AN Australian academic said attacks regarding his work for controversial Australian environment firm Carbon Planet and the Papua New Guinea Government are unfounded.
Australian National University (ANU) professor, Dr Colin Filer, who last month gave a seminar at the university called “the carbon cargo cult in PNG”, will consult on climate change issues for PNG’s Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC).
But Dr Filer, through the university’s commercial arm ANU Enterprise, previously worked for Carbon Planet, which last year spent A$2.8 million in PNG on carbon trading projects despite there being no PNG legislation or policy.
Carbon Planet’s deals with Australian businessman Kirk Roberts, a former disqualified Australian horse trainer who ran a Philippines cock fighting business, are central to a pending PNG investigation.
Dr Filer, who taught at the University of PNG and worked at the PNG National Research Institute, shrugged off the criticisms as “sour pawpaw”.
“Over the past 20 years I have used my research on the forestry sector to advise many different agencies, including NGOs, on ways to achieve better policy outcomes and a better deal for local communities.
“I will carry on doing this so long as people want my advice and I have something useful to offer.
“As for Carbon Planet, I think there is room for improvement in their stakeholder engagement strategy, but that is not the subject on which they sought my advice,” he said.
PNG NGO Eco-Forestry Forum chairman Kenn Mondiai, wants Dr Filer sacked because he thinks it is another embarrassing scandal in PNG’s carbon trade imbroglio.
“Dr Filer should not be engaged on anything to do with climate change, carbon trade,” he said.
“The PNG people have suffered enough from bad governance in other resource sectors.
“We do not want to see the same happen in any climate change related incentive,” he said.
A DEC source said Eco-Forestry Forum’s criticism was misplaced.
“Colin is the best in the business and he has stuck out his neck so many times for PNG, there is no conflict of interest,” he said.
Carbon Planet, which hopes to become a public company by the end of the year, said it had 25 PNG deals potentially worth A$1 billion. – AAP