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REDD in the news: 26 January – 1 February 2009

REDD

Topics covered this week include Brazil’s plans to reduce deforestation; uncertainty and REDD; Japanese aid to Vietnam; the World Bank’s Forest Investment Program (FIP): Indonesia’s plans to finalise its forest-carbon rules; Al Gore on avoided deforestation; REDD discussions at the World Social Forum; carbon credits for communities in Nigeria.

Logging in Guyana and President Jagdeo at the World Economic Forum. Ethical Corporation looks at making money from forests. Ecosystem Marketplace discusses the EU’s reluctance to include forest carbon in the ETS, while Oscar Reyes of Carbon Trade Watch argues that carbon trading should be scrapped completely.

26 January 2009
Eliminating Deforestation in Brazil
Article on Celsias about Brazil’s plans to reduce deforestation in the Amazon.

According to WWF-Brazil’s Conservation Director, Carlos Alberto de Mattos Scaramuzza, actions against deforestation must run on four tracks :

1. Protecting forests through the creation and implementation of protected areas.
2. Promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, through forest management capacity building in the Amazon states.
3. Patrolling actions to tackle illegal activity threats which are linked to land property and occupation (“grilagem”), to agribusiness and to large infrastructure works.
4. Implement financial offset actions to reward those who protect the forest.

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27 January 2009
Uncertainty and REDD: an Ethical Approach to this Nagging Problem
Detailed post on ClimateEthics.org about the uncertainties related to REDD.

The problem with using forests as a mechanism for climate change mitigation is not uncertainty; we know enough about forests and their abilities to regulate climate. The problem arises when a complex bio-physical system like forests is forced into a contrived market. Markets requirements are exotic to forests, and perhaps invasive as well. Some of these difficulties with the market approach are already evident with the forestry projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Of the 1,152 registered CDM projects, only one is for reforestation or afforestation, and it has to date generated no certified emissions reductions (UNEP 2008). The main reasons given why CDM afforestation and reforestation projects have “failed” are the difficulties in proving additionality and high transaction costs, especially for small-scale projects (Karsenty 2008: 445). But more fundamentally, both of these difficulties arise because of the tremendous accounting acrobatics needed to prove ownership of the emissions reductions and to quantify those reductions. These difficulties will not go away under a market-based REDD mechanism.

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28 January 2009
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA): Expect to closely cooperate with Vietnam to develop economy
Interview in Vietnam’s Nhan Dan newspaper with Motonori Tsuno, JICA Vietnam representative, about Japanese aid to Vietnam.

JICA will also provide grant aid assistance for Afforestation in the Coastal Area of Southern Central Vietnam; and is considering providing the Forest Sector Loan and technical cooperation for Screening of Forestry-land Suitable for AR-CDM and REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

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29 January 2009
Of forests and trees
Editorial in Kaieteur News about Guyanan President Bharrat Jagdeo’s REDD proposals. The editorial looks at some of the problems with the logging industry in Guyana, including illegal logging, trasnfer pricing and under invoicing and conlcudes “With REDD not likely delivering on its promise soon, maybe a tightening of the rules of forestry exports may help us out of the red.”

While we boast that “Guyana is probably the only country in the world with a complete national log tracking system”, this has not prevented illegal processing and export, misdeclaration to Customs, and avoidance of taxes and other charges which has cost us millions (in US$) annually in lost revenues.

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Indonesia aims to wrap up forest-carbon rules
Reuters reports that Indonesia hopes to finalise its regulations on using carbon credits to protect rainforests before June.

Agus Purnomo, head of Indonesia’s National Council on Climate Change, told Reuters on Thursday it was crucial to manage expectations over plans to save huge swathes of forest.
[ . . . ]
“I am pushing to have REDD ongoing, (a) scheme (that) is clear before June, so that it will also contribute to the international negotiation process,” he said, referring to a round of U.N.-led climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

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Gore pushes for avoided deforestation to save rainforests during testimony
Mongabay article about Al Gore’s testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Among many recommendations, Gore repeatedly emphasized the importance of forest conservation in fighting climate change, mentioning “deforestation” more than a dozen times.

He said reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) may be a way to involve developing countries in efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He cited Brazil and Indonesia as key partners.

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30 January 2009
Forest conservation – Growing money from trees
Ethical Corporation magazine looks at how scientists are trying to “turn tropical forests into money”, or “how to place a value on trees that makes them worth more standing than felled for timber.”

“It’s inevitable that in five to 10 years, if not sooner, we will have payments for ecosystem services. Forests are the most obvious place to start,” says Hylton Murray-Philipson, managing director at the London boutique financier Canopy Capital.

Canopy Capital has already attracted six-figure investments from 10 high-net-worth individuals to back an ecosystem services scheme in Guyana. The company is currently experimenting with a variety of ideas to monetise the services of the 371,000-hectare Iwokrama Forest Reserve in the South American country.

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Climate Investment Funds: Countries Identified For Scaled-Up Adaptation Funding
World Bank press release about its US$6 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF). The Strategic Climate Fund (SCF) comes under the CIF and the Forest Investment Program (FIP) is part of the SCF. The CIF will be implemented through the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group.

A Forest Investment Program is proposed to pilot and demonstrate investments to support the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) efforts of developing countries, while taking into account opportunities to help countries adapt to the impacts of climate change on forests and to contribute to multiple benefits such as biodiversity conservation and rural livelihood enhancements. Following the recommendations of the first FIP design meeting in October 2008, a smaller multi-stakeholder Working Group co-chaired by Norway and Ghana met early in January to further consolidate views on the FIP’s design and plan the next design meeting. The next design meeting is planned for March 5-6, 2009 in Washington, DC.

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31 January 2009
World Social Forum – REDD
Blog post about a REDD discussion at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil.

From the meeting, I took away three major lessons specific to REDD policy.

1) We should change the UN’s definition of “forest” to exclude tree plantations.
2) We need to explicitly recognize the rights of indigenous people to their land.
3) We need to put resources—especially legal and technical expertise—into place to help small landowners take advantage of the program.

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Empowering local communities through carbon credits
Post on Which Way Nigeria website about the possible benefits of carbon credits for local communities.

Nevertheless, in Nigeria, credits can therefore be earned by communities for planting new trees and conserving existing ones. The federal government can set the pace by incorporating this into the proposed new policy on forest management, and supporting farmers’ cooperatives, or even micro-finance banks to take the lead and arrange to certify a community’s carbon sequestration efforts through tree planting and conservation, apply for carbon payments on their behalf, and distribute funds back to farmers.

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President restates forest message in Davos
Stabroek News article about Guyanan President Bharrat Jagdeo’s presentation at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) statement issued last evening, the head of state supported calls to counter deforestation, which poses a formidable challenge to developing countries even as developed countries contribute over 80 percent of global emissions. The sessions provide the platform for leaders to promote global awareness of the increasing urgency to ensure that avoiding tropical deforestation is included in a global deal to combat climate change, when leaders meet in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of the year.

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EU Call to Action Leaves Trees in Limbo
Ecosystem Marketplace reports on the EU’s reluctance to allow forestry offsets into the EU Emissions Trading System. Includes quotations from Anders Wijkman, a Swedish Member of the European Parliament:

The question, he says, isn’t whether saving the rainforests will slow global warming, but whether offsets are the best approach.

“This is not a perfect solution,” he says. “There are, for example, clear advantages to a fund approach over offsets – mostly because the emissions trading market is volatile: prices go up and down, and that’s not the ideal conditions for forest protection.”

In the long run, he says, even the proposed offset strategies aren’t going to get the job done – but he believes they are the best way to get the ball rolling.

“None of the measures we are discussing are going to bring us down to zero emissions in 30 or 40 years time,” he says. “If you think you can do that by fiddling around with offsets, you’re fooling yourself.”

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1 February 2009
Scrap carbon trading
Oscar Reyes, writing on the Guardian’s Comment is free website, argues that carbon trading should be scrapped.

We have seen already the corrosive effect of the carbon market on climate negotiations – with the UN currently debating how best to construct new markets in forests (called REDD in the jargon), rather than tackling the real drivers of deforestation, such as pulp mills, mining and biofuel plantations.

If the road to Copenhagen, where a new global climate deal should be signed in December, is to be anything other than a dead-end, it is time to recall the many means of non-market based regulation and public sector investment that have been more successful in achieving environmental change, and to learn from communities with low-carbon lifestyles. It is time, in other words, not simply to talk of the impact of the financial crisis on the carbon market, but to examine and correct the failings of the broader economic system that led to the climate crisis in the first place.

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