From: , Triple Pundit, More from this Affiliate
Published June 19, 2008 08:55 AM

International Carbon Initiative Failing: The Case of Papua New Guinea

In the pacific region countries have joined forces to tackle land-clearing in an attempt to reduce regional emission levels. One of the latest carbon partnerships, agreed to in April this year, is between Papua New Guinea and Australia. The agreement has been criticised from its inception and with the release of a recent forest analysis report covering PNG, the potential usefulness of the program going forward is further questioned.


Papua New Guinea is losing 362, 400ha of rainforest every year, one of the highest rates of deforestation and the worst scale of land-clearing as a percentage of the country size (1.4per cent of its land area). Farming and logging are the main industries leading to this depletion, which without being curtailed will result in more than 80 percent of the entire rainforest disappearing within 13 years. A rate ‘considerably faster’ than ever before predicted.

This new information brings into question the effectiveness of the $200 million international forest carbon initiative in the pacific region. A report released last week, ‘The State of the Forests of Papua New Guinea,’ examines land clearing trends and brings further criticism surrounding the rationality and potential for success of the carbon program. The report’s senior author, PNG Remote Sensing Centre director Dr. Phil Shearman, considers

"The reality is that forests are being logged repeatedly and wastefully with little regard for the environmental consequences, and with at least the passive complicity of government authorities."

The study concluded that PNG was a "long way from being able to meaningfully participate in the carbon economy" and questioned the underlying rationality of the program."It's fair to wonder why the PNG Government should be compensated after encouraging the logging industry for so long in the past, or why it should get paid in the future to conserve forest that cannot be reached and would never have been logged anyway," Dr Shearman said.

This latest case study brings about 2 important questions, how effective are forest protection mechanisms in industrializing countries and can donor countries have a beneficial impact on reducing deforestation rates? As concluded in the study and in the case of the PNG and Australian partnership, forest protection mechanisms have been shown to be meaningless, logging practices are creating irreversible effects and the international partnership a wasted effort to reduce carbon emissions through tackling logging to date.

Papua New Guinea holds one of the world’s most diverse rainforest areas and has been repeatedly exploited by governments and multinational companies as a result of its resource richness. Now that impetus is growing to address carbon emissions and to improve environmental protection there is momentum to change this cycle of exploitation. However, the case of PNG serves to highlight the immense barriers to addressing deforestation in developing countries, where business interests in resource extraction persuades action away from protectionism and creates great scope for corruption by government officials.

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