in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines

Australian company Shift2Neutral signs REDD deals in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines

JOAS Climate Change focal point, Jen Rubis, at Copenhagen climate change negotiations 2009. PHOTO: Ben Powless

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), the Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia, put out a press release on 10 August 2010 about a carbon trading deal with indigenous peoples in Sarawak. On 6 August 2010, Reuters reported that an Australian carbon trading company called Shift2Neutral had “signed a deal with nine Malaysian tribal leaders to certify carbon offsets from a project aimed at preserving more than 100,000 hectares of tropical forest”.

The Reuters article does not mention exactly where the proposed REDD+ project would be. Neither does a press release from Shift2Neutral, dated 4 August 2010. As JOAS notes, Reuters refers to 24 villages that are involved in the proposed project, while Shift2Neutral refers to an agreement signed with “a group of nine tribal leaders living in Sarawak Malaysia”.

Shift2Neutral also recently announced that it has signed “an agreement to certify 159,000 hectares of tribal land for carbon credits” through a REDD project, “with a group of 10 villages living in Maluku, Indonesia”. On 15 July 2010, the company announced that “Shift2Neutral finalises the certification of 1,000,000 hectares of …first growth forest and issues credits for certification for the tribes of Mindanao Philippines.”

Below are the press release from JOAS, the Reuters article and Shift2Neutral’s press release about the proposed project in Malaysia. I’ll let you decide whether Shift2Neutral is another bunch of “carbon cowboys”, or whether it is “a leader in the neutralisation of carbon emissions in the world,” as it prefers to describe itself.

August 10 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JOAS statement on purported forest carbon deal in Sarawak involving Indigenous Peoples

On August 6, Reuters released a news article titled “Australia firm signs forest CO2 deal with Malaysia tribes”. On behalf of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia / Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS), we would like to state that our network is not involved in this and, to the best of our knowledge, we do not know which of the 24 villages (according to the news report)or 9 community leaders (according to the Australian company’s own press release) are involved in that project.

We feel it is important to make clear that it is not our network that is involved in this deal as we strongly and consistently endorse a process of free, prior informed consent (FPIC) before signing any deal that involves our forests and territories. This should involve a mandatory process where the communities are fully informed and independent workshops should be conducted to allow the communities to freely make a decision on their communal forest.

JOAS does not support the implementation of REDD in any form unless the parties involved in this deal have adequate consultation and FPIC. In this case, we hope that the company has at least ensured that the communities have access to their own lawyers who can independently advise them on the legal matters involved.

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) has conducted information sessions on REDD+ among its members. From these sessions there are two clear points:

  1. That REDD+ will involve and affect the lands and resources of indigenous peoples

  2. That there is a need for more capacity building among indigenous peoples in Malaysia to understand REDD+

Therefore JOAS is committed towards building capacity to understand REDD and the impact,whether positive or negative, to our rights and resources.

Adrian Lasimbang
President
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia / Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS)

Australia firm signs forest CO2 deal with Malaysia tribes

By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE | Fri Aug 6, 2010 6:36am BST

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – An Australian carbon services company has signed a deal with nine Malaysian tribal leaders to certify carbon offsets from a project aimed at preserving more than 100,000 hectares of tropical forest.

The deal allows the tribes in Sarawak state on the island of Borneo to earn a share of the proceeds from the sale of carbon offsets to help them manage and protect the forest over a period of 20 years, payments potentially worth millions of dollars.

Forests soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, and preserving the remaining tropical forests in developing countries is seen as a key part of the fight against climate change.

The project aims to improve the livelihoods of at least 10,000 people in 24 villages and is part of a U.N.-backed scheme called reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation.

The United Nations hopes REDD will lead to a multi-billion dollar trade in forest carbon credits and the Malaysian project is one of several pioneering investments aimed at building up the REDD sector.

REDD seeks to reward developing nations and indigenous forest owners with carbon credit payments to save their forests. There are about a dozen REDD projects in neighboring Indonesia. The firm, Shift2Neutral, said it will work with the tribes and a local NGO to help manage the forest, survey the area and access the carbon stored in the trees and soil. The project would be certified under an enhanced form of REDD that also aims to reward any enhancement to a forest’s carbon stock.

A long-term management plan would also be created and a committee of comprising tribal leaders, investors and local and company officials would guide how the money is spent with the aim of improving livelihoods and curbing incentives for logging.

“It’s a 50-50 deal. We ensure they get their funding and they use that funding as per an economic development committee that is established,” said Brett Goldsworthy, chairman of Shift2Neutral, adding the aim was to make sure the money wasn’t squandered.

The tribes are the customary owners of the land and the legal owners of the carbon but many still have subsistence livelihoods.

“You’ve got tribal people who have barely got any money and they are desperate for money for things like medical aid,” Goldsworthy said on Friday.

“What we will do with our funding is to start instigating other programs along the lines of medical, food aid, schooling, clothing to make sure there is a sustainable future,” he said.

PROTECTION

Besides boosting incomes, better monitoring of the forest was also crucial.

“The main threat they face is illegal loggers,” he said.

“It is key to get more forestry people involved for the protection of the forest and having checks and measures on their boundary borders to ensure that people aren’t getting through.”

Goldsworthy said he hoped the carbon survey and management plan for the area would be finished by next year, followed by the issuance of the first batch of carbon offsets called VERs, or voluntary emissions reductions, to be sold to investors.

It was too early to provide an accurate estimate of the number of VERs per hectare from the Sarawak site, he said.

“As the land is first-growth vegetation one could expect 50 per hectare but again we have not provided anything at this point.”

Avoided deforestation VERs fetch anything from $10 to $30 each depending on the project, country and risk.

He said the company is developing similar projects in the Philippines, Indonesia and South Africa with VER buyers being governments, large corporates and wealthy individuals. (Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Shift2Neutral signs agreement to certify REDD+ with tribes of Sarawak Malaysia

Shift2Neutral signs agreement to certify carbon credits under the avoided deforestation program known as REDD+ with a group of tribal leaders in Sarawak Malaysia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) – Aug 04, 2010 – Shift2Neutral signs agreement to certify REDD+ with tribes of Sarawak Malaysia

July 2010 Shift2Neutral signed an agreement to certify carbon credits under the avoided deforestation program known as REDD+ with a group of nine tribal leaders living in Sarawak Malaysia

The agreement with Indigenous Customary Land Owners of Sarawak Malaysia will see Shift2Neutral work directly with the tribal leaders to ensure the protection of their native flora and fauna.

Shift2Neutral executives made the following statement
“Shift2Neutral believes that linking people’s economic self-interest and the health of ecosystems is one way to generate interest in the conservation challenges facing our world today.
Business pioneers new ideas, forging new partnerships and implementing new solutions. Now the private sector can put these strengths to work in ways that will permanently halt unsustainable deforestation and allow the global society to protect the ecosystems on which we all depend.
Shift2Neutral firmly believes this can be achieved with benefits to the local stakeholders. We must recognize the rights of indigenous peoples and the local communities involved.”

A spokesperson went on to advise “the total land area involved for the first phase is more than 100,000 hectares or endangered forest. Via avoided deforestation programs like this we can ensure the protection of the carbon that is already stored in vegetation.”

The spokesperson went on to advise “The cutting of forests releases billions of tons of greenhouse gases (from carbon stored in trees, plants and soils) into the atmosphere. Roughly 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation. By comparison, the entire global transportation sector is responsible for roughly 14% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. The immediate protection of tropical rainforests is critical if we hope to turn the tide on global warming, and the added benefits of conserving these sensitive ecosystems are immeasurable. ”

About Sarawak

Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. Known as Bumi Kenyalang (“Land of the Hornbills”), it is situated on the north-west of the island. It is the largest state in Malaysia; the second largest, Sabah, lies to the northeast.

Having land area of 124,450 km² spreading between latitude 0° 50′ and 5°N and longitude 109° 36′ and 115° 40′ E, it makes up 37.5% of the land of Malaysia. Sarawak also contains large tracts of tropical rain forest home to an abundance of plant and animal species.

About Shift2neutral

Shift2neutral was created by a dynamic group of individuals and companies who believe in a sustainable future and in working directly with the corporate community to achieve realistic change.

We provide a variety of services from

Energy audits
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategies
Renewable Energy Strategies
Corporate Environmental Policies
Green Marketing Strategies
Carbon Credit Certification (CER, VER, REDD+)
Broker sale of carbon credits

Our team of professionals and consultants can assist businesses with their business objectives in achieving a carbon neutral workplace.

Contact
Shift2Neutral
Suites 2 – 5, Level One, Westleigh Village ,
4 – 8 Eucalyptus Drive, Westleigh NSW 2120 Australia
T +61 2 9945 0738 F +61 2 8572 9962 E contact@shift2neutral.com

# # #

Shift2Neutral provides
* Energy audits
* Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategies
* Renewable Energy Strategies
* Corporate Environmental Policies
* Green Marketing Strategies
* Carbon Credit Certification

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36 Comments

  1. Dear Chris Lang

    It is intriguing to note the intriguing way in which this deal has moved and been monitored.

    As an investor in REDD projects we have monitored and invested in Shift2Neutral’s projects.

    Have you contacted Shift2Neutral to ask them about the project?
    Have you bothered to understand the nature of the projects?
    Have you considered that maybe the statement made by Adrian Lasimbang President (JOAS) is politically motivated ?????

    I put it back to you that maybe you Chris Lang are a cowboy????

    Stupid , non informed remarks about projects only serve to show you are ill informed.

  2. @Terence. As an investor in Shift2Neutral’s projects, perhaps you could let me know the following:

    1. Where exactly are Shift2Neutral’s projects in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and with which communities were the agreements signed?

    2. Was a process of Free, Prior and Informed Consent carried out before the agreements were signed?

    3. In the interests of transparency, you could please give the name of your company and the details of the investment your company has made in Shift2Neutral.

    Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Thank you Chris for putting up the statement.

    Terence, I am a Dayak, a ‘native’ or ‘tribal people’ of Sarawak and we work with the Indigenous Peoples in Malaysia. We have wrote to Mr. Brett Goldsworthy on 7 August 2010 on the said agreement and this was his answer
    ‘I have forwarded your email contact on to the agents involved in signing as they are local Sarawak people. I will allow them to communicate to you’ As of today, 13 August 2010, there has not been any reply.

    We, at JOAS, has no political motive at all except to monitor and safeguard the rights of the Indigenous Peoples in Malaysia. So your assumption on our president’s statement is very ignorant of you and we find it very appalling.

    Also, in JOAS, we do have a working committee on Climate Change and we have been actively involve in the negotiation processes including REDD. So to we are quite knowledgeable about the subject matter.

    Perhaps Mr. Terence is ignorant about native customary rights in Sarawak. Please do a bit of search and you will find many court cases pending in relation to disputes between the Indigenous peoples and the government on their rights to their land, resources and territories.

    Mr. Terence, perhaps it is time for you to rethink about your investment in Shift2Neutral

  4. I think that Shift2Nuetral’s development strategy is flawed and poses risks to the landowners. The carbon survey and management plan should be carried out BEFORE any deal is signed. Its difficult to argue that FPIC was carried out if the information is not available. The Sarawak people should develop the management plan and be aware of the quantity and value of the credits that their land is generating before signing any deal. I look forward to seeing how this develops. If Shift2Nuetral has good intentions, then transparency should not be an issue.

  5. I am intrigued

    How you all feel you have a right to comment on, make assumptions on, some of which are liable, false and yet you feel authorities on?

    What is your expertise?

    Have you ever performed REDD?

    Have you ever invested?

    Maybe instead of making comments of negative you should feel compelled to feel positive about a project that helps indigenous groups?

    Again, you make a comment without full knowledge, you feel you have right to know yet you have no authority or respect for the people who have made such a project

    You all are amazing

    What gives you the right to make such comments??????

    You make me sick

    Terence

  6. Terence, what rights do you have to impose your value on the Indigenous Peoples???????? Apparently, you are not only ignorant but also arrogant, values which are alien to us, Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak. Please sir, do not take us as a fool. We do respect your knowledge but please do not question what we know. The forest has been and will be our home. Our values, resources and territories are not for sale, especially to troll like you.

  7. @Terence – Instead of questioning whether others have the right to comment or not, could you answer the three questions I asked earlier, please? Part of the reason people are commenting without full knowledge is that the information is not publicly available.

  8. Diweng and others

    I am not sure who you are Diweng or who you really are , maybe just a political person trying to make a name or score a point or two

    If you really understood the value of REDD to Indigenous Peoples you would not make such comments.

    Are you involved in this or other projects – NO? I wonder why?

    Of course the forest has been and will be the home Indigenous Peoples.

    The values, resources and territories are not being sold, maybe you should truly understand the value of REDD rather being ill informed

    What do you truly understand REDD to be?

    I think you and many others do not truly no understand, and if you truly do understand why would you wish to stop the value of such be taken away from the Indigenous Peoples?

    The value of REDD to Indigenous Peoples is that their value is in their homeland, the protection from illegal loggers and miners. Many Indigenous Peoples i have spoke to and grew up with understand they wish to keep their home land the way it is, they wish to value their culture.

    So if a tribal group, not associated with fanatical groups decides to protect their land from loggers and gets rewarded what is the negative ??????????

    Please help me and the rest of the world understand why you feel so compelled to argue against the Indigenous Peoples rights to protect and value their land?????

    I am intrigued

    Terence

  9. Chris

    I am still confused as to what right people have to ask for commentary about a project that they have nothing to do with?

    Is it not up to international authorities to question?

    Do you ask your neighbor in Jakarta what they had for breakfast or why they make business decisions?

    Do you think the Indigenous Peoples have the intelligence?

    DO you think the Indigenous Peoples have no common sense?

    I am just amazed at such commentary?

    What have you and other done for Indigenous Peoples to help truly put our hand in your pockets and given money?????

    Please tell me?

    Tell me how much each of you have given in money to these Indigenous Peoples?

    I am intrigued

    Terence

  10. Chris

    One other final word

    What gives a person like you to question projects, make commentary without knowledge or understanding

    Maybe the Indigenous Peoples have a right to make a decision without you or others?

    Maybe???????

    Terence

  11. Hey Chris

    You talk about Cowboys

    You have people wanting to give money to help Indigenous Peoples yet you and others try to knock the efforts of others wanting to help

    of course I have a right to question

    whats your agenda just because your not involved and feel you are missing out?

    how do you know what the deal is , how do you know what happening? how do you know the Indigenous Peoples specifically do not want people like you and others making commentary?

    you do not

    that is the point of my comment

    why stop people wanting to help Indigenous Peoples because you and others are not involved?

    Terence

  12. Terence, Terence, Terence…

    Why the anger? Why the pain? Why bother feeling sick?
    No one has criticized Shift2Neutral in this post, or,other than Tom, in the comments. Yet you decide it is OK to insult everyone.

    JOAS’s statement merely explains that they have not heard of the deal in Sarawak, are not involved, and that they know from working in Sarawak that indigenous people will be affected by REDD and need more information. Is that a crime?

    The REDD Monitor website author asked readers to make up their own minds if Shft2Neutral are “cowboys” or “leaders” in carbon sequestration forestry projects. Is that a crime?

    The trouble is Terence, is that you are now making up their minds for them, because you now seem to be speaking for the company, in ways I am sure they would not sanction publicly. (and that do, if I am honest, remind me a bit of the Wild West – “Yee haaa”).

    Does Shift2Neutral know that its investors get so visibly angry when trying to crush completely justified and open debate on important land issues in Sarawak?

    Terence, Terence, Terence… – just Shift2RELAX…

  13. Terence

    With people like you involved, it’s hardly suprising that indigenous peoples and many others are suspicious of REDD project developers.

    I don’t personally care if you get so angry your head explodes or get so sick you vomit up your entire digestive system (at least we’d be spared more of your pathetic and indignant bleatings), but if you want people to take you and your project seriously it would help if you explained exactly what your role in it is, and answered the questions Chris Lang has asked.

  14. Establishing a carbon offset project in Sarawak: As someone who is very familiar with the situation in Sarawak I can see only one pathway to getting a REDD+ project established: 1. Consult with the village and see if the area is suitable (i.e. sufficient intact forest and is currently under a logging or oil palm concession); 2. Check if any other Dayak group has a claim on that area that you may also have to consult with; 3. Approach the Sarawak State Government and gain their approval for the project to go ahead (as it goes against their policy of plantation expansion, and because the government legally has the final say on determining land use issues); 4. With government approval, approach the palm oil or logging company with the concession for the area and try to convince them to agree to the project, possibly on the grounds of good PR and reduced unrest amongst the populance; 5. Develop a deal that gives revenue to the palm oil company and to whoever funds the cost of establishing the project (possibly up to RM500,000)while still leaving money to go to the village for development assistance; 6. Working closely with the villagers map the area and demark the boundary (e.g. paint on trees every 20 metres); 7. Develop a Monitoring Plan that pays an annual dividend to all village residents for at least 30 years; 8. Certify the offsets under a major international organisation such as the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) to ensure independence and transparency. Studies repeatedly show that the majority of offset purchasers want third-party certified offsets, so don’t even think of self-certification. Certification with VCS should also allow for a smoother transition to the UN CDM market post-2012; 9. Just to show you are doing the right thing by the people also have the offsets certified under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (consider also the Global Conservation Standard). 10. Sell the offsets and use an agreed percentage of the proceeds for sustainable development (possibly solar lighting, bio-gas toilets, plant nurseries, etc.) A socio-economic study should be carried out in the village to ascertain the main needs. 11. Use the socio-economic study to get government assistance into the village where necessary; 12. After 2012 try to get the remaining offsets certified under the UN CDM for sale on the regulated carbon offset market (as you can only sell possibly 10% to 15% of your VCS certified offsets annually most would be remaining for sale by 2013). The more that can be raised per offset the more money to be used for village development. Currently offsets under the CDM are worth at least twice as much as voluntary REDD offsets.

    I could go over to Borneo tomorrow and sign up 20 headmen, but without the other steps in place such projects are not going to happen and the promise of such a project without the proper steps being followed could just raise false expectations among the local people.

  15. My understanding is that Shift2Neutral is a “certification” company and has set itself up as an alternative to the existing standards (CCBA,VCS etc) The company’s news from its website claims “agreement to certify 159,000 hectares of tribal land for carbon credits under the avoided deforestation program known as REDD+ with a group of 10 villages living in Maluku, Indonesia.”

    I have no idea what this certification involves. Brett Goldsworthy has publicly argued the case for alternative standards to be created and I would suppose his involvement in Shift2Neutral is a practical demonstration of such.

    I, personally, do not think we need another standard.

  16. I enjoyed Chris Lang’s moderation in face of Terrence’s immoderate rant & his quest to have Mr. T. be a bit more forthcoming about himself, is exemplary. In the interest of
    the undecided, in this & other complex matters, might I suggest added care by the
    moderator at the outset of any new report? It sets the tone. Even remarks along lines
    of – leaving readers to judge between ‘carbon cowboys’ vs. eco heroes, DOES come
    across as a tad loaded to a degree & lessens the potential positive effort. The last
    thing we need is to encourage yet more polemic on these matters. It just leads to
    people who at least want to know the facts, tuning out or signing up. Not at all
    what’s needed.

    Terrence must be an absolute nightmare to Shift2Neutral’s board, whatever their
    stripe (he doesn’t exactly sound like an investor, does he? More like a delusionist in
    a terminal snit re. eco-loonies). Could S2N not be persuaded to comment?
    I’d like to get an idea if they’re eco good guys, eco-carpet baggers, or some station
    in between?

    For that matter, could not Reuters do a better job of reportage in the first place?
    Not following up re. location is just plain slack. Key aspects of FPIC & govt. vs. local
    ownerships,etc. is what we need to know about. The conventional media needs to be
    a good deal more thorough in its basic criteria when reporting these things.

    REDD Monitor is doing a good job in a difficult area. Congratulations.

  17. Thanks for all the interesting comments.

    @Terence – you do ask a lot of questions, don’t you? Here are some answers (I’ve grouped some of the questions together, because you occasionally repeated yourself):

    Terence: Have you contacted Shift2Neutral to ask them about the project?

    REDD-Monitor: Yes – I wrote to Shift2Neutral with a series of questions on 13 August 2010, shortly after making this post. I posted first and asked questions later, because I thought it would be useful to post what others have said about the project so far: JOAS, Reuters and Shift2Neutral. Shift2Neutral have not yet replied.

    Terence: Have you considered that maybe the statement made by Adrian Lasimbang President (JOAS) is politically motivated?

    REDD-Monitor: I wonder what you mean by “politically motivated”? JOAS is a network of organisations working on indigenous peoples’ issues in Malaysia. The press release states that JOAS is not involved in the Shift2Neutral project. It emphasises the importance of free, prior and informed consent. It mentions information sessions that JOAS has carried out on REDD with its members. It says very little about Shift2Neutral. I wonder which part you consider might be “politically motivated”?

    Terence: Have you bothered to understand the nature of the projects?

    How you all feel you have a right to comment on, make assumptions on, some of which are liable, false and yet you feel authorities on?

    What gives a person like you to question projects, make commentary without knowledge or understanding?

    I am still confused as to what right people have to ask for commentary about a project that they have nothing to do with?

    What gives you the right to make such comments?

    How do you know what the deal is, how do you know what happening?

    How do you know the Indigenous Peoples specifically do not want people like you and others making commentary?

    REDD-Monitor: I am trying to understand the nature of Shift2Neutral’s REDD-type projects. However, very little information is publicly available about any of Shift2Neutral’s REDD-type projects. I hope that Shift2Neutral will make more information available.

    As you have probably noticed by now, I run a web-site called REDD-Monitor. As the name suggests, the purpose of the website is to monitor developments in the REDD debate internationally and REDD-type projects. One of the most controversial areas of REDD is the rights of indigenous peoples. When an Australian company announces that it has signed an “agreement to certify REDD+ with tribes of Sarawak Malaysia”, Reuters covers it and a local NGO puts out a statement about the project, I think that it is a sufficiently important development to post something on REDD-Monitor.

    I wonder why Shift2Neutral made a press release about their REDD projects if it’s true that the indigenous peoples involved do not want anyone to comment about the project?

    Terence: What is your expertise?

    REDD-Monitor: There’s an “About me” section on my website, here.

    Terence: Have you ever performed REDD?

    Are you involved in this or other projects – NO? I wonder why?

    What’s your agenda just because your not involved and feel you are missing out?

    Why stop people wanting to help Indigenous Peoples because you and others are not involved?

    REDD-Monitor: No, I have never worked on a REDD project. I run a website monitoring REDD debates and projects. Journalists or bloggers who write about politics do not have to have been politicians in order to write about politics. I don’t feel that I am “missing out”. This is nothing to do with whether or not I am involved in this or any other REDD projects – I run a website, not REDD projects.

    Terence: Have you ever invested?

    REDD-Monitor: No.

    Terence: Maybe instead of making comments of negative you should feel compelled to feel positive about a project that helps indigenous groups?

    REDD-Monitor: I’m not “compelled to feel positive about a project” about which I know so little. I’d like to know more about Shift2Neutral’s REDD projects.

    Terence: What do you truly understand REDD to be?

    REDD-Monitor: As it currently stands REDD is a carbon trading deal being drawn up behind closed doors under the Interim REDD+ Partnership. I am concerned that safeguards will be excluded from the deal. In any case, I think that there are serious problems with trading the carbon stored in forests.

    Terence: I think you and many others do not truly no understand, and if you truly do understand why would you wish to stop the value of such be taken away from the Indigenous Peoples?

    Maybe the Indigenous Peoples have a right to make a decision without you or others?

    REDD-Monitor: The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples includes the principle of free, prior and informed consent. With the information that Shift2Neutral has made available about its REDD projects, it is impossible to know whether the indigenous peoples that signed the agreement with Shift2Neutral gave their free, prior and informed consent.

    Terence: So if a tribal group, not associated with fanatical groups decides to protect their land from loggers and gets rewarded what is the negative?

    REDD-Monitor: I wonder which “fanatical groups” you are referring to? Without knowing the terms of the agreements that indigenous peoples in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have signed, or much else about the projects, it is difficult to know what the negatives might be. They may have signed over their forests for a pittance and tied themselves into a contract that makes their forest-based livelihoods impossible. Maybe, maybe not. Shift2Neutral could make the agreement public – then we would know a little more about this series of projects.

    Terence: Please help me and the rest of the world understand why you feel so compelled to argue against the Indigenous Peoples rights to protect and value their land?

    REDD-Monitor: I am not arguing against indigenous peoples’ rights to protect and value their land. I am arguing for the principle of free, prior and informed consent and for other indigenous peoples’ rights, documented in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    Terence: Is it not up to international authorities to question?

    REDD-Monitor: Which international authorities might question Shift2Neutral’s REDD projects? Under what mechanism or process?

    Terence: Do you ask your neighbor in Jakarta what they had for breakfast or why they make business decisions?

    REDD-Monitor: If I ran a website called “Breakfast-Monitor”, I might well ask my neighbours what they had for breakfast.

    Terence: Do you think the Indigenous Peoples have the intelligence?

    Do you think the Indigenous Peoples have no common sense?

    REDD-Monitor: Yes, of course, indigenous peoples are intelligent and have a great deal of common sense. However, reading and understanding a legal agreement about a REDD project is not simple. I am neither qualified to draw up such an agreement nor to advise indigenous peoples’ about REDD agreements. I share the sentiment in JOAS’s press release: “we hope that the company has at least ensured that the communities have access to their own lawyers who can independently advise them on the legal matters involved”.

    Terence: What have you and other done for Indigenous Peoples to help truly put our hand in your pockets and given money?

    Tell me how much each of you have given in money to these Indigenous Peoples?

    REDD-Monitor: One of the purposes of REDD-Monitor is to discuss the rights of indigenous peoples in the REDD discussions and under potential REDD projects. I’ve attempted to document some of the debate here. REDD-Monitor is not a funding organisation – any money that I give privately is precisely that: private.

    Terence: I put it back to you that maybe you Chris Lang are a cowboy?

    REDD-Monitor: I’ll let Willie Nelson answer that one:

    Now that I’ve answered your questions, I look forward to hearing your responses to mine.

  18. Here’s a bit more information about Shift2Neutral from Reuters:

    An Australian carbon services firm has also signed a deal to certify REDD offsets from a group of tribal leaders on the Indonesian island of Halmahera in the Moluccas.

    Shift2Neutral, which last week announced a similar deal with tribal leaders in Sarawak, Malaysia, said it covered certification of credits from 159,000 hectares of forest land owned by a group of 10 villages and involving 163,000 people.

    The deal provides for half the proceeds from future carbon offset sales to go to improving livelihoods.

    “The logging issue is paramount as the area is under threat and the villages need to have an alternative, plus a major mining group is there and will be held to account to ensure the environment is not jeopardized,” Shift2Neutral Chairman Brett Goldsworthy told Reuters.

  19. Chris
    Whilst disagreeing with the method that Terence has employed in venting his frustration, I have no doubt that REDD Monitor has done more damage to the overall cause of REDD than anyone else. Perhaps your ego and your desire to paddle your website come in the way of reporting objectively.
    Independent of nit picking on how a successful REDD project can be identified, secured, developed and monetised, all you have done so far is to bad mouth anyone taking a position within REDD space. There are a dozen odd organisations tasked to overlook integrity and veracity of REDD project development without which no REDD project can be monetised. The buyers of any such credits will ensure that the project is developed to the highest standard and free and informed consent sought, the verifiers will do this too, the state and federal bodies will add to that process and so will the NGOs on the ground. No “cowboy” projects will ever get verified, developed and monetised.
    You have scared away investment and the participation of private enterprise that is so greatly needed at this early stage in absence of political consensus on REDD globally (owing to a great new big tax scaremongering).
    People like you that operate under the guise of ‘transparency’ and ensuring’ rights of people’ are so detached from the actual realities of commercial world and its challenges that they start believing their own rhetoric -the rhetoric that you have been paddling for a while.
    You are a one man impediment in getting private enterprise involved in REDD in this part of the world, and without private funding and enterprising souls wanting to plunge into creating some early examples of REDD-in-working, REDD will be delayed and most likely devoid of much needed investment.

    You have scared many potential and very genuine individuals who want to get involved in this space but dont due to the reputation risk. Many a companies have been long standing companies with people full of integrity and passion and a desire to be early stage players in REDD but thanks to do-gooders-on-a-mission like you, they ahve stayed away and will keep staying away.

    Keep writing and scaremongering. With friends like you, REDD cause does not need any enemies.

    (For the record, I provide the undertaking that I am not directly or indirectly involved with Shift2 Neutral in any capacity and did not know of them until I read this today).

  20. Justin Muir’s concerns are legitimate.
    I too wonder if REDD-Monitor is anti-REDD period, or something less? I am however glad R-M is there to ask the questions. Point taken re. corporate emitters buying cheap offsets to continue emitting & not playing the REDD game as intended. But, isn’t it up to government’s in rich countries (Oz) & US to make sure corps. do cut emissions? Even if they do not sufficiently, are not forests & life styles saved & is that not a good thing?

    To trust REDD-Monitor more completely, I’d like to know where Lanf draws his line….

  21. With friends like Terence who needs enemies.

    I completely agree with the sentiments expressed by Adrian and particularly Justin.

    Chris your website is informative and provides a wealth of information however you often (nearly always) come across as a smug nitpicker. Your ideaology opposing carbon trading impedes anything closely resembling an impartial view in reporting on REDD. I suppose that is your whole point in running the website; to rubbish REDD. That is your perogative and I think anyone familiar with this blog understands the context.

  22. @dh

    For you to dismiss Mr Lang as being a “smug nitpicker” because this website dares to question, for example, whether REDD projects have complied with the UN-adopted principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent for indigenous peoples, or points out that there is, as yet, no agreed regulatory framework within which REDD should operate, only goes to show how oblivious many people are of the real contraints and risks of REDD.

    You also make the mistake of conflating ‘REDD’ with ‘forest-based carbon trading’, whereas of course there could be many other ways of implementing REDD. I can’t speak for Mr Lang, but I would count myself as being someone that very much wants REDD schemes to work, but welcomes anything that casts a spotlight on what might be nothing more than trade in dodgy carbon offsets under the *guise* of REDD. Sadly we’ve already seen plenty of the latter, and precious few of the former.

    It’s not REDD-Monitor that has damaged the whole concept of REDD: it’s the REDD cowboys that are already flourishing, and the failure of governments to move towards agreement on clear modalities, and a strong regulatory regime and safeguards respecting international law and norms.

  23. @ A Witness

    I understand the need to ensure that deserving communities are not short changed. I also understand the importance for free, informed and complete consent for those communities to participate. Infact I support the role of watchdogs in any industry that could potentially use its financial and political leverage and resource muscles to get things done which might put vulnerable communities to a disadvantage. We are in complete unanimity here.

    The issue with REDD and the role of Chris Lang in contributing (hounding) this sector is quite different. Any REDD project that might cast the slightest doubt on how it was identified, secured, developed, verified, registered and then monetized wont get past the first 2 stages – let alone, verifiers verifying it and organisations wanting to buy a single credit with such tainted reputation that could potentially devastate the reputation of the buyer itself.

    Chris Lang has yet to understand the due diligence that is conducted by any buyers for any credit, let alone a large parcel from a potential minefield of a project like REDD and how many boxes the project developer, asset owner, verifier, registration entity, state and federal gov and potentially NGOs have to tick before any such transaction is executed.

    I reiterate that NO REDD project can ever be monetised with the current checks and balances regardless of any asset owner, project developer or gov entity believing and telling others about their ability to have secured one and bringing to the market without a very rigorous , multi tiered market based, end user based, aggregator based, exchange based, verifier hosted, gov and NGOs ticks of approval. The money simply wont flow and the market mechanisms will sort out wheat from chaff. The projects that are dodgy or developed through dodgy means or people will dodgy reputations will be quarantined. No one with a sensible head on their shoulders will buy a single credit from such projects… And this leads me to the point that I have made before:

    Individuals like Chris Lang who shout from the roof tops no sooner than they find evidence of private enterprise in developing REDD in this part of world, they scare away 10 times more funding that might come in to protect the forests, communities and preserve the biodiversity and generate a return for the project funders/ investors. I have witnessed and spoken to dozens of entities; small and large and those with years of successfully developing carbon credit projects and with people with excellent reputations over decades that are stopping the flow of any funding owing to the potential devastating commentary from Lang and his mates. One label of ‘cowboy ripping poor communities off’ will be enough to shave tens of millions of $$ from their company value and it is this fear of being labelled without proper and sufficient investigation is the main reason that REDD will stay clear of large scale funding from large corporate end and ones that are too big to risk being labelled as ‘cowboys’.

    REDD needs money. Period. If we are all to wait and hold our “you are a cowboy’ horses”, it will provide sufficient incentive for good project developers to separate themselves from bad project developers and dodgy ones. It will penalise the ones that did not get the free and informed consent and reward those that did. It will make the governments interested in making sure that all such future projects comply with consent guidelines because it otherwise runs the risk of failure of realising tax revenues and revenues that those communities will greatly benefit.

    Majority of the NGOs infact are aware of the challenge and admit that without a relatively free market based mechansim, REDD will be relegated to where it is today. The ability of the early adopters to bring funding in and develop good quality projects without any support from any funding body and then to successfully monetise it will be the biggest challenge and the demonstration that REDD will work and it can work. Without a single large scale project being developed successfully, it is and will serve as a bashing tool by anti-climate change mob and by the logging and mining industry (that project based REDD will never work because it hasnt to-date) and therefore it becomes a zero sum game.

    Chris Lang in my opinion single handedly has scared away a very very large chunk of ‘good quality money’ from ‘very good intentioned and long standing genuine business people’ from large corporate end with ‘excellent reputations built over decades’ who understand that Chris and his friends will conduct megaphone style allegations levelling and speak through REDD monitor and other channels by airing allegations without even getting the point of view of those firms and individuals. The threat of seeing the name of your company , regardless of the return on investment and genuine intentions is enough of a motivation for those to steer well clear of REDD. There are enough hoops to jump for the project developers as is- from addressing leakage and permanence and getting methodologies approved and finding buyers and all. It is no easy walk in the park as Chris will have you believe or the world believe.

    REDD is suffering as a result. Chris gets his name out and about as a well-wisher , a do-gooder, a comrade fighting for the rights of people whereas the carbon-cowboys allegation simply play in the hand of climate skeptics, miners and loggers to prove that REDD wont work and should be canned and is full of dodgy one-man-bands.

    Let the market separate good from bad as it has for centuries in almost each and every industry. There is sufficient awareness, information and processes that will ensure that. The threat of being labelled “XYZ ripping poor communities off” kills this for many and serves as warning for everyone else. Persecution through press is lot easier than proper investigation. Majority of the mud sticks when these allegations are leveled, only because in this networked world, it does not take a court to decide one’s reputation before a guilty verdict is passed. A comrade like Chris can do that without any fact finding or positive/ objective reporting.

    REDD is temporarily dead and buried and devoid of any large scale funding that could demonstrate to the world that it can be done, it is the cheapest way to offset emissions, it will save forests, biodoversity and communities, improve lifestyle and create education opportunities and can lead to climate warming mitigation efforts.

    Kind regards,
    JM

  24. Thanks for the post. It’s great!

    Sounds like some of you don’t like this website though – and are really wound up about it – stop whinging and read another one!

  25. @ Justin

    Well the porblem is that all the recent evidence of the multi-trillion dollar melt-down of the global economy has been that the market is *totally* incapable of “sorting the wheat from the chaff”, indeed it seems to have a marked preference for chaff, so long as it smells of fat profits, and never mind the underlying quality of the product. (And, one might ask, if the market were so good at sorting the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’, why do we need REDD now at all?).

    Pro-REDD marketeers always conveniently seem to forget that markets are *competitive*. There is such a huge potential surplus of REDD credit supply over demand that this is bound to drive down quality, and price. Only the cheapest, and possibly the dodgiest, will survive.

    Bearing in the mind the huge scope for cowboys to flourish, criminality to take hold, and for REDD corruption to become embedded in already corrupt forestry administrations in tropical countries, the only sensible approach at the moment, in order for REDD to retain its credibility, would seem to be a voluntary moratorium on voluntary REDD offset projects, until such time as the multilateral negotiations have formulated the proper modalities and safeguards, and the regulatory systems are in place in the tropical forest countries.

  26. As a REDD project developer I am an attentive and appreciative reader of REDD monitor and have found Chris Lang to be a pragmatic and fair minded editor. I may not agree with his stand on carbon trading but I would worry deeply if there were not room for such disagreements to exist, or no forum where they can be aired.

    My company, Redd Forests, will never fear scrutiny by REDD Monitor as our projects will always be of the highest veracity. It is only those with something to fear who should be wary.

    On the issue of investment, if REDD monitor has stopped investment in shonky projects then GOOD! It means those of us who undertake quality projects will get the funds we need instead of carbon cowboys who have already caused too much damage (and, thankfully, fallen by the wayside in most cases).

    Keep it up Chris; no doubt we will have your spotlight turned on us in the not too distant future. I hope so. I will enjoy reassuring my investors that REDD monitor, though philosophically opposed to carbon trading itself, cannot find fault with our work.

  27. Stephen,
    You can suck up to Chris Lang to mitigate the negative fallout which is bound to happen, but rest assured that any “private money” that finds its way into the forests of PNG, Indonesia , Malaysia , Vietnam will result in a fit, if not from Lang, then from his mates and multiple landowners who will be egged on to protest about rich, white, western investors plundering the wealth of indigneous communities.

    A Witness’ statement should get the alarm bells ringing for you regardless. Any profit is bad profit, the markets in supply and demand side of REDD dont exist, REDD is akin to criminality and shonky people and the comparisons he draws for REDD (for anyone to make a dime out of) with the global financial meltdown.

    You can define the ‘quality projects’ of yours the way you want but when it comes to real execution of those projects, you can forget about any positive media.

    You can start REDD in Tasmania (if it is doable there) and you will only get the wrath of Greens, do it outside and especially in S E Asia and rest assured, you will be crucified by those with vested interests, comrades and do-gooders, some indigenous land owners who expect money to come in yesterday, a minority of indigenous land owners that will lodge cases once the consent has been sought and perhaps an ngo or 2. Forget about finding finance for these projects and forget about any buyer to put their hand up to buy those from you.

    Look forward to tracking your progress.

    Regards
    JM

  28. @Justin

    I don’t feel like I have to defend myself against your attack, but you should read what is actually written, rather than what you seem to want to read.

    I said nothing about “all profits being bad profits”, nor did I equate REDD with criminality (though Interpol has some interesting things to say on the matter), and if you don’t appreciate the potential massive imbalance between supply of REDD credits in the market compared to demand – no US cap-and-trade legislation, no Australian legislation, no REDD in the ETS, but about 40 countries (including some of the most corrupt on the planet) all competing to supply REDD credits anyway, and voluntary REDD credits generally already down in the bargain basement for price/tC – then I suggest you go away and do some proper market analysis, rather than just persisting with wishful thinking.

    My point about the global meltdown was that your assertion that the ‘market will solve everything’ is clearly a nonsense, as recent history has shown. As it stands, REDD is even less regulated than the finance sector was in 2007 – indeed there are no basic rules whatsoever, and nobody policing them.

    As EcoSecurities’ poll of carbon traders has shown, the biggest obstacle to private investment in REDD (which I am *not* against in principle) is the lack of a regulatory framework, and lack of clarity about how exactly REDD credits will function in the market. You can rant and rave as much as you like about greenies and indigenous people damaging REDD, but the basic problem is that certain tropical governments have, for their own self-serving reasons, blocked all attempts to get a proper set of rules established in the international arena. This is no doubt very convenient to ensure that they and their business/political cronies can capture as much REDD revenue as possible (it’s surely not for no reason that those countries that have set up offices to handle REDD have done so directly within the Prime Minister’s or President’s office…), but it also means that the private sector will bear the cost and all the risk because of the absence of clear rules and regulation, and will get all the flak when things go wrong.

    So, you can push on with your pipedream of private money flooding into nice tidy REDD projects that will help all concerned, but those of us that have a little experience of these countries know that it will simply not be like that. The thrill of ‘doing the deal’ is a powerful one, but I would suggest that a more mature approach at the momnent would be to lobby like hell for governments to agree a proper set of rules and safeguards for REDD.

  29. Thanks again for the comments. There’s more about Shift2Neutral’s activities here: Shift2Neutral in the Philippines, or how to make a Porsche “carbon neutral”.

    Just for the record, my opposition to carbon trading is not “ideological” or “philosophical”. In short, my opposition to carbon trading is because it will not address climate change (because it does not reduce emissions) and will create a huge new market run (as A Witness points out) by the same institutions that brought us the current economic and financial crisis.

  30. Thanks A Witness for your comments. Understand your concerns and point of view better now. I still believe in free-market mechanism and its ability to sort good from bad. That perhaps is the result of my involvement in a number of emerging economies and my assessment of what would be the key driver to ensure that those issues which are seen as the most challenging are worked over through efficient market mechanisms. I have spoken to carbon traders and project developers globally over this subject and a number of very genuine, sincere and passionate individuals who have the unrelenting belief that REDD supply and demand mechanisms will mature, once a number of REDD projects are left to be commercialised through private enterprise. I suspect that those at the coal face perhaps are unaware of the due diligence that an end user, buyer, aggregator will undertake and anything that is remotely shonky or dodgy will never find a dime and that will be the greatest driver of ensuring transparency. All the cowboys could sign billions of hectares and out their funds and reputations on line but they are unlikely to get any return on that investment, regardless of their political and financial reach and muscle.
    Let a few projects go through the system without hounding the private initiative out of this industry from the word go. Let them put their money and efforts in trying to make it work and then assess based on the end result when the funds flow in. I reiterate that no money will find its way back if their is any stone left unturned in ensuring integrity, veracity, free and informed consent and highest standards of ceritification.
    Regards
    JM

  31. @ Chris Lang,
    Re your last comment, your opinion is more ideological in nature, regardless of how you paint yourself to the outside world. You are simply against REDD and carbon trading. If you have an alternate version of how to stop global warming, then you will need another 100 years to gather enough support. momentum and political consensus to develop that nirvana which will solve global warming. Until we reach that point, most of humanity will be roasted pumpkins due to global warming.
    Get off your noble high horse and realise that if the world has finally united in the face of right wing opposition to do something about climate change then we will have to work with what we have as semi-consensus solutions in doing that – CDM and REDD. Reagrdless of the imperfections of the current system, this is the best that is uniting this bickering global community. Lets use the opportunity to demonstrate that it has the ability to do its bit in mitigating destruction of our planet.

    JM

  32. @Justin
    I think we are more in agreement than disagreement.

    With regard to Tasmania we have enjoyed the full support of the environmental movement (those parts of it whom we have met) who recognise pragmatic solutions to stopping the logging of native forests for pulp.

    In S E Asia the REDD and REDD+ concept will mature and barriers to transparency will be removed and internationally recognised standards will be applied (they already are). Corruption will be fought and minimised but will never be eliminated just as it exists in every industry in every country, not just emerging economies. those who understand what it takes to properly undertake a REDD+ project (and we do) are not concerned by the hurdles though we recognise they exist.

    I do agree that REDD gold diggers and land-claim-stakers are wasting their time and will lose a lot of money. There is a way to get REDD+ right but only with close and open involvement with government and stakeholders at the national, regional and local levels. The Shift2Neutral “go it alone” model is not the right way and will not work.

  33. The exchanges makes very interesting reading and helps us understand much more about the going ons about REDD. Does any has any update on Shift2Neutral’s projects in Indonesia, Phillipines and Malaysia? Are they up and running? Are Indigenous people already benefiting and how?

    The local papers here in Solomon Islands announced this week that Shift2Neutral is establishing partnerships here with resource owners. The public has mixed feelings.

  34. @Pare Tataru – As an ethical company trying to get REDD projects established in Sarawak I have been following Shift2Neutral’s projects in Malaysia with interest. I have spent nearly 6 months out of the past 14 in Sarawak for this purpose, and have had 7 visits to the pilot project village in that time to ensure the FPIC process is completed satisfactorily. Unfortunately I cannot update you on Shift2Neutral’s project here as no-one seems to know about it. I have had meetings with indigenous leaders, government representatives and oil palm and logging company executives and have corresponded with local NGO groups and no-one here in Sarawak has even heard of Shift2Neutal. When I first read of this company’s Sarawak projects I immediately emailed the Director of Shift2Neutral to ask for details on where these projects are and which indigenous groups are involved, but received no reply. I think the public in the Solomon Islands has every right to have ‘mixed feelings’ about this company and should get more details on their ‘operations’ in other countries before committing to anything.