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REDD in the news: 18-24 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.

18 November 2013

Investors and NGOs call for boost to REDD financing

BusinessGreen, 18 November 2013 | A coalition of business and environmental groups have joined forces to call on world leaders to use the Warsaw Climate Summit to help boost finance for a scheme designed to ensure rich nations pay to help reduce emissions from deforestation. A declaration, signed by groups including the Climate Markets and Investors Association, the Global Canopy Programme and the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), urged governments to advance work on improving the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism, which aims to allow developing countries to generate revenue from protecting forests.

Wealthy nations pledged billions to help the poor adapt to climate change. Where did it all go?

By Brad Plumer, The Washington Post, 18 November 2013 | One of the cruel ironies of climate change is that the poor countries that have contributed the least to the problem are expected to get hit the hardest. That’s why, in recent years, many of the world’s wealthier nations — including the United States, Germany, Britain, and Japan — have promised billions of dollars in aid to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of global warming and switch over to cleaner energy sources. In 2009, these nations pledged $30 billion in “fast start” climate finance over the next three years, with a promise to scale that up to $100 billion per year in aid from both public and private sources by 2020. But that latter pledge now looks increasingly unlikely — and it’s one of the big sticking points at the ongoing U.N. climate negotiations in Warsaw this month.

Report: Carbon market negotiations falter in Warsaw

By James Murray, BusinessGreen, 18 November 2013 | Reuters reported that negotiators had been unable to agree on proposals for new common accounting and transparency standards designed to make it easier for governments to link the growing number of carbon trading schemes being introduced around the world… “Linking systems is the fastest way to a deal in 2015 – and to stimulating clean energy investment at the scale needed to hold the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees,” said IETA president and chief executive Dirk Forrister in a statement. “These negotiations occur against a backdrop where carbon markets are advancing globally, from California to China. Negotiators in Poland need to build on these developments, and quickly, so that market participants can realise the benefits of linking and broader market coverage.”

Forest traditions make business sense for indigenous people

By Jake Lucas, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 18 November 2013 | For centuries, indigenous communities in the Philippines have kept the country’s rainforests safe from over-use, thanks to their deep and spiritual respect for nature’s limits. “Whatever the forests can give, that’s only what they take,” says Ruth Canlas, facilitator for the Philippines branch of the Philippines-based Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange of South and Southeast Asia, a network of NGOs and community-based groups that helps indigenous communities market forest goods from resources other than wood, including honey, medicinal plants and rattan for crafts. But in the last decade, economic interests seen as good for development – ranging from mining to palm oil cultivation – have overshadowed indigenous people’s way of life, often with devastating effects on the forest.

Forest, Ag Projects Can Combine Adaptation And Mitigation: CIFOR Study

By Gloria Gonzalez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 18 November 2013 | Tree planting in Uganda. Mangrove restorations along the coast of Indonesia and Vietnam. REDD in the Congo Basin and Indonesia. Proponents of projects like these have long argued that they can address both adaptation and mitigation. Now they have the data to back it up, thanks to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). CIFOR decided to examine the growing interest in how adaptation and mitigation issues can be addressed in combination and look for win-win options, while also investigating concerns about the feasibility of this approach and the possible drawbacks, Bruno Locatelli, a scientist with CIRAD (Agricultural Research and Development)-CIFOR and lead author of this study, said at a side event at the COP19 UN climate negotiations in Warsaw last week.

Japan says it met Kyoto Protocol goals through tree-planting and buying carbon credits

The Japan Daily Press, 18 November 2013 | A few days after announcing it was cutting back on its commitment targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the Japanese government will reportedly be releasing figures that show it has actually met the Kyoto Protocol requirements through tree-planting and buying carbon credits. This will be announced by Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara during the ongoing United Nations meeting in Warsaw to create a global climate pact. In fact, sources say Japan was able to meet the 6% target under the protocol that was established in 1997 by achieving an 8.2% cut on greenhouse gas and carbon emissions if basing it on the fiscal 1990 baseline. This was probably due to the global financial crisis in 2009, forest absorption and the purchase of carbon credits overseas. However, this is only for the first commitment period and by 2011, Japan’s greenhouse emissions have been steadily rising…

British banks among world’s biggest lenders to coal industry, report finds

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 18 November 2013 | Three UK banks are among the world’s biggest lenders to the coal-mining industry, despite trumpeting their environmental credentials, a new report has found. Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by UK taxpayers, was by far the biggest of the UK banks involved, providing finance of nearly €5bn (£4bn) to the industry in the last eight years. It ranked as the world’s eighth biggest lender to coal-mining operations, according to a study from a group of non-governmental organisations. Barclays was the next biggest UK bank on the list, with more than Euros3.5bn in lending, and HSBC – which in 2004 boasted of being the first major company in the UK to go “carbon-neutral” – provided about €2.5bn in finance over the same period… Heffa Shuecking, director of Urgewald, said: “It’s mind-boggling to see that fewer than two dozen banks from a handful of countries are putting us on a highway to hell when it comes to climate change.”

[UK] London banks quit carbon trading

By Jim Pickard and Ajay Makan, Financial Times, 18 November 2013 | At least 10 London banks have scaled back or closed their carbon trading desks amid turmoil in the European emissions trading scheme. The fledgling market was once seen as a promising growth area, with the City of London Corporation predicting in 2006 that London would become the leading provider of services to the “mushrooming” sector. But the number of City workers employed on carbon desks has fallen by 70 per cent in the past four years, according to Anthony Hobley, president of the Climate Markets & Investors Association. The workforce had fallen from close to a thousand to just a couple of hundred, Mr Hobley estimated, as carbon prices have plummeted.

[USA] California’s First Cap-and-Trade Forest Carbon Credits Verified by SCS Global Services

SCS Global Services press release, 18 November 2013 | Coastal Ridges LLC’s 19,000-acre Willits Woods Forest carbon project has been verified by SCS Global Services (SCS) to offset 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (C02e) emissions through improved forest management activities over an eight-year period. The Willits Woods Forest is one of the few “Early Action” projects that qualified for the conversion of voluntary carbon offset credits to compliance-grade credits, which can be purchased and traded by regulated companies under California’s Cap-and-Trade scheme. “Through Coastal Ridges’ conservation leadership, an important forest ecosystem will benefit from enhanced management practices while also contributing to California’s pioneering climate change and greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Dr. Robert J. Hrubes, Executive Vice President at SCS Global Services.

19 November 2013

Dutch companies move to counter climate change by tackling deforestation

IUCN, 19 November 2013 | Four companies based in the Netherlands, Essent, Eneco, Desso and Dutch Development Bank FMO, are launching a unique programme to reduce tropical deforestation in an effort to tackle climate change. The Dutch REDD+ Business Initiative was presented to the European Commission at the annual UN climate summit taking place in Warsaw, Poland. The companies hope to send a signal to negotiating parties at the conference that the programme Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) merits broad support from governments, non-profit organisations and the private sector. REDD+ is being negotiated as part of a new climate deal that is expected to be reached in two years’ time in Paris. The idea is that climate finance is used to stem tropical deforestation, one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

Using a cross-sectoral landscapes approach to improve forest livelihoods

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 19 November 2013 | Helping farmers in the tropics face the challenges of climate change would profit from an interdisciplinary landscape approach that accounts for the complexity of the biophysical, social, and political contexts in which they live and work, a top scientist has said. “Many smallholders all over the world already use a landscape approach to managing resources, and the good news for them is that we have now, at last, actively embraced it too,” said Christine Padoch, director of the forests and livelihoods program at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “This is an improvement because the forestry, agriculture, conservation and development communities haven’t employed the approach in the past, which is reflected in a lot of the problems smallholders have in trying to improve their livelihoods,” she said in an address at the Global Landscapes Forum on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.

How tree huggers can save forests with science

By Michelle Venter and Michael Bird, The Conversation, 19 November 2013 | One of the ways that it’s possible to make money by leaving forests standing is through the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation program REDD+, which aims to reduce forest carbon emissions in developing countries by paying to preserve to the carbon stored in these forests. But that’s easier said than done. When REDD+ was first framed in 2007, it was heralded as “the most promising opportunity for reducing deforestation, conserving forests and contributing to climate change mitigation”. Now, enthusiasm for the policy has dwindled. The UN program has largely stalled due to stringent Monitoring, Reporting and Verification requirements, that are beyond the capacity of most developing countries.

Forestry Deal Is Key to Protecting the Planet

By Adam Matthews (GLOBE International), The Huffington Post, 19 November 2013 | GLOBE’s report draws on experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico — four out of the six countries with the largest forest cover in the world. While Redd can make a huge positive step toward tackling deforestation, the potentially large international transfers of funds and wide range of stakeholders involved have left the process open to risks of fraud and corruption. And progress towards national legislation, essential for Redd to work in practice has been achingly slow. By channelling more energy into boosting capacity and enabling parliaments to pass national legislation, governments and international institutions could help create the political space for a global forest deal in 2015.

Optimism On REDD, But Finance Hurdle Remains

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 19 November 2013 | Formal REDD+ negotiations will resume here this afternoon to address the critical issue of how to disperse funds to countries that reduce deforestation and forest degradation. On the table are three options. Two of them call for continued engagement under existing institutions, but the third – advocated primarily by Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Coalition of Rainforest Nations – calls for the creation of a new “REDD-plus body” that would act as “the overall advisory body to the Conference of the Parties to improve coherence and coordination in the delivery of financial and technical support for the implementation of the [emission-reduction] activities.”

At climate talks, weighing success of forest preservation scheme

By Manuela Kasper-Claridge, Deutsche Welle, 19 November 2013 | Programs such as REDD+ are meant to create financial incentives to preserve forests. But just how is the success of these programs measured? And how can you determine whether forests are really preserved on the scale that they are promised? “There are knowledge gaps,” Serena Pontoglio, who works for the European Comission in the field of research and innovation, admits. There’s a lack of verifiable data. But that could change with the help of funds from the EU program Horizon2020. Around 35 percent of the funds are earmarked for studies on climate change. Ole Mertz, an agricultural economist and geographer at the University of Copenhagen is already researching what impact REDD has on reducing harmful emissions. “Carbon measurement is very expensive if you want to do it accurately,” the Danish scientist says.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 19 November 2013 | Negotiators face critical decisions on the future of forests during the COP19 climate talks in Warsaw. The formal talks will resume on how to disperse funds for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) projects. Like Goldilocks, participants face three choices, but if they disagree on what is ‘just right’, they could significantly delay a final decision. The first two options call for continued engagement under existing institutions, but the third – advocated primarily by Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Coalition of Rainforest Nations – calls for the creation of a new “REDD-plus body” that would act as “the overall advisory body to the Conference of the Parties to improve coherence and coordination in the delivery of financial and technical support for the implementation of the [emission-reduction] activities.”

COP 19 Warsaw Update: How Secretary Figueres’ Main Objectives Faired in the First Week

By Ben Jervey, Huffington Post, 19 November 2013 | COP 19 is poised to move the mechanism forward by deciding four items: two methodological issues, coordination of finance for REDD+ implementation, and results-based payments. Parties focused on the methodological matters in week one, and by the end of the week had already spent three late nights sequestered in a room hashing out text. However, the COP will not consider these draft decisions unless they form part of a package with decisions on coordination of finance and results-based payments. In week two, parties will abruptly switch gears and start negotiations on financial matters related to the full implementation of REDD+. Finally, a workshop last week discussed adaptation of agriculture to climate change. However, Parties cannot agree whether to negotiate issues related to agriculture here in Warsaw.

Most coal must stay in the ground, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres says

The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 November 2013 | The coal industry needs to change rapidly to help prevent global warming by leaving most of the fuel in the ground and closing the least efficient power plants, the top climate official at the United Nations said. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said fumes from burning the fossil fuel are loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, competing for water resources and harming public health. “Coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake,” Figueres said at a coal industry conference today in the Polish capital, which is also hosting UN global warming talks. “If we continue to meet energy needs as we have in the past, we will overshoot the internationally agreed goal to limit warming to less than 2 degrees celsius.”

Want a climate deal? Rich nations will have to pay up to help poor ones

By Ben Adler, Grist, 19 November 2013 | When the world’s richest countries say — as they did at the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark — that they will contribute $100 billion a year to a Green Climate Fund to help poorer countries reduce emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change, and then they don’t pay in, it erodes trust. And yet, that’s what has happened so far, as John Upton reported in Grist last week. Only $7.5 million has been contributed to the fund’s coffers so far. That’s partly because it’s not fully operational yet; it’s intended to be funded at $100 billion a year starting in 2020. But it’s also because wealthy countries are simply loath to part with the cash. And it’s not even that much money we’re talking about here. Upton noted that $100 billion pales in comparison to the $500 billion that the world’s developed countries spend each year on fossil fuel subsidies.

[Canada] B.C. chops carbon trust, capital commission in first step to save $50 million

By Dene Moore, Brandon Sun, 19 November 2013 | British Columbia’s much-maligned Pacific Carbon Trust will be eliminated and the province’s profitable greenhouse gas offset program brought into the government fold, as the provincial government attempts to slash $50 million to meet the promise of a balanced budget next year. Bill Bennett, the minister responsible for a core review of government services, said Tuesday that winding down the controversial Crown carbon offset agency will trim $5.6 million annually. “I recognize the significance of this change but, again, I want to make it really clear we are committed to carbon neutrality in the public sector and achieving our greenhouse gas emissions targets,” Bennett said. “We have simply found a way to deliver these benefits more efficiently for less money.”

Indonesia should engage green lobby to boost credibility – Edi Suhardi

The Malaysian Insider, 19 November 2013 | Major international NGOs, that is, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth have increased the scale and sophistication in advocating sustainability standards. Their sphere of influence can be traced back to various global forums, such as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WECD) formed in 1993, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1999. Another UN initiative closely associated with the NGO agenda was the UN-REDD programme to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, launched in 2008, followed by REDD+, which includes forest conservation, sustainable forest management and forest carbon stocks enhancement. The NGOs act as the most effective green lobby in Europe, allowing the region to be a showcase for green development. The green lobby helped transform industries and markets to adopt green standards.

[Indonesia] Dirty Money – an interactive documentary

World Development Movement, 19 November 2013 | Watch our online, interactive documentary exploring how UK banks are financing coal mining in Indonesia. Combining photography, video, graphics and voiceover, you can navigate your own way through a range of material exploring the issue. The documentary includes a wide range of interview clips, including indigenous people whose homelands have been destroyed by coal mining, people in the mountains of Java running their own renewable energy projects, finance experts and campaigners. You can also take action and join our campaign by emailing HSBC.

20 November 2013

BioCarbon Fund Launches $280 million Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes

World Bank, 20 November 2013 | Three nations are funding a major new BioCarbon Fund initiative to support forest landscapes. The funding pledge was announced during an event at the United Nations’ climate summit in Warsaw, known as COP19. Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States together committed $280 million – up to $135 million from Norway, $120 million from the U.K, and $25 million from the U.S. – as part of their efforts to slow climate change. The initiative will be managed by the BioCarbon Fund, a public-private program housed within the World Bank that mobilizes finance for activities that sequester or conserve carbon emissions in forest and agricultural systems.

Norway, UK and USA come together to pledge approximately $280 million to sustain the world’s forests

UK Government press release, 20 November 2013 | Key international partners came together today to announce fresh action to protect forests and reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions via the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD +) at COP 19 in Warsaw. Working with the World Bank, the Kingdom of Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States all announced significant resources for a new initiative called ‘BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes’ which is a joint public-private partnership established to help to combat the loss of the world’s forests with the aim to significantly reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation before 2020.

$280m forests initiative launched at UN climate talks in Warsaw

By Fiona Harvey and John Vidal, The Guardian, 20 November 2013 | A new $280m (£173m) initiative to help save the world’s remaining forests was launched by the UK, the US and Norway at the United Nations climate change talks in Warsaw on Wednesday. The money is aimed at encouraging the sustainable use of land, including ensuring that fewer forests are lost to agriculture – the biggest cause of deforestation – and that there is a market for sustainably produced forestry goods, including food, fibre and timber. Norway is earmarking up to $135m, the UK $120 million and the US $25m for the first year. But the contributors to the fund acknowledged that the money was not new, as it came from existing climate aid budgets.

Dutch Platform Turns Landscapes Talk Into REDD Reality

By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, 20 November 2013 | The Netherlands has long been a leader on international environmental issues, and now the Dutch government, together with some of the country’s largest corporations, have shown that all the landscapes talk here in Warsaw doesn’t end with words with the launch of a new public-private partnership model for financing REDD+ projects. The idea for the Platform BEE REDD+ Initiative – BEE stands for Biodiversity, Ecosystems and Economy – emerged from recommendations issued by the country’s Taskforce on Biodiversity and Natural Resources in 2011, one of which was to explore the possibility of REDD+ for the private sector under a platform that included civil society, the government and the private sector.

Rainforest Plan for Forest Carbon Supervisor Stalls in UN

By Alessandro Vitelli, Bloomberg, 20 November 2013 | Discord over forest-protection efforts have emerged regarding whether a new UN panel should be empowered to control the flow of funds into projects to preserve woodlands. The disagreement centers on a proposal by the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, whose 41 members include Argentina, Kenya, Indonesia and Ghana, to set up an advisory body. The group would “improve coherence and coordination in the delivery of financial and technical support for the implementation” of so-called REDD-plus projects. Climate envoys at a United Nations conference in Warsaw have made progress on a way to measure how much carbon pollution is avoided by preventing deforestation and how to calculate baselines against which to measure future savings, according to documents published on the website of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Deforestation causes 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the WWF environmental group.

Warsaw to be known as the forest COP? Climate Change Negotiators on the Cusp of Completing REDD Package

WWF, 20 November 2013 | The following joint statement on the need for collaboration to achieve a REDD+ package was released today by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) at the United Nations global climate change conference now underway in Warsaw, Poland.

Scary Interactive Map Shows Reason For Norway, U.K., And U.S. Announcement On Deforestation Fund

By Ryan Koronowski, Climate Progress, 20 November 2013 | There is financial value in the carbon inside the world’s forests, and some countries announced on Wednesday a new commitment to investing in that value to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway said Wednesday they would allocate $280 million altogether to a new initiative aimed at slowing deforestation. While there remained confusion and disagreement over how the U.N. disperses forest funding, this fund would be administered by the World Bank’s BioCarbon Fund and help implement REDD+, which is an international effort to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. REDD provides financial incentives to developing countries for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, while REDD+ expands that to a promotion of conservation and sustainable forest management in general.

Message to Regulators: Emissions Trading Schemes Can Do Wonders Provided They Have a Strong and Rising Forward Price Curve

By Gareth Phillips, Sindicatum, 20 November 2013 | Twice, multilateral groups have created emission trading schemes – i.e. the Kyoto protocol and EU ETS. In the process, they have created multi-lateral or sovereign commodities – Assigned Amount Units (AAUs) and European Allowances (EAs) – worth billions of dollars. And twice they have presided over a collapse in the value of those units. It’s a market, they say, and the market sets the price. But this misses the point that the supply of the commodity is artificial, created by the authorities that created the system. And since they designed it, the supply of allowances could be changed by those same authorities. Instead, regulators seem to think that the key deliverable is reduced emissions and if emissions are going down, all’s well. But it’s not.

Scientists move quickly on recognition of peatlands and mangroves

By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 November 2013 | With tropical peatlands and mangroves finally being recognized globally as vital in the fight against climate change, scientists are wasting no time in urging governments to develop national guidelines for measuring, verifying and reporting (MRV) of carbon stocks and emissions in these ecosystems. A month before U.N. climate talks began in Warsaw, Poland, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) executive committee adopted and accepted the so-called Wetlands Supplement in Batumi, Georgia. This decision paves the way for developing countries to integrate protection of tropical peatlands and mangroves into their climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

UN Secretary-General Stresses Importance of Climate Finance

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 20 November 2013 | Addressing a ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has underscored the importance of climate finance for addressing climate change, saying it can both fuel confidence in the negotiations and scale up action on the ground. In turn, a new climate agreement by 2015 will “do more than anything else to unlock the huge investment necessary” for adaptation and mitigation. Speaking on 20 November 2013, Ban stressed the need to break down barriers to sustainable investment – including perverse subsidies, unpredictability of national climate policies, and budget constraints – and outlined three areas for action on climate finance: public finance; private finance; and operationalizing the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was established recently and is guided by the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP).

A Conversation With: British Climate Economist Lord Nicholas Stern

By Betwa Sharma, New York Times, 20 November 2013 | We have to recognize that two-thirds of the investments in the world and more than half of the output are in emerging markets of developing countries. Actually, we should celebrate that too. But what that also tells us that it will be completely impossible for us to reduce world emissions and reduce them dramatically unless everyone is involved. We can’t reduce emissions by leaving out countries with two-thirds of investments and more than half of output. Simply mathematically, it will not add up. That’s not to take a political or economic position; it is simply to observe that we all have to be involved to reduce our emissions from 50 billion tons a year now to below 20 in 2050, if we are to have any reasonable chance at controlling the temperature at 2 degrees Celsius.

Coal Seen as New Tobacco Sparking Investor Backlash: Commodities

By Jesse Riseborough & Thomas Biesheuvel, Bloomberg, 20 November 2013 | About $8 trillion of known coal reserves lie beneath the earth’s surface. The companies planning to mine and burn them are being targeted by a growing group of investors concerned with the greenhouse gases that will be made. Storebrand ASA (STB), which manages $74 billion of assets from Norway, sold out of 24 coal and oil-sands companies since July including Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU), the largest U.S. coal producer, citing a desire to cut fossil-fuel industry holdings. This month Norway’s opposition Labour Party proposed banning the country’s $800 billion sovereign wealth fund from coal investments. “Maybe we’ve hit some kind of nerve in the debate,” Christine Torklep Meisingset, Storebrand’s head of sustainable investments in Oslo, said by telephone. “Hopefully, other investors will be acting along the same lines. There could be an interesting parallel to tobacco.”

How Much Hot Air do the UN Climate Treaty Talks Produce?

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 20 November 2013 | Diplomats fly, drive or otherwise fling themselves hundreds or thousands of miles to United Nations climate treaty talks every year. As they converge on Warsaw this week, with attendant nongovernmental organizations and journalists, it’s worth considering just how much pollution they create in the name of cutting pollution. “In the grand scheme of things, the emissions of the conference aren’t very big,” said Alden Meyer, director of policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But as a symbolic gesture, it’s important to offset them.” The Polish organizers said they don’t have a calculation for the carbon footprint of the conference, which ends Nov. 22. Their eco-friendly activities include recycling all banners into bags, donating conference furniture to charity and planting 9,000 trees. The delegates also enjoy free use of public transport, rather than using shuttle buses provided by the organizers.

[Canada] Core review kills off Pacific Carbon Trust

By Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, 20 November 2013 | The provincial government will eliminate the controversial Pacific Carbon Trust and move its functions into the Ministry of Environment to save $5.6 million a year, Bill Bennett, minister in charge of the cost-cutting core review, announced Tuesday. Staff will be reduced to five from the trust’s existing workforce of 18, operations will be moved into the Ministry of Environment’s climate action secretariat and the trust’s work will shift to “quite a different” – and smaller – set of tasks, says Environment Minister Mary Polak. “It really does reflect the change from an organization that was developing a brand new market and brand new business line,” Polak said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning.

Pakistan can earn $4b by selling forest carbon

By Usman Cheema, The Nation, 20 November 2013 | In a highly inspiring national consultative meeting held at FAO office Islamabad it was told that Pakistan can earn from $400m up to 4 billion per year by sale of carbon stored in forests every year. Meeting that was headed by Qazi Azmat Isa, Chief Executive, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Programme and attended by the highest level secretaries of the provinces, a consensus was finally reached on the Readiness Proposal document. Also present on the occasion was David Doolan, FAO representative. A new mechanism that was introduced by FAO was approved. The new mechanism called REDD+ offers cash rewards to developing countries that save forests and then pays them for the carbon stored in wood. The REDD+ mechanism has standards and procedures to ensure forest safety.

21 November 2013

US, UK, Norway Launch Next-Stage REDD Finance Mechanism Under UNFCCC

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 21 November 2013 | Edward Davey knows where the trees are being chopped, and he believes he has a solution. “We know that we can begin to address 87% of the world’s remaining deforestation with support and action in 10 countries,” he said on Wednesday. “And we know that consumer goods companies with over $3 trillion in annual sales are getting behind the Tropical Forest Alliance in an effort to remove deforestation from their supply chains.” As the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, he’d like to bridge that problem with that solution, and on Wednesday he announced a new funding mechanism to provide targeted support for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus pro-forest activities) to individual states within larger forest countries and to countries that are small enough that the money can do some good.

The REDD Finance Roundtable: A Quick Chat With EDF, WWF, and UCN

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 21 November 2013 | Shortly after the US, UK, and Norway unveiled their trilateral Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes on Wednesday, we sat down with Pipa Elias of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Chris Meyer of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and former Mexican negotiator Josefina Brana-Varela, currently of WWF (World Wildlife Fund). It was our last face-to-face with Josefina before WWF joined 12 other NGOs in leaving the talks, and began as an informal catch-up session on REDD finance. The conversation flowed so freely, however, and touched so simply on so many complex issues, that we decided to transcribe it, tighten it a bit, and post it here as a Q&A. Some of the issues may have been overtaken by events since we had our chat, but it’s still an enlightening discussion.

Warming seen worse as nations fail to meet carbon goals

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 21 November 2013 | The world is getting further off track in limiting global warming with setbacks in Japan and Australia outweighing positive signals from the United States and China, a study showed on Wednesday. A Climate Action Tracker compiled by scientists said the world was headed for a temperature rise of 3.7 degrees Celsius (6.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times by 2100, against 3.1C (5.8F) if governments stuck to promised cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Governments meeting in Warsaw from November 11-22 are trying to find ways to limit global warming to an agreed ceiling of less than 2.0C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels to avert more heatwaves, droughts, downpours and rising sea levels. “We are seeing a major risk of a further downward spiral in ambition, a retreat from action, and a re-carbonization of the energy system led by the use of coal,” said Bill Hare, director of Climate Analytics.

U.N. climate talks shun carbon budget shareout as too radical

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 21 November 2013 | The IPCC estimated the total cumulative budget could not exceed a trillion tonnes to allow a good chance of keeping a rise in temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) in order to avoid ever more frequent and intense heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels. Once in the atmosphere, many greenhouse gases remain there for decades or even centuries, and on current trends of rising emissions, the trillion tonnes will be reached in a few decades. But now, at the first meeting since Stockholm working on the outlines of a U.N. deal to slow global warming due to be agreed in 2015, the budget has barely been mentioned. Myles Allen, of Oxford University, said the implications were just too radical for governments already struggling to cut emissions.

Polluters talk, we walk

Friends of the Earth Europe, 21 November 2013 | One day before the scheduled conclusion of the international climate talks in Warsaw, hundreds of climate activists – including Friends of the Earth – have walked out in protest at the lack of ambition at the talks, and in solidarity with people affected by climate change. The walkout included social movements, trade unions and major environmental, development and youth groups, such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Action Aid and the International Trade Union Confederation, as well as many others. Together they represent millions of people who demand real climate action. The delegates who walked-out wore t-shirts with the slogan ‘polluters talk, we walk’ to signify the toxic influence of dirty energy corporations on the climate talks and the positions of many national governments.

Environment Groups Walk Out Of Warsaw COP19 Climate Change Talks

By Graham Readfearn, DeSmogBlog, 21 November 2013 | Leading global environment and civil society groups have dramatically walked out of the United Nations COP19 climate change talks in Warsaw in an unprecedented move in UNFCCC conference history. The talks in Warsaw have been dogged by uncertainty and a lack of progress, with campaign groups complaining daily of blocking tactics and buck-passing by many governments. Groups including Greenpeace International, WWF, Oxfam International, ActionAid International, Friends of the Earth Europe and the International Trade Union Confederation joined the walkout. Losing patience with the Warsaw talks, the groups accused governments of putting the interests of the “dirty energy lobby” first and of failing to address a global “climate crisis”.

China Clashes With U.S., EU on Roles in New Climate Deal

By Alex Morales & Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 21 November 2013 | China clashed with the U.S. and European Union over the commitments each should take in a new climate change agreement that envoys aim to reach by 2015. The deal should operate under rules dating back to 1992 that set a clear division between the obligations of industrial and developing nations, Chinese Environment Minister Xie Zhenhua told delegates at United Nations climate talks in Warsaw. The U.S. and EU want to step away from that division. “An agreement based on 1992 categories that are unchanging will not work,” U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern told delegates today. “We have advocated a structure for the new agreement that is designed to attract the participation of all countries.” His view was backed by European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

Warsaw’s widening climate chasm could lead to 4C warming

By Graham Readfearn, The Guardian, 21 November 2013 | There’s a gap that’s getting wider in the global climate talks taking place in Warsaw between the near unanimous pledge to keep global warming below 2C and the ability of current policies to achieve the goal. When I say gap, I really mean a chasm. And when I say chasm, I mean a huge, gaping, canyon-like hole big enough to either eat a planet or at least lose an Earth or a carbon dioxide swamped Venus down there for a while. The 19th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP19) meeting has just two days left to run in Poland. Some scientists yesterday delivered a sobering assessment of what was meant to be slow but definite progress.

Ethiopia cited for having Africa’s large-scale carbon trading forestry project

News Afrique Informations, 21 November 2013 | The Humbo project, located 342 kilometres south of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, has been cited as being Africa’s first large-scale carbon trading forestry project developed under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The pilot project being implemented by World Vision Australia and the Ethiopian government, including other partners, sought to re-establish 2,728 hectares of bio-diverse native forest to mitigate climate change in a country where over exploitation of forest resources has left less than 3 percent of Ethiopia’s native forests remaining. Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Poland, Tim Morris, the World Vision Australia manager for food security and climate change, said Friday that before the community driven project was implemented, deforestation in the region had led to severe soil erosion.

[Indonesia] House demands transparency in REDD budget

By Nadya Natahadibrata, The Jakarta Post, 21 November 2013 | A member of the House of Representatives’ (DPR) Budgetary Committee has said that the government’s agency responsible for managing foreign aid to protect the forests must be held accountable by the public. Satya Yudha, a lawmaker from the Golkar Party, said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s REDD+ task force had never published an accountability report until it was disbanded in June and replaced by the new REDD+ agency. “The REDD+ agency is an agency that we have longed for. However, it has to be transparent. They have to report their budget to the House. This agency’s budget should be included within the state budget, even though it receives its funds from Norway,” Satya said recently. The Norwegian government has agreed to provide US$1 billion aid package, in gradual installments, to reduce emissions from deforestation of forests and peatlands.

22 November 2013

UN agrees multi-billion dollar framework to tackle deforestation

By Stian Reklev, Reuters, 22 November 2013 | U.N. negotiators on Friday agreed rules on financing forest projects in developing nations, paving the way for multi-billion dollar investments from governments, funding agencies and private firms in schemes to halt deforestation. The agreement on “results-based” funding for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) was a rare breakthrough at the climate talks in Warsaw, where negotiators are struggling to make progress in discussions on emissions cuts and climate change aid. The deal was “another big step forward”, said Ed Davey, the British minister for energy and climate change. Under the new rules, the fledgling Green Climate Fund will play a key role in channelling finance for projects to host governments, who in turn must set up national agencies to oversee the money.

UN climate talks reach deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation

Xinhua, 22 November 2013 | Governments at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw on Friday agreed a set of decisions on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and the degradation of forests. The agreement on the so-called REDD+ initiative is backed by pledges of 280 million dollars in financing from the U.S., Norway and Britain, according to a statement released by the Conference. “I am proud of this concrete accomplishment. We are all aware of the central role that forests play as carbon sinks, climate stabilizers and biodiversity havens,” President of the conference Marcin Korolec said. Korolec hailed the deal as “a significant contribution to forest preservation and sustainable use which will benefit the people who live in and around them and humanity and the planet as a whole.”

‘Signature’ achievement on forests at UN climate talks

By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 22 November 2013 | Nations meeting in Warsaw at UN talks have agreed a significant step forward towards curbing emissions from deforestation. A package of measures has been agreed here that will give “results-based” payments to developing nations that cut carbon by leaving trees standing. One observer told the BBC that this was the “signature achievement” of these talks… According to Paul Bledsoe, an energy research fellow at the German Marshall Fund, who is attending the talks, it is a significant step. “The ministers have been working for almost 10 years to finalise the rules which will allow donors to invest in forest management practices in the developing world and get a way to verify the emissions reductions,” he said. “I think this agreement allowing for investments in forests in developing countries is probably the signature achievement of these talks.”

COP19: RoadFree Initiative challenges REDD to keep roads out of intact forests

RoadFree Initiative, 22 November 2013 | While REDD+ negotiations achieved a breakthrough at the COP19 in Warsaw, scientists and policy makers gathered at the RoadFree side event to demonstrate that forest protection can be more effective by prioritizing REDD+ funding towards roadfree forests… Michael Bucki, from the European Commission DG-Climate commented ” The EU welcomes the breakthrough on REDD+. Parties have adopted a package of seven decisions that outline a workable architecture for REDD+, from monitoring to finance, from coordination to socio-economic safeguards. This could set a blueprint and a precedent for more sustainable use of land. Roadfree forests underline the necessary trade-offs and synergies between REDD+ and rural development. As the Environment Minister of Norway put it, REDD+ shall not be an alternative to development, it helps a choice towards alternative, more sustainable development pathways.”

COP Makes It Official Complete REDD Package Adopted In Warsaw

Ecosystem Marketplace, 22 November 2013 | Seven long years after it was placed on the agenda of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), REDD+ is now a functioning, formal mechanism with agreed-on rules for establishing reference levels, recognizing mitigation activities, creating institutions, ensuring safeguards, and – above all – creating performance-based financing mechanisms. The finance section had been the sticking point all week, with the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, led by Papua New Guinea (PNG), pushing for all finance to be placed under a new REDD+ Committee. That provision was finally removed by the chair yesterday afternoon, and PNG did not object. The final text was released this morning and approved by all parties.

REDD program to cut deforestation gets final approval in Warsaw

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 22 November 2013 | Negotiators in Warsaw have reached formal agreement on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), a program that aims to compensate tropical countries for protecting their forests. After seven years of discussions, countries approved the final REDD+ text on Friday. The document includes provisions on safeguards; addressing drivers of deforestation like conversion for plantations; measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) of forest-related emissions; reference levels for measuring reductions in emissions from deforestation; and finance. Ecosystem Marketplace, an information clearinghouse on payments for ecosystem services programs, said the document opens up “financing of all phases of REDD implementation – from readiness and capacity-building, through piloting, and to payments for performance.”

Quick, get on eBay – nature’s for sale!

By Hannah Griffiths, New Internationalist, 22 November 2013 | The problems with REDD are numerous and complicated. They include the fact that deforesters can just move elsewhere to a different forest, or a different part of the same forest. There are problems with measuring how much carbon is stored, problems with predicting what would have happened to the trees in the absence of REDD, and problems associated with ‘conservation’ versus the rights of indigenous peoples to sustainably use the forests. And of course, there are questions about how to finance all of this. One idea is to use carbon markets to finance REDD – polluters could buy some ‘carbon credits’ from communities or countries that do not cut down their forests. But the carbon market is another example of a failed ‘valuing nature’ scheme: it has not significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

UK to buy 50 mln stg of UN carbon credits to help poor countries

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 22 November 2013 | The British government said it would buy 50 million pounds ($80.7 million) of U.N. carbon credits and cancel them as a way to help fund development and curb greenhouse gas emissions in poor countries. The government’s Carbon Market Finance initiative will buy and cancel Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), which are issued to projects in emerging markets that generate energy from biogas, solar panels and small hydropower units. The projects would be registered under the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which has channelled more than $315 billion to carbon-cutting projects in developing countries by allowing investors to earn credits that they can sell for use in helping meet emission targets abroad. Investment under the scheme has dried up as nations wrangle over setting new emission reduction goals under a global U.N. deal. Prices of the credits have crashed to less than 50 cents from over 20 euros five years ago…

23 November 2013

Climate talks: Outcome on REDD reached at Warsaw UN Climate talks

News Afrique Informations, 23 November 2013 | Negotiators at the UN Climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, have agreed on the rules on financing forest protection in developing nations, a breakthrough in the negotiations scheduled to end Friday. The mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) which puts sustainable finance and strong safeguards in front was reached here Friday and the framework on the mechanism will be formally adopted before the talks conclude on Friday. Negotiators are still locked up in meetings to try and agree on other key issues. Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace, on Friday expressed disappointment that Japan is lowering its emission target while Australia was rolling back its climate legislation and Brazil reporting a 28 percent increase of its deforestation rate. “The complete failure of rich countries to deliver on existing promises on long-term finance is putting the most vulnerable people at risk,” he stated.

Forest Protection Plan Settled at UN Climate Talks

By Alessandro Vitelli, Bloomberg, 23 November 2013 | Climate envoys from about 190 nations agreed on a deal that will channel funds to developing countries to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by preventing deforestation. A decision establishing rules for the mechanism, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD-plus, was approved at a plenary session at United Nations-organized climate talks in Warsaw last night. Nations have been discussing a REDD-plus mechanism since 2005. Countries have targeted deforestation as a major source of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed for causing global warming. Clearing trees to make room for agricultural activity, such as cattle ranching or palm-oil production, is a major source of forest loss, which causes 15 percent of global emissions, according to the WWF environmental group.

UN Negotiators Agree to Modest Emissions Deal

Voice of America, 23 November 2013 | United Nations negotiators have avoided a last-minute collapse of climate talks in Warsaw, approving a modest agreement that clears the way for a 2015 pact to fight global warming. After two weeks of negotiations at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, delegates from more than 190 countries Saturday agreed on a deal apportioning targets for carbon emissions cuts between rich and poor nations. The deal also covers funding for countries vulnerable to climate change impacts. The talks carried over into an extra day and only moved forward after negotiators replaced the word “commitments” in the text with the word “contributions.” China and India said the word change could give them wider latitude when proposing emissions targets.

[Mongolia] UN REDD Program to assist national forest monitoring

By M Zoljargal, UBPost News, 23 November 2013 | “Developing countries across the world are joining under The United Nations Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD Program) to implement REDD-based strategies and activities to protect the health of the locals. Mongolia joined the initiative in 2011. To receive financial aid from the program, the Ministry of Environment and Green Development (MEGD) introduced a plan to adopt a national forest monitoring system.” B.Otgonsuren, Regulatory Division on Forest Protection of MEGD, gave a some details about the program… What is required for Mongolia to receive the financing? “It will solely depend on how well we formulate our plan and project. First of all, we need to complete our project design and preparatory operations. After that, we will be one step closer to receive the financing.”

24 November 2013

Countries agree on rules to cut down pollution from deforestation

By Nicedita Khandekar, Hindustan Times, 24 November 2013 | Almost eight years after the idea was first mooted, climate change negotiators have thrashed out an agreement of a deal to channelise funds – necessarily for developing countries – to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests. The agreement on what is popularly called the REDD+ initiative – reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – now comes with the backing of pledges of $280 million in financing from the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom. The decision to establish the rules for this mechanism was taken late last night at the Conference of Parties (COP19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). India is not a beneficiary country, but neighbouring Bangladesh is a partner country to the United Nations REDD programme.

UN talks limp towards global 2015 climate deal

By Stian Reklev and Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 24 November 2013 | Almost 200 countries on Saturday kept alive hopes for a global deal in 2015 to fight climate change after overcoming disputes on greenhouse gas emissions cuts and aid for poor nations at a meeting widely criticised as lacking urgency. Governments agreed in Poland that a new deal in 2015 would consist of a patchwork of national contributions to curb emissions that could blur a 20-year-old distinction between the obligations of rich and poor nations. The two-week meeting also created a Warsaw International Mechanism to help the poor cope with loss and damage from heatwaves, droughts, floods, desertification and rising sea levels – although rich nations refused to pledge new cash. Many said Warsaw had fallen short of what was needed.

Key points of the Warsaw consensus

AFP, 24 November 2013 | UN climate negotiators reached agreement in Warsaw on Saturday on cornerstone elements for the road to a new 2015 deal to curb global warming. Here are the main points: Road to Paris – Countries reaffirmed the core principle that the deal will be “applicable to all” 195 parties to the UN climate convention – with no differentiation between rich and poor nations as under the pact’s predecessor the Kyoto Protocol. – Parties should volunteer targets for curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions “well in advance” of a Paris conference where the deal must be inked in two years’ time. – Those “ready” to do so, must announce their contributions by the first quarter of 2015. – A draft negotiating text must be ready by next year’s round of talks in Lima, Peru. – In the runup to 2020, when the new pact must enter into force, countries are “urged” to do what they can to reduce emissions.

Fraught UN talks reach climate deal consensus

AFP, 24 November 2013 | UN negotiators agreed in fraught overtime talks Saturday on cornerstone issues of an ambitious, global climate pact to stave off dangerous Earth warming. While sleep-deprived delegates congratulated themselves on the outcome, which followed 36 hours of non-stop haggling at the end of a fortnight of talks, observers and climate-vulnerable nations said there was not much to be happy about. “Just in the nick of time, the negotiators in Warsaw delivered enough to keep the process moving,” said climate analyst Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute. But climate economist Nicholas Stern warned that “the actions that have been agreed are simply inadequate when compared with the scale and urgency of the risks that the world faces from rising levels of greenhouse gases, and the dangers of irreversible impacts.”

Warsaw climate talks end with compromise

Deutsche Welle, 24 November 2013 | At the end, everything hung on one word. Developing countries wanted to exclude the word “under” from the climate conference’s final report. Countries like the Philippines and Bangladesh did not want to accept that the new international “loss and damage mechanism,” created in Warsaw to deal with weather disasters made worse by climate change, would be established “under” an existing framework for countries to adapt to the effects of climate change. “We must move beyond this word,” said the delegate from Fiji, speaking on behalf of all the developing and emerging nations.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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