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REDD in the news: 8-14 November 2008

REDD in the news: 8-14 November 2008

This week, International Tropical Timber Council failed to reach a decision on forests and climate. The “Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on REDD” took place in the Philippines. Australia referred in gushing terms to Indonesia’s efforts to address climate change and tensions were reported between landowners and the government in PNG. Nicholas Stern praised the Prince’s Rainforest Project in The Times.

8 November 2008
ITTC-44 Discusses UNFCCC Forest-Related Developments, Provides Funds for Forest-Sector Response to Climate Change
At its 44th session in Yokohama, the International Tropical Timber Council did not adopt a decision on climate and forests. However, ITTC did set up a new thematic programme on REDD and Enhancing Environmental Services in Tropical Forests. Norway promised US$3.5 million to the programme.

Jürgen Blaser, ITTO consultant, explained that the role of forests in the second commitment period is under negotiation, noting that large amounts of funding are available for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). He emphasized the potential complementary role of the ITTO, using its institutional capacity to inform and assist the UNFCCC, and said the UNFCCC could contribute additional funding towards ITTO’s reforestation and rehabilitation activities.

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9 November 2008
The Climate for Change
In an Op-Ed for the New York Times, Al Gore welcomes Barack Obama as the 44th President of the USA. He sets out a five-part plan produce 100 percent of electricity in the USA from carbon-free sources within 10 years. The first four parts recommend investment in solar power, a smart grid, hybrid cars and insulating buildings. Then comes the international part:

Fifth, the United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here at home, and by leading the world’s efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation.

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10 November 2008
IP Consultation on REDD in the Philippines
From 12-14 November 2008, the CBD Secretariat, UN-REDD, Tebtebba and the UN University Traditional Knowledge Initiative will hold a meeting in Baguio City, the Philippines, on “Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on REDD”. The agenda for the meeting is available here.

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12 November 2008
Joint Ministerial Statement – 9th Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum
The ninth meeting of the Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum took place in Canberra on 12 November 2008. The joint statement from the Forum makes several references to Australia’s support of REDD projects in Indonesia.

Ministers recognised Indonesia’s leadership in addressing climate change inter alia by hosting the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2007 and by assuming the role of the President of the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, and acknowledged the close bilateral cooperation on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). In particular, Ministers welcomed the announcement of the Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership in June 2008. The $40 million contribution to activities had already led to significant progress, including on the development of Indonesia’s national carbon accounting system and policy frameworks. Ministers noted the pioneering role of the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership as the first large scale REDD demonstration activity in Indonesia aimed at informing how REDD could be fully integrated into the post-2012 international climate change framework. Ministers agreed to develop a second demonstration activity in Indonesia under the Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership, and agreed that it should be differentiated in location and forest type from the Kalimantan Forest and Climate Partnership. Ministers also agreed the Roadmap for Access to International Carbon Markets (attached at Annex C) that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd agreed to develop in June 2008, which will assist Indonesia access international carbon markets, for the forest sector.

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13 November 2008
Carbon trading tension mounts in PNG
ABC News reports on friction between landowners and the Papua New Guinea government about possible future carbon deals. The PNG government is trying to prevent deals being made directly between carbon traders and landowners, insisting that they are made through the government. Theo Yasause, the head of PNG’s new climate change office, said that “The state has absolute control over the resources.” The logging industry, meanwhile, “describes REDD as an attempt to coax nations into restricting forestry in return for cash.”

Ken Mondiai from Partners with Melanesia is spokesman for several non-government organisations acting on behalf of landowners, and says the Government has failed resource industries.

“The Government of Papua New Guinea has failed terribly in the forestry sector, the oil and gas sector,” he said.

“There is no equitable distribution of benefits coming from these resource developments and so at this early point in time, when the office of climate change is not fully set up even himself, I don’t know where he understands climate change and carbon trade.”

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Orangutan Awareness Week
From 10-16 November 2008, the Orangutan Foundation celebrated Orangutan Awareness Week. The Global Canopy Programme‘s Andrew Mitchell is a trustee of the Orangutan Foundation. National Geographic wrote about Orangutan Awarenes Week on its “Intelligent Travel” blog, with a reference to REDD as one of the potential saviours of Orangutan habitat.

And under a UN program known as REDD (for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), countries that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through improved forest protection, and sustainable-production plans would be eligible to receive benefits: Essentially, countries could earn money for preserving their forests instead of cutting them down.

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US Governors to Convene Governors’ Global Climate Summit
On 18-19 November 2008, the Governors’ Global Climate Summit will take place in Los Angeles, California. Organised jointly by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other US governors, the event will host representatives from the US, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the EU among others.

During the event, Indonesia and Brazilian states will sign agreements with American states to work cooperatively to promote and develop joint programmes on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD).

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Schwarzenegger and global warming
An editorial in the Los Angeles Times about the Governors’ Global Climate Summit comes out against carbon offsets.

Indonesia will announce at the governors’ summit that it wishes to join California’s carbon-trading program. That could mean polluters in California would be granted permission to emit greenhouse gases here in exchange for buying “offsets” in Indonesia that compensate for the damage — for example, a California refinery might buy a chunk of rain forest in Indonesia to act as a carbon sink. Schwarzenegger seems to favor such offsets, but they would undercut the effectiveness of the program. It’s extremely hard to verify whether offsets reduce carbon as much as the amounts claimed, and they discourage innovation because they use existing technology to clean the air somewhere else rather than encouraging new technology to clean it here.

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14 November 2008
Give the rainforests our word and bond
An article by Lord Nicholas Stern of Brentford about the Prince of Wales’ Rainforest Project. Stern estimates that “The funding gap between the present efforts to save the rainforests and the economic benefits of deforestation is around $30 billion a year.” According to Stern, who sits on the steering group of the Prince’s Rainforest Project, the project will step in to raise this money.

The project’s report, available in the next two weeks, contains many ideas. The most intriguing is a ‘pension plan for the planet’ in which an international agency raises funds by offering 15-year rainforest bonds with competitive returns. The bonds would be guaranteed by developed nations and the interest and principal could be repaid from a share of income from future carbon markets (which may include rainforests) by prior agreement with rainforest-nation governments.

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CBD Executive Secretary Highlights Indigenous Peoples’ Opportunities to Contribute to Climate Change Solutions
On 12 November 2008, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, addressed the “Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on REDD” in Baguio City, the Philippines. In his statement,

Djoghlaf . . . highlighted the opportunity for indigenous and local communities to contribute to the formation and implementation of possible solutions to climate change, such as REDD schemes, to ensure that their traditional knowledge, rights and biological diversity are protected and enhanced in the process.

He further noted that REDD efforts have the potential to contribute significantly to achieving the CBD objectives. He also warned that these may also be harmful, giving the example of some afforestation projects that involve the planting of monocultures of invasive species, such as eucalyptus, at the expense of native species in grasslands and agricultural landscapes.

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