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REDD in the news: 10-16 March 2014

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REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, organised by date 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.

10 March 2014

Mars commits to No Deforestation, exposes P&G for inaction

Greenpeace press release, 10 March 2014 | Mars committed to remove deforestation from all of its products by the end of 2015, a move that places pressure on companies such as Procter & Gamble to set an equally ambitious No Deforestation Policy. In addition, Greenpeace activists today documented ongoing forest clearance and unfurled a giant banner in a palm oil plantation in Indonesia which is owned by P&G supplier Musim Mas, and where orangutan habitat was recently cleared. “Mars joins a growing list of companies including Unilever and Nestlé that are finally promising forest-friendly products to their consumers. It shows that global public pressure is working, and is leaving P&G, which refuses to clean up their supply chains, increasingly isolated,” said Areeba Hamid, forest campaigner at Greenpeace International.

Cameroon: Herakles Farms Ordered to Pay $4.8 Million in Racial Discrimination Compensation

Cultural Survival, 10 March 2014 | A Cameroonian judge in the Fako High Court has awarded former Herakles Farm employee Loxly Massango Epie 2.3 billion CFA (4.8 million USD) in a lawsuit claiming racial discrimination and wrongful termination of his contract of employment against the US-based palm oil company Herakles Farms. Herakles Farms, which is affiliated with the massive Herakles Capital, was granted 20,000 hectares of the 73,000 hectares of forest it requested from the Cameroon government in November 2013 to convert into oil palm plantations. The company has faced strong criticism nationally and internationally for the harmful effect it will have on the forest, wildlife, and nearby population and also for the deceitful ways in which they have obtained the land.

NGOs welcome Liberian President’s commitment to stop British palm oil company “taking” community land

Global Witness, 10 March 2014 | Global Witness and Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU) today welcome the commitment by the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to make any expansion by the British palm oil company Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) onto Jogbahn Clan land dependent on the approval of the communities affected. EPO has been accused by the communities of taking their land and clearing it without their consent. In September 2013, community members were apparently beaten and detained by EPO security staff and the Liberian police on their way to lodge a complaint about the expansion to the authorities. The company denied that it acted without community consultation or outside Liberian law.(4) The commitment by the President marks a significant victory in the battle for customary land rights to be respected.

Why It Makes Sense For Norway To Sell Its Fossil Fuel Shares

By Mike Scott, Forbes, 10 March 2014 | The Norwegian government’s sovereign wealth fund, which owns part of almost every listed company in the world, is considering selling out of its investments in carbon-intensive firms. Given that the $840 billion fund, the world’s largest, invests the proceeds from the country’s oil and gas industry, this would be a stunning move. But the Norwegian Government Pension Fund does not have to look far for sound business reasons to take this step. Environmental groups such as Carbon Tracker, 350.org and the Asset Owners Disclosure Project would hail any move to reduce Norway’s fossil fuel exposure as a significant victory in their campaign to persuade investors to sell their high-carbon investments. They say that there is a “carbon bubble” that means fossil fuel companies are overvalued by the market because much of the implied value is in carbon-intensive assets that the companies will be unable to exploit…

Swiss Seek Precision as Nations Shape Carbon Market

By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 10 March 2014 | Nations setting up carbon markets must standardize their emission-reduction benchmarks to ensure international efforts to limit global warming stay on track, according to Switzerland’s climate envoy. At least 30 of 200 countries meeting at talks this week in Bonn are developing carbon trading systems to help meet emissions targets under a worldwide treaty to start in 2020. Nations should measure greenhouse-gas cuts as tons of carbon dioxide even if they pursue hard-to-quantify policies such as emissions taxes and energy efficiency rules, said Franz Perrez, who represents the alpine nation in United Nations talks. The UN conference comes as China and the U.S., the two biggest emitters, spar over responsibility for pollution cuts to keep temperatures rising by a UN-endorsed maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times.

Britain’s boiler-room scams

By Simon Wilson, MoneyWeek, 10 March 2014 | Police in Spain and Britain have busted an extensive network of organised criminal gangs who cold-call UK investors and trick them into buying worthless or nonexistent shares; 110 people, mostly British, were arrested on suspicion of money-laundering and fraud offences. It’s the biggest crackdown to date on so-called boiler-room fraud and comes following a two-year investigation code named Operation Rico, jointly run by City of London police and Spain’s Policia National. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

11 March 2014

Companies holding carbon credits stare at ‘real loss’

By Namrata Singh, The Times of India, 11 March 2014 | Indian companies, which had invested in clean development mechanism (CDM) projects under the Kyoto Protocol to claim certified emission reduction units (CER) or carbon credits, now stand to face a “real loss” on unsold credits, as opposed to a notional loss which was earlier being talked about, with prices falling below one euro. Industry estimates peg the notional loss at Rs 10,500 crore… “We would assume for credits to be issued between 2013 and 2019, an estimated notional loss of around Rs 10,500 crore. This with an assumption of 65% issuance success over a 7 year crediting period with assumed value of euro 10 per credit,” said Birjendra Sangwaiya, principal consultant, carbon advisory business, Emergent Ventures India (EVI).

Got Science? Momentum Building for Deforestation-Free Palm Oil

By Seth Shulman, Huffington Post, 11 March 2014 | It’s always great to see the door crack open for progress on an issue when the parties involved start to recognize a “win-win” solution. Such a tipping-point moment is coming into view in the campaign to halt the widespread, devastating deforestation currently resulting from growing world consumption of palm oil. It’s a classic case of science and transparency shining the way forward. The problem is far from solved but, in a major development, several large palm oil purchasers, including Kellogg’s and Hershey’s, have recently pledged to buy only deforestation-free palm oil for their products. Two of the world’s largest palm oil suppliers — Wilmar and Golden Agri-Resources — have made similar commitment for the palm oil they sell. Now pressure is mounting on some of the remaining hold-outs — like Procter & Gamble, Pepsi, and McDonald’s — to follow suit and do the right thing for the planet.

Asia-Pacific failing to save forests, grassland loss

By Stian Reklev, Reuters, 11 March 2014 | Asia-Pacific nations are failing to halt the loss of natural forests and grasslands, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday, robbing people of their livelihoods and worsening environmental problems like desertification and climate change. Forests and grasslands make up 58 percent of the region’s land mass, but each year 2 million hectares (20,000 square kms) are degraded and rendered useless, Patrick Durst, a FAO senior forestry officer told a food conference in Ulan Bator. Across the Asia-Pacific, 400 million hectares (4 mln sq kms) – an area equal to the combined size of India and Myanmar – are now in bad need of restoration, he said. “We are already seeing strong negative impacts,” Durst told Reuters at the conference.

Cocaine: the new face of deforestation in Central America

By Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa, mongabay.com, 11 March 2014 | There is growing evidence for a correlation between drug trafficking and deforestation in Central America today. After 2006, DTOs chose their new trade routes with care. They preyed on the remote forest frontiers of Guatemela’s Petén region and eastern Honduras, which were thinly populated with only minimal state presence, where local stakeholders did not have a loud voice. Here, the Science report suggests that drug trafficking has compounded existing problems such as weak governance, conflicting property regimes, high poverty, illegal logging, and agribusiness expansion.

Emissions Pioneer Losing Clout as EU Ban Looms: Carbon & Climate

By Alessandro Vitelli, Bloomberg, 11 March 2014 | Thirteen years after the United Nations set up the first carbon emissions market, the global trading system’s influence is waning as it gives way to local and regional plans to combat climate change. Fewer markets are accepting UN Certified Emissions Reductions, credits created from investment in carbon-reduction programs, as nations from China to California adopt their own standards. In Europe’s $54 billion market, where lawmakers are tackling a record glut, utilities and manufacturers from EON SE to ThyssenKrupp AG may reach the limit on the CERs they can use by March 2015, data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance show. The slide in demand for UN credits is hurting the worldwide effort agreed at Kyoto in 1997 to keep increases in temperatures, blamed for floods, droughts and rising sea levels, to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times.

Emissions Pioneer Losing Clout as EU Ban Looms: Carbon & Climate

By Alessandro Vitelli, Bloomberg, 11 March 2014 | Thirteen years after the United Nations set up the first carbon emissions market, the global trading system’s influence is waning as it gives way to local and regional plans to combat climate change. Fewer markets are accepting UN Certified Emissions Reductions, credits created from investment in carbon-reduction programs, as nations from China to California adopt their own standards. In Europe’s $54 billion market, where lawmakers are tackling a record glut, utilities and manufacturers from EON SE to ThyssenKrupp AG may reach the limit on the CERs they can use by March 2015, data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance show. The slide in demand for UN credits is hurting the worldwide effort agreed at Kyoto in 1997 to keep increases in temperatures, blamed for floods, droughts and rising sea levels, to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times.

Liberian campaigner urges EU to take action against logging law refuseniks

By Arthur Neslen, EurActive, 11 March 2014 | An award-winning Liberian environmental campaigner has called on the EU to act against 20 member states that have yet to implement a timber regulation to combat illegal logging, a year after it came into force. New research from the environmental group Client Earth shows that eight EU countries have done nothing to transpose the law, while 10 have only produced draft legislation. A clear majority of countries have no penalties in place to deal with illegally-logged timber entering the bloc. Speaking from Nairobi, where he is working on new IT technologies to map illegal logging, Silas Kpanan’ Ayoung Siakor of the Sustainable Development Institute said the issue should be treated as “a matter of urgency.”

Project seeks to unlock the mysteries of Peru’s peatlands

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 March 2014 | Peru’s palm swamps are important not just because of the aguaje fruit, but also because some contain peat, an organic layer of decomposed leaves, twigs and other plant material that accumulates under the water over thousands of years. “Peru has the second-largest expanse of peatland in the tropics, after Indonesia, and Peruvian peatlands store considerable amounts of carbon. But if you degrade, deforest or drain them, instead of being a sink for carbon, they can become a source of carbon dioxide,” said Hergoualc’h, who is leading a CIFOR team studying Amazonian peatlands as part of the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP), a collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute (Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonía Peruana, or IIAP).

UK mulls biodiversity offsetting despite practice ‘disappointing’ in Australia

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 11 March 2014 | Government plans to allow building on woods and other green places, in return for new space for wildlife elsewhere, have come under greater scrutiny after a scheme in Australia that had been cited by environment secretary Owen Paterson as evidence in favour of the move was branded “disappointing” by a leading expert there. The government, backed by landowners and developers, has claimed that “biodiversity offsetting” will ensure that any damage done to the environment is compensated for and that each new development will result in no net loss of biodiversity. Conservation and environment groups argue that the proposed UK policy will be a licence for developers to build anywhere. Two sources informed the Guardian that the plan was due to be announced within weeks, although the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it has not yet decided on a timescale.

[UK] Rochford man held in international £50million fraud probe

By Jon Austin, Basildon Recorder, 11 March 2014 | A former Rochford man has been arrested by police probing a £50million global fraud. Sam Sharpley, 31, who went to King Edmund School, Rochford, was arrested by armed police in Barcelona at the end of February as part of one of the world’s “biggestever operations” into bogus investment schemes, known as boiler room frauds. Sharpley, who splits his time between Southend and Spain, is one of 110 people arrested in raids across Spain, the UK, USA and Serbia…

12 March 2014

New web tool aims to help indigenous groups protect forests and navigate REDD

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 12 March 2014 | A new online tool, dubbed ForestDefender, aims to help indigenous people understand and implement their rights in regard to forests. The database, developed by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), brings together vast amounts of legal information—both national and international—on over 50 countries. “CIEL created ForestDefender to empower indigenous peoples and other local communities to defend their rights and their forests,” Allison Silverman, a staff attorney with CIEL’s Climate and Energy Program Program, told mongabay.com, adding that, “It can also be used as a guide to understand how to hold violators of these rights accountable through the various human rights and international financial institution mechanisms.”

World’s forests could hold 20 pct more carbon than previously thought – study

By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters, 12 March 2014 | The world’s forests could hold 20 percent more carbon than previously thought, according to a study released on Tuesday. If correct, that extra 125 billion tonnes of carbon could lead to an increase in the number of forest-based carbon credits set to be offered in carbon markets around the world… Scientists from the University of Edinburgh say they have developed a new 3D system to measure forests’ carbon content that is more detailed and accurate than current methods. For the study, the group analyzed a specific forested area in Costa Rica and compared resulting data with previous calculations of carbon stocks. Most projects that generate carbon credits by reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD) use satellite images associated with estimates of carbon content which vary depending on the type of forest.

ADB punishes individuals, firms in $1 billion fraud probe

Agence France-Presse, 12 March 2014 | The Asian Development Bank has imposed sanctions on 30 people and 31 firms for “integrity violations”, following a 2013 fraud investigation into $1 billion worth of projects it funded, the lender said. The ADB said it investigated a record 250 allegations of corruption, collusion, coercion and fraud last year, 10 more than in 2012, the bank said in a report published Wednesday. The investigation included six projects operational between 2006 and 2010 in China, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Nepal and Laos, which were probed for “procurement-related” issues, ADB said in the report.

Amazon States In Brazil Push For Benefit-Sharing On National REDD Strategy

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 12 March 2014 | Before relapsing in 2013, Brazil had slashed deforestation rates six years running – an achievement that meant 3.5 billion fewer tons of carbon dioxide escaping into the atmosphere than would have happened if they’d continued on their previous pace. That’s roughly 1/3 of the total amount the country has promised to reduce by 2020, but its winning streak ended when deforestation rates surged 28% last year. The country still, however, says its deforestation rate will be 80% lower in 202 than its average rate was from 1996 through 2005. In fact, it’s counting on that reduction to deliver more than half of its promised 38% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve such a dramatic reduction in deforestation, it plans to harness incentive payments for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD).

[Canada] A brand/solution is born – 1st verification of VCU titles completed under the VCS standard opening the market for high quality carbon titles

Will Solutions press release, 12 March 2014 | It’s with enthusiasm that Martin Clermont, President of Will Solutions announces the 1st positive third party verification of its Sustainable Community project developed under the VCS standard. The verification process was realized by PJR an American based company. The Sustainable Community project is registered with APX Environmental Markets. More than 75 675 carbon credit titles (VCU) originating from small GHG emitters in Quebec have now been verified. These reductions were realized on a voluntary basis by small emitters having adhered to the Sustainable Community solution and are available on the voluntary market. In this regard, Will’s Sustainable Community project is now listed on Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX), a global trading platform for voluntary carbon credits, based in Australia.

EU’s domestic-only climate proposal reflects global stalemate

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 12 March 2014 | The European Union had little choice in proposing not to outsource more of its emission cuts abroad to meet a 2030 target because the slow pace of global talks to develop new carbon markets gave it nothing to buy, a senior EU official said. The European Commission in January proposed cutting the bloc’s greenhouse gas output by 40 percent under 1990 levels entirely from reductions made within the 28-nation EU unless a global climate change agreement requires it to deepen the goal. Juergen Lefevere, a senior official at the Commission – the EU’s executive arm – insisted the bloc was willing to open up its carbon market but was restricted by a lack of reform at international level. “All of the work on this has moved tremendously slowly or not at all,” he said on the sidelines of the latest round of U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

Honduras: Attempted Assassination of COPINH Leader

Cultural Survival, 12 March 2014 | Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) reports and condemns the attempted murder of María Santos Domínguez, Coordinator of the Indigenous Advisory Organization of Río Blanco and of the Northern Sector of Intibucá, an emblematic leader of the fight for the defense of Río Gualcarque and of the Lenca Territory in Honduras. María Santos Domínguez is an important figure in the fight for Río Blanco and a member of the COPINH. Her husband Roque Domínguez and 12 year-old son Paulo Domínguez are also community activists and were also victims of the attack.

[Indonesia] West Sumatra joins Indonesia’s REDD program

mongabay.com, 12 March 2014 | West Sumatra has officially joined Indonesia’s effort to cut forest loss as a pilot province under the country’s REDD+ program. The agreement, announced today, means that regencies, towns, and villages are now placed to receive funding to support REDD+ projects and initiatives. “West Sumatra have shown the same vision and commitment to reducing deforestation,” said Heru Prasetyo, head of the REDD+ Agency. “This is in line with the Indonesia’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 41% by 2020.” According to West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno, the central government has allocated funds for training programs in 102 forest villages, about a sixth of the total in the province.

Laser beam homes in on carbon stocks in Peru

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 12 March 2014 | LiDAR systems have generally been mounted in airplanes to map biomass based on the height of tree canopies. The ground-based system González de Tanago is using is fairly new, and it has advantages and disadvantages, he says. “Terrestrial LiDAR provides a high level of detail about the forest structure in a small area, while airborne LiDAR can cover larger areas of hundreds or thousands of square kilometers,” he said. The ground-based measurement is more accurate because it provides both vertical and horizontal measurements, while the airborne system’s calculations are based on an average of canopy height across an area.

[Russia] IKEA’s Swedwood Regains FSC Certification

Woodworking Network, 12 March 2014 | IKEA’s Swedwood Karelia forestry operation has regained its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate of sustainability. The Rainforest Alliance said it lifted the suspension March 10 following an independent appeals committee evaluation of the annual audit. “We are pleased to get the suspension of our FSC certificate withdrawn since it is important for us to demonstrate a responsible forest management. Our focus is now to continue our work with good forest management and make sure that the outstanding deviations are closed,” said Anders Hildeman, Forestry Manager IKEA Group. Swedwood’s certificate is for approximately 700,000 acres in the Karelia Forest, in northwestern Russia. IKEA Industry said Swedwood Karelia has been FSC certified since 2006. The FSC certificate was suspended in January following an October 2013 audit by NEPCon which found six major non-conformities…

13 March 2014

Q&A: Top UNFCCC Official Thorgeirsson on 2014-2015 Climate Negotiation Priorities

By Eric J. Lyman, Bloomberg BNA, 13 March 2014 | Halldor Thorgeirsson, head of the Implementation Strategy Unit for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and a top lieutenant to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, spoke to Bloomberg BNA March 12 on the sidelines of the Bonn Climate Change Conference. During a 30-minute interview, he discussed some of the specific challenges of the multilateral climate negotiating process as it winds through two more sets of inter-sessional meetings this year, the 2014 COP summit in Lima, Peru, and into the final stretch in 2015.

Stop Sending Aid to Dictators

By William Easterly, TIME.com, 13 March 2014 | Too much of America’s foreign aid funds what I call authoritarian development. That’s when the international community–experts from the U.N. and other bodies–swoop into third-world countries and offer purely technical assistance to dictatorships like Uganda or Ethiopia on how to solve poverty. Unfortunately, dictators’ sole motivation is to stay in power. So the development experts may get some roads built, but they are not maintained. Experts may sink boreholes for clean water, but the wells break down. Individuals do not have the political rights to protest disastrous public services, so they never improve. Meanwhile, dictators are left with cash and services to prop themselves up–while punishing their enemies. But there is another model: free development, in which poor individuals, asserting their political and economic rights, motivate government and private actors to solve their problems…

EU warns of double-counting risk in U.N. emissions cut plan

Reuters, 13 March 2014 | The United Nations risks creating huge auditing problems and overstating environmental benefits by promoting the cancellation of carbon credits as a way of tackling climate change, the European Union said on Thursday. In a presentation at U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn, the U.N. said the cancellation of credits under its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) could cheaply contribute almost 40 percent of the gap between national emission reduction pledges and the level scientists say is needed to stave off catastrophic climate change by 2020. This was in response to a call agreed by all countries last year to promote the voluntary cancellation of CDM credits as a way of closing the gap. The EU welcomed the move in principle but said more work was needed to ensure cancellations weren’t covering emission reductions already accounted for under and carried out under current national pledges.

Obama, EU to stand together on climate change draft

By Barbara Lewis, Reuters, 13 March 2014 | U.S. President Barack Obama and EU leaders meeting in Brussels this month will throw their combined weight behind tackling climate change, a document seen by Reuters says, in a show of developed world solidarity on the need for a new global deal. But the guarded, diplomatic language is likely to disappoint environmentalists calling for urgent, ambitious pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions. “Sustainable economic growth will only be possible if we tackle climate change,” a draft communique ahead of the EU-US summit on March 26 says. The text is subject to further negotiation between the European Union and the United States.

Complaint accuses international timber company DLH of trading illegal timber and funding Liberian war

Global Witness, 13 March 2014 | Sherpa, Global Witness, Greenpeace France and Liberian NGO Green Advocates have today filed a legal complaint before the Senior Magistrate of the Regional Court of Montpellier against the French arm of Danish timber giant Dalhoff, Larsen and Horneman (DLH).The groups allege that during the civil war in Liberia from 2000-2003, DLH bought illegal timber from Liberian companies that provided support to Charles Taylor’s brutal regime. The action comes as DLH is trying to sell its business, against a backdrop of mounting pressure and official complaints over its illegal and criminal activities worldwide.

Study to measure carbon in Peru’s peatlands

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 March 2014 | Peru’s tropical forests hold large amounts of carbon — but in such peatlands as this one, twice as much carbon could be stored in the flooded soil as in the trees above, Bhomia said. Because Peru has no comprehensive studies of its wetlands, however, no one knows how extensive the peatlands are or how much carbon they store, according to CIFOR scientist Kristell Hergoualc’h. As a result, when a swamp is drained for logging, agriculture or development, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted — calculated based on the trees that are cut — could be underestimated, because it does not include the emissions from peat.

Russia Picks an Odd Time to Put on Climate Halo

By Eric Roston, Bloomberg, 13 March 2014 | How do you prevent a jump in your carbon pollution? Don’t invade anybody. Take Russia. At a meeting yesterday of 200 or so national climate negotiators in Bonn, Russia’s Oleg Shamanov said his country wanted to launch a market for trading carbon pollution credits. The sooner the country can gain experience in a domestic cap-and-trade system, he said, the sooner it can link up to carbon markets in other countries or regions. The statement comes amid Russia’s push to link up with a neighbor’s markets in the most invasive way possible: invasion. With Russian troops on the ground in Crimea and a separatist vote coming on Sunday, it does look like Russia could get bigger by about the size of one Black Sea peninsula — and the people, ports and pollution that come with it.

Madrid Boiler Room Businessmen Stole £60m from British Investors, Court Told

By Lewis Dean, International Business Times, 13 March 2014 | Hundreds of British investors were tricked into buying worthless shares in a £60m scam, a court has heard. Three businessmen appeared at Southwark Crown Court charged with conspiracy to defraud after allegedly operating a “boiler room” scam from an office in Madrid. Jeffrey Revell-Reade, 49, allegedly organised the operation, in which salespeople used aggressive techniques to trade worthless shares over the telephone. The court was told Anthony May, 58, helped run the scam and controlled its proceeds while solicitor John Manning, 65, was allegedly recruited with the purpose of provide a “veneer of respectability”. Prosecutor Stuart Trimmer QC told the court that a team of salesmen would use hard selling techniques to trick British investors into parting with their cash.

[UK] FCA boiler room investigation leads to one arrest

By Michael Trudeau, FTAdviser.com, 13 March 2014 | The Financial Conduct Authority, in co-operation with the National Crime Agency and Kent police, has arrested one man in relation to a boiler room fraud. The 21-year old’s arrest and interview follows the regulator’s execution of search warrants at addresses in London and Kent. No further details have been released and no individuals have been charged. Because high-pressure mass sales operations – also known as boiler rooms – often involve people selling next to worthless shares without FCA permission, they constitute unauthorised business. Conducting unauthorised business is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine, or both, the FCA said.

[UK] Authorities urged to do more to tackle boiler room fraud

By Simoney Kyriakou, FTAdviser.com, 13 March 2014 | Philip Milton, managing director of Devon-based Philip J Milton & Company, said while he welcomed recent police and regulatory action against boiler room fraud, he was “angry” that action has taken so long. He said his firm has been reporting these scams to the police and the relevant regulatory authorities “for many years”. “Yet figures suggest that millions of pounds have been stolen in various frauds, and frequently it is vulnerable people who have lost the money. “We have alerted the authorities to all types of pure scams over the years and those where it is clear there will be troubles ahead. Do they seem to take any action? Their action should be two-fold: stop the scams immediately and investigate those caught so far, and save others from being defrauded afterwards.”

14 March 2014

Ten challenges and lessons for donors funding REDD as performance based aid

By Arild Angelsen, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 March 2014 | The idea of performance-based aid is simple: make payments to countries and projects based on performance or results. The performance can be measures in the form of policy reforms that will conserve forests and achieve other stated objectives, or measured more directly in the form of actual reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. In a just-published paper I review the lessons and challenges of performance-based aid: “REDD+ as performance-based aid: General lessons and bilateral agreements of Norway”. A major conclusion from earlier research is that aid rarely can buy policy reforms. Yet this remains a major idea in current REDD+ discourses, as the basic principle of ‘no-cure-no-pay’ is very appealing. Relatedly, valuable lessons learned from performance based aid in other sectors have hardly been brought into the REDD+ debate.

Trade Concern Limits Rich-Nation Effort to Reduce Emissions

By Mathew Carr and Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 14 March 2014 | The U.S. will struggle to endorse a climate treaty that hurts trade while Brazil and India want richer countries to take the lead in limiting environmental change as global warming talks in Bonn enter their final day. A climate pact without emission-reduction commitments from emerging nations will be a hard sell to the U.S. public, Trigg Talley, the country’s climate envoy, told delegates at the United Nations-led talks. Brazil’s envoy Jose Domingos Miguez called on developed nations to act now on global warming or “we are going to suffer the consequences.” About 200 countries are in Bonn this week to debate climate-protection pledges as they hammer out a treaty due to be signed next year and come into effect in 2020. After more than two decades of negotiations, the climate talks have been dogged by wrangling between developing and industrialized nations over who pays for tackling global warming.

[Australia] Bill Shorten sticks with ‘market-based system’ to lower greenhouse emissions

By Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 14 March 2014 | Labor will take a “market-based system” to reduce greenhouse emissions to the 2016 election, the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, has confirmed. Labor has been firm in its intention to vote against the Coalition’s proposed repeal of the former government’s carbon pricing scheme, but less clear about the policy it would adopt should that repeal be passed through the new Senate which sits from July. Pressed about the starting point for a new policy in an interview with Guardian Australia, Shorten said it would be based on the “principle that climate change is serious and real and that we need to do something real in response. We will be guided by best science and best economic argument, which is a market based system. “We will vote against the repeal if the alternative policy is Direct Action. “I am not going to reveal my 2016 policies in March of 2013 … the principle is we need to do something serious about climate change.”

EU ruled out 2030 offsets due to carbon market drought

EurActiv, 14 March 2014 | The EU had little choice in proposing not to outsource more of its emission cuts abroad to meet a proposed 40% reduction in greenhouse gas output by 2030 because the slow pace of global talks to develop new carbon markets gave it nothing to buy, a senior EU official said. The European Commission in January proposed meeting the target entirely from CO2 cuts made within Europe, unless a global climate change agreement required it to deepen the goal. Jürgen Lefevere, a senior official at the Commission, the EU’s executive, insisted that the bloc was willing to open up its carbon market but was restricted by a lack of reform at international level. “All of the work on this has moved tremendously slowly or not at all,” he said on the sidelines of the latest round of UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany. “That provides us with a challenge where there is no definite framework out there.”

Landmark EU/Indonesia timber agreement now legally binding

EIA International, 14 March 2014 | Following the European Union’s ratification of the landmark Indonesia/EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) last month, Indonesia yesterday (Thursday) confirmed the agreement through a Presidential Regulation. This VPA is one of the key components of Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan which will ensure that only legally sourced timber and wood products are allowed onto EU markets from a VPA partner country. VPA ratification by both Indonesia and EU means that the bilateral treaty has now become official – and legally binding. Indonesia sadly has one of the world’s worst deforestation rates and lost about 28 million hectares of forest between 1990 and 2005. Illegal logging was so rampant that a 2007 UN report estimated 73-88 per cent of all timber logged in Indonesia was being illegally sourced.

Indonesian politician gets 14 years for illegal logging permits

By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 14 March 2014 | The former governor of Riau Province in Sumatra, Indonesia has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for issuing illegal logging permits. The Riau region has suffered catastrophic forest loss over the last decade. An anti-corruption court in Sumatra found former Governor Rusli Zainai guilty of embezzlement in relation to the logging permits and several construction projects. The illegal permits were issued to subsidiaries of APP (Asian Pulp & Paper) and APRIL (Asia Pacific Resources International Limited), two major producers of wood pulp in Sumatra. The two mega-corporations have logged and cleared several million hectares of native rainforest for their pulp plantations.

[Japan] Tokyo to reach CO2 targets without its carbon trading scheme

By John McGarrity, RTCC, 14 March 2014 | Tokyo will meet carbon reduction targets without the need to use carbon credits in its emissions trading scheme, mainly as a result of increased energy efficiency after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster threatened a crunch in power supply. Japan’s capital, one of the world’s largest cities, became the first urban area in Asia to impose emissions caps and carbon trading at the start of the decade, blazing a trail for other cities that are using the market to control climate-changing gases. But big cuts in emissions through energy efficiency – spurred by a 2011 catastrophic Tsunami and subsequent meltdown of a nuclear reactor – is a timely reminder of how random events and changing government priorities can blunt the effectiveness of emissions trading schemes.

Kenya: Narasha Community Living in Uncertainty with Fresh Threats of Displacement

Cultural Survival, 14 March 2014 | After being in the cold for over five months courtesy of government-sponsored forced evictions and because of broken promises for compensation from the Kenyan President and his deputy, the Maasai community of Narasha is living with uncertainty for the future. According to community leaders, the current actions by KenGen and the committee appointed to look into ways of settling the dispute and compensate those whose houses were razed down by fire in July 2013 leaves a lot to be desired. On its part, the World Bank Kenya country office had called for a meeting in November 2013, but to date the community has not received any feedback on the promises the Bank made to the community of investigating the events that led to the forced evictions in July 2013. KenGen, on the other hand, has now carried a census, an assessment of the loses that the community incurred during the evictions, and has promised compensation but conflicting reports keep on emerging.

[UK] Bogus green investment company shut down after boiler room scam

By Tessa Norman, Money Marketing, 14 March 2014 | A firm which misled investors by claiming to sell bio-fuel technologies and promising an 800 per cent return on investment has been shut down by the High Court. The High Court today ordered Greenwave Bio be wound up on public interest grounds following an investigation by the Insolvency Service. The firm claimed to be a holding company for bio-fuel technologies in Central and South American waste energy projects. It offered investors “projected lifetime returns of over 800 per cent” and invited them to “tap into a 30 per cent year-on-year growth industry”. But the investigation found no evidence of Greenwave having any involvement in the bio-fuel or waste management industries. The Insolvency Service says the firm was simply a “scam” and used a boiler room operation to phone UK investors and persuade them to buy shares.

15 March 2014

[Philippines] Conference helps strengthen REDD safeguards

BusinessMirror, 15 March 2014 | With a conference on “Operationalizing REDD+ Safeguards in Southeast Asia and the Pacific,” held recently in Subic Bay Freeport, stakeholders from the Philippines and countries of the Asia-Pacific region made an important step toward safeguarding forests and the rights of indigenous communities and peoples. The conference was organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and Climate Change Commission (CCC). The conference took place within the framework of the international climate and forest protection mechanism “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD+) with cost-effective conservation, sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of carbon stocks.

[UK] £20,000 investor fears carbon credits are worthless

By Simon Bain, Herald Scotland, 15 March 2014 | A Scottish investor fears the carbon credits he was sold a year ago are worthless after failing for the past 11 months to gain any access to a £20,000 investment. Craig Jamieson began reporting his suspicions about his carbon credit investments last April. A company called Eco Business Management (EBM) contacted Mr Jamieson in January 2013 having already recruited a flatmate as a customer. The Edinburgh-based investor says: “I was offered carbon credit shares in Caprock WindRanch. I was told that these carbon credits were of UN standard and they would be purchased from a company called Eco Asian Consultancy, which was regulated by official bodies in Singapore, and that my investment was protected by such bodies.” EBM told Mr Jamieson that a 20% return on his investment was realistic over two years. “I also was given written assurances that if I wished to terminate any investment vehicles, this would be done without any problem…”

16 March 2014


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