BY STEVE ZWICK
On Monday, an AAP article reported that Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare has officially denounced voluntary carbon schemes as being too risky.
The article – republished in PNG Attitude – said Somare was encouraging forest owners to wait for a formal United Nations REDD regime before preserving forests to earn credits for saving them.
The message, however, is not posted on Somare's web page, and the voluntary programs he's denouncing were never verified to any recognized standard.
It's just the latest in a series of weird signals to come out of PNG, which is under fire on both compliance and voluntary carbon fronts.
On the compliance front, PNG's handling of the REDD+ Partnership drew fire at UN climate change talks in Tianjin, where scores of participants accused their negotiating team of stifling efforts to bring small landowners and indigenous groups into the negotiations.
Meanwhile, Somare and new Deputy Prime Minister, Don Polye have been drawing heat for continuing to deal with Australian company, Nupan, which claims to be developing voluntary carbon offset projects in PNG.
Nupan is run by a colorful character named Kirk William Roberts. He makes a great TV villain, and some have tried to equate him with the markets themselves, but the fact is that his company has never had a carbon credit verified or validated under any recognized crediting scheme.
He is tangential to the carbon markets, and not of the carbon markets. That may change the day one of his projects is accredited, but that day has not come.
In fact, his projects have never gained credence in the legitimate carbon community. Further, allegations of intimidation on the part of Nupan would, if proven true, disqualify the company's projects from approval under the CCB.
And now, after all this, Somare is apparently telling us that voluntary carbon markets are too risky for his people?
As has been the case with much of the weirdness swirling around PNG and its foray into the carbon markets, I have not yet been able to confirm Somare's statement with his office.
If it ends up being true – and if the allegations against Nupan pan out as well – I will be forced to concede that, yes, voluntary carbon markets are risky.
And the risk is especially great for the get-rich-quick set, and for anyone looking to steamroll indigenous groups.
Let's work on keeping it that way.
Source: PNG Exposed Blog