REDD in the news: 18-24 June 2012

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REDD in the news: 18-24 June 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.

REDD Early Movers (REM) — Rewarding pioneers in forest conservation

BMZ, June 2012 | REM promotes forest conservation and the resulting reductions in CO2 emissions. This is done using incentive payments and performance-based payments, supported by setting up institutions, monitoring systems and REDD registers, and by capacity development. REM is aimed at early movers. These are actors who accepted the risk of taking the initiative early on and instigated activities under the REDD scheme.

18 June 2012

REDD+ as an idea is a success but implementing it is fraught with challenges, new global study says

CIFOR press release, 18 June 2012 | Implementation of a UN-backed scheme that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by protecting tropical forests is fraught with challenges but these can be overcome with technical solutions and increased political will, according to the authors of a new publication from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Analysing REDD+: Challenges and Choices, released today on the side-lines of the Rio +20 summit, reports on the current state of REDD+, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, as well as the conservation and sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The study – drawing on three years of research across Asia, Africa and Latin America – offers fresh insights into the challenges faced by REDD+, and suggests new ways of addressing some of them.

‘Reality Check’: New publication offers insights and ideas for moving REDD+ forward

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 18 June 2012 | REDD+ as an idea is a success – but implementing it is fraught with challenges, according to a new publication from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Analysing REDD+:Challenges and Choices, released today on the sidelines of the Rio +20 summit, examines how the UN-backed scheme – which aims to reduce carbon emissions through avoided deforestation – is being implemented, and offers ideas on how to improve it. “It’s a reality check on what is happening on the ground,” says Arild Angelsen, an environmental economist with CIFOR and professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and the book’s main editor.

Rio+20: Lessons learnt from REDD+

RTCC – Responding to Climate Change, 18 June 2012 | Louis Verchot, CIFOR, talks to Pavilion TV about the REDD+ process and the lessons that have been learnt from the projects being implemented on the ground to date. He says a whole host of lessons have been learnt from the international level and achieving political consensus to the local level on the ground where in many countries the political and economic interests may lean towards keeping the statue quo. He says lessons have also been learnt about the technical aspects of the programme. He talks about the success the programme has had in putting forestry on the map. When forests were just considered as forests, in their own right, the discussion on conservation did not go so far, but since 2005, and the introduction of REDD, linking forests to other international agendas, for example climate change, has brought more stakeholders to the table and discussions have gone much further.

HRH The Prince of Wales: Address to the Nobel Laureates Event at the Sustainable Development Conference Rio+20

Huffington Post, 18 June 2012 | I remember everyone wanted the first summit to be a success, but many viewed the scope of it to be far too optimistic. There were basic perceptions to overcome, particularly public awareness of climate change which was lamentable to say the least. Which is why, despite countless such meetings and gatherings ever since, the increasingly dire warnings issued by yourselves and others around the world, that we are rapidly breaching one planetary boundary after another, have been consistently and alarmingly ignored. Any ‘progress’ in this context has therefore been a somewhat relative concept.

UN, People’s Summit Clash over Green Economy

By Fabiana Frayssinet, Inter Press Service, 18 June 2012 | U.N. Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner believes that he and the Rio+20 People’s Summit agree that the global economic model has caused the current environmental destruction. But the discussion on what to replace it with turned into an acrid debate… [F]ormer Bolivian ambassador to the U.N., Pablo Solón, who accused the UNEP official of “not being honest. Underlying that concept is the assumption that nature is capital,” said Solón. Steiner “says that they are trying to decouple growth and environmental destruction. It is not possible to grow forever, biodiversity is the limit! What we need is to redistribute wealth!” he said vehemently during the debate – to which the UNEP head retorted that raising his voice did not make Solón right.

Putting forests at the heart of a new, greener economy

FAO Media Centre, 18 June 2012 | The world’s forests have a major role to play in the transition to a new, greener economy, a theme being discussed at the Rio+20 Conference. But to spark that shift, governments must enact programs and policies aimed at both unlocking the potential of forests and ensuring that they are sustainably managed, FAO said today. In a new report, The State of the World’s Forests 2012 (SOFO 2012), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization makes the case that better and more sustainable use of forestry resources can make a significant contribution to meeting many of the core challenges being discussed in Rio, including reducing poverty and hunger, minimizing the impacts of climate change, and creating alternative and more sustainable sources of bio-products and bio-energy for human use.

Landsat sets the standard for maps of world’s forests

Science Codex, 18 June 2012 | NASA’s Earth-observing fleet of satellites provides a worldwide and unbiased view with standardized scientific data — information crucial for tracking the health of the world’s forests. Countries like Brazil are using data from NASA satellites to track and measure their forests in advance of a United Nations effort to reduce climate change by providing “carbon credits” for protected land. The concept is known as REDD+, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. It includes monitoring forest degradation and efforts in conservation and sustainable management. “REDD+ aims to make forests more valuable standing than they would be cut down, by creating a financial value for the carbon stored in trees,” says Yemi Katerere, head of the United Nations’ UN-REDD Programme Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

CO2 Market Has Failed To Promote Cleaner Energy

By Henning Gloystein, Reuters, 18 June 2012 | Europe’s emissions trading scheme has failed to create incentives for utilities to use cleaner energy fuels, meaning that governments will have to switch to simpler tools, such as subsidies and regulation, to enforce emissions reduction targets… The most obvious failure of the ETS has been that emissions allowances are not expensive enough to make it more attractive to invest in cleaner fossil fuel sources. Yet an equally big, if more hidden, failure of the ETS has been that there are too many market variables at play to make emissions consistently expensive enough to facilitate the long-term investment decisions needed for fundamental changes in the way electricity is generated. One such variable that the ETS has no control over is the foreign exchange market. European utilities sell their electricity in local currencies, such as the euro or sterling, but have to buy coal in the dollar-denominated coal market.

Brazil must go “beyond enforcement” to protect Amazon for Green economy

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 18 June 2012 | Strict law enforcement in the Brazilian Amazon has seen deforestation rates plummet, yet the government “must go beyond enforcement” and reform land use policies to restore millions of hectares of degraded land vital for the sustainable management its forests, said an expert at a CIFOR side event at the Rio+20 summit. “After all the efforts by the government and the private sector to reduce deforestation through better monitoring, why is 700, 000 hectares still lost each year? Land clearing for agriculture is still happening while 11 million hectares of land are going to waste”, said Paulo Barreto from Imazon.

[Indonesia] Haze Fears Grow as Sumatra Hot Spots Double

By Zakir Hussain, Jakarta Globe, 18 June 2012 | Yesterday authorities detected twice the number of hot spots in Sumatra, raising fears that the haze is about to surface again… The Pekanbaru office of Indonesia’s National Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency told The Straits Times that a total of 163 hot spots were detected throughout Sumatra yesterday, more than double the 80 on Saturday. Of the hot spots identified yesterday, 77, or close to half, were in Riau, which reported just 44 hot spots a day earlier. Another 22 hot spots were in Aceh, 16 in Jambi, 14 in North Sumatra and 17 in South Sumatra, with the rest spread across four other provinces on the island. Haze was also reported in Medan and motorists in Pekanbaru had to drive with their headlights on yesterday, although flights at the airport were not disrupted.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to aid Nepal’s Conservation Efforts

WWF, 18 June 2012 | A successful test of two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or Conservation Drones, was carried out on 12 June 2012 in Chitwan National Park in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape. Introduced for the first time in Nepal by WWF Nepal with the support of WWF’s Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS), the Drones will be used for monitoring tigers and rhinos as well as illegal activities within the protected areas. The test flight was conducted in the presence of Honorable Minister of Forests and Soil conservation, Yadu Bansa Jha, Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Chief Conservation Officer of Chitwan National Park, Nepal Army and representatives from WWF Nepal.

19 June 2012

The Rio Earth Summit: is it destined to fail the world?

By Geoffrey Lean, The Telegraph, 19 June 2012 | Back in 1992, the world’s leaders produced no fewer than three international treaties – on tackling global warming, arresting the rapid loss of species, and saving the world’s soils from increasing destruction – plus a 40-chapter road map for addressing environmental issues called Agenda 21. But precious little has been done to implement them over the last two decades. Today’s summit was originally designed to provide new impetus. It even left aside the contentious issue of climate change, in the hope of making progress on those crises on which almost everyone is agreed, such as increasing overfishing and pollution in the oceans, growing world hunger and unemployment, and rapidly expanding cities. Fat chance.

Rio+20: Agreement reached, say diplomats

By Richard Black, BBC News, 19 June 2012 | Negotiators have agreed a text to be approved by world leaders meeting this week in Rio in a summit intended to put society on a more sustainable path. Environment groups and charities working on poverty issues believe the agreement is far too weak.

Greenpeace comment on state of Rio+20 negotiations text for adoption

Greenpeace International, 19 June 2012 | Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director said: “The future we want has gotten a little further away today. Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy. We were promised the ‘future we want’ but are now being present with a ‘common vision’ of a polluter’s charter that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests. This is not a foundation on which to grow economies or pull people out of poverty, it’s the last will and testament of a destructive twentieth century development model.”

Rio+20 seen as last chance for rainforest

By Joe Leahy, Financial Times, 19 June 2012 | Environmentalists see the conference as a last chance to put pressure on Dilma Rousseff, the president, and politicians in Brasília to strengthen the law, known as the forest code, which they say grants an amnesty to illegal deforesters. Ranchers see the meeting as an opportunity to burnish Brazil’s environmental credentials, arguing that the law is the world’s most stringent regarding conservation on private land.

Forests: The 8th Roundtable at Rio+20

CIFOR, 19 June 2012 | In June 2012, one of the most important environmental gatherings in a generation will take place in Brazil – Rio+20. Organisers have identified seven key issues to form new sustainable development goals: jobs, energy, cities, food, water, oceans and disasters. Forests, however, have been largely excluded from most of these key issues – with only one mention in the description of ‘food’. To ensure that forests remain high on the agenda in 2012, CIFOR will coordinate one of the most important conferences on forests alongside the Rio+20 summit, Forests: The 8th Roundtable at Rio+20. Distinguished panellists will discuss new research findings – and remaining knowledge gaps — and their policy implications for integrating forests into the solutions to four key challenges to progress toward a green economy: Energy, food and income, water, and climate.

IFC scraps 150-million euro carbon fund

Point Carbon, 19 June 2012 | The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation has scrapped its 150-million euro post-2012 carbon fund after a 75 percent crash in carbon prices left it unviable, an IFC official said, making it the most high-profile casualty of the 2011 carbon crash. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Uncertain future for international forest scheme

By Bianca Nogrady, ABC, 19 June 2012 | Industrial nations scrabbling desperately for ways to reduce their carbon debt, the idea was instantly appealing: invest in developing-world projects that either prevent a forest from being cleared, or replant an area that has been cleared, thus reducing global carbon emissions, and earn carbon credits in the process… But things are rarely easy or cheap when it comes to mitigating climate change, as a new report from the Centre for International Forest Research (CIFOR) shows. A summary of the REDD+ experience so far was released yesterday at the Rio+20 United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development. It suggests that while it has significant potential, REDD+ faces huge challenges that are not easily overcome… “You’re paying for emissions reduction, and establishing such a system is not only hard in practice, it’s also hard in theory,” [Arild] Angelsen says.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 19 July 2012 | With Rio+20 underway on its home turf, Brazil is waiting for clarity from a number of fronts, given the delay in the launch of its carbon market, ambiguity over its modest new emissions-cutting goals, and suspense over the Congressional vote on President Rousseff’s proposed modifications and vetos to the Forest Code, scheduled for July. Against this backdrop, a recent survey by Brazil’s Ministry of Environment says that only 22% of Brazilians know what Rio+20 is. Meanwhile, leading companies like Allianz, PPR, Eneco, Entega, and Nedbank have pledged to support high-quality projects under the Code REDD campaign, which is being spearheaded by project developer Wildlife Works. Soft-launched in November and being kicked off today in Rio, the campaign aims to raise awareness of REDD and encourage potential corporate buyers to pledge to offset their footprints using REDD credits. EM will be covering the campaign launch here.

Over 700 people killed defending forest and land rights in past ten years

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 19 June 2012 | In many parts of the world, standing up for one’s forest, land, or environment has become incredibly dangerous. A new briefing by Global Witness finds that 711 activists, journalists, and community members were murdered defending or investigating land and forest rights issues between 2002 and 2011. Such killings are on the rise: last year 106 people were killed over defending land and forest rights, the highest number in the past ten years. “This trend points to the increasingly fierce global battle for resources, and represents the sharpest of wake-up calls for delegates in Rio. Over one person a week is being murdered for defending rights to forests and land,” Billy Kyte, campaigner at Global Witness, said in a press release, referring to the United Nations Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development, which is meeting this week.

[Brazil] Cocoa producers in the Amazon want to compete globally, while protecting tropical forests

By Gabriela Ramirez Galindo, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 19 June 2012 | Cocoa producers in the Brazilian Amazon are looking for ways to compete in the global market while protecting plush tropical forests. But experts say developing a strategic plan to sustainably produce the crop in degraded areas, the current goal, will require additional funding and technical expertise. Eduardo Trevisan Goncalves from the Institute of Forest Management and Certification Fund (Imaflora) said his organization is already working with the local government in one municipality in Para state to help ‘green’ farmers improve their products so they can become competitive cocoa suppliers for markets in this massive chocolate-loving nation, and eventually overseas.

[Brazil] Innovation allows Amazon villagers to make ecological history

By Nicolas Bourcier, The Guardian, 19 June 2012 | Ilha das Cinzas has become an example for others to follow. In 2011 President Dilma Rousseff presented the community with a prize for the best social and technological innovation. On the nearby island of São João do Jaburu, a few people from Itatupa-Baquia nature reserve – federal government property – have tried to apply similar guidelines. But so far the experiment has not been convincing. The families live further apart and group decisions carry less weight. Which, according to Joels, demonstrates the need to “constantly maintain and encourage collective work”.

Brazil struggles to cash in on carbon credits

By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters, 19 June 2012 | A patchwork of regional legislation and complex rules governing land ownership have so far kept Brazil from cashing in on what could potentially be the world’s biggest carbon offset market. The country, home to the much of the planet’s rain forest, has struggled to come up with a national strategy to make money protecting its vast ecosystem with projects that Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, also known as REDD… “You cannot address climate change without including REDD,” says Arild Angelsen [of CIFOR]… Plinio Ribeiro, executive director of trading and consulting company Biofilica, said investors need clarity or they will stay away. “The risk is pretty high right now to invest in REDD projects in Brazil,” he said. “A national strategy that is linked to a future national emissions market and that deals with the land ownership issue, would greatly reduce risk and attract a lot of people to these initiatives.”

Palm oil for India ‘destroying Indonesian forests’

AFP, 19 June 2012 | Surging demand for palm oil in India for cooking and everyday grocery items is driving tropical forest destruction in Indonesia, Greenpeace said Tuesday. In its report “Frying the Forest” the group called on Indians to boycott products by brands Britannia, ITC, Parle and Godrej, such as biscuits and soap, until the companies commit to sustainable palm oil supply chains. “Palm oil plantations in Indonesia are expanding rapidly every year to meet India’s demands,” Greenpeace forest campaigner Mohammed Iqbal Abisaputra said in Jakarta. “We are asking Indian consumers now to stop buying products made from unsustainable Indonesian palm oil.”

Indonesia and Brazil: Countries in Step With Hopes for a Green Future

By Junianto James Losari & Luciana Silveira, Jakarta Globe, 19 June 2012 | As reflected by the consistent participation of Indonesia and Brazil in the past UNCSD summits, both countries believe that global sustainable development can only be achieved through the multilateral cooperation of all countries. But it is widely known that although countries are willing to commit to sustainable development, the diverging interests of developed and developing countries has gotten in the way of reaching common ground. One of the reasons is the countries’ concern regarding the negative impacts of such commitments to international trade, as well as development. But in light of the conflicting interests, countries may have to think of a bigger picture. For Brazil, Rio+20 is a chance to challenge the existing economic development model, which includes concerns about social development and environmental protection. With the ultimate goal to enhance and disseminate the concept of a “green economy.”

Accusations surround green scheme in Indonesia

Australia Network News, 19 June 2012 | An Australian aid project in Indonesia had grand ambitions to save forests and cut carbon emissions. But five years on it has been described as a failure. The Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership was supposed to be a flagship REDD project – under a United Nations scheme to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation. But the Australian-funded initiative has been hit with delays, as well as accusations of corruption and intimidation. Auskar Surbakti travelled to the project’s remote site in northern Indonesia.

[UK] Blair leads call for worldwide ‘green industrial revolution’

AFP, 19 June 2012 | Former British premier Tony Blair and other statesmen and corporate chiefs urged world leaders Monday to usher in “a green industrial revolution” to steer the planet on a sustainable future. “By the end of the decade, the low carbon market could triple in value to over US$2 trillion,” said the signatories of an open letter published on the eve of the G20 and Rio+20 summits. They called for a coordinated policy shift to save the world economy and the climate. Blair, chairman of the non-profit Climate Group, threw his support behind the proposed policy chief in a speech screened at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development. The Climate Group works with business and governments around the world to promote clean technologies and policies, with the aim of expanding clean technology markets and reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

20 June 2012

RIO+20: Reforestation Pledges Reach Only 12 Percent of Target

By Fabiola Ortiz, IPS, 20 June 2012 | The world’s countries have committed themselves so far to restoring just 18 million hectares of forests by 2020, barely 12 percent of the goal of 150 million hectares agreed by the Bonn Challenge in 2011… “What we are trying to see is real action. Let us achieve this target of 150 billion hectares in a good quality. We have already 10 percent of the commitments. I believe we will see a significant move by the end of the year,” [Stewart] Maginnis [IUCN director of Nature Based Solutions] told IPS. Because of the voluntary nature of the campaign for commitments, countries that join it or decline to do so will not be subject to any penalties. However, Maginnis said “there is a lot of enthusiasm, countries want to move forward.”

Rio 20 years later: Pollution up, forests down

By Seth Borenstein, Bloomberg, 20 June 2012 | Since world leaders last gathered in Rio de Janeiro to talk about the state of the Earth, temperatures have climbed and disasters have mounted. As diplomats discuss climate, sustainability and biodiversity, here is Earth by the numbers since 1992: TEMPERATURES: The average annual global temperature has increased 0.58 degrees Fahrenheit (0.32 degrees Celsius) since 1992 based on 10-year running averages, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Every year since 1992 has been warmer than the year of the original Rio conference… FORESTS: Since 1990, the world’s primary forest areas have decreased about 740 million acres (300 million hectares), according to the United Nations. That’s an area larger than Argentina.

Cowards at Rio?: organizations decry ‘pathetic’ agreement

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 20 June 2012 | As world leaders head to Rio de Janeiro for the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, environmental and poverty groups are denouncing the last-minute text agreed on by dignitaries as “pathetic,” (Greenpeace), a “damp squib” (Friends of the Earth), “a dead end” (Oxfam), and, if nothing changes, “a colossal waste of time” (WWF). “We were promised the ‘future we want’ but are now being presented with a ‘common vision’ of a polluter’s charter that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests,“ the head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, said. “This is not a foundation on which to grow economies or pull people out of poverty, it’s the last will and testament of a destructive twentieth century development model.”

A world without forests is not the future we want

By Andrea Booth, The Australian, 20 June 2012 | Rio+20 agenda’s failure to substantially incorporate forests into discussions for sustainable development, renders it impossible to spearhead “The Future We Want”, the title of this year’s conference. It is unsurprising that forests were not named a key issue alongside water, oceans, energy, food and job security, cities and disasters at this year’s talks. Forests have never really been considered a hot enough topic to propel widespread action. However, poorly tying forests to each of the critical themes will severely hinder the conference’s goal for sustainable development. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Where Are Rio’s Real Headlines?

By Mark Kenber (The Climate Group), Huffington Post, 20 June 2012 | [S]uccess comes in many forms. Right now, Rio is bustling with sessions, panels, conferences and forums. Perhaps Rio+20′s real headlines lie here, away from the convoluted communiqués? One example in point: last Sunday The Climate Group hosted a session with Phillips where they launched a report about LED lighting technology. It unveiled the results of a massive trial involving LED street lighting in a dozen of the world’s biggest cities. It showed you could reduce energy consumption by up to 85%. Almost one fifth of all the world’s electricity – and therefore a major slice of CO2 emissions — is linked to lighting… Here’s another headline. Five years ago The Climate Group’s network of State and Regional Government partners promised to plant a billion trees. Yesterday we learned that they are already half way there.

Rio+20: Indigenous peoples march to deliver Kari-Oca Declaration to world leaders

By Brenda Norrell, rabble.ca, 20 June 2012 | Indigenous peoples are gathered at the Kari-Oca 2 Summit in Rio de Janeiro, as the governments and corporate profiteers attempt to place a price on nature as a commodity at the United Nations Rio+20 Conference on Sustainability. The Kari-Oca 2 Declaration will be delivered to world leaders today during a march from the Kari-Oca encampment to the Rio+20 Summit.

Flawed Rio Text still promises opportunity for green businesses

By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 20 June 2012 | The draft negotiating text unveiled at the Rio+20 Earth Summit may have been slammed for lacking sufficient ambition, but the resulting agreement should nevertheless strengthen the hand of those businesses urging governments to boost their green policies. That is the view of Damian Ryan, senior policy manager, at green NGO The Climate Group, who today maintained that the draft text, entitled The Future We Want, will mark a step forward for those seeking to bolster the low carbon economy… “It’s really about the direction of travel that we’re heading in, and the direction in the text is right,” said Ryan. “The other question is the speed at which we’re going and everything suggests we’re not yet going fast enough.”

Code REDD Campaign to Save World’s Threatened Forests Illuminates Rio+20

Code REDD press release, 20 June 2012 | Thousands of people from around the globe gathered at Arcos da Lapa last night to support the launch of Code REDD, an emergency action campaign to save the threatened forests of the world… “Deforestation is an economic problem,” stated Karin Burns, Executive Director of the Code REDD Campaign. “REDD+ is a viable economic solution that can scale to meet the massive scope of this challenge.” … “REDD has really worked in our community of 150,000 people,” said Chief Pascal Kizaka, of Kasigau, Voi District, Kenya. “The project has greatly improved the standard of living through the funding of water projects, school bursaries and education, and job creation. There is more food, better hygiene and clothing and better access to medical care.”

Code REDD Aims For Scale and Quality

Ecosystem Marketplace, 20 June 2012 | Worldwide emissions, however, topped 9 billion tonnes in 2010 – underlining the need for REDD to scale up fast if it’s to make an impact. For that to happen, buyers must understand the science, the systems, and the analysis behind forest carbon in general and REDD in particular. “That’s where Code REDD comes in,” says Mike Korchinsky, CEO of project developer Wildlife Works. “We’ve got the science; we’ve got the methodologies; now we need the buyers.” His company, which created the first REDD project to earn carbon credits under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), announced the formation of Code REDD in November and launched it on Tuesday at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Challenges mount as forest carbon payment approaches move from theory to practice

mongabay.com, 20 June 2012 | The concept of paying tropical countries to reduce destruction of their forests is succeeding as an idea but suffering from implementation challenges, argues a new review by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)… “REDD+ as an idea is a success story,” [CIFOR's Arild] Angelsen continued. “It was something genuinely new, and the new key element was that it was based on payments for performance or results. And it was also accompanied by big money. We compare it to ‘sustainable development’ – a nice catch phrase and promising to do a lot. Both ideas have been inspirational for policy makers and practitioners, but results so far are not what many hoped for.”

ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd. Announces the Appointment of Alexander Zang to the Board of Directors

ERA Carbon Offsets, 20 June 2012 | ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd. is pleased to announce the appointment of Alexander Zang to the Board of Directors of the Company and its’ subsidiary, ERA Ecosystem Restoration Associates Inc. (“ERA”). Mr. Zang will be replacing outgoing Board Member Holger Mayer, who has resigned following his recent departure from Forest Carbon Group shareholder HSE AG. Alexander Zang is a principal of BCC, Business Communications Consulting GmbH, which is a controlling shareholder of Forest Carbon Group, where he sits as an Executive Board Member. Mr. Zang focuses on sustainable strategies for the energy and clean-tech sectors. He is an expert in change management, and sustainability driven corporate development. Duncan Manson, CEO of ERA commented: “We are very pleased to welcome Alexander to the Board of ERA. Alexander has been an important actor in our relationship with the Forest Carbon Group from the beginning…”

The “Aid-ification” of REDD+: How its changed and why it matters

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 June 2012 | From its early days, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has had a wide appeal, seen as a new and fresh approach to mitigating climate change, by delivering large-scale market-based funding for actors who could prove emissions reductions by avoided deforestation. Since then, however, the concept has evolved and we have seen the ‘aidification of REDD+’ – where funding has come mainly from international aid budgets rather than a carbon market – according to the authors of Analysing REDD+: Challenges and Choices, a new book published this week by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “First it means you bring more objectives,” says Arild Angelsen, a CIFOR environmental economist and professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, and the book’s main editor.

FORMA and fCPR: Accelerating a Performance-Based Payment System for REDD+

By Michele de Nevers, Center for Global Development, 20 June 2012 | Reducing carbon emissions from forest clearing and degradation has become an important part of the international climate agenda. To this end, a proposed payment mechanism called REDD+ would transfer funding to tropical forest countries to take action: to reduce emissions from deforestation and land degradation (REDD) and to engage in sustainable forest management and conservation and to enhance forest carbon stocks (the + part). But forests are more complex than power plants, so it’s been more difficult to design a performance finance scheme based on quantified reductions in emissions. One of the biggest challenges is to design a simple, reliable system to monitor, report, and verify changes in carbon stocks calibrated in terms of CO2 equivalent.

REDD+ Practitioner: Dr. Naikoa Aguilar-Amuchastegui

WWF, 20 June 2012 | Dr. Aguilar-Amuchastegui, known as Naikoa to his teammates, is WWF’s Senior Forest Carbon Scientist and is focused on solidifying and expanding WWF’s science role in REDD+, forest carbon measurement and monitoring, and working closely with WWF’s global Forest Carbon Initiative as lead on measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) of REDD+ activities and building MRV capacity in the field and with REDD+ partners.

Eat less meat to save planet, researchers warn

By Nick Collins, Telegraph, 20 June 2012 | Eating less meat, particularly beef, recycling more waste and devoting more farmland to crops which can generate biofuels are essential if the world is to combat climate change, experts warned. Failure to make our farms more efficient would leave us unable to feed the growing world population and potentially lead to an ecological disaster with ever more dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, they said. Drawing up models of how changes in our diet could impact on farming by 2050, the Exeter University team found that a “high-meat, low-efficiency” situation would increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 55 parts in a million. In contrast, a “low-meat, high-efficiency” scenario would lower carbon dioxide levels by 25 ppm – enough to keep the rise in global temperature below the two-degree threshold which is seen by climate experts as the maximum “safe” increase.

Near-real time Amazon deforestation alert system added to Google Earth Engine

mongabay.com, 20 June 2012 | A system providing monthly alerts on deforestation and forest degradation in the Brazilian Amazon will soon be generated on the Google Earth platform Engine, reducing the time it takes to process and disseminate data, reports Imazon, the Brazilian NGO that developed the Alert System of Deforestation (SAD). Imazon says that beyond the performance gains, the new Earth Engine-based SAD will facilitate access to alerts on mobile devices and tablets. The system will also allow users to upload data from the field, boosting the collaborative monitoring capabilities. SAD serves as an independent deforestation monitoring system to complement the Brazilian government’s own system for tracking forest clearing in the world’s largest rainforest.

Brazilian State of Acre and Markit Announce Alliance to Create Registry for REDD+ Environmental Credits

Markit press release, 20 June 2012 | Markit, a leading, global financial information services company and the Brazilian State of Acre today announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining how Markit will provide registry services for Acre’s Program of Incentives for Environmental Services – Carbon (Carbon ISA Program). The program in Acre will be the first of its kind to issue Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) credits at the state or regional level. The Carbon ISA Program is part of Acre’s State System of Incentives Environmental Services (SISA), which is the state’s comprehensive approach to managing carbon stock, protecting natural resources, and preserving socio-biodiversity.

Lies, damned lies and Brazilian forest cover

By John Paul Rathbone, Financial Times, 20 June 2012 | Brazil’s “62 per cent” statistic obscures as much as it clarifies. The country’s great period of agricultural clearing took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when its Atlantic forests were razed. The country, to its credit, has lately made great strides in reducing deforestation rates in the Amazon. But 6,000 sq km are still chopped down every year. With a controversial new “Forest Code” wending its way through the Brazilian legislature, that may be why cynics say that if Brazil still has 62 per cent of its forest cover left it may just be that its farmers have not got round to cutting it down yet.

Guyana to soon receive US $40M from Norway

Demerara Waves, 20 June 2012 | Prime Minister of Norway Mr. Jens Stoltenberg has reaffirmed the country’s support for the implementation of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which continues to be hailed as a model for sustainable development, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA). Mr Stoltenberg gave this assurance to President Donald Ramotar in Brazil today where many countries’ leaders and climate change experts have gathered for the Rio+20 summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Norwegian Prime Minister expressed satisfaction with work of LCDS and indicated that Guyana will soon receive another US $40M and later this year, US$60M. Guyana in partnership with Norway, which is located in Northern Europe, has been implementing an Interim REDD+ arrangement through which the country has already earned about US$70 M in performance- based payments from avoided deforestation and under which the country can earn up to US$ 250 M by 2015.

[Guyana] Ramotar and Jagdeo to address Rio+20 conference

ncnguyana.com, 20 June 2012 | President Donald Ramotar and former President Bharrat Jagdeo will be addressing a side event at the Rio plus 20 summit, highlighting Guyana’s Low Carbon Development strategy and the execution of its interim Redd+ partnership with Norway. This partnership is the second biggest interim Redd+ agreement in the world and is deliberately designed to provide a scaleable, replicable model. The side event will showcase Guyana’s steps in conceptualizing the LCDS, the national stakeholder engagement process, the mechanisms for measuring performance-based payments and work done on the monitoring/reporting/verification system. It will also focus on innovative financing models to ensure internationally acceptable fiduciary, social and environmental safeguards and the implementation of projects that will improve and diversify economies, while reducing pressures on forests.

Guyana’s LCDS touted as ‘effective model’ at Rio+20

iNews Guyana, 20 June 2012 | The Guyanese Delegation attending the two-day Rio+20 or Earth Summit in the Brazilian City of Rio de Janeiro are pushing Guyana’s Low carbon Development Strategy as a critical tool to tackling Climate Change. President Donald Ramotar addressing world leaders at a side event at the Rio+20 conference said that that there is consonance between Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) efforts and the theme of the side event “Green economy and inclusive growth for a sustainable future.” The Climate Change Office in Guyana said in a release Wednesday.

Nepalese community forestry expert: ‘With green forests comes a green economy’

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 June 2012 | Community managed forests in Nepal are already achieving goals set out at this year’s Rio+20 conference by promoting sustainable use of natural resources and making sure more trees are left standing, experts say. However, poverty eradication and social justice will be crucial in the quest for a greener and fairer economy. “Without poverty reduction, forests cannot be green and without a green economy, poverty cannot be reduced,” said Mr. Ghanshyam Pandey from the Global Alliance of Community Forestry in Nepal. He and others were speaking on the sidelines of the Rio+ conference in Brazil, where 120 heads of state are gathering to discuss the future sustainability of the world’s resources. While not featuring high on this year’s agenda, forests and the communities that manage them play a vital role in providing industrialized nations with good and services, such as food, energy, jobs and water.

[Republic of Congo] Guest post: the case for “living” carbon credits

By Briony Mathieson (Olam), Financial Times, 20 June 2012 | Olam’s own experience of these issues is underpinned by our work with the government of the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), working with our subsidiary Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB). In May, after a robust consultation process that adheres to the FPIC principles, we announced a new public private partnership REDD+ scheme in our Pikounda Nord concession. This pioneering pilot is the first commercial deployment of REDD+ in the Congo Basin, comprising 92,530 hectares. We are currently working towards project implementation of a process that will generate revenues from this sustainably managed forest in a revenue share arrangement with the government and the local community from the voluntary carbon market.

Forests: UK to help millions who rely on natural resources

DFID, 20 June 2012 | Britain will work with the private sector to protect the livelihoods of tens of millions of the poorest people who rely on forests for food, fuel and medicines, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said today. The forest-friendly package was announced by the Deputy Prime Minster at the UN Earth Summit in Rio – also known as Rio+20- taking place this week. The UK will invest in a forest management ‘knowledge bank’ to help indigenous people in the poorest and most remote forest areas to protect their incomes and escape the impact of deforestation. Crucially the scheme will put private investors who want to preserve the forests in touch with communities who need assistance, helping them to access markets and improve their livelihoods. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “It is vital we do all we can to protect rainforests for the long-term.

[USA] Cap-and-trade plan upheld by Calif. court

By Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 June 2012 | A state appeals court on Tuesday upheld California’s plan to combat global warming with a market-based cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, rejecting some environmental groups’ arguments that the rules are too weak and could worsen certain types of air pollution. The state Air Resources Board, which adopted the plan in 2009, gave adequate reasons for rejecting alternatives such as binding limits on emissions and a tax on carbon-based fuels, said the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

[Vietnam] Na Hang special-use forest unavoidable of illegal lumberjacks?

VietNamNet, 20 June 2012 | The Na Hang primeval forest in Tuyen Quang province has been seriously destroyed by illegal lumberjacks. However, instead of suggesting the solutions to protect the forest, the head of the Na Hang district’s forest ranger unit said that the deforestation proves to be unavoidable. The Na Hang special-use forest, the land of many kinds of rare and precious trees which are hundreds of years old, have been in serious danger. A local resident said that people and local authorities have been powerless amid the deforestation. Illegal lumberjacks would be ready to “punish” those people who intend to make intervention into their works. The man who led reporters to the forest, also advised the reporters to hide cameras and relating documents. “If they discover that you are journalists, they would cut your throat,” he said.

21 June 2012

Forest campaigners welcome opposition to REDD+ and other market-based approaches at Rio+20

Global Forest Coalition, 21 June 2012 | While sharing the view of other civil society groups that the outcomes of Rio+20 will contribute little to addressing the multiple crises humanity is facing today, the Global Forest Coalition has welcomed the opposition of many developing countries to market-based approaches like REDD+. Thanks to the opposition of developing countries many proposals promoting such “green economy” approaches were deleted from the text. A new GFC report written by its Latin American NGO focal point Censat Agua Viva, “Green Economy in the Light of Climate Change Policies”, highlights why the ‘green economy’ proposal will lead to devastating consequences for Indigenous Peoples and other forest peoples. According to the report, the Green Economy “will exacerbate the current systemic crisis of humanity and the planet and it will boost privatization, commodification and financialisation of nature.”

Rio+20 politicians deliver ‘new definition of hypocrisy’ claim NGOs

By Liz Ford, The Guardian, 21 June 2012 | World leaders at the Rio+20 Earth summit in Brazil delivered a “new definition of hypocrisy” for standing in the way of progress and failing so far to challenge the text of the draft outcome document, NGO leaders said on Thursday. Daniel Mittler, political director of Greenpeace, said: “The epic failure of Rio+20 was a reminder [that] short-term corporate profit rules over the interests of people.” He said the outcome of the conference was “nothing short of disastrous”, as governments came offering no money or commitments to action. “They say they can’t put money on the table because of the economic crisis, but they spend money on greedy banks and on saving those who caused the crisis. They spend $1 trillion a year on subsidies for fossil fuels and then tell us they don’t have any money to give to sustainable development.”

Rio+20 Pushes on with Weak Text, Mixed Predictions

By Tim Profeta, National Geographic, 21 June 2012 | William K. Reilly, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator and chairman of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Board of Advisors, chose to reflect on then and now, noting the two decades since leaders first met in Rio the “concept of sustainable development has evolved from theory to increasingly common practice.” … Late Monday night, negotiators did agree on a draft framework for sustainable development goals. The text is not expected to change much when heads of state convene to discuss it, according to U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern… Germany, who also opted to move away from nuclear by 2022, is feeling the burden of its decision. Miranda Schreurs, director of the Environmental Policy Research Center at Berlin Free University, said, “The way for Germany to compete in the long run is to become the most energy-efficient and resource-efficient market…”

Africa: Rio+20 – Expectations High As Negotiations Close

By Alex Abutu, allAfrica.com, 21 June 2012 | Expectations to produce a strong outcome document at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) are still high even as negotiators have only one more to conclude, a senior United Nations official said yesterday. “Delegates are sharing feedback on the consolidated text presented by Brazil,” Rio+20′s Secretary-General, Sha Zukang, said in a statement, adding that he remains optimistic that delegations would reach an agreement before the close of negotiations… “At this stage, Brazil are at the heart of the negotiations now,” the Head of the Rio+20 Secretariat, Nikhil Seth, told reporters in Rio de Janeiro on Monday afternoon, adding that since the handover to Brazil, there has been rapid progress, with parties are agreeing on a number of issues. “Delegates are not looking at linguistic refinement of paragraphs anymore, they are looking at the bigger picture” Mr. Set said.

Rio+20: New tool helps simulate bioenergy futures in developing countries

By Zoe Cormier, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 June 2012 | Countries considering bioenergy investment as a way to improve rural incomes and meet other policy goals could be given a glimpse into the future, thanks to a new interactive tool that can simulate the impacts of biofuel production on a range of factors, such as economic growth, land use and job creation. The tool can help countries weigh up the costs and opportunities of attracting investment in potentially greener, more sustainable, fuel alternatives – an issue dominating discussions at this week’s Rio+20 conference. The tool, part of an EU-funded project led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has been launched this week as part of the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil. Among other goals, the tool, featured in a recent CIFOR study wanted to understand how investment flows – both international and domestic – could impact upon forest landscapes and people’s livelihoods.

Obscura Digital Delivers Message to the World by Transforming Architectural Landmark for Code REDD at Rio+20

Obscura Digital press release, 21 June 2012 | Obscura Digital, the San Francisco based visualization company, teamed up with Wildlife Works to deliver a critical message about our planet by creating a large-scale architectural projection experience for the global launch of the Code REDD Campaign. On the eve of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio’s historic architectural landmark Arcos da Lapa became a storytelling canvas, revealing the devastating effects of deforestation through a show of sound and light, followed by the premier of the Code REDD Campaign film, showcasing a scalable solution to save the threatened forests of the world. The Campaign aims to catalyze verified REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) credits from the private sector within the voluntary carbon market.

REDD++ funding for Pacific forests

By Felix Chaudhary, Fiji Times Online, 21 June 2012 | REDD++ could provide Pacific Island Countries (PIC) the financial resources needed to fund reforestation or new forest programs. The comment was made by acting director Land Resources Division and Land Management and Resources Policy Team Leader for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Inoke Ratukalou. Speaking at the opening of the Regional Workshop on Forest Carbon Assessment and Monitoring in the Pacific Islands which began in Nadi on Monday, he said: “In the current international climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the important role of forests and trees, especially in reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, is well recognised. “This has opened up opportunities for new forestry funding through mechanisms such as REDD++ which will enable developing countries like us in the Pacific to pursue measures to improve the management of our forests…”

World carbon emissions: the league table of every country

By Simon Rogers, The Guardian, 21 June 2012 | The world emits 48% more carbon dioxide from the consumption of energy now than it did in 1992 when the first Rio summit took place. The new data shows the rise of Asia, big increases in emissions in Africa, how Europe has plateaued – and how Iran has shot up the league table. China – the world’s biggest emitter of CO2 – has increased by 240%. The new data, published by the US Energy Information Administration this week, is the most comprehensive carbon emissions data with statistics for over 200 countries around the world since 1980. The world emitted 31.8bn tonnes of carbon from the consumption of energy in 2010 – up 6.7% on the year before. The figure is up by 48% on 1992, when the first Rio summit took place. China – which only went into first place in 2006 – is racing ahead of the US, too. It emitted 8.3bn tonnes of CO2 in 2010 – up 240% on 1992, 15.5% on the previous year.

“Landscape approaches” can end the debate that pits agriculture against forests, say experts

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 June 2012 | A new approach to managing land based on the social, economic and environmental services it provides could end the ongoing debate that forests have to be sacrificed for the sake of agricultural development and help stakeholders decide how best to maximise the potential of their land to secure sustainable food supplies long-term. “The landscape approach is a way that we can improve agricultural productivity and rural livelihoods while also addressing threats to forests, water and biodiversity,” said Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) at Agricultural Rural and Development Day held on the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit this week.

New geojournalism mapping platform for the Amazon

mongabay.com, 21 June 2012 | A new mapping platform combines georeferenced environmental news articles with data on deforestation, fires, protected areas, and oil and gas concessions in the Amazon. InfoAmazonia.org, which was developed by the non-profit Internews and O Eco, a Brazilian environmental news agency, aims to inform the public and journalists on threats to the world’s largest rainforest. The site allows both uploading and downloading of environmental news and data about the Amazon basin, facilitating expansion through participation. “InfoAmazonia happens at a time when there is a lot of talk about open source data. There are many institutes and NGOs which have collected data about the Amazon region for many years. But they have not made this data available to the general public,” said Gustavo Faleiros, editor of O Eco and creator of InfoAmazonia.

[Brazil] Euros for the Cerradol

Envolverde, 21 June 2012 | The prevention, control and monitoring of illegal burning and forest fires in Cerrado will receive 8.5 million euros from the German government, amount to be applied in the design and management Jalapão Cerrado Caixa Economica Federal. The donation procedures were finalized this week in Rio de Janeiro by the Environment Minister, Izabella Teixeira, and the vice president of Government Funds and Lotteries Box, Ferreira Fabio Cleto. Of the total, 2.5 million euros will be allocated to technical cooperation, through the German cooperation agency GIZ.

[Guyana] President Ramotar warned countries of the effects of climate change

ncnguyana.com, 21 June 2012 | President Donald Ramotar has warned that countries cannot continue with their “business as usual approach” to climate change, since this will lead to a path of global catastrophe. He said the situation requires global leadership, political will and commitment, complemented by home grown solutions and initiatives. Mr. Ramotar was addressing leaders and other key players in the environmental arena at a side event at the Rio plus 20 Summit, under the theme, “green economy and inclusive growth for a sustainable future.” He identified the need to reconcile two global forces that have traditionally been seen as incompatible – protecting the environment and economic development.

Mexico Passes Climate Change Legislation

By Hana Vizcarra, Power Engineering, 21 June 2012 | On April 19, the Mexican Congress passed a climate change bill that sets greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for the country, outlines goals for a national climate change policy, and specifically creates the authority to institute a cap-and-trade program in the future. The comprehensive law emphasizes public participation and education and the promotion of renewable resources. The law establishes structures for implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation goals and builds on previous legislative efforts to combat climate change in Mexico. Passed in the Cámara de Diputados by vote of 128 to 10 and in the Senado by a vote of 78 to 0, the law did not engender the political divisiveness surrounding climate change issues in the United States. President Calderón signed the bill on June 5, and it was published in Mexico’s Federal Register (Diario Oficial de la Federación) on June 6. The bill goes into effect on September 4.

Resources Boom Overshadows Papua New Guinea Vote

By Madeleine Coorey, Jakarta Globe, 21 July 2012 | Papua New Guineans go to the polls Saturday in elections seen as a watershed moment for the struggling Pacific nation mired in political crisis as it sits on the brink of a monumental resources boom. Criticized by Australian diplomats in leaked cables as a “totally dysfunctional blob” ahead of the last polls in 2007, PNG’s governance ahead of the 2012 vote is even more chaotic with two men claiming to be prime minister. The nation’s first leader Sir Michael Somare has been locked in a power struggle with his one-time cabinet member turned rival, Peter O’Neill, since a Supreme Court ruling last year found O’Neill’s rise illegal… Overshadowing all this is the development of the country’s gas and minerals, including what is considered the largest deal for the impoverished nation — ExxonMobil’s $15 billion Liquified Natural Gas project.

[Solomon Islands] Workshop Looks at Reducing Climate Change Impact through REDD+

Solomon Islands News, 21 June 2012 | Inoke Ratukalou, acting Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resources Division [said,] ‘One of the major technical barriers for REDD+ implementation anywhere is the accurate forest and carbon monitoring at the national level, and this will be extra challenging for the Pacific given the fact that most of us have never done any national forest inventory or have not done it to the desired level of acceptability and regularity.’

22 June 2012

Rio+20 draft text is 283 paragraphs of fluff

By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 22 June 2012 | In 1992, world leaders signed up to something called “sustainability”. Few of them were clear about what it meant; I suspect that many of them had no idea. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: “sustainable development”. Then it made a short jump to another term: “sustainable growth”. And now, in the 2012 Rio+20 text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into “sustained growth”… The draft and probably final declaration is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve it have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us.

Rio+ 20: Greed Economy alive and well in the hotels of Rio de Janeiro

Climate Connections, 22 June 2012 | One such industry-led event in Rio this week, hosted by the Avoided Deforestation Partners, featured executives of Coca Cola and Unilever, alongside celebrities such as the Prince of Wales (via video), Dr. Jane Goodall, US Climate Change Envoy Jonathan Pershing, rainforest advocate Bianca Jagger and Sir Richard Branson. In response to the dominance of the private sector in discussions such as this that affect everyone, members of Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) and Biofuelwatch attended and disrupted the event with placards and chants denouncing the green economy as the new face of corporate capital.

Blogging the Rio+20 Earth Summit for the Rest of Us: The Great Moving Nowhere Show

By Oscar Reyes, Institute for Policy Studies, 22 June 2012 | Given how backwards the Rio Summit’s priorities were, it’s hardly surprising that negotiations ended before they began. A slow swarm of black ministerial limousines has crawled across Rio regardless, with Ministers, Presidents and Prime Ministers queuing up to talk the language of sustainability, while mostly advancing corporate interests. And today a final outcome document called, without hint of irony, the “The Future We Want,” was adopted. The final Rio declaration contains 283 paragraphs of blank prose that “reaffirms,” “notes,” and “acknowledges” a long shopping list of activities, but “commits” to virtually nothing. There is no program of action, figures, dates, targets, nothing at all that locks countries into taking action. It is a political non-event that turgidly regurgitates some of the sustainability-speak of the original Rio conference 20 years ago, with none of its ambition.

Deforestation Emissions May Be a Third of Prior Estimates

By Justin Doom, Bloomberg, 22 June 2012 | The carbon emissions from cutting down tropical forests may be about one third of the level previously estimated, according to an article in the journal Science. A team of nine scientists used satellite-imagery data to better measure the effects of global deforestation between 2000 and 2005, said Nancy Harris, lead author of the article. Brazil and Indonesia produced 55 percent of the total emissions, according to the article published today. “Deforestation is still a very large and significant problem,” Harris, a carbon and land-use specialist at Little Rock, Arkansas-based environmental group Winrock International, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Just because our numbers are lower does not necessarily mean that deforestation is not as bad.” Cutting down tropical forests accounted for 10 percent of man-made carbon emissions, according to the results tabulated by the team…

Asean to decide on carbon dioxide levels

Malaya, 22 June 2012 | Reference levels for carbon dioxide emissions will soon be standardized for Southeast Asia. The new international agreement on climate change will include Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+). “The proposed guidelines will have to be discussed at the highest levels because it will impact on national policies,” said Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., Director of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

“A Message of Hope”: Esther Mwangi reflects on her mentor & advisor, Elinor Ostrom

CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 June 2012 | Earlier last week, Nobel Economics Laureate Elinor Ostrom passed away. Here at CIFOR Forests News, we gained a more personal look at her life and work through Esther Mwangi, who completed her PhD dissertation under Ostrom’s mentorship and today is a Senior Scientist with CIFOR’s Forests and Governance Program. Mwangi started the interview talking about how she got to know Ostrom. EM: It was serendipity that I got to know about Lin [Elinor]. At the time I was working for the Kenya Wildlife Service, and we were conducting forest elephant surveys and speaking with affected communities in order to solve conflicts between humans and elephants. But I felt that the background work and evidence gathered were mostly not taken on board. As an ecologist at the time, I wasn’t quite sure what was happening and felt I needed to better understand the world of policymaking and politics.

New approach to setting reference emissions levels a crucial first step for REDD+

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 June 2012 | Scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research have developed an innovative new method that allows countries to begin setting greenhouse gas Reference Emissions Levels – to estimate the amount of carbon stored in their forests and the level of emissions reductions they can achieve by protecting them. In a new CIFOR publication, Analysing REDD+: Challenges and Choices, launched this week on the sidelines of the Rio +20 summit, CIFOR scientist Louis Verchot and his team lay out the “stepwise approach” to setting Reference Emissions Levels (RELs.) Developing RELs is a crucial first step if REDD+, a UN-backed scheme that aims to reduce global carbon emissions by paying tropical countries to slow deforestation, is to work, says Verchot.

23 June 2012

Green economy and the road to Rio

By Rosario Bella Guzman, Bulatlat, 23 June 2012 | The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) defines ‘green economy’ as “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” In its simplest expression, according to the UNEP, a green economy is low-carbon, resource-efficient, and socially inclusive. The UNEP concludes that ‘greening’ produces a higher rate of economic growth, that there is link between poverty eradication and better maintenance and conservation of the ecological commons, and that new jobs will be created… So-called enabling conditions for public and private investments should be created, according to the UNEP. And this is where the green economy concept backslides to the old crisis context: international trade and development aid, fiscal reforms, market infrastructure, financial mobilization, and the like.

Rio+20: Many “mays” but few “musts”

The Economist, 23 June 2012 | By the reckoning of WWF, a big green group, a preliminary version of the draft agreement included the word “encourage” 50 times and the phrase “we will” just five times; “support” appeared 99 times, but “must” only thrice. Once the draft agreement was approved, on June 19th, the EU’s climate-change commissioner Connie Hedegaard tweeted: “Telling that nobody in that room adopting the text was happy. That’s how weak it is.”

How to end deforestation in Indonesia

By Agus Purnomo, New Europe, 23 June 2012 | Too often, NGOs and international stakeholders seem content to campaign through media headlines, support demonstration projects and publishing reports of anecdotal incidents, conveniently ignored nation-wide analysis and updated trends. For example, just a few weeks ago, Greenpeace made headlines in Indonesia by claiming that the moratorium on new licenses over primary forest and peat land conversion wasn’t working. In fact, they were quoted as claiming five million hectares of forest and peat lands had been lost since the moratorium was introduced. It was a great headline story for them, but deeply frustrating for all of us working to make this important moratorium policy a success. First of all, their figures were completely at odds with the figures produced by our own Ministry of Forestry and other relevant officials. Second, they deliberately inserted a word of ‘potential’ in their statement…

[Nepal] Forest mgmt ‘fails to reward women’

Kathmandu Post, 23 June 2012 | Despite the fact that women have played a vital role in forest resources management in the country, they are not rewarded equitably for their contribution as their male counterparts. A recent assessment carried out on ‘Gender and Women’s Exclusion in REDD’ states that women’s representation and participation in the institutional structure of REDD plus intitiatives is found less than 10 percent in the country… “Women are important stakeholders in forest-related activities and have been successfully playing the role of forest users, managers, conservation leaders and farmers in the country. However, the existing policy documents and initiatives, including the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP), the REDD plus Interim Strategy and REDD plus pilot projects, have neglected and undermined the role of women and their rights over natural resources like forests,” said Dibya Gurung, [Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & Natural Resource Management].

24 June 2012

[Indonesia] Building REDD capacity

By Warief Djajanto Basorie, Jakarta Post, 24 June 2012 | Although SBY spelt out a few of the instruments used to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, he did not dwell on the institutions and the role they play. One such institution is the Forestry Ministry that is steward of the country’s 130.68 million hectares of forests, according to ministry figures. For the 2010-2014 period, the Ministry has a six-point program titled: Lasting Forests for the People’s Prosperity with Equity. The program covers forest rehabilitation, security from forest fires and biodiversity conservation to name three points. To support its work, the ministry has mapped out 50 conservation areas. They stretch from the million hectare Gunung Leuser in northern Sumatra to the 413,000 hectare Wasur in the southeast corner of Papua. For its climate mitigation effort, the Forestry Ministry lists at least seven schemes. One scheme is to rehabilitate 700,000 hectares of deforested land.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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