Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Virgin ‘stops purchases of Oddar Meanchey REDD credits’




Virgin ‘stops purchases of Oddar Meanchey REDD credits’

A Virgin Atlantic Airways 747-400 aircraft in Las Vegas in 2010. Virgin has said it will no longer buy carbon offsets from a Cambodia-based project that has been deemed a failure. Ethan Miller/Getty/AFP
A Virgin Atlantic Airways 747-400 aircraft in Las Vegas in 2010. Virgin has said it will no longer buy carbon offsets from a Cambodia-based project that has been deemed a failure. Ethan Miller/Getty/AFP

Virgin ‘stops purchases of Oddar Meanchey REDD credits’

A Virgin Atlantic representative yesterday said that the British airline is no longer purchasing carbon credits from an area of Oddar Meanchey province set aside for a UN REDD+ program after a report describing widespread problems.

Meanwhile, the UK-based environmental organisation that published the findings in November defended its research yesterday after criticism. The report found deforestation had actually escalated in the area since the REDD+ scheme had been set up.

Natural Capital Partners – a company that has facilitated credit transfers to Virgin Atlantic – dismissed the research, saying that the information used was outdated.

Conservation experts have said Oddar Meanchey’s carbon crediting scheme – Cambodia’s first REDD+ project – has been highly problematic since it first started in 2008 at a time when many settlers in the area were soldiers, who were implicated in clearing the land.

In response to enquiries from The Post about an investigation commissioned by Natural Capital Partners at the request of Virgin Atlantic, the broker company dismissed the claims, as some of the research was in reference to previous findings in other publications in 2014 and 2016.

Julia Christian, a resresentative of the UK-based organisation Fern, defended the report yesterday, saying that a two-year interval was simply not enough for the widespread deforestation to become a nonissue.

“The main thrust of our report/case study is that extensive deforestation has happened in [the] forest the project said it was going to save,” Christian wrote in an email. “This means the carbon credits the project has sold to other parties (including Virgin Airlines) are bogus – they are based on emissions savings that never happened, because the forest was destroyed not protected.”

She added that is not possible for “that central fact to be outdated, or for anything to have been done since then to rectify it”.

“If the forest was destroyed, it is still destroyed, and the credits sold for protecting it during that period are [and] will always be bogus,” she said.

Anna Catchpole, a spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic, yesterday said Oddar Meanchey’s REDD+ project had been included in Virgin Atlantic’s portfolio “in good faith”, and that Natural Capital Partners had confirmed in 2013 the operation complied with international standards. After Fern’s report, she wrote, the company decided it would no longer purchase credits from the area.

“As a customer, we rely on independent accreditation schemes like this to ensure quality,” she said. “But things can change in the years between verifications, and because of the subsequent concerns raised we asked NCP to remove this project from our portfolio.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Police arrest 29 Chinese for PP kidnapping

    Phnom Penh Military Police arrested 29 Chinese nationals on kidnapping charges on Wednesday. The suspects are said to have abducted three other Chinese nationals from a hotel in Chaktomuk commune, Daun Penh district. The operation took place on Wednesday and was led by two deputy commanders –

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia