On 4 December 2009, Guyana’s President, Bharrat Jagdeo, was interviewed on the BBC programme “Hard Talk“. At one stage, the presenter, Zeinab Badawi, asks Jagdeo about REDD. What Jagdeo doesn’t say in response is more interesting than what he does say. He doesn’t mention the logging companies already logging Guyana’s forests. He doesn’t mention mining. He doesn’t mention road-building. He doesn’t mention the risks of corruption.
The Congo Basin forest is the second largest in the world after the Amazon. It accounts for one quarter of the world’s remaining tropical forest and covers an area of 1.8 million square kilometres. Clearly, whatever comes out of Copenhagen on REDD has to work in the Congo Basin.
A few weeks ago, the Jakarta Post reported the dangers of “fake carbon brokers” in Indonesia. “They offer pledges that say the regencies or cities will get a lot of money from REDD projects but they provide no programs,” Wandojo Siswanto from the Forestry Ministry told the Jakarta Post. “Regents and mayors in Kalimantan and Sumatra have been offered such promises. But … not a single cent goes to local administrations.”
Here are two more REDD-related news items from Papua New Guinea. The first is an article from Ilya Gridneff, a journalist with Australian Associated Press in Port Moresby. Carbon Planet has invested A$1.2 million in projects in PNG.
A couple of months ago, Kevin Conrad commented that “because Papua New Guinea was advocating a regime shift in forests, we had every carbon cowboy in the world descend upon Papua New Guinea.” Unfortunately, it seems that PNG is not the only country in the world that is facing an influx of “carbon cowboys”.
Last week, Theo Yasause, the director of Papua New Guinea’s Office of Climate Change, was suspended while an internal investigation of the office is carried out, reports Australian Associated Press. For several weeks, the government of Papua New Guinea has been embroiled in a scandal over the issuance of a series of REDD credits, in the absence of any policy or legislation. Yasause denies having done anything wrong.
Eastern Highlands Governor, Malcolm Kela-Smith, states that Papua New Guinea’s Office of Climate Change and Carbon Trading (OCCCT) “is illegal and established without due regard for existing mandates”, according to an article in The National on 15 February 2009. Kela-Smith warned landowners and provincial governments not to enter into any deals solicited by the OCCCT.
On Tuesday, 9 December 2008, I visited the Sheraton Hotel for an event titled “Making Forests Competitive: Practical solutions for permanence”. Organised by the legal firm Norton Rose, in association with the UNEP Finance Initiative and Carbon Markets and Investors Association, the event looked at the possibilities for the insurance industry to insure forest carbon.
One of the key issues related to REDD is that of risk. All trade carries an element of risk, but there is general agreement that the risks associated with forest carbon trading might be substantial, and possibly unresolvable, at least in the short term.