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REDD in the news: 23-29 March 2009

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The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed its concern about Indonesia’s REDD proposals. BBC interviewed Dan Bebber of Earthwatch about REDD. UK Prime Minister visited Brazil. Mongabay’s Rhett Butler is enthusiastic about Google Earth and carbon trading. IIED published two short reports by Virgilio Viana. Finland and FAO launched a US$14 million REDD programme. Australia wants trading of forest carbon to be included in any Copenhagen agreement.


23 March 2009
REDD in Indonesia could evict forest people from their lands, warns U.N. committee
Mongabay reports on concern from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that REDD in Indonesia could increase conflict over land and undermine Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ rights.

“The Committee has received information according to which Indonesia continues to lack any effective legal means to recognize, secure and protect indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands, territories and resources. For instance, it seems that Indonesia’s 2008 ‘Regulation on Implementation Procedures for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ reiterates Law 41 of 1999 on Forestry that appears to deny any proprietary rights to indigenous peoples in forests,” wrote Fatimata-Binta Victoire Dah, Chairperson of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD).

UN helps Vietnam reduce greenhouse gas emission
VietNamNet Bridge reports on UN-REDD in Vietnam.

Vietnam is among five beneficiaries from Asia, Africa and Latin America to receive an aid of 18 million USD from the UN-REDD programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate more jobs for locals.


24 March 2009
UN Worried About Lack of Rights For Indigenous People
Article in The Jakarta Globe about UN CERD’s concerns about Indonesia and REDD.

“For example, it seems that Indonesia’s 2008 ‘Regulation on Implementation Procedures for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation’ reiterates Law 41 of 1999 on Forestry which appears to deny any proprietary rights to indigenous peoples in forests.”

The regulation, or REDD, aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions through a system of carbon trading that would provide financial incentives to preserve forests.

The letter said that the UN again urged Indonesia to “review its laws,” as well as “the way they are interpreted and implemented in practice, to ensure that they respect the rights of indigenous peoples to possess, develop, control and use their communal lands.”

The Darker Shades of REDD Mechanism
Post on Suite101.com about the potential dangers of REDD.

In spite of all the hype that has been generated the project could end up as a double-edged sword if appropriate safeguards are not carefully built in and monitored on a regular basis. Although REDD has the potential to contribute billions of dollars to tropical nations for forest conservation and sustainable development, the mechanism could be hijacked by plantation companies for establishing large scale plantations on forest lands. Another ploy attempted would be the abandoning of unprofitable concessions under the guise of giving a prop to REDD initiatives. Corrupt politicians would merrily play along.

New Threat to Amazon from Oil Palm Plantations
Rainforest Portal comments on a new study in Tropical Conservation Science about the threat of oil palm plantations in the Amazon.

This scheme to increase tree plantations of food crops largely for agrofuel production falsely equates plantations with natural primeval rainforest, at great risk to climate, biodiversity and local livelihoods. Notorious Malaysian oil palm producers, also implicated globally in massive illegal rainforest logging, have already been allowed to setup shop. High-yielding oilseed would offer higher financial returns and employment than cattle ranching, mechanized soy farms, and expected REDD carbon payments to avoid deforestation. As demonstrated in Asia, it is highly unlikely such activities will be limited to already degraded lands.

UNFCCC Posts Norwegian Document to REDD-Web Platform
Climate-L.org post about a report commissioned by Norway, now available on the the UNFCC Secretariat’s REDD web-site.


25 March 2009
‘Crunch year’ for world’s forests
BBC piece about forests and climate.

“This year is the crunch time for forests and climate change,” Earthwatch’s head of climate change research Dan Bebber told BBC News.

“We are hoping for big things from the Copenhagen climate summit at the end of 2009,” he added, referring to a much anticipated UN gathering.

“Unless we tackle the question of forests as a mitigation method for climate change, then we will really have lost the battle to keep greenhouse gas concentrations below levels that many people would consider to be dangerous.”


26 March 2009
Joint statement with Brazilian President
Joint statement by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brasilia, Brazil, on 26 March 2009.

Tropical Forests

25. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) offers opportunities to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives, as well as offering wider developmental and environmental co-benefits. Ways to achieve REDD would vary from country to country. Demonstration activities were useful to show what works, in terms of country specific opportunities for investment to drive transformational changes, to leverage private sector investment, and enable national funds like the Amazon Fund to access resources at the scale required. The UK has supported the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) to operationalise the Amazon Fund effectively.

26. The two Leaders welcomed the development of the US$500 million Forest Investment Programme to support demonstration activities and noted the opportunity for the Amazon Fund. Both countries recognised the need for early financing, and agreed to work closely together on this.

Satellites and Google Earth Prove Potent Conservation Tool
Article on Yale Environment 360 by Mongabay’s Rhett Butler about the possibilities of Google Earth for conservation.

A new frontier for remote sensing is the emergence of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), a mechanism for compensating tropical countries for conserving their forests. To date, one of the biggest hurdles for the concept has been establishing credible national baselines for deforestation rates — in order to compensate countries for “avoided deforestation,” officials must first know how much forest the country has been clearing on a historical basis. For the remote sensing community, REDD presents an opportunity to showcase the power of remote sensing and generate a source of funding for countries to improve their sensing capabilities.

How to protect forests, improve lives and tackle climate change
Two short papers from IIED “that describe how to protect forests, improve people’s lifes and livelihoods and help to address climate change”.

The papers show ways to implement REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), which is one of the tools likely to feature in the new global plan to tackle climate change that governments are negotiating this year.

The author, Virgilio Viana knows first-hand how to do this, having implemented successful projects to reduce deforestation in Brazil ’s Amazon.
[ . . . ]
Many people say that REDD will be too hard to implement and fund, but Viana says that pilot projects show that all methodological concerns can be dealt with easily. In terms of funding he calls for a two track system.

One track would be support from wealthy governments to governments of forest nations to improve forest governance and policies that reduce deforestation. The second track would use money from carbon markets to support projects on the ground in return for carbon credits.


27 March 2009
In the Red
Post on Journal Watch Online about an article by Rhett Butler et al. in Conservation Letters.

Using economic models, the authors found that clearing a hectare of forest for palm oil production yields a landowner anywhere from $3,835 to $9,630. By contrast, preserving that forest under the U.N.’s REDD program — the global effort to combat climate change with incentives to save forests in developing countries – would earn the owner less than $1,000. The problem is that the carbon markets where credits for avoiding deforrestation trade are still voluntary. If REDD credits were part of a mandatory emissions reduction market, however, the hectare’s conservation value shoots up to $6,000.

The authors conclude that unless global climate policies legitimize carbon markets for avoided deforestation, the REDD program too will fall without a sound.

Source: Butler, R.A. et al. 2009. REDD in the red: palm oil could undermine carbon payment schemes. Conservation Letters DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2009.00047.x

€14 million Finland/FAO forestry programme
This four year programme will work in three to six countries and aims “to help developing country governments protect their forest resources, build sustainable forest livelihoods and provide governments with the knowledge to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”

The bilateral programmes in the selected beneficiary countries will in turn collaborate with and feed into the UN-REDD (United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) and the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership facility and the Forest Investment Programme.

Australia wants forest CO2 trade in Copenhagen pact
Reuters article about an Australian submission to the UN climate negotiators.

“What Australia is putting forward is a proposal for a forest carbon market mechanism that essentially will try to provide this economic incentive,” [Climate Change Minister Penny Wong] said.

She said there was much work to be done on negotiating the details before the Copenhagen summit, and there would have to be public sector financing, especially in the early stages.

Covering the UN Climate Talks, in Bonn: The ‘pre-sessionals’
Blog post on It’s Getting Hot In Here about the preliminary meetings for the climate meeting in Bonn

There is a long desk on a stage at the front of the room, where the Chair of the session sits, alongside a rapporteur and the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer – who looks positively bored. I sort of feel sorry for him.


28 March 2009
Singapore can help with scheme to reward developing nations for preserving carbon sinks
Article in the Strait Times about REDD.

Indonesia has already drafted rules that govern the use of carbon credits to protect its rainforests, with more than 20 forest projects in various stages of development.

Carbon credits are sold to companies and individuals who pay to lower their carbon footprint. They can be exchanged between businesses or bought and sold in international markets, and are used to finance carbon reduction schemes.

The Indonesia Forest Climate Alliance estimates that Redd revenues will probably exceed US$500 million (S$754 million) annually.

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