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REDD in the news: 23-29 July 2012

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

Norway: Palm oil consumption reduced by two thirds

Rainforest Foundation Norway, no date | The palm oil industry is the main cause of rainforest destruction in Indonesia and Malaysia. 88 percent of the world’s palm oil is produced in these two countries, including palm oil for the Norwegian market. Last autumn, Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN) launched a campaign with two aims; to reduce Norwegian palm oil consumption and to expose the link between deforestation and the production of this vegetable oil. The campaign, which was developed in collaboration with the organization Green Living, targeted all major food producers in Norway. – The response has been overwhelming, says Lars Løvold, Director of Rainforest Foundation Norway. Thanks to Norwegian consumers, the use of palm oil in Norwegian food products has decreased by two thirds.

23 July 2012

Billions needed for climate change finance could be found at Doha negotiations

By William Brittlebank, Climate Action Programme, 23 July 2012 | By 2020 there should be $100bn of climate finance flowing into projects to slash emissions in developing countries and to protect the most vulnerable nations from the effects of climate change. That means renewable power projects on land and sea, mega-city scale energy efficiency roll-outs, flood prevention systems, intelligent agriculture, solar powered desalination, restoring degraded lands and protecting biodiversity; our natural toolkit.

Using indigenous Pacific knowledge to fight climate change

ABC Radio Australia, 23 July 2012 | A group of indigenous Pacific Islanders is pushing for traditional ecological knowledge to be used to combat climate change. They have shared their ideas at the inaugural First Stewards’ Symposium in the US capital Washington DC. Indigenous communities from Hawaii, Guam, New Zealand, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas were all represented, as was the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council… Speaker: Paulokaleioku Timmy Bailey, Hawaiin delegate, First Stewards’ Symposium in Washington DC.

Civil society groups in DRC suspend engagement with National REDD Coordination Process

Forest Peoples Programme, 23 July 2012 | In late June civil society organisations tracking REDD+ policies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sent open letters to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and to the DRC’s Environment Minister expressing grave concerns about the lack of effective public and community participation in national REDD+ policy-making (see links below this article). The “REDD Climate Working Group” (GTCR), which authored the letters and is composed of a broad range of national and local environment and development NGOs in DRC, is insisting on the reorganisation of REDD governance structures in DRC to ensure decentralisation and ensure meaningful participation by civil society and forest peoples in forest and climate policy making at all levels.

Smartphones promoted as a tool for indigenous forest protection

By Andrew Davey, mongabay.com, 23 July 2012 | Smartphones beeping in the woods may be a welcome presence that augurs the increased ability of indigenous communities to be stewards of their own biodiverse forests. Representatives of these communities and their supporters have advocated that international conservation policies like Reduced Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) be increasingly managed by the communities themselves. A new strategy in this effort is to train local residents to use smart phone ‘apps’ to collect geographic data and photographs, allowing them to monitor the health of forests essential to their livelihoods, according to a report by the Global Canopy Program. Local data can then be incorporated into national databases so they become linked with remote sensing data. The Global Canopy Program argues that the technique will create a more collaborative and transparent monitoring system while bolstering community forest management practices.

Indonesia to investigate palm oil company’s alleged breach of deforestation moratorium

mongabay.com, 23 July 2012 | Indonesia’s top official charged with implementing the country’s moratorium on new concessions in peatlands and primary forest areas is calling for an investigation into alleged violations by a palm oil company operating in Central Kalimantan, reports the REDD+ Task Force. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the Head of REDD+ Task Force and the Presidential Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4), said his agency will probe potentially illegal forest clearing by PT Suryamas Cipta Perkasa (SCP). The palm oil company’s alleged transgressions in Indonesian Borneo were highlighted earlier this month in a report published by Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak. The environmental groups provided the REDD+ Task Force with a dossier detailing PT SCP’s what they called violations of various laws.

24 July 2012

On the need for REDD+ safeguards as carbon credit dealers move into forests and threaten indigenous rights

By Ugo Ribet, Hot Air, 24 July 2012 | With the increasing probability of incorporating REDD+ into carbon credit trading schemes and creating a financial value for carbon stored in forests, entrepreneurs and organizations have gone into forests to sign agreements with indigenous groups. However, as governments have been slow to react in passing laws to regulate this emerging market, some unscrupulous individuals have taken advantage of indigenous groups. This is reported to be the case with David Nilsson, who has been named a ‘carbon cowboy’ by the local press in Peru. Chris Lang of REDD Monitor has been reporting on this Australian businessman’s activities in the past year and Australian TV show 60 Minutes ran a story on him last week showing how he ‘brazenly’ took advantage of local indigenous groups in order to gain control of their rainforest land for 200 years and half of all profits.

Leilani Münter Joins Code REDD’s Race Against Deforestation

Code REDD press release, 24 July 2012 | Leilani Münter, professional race car driver and environmental activist, has announced her support for the Code REDD Campaign and its mission to make forests more valuable alive than dead through the Voluntary Carbon Market. Münter, a biology graduate who has long been known as ‘The Carbon Free Girl,’ will offset her unavoidable emissions from racing through Wildlife Works Carbon LLC, one of the approved REDD+ projects in the Code REDD Campaign that generates high quality Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs), or carbon credits. “We are in a race against deforestation” Leilani affirmed, adding that “in the time it takes me to finish one race, 7,500 acres of forest will be lost to deforestation.” Since 2007, Münter has adopted an acre of rainforest for every race she runs, and with this new effort she hopes to bring greater awareness to the public about Code REDD…

Africa: Reaping From Carbon Credits

By Evaline Namuwaya, allAfrica.com, 24 July 2012 | Carbon credits have become big business as more affluent countries offset their pollution by reimbursing developing economies to launch clean energy projects and plant trees as well. An unforeseen scenario, however, is that tackling climate change can also be of economic benefit to developing nations. According to the World Bank, the carbon market can earn poor nations more than $25 billion annually. Furthermore, numerous companies also have the potential to earn carbon credits through reduction of emissions. One of these is the Rwanda Natural Energy Project which purifies water using ultraviolet radiation by mainly targeting rural areas. The company operates in several sites across the country, among them, FAWE Girls School and Shyira in Gasabo District, Kigali.

The Norwegian Embassy supports New Suite of Research Reports on Critical Role of Women in Asia’s Forests

Norwegian Embassy Indonesia press release, 24 July 2012 | The suite of analyses called Securing Women’s Tenure and Leadership for Forest Management: A Summary of the Asian Experience was released in Beijing 21 July at the International Workshop on Gender and Forest Tenure in Asia and Collective Forest Tenure Reform in China. This new research provides the most comprehensive continent wide analysis on the status of forest tenure rights and gender rights. The workshop, hosted by the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) and co-organized by Rights and Resources Initiative, Landesa-RDI, and the State Forestry Administration (SFA) of China, includes high-level participation from provincial and national government agencies in China, leading experts on gender and forest tenure from throughout Asia and voices from Chinese civil society.

REDD+ task force urges Aceh to revoke permits after Rawa Tripa violations

Tempo, 24 July 2012 | The REDD+ Task Force last week urged Aceh authorities to respond to its requests to revoke the licenses and permits issued to two companies, Surya Panen Subur and Kalista Alam, for illegal land clearing activities in the Rawa Tripa forests and peatlands. An investigation ordered by the REDD+ Task Force in April found the companies were responsible for “systematic and deliberate forest fires” that violated permit and land use regulations. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, chairman of the REDD+Task Force and head of the Presidential Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4), said aerial surveys conducted in Rawa Tripa on July 3 by a UKP4/REDD+ Task Force team showed the two companies “continued to act in gross violation of the applicable laws and in complete disregard for conservation of endangered biodiversity and concerned public opinion.”

[South Korea] The end of carbon linkage

Be a Green Hero, Go to Carbon Zero, 24 July 2012 | Today’s news that the newly established South Korean cap-and-trade emission allowances trading scheme will not allow the use of international carbon offsets until 2021 marks a important milestone. For years regulators and market participants have tried to link carbon schemes so that the savings can be achieved at the lowest possible cost and so that there is an international carbon market. Fragmentation has trumped all efforts and now the ETS in South Korea will only allow the local emitters and some banks to trade permits. This marks another blow to the already very fragile mandatory carbon market idea and potentially opens a large opportunity for the voluntary market to step in and fill the gap. Fragmentation means one thing – the various carbon market silos around the globe yet again forget that nature does not recognize national borders and the global warming effect is in the same sky…

25 July 2012

ESP Conference 2011 Limit to PES and REDD+

By Marc Davidson (University of Amsterdam), posted on YouTube, 25 July 2012 | The presentation in this video presents the issues and challenges in implementation of Payment of Ecosystem Services (PES) and REDD+. You can find Power points shown in this video, other videos and presentations and descriptions of the conference, keynotes, workshops and sessions on the ESP Conference website (http://www.espconference.org/previous_editions/). The Ecosystem Services Partnership (ESP)(http://www.es-partnership.org) organized its 4th International conference “Ecosystem Services: integrating Science and Practice” from 4-7 October 2011, hosted by Wageningen University, The Netherlands. The main aim of the conference is to provide a forum for researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to exchange information and ideas about new developments and pressing issues on the Science and Practice of Ecosystem Services (ES).

Forest carbon monitoring breakthrough in Colombia

Phys.org, 25 July 2012 | Using new, highly efficient techniques, Carnegie and Colombian scientists have developed accurate high-resolution maps of the carbon stocks locked in tropical vegetation for 40% of the Colombian Amazon (165,000 square kilometers / 64,000 square miles), an area about four times the size of Switzerland. Until now, the inability to accurately quantify carbon stocks at high spatial resolution over large areas has hindered the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, which is aimed at creating financial value for storing carbon in the forests of tropical countries. In addition to providing a key boost for implementing REDD+, the results from the Carnegie/Colombian partnership is a boon to tropical forest management and conservation.

165,000 sq km of Colombian rainforest mapped in stunning detail using lasers, satellites

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 25 July 2012 | Scientists have created high-resolution carbon maps for 165,000 square kilometers (64,000 square miles) of forest across roughly 40 percent of the Colombian Amazon, greatly boosting the ability of the South American nation to measure emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, reports the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, which led the effort. The research, which is described in the journal Biogeosciences, used a combination of satellite data and advanced airplane-based sensors to assess the carbon content of the remote region, which is about four times the size of Switzerland. On-the-ground field studies in the area are difficult due to lack of navigable rivers and security concerns.

EU should commit to tougher emissions target, say MPs

By Richard Black, BBC News, 25 July 2012 | The EU should vow tougher action on climate change to maintain political leadership, says a committee of MPs. The Energy and Climate Change Committee report also says the UK government must aim to end fossil fuel subsidies and raise energy efficiency, saving money. But it has come under fire for saying a prospective new UN emission-limiting deal, due in 2015, is “voluntary”. Meanwhile, the European Commission is set to unveil proposals to make the EU carbon market more effective. The price for carbon “pollution permits” in the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) has been bumping along at about seven euros per tonne, which analysts agree is far too low to stimulate meaningful investment in clean technology.

EU Commission presents plan to boost carbon market

By Barbara Lewis, Reuters, 25 July 2012 | The European Commission presented keenly awaited plans to bolster the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) by reducing a massive burden of surplus allowances and urged member states to hurry them through by the year-end. The proposals are the latest in a series of efforts to fix a market designed to be the mainstay of the EU’s climate policy. In the past it has been undermined by scams. Now it is over-supplied by millions of allowances because of recession. “The EU ETS has a growing surplus of allowances built up over the last few years. It is not wise to deliberately continue to flood a market that is already over-supplied,” Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. In April the price of carbon fell to a record low of 5.99 euros a tonne, far below levels needed to spur low-carbon investment and discourage pollution.

Bosques Amazonicos Project Becomes First Validated Peruvian REDD Carbon Offset Project

Scientific Certification Systems press release, 25 July 2012 | Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) has announced the validation of Peru’s first Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) carbon offset project. The project will use revenue generated from the sale of carbon credits to prevent illegal deforestation on 290,695 hectares of Peruvian rainforest… “Bosques Amazónicos’ REDD project is a great example of the numerous benefits of forest conservation,” said Robert J. Hrubes, Senior Vice President of SCS. “The project will provide a steady income for Brazil nut concessioners while protecting biologically diverse rainforest land.” SCS validated the project to the Verified Carbon Standard. The project is expected to generate approximately 2 million Verified Carbon Units (VCUs) per year. The validation process involved evaluating the carbon monitoring plan and calculation of baseline carbon emissions.

[UK] The road to UNFCCC COP 18 and beyond

House of Commons (UK), 25 July 2012 | According to the Center for International Forestry Research the three main issues regarding REDD+ which needed to be resolved at the Durban conference were: Funding for REDD+; Reference levels from which countries could start their Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV); and Guidance on how to implement reporting of ‘social, governance and environmental’ safeguards.” We address each of these in turn below… We recommend that DECC investigate why the disbursement of funds into REDD+ projects has been so disappointing. We recommend that the Government support work to resolve such legislative anomalies that hamper the deployment of finance at scale to tackle deforestation. The Department should clarify what steps are being taken to prepare for the REDD+ finance workshop at COP 18.

26 July 2012

UNFCCC Releases Technical Paper on Financing Options for REDD+

Climate Change Policy & Practice, 26 July 2012 | The UNFCCC Secretariat has released a technical paper (FCCC/TP/2012/3) on financing options for the full implementation of results-based actions relating to the activities referred to in decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 70 (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable use of forests and enhancement of carbon stock (REDD+)) including related modalities and procedures. The technical paper presents a summary of parties’ and observer organizations’ views on modalities and procedures for financing results-based actions and considering activities related to REDD+ as defined in Cancun decision 1/CP.16, paragraphs 68-70 and 72.

Protected tropical forests’ biodiversity ‘declining’

By Mark Kinver, BBC News, 26 July 2012 | Despite having protected status, the biodiversity in a large number of tropical forests is still continuing to decline, a study has suggested. The authors said the findings should cause concern because the areas have been seen as a final refuge for a number of threatened species. Habitat disruption, hunting and timber exploitation have been seen as signs of future decline, they added. The findings have been published online by the science journal Nature. “The rapid disruption of tropical forests probably imperils global biodiversity more than any other contemporary phenomenon,” the international team of research wrote.

Price of polluting falls as carbon credits get cheaper

Radio New Zealand, 26 July 2012 | The price of carbon has slipped to new lows on world markets, hampering efforts in New Zealand and overseas to improve the environment. Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have to be paid for by industries in many countries, but the cost of doing so has fallen to record lows and that makes it relatively cheap for companies to carry on polluting. It used to cost polluting companies about $40 for each tonne of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases they emit. That price has now fallen to around $5, thanks to the global financial crisis, the sovereign debt crisis and other economic woes. Lizzie Chambers, who runs online carbon trading company Carbon Match, thinks the purpose of the emissions scheme risks being thwarted. She says when the company launched a year ago the first trade was $20.30 but this week it has had prices of $5.15 for a carbon credit. “That provides very little incentive for new carbon forestry.”

27 July 2012

Forestry: REDD costs and uncertainties

By Alastair, Brown, Nature Climate Change, 27 July 2012 | REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a mitigation strategy designed to reward countries for reducing deforestation and forest degradation through financial benefit. Although the potential of REDD policies has been widely discussed, the implication of uncertainties and costs involved in estimating forest carbon stock… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Free, prior and informed consent in REDD+: going beyond the right to say ‘no’

By Isilda Nhantumbo, International Institute for Environment and Development, 27 July 2012 | “The government took our forest land to create a forest reserve and the same government confiscated our land for planting trees. All that is left is unproductive savannah,” said a community representative speaking during a meeting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The meeting was part of a field trip that took place during the second in a series of dialogues on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) organised by The Forests Dialogue – an initiative that brings together people from different sectors and viewpoints to discuss and find solutions to some of the most difficult challenges facing the world’s forests. The aim of this dialogue was to see how obtaining the free prior, and informed consent of communities could be applied to REDD+, a scheme that aims to compensate communities for keeping their tropical forests intact or for reducing the scale of deforestation.

Boosting Indonesia’s wetlands science is key to tackling climate change

By Maya Thatcher, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 July 2012 | Greater scientific understanding of Indonesia’s rapidly disappearing carbon-rich wetlands is needed to help mitigate the effects of climate change, according to a study by the Center for International Forestry Research. Daniel Murdiyarso, co-author of Addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation in tropical wetland ecosystems of Indonesia, said while mangroves, peatlands and other tropical wetlands contain the highest carbon stocks of any forest type, many nations and policy makers lack even basic data about these fragile ecosystems. More energy and funding should go toward boosting multidisciplinary and collaborative scientific research, the CIFOR scientist said, acknowledging the challenges, especially during times of limited resources and competing priorities.

28 July 2012

REDD Scare Over Tropics

By Arun G. Mukhopadhyay, Dissident Voice, 28 July 2012 | It is critically urgent to preserve forests for the sake of breathing fresh air as well as livelihoods of rural poor and other critical minimum necessities. But UN-REDD provide institutional modalities attuned to the requirements of capitalist expansion. Carbon trading is presented as the most efficient device to lower the compliance costs of reducing carbon emissions, and paving the transition towards a green economy. Carbon markets are prone to speculative financialisation such as carbon derivatives developed in secondary markets. According to a World Bank report 2010, carbon trading resulted in 8.7 billion tones of carbon traded in 2009 with an accumulated value of US$ 144 billion.

29 July 2012

[USA] Chronic 2000-04 drought, worst in 800 years, may be the ‘new normal’

Oregon State University press release, 29 July 2012 | The chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004 left dying forests and depleted river basins in its wake and was the strongest in 800 years, scientists have concluded, but they say those conditions will become the “new normal” for most of the coming century. Such climatic extremes have increased as a result of global warming, a group of 10 researchers reported July 29 in Nature Geoscience. And as bad as conditions were during the 2000-04 drought, they may eventually be seen as the good old days. Climate models and precipitation projections indicate this period will actually be closer to the “wet end” of a drier hydroclimate during the last half of the 21st century, scientists said.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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