“It’s depressing”, Kevin Conrad told Associated Press, commenting on what happened (or didn’t) in Copenhagen. “It means I’ve got to spend another year … coming to meetings and talking about the same things.”
Conrad would probably be even more depressed had he been asked to comment on what is happening in Papua New Guinea.
The PNG government is investigating allegations of corruption linked to REDD and carbon trading. The Rights and Resources Initiative notes that “there are reports of villagers are being threatened at gunpoint to hand over their carbon rights to ‘carbon cowboys’.” The government has shut down the Office of Climate Change & Environmental Sustainability (OCCES) and there are criminal investigations underway regarding the issuance of carbon certificates.
In December 2009, to coincide with the negotiations in Copenhagen, two programmes came out about REDD in PNG. The first, “Carbon Cowboys”, is from Al Jazeera and follows the progress of Kirk Roberts (a “cock-fighting, carbon cowboy, kingpin, tree tyrant”) as he attempts to set up multi-million dollar carbon trading schemes in PNG’s forests. Here’s how Roberts explains carbon trading to villagers:
“If we chop the trees down and we go logging, you get one chop, one chop and then all the biodiversity, all the water and everything becomes polluted, it disappears. Your children will have nothing. You keep the trees and you keep the biodiversity and you let me work hard to find a way to make you get paid for that, that’s carbon trading. . . . There’s lots of opportunities to come from carbon trading. There’ll be, er, income for the people, there’ll be money provided for infrastructure to improve your roads, to help you with schools, with hospitals. This is very important what’s happening here. I congratulate everybody here.”
The second is a four-part documentary broadcast on the Australian channel SBS:
- Deforestation on Summit Agenda
- Climate Controversy in PNG
- PNG Climate Woes Continue
- Papua Carbon Trade Blind Eye
In the second video, “Climate Controversy in PNG“, SBS asks Carbon Planet’s Dave Sag about Kirk Roberts of Nupan Trading Company Ltd. According to Carbon Planet’s website, “Nupan, as well as other project developers, has contracted Carbon Planet to provide the certification and trading services for its carbon projects in Papua New Guinea and other countries around the World.” But on film Sag was reluctant to speak about Roberts. “Yeah, look. Can you stop the tape, for a moment?” he said. He pulled his earpiece out and left the recording studio. Kirk Roberts declined to be interviewed by SBS.