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REDD in the news: 19-25 January 2009

In Indonesia, the ministry of forestry delays rules on REDD. In Thailand, carbon consultants push the voluntary market while Greenpeace warns about the need for industrialised countries to reduce not offset their emissions. In Madagascar, WWF’s Maniniaina Rasamoelina describes a REDD project. In Guyana, Conservation International and the Guyana Forestry Commission sign a deal to work together on REDD. Mongabay looks at reforesting the tropics and reports on a new book about getting carbon credits from forests. Ecosystem Marketplace introduces ForestCarbonPortal.com.

19 January 2009
Indonesia delays forest-carbon rules
Reuters reports that Indonesia’s Minitsry of Forestry has ordered a review on the country’s regulations on using carbon credits to protect rainforests. The Ministry of Forestry issued a set of preminary regulations in December 2008 and set up a working group on climate change. “The World Bank says there are now nearly two dozen Indonesian forest-carbon projects under various stages of development under the U-N–backed scheme called REDD.”

“We are still discussing how to differentiate between private investment and public investment,” said Wandojo Siswanto, a senior adviser to the forestry minister.

“For example, if a private company wants to sell its REDD credits, where does the money go? To the local government, to the provincial government, the federal government?”

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20 January 2009
Forests hold carbon credit opportunities
Bangkok Post article about a carbon credit conference organised by the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organisation, Tisco Securities and carbon credit consultancy Emergent Venture India.

Forestry activities are emerging as opportunities for Thailand to tap into the fast growing international voluntary carbon credit market, which offers cheaper and faster project development than the regulated carbon credit market.

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Maminiaina Rasamoelina: “There is no routine in my job”
Interview on WWF’s website with Maniniaina Rasamoelina in Madagascar.

This programme is the fourth REDD (reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) pilot project in Madagascar. If everything goes well, it will add a reliable and verifiable scientific basis for estimating the baseline, which is crucial to determine more precisely the amount of carbon dioxide that the planned activities of the project will be able to either prevent from being released into the atmosphere, or sequester. Compared to the other projects, it should also give a better idea of the total amount of the carbon stock in the area covered by the activities. In addition to the carbon in the above-ground biomass, we will take into account the carbon contained in the soil, litter, the necromass and eventually the underground biomass. Mathematical models will compare the situation with the project to the one without for each site. Later we will have to adjust these projections based on field observations and results. Since measuring the real carbon benefit of a project requires time, this will be our main challenge with a project that only lasts three years.

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21 January 2009
Could engineering rainforests save the planet from global warming?
Mongabay revisits last week’s symposium “Will the Rainforests Survive” held at the Smithsonian. This article focusses on the possibilities of reforestation — allowing and encouraging forests to regrow after agriculture or logging.

The scientists overwhelmingly supported initiatives such as REDD, which would pay tropical nations to preserve their rainforests due to their ability to store and lock carbon. However, a number of the speakers recommended a further initiative to combat global warming: reforestation in tropical regions.

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Guyana moving to assess forest carbon stocks for sale of credits
Stabroek News reports that Conservation International is to provide the Guyana Forestry Commission with US$8 million “to support the establishment of a special secretariat which will be involved in figuring out just how much carbon Guyana has in its forests and how to calculate it.”

The establishment of the quantity of carbon will serve as a monitoring tool and it is expected to become of even greater value as Guyana pursues the sale of forest carbon credits, CI Guyana stated in a press release yesterday.
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Guyana is one of some 11 countries that are characterized by high forest cover and low deforestation rates.

These countries own 13 percent of the world’s forests but there are little incentives to maintain these forests which provide valuable ecosystem services to the world, CI Guyana added.

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CI, GFC sign $8M agreement to assess forest carbon stock
Kaieteur News reports on the US$8 million deal between Conservation International and the Guyana Forestry Commission. Robert Persaud, the Minister of Agriculture with responsibilities for Forestry was present at teh signing ceremony at the Guyana Forestry Commission.

“This important step to executing a methodology for forest carbon stock assessment will catalyse Guyana’s efforts towards maintaining its standing forests, not only as a means of a direct mitigation intervention to reduce carbon emissions, but also within the context of opportunity costs,” Persaud told the gathering.

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UN Plans to Introduce New Carbon Offsetting Scheme For Saving Rain Forests
Article on Red Green and Blue (“environmental politics from across the spectrum”) about REDD highlights the dangers of REDD repeating the mistakes of the CDM.

But there are several problems with the basic model of the REDD emissions credits which would work principally in the same manner as the Kyoto carbon credits scheme. UN administrators have themselves admitted that the current carbon emissions trading mechanism should be made more transparent and effective. In addition, global banking giants have also slammed the Clean Development Mechanism saying that it is plagued by unnecessary delays and bureaucratic hurdles.

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Current Status of REDD
Blog post by David Niebauer, a corporate and transaction attorney in San Francisco, on REDD, based mainly on CIFOR’s report “Moving ahead with REDD: Issues, Options and Implications“, with some comments about Poznan.

There are many obstacles, both technical and political, to a REDD program that would effectively reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests. The need from a global warming perspective is acute and the problems won’t be easily resolved. The general consensus from those close to the talks seems to be that while REDD can and should be included in future climate mechanisms, much work still needs to be done.

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22 January 2009
Guidelines on how to establish an avoided deforestation project
Mongabay reports on a new book which aims to “untangle the forest carbon market and thereby facilitate new avoided deforestation projects.” The book, “Emeralds on the Equator: An Avoided Deforestation Carbon Markets Strategy Manual” is written by Gabriel Andres Thoumi, forestry director at MGM International.

[T]he business strategy for mitigating climactic disruption due to… deforestation involves creating carbon markets at the source of the problem, thereby turning an environmental liability into a financial asset, locally and globally.

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Giving up on global climate deal?
ClimateChangeCorp article about the Poznan negotiations.

Forestry credits, which many advocates tout as the next step from carbon credits, face serious challenges. This is partly because the EU decided it was not going to allow them into the EU emissions trading scheme, but also because Brazil, the world’s biggest player in forestry resources, is opposing forestry carbon credits being sold as offsets.

And campaigner Greenpeace warns that a vast oversupply of forestry offset credits into the UN-backed carbon market could depress the price of carbon. Greenpeace estimates that the potential supply of forestry offset credits – which could be traded under the Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (Redd) mechanism – is 5.8-7.2bn (each one representing a tonne of abated CO2 equivalent). Yet potential demand for Redd offset credits from carbon markets in the US would be just 867m offset credits, and just 261m in the EU, if these countries offset 15% of their emissions to meet climate targets, warns Greenpeace.

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23 January 2009
Developed countries have a climate-protection obligation
Article by Shailendra Yashwant, campaign director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in The Nation.

In order to secure a strong climate deal, it is critical that industrialised countries are not allowed to offset needed emissions reductions through direct trading of forests within carbon markets. It is important that the current Reduced Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) proposal on the table also respects the land, resource use, and ownership rights of forest peoples, with direct engagement in the design of the mechanism and its implementation.

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Wanted: Forest Carbon Projects for ForestCarbonPortal.com
Ecosystem Marketplace introduces ForestCarbonPortal.com, “an online information clearinghouse for the terrestrial carbon markets”.

Joachim Sell, Head of Forestry and Biofuels for First Climate Group, is one voice asking for more. He says he’d like to see a sub-portal with more early-stage projects, even if they don’t have the degree of transparency necessary.

Sell says that his company looks for both issued credits and early-stage projects that want to sell carbon credits on a forward basis and then use the forward contract to attract further investments or as collateral to borrow money for further development.

“A main issue for the development of carbon forestry projects will be the availability of advance payments at risk, i.e. before the project is registered,” he says. “A platform with early stage projects could help to bring players together able to commit advanced payments that help to kick-start projects.”

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  1. The Greenpeace comment that we should look to reduce emissions, not to offset them strikes me as a bit binary. Why shouldn’t it be BOTH. Getting to 350 is going to require doing everything we can to stop carbon pollution, and to put it back where it belongs: in the soil, in the trees, in the animals. Restoration that prioritizes land rights of indigenous peoples, maintaining species diversity, poverty reduction, and storing carbon should be the core ideas behind a progressive REDD. If the train has left the station, if the momentum behind REDD is real and massive, I say that it is better to become the switch man than to shoot peas at the train. http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0121-hance_reforestation.html