PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare and Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye appear to be at odds with each other over controversial voluntary carbon trade schemes (VCS) that have plagued their PNG with scandal.
Sir Michael issued a media release last weekend claiming the VCS were risky and premature.
He said he wanted to pursue forest protection and reduce greenhouse gases through the complex United Nations plan known as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).
“The voluntary trading of forest carbon is inadvisable at this time,” Sir Michael said.
But on Sept 23, Polye wrote to carbon trade developer Kirk Roberts of Nupan Holdings, and said the national government supported and endorsed his VCS projects.
Roberts, through the VCS projects, has been promoting carbon trade to villagers as an alternative income to logging.
Polye’s letter, supported by another letter from the prime minister’s legal adviser Sumasy Singin, had been posted on websites and PNG blog sites.
Sir Michael’s spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the apparent mixed messages coming from the leaders.
PNG remained a key player in the global climate debate but had gone from environmental hero to villain due to problems associated with offering cash to abate deforestation.
At the UN climate change talks in Bali in 2007, PNG was applauded when its delegation told the US to get out of the way of the debate if it was not prepared to lead.
PNG has massive forest coverage and seeing the lucrative potential for carbon trade, Sir Michael has promoted the issue while establishing the influential Coalition of Rainforest Nations organisation that champions more than 30 forested countries.
Some three years later, after a series of scandals, PNG’s carbon trading reputation is in tatters, while at the UN level the climate debate continues to falter.
Continued bickering and finger pointing was seen last week at UN climate change talks in China, where old foes China and the US slugged it out and green groups criticised PNG for stalling talks with arguments over the meeting’s agenda.
Greenpeace accused PNG of pursuing its slice of the funds pledged by donor countries at UN climate talks in Copenhagen last December, rather than preparing for crucial follow-up for Mexico next month.