CARBON HARVESTING ILLUMINATES LIBERIA’S CORRUPTION


Published on Monday, October 25, 2010

  By: T. Q. Harris, Jr. 

As international creditors contemplated forgiving Liberia’s $5 billion outstanding debt, high-ranking officials in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government at that very moment were secretly selling $2 billion worth of carbon credits from which they expected to profit through bribery and could have caused collapse of the country’s economy. Interestingly, President Johnson Sirleaf had full knowledge of the scam and, in a way, made possible the agreement. Now carbon crime is the latest addition to Liberia’s corruption list.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf met in person with Mr. Michael Foster, CEO, and another officer of the fraudulent Carbon Harvesting Corporation in February, 2008, according to the Special Presidential Investigative Committee on Carbon Credit Concession Agreement involving the Government of Liberia and the London-based Carbon Harvesting Company. Those facilitating the crime used the President’s meeting as a stamp of approval. This being true, President Johnson Sirleaf must accept some responsibility for the crime which only came to light because of the efforts of Global Witness.

Also, in its report, the Presidential Committee stated that Senator Jonathan Banney of Rivercess “paid to secure an appointment with the President” on behalf of the Carbon Harvesting Company. That means, at the very beginning, the President of the Republic of Liberia held face-to-face meetings with men who had no experience in carbon trading and whose company did not even have an established business office or genuine contact number. Who did Senator Banney pay to secure the appointment? Who’s calling the shots at the Executive Branch? Why was the President meeting with men whose backgrounds had not been checked?

Answer: CORRUPTION! CORRUPTION! This highly publicized carbon crime involving high-ranking government officials further demonstrates the level of corruption in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration which she often attempts to justify by making endless excuses.

The concept of carbon credits has come about as a result of increasing awareness of the need for controlling emissions. Mechanisms were formalized in the Kyoto Protocol – an agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan, between 170 countries. For trading purposes, one Certified Emission Reduction (CER) unit is equivalent to one metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission. Carbon prices are normally quoted in Euros per ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent. In 2007, the market estimate for managing emissions stood at 30 billion Euros. It has been predicted that “Carbon” will be the biggest commodity market, and it could become the world’s biggest market overall.

Also, under Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism, a developed (industrialized) nation can sponsor a greenhouse gas reduction project in a developing (non-industrialized) nation where cost of greenhouse gas reduction project activities is much lower, but effects on the atmosphere globally is equivalent. For doing this, the developed nation would be given credits for meeting its emission reduction targets, while the developing nation would receive the capital investment and clean technology.

This is how carbon euros or dollars are generated: Let’s say, for example, a manufacturing company is putting out 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emission per year. And the government of the country where it is located, which happens to be a signatory to Kyoto, enacts a law limiting the company’s allowable annual greenhouse emissions to 80,000. The company can either reduce its emission to 80,000 tons a year, thereby impacting overall production and profit; or, it can purchase additional carbon credits on the open market and or pay another group to reduce the equivalent of 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide emission from the atmosphere for the year.

The new industry of carbon trading has created enormous revenue-generating potential for developing countries, particularly those having large untapped forests. On the other hand it also has provided a new arena for organized crime and other criminal elements.

Michael Foster and his fraudulent Carbon Harvesting Company must have targeted the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government knowing its horrendous corruption record; evidenced by these criminals meeting face-to-face with President Johnson Sirleaf herself. This confirms, to some degree, the extent of corruption at the highest level of government and the danger this poses to the nation. For a few dollars of bribe money, officials in both the Legislative and Executive branches of government illegally entered the country into a $2 billion binding contract. Not unlike the recently cancelled $5 billion foreign debt, the actions of few corrupt individuals would have imposed upon the Liberian people a $2 billion liability from which we derived no benefit.

Efforts to downplay the rape, torture and murder of more than 300,000 of our precious friends and loved ones have contributed to rampant corruption in the Johnson Sirleaf government. In a desperate attempt to distance herself from the 15-year carnage – which is impossible – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has pursued, without any oversight, a destructive agenda that is certain to prove costly for the Liberian people when the facts are later revealed. Had Global Witness not exposed the bogus carbon credit concession agreement involving her administration and the fraudulent London-based Carbon Harvesting Company, direct control of more than 500,000 hectares of the Liberia’s virgin rainforest would now been in the hands of criminals. It makes one wonder what’s hidden beneath the $16 billion contracts Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her inner circle have committed the nation to since taking power. And, apart from the fact these transactions have yet to produce the jobs promised, what price will we have to pay later?

To you – my Fellow Compatriots – I say take heart. The TQ Harris administration beginning 2011 will restore all that have been taken away illegally and undo every decision that is harmful to our beloved country. 

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