in Papua New Guinea

Nupan’s forest carbon trading saga continues in Papua New Guinea

NupanTwo new Project Development Documents have recently been posted on the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) website, relating to REDD-type projects in Papua New Guinea: Kamula Doso Improved Forest Management Carbon Project and April Salumei Sustainable Forest Management Project.

Both of these projects are controversial and REDD-Monitor has reported on both projects in the past: April Salumei, here and Kamula Doso, here.

The public comment period runs until 29 July 2010 for Kamula Doso and 24 July 2010 for April Salumei.

Meanwhile, here’s some background information about one small aspect of the Kamula Doso project and a company involved in that project: Nupan (PNG) Trading Ltd. Nupan is run by Kirk Roberts, who has been described as the “the kingpin of the ‘carbon cowboys’”. Recently a strange message appeared on Nupan’s website, under the heading “Buying Carbon Credits”.

“If you are interested in a wontok forest carbon credit offset (VER – Voluntary Emissions Reduction equal to one tonne of co2), dual verified by the VCS / CCBA, we will have an application form ready shortly. To learn what the verification protocols are all about, go to [VCS logo] and [CCBA logo]”

I sent a copy of the statement (which has now been removed from Nupan’s website) to the Voluntary Carbon Standard Association (VCS) and to CCBA and asked them some questions about Nupan and its REDD-type projects in Papua New Guinea. On 24 June 2010, I received the following statement from Andrea Welsh, Communications Director at VCS:

The VCS Association is a non-profit organization founded to promote robust standards and processes for accounting for greenhouse gas reductions/removals in voluntary projects. The Voluntary Carbon Standard itself was developed over two years of open consultation with international experts and is publicly available for anyone to use as a guide. Therefore, any voluntary project can choose to use VCS standards to measure, report and verify greenhouse gas reductions – without having a formal relationship with the VCSA.
That said, a project can only have Voluntary Carbon Units, or VCUs, after meeting all VCS criteria (e.g., using an approved VCS methodology, having a properly validated Project Description, and having GHG reductions/removals verified by an approved, third-party verification body, and then having VCUs issued into their account by an approved VCS registry). VCUs must be uniquely numbered and transparently listed, along with all verification reports and supporting documents, on one of the approved VCS registries which, together with the VCS project database, make up the VCS registry system. The VCS project database is the central clearinghouse for all information on VCS projects and issued VCUs.
Given this system, I can confirm that Nupan Trading currently has no projects in the VCS project database, and therefore, has not issued any VCUs. I can also tell you that VCSA has no formal relationship with Nupan and no specific knowledge of any projects that Nupan may be developing.
Nupan did inform us, informally, that it is looking forward to the approval of an Improved Forest Management methodology for GHG reductions, which is currently being assessed under the VCS Double Approval Process. (The DA process is a vetting process that allows project developers and technical experts to have new GHG-reduction approaches reviewed by two independent validation and verification bodies (VVBs) following a 30-day public consultation on the methodology.)
The methodology was posted for public comment from January 13 – February 11, 2010, and it is currently under review by the first of the two VVBs. I don’t have specific information about progress because the VCSA does not hire or manage the first VVB, but the methodology is publicly posted on the VCS website for anyone to view – it is called the Improved Forest Management – Logged to Protected Forest methodology.
We recently reached out to Nupan to explain the VCS logo-use policy – project proponents can only use the VCS logo if they sign a licensing agreement with the VCSA, and the VCSA will only consider doing so with those project proponents whose projects meet all VSC criteria (including the verification of GHG emissions reductions/removals, formal registration with one of the VCS-approved registries and issuance of VCUs into the project proponent’s registry account. Nupan was very responsive.

I also asked VCS about an email dated 15 May 2010 from David Antonioli, CEO of VCS, to Kirk Roberts, which was posted on Nupan’s website on 3 June 2010. In the email, Antonioli states that “we think that the early work being done in this space, by entities like Nupan Trading, is particularly noteworthy since you are blazing a new trail, and should therefore be recognized if it is done within a robust framework (like the VCS).” Antonioli even offers “to write a more detailed letter in support of your [Roberts’] activities”. I asked VCS whether they were aware of the various controversies surrounding Kirk Roberts’ work in PNG. VCS declined to answer this question, but the email has now been removed from Nupan’s website.

In response to my questions to Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance, I received the following statement from Steve Panfil at CCBA:

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We have not received a PDD from Nupan and we have not given permission for use of our logo. No project is permitted to claim that it is validated against the CCB Standards until it has completed a formal validation process that includes a 30 day public comment period and evaluation by an approved auditor. The Nupan project has not submitted its PDD for public comment and to our knowledge has not contracted with an auditor.
We will follow up directly with this company regarding this issue.

As mentioned above, the PDD is now available on CCBA’s website.

Nupan’s website also had an impressive array of logos at the bottom of its website. In addition to VCS and CCBA, the website displayed the logos of SGS, TZ1, UNFCCC, Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and greencollar (whose website appeared to be down). I wrote to the companies and received the following replies (the logos have now all been removed from Nupan’s website):

  • Michael R Fahy, SVP, Environmental Services, SGS Group Management Ltd (24 June 2010):

As far as our records show we have done no work for Nupan in PNG.
Thank you also for bringing the use of our logo by Carbonowontok to our attention. We are taking this matter up directly with the organization. I note that none of the logos are currently being used at the bottom of their website.

  • Michael Gormley, Director, Corporate Communications, Markit (formerly TZ1) (18 June 2010):

We were not aware that this group had a link on their website to Markit Environmental Registry. So thank you for pointing this out.
We do not have a relationship with either Nupan Trading or carbonowontok.

However, the following statement is still on Nupan’s website:

The methodology in [sic] now in the last stages of being dual verified, and the first PDD using the basis of the methodology is up for public comment, with the expectation that credits (VER’s or VCU’s) will be registered with the Markit Environmental Registry (formerly TZ1) in July.

UNFCCC and DNV did not respond to my questions. DNV is the CCBA Auditer/Certifier for the Kamula Doso project. I also wrote to Kirk Roberts, but he declined to respond.

Nupan is now attempting to get recognition for its project at Kamula Doso through the CCBA. Before submitting the Project Development Document to CCBA, the company gave what can only be described as misleading statements about the status of the verification process with CCBA and VCS. Most of these misleading statements have now been removed as have the company logos from Nupan’s website. This small incident gives some indication of the difficulties of policing REDD.

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  1. Any info on who is developing the April Salome pilot project? The PDD states that it is the Rainforest Project Management Limited aka RMA (Rainforest Management Alliance)
    My search has been taking me to the well known Rainforest Alliance
    However, the latter Rainforest Alliance does not have projects in PNG; the former Rainforest Alliance has very scant info on their website on themselves. I am looking at the PDD but information on the project developer,I cannot find – I would appreciate any info if someone knows…..

  2. Dear Chris,

    Just for your information; land and forest ownership in Papua New Guinea is something that the law of the land as a sovereign nation gives to the local melanesian people through customary landownership. Thus 97% of the land and forest in PNG is owned by Papua New Guineans and not the Government. Thus, in a recent direction from the office of the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has given the approval for Nupan Trading to trade carbon in more than 4 projects in the country on behalf of the local landowners.

    Thus, it would by now appear to anyone on this issue that Nupan is blazing on a new trail. This is yet very new to the rest of the world and questions may come out because of the requirements of a standard framework. But in addition, PNG local landowners have the legitimate autonomy over the forest to trade with Nupan and this must be clear to the whole world. Therefore should Nupan’s attempt to asist the local PNGs in this regard is anything within the standard framework and let it be recognized if it is done within a robust framework (like the VCS) and be blessed by authorities concerned.

    PNG locals wanted to venture into the voluntory carbon trading opportunity and should this be anything that does not attract such local indigenous people who own the many hactures of the forest to benefit from, let the whole world know and we (PNGs) should know too.

    Thank you!

    Peter Kinjap
    Papua New Guinean