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REDD in the news: 6-12 January 2014

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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.

UNCCD Newsletter Highlights Links between Land Degradation and Climate Change

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), January 2014 | In its quarterly newsletter, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) presents an editorial from and an interview with newly appointed UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut, who stresses the link between reducing land degradation and increasing capacity for climate change adaptation. To highlight this link, the newsletter describes how an ecosystem-based approach to adaptation should include sustainable land management, for example through the rehabilitation of wetlands and conservation of forests. It also describes the importance of investment in climate-smart agriculture, which increases agricultural productivity, builds resilience to climate change and reduces emissions where possible. The UNCCD will be dedicating the 2014 celebration of World Day to Combat Desertification, on 17 June 2014, to ecosystem-based adaptation under the slogan, ‘Land Belongs to the Future, Let’s Climate Proof It.’

6 January 2014

Can Green Replace Gold When it Comes to REDD?

By Justin Catanoso, National Geographic, 6 January 2014 | In talking with [Chris] Meyer [of EDF] in mid-November before he left for Warsaw, he used Peru as an example of how this might work: “Illegal gold mining is contributing to Peru losing a half-percent of its forests each year. Let’s say they send out rangers to cut back on that mining and reduce deforestation to one-tenth of 1 percent. That difference amounts to Peru’s commitment to REDD. It can then register the amount of forest saved and sell it in the future as a carbon offset to a developed country.” … “One of the most important things that could happen this year on the demand side,” Meyer said, “would be for the California system of emissions trading to consider new rules to allow international REDD offsets into their system.

UN-REDD Explores Transparency and Accountability in REDD

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 6 January 2014 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (UN-REDD) released a report on ‘Sharing National Experiences in Strengthening Transparency, Accountability, and Integrity for REDD+.’ The publication features examples from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Nepal and the Philippines. In Kenya, the report notes the outcomes of targeted support to conduct a corruption risk assessment for REDD+ to address historical corruption issues within forest sector governance. The assessment, according to the report, identifies four areas of corruption risk: mismanagement of REDD+ revenues; biased monitoring and reporting of REDD+ results; erosion of respect for free, prior and informed consent; the rights of local communities; and corruption within non-governmental organizations.

At last! Brazil begins long-awaited operation to save Earth’s most threatened tribe

Survival International, 6 January 2014 | After months of campaigning by Survival International, Brazil’s government has launched a major ground operation to evict illegal invaders from the land of the Awá, Earth’s most threatened tribe. Soldiers, field workers from Brazil’s indigenous affairs department FUNAI, Environment Ministry special agents and police officers are being dispatched to notify and remove the illegal settlers, ranchers and loggers – many of whom are heavily armed – from the Awá indigenous territory in the North-Eastern Brazilian Amazon. The operation comes at a crucial time as loggers are closing in on the tribe and more than 30% of the forest has already been destroyed. In June 2013 Brazil’s military launched a ground operation against illegal logging around the land of the Awá. The forces closed down at least eight saw mills and confiscated and destroyed other machinery, but they did not remove the loggers and ranchers from inside the Indians’ land.

[UK] £3.2m carbon credit scam firms ordered into insolvency

By Charlotte Malone, Blue and Green Tomorrow, 6 January 2014 | Three firms that were involved in a £3.2m scam selling carbon credits to retail investors have been ordered into insolvency by the High Court. Global Carbon Brokering supplied carbon credits to Global Neutral, which then marketed them to the public at inflated prices, according to the Insolvency Service. Another carbon credit supplier, Future Carbon, was also wound up on the grounds of public interest. All the companies were linked with World Future, a company that raised £2.5m by selling carbon credits in a misleading way. Chris Mayhew, company investigations supervisor at the Insolvency Service, said, “This blow formally brings an end to a thoroughly disreputable group of companies selling carbon credits to the public by false and misleading statements.

World Bank unit to buy carbon credits from Vietnam hydro plants

International Water Power, 6 January 2014 | The World Bank’s Carbon Partnership Facility (CPF) has agreed to purchase carbon credits generated through small hydropower developments in Vietnam under the Renewable Energy Development Project (REDP). The Government of Vietnam and CPF signed the agreement – the first between the two parties – in late December. Under the terms of the deal, the CPF, with Sweden, Norway and Spain as Buyer Participants, will buy the first three million metric tons of carbon credits generated through small hydro plants under REDP, creating a revenue stream for the projects. “This is a good example of how a climate finance program can demonstrate the synergies between climate change mitigation and renewable energy development,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “Carbon credits will help create a revenue stream that enhances the financial attractiveness of private investments in renewable energy…”

7 January 2014

[Australia] Coalition might penalise polluters: Hunt

By Joanna Heath, Financial Review, 7 January 2014 | The Abbott government could penalise big polluters if their carbon emissions breach historical baselines, so long as no revenue is raised as a result, Environment Minister Greg Hunt says. One method being considered in the Coalition’s $1.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund is to require companies to buy carbon credits as an offset. Mr Hunt said the government was still considering how best the scheme might work in its full form, and did not rule out some form of penalty. “In preparing the white paper the government will consider options to ensure compliance without raising revenue,” he said through a ­spokesman. “No revenue is sought nor will any be budgeted by the government.” A discussion or green paper into the scheme published shortly before Christmas does not give specifics on penalties, apart from discussing the possibility of “flexible compliance arrangements”.

Brazil’s Amazon conservation project threatened by loggers and landowners

By Sue Branford, The Guardian, 7 January 2014 | Every year scientists come up with evidence showing the importance of the Amazon forest in regulating global climate. Yet, after declining for several years, Amazon deforestation increased by 28% from August 2012 to July 2013, with 5,843 sq km (2,255 sq miles) being felled.

Big four EU economies seek tougher cuts in gas emissions

By Christian Oliver, Financial Times, 7 January 2014 | Europe’s four biggest economies are calling on the EU to set what they call an ambitious target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, seeking a binding cut of at least 40 per cent from 1990 levels. The call from Germany, Britain, France and Italy will reinvigorate a debate on Europe’s climate and energy policy just as the European Commission prepares to propose new 2030 targets for emissions reductions and the use of renewable energy on January 22.

Big industry will quit Germany if green energy costs rise -minister

By Tom Körkemeier, Reuters, 7 January 2014 | Germany’s will risk losing its big industries unless they are sheltered from the cost burden of renewable energy, its economy minister said while restating his commitment to a shift to low carbon fuel. In December, the European Commission, the EU executive, announced it would investigate Germany’s management of subsidies and the discounts given to heavy industry on renewable energy surcharges. That has raised fears within industry that its costs will rise, when it is already struggling to compete. The enquiry has also alarmed environmentalists, who say Germany’s shift towards renewable energy is in danger. “We must ensure in Germany that energy-intensive industry remains unburdened by the EEG law (Germany’s renewable energy law),” Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters during a trip to Brussels to meet Commission officials.

[Indonesia] Company accused of logging endangered rainforest trees in breach of timber legality certificate

By Diana Parker, mongabay.com, 7 January 2014 | An Indonesian wood supplier that was recently certified under the country’s legal timber verification scheme has been clearing natural forests – including stands of endangered ramin trees – and draining peat swamps on its concession, alleges a local environmental watchdog. The company, the group says, is also implicated in corruption linked to its concession permit. The organization is calling for the company’s legal timber certification to be revoked and urging auditors not to issue legality certificates to companies involved in corruption. According to an investigation by the Forest Rescue Network Riau (Jikalahari), PT Triomas FDI cleared a total of 2,500 hectares of natural forest between May and October last year. The company, which operates an industrial forest plantation of eucalyptus and acacia trees in Sumatra’s Riau province, is a wood supplier for the pulp and paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL).

[Peru] Climate prediction tools show role of oceans in Amazon drought

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 January 2014 | The best place to look for clues about potential drought in the Amazon forests of Peru is on the other side of South America, off the shores of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean, according to scientists. During the past 10 years, rising sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic have corresponded with lower-than-normal precipitation in the western Amazon, enabling scientists to predict droughts about three months ahead of the July-to-September dry season. That knowledge can provide enough advance warning for farmers and local government officials to take steps to prevent wildfires and avoid serious damage to forests, property and crops, said scientists working with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Rwanda: Market for Carbon Credits Remains High, Says REMA

By Ivan R. Mugisha, The New Times, 7 January 2014 | Planting trees may seem like a pastime activity during community work (Umuganda) or other events, but the reality is that, it can now earn individuals and the government money, according to Rwanda Environment Management Authority (Rema). Through what is known as the carbon market, credits can be earned through reforesting a certain area, which credits can be sold to a major air polluter like a factory or an airline in order to offset their emissions by reinvesting in more tree planting projects… “Currently, Rwanda has 23 carbon market projects registered with Rema. Among them, 18 have been granted letters of approval while six are registered at international level by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” Dr Rose Mukankomeje, the director-general of Rema, said in an interview.

8 January 2014

Geoengineering plan could have ‘unintended’ side effect

By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 8 January 2014 | Attempts to reverse the impacts of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere could make matters worse, say researchers. A new study suggests the idea, seen as a last-ditch way to deal with runaway climate change, could cut rainfall in the tropics by 30%. This would have devastating impacts on rainforests in South America and Asia. The research has been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The concept of curbing rising temperatures by blocking sunlight has been discussed by scientists for many years now.

Brazil Repeals Forest Code and Deforestation Accelerates

By Rebecca Purdom and Kelly Nokes, Environmental Protection, 8 January 2014 | In 2014, constitutional challenges to Brazil’s dismantled Forest Code will determine if wholesale destruction of the earth’s largest forest complexes¾and important carbon sinks¾will continue. These rulings may herald a return of Brazil’s environmental policy that for decades attempted to protect the largest tropical forests in the world. Brazil’s iconic Amazon forest provides an essential natural defense against global warming by capturing world-wide carbon dioxide emissions. Once dubbed the “lungs of the earth” by Vice President and climate change activist Albert Gore, and perpetually under attack by illegal logging and a host of other concerns, Brazil’s forests have benefitted from regulations that recognized the importance of protecting the world’s largest equatorial forest.

[Canada] Emissions will soar after 2020 without oil-sector regulation, federal report says

By Shawn McCarthy, The Globe and Mail, 8 January 2014 | Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions will rise sharply after 2020 unless there are dramatic efforts to rein in emissions from the oil and gas sector, the Harper government indicates in a new report to the United Nations. The document was submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in late December with no announcement or press release. As it was being filed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper signalled his government was delaying for as long as two years the release of long-promised regulations to reduce emissions from the booming oil-sands sector.

China on world’s ‘biggest push’ for wind power

By David Shukman, BBC News, 8 January 2014 | China has embarked on the greatest push for renewable energy the world has ever seen. A key element involves more than doubling the number of wind turbines in the next six years. Already the world’s largest producer of wind power, China plans further massive increases. From a current installed capacity of 75 gigawatts (GW), the aim is to achieve a staggering 200GW by 2020. By contrast, the European Union countries together have just over 90GW of installed wind capacity. The far western province of Xinjiang is one of seven areas designated for wind development.

China’s state utilities move on preferential rules in carbon offset market

By Stian Reklev and Kathy Chen, Reuters, 8 January 2014 | China’s large state-owned power firms have taken the lead in the country’s nascent carbon offset market, leveraging preferential procedures to cut the cost of complying with new rules capping greenhouse gas emissions. The central government will issue offsets, known as Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions (CCERs), under a new programme to reward projects that can prove they cut carbon emissions. Companies covered by China’s five recently launched emissions trading schemes can use CCERs to cover 5 percent to 10 percent of their emissions, making for an attractive low-cost compliance option. But China’s state-owned enterprises get preferential treatment as they can apply directly to the central government for eligibility, while private firms face a time-consuming process to get approval from regional authorities before they can turn to Beijing.

Europe strengthens its carbon market for a competitive low-carbon economy

By Connie Hedegaard, European Commission, 8 January 2014 | The European Commission welcomes today’s vote by EU governments gathered in the Climate Change Committee to postpone the sale of 900 million carbon allowances in the 3rd phase of the EU’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) which runs up to 2020. This marks a key step in restoring the short term balance in the European carbon market and sets the stage for the proposal of a further structural measure shortly. Connie Hedegaard said: “Back-loading is now a reality, and the Commission hopes that the first allowances can be back-loaded very soon. But while back-loading will help stabilise the carbon market in the coming years, we must also tackle the more structural challenges. The Commission will address these when it proposes the 2030 climate and energy framework later this month.”

EU makes carbon pollution more expensive

By Juergen Baetz, Associated Press, 8 January 2014 | It will become more expensive for businesses in the European Union to burn fossil fuels this year after the 28-country bloc decided Wednesday to beef up its carbon trading system. The agreement ended a year of bickering over how to amend what is Europe’s prime tool in the fight against climate change and the world’s biggest emission trading system. Under the cap-and-trade scheme, companies pay per ton of carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere, with the pollution certificates traded on the market. The EU now decided to postpone the sale of 900 million additional carbon allowances — a move that will tighten supply and likely drive up prices of carbon allowances by 10 to 15 percent, according to analysts. The tightening of the market is set to take effect this spring, EU Commission spokesman Isaac Valero said.

Indonesian indigenous groups fight climate change with GPS mapping

IRIN Asia, 8 January 2014 | Indigenous communities in Indonesia are using GPS technology to demarcate the boundaries of their ancestral lands, a move many believe could also help mitigate the negative effects of climate change. “Community mapmaking has been a successful tool to show the government that we are here, and that we want to protect our lands,” said Rukka Sombolinggi, a spokesperson for the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), a Jakarta-based secretariat representing more than 2,000 indigenous communities… More than 600 cases for land rights have been filed in Indonesian courts by indigenous communities in the past three years, according to the Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education), based in the Philippines.

Indonesia’s new forest agency head expected to speed reform

By Amantha Perera, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 8 January 2014 | On Dec. 20, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appointed Heru Prasetyo – a former management consultant – to lead the agency, which was set up in September. The body to implement the U.N. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme is a key part of Indonesia’s plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2020, and is backed by a Norwegian aid pledge of $1 billion. Prasetyo also served as secretary to Indonesia’s REDD+ Task Force, a precursor to the new agency, of which he is the first head. “We will now have $170 million available from the Norwegian funding to carry out work in the next two to three years,” Prasetyo told Thomson Reuters Foundation. The agency will look at urgent reforms to the ownership and usage of Indonesia’s forests, he added.

9 January 2014

In precedent-setting case, palm oil company fined $30M for destroying orangutan forest

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 9 January 2014 | In a precedent-setting case, an Indonesian court has found a palm oil company guilty of violating environmental laws and ordered it to pay $30 million in fines and reparations for clearing an area of protected peat forest that is a stronghold for endangered orangutans in Indonesia’s Aceh Province. In a ruling handed down Wednesday, the Meulaboh district court concluded that PT Kallista Alam illegally cleared and burned forest within the the protected Tripa peat swamp in northwestern Sumatra. Senior Judge Rahmawati SH ordered the company to pay 114.3 billion rupiah ($9.4 million) in compensation and 251.7 billion rupiah ($20.6 million) to restore damaged areas.

Despite enthusiasm for REDD , deforestation in Peru continues

By Imogen Badgery-Parker, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 January 2014 | The economic and political conditions in Peru favor an increase in deforestation, despite the country having set a target of zero net deforestation by 2021, a new study shows. “Peru is experiencing economic growth,” said Mary Menton of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), one of the lead authors of “The context of REDD+ in Peru: Drivers, agents and institutions” (published in Spanish), the latest in a series of occasional papers that gather and analyze extensive information on the political and economic conditions in forest-rich countries. “Much of this growth is happening — and is likely to keep on happening — at the expense of the Peruvian Amazon.”

10 January 2014

Top voluntary carbon market program to ban HFC-23 projects

By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters, 10 January 2014 | Verified Carbon Standards (VCS), the world’s leading voluntary program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said its rules for carbon offset projects will no longer allow projects that destroy potent greenhouse gas HFC-23 to earn carbon credits, betting that international efforts to regulate the gases will be successful. The refrigerant industry introduced HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, to replace CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons, which were banned because they damaged the Ozone Layer that protects the Earth from excessive solar radiation. Jerry Seager, chief program officer at the nonprofit VCS, said in a note late on Thursday that the U.N.’s Montreal Protocol is the appropriate mechanism for addressing HFC-23 emissions, despite the role that carbon markets have played relating to the chemical.

Is China really committed to addressing climate change?

By Ed King, RTCC, 10 January 2014 | What do Chinese leaders and energy experts really think about climate change? It’s a critical question, as without a strong low-carbon drive from China there is no chance of the planet avoiding dangerous levels of global warming. The country is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, a trend that shows little sign of slowing with hundreds of coal power plants in the pipeline. At the end of 2013 RTCC spoke to four influential policy experts who are helping shape the country’s climate and energy strategy. Here’s what they had to say – you may be surprised.

China mulls national pollution permit trading system

Reuters, 10 January 2014 | China will look into establishing a nation-wide trading system for pollution permits as part of efforts to use market mechanisms to help clean up its environment, the country’s top environment official said. In remarks published on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (www.mep.gov.cn) on Friday, minister Zhou Shengxian said China was working on new regulations for pollution permits and would also publish proposals for new pilot trading projects as soon as possible. China has vowed to reverse the environmental consequences of three decades of breakneck industrial expansion and clean up its heavily polluted air, water and soil and is hoping to use the market to encourage firms to cut emissions. Provinces pledged this week to meet targets set by the ministry to cut air pollution by 5 to 25 percent. The ministry said it was considering a system to evaluate progress.

Forging fire resilience on Amazon forest fringes in Peru

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 10 January 2014 | As forest conversion to agriculture and pasture lands are intensified in the Peruvian Amazon, so is the intentional use of fire. Because fields become overgrown quickly in the tropics, oil palm planters, farmers and cattle ranchers burn fields to clear weeds and set fires in pastures to eliminate ticks that annoy livestock. Problems arise when the wind whips a fire out of control and endangers the surrounding forest. Although humidity generally stops fire from spreading beyond the edge of a field or pasture and into the forest, scientists fear that repeated burning could dry the understory vegetation (underbrush), making the forest more susceptible to burning in the future. Combined with climate change, survival of the forest could be at stake.

11 January 2014

UN Climate Negotiations: Indigenous Resistance from Within

By Maria Camila Bustos, North American Congress on Latin America, 11 January 2014 | COICA has criticized REDD+’s failure to address the real drivers of degradation and deforestation, pointing to the contradiction between the rhetoric of indigenous rights and the daily aggressions indigenous peoples face. “REDD+ cannot frame the indigenous agenda,” said COICA member Roberto Poveda. The COICA alternative, REDD+ Indigena, borrows from Bolivia’s 2012 alternative to REDD+ called “The Sustainable Life of the Forest.” Both Bolivia’s and COICA’s proposals integrate mitigation and adaptation efforts, reject mercantilist approaches that promote voluntary carbon credit markets, and recognize developed nations’ ecological debt to the rest of the world. They call for a less vertical approach to climate-related decision-making, promoting a holistic management of the forest that takes into consideration culture, society, and nature.

[Cambodia] Carbon Credits Ready for Sale in Oddar Meanchey Forest

By Khoun Theara, VOA Khmer, 11 January 2014 | Cambodia’s first verified carbon credit program is up and running in the remote province of Oddar Meanchey. But experts say there are limited carbon credit buyers, and illegal deforestation remains a major threat to the stability to the project… “This is a big accomplishment that Cambodia should be proud of,” said Sarah Sitts, country manager for Pact Cambodia, which was in charge of implementing the project… The Oddar Meanchey project has 600,000 metric tons of carbon, which can be “purchased” for between $7 to $9 per metric ton, said Leslie Durschinger, managing director for Terra Global Capital, a US-based marketing agency for REDD projects. But the carbon market is currently small, and buyers are limited, she said. “So it takes time to sell it,” Durschinger said.

12 January 2014

[Indonesia] New REDD chief faces game-changing challenges

By Warief Djajanto Basorie, The Jakarta Post, 12 January 2014 | Maybe yes, maybe no. That was the punch line of a bachelor in an old television commercial. The character was constantly asked about when he planned on getting married. Not wanting to disappoint, this sought-after man about town replied with non-committal promptness: May. Maybe yes, maybe no. Heru Prasetyo, the new head of the REDD+ Management Agency (RMA), used the line when he was asked at a REDD+ forum on Dec. 19 if the agency could be shut down under a new president. The forum marked the end of the preparation phase and the start of the implementation of Indonesia’s much touted REDD+ scheme… Come October 2014 when Yudhoyono’s second and final term ends, Heru’s big test is to deploy his communication skills. He has to convince the new president on the unequivocal importance of the REDD+ initiative as a core program to manage the climate crisis.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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