Australia firm signs Congo carbon offsets deal
(Reuters) - An Australian carbon services firm has signed a deal aimed at protecting tropical forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as boosting renewable energy there, a senior company official said on Wednesday.
Shift2Neutral and its partners would help value the carbon storage from forest and land protection, certify carbon related services to communities in the DRC and help sell certified carbon offsets.
It had signed the deal with the national government as well as state governments and local tribal chiefs and landowners after more than a year of negotiations, the firm's chairman, Brett Goldsworthy, said.
The deal covers the whole country and is aimed at sourcing carbon offsets from saving forests and reforestation programmes as well as deploying renewable energy such as solar.
"It's the entire nation that we're working toward but at the moment we're taking it state by state, piece by piece," Goldsworthy told Reuters.
He said the company had won the backing of senior government officials and leading figures in the African business community and that this would help mitigate some of the risk of working in a country riddled with violence and corruption.
"Nothing can ever be guaranteed in a case of a potential war zone," he said.
A key focus was also working with mining firms to help them clean up their environmental behavior.
Goldsworthy said carbon offsets would be certified to either the respected Voluntary Carbon Standard or guidelines under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance.
Shift2Neutral recently announced two deals with local communities in Malaysia and Indonesia to evaluate and certify the amount of carbon locked away by saving large tracts of forests.
The deals aimed to protect the forests for several decades and split the revenues of any carbon credit sales 50/50 with the local communities to boost livelihoods and curb deforestation.
(Reporting by David Fogarty; Editing by Michael Urquhart)