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REDD in the news: 4-10 November 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.

Publication: International Law Principles for REDD

Indian Law Resource Center, November 2013 | These principles of international law on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) address the questions that rights holders and stakeholders may have regarding the legal obligations and rights implications of REDD+ initiatives. This working paper was produced as a starting point for further discussions and will be revised as needed by the Indian Law Resource Center.

UN-REDD Newsletter 42

UN-REDD, October 2013 | In the October 2013 issue of the UN-REDD Programme newsletter, we share highlights from the Programme’s Fifth Anniversary celebrations and the launch of a UN-REDD phase II programme in Viet Nam. Also read more on the UN-REDD Programme’s latest Policy Brief, work on Stakeholder Engagement and Multiple Benefits, as well as REDD+ updates from Cambodia, the DRC, Ecuador, Kenya and South Sudan.

4 November 2013

Kyoto Veterans Say Global Warming Goal Slipping Away

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 4 November 2013 | The only three living diplomats who have led the United Nations global warming talks said there’s little chance the next climate treaty will prevent the world from overheating. The specific goal, to hold temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), was endorsed by envoys from 190 nations in 2010. It’s considered the maximum the environment can bear before climate change becomes more dangerous. Delegates to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meet in Warsaw starting Nov. 11 to work on a treaty that could be agreed to in 2015.

The fundamental *political* challenge of climate change

By Joshua Tucker, The Washington Post, 4 November 2013 | The New York Times’s Justin Gillis reported this weekend that a leaked draft of a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that climate change will lead a reduction in the world’s food supply at about the same time that the demand for food is likely to increase. The net result when supply goes down and demand goes up: price increases and/or shortages. The good news is that there are steps that can be taken now to preserve future food production capacity. Seems like a simple enough solution: we know what to do now to prevent this avoidable problem later. Unfortunately, there is a political hitch, and it can be found in the “now and later” aspect of that last sentence.

Good news on global warming? Emissions going up, but more slowly

By Pete Spotts, Christian Science Monitor, 4 November 2013 | Despite a record-setting increase in the amount of carbon dioxide released from power plants, factories, and other human activities last year, there may have been a silver lining: emissions increased at a significantly slower rate than they have during the past 10 years on average, according to a new report. The reduction in the rate of increase took place even as the global economy grew. This could signal that countries are using more green energy, which allows them to grow economically without similarly increasing their CO2 emissions. But other variables suggest 2013 could also be an anomaly. The report comes on the eve of global climate talks set to take place in Warsaw Nov. 11-22.

Insight: REDD projects need better forest monitoring

environmentalresearchweb, 4 November 2013 | As global experts meet at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP-19 discussions in Warsaw this month, scientists are calling for substantial investment to build forest-monitoring capacity in tropical developing countries. A recent study by scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL), has found that half of the sampled climate change mitigation (REDD+) projects do not have adequate capacity to monitor, report and verify (MRV) emissions and removals of carbon at their project sites.

Monitoring of carbon-rich wetlands a focus at U.N. climate talks

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 November 2013 | New guidelines for calculating carbon emissions from wetlands will provide a more accurate picture of buried treasure — a massive amount of carbon on a scale that is often underestimated and often unnoticed because it is stored underground, experts say. Tropical wetlands, including palm swamps and mangroves, are important carbon sinks, but as much as 80 percent of that carbon is stored in a submerged layer of peat. Because the depth and extent of the peat layer can vary, it is difficult to measure the volume and calculate the amount of carbon stored there.

Lessons from the Amazon: Searching for a Sustainable Future for Forests and People

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 November 2013 | The Amazon rainforest hosts some of the richest biodiversity in the world; stores vast amounts of carbon; and regulates the climate and rainfall over a vast area. But it’s also home to more than 30 million people in 9 South American countries, many of whom rely on the forest for their livelihoods. CIFOR’s research in the region aims to shed light on how the forests can be used in more sustainable ways – while improving the lives of its poorest inhabitants.

[Brazil] How a remote Amazonian state is leading the way in climate change policy

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 November 2013 | In Brazil’s wild west, a state government is trying to prove that it is possible to safeguard the Amazon – and improve the lives of rural people at the same time. Acre is one of the country’s most remote jurisdictions: the state capital Rio Branco sits on a tributary of a tributary of the Amazon River, nearly 4,000 km by road from Rio de Janeiro. Nearly 90 percent of the state is still blanketed in rainforest – and a progressive series of state governments have decided there are huge advantages for their people in keeping it that way. They’ve established an innovative, comprehensive, and statewide legal framework that attempts to change the state’s entire model of development to one rooted in forests.

The invisible workforce: gender myth-busting in Ecuador

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 November 2013 | An hour’s walk into the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador’s Orellana province, Maricela Tapuy and her sister-in-law are working alongside their husbands. The family is clearing a patch of forest to plant crops: while the men topple trees with a chainsaw, the women slash saplings with machetes, and help to move the logs. Later, when the larger trunks are carved up by chainsaw for sale, they’ll help to stack the planks. “When I’m not busy, I always go to the forest to help my husband,” Maricela says. “If we hire someone else, we have to pay them. But if we women help out, we’ll have more money for the family.” New research from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has found that Maricela’s situation is quite common among indigenous Kichwa women in Ecuador’s Amazon.

Who buys, who sells, how much? Mapping Ecuador’s timber markets

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 November 2013 | The chainsaw roars, and one by one, the trees come crashing down. Luis Andi, his brother Jorge and their wives are clearing a small patch of forest in the province of Orellana, in Ecuador’s slice of the Amazon. This time, the indigenous Kichwas’ main purpose is to prepare the land for agriculture – so that Jorge, a skinny youth in his early 20s, can support his young family. “If you don’t have grass, you can’t feed animals to feed yourself. That’s the way it is. You have to cut down trees to plant crops,” Andi said. But the wood won’t go to waste. Andi will also use the chainsaw to carefully carve the larger trees into planks. Then he’ll sell them to the region’s thriving timber market.

5 November 2013

Carbon emissions must be cut ‘significantly’ by 2020, says UN report

By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 5 November 2013 | The chances of keeping the global temperature increase below 2C will “swiftly diminish” unless the world takes immediate action to escalate cuts in carbon emissions, the United Nations has warned. The UN Environment Program said that even if nations meet their current emissions reduction pledges, carbon emissions in 2020 will be eight to 12 gigatonnes above the level required to avoid a costly nosedive in greenhouse gas output. The Emissions Gap Report 2013, which was compiled by 44 scientific groups in 17 countries, warns that if the greenhouse “gap” isn’t “closed or significantly narrowed” by 2020, the pathway to limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C will be closed. At UN talks in 2010, the international community agreed to limit the rise in average global temperatures to 2C by 2100, based on pre-industrial levels.

Universality and Fairness of Commitments are the Key to Success

By Marcin Korolec (Minister of Environment of Poland, COP 19 President), Climate Change Policy & Practice, 5 November 2013 | This November, we will host in Warsaw the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 19). The negotiations of the new agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which is to enter into force in 2020, will be one of the key issues to be discussed at COP 19. The first round of talks preparing the ground for COP 19 has already concluded. I hope that during the November summit in Warsaw discussions will be as constructive as they have been during the PreCOP event.

Carbon pricing most cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions, says OECD

By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 5 November 2013 | Carbon taxes and emissions trading systems are the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions and should be “at the centre of government efforts to tackle climate change”, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. An OECD study, called Effective Carbon Prices, found that other policies, such as feed-in tariffs, industry regulation and subsidies, are far less economically preferable than carbon pricing. The findings are the latest evidence-based blow to the Coalition government’s climate policy, which involves dismantling carbon pricing and replacing it with its Direct Action system of financial handouts to businesses that want to reduce their emissions.

Five questions about Sustainable Development Goals and the potential role of landscapes

By Ann-Kathrin Neureuther, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 November 2013 | Landscapes approaches that look at different land-based activities offer a way of thinking about the connection between environment and development in an integrated way. Land-based sectors, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and cities, are crucial to achieving the “Big 5” development aspirations of poverty eradication, food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity conservation and the creation of a green economy. Just as deforestation is not a forestry issue but rather driven by the growing hunger for food and energy, food production is not a purely agricultural topic. Agricultural outputs depend on inputs from other systems: An estimated 75 percent of fresh water, for example, comes from forests that act as giant sponges in the water cycle.

Land rights: Both prerequisite and incentive for smallholder-based REDD

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 November 2013 | Eduardo Amaral Borges works for PESACRE (Group of Research and Extension in Agroforestry Systems of Acre), an NGO that was part of the process of negotiation when SISA was set up in Acre. “There are things that the government does well and civil society cannot do, and there are others that civil society does well and the government does not,” he says. For example, only government agencies have a mandate to regularize tenure and enforce the law – but they sometimes lack institutional capacity to implement these actions effectively. “Civil society participation has become more complex,” Borges says. “The main issue in the past was putting up battle flags; now, these same social movements and NGOs are co-implementers of public policies and programs.” “This requires support so civil society can participate and contribute qualitatively in this process.”

REDD mechanism could be too late to save world’s rainforests

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 5 November 2013 | Parliaments and national legislation are key to reducing deforestation, according to a report released last week by Globe International. The global forum of legislators says Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo do not need to wait for a binding climate change deal in 2015 to reduce the destruction of forests. Deforestation account for around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is especially damaging because the jungles of the Amazon, Congo and Sumatra store vast quantities of carbon. UN climate talks starting next Monday in Warsaw are set to resume discussions on how a mechanism known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) can be developed. REDD+ is a contentious issue, and with forest degradation increasing, the report’s backers say more focus needs to be placed on the role of national parliaments in addressing the problem.

Demand For Forest Carbon Offsets Rises As Forestland Under Carbon Management Grows

Ecosystem Marketplace, 5 November 2013 | Carbon finance supported the management of forests spanning 26.5 million hectares worldwide as businesses in 2012 injected a near-record $216 million into projects that plant trees, avoid deforestation, improve forest management and support low-carbon agriculture. These projects, a key defense against the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change, were financed by the sale of 28 million tonnes of carbon offsets, according to the 2013 State of the Forest Carbon Markets report released by non-profit researchers Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace this week in London. Representing 162 projects in 58 countries, the report tracks forest carbon management over a land area larger than Ecuador. While market size grew 9%, the global average price for forestry offsets was $7.8/tonne – down from $9.2/tonne in 2011, but still higher than prices paid by voluntary buyers for other offset types ($5.9/tonne).

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 5 November 2013 | Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace is pleased to announce the launch of Covering New Ground: State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2013. The report is now freely available for download here! Representing 162 projects in 58 countries, the report tracks forest carbon management over a land area larger than Ecuador. While market size grew 9% in 2012, the global average price for forestry offsets was $7.8/tonne – down from $9.2/tonne in 2011, but still higher than prices paid by voluntary buyers across all offset project types (average $5.9/tonne).

Politics and the Language of REDD+

By Sieren Ernst, The Energy Collective, 5 November 2013 | In his article in The Huffington Post, Steve Zwick reacted to implications, often employed by REDD+ opponents that the profits and markets are necessarily bad, but in his defense of REDD+ also employs condemnation-by-syllogisms in branding REDD+ opponents ‘ideologues.’ Zwick holds up one example of a particularly bad project, given too much attention by the mainstream press, and rightly says that it is unfair to pain REDD+ with such a broad brush. This is true, but it is by the same incorrect to paint all of the opposition as ideologues. The charge ignores real instances where, in the name of conservation, of indigenous groups are excluded from their land and livelihood. However, the occurrence of problems does not imply a general principal by which all of the activities known ‘REDD+’, or their potential good.

Carbon storage recovers faster than plant biodiversity in re-growing tropical forests

ScienceDaily, 5 November 2013 | A new study of re-growing tropical forests has concluded that plant biodiversity takes longer to recover than carbon storage following major disturbances such as clearance for farming. The findings, published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, have important implications for conservation since there are now many re-growing forests in South and Central America. The new study is the first large-scale analysis of the recovery of both plant biodiversity and carbon pools in re-growing forests. Over half of all tropical forests have already been converted for agriculture, logged or burnt in the recent past. Re-growing forests could help both to soak up carbon emissions produced by human activities and to reduce species’ extinctions.

[Brazil] Martyr of the Amazon: The legacy of Chico Mendes

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 November 2013 | It’s impossible to talk about forests in Acre, Brazil, without mentioning the state’s home-grown hero: rubber-tapper, union-leader and Amazon-defender Chico Mendes. His brutal murder 25 years ago made headlines around the world – and although the violence against activists in the Amazon hasn’t abated, Mendes’ death had a huge impact on the Amazon conservation movement, and galvanised his supporters to fight for a new kind of environmentally sustainable development in Acre. Chico Mendes grew up in a poor family near the small Amazonian town of Xapuri in Acre in the 1940s. His parents, like many others, had moved to the forests of the western Amazon to harvest latex from native rubber trees for use in the allied war effort.

China ‘flexible’ on climate talks but rich nation funding is key: top negotiator

Reuters, 5 November 2013 | China will be “flexible” in U.N. talks for a new global climate change deal, but the key to progress is getting rich nations to keep pledges to fund mitigation steps by poorer countries, the country’s top climate change official said on Tuesday. Representatives of more than 190 nations gather in the Polish capital of Warsaw from Nov 11 to 22 to push towards a new global deal to cut climate-warming greenhouse gases that is set to take effect by 2020. Last month, the United States’ chief climate change envoy, Todd Stern, urged a more flexible approach over a new pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, saying nations should be allowed to set individual timetables and commitments. China was just as willing to compromise, said the country’s chief negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, who is also vice-director of top economic planning body the National Development and Reform Commission.

6 November 2013

Major palm oil companies accused of breaking ethical promises

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 6 November 2013 | Large palm oil companies that have promised to act ethically have been accused of land grabbing, ignoring human rights and exploiting labour in their African and Asian plantations. In a damning 400-page investigation, the companies are variously charged with impacting on orangutan populations, destroying tropical forest and burning and draining large tracks of peat swamp forest. Sixteen palm oil concessions, in Indonesia, Liberia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon, all operated by members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) were visited by monitors working with international human rights groups including UK-based Forest peoples programme and Sawit Watch, from Indonesia. Local communities consistently accused the companies of not respecting their customary land rights, violating laws and court rulings and acting in such a way that encouraged conflict.

REDD Learning Session 16: Expectations for REDD at UNFCCC COP 19

WWF, 6 November 2013 | In this learning session, Josefina Braña Varela, Policy Director of WWF’s Forest and Climate Programme, and John O. Niles, Director of Climate and Forests at WWF-US, discuss the main challenges and opportunities for REDD+ at UNFCCC-COP19 in Warsaw, Poland. The presentation covers the issues for discussion under the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) including technical assessment for reference levels and MRV as well as the joint SBSTA/Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) process and the COP Work Program. A Q+A session follows the presentation.

Hopes for Strong 2015 Climate Deal Fade, as Risks Grow

By Alister Doyle and Nina Chestney, Reuters, 6 November 2013 | World governments are likely to recoil from plans for an ambitious 2015 climate change deal at talks next week, concern over economic growth at least partially eclipsing scientists’ warnings of rising temperatures and water levels. “We are in the eye of a storm,” said Yvo de Boer, United Nations climate chief in 2009 when a summit in Copenhagen ended without agreement. After Copenhagen, nations targeted a 2015 deal to enter into force from 2020 with the goal of averting more floods, heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels. The outline of a more modest 2015 deal, to be discussed at annual U.N. climate talks in Warsaw on November11-22, is emerging that will not halt a creeping rise in temperatures but might be a guide for tougher measures in later years.

Report Charts 26.5 Million Hectares Under Protection as Demand Grows for Forest Carbon Offsets

Forest Trends press release, 6 November 2013 | Carbon finance is supporting the management of forests spanning 26.5 million hectares worldwide after businesses in 2012 injected a near-record $216 million into projects that plant trees, avoid deforestation, improve forest management, and support low-carbon agriculture. These projects, a key defense against the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change, were financed by the sale of 28 million tonnes of carbon offsets, according to the 2013 State of the Forest Carbon Markets report released by non-profit researchers Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace this week in London. Representing 162 projects in 58 countries, the report tracks forest carbon management over a land area larger than Ecuador. While market size grew 9% in 2012, the global average price for forestry offsets was $7.8/tonne – down from $9.2/tonne in 2011, but still higher than prices paid by voluntary buyers across all offset project types (average $5.9/tonne).

[Australia] Carbon Farming Initiative – delivering abatement in an uncertain time

By Elisa de Wit and Hannah Gould, mondaq, 6 November 2013 | This legal update provides a brief summary of the main changes to the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) since our last legal update in July 2013. For an overview of the CFI, please refer to our previous legal updates which can be found here and the Carbon Market Institute (CMI) publication “Implementing the Carbon Farming Initiative: A Guide for Business” (2013), co authored by Norton Rose Fulbright and RAMP Carbon.

Between the Amazon and the Atlantic: Brazil’s threatened savannas

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 November 2013 | The Amazon rainforest has long been a focus for environmentalists, scientists and policy makers, but they are now starting to also pay more attention to Brazil’s other major ecosystem – the unique savannas and woodlands known as the Cerrado. Since the 1970s, vast areas of the Cerrado have been converted into pastureland, corn, sugarcane and soybean plantations, fuelling Brazil’s economy and feeding its people, but taking a toll on the ecosystem’s rich biodiversity. And while international concern over the fate of the Amazon is widespread, few people outside Brazil have heard of the Cerrado. Its mosaic landscape of scrub, grass, and woodland stretches across one fifth of Brazil, covering between 1.5 million and 2 million square kilometers between the Amazon rainforest and the Atlantic Ocean.

Seeing the forest and the trees: Brazil’s transparency in deforestation data

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 November 2013 | Brazil’s deforestation tracking system – followed up with enforcement measures on the ground – is often cited as a key element of the dramatic reduction in Amazon deforestation over the past decade. But the system’s openness and transparency are at least as important as its technical and policy innovations, say experts. Dalton de Morrison Valeriano has worked at Brazil’s equivalent of NASA – the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) – since the 1980s. With a silver pony-tail and California-influenced drawl, he seems more former-rock-star than scientist – but he coordinates INPE’s Amazon deforestation monitoring program, which includes the satellite monitoring system PRODES (Program to Calculate Deforestation in the Amazon).

[UK] Carbon credit scams targeted as 19 companies shut down

Insolvency Service press release, 6 November 2013 | Nineteen carbon credit companies that ripped off nearly £24m from over 1,500 investors, including a 94-year-old man, have been wound up in the last 15 months by the Insolvency Service, Consumer Minister Jo Swinson announced today. The companies, including Eco Global Markets Limited (‘Eco Global’), which alone took at least £8.5m from over 230 investors – targeted mainly older people and sold them Certified Emission Reduction Units (CERs) – or carbon credits – using high pressure sales techniques. Most of the victims ranged in age between 50 and 85 years.

[UK] Carbon credit scams made £24m from ‘targeting elderly’

ITV News, 6 November 2013 | Nineteen financial firms that conned more than 1,500 people out of £24 million through carbon credit scams “preyed on older people”, the industry regulator said. The companies offered “worthless” carbon credits – or Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) – and used high-pressure sales techniques on customers mostly ranging between 50 and 85-years-old, according to the Insolvency Service. Those firms have been wound up by the service in the last 15 months, Consumer Minister Jo Swinson announced. She said: “This is a particularly contemptible scam as it not only preyed on older people trying to maximise their savings, but also targeted their sincere desire to make ethical investments. Instead, investors have been left out of pocket with shares that are either worthless or do not exist. Ms Swinson added that “robust action” would be taken against any more companies attempting the scam.

Investment industry unites to declare carbon credits unsuitable for private investors

By David Thorpe, What Investment, 6 November 2013 | Carbon credits are not suitable for private investors, according to a range of investment industry professionals. The credits, which can be bought by large users of energy to offset their greenhouse gas emissions against carbon-reducing projects, are traded on an exchange and thus have a market value. But the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned that ‘investing in carbon credits comes with great risk and is generally only suitable for the most experienced and savvy investors’. Martin Bamford, who runs independent financial advisory firm Informed Choice in Surrey, told What Investment that ‘no way in a million years are carbon credits suitable for private investors’. Jason Hollands, managing director for business development and communications at BestInvest agreed, stating that ‘carbon credits are aimed at businesses and are not for private investment purposes’.

7 November 2013

Climate Summit: Don’t turn farmers into ‘climate smart’ carbon traders!

GRAIN, La Via Campesina, ETC Group press release, 7 November 2013 | Farmers produce food, not carbon. Yet, if some of the governments and corporate lobbies negotiating at the UN climate change conference to be held in Warsaw from 11-22 November have their way, farmland could soon be considered as a carbon sink that polluting corporations can buy into to compensate for their harmful emissions. “We are directly opposed to the carbon market approach to dealing with the climate crisis,” says Josie Riffaud of La Vía Campesina. “Turning our farmers’ fields into carbon sinks – the rights to which can be sold on the carbon market – will only lead us further away from what we see as the real solution: food sovereignty. The carbon in our farms is not for sale!” Carbon trading has totally failed to address the real causes of the climate crisis. It was never meant to do so.

EU and big polluters ignore climate action – pushing to expand carbon markets at COP19

Corporate Europe Observatory, 7 November 2013 | The EU aims to expand carbon markets that would benefit big polluters at the UN climate talks, COP19 in Poland, says a Statement signed by 135+ groups, movements and networks from all over the world. The Statement denounces the corporate capture of COP19 by the same companies that stand to profit. “The European Commission and the carbon crooks who turn profits from the failing EU ETS are pushing for a lifeline through linking up markets, foreshadowing a global carbon market,” stated Tamra Gilbertson from Carbon Trade Watch. COP19 partners, explains the statement, include Polish energy group PGE, whose Belchatow coal-fired plant was the biggest polluter and the biggest recipient of free allowances in 2012.2 “ COP19 will be the most extreme case of corporate capture we have seen within the COP,” according to Belén Balanyá from Corporate Europe Observatory.

Message from Oslo REDD Exchange: Let’s Get On With It!

By Frances Seymour, Center For Global Development, 7 November 2013 | Last week I had the pleasure of chairing the 2013 Oslo REDD Exchange, a conference hosted by the Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forests Initiative. The conference drew some 500 policy-makers and practitioners working on reducing deforestation around the world — through strategies ranging from international negotiations to community-level projects – to assess the state of play on REDD+ and to chart a way forward. Tine Sundtoft, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, opened the conference with welcome assurance that the newly-elected government will maintain Norway’s commitment to REDD+. Norway’s leadership on the forests and climate change agenda has been crucial, not least through its allocation of billions of dollars to partner countries in exchange for reductions in deforestation.

People or Parks: The Human Factor in Protecting Wildlife

By Richard Conniff, Yale Environment 360, 7 November 2013 | When the United Nations put out its Protected Planet Report in 2012, it touted the news that national governments have designated more than 177,000 protected areas around the world for the long-term conservation of nature, covering an impressive 12.7 percent of the earth’s land surface. Just since 1990, the acreage under protection has increased by 48 percent. But this encouraging news also masks a significant defect. Setting aside the question of how well officially protected areas actually protect anything, poor planning means these areas often completely omit critical habitats and key species. When a 2004 study in BioSciences looked at a representative sampling of wildlife from around the world, it found that protected areas included little or no habitat for about 90 percent of the threatened or endangered species in the sample. The list of outcasts included 276 mammal species, 940 amphibians, 23 turtles, and 244 birds.

Don’t lump together apples and oranges

By Nannette Lindenberg and Pieter Pauw, (German Development Institute), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 7 November 2013 | Next Monday, the 19th annual Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) opens its doors in Warsaw. As global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, ever more emphasis is put on adaptation to climate change. Mitigation and adaptation are often treated as two sides of the same coin. But the two are very different – especially when it comes to financing of adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. To accomplish the necessary speeding- up and scaling-up of private climate finance in particular, Parties in Warsaw should separate adaptation from mitigation when they debate and decide about future climate finance.

Landscapes approach: a red herring or a boon for food security?

By Anja Gassner and Robert Nasi, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 November 2013 | The term “landscape” implies the human relationship to nature is integral and inseparable, whereas the term “ecosystem” is still often associated strongly with pristine nature. The “landscapes approach” highlights the complexity of land-management systems and the need for practical indicators (livelihood, income, productivity, sustainability) for measuring human environmental interactions across sectors and scales. This need for an explicit integration of conservation and development agendas is a direct response to the findings of the latest MDG report that current mechanisms and frameworks are inadequate to ensure environmental sustainability. We believe that the landscapes approach is much more than a new management fad. Well applied, it offers solutions to wicked problems.

[Brazil] Loggers face removal from land of Earth’s most threatened tribe

Survival International, 7 November 2013 | Brazil has taken the first steps towards the removal of thousands of illegal loggers and settlers from the land of the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe, by notifying them that they will be removed if they do not leave now. Survival has received reports that FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indian affairs department, is advising settlers who have illegally cleared rainforest for farming not to plant new crops, as they will have to leave before the next harvest. The Awá are one of Brazil’s last nomadic tribes. They have been driven to the brink of extinction as waves of illegal loggers, settlers and ranchers have flooded their land since the 1970s. The invaders have destroyed vast swathes of the tribe’s forest and massacred entire Awá families.

[Guyana] No basis for presuming higher deforestation is due to widespread illegal mining

By Veetal Rajkumar (Head, Policy Planning and Coordination Unit, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment) letter to the editor Stabroek News, 7 November 2013 | Further to the publication of several comments and articles on Guyana’s Third National Report indicating an elevated deforestation rate, I wish to dispel any misinterpretations of the report. The third national report stating the deforestation rate for the year 2012, under the Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) System for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus Sustainable Forest Management), has been jointly produced by the Guyana Forestry Commission and Indufor, and is currently being subjected to an independent Accuracy Assessment conducted by the University of Durham, United Kingdom.

Defining “forest” could improve REDD monitoring in Indonesia

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 November 2013 | If policymakers fail to consider carefully how they define forests, they risk compromising the potential success of the U.N.-backed REDD+ program, which aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, scientists say. A recent case study in Indonesia found that such challenges as determining whether to classify eucalyptus and teak plantations as “forest” could have a significant impact on how carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation are measured and reported, and how the drivers of deforestation are assessed, according to a study. “Definitions set the parameters by which you gather past, present and future information on your forests, which enable you to design a more effective REDD+ scheme,” said Louis Verchot, director of forests and environment research with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), scientist and co-author of a new report.

[UK] Oxford Sunergy wound up

Insider Media, 7 November 2013 | Oxford Sunergy Limited in Oxford and two connected companies have been wound up in the public interest after selling non-existent carbon credits. The three companies, including Fast Corporate Solutions Ltd and Vero Energy Ltd, used cold-calling and high pressure sales techniques to persuade people to invest in Voluntary Emission Reduction carbon credits. Investors were promised short term high returns from selling carbon credits to corporate clients including Marks & Spencer and British Airways. In practice the companies took £690,000 from customers without providing any products in return. The companies were all abandoned and only one director from Vero Energy Ltd co-operated with investigators. David Hill, investigations supervisor with the Insolvency Service, said: “This company set out to fool the public into buying alleged carbon credits, when in reality, they were selling nothing more than hot air.”

Carbon budget row risks UK influence at UN climate talks

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 7 November 2013 | Changes to the UK’s carbon targets could undermine its influence on UN climate negotiations, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has warned. In a review of the UK’s fourth carbon budget, which limits emissions to 1,950 MtCO2e over the period 2023 to 2027, the Committee said that little had changed in the science and international and EU policy scenes since the budget was set in 2011. As a result it says there should be no change to the budget, which the UK is legally committed to meeting as a result of the 2008 Climate Change Act. The government is expected to review the fourth budget in early 2014 – a process that some have worried could lead to a weakening of the targets. Consultants PwC welcomed the intervention five days before a major UN climate summit is set to open in Warsaw.

8 November 2013

No excuse for climate talks inaction, says aid organisation

CARE International press release, 8 November 2013 | Ahead of the opening of the high-level talks in Warsaw, CARE Secretary-General Dr. Robert Glasser said: “Climate change is the most fundamental challenge of our time. Governments must act urgently to limit global warming and to help their citizens cope with its impacts. The risks of inaction, for the world’s poorest people and for us all, are far too great to ignore. This is literally a matter of life and death on an unprecedented scale. Failure to act is not an option.” In recent weeks, leading climate scientists have confirmed that climate change is happening now, that human activity is overwhelmingly responsible for causing it and that the world is not acting fast enough to slow the pace of change.

Carbon Markets are Now Protecting an Area Greater Than all the Forests of the Congo Combined

Steve Zwick, Huffington Post, 8 November 2013 | The last five years have been busy ones for Leslie Durschinger, Mike Korchinsky, and hundreds of others “green entrepreneurs” scouring the planet for endangered or degraded forests to conserve. It’s a daunting task, because their conservation plans will only work under certain precise conditions. To begin with, the forests must face a threat that’s clear, quantifiable, and containable, while that threat must be the kind that responds to certain prescribed solutions. Moreover, those solutions must account for “leakage” – which is what happens when you save a patch of forest in one place only to see the same activity move someplace else.It’s all part of a global experiment to see if “pay-for-performance” conservation works. The answer, increasingly, is: “Yes, it does” – to the tune of 26.5 million hectares of forest under protection as of last year, according to the Forest Trends Ecosystem Marketplace report Covering New Ground.

Anti-deforestation market finally set to bloom

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 8 November 2013 | Developers seeking carbon credits from forestry projects expect their market to grow 25 per cent this year, a survey showed on Wednesday, defying an 8 per cent drop in the value of global transactions in 2012 when they produced more credits than they could sell. The optimistic outlook would outpace the 9 per cent growth in 2012 in the traded volume of credits sourced from projects that cut emissions of greenhouse gases either by planting trees or slowing deforestation, according to a survey by US research group Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace. Some 28 million units changed hands worldwide last year, up from 25.6 million in 2011 and covering 162 projects in 58 countries over a land area larger than Ecuador. Most buyers were large multinational corporations, who purchase voluntary credits to enhance their reputation among customers that they are taking steps to reduce their environmental impact.

Why we should kill the Green Climate Fund

By Assaad W. Razzouk, The Independent, 8 November 2013 | Some three hundred government officials, representatives of think thanks, civil society and the private sector recently gathered at the regal Paris headquarters of France’s Ministry of Finance for three days. They were there to continue down the rocky road of launching a UN institution, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), intended to mysteriously collect, then spend $100 billion a year on climate change efforts worldwide. The GCF has been four years in the making yet I heard at its Paris meeting that it still doesn’t know what it actually does. But climate action cannot wait: According to the World Bank, the earth is set to warm by 4 degrees and according to the International Energy Agency, we need $1 trillion a year between 2012 and 2050 to finance a low-emissions transition.

[Indonesia] Deforestation: is it time for a new strategy to save the world’s rainforests?

By Tony Juniper, The Guardian, 8 November 2013 | If I were running campaigns to save what remains of Sumatra’s dwindling forests, there are four priorities I’d pursue. One is a market campaign to shift April out of cutting more natural forest. Second, I’d raise international pressure to persuade the government of Indonesia to sort out the chaotic governance of its forests. Third, I’d reach out to groups working on social development to find stronger common cause with them, so that forest protection and community development are better aligned. Fourth, I’d campaign to stop a coalmine road being driven through RSPB’s Harapan Reserveiv. If built this will likely mark the end of RSPB’s valiant effort to save a substantial area of lowland forest and mark a very serious setback to future efforts restore areas of degraded forest. It is surprising how little been has been said on this by campaigners. Conservation resources are too tight to be wasted on vendettas against old adversaries.

Mexico’s exchange to launch platform for carbon trading

By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters, 8 November 2013 | Mexico’s stock exchange said on Friday it will launch an electronic platform to trade carbon credits, opening a new environmental market in the Americas and looking to profit from new low-carbon legislation in Mexico. Bolsa Mexicana de Valores (BMV) and its partners in the project said they will hold a presentation on Nov. 26 at the exchange’s auditorium, in Mexico City, to detail the mechanism called MEXICO2. The exchange did not elaborate on the initiative, but a source familiar with the project said it will offer different types of carbon credits to companies willing to offset emissions traded in an over-the-counter (OTC) market.

The UK Insolvency Service’s Oddly-Timed Carbon Scams Press Release Highlights Its Own Slow Response

By Richard Smith, naked capitalism, 8 November 2013 | Whichever estimate you accept, this is a big scam. The enforcers had better pick up the pace, and jack up the director disqualifications and criminal proceedings, and staffing, a lot, or they’ll never get on top of the carbon scam, never mind all the other alternative/green investment scams that are queued up out there: rare earth metals, diamonds, forestry, biofuel, land, property… Meanwhile, six months ago, the Serious Fraud Office had this to say, to a British financial advisor who saw some of the picture and tried to raise the alarm: “After consideration of the information you have provided we have concluded that this is not a matter that falls within the remit of the Serious Fraud Office and no further action will be taken by us.” It might be time for the SFO to reconsider.

[UK] Beware the carbon conmen cashing in on Green market

By Sophie Scott, The Oxford Times, 8 November 2013 | An environmental scam involving a company claiming to be based in Oxford has been condemned by Green campaigners. Oxford Sunergy Limited was wound up by the High Court after investigations by the Insolvency Service. It was one of a large number of companies that were found to be selling non-existent carbon credits using high pressure sales tactics. ClimateCare, based in Magdalen Road, East Oxford, has hit out at companies using such methods. Director Tom Morton said: “The mainstream carbon market has empowered many companies and individuals to compensate for their impact on the climate by funding projects in the developing world, that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ClimateCare focuses on projects that reduce CO2 and improve people’s lives through energy efficient cookstoves and clean water filters.”

[UK] Don’t let vital environmental work be hit by the fraudsters

Oxford Mail, 8 November 2013 | Carbon credits are a complicated business. Too complicated for many, no doubt. The credits are issued to organisations by the UN when one tonne of carbon dioxide is stopped from being emitted into the atmosphere. Importantly, they can be traded for money – and this is where scammers have thrived. As we report today, a firm trading from a sham location in Oxford ripped off old people with high-pressure sales techniques that ended with them being left out of pocket. Clearly this is outrageous and it is right that the High Court has wound this and other groups like it up. But there is a danger here that a worthy cause will be tarnished. These credits may be confusing to many of us – but if they aim to cut carbon emissions, that is something we should all support. Scammers are a scourge that we grow tired of hearing about. They pester the elderly and prey on the vulnerable – whether by doorstepping or with endless unsolicited phone calls.

9 November 2013

World Bank releases new report on climate change, global warming

By Swati Mathur, The Economic Times, 9 November 2013 | World Bank has released a new report — On Thin Ice: How Cutting Pollution can Slow Warming and Save Lives. The report that talks about ways to mitigate the effects of climate change says fast action to cut common pollutants like soot (also known as black carbon) and methane will not only slow global warming, but save millions of lives. Reductions of these so-called short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) would slow rapid melting in mountain regions with glaciers, like the Himalayas and the Arctic. More than one million premature deaths could be avoided annually in the Himalayan region from reducing emissions of black carbon and methane. It would also bring multiple health, crop and ecosystem benefits, and decrease risks to development from flooding and water shortages says a new scientific study.

IPCC chairman: are we prepared to “pass on a lousy, spoilt and defiled planet”?

By Jo Confino, The Guardian, 9 November 2013 | The chairman of the United Nations’ climate panel has warned the world to act on global warming to avoid passing “on a lousy, spoilt and defiled planet” to future generations. Rajendra K Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), spoke out as typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines causing hundreds of deaths and widespread destruction. While Pachauri said it was not possible to blame any single disaster on the steep rise in carbon emissions, the increased frequency of extreme weather events was consistent with scientific predictions. Speaking in Copenhagen, Pachauri criticised those who claim higher global temperatures would be beneficial to human society. While he said some countries may benefit in the short term, the impacts would be disastrous over time and hit the most marginalised communities.

EU looks to lead way on emissions trading

AFP, 9 November 2013 | The European Union said it would freeze 900 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions quotas in the hope of reviving prices on its ill-fated Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The agreement to “backload” or postpone the release of these credits to the market until 2020, is intended to push up prices for the quotas traded by more than 11,000 companies. Although news of the decision gave the market an immediate boost, quota prices remain at less than a third of their level at the start of 2013, at under five euros ($6.70). An EU source said the bloc anticipates prices rising to “between eight and 12 euros” on the back of this “one-off measure.” That however would still leave prices well short of the 25-30 euros which analysts deem necessary to make the ETS work properly.

EU freezes vast raft of carbon credits

Sky News, 9 November 2013 | The EU says it will temporarily freeze 900 million tonnes of carbon emissions quotas to revive prices on its ill-fated CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to reduce pollution. The agreement to ‘backload’, or postpone the release of these credits to the market until 2020, is intended to raise prices for the pollution quotas traded by more than 11,000 industrial entities, the bloc’s Lithuanian presidency and Climate Action Commissioner announced on Friday. Despite a rally on the back of the decision, prices remain at less than a third of their level at the start of 2013, at under five euros ($A7.16). An EU source said the bloc anticipates prices rising to ‘between eight and 12 euros’ on the back of this ‘one-off measure’ deemed necessary following a prolonged recession. The decision received the backing of 26 EU states, with only Poland and Cyprus voting against the radical intervention, EU sources said.

10 November 2013

Talks seek modest U.N. climate deal for 2015, to raise aid

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 10 November 2013 | World governments meeting in Poland from Monday are likely to make only modest progress in reaching a 2015 deal to fight climate change, with concern over economic growth at least partially eclipsing scientists’ warnings of rising temperatures. “We can’t expect a grand agreement that solves the problems in one fell swoop,” said Elliot Diringer, executive director of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a U.S. think-tank. The best hope, he said, was for a 2015 accord in which countries would agree limits on emissions of greenhouse gases with a mechanism to compare and strengthen them over time. The outline of a deal, to be discussed by negotiators in Warsaw from November 11-22, is emerging that will not halt a creeping rise in temperatures but might be a guide for tougher measures in later years.

Twitter watch: Who to follow at UN climate talks in Warsaw

RTCC, 10 November 2013 | There’s only one place to follow all the latest news and analysis from the next round of climate talks (apart from RTCC), and that’s on twitter. The platform offers a huge variety of contributors, from UN officials, negotiators, politicians, activists and youth groups. Below are the twitter accounts we recommend you follow.

[UK] Pensions Ripped Off In £24m Carbon Credit Scam

By Jim Atkins, iExpats, 10 November 2013 | Carbon credit scammers have ripped £24 million off 1,500 elderly investors as fraudsters set up companies deliberately aimed at preying on people’s desire to go green and support the environment. The companies conned customers between 50 and 85 years old by offering worthless carbon credits while encouraging them to buy in to the bogus deals with high stress sales talk, said the Insolvency Service. Carbon credits – a term for Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) – are traded but not on markets open to individual investors. To stop the scammers, the Insolvency Service has closed 19 companies in recent weeks. The largest fraudster was Eco Global Markets Limited, which scammed at least £8.5 million from over 230 elderly investors.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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  1. the big boys of guyana did say they can drill more, mine more and chop down more trees and still be low carbon and get their millions from norway
    low carbon development strategy indeed
    9000 more acres chopped down this year over last year
    nice trajectory