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REDD in the news: 7-13 January 2013

REDD in the news: 7-13 January 2013

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.

7 January 2013

Three stepping stones towards integrating forests into landscape planning

By Will McFarland, Overseas Development Institute, 7 January 2013 | Up until now, REDD+ has remained firmly in the hands of forest and environment actors. However after Doha, there is no doubt that REDD+ needs to move away from being an issue solely for the ‘forests’ sector. We have a paradigm shift towards a mindset where forests are considered as part of landscapes more generally. But could this mean that forest interests lose prominence? One of the findings from ODI’s recent research into sector coordination to deliver REDD+ in Uganda was that decisions about land use are usually made based on the needs of other more powerful and politically influential sectors, like energy and agriculture. Truthfully, forests are simply not a priority for national governments and are not seen as an important tool for development.

Carbon trading reaches record high, to capture low prices

Energy and Environmental Management (EAEM) Magazine, 7 January 2013 | The worth of traded EU carbon allowances and UN greenhouse gas emissions credits fell by 36% in 2012, although trading reached record levels. The value dropped from €95bn in 2011 to a reported €61bn last year, representing the first annual contraction to be suffered by the sector since 2008, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. However, trading across the world’s carbon markets grew by 26% in 2012, to reach 10.7bn tonnes, which is equivalent to one third of the world’s total emissions of carbon dioxide. Activity particularly around UN offsets increased substantially towards the end of the year; in the last quarter it jumped by 70%, in a rush to issue and acquire these credits before the end of the year and to take advantage of record low prices. Commenting on the fall in value of the market, Sarah Deblock, the EU policy director of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), said that it “reaffirms the importance of the proposal by the European Commission to backload 900 million allowances during phase III of the EU ETS”.

Carbon market worth plunged by over a third in 2012: Bloomberg

EurActiv, 7 January 2013 | The value of the world’s carbon market fell by 36% last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the first annual contraction to hit the CO2 reduction mechanism since 2008. The worth of traded EU carbon allowances and UN emissions credits fell from €95 billion in 2011 to a reported €61 billion. Analysts blame a near halving of the average price of carbon allowances from €11.2 a tonne in 2011 to €6.4 a tonne by the end of 2012. “This analysis doesn’t come as a surprise, as we all know the reality of the market,” Sarah Deblock, the EU policy director of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) told EurActiv in an email. “It reaffirms the importance of the proposal by the European Commission to backload 900 million allowances during phase III of the EU ETS,” she said.

Agriculture and Forestry Key to Mitigating Climate Change

By Kim Lewis, Voice of America, 7 January 2013 | Forestry experts say it is time for a new approach in mitigating the causes of climate change. And while the 2012 climate change conference in Doha, Qatar, brought no decisions regarding the important role agriculture and forestry play in reducing carbon emissions, some awareness was brought to the table regarding forests, and how forest conservation should be integrated into future climate talks. While historically both agriculture and forestry have kept a low profile at climate change talks, the 2012 climate convention in Doha saw some attention being paid to the important role forests play in landscaping, biodiversity and food security. Peter Holmgren, CIFOR director general, is already looking ahead to the planned 2015 climate agreement. In his view of the Doha talks, he said it is time to rethink approaches in agriculture and forestry so that the two green sectors play a more prominent role in future climate talks.

Biofuel production threatens air quality and crop yields, study finds

Reuters, 7 January 2013 | Fighting climate change by producing more biofuels could actually worsen a little-known type of air pollution and cause almost 1,400 premature deaths a year in Europe by 2020, according to a new study. The report said trees grown to produce biofuel – seen as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal – release a chemical into the air that, when mixed with other pollutants, could also reduce farmers’ crop yields. “Growing biofuels is thought to be a good thing because it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said Nick Hewitt, who worked on the study with colleagues from Lancaster University, UK. “What we’re saying is ‘yes, that’s great, but biofuels could also have a detrimental effect on air quality’.” The report, in the journal Nature Climate Change, looked into the impact of a European Union scheme to slow climate change by producing more biofuels. Hewitt told Reuters there would be a similar impact wherever biofuels were produced in large quantities in areas suffering air pollution, including the United States and China.

Vietnam Goes For Flexibility In Nested Approach To REDD+

Ecosystem Marketplace, 7 January 2013 | The global community has landed on REDD as possibly one of the best strategies in halting deforestation and thus slowing global warming. But implementing this mechanism in individual countries has resulted in varying styles and approaches. For instance, the small Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam is taking an aggressive stance in addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation, and has developed a REDD+ National Action Plan that set out key legal and institutional roles and priority actions. Vietnam’s government supports a national framework for its ultimate domestic REDD+ approach, and is exploring the possibility of nested REDD+ approaches for establishing voluntary carbon markets, regulating REDD+ project‐based investments and maintaining environmental integrity.

8 January 2013

What next for forest conservation after disappointing Doha?

By Ed Mitchard, Deforestationwatch, 8 January 2013 | REDD+ was meant to become a key part of a comprehensive climate change deal, and receive its funding from that process. If the Durban platform leads to nothing, does REDD+ die too, and with it the last hope for the world’s tropical forests? I sincerely hope not. There seems to be a consensus forming that perhaps forest preservation is best done outside the main UN system. This is already happening at two different scales: at a local scale there are approximately 200 voluntary-sector REDD+ projects either currently functioning or in an advanced state of development; and at a national scale a number of programs exist to support whole countries in monitoring and managing their forests (e.g. UN-REDD and the FPCC), and a number of bilateral agreements exist, most famously the $1 billion Norway-Indonesia REDD+ Partnership. As small-scale projects grow and merge, and bilateral and regional deals become more numerous, it is possible that an international system to fund the protection of tropical forests could come to exist even without any overarching international framework. It will undoubtedly be more complicated, messier, and harder to monitor than a UNFCCC deal would have been, but that does not necessarily mean it will be less effective. I’ll end this blog post on that positive note. However, a decentralised REDD+ scheme is not without pitfalls, and I’ll write about these (and potential solutions) at a later date.

A 4°C warmer world “will be catastrophic” for forest biodiversity: expert

By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 January 2013 | Global temperatures may be climbing at a rate too fast for our forests and its biodiversity to adapt, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) warned after the World Bank predicted a 4°C warming of the planet if policymakers continue to be apathetic about greenhouse gas emissions. “The long-term effects will undoubtedly be catastrophic,” said Terry Sunderland, CIFOR principal scientist specialising in biodiversity. “Everything will become imbalanced and whole ecosystems will be lost.” … “In higher latitudes, a warmer climate will shift ecosystems to those suited to less temperate and more subtropical environments,” Sunderland said. “The problem with this process, when compared to natural climate change, as we have seen in the past, is the sheer speed of change.”

Going from Red to Green; the landscape approach

CGIAR Consortium, 8 January 2013 | The UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar left key advocates red in the face due to the inability to agree on the verification of emission reductions required to advance implementation of REDD+. But a more integrated green sector approach, supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Trees, Forests, and Agroforestry and its partners, may well give REDD+, forests, and agriculture a bigger seat at the table for the next international treaty on climate change in 2015 – and produce more substantial results… A more unified landscape approach can better measure tradeoffs between issues such as food security, energy needs, income generation, and the preservation of natural resources, such as forests, water supplies, and biodiversity. It can help better identify and implement climate change mitigation efforts so that agriculture, forest management, and land use are not only part of the problem, but also part of the solution.

[Ethiopia] Investing in sustainable productivity could secure REDD+ schemes long term

By Isilda Nhantumbo, capitalethiopia.com, 8 January 2013 | Investing in sustainable local enterprises could help REDD+ secure projects’ long term financial viability — that was the feeling emerging in discussions at IIED and partners’ REDD+ workshop at the COP18 climate talks in Doha. The curtain has fallen on the Qatar climate talks, including on REDD+ discussions (the scheme to reward developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). The REDD+ fraternity was disappointed not to achieve breakthroughs in the negotiations both on finance (should it be market and / or fund based?) and on monitoring, reporting and verification systems (what guidance should be developed?). But even if another year elapses before clear decisions on these issues, both developed and developing countries should continue with their voluntary commitments to financing, developing and implementing actions that make it worthwhile to keep carbon locked up in forests and soils.

Irish EU presidency aims to seal carbon market deal

By Barbara Lewis, Reuters, 8 January 2013 | Ireland, holder of the EU presidency for the next six months, is working with opponents of a proposal to boost the European Union’s carbon market in hopes of brokering a compromise, Environment Minister Phil Hogan said on Tuesday. “It’s the intention to get it through,” Hogan told Reuters on the sidelines of a Brussels conference, when asked if a deal was possible before the end of the Irish EU presidency in June. Without agreement on providing support for the carbon market, which hit a record low of 5.61 euros in December , Hogan said the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) “would survive in theoretical terms, but it would exist in name only.” The European union’s ETS was set up with the aim of lowering emissions by charging manufacturers and utilities for their emissions but the price of carbon has become too low to induce sweeping changes.

Civil society in Laos: Gone missing

The Economist, 8 January 2013 | The government of Laos had been exuding a bluff, self-congratulatory air towards the end of 2012—having won admission to the WTO in October and then playing host to the Asia-Europe summit in November—until suddenly a foul wind blew through, mid-December. The country’s most distinguished leader of an NGO was grabbed at a police checkpoint in the capital, Vientiane, and has not been seen since. Sombath Somphone founded the Participatory Development Training Centre (PADETC) in 1996 with the aim of fostering sustainable, equitable and self-reliant development in Laos. In 2005 Mr Sombath won the prestigious Magsaysay award, often regarded as Asia’s answer to the Nobel prize. Today, nearly three weeks since his extraordinary kidnapping, he is nowhere to be seen.

[Pakistan] Murders in Paradise

By Rina Saeed Khan, dawn.com, 8 January 2013 | Massive deforestation started in Pakistan in the 1990s and the greatest victims were the conifer forests in the Himalayan belt. The massive earthquake that struck Pakistan’s north on October 8th 2005 resulted in widespread land sliding in the mountains. The land sliding was a direct result of all the deforestation that had taken place in this region and claimed thousands of lives. Villages in Kohistan were badly affected as well – those located near the thick forests, however, were spared the destruction of homes… While REDD has started in Nepal, it is still in its introductory phase in Pakistan. Workshops have been organised with the Forest Departments to introduce the concept of receiving dividends from the protection of forests. On the way to Pattan, one could see piles of timber lying on the KKH, so clearly the timber mafia is active in this area. A strong REDD mechanism could of course galvanise the government into action.

9 January 2013

EU Sells 3.5 Million EU Carbon Permits Below Market Price

By Alessandro Vitelli, Bloomberg, 9 January 2013 | The European Union sold 3.5 million prompt carbon emission permits at a lower price than bids on the open market, signaling lower demand for the allowances. The auction price was 6.35 euros ($8.33) a metric ton, according to data from European Energy Exchange AG, the EU’s appointed auctioneer. Carbon permits eligible from 2013 through 2020 for delivery within two days were bid at 6.38 euros and offered at 6.46 euros a ton when the auction closed at 11 a.m. Berlin time, according to data from ICE Futures Europe. At an auction yesterday, the first this year, the clearing price was higher than the prevailing cost of prompt permits for the first time since Oct. 23. The volume of bids in today’s sale totaled 8.7 million tons, or 2.4 times the volume of permits for sale, according to data from EEX. That’s lower than yesterday’s bid ratio of 2.6.

Comparing Global Carbon Maps

By Ed Mitchard, Deforestationwatch, 9 January 2013 | In partnership with Ecometrica I have produced an interactive website to compare these carbon maps. You can access the site here, read an article I’ve written about the new site for Ecometrica here, and access a website describing the site here. As you can see, though in many areas the two maps agree, in some areas there are large disagreements. Ecometrica’s innovative Our Ecosystem platform, on which the site was built, allows you to draw a region of interest, compare the carbon stocks estimated by the two maps for different landcover types, and download these data as a pdf report. This should help projects understand better not just the carbon stocks in their forests but the uncertainties in current maps.

Pigouvian Rabbits in Tropical Forests

By Prakash Kashwan, The Monkey Cage, 9 January 2013 | The roots of forest property rights conflicts go back to the days when colonial governments, interested mainly in exploiting the rich timber resources in the tropics, nationalized vast territories previously occupied and used by indigenous peoples. Because many post-colonial governments also relied on the exploitation of timber and other natural resources to keep themselves solvent, the colonial era institutions – the combination of property rights and other punitive laws meant to protect those property rights – have lived way beyond their colonial shelf lives. It is these political economic interests of national governments that motivate government-appointed delegates to ask for finances in return for ensuring forest protection at home (Kashwan 2013). The sudden influx of carbon forestry funds creates perverse incentives for national governments and powerful market actors, leading to the phenomenon of green-grab. By this token the well-meaning advocacy of forest conservation in the tropics may have very serious social, political, and environmental consequences. In particular, the rent-seeking activities of the governments and government officials may turn the forest people against the projects aimed at promoting forest conservation, thereby reinforcing old conflicts or creating new conflicts. Such conflicts are in turn likely to lead to increased deforestation and ecological destruction.

Green growth in Myanmar: an emerging democracy’s vision for future development

By Aaron Russell, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 January 2013 | Flying directly to the capital of Myanmar, Nay Pyi Taw, I couldn’t help but think how much it looked like a movie set: eight lane cement highways flanked every kilometre by a large new hotel or ministry building, but almost no cars, people, or private residences to be seen anywhere. On the bus-ride to Yangon, this ambitious vision for the capital was starkly contrasted by a sparsely populated rice paddy farming landscape, flanked by completely deforested hills dotted with teak seedlings. Change is coming to Myanmar — the Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma — at a rapid pace. With a burgeoning influx of outside interests looking to tap into Myanmar’s newly accessible resource wealth, the government faces some challenging choices: how to achieve its stated objective of green growth, while balancing the needs of foreign investors, preserving the environment and maintaining rural development.

Community Carbon Pools Help Vietnamese Villagers Get Ready For REDD+

By Liem Dang Thanh and Linda Rosengren, Forest Carbon Portal, 9 January 2013 | Despite having been identified as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) by the Vietnamese government, the Kon Plong district of Vietnam’s Kon Tum province continues to be categorized as a production forest, with unsustainable/illegal logging and conversion to other purposes. The district already contains several large dams and a large area of degraded forest has been lost to reservoir inundation. It appears that without improved environmental governance in the area, this forest (and the link between existing protected areas and KBAs) will be further degraded and eventually lost. For this reason, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) program chose Kon Plong to pilot the Vietnam Component of ourDeveloping Community Carbon Pools for REDD+ project. Other programs are being tested in the Philippines, Cambodia, and Indonesia as well.

10 January 2013

New Funding for Climate and Forests Protection

World Bank, 10 January 2013 | In a boost for global efforts to combat climate change and tropical deforestation, Finland, Germany, and Norway have each announced new financial contributions totaling approximately US$180 million to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), the World Bank administered facility that was set up to compensate developing countries for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions achieved by preserving their forests. “Forests continue to be lost as efforts to get the world on a greener, low-carbon growth path struggle to increase in speed and scale to meet the climate challenges ahead,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development. “We are therefore very pleased with the continued commitment of the donor community to support FCPF’s groundbreaking work to curb forest loss.” The new contributions to the FCPF bring the Facility’s capitalization to approximately US$650 million and guarantee the continued support for efforts by developing countries to reduce the loss of forest cover and the associated emissions of greenhouse gases while preparing for results-based payments.

No end in sight to EU carbon permit glut

Bloomberg, 10 January 2013 | European Union emission permits are poised to drop to a record in the first half as member states in the world’s largest carbon market fail to diminish the biggest- ever glut. Allowances will fall below the record 5.93 euros ($7.50) a metric ton reached last month, according to eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. That implies a decline of at least 8.3 per cent from yesterday’s closing price. The surplus may rise 18 per cent this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The EU’s regulatory arm last year proposed to delay the sale of some permits in a process known as backloading to boost prices and shrink supply. A failure to tackle the glut may discourage utilities from switching to natural gas and other less-polluting energy sources from coal, the 27-nation bloc said in a November report.

[Australia] Fact check: do bushfires emit more carbon than burning coal?

By Philip Gibbons, The Conversation, 10 January 2013 | On Wednesday, leader of the National Party and acting Opposition Leader, Warren Truss claimed carbon emissions from the current bushfires are equivalent to decades of carbon emissions from coal-fired power. The current bushfires are so large that the statement by Warren Truss seems plausible. This spurred me to do some research to find out. Coal-fired power stations in Australia emit around 200 million tonnes of CO2 per year. This does not include emissions from our coal exports. Around 30 tonnes of CO2 per forested hectare were emitted by the Black Saturday Fires in 2009. Bushfires this year have so far burned around 130,000ha of forest, so have emitted nearly 4 million tonnes of CO2. So, the bushfires this year have emitted an amount of CO2 equivalent to 2% of Australia’s annual emissions from coal-fired power.

Indian minister’s advisor calls for year-long UN climate talks

Responding to Climate Change, 10 January 2013 | The UN climate talks should increase the number of negotiating days from around 20 to 150 in order to increase its chances of success, according to an advisor to a senior Indian minister. Varad Pande, Officer on Special Duty to Jairam Ramesh, the rural development minister and former environment minister says more work is needed to break through the deadlocks. “We need to make negotiations an ongoing, rather than an episodic, process, with at least 120 to 150 days of active negotiations every year,” Pande wrote in India’s Business Standard. Negotiators currently meet for two fortnightly sessions in May and November, with the latter the only gathering where binding decisions can be passed. “This is the only way to rummage through all the gory detail that climate negotiations today involve. This ‘high-intensity’ approach to negotiations needs to be complemented by regular high-level forums where influential political leaders come together, break deadlocks and make firm commitments,” he wrote.

[Indonesia] Dead tigers, dead people: logging by paper industry worsens human-tiger conflict in Sumatra, alleges report

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 10 January 2013 | Destruction of rainforests and peatlands on the Indonesian island of Sumatra by the pulp and paper industry is worsening conflict between tigers and humans, including fatal encounters, alleges a new report published by a coalition of environmental groups in Riau, Sumatra. Eyes on the Forest (EoF) — an alliance that includes Friends of the Earth (Walhi) Riau, Jikalahari, and WWF-Indonesia — published SMG/APP deforestation and deadly human-tiger conflict as part of its ongoing campaign to highlight conversion of natural forests in Riau province for industrial timber plantations. The report looks specifically at five concessions operated by companies that supply wood to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and its corporate parent, the Sinar Mas Group (SMG). The report says that the majority of human-tiger conflict incidents in Riau between 1997 and 2009 occurred within these concessions.

11 January 2013

World Bank REDD+ forest carbon fund gets $180m injection

mongabay.com, 11 January 2013 | The World Bank’s forest carbon fund got a $180 million injection from Finland, Germany and Norway, reports Point Carbon. The bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which is providing funding to develop and implement Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD ) projects in three dozen tropical countries, now had $650 in its coffers. According to the World Bank, the FCPF consists of two funds: The Readiness Fund (about US$260 million) currently provides grant financing to countries to develop their national strategies for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD ), and put in place the systems and institutions for implementing these strategies. The Carbon Fund (US$390 million) will provide payments upon verification that emissions have been reduced from large-scale REDD programs undertaken in countries which have made progress in becoming ready for REDD . Most of the new money will go into the Carbon Fund, boosting the amount of money available to countries that reduce their deforestation rate. The bulk of the funds are coming from Norway ($100 million), followed by Germany ($74 million) and Finland ($6 million).

As Australia burns, attitudes are changing. But is it too late?

By Tim Flannery, The Guardian, 11 January 2013 | This summer, life in Australia resembles a compulsory and very unpleasant game of Russian roulette. A pool of hot air more than 1,000 miles wide has formed across the inland. It covers much of the continent, and has proved astonishingly persistent. Periodically, low pressure systems spill the heat towards the coast, where most Australians live. At Christmas it was Perth. Then the heat struck Adelaide, followed by Tasmania, Victoria, and southern New South Wales and Canberra. Over this weekend, it’s southern Queensland and northern New South Wales that look set to face the gun. And with every heatwave, the incidences of bushfires and heat-related deaths and injuries spike.

12 January 2013

13 January 2013


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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