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REDD in the news: 6-12 September 2010

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A round up of the week’s news on REDD, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news page (REDD in the news) is updated regularly.

REDD-plus, forest people’s rights and nested climate governance

By Thomas Sikor, Johannes Stahl, Thomas Enters, Jesse C. Ribot, Neera Singh, William D. Sunderlin, Lini Wollenberg, Forthcoming in Global Environmental Change Vol. 20, No. 3 | At Copenhagen, the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was ready to endorse REDD-plus and to make explicit reference to the “rights of indigenous peoples and members of local communities” (UNFCCC, 2009). The reference is important because it acknowledges the historical background from which REDD-plus is developing: the historical dispossession, political exclusion and cultural marginalization of indigenous peoples and members of local communities (hereafter referred to as “forest people”). Recent experience with the recognition of forest people’s rights suggests three broad principles for operationalizing rights under REDD-plus: participation in political decision making, equitable distribution of forest benefits, and recognition of forest people’s particular identities.

Vedanta and lessons in conservation

By Sunita Narain, Down To Earth, 15 September 2010 | As we celebrate the decision favouring environmental justice over destructive development, we must stop and ask: have we really understood green concern in this poor country of ours? In the 1970s, when the environmental movement took root in the country, it had two distinct streams. One was a movement to conserve wildlife. The 1970s saw the beginning of tiger conservation in the country. With this grew the conservation movement, aiming to secure habitats for animals but failing to safeguard the needs and rights of people who lived there. In the same decade was born the Chipko movement— women in the Himalaya stepped in to protect their trees from wood cutters. But their move was not to conserve trees; they wanted the rights to cut trees. They also said— but few heard them—they would not cut the trees because the forest was the basis of their survival. They knew the value of the environment.

Improved forest governance required for REDD+ success

New Agriculturist, September 2010 | The wealthy and powerful could benefit most from new climate mitigation schemes if forest governance is not improved, warn experts gathering at the Oaxaca workshop on forest governance decentralisation and REDD+* in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Good forest governance – involving transparent and inclusive relationships between government, forests and the people who depend on them – is fundamental for ensuring that REDD+ helps forest-dependent communities move out of poverty, instead of fueling corruption and funding entrenched bureaucracies,” says Elena Petkova, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “REDD+ schemes could either flounder on governance failures or flourish under successful governance.” Unrealistic and contradictory government regulations, widespread disregard for owners’ rights to forest use, corruption and illegal logging are just some of the barriers to forest governance reform in Latin America.

International Symposium on Indicators to Assess and Monitor the Quality of Forest Governance

PROFOR, no date | The World Bank, PROFOR and FAO are organizing an international symposium on indicators to assess and monitor the quality of forest governance. The symposium will take stock of progress to date in designing indicators and applying them in the field, including the use of indicators for specific purposes. Areas of application include investment risk analysis, targeting and monitoring of forest reforms, tracking success of anti-corruption initiatives and law enforcement, evaluating poverty alleviation efforts, encouraging sustainable forest management, safeguarding human rights, and improving conflict management. There is special interest in the use of indicators in monitoring FLEGT outcomes (including VPAs), implementing REDD+ and FIP activities. The two day symposium, hosted by Sida, will convene in Stockholm on September 13-14, 2010.

Introductory Course on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Conserving and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+)

The REDD desk, 2010 | Online interactive course on REDD+ The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance, the Rainforest Alliance, the World Wildlife Fund, and GTZ have updated their online introductory course on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation and conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) with new information and activities. The course is free and publicly available at: http://www.conservationtraining.org/.

Kenya’s REDD+ Readiness

Climate Focus, no date | Climate Focus is helping Kenya become one of the first developing nations in Africa to receive REDD+ financing to conserve and restore its forests. Since December 2009, Climate Focus joined with the Kenyan government to prepare its application for the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility funding. Through implementation of its approved Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP), Kenya hopes to conserve its remaining forests and contribute to the country’s Vision 2030 plan to expand forest cover to at least 10%. Implementation of REDD+ (the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, enhancement of forest carbon stocks, conservation, and sustainable forest management) gives Kenya the opportunity to restore its forests, ease rural proverty and and enhance ecosystem services such as water and biodiversity.

Development of National REDD+ Strategies in Asia & the Pacific

Asian Development Bank, no date | ADB Side Event, Tianjin Climate Change Talks) Tianjin Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center Tianjin, PRC: 6 October 2010 Purpose: This event will provide an update on national REDD+ strategy development in key countries, and facilitate dialogue among stakeholders on key issues facing countries getting ready for emerging REDD+ mechanisms. The REDD+ approach aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, combined with enhancement of forest carbon stocks, sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation, and community development.

Is the Displacement of People from Parks only ‘Purported’, or is it Real?

By Schmidt-Soltau K, Conservation and Society, Vol. 7, Issue 1, 2009 | This article responds to the critique of data on population displacements voiced in the article ‘Are Central Africa’s Protected Areas Displacing Hundreds of Thousands of Rural Poor?’ (hereinafter Curran et al. 2009) and an earlier version of the same paper with the title ‘Central Africa’s Protected Areas and the Purported Displacement of People’ (hereinafter Maisels et al. 2007). Both articles cast doubt upon the data collected in the field by me and my research assistants. While we have shown that large numbers of people have been physically and economically displaced from 12 protected areas in Central Africa (for example, Schmidt-Soltau 2003, 2005; Cernea & Schmidt-Soltau 2006), my critics claim that not a single person was displaced from at least 10 of the 12 protected areas covered in our 1996-2007 research.

Response to ‘Is the Displacement of People from Parks only ‘Purported’ or is it Real?’ (Schmidt-Soltau 2009)

By Curran B, Sunderland T, Maisels F, Asaha S, Balinga M, Defo L, Dunn A, Loebenstein Kv, Oates J, Roth P, Telfer P, Usongo L, Conservation and Society, Vol. 8, Issue 2, 2010 | The accusation by Schmidt-Soltau (2009) that conservation organisations willfully continue to commit ‘human rights violations’ in Central Africa is, in our view, not true. We do not dispute that there are examples from around the world where conservation projects have not respected peoples’ rights in the past, and we believe that lessons have been learned and that the conservation approach has shifted accordingly. But citing isolated incidents between government agents and members of local communities as proof of ongoing, systematic abuse of human rights falls well short of contributing to finding acceptable solutions to these conflicts.

Scrubbing the Skies

National Geographic, September 2010 | Pulling CO2 back out of the air might be easier
than building jets and cars that don’t emit it. Every time you drive to work, or worse yet, fly on a plane, the vehicle emits carbon dioxide that will stay in the atmosphere, warming the planet for thousands of years. Does it have to? Trees can take CO2 back out again—but even covering the planet with forests wouldn’t solve our problem, and there would be an awful lot of wood to preserve. (If allowed to rot or burn, trees release their carbon again.) Physicist Klaus Lackner thinks he has a better idea: Suck CO2 out of the air with “artificial trees” that operate a thousand times faster than real ones.

6 September 2010

Forest carbon stores may be massively overestimated

By Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 6 September 2010 | Rainforests may store much less carbon than we thought. It could be time to dramatically revise our estimates following the discovery that apparently similar forests hold vastly different amounts of the stuff. The finding is important because there are plans for governments worldwide to compensate tropical countries for protecting their forests as “carbon sinks” to curb global warming. If carbon cannot be counted, then dollars cannot be disbursed. Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, and colleagues say they used satellite mapping, laser probing of forest undergrowth from aircraft and local ground surveys across a large area of Peruvian rainforest to crack the problem of estimating how much carbon is locked up in forests. But the new technique has revealed a large, previously unknown variability in the density of carbon stored in apparently similar forests.

Carbon mapping breakthrough

Carnegie Institution, 6 September 2010 | By integrating satellite mapping, airborne-laser technology, and ground-based plot surveys, scientists from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, with colleagues from the World Wildlife Fund and in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), have revealed the first high-resolution maps of carbon locked up in tropical forest vegetation and emitted by land-use practices. These new maps pave the way for accurate monitoring of carbon storage and emissions for the proposed United Nations initiative on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). The study is published in the September 6, 2010, early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New detailed map shows carbon in Peru’s Amazon

By Deboarh Zabarenko, Reuters, 6 September 2010 | A new, highly detailed map of part of Peru’s Amazon shows how much climate-warming carbon is stored there, and where cutting down vegetation has sent this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, scientists said on Monday… The details in the new map could help change that, said Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science, lead author of a study that produced the map. The study is being published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “What we’re showing here for the first time is an ability to not only map the carbon … that is in the forest, but also use a technique that allows us to estimate the emissions,” Asner said in a telephone interview from Hawaii, where he is doing field work. “In terms of an international climate treaty, that’s the big one.”

Peru’s rainforest highway triggers surge in deforestation, according to new 3D forest mapping

mongabay.com, 6 September 2010 | Scientists using a combination of satellite imagery, airborne-laser technology, and ground-based plot surveys … have documented a surge in emissions from deforestation and selective logging following the paving of the Trans-Oceanic Highway in Peru. The study, published this week in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that selective logging and other forms of forest degradation in Peru account for nearly a third of emissions compared to deforestation alone. The findings, which demonstrate the feasibility of using LiDAR and satellite imagery over large areas of tropical forest, have important implications for monitoring, reporting, and verifying emissions reductions under proposed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) programs, which could compensate developing countries for protecting and sustainability managing their forests.

Thirty-four Colombian tribes face extinction, says UN report

Survival International, 6 September 2010 | A report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has warned that more than thirty-four Colombian tribes face extinction due to continuing violence on their lands. The report found that, ‘In spite of new efforts by the state… the risk of physical or cultural disappearance remains, and in some cases has risen.’ An increase in murders, death-threats, and the forced recruitment of indigenous youth into armed groups are just some of the dangers reportedly facing Colombia’s Indians. Internal displacement is also cited as a major issue that disproportionately affects Colombia’s tribal peoples. Of the country’s four million internal refugees, Indians make up 15% of the total, despite the fact that they represent just 2% of the national population.

Despite pledge to crack down, illegal logging continues in Madagascar’s rainforest parks

wildmadagascar.org, 6 September 2010 | Despite government assurances that it would crack down on the rosewood trade, illegal logging continues in Madagascar’s rainforest parks, according to new information provided by sources on the ground. The sources report logging in three parks: Mananara, Makira, and Masoala. All three are known for their high levels of biodiversity, including endangered lemurs. Rosewood logs are being transported to Tamatave (Toamasina), Madagascar’s main port, despite a national moratorium on logging and export of precious hardwoods. Most rosewood ends up going to China, where it is in high demand for furniture.

Summary of the Oaxaca Workshop on Forest Governance, Decentralization and REDD+ in Latin America and the Caribbean

IISD, 6 September 2010 | The Oaxaca Workshop on Forest Governance, Decentralization and REDD+ in Latin America and the Caribbean took place in Oaxaca, Mexico, from Tuesday, 31 August to Friday, 3 September 2010. It brought together 230 participants from 34 countries, representing governments, non-governmental, intergovernmental and research organizations, multilateral funding agencies, indigenous peoples, and other members of civil society. This country-led initiative in support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) was organized by the Governments of Switzerland and Mexico and several organizations. It aimed to identify trends, and facilitate sharing of experiences and lessons learned from sustainable forest management (SFM), forest governance and decentralization, and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+).

XXIII International Union of Forest Research Organizations World Congress – Final Summary

Ethical Markets, 6 September 2010 | The XXIII IUFRO World Congress, organized by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), took place from 23-28 August 2010 in Seoul , Republic of Korea . The Congress was themed, “Forests for the Future: Sustaining Society and the Environment,” and it drew over 2,700 participants from 92 countries, the largest number of participants in the Congress’ history. There were also 2,027 presentations and 1,053 posters. The six-day event began with a speech from Lee Myung-bak, President of the Republic of Korea, and continued with daily keynote speeches from prominent figures in forestry, 15 sub-plenaries, a special discussion led by IUFRO’s President on the future challenges of forest education, 150 technical sessions, many poster sessions, side events, and a trade and exhibition area.

Thailand: Asia regional sustainable landscapes program

USAID, 6 September 2010 | The United States Agency for International Development [USAID], is seeking applications [proposals for funding] from U.S.or non-U.S.non-governmental organizations [NGOs] and/or a consortia to strengthen capacities of developing countries in the Asia region to produce meaningful and sustainable reductions in greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions from the forestry-land use sector and to participate in and benefit from the emerging international Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation [REDD]-plus framework.USAID/RDMA is issuing a request for applications for a cooperative agreement for the Asia Regional Sustainable Landscapes Program. Please refer to the Program Description [RFA section C] for a complete statement of goals and expected results. RDMA conducted an Asia Regional REDD Program Planning Assessment in 2010.

DNPI Reports Set Course for Indonesia’s Green Growth

DNPI press release, 6 September 2010 | Today the Indonesian National Climate Change Council (DNPI) released several studies which show how Indonesia can continue to grow the economy and achieve its greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions targets. The Government of Indonesia has committed to cutting GHG emissions by 26% from business-as-usual-levels by 2020… Indonesia is the only large developing country that has committed itself to making large absolute cuts in its GHG emissions. Realizing the vital role Indonesia can play in combating global climate change, the international community has offered its support. An important first step was taken in May 2010 with the establishment of a REDD+ Partnership between Indonesia and Norway, in which Norway pledged US$1 billion towards REDD+ readiness programs in Indonesia in return for verified emissions reductions.

7 September 2010

Strengthening rural communities and improving conservation: an interview with David Kaimowitz

WorldWatch, 7 September 2010 | In July, the Ford Foundation announced a five-year, US$85 million initiative to address climate change through the inclusion and empowerment of rural and indigenous people. David Kaimowitz, the foundation’s director of sustainable development, talks with Research Fellow Molly Theobald about the new initiative and what he hopes it will accomplish.

An end to (large-scale) deforestation in the Amazon?

blogs.nature.com, 7 September 2010 | Could it be? Things are changing so quickly in the Amazon that it’s hard to come up with a satisfactory explanation of anything, but the latest deforestation statistics certainly make you wonder. Here’s the gist: Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research issued preliminary satellite data last week indicating that the rate of deforestation dropped by 47.5 percent, from 4,375 to 2,296 square kilometres, in 2010. (Beware: the English version contains an error with these specific numbers) This is low-resolution satellite data, so the official number (which no one really disputes) will be substantially higher when it comes out in December. But it is an apples-to-apples comparison.

CO2 Target Debate Is Irrelevant, Former UN Climate Chief Says

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 7 September 2010 | The greenhouse-gas targets pledged by nations after the United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen in December won’t change much before 2020 so there’s little point debating them, the man who stewarded the summit said. International negotiations that are “painstakingly slow” are continuing, and non-binding cuts pledged by the U.S., Japan, China and European nations are “basically what we’ve got to work with for 2020,” said former UN climate chief Yvo de Boer, now an adviser for the accounting firm KPMG International… [C]ountries should focus on achieving what they’ve promised and making the investments needed to spur low-carbon technologies such as wind and solar power, de Boer said in an interview today in London. “Discussions about targets have become largely irrelevant in the context of the Copenhagen outcome,” said Boer, 56. “I don’t think that we’re going to see a dramatic increase in the level of ambition.”

Development of Carbon Markets in Agriculture and Forestry Have Potential to Address Climate Change, Save Landowners Money

NWF, SWCS press release, 7 September 2010 | Carbon sequestration through agriculture could provide farmers and forest owners with a new revenue stream worth billions of dollars, concluded the National Wildlife Federation and the Soil and Water Conservation Society after a July 21, 2010 workshop titled Carbon Markets: Expanding Opportunities/Valuing Co-Benefits. The one-day workshop, held at the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO, brought together experts in agriculture and forestry to discuss how land management activities can help to address climate change by storing more carbon and reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses. The workshop particularly focused on innovative new practices that can have positive climate benefits, as well as the many co-benefits to soil, water and wildlife of these practices.

World Bank Caught in Controversy Over Suspect Carbon Credits

By Stacy Feldman, Solve Climate, 7 September 2010 | A storm has been brewing for months in an obscure corner of the carbon-trading world, and it’s now raging into full public view. At issue is whether the UN should modify the way it gives valuable carbon credits for climate-destroying refrigerant chemicals, and the stakes are high. The decision could reshape the $2.7 billion carbon crediting scheme known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The biggest controversy now: whether the World Bank is working to block reforms to the allegedly corrupt system, a charge the bank strongly rejects. Under Kyoto’s CDM, 19 chemical plants in developing nations earn large sums of carbon offset credits as incentive for destroying hydrofluorocarbon-23, a “super greenhouse gas” that is 11,700 times more potent than CO2. The World Bank has bought credits from two HFC-23 destruction facilities located in China worth about a billion dollars.

Growing conflict over Tanzania’s ‘charismatic carbon’

By Thembi Mutch, Ecologist, 7 September 2010 | The country’s forests are at the centre of a new global scramble to ‘buy up’ carbon, but as Thembi Mutch reports, is the process really going to benefit the environment or people? Last month I rang my ethical isa broker. ‘I want to invest in forests in Africa,’ I said. We talked for an hour. I put the phone down knowing that there was little or nothing ethical about my ISA, and I certainly couldn’t dictate that they invest in the biodiverse tropical forest that I overlook as I write here in Arusha, Tanzania. The conversation was emblematic of the situation faced by an Africa trying to adjust to a brave new world in which the west once again has eyes for the continent’s resources – this time it’s carbon. [R-M: subscription required for full article.]

Tarnished Earth – the destruction of Canada’s boreal forest

Guardian, 7 September 2010 | Tarnished Earth is a dramatic street gallery of photographs telling the story of the destruction of Canada’s boreal forest – a continuous belt of coniferous trees separating the tundra to the north and temperate rainforest and deciduous woodlands to the south. The exhibition will be open free to anyone walking along London’s South Bank for four weeks from 14 September 2010. The exhibition, which is being staged by The Co-operative, in conjunction with WWF-UK and Greenpeace, and will later tour cities across the UK, shows how the boreal forest is being flattened by the rush to extract oil from the tar sands just below its surface.

Preserving the rainforest

By Brian Sims, letter to the editor, Guardian, 7 September 2010 | While having few quarrels with President Lula’s pragmatic approach to managing Brazil’s drive towards first-world status, I was alarmed to see his defence of “development” of the Amazon region and his demand that others must pay for the protection of the country’s rainforest (Bridge to the unknown, 13 August). This myopic view, often repeated in the region, has within it the seeds of destruction for the UN-Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme. And it bodes ill for the future of the unique biodiversity of the invaluable Brazilian rainforest resource. A system that extracts payments from polluters in developed countries to compensate for slower, greener development in developing countries does little to prevent continued increases in greenhouse gas emissions at a global level. Our planet is finite and is suffering because we are not doing enough to reduce global emissions.

Govt ups ante against illegal logging, mining and plantations

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 7 September 2010 | President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono has pledged to intensify the government’s battle against companies operating illegally in rainforests to cut forest losses and help regain the trust of foreign countries. The government is currently revising a 2005 presidential instruction on illegal logging. The draft expanded the definition of violations including illegal mining and illicit forest encroachment. “They are the main causes of forest losses and the players are easy to detect because most are large companies,” Hadi Daryanto, director general of production forest development at Forestry Ministry told The Jakarta Post recently. He said the regulation revision also aimed to fulfill pledges made in the carbon trade deal between Indonesia and Norway. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said that some 2 million hectares of forest land had been illegally converted into oil palm plantations, mostly in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

Could forest conservation payments undermine organic agriculture?

Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 7 September 2010 | Forest carbon payment programs like the proposed reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) mechanism could put pressure on “wildlife-friendly” farming techniques by increasing the need to intensify agricultural production, warns a paper published this June in Conservation Biology. The paper, written by Jaboury Ghazoul and Lian Pin Koh of ETH Zurich and myself in September 2009, posits that by increasing the opportunity cost of conversion of forest land for agriculture, REDD will potentially constrain the amount of land available to meet growing demand for food. Because organic agriculture and other biodiversity-friendly farming practices generally have lower yields than industrial agriculture, REDD will therefore encourage a shift toward from more productive forms of food production.

First high-resolution maps of carbon trapped in tropical forests revealed

sify news, 7 September 2010 | Using satellite mapping, airborne-laser technology, and ground-based plot surveys, scientists have come out with the first high-resolution maps of carbon locked up in tropical forest vegetation and emitted by land-use practices. The project by researchers at Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, with colleagues from the World Wildlife Fund and in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), has paved the way for accurate monitoring of carbon storage and emissions for the proposed United Nations initiative on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). The new high-resolution mapping method will have a major impact on the implementation of REDD in tropical regions around the world. The study covered over 16,600 square miles of the Peruvian Amazon-an area about the size of Switzerland.

REDD Revenues: Learning from Peru

Global Environmental Policy Window, 7 September 2010 | Peru’s experiences from the Camisea project could prove instructive for REDD as the international community ramps up efforts to provide a financial compensation mechanism for developing country actions to reduce emissions from forest loss. Although funding for REDD will likely take different forms, a frontrunner option is to link it to carbon markets in developed countries. Companies would then meet their emission reduction commitments by channeling funding to REDD projects in forest-rich countries. Like Camisea, and extractive projects more broadly, carbon markets would generate funding for poor, but natural- resource- rich, nations, at a scale rarely seen before. There is a risk, though. If REDD does not work as intended, its failure could not only undermine climate reduction goals in developed countries but also inflict a new kind of resource curse on developing nations.

Making a Market for Pollution

By David Biello, Scientific American, 7 September 2010 | When convincing someone to trade in a commodity that cannot be seen or touched, it’s best to hold their hand—even if only by telephone. Standing while talking helps, too, at least for broker Lenny Hochschild, who specializes in convincing everyone from agribusiness to electric utilities to buy and sell in a market that doesn’t exist yet—a U.S. market for the right to emit carbon dioxide, the most ubiquitous greenhouse gas changing the global climate.

8 September 2010

More clarity and flexibilty needed for carbon trade

Thaindian News, 8 September 2010 | India Inc and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Wednesday said there should be more clarity and flexibility in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for carbon trading. “The global carbon market is dogged by uncertainties arising out of the lack of clarity on how CDM would evolve,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary, UNFCCC, on the sidelines of India Carbon market conclave 2010, organized by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Industry stalwarts on other hand demanded a regulatory framework in developing countries that recognizes the role of markets to leverage mitigation of carbon emissions. “There is need for a clear direction on the manner in which carbon credits should be treated in balance sheets and the Direct Tax Code (DTC) move to tax carbon credits would be discouraging for the industry,” said Y.K. Modi, chairman, Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd.

Carbon credit prices shoot up after probe constricts supply

By Rajesh Bhayani, Business Standard, 8 September 2010 | Prices of carbon credit certificates on the European climate exchange have risen after the regulator disallowed credits from greenhouse gas HFC-23 from a number of projects. Credits from such projects account for around 10 per cent of total carbon emission certificates (CERs). Prices of CERs have gone up by 17 per cent. A similar increase has been seen in European certificates. In July, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) launched an investigation on allegations that some companies had raised production of HFC-23, a by-product of the coolant HCFC-22, to earn CERs. A majority of these companies were in India and China.

Mexican National Forestry Commission (Conafor) will participate in Meso-American Regional Dialogue

Forest Carbon Portal, 8 September 2010 | The director of the Mexican National Forestry Commission (Comisión Nacional Forestal (Conafor)), Juan Manuel Torres, will participate in the Meso-American Regional Dialogue on Forests, Governance, and Climate Change, which started this Wednesday (8 Sept) in El Salvador. Torres emphasized that as a fundamental part of the meeting they look to push the importance of finding schemes for the best way to manage REDD+. [R-M: Article from El Financiero in Spanish is available here: http://bit.ly/aATNCm]

Environmentalists denounce forest conservation project

By Ben Ezeamalu, 234next.com, 8 September 2010 | Environmentalists have frowned at the Shell-backed REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project, describing it as a false solution to climate change that put forests in the carbon market, and has been denounced as potentially the “largest land grab of all time.” According to the Indigenous Environmental Network, REDD is rife with “perverse incentives” to convert natural forests into monoculture tree plantations and to actually increase deforestation.” Reuters reported that Shell, Gazprom, and the Clinton Foundation are funding the landmark REDD Rimba Raya project on 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) in the province of Central Kalimantan in Indonesia.

ClimateSpectator: Forest for the Trees

By Dr Mark Dangerfield, greencollarclimate.com, 8 September 2010 | REDD, and its latest manifestation REDD-plus (same idea but with wider scope), are criticised for two reasons. REDD projects amount to welfare payments to the developing countries where the projects reside. And welfare is disliked by both giver and recipient. Then there is a vociferous green argument against the market approach to delivery as in this case there will be cowboys and governments who rip off the funds before they reach the resource owners. So despite the accord, REDD has been slow to start. Lost somewhat in this debate on clearing is another mechanism for reducing degradation of forests, Improved Forest Management (IFM)… It would be cheeky to call IFM green, but it is definitely not REDD.

Forestry monks win $5k award

Phnom Penh Post, 8 September 2010 | Monks Community Forestry, a conservation group based in Oddar Meanchey province, has been named a winner of the 2010 Equator Prize, the United Nations Development Programme said this week. Awarded by the Equator Initiative, a New York branch of the UN Development Programme that aims to reduce poverty through conservation, the prize comes with a US$5,000 grant. According to a letter sent to the group by the UNDP in July, the MCF was awarded the prize for its “strong demonstration of the ingenuity of community-based work”. MCF director Bun Salouth said he was “very surprised” to learn of the honour. “I am absolutely delighted to be one of 25 winners,” he said. The MCF was established in 2001, and now has 60 members tasked with guarding the roughly 18,000 hectares of forest under their watch. The prizes will be distributed at a ceremony on September 20 in New York, during which five of the winners will receive an additional $15,000.

Shell funding of REDD forest protection scheme could result in ‘largest land grab of all time’

Ecologist, 8 September 2010 | Oil giant’s investment in Indonesian REDD conservation project is a crude attempt to increase profit and gloss over its expanding oil drilling operations, say campaigners. Indigenous Peoples and environmental groups have accused oil giant Shell of funding a forest protection scheme for profit and to help ‘greenwash’ its destructive oil drilling operations. The corporation, along with the Russian energy giant Gazprom, is helping a company calling itself InfiniteEARTH to buy 100,000 ha of tropical rainforest in Borneo, Indonesia to be known as the Rimba Raya conservation project… However, REDD has been criticised for failing to protect the rights of indigenous peoples or natural forests. There are also fears it could encourage a growing con market as speculators seek to make the most out of valuable carbon credits given for protecting forest areas.

In the Market for Pollution: Selling the Blue Sky

By David Biello, Scientific American, 8 September 2010 | There are any number of ways to make money trading, though some prefer the term gambling. That’s because the financial world is full of innovation these days—even in the wake of the Great Recession—which primarily means inventing new instruments to trade. One can still trade the mortgage-backed securities that helped derail the global economy or corporate debt repackaged as bonds. Enron helped pioneer the trade in “physical” electricity, actual power available for purchase on the grid and only physical in the sense that the infrastructure to transport it is more visible than an odorless, colorless greenhouse gas. Both are now lucrative markets, but certainly electricity, despite its physics, is more stable. So why would David Nussbaum, an unassuming middle-aged trader from New Jersey, switch from this steady market to one that doesn’t even really exist yet in this country or, more frequently, is completely voluntary?

9 September 2010

Call For Transparency in Developing Carbon Markets

By Stephen Handler, Triple Pundit, 9 September 2010 | If you’re interested in forest conservation or carbon offsets, you might have read an interesting announcement last week regarding the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A carbon offsetting firm (Shift2Neutral) announced a nation-wide agreement with all DRC provinces, tribal chiefs, land owners, and the spokesperson of the DRC Senate. According to the press announcement, the deal gives the company exclusive rights to develop carbon offset projects in the country, including REDD, reforestation, and alternative energy projects… The international carbon offset market has been plagued by bad actors. Openness and transparency is the only way toward solving this issue. This should be a clear reminder that in order to link carbon finance to conservation and development goals, honesty is truly the best policy.

World Bank’s Climate Change Envoy Steers Around Hot-Button Issues

By Lisa Freedman, ClimateWire, 9 September 2010 | Ask Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s new climate change envoy, what he thinks of his institution’s controversial recent decision to help build the world’s fourth-dirtiest coal plant in South Africa, and he hedges. “My job is not to give a personal opinion on things,” Steer finally says. His thoughts on a sensitive proposal to calculate the environmental and social costs of carbon emissions in all new project assessments? That’s for World Bank shareholders to decide, Steer maintains. And to the environmental community’s insistence — lately echoed by Democrats in Congress — that the bank phase out loans for coal plants altogether, he begs off entirely. “We are revisiting our strategy for energy lending,” Steer said. “Far be it from me to pre-empt that discussion.”

TNC and Idesam launch Latin America REDD+ Project Guides

Forest Carbon Portal, 9 September 2010 | The Nature Conservancy and the Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development of Amazonas (IDEs) are launching, with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the Guide to REDD+ Projects in Latin America, with the aim of identifying the structure and operation of REDD projects – Reduction Emissions from Deforestation and forest degradation, conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest stocks (REDD +). The publication presents projects and initiatives related to the theme in Latin American countries and is available for download at www.nature.org/brazil, and rely on mapping projects under implementation in several countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru.

Peru: More detail on the National Forest Conservation Program

Forest Carbon Portal, 9 September 2010 | An article giving more detail on Peru’s new National Forest Conservation Program for Climate Change Mitigation, formed a few months ago, explaining its objectives, what it is seeking to accomplish, the area it covers, and ways in which it will attempt to do so (including carbon credits and REDD). [R-M: Original article from Carteras in Spanish available here: http://bit.ly/bDRJiV]

In the Market for Pollution: Carbon Trade or Carbon Con?

By David Biello, Scientific American, 9 September 2010 | A company recycles a product, doing its part for the environment through reuse, only to be told it’s worth more to destroy it. Welcome to the wonderful world of the carbon market, especially for a company that deals in refrigerants. These gases, culprits in no less than two environmental crimes—the ozone hole and climate change—are required to efficiently cool your food and beverages. Yet, chlorofluorocarbons, to give them their proper name, are potent molecules that both exacerbate the blanket of greenhouse gases warming the world as well as chew up the stratospheric ozone layer protecting the planet’s inhabitants from excess doses of ultraviolet sunlight.

10 September 2010

Emissions trading ‘obsolete’ say campaigners

By Fiona Harvey, Financial Times, 10 September 2010 | Heavy industrial companies in the European Union are benefiting from emissions trading that is forcing down the price of carbon permits and encouraging the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report published on Friday. The recession has led to big falls in greenhouse gas emissions across Europe, while companies have received allocations of – mostly free – carbon permits based on their pre-recession emissions levels, under the EU’s trading scheme. As a result, most companies have ample permits to cover their needs. This has depressed the price of carbon. The report from Sandbag, a green campaigning group, has put a new estimate on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that will be avoided as a result of the trading scheme. It has found that the impact of the scheme between 2008 and 2012 will be to reduce emissions by only about 34m tonnes – a “negligible” amount, the group said.

Illegal rosewood logging in Madagascar

By Toby Smith, Guardian, 10 September 2010 | Photographer Toby Smith talks about his pictures documenting the illegal logging trade in Madagascar, which he helped bring to the world’s attention by going undercover with environmental groups. The US Environmental Investigation Agency intends to use Smith’s pictures, along with other evidence gathered, to prosecute those responsible for creating the international market outside of Madagascar. This summer, the rainforests of Atsinanana in Madagascar were placed on Unesco’s list of world heritage in danger.

EU emissions trading scheme on course to make tiny savings, says report

By Damian Carrington, Guardian, 10 September 2010 | The entire five-year period of the European Union’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) that ends in 2012 is set to deliver carbon savings of less than a third of 1% of total emissions, according to a new report. The analysis by emissions trading campaign group Sandbag predicts that only 32m tonnes of pollution permits will need to be surrendered to meet the cap on greenhouse gas emissions – a tiny fraction of the 1.9bn tonnes of carbon emissions covered by the ETS each year. The “miniscule” saving is the result of the economic crisis having driven down industrial activity while the caps remain at the same level. “The ETS is the best thing we have but it is being held back by industry lobbying,” said Sandbag’s founder, Bryony Worthington. “We think the European commission wants to lower the caps but they need to win the political battle. As it stands, no one needs to do anything to curb their emissions until about 2016…”

European Commission poses counting forests in cutting emissions

Forest Carbon Portal, 10 September 2010 | The European Commission has opened a public consultation to find out if EU citizens are in favor of including forests, which absorb CO2, in the objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Forests are not currently counted in this objective and their inclusion turns out to be relatively problematic since not all member states contain the same forest areas. [R-M: Full article in El Diario Vasco in Spanish is available here: http://bit.ly/aRm5N2]

Liberian rainforest under threat

goallover.net, 10 September 2010 | Singapore’s Golden Agri-Resources, a holding of the controversial pal oil giant, Sinar Mas Group, said it will form a partnership with the government of Liberia to establish a 220,000-hectare plantation in the West African nation. The Sinar Mas Group was one of the biggest casualties of the campaign lead by environmental group Greenepeace, which highlighted the environmental damage being caused in Indonesia by the Palm Oil Industry. Sinar Mas were singled out as one of the main offenders, with evidence showing that huge and irreparable damage had been done to the once-extensive rainforests of Indonesia. One of the most shocking facts that emerged was that the level of deforestation had caused the mostly undeveloped nation of Indonesia to become one of the highest net producers of carbon dioxide in the world.

Less talk, more action, Dominican Environment chief says

Dominican Today, 10 September 2010 | Environment minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal on Thursday asked the international cooperation to reduce the seminars and workshops and increases practical actions in the communities to halt deforestation, especially in the river basins. The official’s request coincidentally came during the operative planning workshop of the program to reduce the degradation of forests (REDD) in Central America and the Dominican Republic, in which Germany provides 12 million euros in eight countries. “We need to see results which really become concrete actions for the developed countries to continue contributing and increasing the funds to those constructions to generate jobs in the deforested river basins and reduce the level of risk and degradation,” he said.

New maps show the carbon in the trees

WWF, 10 September 2010 | A revolutionary approach for mapping and monitoring the carbon held in tropical forests is a major step forward in protecting the climate and biodiversity, WWF said today. Among new insights developed from mapping the carbon in the forests of the Madre de Dios, an area the size of Austria in Peru’s south-western Amazon region, is the significance of emissions from forest degradation. The new procedures to develop, for the first time, high resolution maps of stored carbon were the result of a collaboration between scientists from WWF’s Conservation Science Programme, WWF Peru, the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) and the Asociación para la Conservación de la Cuenca Amazónica (ACCA).

Key steps on global warming need to be agreed in Mexico later this year

By Jake Schmidt, Switchboard, from NRDC, 10 September 2010 | This December, 194 countries will be in Cancun, Mexico to continue negotiations on international efforts to address climate change. My colleagues and I are in Mexico City this week for a series of discussions with key government officials, NGOs, businesses, and members of the media so we’ve been reflecting on Cancun. The Cancun climate negotiation session (COP16) must serve three critical functions to ensure the continued progress on international climate change efforts and to rebuild some of the trust lost during and after Copenhagen.

11 September 2010

REDD-plus & Biodiversity e-Newsletter

CBD, Volume 11 – September 2010 | The aim of this e-Newsletter is to inform CBD National Focal Points and CBD partners about biodiversity aspects in relation to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD-plus). To subscribe, please visit http://www.cbd.int/forest/redd/newsletters/.

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