Questions for PM on Carbon Trading

By Emmanuel Narokobi

So more fun and games with Carbon Trading here, Leader of the Opposition Sir Mekere Morauta came out today with a media statement in the papers and some questions on the Carbon Trading issues. They love to tell everyone what’s what and so here goes: 16 July 2009, I made a Parliamentary Statement on the Office of Climate Change and Carbon Trading. In that statement I raised a number of questions about the actions and accountability of the Prime Minister, Minister Paul Tiensten and the Director of the Climate Change Office in relation to reports of carbon trading deals going back to 2005.

Since August 2009, various newspapers have carried an advertisement by the Prime Minister entitled “The Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Statement – Carbon Trading and Office of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability”. A rather misleading title given that the Prime Minsiter did NOT make a statement in Parliament on Carbon Trading in either “session” of Parliament held in July 2009.

The PM’s advertisement is however apparently a response to the Statement I made in Parliament on 16th July. The Prime Minister provides a long-winded account of climate change dangers to PNG, the establishment of the Office of Climate Change, the funding and establishment of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations Secretariat and his view that his friend Ambassador Conrad has “greatly advanced the intellectual, economic and diplomatic well-being of Papua New Guinea”. That’s quite a claim! A gigantic claim! No comment.

The PM acknowledges that the Government has “concerns” about carbon trading and the role of the Office of Climate Change and says that he has instituted an “independent review” of the Office. The review is to be undertaken by the Acting Secretary for Personel Management supported by Central Agencies. This NOT an “independent review”. It is an in-house review – quite a difference.

The Prime Minister declined to answer the specific questions I posed about carbon trading deals. The questions all related to past actions of Ministers and officials. They need to be answered. So I ask them again:

  1. Did Minister Paul Tiensten make Climate Assist (PNG) Ltd the beneficiary of 33,333,333 million metric tonnes of carbon credits on 26 July 2005, as evidenced by a certificate bearing his signature?
  2. Did Minister Tiensten have your authority when he wrote to Climate Assist on 24th October 2005 saying that you as Prime Minister and he had (quote) “unconditionally guaranteed all actions undertaken for the monetization” of the carbon credits assigned to the company?
  3. What expertise does Mr Greg Corby, the director of this one dollar company “Climate Assist” have to “broker” for the Government in carbon trading?
  4. What did this stupendous volume of carbon credits assigned to Climate Assist translate into, in Kina terms?
  5. Did the Office of Climate Change (OCC) sign as a memorandum last year with Climate Assist and another company called Earth Sky, whereby the companies would advance $10 million to OCC in return for the rights to sell $500 million carbon offsets?
  6. What was to be the distribution of this $500 million? How much was to be kept by Climate Assist and Earth Sky, and how much by the Office of Climate Change?
  7. Did the Office of Climate Change authorize a Swiss based broker, South Pole Carbon Asset Management, to market 1 million tonnes of avoided carbon dioxide emission per annum from a project in the East Sepik, April Salome?
  8. What other companies are involved in the April Salome project and what rights have they been given?
  9. What expertise does the South Australian company Carbon Planet or its director Jim Johnson have to offer the Government?
  10. How has the $1.2 million advanced last year to the Office of Climate Change by Carbon Planet been spent?
  11. What conditions did this carry?
  12. What commitments has the Government given to Carbon Planet in return for the $1.2 million advance?
  13. Did the suspended Director of the Office of Climate Change give a mandate to a Hong Kong based company Forest Top and Nupan PNG to trade carbon while he was still Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister?
  14. What are the connections between Carbon Planet, Forest Top, Nupan PNG Corporation?
  15. What expertise does Mr. Kirk William Roberts of Nupan PNG have? He claims, quite fantastically, that he is currently (quote) “the most beneficial foreigner to PNG”!
  16. Why is the Somare Government hawking to Mr. Roberts carbon credits relating to Kumula Doso, when there is a court injunction in place restraining both the Office of Climate Change and the Lands Department from dealing with this land?
  17. Where have the monies from Carbon Planet, Climate Assist, Earth Sky and other companies been paid? – to Consolidated Revenue, to OCC, or to an array of individuals?
  18. If the funds have not been paid to Consolidated Revenue, where are they and how are they being accounted?
  19. What authority does OCC have to raise or to spend these funds?
  20. Why is the Somare Government promoting, approving and receiving money from these deals, when it has not put in place any regulatory policy or legislation for carbon trading?

Prime Minister, whoever wrote your statement needs a rapid short course on the structure and operations of Public Finance. All income payable to the State must come to Consolidated Revenue. I was not suggesting that direct landowner or other non-government income should come to Consolidated Revenue. I was saying that any money payable to the Office of Climate Change should come to Consolidated Revenue.

I have made the same point about IPBC in the past. All dividends payable to the State from Bank of South Pacific, Oil Search, commercial statutory authorities such as Telikom, PNG Ports or Air Niugini should be paid to Consolidated Revenue, NOT to IPBC.

Prime Minister, the nation awaits answers to these questions.

Rt. Hon Sir Mekere Morauta, KCMG MP

Leader of Opposition & Member for Moresby North-West