Irish firm sued over carbon credit deal
A Dublin company has announced it is suspending agreements it has with indigenous tribes in the Amazon forest following legal moves by the Brazilian authorities.
Celestial Green Ventures announced the suspension in the wake of legal action being initiated in Brazil against a deal between Celestial and an indigenous group in the Amazon for the sale of carbon credits from avoided deforestation.
Celestial Green, according to its website, is an “ecosystems conservation company specialising in the development of natural capital conservation projects, under a comprehensive REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) methodology, in the Amazonia region of Brazil”.
Filings in the Companies Registration Office show Celestial, with an address at 93 St Stephen’s Green, was incorporated in November 2010, and had an issued share capital of $11 million at May 26th, 2011. The company has not as yet filed a set of accounts.
Its annual return for May 2011 showed its chief executive, Ciaran Kelly, had the largest number of issued shares, followed by Dieter Huhn, Fabiola Huhn Ayala, Christoph Huhn and Wilman Ayala, all with addresses at 93 St Stephen’s Green. A larger number of people held very small shareholdings, including director David Byrne, of Ballyfermot, Dublin, who described himself in the filing as a taxi driver.
According to statements on the website, the company listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2010 but decided earlier this month to leave the exchange, believing its time could be better spent on developing its projects.
A federal attorney in the Amazon Brazilian state of Rondonia filed a lawsuit on December 11th to cancel a contract signed by Celestial and the Awo Xo Hwara indigenous group.
As part of the deal, Celestial was to pay the local group $13 million over 30 years for the rights to carbon credits associated with 260,000 hectares of rainforest.
It is understood this is the first time Brazil has sought to sue entities involved in these type of deals, which are part of a still developing market.
“It is a new, dangerous and informal carbon credits market, fully speculative, lacking previously stipulated rules,” said attorney Oberdan Rabelo de Santana in his request for an injunction that would nullify the deal.
According to the World Bank, Brazil has 58 per cent of the global potential to produce carbon credits by reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.
In March there were reports that Celestial might have deals that claimed carbon rights associated with 20 million hectares of Amazonian forest.
“The company is and always will be fully co-operative with any inquiries, in relation to these issues involving indigenous tribes and the Brazilian authorities,” Mr Kelly said in a statement.
In a February 2012 statement on the Celestial Green website, the company welcomed an element of the Finance Bill which, it said, meant Ireland was the first country to recognise forest carbon credits in its tax code.