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REDD in the news: 15-21 November 2008

REDD in the news: 15-21 November 2008

Two important developments this week: Voluntary Carbon Standard developed a new standard for carbon accounting in forests; and three US Governors signed a carbon trade agreement with states in Brazil and Indonesia. The reporting is uniformally optimistic.

REDD-Monitor provides another view. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations wants the UN to establish a single body to coordinate forest carbon trading and at a meeting in Vienna the UNFF discussed financing mechanisms for REDD.

18 November 2008
VCS Launches Land-Use Protocols
A short Ecosystem Marketplace report on the release of Voluntary Carbon Standard’s guidelines for developing carbon projects in Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU). Ecosystem Marketplace promises to post “a detailed analysis of the protocols, including interviews with market participants” in the near future.

Forestry credits and land-use credits in general received a major boost today with the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) launching new protocols for four categories of Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU), including Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

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New rules establish market for saving rainforests through carbon trading
Mongabay article on Voluntary Carbon Standard’s new carbon accounting standard for forests and agriculture.

“For the first time ever investors can rely on robust rules for crediting agriculture, agriculture and other land use projects,” David Antonioli, CEO of the London-based VCS Association, said in a statement. “This is a watershed moment and a shot in the arm for the world’s forests, the world’s climate, and the global carbon market. The new VCS rules will drive much needed investment into protecting the world’s threatened forests as a means to stabilize our global climate.”

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Rainforest nations want coordinated carbon effort
Reuters reports that the Coalition for Rainforest Nations will be lobbying the United Nations to set up a single body to coordinate the use of carbon credit trading to stop deforestation at the UNFCCC’s COP 14 in Poznan in December.

“A new body should be built to coordinate initiatives (on cutting emissions from deforestation) that are going around now,” Federica Bietta, Deputy Director of New York-based Coalition for Rainforest Nations, which represents about 40 countries, told Reuters on the margins of a deforestation conference in Milan.

“There is money floating around… but countries don’t know where to put it. There are various ideas, often not coordinated and that is very confusing,” Bietta said.

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Coordinated effort needed to cut deforestation via carbon markets
Mongabay on the Coalition for Rainforest Nations’ idea of creating a single UN body to coordinate carbon markets and forests. The article inlcudes a link to the meeting in Milan on REDD, where the Coalition for Rainforest Nations made the announcement.

Reuters also reported that Peter Zapfel from Environment Directorate General at the European Commission “told the conference the potential forest credit market under the REDD scheme would cover 6 gigatons [billion tons] of annual carbon emissions,” but that an alternative proposal floated by the Commission world to establish a Global Forest Carbon Mechanism that would compensate tropical countries for reducing their emissions from deforestation. Funds would come from from a share of the revenue generated through the auctioning of carbon emissions permits. He noted “the EU’s council of ministers and parliament were likely to back the Commission’s proposal.”

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19 November 2008
U.S. and Indonesia link up on forest carbon credits
Reuters reports that three US governors have signed a carbon trade deal with Ulu Masen forest reserve in Aceh province, Indonesia.

“This MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) will wake up the world to reducing emissions by stopping the destruction of our forests,” said Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf.

“This will open up a door to robust, verified forest carbon credits being accepted into American markets,” he said in an SMS to Reuters from Los Angeles.

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A reason to be-leaf
Article by Kate Sheppard on the Gristmill blog about the deal that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit this week in Los Angeles. Under the deal, California, Illinois and Wisconsin will include in their planned emissions trading schemes carbon credits from protection of rainforests in six states in Brazil and Indonesia. The article includes the full text of the agreement.

“Tropical deforestation accounts for 20 percent of all human-caused carbon emissions in the world, and the governors signing these MOUs with us manage more than 60 percent of the world’s tropical forest lands,” said Schwarzenegger. “With this agreement, we are focusing our collective efforts on the problem and requiring our states to jointly develop rules, incentives and tools to ensure reduced emissions from deforestation and land degradation. We are also sending a strong message that this issue should be front and center during negotiations for the next global agreement on climate change.”

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California joins effort to fight global warming by saving rainforests
Mongabay joins the upbeat reporting on the US Governors’ carbon trade deal with six states in Brazil and Indonesia.

REDD is viewed by some economists as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say the mechanism could eventually lead to the transfer of billions of dollars per year to fund conservation and rural development in tropical countries.

Deforestation and land use change are the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, a larger source than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined.

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UNFF Expert Group Discusses Financing Framework, REDD
From 10-14 November 2008, the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) Ad Hoc Expert Group on Finance met in Vienna to discuss financing mechanisms for REDD. During the meeting, according to this post on climate-l.org, the World Bank gave a presentation of its Forest Investment Programme, “to mobilize increased funds for REDD and to promote SFM to protect carbon stocks.”

Some experts raised concerns that considerable uncertainties remain regarding REDD, both in terms of technical aspects and in terms of the development of a market that generates revenue for SFM. Experts suggested that UNFF should send a strong message to UNFCCC on the need to ensure that REDD schemes take full account of the holistic nature of SFM.

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RI to send huge delegation to climate meeting
The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesia will send a delegation of 92 people to the UNFCCC’s COP 14 in Poznan – bigger than the Indonesian delegation that took part in last year’s meeting in Bali. The delegation will include the wives of several of the officials.

Fitrian Ardiansyah, WWF Indonesia’s program director of climate change, said the Poznan meeting would be very important for Indonesia to ensure the target for the Bali road map.

“Because anything is still possible in the Poznan meeting, Indonesia needs tough negotiators to ensure the Bali road map is put on the conference agenda,” he said.

Fitrian, who will be part of the Indonesian delegation, admitted he would finance his own trip to attend the Poznan conference, unlike the wives of other delegates.

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20 November 2008
VCS releases forestry carbon rules
Carbon Positive on the news that the providers of the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) have released rules for the verification of carbon credits in forestry and agriculture projects.

The forestry sector has been beset with doubts over the integrity of emissions reductions being generated, particularly over permanence, additionality and adverse non-carbon environmental impacts.

To overcome these concerns, the VCS was developed by a group including The Climate Group, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and other business and non-government organisations.

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Open U.N. climate talks to indigenous groups – report
Reuters reports on a new report by Minority Rights Group International:

“Indigenous peoples have been shut out of international negotiations on climate change solutions and a mechanism should be set up enabling them to influence a new U.N. climate pact”.

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21 November 2008
California eyes forest credits in Indonesia, Brazil
Carbon Positive on the US Governors’ carbon trade deal with six states in Brazil and Indonesia.

“This is the first time policymakers are creating concrete rules and incentives to protect the world’s remaining tropical forests,” Conservation International’s Toby Janson-Smith told Bloomberg.

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Schwarzenegger’s bid to save the rainforest
The Guardian on the US governors’ deal with states in Brazil and Indonesia. The article notes the problems with carbon trading (see quotation below), but dismisses them: “Those arguments aside, it’s refreshing to see the US taking rainforest protection seriously.” The article concludes: “A European-American strongman helps save a huge swath of exotic jungle. It could almost be the plot of a Schwarzenegger movie …”

As Bryony Worthington of Sandbag recently pointed out to me, there’s also the fact that rainforests are due to be affected by the warming climate. It would be ironic if a company in Europe or America could increase emissions in return for protecting a forest that may itself disappear (thereby releasing even more emissions) due to global warming. Forests protection and fossil fuel emissions aren’t “fungible”, the argument goes. That is, they’re not interchangeable.

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Kenya: Growing Money on Trees?
Article in Ratio Magazine about the forestry sector in Kenya. The article is very optimistic about carbon trading. Forestry in Kenya could be about to improve, according to the article, thanks to two developments: The creation of the new Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the emerging carbon market.

If through the protection of existing forests via the new tender initiatives KFS can corner even a small piece of the voluntary carbon market, the financial and environmental rewards could potentially be enormous. This money would sustain Kenya’s forests into the future. With sensible management, the flow on benefits would be untold for both the protection of the forests and the surrounding communities. Income generated could then be used to upgrade infrastructure, replant degraded areas, fund clean energy schemes within the forests e.g. hydro electric, solar power etc. that in turn would generate more credits. Funds could also be used to resettle illegal forest dwellers within areas such as Kakamega and the Maasai Mau forests and to provide them with sustainable employment on the reforestation and other initiatives.

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