Here, as promised, is my presentation from last month’s meeting in Bangkok about carbon markets in Southeast Asia. My presentation contrasts the way the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative and others still promote carbon trading despite the fact that the carbon markets have been in the doldrums for well over two years.
A new report by Global Witness reveals two conflicting views of REDD. First, forests are near the top of the global political agenda and REDD is an “unprecedented opportunity” to address deforestation. Second, “The potential for criminality is vast and has not been taken into account by the people who set it up,” as Interpol’s Peter Younger pointed out in 2009.
One of the problems with REDD is that it will not address climate change, for the simple reason that to address climate change we need to reduce the amount of fossil fuel burned. While we need to reduce deforestation, trading carbon stored in forests against fossil fuel emissions will help lock in polluting technology.
Just in case you’re still wondering, yes, we are still waiting for the Indonesian forest moratorium to start. It was due to start at the beginning of January 2011, but it needs President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to sign a decree to make the moratorium legally binding. The moratorium is part of the US$1 billion REDD deal between Indonesia and Norway.
On 28 March 2011, Australian TV station Today Tonight Adelaide broadcast a programme about Shift2Neutral and the company’s chairman Brett Goldsworthy. Paul Makin, a journalist with Today Tonight Adelaide interviewed Brett Goldsworthy in his office in a shopping centre in Westleigh, a suburb of Sydney.
Next week, Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment & International Development, will be visiting Guyana. A year ago, Solheim congratulated Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo when he was awarded the United Nations’ 2010 Champion of the Earth. Solheim described Jagdeo’s promotion of low carbon development as “an example for others to follow.”
In the Road Runner cartoons, the coyote chases the road runner off the cliff and keeps going until he looks down. Once he realises what’s happened, he falls. Proponents of trading the carbon stored in forests are currently running coyote fashion as fast as they can towards the edge of the cliff.
The access road to the Amaila Falls hydropower dam in Guyana’s forest is already under construction. The project is one of those listed in President Bharrat Jagdeo’s Low Carbon Development Strategy. Potential financiers of the hydropower project include the China Development Bank, the China Railway First Group, the InterAmerican Development Bank and the Norwegian Government.
“The world is looking for a great example somewhere,” Jan Hartke, a consultant to the Clinton Foundation wrote in June 2009. “Wonderfully enough,” he continued, “President Jagdeo’s leadership has quite honestly inspired people around the world, and you really need leadership on something like this if we are able to get progress in Copenhagen. He will be able to show how other countries can follow the emergent Guyana model.”
The European Trading System suspended spot trading in carbon credits on 19 January 2011, after 475,000 EU carbon dioxide emissions allowances (EUAs) were stolen from the Czech Republic’s carbon registry. The theft was discovered at 8:00 a.m. on 19 January 2011, by which time the thieves had already sold the credits.
Last week a group of Indonesian-based NGOs put out a press release about the proposed two-year logging moratorium that should have started at the beginning of this year as part of the US$1 billion Indonesia-Norway REDD deal. The NGOs support the moratorium, but only if it is to be meaningful.
Indonesia’s proposed two-year moratorium on forest clearing is currently delayed, until President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decides which one of at least two draft decrees he should sign. Two of the draft decrees, one from the Ministry of Forestry and the other by the REDD-Plus task force are posted below (in Indonesian).
On 30 December 2010, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced that the province of Central Kalimantan had been selected as a pilot REDD province. (More on that decision in a future post.) But four days later, the Jakarta Globe reported that another part of the US$1 billion Indonesia-Norway REDD deal – the moratorium on forest clearing – was delayed.
Shift2Neutral, a small Australia-based carbon trading company, has signed REDD-type deals in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil. The total area of these projects is several million hectares. Yet almost nothing is known about this company, and the company chairman, Brett Goldsworthy, is reluctant to answer questions.
A recent report published by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) looks at REDD, “from a sustainable development standpoint”. While the report acknowledges the potential opportunities, it highlights the risks, including: “the potential exacerbation of poverty through loss of access to land, dislocation of forest communities, deprivation of property rights, and corruption.”