PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY – Deforestation is responsible for up to 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is crucial for the international community to achieve its goal of keeping global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Papua New Guinea is the world’s second largest island with a landmass of 46 million hectares, of which 29 million are virgin forest. PNG is second only to Brazil in having the largest tropical rainforest still intact.
Legally, land in PNG is owned by the indigenous people. Only 3% was acquired by the government during the colonial period and 97% is recognized by the Customary Land Registration Act for customary landowners.
PNG also has large mineral deposits and currently exports gold, copper, nickel, oil, liquefied natural gas and other resources in which customary landowners are important stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index reveals that PNG is one of the most corrupt nations in the world, much of the corruption involving illegal land grabbing.
The country’s biggest land scandal has been triggered by Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) agreements. Using the pretext of promising customary landowners agricultural, the government has used many of these SABL leases for other commercial purposes.
This has all occurred without a proper policy framework in place, enabling ‘carbon cowboys’ to illegally use the land for their own purposes.
The government established a climate change office in 2010 but it soon came under public scrutiny for its dubious activities and was condemned by international observers.
According to leaked documents, the government pre-sold carbon credits for almost four years prior to 2009 without a framework being in place or proper legal documentation.
In 2014, the climate change office changed its name to the Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA), with new management taking over.
The hope was to curb out corruption and implement an agreement known as REDD+, a global effort to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and to foster conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks
Even though the PNG government is now trying to seize back the SABL leases and return the land to customary landowners, the effectiveness of this, and of CCDA, is questionable as is the implementation of REDD+.
Papua New Guinea’s greenhouse gas emissions mostly come from land use and forestry. As a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, it is a requirement that PNG reduces these emissions. But reducing emissions from deforestation and the degradation of forests will be neither cheap nor easy.
But is has been stated that, in the midst of illegal land grabbing and carbon corruption, blockchain technology can potentially be beneficial to PNG communities.
A decentralised public blockchain-based offsetting and compensation mechanism enabling communities to sustain their forested land with REDD+ mitigation instruments is underway. Scheduled to be launched this year, Travel4Green (T4G) is an autonomous nonprofit private project designed and operated by Howarig Traders.
T4G is based on blockchain-based smart contracts and it encourages travellers to calculate their carbon footprints to recognise how much carbon emission they leave behind in the countries they visit.
Imagine that you could calculate the carbon footprint of your travel to PNG and offset it.
This is what T4G blockchain technology enables you to do.
Travellers worldwide can acquire T4G token depending on the social responsibility they feel towards saving Planet Earth.
Peter S Kinjap is a freelance writer and an advocate for the T4G project. For more information and technical detail you can email Peter here: firstname.lastname@example.org