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REDD in the news: 26 November – 2 December 2012

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REDD in the news: 26 November - 2 December 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 is updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

US$9 million in new funds for tropical forests

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), November 2012 | The International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) announced today at the closing of its Forty-eighth Session additional funding of US$9 million towards the sustainable management and trade of tropical forest resources, including $3.6 million for the implementation of activities from a new work program for 2013-14. Funding announced at the Session included $6 million in new pledges as well as those made earlier in 2012.

[Brazil] South-South cooperation for REDD+

Portal Brasil, November 2012 | Global debates on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and promoting conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) emphasize the need for strtegies to build on existing knowledge and experience. The Government of Brazil sees South-South cooperation as a powerful tool to share experiences and foster collaborations with other developing countries on REDD+. It can generate solutions for common challenges developing countries face getting ready for and implementing REDD+ and enhance local institutional and technical capacities. The Amazon Fund can be regarded as a key vehicle to implement South- South cooperation with other developing countries by supporting projects aiming to develop or strengthen their forest monitoring systems.

Unlocking progress on REDD+: sector coordination in Uganda

By Emily Brickell, Will McFarland and David M. Mwayafu, Overseas Development Institute, November 2012 | While there has been both global and national progress on REDD+, it is clear that delivering REDD+ effectively requires major institutional and policy changes. Finance and the political interest in REDD+ can act as catalysts to stimulate this, provided there is an explicit focus on these challenges. One area attracting attention in international discourse on REDD+ is the need to address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. This requires cross-sectoral coordination at all levels of government to tackle the different pressures on forests from, for example, mining, agriculture, construction and energy interests. This background uses the case study of Uganda to analyses how key political economy features affect sector coordintation and draws conclusions relevant to Uganda and highlights wider implications from the Uganda case.

First-hand reports from WWF’s international Forest and Climate team

WWF, November 2012 | WWF’s Forest and Climate team works to ensure: “REDD+ significantly contributes to the conservation of tropical forest and thereby to the reduction of emissions from deforestation and degradation for the benefit of people and nature.” These are their words from the frontlines of their work…

26 November 2012

Good night Doha and wake up!

By Kaj Embren, Eco-Business.com, 26 November 2012 | Why should we hope for national governments to succeed in a deal on climate change? It is a waste of money to take more than 10,000 people to a negotiation in Doha based on false hope. It is time to create a parallel negotiation with city leaders and put the investors money into cities – then you will see results. National governments have proven that they do not have what is required to meet the global challenges of climate change and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources. The shortcomings of the latest Rio summit acts as testament to this. With the burden of recession and austerity, short-sighted national governments have thus far shown themselves unable to handle sustainable development issues.

Rich nations fail to meet 8 climate-finance pledges analysis shows

International Institute for Environment and Development, 26 November 2012 | The wealthier nations promised in 2009 to provide developing countries with US$30 billion by the end of 2012, and said this should be “new and additional” finance balanced between support for adaptation and mitigation activities. They made additional pledges about transparency, governance and the need to help the most vulnerable nations first. But so far, only US$23.6 billion of the US$30 billion promised has been committed. And only 20 per cent of the fast start finance has been allocated to projects that will help poor nations adapt to a changing climate. Less than half of the fast start finance is in the form of grants. The rest is loans, which means poor countries must repay with interest the costs of adapting to a problem they have not caused.

Ambitious carbon targets needed to energise carbon markets

By John Parnell, RTCC – Responding to Climate Change, 26 November 2012 | Martin Hession, now a vice-chair of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)… “The CDM is in a difficult situation at the moment, but with the CDM like anything else we need to look forward not back. The problem is that there is no demand so the biggest challenge is to address how we can get that,” said Hession. He also said that the CDM is much-maligned and does not always get the credit it deserves. “It mixes three things, climate change, markets and international cooperation. Some people just hate those three things. ‘Climate change I don’t want to know, markets are evil and international cooperation is bureaucratic nonsense.’ All of which are wrong,” said Hession. “People say international cooperation doesn’t work, it’s a complicated one but I’d say the CDM proves it can work. It’s delivered on 5000 projects and one billion tonnes of carbon reductions in 5 years. You can’t argue with that.”

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 26 November 2012 | Before diving into this week’s news, Ecosystem Marketplace is pleased to bring you tools to track and unpack next week’s UN Conference of Parties in Doha, Qatar. Here, see our listing of “must see” events, including the 3rd International Voluntary and Compliance Carbon Markets Assembly co-hosted by Ecosystem Marketplace and two other major industry associations – as well as several domestic carbon market representatives from around the world! … Also, following several State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2012 report launch events in the US, London and Italy, Ecosystem Marketplace is now seeking supporters and sponsors for the 2013 edition of the State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report. We publicly recognize all levels of contributions, and provide additional visibility and recognition for supporters contributing $3K +. In order to produce this and the Forest report in 2013, we must secure $75K in pledges by December 31st…

A delay in key decisions at Doha could see REDD+ lose its climate change focus

CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 November 2012 | According to a recent CIFOR publication Analysing REDD+, two-thirds of REDD+ funding has already come from developed country aid budgets alone, where objectives are strongly focused on economic development and poverty alleviation. “These are, of course, very nice objectives, but it is part of this dilution or pulverising of the original REDD+ objectives and the REDD+ idea, which is to reduce carbon emissions,” said Arild Angelsen, an environmental economist with CIFOR and the book’s main editor. Furthermore, although development projects and REDD projects are designed differently, they do have similarities, which could mean that programmes labelled as ‘REDD+’ could in fact become more development orientated and lose their emissions reduction focus.

Photos reveal destruction of Cameroon rainforest for palm oil

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 26 November 2012 | Newly released photos by Greenpeace show the dramatic destruction of tropical forest in Cameroon for an oil palm plantation operated by SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), a subsidiary of the U.S. company Herakles Farm. The agriculture company is planning to convert 73,000 hectares to palm oil plantations on the edge of several protected areas, but has faced considerable opposition from environmentalists. In addition to the aerial photos, Greenpeace alleges that ongoing forest clearing by Herakles is illegal since the companies 99-year lease has yet to be fully approved by the Cameroonian government. “Any large scale industrial projects in an area that is one of the most important watersheds in sub-Saharan Africa and located in one of Africa’s most important biodiversity hotspots are entirely unsuitable,” said Frédéric Amiel, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace International in a press release.

[D.R. Congo] REDD+ for People and Nature: A case study of an integrated approach to REDD+ readiness in Mai-Ndombe, DRC

WWF, 26 November 2012 | This publication is a case study of REDD+ preparation activities and efforts undertaken by WWF and its partners in the Maï-Ndombe region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is not intended to represent all REDD+ efforts in the DRC. Its purpose is to present and share experiences, lessons learned and stakeholder testimonies in a non-technical and user-friendly way that builds the capacity of REDD+ practitioners around the globe at local, national and international levels to inform REDD+ policy decisions and increase REDD+ readiness and implementation. These experiences and lessons learned also make the link between the local and the global. They highlight the level of ambition and commitment that exists at the local level, so that global policy makers can keep pace and meet this demand with their own ambition and commitment.

[Vietnam] PM gives nod to carbon trading

VietnamNet, 26 November 2012 | The carbon reduction plan is included in Viet Nam’s commitment to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other international conventions on environmental protection adopted by Viet Nam. The plan is also part of work on developing a low-carbon economy for green and sustainable development. The scheme, which will be in line with regulations under the Kyoto Protocol, will control emission of six types of greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfuorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). The plan set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emission in the energy and transport sectors by 8 per cent from levels in 2005, along with a 20 per cent reduction in the agriculture sector.

27 November 2012

U.N. climate talks cast spotlight on Qatar

By Russell McLendon, Mother Nature Network, 27 November 2012 | The latest round of U.N. climate change negotiations kicked off this week in Doha, Qatar, launching a 10-day slog that, as usual, faces low expectations. That doesn’t mean it can’t be productive, though — aside from potentially inching closer to Kyoto 2.0, Doha also offers the world a case study in how not to fight climate change. That may sound harsh, especially since Qatar’s contribution to global warming is tiny compared with the United States’ or China’s. But while its geography and population limit its overall carbon footprint, the emirate is still remarkably inefficient at using natural resources, thanks largely to its desert climate and oil-fueled wealth. And as world leaders meet in Doha this week for U.N. climate talks, they’ll have a front-row seat to many of the behaviors and mindsets they’re working to counteract.

Where even the earth is melting

By Ben Cubby, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 November 2012 | The world is on the cusp of a “tipping point” into dangerous climate change, according to new data gathered by scientists measuring methane leaking from the Arctic permafrost and a report presented to the United Nations on Tuesday. “The permafrost carbon feedback is irreversible on human time scales,” says the report, Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost. “Overall, these observations indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started.” While countries the size of Australia tally up their greenhouse emissions in hundreds of millions of tonnes, the Arctic’s stores are measured in tens of billions. Human-induced emissions now appear to have warmed the Arctic enough to unlock this vast carbon bank, with stark implications for international efforts to hold global warming to a safe level.

Legal frameworks for REDD+: a Q&A; with British MP Barry Gardiner

By Ashlee Betteridge, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 November 2012 | British parliamentarian Barry Gardiner, a passionate advocate on environmental policy, talks to Forests News about REDD+ during the 18th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP18) in Doha, Qatar. One of the key concerns about the U.N.-backed scheme is whether developing countries will be able to implement the legal and policy frameworks needed to make it a success. Legislators in developing and developed countries all have a significant role to play in creating these frameworks and need to use their oversight roles to ensure enough resources are directed towards the scheme, says Gardiner. Gardiner is also UK Vice President of the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE International), an organisation that seeks to strengthen the role of parliamentarians in tackling major environmental challenges.

Scientists pinpoint activities driving deforestation and urge countries to take action at Doha

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 November 2012 | For the first time scientists have assessed the main activities driving deforestation and forest degradation at the national level in most developing countries — providing essential information for countries negotiating climate change policies at this fortnight’s U.N. climate talks in Doha. Agriculture was found to drive 80 percent of global deforestation. “Addressing the drivers of forest clearing will directly result in emissions being reduced from forests,” said Gabrielle Kissinger from Lexeme Consulting and co-author of the synthesis report for REDD+ policymakers. “A U.N. decision on drivers will signal to countries engaged in REDD+ how important drivers really are…and it is very important countries begin addressing this issue now if they want to meet their emissions reductions commitments.”

The World Bank And UN-REDD: Big Names, Narrow Focus

By Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 27 November 2012 | Developed countries have pledged $7.3 billion to jump-start REDD, according to the Forest Trends REDD+ Expenditures Tracking Project. Of that, 4.3 billion is slated to be delivered by the end of this year. But only a small portion of that is coming through multilateral entities like the World Bank and United Nations. The World Bank’s FCPF, for example, has a total of US $435 million, while the Bank’s other major REDD effort, the Forest Investment Program (FIP) has US $639 million. Even the United Nations REDD-Programme (UN-REDD) has just $117.6 million as of July 2012.

[Brazil] Amazon Deforestation In Brazil Hits Record Low, Says Government

By Marco Sibaja, Huffington Post, 27 November 2012 | Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has dropped to its lowest level in 24 years, the government said Tuesday. Satellite imagery showed that 1,798 square miles (4,656 square kilometers) of the Amazon were deforested between August 2011 and July 2012, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said a news conference. That’s 27 percent less than the 2,478 square miles (6,418 square kilometers) deforested a year earlier. The margin of error is 10 percentage points. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research said the deforestation level is the lowest since it started measuring the destruction of the rainforest in 1988. Sixty-three percent of the rainforest’s 2.4 million square miles (6.1 million square kilometers) are in Brazil.

Indonesia’s for-profit conservationists

By Melati Kaye, Jakarta Post, 27 November 2012 | Agus heads a task force to chart Indonesia’s response to a UN mandate for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Agus thinks the fate of Indonesia’s carbon market will be shaped by two documents that will be discussed in Doha. REDD+ and the Kyoto Protocol are “the basis of the carbon market”, Agus said. If emission commitments agreed to in Doha are too meager, the demand for carbon credits will be lower than supply and “the market will be flooded [and crash]”. That’s a realistic scenario, but Agus is still hopeful that Indonesia, with its ecological comparative advantage, could weather such a downturn… Agus’s optimism hinges on whether REDD credits are kept separate from carbon credits. To Agus, it makes sense to keep the two markets separate, since “they were created for different purposes. One is about emission reductions and the other deals with offsets.”

[USA] Legislation leaves future of world’s largest temperate rainforest up in the air

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 27 November 2012 | Although unlikely to pass anytime in the near term, recurring legislation that would hand over 80,000 acres of the Tongass Rainforest to a Native-owned logging corporation has put local communities on guard in Southeast Alaska. “The legislation privatizes a public resource. It takes land that belongs to all of us, and that all of us have a say in the use and management of, and it gives that land to a private for-profit corporation,” Andrew Thoms, Executive Director of the Sitka Conservation Society, told mongabay.com in a recent interview. “Most of the land has been selected for its timber, and we can expect some of the largest and oldest trees on the forests to be clear-cut.

28 November 2012

Slow Progress on Curbing Deforestation Expected at Climate Conference

By Brian Padden, Voice of America, 28 November 2012 | At the U.N. climate summit in Doha, environmental activists are urging participating countries to think big about how to control deforestation in the developing world, which accounts for 16 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. United States, Europe and other advanced economies have already agreed to pay developing countries to protect their forests, but progress has been slow… Fred Boltz, a senior vice president at Conservation International, says progress on REDD has been slow because it involves much more than preventing forest fires. “We are talking about transforming the global economy, the paradigm for valuing forests, recognizing their importance in meeting our climate challenges. And that transformation is complex. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of financial and intellectual investment,” said Boltz.

5 years in, debates over REDD+ continue

mongabay.com, 28 November 2012 | An initiative that aims to slow global warming by paying developing countries to protect and better manage their forests is expected to be an important storyline during climate talks in Doha this week and next. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), as the mechanism is known, has grown in complexity since it gained momentum during the 2005 climate talks in Montreal, but is arguably moving forward faster than other areas of climate negotiations. Still, many elements of REDD+ continue to be as hotly debated today as they were five years ago when it got the conceptual OK from the U.N. These include the process for establishing baselines to measure reductions in emissions, safeguards to protect against adverse outcomes for biodiversity and forest-dependent communities, and financing and markets. These issues are explored in a number of backgrounders from NGOs produced ahead of, and during, the Doha talks.

The $30 billion Question at Doha

By Jim Stephenson, RECOFTC’s Blog for People and Forests, 28 November 2012 | At the Fast-Start Finance Information Event we heard from the Parties that, to some peoples’ surprise, the US$ 30 billion target for ‘Fast-Start Finance’ from 2010-2012 had been surpassed. Huge numbers were reported even by individual countries, ranging up to US$ 17 billion, with a healthy chunk of this funding going towards REDD+. From the snapshot of Parties reporting it was difficult to calculate whether the approximate REDD+ partnership target of US$ 4.5 billion in REDD+ Fast Start Finance had been reached… So three years and billions of dollars later, are we any nearer to tackling some of the “Persistent Issues” which face REDD+? The Ecosystem Climate Alliance’s side event of the same name suggested not, and questioned why, despite the large amounts of bilateral, multilateral, and private funding directed at REDD+, we have not seen much in the way of expected results…

Why negotiators at Doha should care about the world’s forgotten mangroves

By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 November 2012 | New estimates have shown that when coastal ecosystems suffer degradation or are converted for aquaculture, upstream dams, dredging or urban development, up to one billion metric tons of carbon is emitted into the atmosphere every year – with over half of that coming from mangrove destruction alone. Yet as negotiators travel this week to the United Nations climate change summit (COP18) in Doha, Qatar – a country rich in mangroves — it seems that the rapid decline of wetlands has yet to garner the international attention it deserves. The economic as well as ecological and social costs of coastal wetland conversion will be huge, said Boone Kauffman, an associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and co-author of Estimating Global “Blue Carbon” Emissions from Conversion and Degradation of Vegetated Coastal Ecosystems.”

New study shows how climate change could affect entire forest ecosystems

Phys.org, 28 November 2012 | Mariah S. Carbone, first author of a new paper, titled “Cloud Shading and Fog Drip Influence the Metabolism of a Coastal Pine Ecosystem,” and her co-authors, studied the influence of clouds on the largest Bishop pine forest of Santa Cruz Island. Carbone is a postdoctoral fellow with UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Their study was published in the journal Global Change Biology. “When people think about climate change, they’re often thinking about temperature and precipitation,” said Carbone. “When you think about precipitation, it’s rain and snow, depending on where you are. What this study showed is that you can have really important water inputs coming from clouds that influence the carbon cycle.” She explained that clouds are one of the largest uncertainties in global climate, and that the forest ecosystem interactions with clouds have a large impact—one that has rarely been studied before…

Landscapes for sustainable development

By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 November 2012 | The evolution of Forest Day into a proposed Landscape Day at future UNFCCC COPs, involving agriculture and rural development stakeholders, has triggered a number of comments and questions. Will forest issues stay visible? Will agriculture issues stay visible? Who will set the agenda? And what is meant by a ‘landscape’ anyway? This blog entry addresses the latter question and suggests an analytical rather than administrative approach to landscapes. It also suggests that working at a landscape level does not challenge the traditional sectors, but rather helps combine their efforts to achieve an overall better result. ‘Landscape’ certainly has a different meaning to different constituencies. Ecologists talk about landscape ecology (Turner 1989), geographers focus on land forms, land use planners work with polygons and buffer zones, hydrologists consider the catchment…

Future of REDD-plus, agriculture, land use

By Tony La Viña, Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development, 28 November 2012 | [A] new working paper by Tony La Viña and colleagues explores the future of REDD-plus, agriculture and land use under the UNFCCC. The working paper considers developments to date in the UNFCCC and in the REDD+ Partnership and provides analysis on possible future options for REDD-plus, agriculture and land use.

Indonesia and REDD+ at Doha: Moving beyond carbon to sustainable development

By Yogita Tahilramani, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 November 2012 | Indonesia is using a U.N.-backed climate mitigation scheme as more than just a tool to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation: It’s also seeking to develop a multi-pronged plan to improve forest governance and alleviate poverty. People living in or around forests in the sprawling equatorial nation number at around 49 million, according to latest estimates. They also constitute one of the country’s largest groups of poor — a quarter of them living on less than $2 a day. These communities use the forests to get fuelwood, hunt and collect medicinal plants, bark and other non-timber products for use at home or sale at local markets. “When you want to protect forests, you have to deal with the people who live within these forests,” said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who heads Indonesia’s taskforce for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+.

The Building of PT. OKI Pulp and Paper Mills; Threat to the Indonesian Forest and the People’s Safety

Walhi South Sumatra, 28 November 2012 | the Government of South Sumatra is planning to build 2 Pulp and Paper Mills Factories in Musi Banyuasin Regency and Ogan Komering Ilir Regency. One of the factories that will be built is PT. OKI PULP and PAPER MILLS, which is a company with 100 percent foreign capital (The letter of BKPM No 361/1/IP/PMA/2012 concerning the license of Capital Investment Principle of PT.OKI Pulp and Paper Mills). According to the plan, it will be built in Jadi Mulya Village, Air Sugihan District, Ogan Komering Ilir Regency with the width reaching 2,800 hectares, 200 hectares of which is for the harbor. In the document of Environmental Impact Analysis (AMDAL), which is being discussed and will be stipulated by Amdal Commission of South Sumatra Province, it is said that this Pulp Mills management factory will produce pulp as much as 2,000,000 ton/year, with the need of raw material reaching at least 8.6 million tons/year.

[Indonesia] REDD: Reducing decentralization

By Pungky Widiaryanto, Jakarta Post, 28 November 2012 | On Oct. 22, the House of Representatives endorsed formation of the province of North Kalimantan and regencies of Pangandaran, South Coast Lampung, South Manokwari and Arfak Mountains. A study jointly conducted by researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and South Dakota State University (SDSU) found that advancement in regional autonomy could make it more difficult for Indonesia to meet the deforestation target as the main objective of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+).

29 November 2012

NGOs demand Doha cancellation of carbon credit surplus

By Will Nichols, BusinessGreen, 29 November 2012 | More than 150 NGOs from across the globe have called on environment ministers and diplomats at the Doha Climate Summit to cancel surplus carbon credits that are blamed for undermining international efforts to cut emissions. Estimates put the glut of Assigned Amount Unit (AAU) credits countries use to meet their carbon goals at more than 13 billion, equivalent to 13 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2, primarily caused by a drop in production during the global economic slowdown. The concern is that this surplus will be carried over into the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty underpinning international emissions cuts, which is due to be finalised at the talks in Doha. Analysts Thomson Reuters Point Carbon estimate ths surplus could lead to a cumulative oversupply of 16.2Gt, which would undermine the case for low carbon investment by driving down the price of carbon credits even further.

No success for REDD+ in Doha until links between carbon, biodiversity & people better understood

By Ashlee Betteridge, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 November 2012 | While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to forest loss and degradation, the management of forests under REDD+ schemes must be adapted to local contexts to ensure both carbon and biodiversity goals are attained, say scientists. Christoph Wildburger and John Parrotta from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and co-authors of a new study that explores the relationship between forests, biodiversity and people, spoke with Forest News on the sidelines of the UN Climate talks in Doha, Qatar. They highlighted the need to ensure that trade-offs between climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation goals are carefully addressed by schemes to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+).

REDD+ takes unanticipated big step forward at UNFCCC-COP18

WWF, 29 November 2012 | WWF REDD+ negotiators produced a pleasant surprise today on day four of UNFCCC-COP18, when draft text from the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) was released indicating coordinated and comprehensive agreement on key REDD+ issues. SBSTA is one of two permanent subsidiary bodies to UNFCCC. It supports the work of the COP through the provision of timely information and advice on scientific and technological matters as they relate to the Convention or its Kyoto Protocol. The draft text addressed the key issues of national forest monitoring systems, reference levels (RLs) and monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) in the most coherent and logical format to date.

Stepping out of the REDD+ Shadow – Forests and Adaptation

By Jim Sephenson, RECOFTC’s Blog for People and Forests, 29 November 2012 | For those of us with hazy recollections of the middle of the last decade, it is easy to forget that when REDD+ was assigned to the mitigation stream under the UNFCCC, many commentators, including indigenous peoples, thought it should straddle both adaptation and mitigation. Since then discussions on forests in the UNFCCC have been dominated by REDD+, with little attention being paid to their vital role in the success of climate change adaptation. We see glimpses of this role being recognized again, most explicitly with Bolivia’s proposal for a ‘Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism’ for forests. This follows on from Durban Decision 2/CP.17 that joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests could be developed, largely based on Bolivian negotiators’ interest in promoting non-market approaches to REDD+.

To what extent could planting trees help solve climate change?

By Duncan Clark, The Guardian, 29 November 2012 | Forests play an important an important role in climate change. The destruction and degradation of forests contributes to the problem through the release of CO2. But the planting of new forests can help mitigate against climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Combined with the sun’s energy, the captured carbon is converted into trunks, branches, roots and leaves via the process of photosynthesis. It is stored in this “biomass” until being returned back into the atmosphere, whether through natural processes or human interference, thus completing the carbon cycle. Tree planting and plantation forestry are well established both in the private and public sectors. The most recent data released by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation suggest that plantation forests comprised an estimated 7% of global forest area in 2010.

Standards for Results-Based REDD+ Finance : Overview and Design Parameters

By Charlotte Streck and John Costenbader, Climate Focus, 29 November 2012 | The objective of this paper, the first in a series of analytical papers to evaluate the design features of various results-based standards, protocols and methodologies, is to give an initial overview of existing and emerging REDD+ frameworks for results-based finance. The paper summarizes the most important standards that channel results-based payments to REDD+. This introduction into REDD+ standards sets out to identify central commonalities and differences so that stakeholders may promote rapid learning for REDD+ and implement no-regrets REDD+ activities.

Doha negotiators must consider Africa’s adaptation challenges, says CIFOR scientist

By Ashlee Betteridge, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 November 2012 | While Africa’s voice has been growing in international negotiations, more focus is needed on climate change adaptation on the continent to protect those who rely on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods, says Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) scientist Louis Verchot. In an interview with BBC Africa on the sidelines of the United Nations climate change summit (COP18) in Doha, Qatar, Verchot, a leader of forests and climate change research at CIFOR, said that more resources are needed to adequately support adaptation in Africa. “The empowerment of Africa in these [international climate] negotiations has really been growing over the past five, six, maybe ten years. The African voice is being heard more clearly and Africa has been much better about articulating and understanding where its interests are and pushing the climate change negotiators to pay attention to their issues,” Verchot said.

[Australia] Hope on carbon credits benefit

The Mercury, 29 November 2012 | Tasmanians should still expect to see a carbon benefit from the new forest peace deal but the credits figure remains unclear. Climate Change Minister Cassy O’Connor yesterday hit back at reports that the Federal and State Governments were at loggerheads over the potential carbon benefits from Tasmania’s forest peace deal. Ms O’Connor said the Commonwealth had never indicated Tasmania would not be able to benefit from the carbon sequestered in forests protected under the Tasmanian Forests Agreement. The comments came after reports that federal Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Mark Dreyfus, was concerned Tasmania would be able to double-dip on carbon credits with new forest reserves. Ms O’Connor said she and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet had discussed the potential to realise the carbon benefits associated with trees placed in conservation reserves as a result of the deal.

China: Top buyer of illegal timber drives deforestation

EIA International press release, 29 November 2012 | China, emergent superpower and the world’s second biggest economy, is effectively standing on the sidelines as its exponential growth devastates forests in a trade worth billions of dollars a year. In the new report Appetite for Destruction: China’s Trade in Illegal Timber, launched today in Beijing, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that China is now the single largest international consumer of illegal timber, importing wood stolen by organised criminal syndicates on a massive scale. In the past 10 years, significant progress has been made to protect shrinking forests around the world from the devastating impacts of illegal logging. As major timber-consumers, the United States the European Union and Australia have now taken legislative steps to exclude stolen timber from their markets, while key producer countries such as Indonesia have dramatically improved enforcement against illegal logging.

COP18: Indonesia provides model for REDD implementation

Climate Change TV, 29 November 2012 | Meine Van Noordwijk, Principal Scientist and Chief Scientific Advisor at the World Agroforestry Centre, explains the work undertaken by his organisation since the creation of the REDD program in Bali. Noordwijk explains that actually defining what qualifies as a forest is a critical issue – whether oil palm plantations count as a forest can radically change the way the REDD programme functions. Noordwijk argues that, when integrated with a plan of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs), the REDD program can be a key part of a nation’s response to climate change. He explains how this has been implemented effectively in Indonesia.

‘We cannot sell the idea of equity back home,’ says US negotiator

By Indrajit Bose, Down To Earth, 29 November 2012 | On day three of the ongoing Conference of Parties on climate change (CoP18) in Doha, the deputy chief climate envoy of the US, Jonathan Pershing, told NGOs in an informal briefing session that it would be hard for him to go back to the Congress and sell the idea of equity espoused by the developing countries. Rejecting the idea that atmospheric space can be divided, Pershing said it is unacceptable that an X quantity of carbon dioxide emissions is taken, the number divided into percentages and obligations set based on different scenarios. “The obligation states you (US) would have to reduce emissions down to negative 37 per cent. The obligation of China will be a tiny bit, but India can still grow quite a lot. The politics of that quite frankly really don’t work. I can’t really sell that to the Congress back home.” Besides, it just doesn’t solve the problem, said Pershing…

30 November 2012

UN Climate Boss: No Support for Tough Climate Deal

By Karl Ritter, AP, 30 November 2012 | The United Nations climate chief is urging people not to look solely to their governments to make tough decisions to slow global warming, and instead to consider their own role in solving the problem. Approaching the half-way point of two-week climate talks in Doha, Christiana Figueres, the head of the U.N.’s climate change secretariat, said Friday that she didn’t see “much public interest, support, for governments to take on more ambitious and more courageous decisions.” … “There is a mutual mistrust that is very clear,” said Brazil’s chief negotiator Andre Aranha Correa do Lago. “We need to get back to the spirit of Durban.”

Is the World Bank turning up the heat?

Al Jazeera, 30 November 2012 | Extreme heat waves, declining food stocks, and a life-threatening sea level rise: it’s a sobering vision of the future by one of the world’s largest and most powerful institutions. A report issued by the World Bank earlier this month warns of severe consequences if global warming is not dealt with. But the international organisation may itself be contributing to climate change. The Bank says the only way climate change can be dealt with is by “co-operative, international actions”… According to the Bank Information Center, a watchdog group, in 2010, the World Bank’s funding for fossil fuel projects hit an all-time high of $6.6bn – that’s a 116 per cent increase from the year before. Most of those loans went towards coal.

Last minute progress gets blocked

Tropical Forest Group, 30 November 2012 | UNFCCC climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar broke down early this morning as Brazil blocked progress in last minute discussions to provide billions of dollars in finance to save rainforests. This failure in the talks could potentially jeopardize the trajectory of the UNFCCC, an already wounded United Nations effort to prevent catastrophic climate change. Brazil objected to the requests of many nations by refusing to allow verified emission reductions for reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD+). Earlier, other stubborn nations stalled talks for hours based on a different interpretation of the word “the”. Culley Thomas of the Tropical Forest Group, a leading US research and conservation organization stated “Donor nations sent the signal loud and clear that finance to save forests would require verification. Catastrophically for our planet, Brazil refused to listen.”

Degradation: The forgotten D in REDD+

By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 November 2012 | Though degraded forest cover is increasing in many regions, difficulties in defining these areas of land and accurately measuring their carbon stocks has seen degradation left by the wayside in the global debate about Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), says a recent study. The findings come during the U.N. climate change summit in Doha in December where negotiators from 194 countries are meeting to discuss how to protect the world’s forests under REDD+ schemes. Called “idle land” in some countries and “wastelands” in others (there are more than 50 definitions out there), degraded lands are often dynamic agricultural landscapes, containing trees and shrubs in various stages of re-growth.

Brave new world: the global trends changing the future of deforestation

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 November 2012 | Global trends will intensify the underlying causes of deforestation over the coming decades – unless all countries take responsibility to address them, said experts on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Doha, Qatar. The world is in the grip of huge changes that will redefine pressures on forests: urbanisation, increasingly meat-based diets, population growth, and booming demand for timber and agricultural products. “All of these forces conspire together to influence forest clearing, ” said Gabrielle Kissinger from Lexeme Consulting, at a COP 18 side event held to present the report in Doha. Kissinger is one of the authors of a new synthesis report on the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation that aims to advise policymakers and negotiators at the Doha conference who are working on REDD+ – a global scheme that aims to reduce carbon emissions by preventing forest loss.

Biodiversity & climate negotiators must “talk to each other” for the sake of REDD+, urges Belgium

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 November 2012 | Country negotiators in the U.N climate change and biodiversity talks need to communicate better before developing their national positions, in order to push the development of environmental and social safeguards for climate mitigation schemes such as REDD+, say experts. Countries often select civil servants or other experts to act as negotiators at U.N. meetings, however only a handful of the same negotiators attend both the meetings on biodiversity (U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, or CBD) and climate (U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC). There is fear that without better coordination between the two bodies, the focus on forests will completely shift to the climate convention, which does not place biodiversity at the core of discussions.

What Really Happens When Forests are Commodified

Global Forest Coalition press release, 30 November 2012 | As Governments gathering for the 18th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP18) continue discussions on the need to address the drivers of forest loss, the Global Forest Coalition [2], today launches a video repository that tells a powerful story about the commodification of forests as a key driver of climate change. This can only worsen as new industrial ‘bio-economy’ strategies come into play. The repository brings together key videos produced and directed by a wide range of groups and communities, clearly demonstrating that Indigenous Peoples and local communities in countries right across the world are encountering and challengingthe same problems with the rapidly expanding commodification of forest resources. Forests, their biodiversity, and their inhabitants are under attack as never before.

Indigenous Leaders Embrace REDD, With Or Without Carbon Markets

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 30 November 2012 | More than a dozen indigenous leaders from across the Amazon endorsed efforts to save endangered rainforest using financial mechanisms that reward good land stewardship and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). They said, however, that carbon markets might not be the best way to access funding and argued for a more holistic, ecosystem-oriented approach based on acreage of living forest combined with REDD-style carbon stock-taking. They also argued against the long-term obligations that most carbon contratcs require, and in favor of shorter-term contracts offering indigenous groups that engage in REDD the flexibility to adapt their projects over time. The “Indigenous REDD” effort emerged in 2011 and is being spearheaded by the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), which coordinates nine national indigenous organizations spread across the Amazon.

REDD-plus COOK BOOK – How to Measure and Monitor Forest Carbon

Forest and Forest Products Research Institute, 30 November 2012 | This Cookbook is an easy-to-understand technical manual which provide basic knowledge and technologies required for REDD-plus with the main focus on the forest carbon monitoring methods. It comprises of four parts: Introduction, Planning, Technics, and References. “Introduction” is designed for the policy makers and their partner organizations working for the introduction of REDD-plus at national / sub-national level, “Planning” is intended for the REDD-plus implementing organizations / countries working on REDD-plus at national / subnational level, and “Technical” for the experts who work on the REDD-plus activities at national/sub-national level. On the other hand, “References” provides references of useful documents which assist users to have a better understanding of “Introduction” and “Planning”.

“Carbon is at a historic low”

Five Trillion Trees, 30 November 2012 | Michael Dutschke – Carbon is at a historic low, with a CER below 1 euro. Shouldn’t we just move away from carbon and look for other ecosystem values? Which also means, moving away from offsetting and into a purely voluntary market without additionality and baseline requirements, but with reliable MRV – measurement, reporting and verification. Are consumers ripe for it? Rob Carlow – It is certainly an interesting idea. I wonder though, having moved away from carbon, what exactly we would be measuring, reporting and verifying. Compliance or voluntary, both markets are dependent on carbon. Beyond market use, carbon is appealing because we can assign GWP values for direct comparisons with other GHG’s. Removing baseline requirements gives no consideration for a comparison to be made. We must have reference levels to judge reductions against. What would our new reference levels be?

“Sustainable” Palm Oil Should Not Drive Deforestation

By Calen May-Tobin, Union of Concerned Scientists, 30 November 2012 | If you’ve ever checked product labels or company websites from the brands you buy, you’ve probably come across references to “sustainable palm oil” but what exactly does that mean? The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) provides the Principles and Criteria (known as the P&C;) for “certified sustainable palm oil” and has members from many stakeholder groups, including palm oil growers, refiners, and traders, financial institutions, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, and non-governmental organizations… Despite the RSPO’s good intentions, there are a number of ways that the group’s efforts fall short of producing truly sustainable palm oil. The most glaring omission is that the P&C; allow for conversion of peatlands and high-carbon secondary forests. Thus, “certified sustainable palm oil” can still drive tropical deforestation and still have an enormous carbon footprint.

[Cambodia] Villagers in Kampong Chhnang win land back

By May Titthara, Phnom Penh Post, 30 November 2012 | Prime Minister Hun Sen has reclassified 4,158 hectares of a massive land concession owned by the wife of Senator Lao Meng Khin from his own party for displaced families in Kampong Chhnang province. A jubilant representative of the 4,506 families who have long battled against the 315,028 hectare concession granted to Cheung Sopheap’s Pheapimex Group and now stand to benefit thanked the prime minister. “Now we are very happy after Prime Minister Hun Sen’s voluntary youths re-measured the land for us, but we are still concerned about what will happen in the future,” said Chea Sophon, a representative of villagers in Tek Phos district. He thanked the premier for taking their difficulties into account and said the victory had come because villagers had exerted themselves through every channel.

Canada won’t budge on environment, Peter Kent insists

By Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail, 30 November 2012 | Environment Minister Peter Kent arrives at the United Nations climate summit in Qatar this weekend with a target on his back, representing the only government that has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol and taken a hard line on the need for emerging-market countries to make binding commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In an interview before leaving Ottawa, Mr. Kent made it clear that Canada would not deviate from its contentious path or sacrifice economic growth to cut emissions. “We are taking our obligations seriously,” he said. “But we are balancing our obligation and engagement on climate change with sensitivities to the realities of Canada’s still-recovering economy, job creation and job growth, and we will continue on that course.”

China’s bloody timber trail

By David Boyle, Phnom Penh Post, 30 November 2012 | The world’s most precious trees are being rapidly logged into extinction in countries such as Cambodia and served up to Chinese consumers as “staggeringly” expensive ornate furniture with the complicity of Beijing, a comprehensive investigation into the trade has found. Appetite For Destruction: China’s trade in illegal timber, a report from the independent campaigning organisation Environmental Investigation Agency which was launched yesterday in Beijing, found that while the US, EU and Australia have taken legislative action to stop the illegal timber trade, China lags behind. Chinese trade data from the United Nations Comtrade shows that in 2011 alone 9,973 cubic metres of precious logs were bought by China from Cambodia for a total of almost US$22 million, with a grand total of more than 32,000 cubic metres being imported between 2007 and 2011.

Indonesian activists push for legally binding results

Xinhua, 30 November 2012 | Indonesian environmentalists on Thursday called for legally binding results from the 18th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNCCC) in Qatar’s capital of Doha, urging Indonesian negotiators to do their best in achieving such result. “This is a good opportunity to pursue a legally binding convention,” Avi Mahanigntyas, an activist of the environmentalist group of Kemitraan, told Xinhua. She said Indonesian negotiators face hard task at the high- profile climate change meeting as developed countries were apparently reluctant to comply with binding obligation after Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period expires at the end of this year.

[Indonesia] REDD agenda in Doha

By Agus P. Sari, Jakarta Post, 30 November 2012 | [F]inancing is the hottest topic in REDD+. To make a reduction of 1 billion tons in emissions by 2020 as mandated by RANGRK [the national action plan for the reduction of emission of greenhouse gases], Indonesia needs about US$5–$10 billion, assuming a cost of $5–$10 per ton. While up to $1 billion may be made available through the letter of intent for the government of Norway, more is required. Two more billion dollars may be available to Indonesia from bilateral and multilateral public financing. The remainder — up to $7 billion — may have to be financed through the private sector… How and to what extent private sector involvement can be done remains to be negotiated in Doha. Whether it is done through market and non-market mechanisms alike, whether REDD+ actions can be used as offset on developed countries’ emissions through a carbon market are issues that are very far from being agreed upon.

1 December 2012

Theatre of the absurd

The Economist, 1 December 2012 | Never let it be said that climate-change negotiators lack a sense of the absurd. Thousands of politicians, tree-huggers and journalists descended on Doha this week, adding their mite of hot air to the country that already has the world’s highest level of carbon emissions per head. The feeling of unreality is apt. The meeting comes amid gathering gloom about both the speed of climate change and the chances of implementing policies to keep the rise in global temperatures below 2°C… In other words, the first period of the Kyoto accord ends in December with no new treaty to replace it and no prospect of one till 2020. In its second period, Kyoto has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. Russia, Japan and Canada have either pulled out or said they will not make any new promises.

China’s stance in Doha climate talks constructive

Xinhua, 1 December 2012 | Top UN climate official Christiana Figueres described China’s position in the ongoing Doha climate talks as “very constructive” in a recent interview with Xinhua, hailing China’s initiatives in addressing climate change and reducing emissions. Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said on the sidelines of the climate talks that China “has already taken a lead” in tackling climate change as a responsible developing country. “China is doing a good job,” she said, adding that she expects “China to continue doing the work they are already doing.” The UN official said China is well aware of the fact that climate change has many negative impacts on both its people and its economy. “By their own admission,” extreme weather events have affected 340 million citizens in China and caused 50 billion U.S. dollars of loss, Figueres said.

[Guyana] IMF looking for steps to ensure Amaila hydro project viable

Stabroek News, 1 December 2012 | While lauding the country for another year of robust growth, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has added its voice to concerns about ensuring that the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) is economically viable. In a statement yesterday on the conclusion of its Article IV consultation with Guyana on November 9, the IMF offered its assessment of the economy, saying among other things that it looked forward to measures for the boosting of the efficiency of public enterprises and to ensure that the AFHP is feasible. The statement said that the IMF Directors recommended “careful consideration of the risks and contingent liabilities arising from that… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

2 December 2012

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Hit Record in 2011, Researchers Say

By Justin Gillis and John M. Broder, New York Times, 2 December 2012 | Global emissions of carbon dioxide were at a record high in 2011 and are likely to take a similar jump in 2012, scientists reported Sunday — the latest indication that efforts to limit such emissions are failing. Emissions continue to grow so rapidly that an international goal of limiting the ultimate warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, established three years ago, is on the verge of becoming unattainable, said researchers affiliated with the Global Carbon Project. Josep G. Canadell, a scientist in Australia who leads that tracking program, said Sunday in a statement that salvaging the goal, if it can be done at all, “requires an immediate, large and sustained global mitigation effort.” Yet nations around the world, despite a formal treaty pledging to limit warming — and 20 years of negotiations aimed at putting it into effect — have shown little appetite for the kinds of controls required…

Q+A in Doha: Meeting food needs while protecting forests

By Ashlee Betteridge, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 December 2012 | As the world struggles to feed a growing population without expanding into forests and scrubland, poliycmakers need to consider making more efficient use of land and relocating agriculture to non-forest or degraded landscapes, scientists say. Deborah Bossio from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Lini Wollenberg from the University of Vermont and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), spoke with Forests News on the sidelines of the U.N. Climate talks in Doha, Qatar. While there are many ways to work towards a balance between food security conservation, they say, support from policy makers is needed to increase momentum.

“Come out of the forest” to save the trees

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 December 2012 | Forestry experts have called for a new approach to managing land and tackling climate change – challenging the ongoing debate that forests have to be sacrificed for the sake of rural development and food security. Governments, policymakers and scientists worldwide have been experimenting for years with different approaches to managing rural landscapes, from watershed management to habitat restoration, but these efforts are rarely done in concert to address climate change challenges. “It is time to look at new ways of solving old problems,” said Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in a keynote speech at Forest Day 6, a daylong event held on the sidelines of the United Nations climate talks in Doha.

Looking back on Forest Day

By Kate Evans and Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 December, 2012 | The world’s top forestry experts and high-profile decision makers gathered on the sidelines of the UN Climate talks yesterday for the last Forest Day, as event shifts to a more integrated focus on achieving food security and overcoming climate change challenges in the future. Since its debut at COP 13 in Bali, Indonesia just six years ago, Forest Day quickly became one of the most influential global events on forests. Its aim was to ensure forests were high on the agenda of global and national climate strategies – and to share the most up-to-date knowledge on forests and climate change. “It’s been quite a journey since we launched the first Forest Day at COP 13 in Bali. We had originally planned a relatively small science-oriented event – and then more than 800 people showed up,” said former CIFOR Director General Frances Seymour who was instrumental in the success of the first five Forest Days.

[Guyana] Norway forest payments snagged by unspent funds

Stabroek News, 2 December 2012 | Guyana is unlikely to receive another tranche of payments from Norway under their forest protection partnership for this year because most of the money already disbursed remains unspent. Director of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo confirmed statements by former Norwegian Minister of the Environment Erik Solheim that the money already disbursed into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) must be spent before more could be released… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Norway Pledges to Help Protect Indonesia’s Forests

By Firdha Novialita & Charlotte Greenfield, Jakarta Globe, 2 December 2012 | Norway sent a delegation to Indonesia in the past week to discuss sustainability issues such as reducing the destruction of the Southeast Asian nation’s forests and curbing greenhouse gases. As Indonesia tries to improve its living standards across the country, the cost to the environment is immeasurable as land is cleared for gathering lumber and setting up palm plantations. More funding is needed to combat the destruction of the nation’s forests and to reduce air pollution, and Norway has set aside $1 billion for Indonesia in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). A champion of sustainable resources, and with a $656 billion sovereign wealth fund to back it, the Scandinavian country is also trying to influence other nations such as Brazil and Guyana to follow its lead to reduce carbon emissions worldwide, including by protecting forests.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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