Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Critics see REDD over Papua New Guinea carbon schemes



August 6, 2010




Two carbon trade projects proposed for Papua New Guinea have been hammered by critics who list a litany of inconsistencies, dubious science, legal issues and concerns landowners will be ripped off.

PNG's pilot Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation' (REDD) schemes, which are part of the United Nation's framework for tackling climate change, are in the Kamula Doso forest, Western Province and April Salumei, East Sepik Province.

But documents obtained by AAP show the PNG government does not support the REDD projects and there is a scathing reaction to the Project Development Documents (PDD) that were submitted in July for verification and approval from the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) regulator.

The Kamula Doso venture is led by Nupan, a company run by controversial Australian businessman Kirk Roberts, a former disqualified horse trainer who also ran a Philippines cockfighting business.

Mr Roberts, who is a self-proclaimed "carbon kingpin", has travelled extensively across PNG promising landowners if they stop logging their forests, millions - and potentially billions - of dollars will come via his carbon trade projects.

The April Salumei project is run by the Rainforest Management Alliance (RMA), which did not respond to emailed questions regarding their plans or who they were exactly.

No phone number is listed on RMA's website.

Stephen Hooper is the only name on the RMA site that also lists a connection to Earth Sky, an Australian company previously embroiled in PNG carbon trade scandals and operated by Queensland boilermaker Greg Corby.

The submitted comments to the CCBA show PNG's Office of Climate Change and Development Executive Director Wari Iamo is dead against both REDD proposals.

"The PNG government does not recognise and disavows any partnership, support, endorsement or any form of connection to the proposed projects," he wrote.

Dr Iamo includes legal advice from O'Brien lawyers which equates both schemes to an infamous Pacific land scam from the 19th century.

O'Brien states: "PNG requires extensive legislation to be passed by the parliament before it can implement any system to commercialise carbon sequestration.

"Both projects are legally untenable.

"Until the legal regime in PNG establishes a foundation for such schemes they are little different to a modern day version of the false prospectus for the Port Breton Colonisation Scheme issued by the Marquis du Reys and circulated through Europe in the late 1870s."

World Wide Fund for Nature's Matt Leggett raised concerns that communities within the project areas would suffer.

"The level of community consultation and understanding of the project in the region is insufficient to guarantee the project has ensured free, prior and informed consent of landowners," he wrote.

"The proposal does not adequately recognise or account for existing disputes over land tenure and landowner company representation in the region."

Forest carbon scientist, Sunil Sharma, who worked for Carbon Planet, the Adelaide-based company that recently went bankrupt after investing more than $1 million with Nupan, is also against the April Salumei plan.

"The threat to the forest in the Project Area is not convincing and the PDD contradicts itself."

The only support comes from Theo Yasause, the former head of PNG's climate change office, suspended and under investigation into his dealings with Mr Roberts, including falsely signing carbon deals for Nupan.

"April Salumei will deliver and open the eyes as the vehicle for future development," he writes.

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