This was an extremely high value trip. I shot an important sequence for the film and forged valuable relationships and connections for the future. Dorjee’s role in the story (and as an intriguing character in the film) is now clearer. He used the Bali trip to consolidate his position as the lead player in carbon trading as a means of reducing deforestation in Indonesia.
It could have gone another way, but Dorjee wrangled, cajoled and persisted. He is a very clever operator. What he achieved is a 6 month moratorium on logging in Aceh and agreement from three governors from the provinces of Aceh, Papua and West Papua to reduce deforestation in order to curb climate change. He also managed to get all three governors to sign an agreement making his company, Carbon Conservation, the preferred supplier of carbon trading and marketing services to all three provinces. And the connection to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has come one step closer.
The Bali Roundtable meeting took place at the Westin Nusa Dua, an elaborate resort which will also be the location of the upcoming 13th UN Conference of Parties (COP 13) on climate change to be held in Bali this December.
The purpose of this Bali gathering was for the three governors of Indonesia’s most important forest provinces, Aceh, Papua and West Papua, to meet and discuss ways to preserve their vast areas of forest from illegal logging and burning. These governors are aware that deforestation has placed Indonesia in 2007 as the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China. Indonesia has recently suffered the effects of several extreme natural disasters including the massive floods in Jakarta, landslides in Papua, and of course the devastating tsunami which hit Aceh on Boxing Day 2006. The leadership in Jakarta has however been slow to respond with effective measures to reduce deforestation. The three governors who came to Bali are determined to lead the way.
Wednesday: The day before the Roundtable meeting was crucial for Dorjee. His objective was to get a signed agreement from the three governors giving his company, Carbon Conservation, the lead role in securing carbon finance for the three provinces. Dorjee met behind closed doors with advisors to both the governors of Aceh and Papua. He also introduced me to his two new colleagues: John O Niles, a young American who has joined Dorjee as his Chief Scientific Officer and Mark Jackson, Executive Director of The Carbon Pool, a company that Dorjee has recently acquired. The Carbon Pool is famous for engineering the single biggest trade of carbon in Australia’s history involving mining giant Rio Tinto Aluminium and the State of Queensland which saved 13,000 hectares of native vegetation in Queensland.
Dorjee and his two colleagues went to work behind the scenes to build credibility and confidence with the three governors and to secure their agreement.
Thursday: By the morning of the Roundtable, Dorjee was very anxious. Not only were the governor’s advisors moving slowly on his agreement, but there was wording in the proposed press statement to be released that afternoon that could sink his project. The governor of Aceh came to Bali intending to announce a moratorium on all logging in his province. Dorjee and his team met with him the night before in his hotel room (which I filmed) to try and convince him to change the language so as not to render carbon trading irrelevant. A complete moratorium would mean there was no point in selling carbon credits in Aceh, if the buyers perceived that the forests were going to be protected anyway. Dorjee urged him to change the proposal to a six month moratorium in order to buy time and develop new forest management systems, such as the proposed carbon trading mechanisms. By the morning of the Roundtable, it was not clear whether the governor had agreed to this or not. Dorjee and his team were sweating.
Also present at the meeting was Patrick Anderson, brought in by Fauna & Flora International to help structure the announcement. Patrick’s main concern was to ensure that the rights of local and indigenous communities are fully recognised in any avoided deforestation agreements. He sees Dorjee’s proposal as potentially workable, so long as the proposed finance goes into the pockets of the local people and not government officials as has happened so often in the past.
Representing the federal government was highly esteemed ex-Environment Minister and currently advisor to the President, Pak Emil Salim. He applauded the initiative of the three governors, but warned them of the problems of policing forest protection and stopping illegal logging. In particular he spoke of the urgency of curbing the rampant forest fires predicted for the upcoming dry season. One of his concerns was the loss of face by the Indonesian government at the upcoming COP 13 meeting in Bali. They would have no credibility in talking about reducing carbon emissions through avoided deforestation projects if outside their doors massive fires were still burning across their country.
After the various presentations, the delegates rolled up their sleeves to draft the press release for the 4pm Press Conference. This is where Dorjee had to be proactive. Working the room like a stalking tiger, he did not let go until the language of the moratorium reflected his objectives. He also made sure that his company’s name found its way into the press release.
Our camera captured a clever and smooth operator at work, and his 100% success in getting what he wanted. As the press clamour outside, he munches on an apple and quietly smiles.
The Press conference was attended by approximately 30 journalists. They were told that the three governors are taking the lead in Indonesia to include avoided deforestation in global carbon trading mechanisms. “If they succeed” the release states, “it will put them on a par with the world’s most famous green governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger”.
Governor Irwandi of Aceh told me that he plans to visit Governor Schwarzenegger in the coming months to talk about climate change, carbon trading and biofuel projects. He also said that I am most welcome to accompany him.
Friday: The Roundtable was over, but Dorjee and his team were still hard at work. They had to chase down each governor before they left Bali to get their signatures on a letter of agreement giving Carbon Conservation the status of “preferred supplier of carbon trading and marketing services”. Dorjee explained that he needed this document to begin the second part of his quest: raising the carbon finance. With this endorsement, he can begin meeting with wealthy suppliers and start ‘selling’ carbon credits in the three most important forest provinces in Indonesia.
Needless to say, Dorjee got all three Governors to sign the document. (Add dollar value of what agreement represents and no. of hectares of forest that will be saved…..massive)
While playing pool with his team mates, Dorjee told me that although this was a historic milestone, and a great outcome for him, the hard work now begins. He now has to meet with the leaders of the big carbon emitting countries and companies and convince them to buy carbon credits in Indonesia. Visiting Governor Schwarzenegger, in the company of his new friend and supporter, the Governor of Aceh, is now one step closer.
John O Niles was the Science and Technical Advisor for the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, advising 15 nations in policy negotiations on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
Mark Jackson is the driving force behind the project known as ‘Minding the Carbon Store’ in partnership with mining giant Rio Tinto Aluminium which saved 13,000 hectares of native vegetation in Queensland.