Carbon Credits Save Lives

Virunga national park is a Unesco world heritage site, recognised for its wildlife and diverse habitats. Photograph: DEA/S Vannini/De Agostini/Getty Images

This concept for combining two forms of credits may serve as an example for other countries tempted by oil and gas discoveries:

US firm to bid to turn DRC oil permits in Virunga park into conservation projects

Exclusive: company plans to sell carbon and biodiversity credits in endangered gorilla habitat and Congo basin rainforest as alternative to drilling for fossil fuels

A family of gorillas in Virunga national park, DRC. The oil and gas concessions up for auction include areas of critically endangered gorillas habitat. Photograph: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A New York investment firm is to launch a $400m (£334m) bid for oil concessions in the Congo basin rainforest and Virunga national park with plans to turn them into conservation projects, the Guardian can reveal.

EQX Biome, a biodiversity fintech company, has sent an expression of interest to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) government for 27 oil exploration blocks put up for auction last July, some of which are in critical ecosystems.

The concessions include areas of critically endangered gorilla habitat, parts of the world’s largest tropical peatlands in the Cuvette Centrale, and swathes of the planet’s second-largest rainforest in the Congo basin, prompting criticism from environmentalists and western governments who have warned of irreversible environmental harm if exploration goes ahead. Three gas blocks, put up for auction at the same time, have already been sold to North American companies.

The preservation of tropical forests will be at the centre of discussions at the One Forest summit in Libreville this week, where the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and Ali Bongo, the president of Gabon, will meet with governments, NGOs and Indigenous leaders to discuss their conservation, with a particular focus on the Congo basin.

Read the whole story here.

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