By Chris Lang
On 2 March 2022, Wera Mori, Papua New Guinea’s Minister of Environment, Conservation and Climate Change issued a “Moratorium on PNG REDD+ Voluntary Carbon Market Projects”. The Moratorium was published by the Post Courier and Melanesian Carbon Watch posted a screenshot on Twitter.
The Moratorium is on new and proposed REDD projects aimed at generating voluntary carbon credits. There are currently two REDD projects listed on Verra’s project database as “Under development”, the REDD+ Project in Oro Province and PNG Communities BEST REDD – Tavolo Project.
REDD-Monitor wrote about the REDD+ Project in Oro Province yesterday.
Mori’s statement about Moratorium includes a paragraph about the REDD deal that Mori signed in March 2021 with Kevin Conrad, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. Under the deal, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations has sold 6,106 carbon offsets to a company called Blackstone Energy Services.
In May 2021, ten civil society organisations in Papua New Guinea put out a statement opposing PNG’s REDD deal with the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. “How can PNG sign up and subscribe with a Carbon Credit Scheme that is not officially recognised by any bona fide and legitimate international authorities?” they asked.
Conrad’s deal is based on the Biannual Update Report that PNG submitted to the UNFCCC. Despite historically high levels of deforestation in 2014 and 2015, PNG anticipates generating more than 9 million carbon offsets (which Mori anticipates will raise “more US$20 million”), because the Forest Reference Level simply extrapolates the doubling of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation that took place in the 12 years since 2001:
Here is Mori’s announcement of the Moratorium, published on 2 March 2022 in the Post Courier:
Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Climate Change
Moratorium on PNG REDD+ Voluntary Carbon Market Projects
As the Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change, I wish to point out and make clear to the public Papua New Guinea’s policy agenda on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) and its future going forward.
The Government of Papua New Guinea is committed in pursuing and ensuring that REDD+ is implemented under the UNFCCC compliance system and that this initiative will be led by Climate Change Development Authority (CDA) and Conservation Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) through a whole of government and stakeholder approach.
PNG’s effort is clearly articulated in the country’s National REDD+ Strategy (NRS) where we intend to achieve environment sustainability by strengthening long term economic growth as well as promoting community livelihoods with effective conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, while ensuring PNG’s Forest resources are sustainably utilized in an equitable manner for the current and future generation.
We have been able to achieve this through our international negotiation efforts at the UNFCCC level where we successfully established the Warsaw Framework. This framework enables PNG to be eligible for REDD+ Results-Based-Payments (RBPs) under the compliance system.
It is important for all to note that Papua New Guinea’s REDD+ results for the years 2014 and 2015 were reported in the REDD+ Biannual Update Repurt (BUR) to the UNFCCC. Papua New Guinea stands to receive more than 20 million US dollars for the years 2014 and 2015 as a result of our ongoing efforts in reducing deforestation. I also want to add here that this is a significant achievement for the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) which Papua New Guinea currently serves as the Chair following on from the pioneering work of our late Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare.
For CfRN countries to market a high-class carbon commodity it is critically important that we generate quality carbon credits by ensuring a zero double-counting situation. I wish to inform the public that work is well underway to establish a financing framwork that will be able to receive and hold REDD+ finance, RBPs and monies generated domestically through allocated tax. The Trust Fund mechanism will be established under the recently amended Climate Change (Mangement) (Amendment) Act which gives Minister the authority to sell and transfer carbon sequestered by the forest in the form of emissions reductions.
Recently we have experienced an increase in interest for project level REDD+ activities targeting the use of Voluntary Carbon Standards (VCS). The CCDA is responsible for accurately reporting on its REDD+ Results. The VCS projects must be brought under the compliance system so that the REDD+ Safeguard requirements under the UNFCCC is implemented through a national approach for benefit of the country and its local communities. This will ensure environmental integrity and avoid double counting of carbon credits traded which is an ongoing issue in other countries as well.
I am now imposing a Moratorium on any new and intending REDD+ Carbon Market Projects looking to pursue using VCS to trade carbon credits. I will be taking a policy submission to the National Executive Council (NEC) to immediately effect this Moratorium so as to ensure that PNG’s National Approach under the UNFCCC compliance system is strictly adhered to.
We will now take advantage of the COP 26 outcomes and pursue Article 6 of the Paris Agreement by negotiating with Private Sector based companies to buy into PNG’s soon to be established emission trading scheme. We will also be pursuing bilateral agreements in the region such as the Indo-Pacific Carbon Offset Scheme (IPCOS) which was signed with Australia during the COP 26 meeting in Glasgow.
The Moratorium on new and intending VCS Project Level REDD+ Activities will be in place to ensure a proper stock take and audit of existing voluntary projects are accounted for. In line with that exercise, CCDA and CEPA will also be in the process of establishing an appropriate Trust Fund with the necessary safeguards to implement the National REDD+ Mechanism with an acceptable benefit sharing arrangement that meets the aspiration of landowners, international investors of carbon projects and the National Government.