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    New World Bank Report on Agriculture Expansion

    The World Bank (WB) this month released its long-awaited report on the global ‘land-grab’ issue that has been popularised recently by environmental NGO’s accusing the developed world of ‘neo-colonialism.’ The issue centres on the purchasing of large tracts of farmland throughout developing regions of the world, a practice the new report states has increased ten-fold in the last decade. Released just weeks after a NGO report claimed that European companies were ‘grabbing’ land for biofuel crops at the expense of local communities throughout Africa, the WB publication focuses more on development and less on hysterics.  In principle, the report supports the notion of large scale agricultural investment in developing nations,…

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    Greenpeace Aligns With ALP On Illegal Logging

    As the political game-play of the Australian Federal Election goes on, environmental policy issues, such as illegal logging, will no doubt be caught up in the process. Earlier this month, in a pre-election promise, Australian Forests Minister Tony Burke announced that Australia’s reinstalled Labor Government will press ahead with a policy on illegal logging that will potentially have a negative impact on its immediate neighbours. Sitting next to him during the announcement was Greenpeace Australia CEO, Linda Selvey. According to the ALP’s policy, the new Gillard government will “introduce tough new legislation making it an offence to import any timber products into Australia that have not been legally harvested.” Reports…

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    Donor Driven REDD – Trouble Brewing

    Despite a lack of agreement in UNFCCC negotiations on the role of deforestation in any new climate change accord or on any system of global trading of carbon credits or to endorse the concept of REDD (and with negotiators predicting no change in the negotiating deadlock at the Cancun UNFCCC meeting in Mexico in December), developed country donors nevertheless are encouraging a number of developing countries to adopt strategies that would see them rewarded for halting deforestation. Twenty-seven developed and developing nations (mostly members of the Rainforest Nations Alliance chaired by PNG) are working on a “REDD+ Partnership” for this purpose. The jewel in the crown for the Partnership is…

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    Challenge To Amendments To PNG’s Environment Act Threatens PNG’s Sovereign Risk Rating

    In May, PNG’s parliament pushed through a series of amendments to the Environment Act. The amendments were made in response to a Court decision that possibly renders environmental permits for resource projects – such as mining or forestry projects – invalid and unenforceable. This is part of a continuing campaign by NGOs opposed to forestry and mining projects to use loopholes in PNG laws to obstruct projects. Current targets are forestry and mining projects in PNG. The amendments to the Environment Act attempt to sidestep this possibility by giving new discretionary powers to the Secretary of the Department of Conservation to rule on compliance with the PNG law of environmental…

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    Fraser Institute Mixed Rating For PNG

    The biannual survey of mining executives by Canada’s respected Fraser Institute rates Papua New Guinea as the fourth-worst place to invest in resource projects because of land-tenure disputes. PNG ranks behind only Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Canada’s Northwest Territories in the survey based on this criterion. PNG also ranks as the fourth-worst place to invest based on security issues, behind Colombia, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However PNG rated well for environment regulations not adversely generating investment uncertainty. This may change, however, given the current legal cases surrounding Ramu Nico’s operations (see above). Interestingly enough, the least friendly place for investment based on environmental regulations is California, with…

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    WRI Backtracks On Forest Emissions

    Emissions from deforestation and land-use change are now at 12.2 per cent, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI) which had previously made estimates that were more than 17 per cent. The original 17 per cent figure – which was widely disseminated by the Stern Review and consequently revised upwards to 20 per cent by Greenpeace – was based on work by Richard Houghton of the Woods Hole Research Centre. Houghton’s estimates of carbon flux were themselves based on deforestation rates from the FAO until 2000. With the figures under increasing scrutiny from scholars, particularly Guido Van der Werf from the University of Amsterdam, Houghton issued revised figures based on…

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    Unauthorised PNG Carbon Credit Project Widely Criticized

    PNG’s climate change tsar and large group of landowners have strenuously objected to proposed forest carbon conservation projects in Papua New Guinea. The proposed projects are in Kamula Doso in Western Province and April Salumei in East Sepik. The Kamula Doso project is being backed by Australian businessman Kirk Roberts. Mr Roberts came under media scrutiny in 2009 following the issuance of allegedly fake ‘forest-carbon certificates’ from PNG’s climate change office. The new projects were to be certified by the Community Carbon Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), an arm of US-based NGO Conservation International. CCBA’s website called for stakeholder comments on the proposed projects. Landowners have responded angrily to the project, alleging…

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    Selling Illegal Timber Policy

    A new report from UK-based think-tank Chatham House received significant international media attention when it was released earlier this month. The report, “Illegal Logging and Related Trade: Indicators of the Global Response” is different from most environmental policy reports in that it has a positive message: trade in illegal timber has fallen. Moreover, it hasn’t fallen by insignificant amounts. In some of the world’s largest timber-producing countries – specifically Indonesia and Brazil – it has fallen by as much as 75 per cent. The results are noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, the European Parliament recently passed a measure on the sale of illegal forest products within the EU. A…

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    Greenpeace: Not Charitable

    The New Zealand Charities Commission has ruled that Greenpeace no longer has charitable status in that country. The decision follows two previous cases in Canada where Greenpeace has also lost its charitable status. The Commission determined that Greenpeace’s activities had objectives that were overtly political, which could not afford it a tax-exempt status. The Commission also found that Greenpeace’s sanctioning of ‘non-violent protest’ also effectively sanctioned illegal activity – which could not be deemed charitable either. Already the decision has prompted more caution from the group worldwide. In May of this year maritime charges against Australian Greenpeace activists were dropped. Greenpeace Australia’s CEO Linda Selvey told the media she was…

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    Another South Pacific Cruise for Greenpeace?

    There are rumours that Esperenza, one of Greenpeace’s blue water vessels is due for another tour in the South Pacific. The last one went badly, resulting in Greenpeace practicing piracy and perpetrating more falsehoods. During their last tour Greenpeace seized a vessel in the Gulf of Papua, declared it contained illegal timber and that the vessel belonged to Rimbunan Hijau. Despite reporting by timber export monitor and verifier – SGS – that showed the claims were wrong on both scores, Greenpeace continued to publicize these falsehoods. Last month, Greenpeace Australia Pacific heralded its South Pacific campaign as contributing to the passage of legislation by the EU that requires all purchases…