Image: Africana Museum

A United Arabs Emirates UAE company is to have conservation rights over 7.5 million of Zimbabwean forest under a carbon-credit deal with the country.

With an area of almost 20% of the country’s land mass, the company, Blue Carbon, will run projects to preserve forests in exchange for carbon credits that it would sell on the global markets. The company is led by Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai’s royal family and an investor in energy projects across Africa and the Middle East.

However, former cabinet minister Walter Mzembi says the government should not rush into deals without carefully considering their merits and demerits.

He says before any Memorandum of Understanding is signed it must be critically scrutinized first.

Mzembi writes:

“Before any MoU of this nature is operationlised our Parliament must scrutinize and investigate the impact on the Rights of Communities, the benefit stream accruing to them and to what extent their Rights are undermined.

Secondly any deal that involves national assets should undergo scrutiny by our Parliament to assess and benchmark its imperial motives and neocolonial agenda, apart from State benefit assesment and Corporate interests.

Once upon a time our forefathers signed the Rudd Concession which became an instrument of imperial subjugation, in our contemporary times the environment lobby has become the vehicle of imperialism and neocolonialism in subsoil assets that are not mined but are leveraged for international capital apart from the flora and fauna.

“We can’t convert our national heritage into foreign assets and we are tired of this Clever Tom deals that are not thought through properly. As such a team of environmental economists have been assigned from our end to interrogate this transaction and will determine whether its in the national interest and recommend way forward.”

To meet their climate pledges to reduce pollution, many large global companies and governments are compensating for their carbon emissions by supporting the conservation of forests.

For each tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission a project saves, it gets a “carbon credit”. There is now a market globally for these carbon credits, which companies and States buy to offset their emissions so they can reach “net zero”.

Blue Carbon of UAE has emerged as one of the largest carbon credit companies. Al Maktoum signed an MoU with President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare on Friday, saying the deal “symbolises a powerful alliance between Zimbabwe and UAE in the face of a shared global challenge”.