who owns the rights to the forest carbon is a complicated issue that must be resolved in heavily forested developing countries. Carbon rights have developed as a novel form of property from the western legal tradition that has become increasingly centred on individual ownership and transferability of assets and resources. While some developed countries have attempted to define carbon property rights, in most developing countries this remains a difficult notion to conceive in their property systems.

This situation is typified in Indonesia. As one of the world’s largest sources of emissions from land use change, Indonesia has a long history of poor management and regulation of forest resources. The allocation of property rights in and around forests has been contentious for many years and contributed significantly to the vast deforestation of the Indonesian archipelago.

It is questionable whether Indonesian law is capable of supporting a carbon rights regime. A plural system combining several different legal sources, the operation of law in Indonesia has been dogged by contradictions and inconsistent and arbitrary application. The importation and transplantation of legal concepts into the Indonesian context has been particularly unsuccessful. In light of this ‘shaky ground’, successfully assigning rights to forest carbon in Indonesia appears a major challenge.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Sustainability
Supervisor(s): Davis, John
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