Papua New Guinea is home to part of the third largest contiguous rainforest left on earth - a forest that is now increasingly valued for its carbon storage and sequestration.

PNG, as part of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, has been pushing for international recognition of the role its forests could play in climate change mitigation at the same time as allocating ever larger areas of forest for unsustainable logging and clear-felling. 

In May 2010 the PNG government submitted a proposal to Norway for up to $1 billion dollars in funding in return for PNG taking steps to reduce its carbon emissions and tackle forest loss - read more.

While in October 2010, Greenpeace published a report, PNG is not Ready for REDD (see below for download) criticizing the PNG government for seeking carbon financing while still supporting illegal and unsustainable logging, stalling international climate talks and failing to respect indigenous people's rights.

Meanwhile, on the ground, PNG has been over-run by 'carbon cowboys'  looking to sign up landowners to forest management deals that will be traded on the informal voluntary carbon markets. Several 'bingos' (big international non government organisations) are also working with landowners to establish 'carbon projects' or 'concepts'.

Revelations about 'fake' carbon certificates led to the disbanding of PNGs Office of Climate Change in 2009.

In September 2011 ACT NOW! along with hundreds of concerned groups worldwide, signed a NO REDD letter to the international donor community.

The REDD Monitor offers an excellent commentary on the unfolding drama of carbon trading in PNG. 

The Forest Management Alliance is one organisation that claims to be involved in carbon trading projects in PNG. According to its website it is involved in projects covering more than 2 million hectares of forest and has signed agreements with landowners.

Controversy

Kevin Conrad 'Climate Envoy'

Kevin Conrad, the so-called PNG Climate Change Ambassador has denied suggestions that he has made millions of kina through his work for the country and that he had used the country’s forest as collateral. But many remain suspicious about his role.


“Any suggestions that I somehow have personally received money or profit as a result of my climate work are totally false and defamatory,’’ he says. 
“For the record: I do not own any forest area; I am not party to any contracts related to forests or carbon; I have never received any consulting fees for climate and forest issues; I have never used forests for collateral for any commercial transaction; I have no other agreements that would allow me to profit from my climate and forests efforts. 
“Any allegations or suggestions to contrary are false and will be pursued to the full extent of the law,” Mr Conrad said.


But, according to the Post Courier newspaper, Mr Conrad has received $US17,870,840 off NGOs and wealthy people in Europe and the USA, on the basis that he was “saving the rainforests of PNG”.


Critics claim this has contradicted Mr Conrad’s claim that his services to PNG were voluntary and not compensated. 
“My service to PNG is voluntary and not compensated,’’ he had said. “Having spent most of my life living in PNG, this service is strictly an honour for me. From the beginning of my climate efforts, I have worked on salary at a leading non-profit university under a research-oriented MOU with PNG focused on policy development -- where all employees (including myself) are required to sign legally binding annual conflict-of-interest agreements,” he had said. 


Mr Conrad has also been labelled as a man who allegedly was involved in several multi-million-kina projects in PNG that had fallen through.
Those and other allegations are made by voluntary carbon trade advocate Kirk Roberts of Nupan Trading Corporation 

Mr Conrad was also allegedly involved in a tuna business, a housing project and a superannuation project, in which large amounts of money invested by Papua New Guineans had been lost.


Mr Roberts claims that Mr Conrad was rumoured to be spoiling the chance for landowners to make massive earnings for not logging their forests and taking part in the voluntary carbon trade. This trade was worth millions and millions of kina every year for the next 40 to 100 years, Mr Roberts says.


Another company, April Salome No.2 Resources Ltd from East Sepik, has also said Mr Conrad must stay away from representing their interest.
In a statement, chairman Willy Maru said, “Kevin Conrad has no authority to interrupt, make statement or run around overseas looking for money to be committed to develop April Salome carbon trade project on my people’s forest lands.”


The Peoples Action Party has also issued a statement supporting Mr Roberts. “Mr Roberts is talking sense, former vice president Kila Noho and leader Ted Diro said.
They said carbon trading was a business venture, and should not be over-regulated. Freedom to benefits by the people should be untouched.

Mr Roberts has also queried whether it was true that Mr Conrad was now trying to get a “sustainable logging project” up with Earth Sky in the Prime Minister’s electorate.
“For a huge consulting fee? At the expense of the landowners who have publically declared they do not want to log, but they want to participate in the voluntary carbon trading market?” he said, adding: ’Who gave him the mandate to speak for PNG and take money for PNG?’

Oro Province

In April 2010 a collection of community groups in Oro Province issued a statement protesting about the activities of 'carbon cowboys' in the Province (see pdf file below).

This statement provoked an almost immediate response from Kanawi Pouru, Managing Director of the PNG Forest Authority, distancing the PNGFA from the activities of the named consultant (see jpeg file below).  

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Press Statement SDW Toti.pdf120.24 KB
Kanawi Pouru, 30042010.jpg114.54 KB

Illegal deals

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News

Rainforest plan for forest carbon supervisor stalls in UN

Source: 
Bloomberg

Indigenous people call for REDD moratorium

Source: 
Common Dreams

Iamo denies claim of lack of reps at climate summit

Source: 
The National

Forum concerned by officials no show in Durban

Source: 
The National

McKinsey dumped from rainforest role in PNG

Source: 
Crikey

Bribery and collusion undermine UN carbon scheme

Source: 
reuters

REDD unlikely to save PNGs forests

Source: 
REDD Monitor

Big Sister's carbon tax, a catalyst for cowboys?

Source: 
The Masalai blog

Climate Change ambassador to be removed

Source: 
Post Courier

REDD-plus at a crossroads in PNG

Source: 
East Asia Forum