Flannery’s plan: buy forests to help environment (The Age January 30).
Professor Tim Flannery should be applauded for his audacious plan to protect the worlds dwindling forest reserves. Forests are indeed efficient carbon sinks which help to offset carbon emissions from the western world and developing nations.
There is some irony, however, that he unfurled his plan in the first instance to Professor Ross Garnaut, Kevin Rudd’s ‘hand picked’ climate change advisor. Ross is a distinguished economist and entrepreneur who is well placed to offer many insights into the climate change challenge facing Australia and the rest of the planet. Professor of Economics in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University, Chairman of Phillip Asia Capital Management, Chairman of PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd, and a Director of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd. Also a Director of the Lowy Institute of International Policy and a Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute. Formerly Chairman of the Bank of Western Australia Ltd and Chairman of the Primary Industry Bank of Australia Ltd. Being at the cutting edge of climate change producing activities is perhaps the thinking behind the Rudd Government appointment. With such experience producing greenhouse gases, it is logical to assume Professor Garnaut can also be part of global solutions.
In recognising that villages, not governments are owners of forested land we are then presented with a dilemma. If this is the case then we need to examine the reality of current business practices in forested areas, targeted for resources of carbon sink plans discussed. Take for example the once lush PNG island of Lihir. As recently as September 2007, armed police were flown to the island to protect the mining company assets (Lihir Gold) as workers continued strike action over terms and conditions. Given that Professor Garnaut is the chairman of Lihir Gold, other opportunities could arise from his briefing with Tim Flannery. This land could be given back to the people of Lihir and some of the profits from gold extraction could assist with revegation of the island. This could prove to be a more efficient model than the Flannery proposal as the company benefiting from the deforestation repairs the damage. If the same model was applied here the same opportunities could be seen here but they are yet to be announced. The way in which land is used or left alone could be another way of looking at the plan…areas requiring vegetation are typically in mining or agricultural districts allowing scope for carbon catching in our own zone of reality, and also rectifying environmental damage which we admit doing but struggle with simple ways to deal with the root of the problem.
Lets have a closer look at Dr Garnauds Gold Mine operation in PNG. A good place to start is the sustainability section of Linhir Gold’s website.
The PNG Government is currently revising its criteria for a number of environmental variables that are relevant to the operation at Lihir. These new criteria will be based on the most up-to-date, internationally- recognised criteria for environmental protection. LMC is confident that its excellent record of strong environmental performance and compliance will be maintained under the new criteria.
Whether its a London convention or a village tribe some things you would like to see the same. Treatment of the environment and its consequences is more apparent than a convention when you are living on the ground.
International conventions prohibit Deep Sea Tailing Placement
The London Convention, as well as the UNCLOS, does not prohibit disposal of waste from land-based
structures such as pipelines and permits ocean disposal providing the host nation manages the practice
through stringent environmental management and permitting. At Lihir, the tailing is discharged through
a pipeline at a depth of 128 metres. The tailing continues to descend rapidly beyond the pipeline,
eventually settling on the seabed at depths of up to 2 kilometres. Also, both the London Convention and
the UNCLOS specifically exclude internal waters from their definition of the protocol area. Since the mine
disposes of its waste rock from barges within Luise Harbour, which is in PNG’s internal waters, and the
PNG Government manages the practice of ocean disposal via a rigorous permitting and monitoring
program, operations at Lihir do not violate either of these international protocols.
DSTP would not be permitted in developed countries
DSTP is a specialised form of marine tailing placement that is only viable where there are suitable
geographic and physical conditions. DSTP is increasingly being seen as a viable alternative to on-land
storage of tailing, particularly at island and coastal mine sites where deep water is close to shore, and
where geotechnical conditions and social considerations do not favour on-land storage. It is now
generally accepted as a feasible option by many countries where suitable conditions exist (eg UK, France
and Canada) and is currently being used by several mining operations around the world.
Waste rock dumping is illegal under the London Dumping Convention
Waste rock is disposed by bottom-opening barges in designated disposal zones within the internal
waters of PNG. This material consists of hard and soft rock with gold concentrations uneconomic to
process. No other process chemicals are added. As unprocessed waste rock it is not classified by the
London Convention as “processed waste” and so can be disposed legally in PNG (subject to approved
The company is committed to open consultation and transparent reporting.
A Island stripped of vegetation in the search for gold…a strange climate change and money conundrum.
Ross Garnaut in spat on a hot tin roof – The Australian June 7, 2008
New Matilda has since done a more in depth coverage of Ross Garnaut and the ALP response to his interim report.
From: Kip & Diana Nunn
Sent: Saturday, 12 July 2008 4:52 PM
To: RRAT, Committee (SEN)
Subject: Inquiry into the Implementation, Operation and Administration of the
Legislation Underpinning Carbon Sink Forests
To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to submit that it is extremely short-sighted to allow this legislation to pass as it
stands as it is likely to have disasterous consequences while completely missing to address
the problem it is designed to help solve.
It must be in law or through covenants that such forests must remain standing for at least
100 years to make them true sinks. If they can just be cut down and replanted in the short
trem it will lead to further encroachment into good farming land. With the real prospect of very
high fuel costs, it follows that food will also become more expensive. We need to be able to
eat local and in season as much as possible to help alleviate this as it eventuates. This also
means we must protect our arable land from pointless tree farms.
Please consider these points in your review.
Thankyou for your time.