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REDD in the news: 14-20 June 2010

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REDD in the news: 14-20 June 2010

A round up of the news on REDD from last week, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). For those who can’t wait until Monday for their REDD news, REDD-Monitor’s news page is updated daily: REDD in the news.

Development by the guidebook?

Guardian, June 2010 | Capurganá and Sapzurro in the Darién Gap… As an Afro-descendent community, the residents were granted joint rights over the area in 1994, after a lengthy political struggle. Córdoba, leader of the council, says that’s why he and others were so reluctant to leave during the fighting: “We have a special relationship with the land. Now we want to conserve it, but we need to live. So far environmental NGOs have only offered us crumbs.” That is changing. As part of a global climate change deal, countries have proposed paying landowners to protect their forests, under a REDD programme. Peñaloza would be eligible: its forest is at risk as locals plant rice and cassava. A hectare of rainforest can be cleared in one day with a chainsaw, or in three without. If the clearing stops, there would be payments for each family to compensate lost agricultural income, as well as jobs for some in monitoring forest cover.

REDD+ survey: UN-REDD programme

regjeringen.no, June 2010 | Building on the lessons learned and feedback from countries and other partners, the Programme has been able to increase its current portfolio to approximately USD$104 million considering recent pledges, and the number of member countries has risen to 22 in just 18 months. As a country demand‐driven initiative, the UN‐REDD Programme is positioned as a key multilateral initiative in support of the emerging international interim arrangements for financing and coordination, and an eventual REDD+ mechanism.

Forum on Readiness for REDD Advisory Committee

REDD Desk, no date | The Advisory Committee represents leadership from a broad set of stakeholder groups to provide links between actors on the ground and the key institutions working at larger scales for strategic dialogue, capacity building and coordination of readiness activities and support. It meets each year to discuss ongoing REDD readiness needs and assess gaps in capacity for REDD implementation and forwarding the REDD policy agenda.

Vacancy: Chief of Party – Community Forestry Project REDD, Indonesia

Pact, Inc., June 2010 | Pact seeks a Chief of Party (COP) for an anticipated greenhouse gas mitigation program in Indonesia. The COP will provide leadership and management of consortium efforts in a large, multi-year REDD project with a community forestry focus. S/he will also be responsible for: meeting the project’s objectives; managing staff; and developing and maintaining good working relationships among consortium partners and with government officials, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders.

Real-Time Evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative

CMI, June 2010 | In order to progressively assess the results of the Initiative with regard to its objectives and the general objectives of Norwegian development cooperation, Norad’s Evaluation Department will organise a realtime evaluation starting in early 2010. A consortium of independent consultants and experts led by LTS International has been assigned to carry out the evaluation under a framework agreement covering a four-year period (2010-2013). CMI’s Johan Helland and John McNeish form part of the evaluation’s core team and play key respective roles regarding Monitoring and Evaluation and Indigenous Rights. Other consortium members come from Indufor and Ecometrica. [R-M: See also R-M post about this: http://bit.ly/bFypJA]

REDD will ease deforestration in Uganda

National Forestry Authority Uganda, no date | A global program, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is starting in Uganda. Derived from the 2007 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, REDD seeks to address climate change through reversing rapid depletion of the world’s forest resources. REDD is crafted on the backdrop of scientific proof that deforestation releases 20% of atmospheric Green House Gases (GHGs). A swelling canopy of GHGs (with 80% from industrial emissions) holds heat which is now linked with global warming… Attacks on forest officers, persistent encroachment on Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) and spiraling extraction of timber make a solid case for alternative interventions alongside enforcement of conservation laws. In Uganda, we have communities whose very livelihoods have been weaved with forest resources for generations.

Rainforest landowners praise REDD

coolearth.org, no date | Rainforest protection clauses aimed at encouraging developers to save their land rather than clear it have been praised. New REDD plans more suited to rainforest dwellers Speaking to the Guardian, leader of the council in the Colombian village of Penaloza Cordoba said: “We have a special relationship with the land. Now we went to conserve it, but we need to live. So far, environmental NGOs have only offered us crumbs.” However, new rainforest deals which pay landowners to protect rather than clear are “the best opportunity yet”, he said. Penaloza is a prime spot for such rainforest protection deals, said the newspaper.

14 June 2010

Indonesia’s plan to save its rainforests

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 14 June 2010 | An interview with Agus Purnomo and Yani Saloh, Special Assistants to the President of the Republic of Indonesia for Climate Change… There are no mixed messages. The moratorium is for new (repeat new) concessions on primary natural forests and peat lands, for two years. The highlight of the news that the government is ‘trigger happy’ in canceling existing concession is misleading… The serious forestry and plantation companies are supportive to this moratorium policy, which has been in practice for the past eight months… The moratorium on new concessions will be effective in 2011. During this phase, Indonesia will place a two-year moratorium on issuing new concessions for the conversion of peat lands and primary natural forests. Any business activities including plantations, mining or agriculture that secured permits before the year 2011 will be excluded from the moratorium.

CDM Critics Demand Investigation of Suspect Offsets

By Nathanial Gronewold, New York Times, 14 June 2010 | A broad coalition of activists are charging that as much as a third of all Kyoto Protocol carbon offset credits ever sold to banks and governments could be illegitimate because they were generated by firms manipulating the marketplace. Companies, the activists allege, are deliberately generating greenhouse gas pollution in order to snag millions of dollars worth of carbon credits when they then mitigate the emissions. Many chemical manufacturers also seem to be tweaking their systems to generate as much emissions as possible, only reverting to normal pollution levels once they’ve hit their maximum annual offset credit allowance. The coalition of European and U.S. activists is now pushing for a radical change to the Clean Development Mechanism, the U.N.-run international greenhouse gas offsetting scheme. Having been rebuffed back in 2007 the group launched a more formal request for review yesterday.

15 June 2010

No sale of forest environment services without gov’t say-so

Stabroek News, 15 June 2010 | Environmental services provided by Guyana’s forests cannot be sold without the agreement of the government, Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud says… The Minster said his clarifications are also intended to correct “misleading information” by the REDD-Monitor in an article since December 3, 2008 which was distributed to several Parliamentarians. He said that REDD-Monitor stated that “Canopy Capital contracted with the Govern-ment of Guyana to buy the eco-system services of the area for an as yet undisclosed sum”. According to Persaud, the article “is a perfect example of the type of irresponsible reporting that REDD-Monitor is famous for since the Government of Guyana has not entered into any such agreement with Canopy Capital or any other firm”.

Environmental services provided by our renewable natural resources are the property of the people of Guyana

Stabroek News, letter from Robert M Persaud, MP, Minister of Agriculture, 15 June 2010 | The Sunday Stabroek of June 13 has a thoroughly misleading caption on its page 14 article, namely: ‘Canopy spreading climate services $$ on Iwokrama.’ It was also noted in the same article that on Thursday, June 10, a Member of Parliament had questioned “whether an agreement has been made/signed with a private company and Iwokrama with respect to the sale of eco-system services in that area.” Based on queries and in the spirit of transparency, the government wishes to reiterate publicly that the declared policy is that all environmental services provided by our renewable natural resources, inclusive of forests, are and continue to remain the property and patrimony of the people of Guyana.

16 June 2010

‘Climate change is good business for us’ – Jagdeo

Stabroek News, 16 June 2010 | Climate change is good business for countries like Guyana but ultimately the developed world must provide the financial support expected of it, President Bharrat Jagdeo reiterated last night. Addressing a gathering at the opening of the International Conference of “Low Carbon Development and Community Planning”, Jagdeo said that while community planning was good, planning first had to be addressed at the national level. He noted that if the country’s budget could not fund community action, then no progress could be made. According to him, no Caribbean territory could engage in planning without taking into consideration climate change… “Climate Change is good business for us,” Jagdeo said, while adding that “It is probably the best thing that could have happened to forested countries”.

President says Cancun agreement in doubt

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 16 June 2010 | President Bharrat Jagdeo said the prospects for a binding climate change agreement by the United Nations Conference to be held in Cancun Mexico look daunting, as large countries are unwilling to go beyond the financial commitments and emission cuts proposed at Copenhagen… He said, too, that the targets agreed to at the Copenhagen conference are nowhere close to what they need to be to keep temperature from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius. Alluding to analyses, he said if the world were to deliver on the emissions commitments from Copenhagen, global temperatures will rise by 4 degrees Celsius. The President noted that the US$30 billion that the Copenhagen Accord speaks of is inadequate and is only a fraction of what is required.

UN considers review of alleged carbon offset abuses

By Andrew Donoghue, Business Green, 16 June 2010 | The UN has confirmed that it is considering a formal review of its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) after a new report leveled fresh criticism at the high profile carbon offsetting scheme. A coalition of green groups working under the banner CDM Watch yesterday tabled a formal request calling on the UN’s climate change secretariat to overhaul the CDM and crack down on alleged “gaming” of the system that has allowed some firms to benefit from increasing their greenhouse gas emissions… Lambert Schneider, a former member of the UN climate change secretariat’s Methodologies Panel and one of the original designers of the CDM system, has joined the ranks of its critics. “The amount of HCFC-22 production and HFC-23 generation appears to be mainly driven by the possibility to generate offset credits rather than other factors,” he said.

Signs Of Renewed Confidence In Bonn, But Action Still Urgent – IUCN

Daily Independent, 16 June 2010 | The recent climate talks held in Bonn appeared to have healed some of the wounds left by the great disappointment of the Copenhagen Climate Summit last December. Following two weeks of talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there is now renewed hope that the building blocks for a global climate deal can be adopted at the next summit in Cancun, Mexico at the end of 2010, says IUCN. After positive movements in Copenhagen, REDD (Reducing Deforestation from Forest Degradation and Deforestation) and REDD-plus (conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) did not get the attention it deserved in Bonn.

Incidence of malaria jumps when Amazon forests are cut

University of Wisconsin-Madison, press release, 16 June 2010 | a team of scientists from the UW–Madison, writing in the current (June 16, 2010) online issue of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, presents the most enumerated case to date linking increased incidence of malaria to land-use practices in the Amazon. Map image depicting the correlation of malaria with land use in 54 Brazilian health districts deep in the Amazon. The report, which combines detailed information on the incidence of malaria in 54 Brazilian health districts and high-resolution satellite imagery of the extent of logging in the Amazon forest, shows that clearing tropical forest landscapes boosts the incidence of malaria by nearly 50 percent.

Farmers Tapping Into a Greener Future

By Fidelis E Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 16 June 2010 | In 2008, the Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership (IAFCP) was established, whereby Australia pledged 30 million Australian dollars ($26 million) for the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (KFCP) demonstration activities and 10 million Australian dollars for other forest and climate-related programs. Muara Mangkutup hamlet is one of 14 on the banks of the Kapuas River included in the initiative. The project encompasses 120,000 hectares of peatland earmarked in 1996 for the government’s ill-advised Mega Rice Project to plant one million hectares of paddy. Wilistra Danny, the Indonesian coordinator for IAFCP, says the project aims to get residents to improve rubber plantations so they don’t fall back on logging, giving them the incentive of empowerment rather than money.

The Protective Powers of the Amazon

By Eben Harrell, blogs.time.com, 16 June 2010 | Writing in the current (June 16, 2010) online issue of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that clearing tropical forest increases incidence of malaria by nearly 50 percent… The study also boosts the urgency for an international anti-deforestation plan. At the Copenhagen summit, a plan titled Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) laid out how wealthier nations could pay rainforest countries for preserving their trees. The lack of a wider agreement limited the progress that could be made on REDD, but the Copenhagen Accord does include a mention of it. To those concerned about environmental justice, climate change and human health, this new study provides further evidence that saving the rainforest should be of the highest priority in any future climate change talks.

Voluntary carbon markets plunge in 2009

forestforclimate.org, 16 June 2010 | Battered by a faltering world economy and lack of progress on U.S. climate legislation, voluntary carbon markets declined by nearly every measure in 2009, according to the fourth annual State of the Voluntary Carbon Market Report issued today by Ecosystem Marketplace and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report recorded a 26 percent drop in transactions (to 94 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions reductions), a 47 percent fall in the total value of traded credits (to $387 million), and an 11 percent decline in the average price of an emission reduction (to $6.50/tCO2e). “The economic recession had a marked impact on the part of the market primarily concerned with buying credits to offset emissions of companies and individuals,” Milo Sjardin, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Director and report co-author, said in a statement.

The ‘Norwegian wood’ blues

By Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta Post, 16 June 2010 | Indonesia’s become pretty good at receiving handouts, despite the fact that aid hasn’t helped much with poverty alleviation, or corruption alleviation for that matter… This is because Indonesia’s weakness is our power elite. They will take the money and still defend their logging, business, timber processing and land conversion interests to the death. Yes, REDD+ will rock the boat a bit, but the scent of Norway’s money will be like a whiff of blood to our vampire elite… And what about the Forestry Ministry, which is a bit like a mafia already? Let’s be charitable, and assume that money and power can be effectively reallocated from Jakarta to local governments in Kalimantan, Papua and other deforested places. Then what? How can anyone be sure what will happen when the money hits the local level? In many instances, decentralization simply means decentralization of corruption.

17 June 2010

PBS Frontline acknowledges EDF’s comments, but doesn’t change its tune

By Steve Schwartzman (EDF), blogs.edf.org, 17 June 2010 | EDF was not the only organization objecting to this program. Two of the major organizations discussed in “The Carbon Hunters” – The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which led the effort in the Atlantic Forest, along with its Brazilian partner Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem e Educação Ambiental (SPVS) – have also responded to “The Carbon Hunters”. In a formal six-page response, TNC and SPVS described the important contribution the projects Frontline profiled have made in the implementation standards for successful policies for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), which, in turn, has provided valuable input for climate negotiations at the global level. They said: “The PBS media stories omit relevant facts that explain the success of these projects for scientific research and generating social and economic benefits.”

18 June 2010

Jagdeo spars with UK envoy over security reform

Stabroek News, 18 June 2010 | [Fraser] Wheeler, who spent four years in Guyana serving as [British] High Commissioner, mentioned the initiatives taken by the UK to boost economic growth in the region, noting that a new major fund will soon be launched in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Canada to boost the competitiveness of the private sector in the region. He said the UK is increasingly channeling funds through the multilateral institutions such as the European Union, and the World Bank. The UK spends some 80m pounds sterling a year in the Caribbean and according to Wheeler they have been focusing on some Guyana-specific projects which include the UK’s support for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). He said the UK government is looking past last year’s Copenhagen summit and that it hopes to push hard for a legally binding treaty at the upcoming Cancun, Mexico summit, in close partnership with the Government of Guyana, and others.

Is IFC palm oil investment a foregone conclusion?

Bretton Woods Project, 18 June 2010 | Some consultation participants are already voicing concerns over the effectiveness of the review. Andrew de Sousa, of the Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program, attended the consultation in Pontianak, Indonesia. He observed that, “Rather than a genuine consultation, the organisers were lobbying participants to sign off on minor reforms which would allow the IFC to continue investing in palm oil. Despite many participants calling for the World Bank to stop supporting palm oil, the meeting lacked genuine dialogue and there was no significant discussion of alternatives.” Furthermore, the Indonesian NGO Sawit Watch, in collaboration with 13 other NGOs, have issued a discussion paper warning that, “the compressed timeline now allowed for development of the strategy… will not allow for the kind of iterative engagement over the policy that we have been led to expect.”

UNFCCC makes major step towards incentivising wetland restoration

By Malcolm Dowden, Environmental Law & Climate Change Community, 18 June 2010 | Despite widespread disappointment at the outcome of last year’s climate change summit in Copenhagen, quiet but significant progress has been made on issues such as reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) and on allowing countries to reduce emissions through halting the degradation of drained wetlands… “Once emissions and removals from wetlands can be accounted for under the Kyoto Protocol the entire finance stream for wetland management will change. Rewetting these important ecosystems and implementing sustainable use like paludiculture (wet agriculture) will become financially attractive”, says Susanna Tol who follows the negotiations on behalf of Wetlands International.

19 June 2010

Forestry Land Use – A Chorus of Rusty Cogs

Citola, 19 June 2010 | Sadly, that’s what we’re hearing from Bonn: a chorus of rusty cogs. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has suffered from too many countries wanting special treatment. There are general expressions of good will, but so many parties withdraw that good will as soon as they see another country opting out, seeking an exemption or other special privilege. The rusty cogs have found a lowest common denominator that inhibits anything that might reasonably be called progress. There was a laudable attempt to move things along from Kyoto (the protocol on emission levels is due to run out within two years, and there is nothing to replace it as yet). But the latest text put forward by the chairman received robust criticism from many quarters.

People may not receive cash from REDD scheme

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 19 June 2010 | Local people involved in efforts to protect forests may not receive money in cash since the government’s ongoing forest carbon scheme pilot projects did not use a cash handout system. Forestry Ministry director for environmental services Tony Suhartono said the government had not settled the financial mechanism of the reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) scheme. “We may prevent directly providing cash to local people to promote sustainable REDD projects,” he said Tuesday. Tony said previous projects in West Kutai, East Kalimantan, when the government gave concessions to local people showed the risk of handing out cash. “The local people cut trees in their concession areas and sell it to get money. It renders the project unsustainable,” he said… The Environment Ministry said money from REDD schemes should be used to empower local people to encourage them to protect forests.

Understanding REDD

Universal Carbon Credits, 19 June 2010 | Tropical deforestation accounts for 20 percent of all carbon emissions into the atmosphere, more than the combined Emissions of every car, truck, ship, plane and train on the planet. A new market mechanism, REDD — Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation — is being developed so that residents of tropical forest properties can earn more money from the standing forest than from its removal. The REDD concept is part of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, which would allow U.S. companies to offset the carbon they emit by paying tropical countries and their citizens not to cut down their rainforests. A market-based system that includes REDD will also be on the agenda at the UN-sponsored talks in Copenhagen this December, where representatives hope to hash out a new climate change treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. [R-M: Features a video of presentations on REDD, including EDF’s Steve Schwartzman.]

Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world

By Naomi Klein, Guardian, 19 June 2010 | In the arc of human history, the notion that nature is a machine for us to re-engineer at will is a relatively recent conceit. In her ground-breaking 1980 book The Death of Nature, the environmental historian Carolyn Merchant reminded readers that up until the 1600s, the Earth was alive, usually taking the form of a mother. Europeans – like indigenous people the world over – believed the planet to be a living organism, full of life-giving powers but also wrathful tempers. There were, for this reason, strong taboos against actions that would deform and desecrate “the mother”, including mining.

20 June 2010

Govt looking seriously at ethanol from molasses project – Jagdeo

Stabroek News, 20 June 2010 | President Bharrat Jagdeo said more land may be made available for sugar cane cultivation since his administration is now “seriously” looking at producing ethanol from molasses, in keeping with the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which promotes the use of biofuels… In March of this year a consortium of US and Brazilian investors held preliminary discussions with the government towards setting up an ethanol plant. Fip Motilall of Synergy Investments was among this team of potential investors, which included representatives of VEi Global Inc and Unisystems Inc… Further, Jagdeo also spoke about the controversial Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project (AFHEP) which he said has “a relatively small footprint on our forests”. He noted that construction on the plant will begin before the end of the year and according to him, “once completed in 2 ½ to 3 years time will satisfy all of the electricity needs for Guyana.”

Hanoi Meeting to Explore Participatory Forest Management

By Tom Blomley (DANIDA), Ecosystem Marketplace, 20 June 2010 | It sounded so simple. Preserve forests that absorb carbon dioxide and cut back on 20 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But now, after the recent UN Climate Summit held in Copenhagen endorsed forest preservation as a key weapon in the battle against global warming, a close look reveals that preserving forests is far from simple. African, Asian and Latin American nations where residents depend on forests for food and income offer a wealth of data on the challenges of forest preservation. Studies compiled during the past three decades show preservation outcomes highest when local residents own and manage their forests. This is called PFM, short for Participatory Forest Management… These lessons learned can serve as a model for REDD. To achieve successful carbon outcomes, states must provide clear legal guidance that establish carbon rights.

‘Gaming’ the carbon market with toxic forest-carbon offset projects

By Dr Clive Thomas, Stabroek News, 20 June 2010 | Worldwide economic experiences show that when product markets reach truly global levels there is a tendency for them to outstrip regulatory control and oversight. In practice this occurs because market regulations and their prudential oversight are nationally structured. Admittedly, there is usually an element of inter-governmental coordination at the regional or international level, but as a rule for the major countries this does not significantly subordinate national control. Thereafter, innovations in traded instruments are oriented towards making money from gaming the regulatory and oversight system. This process was in operation during the recent period of global financial market expansion where it took the form of intensive securitization. This led to the 2008 global financial crisis, at the core of which lay US sub-prime private household mortgage-backed securities and their associated credit default swaps (insurance).

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