REDD in the news: 5-11 December 2011

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REDD in the news: 5-11 December 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.

Forest Peoples Programme E-Newsletter December 2011

FPP, E-Newsletter December 2011 | The reason an international organisation like Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) exists is because national governments, their policies, laws and projects, don’t respect and protect the rights of forest peoples. Governments are allowing other interests, national and international, to take over forest peoples’ lands and impose schemes on them without the people having a say. FPP thus stands alongside indigenous peoples and other forest dwellers who make recourse to international fora to try to press for changes in the way their governments, and the industries they favour, deal with them. But getting governments to reform is not easy.

In the REDD: Australia’s carbon offset project in central Kalimantan

Friends of the Earth International, December 2011: This report was researched by campaigners in Friends of the Earth Australia who visited Indonesia to examine the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership, the world’s first large scale REDD pilot project that was set up between Australia and Indonesia.

Community Forest Monitoring and REDD+

By Sarah Fordham, Mandar Trvedi, Charlie Parker and Ben Palmer Fry, Global Canopy Programme, December 2011 | REDD+ presents a unique opportunity to conserve and sustainably use the world‟s remaining tropical forests, and an essential component of a future REDD+ framework will be the development of transparent, accountable, and sustainable monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems (Palmer Fry, 2011). National governments, with support from various bilateral and multilateral organisations, are now engaged in developing national and subnational MRV systems, and they have adopted a variety of approaches to achieve this end. Communities can play a key role within these national and international systems for REDD+. Several groups of researchers have been exploring the role of local communities in monitoring REDD+(Skutsch et al., 2009; Danielsen et al., 2011; Palmer Fry, 2011).

Proximate causes of deforestation in the Bolivian lowlandsan analysis of spatial dynamics

By Robert Müller, Daniel Müller, Florian Schierhorn, Gerhard Gerold and Pablo Pacheco, CIFOR, October 2011 | Forests in lowland Bolivia suffer from severe deforestation caused by different types of agents and land use activities. We identify three major proximate causes of deforestation. The largest share of deforestation is attributable to the expansion of mechanized agriculture, followed by cattle ranching and small-scale agriculture. We utilize a spatially explicit multinomial logit model to analyze the determinants of each of these proximate causes of deforestation between 1992 and 2004. We substantiate the quantitative insights with a qualitative analysis of historical processes that have shaped land use patterns in the Bolivian lowlands to date. Our results suggest that the expansion of mechanized agriculture occurs mainly in response to good access to export markets, fertile soil, and intermediate rainfall conditions.

5 December 2011

Forest Day 5 experts: New wave of deforestation threatens Africa’s climate resilience

By Daniel Cooney, CIFOR Forests Blog, 5 December 2011 | A new wave of deforestation is sweeping across Africa decimating wildlife and threatening the resilience of its ecosystems to withstand the effects of climate change—especially in the area of food security, experts said at Forest Day 5. “Deforestation rates in Africa… are accelerating,” said Helen Gichohi, President of the African Wildlife Foundation during a keynote speech at Forest Day 5 in Durban on the sidelines of COP17. “The disappearing forests, the overgrazed rangelands, and conversion to crop agriculture of grasslands and wetlands that had served as a refuge to drought have all diminished the resilience of ecosystems.” She called for REDD+ funding to move more quickly to save the continent’s forest. REDD+ stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Countries draft a “global business plan” for planet at climate summit, Figueres says

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 5 December 2011 | The chief of the U.N. agency on climate change described the annual global warming summit as a giant effort to write “a global business plan for the planet”. “That is a mammoth undertaking,” Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary at the UNFCCC, said yesterday at the closing plenary of Forest Day 5, held alongside the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban, South Africa. The task at hand is to “bring down mitigation (costs) quickly, increase adaptation and resilience quickly and accept that the existence of poverty around the world is completely unacceptable in this day and age,” she said.

China emerges as rock star at Durban climate summit

By Geoffrey York, The Globe and Mail, 5 December 2011 | With a new confidence and swagger, China has emerged as the rock star of the Durban climate summit. Its every word is dominating headlines and provoking excited analysis from climate negotiators. Photographers and television journalists swarmed around the chief Chinese negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, as he entered a news conference on Monday to announce his list of conditions for considering a legally binding treaty on carbon emissions after 2020. His announcement was far from a breakthrough – and it only reinforces the mounting evidence that the world will slide into a legal vacuum on climate rules over the next decade – but it was one of the few glimmers of hope at the stalled negotiations.

Fast-Track Redd to Stem Forest Degradation, Conservationist Says

allAfrica.com, 5 December 2011 | According to the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Helen Gichohi, president of the African Wildlife Foundation, said in a keynote speech at Forest Day 5 in Durban that the degradation of Africa’s forests is decimating its wildlife. Gichohi called for the pace of funding of the initiative for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) to be quickened, in order to address climate change and the threat it poses to both people and ecosystems, and save the continent’s forest.

Solving Africa’s Firewood Deforestation Problem – Bamboo?

By John Daly, Oil Price, 5 December 2011 | A surging population in Africa seeking to provide energy for cooking needs has led to massive environmental damage, including soil degradation. So, how to slow this massive assault on Africa’s trees? The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) thinks that it has a partial – solution – substitute bamboo for forest wood in producing charcoal… The bamboo charcoal fuel initiative dovetails closely into several other programs designed to reorient Africa’s fuel needs. The United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) is taking an active role in providing clean cook stoves to African rural populations.

Climate change, the Big corrupt business?

By Khadija Sharife, The Africa Report, 5 December 2011 | Tom Goldtooth, head of the Indigenous Environmental Network talks to The Africa Report about the manipulation of carbon trading data and the double standards assumed by richer countries. Goldtooth expresses his misgivings about agriculture being included as part of the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD). Arguing that “REDD is going to be the largest legal land grab the world has ever seen”, the indigenous North American warns of colonialism and forced privatisation. And according to him “those with the most money and power can – by remote control, lock up the largest land areas in developing countries”. “They are happiest to work with the most corrupt because it is easiest that way,” he says.

Participatory forest management and REDD plus in Tanzania

Forest Carbon Portal, 5 December 2011 | Tanzania’s land, local government and forest laws mean that rural communities have well defined rights to own, manage and benefit from forest and woodland resources within their local areas through the establishment of village forests. This approach, known by practitioners as Community Based Forest Management (CBFM) results in the legal establishment of village land forest reserves, community forest reserves or private forests. By 2008, 1,460 villages on mainland Tanzania1 were involved in establishing or managing village forests covering a total of over 2.345 million hectares. A further 863 villages are currently involved in Joint Forest Management (JFM) approaches within government forest reserves, in which management responsibilities are shared between government and local communities. 1.78 million hectares of forest reserve under central or local government jurisdiction are now under JFM arrangements.

Spotlight Durban: A REDD and green paradox

By Edward B. Barbier (University of Wyoming), Real Climate Economics, 5 December 2011 | In addition, REDD+ is likely to rely on two sources of funding: through carbon market offsets, where polluters in rich countries purchase carbon credits from local communities and developing nations that maintain their forests, or through bilateral deals, such as the Norwegian government’s International Forests and Climate Initiative. The talks at Durban have not changed this funding dynamic for REDD+, nor will any subsequent climate change negotiations in the near future.

New and emerging issues on REDD+ at COP 17

By Rita Effah, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Blog, 5 December 2011 | At the CIFOR (Center for international Forestry Research) Forest day 5 ysterday, Tony La Vinã who facilitates the REDD+(Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) negotiations in the LCA (Long-term Cooperative Action) track gave updates on the state of the negotiations. He pointed out that there is developing a new breed of negotiators who believe in full transparency and participation of stakeholders in negotiations this is reflected in the SBSTA(Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) text agreed on December 4 2011. On negotiations at the COP concerning REDD+ are the 3 pillars of REDD+, which are: MRV (Monitoring Reporting and Verification) systems, National reference levels and emission levels and a good technical bases for assessing national performances; Robust systems of safeguards and informing each other on how we are implementing these; Finance for REDD+.

How wars and poverty have saved DR Congo’s forests

By Andrew Harding, BBC News, 5 December 2011 | It is an uncomfortable fact that decades of conflict and poverty in the Democratic Republic of Congo have helped to protect the world’s second largest rainforest, and by extension to slow the process of global climate change. “Yes,” says Thierry Bodson, who runs the World Wildlife Fund’s programmes in the east of the country from the town of Goma. “In some places the presence of rebels has protected some areas. A lack of development has somehow protected the Congo basin.” … But there is a growing consensus that the Congo basin is now under imminent threat. As the region’s conflicts appear to be ebbing, farming, mining and logging intensify, and China and other countries stand poised to build substantial roads through the jungle.

Global Green Carbon Announces First REDD+ Project in Cameroon

Global Green Carbon press release, 5 December 2011 | Global Green Carbon Corporation (“Global Green Carbon”, “GGC” or the “Company”) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Tropical Research (CTR) consortium announced today that it has received formal Letters of Approval from the Cameroon government to advance feasibility assessments for the first REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) project in Cameroon, located in and around the Dja Biosphere Reserve (DBR)… “On behalf of the Government, I use this opportunity in appreciation of the interest of your organization (GGC) in the development of activities related to REDD in Cameroon,” stated Pierre Hele, Minister of Environment and Nature Protection.

Africa Is Losing Its Deforestation Battle and Action Needed, Say Experts (AfDB)

African Development Bank press release, 5 December 2011 | “Poverty is also a cause of deforestation,” said Raymond Mbitikon of the Central African Forests Commission. “REDD+ must be a global process that takes in the needs of everyone. Otherwise it will be difficult to make progress. There should be controlled use of forests.” He continued: “For instance, poor people use forests for firewood, they use forests for building material, to clear forests for food. There are also issues of mining and charcoal-burning.” He added that controls were needed, and that “we must therefore find alternative resources that are accessible to people. Some countries have programmes, but until now we have not found a sustainable solution.”

Climate Change: Buying and selling pollution, who gains?

By Khadija Sharife, The Africa Report, 5 December 2011 | In late 2010, the carbon offset scheme – REDD: the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, was caught red-handed in Liberia. The multi-billion deal was proposed as a carbon offset initiative between UK-based Carbon Harvesting Corporation (CHC) and Liberia’s Forest Development Authority (FDA). The initiative was approved by the UNFCCC in Bonn and set to receive revenues – £2.4 billion from the UN’s CDM carbon credit scheme. According to the Committee’s report investigating the fraud, corruption, misinformation and illicit nature of the deal: “several persons were involved in the scheme of bribery and corruption regarding the CHC contract, but most of them carefully concealed their activities that direct evidence is hard to obtain against them.”

What Will Save Our Forests?

By Jeff Conant, Climate Connections, 5 December 2011 | In this article I wrote for Earth Island Journal earlier this year detailing the fatal flaws of the climate mitigation scheme known as REDD (for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), I quoted World Bank President Robert Zoellick as calling REDD, “the best chance, perhaps the last chance, to save the world’s forests.” Well, I hope I did a fair job of gracefully skewering the Bank president’s arrogant and unfounded assessment of what I perceive as the deranged, colonialist, land-grabbing nightmare scenario that REDD represents. Even if I did succeed in my humble aspiration, an important question remained unanswered: If top-down, financially-incentivized, multilateral-driven climate mitigation programs don’t work, then what does?

Updated: Durban deforestation agreement promotes transparency, scientific verification

By Jeff Tollefson, Nature News Blog, 5 December 2011 | Climate negotiators in South Africa struck a preliminary deal on forestry over the weekend, advancing a technical document that lays out what could be the first real ‘rules of the road’ for initiatives that seek to reduce greenhouse gases by curbing deforestation in tropical countries.

Measuring the success of RI’s involvement in Durban

By Fitrian Ardiansyah, Jakarta Post, 5 December 2011 | Tackling deforestation involves different actors, sectors, as well as layers of governments. These entities are known to have competing interests over land use. Without the provision of clear incentives, it is a Herculean task to persuade them to change the patterns of land use in Indonesia. A special window of funding for REDD+ at a global level would certainly provide more than a moral boost for tropical forest nations to advance their REDD+ development at a national level and on the ground.

Sarawak Gone – 30 minute version

Sarawak Gone, 5 December 2011 | Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo and is home to more than 40 unique sub-ethnic groups, or Dayaks. These include the Penan, Iban, Bidayuh, Kenyah and Kelabit. These are the last forest communities of Sarawak and the Bidayuh of Bengoh, are one of the many communities facing eviction, making way for the controversial Bengoh Dam. Sarawak Gone explores the communities affected, the controversial environment impact assessment drawn up prior to the construction of the dam, how such developments have affected other indigenous communities and their right to customary land.

Durban: Stocktaking of CDM & carbon markets

By Payal Parekh, Climate and Energy Expert, 5 December 2011 | The first week of the negotiations in Durban at the UN Climate talks are over, so it is a good time to take stock of new developments in the negotiations as they relate to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and new market mechanisms. It’s been a busy week, since issues related to the CDM are discussed under the Kyoto Protocol negotiating track, as well as two technical wings, Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). New market mechanisms are discussed under the Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) track.

Durban, 12/4: Forest Day 5 and REDD+ updates

Rainforest Partnership, 5 December 2011 | Tony La Vina, Chair of the REDD Working Group gave an update on the progress of the REDD + negotiations. Another draft text has been produced that includes decisions on REDD+ safeguards and monitoring and reporting but has left REDD+ financing to be decided on in 2012. Note: According to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the requirements for safeguards are “watered down” and would leave indigenous groups vulnerable. More information about the current REDD+ text can be found on CIFOR’s blog. La Vina mentioned that the point of the text was to move from politics to implementation of REDD+ so that experience is gained in the field so that safeguard details can be determined based on experience from implementation.

Amazon forest loss at lowest in 23 years: Brazil

Reuters, 5 December 2011 | Overall improvement in 2010/11 masked worrying rises in some Amazon states such as Rondonia, where deforestation doubled from the previous year. Forest clearing in the farming state of Mato Grosso rose 20 percent. “Some states are still extremely sensitive,” Environment Minister Isabel Teixeira told reporters. “Rondonia needs to be clarified, we need to understand what has caused the change in its profile.” Two large hydroelectric dams are being built in Rondonia, boosting the local economy and attracting migrant workers.

December 5 News: Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded

By Joe Romm, Climate Progress, 5 December 2011 | Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery. Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.

Global Warming Fight Threatened by Debt Crisis

By Kim Chipman and Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 5 December 2011 | Global warming concerns are being pushed down the political agenda by the European debt crisis and U.S. economic slump, reducing the chance for an accord limiting climate change this week. “The threat of worsening economic conditions is the ghostly figure at the window for everybody,” Edward Cameron of Washington-based World Resources Institute said in an interview as delegates gathered for United Nations climate talks in Durban, South Africa.

Timber plantations are not forests

By Michelle Simon, Earth Times, 5 December 2011 | Environmentalists have always clearly defined commercial plantations and forests. The latter being natural and the former destroying indigenous biodiversity and natural resources with the aim to maximise profits. The social consequences of timber plantations have also displaced communities… “The commitments made by the previous government in 2011 were not made lightly, they were assumed by the State and approved in a global meeting of the World Bank’s FCPF (Forest Carbon Partnership Facility). We hope that the present government and international entities like the World Bank will deliver on their promises to respect land and territorial rights. Continual monitoring will be necessary to make sure they keep their word,” says Robert Espinoza Llanos (co-ordinator of AIDESEP’s Climate Change Programme).

6 December 2011

Adaptation-based mitigation: The No-Regrets Option

By Rachel Kyte, CIFOR Forests Blog, 6 December 2011 | After Agriculture Day, comes Forest Day for about 1,200 scientists, donors, NGOs, policymakers, journalists and climate negotiators gathered in Durban, with its own well-oiled choreography of plenary sessions and discussion forums. My assigned role during these two days is to act as a go-between and help break down the silo mentality that can affect expert communities working on narrow themes. Many people already seem to be reading from the same music sheet – there is growing recognition that the fate of forests and agriculture are intricately linked. Agriculture (large and small) is one of the main drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in many parts of the world. And growing needs for food, energy and income will continue to exert tremendous pressure on the forest “frontier” in the future.

“Forests cannot be sustained if people are hungry”: future climate change negotiations likely to include agriculture

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 6 December 2011 | Agriculture will most likely be included in future negotiations on global warming, experts said at the U.N. climate change talks in Durban, which may help address one of the top drivers of deforestation amid a spike in demand for farmland. South Africa’s Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson “will be delivering a letter to COP17 negotiators”, said Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank at Forest Day 5, a side-event to the UN climate summit in its final week in Durban. She requested that negotiators approve “at a minimum, a decision to set up a work program on agriculture under SBSTA, without which, there should not be a deal”. SBSTA is the scientific sub-committee of the UNFCCC.

Summary of Forest Day 5, 4 December 2011, Durban, South Africa

IISD, 6 December 2011 | The fifth Forest Day took place in Durban, South Africa, in parallel with the UN Durban Climate Change Conference, which convened from 28 November -9 December 2011. 1064 participants from 87 countries, including country delegations, scientists, researchers, activists and representatives from non-governmental and indigenous people’s organizations and the private sector, gathered for the one-day event. Co-hosted by the Government of South Africa, the Centre for International Forest Research (CIFOR), and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), Forest Day 5 was convened under the theme “From Policy to Practice,” with a special focus on the role of African forests in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Forest programme to benefit millions

By Kemantha Govender, SouthAfrica.info, 6 December 2011 | A 10-year, $233-million plan to help a billion people around the world whose livelihoods depend on trees and forests, was announced on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) in Durban on Sunday. The ambitious global research programme aims to protect forest carbon stocks and reduce risks for millions of farmers and forest communities worldwide. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) said their research programme would focus on forests, trees and agroforestry, and have an initial three-year budget of US$233-million. While $90-million of that has already been secured through the CGIAR Fund, the balance would be raised through additional resource mobilisation efforts.

Debt and doubt loom large over Durban climate talks

Reuters, 6 December 2011 | Economic crisis and the top three polluters China, the United States and India, loomed as obstacles to a new global deal at the start of a second make-or-break week of U.N. climate talks in the South African city of Durban. After a first week of preliminary discussion, serious doubt hangs over the future of the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period on tackling climate change expires at the end of next year. The other major issue for debate is how to drum up finance to help poorer nations adapt to a warmer planet, while the developed world wrestles with sovereign debt problems.

Ghana Measures Forests from Sky and Land

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 6 December 2011 | The Forestry Commission is charged with preserving forests and ensuring it is done in a way that doesn’t hurt the country’s legions of cocoa farmers – most of whom operate just above the subsistence level. It is this dual mandate to serve both the environment and the farmer that led the Commission to embrace forest carbon – but they first had to decide which type of forest carbon they wanted to pursue. Most members of the commission favored a REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) strategy, which would let farmers earn carbon credits by saving endangered forests. A growing minority, however, favored an A/R (Afforestation/Reforestation) strategy, which would let them earn carbon credits by planting trees on land that hadn’t been forest for a long time – if ever.

REDD+ and Social Safeguards

IUFRO, 6 December 2011 | The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP/UN-REDD) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) co-organized a Discussion Forum on REDD+ Social Safeguards during Forest 5 during UNFCCC COP17, 4 December 2011 in Durban, South Africa. High-level panellists from diverse geographical and institutional backgrounds discussed the protection of the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities in REDD+. The focus was placed on issues such as the capacity building needs for implementing REDD+ safeguards, the importance of land tenure security, or the challenges to effectively design and implement REDD+ safeguards while ensuring the continued traditional use of forest resources.

“We’re Not Very Excited About Kyoto,” the US Says

By Jeff Conant, Earth Island Journal, 6 December 2011 | The big question here in Durban during the UN climate negotiations (COP17) is: Will the Kyoto Protocol live or die? The halls are filled with young people waving posters that declare “Save Kyoto,” delegates wearing t-shirts saying “I heart Kyoto,” and rallies by Greenpeace, Tcktcktck, the Sierra Club, and other NGO groups defending “the KP,” as it’s called in the lingo. But let’s step back for a moment and look at this love for Kyoto. The United States never ratified the agreement, and its position at the COP, today as ever, is summed up by a statement from US Envoy Jonathan Pershing a few days ago: “There is nothing for us to do here.”

Jump-starting REDD finance: $3 billion Forest Finance Facility needed to halve deforestation within a decade

By Donald P. Kanak (Chairman of Prudential Corporation Asia) and Andrew W. Mitchell (Global Canopy Programme), mongabay.com, 6 December 2011 | How to finance a means to reduce deforestation, which contributes emissions equivalent to the entire transport sector combined, has had some encouragement at the UN Climate meeting in Durban this week. An à la carte approach, where no source is ruled out, is emerging, leaving the door open to private sector finance for the first time. And with progress imminent in two other crucial areas of safeguards and reference levels, REDD+, a novel mechanism to halt deforestation, is once more likely to be the biggest winner… REDD+, on the other hand, offers a chance to tap into the estimated US$2-4 trillion per year at which these forests’ ecosystem services are valued.

Secretary General Ban Urges Leaders to Make Real Progress at UN Climate Change Talks

UN.org, 6 December 2011 | Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged countries not to lose momentum and show determined leadership to advance negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, as States enter their first day of high-level talks… He also stated that he would devote his attention to the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD Plus), as reducing deforestation is key to addressing both climate challenges and development needs.

UN-REDD Participates in Substantive Forest Day 5 Discussion Forum on REDD+ Safeguards in Durban

The UN-REDD Programme blog, 6 December 2011 | The event entitled, “Social safeguards: Protecting the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities in REDD+” was held during Forest Day 5 (FD5), on 4 December 2011 to coincide with the UNFCCC’s COP17 in Durban, South Africa. The Discussion Forum looked at past experiences regarding the participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in forest management as well as ongoing developments and different approaches to REDD+ safeguards with a focus on lessons learned and the challenges ahead. The International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP/UN-REDD) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) co-organized the forum.

REDD+ Durban: Countries agree on key issues

By Gus Silva-Chavez, EDF, 6 December 2011 | Going into the final days of the UN climate conference, countries have agreed on key issues on policies to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). The draft decision on how to evaluate and ensure environmental and social responsibility in curbing deforestation is expected to be approved in the final hours of the conference later this week. The results of the draft decision written by a technical working group are mixed. (I’ve assigned them letter grades below). 1) Reference Levels (Grade: A-) … 2) Safeguards (Grade: B-) … 3) Monitoring, Reporting and Verification/ MRV (Grade: incomplete) … Financing for REDD+ In the coming days, countries will be focusing on how to finance REDD+ activities.

Brazil passes controversial Forest Code reform environmentalists say will be ‘a disaster’ for the Amazon

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 6 December 2011 | The Brazilian Senate tonight passed controversial legislation that will reform the country’s 46-year-old Forest Code, which limits how much forest can be cleared on private lands. Environmentalists are calling the move “a disaster” that will reverse Brazil’s recent progress in slowing deforestation in the world’s largest rainforests. The revised Forest Code – which passed the Senate 58-8 — reduces the amount of forest cover landowners are required to maintain and grants amnesty for farmers and ranchers who illegally cleared forest prior to July 2008. Those landowners – provided their properties are less than 400 hectares (988 acres) – won’t be required to replant forest to bring their land up to the legal requirement. Larger properties will have 20 years to come into compliance or can offset deforestation by renting or buying a nearby parcel of forest.

Durban 2011: Urgent warning on tropical deforestation

By Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 6 December 2011 | Halting tropical deforestation gained a new level of urgency at the Durban climate change summit on Sunday: the practice contributes roughly twice as much to global warming as recent estimates suggest… The new figures suggest stopping deforestation could cut global carbon emissions by as much as three billion tonnes a year – the equivalent of more than one-third of fossil fuel emissions. They come from the first global assessment of carbon flows between ecosystems and the atmosphere, using millions of ground measurements as well as remote sensing, since 1994. The statistics were buried in data published earlier this year in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1201609) by the Global Carbon Project, a network of experts on the carbon cycle. They were highlighted here in Durban by ecologist Bob Scholes of South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Private sector sees hope in REDD+ from Australia, California market schemes

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 6 December 2011 | The private sector is seeing “pockets of optimism” that may catalyze them to invest in REDD+ pilot projects after Australia and California passed legislation that could see a monetary value put on carbon, said an investment banker. These policy signals are important in the absence of one from UNFCCC that forest carbon will be recognized in the compliance framework, Brer Adams Associate Director at Macquarie Global Investments, told participants at Forest Day 5 held recently along the UN climate summit in Durban. “Everybody is waiting for those policy signals to emerge.” Lack of recognition from the UNFCCC prevents REDD+ developers from benefiting from selling carbon credits in the European Union’s emission trading scheme (ETS), which accounts for 97 percent of the worldwide market, estimated at US$142 billion last year.

Indigenous Peoples and Allies Call for a Moratorium on REDD+

Climate Connections, 6 December 2011 | Indigenous Peoples participating in the UNFCCC negotiations have called for a moratorium on REDD+ today. In a statement released to the press, the Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD and for Life declares: “REDD+ threatens the survival of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities and could result in the biggest land grab of all time. Based on in-depth investigations, a growing number of recent reports provide evidence that Indigenous Peoples are being subjected to violations of their rights as a result of the implementation of REDD+-type programs and policies.”

Private sector VER Carbon Credits remains a strong investment option despite Durban climate talks

Advanced Global Trading (AGT) press release, 6 December 2011 | As world leaders continue talks in Durban on renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, which has been in place since 1997 to limit greenhouse gases emissions, Dubai-based Carbon Credit brokerage, Advanced Global Trading (AGT) reassures investors that private sector VER (Voluntary Emissions Reduction) Credits remains a strong investment option. AGT is the world’s largest wholesaler of VERs, focusing on two main elements of emissions training – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and over the counter trading (OTC) for private investors… AGT’s Director, Charles Stephenson, explained that investors trading in VERs have remain unaffected by the climate talks: “Our investors are savvy enough to know the difference between private sector VERs and the public sector element being discussed in Durban…”

[Guyana] Ramotar adds few new faces, ministry to Cabinet

Stabroek News, 6 December 2011 | President Donald Ramotar yesterday swore in 20 ministers of government, which saw five newcomers and a new Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, while portfolios were exchanged among several holdovers from the previous administration. The first Cabinet meeting took place yesterday afternoon as the President said he wanted to have the work of the new government get up to speed quickly. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Why south Durban stinks of rotten cabbage, eggs and cat wee

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 6 December 2011 | With two crude oil refineries, South Africa’s two biggest paper mills, its biggest container port, a dozen chemical companies, several major landfill sites and a huge number of factories together producing 80% of South Africa’s oil products and much of its industrial emissions, south Durban locals have learned to identify the coughs, nausea, drowsiness, vomiting and headaches they suffer by their sources… “This is the Durban that the [climate talks] delegates will not see. It is the centre of toxic Africa”, says Desmond D’Sa, who runs the South Durban Community Environment Alliance which acts as an unpaid community watchdog of the industry… “Pollution just follows the poorest. We live on the fence line of the industries but the bosses live 60km away and their companies do not tell us about the impacts on our health of what they do. The corporates have captured the political elite.”

Without Law Enforcement, Forests Lose Out: Why Corruption and Impunity threaten REDD+ Goals

By Andrea Johnson (EIA), outreach, 6 December 2011 | Law enforcement and anti-corruption activities are essential to successful and equitable efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. REDD+ depends on the idea that governments, whether national or subnational, can create legal frameworks and plans to reduce deforestation and degradation, and put those laws and plans into practice. In countries where basic law enforcement remains an issue, we run the risk of creating reference levels in which illegality is assumed. This could lead to the perversity of defining additionality as merely an application of the existing legal framework.

7 December 2011

Europe tells U.S., China to stop “Ping-Pong” game with climate

By Mike De Souza, Postmedia News, 7 December 2011 | A European delegation of politicians accused the American and Chinese governments Wednesday of “hijacking” global climate talks with a “Ping-Pong game”. European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard urged the other countries gathered at the United Nations climate-change summit to keep the Kyoto Protocol alive on a path toward a larger and more comprehensive binding agreement to slash heat-trapping greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

The Mystery of McKinsey’s Black Box

By John Bowler, Greenpeace International, 7 December 2011 | Sometimes serendipity just waltzes right up to you. And that is what has just happened. Earlier this year a Greenpeace investigation revealed the shortcomings of the management consultancy McKinsey & Company’s work on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation or REDD schemes… Our report demonstrated how McKinsey’s policy advice, if followed, would not only lead to more rather than less deforestation but would actually reward those companies that are the main drivers of deforestation while at the same time punishing small-scale subsistence farmers. So when planning what we would do in Durban and the briefings and reports that we would need to produce we decided to summarise our report in the form of a one page comic. At the time we had no idea how, when or where we would distribute it, but then, out of the blue, we find out that McKinsey are in Durban.

Brazil’s State REDD Moving Forward – but the Forest Law might be changing

By Hannah Kett, Forest Carbon Portal, 7 December 2011 | On Tuesday, with a vote of 59 to 8, the Brazilian Senate passed a reform of the famed forestry law. The congress passed this reform in June with a 410 to 63 vote; now it is up the president what will happen next. At a press conference in Durban, Marina Silva, the former Environment Minister of Brazil, asked that the president veto the law. “The law that was passed yesterday in the Senate reduces the protection of forests,” she said. The president, she said, pledged that she would veto any law that increased deforestation or gave amnesty to those who deforested. The change in the law would most likely make it impossible for Brazil, the world’s 6th largest emitter, to meet its goals and international emission reduction commitments.

Carbon Markets, Trading our Future

Carbon Markets Critique for COP17, 7 December 2011 | New film and report show failures of carbon markets and foresee their collapse. As COP17 draws to a close the only game in town are the market-based mechanisms that are false solutions to climate change. The same institutions, corporations and governments who have led the world into economic chaos are leading us toward climate chaos. However, the cracks in the façade are starting to show. Carbon trading and offsetting, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) have failed to cut carbon emission, which reached record high levels in 2010, whilst further impoverishing the worlds poorest people, facilitating the largest land grab in history, destroying biodiversity and trampling the rights of indigenous communities. In a new video released today, critics of the markets and even the architects and gatekeepers of climate finance admit to its failure.

The Most Outrageous REDD Fairy Tale

Global Forest Coalition press release, 7 December 2011 | Global Forest Coalition has published a series of “Grimm REDD Fairy Tales” to assist delegates in distinguishing truth from fiction regarding the controversial program of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation and enhancing forest carbon stocks (REDD+). Challenging the ability of REDD+ and other market mechanisms to address the underlying causes of the climate crisis, Global Forest Coalition charges that REDD+ could well be a collection of modern fairy tales – fabricated stories intended to lure the unwitting into a complex web of deception. At an event held yesterday at COP17 in Durban, Global Forest Coalition announced that, of all the myths about REDD, the four most outrageous ‘fairy tales’ are: 1) REDD will reduce poverty and bring economic benefits, 2) REDD will benefit local communities and address deforestation, 3) The $30 billion REDD funding that never came, 4) REDD will support Indigenous Peoples.

UN-REDD Supports Joint Declaration of Intent for REDD+ in the Congo Basin at COP17

UN-REDD Programme blog, 7 December 2011 | The UN-REDD Programme was co-host of the process and, together with UNDP, played a crucial role in the negotiations and adoption of this Joint Declaration, that was agreed between 15 Central African and donor countries, and publicly announced on 7 December 2011 by several ministers and ambassadors. The endorsing parties are as follows: Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, as members of Central Africa, and Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, United States of America and the European Commission, on the side of donor partners.

Godwin Ojo from Nigeria, Joins Call for Moratorium on REDD+

By Jeff Conant, Climate Connections, 7 December 2011 | When a newly formed group came together at COP17 in Durban to call for a moratorium on REDD+, it was no surprise that some of the conveners were Indigenous Peoples; while there is disagreement within and among Indigenous Peoples’ groups about if and how to reject or accept REDD proposals and the promise of money that they offer, there has been a vocal core of Indigenous Peoples Organizations against REDD for several years. But the newly formed group, which calls itself Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD and for Life, also includes several Africans. The President of the Ogiek Council of Elders of the Mau Forest of Kenya, Joseph K. Towett, said as the Global Alliance was launched, “We support the moratorium because anything that hurts our cousins, hurts us all.”

World’s first climate-friendly Cocoa

Commodities Now, 7 December 2011 | Olam International Ltd. and Rainforest Alliance have teamed up to produce the world’s first “climate-friendly cocoa” in Ghana as part of their ongoing collaboration. Working with cocoa farmers in the Western region of the country, this $1 million project will have huge impact on informing Ghana’s emerging national REDD+* strategy and its Low Carbon Development plans. This programme has been launched in the Juabeso / Bia district, an area that borders a national park and a forest reserve. Cocoa completely dominates the landscape in this region and illegal encroachment into forest areas is still observed. Tensie Whelan, President of Rainforest Alliance said, “This collaboration with Olam offers an ideal opportunity to stop the deforestation of this sensitive area so that we can protect biodiversity in standing forests while at the same time planting 100 hectares of native tree species for carbon sequestration in the fight against climate change.”

Ban presses for support for UN initiative to combat deforestation

UN News Centre, 7 December 2011 | Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called today for increased support from Member States for a United Nations initiative to slow, halt and reverse deforestation, and help developing countries manage their forests in a sustainable manner. “I am encouraged to see that forest countries are acting to reduce deforestation, and that donor countries are pledging to support these activities,” Mr. Ban said at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. “Yet, forests continue to disappear at an alarming rate. We must do more, and with a greater sense of urgency.”

REDD Eye: World Leaders Call for a Deforestation Deal in Durban, Progress is Steady but Slow | ThinkProgress

By Stephen Lacey, Climate Progress, 7 December 2011 | A group of world leaders is calling for negotiators in Durban to move forward on a deal that they say would prevent massive deforestation and help substantially reduce carbon emissions. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon joined famed British anthropologist Jane Goodall at the COP 17 climate conference today to support a mechanism called REDD+ (also known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). They called it a “win-win” for reducing carbon emissions and preserving biodiversity.

Expert: Donors could do more to champion gender in climate mitigation and forestry programmes

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests Blog, 7 December 2011 | The donor community could do more to push for the inclusion of women in climate strategies, said the head of a women’s organisation at the UN Climate talks in Durban. Many agencies and organisations are demonstrating ‘gender blindness’, leading to little investment and support for gender programmes in forestry, such as REDD+. “Without the push from donors, or the drive to institutionalise gender at the programme level, there is little incentive to move ahead with gender-based programmes. Donors should provide greater support to programmes that seek to enhance the role of women in forestry and resource management”, said Jeannette Gurung, Executive Director, Women Organising for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN).

Seeing REDD: Forest Program May Be Only Success of Climate Talks

By Gabe Joselow, Voice of America, 7 December 2011 | The headlines from the COP17 U.N. climate conference in Durban, South Africa have mostly underscored the deadlock on major initiatives. But there has been progress on a forestry program known as REDD+. If an agreement on the program is reached it could be one of the few success stories to emerge… “If you can pay local communities, provide incentives, government programs for local communities to be able to keep the forests standing and still make a good livelihood off the land, but in a way that does not require them to cut the trees down, then you have a win for biodiversity, you have a win for those local communities, and you have a win for the climate,” said Rane Cortez, a REDD+ advisor for the environmental group The Nature Conservancy, who works on a REDD project in Brazil.

Forest carbon and the Durban climate conference

By Tim Cadman (University of Queensland), The Conversation, 7 December 2011 | Many academics and commentators consider that emissions trading has created an “empire” of carbon management and control, whereby local communities and indigenous people are heavily impacted. Stories are emerging of tribal lands being cleared of people so trees can be planted for offset programmes, and in some instances people have been shot and killed trying to gain access. In other cases, threatened ecosystems such as wetlands have been cleared to make way for carbon plantations. There can be benefits, however, especially when local communities are encouraged to develop regionally appropriate solutions to the loss of natural forests. These can involve community forestry and the establishment of fuelwood plantations, for example.

Brazil senate puts forests on chopping block with Forest Code vote

WWF, 7 December 2011 | The Brazil Senate overnight passed amendments to the country’s landmark Forest Code which could lead to a massive increase in deforestation in Brazil, and in turn could also have serious impacts on the United Nations climate change negotiations here in Durban, South Africa. The revisions to the Forest Code, which now go back to Brazil’s National Assembly and then require ratification by President Dilma Rousseff, allow deforestation much closer to watercourses and on steep slopes and give amnesties for past illegal deforestation. Much of the responsibility for implementation and enforcement is passed to states, where large landholders and agribusiness interests have more influence.

8 December 2011

COP17 – Uganda Calls for Global Agreement to End Deforestation

By Mubatsi Asinja Habati, The Independent, 8 December 2011 | Uganda’s water and environment minister, Maria Mutagamba, has said a global agreement should be designed to help cut down deforestation that contributes to global warming. Mutagamba was speaking at the high level segment of the United Nations (UN) climate talks in Durban attended by top UN diplomats, heads of state, and ministers of environment and country delegates in the ongoing 17th conference of parties (COP17) to UN framework on climate change (UNFCC) negotiations… Mutagamba said while efforts are being made to implement REDD mainly in developing countries “any agreement should be designed to stop deforestation and degradation, not simply reduce or defer emissions.” She added that: “real solutions are needed to stop deforestation to tackle its underlying drivers.” The minister listed poverty, population explosion and lack of alternative livelihoods as major drivers of deforestation in Uganda.

Battle Over the Trees: Indigenous Peoples Denounce REDD+ at COP 17 Talks

By Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Indian Country, 8 December 2011 | Indigenous peoples came to COP 17 with a simple message: Your Kyoto Protocol isn’t working for us. Amid skepticism anda growing doubt, the climate talks known as COP 17 – shorthand for the 17th United Nations Conference of the Parties – began in Durban, South Africa, on November 28 and are set to end December 9. Many environmentalists arrived feeling that the world’s nations aren’t serious about taking action to prevent catastrophic global temperature increases, especially in regions most vulnerable to climate change and where indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected as temperatures rise.

Tuvalu block proposal to protect rights of tribals

By Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, 8 December 2011 | Bolivia had expressed concern that such interventions can result in restriction of rights of people. To allay such fears, negotiators at the porty city of Durban had agreed to include protection of indigenous people either through national provision or through international instrument. But, Tuvalu, a country of 10,000 people with less than a percent forest cover, at the last moment sought inclusion of action against human rights violations in the proposal. “It is just a last minute bid to block a decision,” said a senior climate negotiator. “Every country has a laws against human right violations…Having such a provision under REDD will not make any difference.” Because of Tuvalu’s proposal, the talks on market intervention has not moved.

UNFCCC Cop — Durban Redd deforestation talks ‘failing’

Argus Media, 8 December 2011 | Negotiations at Durban climate talks on the implementation and funding of the UN’s reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (Redd) programme have watered down commitments made at the previous UN talks in Cancun, Mexico, environmental groups said today. Talks in Durban had been expected to agree funding and other aspects of Redd after deferring the decision in Cancun, but this has not been achieved so far. Negotiations on the financing of Redd continue today. At least five options were being discussed by negotiators at Durban regarding potential finance schemes. Delegates in Durban have until 9 December to finalise an agreement on Redd and other policies after two weeks of talks. But environmental groups said talks of Redd had failed to make headway.

Guatemala advances with REDD+, says IUCN

IUCN, 8 December 2011 | Guatemala’s National Forest Service (INAB) has recognized wider land rights for indigenous peoples and local communities, making it possible for these groups to access benefits and payments from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, known as REDD+, according to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The Forest Incentives Program for Owners of Small Forests and Agro Forestry Lands (PINPEP) is now a strategic part of Guatemala’s national REDD+ strategy. It is already investing 1% of the national government budget—close to US$40 million per year— in results-based action for sustainable management of forests, reforestation, forest restoration and agro-forestry. This will benefit owners of small forest and agro-forestry lands of less than 15 hectares per beneficiary. If PINPEP has access to international REDD+ funds it can increase its impact both for biodiversity conservation and the well-being of people.

Ecuador, Nepal and Acre Leading by Example on REDD+ Safeguards

By Joanna Durbin, Conservation International Blog, 8 December 2011 | While the main work at the climate talks in Durban is the painstaking, word-by-word negotiation of the decisions that define whether and how countries will commit to addressing climate change, side events provide a great opportunity for nations and NGOs to explain the actions they already have been taking — and how those actions can support the negotiations. One of the hot topics under discussion here is REDD+ safeguards, which aim to ensure that REDD+ activities do not harm communities, biodiversity or other valuable ecosystem services like water provision; instead, REDD+ must respect rights and deliver multiple benefits for local people and broader sustainable development.

UN-led campaign that planted 12 billion trees worldwide starts new phase

UN News Centre, 8 December 2011 | The benefits of the REDD+ initiative were also discussed today at a side event of the conference, with more developing countries partnering with developed nations to reduce emissions from forests. Indonesia, for example, revealed plans to utilize around $1 billion of funding from Norway under the REDD+ programme. “Countries ranging from Indonesia to Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are recognizing that REDD+ investments can offer myriad opportunities to boost green development in the 21st century – through optimizing and enhancing ecosystem services, tackling climate change, improving water security or promoting green jobs,” said Mr. Steiner. “Mobilizing more partnerships such as that between Norway and Indonesia, or private sector funding is vital if the full potential of forests to contribute to a green economy is to be realized,” he added.

Indonesia to release improved moratorium map this week, chair of REDD+ task force says

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 8 December 2011 | The Chair of Indonesia’s REDD+ task force said that the country’s Ministry of Forestry will this week release an updated moratorium map to display which areas are protected under a two-year ban on new concessions in primary forests and peatlands. “The Ministry of Forestry will upload the maps to their website and hold workshops to get public input, starting next week,” Kuntoro Mangkusubroto of the task force said on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa. This is the first update of the Indicative Moratorium Map (IMM), which is required to be reviewed and revised every six months. The Indonesian Government’s announcement of the moratorium in May was greeted with dismay by elements of the business community, who expressed fears that a curtailment of economic growth would result from the moratorium’s limitations on forest-based development opportunities.

Deforestation Is Undercutting Africa’s Climate Resilience

ENS, 8 December 2011 | Deforestation is accelerating across Africa, killing wildlife and weakening the ability of the continent’s ecosystems to withstand climate change, especially in the area of food security, said forest experts in Durban for the United Nations annual climate change conference. “Deforestation rates in Africa are accelerating,” said Helen Gichohi, president of the African Wildlife Foundation, during a keynote speech at Forest Day in Durban on the sidelines of the conference. “The disappearing forests, the overgrazed rangelands, and conversion to crop agriculture of grasslands and wetlands that had served as a refuge to drought, have all diminished the resilience of ecosystems,” Gichohi said.

And the most outrageous REDD fairy tale is…. “REDD will support Indigenous Peoples”

Global Forest Coalition, 8 December 2011 | Global Forest Coalition has published a series of “Grimm REDD Fairy Tales” to assist delegates in distinguishing truth from fiction regarding the controversial program of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation and enhancing forest carbon stocks (REDD+). Challenging the ability of REDD+ and other market mechanisms to address the underlying causes of the climate crisis, Global Forest Coalition charges that REDD+ could well be a collection of modern fairy tales – fabricated stories intended to lure the unwitting into a complex web of deception.

World Bank: More donors supporting REDD+

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 8 December 2011 | Financial support for REDD+ projects to safeguard forests in developing countries is increasing with new countries pledging to get involved and existing donors stepping up their commitments, a World Bank official said. “The past two years have seen considerable donor contributions to multilateral REDD+ initiatives,” said Kenneth Andrasko of the Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit. There has been continued progress, albeit slow, towards a system for performance-based system for forest carbon, he said recently on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Durban. “The concept is gaining hold more broadly.” Several international Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) programs have emerged since the scheme gained traction in the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) in Bali four years ago.

Survival reveals ten hidden abuses against tribes on Human Rights Day

Survival International, 8 December 2011 | Survival is releasing ten tribal rights abuses ahead of UN Human Rights Day this Saturday, to expose violations that still pass largely unnoticed. Signed 63 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first global expression of the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. Yet despite its creation in 1948, systematic abuses against the rights of tribal peoples have remained hidden, or continue to occur far from the public eye.

Climate Deal on Forests in Balance as Envoys Debate Market Role

By Alessandro Vitelli, Bloomberg, 8 December 2011 | “We have had a serious fight in finance for the last couple of days,” said Nils Hermann Ranum, head of policy at Norway’s Rainforest Foundation, an environmental group that monitors the talks. “There is a basic division between those who want to have an offset market and those who oppose it, either in principle, or because they don’t believe there is enough of a framework in place.” … “There is no process to aggregate individual country pledges on REDD. This means we’ll never know if REDD has led to any real reductions.” … “What we are concerned about is the application of a market-based approach like what we see with the Clean Development Mechanism,” said Natalie Unterstell, the focal point for REDD-plus at Brazil’s Ministry of Environment. “REDD is about policy and measures.”

Landmark Mexico legislation edges closer

Daily Times, 8 December 2011 | The second vote in the Chamber of Deputies approved a set of reforms of key regulations from the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection and the General Law on Sustainable Forest Development. Both laws were amended to allow for the recognition of environmental services and to prepare for a legal system to recognise Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). The law was passed by 328 votes. It now passes to the Senate for its final approval and, if supported by the Senate, will be the first time legal instruments have been created by a country to prepare for REDD+. The two votes were the direct result of the work of Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) Mexico, which was also supported by key national experts that contributed to this important development.

‘Conserve mangroves as carbon sinks’ and Singapore

The Straits Times, 8 December 2011 | Mangroves and coastal ecosystems are such large stores of carbon dioxide that they should be included in countries’ carbon counts and protected, conservation groups have said. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Conservation International on Tuesday called for negotiators at the United Nations climate change conference in Durban to include coastal conservation in policies and financing processes. Mangrove plants and their rich mud can sequester up to five times as much carbon dioxide as tropical forests, and destroying them can release substantial amounts of the greenhouse gas.

Papua New Guinean returns to jungle to protect the climate

DPA, 8 December 2011 | Forests like those in PNG are a key issue during the United Nations’ climate talks in Durban, South Africa, which end on December 9. Some negotiators and climate activists are pushing for a higher profile for the REDD+ programme, which goes beyond the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).

U.S. denies delaying global climate deal

By Nina Chestney, Reuters, 8 December 2011 | The United States denied on Thursday it was trying to delay a new global climate deal until 2020, saying it supported an EU proposal that aims to chart a path to a more ambitious pact to fight climate change… “It is completely off base to suggest the U.S. is proposing it will delay action to 2020,” U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters. “The EU has called for a roadmap (to a future deal). We support that,” he said.

9 December 2011

Could climate-smart agriculture help save our forests?

By Jeremy Cherfas, CIFOR Forests Blog, 9 December 2011 | A bearded scientist bloke addresses the microphone. “Human activity,” he tells us, “releases 9 petagrams of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.” At which point, while some of us struggle to dredge up long-forgotten SI prefixes, the rest of the audience has zoned out. But then the bearded bloke amazed me. “I tell my mother that a petagram is a equivalent to a cube one kilometre by one kilometre by one kilometre of solid carbon.” It could be graphite. Here in South Africa, it should be diamond. Either way, it is a lot of carbon. And not just one 200-trillion carat diamond, but nine of them. The scientist is Bob Scholes, systems ecologist and leader of the Ecosystem Processes and Dynamics research group at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa.

Nedbank unit in forest deal

BusinessDay, 9 December 2011 | Nedbank Capital and Face the Future have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop sustainable forestry projects in Africa. Paul Griffin, senior administrator of carbon finance at Nedbank Capital, said yesterday the Kibale National Park reforestation project in Uganda, managed by Face the Future and the Uganda Wildlife Authority, had been registered under the Verified Carbon Standard, resulting in the issue of about 370000 carbon credits in September. “Nedbank Capital first became aware of the project a year ago and, after reviewing the project’s participants and their activities, and upon completing on-the-ground due diligence, we purchased 50000 verified carbon units for the Nedbank Group ’s carbon-neutral programme.” Mr Griffin described Kibale as a “pilot project”. The two organisations’ partnership of projects includes activities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Occupation of COP17 was Inevitable

By Bianca Jagger, Huffington Post, 9 December 2011 | Discussions on REDD have been painful. Today, on the last day of the conference. there is still no firm indication of how these talks are progressing. REDD has the potential to be a pillar of a climate change agreement. The scheme has vast potential for mitigation, and adaptation. However, stringent safeguards and governance must be in place, to avoid exploitation, and abuses of the system. As Raja Jarrah, CARE’s Senior Advisor on REDD, said last week,: “The outcome on REDD safeguards is a step backwards from what was agreed in Cancun last year, which itself was far short of what could have been agreed in Copenhagen. The provisions for safeguards in forest conservation are being shredded. This is bad news for millions of indigenous people and local communities whose livelihoods depend on forests.”

UN campaign that planted 12 billion trees handed over to environmental organisation

Businessandleadership.com, 9 December 2011 | A United Nations campaign that has managed the planting of more than 12 billion trees around the world over the last four years has been handed over to a Germany-based, youth-led environmental organisation. “More than 12 billion trees have been planted by people from all walks of life – schoolchildren to presidents – testament to a growing global movement for sustainability,” said secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

REDD+ can achieve both local and global sustainability goals

By Constantine Alexander, Constantine Alexander’s blog, 9 December 2011 | For the GEF, the advantage of this broad organisational structure has been the effectiveness of these institutions in promoting biodiversity-focused ecosystem protection and poverty alleviation projects on the ground. This has increased the legitimacy of the GEF for recipients in poorer countries. With a similarly broad structure, UN-REDD+ has more potential to include the widest range of stakeholders and values in the design and implementation of projects than if it was structured as a single, streamlined organisation. In addition, donor nations might provide more funds if existing organisations are used, avoiding the expense of setting up new bodies.

New DRC National Forest Monitoring System for REDD+ launched at COP17 in Durban

UN-REDD Programme blog, 9 December 2011 | The DRC officially launched its National Forest Monitoring System at a COP17 side event on 2 December, 2011, demonstrating live how it works and inviting users to go online at http://unredd.geo-solutions.it to use the tool and provide feedback. A large crowd attended the side event and provided useful insights on the tool including representatives from Greenpeace, WWF and the European Union who praised the DRC’s effort and recognized the enormous contribution this system is making to the forest monitoring and MRV arena. The online system will allow anybody in the world to check an area of deforestation online in their region of interest and report whether or not the communicated deforestation areas and statistics are correct.

Indigenous Groups, Development Bank, and Yale University Move Forward With Cooperation on REDD

By Hannah Kett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 9 December 2011 | Representative from Pueblos Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica frente al Cambio Climático (Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin to Combat Climate Change) have announced more details of a program that aims to help indigenous groups in the Amazon Basin develop REDD projects. Initially announced in May, the program was developed through an agreement between the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Additional partners include the Woods Hole Research Center, the Environmental Defense Fund and, most recently, the Yale School of Forestry.

In Durban, RI task force weighs plan to use idle forests

By Adisti Sukma Sawitri, Jakarta Post, 9 December 2011 | After agreeing to a forest-clearing moratorium to secure a US$1 billion grant from Norway, the Indonesian government is currently considering revising a ministerial decree barring the reforestation of primary forests. Indonesia’s REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) task force chief Kuntoro Mangkusubroto said that the revision would revive approximately 32 million hectares of bare land in primary forests that were left idle after illegal forest cutting. “We are reviewing the decree. It is a waste to have idle land with nothing on it,” he said on Thursday on the sidelines of the 17th United Nations Climate Conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa. The government has agreed to freeze forest cutting in primary forests and peatland areas for two years in return for the Norwegian funds, which would be disbursed for REDD+ projects.

Tool to track U.S. REDD+ finance released

mongabay.com, 9 December 2011 | A new online tool allows anyone to check U.S. government financial pledges made toward reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) programs in developing countries. The US REDD Finance Database, established by the Tropical Forest Group, contains more than 800 “discrete instances” where U.S. government agencies have pledged funds for REDD or “sustainable forestry.” It includes a library where all the data’s source documents are archived. “The goal of the database is to improve transparency around US government REDD+ finance and monitor how well the US is meeting its fast start finance REDD+ pledge of $1 billion,” said the Tropical Forest Group in a statement.

Lord Stern on the contradiction between financial markets and climate change policy

By Nicholas Stern, Carbon Tracker Initiative, 9 December 2011 | As the negotiations at the UN climate change summit in Durban reach the critical stage, we must not overlook a fundamental contradiction between the way global fossil fuel reserves are evaluated and long-term policy goals. By ignoring this contradiction, companies and markets, as well as governments, are undermining management of the huge risks that rising levels of greenhouse gases pose to their survival… More than two-thirds of current annual emissions of greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide produced by the burning of coal, oil and gas. But according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative , proven reserves of fossil fuels, the big majority owned by nation states, would, if burned, produce 2.8tn tonnes of carbon dioxide, about double the carbon budget for the 50-50 chance of meeting the 2 degrees target.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 9 December 2011 | At last year’s 16th Conference of Parties (COP16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), REDD+ was one of the few areas where negotiators successfully made progress, and many hoped for resolutions on key issues in Durban. But as it draws to a close, COP17 have thus far been caught in the weeds. Key issues include financing, safeguards, and deforestation reference levels. As talks enter the final phase, REDD +remains in limbo. Some are going as far as saying that REDD+ may come out of Durban in worse shape than it left Cancun, while others are saying that a viable work program is in the offing. Progress often comes at the 11th hour, so stay tuned for more news to come.

Indian environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan gives hard hitting speech, receives standing ovation

Centre for Science and Environment, 9 December 2011 | Remarks by Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests. Thank you Madam Chair. I do not know how to start. I have heard people across the room carefully. I am from India and I represent 1.2 billion people. My country has a tiny per capita carbon footprint of 1.7 ton and our per capita GDP is even lower. I was astonished and disturbed by the comments of my colleague from Canada who was pointing at us as to why we are against the roadmap. I am disturbed to find that a legally binding protocol to the Convention, negotiated just 14 years ago is now being junked in a cavalier manner. Countries which had signed and ratified it are walking away without even a polite goodbye. And yet, pointing at others.

Patrick Bond, speaking at OccupyCOP17, 10th December 2011

OneWorldTV, 9 December 2011 | Interview with Patrick Bond, professor at the University of KwaZulu-aNatal, and Director of the Centre for Civil Society since 2004. “Anybody that had any illusions that you would have had a deal out of this place, given the adverse balance of forces, sabotage from Washington, World Bank financing, carbon markets crashing… that was naive.”

California working with global governors group to include REDD+ in trade scheme

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests Blog, 9 December 2011 | California, which recently signed legislation to allow its businesses to offset their emissions, is working with the Governors Climate Task Force (GCF) to create the necessary requirements and institutions to include REDD+ carbon credits in the state’s compliance market. Carbon credits in California’s emission trading scheme – which will come into effect in 2013 – will have to meet the requirements for being “additional, enforceable, and verified,” said Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Durban this week. California may allow companies to buy carbon credits to offset part of their emissions from outside the US as early as 2015.

As Durban Deadline Draws Near, the Big Carbon Emitters Should Cut a Deal

By Andrew Light, Climate Progress, 9 December 2011 | The expected end game of the international climate talks in Durban is shaping up to be a fierce stand off. A showdown has emerged between the EU and other parties over their conditions for agreeing to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. The first commitment period will expire in 2012. If it is not renewed the fate of the instruments that support the world’s fragile carbon market is uncertain. Japan, Russia and Canada have all signaled that they are unwilling to continue with a second commitment of binding emission cuts for the treaty leaving only the EU ready to move forward.

“Get It Done”: Urging Climate Justice, Youth Delegate Anjali Appadurai Mic Checks U.N. Summit

Democracy Now!, 9 December 2011 | A number of protests are being held today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban to protest the failure of world leaders to agree to immediately agree to a deal of binding emissions cuts. Anjali Appadurai, a student at the College of the Atlantic in Maine, addressed the conference on behalf of youth delegates. Just after her speech, she led a mic check from the stage — a move inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests. “It always seems impossible until it’s done,” Appadurai said. “So, distinguished delegates and governments around the world, governments of the developed world: Deep [emissions] cuts now. Get it done.”

10 December 2011

[Indonesia] Revised map of forest moratorium slammed

Jakarta Post, 10 December 2011 | Greenomics Indonesia condemned the exclusion by the government of 4.8 million hectaares of peatland from the revised indicative moratorium map of natural forests and peatland. Prior to its revision, the moratorium map had 10.7 million hectares of peatland that were covered by the moratorium on the granting of new licenses. “However, almost 45 percent of the peatland, amounting to 10.7 million hectares, have been taken out of the indicative moratorium map. This is a slap in the mouth by Indonesia ahead of the climate-change conference currently being held in Durban, South Africa,” Greenomics Indonesia executive director Elfian Effendi said here on Friday. Greenomics was responding Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, who claimed to be in the international meeting where the Indonesia would promised to exclude the 4.8 million hectares of peatland from the revised indicative moratorium map.

African Soil in the Blood and Dust of COP17

By Jeff Conant, Earth Island Journal, 10 December 2011 | The rallying cry of the South African hosts of COP17, repeated throughout these two weeks, has been “The Kyoto Protocol will not die on African soil.” The theatrics of these UN events revolves around a kind of ritual called “high-level negotiations” during which the nations of the world don their battle armor and enter into the fray. The drama reaches a climax in the middle of the second week, when heads of state arrive prepared to defend their national interests at any cost. The drama’s denouement, after two bloody weeks, is the achievement of consensus. On Friday night, as the negotiations stretch into the wee hours in what some describe as a “war of attrition” in which the countries with the strongest reserve troops win, the drama of COP17 is drawing to a close.

In Glare of Climate Talks, Taking On Too Great a Task

By John M. Broeder, New York Times, 10 December 2011 | For 17 years, officials from nearly 200 countries have gathered under the auspices of the United Nations to try to deal with one of the most vexing questions of our era – how to slow the heating of the planet. Every year they leave a trail of disillusion and discontent, particularly among the poorest nations and those most vulnerable to rising seas and spreading deserts. Every year they fail to significantly advance their own stated goal of keeping the average global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, or about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. That was the case again this year.

Climate Strategists: To Cut Emissions, Focus On Forests

By Christopher Joyce, NPR, 10 December 2011 | For example, you’ll need to measure exactly how much carbon is stored in a forest, because companies will be paying for it by the ton. Then how do you safeguard your investment? … Environmental scientist Greg Asner at Stanford University thinks he’s got a solution: LIDAR, a special laser carried on an airplane. “That laser is able to pick up the three-dimensional structure of the canopy, all the way down to the ground,” says Asner, “and all the layers in between, from the top down to the bottom. It’s like a virtual world. You can find the species you’re interested in, you can understand its carbon, you can understand how tall the trees are, how many branches they have.” Asner, who works with the Offset Group, has flown his device over some of the most remote parts of the Amazon. He says he can tell how healthy a forest is, how diverse, even what kind of animals live there.

2011 COP17 succumbs to Climate Apartheid!

Climate Justice Now! press release, 10 December 2011 | Decisions resulting from the UN COP17 climate summit in Durban constitute a crime against humanity, according to Climate Justice Now! a broad coalition of social movements and civil society. Here in South Africa, where the world was inspired by the liberation struggle of the country’s black majority, the richest nations have cynically created a new regime of climate apartheid. “Delaying real action until 2020 is a crime of global proportions,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International. “An increase in global temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, Small Island States, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid, whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.”

A second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol: a victory or a deception?

By Nele Marien, For whom the bell tolls, 10 December 2011 | The new text proposal for the Kyoto Protocol states that a second commitment period will be established. That seems good news; it was what everybody was waiting for. But, a second commitment period for what? For the sake of having it? For the sake of carbon markets? For calming public opinion? Let’s see the good points and the bad points of the actual proposal. It establishes a second commitment period for five years. That’s good. But will it be real? Or is it just another false promise?

Ministers battle to save U.N. climate talks

By Agnieszka Flak and Barbara Lewis, AlertNet, 10 December 2011 | Ministers fought to save U.N. climate talks from collapse on Saturday, searching to narrow differences between rich and poor nations over how quickly to fight global warming. Ministerial negotiations in the South African port city of Durban dragged into Saturday afternoon even as many delegates from poor states headed home, although the remaining delegates appeared cautiously optimistic by early evening. “I think we are making progress, but we will see. We are close,” said U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern.

Durban climate change talks: a deal on hold

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 10 December 2011 | John Lanchberry of the RSPB tells us that the wording on Redd finance – the plan to reduce deforestation – is agreed. “It’s weak on substance and kicks further discussion about where the money for Redd [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation] will come from into next year. However, it links finance firmly to the biodiversity, social and governance safeguards agreed in Cancún last year, which is excellent” Mohamed Adow, working for Christian Aid, speaks for many in the NGO community here. His analysis is this: “The latest draft texts are so dangerously inadequate that we could be closing the door to a 2-degree limit on warming. On the Kyoto side, although there is one welcome paragraph saying there will be a second commitment period, it’s cancelled out by the rest of the document. It’s currently so weak that without amendments, it’s Kyoto in name only.”

Climate talks: Jayanthi Natarajan applauded for stirring speech in Durban

By Nitin Sethi, Times of India, 10 December 2011 | Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan got a surprise resounding standing ovation in a meeting of 195 countries when they got into a negotiating huddle at the middle of the night. They applauded her for her stirring speech defending the Indian and BASIC countries’ position on climate change. The applause in a closed meeting was notably genuine as there was no press or observers to perform for. It also indicated a groundswell of support for India and BASIC countries’ stand from other developing countries in the face of a media campaign run by the EU in Durban about lack of unity in the group.

A second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol: a victory or a deception?

By Nele Marien, World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, 10 December 2011 | The new text proposal for the Kyoto Protocol states that a second commitment period will be established. That seems good news; it was what everybody was waiting for. But, a second commitment period for what? For the sake of having it? For the sake of carbon markets? For calming public opinion? Let’s see the good points and the bad points of the actual proposal.

11 December 2011

Agreement for New Global Treaty To Reduce Emissions

By Stephen Leahy, IPS, 11 December 2011 | The world is increasingly committed to dangerous levels of global warming with yet another failure by nations of the world to agree to needed reductions in carbon emissions here in Durban. However, as the 17th Conference of Parties ended early Sunday morning, members did agree to talk about a new global treaty to reduce emissions. After two weeks and an additional 29 hours of intense and even bitter negotiations, the 193 nations participating in the United Nations climate talks agreed to a complex and technical set of documents called the “Durban Platform.” These include the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, a formal structure for a Green Climate Fund, new market mechanisms, and more… “Keep the targets lose the markets” Oscar Reyes of the Friends of the Earth UK urged negotiators in in the final days of COP 17. “We’re worried that when the GCF has money it will lend it to the private sector to drive carbon markets,” Reyes told IPS.

Agreement for New Global Treaty To Reduce Emissions

By Stephen Leahy, IPS, 11 December 2011 | he world is increasingly committed to dangerous levels of global warming with yet another failure by nations of the world to agree to needed reductions in carbon emissions here in Durban. However, as the 17th Conference of Parties ended early Sunday morning, members did agree to talk about a new global treaty to reduce emissions. After two weeks and an additional 29 hours of intense and even bitter negotiations, the 193 nations participating in the United Nations climate talks agreed to a complex and technical set of documents called the “Durban Platform.” These include the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, a formal structure for a Green Climate Fund, new market mechanisms, and more… “Keep the targets lose the markets” Oscar Reyes of the Friends of the Earth UK urged negotiators in in the final days of COP 17. “We’re worried that when the GCF has money it will lend it to the private sector to drive carbon markets,” Reyes told IPS.

Private sector finance eyed for U.N. forest projects

By Agnieszka Flak, Reuters, 11 December 2011 | Private investors may be allowed to earn carbon credits by paying poor countries to halt the destruction of tropical forests, but a U.N. climate summit failed to agree the details needed to get the ambitious program off the ground… The decision adopted in Durban after day of wrangling said private and public finance, as well as market mechanisms, would be considered for REDD schemes, opening the door to billions of dollars of private sector investments. “For the private sector interested in long-term reputable investments associated with REDD+ actions, this is a very positive decision,” said Andrew Hedges, a partner at the law firm Norton Rose LLP. “It also recognizes that market-based approaches may be developed in coming years.”

Durban’s Platform for [Potential] [In]Action

By Alex Lenferna, The Adopt a Neogtiator Project, 11 December 2011 | At 5am this morning, the final session of Durban’s COP 17 came to a close over a day and a half behind schedule, with some delegates having not slept for close on 40 hours after two weeks of grueling negotiations. Many decisions have been rushed through in the last minute, and while there is a self-congratulatory air among those key to the design of the architecture of what is now being referred to as the Durban Package, there is much dismay in the air as well. The Durban Package has come to a number of rather controversial decisions around many of the major issues carried over from the Cancun Agreements, but many of the elements have also been postponed and unfulfilled. Furthermore there is an air of confusion around the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), as many aren’t sure what was just signed onto, as many of the final decisions involving relatively new texts were rushed through at such a fast pace…

U.N. climate talks agree legal pact on global warming

By Agnieszka Flak and Barbara Lewis, Reuters, 11 December 2011 | The package of deals extends Kyoto, whose first phase of cuts expires at the end of 2012, begins negotiations for a new legally binding treaty to be decided by 2015 and to come into force by 2020. It also creates a Green Climate Fund to help poor nations tackle global warming… “In the end, it ended up quite well,” said U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern. “We got the kind of symmetry that we had been focused on since the beginning of the Obama administration. This had all the elements that we were looking for.”

Reaction to Durban Climate Talks

Friends of the Earth International, 11 December 2011 | Commenting on the UN climate talks which ended today in Durban, South Africa, Sarah-Jayne Clifton, Climate Justice Coordinator of Friends of the Earth International said: “Ordinary people have once again been let down by our governments. Led by the US, developed nations have reneged on their promises, weakened the rules on climate action and strengthened those that allow their corporations to profit from the climate crisis. The Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding framework for emissions reductions, remains in name only, and the ambition for those emissions cuts remains terrifyingly low. The Green Climate Fund has no money and the plans to expand destructive carbon trading move ahead. Meanwhile, millions across the developing world already face devastating climate impacts, and the world catapults headlong towards climate catastrophe.”

Durban Agreements a step towards a global agreement, but risk of exceeding 3°C-warming remains – scientists

Climate Action Tracker, 11 December 2011 | As the climate talks in Durban concluded tonight with a groundbreaking establishment of the Durban Platform to negotiate a new global agreement by 2015, scientists stated that the world continues on a pathway of over 3°C warming with likely extremely severe impacts, the Climate Action Tracker said today. The agreement in Durban to establish a new body to negotiate a global agreement (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) by 2015 represents a major step forward. The Climate Action Tracker scientists stated, however, that the agreement will not immediately affect the emissions outlook for 2020 and has postponed decisions on further emission reductions. They warned that catching up on this postponed action will be increasingly costly.


PHOTO Credit: Image created by wordle.net.

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