The construction of voluntary forest carbon projects in Papua New Guinea

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper 105

By Colin Filer, Andrea Babon, Bryant Allen and Michael Wood

November 2023

There is renewed interest in the capacity of private investors to use the revenues from the sale of carbon credits or offsets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the process of deforestation and forest degradation and thus help high-emission countries like Australia to meet their emission reduction targets. Papua New Guinea is one of the countries in which these voluntary forest carbon projects are being constructed, validated and certified in order for this market to be expanded. This paper examines some of these projects in detail in order to reveal some of the fundamental flaws in the way that their proponents represent what is happening in the areas where such investments are being proposed and approved. We aim to show what sorts of evidence would need to be presented in order for such projects to make a credible claim to achieve their stated goals. At the same time, we cast some doubt on the capacity of relevant government agencies and their development partners to ensure that projects of this kind will not simply benefit the companies that buy and sell carbon credits but also produce some real and lasting benefits for the rural communities whose members own the native forests that are being exploited in this peculiar way.

Filer, C., Babon, A., Allen, B., & Wood, M. 2023, ‘The construction of voluntary forest carbon projects in Papua New Guinea’, Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 105, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Amita Monterola

Research Communications Coordinator at the Development Policy Centre.