Last week, REDD-Monitor wrote about the Democratic Republic of Congo’s delegation to COP23 in Bonn. The questions in the headline pretty much sum up the post: “Why did the Democratic Republic of Congo send 340 delegates to COP23 in Bonn? And who paid?”
Kevin Conrad is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. He’s currently in Bonn at COP23, the United Nations climate conference, as part of the delegation of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In May 2017, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations Secretariat put in an application to register “REDD+” as a trademark in the USA.
Kevin Conrad was born in the USA. His parents were missionaries living in Papua New Guinea. Conrad grew up in Wewak in East Sepik province on the north coast of the country. “I grew up deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea”, he says. “I didn’t consistently wear shoes until I was 16. Forests are a very real part of who I am.”
In a post just before Christmas, I mentioned that Kevin Conrad “was busy in Cancun on Papua New Guinea’s behalf watering down safeguards in the REDD text.” A comment explained exactly how Conrad weakened the safeguards. What is perhaps even more interesting is the way Conrad dealt with a request from a Papua New Guinea NGO not to weaken the safeguards.
This morning, REDD-Monitor received an email, apparently from Kirk Roberts of Nupan Trading Corporation Ltd. The email is signed “Kirk William Roberts For and on behalf of the people of PNG,” and attached to it is an letter from Roberts to Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea’s Special Envoy and Ambassador for Environment and Climate Change.
Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea’s Special Envoy and Ambassador for Environment & Climate Change, has spent much of the last three years travelling around the world promoting REDD and carbon trading.
According to the UNFCCC’s provisional list of registered parties, just over 19,000 people travelled to Bonn for this year’s climate negotiations, COP23. While that’s a huge number of people, it’s only about half of the number that travelled to Paris for COP21. Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, says that 28,800 people took part over the two weeks of meetings in Bonn.
Last year, four academics published a paper in Conservation Biology, with the title, “Questioning REDD+ and the future of market-based conservation”. The paper starts with this memorable line, “Increasingly, one hears furtive whispers in the halls of conservation: ‘REDD+ is dead; it’s time to cut our losses and move on.’”
REDD did not appear from nowhere. Behind the idea are people and institutions who have promoted REDD in different ways over the past decades. Understanding REDD means understanding the players involved and their motivations for promoting a scheme to generate carbon credits from tropical forests instead of finding ways to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
The International Civil Aviation Authority is currently considering how it can continue to expand while appearing to address greenhouse gas emissions from flying. Predictably, for a massively polluting industry with huge plans to expand, buying cheap offsets looks very attractive.
Last week, REDD-Monitor looked at the aviation industry’s plans to offset its ever-growing emissions using REDD credits. Kevin Conrad and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations are behind the plan. It’s supported by nine mainly US-based NGOs. And it’s opposed by more than 80 NGOs internationally.