Friday, December 5, 2008

Carbon offset from West Papua, an attractive business yet complicated one

by Charles Roring in Manokwari West Papua
Papua island has one of the best tropical rainforest in the world beside Amazon of Brazil. It absorbs million tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) while at the same time emits oxygen which all the living beings need. Papua island administratively is ruled by two states i.e. Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. The tropical rainforest of Papua as one of the world respirators or air filters attract carbon trader to buy its carbon offsets and sell it again in the voluntary market where multinational companies can buy them. One carbon offset equals to one metric ton of CO2 equivalent emission. The price for one offset is between 21 and 24 Euros according to European emission allowances for 2008 - 2012. It is considered cheaper for multi national companies that release tens of thousands tons of CO2 emission into the atmosphere. They can continue running their factories, or refineries without have to install expensive carbon capture and reinjection plant.

When carbon traders are looking eagerly to buy Carbon offset from Papua island. The indigenous tribes who are the real owner of the forest do not know about it. Indonesia recognize and respect the communal rights of the Papuan tribes who have lived in this densely tropical rainforest for years. These tribes do not know if they can get money by selling carbon offset. From all the tribes that I know, only one tribe in South Sorong whose chief is an intellectual knows about it. He has written a letter to a multinational company that operates in Berau bay asking about the priority to buy carbon offset from the indigenous people who live in the bay as the real owner of the forest and whose rainforest is much affected by CO2 emission the multinational company has released.
It is important of traders who want to buy carbon offset in West Papua to also involve the tribal chiefs who own the land and the forest. They cannot only approach local government officials and university staff for buying the carbon offset of Papuan forest. I just read a news story in local newspaper, Cahaya Papua which says that Global Carbon intends to buy carbon offset from West Papua. I have to inform them through this blog that they also have to know the real owners of the forest to avoid any conflicts in the future. Papua island consists of tribes whose territories had been delineated by Dutch anthropologist. Local government know the territorial boundaries of every tribes. It is better to know these boundaries before deciding to buy the carbon offset. The last thing which I have to say here is that large portion of the money has to go to the indigenous people who own the land and the forest.

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