More than $11 million in carbon credits from Cambodian forests have been sold since 2016, the Ministry of Environment announced at its annual year-end conference.
The carbon credits were exchanged under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (Redd+) framework, which allows forested developing countries to generate income by allowing companies to bypass government pollution caps.
In 2016, Walt Disney Company bought $2.6 million in carbon credits, marking the largest carbon credit sale in Cambodian history. The deal, which was only set to last until this year, protected 165ha of forest land in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary.
Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said funds generated from carbon credit sales would supplement its budget for community training and education programmes in 2020.
Pheaktra, also the ministry’s secretary of state, said negotiations were ongoing over the sale millions of tonnes of carbon leftover after the deals with Disney and two other firms.
The carbon credits sold from 2016 to date are from the Keo Seima Wildlife sanctuary, Phnom Kravanh, the Prey Lang forest and Koh Kong’s Tatai area near Thailand, he said.
“We diverted some of the funds from the sale of carbon credits to new conservation projects and community development in wildlife sanctuaries and natural protected areas through [the 2020] budget.”
The projects included the 168 new forest communities and training in animal husbandry and farming techniques to discourage people from illegal poaching and logging, he said.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) country director Ken Serey Rotha told The Post that the ministry is negotiating additional carbon credit deals.
WCS brokered the $2.6 million deal with Disney in 2016, which saw 90 per cent of the proceeds go towards grassroots conservation initiatives.
Rotha urged officals to include forest protection partners in conservation efforts. He said while Cambodia needed to take advantage of its carbon bounty, it is equally important that measures are taken to ensure carbon is exchanged efficiently.
“We must study how much carbon each area generates and whether it’s easy for that region to absorb carbon before we move forward.
“After this, we can begin looking into measures that prevent the loss of forest cover, such as the education of local communities,” he said.
Rotha said he is positive on the ministry’s support of the Redd+ scheme, particularly since it provides jobs and skills training to local communities. However, he warned that “if there were no more forests, there would be no more carbon left to sell”.