As characters like the Sabah Deputy Chief Minister are clearly well aware there is a ton of money to be made out of the so-called Carbon Credit market, which is supposed to be an ethical effort set up under the auspices of the United Nations with the objective of combatting global warming.
However, there are serious concerns that too little is being done to scrutinise the would-be carbon traders chasing after ‘green’ cash and it has emerged that a number of carbon credit companies throughout the world are registered offshore, meaning they are deliberately avoiding scrutiny and regulation.
The campaign site, REDD Monitor has exclusively shared research with ForestSEA showing that no less than 15 of the leading carbon credit companies are in this category, rendering them opaque institutions that are withholding key information as to whom the shareholders and beneficiaries are.
This mirrors the situation with Sabah’s own scandalous example under the so-called Nature Conservancy Agreement that has accorded 30% of all the state’s carbon resources to a mysterious entity promoted by Jeffrey Kitingan and controlled by his close associate Stan Golokin in the BVI.
As Chris Lang of REDD Monitor points out, there are already concerns about the way the carbon credit system operates:
“Carbon offsets exist to allow Big Polluters to continue their destructive business as usual for as long as possible, while giving the appearance of taking action on the climate crisis. Carbon offsets also make money for carbon traders. That so many carbon trading companies are registered in offshore tax havens is scandalous. Registering in a tax haven is not illegal. But it is a way of avoiding paying tax and increasing profits. Tax havens are by definition non-transparent and secret. What exactly are these companies trying to hide?”
Indeed, transparency ought to be a pillar for any operation dealing in public resources under the protective mantle of the United Nations on the understanding they are performing a service for the global community.
Yet the off-shore trend has been a feature of the carbon market since its inception and has already created scandal involving some of the world’s leading environmental advocates. One of the original offshore carbon credit companies, the trailblazing Sustainable Forestry Management, was registered in the Bahamas. Yet it caught the eye of Prince Charles and the Prince’s estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, bought shares worth $113,500 in February 2007 – a matter that only recently came to light though the Paradise Paper leak.
Prince Charles began doing the rounds at business events and dinners arguing for the “need” for a forest carbon credit market, while the company lobbied the UK government directly to promote the voluntary carbon market.
However, having accrued large sums from its investors the company was dissolved in 2011. Its founder Eric Bettleheim headed off to a new job with an oil company seeking to devise offsets for its controversial oil sands operation, providing a stark example for the purpose of some of these carbon credit companies—and the networks running them.
Given that the carbon market is unregulated and there are increasing cases of “carbon cowboys” jumping on the green bandwagon to make a buck at the expense of indigenous communities through Asia and the Americas, close attention should be paid to any company in this market which has chosen to hide its assets and shareholders behind the veil of the offshore system.
If these companies exist to combat climate change and provide financial resources to communities which are dependent on their forests for livelihoods, why hide who is benefitting from cutting these deals?
And why is the UN’s REDD programme not demanding more transparency from these companies as more and more cases come out of the woodwork, such as Sabah’s own shocking case?
Have these companies been created to fight climate change—or does their registration offshore reveal the intent to merely make quick, big and invisible bucks off of the most vulnerable peoples and ecosystems in the world?
ForestSEA and REDD Monitor can exclusively reveal the names of these companies which are currently registered offshore or in jurisdictions known for their secrecy:
Climate Care – registered in Jersey, taken over by Mirova in 2017
Althelia Climate Fund – – registered in Luxembourg.
Carbon Trade Exchange – parent company, Global Environmental Markets, registered in Mauritius.
Hub Culture Ltd and Hub Culture Pavilions Limited – registered in Bermuda.
The Poseidon Foundation – registered in Malta.
EcoPlanet Bamboo – several related companies egistered in Delaware.
Oak Group – registered in Guernsey
Carbon Green Investments Guernsey Limited – registered in Guernsey
Emergent Forest Finance Accelerator Inc – registered in Delaware.
Forest Trends Association – registered in Delaware.
Pachama Inc – registered in Delaware.
Ecosecurities Holdings SA is registered in Switzerland
Toucan – registered in Switzerland
Bunge Emissions Ltd – BVI
Tricora Climate Partner AM – owned by Sofostene, registered in Cyrpus