Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:55 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 00:55 | SYDNEY

Embracing climate change in the Pacific


Jenny Hayward-Jones


3 March 2008 15:04

Donors and investors alike have long been sceptical of the economic potential of rural enterprise in the Pacific Islands. Weaknesses in infrastructure, energy and water supplies, transport, maintenance, marketing capacity and frequent land disputes have not inspired sufficient confidence to attract investment, even when regulatory improvements have been made. The growing debate on the potential of climate change initiatives to improve rural living conditions in PNG may challenge this scepticism and may even open a window for aid to have a direct impact on the development of a viable private sector.

Trade Minister Simon Crean said in his recent Lowy Institute address that Australia should be looking at climate change as an economic opportunity rather than a threat, and referred to Professor Ross Garnaut’s recommendations that Australia agree with PNG on a framework to use revenue from emissions permits sales for development purposes. Tim Flannery has developed a concept to establish a pilot carbon market scheme in PNG. Chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative Ira Magaziner, in his Lowy Institute address on 21 February, also spoke of the opportunities for rural communities in PNG to take advantage of carbon sinks. 

PNG Minister for Conservation and Environment Benny Allan has promised to establish a climate change office to deal with carbon trading and identify areas for carbon trading pilot projects. He said a number of countries, including Norway, were interested in assisting PNG in this field.  Prime Minister Rudd’s visit to PNG on 6 March is to underscore Australia’s commitment to work with PNG on challenges such as climate change. But is Australia ready to take up this challenge? Foreign, trade and aid policy may have to leap ahead of the domestic climate change agenda if Australia (rather than Norway?) is to help PNG establish pilot schemes to drive an international forest carbon market.