More questions than answers on carbon trading in PNG

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More questions than answers on carbon trading in PNG

Papua New Guinea’s forest carbon trading fiasco is back in the news. The focus is on Kirk Roberts, pictured right, his company Nupan (PNG) Trading Limited and an Australian carbon trading firm, Carbon Planet. “It’s no secret that I am one of the most important foreigners in PNG,” Roberts says. But his opponents have called him “the kingpin of the ‘carbon cowboys'”.

Roberts claims to have power of attorney over 90 forest deals. He also claims to be unaware of any disputes with tribal groups, although one tribal representative says he was coerced into signing a Memorandum of Agreement with Nupan.

Two articles were published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday last week (4 September 2009): “I am a top foreigner in Papua New Guinea, says carbon kingpin” and “Australian firm linked to PNG’s $100m carbon trading scandal“. The next day, The Australian published an overview of the whole sorry tale so far: “The rush is on for sky money“. Meanwhile, Carbon Planet has produced a series of questions and answers on its website about its involvement in REDD projects. Two extraordinary videos of a “official hand over ceremony on behalf of the 45,000 people of the East Pangia FMA [forest management area]” have also been posted on Nupan’s website (see below).

None of this is straight forward. There are many people in the logging industry who would love to see REDD fail so they that could carry on logging. Wari Iamo, the acting head of the Office of Climate Change, has said that the government does not support the sort of Voluntary Carbon Agreements that Nupan is setting up in PNG. He has also noted that in forest areas covered by Forest Management Agreements the timber resources belong to the State. This could be read as an attempt to make sure that any revenue from REDD goes to the State rather than the landowners and companies such as Nupan and Carbon Planet. There’s also the problem that trading the carbon will allow emissions elsewhere to continue – a dangerous distraction, as Friends of the Earth points out.

But the fact that something is complex means we need more transparency, not less. This post looks at three aspects of carbon trading in PNG:

  1. Free, prior and informed consent
  2. The dodgy REDD “credits”
  3. The money

In doing so it raises (or repeats) some of the unanswered questions.

Free, prior and informed consent

One of the most important aspects is whether landowners in Papua New Guinea are signing the agreements with free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). The principle is crucial to upholding the human rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Here’s how Oxfam Australia explains FPIC:

  • Free refers to the general principle of law that consent is not valid if obtained through coercion or manipulation.
  • Prior refers to meaningful, informed consent sought sufficiently in advance of any activities by a company.
  • Informed means that the process must involve consultation and participation by Indigenous peoples with full disclosures of a development activity in accessible and understandable forms to affected peoples and communities.

Nupan has contracted Carbon Planet “to provide the certification and trading services for its carbon projects in Papua New Guinea,” according to Carbon Planet’s website. In its Corporate Ethics and Social Policy, Carbon Planet states that “Carbon Planet, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples, undertake that we will endeavour to adhere with the principles outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” [emphasis added]. While Carbon Planet should be commended for referring to UN DRIPs, this wording is way too loose. To have any credibility, Carbon Planet must actually comply to the principles in the UN DRIPs, not simply say that it will try to do so. What’s worse is that in its Guiding Principles on Rights of Indigenous Peoples Carbon Planet appears to be looking only at Articles 31-37 of UN DRIPs.

Unfortunately, it seems that Roberts is being economical with the truth in at least some of his dealings with local people. For example, in a letter from Nupan to the Vice Chairman and Directors of Tumu Timbers Development Limited, regarding forest in Kamula Doso, Roberts states: “We confirm that the independent verification process to enable your Project to be formally recognized under the UNFCCC guidelines for REDD Carbon Credits is now well underway.” But there is as yet no agreement at UN level on REDD. There are no UNFCCC guidelines for REDD Carbon Credits. Roberts declined to reply when REDD-Monitor requested a copy of the UNFCCC guidelines. Here’s the letter from Nupan to Tumu Timbers (pdf file, 24.9KB)

NuPan (PNG) Trading Corporation Limited

July, 2009
Mr. Wisa Susupe,
KAMULA DOSO FMA Block 1;2;&3 FMA

Welcome Sir!

It is our great pleasure to welcome you and acknowledge your fellow
Vice Chairman and Directors of Tumu Timbers Development Limited.

Mr. Billy Toroti – Vice Chairman
Mr. Walama Painama – Director / Secretary
Mr. Yamai Umtadie – Director
Mr. Nodie Imali – Director

We acknowledge receipt of your Board Minutes confirming our appointment, and assure you that we have, on your behalf, and with the help of the People of Kamula Doso, now completed all the Corporate, Legal, Government, and Social responsibilities required of us as your appointed Power of Attorney, and that we will at all times continue to act in your best interests.

We will continue the village consultation process started with your people some years ago, and will take our greatest care to represent the interests of your people at all times. We confirm that the independent verification process to enable your Project to be formally recognized under the UNFCCC guidelines for REDD Carbon Credits is now well underway.

The decision you have all made to preserve your beautiful forests from logging and other destructive activities is a brave one, and we salute your intention to maintain your Forests in the interests of providing Mother Earth with “A breath of fresh air”.

We salute you and thank you for your trust.

Yours sincerely,
“Roberts”
Kirk William Roberts
CEO / Chairman
Nupan (PNG) Trading Corporation Limited

Roberts refused to discuss how the deals were done when asked by the Sydney Morning Herald:

”The whole thing has been checked over by international verifiers,” he said.

Asked for detail, he said: ”That information will all come out when the projects are complete. I’m not going to talk about verification now.

”Why would I do that? It’s not for people to write stories about at the moment.”
[ . . . ]
”They come to me looking to get into carbon trading, not the other way round,” he said. ”I can’t go into any details of how it’s done – this is commercial-in-confidence.”

When REDD-Monitor asked Dave Sag, co-founder and executive director of Carbon Planet, about the UNFCCC REDD guidelines mentioned in Roberts’ letter, Sag replied: “I can’t speak for Mr Roberts but what I assume he means there is the development of the specific REDD methodology and the PDD [Project Development Document] that documents the KD [Kamula Doso] project is well underway.” Sag neatly avoided answering the question about the UNFCCC REDD guidelines.

Here are the two videos of the “official hand over ceremony on behalf of the 45,000 people of the East Pangia FMA [forest management area]“:

During the second video Roberts is asked “So what do you think the people will gain out of carbon trading, long term?” Here’s his response:

“Most importantly the people will be able to preserve their customs. They’ll be able to be the same that they’ve always been, but still be able to maintain themselves in a better way by utilising the finances that carbon trading will be able to provide, with infrastructure in the villages, hospitals, roads, etc. etc. Managed properly it will definitely be a better place.”

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, one tribal representative was coerced into signing an agreement with Nupan:

a tribal representative the Herald spoke to, who cannot be named, said he had been coerced into signing a memorandum of understanding that gave Nupan power of attorney over his land. Initially he refused. ”I didn’t know anything about the certificates, that was my first time in hearing about the certificates,” the tribesman said.

The tribal representative claimed he eventually signed the memorandum in the face of Nupan’s persistence. ”I couldn’t do anything … So I just went ahead and signed it. Then later I complained to my lawyer.”

The dodgy REDD “credits”

Another part of this story is a series of dodgy carbon credits, printed on Office of Climate Change letterheads and signed by the then-head of the OCC, Theo Yasause (who is currently suspended pending an investigation). When asked by the Sydney Morning Herald about these letters, Dave Sag “denied media reports in PNG the certificates were stolen or were intended to mislead.”

”Those certificates are worthless. … No one who knows anything about carbon would take them in any way seriously,” Mr Sag said. ”They ended up in Kirk’s hands because they would have been produced as a prop to be taken out and waved in front of people in order to provide some physicality to what is essentially an ephemeral thing.”

REDD-Monitor has posted some of these REDD “credits” here and here. Questions remain. Why would a “prop” need to be written on OCC letterheaded paper, stamped and signed? If it was only a “prop”, why was it not marked, for example, “sample”? And if it really was a “prop”, why did Yasause feel the need to write again to Nupan in February 2009, stating, “As Designated National Authority, I hereby write to advise you that all correspondences and certificates issued for the development of REDD pilot project in Kumula Doso is hereby withdrawn as of the date of this letter.”?

Interestingly, on its website, Carbon Planet says something different to what Sag told the Sydney Morning Herald:

In mid 2008 the Office of Climate Change (who is the Designated National Authority (DNA) who authorises carbon market activities) created a “symbolic REDD credit certificate” as a sample certificate with no commercial value.

Carbon Planet has had no involvement with them; we understand the certificates were an internal sample produced by the Office of Climate Change not for any commercial use or purpose. The “REDD credit certificates” were not intended as anything but a symbolic reference of a REDD credit certificate.

So, when is a “symbolic REDD credit certificate” a “prop” and when is it an “internal sample”? And did the villagers who have signed agreements with Roberts also understand that these REDD “credits” were only “symbolic”, a “prop” or an “internal sample”?

The money

Another hardly trivial issue is the matter of money. Last year, Carbon Planet invested A$1.2 million in PNG. Here’s how Dave Sag explained this to Tan Copsey, a journalist with China Dialogue, recently:

“We have invested $1.2 million [Australian dollars, or nearly US$1 million] in Papua New Guinea,” Sag said, “but we haven’t given it to the government. We’ve spent money on everything from plane fares to taxis to local translators to consultants to illustrators. Right now, we also employ a lot of very hard-core scientists who go out into the jungle. These are not armchair scientists; these are real people doing real work, and it is expensive and it is complicated.”

On its website, Carbon Planet states that the money went to Nupan:

As at September 7, 2009, Carbon Planet has never paid any monies to the PNG Government. Carbon Planet paid AU$1.2m in project finance to project developer Nupan Trading Corporation (PNG) Limited.

So where did the money go? A$1.2 million would buy an awful lot of plane tickets and taxi rides. Consultants and scientists tend to be more expensive. But are they employed by Nupan or by Carbon Planet? Who are they? What were they hired to do, exactly? And are any of their reports in the public domain?

Another question is how much money Carbon Planet might get from all this. According to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Carbon Planet, which has acquired a publicly listed company, told investors recently it had $100 million in potential REDD projects in PNG. Mr Sag said this figure was ”estimates based on contracts we have in place”.

But elsewhere, Carbon Planet gives different figures. Natasha Loder, a journalist with The Economist, writes on her blog that she has a business model document produced by Carbon Planet which claims that, “25 REDD Projects have been contracted at $1 billion per annum to date”. The same document also claims that Carbon Planet has contracted eight REDD memoranda of understanding in Indonesia, at $600m per annum. So how much are these various contracts actually worth to Carbon Planet?

While we’re looking at money, and unanswered questions, the Australian government needs to answer some questions about its Papua New Guinea Australia Forest Carbon Partnership, under which Australia has committed A$3 million to PNG. In addition, Australia has a A$200 million International Forest Carbon Initiative. Penny Wong, Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Water has so far declined to answer questions about her government’s involvement in carbon trading in PNG.

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18 Comments

  1. Yeah nice story chris Lang, its just a pity your story is so far behind the times as I have already posted all of the info in this article and more on an Aus investment website (hotcopp*r) called “Ingham unvails $6 million data centre” where they will be using carbon planet “It is based on green datacentre practices and will undergo certification through Carbon Planet, Lenz said.”
    Also if you read all my posts (username robbie354315) you will see there is a much bigger picture at hand as NZ and many other business’s and countries highly respect all of the great work CP are doing. But like I said you only covered half the story Chris. Read it Chris and just hope your boss doesnt see my reply as he might think that you retrieved all your info from my posts as I posted them all well before you did, except next time tell the whole story you biases SOB. Nice try Chris “but fail” if you want the whole story (that extends well beyond what I’ve posted elsewhere) email me as I wont post it on any website except for it involves Counties/Gov’s/BIG B’s and much much more.

    Cheers Chris old boy,

    Rob

  2. Just to add you stated in your article that carbon planet have acquired a publicly listed company, lets first look at the definition of acquired – get: come into the possession of something concrete or abstract;

    Naughty naughty Chris, lets not tell porky pies as thats never even happed, yes they are talking to each other but unless you know something that I dont and considering that if you did it would be insider trading as a merger would definetely effect the company (share price) that is already listed on the ASX and Yep, no they havent submitted a statement/announcement on the asx stating anything about the merger, so you have made up a little porky pie Chris old boy, lets not get slopey shoulders Chris as you need to be accountable for your articles, once again drop me an email and get the full story.

    Cheers Chris old boy,

    Rob

  3. Also Chris you state that you write is licensed under a:

    Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

    If your readers want to see what it is (refer link below) as it is only a couple of lines of info they will see you have failed to obide by even your own rules that you have after all very suitably found and adopted for yourself.

    Whats your angle Chris? and why have you lied?

    I believe that you are gone for all $$$$$$$ as thats the reason you have written such an incorrect article.

    whats that Chris $$$ are in this game? what? hmmm??? who me?

    Its a pity Chris because I could help your cause instead of asking you why you lied?

    After all Chris it was only sixteen years ago where you worked for four years as an architect in Oxford and London, Then charged off into the blue yonder with your friends and became an eco-warrior. So I know you are a smart chap, thats why I am writing to you at 1am in australia.

    http://www.redd-monitor.org/2009/06/05/the-nature-conservancy-forest-offsets-more-important-than-emissions-reduction-targets/&usg=__Fe7wMa0abaOsHFESb3N9Jlzgxfg=&h=150&w=150&sz=41&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=rpzgbfUyjEg2iM:&tbnh=96&tbnw=96&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dchris%2Blang%2Blives%2Bredd%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26sa%3DG%26um%3D1

  4. the above link is Incorrect, oops sorry! lol try this one

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

  5. @R.Wilson – thanks for your various comments. Yes Carbon Planet has other interests other than REDD in PNG. Thanks for pointing this out and for all the other information you posted elsewhere. Very interesting.

    The bit about Carbon Planet acquiring a publicly listed company is a quotation from the article in the Sydney Morning Herald. That’s why it says “According to the Sydney Morning Herald” before the quotation.

    I can’t understand your point about the Creative Commons License. Perhaps you could try to explain this again. Incidentally, the content of REDD-Monitor is licensed under this version of Creative Commons.

  6. Sag has confirmed that the false and misleading government certificates were waved in front of landowners to give substance to the project. The purpose of this would be in the hope of persuading them into signing their land and their carbon stocks to the REDD project.

    In terms of accreditation, the VCS and the engineering companies validating and verifying the project on behalf of the VCS should take note. In my opinion (and the opinion of my company lol – http://www.noco2.com.au) the admission that these certificates were used for this purpose should render all the carbon from deals signed after the circulation date of those certificates as invalid. It will diminish the VCS as an accreditation standard if it allows the carbon from these deals to be traded.

    The auditors should also go over the other deals with a fine tooth comb to check if they are sweet or not.

    On a personal note, Im unconvinced that the ‘current rules’ of the VCS and CCBA methodologies deal with the issue of leakage. Under the methodologies, the projects have to create buffers to account for carbon lost through risk of fire/logging etc. In the case of the PNG projects – the buffer is in another part of the PNG forest.

    This is a problem because the main motivator, or in the majority of cases, logging is undertaken to supply the pulp/paper/wood market with product.

    This would be cool if the forestry market was confined to PNG. But it isnt – if the forestry market is starved of product from PNG, it will be supplied from forest some where else – without a global deal where forestry stocks are monitored, deforestation will still occur and the same amount of carbon will be lost as a store/sink irrespective of whether the png deals go ahead. Hence, the net result for the atmosphere will be the same – no benefit.

    Carbon trading is premised on the notion that carbon projects create a net CO2 saving/benefit that can be sold to polluters. REDD projects fail to do this and should not be allowed to deem carbon credits and we wont allow companies to use them to claim they are carbon neutral.

    An international agreement that sees global forests as a carbon asset and creates an international inventory of carbon stocks could be the answer to this problem. I hope that they solve it at Copenhagen because it would be awesome if REDD could do as ‘Roberts’ suggests and be a mechanism that helps preserve culture and enhance self determination of indigenous peoples.

  7. Gavin I do understand how tempting it is to try and use stories like this to promote your own company but please get your facts right. Despite allegations in the SMH I have neither “confirmed” nor “admitted” anything of the sort. I was taken well out of context by the press the other week. Your opinions, and those of your business partner who on another blog claimed we should just shut Carbon Planet down, are at best unhelpful and at worst childish.

    Get your facts right. REDD Monitor is just a parrot of negative press, and does no genuine reporting of its own. If they did then perhaps this site would have some credibility but alas it does not. But sadly Chris Lang has never bothered to actually contact me and ask me for comment. He’s just reprinted my comments from other blogs, or the nonsense from the papers that has been emphatically denied by myself and our CEO Jim Johnson.

    Your personal view of the VCS is irrelevant. Go to the VCS website and check out our Methodology for yourself and see how, for example, buffer calculations are made, before spouting off with your ignorance.

    Dave
    http://redd.carbonplanet.com

  8. Chris,

    Have a look at the below link, the persons name is Natasha Loder, London, United Kingdom. She is a journalist working at The Economist.

    MORE IMPORTANTLY SHE’S GIVEN A FAIR REPORT ON WHERE NUPAN AND CARBON PLANET STAND, YOU DO REALISE THAT THEY ARE TWO DIFFERENT COMPANIES AND APART FROM HAVING SOME DISCUSSIONS ARE 2 COMPLETELY SEPERATE ENTITIES. DONT LABEL BUDDY, CHALK AND CHEESE LOL! MANY MANY PEOPLE HAVE AND WILL SEEK CARBON PLANETS BUSINESS/HELP/IDEAS SOME WILL BE BAD AND SOME WILL BE GOOD. THE MOMENT 1 COMPANY (NUPAN) LOOKS (AND THE VERDICT IS STILL OUT) A LITTLE SHADY PEOPLE LIKE YOU THROW THE FIRST STONE AT CP.

    http://natashaloder.blogspot.com/2009/06/kamula-duso-credit.html

  9. @R.Wilson – I’m fully aware that Nupan and Carbon Planet are two separate companies: “Nupan has contracted Carbon Planet ‘to provide the certification and trading services for its carbon projects in Papua New Guinea,’ according to Carbon Planet’s website” (from the post, above). I am aware of Natasha Loder’s blog – you might like to read this post on REDD-Monitor about Kamula Doso.

    @Dave Sag – perhaps you’d like to explain exactly what the REDD “credits” were, and whether or not they were waved in front of villagers in PNG. Feel free to add in the context that the press did not give. Will you be making a complaint to the Australian Press Council about the articles in the Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere in the Australian press?

  10. Chris I don’t have the actual documents in front of me as I am travelling right now but last week I was asked to attend a meeting by the Australian Government who had a whole bunch of questions for me about the recent media hysteria. Once I had answered their questions they then showed me the ‘certificate’ you and Natasha Loder have been on about. That was the first time (outside of Natasha’s blog I think) that I had ever seen this so-called certificate. What neither Loder’s blog, nor any other reporting on the issue shows, but the Government here had, was the letter that accompanied the certificate and that puts the certificate in context. The letter outlines the VCS approval process and makes it very clear that the ‘attached’ copy was a sample and had no value whatsoever. On the back of this sample certificate, as detailed in the letter, is a flowchart depicting the VCS approval process in summary form. It was utterly deceptive of Loder, and subsequent bloggers, to parade that certificate around and, since it was scanned and put online I am told that con-men have been using it to deceive people into handing over cash for so-called “sky-money”. The irritating thing is that these stories have since been maliciously conflated by a handful of irresponsible bloggers to imply (and later outright claim) that Carbon Planet, and/or Nupan have been using fake or stolen carbon credits to dupe landowners. Nothing could be further from the truth and even the most basic understanding of the VCS process would make it clear that informed consent of landowners is a vital foundation to any proper REDD type project.

    I never told told the SMH, who could not even get my job title right in their story, that Nupan had any copies of this sample certificate. I said, in my interview, (from memory here) something along the lines of ‘IF Mr Roberts had one of those certificates it would have been used as a prop.’ Nupan has emphatically denied ever having had any ‘fake’ certificates, let alone having used them. Carbon Planet’s actual CEO (that’s not me as the SMH stated) wrote a letter to the SMH that was published a day later that made this very clear. I guess while you were researching your story you overlooked that letter, or if you did see it you simply chose to ignore it.

    Chris you seem to have made up your mind that carbon trading is wrong and that those of us working in the planet saving industry are pure evil incarnate. When has REDD Monitor ever published a success story about REDD projects? Or are they all flawed?

    Regarding making a complaint to the APC, it had not occurred to me but now you mention it I’ll ask someone to look into that tomorrow. Thanks for the tip.

    Dave
    http://www.carbonplanet.com/REDD_addressing_the_issues
    see also http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/medias-carbon-confusion-is-grist-for-the-lumber-mill/

  11. @Dave Sag – I posted the letter that accompanied the REDD “certificate” you refer to, here. I also wrote the following about the letter in a post about Kamula Doso on REDD-Monitor (2 July 2009):

    “on 3 November 2008, the Office of Climate Change wrote to a company called Nupan PNG Limited (right), stating ‘As Designated National Authority (DNA), I can issue a certificate of credit should you complete the following steps for the Project Documentation to be registered under the Voluntary Carbon Standards.’ Attached to the letter is a copy of a certificate, titled ‘Series Number B1 Voluntary carbon credits issued under the UNFCC Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation (sic) initiative for clean development mechanisms.’ The certificate is signed by Theo Yasause and Leo Tale, Director-Carbon Trade.”

    But the fifth page of the pdf file is perhaps more interesting. Here’s what I wrote about that, back in July:

    “On 2 February 2009, Yasause sent a ‘Notice of Nullyfication (sic) of all corresspondences (sic) and certifications issued on Kumalo (sic) Doso Pilot Project on REDD’ to the Managing Director of Nupan PNG Limited (see page 5 of the letters about Kamula Doso). The letter states that ‘This decision has come about due to the continuous dispute between various landowner groups within the Kumula Doso project area and also with your company ownership.'”

    I wonder why Kirk Roberts didn’t send you a copy of this letter?

  12. I’d like to know whether the Australian government is only interested in the problem of “media hysteria”, or whether, on behalf of the taxpayers that support it, should perhaps be more interested to know whether the money that it has poured into the ‘Papua New Guinea Australia Forest Carbon Partnership’ is actually doing any good, or is maybe just helping a bunch of “carbon cowboys” line their rather deep pockets.

    I’m beginning to wonder whether Penny Wong really exists. Or has she perhaps gone into hiding?

  13. Dave, we also feel lucky to work in an industry that exists to save the planet. We were compelled to blog because we were deeply concerned that yet another carbon company had, on the reported evidence, cocked up and caused further damage to the reputation of honest players in the market.

    The main reason for my blog was that I wanted to make the point that the VCS and CCBA Methodologies for REDD are rubbish because they don’t account for international leakage. By default, this makes your project rubbish to – irrespective of whether false certificates were used to trick landowners or not.

    Forests are logged in the main to supply the international market for wood and wood products. Your project will starve the market of wood from PNG – fantastic – but, in the absence of international regulation, the gap will definitely be filled through deforestation somewhere else. Economics 101 I believe. The emissions you save under the project will shift out of PNG and into another country with minimal (if any)net benefit for our atmosphere. This is the net outcome of your project.

    I wish the media and other commentators were knowledgeable enough to focus on this point – because it removes all integrity, ‘carbon value’ and therefore monetary value from the carbon products that the project will eventually create and try to sell.

    You and I both know this to be true – the buffer calculations don’t include international leakage – so don’t label me ignorant. You’re better than that. I can present page references, attach links to the methodology documents or explain the formulae used to substantiate the above points should you need me to.

    The point of blogs is so that informed people can point these sorts of things out and express their opinions within a relevant channel. You’ll notice that I put a ‘lol’ in after the company reference. That was because, whilst I knew there was no value in being identified/listed on this blog(and my partners agree lol) I didnt want to appear to be casting gutless potshots using the anonymity of the web.

    The first few points in my previous entry hinged on your quote RE Nupan’s use of the false certificates. We’d heard about the certificates prior to the article and later, you were quoted as saying that the certificates were produced to be waved in front of landowners. You say you were misquoted – but many if not all informed readers would see that quote and draw the same conclusion – that if they were presented to landowners it would be in aid of trying to entice them to join their stocks to the project. I think the points I made following on the base of this conclusion were fair – you’d hate it if other carbon companies were able to claim VCUs under similar false pretense. You should have explained explicitly and immediately that you were misquoted –on twitter, your blog, your company webpage – anywhere, but you didn’t. It took days for the company to list a response that still didnt offer a rebuttal to your quote. We were looking for it, but it never came until you were pushed through blogs such as this.

    Anyway – you’ve defended that quote and we’ll see in the wash (or through the project’s eventual accreditation) whether it was legit. I hope you avoid making further loose-cannon statements to the press as they only act to tarnish the good work that the rest of us are trying to get on with in this industry. Maybe you should provide written answers to journos to protect yourself from being so horrendously misquoted in future.

    I hope to leave it there.

    Gavin

  14. Dear Chris,

    I think this blog is the best example of the worst grammar and literary expression I have ever seen.

    I can understand that, at 1.00 am, R. Wilson was losing his or her sense of proportion and coherence (did we have a glass or two of wine beforehand?) but this is bearable compared to Mr Pereira’s barrage of modern creative adjectives; sweet, cool, awesome! I imagine we can all accept ‘cocked-up’ as a colourful (or colorful if you are in the USA) alternative to the good old fashioned “erred” though I confess I prefer the latter in serious journalism.

    What disturbs me more is that Mr Pereira’s argument is as incomprehensible and contradictory as his vernacular, invective as it is, and, once again, sounds like the cacophonous cackle of a carrion crow rid of his carcass.

    I find that those who are most vociferously, and vehemently opposed to REDD are those that understand it the least which is not surprising among the lay but damns by definition those who claim, as Mr Pereira does, to be in the same ‘business’.

    Sadly, there is no shortage of vitriol borne of envy and ire borne of ignorance in this debate and my advise to Mr. Sag is to rise above it (it is clearly time, Chris, that you and Dave had a real conversation and I would be happy to act as a cheery peacekeeper as I have both your acquaintances albeit only slightly).

    I also hope, one day, to read a list of contributions that offer assistance, guidance and general support to and from those of us who are trying to fight the effects of climate change even if we seek to make a living out of it.

    My own philosophy is that I hope and expect to make some money out of what I am doing; I am not doing it to make money. There is a difference and, in the absence of proof to the contrary, and accepting that we must challenge it on specific issues or judgments such as this one, it is reasonable to give Carbon Planet the benefit of the doubt.

    In my opinion I think REDD Monitor has, thus far, done so.

  15. Removing all the vitriol in this thread, I want to comment on one point made in passing in the thread that addresses, in my opinion, the root of whether REDD can ever be beneficial to local communities as many anticipate: “that informed consent of landowners is a vital foundation to any proper REDD type project.” The question of whether REDD is foolish because in Economics 101 it will inevitably lead to leakage elsewhere, as was also argued, is certainly a worthy question for policy makers at the macro programming level to consider, with emphasis on what operational mitigation measures could be put in place to safeguard against this leakage.

    Returning to the topic of FPIC…

    For people with experience in most (perhaps all?) developing countries , achieving FPIC in the literal sense of the term is not just a challenge. In many situations it is not feasible today or tomorrow due to: the inability of women to participate as equal partners in decision making processes due to myriad reasons; the inability of minorities to participate in an informed manner due to their own legacy of subservience; the tendency of local social structures to enable local leaders to manipulate to the disadvantage of the larger community (e.g. sub-optimal social capital).

    FPIC is inevitably a very relative notion. Depending on one’s interpretation of what it means, FPIC can be easiest boiled down to a leader’s signature on paper. When either PNG clan leaders or African chiefs sign in the name of their constituents, is it fair to assume this is representative of FPIC? All certification programs that utilize FPIC as a cornerstone principle are stating a philosophical axiom that all politically correct practitioners can accept, but that has serious operational shortcomings when one attempts to apply FPIC on the ground in “certifying” that company x,y,z can demonstrate FPIC.

    I believe that until communities can demonstrate that they understand the costs, benefits and risks of REDD – some minimally acceptable form of means testing, as it were – and that they opt for a particular REDD program involving certain behaviors vis a vis carbon assets, then the world (including PNG) will be stuck with an ambiguous FPIC principle that will be interpreted differently from case to case. This will not bode well for the REDD marketplace, and will of course lead to manipulation of communities by REDD marketers/intermediaries who know fully well that FPIC in the real sense has not been achieved. And all those agencies that use the standard and perpetuate reliance on FPIC to make REDD right, including donor agencies, will be winking at what is collectively known as a politically correct principle with no prayer in hell of being demonstrated in the vast majority of cases where the word “informed” is taken seriously.

    There remains too little information, too little analytical and decision making experience in dealing with legal documents and business tradeoffs for most communities in developing countries, to make informed choices.

    Will donor agencies promoting REDD in PNG or sub-Saharan Africa be strengthening the capacities of potential REDD stewards such that they can coherently play the game? Will market intermediaries be doing this? Unless someone does, will we ever be able to speak honestly about FPIC as it relates to REDD?

    I do not believe so.

    But I do believe that there are ways to responsibly do this, that are akin to any other type of corporate social responsibility investment that will pay out nicely on the bottom line in the long run.

  16. This is very interesting, can you tell me who did the interviews and filming and how I might contact them?

    Many thanks,

    Claire Harris

  17. @Claire Harris – The videos were posted on Vimeo by someone calling themselves Jeremy Dawes. You could try asking Kirk Roberts who did the interviews – his contact details are available on Nupan Trading’s website: carbonowontok.org

  18. I need an email address for the office or person responsible for carbon trade in PNG.

    I would like to start a carbon trade project.

    Thank You

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