THE head of a US-based non-governmental organisation said yesterday that no new global strategy on climate change can be developed until wealthy countries take into account the need for economic growth in developing countries.
And Alan Oxley sees the visit by US secretary of state Hilary Clinton as a golden opportunity for PNG to demonstrate how much it matters to the country.
The World Growth chairman said China had sent a stern message about this to wealthy countries at the Copenhagen climate change conference last month and that was why there was no formal agreement on what to do next.
“It is unhelpful that the question of deforestation has been taken out of context in the lead-up to Copenhagen, largely at the urging of environmental activists,” Mr Oxley said.
“For example, the claim deforestation in poor countries accounted for one-fifth of global carbon emissions was disproved by numerous research papers released at and before the Copenhagen meeting.
“Wangari Maathai, the first female Nobel Laureate from Africa also affirmed on CNN before Copenhagen that poverty was the leading cause of deforestation, not commercial forestry or plantations.”
Mr Oxley said this had been taken as a given for years among forestry institutions.
Poor people in Africa, Indonesia, even the Highlands of PNG, cleared 60-70% of land for food, fuel and shelter, he said.
“Activist NGOs like Greenpeace had distorted the picture,” he said.
“They asserted wrongly that commercial forestry and plantations like palm oil were the primary drivers to support their global campaign to stop forestry and plantation agriculture.”
Mr Oxley, who served as Australian ambassador to the GATT, the predecessor of the World Trade Organisation from 1985 to 1989, said World Growth released research at Copenhagen which showed that palm oil was a greater counter to poverty in Indonesia and Malaysia and was the new agricultural export growth industry in PNG “Yet aid donors such as the World Bank are promoting policies
that prevent the clearing of land for palm oil in developing countries, palm oil, even if, as in the case of PNG, ample land has been set aside for forest conservation and national and provincial leaders want economically productive industries established.”
He said it was puzzling that development agencies would adopt policies that restricted expansion of agricultural production just at the time where there is new global concern if the world can produce enough food.
He said some aid agencies seemed to have lost their way.
He noted that the World Bank had even appointed Greenpeace, an avowed opponent of commercial forestry and palm oil, to serve as NGO observer to a World Bank fund to assist developing countries to improve forest management.
“The nation is about to commence the largest resource project in its history in the form of the Exxon LNG project,” Mr Oxley said.
“There are a number of international campaigners who are already
saying that this will have a negative impact on the country.
“Nothing could be further from the truth in a country that desperately needs to raise living standards.
“Mrs Clinton’s visit will give her a good opportunity to get the full picture in PNG.
“The United States had traditionally supported economic growth in poor countries and it was vital it continued to set that standard,” he said.