Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In search of stolen carbon credits

According to a report by by Ilya Gridneff, of the Associated Press, on Monday of this week Theo Yasause, head of the office of climate change in Papua New Guinea, “emphatically” denied any wrongdoing in relation to the existence tens of millions of tonnes worth of carbon credits created by the office of climate change. By way of explanation, sample credits were created merely "to see what it looked like".

Yasause announced yesterday that a criminal investigation would be conducted to find who stole the "sample" documents. Yet Jim Johnson, of Carbon Planet, went on the record recently to tell me that the documents were, "issued by OCC.”

If the Papua New Guinea government really does intend to start a criminal investigation over the credits held by Nupan and Carbon Planet, one would think that a quick call to Carbon Planet would be the first port of call. That would clear up any questions about how these credits got out of the Office of Climate Change.

Carbon Planet will no doubt be more than delighted to remind the government firstly that these "symbolic" credits that are in existence were indeed issued by the government and not leaked or stolen. And secondly, one might easily imagine that Carbon Planet might also point out that any indication by the government that the possession of these sample credits is improper in any way is defamatory, and potentially actionable.

Update: Ilya Gridneff's report of Monday's press conferece:

"Sample" documents blamed for PNG carbon deals
By Ilya Gridneff, Papua New Guinea Correspondent PORT MORESBY, June 15 AAP - Papua New Guinea's Office of Climate Change (OCC) director has emphatically denied any wrongdoing amid reports he issued up to 39 false multi-million-dollar carbon trading deals.

Dr Theo Yasause told reporters in Port Moresby on Monday stolen documents leaked to the media were "samples" not designed for official use.

Documents obtained by The Economist magazine and available on the web show a series of what appears to be multi-million-dollar carbon trading deals with foreign companies in various regions of PNG. "I've not sold or made any money out of this process," Yasause said. "I've done no deals, or sold any credits."

Yasause said even though the leaked documents appear to carry his signature, the OCC's official seal and another colleague's signature, they did not represent real deals. "It's not a false document but a sample," he said. Asked why he would make sample documents, he said: "We want to see what it looked like." "It's speculation by certain individuals who have no regard for the process," Yasause said. "They should have asked before they released this kind of statements," he said. "It was a sample stolen from my drawer, we were looking at several types of project," he said.

Yasause said a criminal investigation would be conducted to find who stole the "sample" documents, along with a review of the OCC. "We never received any funding from foreign entities," he said. "We have not issued any credits to anyone," he said. PNG has the world's third-largest rainforest and great interest in turning the asset into carbon trading revenue, but at present no such policy or legislation exists in PNG, nor under UN guidelines.

On Friday an industry insider told AAP conmen were scamming PNG villagers by selling fake carbon trading schemes that relied on the community's confusion and belief in "sky money". AAP ig/jl/de