Celestial Green Ventures: 20 million hectares of REDD carbon offset projects in Brazil

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Celestial Green Ventures: 20 million hectares of REDD carbon offset projects in Brazil

Celestial Green Ventures is a carbon trading company based in Dublin, Ireland. In November 2011, the company claimed to have “the carbon credit rights to an area of land in excess of 20 million hectares of vulnerable rainforest in the Amazon region of Brazil.” That makes it one of the biggest REDD companies in the world. Not bad for a 15-month-old company.

The company plans to get bigger. “Celestial Green Ventures is aiming to become the leading global supplier of REDD carbon credits in the Voluntary Carbon Market,” states a company brochure. In a Celestial Green Ventures promotional video, Conor Barry, Commercial Director at Celestial Green Ventures, explains that as the company expands, it is aiming for an area of 35 million hectares in Brazil. “But also, we will look to expand our operating business model into other economies which are rainforest populated,” he adds. Barry further explains that,

“We’ve managed to produce project design documents across a number of the projects. Now is the crux of the selling period. You are proving to the market that you have the ability, a) to generate and credits, and b) to sell the credits.”

Ciaran Kelly, CEO of Celestial Green Ventures, says that,

“We continuously produce very credible high quality carbon offsets at a reasonable price. Anybody who wants to voluntarily offset their carbon footprint, that they can come to us and know that it’s a very credible transparent and there’s a lot of social and economic benefits coming from that to the people in the project areas.”

But a recent report on the Brazilian not-for-profit investigative journalism website Pública suggests that things may be a little more complicated than the company’s promotional material suggests. Celestial Green Ventures has signed a contract with the Munduruku Indians in Para, under which the company will pay the Indians US$4 million a year for 30 years for the right to trade carbon credits from the Munduruku’s 2.3 million hectares of forest.

A meeting took place between João Borges de Andrade of Celestial Green Ventures and the Munduruku Indians on 12 September 2011. A nun, Sister Isaldete Almeida, wrote an account of the meeting. From her description the meeting didn’t go entirely as Celestial Green Ventures might have hoped. Many of the Indians were dressed in war paint. They banged their bows and arrows on the table. They explained that they did not want this company on their land and if it did come, they would fight it. Although nothing was signed at the meeting, the Indians found out later than four of the Munduruku had signed without getting the agreement of the whole community.

No one from FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s National Indian Foundation, was present at the meeting.

The contract forbids any changes to the forest:

“The owner undertakes not to carry out any works in the contract area, or other activity that might affect the quality of carbon sequestered or contribute in any way to adversely affect the company’s image or the project.”

The Pública article, questions whether the contract is legally binding. “It’s totally illegal,” says João Camerini, a lawyer with the NGO Terra de Direitos. “The company stands as the owner of natural resources and assigns the right to enter, whenever you want to monitor. In some clauses it wants to take over the role of the state.”

Celestial Green Ventures

Celestial Green Ventures claims on its website to have spent the last three years working in Brazil, where it now has a total of 17 projects. In November 2011, the company’s website listed five people working in Brazil. None of them has a background in forestry. (That part of the company’s website has currently been taken down to be replaced by an “under construction” sign.) The company is also involved in negotiations in Panama, Asia, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea and China.

Celestial Green Ventures was founded by Ciaran Kelly, a former mining executive. According to the most recent Annual Return (26 May 2011), Kelly owns a total of US$5.5 million shares in Celestial Green Ventures. The company is majority owned by Kelly and the company’s chairman, Dieter Huhn. The company is listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, but hasn’t seen any recent trading in its shares. When the company listed in Frankfurt, it produced a prospectus claiming that Celestial Green Ventures could generate profits of more than US$600 million over the next five years.

In June 2011, Celestial Green Ventures forward sold one million uncertified, voluntary carbon credits to a London-based company called Industry RE. Industry RE’s managing director, Ian Hamilton, told Point Carbon News that buyers of the credits include a Coca-Cola subsidiary in the Middle East and a unit of Japanese electronics giant Canon. An Industry RE brochure about Celestial Green Ventures’ carbon credits explains that the minimum investment is “£20,250 for 2,700 VER [voluntary emissions reductions] Carbon Credits”.

The credits come from Celestial Green Ventures’ 1.3 million hectare Borba project in Brazil. In a press release, Industry RE and Celestial Green Ventures claim that,

“The credits sold from the Celestial Green Borba project will meet the highest standards and include conservation, biodiversity and socio-economic benefits, thus ensuring that IndustryRE provides high quality, transparent and ethically acceptable offsets to its clients.”

In fact, the standard that Celestial Green Ventures is planning to use has not yet been developed. According to the company’s brochure, which is dated 7 November 2011, Celestial Green Venture has, “Engaged with the Ecosystem Certification Organisation Natural Forest Standard for the validation and verification of their carbon credit projects.” Ecosystem Certification Organisation is a small company based in Eastbourne, UK and was formed in June 2011.

The “Natural Forest Standard” is being developed in conjunction with Ecometrica. In October 2011, Ecometrica produced a discussion paper about a tool called the Normative Biodiversity Metric (NBM). At the end of the paper, the author, Ecometrica’s David Jarrett, explains that,

“The NBM is being incorporated into a new carbon sequestration project standard – the ECO Natural Forest Standard, being developed by ECO Standard and Celestial Green Ventures for REDD+ compliant carbon sequestration schemes in the Amazon rainforest. The NBM will be used to assess the biodiversity value of the forests from which the carbon credits originate.”

The Natural Forest Standard, it seems, hasn’t got much further than a series of bullet points. Meanwhile, at least one million of Celestial Green Venture’s carbon credits, worth £7.5 million, are already on the market via Industry RE.

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5 Comments

  1. Deputy Zé Geraldo (PT/PA),Ordering information submitted application to the brasilian’Minister of Justice on contracts signed by foreign companies with indigenous communities in the voluntary carbon market in the Amazon. See full text of application at: http://www.camara.gov.br/proposicoesWeb/prop_mostrarintegra;jsessionid=3415197D7E1E69915A21E4369A24012C.node2?codteor=967998&filename=RIC+1814/2012 ou ainda em: http://www.camara.gov.br/proposicoesWeb/fichadetramitacao?idProposicao=536165

  2. Well, the problem is NOT the emission trading itself, I am profoundly convinced, that this principle is the only very sad, but REALISTIC way to save MASSES of woods from destruction by human being. The right and very complicated question is: How to handle that trading? The not only but really UNBELIEVABLE massive fraud here for me is the price – and NO ONE say that: USD 4 million each year for 2.3 MILLION HA rainforest!! This is sh…. nothing!! And because of that this deal for me is an absolutely criminal one. If we start carbon trading in that way, the woods and the world are already dead. WE NEED A GLOBAL, ON “NORMAL” PRICES FOR COMMERCIAL LAND USE HIGH ADJUSTED PRICE FINDING SYSTEM FOR CARBON, AND THAT FAST, AND IT DOESN`T MATTER WHETHER FOR CARBON THROUGH PRODUCTION OR CARBON STORAGE!! A HIGH price payed by the industries CAN – not MUST – solve many different problems in the right direction. That`s it! But who of all these global irresponsible loosers at US, IWF, World Bank, EU, China, India and all the others will push it? At this time NO ONE! And that with good reasen: Back to the Celestial Deal. If I read that I would like to say: Because there is no such global carbon price at this time I feel right to take the following actual datas for MY correct price for carbon credits for 2.3 MILLION HA RAINFOREST: With an average capacity of storing 500 t co2 per ha/year and a very low! actual EU carbon price of around 8 EURO/t co2 I come to the sum of 4000,- E PER HA PER YEAR – and for me in THIS world we are living it sounds absolutely correct!! That means: Also if we forget the normal gain of co2 in the future, 2.3 million ha of rainforest should cost the final! investors for their footprints 9.200.000.000 E or 12.007.800.000 USD PER YEAR!! Well, sounds crazy.. but THE PROBLEMS are crazy.. and THE PROFITS by destroying the planet are also crazy! And that makes it for me clear in a way, that no one of the responsible political “leaders” really want to touch that problem!! So, it`s absolutely important at the BEGINNING now to THINK BIG LIKE THE DESTROYERS!! And: Do it in benefit to ALL the upcoming local community movements in the world, which are – by the way – in the long run the only social structures with the ability to survive in the future.. they will need money without end and I´m so sorry, but MONEY MEANS POWER!! So, if you think about all the billions and billions for the financial markets and, and, and.. I hope, more and more anti-globalism movements will check that coherences. For me till today no one is REALLY able to phrase the REAL WHOLE value of the global woods. Thanks.. Sorry for my non-native english!

  3. Latin America Bureau has translated Pública’s first article about Celestial Green Ventures into English. It is available here: “Brazil: the Carbon Credit Bonanza”.

  4. Oliver Thiele has a point to make. He is very concerned that he sees the overt reason for companies applying on customary lands to provide an income for them at the rate he has suggested as totally inappropriate. E.g USD 4 million for the sequestration of 2.3 million ha. For this is he totally correct. He needs to check his figures for carbon assimilation per hectare for tropical humid forests; my Initiative gives some guidelines on this matter of assimilation and sequestration of actual carbon per hectare. His figures may relate to biomass per hectare….(I am not being picky even FAO get this relationship wrong on occasion).

    What is important is not the amount of sequestration but the rights of native land owners to understand this newly developing science amidst their use of residency over centuries which has maintained the entire balance of natural capital.

    When arbitrarily assigning a value of either E8 to per carbon tonne does make a mockery of this whole situation. Values of this level continue to allow a non-realistic value of such forests. Until those of us (nearly all) understand our economic responsibilities in relationship to the value of carbon from (and I mean from) E20 per carbon tonne then every aspect of value is irrelevant and the destruction will continue in all aspects unrelentingly.

    nigel@tamar.greenisp.org

  5. Industry Re having sold Credits to the Public, are behind on payouts to its investors and are the subject subject of a UK Financial Service Authority investigation.

    Further they have relocated to the UAE.

    Is there any other postings on the same subject matter.

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