On 9 January 2018, Virgin Atlantic told the Phnom Penh Post that it had stopped buying carbon credits from the Oddar Meanchey REDD project in Cambodia. Virgin Atlantic’s decision followed the publication of a report by Fern that highlights the problems of offsetting emissions from the aviation sector. One of the case studies in the report was Oddar Meanchey.
There is no way of avoiding the fact that flying is a disaster for the climate. For individuals, there is no faster way of frying the planet. Nevertheless, international aviation is not included in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The organisation responsible under the UN system, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has so far taken no meaningful action to reduce emissions from aviation.
In July 2016, the Walt Disney Company agreed to hand over US$2.6 million for carbon credits from the Seima REDD project in Cambodia. REDD-Monitor wrote about the project in September 2016. The post included some questions for Tom Evans at Wildlife Conservation Society, the organisation running the project together with the Cambodia’s Forestry Administration. You can read Evans’ response here.
In July 2016, the Walt Disney Company agreed to hand over US$2.6 million for carbon credits from a REDD project in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province.
For the past three years, Timothy Frewer of the University of Sydney has been carrying out his PhD research in Cambodia, looking at the Oddar Meanchey REDD project. REDD-Monitor has written a series of posts about Oddar Meanchey, questioning how the project can sell carbon credits while deforestation continues.
“It’s very attractive. The earnings are very high and we’ve got hybrid material now. You harvest in the 24th month, and the repayment period is about seven years at the most… For the next 20 years it’ll be laughing yourself all the way to the bank.”
“The Forestry Administration has warned that the government will not meet its goal of achieving 60 percent forest cover nationwide if it continues parcelling out the Kingdom’s territory in economic land concessions.”
In December 2014, three men were sentenced in Southwark Crown Court in the UK to a total of 28 years for their involvement in a £23 million biofuel investment fraud. While handing down the sentence, judge Martin Beddoe described the fraud as a “thickening quagmire of dishonesty”.
The Areng Valley in southwest Cambodia has been home to the Chong indigenous people for more than 600 years. The area is also home to elephants, pileated gibbons, clouded leopards, and is one of the most important breeding sites for the endangered Siamese crocodile. But a proposed dam threatens the river, the forests and its inhabitants.
“The Oddar Meanchey REDD project model is centered on local people’s participation in forest management,” said Ty Sokhun, head of Cambodia’s Forestry Administration in 2009. Five years later logging is rampant in the project area. Local people and the project developers are powerless to stop it. The Cambodian government does not seem interested.
This is a story involving a company called Sustainable AgroEnergy, a jatropha plantation in Cambodia, boiler room companies, retail investors asking where their money went, banks in Switzerland, Tanzania and the British Virgin Islands, a member of the House of Lords, and the Serious Fraud Office.