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REDD in the news: 26 August – 1 September 2013

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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 is updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

26 August 2013

Why don’t women participate in forest governance and what difference will their participation make?

By Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 August 2013 | Alarmed by widespread inequities between men and women in the governance of forests, for decades researchers and practitioners have been exploring different ways to enhance women’s participation. But an extensive review of the gender and forestry literature revealed that much of the research has been concentrated in South Asia. There are two reasons for this, the authors said. Many South Asian countries have made pioneering shifts towards devolution and decentralization over the past 10 years, but also Bina Agarwal’s work on gender and community forestry in India and Nepal has left a strong legacy. Bina Agarwal, a notable feminist/development economist and former Director of the Institute of Economic Growth in Delhi, has written extensively on property rights, the political economy of gender, poverty and inequality in South Asia from a gender perspective.

Desert plantations could help capture carbon

By Imogen Mathers and Nehal Lasheen, SciDev, 26 August 2013 | Planting trees in coastal deserts could capture carbon dioxide, reduce harsh desert temperatures, boost rainfall, revitalise soils and produce cheap biofuels, say scientists. Large-scale plantations of the hardy jatropha tree, Jatropha curcas, could help sequester carbon dioxide through a process known as ‘carbon farming’, according to a study based on data gathered in Mexico and Oman that was published in Earth System Dynamics last month (31 July). Each hectare of the tree could soak up 17-25 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, they say, at a cost of 42-63 euros (about US$56-84) per tonne of gas, the paper says. This makes the technique competitive with high-tech carbon capture and storage.

Back To School: Learning To Count Carbon In Trees And Forests

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 26 August 2013 | Industrial countries have set billions of dollars aside to save endangered rainforest and Reduce greenhouse gas Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in countries with land-based economies, but real money won’t start flowing until investors know that rainforest nations can count – and account for – the carbon captured in trees. That, in turn, won’t happen without well-trained carbon accountants on the ground in countries like Brazil, Ghana, and the Philippines. The University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have teamed up to train those accountants by creating a month-long course in advanced terrestrial carbon accounting that will be replicated at universities around the world.

[Guyana] Work on IDB due diligence for Amaila comes to a halt

Kaieteur News, 26 August 2013 | The due diligence that was being conducted by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) for the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project has now ceased, and without it, the public review of the project cannot take place. This was the announcement last evening by the Ministry of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh. The public announcement saw Dr Singh, criticizing A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) for halting the due diligence for the project and said the Parliament was not being asked to support the finalisation of the project. “They were simply being asked to join a political consensus that would move the project out of the exclusive realm of politicians in the last few months of its design.” Dr Singh said that APNU was specifically, being asked to join a consensus which would let the independent IDB due diligence finish its last few weeks of work.

[Guyana] IDB still to take final position on Amaila

Stabroek News, 26 August 2013 | IDB Representative in Guyana Sophie Makonnen said last week that talks with Sithe Global and with Government are still ongoing on the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project and the due diligence on the venture which started months ago is still to be completed. “We haven’t yet come exactly to a position in the Bank as to what the situation is…we are still looking into it,” she said. “We are still in a very fluid place so…" [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Guyana] Gov’t study raised concerns about Amaila’s year-round power generation

Stabroek News, 26 August 2013 | A government-commissioned study in 2009 on the economic benefits of the Amaila hydropower project itself raised concerns that the hydrology of the falls could be a problem for year-round generation of power. The study by Mercados Energeticos Consultores of Argentina also raised other troubling concerns because of its assumptions which observers say should have given rise to caution on the then existing model. The 2009 study was only afforded to the parliamentary parties in June this year amid the then mounting opposition to the project. It is not clear why the government… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Guyana] World Bank declined to participate in Amaila Hydro Project

Kaieteur News, 26 August 2013 | Without the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Plant, Government is now saying that electricity charges will have to be increased by as much as 30 per cent. This was the disclosure by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who along with Winston Brassington, yesterday appeared in a televised interview and said too that in order to be ready to receive power from the Hydro Project, Guyana Power and Light (GPL) would need an additional US$90M. Both Brassington and Prime Minister Hinds also defended the structure of the project, which sees financing costs of US$320M, and describes the deal “as the best one.” Former Auditor General, Anand Goolsarran, among other critics had lambasted government over the financing structure for the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project.

[Guyana] Govt. agreed to pay Sithe Global interest on money already repaid

Kaieteur News, 26 August 2013 | “Can you imagine any bank in which you deposit $100,000 and then withdraw $90,000 continuing to pay you interest for twenty years on the $100,000?” According to Financial Analyst, Christopher Ram, this is exactly what the Guyana Government signed onto with Sithe Global for the Hydro Project. Ram, says too, despite the public statements, when all the transactions are taken into account, “it becomes clear that Sithe planned to invest considerably less in the project than US$150M but would be paid interest as if it did.” He said it was surprising enough to learn that Sithe Global would be receiving a tax-free, 19 per cent return on its investment. What is worse, according to Ram, was learning that the 19 per cent is paid each year, calculated on the original US$158M sum deemed to have been invested, rather than the reducing balance after each repayment.

[Indonesia] Village forest permits save forest, benefits community

By Jon Afrizal, Jakarta Post, 26 August 2013 | Following the high rate of deforestation in the region, the Jambi provincial administration is continuing its drive to develop village forest areas in an attempt to preserve the remaining forests in Jambi. Jambi Governor Hasan Basri Agus recently issued 17 Village Forest Concessions (HPHD) to the community in Rantau Suli village, Sungai Tenang district, Merangin regency. There are 12 HPHDs in Merangin, two in Bungo regency and three others in Batanghari regency, spanning a total of 36,170 hectares (ha). Jambi has 18 Industrial Forest Permit (HTI) holders that manage an area of 663,809 ha, in addition, there is 110,755 ha of assigned, but not yet developed, land and 79,066 ha recommended by the governor. These numbers equate to 853,430 hectares of HTI areas — a fifth of Jambi’s total area — but currently less than 1 percent of the province have benefited from the village forest scheme’s community-based management rights.

[USA] Throwing billions more at logging wrong

By Mike Garrity, Missoulian, 26 August 2013 | From one fifth-generation Montanan to another, I’m calling U.S. Rep. Steve Daines’ recent column on forest issues misinformed parroting of Bush-era “Healthy Forests Initiative” propaganda, which was nothing but a smokescreen for more corporate logging. Sadly, Daines now follows Bush’s path to less environmental analysis, less public review and more deforestation of our dwindling old growth forests. Ironically, Daines’ column was published at the same time as numerous articles about how wonderful Yellowstone National Park is doing after the 1988 fires that burned 1.4 million acres. Despite predictions at the time from forestry experts who claimed Yellowstone’s soil was “sterilized,” the evidence is clear that didn’t happen. Contrary to predictions of other “experts,” the park’s rivers didn’t fill with sediment and the fish didn’t die after the fires, either.

27 August 2013

Carbon targets, carbon taxes, and the search for Archimedes’ lever

By David Roberts, Grist, 27 August 2013 | Climate change is a huge, knotty, incredibly difficult problem. The more you dig in and understand the science and politics of it, the more hopelessly vast and complex it can seem. What’s more, the public has not even begun to grapple with it; public discussions, especially in the U.S., remain polarized, shallow, and stupid. Given this situation, it’s natural for climate hawks to yearn for a Grand Gesture, something that clearly announces our intention to Solve the Problem. They want a policy response as powerful as the threat, one that can power past all the fog and ignorance and greed.

Adaptive collaborative forest management spurs greater gender equity

CGIAR, 27 August 2013 | A research program in Uganda and Nicaragua is using collaborative forest management to better address the social structures that inhibit women’s equal access to forest resources and decision making – and to drive changes that are promoting greater gender equity. “Women are critical actors in forest management in Uganda and Nicaragua, but their participation in forestry decision making has not kept pace with reforms in broader political and economic systems to increase gender equity,” explains Esther Mwangi, Senior Scientist at CIFOR, who has spent over 15 years analyzing policies and practices affecting rights and access to natural resources and benefits.

Mitigation without adaptation can leave communities vulnerable — study

By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 August 2013 | Understanding the vulnerability of forest-dependent communities is a point of departure for building more effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, a study has found. Among its findings, the study reported that mitigation activities might make communities more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and other factors. It also argued that positive outcomes from conservation depend on the willingness and motivation of communities to engage and participate in mitigation activities. The study, published in the International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, was written principally by Eugene Chia who conducted the research as part of a graduate thesis at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

How Forest Carbon Projects Protect Themselves From Political Risk

By Daphne Yin, Ecosystem Marketplace, 27 August 2013 | In 2011, a few years after US-based land-use carbon consultant Terra Global Capital (TGC) launched its Oddar Meanchey REDD Project in Cambodia, it asked the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to shield its investment from political risk. More specifically, the project helps Buddhist monks and other community members reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), and it does so in a way that could serve as a template for community-based REDD projects around the world. But it’s located in a country that most investors don’t understand. So TGC asked OPIC, the US government’s primary development finance agency, to provide protection against the risks of expropriation, war, and civil unrest – risks familiar not only to Cambodia, but to countries around the world. In the very first instance of political risk insurance for a forest carbon offset project, OPIC came through with $900,000…

[Australia] Coalition’s carbon policy based on failed Labor scheme

By Penny van Oosterzee, The Conversation, 27 August 2013 | Carbon farming has now been running for nearly two years. What has it delivered? The answer is astonishing: virtually nothing. Around 46,000 carbon units (each equivalent to a tonne of CO2-e) have been issued. This covers a little less than 1% of reductions needed for the year 2012-2013 under a medium ambition scenario, and about 0.5% of the ambitious scenario. Why has carbon farming failed to achieve anything? One of the main reasons for this situation is that it’s not cheap to create offsets. In fact the idea that the land sector can provide low cost abatement is a bit of a furphy.

Fire devastates roadside camp where Brazilian Indians face ‘mass murder’

Survival International, 27 August 2013 | A fire has raged through a Guarani roadside camp, forcing the Indians to flee as their shelters were razed to the ground, their food supplies destroyed and their possessions lost to the blaze. The fire is reported to have started on the São Fernando sugarcane plantation and mill which are occupying the ancestral land of Apy Ka’y community. According to Brazil’s environmental police force, it has destroyed an area of approximately 1,000 hectares, including the indigenous camp. Its cause is yet to be confirmed. The destruction took place in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul last Thursday, but full details of the events have only just emerged. A Guarani spokesman who visited the scene told Survival, ‘The fire was burning for a whole day. There were smoke and ashes everywhere. Our relatives were forced to run from their homes. The children were crying… We are shocked.’

Preserving Cameroon’s treasures

By Tom Smith, Los Angeles Times, 27 August 2013 | In light of these imminent threats, we are working with our partners to help Cameroon develop a rain forest protection project under the United Nations program known as REDD, or Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation. The endeavor, which will be the largest REDD project in West Africa to date, will be in and around the Dja Reserve and will encompass about 4 million acres, an area more than 1.5 times the size of Yellowstone National Park. The REDD program was created by the United Nations with the understanding that reducing carbon emissions alone isn’t enough to combat climate change… Funds for the protection efforts are derived from nations and industries that purchase credits on carbon markets, such as the one established in California by the carbon reduction law.

France poised to launch “green tax”

By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 27 August 2013 | France’s environment minister has hinted at a revival of plans for a carbon tax on consumers and businesses, announcing that Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has backed plans for a new "green tax". Minister for Ecology Phillipe Martin announced late last week that the Prime Minister had approved proposals for a so-called "climate energy contribution" tax. Precise details of the tax remain unclear, however a spokeswoman for Martin told BusinessGreen it would not create a new tax but replace an existing contribution to the environment. She said further details would be announced when the draft Finance Act 2014 is unveiled in late September.

[Guyana] Controversial Amaila Hydro..Legal fees set at whopping US$5M

Kaieteur News, 27 August 2013 | Sithe Global, the company contracted to develop the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project, has embedded in its agreement with the Guyana Government, its legal fees to be paid and this is included in the overall price tag of US$858M. It was unearthed during an assessment of the project documents, that Sithe Global included its legal fees which amounts to a whopping US$5M. The information is reflected in the Mercados Energeticos Consultores, Evaluation and Financial report for the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project. The Argentine Based Company was hired by Sithe Global and the Guyana Government in 2009 to undertake a viability study for the project. Under the cost analysis breakdown of the project, it was pointed out that US$2M out of the US$5M has been set aside for the Bank’s Legal Fees.

Illegal wildfires to clear land for palm plantations seen in Indonesia

UPI.com, 27 August 2013 | NASA has released a satellite photo it says shows widespread illegal slash-and-burn fires in Indonesia set deliberately to clear land for palm oil companies. While that kind of agricultural clearing technique has been used for centuries, the setting of such fires is now illegal in Indonesia, but plantation owners are commonly ignoring the law, environmentalists say. "Widespread, illegal burning to clear rainforests and peatlands for palm oil and pulp and paper plantation expansion is unfortunately a well established yearly ritual in Sumatra," Laurel Sutherlin of the Rainforest Action Network, a San Francisco-based environmental organization, said in an email to the Huffington Post. A serious consequence of the practice is smog produced by the fires, which recently drove the pollution index in the neighboring city-state of Singapore higher than 400, a level considered life-threatening to sick and elderly people.

Analysis: Asian fires – Burning issue

By Eric Marx, Ethical Corporation, 27 August 2013 | South-east Asia’s forests and peatlands continue to go up in smoke, with serious consequences for regional air quality. Thick, smoke-fuelled haze has become an almost annual blight in south-east Asia, with this year’s wildfires engulfing large chunks of peninsular Malaysia, the entire city state of nearby Singapore, and western parts of sprawling Indonesia. For days, residents were warned to stay indoors, so great was the health hazard. Pollution indexes shot to record highs, while regional economies suffered catastrophic losses linked to tourism cancellations. Startling as this was to many, close observers say the most important aspect of this latest conflagration is that in coming years this may become the new normal. Forest fires in Indonesia are part of a long-standing, endemic problem – with the most recent fire crisis not an unusual event in the region’s history since 2000.

Illegal wildfires to clear land for palm plantations seen in Indonesia

UPI.com, 27 August 2013 | NASA has released a satellite photo it says shows widespread illegal slash-and-burn fires in Indonesia set deliberately to clear land for palm oil companies. While that kind of agricultural clearing technique has been used for centuries, the setting of such fires is now illegal in Indonesia, but plantation owners are commonly ignoring the law, environmentalists say. "Widespread, illegal burning to clear rainforests and peatlands for palm oil and pulp and paper plantation expansion is unfortunately a well established yearly ritual in Sumatra," Laurel Sutherlin of the Rainforest Action Network, a San Francisco-based environmental organization, said in an email to the Huffington Post. A serious consequence of the practice is smog produced by the fires, which recently drove the pollution index in the neighboring city-state of Singapore higher than 400, a level considered life-threatening to sick and elderly people.

28 August 2013

[Australia] Henbury Station back on the market

ABC Rural, 28 August 2013 | Henbury Station, home to one of Australia’s most controversial carbon farming projects, will be placed on the market this week. The property, 230 kilometres south of Alice Springs, was bought and destocked by R.M. Williams Agricultural Holdings with $9 million of federal funding in 2011. But R.M. Williams Agricultural Holdings, the parent of a number of subsidiary companies, went into receivership last month, with PPB Advisory appointed as receiver and manager. R.M. Williams Agricultural Co Landscape Management, responsible for the Henbury Station project, was the only subsidiary company not to go into receivership. But Greg Quinn, from PPB Advisory, says the company name has now been changed ahead of the sale of the station. "The licence agreement with R.M. Williams Agricultural Landscape Management has now been terminated, so we’ve had to change the name to Henbury Station Proprietary Limited," he said.

If Ecuador must drill for Yasuní oil, let’s encourage the least damaging methods

By Kelly Swing, The Guardian, 28 August 2013 | Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, announced earlier this month that he has no choice but to go ahead with drilling operations in one of the planet’s most biodiverse region, the Yasuní national park… Now Correa has made the claim that the most modern, environmentally sound strategies and techniques will be employed to minimise direct impacts and to avoid indirect impacts altogether. Both inside the country of Ecuador and on the international scale there is doubt as to whether this can be accomplished on the ground. In theory, recent improvements in oil industry practices can avoid repeating those old-style nightmarish scenarios but even the largest, most modern companies still have accidents. Just think back to the 2010 BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Also consider the vulnerability of the most biodiverse parts of the globe where any impact affects 100,000 species per hectare.

EU Narrows Down Carbon-Market Overhaul Options, Hedegaard Says

By Ewa Krukowska & Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 28 August 2013 | The European Union’s regulatory arm is winnowing down the options for a long-term overhaul of the world’s biggest carbon market and aims to reach a decision in the coming months, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. The European Commission has floated several scenarios to help curb a record glut of emission permits and boost the price of carbon in the bloc’s 54 billion-euro ($72 billion) emissions-trading system, where prices slumped to an all-time low in April. “We’re now narrowing down the options and we will propose something in the autumn,” Hedegaard said in an interview in Brussels yesterday. Among the tools the commission is considering is a flexibility mechanism that would link the supply of carbon permits with the EU’s industrial activity, Jos Delbeke, director-general for climate at the Brussels-based commission, said in May.

[Guyana] Findings of hydrologic studies create sound basis for Amaila hydropower potential

GINA, 28 August 2013 | A multiplicity of comprehensive and extensive evaluations of the hydrological conditions of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project site has been carried out by a number of international engineering firms. Accordingly, the Government of Guyana is pleased to release the hydrologic studies completed as part of the feasibility analysis of the Project. The main hydrological study was done in 2001 by Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) Engineers, one of the world’s leading engineering firms. The hydrology analysis used historical rainfall and river flow measurements from several locations in the region of the Project as well as over 40 years of monthly stream flow data (from 1950 to 1990) to calculate inflows and determine the potential energy that the Project might generate.

[Indonesia] SBY to Argue for ‘Green’ Palm Oil

KoranIndonesia.com, 28 August 2013 | Indonesia will use its status as host of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to push for crude palm oil to be included on a list of environmentally friendly goods eligible for a tariff reduction. Indonesian CPO producers would benefit from an import tariffs cut of up to 5 percent from APEC member nations from 2015 if President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono successfully makes his case at the Bali forum that starts on Oct. 1, a government official said. Yudhoyono had urged the 21 APEC member nations to include CPO on the group’s green goods list at last year’s forum in Russia, but the proposal was opposed by the United States and other developed nations. “We will successfully set an agenda with regard to the CPO issue at the APEC forum in October,” Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi declared on Monday. Indonesian CPO producers face tariff barriers from countries including mass importers China, India and Pakistan…

[Indonesia] Unmapped customary land may spark clashes

By Apriadi Gunawan, Jakarta Post, 28 August 2013 | Millions of hectares of customary territories in Indonesia reportedly have yet to be mapped, which could potentially spark open conflicts among communities, data shows. According to data from Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance (AMAN), around 33 million hectares of customary land have not been mapped. AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan said that Constitutional Court decision No. 41/1999 on forestry recognized the presence of the customary forests, which were claimed as state forests and then turned into land owned by customary communities. Abdon added that the Constitutional Court’s decision could serve as a basis to map out the customary areas that are prone to conflict. “Currently, around 17 million people from 2,242 traditional communities in Indonesia are fighting alongside AMAN to map out the areas,” said Abdon at the opening of the Global Conference on Participatory Mapping of Indigenous Territory…

29 August 2013

[Australia] Visions at crossroads as carbon farm reality bites

ABC News, 29 August 2013 | The Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association wants Henbury Station in central Australia to resume operations as a cattle property and abandon plans for what was intended to be the world’s largest and the nation’s pioneering carbon credits farm. The station, 230 kilometres south of Alice Springs is being put up for sale, a month after its owner, RM Williams Agricultural Holdings, was placed in administration. The station was bought by the company for $13 million, with a $9 million contribution from the Federal Government, in 2011.

[Australia] We need a carbon deal on rainforests, and we have one

By Nigel Turvey, The Conversation, 29 August 2013 | As REDD guardians increase the environmental, social, economic, cultural and governmental expectations of tropical forests, the forest themselves are disappearing. We need to go back to REDD roots – it’s about forests and people – and use investment in forest protection to improve livelihoods at the local level. Learning by doing. It wont be perfect, but if we wait for perfection we will only be certifying tropical grasslands. Intergovernmental agreement on a regulated market seems a pipe dream – there are too many aspirations and agendas. Instead, we need brave investors in the voluntary market place who recognise the upside of saving forests and improving the livelihoods of some of the poorest people on the planet. And for the next government of Australia to keep REDD credits, voluntary or otherwise, in an ETS.

REDD+ Finance: Where Next?

By Marigold Norman and Charlene Watson, Ecosystem Marketplace, 29 August 2013 | In bringing together the views of a number of initiatives tracking REDD+ finance, this series has highlighted why there isn’t a single aggregate figure for global REDD+ finance flowing. Despite this, we are increasingly able to assess where finance is coming from, how it flows through different channels and funds to recipient countries and eventually to REDD+ projects and activities on the ground. But knowledge remains incomplete and we are still faced with challenges and gaps that make it difficult to make comprehensive and conclusive remarks about the state of REDD+ finance.

[Guyana] Amaila Hydro project…Price jumps to US$915M

Kaieteur News, 29 August 2013 | The Guyana Government has committed US$157.2 to the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project, US$57.2M more than the US$100M that it has been maintaining all along. This was contained in the ‘Confidential Project Document’ leaked to this publication. This means that the revised price tag is now in excess of US$915M. According to the project document for the Hydro Electric Plant, in 2014 and 2015 the Government has under its ‘financial commitment’ to the project, committed US$21M to be paid each year from its Fund for Special Operations (FSO). The Fund for Special Operations has been set up by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and extended to several countries, including Guyana, which sees the bank making concessionary loans. Government has been contending that Guyana’s taxpayers will pay about US$100M in equity.

[Guyana] IDB due diligence on Amaila over – Finance Minister

Stabroek News, 29 August 2013 | Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh said in a statement yesterday that the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) due diligence on the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project has ceased and blamed APNU for this development, a charge that the opposition group’s leader denied last evening. “The IDB’s due diligence has now ceased and without it the public review of the Amaila Falls Hydropower… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Starvation and poverty in Indonesia: civil society organisations appeal for suspension of MIFEE project in Papua pending redress for local communities

Forest Peoples Programme, 29 August 2013 | The village of Zanegi in Merauke Regency of Papua Province, Indonesia, lies desolate and silent, in contrast to the rumble and drone of bulldozers and chain-saws in the distance. At the end of a row of humble wooden houses, thirty-one year old Yosefa, an indigenous Malind mother of three, crouches beside her hearth, raking the embers of a dying fire, whilst rocking to sleep her three-year old infant. The child is emaciated and hollow-eyed. Gaunt and lethargic from severe malnutrition herself, Yosefa wipes beads of sweat off her feverish forehead, and tells the story of a dying village: "Before the company, there was little illness. We would eat sago and walk the forest all day without being weary. Now, the sago dies and the earth is dry. The rivers are dark and oily, and the fish drunk on pollution. Our children are dying because our sacred mother land has been ripped away from us. Soon, the Malind people themselves will cease to exist."

[Kenya] Wildlife Works builds business protecting forests, climate

By David R. Baker, SFGate, 29 August 2013 | Wildlife Works sells a kind of "carbon offset," one of the more controversial weapons in the fight against global warming. Companies concerned about climate change pay Wildlife Works to keep the forest intact, since chopping down and burning trees releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air. The companies pay to keep specific amounts of carbon locked in the trees and out of the atmosphere. They then use those purchases to offset their own greenhouse gas emissions – hence the term. For the companies it’s strictly voluntary, a way of building customer goodwill by showing concern for the planet. Wildlife Works uses some of the money to pay the rangers. But the majority of the cash goes to communities near the Kenyan forest. Local committees pick development projects to fund, usually building schools or systems for collecting rainwater.

30 August 2013

[Australia] NT Government says Henbury carbon farming was “illegal”

ABC Rural, 30 August 2013 | The Northern Territory Government says the owners of Henbury Station never received approval to run the pastoral property as a carbon farming operation. The station, 230 kilometres south of Alice Springs, was bought by R.M. Williams Agricultural Holdings with $9 million of federal funding in 2011. It was destocked and was supposed to be re-generated for carbon credits, whilst forming part of the National Reserve System. The Primary Industry Minister Willem Westra van Holthe told Northern Territory Parliament the project was illegal, because carbon farming is a non-pastoral use.

[Australia] Polluting power plants to reap carbon tax windfall

By Tom Arup, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 August 2013 | Australia’s highest polluting power plants will receive compensation worth $1 billion on Monday – just five days from polling day – in the next tranche of energy industry assistance under the carbon price. Generators in line for the compensation, which comes as free carbon credits, include Victoria’s brown coal power plants. The Latrobe Valley’s largest plants, Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang A, will get credits worth $268 million, $259 million and $241 million respectively. Under the carbon price there is a five-year, multibillion-dollar compensation package for heavy-emitting coal power plants. Labor says the assistance is necessary for energy security and to compensate for the loss in value of coal power plants.

[Guyana] “Other” interests expressed in Amaila Falls, possible new project design – Dr. Luncheon

By Keeran Danny, Kaieteur News, 30 August 2013 | Though the current design of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project may be dead, the idea of garnering renewable energy from the Amaila Falls is still with Government, particularly since multilateral and bilateral sources have expressed interest. Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon made this disclosure during his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President. According to Dr. Luncheon, more stakeholders in the current design of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project have indicated their withdrawal. “For all intents and purposes that project with that specific design is dead,” he said.

[Guyana] Ramotar must come clean on Amaila spending

Kaieteur News, 30 August 2013 | They don’t want trained eyes looking at these figures – Harmon. “…then we would get a peek into the Jagdeo kingdom….We would be able to see how it is these Ministers have become so rich and are building all these fancy mansions” – APNU MP Joseph Harmon. This is a Bharrat Jagdeo project and the fact that US$57M was hidden away as money committed to be spent on the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project by the Guyana Government, clearly shows why the administration does not want to reveal the financial arrangements. This was the reaction by Shadow Minister with responsibility for Public Works, Joseph Harmon, to the startling revelation that Government had in fact committed to spend US$157M on the Amaila Project. President Donald Ramotar must now come out and defend this, said Harmon, given that it is he who has been peddling across the country that Guyana will only be putting US$100M in the project.

[Guyana] Leaked Amaila Project document reveals more controversy… GPL has to create US$36M debt reserve account

Kaieteur News, 30 August 2013 | Under the ‘Financial Commitments’ made for the proposed Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project, the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) would have to set aside US$36M in a debt reserve account. This information is embedded in the leaked ‘confidential project document,’ which has already raised eyebrows over the fact that the Guyana Government committed US$157.2M to the project and not US$100M as it had claimed. This means Guyana’s investment commitment now stands at US$193.2M which will take the project price to a total of US$951.2M. The US$36M GPL account is to be set aside to ensure payments to Amaila Falls Hydro Inc. This is in addition to the Assignment of Receivables arrangement under which all the income of GPL will be controlled by someone employed by Amaila to secure the monthly tariff payment.

[USA] Price of carbon credits declines in California

Hydrogen Fuel News, 30 August 2013 | California is currently home to one of the most ambitious cap-and-trade initiatives in the U.S. The state has long been an advocate for renewable energy and has been seeking innovative ways to curb emissions and promote the adoption of clean power among businesses. Many of the state’s largest businesses produce significant amounts of emissions on a yearly basis and California has been working to address this issue in recent years. Thus far, the California cap-and-trade initiative has been relatively successful, but it may soon encounter a somewhat problematic challenge. California has held three carbon credit auctions in the past, which have been considered a major success and have produced significant revenue for the state. The state recently held its fourth auction, but the price for its carbon credits fell below their estimated value.

[USA] Nissan Joins Tesla Selling California Green-Car Credits

By Alan Ohnsman, Bloomberg, 30 August 2013 | Nissan Motor Co. (7201), the most prolific electric-car maker, has begun selling green-car credits under California’s clean-air rules. The only automaker that had previously disclosed doing so is Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) California requires large automakers to sell electric or other zero-emission vehicles in proportion to their share of the largest U.S. state market for cars and trucks. Nissan has delivered enough of its all-electric Leaf hatchbacks that it has started selling excess credits, Executive Vice President Andy Palmer told reporters in Irvine, California, this week. “We’ve got carbon credits to sell, and we’re selling them — California ZEV credits,” Palmer said. He didn’t elaborate, and the Yokohama, Japan-based company declined to provide details about timing, price or purchasers.

31 August 2013

Ethiopia: Norway Partners With World Bank to Support Ethiopia

By Nesru Jemal, Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency, 31 August 2013 | Ethiopia, a country highly vulnerable to extreme weather events, land degradation, deforestation and food insecurity, is stepping up its efforts to fight climate change, promote sustainable rural development and build resilience. On Friday, two agreements were signed between the Government of Norway and the World Bank to provide significant financing for sustainable land management, climate-smart agriculture and forest protection in the country. The first agreement injects an additional US$50 million grant funds from the Government of Norway through a trust fund to co-finance the Sustainable Land Management Program (SLMP II) aimed at reducing land degradation and increasing land productivity of smallholder farmers.

[Guyana] Amaila Hydro was structured as a gigantic rip-off – Gaskin

Kaieteur News, 31 August 2013 | “Were it not for the insistence of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that Government obtain parliamentary approval for two peripheral pieces of legislation relating to Amaila, no information would have been made available to the parliamentary parties.” This was the contention of Financial Analyst, Ramon Gaskin, who in his most recent addition to the raging debate over the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric project, said that had the information not come out the project would have gone the route of the Marriott. He said that like the Marriott, Amaila would have been “burdening consumers and taxpayers with a flawed project costing.” Gaskin said that this would have been backed by a 20-year guarantee “that if as consumers Guyanese cannot meet the payments to the promoters, then as taxpayers they will be forced to do so through taxes.”

[Guyana] The impact of trust and failed communication

Kaieteur News, 31 August 2013 | It seems that at every turn something more is being uncovered about the Amaila Falls hydroelectric project. We now hear that it would have cost considerably more than the US$858 million because of a variety of additional costs. From the inception we knew that the road would have cost more than US$15.4 million and the government had to know this. No one factors into the cost of a project the exact figures. There is always room for over-runs and the Amaila Falls project would have taken the various inflationary trends into consideration. When the government planned the project it should have had all the figures at hand. For example, when it tenders for a road programme it has a certain sum in mind, having prepared all the specifications. It examines every aspect of the project so it knows how much it has to spend. This seemed not to be the case with the Amaila Falls hydroelectric project.

[Indonesia] RI establishes carbon deal with Japan

Jakarta Post, 31 August 2013 | Japan and Indonesia signed a bilateral agreement to offset emissions under the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), a carbon trading program. The bilateral offset credit mechanism will allow Japanese companies to earn carbon credits by helping Indonesia cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The program is similar to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) — a carbon credit scheme under the Kyoto Protocol — except for its requirement for companies to go through a United Nations screening process instead of a bilateral one. “Japan has sophisticated technology that can […] support low carbon emission projects,” said Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Yoshinori Katori on Friday. “Japan can also facilitate investment and cooperation through it’s private sector, which is renowned for its experience in implementing emission reducing technology.”

Carbon trading and its challenges for Indonesia

By Warief Djajanto Basorie, Jakarta Post, 31 August 2013 | “Carbon offsetting is a false solution.” That was the message in bold print on tarpaulin hanging on the back wall of a stage where an Indonesian environmental NGO was hosting a public discussion on climate change… As an apparent escape hatch for pollution-prone businesses, carbon offsetting has been accused by environmental NGOs like Greenpeace and the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) of being a false solution. It allows mainly Western industries to emit carbon gases in excess and not reduce them, thus defeating the intent of the Kyoto Protocol, they argue. Arguments aside, for Indonesia, carbon trading is an incentive to save its carbon-rich forests. By protecting its vast tropical forests and peatland, Indonesia can earn a lot of carbon credits it can sell. One way Indonesia can conserve its forests and become a carbon vendor is through its REDD initiative…

1 September 2013

[Guyana] Brassington embarrassed over Amaila revelations

Kaieteur News, 1 September 2013 | Financial Analyst Christopher Ram has accused Guyana’s lead negotiator on the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project, Winston Brassington, of being embarrassed by the revelation of the amateurism he and his team displayed in negotiations with Sithe Global. Brassington on Wednesday last sought to respond to the assertions being made by Ram, by firstly lamenting that he (Ram) circulated confidential information. Ram says he is not surprised that Brassington took almost two weeks “to make up a response.” “I recall my own discomfort for him (Brassington) that on the critical issue of repayment of Sithe’s capital, he was unaware of what Sithe had inserted in the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and had to be corrected by one of his advisors,” Ram asserted.

[Guyana] Confidential document reveals hydro project surpasses US$1B

aieteur News, 1 September 2013 | Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL), is looking to spend some US$90M in Capital Works in order to prepare itself for the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project. This money was to be in addition to the US$36M that it would have deposited in an account to service its ‘Senior Debt’ to the Amaila Project for the purchase of electricity. This would also be in addition to the US$157.2M that Government had committed to Hydro Project. This brought the total financial commitments on the part of GPL and Government to a whopping US$1,041M or just over US$1B. Only three weeks ago the government had maintained that the overall cost of the Amaila Hydro Project would be US$858M.

[Guyana] The IDB was undertaking the due diligence on Amaila because of a government request for a loan of which Sithe was to be the client

By Carl B Greenidge, Stabroek News, 1 September 2013 | I refer to a number of allegations contained in a Ministry of Finance press release and carried in the Guyana Chronicle dated August 28th. Dr Singh, the Minister of Finance, was reported to have said in effect that the due diligence that was being conducted by the Inter-American Develop-ment Bank (IDB) for the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project has now ceased, and without it, the public review of the project cannot take place. First, the IDB was undertaking the due diligence of the Amaila HP as a result of a request by the Government of Guyana (GoG) for a loan of which Sithe was to be the client. With the withdrawal of Sithe, unless there is a replacement or alternative arrangement, the IDB would cease work on the project.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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