By Chris Lang
On 29 March 2021, REDD-Monitor wrote about a REDD deal that Kevin Conrad, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, signed with Papua New Guinea. Conrad claims the deal will mark “the very first time that (carbon) credits that have been approved by the UNFCCC are being marketed to an open forum to our consumers”. Conrad’s REDD deal was signed on 17 March 2021.
The Papua New Guinea newspaper, the Post Courier reported Conrad as saying that,
“Once we get everything signed up we are going to do a transaction next week, probably just a small one, about US$10,000, just to show and announce that the system is up, and all consumers need to show a transaction to bring other people in.
“We have a company in Canada called the Blackstone Energy, who will be the first company to buy from PNG and their idea is just to get the game started.”
This is a top down REDD deal, with little or no transparency. No process of free, prior and informed consent was carried out before Conrad signed the REDD deal with Wera Mori, PNG’s Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, and Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director of the Climate Change Development Authority.
Where the money from the carbon credit sales will end up is far from clear. PNG has not yet produced a REDD benefit sharing agreement.
A two-year-old “new report”
On 30 March 2021, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations put out a press release under the headline, “Papua New Guinea Slows Rainforest Deforestation after a Decade, According to New UNFCCC Report”.
The “New UNFCCC Report” is a report published by Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change and Development Authority and submitted to the UNFCCC.
The Climate Change and Development Authority’s report is Papua New Guinea’s First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC. It is dated December 2018.
The Biennial Update Report states that PNG achieved REDD+ results in 2014 and 2015 of 9,003,314 tCO2e. But in both 2014 and 2015, PNG emitted almost 40 million tCO2e from deforestation and forest degradation. The country can only claim REDD+ results because PNG, with the help of the FAO, created a Forest Reference Level that increases every year. As long as PNG’s forest destruction remains under the Forest Reference Level, PNG can continue to destroy its forests and claim millions of carbon credits from “REDD+ results”.
Meanwhile, of course, governments have not yet completed negotiations at the UNFCCC on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Article 6 involves the rules about creating a new carbon trading mechanism.
On 9 April 2021, REDD-Monitor received the following message from Mark Grundy of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations:
Subject: [REDD-Monitor] Contact
Name: Mark Grundy
Comment: Dear Chris,
Please correct your article about Blackstone’s purchase of nationally-issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits. The transaction was for 6,100 credits
You can view the deal on CFRN.org
Sure enough, a Coalition for Rainforest Nations press release dated 8 April 2021 announces that Blackstone Energy Services has bought 6,106 carbon credits from Papua New Guinea.
Here are the Coalition for Rainforest Nations’ two recent press releases (neither of which mentions the ongoing negotiations about Article 6 of the Paris Agreement):
News: Papua New Guinea Slows Rainforest Deforestation after a Decade, According to New UNFCCC Report
Nine million UNFCCC-verified, forestry carbon credits issued for sale by sovereign government.
March 30, 2021, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea’s rainforest conservation efforts successfully slowed the pace of deforestation in 2014-2015, after bringing annual deforestation levels down to an annual average of 0.5% over a thirteen-year period, according to a report published by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As a result of these efforts, UNFCCC verified 9 million metric tonnes (mt) of carbon reductions for this period. The results were posted on UNFCCC REDD+ Information Hub along with four other prerequisites to UNFCCC REDD+ verification:
- National REDD+ Strategy
- National Forest Reference Level
- National Forest Monitoring System
- Safeguards Information Summary.
- Deforestation: Between 2000-2013, Papua New Guinea saw an average loss of 0.5% of its national rainforest annually or 197,000 hectares of forest. The highest annual deforestation figures came in 2013 with a loss of 39,676 hectares. Loss was primarily due to conversion of forests to croplands for both non-commercial agricultural needs of its population (63%) as well as commercial agriculture (30%).
- Degradation of remaining rainforests, primarily for commercial logging was also a major concern. Peaking in 2012 with 240,000 hectares, government action led to steadily declining degradation from 2013 onwards. 2014 and 2015 showed a marked decline in deforestation in both drivers.
- Reforestation and forest rehabilitation activities: Conversely, efforts to enhance forest cover through reforestation and forest rehabilitation activities were limited, despite ambitious goals set out within Papua New Guinea’s Vision 2050 to establish 800,000 hectares of forest plantation by the middle of this century.
“These results are a testament to over two decades of national action and leadership – and are a fitting and timely tribute to the late Sir Michael Somare who pioneered global rainforest conservation. The data from 2014-2015 clearly show that Papua New Guinea has now turned a corner in our battle to stop deforestation,” said, Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director of the Climate Change and Development Authority.
Papua New Guinea’s 9 million mt of carbon reductions will become the first nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits to go on sale to corporations and consumers. This comes after a decade of international negotiation to establish Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) as a global conservation mechanism under the Paris Agreement on climate change – which was achieved in 2015.
The REDD+ mechanism, the brainchild of late Sir Grand Chief Michael Somare – founding father of Papua New Guinea, was started by Papua New Guinea and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations in 2005 under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The government of Papua New Guinea intends to set up a national biodiversity and climate change trust fund to manage and distribute the wealth accumulated from the revenues of nationally issued REDD+ forest carbon credits and other grants and donations. This will be announced in PNG Parliament in April.
A signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) took place on Wednesday March 17 in Port Moresby between the government of Papua New Guinea and REDD.plus to permit the sale of the forest carbon credits. Wera Mori, Minister of the Environment, Conservation & Climate Change and Kevin Conrad, Chief Executive of REDD.plus signed the agreement.
“Today’s agreement constitutes a significant milestone for the REDD+ story and for Papua New Guinea. People and companies will be able to purchase forest carbon credits that reward a country’s successful conservation efforts as well as count towards the Paris Agreement and the global carbon budget,” said Kevin Conrad, Executive Director, Coalition for Rainforest Nations. “Buying nationally issued REDD+ forest carbon credits is a powerful way to support global efforts to tackle the climate emergency.”
While Papua New Guinea’s nationally determined contribution under the Paris Agreement in which targets for emissions reductions in the land use and forest sector have not been identified beyond 2015, mitigation actions from its national policies, Vision 2050 and the Medium-Term Development Strategy 2030 have been set out.
Papua New Guinea’s nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits were made available for purchase today on REDD.plus registry – provided by IHS Markit and trading platform by CBL. REDD.plus is currently managed by not-for-profit, Coalition for Rainforest Nations.
The Climate Change Development Authority is mandated under the Climate Change (Management) Act 2015 with the responsibility to contribute toward global efforts in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, through low carbon development that fosters economic growth and social welfare for the people’s wellbeing and prosperity. It is based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Learn more at PNG REDD+
The Coalition for Rainforest Nations is US 401c3 not-for-profit established by forested tropical countries to collaboratively reconcile forest stewardship with economic development. Its assists tropical governments, communities and peoples responsibly manage their rainforests. It is the architect of the REDD+ mechanism and is headquartered in New York.
REDD.plus is the first digital platform enabling carbon neutrality under the Paris Agreement, and provided by IHS Markit and trading platform by CBL. It is a central registry and exchange for nationally issued carbon reductions or REDD+ Results Units from rainforest nations, certified by the United Nations. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.
News: Blackstone Energy Services Buys First Sovereign Government Issued REDD+ Forestry Carbon Credits to Save Papua New Guinea’s Rainforests
Toronto, Canada, April 8, 2021, 07.00pm
Blackstone Energy Services, Canada’s leading energy services company made the first commercial purchase of UNFCCC-verified, REDD+ forestry carbon credits or REDD+ Results Units (RRUs), issued by the sovereign government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) today. Blackstone’s pilot purchase of 6,106 metric tonnes of forestry carbon credits is intended to both offset its historical carbon footprint back to 2003, and its estimated emissions up until to and including 2030. Beyond this pilot purchase, Blackstone plans to offer sovereign government issued carbon credits from rainforest nations to its portfolio of North American clients with a collective annual energy spend over US$2.5 billion.
“The sale sets a precedent for corporations wishing to achieve net-zero targets from carbon reductions directly linked to country efforts under the Paris Agreement and the global carbon budget,” says Ryan Duffy, Chief Executive Officer, Blackstone Energy Services. “The fact that these carbon credits represent UNFCCC-verified emissions reductions from national conservation efforts which have happened– and not future promises – is important to us and our clients.”
Blackstone bought carbon reductions created by PNG’s tropical rainforests from a two-year period of impact. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) verified that Papua New Guinea’s government, its agencies and local communities had successfully slowed the pace of deforestation across its 113.8 million acres (about the area of California) of rainforests. The credits came from a tranche of 9,003,314 metric tonnes of carbon emissions reductions issued by the sovereign government two weeks ago. To achieve these results, the government introduced a series of domestic initiatives and policies over a 15-year period, and also satisfied the UNFCCC verification process by submitting: a national conservation (REDD+) strategy, a national online forest monitoring system, forest reference levels, and other safeguards.
With Papua New Guinea being the current Coalition for Rainforest Nations Chair, Honorable Wera Mori, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, was pleased to witness the first commercial transaction of nationally issued REDD+ credits and thanked Blackstone Energy Services for taking the lead as a responsible corporate citizen:
“The world is currently facing a climate emergency and PNG is mitigating the effects of climate change through rainforests and REDD+. This is also captured in PNG’s revised National Determined Contributions that was submitted last year to the UNFCCC, including the National Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 13 Climate Action Roadmap (2020 – 2030),” says Minister Mori.
Unlike project-based REDD+ carbon credits, which have been available on the voluntary carbon markets for over a decade, Blackstone’s purchase marks the first commercial transaction of nationally issued REDD+ credits or REDD+ Results Units. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Mechanism, the brainchild of late Sir Grand Chief Michael Somare – founding father of Papua New Guinea, was started with the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) in 2005 under the UNFCCC. It took a decade of international and domestic climate policy work as well as in-country capacity building and technical training to forestry commission teams across the world before the first carbon credits could become available today.
“This is a healthy milestone for the UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism. Both Blackstone’s purchase today and others in the pipeline offer encouraging early signs of corporate demand for this new carbon credit. We expect to see REDD+ Results Units playing a platinum role within both the compliance markets and as an Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcome (ITMOs), qualifying for international transfer of carbon reductions for countries under the Paris Agreement,” says Kevin Conrad, Executive Director, Coalition for Rainforest Nations.
Papua New Guinea’s REDD+ results were reported in a technical annex on REDD+ results to the biennial update reports and underwent technical analysis by UNFCCC. To view these reports and all UNFCCC requirements and safeguards, see Lima REDD+ Information Hub. Papua New Guinea’s REDD+ Results Units (RRUs) are available on REDD.plus platform, provided by Markit and trading platform by CBL. The government of Papua New Guinea intends to set up a national biodiversity and climate change trust fund to manage and distribute the funds accumulated from the revenues of nationally issued REDD+ forestry carbon credits and other grants and donations. This will be announced in PNG Parliament this month.
Blackstone Energy Services
Blackstone is an independent energy management firm that delivers purposeful change for clients by guiding large private and public-sector businesses on their journey to net-zero consumption. Their custom energy management solutions cover cost, consumption, and carbon improvements. With a client portfolio representing over 1 million tonnes of CO2e each year for scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is their vision to take all their clients to net zero by 2050. Blackstone is based in Toronto, Canada.
Contact: Darlene Remlinger, VP Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. 416-628-2828 ext. 101
Climate Change and Development Authority, Independent State of Papua New Guinea
The Papua New Guinea Climate Change Development Authority is mandated under the Climate Change (Management) Act 2015 with the responsibility to contribute toward global efforts in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through low carbon development that fosters economic growth and social welfare for the people’s wellbeing and prosperity. It is based in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Learn more at PNG REDD+
Contact Mr. Ruel Yamuna, Managing Director: email@example.com
Coalition for Rainforest Nations
The Coalition for Rainforest Nations is a US 401c3 not-for-profit established by forested tropical countries to collaboratively reconcile forest stewardship with economic development. Its assists tropical governments, communities, and peoples to responsibly manage their rainforests. It is the co-architect of the UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism and is headquartered in New York. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. It is the first digital platform enabling carbon neutrality under the Paris Agreement, and provided by Markit and trading platform by CBL. It is a central registry and exchange for nationally issued carbon reductions or REDD+ Results Units from rainforest nations, verified by the UNFCCC. REDD.plus is owned and managed by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.
Contact: Mark Grundy, Managing Director, Marketing & Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org