REDD in the news: 7-13 May 2012

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REDD in the news: 7-13 May 2012

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.

Corruption and REDD+: Identifying risks amid complexity

By André Standing, U4, May 2012 | Corruption and other factors can influence deforestation in contradictory ways. For the purpose of country-level implementation of REDD+, donors should focus particularly on three corruption risk areas: land grabbing and tenure rights, fraud in monitoring, evaluation and reporting, and elite capture of REDD+ revenues.

The Center Releases International Law Principles for REDD+

Indian Law Resource Center, May 2012 | “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD+) initiatives have been proposed as a means of combating climate change, while at the same time providing development opportunities for developing countries, indigenous peoples, and other communities who possess forested lands. For indigenous peoples and other forest communities, however, REDD+, poses significant risks. In order to reorient REDD+ to respect the rights of indigenous peoples and address substantial risks to their livelihoods and ways of life, the Indian Law Resource Center proposes the International Law Principles for REDD+: The Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Legal Obligations of REDD+ Actors. The REDD+ Principles identify a pathway to implement a human rights-based approach to development within REDD+ initiatives.

7 May 2012

Copenhagen Consensus: The rain forests are still in trouble. So are wetlands and mangroves

By Bjorn Lomborg, Slate Magazine, 7 May 2012 | In a research paper on biodiversity released today for Copenhagen Consensus 2012, Salman Hussain and Anil Markandya find that there will be a significant loss of biodiversity over the next 40 years. They estimate that this loss could be about 12 percent globally, with South Asia facing a loss of 30 percent and sub-Saharan Africa 18 percent. They look at three interventions and compare these to doing nothing. The first solution focuses on increasing agricultural productivity through research and development… Hussain and Markandya note that currently about 10 percent of all land globally is deemed to be “protected” from destruction. They explore increasing protected land to about 20 percent globally (across a large number of ecological regions), over three decades… Forests are one of the main homes to biodiversity. The final program Hussain and Markandya propose seeks to prevent all dense forests from being converted to agriculture…

New timber tracking tools to bolster global fight against illegal logging

By Rachel Rivera, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 May 2012 | A new strategy aimed at monitoring the supply chain of timber products using genetic and stable isotope markers will play a vital role in international efforts to combat illegal logging, say scientists, policy analysts and forestry experts who gathered at a workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last month to lay the groundwork for the project. The Global Timber Tracking Network (GTTN), coordinated by Bioversity International as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, is leading efforts to promote the use of innovative control tools based on the application of DNA and stable isotope research to identify timber species and trace their origins. “Genetic data provides a level of evidence that you can’t contest. Because the DNA is in every cell of wood, you can’t falsify that data,” said Andrew Lowe, professor of plant conservation biology at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Cambodia suspends economic land concessions

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 7 May 2012 | Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced today that Cambodia would be temporarily suspending new economic land concessions and would revoke any concessions from companies involved in illegal logging, the evictions of locals or land-grabbing. The announcement comes two week after the high-profile death of local forest activist, Chut Wutty, who was shot and killed by military police while investigating illegal logging with two journalists. In a statement the Cambodian government said the suspension of land concessions was due to a “necessary and urgent need to guarantee equity and to strengthen the effectiveness of granting economic land concessions”.

EU nations get cold feet over climate change fund

By Barbara Lewis, Reuters, 7 May 2012 | EU nations have yet to come up with a plan on how to fill a multi-billion euro fund to help tackle climate change, even as the region’s executive body hosts talks with countries likely to bear the brunt of extreme weather. The European Union recommitted to providing 7.2 billion euros (5.8 billion pounds) for the fund over 2010-12, according to draft conclusions seen by Reuters ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers next week. But after that, how much cash will flow is unclear as the text, drafted against the backdrop of acute economic crisis in the euro zone, states the need to “scale up climate finance from 2013 to 2020″, but does not specify how.

Poorest Nations Team Up With EU to Urge More Climate Ambitions

By Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 7 May 2012 | The European Union and the world’s poorest nations joined forces to call for more-ambitious measures to reduce carbon emissions globally and to encourage private investors to team up with public institutions to finance the fight against climate change. Ministers from more than 30 least-developed countries and EU officials pledged today at an informal gathering in Brussels to push for an ambitious outcome of the next United Nations climate summit in Doha toward the end of this year. Countries worldwide should step up their emission-reduction efforts and deliver on their pledge to iron out by 2015 a global deal to cut pollution, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told a press conference today.

[Guyana] Troubled that opposition parties are cutting away Amerindians’ future

By Rommel Simon, Guyana Chronicle, 7 May 2012 | I am a member of the multi-stakeholder committee. I sit on that board through the National Amerindian Development Foundation (NADF), an NGO, as a representative of Amerindians. I was so anxious to hear that the third tranche of money from the Guyana /Norway agreement will be deposited into the Guyana Redd Investment Fund (GRIF) by mid year. I was heart broken to know that the money which was paid to Guyana for services to use for development of our country, is there but it cannot be used because of the cuts that were made in Parliament. Most of the projects that were affected were projects under the Low Carbon Development Strategy. Majority of the projects that were cut are projects that will move our country forward into a green economy on a brighter for all. I see this move by the opposition as heartless and disrespectful towards Amerindians by cutting not just projects but cutting a brighter future away from the Amerindians in Guyana.

[Guyana] MSSC dismayed at Opposition cuts to projects under Low Carbon Development Strategy

Guyana Chronicle, 7 May 2012 | The Low Carbon Development Strategy Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee(MSSC) has observed, with dismay, the reduction by the combined Opposition of the 2012 budget for green projects under Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, from approximately $18B to $1. A statement from the MSSC yesterday said: From the inception of the LCDS, several years ago, we, the members of the MSSC, have been integrally involved in the entire process. It is especially shocking that these cuts were made to LCDS projects, which were subject to a nationwide consultation process and for which the people of Guyana expressed their support. “Much hard work and dedication have been invested to bring us to this stage where we are implementing the LCDS. It is disheartening that these cuts have halted our work, and put at risk LCDS projects that would benefit all Guyanese. Moreover, it could jeopardise our mutual agreement with the Government of Norway…”

[Philippines] DENR, German group organize concert in Maasin City

By Rebecca S. Cadavos, Philippine Information Agency, 7 May 2012 | In coordination with the German Development Cooperation-Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), CoDe-REDD and the Province of Southern Leyte, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct a “Color-it-REDD Plus” event to be held at Maasin City gymnasium from May 8 to 9, 2012. In a letter to Maasin City Mayor Maloney Samaco, GIZ Principal Advisor, Dr. Bernd-Markus Liss informed that the event aims to invite public attention and provide a venue for various stakeholders to participate in meaningful discussions and generate a critical mass to push the REDD-plus agenda.

[Philippines] Forest exhibit, roadshow open in Southern Leyte

Philippine Information Agency, 7 May 2012 | An exhibit and roadshow about the Philippine forests are set to open in Southern Leyte. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Forest Management Bureau, German Development Cooperation-Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, CoDe REDD Philippines and the provincial government of Southern Leyte will be opening the Color it REDD-Plus Roadshow and “The Philippine Forests: Before and What Now?” exhibits on May 8 to 9 at Maasin City Gymnasium, Southern Leyte. Dr. Bernd Markus Liss of GIZ said that REDD-Plus or Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation with conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks is a measure being under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that contributes in the stabilization of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.

Swedish politicos ‘don’t buy climate change’

The Local, 7 May 2012 | Six of ten local politicians in Sweden doubt whether human activity is to blame for global warming, a new study has found. In addition, one out of ten municipal politicians and local government managers totally deny that the phenomenon of global warming even exists, according to a survey carried out by the Swedish Defence Research Agency (Försvarets forskningsinstitutet – FOI). “This is clearly not good. These people feel like they don’t have to take responsibility for environmental work in their municipalities,” FOI’s head of climate and energy research, Annika Carlsson-Kanyama, told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

[USA] Save the Poor Beltway Bandits!

NYU Development Research Institute, 7 May 2012 | They’ve actually gone and hired a major Washington lobbying firm to kill the reforms in Congress. Joining forces as the Professional Services Council and the public-facing Coalition of International Development Companies (from the website: “Did You Know…that funding through international development companies offers superior accountability and transparency?”) they have employed the Podesta Group, which, according to lobbying disclosure forms, has been hard at work “promoting the work of international development companies” in Congress at PSC’s behest. And the Podesta Group has delivered: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-California) has told USAID he will seek to block these reforms, just in time for the markup of the international affairs budget beginning next week.

ForestFinance sets up sustainable forestry training in Vietnam

International Forest Carbon Association, 7 May 2012 | A training institute in sustainable forest management in Vietnam’s Quang Tri province is being set up by German sustainable-forestry and agroforestry investor and project developer, ForestFinance (affiliated with IFCA through its subsidiary CO2OL). The project aims to promote the development of sustainable and certified carbon forestry in the region… The larger goal is to increase skilled labour, enabling the establishment across Vietnam of a high-quality and retraceable timber industry, including carbon forestry, according to international forest management standards. The project is a develoPPP.de programme. PPP stands for “public-privatepartnerships” – partnerships that are jointly planned, financed and realised by companies and development aid organisations. The programme is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and is implemented by sequa gGmbH.

8 May 2012

Protecting the rainforest

By Brian Sims, letter to the editor, The Guardian, 8 May 2012 | The situation of the threatened Awá in the Amazon (The world’s most endangered tribe cries for help, 27 April), while being deplorable, is symptomatic of the greed that is taking the Amazon rainforest and the planet to the very edge of oblivion. Funai is doing what it can to protect indigenous tribes, but its resource and staffing levels leave it impotent in the face of economic forces…If this destruction of people, culture and biodiversity were not enough reason to protect this resource, there is more. The carbon sequestered in the forest is emitted as CO² in huge quantities when the forest is cleared. The cattle feeding on the resulting pasture belch out enough methane to account for 10% of the world’s total. The planet requires concerted action to put an end to this behaviour; strong leadership should be underpinned by a reinforced and expanded UN collaborative programme on REDD).

European slump leads utilities to burn more coal

By Henning Gloystein and Jeff Coelho, Reuters, 8 May 2012 | Europe’s economic slump is allowing utilities in some countries to burn increasing amounts of cheap, highly polluting coal for electricity generation and still meet legally binding targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions, Reuters research shows. The EU’s carbon scheme, its main tool to fight global warming, caps CO2 emissions on around 12,000 industrial and power plants in 30 countries and requires them to purchase permits to exceed those caps. The supply of permits has increased, however, to the equivalent of several hundred million tons of emissions due largely to slowing industrial output. Preliminary EU data suggests emissions in the capped market fell just over 2 percent last year. Prices have slumped accordingly. Polluters currently pay around 7 euros ($9.13) per ton of CO2 emitted, down 60 percent from the same time last year.

Jordanian company takes over 25% of Congo forest

Zawya, 8 May 2012 | Sanabel International Holding, the first Islamic investment bank in Jordan, announced acquisition of 25 per cent of a high value forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is one of the largest privately held forests in the world. Sanabel purchased 500,000 hectares, enhancing its strategic position to capitalize on the rapidly growing forest carbon trading market. The company will develop forest carbon credit projects that will protect the role of forests in mitigating climate change. According to Barclay’s Capital, carbon is expected to become the world’s biggest commodity market and could well become the biggest market ever. The global carbon market is forecast to grow to $1 trillion by 2013. The Congolese forests are under threat from deforestation, with the UN estimating that 2/3 of the Congo River Basin forest will disappear by 2040.

[Guyana] The PPP/C is misleading the indigenous peoples

By Laura George, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 8 May 2012 | I wish to call on the PPP/C government and its supporters to stop insulting the intelligence of our indigenous peoples. The PPP/C has sent its agents into indigenous communities in various regions to tell our peoples that because of the budget cuts by the opposition parliamentarians, their communities will be severely affected – no more titling and demarcation of their lands, no more solar panels, no more presidential grants, etc, and that these cuts were also voted by their own indigenous parliamentarians in the opposition groups. These agents have even walked with flyers carrying photos of indigenous parliamentarians, among others, showing them as the bad guys. How dangerous but pitiful.

Indonesian Government Denies Increased Deforestation

Jakarta Globe, 8 May 2012 | The government has declared that a report regarding the country’s loss of almost five million hectares of forest and peatlands since the implementation of a moratorium on deforestation is misleading. “The report cannot be understood because it’s different from the forestry ministry’s record, which says the deforestation rate over the past few years has drastically decreased to around 500,000 hectares annually,” said Agus Purnomo, a presidential special aide on climate change on Monday. But Greenpeace adamantly claims that Indonesia is still losing forest lands at an alarming rate. “By May 2012, Indonesia could lose 4.9 million hectares of its forests and peatlands. With each revision of the forest moratorium, the acreage continues to decrease,” said Yuyun Indradi, political campaigner of Greenpeace in recent statement.

Lao Govt to consider suspending large mining, land concessions

Vientiane Times, 8 May 2012 | The government may suspend new large mining projects and land concessions this year amid rising concerns about the social and environmental impacts of various private investment projects. The Ministry of Planning and Investment announced yesterday it would propose that the cabinet suspend the granting of new concessions for large mining projects and industrial tree plantations until it comes up with concrete measures to address the negative impacts associated with such investment projects. The proposal recommends the government to encourage those investors who have already received mining concessions to get their projects underway, while monitoring and evaluating the positive and negative impacts of the projects before deciding whether to resume investment in the mining sector. The government also needs to review and evaluate large land concessions for industrial tree plantations…

[Nigeria] Tree Planting Solution To Climate Change – FME

Nigerian Observer, 8 May 2012 | Mr. John Auta, the Acting Director, Forestry Department, Federal Ministry of Environment, has said that tree planting was the primary solution to climate change. Auta, who made this known in an interview with the newsmen in Abuja said tree planting was the major strategy to addressing climate change in Nigeria. He said: “Carbon trading is one of the major products of afforestation’’, noting that Nigeria had not met the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) recommendation of 26 per cent forest cover to nations. Auta said that environmental problems such as desertification and erosion could best be controlled by afforestation. He attributed the continuous effect of climate change to massive deforestation, stressing that human-induced global deforestation was responsible for 18 to 25 per cent of global climate change. “Tree planting, be it economic or ornamental, can reduce the effect of climate change to its barest minimum, due to carbon trading.”

[USA] Unnatural forests are depleting water supply

By Helen M. Poulos and James G. Workman, L.A. Times, 8 May 2012 | Ronald Reagan once justified logging with “a tree is a tree; how many more do you need to look at?” Besides, he warned, “trees cause more pollution than automobiles.” We cringed at his biases. Yet due to forces none foresaw, Reagan’s gaffes may now ring true. Today, the hottest and thirstiest parts of the United States are best described as over-forested. Vigorous federal protection has stocked semiarid regions of public land with several billion trees too many. And day after day these excess trees deplete a natural resource that has become far more precious than toilet paper or 2-by-4′s: water. Scientists and water managers report that 39 states face water scarcity. Much of the nation’s freshwater shortfall comes from our population growth, waste, hunger and contaminants. But we must also now implicate the escalating thirst of unnatural forests.

[Vietnam] Beneficiaries of forests need to pay forest keepers

VietNamNet Bridge, 8 May 2012 | The Quang Nam provincial authorities have announced the establishment of the Forest Protection and Development Fund, and signed the contracts on providing forest environmental services with the 13 organizations in the locality. The fund aims to mobilize different resources in the society for the forest protection and development. At first, the fund would operate with the budget of 5 billion dong allocated by the provincial authorities. Prior to that, the model of paying fees for forest environmental services was carried out in a trial basis in the mountainous commune of Ma Cooih in Dong Giang district of Quang Nam province. Vo Viet Cuong, GASF – Winrock International Project Director, the organization that initiated the model, said that there were two subjects that received pay for the forest environment services, including the A Vuong preventive forest’s board of management and the households, which were assigned to protect the forests.

9 May 2012

Rio+20 Dialogues: Are we felling forests to fuel our future?

By Michelle Kovaceciv, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 May 2012 | Forests are an important source of energy for rural and urban households around the world. And many believe that renewable energy provision as part of a green economy will be the next biggest challenge human civilisation will face. However the assumption that renewable energy sources, such as biofuels, are completely environmentally friendly is often erroneous, according to participants in the Rio+20 dialogues on sustainable development. “What may be seen as a renewable source does not necessarily mean sustainable if other resources used in the process (e.g. water, forested lands) are in limited supply,” said Mary Menton, CIFOR scientist commenting on hydroelectricity and its impact on forested lands in Brazil.

World Bank calls on countries to take urgent steps to protect ‘natural capital’

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 9 May 2012 | Countries must take urgent steps to value their natural capital – such as forests, peatlands and coastal areas – as part of their economic development, the World Bank has urged. Placing a monetary value on natural ecosystems is a key step on the road to “green” economic growth, according to the World Bank, which published a report on green growth on Wednesday at a conference in Seoul, Korea. By making such estimates, countries can develop policies that ensure the pursuit of economic growth does not occur at the expense of future growth potential, by destroying natural assets such as water sources or polluting air, rivers and soil. Rachel Kyte, vice president for sustainable development at the bank, said that the patterns on which economic growth had been achieved in recent decades were unsustainable, because of the amount of environmental degradation involved.

[Ecuador] Indigenous Group Rejects Ivanhoe’s Rainforest Oil Project in Calgary

Amazon Watch, 9 May 2012 | A surprise guest met representatives of Canadian-based Ivanhoe Energy this morning at its Calgary headquarters to denounce the company’s oil operations in Ecuador. Rene Chimbo, President of the Kichwa indigenous people of Rukullakta, Ecuador, presented a letter adamantly rejecting the company’s drilling plans slated for Rukullakta-titled territory. The letter emphatically rejects any planned oil operations on Rukullakta lands without community consent, and denounces the “attitude of Ivanhoe Energy and subcontractors for trying to divide our communities.” In the letter, the community also vowed to “raise its voice and spears in defense of our territory and forest.” Chimbo personally delivered the letter to senior Ivanhoe management on behalf of 17 Rukullakta communities representing some 8,000 people.

Climate change to impact forests in India

Zeenews.com, 9 May 2012 | Climate change will be an additional stress on Indian forests, especially in Upper Himalayan stretches, which are already subjected to multiple challenges including over-extraction, livestock grazing and human impact, a government report said here today. India’s second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, released by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said that the assessment of climate impacts showed that at the national level, 45 per cent of forested grids are likely to undergo changes. In the report, a digital forest map of the country was used to determine spatial location of all the forested areas. This map was based on a high-resolution mapping, wherein the entire area of India was divided into over 165,000 grids. Out of these, 35,899 grids were marked as forested grids –along with the forest density and forest types.

Uganda says could eject Oxfam over land grab claims

By Jocelyn Edwards, Reuters, 9 May 2012 | Uganda has threatened to kick out Oxfam after the British charity accused the government of complicity in violent land grabs for commercial gains, according to the interior ministry. The ministry has told Oxfam and the Uganda Land Alliance, they will lose their operating licenses if they do not retract and apologise for accusations that more than 20,000 people were evicted to make way for an international forestry company. “(This) has … generated unnecessary malicious attacks against the person of the president and brings the presidency into disrepute in a manner that is inconsistent with national laws,” the ministry’s National NGO Board said in an undated report on an investigation into the organizations. A retraction of the accusations, made in a September report, and apologies to the president and the ministry are preconditions for the two charities to keep their licences and the work permits of their staff, the board said.

[Vietnam] Transparency helps promote REDD+ effectiveness

Daily News, 9 May 2012 | Increasing people’s participation and strengthening measures to promote transparency while identifying responsibilities of reporting and preventing corruption are key solutions to the effective implementation of programmes for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (REDD+). This was the major focus of a conference co-organised by Lam Dong People’s Committee and Bidoup Nui Ba National Park in coordination with the Towards Transparency organisation, on May 8 in Da Lat city of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong . The conference highlighted the idea of strengthening preventive anti-corruption measures in the REDD mechanism (PAC REDD) as well as the positive impacts of publicity and transparency in the REDD process. Launched by Transparency International and funded by Norway , PAC REDD is running in Indonesia , Papua New Guinea and Vietnam.

10 May 2012

Can loggers be conservationists?

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 10 May 2012 | a new policy paper in Conservation Letters agrees, making the case that logging in tropical forests could aid overall conservation efforts in the tropics by keeping a home for species like the African golden cat as well as safeguarding many ecosystem services. The authors assert that selective and well-managed logging should be considered a “middle way” between forest protection and outright destruction for monoculture plantations, agriculture, or livestock ranches. “Selectively logged tropical forests, especially if they are logged gently and with care, retain most of their biodiversity and continue to provide ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and hydrological functions,” lead author Francis Putz with the University of Florida explained to mongabay.com, but he added that such forests are viewed very differently by many because “they lose the semblance of being untrammeled, pristine, virgin, or entirely natural.”

Logging of tropical forests needn’t devastate environment

Science Daily, 10 May 2012 | Harvesting tropical forests for timber may not be the arch-enemy of conservation that it was once assumed to be, according to a new study led by a University of Florida researcher. Selective logging may be one of the few feasible options left for conserving tropical forests given the huge financial incentives pushing tropical landholders to convert primary forests into cash-generating agricultural plantations. The report analyzed data from more than 100 studies of tropical forests on three continents that had been harvested for timber. Results suggest that while biodiversity and carbon retention take a hit from selective logging, the losses are survivable and reversible to a degree if the forest is given adequate time to recover. The study appears in the online version of the journal Conservation Letters.

CBD Refines Focus on Biodiversity/Deforestation Nexus

By Richard Blaustein, Ecosystem Marketplace, 10 May 2012 | The Sixteenth meeting (SBSTTA-16) of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice deliberated painstakingly here last week on a REDD+ recommendation that ultimately emphasized national REDD+ approaches for safeguards and indicators relating to biodiversity – an emphasis that works in tandem with UNFCCC REDD+ work – the SBSTTA conference did make progress for information and guidance that address the biodiversity gaps many feel would widen if the UNFCCC launches a REDD juggernaut. The SBSTTA did promote further work on safeguards and indicators on the national level and within the CBD’s information exchange.

Rio+20 Points the Way to a Green Economy Without Poverty

By Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brazil), National Geographic, 10 May 2012 | Rio+20 will be an opportunity to hold this discussion at the highest level. The Conference will be fundamentally different from its predecessor, Rio 92. The Summit held 20 years ago represented the final stages of long negotiation processes that culminated in the signing of important documents and conventions. In turn, Rio+20 looks to the future, building a new sustainable development agenda. To the extent that Rio 92 was a point of destination, Rio+20 may be considered a point of departure.

Drive on by? Will upcoming meetings in Bonn take the opportunity to make progress on addressing drivers of deforestation?

By Emily Brickell (ODI), REDD-Net, 10 May 2012 | The upcoming REDD+ Partnership meeting and the UNFCCC intercessional in Bonn are key opportunities to make progress on tackling the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, both so critical for stemming climate change. Many advance submissions from governments and observer organisations stressed the need to look beyond the forest sector to address the way other sectors drive deforestation. For example, the EU point out that ‘given the importance of rural development, food security, mitigation and adaptation in the agricultural sector and of agricultural expansion as a driver of deforestation, the implications of REDD+ implementation should be considered from a broad perspective’. The relationship between forests and sectors that drive deforestation and forest degradation is crucial to efforts to reduce emissions and achieve development objectives.

Artists invent peculiar way of saving trees

By Karen Msiska, The Daily Times, 10 May 2012 | Some Mzuzu-based artists, trading under the banner Jambula Project, have invented a peculiar way of saving both natural and exotic trees in some parts of Rumphi. The Jambula Project is implemented under the Scottish charity environment organisation REDD Horizon in partnership with Mzuzu University (Mzuni). Under the project people in various areas are encouraged to plant trees and name the trees they planted. “We invented the plant a tree and name it, abbreviated as Patani, to protect the environment through bringing back ownership of the environment in the minds of people around such environments,” said Coordinator of the Project Myck Mtika. “We had noted that even if they initiated the process of planting trees, people never protected them because they did not own them. We wanted them to start owning the trees by giving names to these trees.” Implementation of the Jambula Project started in February…

Political-Risk Insurer Underused as Climate Talks Fail

By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 10 May 2012 | A World Bank Group agency providing insurance, including political-risk coverage, in developing nations is being underutilized by 30 percent because of a lack of demand as the United Nations fights to protect the climate. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency in Washington provided a record $2.1 billion of guarantees in the year through June last year, which may jump another 14 percent this fiscal year, said Edith Quintrell, MIGA’s director of operations. A lack of global climate-protection laws after 2012 may be curbing demand, Quintrell said in a phone interview on May 7. “Right now we don’t see a flood of inquiries” from climate-finance investments, she said. “We have capacity to do more. We could do $3 billion a year” without raising new capital, she said.

Sustainable development needs more than just green economy: Ecuador minister

By Gabriela Ramirez Galindo, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 10 May 2012 | Sustainable development in Ecuador should consider climate-change mitigation measures and capacity building of local communities in addition to a green economy, the Ecuador deputy environment minister told CIFOR. “A green economy is not an alternative to sustainable development and has not yet provided the expected results,” said Ecuador Deputy Environment Minister Mercy Borbor Cordova. “Developing countries should have access to new technologies beyond productivity and economic growth purposes.” Borbor referred to Ecuador’s unique “Net Avoided Emissions” scheme, which is being promoted at international forums. The scheme has countries compensating Ecuador’s natural resources industry for limiting its release of emissions into the atmosphere. The Yasuni-iTT initiative, for example, is central to the scheme and targets the protection of one of the world’s most megadiverse forests and the home to the Waorani…

[Indonesia] Lord Mandelson confirms he is advising company accused of illegal logging

By Rob Evans and Kate Hodal, The Guardian, 10 May 2012 | Lord Mandelson has been recruited to advise a multinational company accused of illegally chopping down endangered rainforest. The Labour peer and his staff in the political consultancy that he set up after leaving government have been meeting officials on behalf of Asia Pulp and Paper. For more than a decade, APP, one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies, has been accused by environmental groups such as Greenpeace of destroying thousands of hectares of Indonesian rainforest and endangering some of the world’s rarest animals. A growing number of firms have boycotted APP. The disclosure comes as Mandelson and other peers are expected to face pressure from the House of Lords authorities to declare their clients. Global Counsel, the consultancy Mandelson chairs, does not name its clients as it “respects their privacy”. But after inquiries by the Guardian, he has confirmed that Global Counsel has a contract with APP…

[USA] California takes step toward linking CO2 market to Quebec

Reuters, 10 May 2012 | California on Wednesday released an updated draft of its cap-and-trade regulations that for the first time includes language that would link its carbon market to a similar scheme in the Canadian province of Quebec. The draft language called for the mutual acceptance of compliance instruments like allowances and offset credits between the two jurisdictions. It also called for a common allowance registry and auction, and included provisions for tracking allowances which are designed to enhance market security.

[USA] Military Fights Global Warming

By Dominique Browning, Huffington Post, 10 May 2012 | Is the Navy greener than California? As more polls show that a majority of Americans want action on carbon pollution and global warming, leadership on fighting climate change is coming from surprising places — starting with the military. At a recent reception held by the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington D.C., Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gave a speech in which he connected the dots between climate change, energy and security issues. He became the highest-ranking official in the Obama administration to do so. Panetta explained that his Department of Defense is facing a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion because of unexpected fuel costs. “I have a deep interest in more sustainable and efficient energy options,” he said.

11 May 2012

Bonn 2012 climate change talks: Where is the ambition?

By Ed King, RTCC, 11 May 2012 | Seasoned climate change activists will know that the annual UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change conference starts this coming Monday morning. It’s an important summit that will provide an idea of whether the ambitions of the Durban Platform can be achieved. You’ll recall that the agreement set the ball rolling towards a comprehensive global emissions limit with an element of legal force – although what form that will take is unclear. The absence of leading politicians offers negotiators the chance to develop ideas and concepts without the glare of publicity. But we should be in no doubt – much rests on the next two weeks, and we’ll gain a clearer idea of where the world stands on making a firm commitment on climate change once they are finished.

Petition calls on Brazilian president to veto ‘catastrophic’ forest code

By John Vidal and Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 11 May 2012 | More than 1.5 million people in Europe, the US and elsewhere have petitioned the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, to veto a law that critics say could lead to the loss of 220,000 square kilometres of Amazonian rainforest, an area close to the combined size of the UK and France. The proposed new Brazilian forest code, pushed through parliament by the powerful farming lobby in the face of national opposition, would provide an amnesty for landowners who have illegally cleared forests in the past and will allow deforestation in previously protected areas like mountain tops and beside rivers. According to environment groups, it could allow loggers to chop down more of the Amazon than has been possible in the last 50 years. The president, who has the right to veto the bill, has been bombarded with emails, petitions and by social media appeals by more than 1.5 million people. This number is expected to rise dramatically…

Brazil’s economists predict ‘huge’ growth of carbon markets

By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 11 May 2012 | Brazil’s new carbon market could experience “huge” growth in the next eight years, as the government seeks to curb emissions from deforestation and industry. That is the bullish prediction of some of Brazil’s leading economists, who are also looking to the UK for advice in developing a successful emissions trading scheme. Speaking to reporters at Sao Paulo’s FGV school of economics, Mario Monzoni, founder and director of sustainability studies, predicted a cap-and-trade scheme would be the most important mechanism to cut emissions from deforestation. “We spend most of our days talking about cap and trade in Brazil,” he said. “We need some conditions to do it, such as carbon inventories, which help to create the demand for credits.

Herakles Farms is cutting the heart out of Cameroon’s rainforest

By Irène Wabiwa, Greenpeace International, 11 May 2012 | Within the past few weeks, rainforest destruction has begun once again in one of Africa’s most important biodiversity hotspots: the coastal rainforest of Cameroon, at the fringe of the Congo Basin region. Herakles Farms, the American company behind the operation, is now pressing ahead with the establishment of a palm oil plantation in this precious area despite major social, environmental and legal concerns. Despite the rapidly growing controversy around its plantation project, Herakles Farms has stated that it wants to become a model for sustainable palm oil development in Africa. On the contrary, this specific project exemplifies the possible detrimental impact of large-scale palm oil plantations on people’s rights and livelihoods, biodiversity and the global climate. Herakles Farms’ plans have already been strongly contested by local communities, Cameroonian NGOs and international conservation organizations…

Indonesia Galvanises Youth Ahead of Rio+20

By Kanis Dursin, IPS, 11 May 2012 | According to Amanda Katili Niode, communications, information, and education coordinator of the DNPI, the forum and expo were part of efforts to educate, empower, and engage all stakeholders on policies relating to climate change as stipulated in Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “We invited at least 5,000 elementary and high school students from the Greater Jakarta area. Many other schools have organised their own trips,” she said, adding that the number of visitors was expected to reach 50,000 people, compared to 30,000 in 2011. Most of the 75 exhibition participants were government departments and local governments, showcasing activities conducted under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programmess funded by, among others, AusAID, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Regency head calls for stop to palm oil development in contested peat forest in Indonesia

mongabay.com, 11 May 2012 | The acting head of Nagan Raya Regency — the location of Tripa peat swamp — on Thursday demanded a stop to a controversial palm oil development project that conservationists say threatens a population of endangered orangutans, reports Serambi Indonesia. Nagan Raya butapi H Azwir told the Aceh-based newspaper that PT Kalista Alam should immediately cease activities in the contested part of Tripa’s peat forest, in Aceh Province on the island of Sumatra. He said that research into the palm oil company’s concession indicated that PT Kalista Alam lacked permission to convert the forest into a plantation. “We asked the company to immediately stop the activity in the area. Their actions are wrong, because there is no consent,” Azwir is quoted as saying. Azwir added that PT Kalista Alam may be required to restore the area that area that it damaged.

Norway aims for carbon leadership

By Richard Black, BBC News, 11 May 2012 | “Welcome to Norway, welcome to Mongstad; and welcome to a great and important day.” Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg did not shy away from superlatives as he formally inaugurated the carbon capture test facility at Mongstad near Bergen, on Norway’s west coast. “Today we are opening the world’s largest and most advanced laboratory for testing carbon capture technologies… a unique test centre to meet one of the greatest challenges of our time.” A trumpeter sprayed bright and airy notes, a choir of local children sang, and all appeared to be rosy in the world of carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Companies Cut Two Switzerlands of Emissions in WWF Pact

By Avery Fellow, Bloomberg, 11 May 2012 | The Coca-Cola Co., Nike, and more than 30 other companies have cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 100 million metric tons since 1999 under a partnership agreement with the World Wildlife Fund, according to a new report. That’s twice as much as the current annual emissions of Switzerland. The companies are part of the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers program, in which companies partner with WWF and set targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The targets must be more ambitious than previous goals set by the company and should place companies ahead of their competitors in reducing emissions. WWF provides guidance to partner companies on ways to reduce their carbon footprint and address climate change. Other members include HP, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Lafarge, National Geographic, Natura, Nokia Siemens Networks, Novo Nordisk, Sprint, Tetra Pak, Sony, Supervalu, and Volvo.

12 May 2012

‘Low’ expectations from new round of climate talks

Daily News, 12 May 2012 | Officials from some 170 countries gather in Bonn from Monday to lay the groundwork for a new global warming pact, as Europe pushes for progress amid fears of political and financial wavering. Teams of experts and diplomats will seek to outline a work plan for clinching a new deal by 2015 on limiting Earth-warming gas emissions, but observers fear squabbling and political inertia may hamstring negotiators. “A lot of other issues are competing for space and time,” climate change observer Alden Meyer told AFP ahead of the May 14 to 25 talks. “It all comes down to politics and national interests.” The gathering is the first since UN member states agreed in Durban, South Africa, last December to bring all major greenhouse-gas emitting countries under a single legal roof from 2020. Since then, anger has been brewing over Europe’s imposition of a carbon emissions tax on international airlines from January 1…

[Bangladesh] Activists opposed to WB role in climate fund

Gulf Times, 12 May 2012 | Rights groups in Bangladesh yesterday demanded an end to the fiduciary management role of the World Bank in Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) by 2013. The demand was raised at a press conference jointly organised by six civil society climate networks and 11 organisations at National Press Club in Dhaka city. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD, Prodip Roy of OK Society, Progoti Chakma of BIPNetCCBD, Mostafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud of Voice and Khokan Sikder of CDP spoke at the press conference. The rights activists also demanded forming of an independent institution with democratic ownership for all climate fund management and expressed their concern that there is an attempt to extend the present role of World Bank in the BCCRF until 2018.

[Philippines] DENR vows to conserve forests in SoLeyte

Philippine Information Agency, 12 May 2012 | The Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas has vowed to conserve the forests of Mt. Nacolod in Silago town, Southern Leyte province. DENR regional director Rogelio Trinidad accepted the challenge to preserve and nurture the forest resources of Southern Leyte stating that “taking care of our forests should be passed from generation to generation and people should lead by example.” Accordingly, an assessment which would provide policy and decision makers a sound basis in the crafting of appropriate conservation measures was undertaken jointly by the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the DENR; the Flora and Fauna International; the National Museum of the Philippines and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

13 May 2012

Norway acts as others drag feet on carbon emissions

By April Yee, The National, 13 May 2012 | Advocates of burying the world’s carbon emissions underground have long pushed for a global price on greenhouse gases. But their goal appears ever more elusive as nations fail year after year to agree on putting a price to carbon worldwide. So now the industry is going for the next best thing – single-country carbon prices. Moves such as those by Norway, which has slapped a US$40 (Dh146.91) per tonne tax on carbon emissions and is considering raising it to $70, have helped to spur carbon-burial projects while the wait drags on for a global carbon-trading scheme. “There’s been a lot of disappointment. We have not seen the … global agreements forthcoming,” said Bjørn-Erik Haugan, the chief executive of Gassnova, the Norway government’s carbon-capture enterprise. “So that’s not happening. The encouraging news is that there are a lot of local and regional initiatives that provide the same type of incentives.”

Illiterate Farmer Faces 10-Year Sentence After Taking Piece of Wood

By Markus Junianto Sihaloho, Jakarta Globe, 13 May 2012 | An illiterate farmer never imagined he would have to spend months in a police detention center for taking a teak branch from a plantation in Kendal, Central Java. Rosidi, 41, has been detained for almost three months, leaving his wife and three children at home without the household’s main breadwinner, after his arrest in February. The case reached Jakarta on Friday, prompting lawmakers and activists to demand his release, calling the detention unfair. Lawmaker Nasir Jamil said that Rosidi’s case was ironic because many other people have walked free after conducting massive illegal logging that caused natural disasters and trillions of rupiah in state losses. “Even if he stole the teak branch, he should have been warned because probably he did not know that what he was doing was illegal,” Nasir said. “Isn’t the legal system supposed to correct people? Just let him go.”

Peru’s coffee growers turn carbon traders to save their farms from climate change

By Luca Siegle, The Observer, 13 May 2012 | Peru is rated among the top three nations likely to be most affected by climate change in the world by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia… A report published today by the UK’s leading ethical hot drinks brand Cafédirect (Cepicafe is one of its suppliers) warns that the effects of climate change on arabica production are likely to lead to worldwide shortages and an exodus from coffee growing by small-scale producers. However the company, which was formed 21 years ago to protect small-scale producers from poverty after the collapse of the coffee price, has come up with a potential game changer: a unique way of playing the carbon market to the advantage of the poor that will fund long-term strategies to adapt to climate change.

Lèse majesté complaint lodged against NHRC members

Prachatai, 13 May 2012 | National Human Rights Commissioner Niran Phithakwatchara and members of an NHRC subcommittee have been accused of lèse majesté by the head of Kaeng Krachan National Park after they intervened in a project, which the park claims was implemented in honour of the King. On 11 May, Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn, head of the National Park in Phetchaburi in upper southern Thailand, filed a lèse majesté complaint with local police against Niran and members of the NHRC subcommittee on the rights of ethnic minority groups and migrants. He reportedly went to the police station with over 100 supporters including National Park officials and villagers. Niran and the NHRC subcommittee, in response to a complaint filed by local residents, had intervened in projects, implemented by the National Park, to cut down forest vines and grow plants to feed wild elephants and other wildlife in honour of the King.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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