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REDD in the news: 3-9 October 2011

REDD in the news: 3-9 October 2011

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.

Lessons for REDD+ from measures to control illegal logging in Indonesia

C. Luttrell, K Obidzinski, M Brokhaus, E Muharrom, E Petkova, A. Wardell and J. Halerpsin, CIFOR, 2011 | Indonesia has committed to reducing its emissions from land use, land use change and forestry – by 26% by 2020. One way the country plans to meet this target is by reducing its emissions from deforestation and forest degradation through the REDD+ mechanism. By implementing REDD+, Indonesia will become eligible to receive financial payments based on forest carbon credits. A substantial amount of Indonesia’s carbon emissions are caused by deforestation and forest degradation from land conversion activities, forest fires and illegal logging, with the latter having significant impacts as a driver of deforestation. Therefore, initiatives to curb illegal logging will have to form a central part of any emission reduction strategy.

Drawing lessons from Norway’s REDD+ interventions

By Lisa Westholm, Madelene Ostwald, Sabine Henders and Eskil Mattsson, focali.se, October 2011 | Since the COP meeting in Bali in 2007, Norway has stood out as the principal donor of REDD+ money. Learning from the Norwegian experiences can prove useful for other donors. This brief treats a number of interesting issues raised in the first evaluation reports of the Norwegian efforts. The brief can be downloaded here [http://bit.ly/r4Xjra]. The breif summarises the conclusions from Focali Report 2011:03 Learning from Norway – A review of lessons learned for REDD+ donors. The full report can be downloaded here [http://bit.ly/r5GFxN].

UN-REDD Programme – adressing deforestation

Geneva International cooperation, no date | The Secretariat of the UN-REDD Programme is based at International Environment House. This building, situated at Châtelaine, houses many international organizations and conventions which are active in the fields of the environment and development. Currently there are 8 people employed in the secretariat. Yemi Katerere has been Head of the Secretariat of the UN-REDD Programme since 2009. Originally from Zimbabwe and a globally recognised specialist in forests, Mr Katerere previously occupied the post of Managing Director of the Centre for International Forestry (CIFOR). In June this year, the 2011 ‘Vignes des Nations’ award of the Republic and State of Geneva was dedicated to the secretariat of the UN-REDD Programme, an event which coincided with the International Year of Forests 2011.

Safeguards and multiples benefits in a REDD+ mechanism

By D. Murphy, ASB and IISD, 2011 | This paper explores the relationship between safeguards and multiple benefits in REDD+ activities, focusing on the possible institutional and governance structures that could facilitate attaining multiple benefits and respecting safeguards. It highlights key issues for further negotiation and explores options for moving forward.

News Update: Indonesia’s President dedicates final years of his term to protect forests

CIFOR News Update, October 2011 | In this special CIFOR News Update, we bring you highlights from the Forests Indonesia Conference, which CIFOR hosted on 27 September in Jakarta. Opened by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who vowed to keep forests at the top of the agenda, the conference brought together about 1,000 representatives from leading business groups, NGOs, development agencies and government ministries to discuss the future of Indonesia’s forests.

Growth under pressure

By Lowell Bryan, John Horn, and Sven Smit, McKinsey & Company, October 2011 | It was a summer of downwardly revised forecasts, wildly gyrating stock markets, slipping consumer confidence, and the ongoing drama of the eurozone sovereign-debt crisis. The forecast for autumn does not reassure. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX) is following a pattern eerily reminiscent of 2008 immediately before Lehman failed and the financial crisis hit in earnest. The potential for a new financial earthquake in the next few months seems real… Now persistent stagnation in Europe and renewed weakness in the United States suggest that our scenarios need downward adjustment as we move ahead.

3 October 2011

EU carbon credits scheme tarnished by alleged murders in Honduras

By Arthur Neslen (EurActiv), The Guardian, 3 October 2011 | The reported killing of 23 Honduran farmers in a dispute with the owners of UN-accredited palm oil plantations has called into question the integrity of the EU’s emission trading scheme (ETS), as carbon credits from the plantations remain on sale. In Brussels, Green MEP Bas Eickhout called the alleged human rights abuses “a disgrace”, and told EurActiv he would be pushing the European Commission to bar carbon credits from the plantations from being traded under the ETS. Several members of the CDM board have been “personally distressed” by the events in Bajo Aguán, northern Honduras, according to the board’s chairman, Martin Hession, and have placed under review the CDM’s stakeholder consultation process.

PwC’s Panama Preview

By Jonathan Grant (PwC), BusinessGreen, 3 October 2011 | The Cancun Agreements did provide frameworks for financing (the Green Climate Fund), technology transfer, tackling deforestation (REDD+) and adaptation. They also noted the importance of the markets and proposed reforms to the Clean Development Mechanism. But they ducked the fundamental issues of the future of the Kyoto Protocol and long term commitments by developed and developing countries to cut emissions. Next week, governments meet in Panama for the final round of formal discussions before the climate summit in Durban; there seems to be little prospect that they will be able to resolve these issues this year.

Forest structure, services and biodiversity may be lost even as form remains

ScienceDaily, 3 October 2011 | A forest may look like a forest, have many of the same trees that used to live there, but still lose the ecological, economic or cultural values that once made it what it was, researchers suggest this week in articles in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences. One study outlines services and functions that are disappearing in mountain ash forests in Australia, and a commentary in the journal pointed out that many of the same issues are in play in forests of the Pacific Northwest, the grasslands of the Great Basin, and other areas. Beneath a veneer of forest health, dramatic reductions may be taking place in such functions as carbon sequestration, water yields, wildlife protection and biodiversity of species, said scientists from Oregon State University and the University of Washington.

2010 drought damaged Amazon as much as man-made deforestation

environmentalresearchweb, 3 October 2011 | Chris Potter from NASA Ames Research Centre and his colleagues from the California State University and Planetary Skin Institute, modelled the CO2 uptake of the Amazon after last year’s record-breaking drought. They based their simulations on satellite data which revealed widespread reductions in the greenness of Amazon forests caused by the drought. They found that net primary production in Amazon forest areas declined by an average of 7% in 2010 when compared with 2008. This represented a loss of CO2 uptake by vegetation and potential Amazon rainforest growth of nearly 0.5 Pg C in 2010. “This is roughly equivalent to the damage humans do to the Amazon every year,” Potter told environmentalresearchweb. “However, unlike human-caused deforestation, we are hoping this natural deforestation will be reversed quickly as regrowth rate can be dramatic. The Amazon suffered a drought in 2005 and had just recovered by 2008, so we know it can recover.”

A Revolutionary Technology is Unlocking Secrets of the Forest

By Rhett Butler, Yale Environment 360, 3 October 2011 | Conceived by Greg Asner, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, the new system — known as AToMS, or the Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System — has the potential to transform how tropical forest research is conducted. By combining several breakthrough technologies, Asner and his colleagues can capture detailed images of individual trees at a rate of 500,000 or more per minute, enabling them to create a high-resolution, three-dimensional map of the physical structure of the forest, as well as its chemical and optical properties. In Peru, the scientists hoped to not only determine what tree species lay below, but also to gauge how the ecosystem was responding to last year’s drought – the worst ever recorded in the Amazon – as well as help Peru develop a better mechanism for monitoring deforestation and degradation.

EU Carbon Market Proposal Colours UN Climate Talks

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, 3 October 2011 | The European Union, clamoring for a life raft to save the carbon market, recently introduced a formal proposal to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for a new market-based mechanism that would promote projects in developing countries. The proposal, if agreed, would provide a new basis for the carbon market in lieu of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), if countries are unable to clarify the future of the Protocol. The proposal came in the lead-up to this week’s UN climate change negotiations, which are currently underway in Panama City, Panama.

Pricing carbon: domestic policy and international responsibility

By Clancy Moore, The Drum Opinion (ABC), 4 October 2011 | As Australians gathered at barbecues, sporting grounds, or in front of television screens across the country for grand final weekend, halfway across the globe, the latest round of UN climate negotiations got underway without fanfare in Panama. Against the backdrop of these talks and the important UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa, later this year, Australia’s responsibility to pass the carbon price legislation is greater than ever. Pricing carbon will help us play catch-up on international efforts to deal with climate change.

Cambodia holds Second National Forum on Climate Change

UNDP Cambodia, 3 October 2011 | Cambodia opened the second conference on climate change on Monday, with officials from the government and UNDP stressing the need for coordinated efforts to tackle the impacts of climate change. In his opening remarks, UNDP Cambodia Resident Representative Douglas Broderick said such efforts should focus on building resilience of poor people in the Cambodian society who usually bear the brunt of impacts of the global warming. “With the vast majority of Cambodia’s poor living in rural areas and depending on agriculture, understanding and responding to the root causes of rural poverty and vulnerability are essential,” he said.

Indonesia: Reforming palm oil production (analysis)

By Josh Franken (Oxford Business Group), 3 October 2011 | After having boycotted the products of palm oil giant Sinar Mas over concerns about deforestation and habitat erosion, several corporations have resumed or nearly resumed purchases after the company initiated a number of reforms. In September, Swiss food conglomerate Nestlé announced its intention to resume buying palm oil from Golden Agri Resources (GAR), which operates loosely under the trade name Sinar Mas, after it had dropped the company from its supply chain in March 2010 due to a Greenpeace report that accused the company of destroying the rain forest, endangering orangutans and contributing to climate change. Sinar Mas has been working with environmental group The Forest Trust on the implementation of a Forest Conservation Policy.

[Indonesia] Palm oil and forests can grow together: WB

By Tifa Asrianti, Jakarta Post, 3 October 2011 | While Indonesia is on the right track with environmental preservation, economic growth can improve through clear incentives in forestry management, the World Bank says. Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s special envoy for climate change, said that Indonesia’s commitment was one of the most important for the emerging world but challenges remain. Obscure forest management that offered no incentives for conservation meant people saw it as more profitable to deforest, he said. “It requires a different regulatory environment with greater clarity, consistency and understanding to address the incentives,” he said.

[Nepal] Should there be a financial cost to Himalayan ecosystem?

By Rashme Sehgal, The Asian Age, 3 October 2011 | Should there be a financial cost to the services provided by mountain ecosystems? Experts gathered under the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) believe any “financial valuation” of the huge contributions made by mountain communities in areas of water, forestry, mining and generation of hydro and wind-power must benefit the 200 million mountain people living in the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region. An attempt to value global ecosystem services was estimated at $33 trillion per year, almost double of the world’s GDP, according to 1997 figures. Based on this calculation, an annual value of forest ecosystem services in Uttarakhand was calculated at $2.4 billion per year while the Green India Trust 2008 study placed the per hectare ecological value of soil nutrient conservation, flood-control and water recharge in dense forests of Himachal Pradesh at `5,85 per hectare and `6,255 in Uttarakhand.

4 October 2011

7 Reasons We Need to Keep Fighting for an International Climate Agreement

By Kelly Rigg (GCCA), Huffington Post, 4 October 2011 | Last June Yvo De Boer, former head of the UN climate convention and for years THE stalwart champion of the negotiating process, commented that “this process is dead in the water, it’s not going anywhere.”

How on Earth? Live from climate change negotiations in Panama

By Daniela Stoycheva and Gabriela Fischerova, Voices from Eurasia (UNDP), 4 October 2011 | It’s not all doom and gloom, however. (See: Edward Cameron’s A window of opportunity at Panama climate talks). There are some signs that technical work could progress in some areas such as a climate technology centre and network, and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Some voices coming from Venezuela and Bolivia suggested that the clean development mechanism (CDM) should not operate in the absence of a post-2012 commitment, despite strong views from the European Union (EU). The EU says that legally there are no legal constraints for the CDM and the EU emission trading system allows for the buying and trading of CDM emission credits.

EU puts oil sands on carbon hit list: source

Reuters, 4 October 2011 | The European Commission has approved including oil sands in the European Union’s fuel quality directive, which aims to help suppliers identify the most carbon-intensive fuels, an EU source told Reuters on Tuesday. Under the European Union’s fuel quality directive, which calculates greenhouse gas emissions from a range of transport fuels, other fuels were dealt with by the end of last year. A decision on whether to include oil sands was delayed after Canada, home to huge reserves of oil sands, said the EU’s standards to promote greener fuels would harm the market for its oil. The commission proposed oil sands should be ascribed a greenhouse gas value of 107 grams per megajoule of fuel, making it clear to buyers it had a greater impact than conventional crude oil, whose value is 87.5 grams.

Uprooting families to save trees

By Darryl Vhugen (Landesa), AlertNet, 4 October 2011 | Fortunately, international groups including the UN and the World Bank have created a tool called REDD+ – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – to help protect the world’s forests. This international program is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through (1) avoiding the release of carbon stored in trees when trees are cut down; (2) encouraging the storage of additional carbon by leaving trees standing; and (3) promoting reforestation. If the international community can agree on the details, at some point, REDD+ funds will flow to heavily forested countries that take steps to preserve and grow their forests. It sounds good except for one missing element: the rights of forest dwellers… For the past several months a team at Landesa has conducted a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded study of the property rights implications of REDD+.

Keeping carbon criminals out of the forests

By Davyth Stewart (Global Witness), Environmental Finance, 4 October 2011 | Of particular concern to Global Witness, however, is whether these new investments will achieve genuine forest protection, or simply make things worse. Previous efforts to finance forest protection have a history of being undermined by poor governance and conflicting interests. The international donor community spent tens of billions of US dollars over the last 20 years to reduce forest loss in developing countries and harness forests for economic growth. Despite these efforts, however, an area of forest the size of Greece is still being destroyed every year, mainly from the clearing of tropical forests for agriculture.

Forestry funding assessment system ‘ineffective’

By Mark Kinver, BBC News, 4 October 2011 | The system of how schemes to protect forest biodiversity and people in poor nations are assessed is ineffective, a study has concluded. Community Forest Management (CFM) schemes have attracted billions of pounds to protect forested areas. The study found that data on schemes’ carbon storage was “patchy”, while information on CFM programmes’ impacts on local communities was even worse. The findings will appear in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment journal. “In the past, the model has been to protect areas at a [national] level, which meant the government set up a protected area and managed it,” said co-author Andrew Pullin from Bangor University, Wales. But, he explained, this approach had led to a number of problems. “Local people were resenting the implementation of a protected area because, perhaps, it used to be theirs and then it belonged to the government,” he told BBC News.

Congo businessman blazes carbon-market trail for Africa

By Nene Mainzana, AlertNet, 4 October 2011 | A Congolese businessman has become the first private investor in Africa to win approval to sell carbon credits earned from restoring tropical rainforest on the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon market. Olivier Mushiete’s carbon-sink project, which is backed by the World Bank, involves planting fast-growing acacia and other trees on more than 4,200 hectares of degraded land on the Batéké Plateau, 150 km (90 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa in western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The new trees on the Ibi Batéké plantations capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it as they grow, helping combat climate change. “We believe that Ibi Batéké is a concrete example of the capacity of the private sector to help transform the national economy,” said Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, then country director for the World Bank in the DRC and neighbouring Republic of Congo, following the registration of the project in February.

More efforts needed to recover Ghana’s lost forest cover

By Phyllis D. Osabutey, ModernGhana.com, 4 October 2011 | There have been continuous concerns over Ghana’s dwindling forest cover, as there seems to be little or no efforts to replenish what is lost on a daily basis, and over the years. It is in view of this that one of the advocates for the protection of Ghana’s forestry cover, the Paramount Chief of the Essikado Traditional area, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, has repeated calls for conscious efforts to recover the country’s lost forests. According to him, Ghana’s forest cover has depleted at an alarming rate, whereas efforts by the Forestry Commission (FC) and the country in general, were not commensurate, saying, ‘I hope recovery efforts are not too late.’

Borneo rainforest conservation banking on Indonesian debt

By Jenny Marusiak, Eco-Business, 4 October 2011 | The United States government has written off a US$28.5 million debt by Indonesia in exchange for the preservation of some Borneo rainforest and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a project that will require careful oversight and cooperation among local communities, multiple NGOs and government agencies, said the international NGOs overseeing the programme. Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry, an official from the US embassy and non-government organisations WWF and The Nature Conservancy signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the debt-for-nature swap in Jakarta on Thursday. Part of the US government’s Tropical Forest Conservation Act, the debt-for-nature swap – a mechanism which allows developing nations to reduce debt by supporting projects that will conserve rainforest and reduce deforestation-induced climate change – is the second such aid agreement the US has made with Indonesia.

[Indonesia] Minister reiterates govt’s commitment to sustainable forestry development policies

Antara News, 4 October 2011 | Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan has reiterated the government`s commitment to applying forestry development policies which are sustainable and able to improve the welfare of people living around forests. “The Indonesian government is committed to implementing sustainable forestry development programs,” the minister said at The Second International Workshop on South-South Cooperation (SSC) in Kampar District here on Tuesday. Almost 67 percent of Indonesia`s land territory is covered by forest. Therefore, Indonesia must be able to play an active role in tackling the impacts of climate change by involving all stakeholders, especially people living around forests, he said. “We must understand that forests, especially in Indonesia, have historical and cultural ties with the local peoples, and this should be maintained,” he said.

World Bank predicts slower growth for Indonesia

Jakarta Post, 4 October 2011 | The World Bank predicts slower growth in Indonesia next year, saying the archipelago is not as immune to the US and European debt crises as it fancies itself to be. “The World Bank’s baseline projections for [Indonesia’s] growth this year is 6.4 percent and in 2012 6.3 percent,” World Bank economist Shubham Chadhuri said Tuesday in Jakarta. The bank had earlier predicted 6.7 percent growth for Indonesia next year. Nevertheless, Chadhuri said Indonesia had relatively strong economic fundamentals, making it less vulnerable to the shakes in the global economy. “Presently, it is more important for Indonesia to avoid policy uncertainties and to take measures to enhance its resilience against the jolts in the global financial market,” he added, as quoted by Antara. In a more pessimistic scenario, Chadhuri said Indonesia’s economy might even grow at lower rate, namely 5.5 percent.

Panama REDD: Getting what you pay for

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institutute press release, 4 October 2011 | A new report by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and Canada’s McGill University identifies gaps in forest monitoring and ways to improve data collection. This will produce reliable estimates of greenhouse gas emission reductions from activities aimed at reducing deforestation. Under a United Nations proposal to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, called REDD+, developing countries would be compensated according to their success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The importance of the REDD+ proposal is that it addresses the approximately 10-15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions created by deforestation.

[Vietnam] PM earmarks $30m for forestry sector

Viet Nam News, 4 October 2011 | Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved an additional US$30 million to develop the forestry sector. The funds, from the World Bank’s International Development Association, bring the total received to $99.8 million. A spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said more money was needed because of increasing demand for loans from those who manage and plant out forests.

5 October 2011

Falling EU carbon prices reflect political doubts

By Gerard Wynn, Reuters, 5 October 2011 | European carbon permits, shorn of fundamental drivers, have become a bet on recession and the psychology of players including distressed polluters and European Commission officials. Prices have gradually neared levels seen in the 2009 recession and are down nearly 30 percent year-to-date, under-performing almost all commodities… The EU does have tools to limit EUA supply, but one wonders if it has the courage to use them, given its concern not to be seen intervening in its flagship carbon market, and the risk of over-compensating and driving up industry costs.

CO2 prices at risk as big announcements loom

Point Carbon, 5 October 2011 | The next 24 hours will be closely watched by participants in the EU’s $100 billion emissions trading scheme (ETS), with analysts predicting that a pair of potentially bearish announcements, combined with an injection of new permits into the market, could push EU carbon prices down to fresh multi-year lows. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Australia] Top scientists applaud PM’s carbon plan

Eco-Business, 5 October 2011 | Twelve senior European and American economists and scientists have written to Prime Minister Julia Gillard to congratulate her on policy reforms they say will ”put Australia in the vanguard of the development of low-carbon technologies”. The letter, also sent to The Age, said the government’s proposal for a cap-and-trade scheme – an emissions trading scheme – would help ensure cuts in greenhouse gas emissions were made at the lowest possible cost to the community. The signatories are six Oxford University professors and three leading academics from each of the US and Europe. They include former British chief scientist Sir David King, ex-head of the Oxford economics department Sir David Hendry and Oxford’s director of energy research, Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith. The letter says that sound policy aims to minimise the long-term economic impacts of climate change and start to rapidly cut emissions.

Lao-German REDD project pioneers FPIC in Sayabouri Province, Laos

By Katharina Goetze (GIZ), CCMIN, 5 October 2011 | Over the coming months, the people of eight villages in Laos’ Sayabouri Province will become the first in the country to formally give consent on whether or not to participate in a development project carried out in their areas. Consultations with villagers living close to the Lao-Thai border around the Nam Phui National Protected Area are currently being started by a Lao-German project – implemented by the Department of Forestry, GIZ and KfW – seeking to combat deforestation in the country… The consultation process, also known as FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent), is the first of its kind in Laos… “No organisation in Laos has ever formally attempted to apply the FPIC approach before this”, says Richard Hackman, who is involved in implementing the human rights-based approach on behalf of the GIZ-Climate Protection through avoided Deforestation Project (CliPAD). “You could say the GIZ is a pioneering organisation.”

6 October 2011

UN expert calls for guidelines to protect vulnerable people against ‘land grabs’

By Mark Tran, The Guardian, 6 October 2011 | Governments should be wary of speculation and concentration of ownership when land rights are transferred to investors to “develop” farmland, a UN expert has warned before key UN negotiations on land governance. “We must escape the mental cage that sees large-scale investments as the only way to develop agriculture and to ensure stability of supply for buyers,” said the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, amid concern among civil society groups about “land grabs”.

Putting a Price on the Ecosystem With Carbon Credits

By Kyle Hemes, PolicyMic, 6 October 2011 | How much is a forest worth? A newly evolving policy mechanism, supported by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is beginning to put a price on one ecosystem service that we tend to forget about in large tracts of forest land — carbon uptake… While there is amazing potential to use REDD as a sustainable financing tool to solve some of our biggest development problems, this one-stop solution to so many issues also poses many questions and potential hiccups.

What will happen to soil carbon as the climate changes? A team of scientists seeks answers

By Dan Krotz, Physorg.com, 6 October 2011 | The ground beneath your feet could hide a sleeping giant. Globally, soils store three times as much carbon as there is in the atmosphere or in living plants. Scientists don’t know what will happen to this carbon in response to climate change. It could enter the atmosphere as CO2, a greenhouse gas, and further accelerate climate change. But how much — and when — remain a mystery. An international group of scientists has proposed a new approach to soil carbon research that seeks answers to these questions. Their roadmap is published in the October 6 issue of the journal Nature and is co-authored by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) soil scientist Margaret Torn.

More businesses adjusting to demand for sustainable products

By Daniel Cooney, CIFOR Forests Blog, 6 October 2011 | An increasing number of companies are changing in response to demand from consumers for products that have sustainable supply chains, said a leading representative of the world’s second largest palm oil producer. “Business has changed dramatically over the past several years,” said Peter Heng, Managing Director of Communications and Sustainability at Golden Agri-Resources, speaking at the Forests Indonesia Conference in Jakarta on September 27. “Customers are demanding more sustainable products. They want to be involved in the conversation about the sustainability of production.” Golden Agri-Resources recently adopted a new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), developed in collaboration with The Forest Trust, an international NGO based in Geneva.

[Cambodia] Rights groups say rubber producer must halt work over disputed land

DPA, 6 October 2011 | A coalition of international rights groups said Thursday that Luxembourg-based Socfinasia SA must cease work at its rubber concession in eastern Cambodia and properly compensate hundreds of impoverished ethnic minority families. The International Federation for Human Rights said 7,000 hectares of land concessions granted to Socfinasia and its local partner in 2008 flouted Cambodian law, left villagers impoverished and destroyed spiritual areas and burial sites. Thun Saray, who heads the Cambodian rights group ADHOC, said most of the ethnic minority Bunong families had been forced to sell their land ‘at a very low price.’ Like most of Cambodia’s ethnic minorities, the animist Bunong are subsistence farmers who rely on forest products to survive. ‘The loss of their lands and the destruction of ancestral sites leave these communities in an extremely vulnerable state,’ he said of the 850 families affected at Bousra in Mondolkiri province.

China set to exceed carbon emission forecasts, figures show

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 6 October 2011 | China is on course to exceed forecasts for greenhouse gas emissions because its economy is growing faster than expected and becoming “locked in” to carbon-intensive activities, two studies warn this week. The reports cast new light on the enormity of the challenge faced by the world’s biggest emitter, despite its impressive investments in renewable energy, clean technology and the efficiency of its power plants. Researchers from Climate Action Tracker praised China for a “major effort” to meet and possibly surpass its Cancún pledge to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 40-45% by 2020. But they said the gains were being outweighed by a faster-than-expected surge of the country’s economy. By 2020, they predicted the net outcome of this “China emissions paradox” would be one gigatonne (GT) more carbon dioxide per year than the researchers’ previous estimate of 12.5GT.

Ethiopia’s ‘bulldozer’ government arrests 100 tribal people over dam

Survival International, 6 October 2011 | Survival has received reports that around one hundred Ethiopian tribespeople have been arrested and jailed for opposing Ethiopia’s controversial Gibe III dam. Plans for the dam and irrigated land plantations nearby are gathering pace, along with rising repression and intimidation to any opposition. A policeman reportedly told one indigenous community that the government was, ‘like a bulldozer, and anyone opposing its development projects will be crushed like a person standing in front of a bulldozer.’ Ethiopia is leasing out large tracts of tribal lands in the South Omo region to foreign and state run companies for the growth of sugar cane, crops and biofuel plantations. These will be fed by water from the dam. But a climate of fear is growing in the region as opposition to these leases is being brutally suppressed by the country’s secret police and military.

[Indonesia] Biosphere reserves should improve local people`s livelihoods

Antara News, 6 October 2011 | Besides protecting the ecology and biodiversity, the existence of biosphere reserves in Indonesia should also improve the welfare of the communities living around them. International recognition of the existence of biosphere reserves in Indonesia is actually important for the country to manage forests sustainably but more than that they should improve the livelihoods of the people residing around them. Responding to the ongoing second International Workshop of South-South Cooperation/SSC-2 in Kampar district, Riau province from October 4 – 8, 2011, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said in Jakarta on Tuesday that international recognition was important but the more important thing was that the biosphere reserves should be able to improve the local people`s welfare.

[Indonesia] Chevron to double oil production at Minas field

Jakarta Post, 6 October 2011 | PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia said Thursday that it planned to double its oil production at the Minas field in Riau by applying an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology. The company’s vice president for policy, government and public affairs, Yanto Sianipar, told reporters that Chevron was currently installing necessary infrastructure to apply the technology. He estimated that the company could start the field trial next year. “We’ll inject surfactant to erode oil which sticks in reservoirs. We hope to double our production at the field from the current 70,000 barrels per day [bpd],” he said on the sidelines of a discussion session in Jakarta.

7 October 2011

UN Says Its CO2 Market May Draw Investors Without Binding Goals

By Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 7 October 2011 | The United Nations carbon market may attract investors in emission-reduction projects even if the Kyoto Protocol goals for developed nations were to expire in 2012 without being immediately renewed, a UN official said. “Even without binding targets there may be countries interested in the Clean Development Mechanism,” James Grabert, coordinator for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s sustainable development mechanisms, told a Platts seminar in Brussels today. A failure to agree on new Kyoto targets would dry up the UN’s market, Su Wei, the lead Chinese negotiator, said yesterday in an interview at UN-sponsored talks in Panama City. The Clean Development Mechanism, or CDM, generates credits for investment in emission-reduction projects in developing countries.

China, EU Carbon Impasse Threatens Climate Talks

By Jim Efstathiou Jr., Bloomberg, 7 October 2011 | China and the European Union are at odds over the future of the United Nations carbon market and the Kyoto Protocol, a rift that threatens agreement at next month’s ministerial climate-change conference in South Africa. The EU has “moved the goal posts” in negotiations to extend Kyoto, an emissions-control agreement that lapses at the end of 2012, Su Wei, the lead Chinese negotiator said yesterday in an interview at UN-sponsored talks in Panama City. The EU is seeking to broaden the accord to include commitments from developing nations such as China, India and Brazil.

Climate change negotiators see no major Durban deal

By Sean Mattson, Reuters, 7 October 2011 | The European Union is the only major emitter that has expressed willingness to continue committed to Kyoto, but EU negotiators say there is no point in signing a global agreement that would only cover around 15 percent of emissions. “To really fight global warming, we need 100 percent of emissions being covered,” Tomasz Chruszczow, a European Union negotiator, told a press conference Friday. The United States is still unlikely to sign any agreement and major emerging nations want assurance a UNFCCC agreement on green finance is in place before committing themselves to a binding agreement, negotiators said.

UN climate chief sees donors committed on aid

AFP, 7 October 2011 | Closing a week of talks in Panama City, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said negotiators made “good progress” ahead of a year-end conference in Durban, South Africa. Figueres told reporters that the Panama talks had a “rough start” in Panama on long-term climate financing, with poor nations pushing for more clarity, but cited the issue as an area of growing agreement. The conference “made clear progress on how efforts to limit emissions by developing countries will be matched with necessary support from developed countries in a transparent way,” she said. The developed countries said, ”Look, we’re in a financial crisis right now but we do recognize that this is our long-term commitment. We’re not shying away from the commitment,'” she said.

Financing Quarrels Mar UN Climate Talks in Panama

Environment News Service, 7 October 2011 | A week of formal United Nations climate negotiations in Panama ended Friday with progress on drafting decision texts that will allow governments to push ahead in Durban with concrete help for the developing world to deal with climate change, said UN officials. But delegates from developing countries and environmental groups expressed doubt that rich countries will provide the necessary financial support to help developing countries cope with climate change, despite their promises.

As climate talks stall, Earth’s ‘carbon sponges’ choke

By Benjamin Dodman, France24, 7 October 2011 | “Up in smoke”, a documentary by Briton Adam Wakeling, follows scientist Mike Hands in his attempts to find an alternative to slash-and-burn agriculture in equatorial rainforests; a form of subsistence farming that the British scientist blames for a “slowly enacted catastrophe”. Between 250 and 300 million people throughout the world live on slash-and-burn subsistence farming. Yet, it is estimated that they account for a staggering 18% of the world’s carbon emissions. Hands has concentrated his efforts on Honduras. “The logic here is that if you clear a patch of forest then the land is yours,” he told FRANCE 24. “But while you will get a good crop the first year, the soil will be largely barren by the next; so you need to clear more forestland. The cycle never ends.”

The Amazon Dieback Scenario

By Justin Gillis, New York Times, 7 October 2011 | In an article last weekend about rising stress in the world’s forests, I briefly mentioned that computer projections regarding the future of forests are still in a primitive state. Scientists cannot really say whether trees will continue to take up a big proportion of our carbon emissions through the rest of this century, or whether they will instead succumb to climate change on a large scale. You can find reports in the scientific literature to support both outcomes and every prospect in between. Which prediction is right has big implications for how fast carbon dioxide will build up in the atmosphere, and therefore for how fast the climate will warm. The stakes are also high for many beloved landscapes in the United States. “Is it true that the forests of the Eastern U.S. will continue to take up carbon?” said Paul R. Moorcroft, a Harvard professor who framed many of the issues for me.

South Africa: Africa Must Lead – Cop 17 Must Deliver Climate Justice to Developing Nations

By Glenn Ashton, allAfrica.com, 7 October 2011 | REDD is controversial for many reasons, but primarily because of a failure to agree on the definition of a forest. This may appear obvious, but is a forest is a virgin natural resource, or a man made plantation which is harvested and hence has economic value? Because of this sort of intentional ambiguity inherent in “solutions” like REDD, strong opposition has arisen amongst indigenous and environmental groups who are profoundly uneasy with these sorts of agreements. REDD and other economic carbon trading schemes are essentially devices which enable powerful, vested interests to exploit both the climate change negotiations and its proposed outcomes to ensure the continuation of business as usual… REDD, like carbon trading, does nothing whatsoever to address the real problem – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They are just REDD herrings.

Online tool helps users map the costs of conserving Amazon forests

By Karin Holzknecht, CIFOR Forests Blog, 7 October 2011 | Decision makers attempting to develop plans for managing land use and ecosystem services in the Amazon can now get a helping hand from Mapaz, an interactive online map. Mapaz helps decision makers and scientists to better target their research and development or conservation activities in the Amazon by pulling together spatial information on elements such as deforestation, biomass, species diversity, population, poverty and regional land use.

[Australia] Landmark conservation buy gives to indigenous owners

By Aaron White, EcoNews, 7 October 2011 | In a landmark, first-of-its kind, acquisition for conservationists a global conservation group has led the purchase of Fish River Station, a former cattle station in the Northern Territory, and is to hand it back to indigenous traditional owners. The land was acquired by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and its partners at a cost of $13 million, and marks the first involvement of conservation non-government organisations in purchases that are to be handed back to traditional owners… The Nature Conservancy said the ILC [Indigenous Land Corporation] will initially hold Fish River Station on behalf of local communities who owned the land before Western settlement. The ILC plans to then transfer the land back to an Indigenous organisation representative of traditional owners.

Kenyan Power Company Using Carbon Credits For Capacity Expansion

bernama.com, 7 October 2011 | The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) will plough back earnings from the sale of carbon emission credits towards capacity expansion and community projects, says its Managing Director, Edward Njoroge. Speaking during the 2nd National Energy Conference here Wednesday, he said the state-owned electricity generating company stood to earn approximately 1.9 billion Shillings (one USD = about 100 Shillings) annually from the conversion of some 2.0 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions reduction at a rate of 10 USD per tonne. Njoroge says 10 per cent of the carbon credit revenue would be channeled towards community projects around the plant area, involving water, health and educational facilities while the rest of the money would be ploughed back into KenGen’s expansion plans.

8 October 2011

New Google Imaging Tool Offers a Fresh Look at Earth

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 8 October 2011 | When Rebecca Moore was working with Amazonian tribes back in 2007 on ways to use Google Earth to map forest cover, the consensus was that the satellite imagery program was useful, but they wanted more. Last year, Google launched its Earth Engine, which complemented the standard, but static, satellite images with “trillions of scientific measurements dating back more than 25 years,” allowing scientists to “detect changes, map trends and quantify differences on the earth’s surface,” according to its developers. “There are fantastic images of the earth from space that have been taken over the past 25 years,” says Moore, a scientist at Google. “If those data could be put in the hands of people or scientists, they could see in great detail how earth has been changing, such as where forests are being planted and ice sheets are melting.”

9 October 2011

[Guyana] Where is Blackstone in the Hydro deal? – asks former CDB Project Manager

Kaieteur News, 9 October 2011 | Blackstone, the majority shareholder in Sithe Global, which has been tasked with developing the Amaila Falls Hydro Project, has so far been silent, and a former Project Manager of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) wonders what implications this could have for the financial closure… Less than six months after Synergy Holdings under Fip Motilall realised it could no longer develop the Amaila Falls Hydro Project and agreed to have the licence granted to Sithe Global (October, 2009), Government awarded him a US$15.4 million contract to build roads and bridges leading to the project site.

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