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REDD in the news: 15-21 December 2008

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REDD in the news: 15-21 December 2008

In the week after Poznan, summaries of what happened in Poznan dominated the news relating to REDD. The news coverage is overwhelmingly negative — hardly surprising when the negotiatiors at Poznan removed all reference to Indigenous Peoples’ rights from the draft negotiating text on REDD.

15 December 2008
Poznan Talks Send Mixed Signal on Trees
Ecosystem Marketplace reports on what came out of Poznan regarding forests.

In a classic Catch-22, negotiators in a key advisory body that was expected to provide guidance on scientific and technical matters (the so-called “Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice”, or SBSTA) said they couldn’t offer any advice on the best way to measure and evaluate the amount of carbon captured by changes in land use practices until they had a better idea of what the overriding post-Kyoto policies might look like. At the same time, a higher-level body charged with defining those policies (the so-called “Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention”, or AWG-LCA) hadn’t even considered the matter because it was waiting for word on which methodologies worked best.

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False economy for rainforests
Ricardo Carrere of the World Rainforest Movement, writing in the Guardian about the problems with REDD.

It’s all about money, not about people’s rights or necessities. They are turning forest conservation into a market mechanism. And absurdly, it’s the same market that destroyed the Amazon through the export of soya and timber.

Indigenous people are set to lose their right of ownership over their forests at an even faster rate than at present. They don’t have land rights and they are vulnerable. National governments do not recognise ancestral lands, preferring to claim that forests belong to the state. The governments then assume the legal right to give concessions for logging and mining and the like.

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Carbon Markets – What’s In It for the Poor?
Inter Press Service article about carbon markets (REDD is included in the article without any discussion about whether REDD is part of a carbon markets or not). Includes quotations from Miguel Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition: “It is also doubtful that a carbon finance system can compete with the profits that can be made converting forests into soybean fields or palm oil plantations, according to Lovera. ‘Strong policy decisions by national governments to protect forests are what is needed not complex market mechanisms,’ he said.”

There was broad agreement in Poznan that if substantial carbon credits for conservation of forests were available, then it would be more profitable or beneficial to conserve rather than convert forests into lumber or clear for agriculture, says Frances Seymour, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

“Forests are crucial for fighting and adapting to climate change,” Seymour said at a press conference in Poznan.

CIFOR, among many others, favours a pay-to-preserve forests scheme known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

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16 December 2008
Climate change meet fails to record major achievements
Business Standard reports on Poznan, including quotations from India’s delegate from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, R R Rashmi.

The ministry also dismissed apprehensions over REDD or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

Rashmi said India was able to drive its point in this matter that there should be incentive for increasing forest cover as much as there was incentive for reducing deforestation.

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Indonesia, UK cooperate in climate change handling
Balitha-dot-ph on an agreement signed between the governments of Indonesia and the UK

The two countries agreed to form a working group to improve forest conservation, develop energy supplies, improve ways of energy saving and prepare people to adjust themselves in facing the impact of climate change.
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In the MoU, both sides agree to set consultations and cooperation to identify changes in using forest land and implementing demonstrations based on REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation).

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Poznan Climate Talks: fiddling while the earth burns
Article by Oscar Reyes of the Transnational Institute about the Poznan negotiations.

One of the most basic stumbling blocks is intrinsic to the UN negotiating process itself – where the intergovernmental bias pits one country or bloc against another, with each defending a conception of ´national interest´ that reflects elite class interests above the needs of the whole population. In Poznan, this meant that Indigenous Peoples and forest communities were shut out of discussions on deforestation – and continue to be denied any status parties to the negotiation – even as negotiators discussed how to commodify their land in the form of ´forest carbon´.

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UN Failure in Poland & 2009 Priorities
EarthBeat Radio programme about Poznan. Includes interviews with Karen Orenstein, international finance campaigner for Friends of the Earth, Holmes Hummel, a policy specialist with the Energy Resources Group at the University of California-Berkeley and Yiorgos Vassalos a researcher with the Corporate Europe Observatory.

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17 December 2008
Foresters Support Measures To Reduce Deforestation
Press release from the New Zealand Institute of Forestry and the Institute of Foresters of Australia. Perhaps not surprisingly, both Institutes are in favour of including logging — even of old-growth forests — within REDD.

Critics of REDD have argued that timber harvesting, particularly of native forests, should be stopped in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Dr Volker acknowledged that old growth forests store very high levels of carbon, but noted that when properly managed, timber harvesting only temporarily reduces the amount of carbon stored in part of the forest, while maintaining a constant reservoir across the entire forest estate.

“In addition, what also needs to be better recognised internationally is that when timber is harvested, carbon is transferred from the forest to the harvested wood product, where it continues to store carbon for long periods of time” said Dr Volker and Dr McEwen. “If reforestation activities follow harvesting then the storage capacity of the forest is restored, leaving the carbon stored in wood products as a net removal from the atmosphere” they said.

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Climate Talks in Poznan Meet Low Expectations
The International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development summarises the outcomes of the Poznan talks.

Widespread expectation that some movement would be made on deforestation issues – such as the UN Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Programme (UN-REDD) – was not realised at Poznan.

No agreement was reached about whether to include forests in a proposed carbon market scheme and much hubbub was made over a report from environmental group Friends of the Earth that charges that a loophole in the UN-REDD system would allow governments to buy up forests and use the land for monoculture cultivation.

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Post-Poznan, what place for rights in REDD?
The Rights, Forests and Climate Change blog on the removal of Indigenous Peoples’ rights from the draft SBSTA negotiating text.

Those hoping to see rights of indigenous peoples and local communities included in the Draft Conclusions of the 29th Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice will disappointed to see that these rights were, according to the NGO newsletter ECO, “edited out due to political inconveniences.”. Government negotiators (particularly for Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.) opposed language in Agenda Item 5 that linked REDD to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP.)

The question of rights and REDD has not been completely tabled, however – paragraph 11 of the Decision invites Parties to “submit views on issues relating to indigenous people and local communities” by Feb. 15, and paragraph 6 calls for an Expert Meeting on REDD before the next convening of the SBSTA, the scientific and technical advisory body.

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Protecting Forests: Cutting CO2, not Trees
Allianz’s analysis of REDD. Allianz is one of the world’s largest financial service providers. The company runs a website called Allianz Knowledge focussing on climate change, microfinance and demographic change.

How REDD will work in practice is unclear. One option is selling carbon credits from ‘avoided deforestation’. For example, the U.S. states California, Illinois, and Wisconsin have agreed with the Indonesian province of Aceh to work towards including forest credits in their emissions trading schemes. Polluting companies in the U.S. would get credit for meeting emissions-reductions rules by investing in forest conservation efforts.

Brazil has led opposition to forest offsets, arguing it allows rich countries to dodge emissions cuts, and the EU recently decided against allowing European industries to offset their emissions by buying rainforest credits.

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18 December 2008
Poznan fails to deliver trust and money
European Voice reports on Poznan.

But it was the leader of one of the world’s smallest countries that provided the most powerful moment of theatre. Apisai Ielemia, prime minister of Tuvalu (population 12,000), called on the world to act urgently to save his Pacific island nation from being wiped off the map by rising sea levels. “It is our belief that Tuvalu, as a nation, has a right to exist forever. It is our basic human right. We are not contemplating migration,” he said, drawing cheers and applause in the hall.

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Poznan: Arrested Decision – on to Copenhagen
Fourth World Eye (an Online Daily Journal of the Center for World Indigenous Studies) reports on Poznan from an indigenous perspective.

One of the risks of the REDD initiative is that states’ governments often claim ownership of forests and tend to ignore indigenous peoples and their original use and occupation of the forests. It is on this issue that delegates participating in the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change sessions expressed their outrage and opposition.

Indigenous delegates also agreed that the Conference must formally acknowledge the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its relevance to the overarching debate about climate change and remedies for climate change. The delegates noted that the states’ governments and NGOs present ignored this recently adopted UN policy. Indigenous delegates also advocated the establishment of an Expert Group of Indigenous on Climate Change as a formal body of the Conference of Parties to advise on policies deemed important to the climate change dialog by indigenous peoples.

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[Tribal World] Yanomami, forest guardians forever?
Survival International’s blog on tribal peoples’ response to the removal of “rights” for indigenous peoples from the REDD negotiating text.

“The forest cannot be bought; it is our life and we have always protected it. Without the forest, there is only sickness, and without us, it is dead land. Give us back our lands and our health before it’s too late for us and too late for you.”
– Davi Yanomami, a shaman of the Yanomami people.

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19 December 2008
Fighting Deforestation: Willing to Play and Pay?
Interview with Daniel Murdiyarso, senior scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on the Allianz Knowledge website.

One way to reduce rates of deforestation and forest degradation would be a carbon market. Unless the market can pay a reasonable price for forest carbon and for environmental services the owner of a forest area will continue to practice unsustainable logging or agriculture.

In the three major tropical forest regions it is time to look at what opportunities and challenges a scheme like Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) could offer. But we must make sure that the financial benefits of REDD can be distributed to those engaging with the forest. If local people whose livelihoods are dependent on forests are excluded, it is hard to guarantee that any benefits from the REDD scheme will be effective in protecting the forests.

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20 December 2008
Amazon rainforest damage surges 67% in 2008
Mongabay on increasing rates of deforestation in the Amazon.

The area of rainforest in the process of being deforested — razed but not yet cleared — surged in the Brazilian Amazon during 2008, according to new figures released by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The announcement comes shortly after the Brazilian government reported a 4 percent increase in forest clearing for the year.

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