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REDD in the news: 9-15 September 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.

 
Land grabbing: is conservation part of the problem or the solution?

By Tom Blomley, Dilys Roe, Fred Nelson, Fiona Flintan, IIED, September 2013 | Large-scale land acquisitions are increasing in pace and scale, in particular across parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Weak governance and poor land use planning mean that commercial ‘land grabs’ often damage biodiversity as well as dispossessing people from customary rights and livelihoods. Land can also be ‘grabbed’ for ‘green’ purposes, triggering conflicts that undermine potential synergies. Expanded state protected areas, land for carbon offset markets and REDD, and for private conservation projects all potentially conflict with community rights. Such conflict is counterproductive because secure customary and communal land tenure helps enable sustainable natural resource management by local communities. This briefing presents the experience of international development, wildlife and human rights practitioners, shared at a symposium on land grabbing and conservation in March 2013.

FAO National Forest Programme Facility Transitions to Landscape Approach

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), September 2013 | Following a decade of allocating hundreds of small grants to strengthen the participation of stakeholders in developing national forest programmes, the National Forest Programme Facility of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) will continue as the Forest and Farm Facility. The Facility will continue to support local organizations in forest management and policy engagement, but it will take a broader, landscape level approach in order to establish links between the forest sector and other sectors of economic growth.

SNV World – Issue #3

By Richard McNally, SNV, September 2013 | In this third edition of the REDD+ Corner we share developments in the safeguards roadmap for Vietnam’s National REDD+ Action Programme (NRAP). The roadmap centres upon a gap analysis of Vietnam’s existing policies, laws and regulations (PLR) that might contribute to ensuring consistency with international policy commitments on REDD+ safeguards made under the UNFCCC. We have further feedback and reflections from the LEAF project, describing some of the new technical tools that have been developed under this Project to support developing a decision support tool for integrated REDD+ accounting frameworks.

9 September 2013

Cutting deforestation could increase poverty

environmentalresearchweb, 9 September 2013 | Zekarias Hussein, from Purdue University, US, and colleagues considered two differing mitigation policy actions, using an economic-climate policy analysis framework. Under the first scenario only developed countries took action, by reducing their burning of fossil fuels. Under the second scenario the developed countries continued to take the same action, but developing countries also took action using forest carbon sequestration policies (avoiding deforestation, for example). Results showed that only the first scenario was "poverty friendly", because it enhanced the competitiveness of developing countries, especially in agricultural production. "Essentially this policy taxes emissions in the rich countries, thereby reducing their competitiveness and benefiting other regions," said Hussein. As expected, this scenario had only a minor impact on per-capita income in developed countries.

CDM should cut, not offset emissions to attract buyers: report

By Ben Garside, Reuters Point Carbon, 9 September 2013 | The U.N.’s ailing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) could attract more buyers if its projects went beyond merely offsetting greenhouse gases to generate absolute emission cuts, researchers said in a report Monday. The U.N. programme has raised more than $200 billion for schemes in the developing world since 2005 but is fighting for its existence as richer governments set weak emission targets that have little need for more carbon credits or favour more costly domestic investments. Researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) said in a report that the CDM could boost its survival chances by driving emission reductions rather than merely allowing richer nations to offset their output of heat-trapping gases. To achieve a net emissions decrease, projects would need to cut more emissions than they receive carbon credits for or lead to reductions below levels pledged by all countries except the world’s poorest.

Australian parties sidetrack CO2 threat

Eco-Business, 9 September 2013 | In the long and bruising campaign that has led up to the federal elections in Australia, the governing Australian Labor Party and the conservative Coalition challengers have both chosen to sidetrack the crucial issue of reducing CO2 emissions. Concerns about changes in climate are widespread in Australia. Swathes of the country have been battered in recent years by costly cyclones and floods, and there has been long-lasting drought in many areas and a series of devastating bushfires. Many lives have been lost, and the economic damage caused has been considerable. Earlier this month, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology declared the August 2012 to August 2013 period the hottest 12 months on record.

Guyana closer to $40M World Bank forest grant

Stabroek News, 9 September 2013 | Guyana finally appears to be moving forward to receive funds under the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), more than five years after a US$200 000 ($40 million) grant was initially announced. In a Joint Outline Plan for the Advancement of the FCPF by the Government of Guyana (GoG) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), it was stated that the GoG released its final version of its Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP) in December 2012. This followed from the earlier RPP approval of Guyana’s RPP at the third Participants’ Committee Meeting (PC 3) of the FCPF held in Montreux, Switzerland. Since then, Guyana made several revisions to the RPP to include and address continuous stakeholder feedback. The IDB was identified as the delivery partner for the FCPF programme in Guyana. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Illegal gold mining exposing Peru’s indigenous tribes to mercury poisoning

By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 9 September 2013 | Indigenous children in Peru’s south eastern Amazon, an area where tens of thousands of illegal gold miners operate, have unsafe mercury concentrations over three times the level of their non-native counterparts, a study has found. The artisanal gold miners, who use mercury to extract the precious metal from river silt, dump more than 30 tons of the toxic metal in rivers and lakes in the Amazon region every year. Native communities had levels of mercury roughly five times that considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO), whereas people in urban areas had double the safe limit, the study by the Carnegie Amazon Mercury Project found. Overall, children were the most vulnerable group with mean mercury levels more than double the safe limit (1ppm – parts per million). Children in native communities had mercury levels more than five times that limit (5.2ppm).

Charcoal, chickens and a conservation conundrum in Peru

By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 September 2013 | Research into commercial charcoal markets in Peru has confirmed suspicions about the unreliability of official statistics, while identifying a conservation conundrum. Charcoal production in Pucallpa, the capital city of the region of Ucayali, was found to be more than 80 times higher than official figures. Researchers also showed the system of charcoal production – which is based almost entirely on the use of such sawmill waste as scrap wood – does not pose a threat to natural forests. The research paper, titled “Leakage effects in natural resource supply chains: a case study from the Peruvian commercial charcoal market“, examined the charcoal supply chain servicing the Peruvian capital Lima – a chain that can be traced from charcoal makers who sell to wholesalers or vendors, who then sell to urban customers.

10 September 2013

Nature, Inc.?

By Barbara Unmuessig, Project Syndicate, 10 September 2013 | Today, few people retain any illusions that United Nations conventions like the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity can avert global warming, the loss of biodiversity, and the depletion of arable soil and water. Likewise, the pursuit of hard caps for CO2 emissions and stricter environmental and social standards to reduce natural-resource consumption and protect workers seems to have fallen out of vogue, with crisis-stricken economies concerned that such regulations would impede investment and trade. As old methods have lost credibility, some governments, economists, and international institutions like the UN Environment Program have adopted a new approach, based on the view that nature is an “ecosystem service” provider. In doing so, they have shifted the onus of addressing environmental risk onto the private sector and market-based mechanisms.

Microsoft’s Carbon Offset Strategy: Making a Difference One Project at a Time

By Robert Bernard, Microsoft Green Blog, 10 September 2013 | One of the great joys of my job, and something that motivates me to come to work every day, is the idea that our work can make a difference. In the past year, our team, along with NGO partners and carbon offset companies, have spent a tremendous amount of time trying to decide how best to leverage Microsoft’s carbon neutral funds. Today, I am pleased to share with you some of the projects we are funding. I believe we are helping drive not only a lower carbon future, but also are having a meaningful, positive impact on lives of people around the world. First, a bit of context. In 2012, in an effort to further our commitment to reducing Microsoft’s carbon impact, Microsoft pledged to become carbon neutral. To achieve our goal, we have implemented an internal carbon fee which we charge to business groups based on their output of carbon, primarily through electricity and air travel.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 10 September 2013 | Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos has become the first buyer of carbon offsets produced from a project led by the Paiter-Suruí, an indigenous people who generated the credits by saving endangered rainforest under the Verified Carbon Standard’s (VCS) Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) methodology. “REDD+ is a bridge between the indigenous world and the non-indigenous world, so it’s an appropriate way to begin this process,” says Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, who spearheaded the effort. “It creates a vehicle through which the capitalist system can recognize the value of standing forests, and indigenous people can be rewarded for preserving them.”

Brazilian Cosmetics Giant Buys First Indigenous REDD Credits

Ecosystem Marketplace, 10 September 2013 | Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos has purchased 120,000 tons of carbon offsets from the Paiter-Suruí, an indigenous people of the Amazon who in June became the first indigenous people to generate credits by saving endangered rainforest using the Verified Carbon Standard’s (VCS) for “REDD” (Reduced greenhouse gas Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). The transaction is also the first of its kind, and is being watched by indigenous people across the Amazon as well as by companies looking to meet their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) requirements. “REDD+ is a bridge between the indigenous world and the non-indigenous world, so it’s an appropriate way to begin this process” says Chief Almir Narayamoga Surui, who spearheaded the effort. “It creates a vehicle through which the capitalist system can recognize the value of standing forests, and indigenous people can be rewarded for preserving them.”

Amazon rainforest tribe sells REDD+ credits to Brazilian cosmetics giant

mongabay.com, 10 September 2013 | The Paiter-Suruí, a rainforest tribe that in June became the first indigenous group to generate REDD+ credits under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), has now closed their first deal. As reported by Ecosystem Marketplace, Brazilian cosmetics giant Natura Cosméticos has purchased 120,000 tons of carbon offsets from the the Surui Forest Carbon Project in Rondônia, Brazil. The deal is significant because it represents a major commitment to the Surui’s forest conservation initiative, which aims to preserve both the rainforest and indigenous culture by enabling the tribe to develop a sustainable economic model based on traditional land-use practices, ecotourism, and harvesting of non-timber forest products. Unlike some other REDD+ projects, which have suffered from lack of buy-in from local communities due to various concerns, the Surui initiative is strongly supported by the tribe, which conceived of the idea in 2007.

World Bank Group: Costa Rica First to Negotiate Sale of Forestry Carbon Credits

World Bank press release, 10 September 2013 | The Government of Costa Rica and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) announced today an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) worth up to $63 million. This would make Costa Rica the first country in the world to access large-scale performance-based payments for conserving its forests, regenerating degraded lands, and scaling up agro-forestry systems for sustainable landscapes and livelihoods. The signing ceremony of the Letter of Intent (LOI) was presided by Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica, and Fabrizio Zarcone, World Bank Representative for Costa Rica. The LOI was signed by Rene Castro, Minister of Environment and Energy, and Laurent Msellati, World Bank Sector Manager in the Sustainable Development Department for the Latin America and the Caribbean. The LOI commits the FCPF Carbon Fund to negotiate the purchase of carbon emission reductions (commonly known as carbon credits) up to a value of US$63 million.

FCPF and Costa Rica Sign Landmark REDD+ Agreement

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 10 September 2013 | The World Bank, on behalf of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), and the Government of Costa Rica have announced an agreement for the purchase of an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) for REDD+ worth as much as US$63 million. The agreement will support forest conservation, land restoration and the expansion of agro-forestry with the objective of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. In doing so, the agreement will facilitate the expansion of Costa Rica’s payments for ecosystem services (PES) programme to include an additional 340,000 hectares of privately owned and indigenous land. The agreement will also contribute to Costa Rica’s commitment to become carbon-neutral by 2021.

Indonesia president delivers promised REDD+ agency

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 10 September 2013 | A new decree signed by the Indonesian president to create a national agency aimed at combating greenhouse gas emissions signals progress in the country’s efforts to tackle global warming, said a scientist with the Center for International Research. The REDD+ (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest Degradation) agency, which will report directly to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, fulfills one among several criteria detailed in a climate change partnership agreed in 2010 with Norway. “I congratulate the announcement of the long-awaited agency,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, a principal scientist with CIFOR. “However, this is only the beginning of huge tasks associated with forest and land governance.”

[Indonesia] Indonesian Minister ‘Shocked’ at Harrison Ford Climate Interview

Jakarta Globe, 10 September 2013 | Indonesia’s forestry minister has accused Hollywood legend Harrison Ford of subjecting him to a rude interview on climate change that left him “shocked,” an official said Tuesday. The “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” actor, who is making part of an environmental documentary in Indonesia, attacked the minister with questions during the encounter on Monday, said presidential adviser Andi Arief. The adviser accused Ford and his crew of “harassing state institutions” and said the 71-year-old could even be deported — although he was due to leave Indonesia later Tuesday anyway. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan told reporters that he had been angered by Ford’s approach during the interview in the capital Jakarta. “His emotions were running very high,” the minister was quoted as saying by the state-run Antara news agency.

[Malaysia] Large-scale opposition among Borneo villagers to deforestation

Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 10 September 2013 | Nearly two-thirds of villagers surveyed across rainforests in Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo are against large-scale deforestation due to the adverse impacts on livelihoods and the environment, finds a comprehensive new study across 185 communities. The research, conducted over a one-year period by an international team of scientists, is published in this week’s issue of the journal PLOS ONE. The study found that people who live near forests place the greatest value on the benefits they afford, including medicinal plants, game, clean water, and fiber. “We found that 65 percent of the villagers interviewed throughout Borneo were against large scale clearing of forest because of the negative impacts it generates on their community, for their income, the environment and their access to forest products,” said lead author Erik Meijaard of the Borneo Futures initiative, a new collaborative research project, in a statement.

Tanzania: Environment – Forestry Agency Takes Knowledge to Grassroots

By Elihudi Fadhili, Tanzania Daily News, 10 September 2013 | The most important issues to be considered for an effective and efficient environmental conservation, is the decentralization of environmental related authorities to the regional and district levels. The Tanzania Forest Service (TFS) is a semi – autonomous government executive agency launched in July 2011. Previously it was known as the Forestry and Beekeeping Division of Ministry of Natural Resource and Tourism. Today, the agency wields power on behalf of the ministry in timely response to the provision of services, particularly in the forestry and bee sector, in matter pertaining to the control, well managed, stable and quality services. The TFS’ central zone was thus selected not from a vacuum but for its potential.

[UK] World First for co2balance Opens the Door for Micro Projects Globally

co2balance press release, 10 September 2013 | UK based carbon management company co2balance are very proud to announce a groundbreaking achievement in the development of international aid projects supported by carbon finance… The [Multi Country, Microscale, Gold Standard Program of Activities] mPoA (GS-1247) is a global framework agreement covering the majority of the UN designated Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) and Land Locked Developing Countries (LLDC’s)[2] and focuses on the establishment of projects that deliver elements of improved kitchen regimes. In practical terms this means that an unlimited number of projects, each delivering up to 10,000 tonnes of annual voluntary emissions reductions credits can be developed…

11 September 2013

Warsaw climate summit aims for path to global deal

By David Twomey, Eco News, 11 September 2013 | Poland, which has the presidency of this year’s United Nations COP19 summit, is aiming for a pathway to a global carbon emissions deal in 2015. Finance, short-term pollution reduction measures and implementation are all on Poland’s agenda for the COP19 meeting in Warsaw in November… Poland’s ambitions for the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) to the UN climate convention can be found on a new website created for the event… Speaking at the conclusion of the last round of talks in June, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres expressed confidence that the Warsaw summit could deliver a clear pathway towards the COP21 Paris talks in 2015.

A third of food is wasted, making it third-biggest carbon emitter, U.N. says

By Catherine Hornby, Reuters, 11 September 2013 | The food the world wastes accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than any country except for China and the United States, the United Nations said in a report on Wednesday. Every year about a third of all food for human consumption, around 1.3 billion tons, is wasted, along with all the energy, water and chemicals needed to produce it and dispose of it. Almost 30 percent of the world’s farmland, and a volume of water equivalent to the annual discharge of the River Volga, are in effect being used in vain. In its report entitled "The Food Wastage Footprint", the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that the carbon footprint of wasted food was equivalent to 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year.

World Bank to buy $63 mln in Costa Rican forest carbon credits

By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters Point Carbon, 11 September 2013 | The World Bank’s Carbon Fund signed a deal on Tuesday with the government of Costa Rica to buy up to $63 million worth of forest-based carbon credits, the bank said. The agreement will allow the Central American country to expand a local program that pays landowners for conserving forests to an additional area of 340,000 hectares. The final price for each credit will depend on negotiations that will be carried by the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) with Costa Rica’s officials, according to the bank. Some projections published last year during the 5th Carbon Fund meeting of the FCPF in Paris, indicated that Costa Rica would offer around 12.6 million emission reductions to the bank as part of the deal, indicating a price of $5 for each credit.

Lawmaker Accuses WWF of Instigating Harrison Ford Ministry Row

Jakarta Globe, 11 September 2013 | The fallout over pointed questions about the government’s inability to tackle illegal logging in a protected forest has continued with a legislator calling for the banishment of a leading environmental group. Firman Subagyo, a deputy chairman of the House of Representatives’ Commission IV, which oversees forestry affairs, demanded on Tuesday that the World Wide Fund for Nature be removed from its forest conservation role in the Tesso Nilo National Park in Sumatra’s Riau province. “They’ve been in Tesso Nilo since 2000 and there have been no changes. If anything, the condition of the park has only gotten worse,” Firman said as quoted by Antara, the state news agency. He called for it to be replaced by a local group, saying the latter would better understand the character and culture of the local community, making it public advocacy against illegal logging and other forestry crimes more effective.

SBY Makes Environmental Case in New Documentary

By Ezra Sihite, Jakarta Globe, 11 September 2013 | President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has defended his administration’s environmental credentials in an interview for a documentary being helmed by Hollywood star Harrison Ford, although other officials’ testy reactions to the actor’s probing questions, and the government’s actual track record, have cast doubt on the real level of commitment. Julian Aldrin Pasha, a spokesman for the president, said on Tuesday that Ford spoke with Yudhoyono for about 40 minutes earlier in the day for his climate change-themed documentary “Years of Living Dangerously.” Julian said Yudhoyono had emphasized that the government was “very serious” about protecting the environment but needed help from the international community to succeed. “We want to work together with other countries, the private sector and businesses that may or may not be involved in the forestry, maritime or other sectors related to the environment,” he said.

[Indonesia] SBY faces class-action lawsuit over ‘climate change effects’

Jakarta Post, 11 September 2013 | Environmental activists have submitted a class-action lawsuit against President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono over the claim he has failed to protect people in Riau province from the effects of climate change. The lawsuit was also aimed at Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya and Riau Governor Rusli Zainal, who is now detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on graft charges. “We filed this lawsuit to press President SBY to take action against his two ministers, whom we see as having no willingness to protect the public, especially the people of Riau province, from the effects of climate change,” Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice coordinator Mida Saragih told The Jakarta Post after filing the lawsuit at the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday.

Indonesian villagers sue president over climate change

By Diana Parker, mongabay.com, 11 September 2013 | Eight Indonesian villagers have sued the country’s president and a number of other high-level government officials over the impacts of climate change and environmental destruction in their province, reports Mongabay-Indonesia. The villagers say they have suffered health problems, experienced financial losses and seen a general decline in their quality of life due to forest and peatland clearing, and they are pinning the blame on some of Indonesia’s highest elected and appointed officials. The villagers involved in the lawsuit are from Riau, a province on the island of Sumatra that has seen widespread deforestation over the past 25 years and been plagued by massive forest fires since June. The eight residents of Riau’s Pelalawan and Rokan Hilir districts filed the suit with the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday…

Can Indonesia increase palm oil output without destroying its forest?

By Paige McClanahan, The Guardian, 11 September 2013 | The world’s biggest producer and consumer of palm oil plans to increase its production of the commodity to meet rising global demand. Indonesia claims it can reach its goal of producing 40m tonnes a year by 2020 without sacrificing sustainability, but campaigners have their doubts… Roughly half the global supply of palm oil comes from Indonesia, home to the world’s third-largest swath of rainforest, after the Amazon and the Congo basin. A Greenpeace report released last week claimed that palm oil production was the single biggest cause of deforestation in Indonesia between 2009 and 2011, accounting for about a quarter of all forest loss over that period… But from Indonesia’s perspective, the economic upsides of palm oil are strong. It accounted for 11% of total export earnings last year, second only to oil and gas, and generated $5.7bn in export taxes for the government.

Norway power shift could affect US$$M for Guyana – Greenidge

Kaieteur News, 11 September 2013 | Following Monday’s landslide victory by the opposition Conservatives in Norway, an anticipated conservative approach to the handling of that country’s finances could potentially have an effect on the remainder of the money that Guyana had negotiated for with the previous administration. Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge, yesterday in a telephone interview with this newspaper said that while it is too early to pronounce definitively, there is the very real possibility that the money that has not yet been disbursed to Guyana could be withheld. Led by Erna Solberg, Norway’s opposition Conservatives, promising tax cuts and privatizations of state entities in order to reduce spending, comfortably won the elections. Solberg, nicknamed “Iron Erna” for her tough stances when she served in the Norwegian cabinet between 2001 and 2005, in her victory speech promised that, “we will give this country a new government.”

12 September 2013

10% of world’s largest companies (global 500) produce 73% of greenhouse gases

PwC press release, 12 September 2013 | Fifty of the 500 largest listed companies in the world are responsible for nearly three quarters of the group’s 3.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, so finds the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013 released today. The carbon emitted by these 50 companies, which primarily operate in the energy, materials and utilities sectors, has risen by 1.65% to 2.54 billion metric tons over the past four years. This increase is equivalent to adding more than 8.5 million pickup trucks to the streets, or the supply of electricity to 6 million homes for a year. The report is co-written by CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and professional services firm PwC.

New LEAF Paper: International experience with REDD+ and national forest funds

USAID-ASIA LEAF, 12 September 2013 | As countries engaged in REDD+ move from readiness towards results-based demonstration activities and fully measured, reported and verified (MRV) results-based actions, methods will need to be developed to receive, manage and disburse payments. To support these efforts, this paper presents a comparative analysis of the operational aspects of eight existing national and regional REDD+, climate change, and forest protection funds. This includes several nascent REDD+ or climate change-focused funds, but also other forest protection or environmental funds which already have several decades of experience from which to draw. The funds were chosen to provide information on appropriate design and regulation for internationally financed national-level funds operating in developing countries.

WWF: Brazil needs to align policy to growing climate risk

WWF, 12 September 2013 | As Brazil’s new climate change panel underlined the severity of expected climate impacts to the country, WWF-Brazil called on the government to respond with policies that reduced climate related costs and damage. The First National Assessment Report (1st RAN), outlined at a Brazilian Panel on Climate Change (PMBC) conference this week, finds that a drier, hotter Amazon region will come under increasing pressure during this century, with a failure to curb deforestation bringing on severe impacts much earlier. While most of Brazil will suffer drier conditions, southern coastal areas that include many of Brazil’s major population centres will face a warmer, wetter and more variable climate. Extreme weather events are predicted to increase, with areas of the Amazon already having experienced two “one in a hundred years” droughts in just over a decade.

West African Ministers Adopt Forests and Desertification Convergence Plan

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 12 September 2013 | The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) convened a meeting of ministers responsible for forests and wildlife, during which a convergence plan for the conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems in West Africa and the sub-regional action program to combat desertification was discussed and adopted. The meeting also considered the status of ecosystems in the sub-region as well as the policies and politics concerning forests and sustainable land management as they support synergies between forest management and efforts to combat desertification.

AFDB Approves Us $21.50 Million Funding for Climate Change Mitigation Project in DRC

African Development Bank, 12 September 2013 | The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 in Tunis approved a US $21.50-million Forest Investment Program (FIP) grant to finance climate change mitigation activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project’s goal is to facilitate the reduction of Green House Gases (GHG) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as well as help to reduce poverty in the Mbuji-Mayi (East Kasaï), Kananga (West Kasaï) and Kisangani (Orientale Province) basins. The project stems from the DRC’s Forest Investment Plan approved by the Forest Investment Program in June 2011. It will pilot an integrated approach to REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, maintenance and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries), in a degraded savannah area (Mbuji-Mayi/Kananga) and a closed forest area (Kisangani).

Will Costa Rica’s New Voluntary Carbon Trading System Work?

By Jeff Spross, ThinkProgress, 12 September 2013 | Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla signed a decree earlier this week ushering in a carbon market for the Central American nation. The market will be overseen by the country’s Department of Climate Change, and according to the government it will be the first carbon market in the developing world. Called the Costa Rican Voluntary Domestic Carbon Market (MDVCCR), it was developed by the Costa Rican government with the aid of the consultancy ÉcoRessources and is part of larger national effort to make the country carbon neutral by 2021. It’s purely domestic for the moment, and not open to traders outside Costa Rica. According to the Tico Times, the MDVCCR will “establish guidelines for the generation, issuance and exchange of carbon credits, called Costa Rican Compensation Units (UCC) from projects or activities originating in Costa Rica.” The UCCs are estimated to cost between $3 and $5 per metric ton of carbon dioxide.

[Germany] Merkel warns EU against tough CO2 targets for carmakers

By Christiaan Hetzner, Reuters, 12 September 2013 | German Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing elections in less than two weeks, warned the European Union on Thursday against imposing tough environmental targets on German luxury carmakers, saying they could harm innovation and economic growth. Merkel, tipped to win a third term as chancellor in a September 22 poll, blocked a deal in June that would have set Europe’s car industry an ambitious target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. "Europe must learn that we are not an isolated continent but that we must succeed in global competition," she told a packed congress hall at the Frankfurt auto show. "We need to look beyond our borders – push for open and free trade, but at the same time not impose greater burdens on our industry than other continents do with their own industry."

Indigenous people of Honduras granted one million hectares of rainforest

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 12 September 2013 | 150 years after a treaty with England granted the Miskito people rights over their land–a treaty which was never fully respected–the government of Honduras has officially handed over nearly a million hectares (970,000 hectares) of tropical forest along the Caribbean Coast to the indigenous people. The Miskito are found along the eastern coast of both Honduras and Nicaragua and number around 200,000. "This is an unprecedented and historic moment for our peoples," said Norvin Goff, chairman of Miskitu Asla Takanka (MASTA), a Honduras group representing the tribes."The entire region is at risk from illegal hunting, logging and clearing of land to graze cattle. The Miskito people can protect it, but only if we have title to those lands." Over the last few decades, tropical forests along the Caribbean Coast have been infiltrated by land speculators, loggers, and ranchers, creating conflict between the illegal settlers and the Miskito.

[Indonesia] Why you should care about Sumatra’s rainforest

By Philippe Cousteau, CNN, 12 September 2013 | Traveling just below the equator, deep in the Sumatran jungle of Indonesia for CNN’s new "Expedition: Sumatra" series, my team and I were on assignment to capture the story of a region at a critical crossroads, where rainforests that provide habitat to some of the most rare and endangered species in the world are being destroyed at an alarming rate by pulp and paper and palm oil industries as well as wildlife poachers. As our time in Sumatra drew to a close, I knew our biggest challenge still lay ahead. We had to answer one simple question for the millions of people who won’t have the opportunity to travel to this amazing part of the world and see what we’d seen with their own eyes: "Why does it matter to me?"

Carbon credits will not hamper Mexico’s steel sector – minister

By Samuel Williams, BNamericas, 12 September 2013 | Plans to impose a system of carbon credits in Mexico will not put the country’s steel industry at a competitive disadvantage, environment minister Juan José Guerra Abud said. The proposals, outlined in the PRI government’s tax reform bill, would see companies pay a fee of about 70 pesos (US$5.36) per ton of carbon dioxide emissions from the fossil fuels they consume. The credits were this week criticized by Alonso Ancira Elizondo, president of steel chamber Canacero, who said they would harm Mexican steel sector’s global competitiveness, given that many competitors such as Brazil and the US do not impose similar charges. But Guerra denied the system would put Mexico at a competitive disadvantage, with other countries that already charge carbon credits having set the fees far higher, at US$15-30/t carbon emissions in some European countries, he told Canacero’s third Mexican steel conference in Mexico City on Thursday (Sep 12).

UN-REDD Invites Comments on Panama’s National Programme Review

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 12 September 2013 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) has issued a call for comments on the draft review of Panama’s national REDD+ programme. The review was carried out in response to the withdrawal of COONAPIP (the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama) from the national REDD+ programme, citing a lack of guarantees for the respect of indigenous rights and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples. In response to the complaints made by the COONAPIP and with the agreement of the National Environment Authority (ANAM), the UN-REDD Programme proceeded to carry out an exhaustive and independent investigation into the complaints and a mid-term evaluation of the National Joint Programme (NJP). The evaluation was based on a document review, interviews, meetings and comments received on the first draft of the report.

South Pole Carbon and Carbon Green Africa Take Kariba REDD+ Project to Market

South Pole Carbon press release, 12 September 2013 | Over the past few decades, deforestation due to issues such as population growth and unsustainable forest management have ravaged the once vast Miombo forest in Zimbabwe. Now, the Kariba REDD+ Project is using carbon finance to protect 785,000 hectares of this important forest that connects four national parks, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mana Pools, and several game reserves. Carbon credits from this project certified under Verified Carbon Standard and CCB Standards Gold Level are now available. The conservation of the forest goes hand in hand with the wellbeing of the people of this project. By training locals about raising agricultural productivity, conservation farming and fire reduction, deforestation is prevented, food security is raised, more income generated, and carbon remains stored in the forest.

13 September 2013

Analysis: UN climate finance talks lay foundation for Warsaw summit

By Amal-Lee Amin, RTCC, 13 September 2013 | More than 120 representatives of Governments, international organisations, civil society and the private sector gathered this week for the UN’s long-term finance wrap-up meeting in Incheon, South Korea. Hopes were that discussions would generate specific recommendations for Ministers to consider when they meet in Warsaw in November. Whilst differences clearly remain, there are reasons for optimism that Ministers may converge on elements that would build momentum towards an agreement on long-term finance in 2014.

Grass could tame global warming gases

IRIN Global, 13 September 2013 | Much has been written about why eating more red meat could be bad for your health while also harming the environment. But new studies to be discussed at the 22nd International Grasslands Congress in Australia next week show that the scientists might be able to overcome the environmental impact of higher numbers of meat eaters and milk drinkers… The mechanism is known as “biological nitrification inhibition”, or BNI, said Michael Peters, who leads research on forages at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), based in Colombia. CIAT is a member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Consortium. Peters told IRIN the grass belongs to the Brachiaria species commonly found in east and central Africa and is native to the region. Animals that consume the grass produce higher yields of milk and their manure emits smaller amounts of nitrous oxide.

[Botswana] Access case dismissed – Final end for Bushman hunters?

Survival International, 13 September 2013 | Botswana’s High Court has thrown out an attempt by the Kalahari Bushmen to gain free access to their ancestral land, raising fears that this could spell the end of the last Bushmen to rely on hunting. The Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) took the government to court over a policy which requires them to apply for permits to enter the reserve – despite all CKGR Bushmen being granted free access in a 2006 landmark High Court ruling. The entry permits last one month and are only granted to those Bushmen with relatives in the reserve – a policy clearly designed to slowly diminish the number of Bushmen able to access their land. The Bushmen live in constant fear of overstaying the permits amidst repression by wildlife scouts and paramilitary police. But the government has managed to get the case dismissed on technicalities…

California, China to link climate-change efforts

By Joe Garofoli, SFGate, 13 September 2013 | On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s lead international climate negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, the country’s vice chair of its National Development and Reform Commission, the agency that oversees economic development in the country. The agreement – in which the countries pledged to work together on sharing low-carbon strategies and create joint-ventures on clean technologies – is believed to be the only such connection between a state and the Chinese government over climate change… "It is a model agreement. We have a lot to learn from China, just as they have a lot they can learn from us," said Derek Walker, a climate and energy expert with the Environmental Defense Fund… "It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not a solution in any way," said Max Auffhammer, a professor of economics and the environment at UC Berkeley.

14 September 2013

Tanzania: REDD+ Mechanism Vital in Adapting Climate Change

By Anne Robi, Tanzania Daily News, 14 September 2013 | There is concern that poor people who depend on wood for fuel and building materials will become even poorer if they are denied forest access as a result of the mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), and that many people involved in the charcoal industry would lose jobs. However, the mechanism designed to create an incentive for stopping the forests from being cut down and its degradation which helps to decrease or reduce emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, could simultaneously address climate change and rural poverty, while conserving biodiversity and sustaining vital ecosystem services. According to the pilot REDD+ Projects in the country, implementation of the mechanism could be a source of income generating activities, ranging from tree growing to agro-related activities such as bee-keeping, fruit growing and economic agro forestry practices.

15 September 2013

[Colombia] Green giving with carbon credits program at Marion Institute

By Pamela Marean, SouthCoastToday.com, 15 September 2013 | The Marion Institute offers each of us a way to be responsible for trying to reverse the big American carbon footprint trend through contributing to the planting of trees at Las Gavoitas, the small village in Columbia where a rainforest is being renewed. Las Gaviotas has been restoring its rainforest for 30 years, and the Marion Institute has encouraged others to contribute to that project since 2005. Contributions can be as little as $7 for one ton of carbon to help offset the cost of a family SUV instead of a more fuel efficient car. A simple calculator on the Marion Institute web site (www.marioninstitute.org) can help individuals determine how many tons per year a household produces. The typical American, they figure, produces 21 tons of carbon. At $7 per ton, a $147 contribution to Las Gavoitas buys a clearer conscience for those who need to drive cars in the daily commute to work or fly across country on a regular basis.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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