Blue Carbon LLC: A United Arab Emirate company that aims to greenwash the country’s massive carbon footprint
Blue Carbon is also hoping to influence COP28 negotiations on UNFCCC carbon trading mechanisms
A United Arab Emirates company called Blue Carbon LLC has signed a series of Memoranda of Understanding over the past few months with the governments of Tanzania, Zambia, and Liberia.
On its website, Blue Carbon states that,
Under the patronage of the His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, Blue Carbon was formed to create environmental assets, nature-based solutions and register carbon removal projects using modern methodologies.
Shortly after Blue Carbon was founded, the company held a four-day workshop for a delegation from Angola’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Dubai.
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In November 2022, Papua New Guinea’s Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology and Sports, Don Polye, signed an agreement with Blue Carbon that “entrusted its carbon regulation framework to Blue Carbon”, according to a report by Gulf News.
At the signing, Polye said,
“We are pleased to collaborate with Blue Carbon, the world’s leading carbon credit organization, to create a regulatory framework for future and existing deals related to carbon markets.”
But far from being the “world’s leading carbon credit organization”, Blue Carbon was only establish one month before the agreement was signed.
Exactly why the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology and Sports signed the agreement, rather than, say, the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority, or the Climate Change and Development Authority, is far from clear.
In February 2023, Blue Carbon signed an MoU with the government of Tanzania. Gulf News reported that,
The partnership will focus on supporting the government's efforts to conserve, manage and register its forest resources of 8 million hectares in the first phase including 56,000 hectares of mangroves and sell these credits under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
The following day, Blue Carbon signed an MoU with the government of Zambia. Gulf News reported that,
As part of the agreement, Blue Carbon will identify and implement strategies for Zambia's forest landscapes to generate carbon credits. The company will also create sustainable forest management practices as reforestation, forest restoration, forest conservation, and more for over 8 million hectares of forest land in Zambia.
In March 2023, Blue Carbon signed an MoU with the government of Liberia. Here’s Gulf News again:
Via the MoU, the Republic of Liberia has identified areas of natural forest land to enable Blue Carbon to develop a pilot project for forest preservation and conservation for carbon related projects free of encumbrances.
“The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for deliberating on future plans regarding ITMOs and promoting sustainable forest management practices and fighting climate change across Liberia…
“As per the terms of the partnership, Blue Carbon will be responsible for the development of feasibility studies, securing respective accreditation of the cooperation framework, and creating the right structure. The company will also promote and engage the local communities to implement capacity-building initiatives for enhancement of forestry initiatives in Liberia.”
The MoU with Liberia covers one million hectares of forest.
Liberia’s Public Procurement and Concessions Commission has a statement on its website explaining that Blue Carbon did not have to enter into a tender process to gain the rights to the carbon in one million hectares of Liberia’s forest because,
Cabinet discussed and endorsed Sole Source Procurement method for the Blue Carbon proposed carbon trade credit based on Section 101 (1)(d) of the Public Procurement and Concessions Act (PPCA).
Section 101 (1)(d) of the Public Procurement and Concessions Act states:
The opposition Liberian People’s Party has called on the government and Blue Carbon “to cease ongoing negotiations until communities that will be affected are identified, adequately informed of the potential social and economic impacts of the would-be agreement, and secure their consent”.
So who is Blue Carbon? The company must have a pretty impressive track record in order to enter into governmental agreements covering millions of hectares. Particularly without the need to go through a tender process.
Blue Carbon was launched in October 2022, by the Private Office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum.
Blue Carbon has developed a total of precisely zero REDD projects anywhere in the world.
Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum
Sheikh Ahmed is a senior member of the ruling Royal Family of Dubai. His website explains that,
The Private Office has a portfolio of privately held group companies that focus mainly on Infrastructure Development, Energy Projects, LNG Terminal Development, Commodity & Oil Trading, Water Desalination, Water Recirculation as well as Education and Agricultural Projects.
Under the headline “Our Responsibilities”, the website states that,
We currently own the largest emergency power plant installed in West Africa. The Private Office is undergoing development of over c. 2000 MW of Power Plants across many countries in Africa, Asia and other jurisdiction in the developing regions. We also deliver integrated and unbundled solutions in supplying LNG. With the help of our partnerships, we carry out the business of the complete supply chain of LNG and supplying natural gas.
A large part of Sheikh Ahmed’s business, in other words, involves extracting and burning fossil fuels.
A statement about the launch of Blue Carbon explains that Blue Carbon “will work to advance and integrate nature-based solutions into climate change mitigation initiatives to help countries fulfill their net-zero emission commitment by 2050 in compliance with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.”
The myth of Natural Climate Solutions
Sheikh Ahmed is the chairman of Blue Carbon. At the launch of Blue Carbon, he said,
“The company is founded at a time when one-third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions needed by 2030 to reach the net-zero target can be achieved through nature-based solutions.”
The myth that one-third of greenhouse gas emission reductions can be met through nature-based solutions is often repeated. But it is based on a series of extraordinary assumptions that simply do not stand up to critical analysis.
Back in 2019, Simon Counsell and I took a detailed look at the assumptions behind the paper published in 2017 that started this nonsense:
Shortly after the launch, Blue Carbon signed an MoU with a company called Oracle Energy “to support its decarbonization journey”.
Oracle Energy is a joint venture company with Oracle Power PLC, which is incorporated in the UK and listed on London’s AIM market. From 2006 to 2017 Oracle Power’s name was Oracle Coalfields PLC. That gives a pretty good idea of the company’s core business.
Oracle Power’s website states that the company is “actively developing a major coal resource in the Thar region of the Sindh Province of South East Pakistan”. Oracle Power also has gold mining operations in Australia.
Oracle Energy is a joint venture between Kaheel Energy, which is 100% owned by Sheikh Ahmed, and Oracle Power. Kaheel Energy provides 70% of the funding and Oracle Power 30%.
Oracle Energy is “a vehicle to support the accelerated development of the green hydrogen project” in Pakistan, according to Oracle Power’s website.
ACX (previously known as AirCarbon Exchange)
In July 2023, Blue Carbon signed an MoU with ACX “to develop carbon markets in the Middle East and North Africa region”. A press release states that,
The collaboration will see Blue Carbon using ACX as its preferred platform to sell its carbon credits and settle transactions. The two companies will also seek to host auctions to sell Blue Carbon’s credits in the run up to the COP28 climate conference in Dubai. In addition, they will assist one another in developing suitable market infrastructure to enable the UAE and partner countries to implement Article 6.2 transactions under the United Nations’ Paris Agreement.
This is a fascinating statement. So far, Blue Carbon has precisely zero carbon credits to sell. All it has so far is three MoUs, with Tanzania, Zambia, and Liberia. Blue Carbon has not yet signed contracts to develop REDD projects with any of these governments.
Generating carbon credits in any of these countries will surely take more than the four months remaining before COP28 starts in Dubai.
Article 6.2 allows countries to trade Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs, which are otherwise known as carbon credits) through bilateral or multilateral agreements.
[I]t is typically a lengthy process for countries to conclude 6.2 bilateral agreements and additional requirements for reporting and country authorisation still need to be hammered out, so it may still be some time until ITMOs are widely traded
Clearly, though, Blue Carbon was set up with the aim of generating very large numbers of cheap carbon credits that can be sucked into the United Arab Emirates in order to offset business as usual.
In the process, Blue Carbon is apparently aiming to influence the UNFCCC negotiations at COP28 to develop “suitable market infrastructure” to allow the United Arab Emirates and other Big Polluting governments to use the magic wand of offsetting to allow business as usual to continue for as long as possible.
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