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REDD in the news: 26 May – 1 June 2014

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 links on delicious.com are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

26 May 2014

Northern hemisphere hits carbon dioxide milestone in April

By Tom Miles, Reuters, 26 May 2014 | Carbon dioxide levels throughout the northern hemisphere hit 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history in April, an ominous threshold for climate change, the World Meteorological Organization said on Monday. The 400 ppm level in the atmosphere, up 40 percent since wide use of fossil fuels began with the Industrial Revolution, is rapidly spreading southwards. First recorded in 2012 in the Arctic, it has since become the norm for the Arctic spring. The WMO expects the global annual average carbon dioxide concentration to be above 400 ppm in 2015 or 2016. Rising concentrations of the heat-trapping gas raise risks of more heatwaves, droughts and rising sea levels.

‘Deforestation plagues ASEAN’

By Phak Seangly and Laignee Barron, Phnom Penh Post, 26 May 2014 | Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have never been higher, but Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries are still failing to curb emissions created by heavy deforestation, according to a new report. Forest land in ASEAN countries declined by more than 6 per cent between 2010 and 2013, with land-use changes contributing to more than 75 per cent of the region’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Regional Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC). Launched on Saturday at the opening of the Conference of the ASEAN Social Forestry Network in Malaysia, RECOFTC’s report faults ASEAN members for not allocating community forestry land as a means of preventing deforestation and mitigating climate change. “When local people acquire secure tenure and forest management rights and receive adequate benefits from forest resources, this indeed leads to improved forest management…”

Could Australia really dismantle its carbon price?

By Alexander White, The Guardian, 26 May 2014 | The new conservative government in Australia proposes to be the first country in the world to abolish a legislated price on carbon emissions. Could Australia really go down this path? First, a bit of background. The former Labor government was elected in 2007 in a historic landslide. The defeated prime minister had refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for over a decade, and the new Rudd government made a symbolic gesture with its first official act to ratify the protocol. The Labor government’s policy, which was bipartisan, was to introduce an emissions trading scheme. Newly elected prime minister Kevin Rudd described climate change as “the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time”. Fast forward to 2009, and the then-opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, from the conservative Liberal party, was defeated in a party-room ballot by Tony Abbott by a single vote.

China, EU launched three-year cooperation on “Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme”

People’s Daily Online, 26 May 2014 | China and EU launched a three-year cooperation on a Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme during the China-EU bilateral dialogue on climate change held on May 20. EU will contribute 5 million euros to the project. Carbon Emissions Trading Schemes are a new way for the world to reduce greenhouse gases. They treat greenhouse gas emissions allowances as commodities and allow high-emissions companies to buy emissions allowances from companies with low emissions. The mechanism is an attempt to reduce pollution caused by carbon emissions, and encourage companies to invest in clean technologies. China has reportedly launched pilot Carbon Trading Emissions Schemes in seven cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai, and by 2020 will gradually establish a national carbon trading market to realize carbon emissions reduction goals.

[EU] Speech: Fewer forests in our cars

By Janez Potočnik (European Commissioner for Environment), European Commission, 26 May 2014 | I am convinced that our approach and strategy for tackling the challenge of deforestation and forest degradation needs to part of our wider resource efficiency strategy. We need to decouple our economic growth from resource use. This means moving away from traditional economic models, old technologies and failed ideas. Our economic system carries a legacy of decades, if not centuries, of resource‑intensive growth. We are far too tied to a linear economic model, which leads to the extraction of ever more resources, only to quickly discard them as waste. And allow me to say “what a waste!”, what a waste of precious resources. And when you consider that when we throw away forest resources we are at the same time increasing the vulnerability of entire ecosystems, habitats and species, the wastefulness is all the more untenable.

Oil exploitation contradicts Kenya’s climate goals, legislator warns

By Pius Sawa, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 26 May 2014 | Kenya is in the final stage of enacting a new climate change law, expected to be approved in the coming months. At the same time, the private sector is preparing to tap significant oil reserves in the north. Will the hunt for fossil fuels thwart Kenya’s efforts to go green and curb its carbon emissions? After a 2007 study forecast how climate change would impact Kenya, a National Climate Change Response Strategy was launched at the 2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen. The government then developed a Climate Change Action Plan to implement the strategy, which was completed in March 2013. The action plan spells out how to tackle climate change at local, county and national levels. The next step is to enshrine that in law.

27 May 2014

Vines choke a forest’s ability to capture carbon

ScienceDaily, 27 May 2014 | In the first study to experimentally demonstrate that competition between plants can result in ecosystem-wide losses of forest carbon, scientists working in Panama showed that lianas, or woody vines, can reduce net forest biomass accumulation by nearly 20 percent. Researchers called this estimate “conservative” in findings published this month in Ecology. “This paper represents the first experimental quantification of the effects of lianas on biomass,” said lead author Stefan Schnitzer, a research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “As lianas increase in tropical forests, they will lower the capacity for tropical forests to accumulate carbon.” Previous research by Schnitzer and others demonstrated that lianas are increasing in tropical forests around the globe. No one knows why.

Wary of Climate Change, Indonesia Looks to Lawmakers for Solutions

By Sandra Siagian, IPS, 27 May 2014 | Comprised of over 17,000 islands that are highly susceptible to rising seas, Indonesia is taking stock of its position as the world’s third leading emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China. Faced with the upcoming GLOBE Summit of World Legislators, scheduled to take place in Mexico City next month to test a new international climate change agreement centered on national legislation, the Indonesian government is in a race against time to evaluate its existing climate change policies, and bring its laws in line with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s promise to slash carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020… Indonesia is poised to play a significant role in negotiations, with local initiatives like its Green Economy Caucus (GEC) – a sustainable development model launched last year – offering valuable lessons for the international community.

Pacific Island Nations Appeal for Australia to Rethink Climate Change Policy

By Reissa Su, International Business Times, 27 May 2014 | Australia’s Parliament House welcomed islanders from Pacific nations likely to be threatened by rising sea levels. The group of islanders performed a cultural dance in traditional dress and spoke about their concerns regarding climate change action. According to ABC, delegates from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu are expected to meet with officials representing Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and Environment Minister Greg Hunt. The islanders want to reduce carbon emissions and more help from Australia in addressing the effects of climate change. Reports said Kiribati is about two to three metres above sea level, while Tuvalu is at least four metres. These low-lying island-nations are already facing the threat of rising sea levels and agriculture problems.

BlackBridge Supports New REDD-GIZ Initiative in Costa Rica

BlackBridge press release, 27 May 2014 | BlackBridge’s RapidEye imagery has played an integral role in developing the first country-wide forest map in Central America. This valuable tool is helping governmental authorities effectively plan the use and preservation of Costa Rica’s forest resources. Different forest types can now be accurately located and quantified, which improves the planning of sustainable forest management efforts and the identification of major carbon reservoirs in the region. The high spatial resolution of the RapidEye satellites makes it possible to reach the minimum mapping unit of one hectare. RapidEye imagery enabled the identification of different forest types, including mature forests, second-growth forests, deciduous forests, mangrove forests, and many others.

The Forgotten Majority? – Peruvian Smallholders at the Farm-Forest Interface

By Mary Menton and Peter Cronkleton, Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature Blog, 27 May 2014 | In recent decades, Peru has experimented with policy reforms to promote more sustainable forest management. At the same time, donors and NGOs have introduced community forestry initiatives that have tried to encourage rural people to participate legally in the forestry sector. However, it’s not clear whether these efforts have had a widespread positive effect on forest use. In a recent review of community forest management in the Peruvian Amazon by CIFOR, we found that even though there has been a great deal of research documenting forest use by rural people in the Peruvian Amazon, there is still a general lack of systematic analysis. We couldn’t find any comprehensive assessments of the effectiveness of existing programs to promote community forestry or benefit local people.

Colossal peat bog discovered in Congo

By Rebecca Morelle, BBC News, 27 May 2014 | A vast peatland has been discovered in a remote part of Congo-Brazzaville. The bog covers an area the size of England and is thought to contain billions of tonnes of peat. Scientists say investigating the carbon-rich material could shed light on 10,000 years of environmental change in this little-studied region. Dr Simon Lewis, from the University of Leeds, said: “It’s remarkable that there are parts of the planet that are still uncharted territory.” He added: “Few people venture into these swamps as they are quite difficult places to move around in and work in.” Satellite images initially hinted at the presence of the enormous tropical peatland, but an expedition, starting from Itanga village in April, confirmed it was there. The discovery team, from the University of Leeds, the Wildlife Conservation Society-Congo and Congo-Brazzaville’s Marien Ngouabi University, had to contend with dwarf crocodiles, gorillas and elephants…

Britain’s Prince Charles stirs controversy with warning over climate

By Belinda Goldsmith, Reuters, 27 May 2014 | Prince Charles warned business leaders on Tuesday to take action against climate change or watch the world continue on a path to destruction – the latest forthright comment from the heir to the British throne in a month when his views have caused political and diplomatic waves. Charles sparked a diplomatic spat last week by comparing Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler, with some lawmakers calling for the 65-year-old prince to keep his personal opinions private. But he showed on Tuesday he is determined to voice his opinions, calling on an audience of global business leaders to take tough choices over climate change and capitalism even if it made them unpopular. He said the world was at the mercy of people vociferously and aggressively denying the current operating model was accelerating climate change which could destroy the world.

28 May 2014

Could ‘sustainable’ forest policy cause deforestation?

Environmental Research Web, 28 May 2014 | Logging companies headquartered in Europe could be behind the highest deforestation rates in the Republic of Congo, despite complying with the nation’s supposedly sustainable forestry laws. That’s according to US researchers who have not yet found an explicit link between sustainable policies and deforestation, but believe it is possible that such policies have “unintended consequences”. Changes in tropical forests are known to be driven by demand in foreign markets. At the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, many attendees concluded that Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) was key to achieving the social and economic benefits that can result from forestry, while protecting the forests themselves. Under SFM, logging should take place selectively and rotationally throughout a forest, to prevent the type of deforestation associated with intensive logging.

Executives facing climate denial-related claims could be personally liable – NGOs

Greenpeace International, 28 May 2014 | Corporate executives of major fossil fuel companies could face personal liability for funding climate denialism and opposing policies to fight climate change, say NGOs. Greenpeace International, WWF International and the Center for International Environmental Law have written to the executives of large insurance corporations as well as fossil fuel and other carbon major companies, seeking clarity on who will pay the bill if such a lawsuit is brought against their directors or officers. Generally, liability policies provide coverage for claims that put individual directors’ and officers’ assets at risk. These liability policies protect individuals who are conducting their business in good faith but are at risk of being held liable for undesirable business occurrences, which may be beyond their control. However, a serious question is whether these policies would cover a director facing a climate-related claim.

Corporate Buyers Stick with Voluntary Carbon Offsetting in Transitional Year

Ecosystem Marketplace, 28 May 2014 | In a bid to reduce their contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, corporate leaders like Chevrolet, Marks & Spencer, and Allianz continued to voluntarily purchase carbon offsets in 2013, locking 76 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, according to the annual State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets report, previewed by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace this week in Cologne, Germany. These and other diverse actors paid $379 million for carbon offsets to neutralize emissions that they couldn’t directly reduce. This value supports hundreds of environmental projects, particularly those that reduce or avoid deforestation (“REDD”), install wind energy, or distribute cleaner-burning cookstoves in the developing world.

World Bank Says Carbon Pricing Programs Proliferating In Wake Of Failed UN Talks

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 28 May 2014 | Globally, eight new carbon markets emerged in 2013, and six new regional cap-and-trade regimes have emerged in China since 2011, with a seventh set to begin trading there this year. That makes China’s carbon market second only to the European Union’s, and is indicative of the way regional and sub-national governments are beginning to step up on climate change in ways that national governments and international efforts have failed to do, according to the World Bank’s “State and Trends of Carbon Pricing”.

State & Trends Report Charts Global Growth of Carbon Pricing

World Bank, 28 May 2014 | The share of greenhouse gas emissions covered by domestic carbon pricing initiatives increased significantly over the past year, led by the launch of six carbon markets in China. Today, 39 national and 23 sub-national jurisdictions – responsible for almost a quarter of the global greenhouse gas emissions – have implemented or are scheduled to implement carbon pricing instruments, including emissions trading schemes and taxes, building the momentum for a bottom-up approach to climate action. The State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2014 report launched today at the 11th Carbon Expo in Cologne, Germany, shows that while international negotiations may be slow, countries and cities are moving on climate pricing. A total of eight new carbon markets opened in 2013, and another launched in early 2014. With these additions, the world’s emissions trading schemes are valued at about US$30 billion.

Climate change means we must rewrite economics textbooks

By Erin Nash and Yuan Yang, RTCC, 28 May 2014 | Millions of students across the world take undergraduate economics courses each year. They will leave to take on roles in academia, business, politics and policy-making. The ways in which we are taught to think will frame how we respond to the global challenge of climate change. And yet, we economics students are not being educated to open our eyes to the world. We are instructed to divert our attention from reality and to focus on our textbook models. We are encouraged to think of our discipline as value-free, scientific, and authoritative. This approach gives us little chance of engaging with the challenges of climate change with the nuance and consideration they demand.

Industry, policy makers call for global CO2 price

Argus Media, 28 May 2014 | Industry and policy makers have opened this year’s Carbon Expo conference in Cologne with calls for a global price on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as the World Bank has described a more fragmented reality in its annual carbon pricing review. Delegates including UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres and industry and power sector chiefs encouraged policy makers and businesses to step up efforts toward creating a single price for GHG emissions. “We need a substantial global price on carbon,” Figueres told a plenary session of the conference today. “Emitting has a cost wherever it happens.”

[Australia] AMP fund dumps fossil fuel investments

By Peter Ker, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 2014 | Another big investor has decided to reduce its exposure to fossil fuels, with AMP Capital announcing that its ‘‘responsible’’ funds would have limited scope to invest in certain mining and energy companies. The changes will see 56 companies ruled out of bounds for the funds, and see the affected industries grouped with pornographers, weapons manufacturers, gaming companies, uranium miners, and producers of alcohol and tobacco. In a move that follows bans by several church funds and banks in northern Europe, AMP said the changes were in response to ‘‘growing interest and concern’’ about climate change from investors.

DRC Launches REDD University

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 28 May 2014 | The REDD National Coordination Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) convened the first REDD University for a hundred participants representing government organizations, civil society, local communities and indigenous peoples. The University covered: climate change and REDD , the REDD process and implementation framework in the DRC, communication on REDD , and the Emission Reductions Program Idea Note (ER-PIN) in the DRC. The University also focused on REDD projects and sustainable forest management in Bandundu as well as the jurisdictional approach to REDD as applied in Bandundu. In discussion forums held during the University, participants discussed issues ranging from artisanal logging to provincial participation in the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) process with the EU.

EU urges China to roll out carbon trading nationwide ahead of 2020 target

By Li Jing, South China Morning Post, 28 May 2014 | A senior European Union climate official has urged China to roll out a nationwide carbon market before the planned completion date of 2020, insisting a carbon cap would not expose the country to greater international pressure to agree to a new climate treaty. Jos Delbeke, director general of the European Commission’s Climate Action initiative, said the wider the market scope, the more efficient the cap-and-trade system would be in reducing carbon emissions. In an interview with the South China Morning Post last week, Delbeke said senior Chinese officials need not worry, adding that the EU’s own emission trading scheme only covered a part of its total carbon emissions. The EU has embarked on the €5 million (HK$53 million) initiative to help China widen its existing regional pilot carbon trading schemes.

[India] Ministry of environment and forests undergoes a nomenclature change; government serious to tackle climate change

Economic Times, 28 May 2014 | In a move that signals changed priorities, the ministry of environment and forests has undergone a nomenclature change. It has been renamed as the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The nomenclature change indicates the government’s acknowledgement of the serious challenge that climate change poses. Climate change is not an addition to the ministry’s portfolio, however the focus has largely been on international negotiations. With climate change being made one of the three focus areas of the ministry, the government has made it clear that it considers climate change to be an issue with domestic implications as well. “Renaming signifies a broadening of the mandate and a realisation of the impact that the threat of climate change has on growth. The revised mandate will ensure that the ministry plays a necessary and important role in integrating climate actions with development agenda,” said Sanjay Vashisht…

[Indonesia] REDD realization needs transparent evaluation

ANTARA News, 28 May 2014 | The realization of REDD in Central Kalimantan province should be evaluated transparently to observe the impacts, noted a local legislator. “There should be an evaluation of the ongoing REDD activities, so that every stakeholder is able to receive comprehensive information. I welcome a plan to hold a meeting between the local legislators and the REDD executors,” Heru Hidayat, a Central Kalimantan lawmaker, stated here on Wednesday. Central Kalimantan has been developed as a pilot project of REDD since December 2010, but its implementation has been engulfed in controversy. Hidayat noted that the project should be beneficial for the local community and improve their welfare sustainably. The project, which involves the local government and community, should be implemented in an effective, efficient, fair, transparent, and integrated manner, the politician from the Justice and Prosperous Party, added.

Kazakhstan wins support for carbon market

Reuters, 28 May 2014 | The European Energy Exchange (EEX) said it signed an agreement with Kazakh exchange Caspi JSC to provide support and technology for exchange-based trading of carbon permits, supporting Kazakhstan’s new emissions market, EEX said. “We welcome Kazakhstan’s initiative to launch a national CO2 market as the first country in Asia and are happy to support Caspi JSC as operator of this market in its development,” EEX Chief Executive Peter Reitz said in a statement on Tuesday. The two partners will look at the possibility of using the trading technology of EEX’s parent, Deutsche Boerse, for the Kazakh carbon market, the statement said. EEX is majority-owned by Eurex, Deutsche Boerse’s derivatives unit. “EEX has wide expertise in operating a regulated market for emissions trading,” the chairman of the board of Caspi JSC, Yelnar Nadyrgaliyev, said in the EEX statement.

Offsets to Cushion South African Carbon Tax

By Brendon Bosworth, IPS, 28 May 2014 | To curb greenhouse gas emissions, South Africa wants to put a tax on carbon emissions from big polluters. The aim of making polluters pay for the carbon they pump into the atmosphere is to help South Africa, the world’s 12th highest emitter of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, transition to a low-carbon economy. “We have one of the most carbon intensive economies in the world,” Anton Cartwright, a researcher on the green economy at the University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities, told IPS. Coal-burning power plants provide close to ninety percent of South Africa’s electricity, making the economy highly carbon intensive. “We don’t get a great bang for buck on our coal,” said Cartwright. “We use a low-grade coal with a very high CO2 content.” The tax was slated to take effect in 2015 but in February this year National Treasury announced it would be pushed back to January 2016, citing the need for “further consultation.”

[USA] Pentagon clear climate change is a ‘national security’ issue

By Ed King, RTCC, 28 May 2014 | The threats posed by climate change are “overwhelmingly clear” to everyone at US military headquarters, a senior Pentagon official has told a Senate enquiry. While many leading US politicians remain sceptical over the science behind global warming, Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, said military planners were convinced, and concerned. “If you wait for 100% certainty on the battlefield, something bad is going to happen,” he said, quoting former US chief of staff Gordon Sullivan. “We look for indicators, warnings, reasons to take action that are prudent. Not to place a bet on a certainty – but it is overwhelmingly clear to everyone in the Pentagon and majority of folks in our nation that climate change is happening and we need to do something about it.”

29 May 2014

Prompt global action can cut the cost of going carbon neutral

By Gerard Wynn, RTCC, 29 May 2014 | Ambitious action under a new global climate deal will cut the cost of reaching zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of this century, said the UN official responsible for driving the negotiations… The only economic way presently to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is to expand the area of vegetation including forests, which can mop up CO2, but space constraints limit such potential, throwing the emphasis on cutting emissions. “You will come to the point this century when you have to take out as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as you put in,” said Halldor Thorgeirsson, director for implementation strategy at the secretariat of the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC). “We’re not talking about minor adjustments (in emissions) but transformation. The sooner you start the more economic it will be.”

Better information flows needed for REDD monitoring, report says

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 May 2014 | Harmonizing the flow of information between local, national and international institutions remains a key challenge to projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (known as REDD ), according to a recent analysis. The study cites obstacles and opportunities for monitoring, verifying and reporting (MRV) emissions reductions in three countries with REDD programs. REDD is a “multi-level puzzle” that requires an integrated approach to the structuring of international and local governance levels if MRV accuracy and accountability are to be ensured, the study said. “People should understand how complex and multi-level REDD is, from international to very local,” said Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki, a research associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who led the study on “Multiple levels and multiple challenges for measurement, reporting and verification of REDD ”…

Brazil promises ‘greenest World Cup’

Free Malaysia Today, 29 May 2014 | Brazil announced a package of pollution-cutting measures Tuesday aimed at making this year’s World Cup more environmentally friendly, ranging from an emissions-trading scheme to a “green passport” smart-phone application. “We want to score green goals,” said Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira at a press conference announcing the initiative. The World Cup and other major sports events generally leave giant carbon footprints. Building stadiums and infrastructure, flying in teams and fans, and hosting the games themselves all emit large amounts of Earth-warming greenhouse gases such as CO2. Teixeira said this year’s World Cup, which runs from June 12 to July 13, is expected to directly add 59,000 tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere.

[Cambodia] As Forests Fall, Carbon Credit Plan Faces Collapse

By Kuch Naren and Zsombor Peter, The Cambodia Daily, 29 May 2014 | Community forest chiefs and rights groups in Oddar Meanchey province say logging is now so rampant they have finally given up hope that a U.N.-backed scheme to generate millions of dollars worth of carbon credits for the area and the country will ever get off the ground. They say the project is effectively dead, and that some of the very people who spent years trying to conserve the area have finally lost hope and joined the loggers. “The program here for carbon trading is dead,” said Din Heng, chief of the Andong Bor community forest. “The government was first committed to protecting these forests for carbon trading, but they are not doing anything to help us fight the illegal logging.”

[UK] Private investors the real losers as bogus schemes are shut down

By Ceri Jones, Money Observer, 29 May 2014 | A group of investment firms that Money Observer has repeatedly warned about since 2012 have been shut down by the High Court on grounds of public interest. The firms sold investors carbon credits, which are certificates permitting a company to emit a tonne of carbon dioxide, at hugely inflated prices. The 13 companies marketed voluntary carbon credits from the supplier at the centre of the labyrinth, Eco-Synergies Ltd, which bought credits for 65p each, selling them to investors through the firms for up to an 869 per cent profit, effectively making £19 million on a £2.3 million outlay. There is very little market in trading voluntary carbon credits, as Money Observer has long been at pains to point out, and despite persistant legal action from one of the main companies in the web, MH Carbon Limited, we have continued to explain clearly to readers the weaknesses of these investment schemes…

[USA] Obama to unveil historic climate change plan to cut US carbon pollution

By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 29 May 2014 | President Barack Obama will unveil a plan on Monday that will cut carbon pollution from power plants and promote cap-and-trade, undertaking the most significant action on climate change in American history. The proposed regulations Obama will launch at the White House on Monday could cut carbon pollution by as much as 25% from about 1,600 power plants in operation today, according to those claiming familiarity with the plan. Power plants are the country’s single biggest source of carbon pollution – responsible for up to 40% of the country’s emissions. The rules, which were drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency and are under review by the White House, are expected to do more than Obama, or any other president, has done so far to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions responsible for climate change.

[USA] Carbon pollution Q&A: why Obama’s proposal could make climate history

By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 29 May 2014 | Why is this a big deal in terms of climate change? Climate legislation would have imposed economy-wide limits on carbon pollution. With that option off the table, this is the next best thing. Power plants are the single biggest source of carbon pollution, responsible for up to 40% of the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change. Much of that carbon pollution is produced by burning coal, especially in old plants. Obama already cut emissions from the second biggest source – transport – with new rules for cars during his first term.

[USA] Indications of Interest Sought for “Regulation A” Offering of Preferred Stock in New Company Selling Improved Maine Forest Carbon Products (Not Credits)

Planetary Emissions Management Inc. press release, 29 May 2014 | Carbon sequestration by forests across the planet is universally recognized as a primary component of the carbon cycle but direct measurement of carbon sequestration has not been commercially available as a service until now. Planetary Emissions Management Inc. is introducing unique and new “climate equities” as forest carbon products through an SEC Regulation A offering that are project based and valued according to sequestration performance. An advertisement describing the Regulation A security is publicly available along with a form to indicate interest are available for review. The patented PEM “system of systems” eliminates costly and uncertain estimation protocols widely in use today. PEM Inc is seeking indications of interest for its Regulation A stock offering now in the planning stages. PEM will form a new company, Planet Alpha Fund, to create the next generation of carbon credits…

U.S. eases risks for $134 mln forest protection fund

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 29 May 2014 | The United States government has agreed to cover half of any future losses from a forest protection fund in a landmark deal it says will benefit poor communities. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is giving a risk-sharing loan guarantee to Althelia Carbon Fund, which aims to lend up to $134 million to sustainable forest-based businesses in developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The scheme will remove the same amount of carbon dioxide as would taking almost 19 million cars off the road for a year. “This will not only create profits for Althelia’s investors, it will help protect 20 rainforests and prevent 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere,” said U.S Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry made the remarks in a video message played to the Carbon Expo conference in Cologne, Germany on Wednesday.

30 May 2014

[Cambodia] Cross at your own risk

By May Titthara and Alice Cuddy, Phnom Penh Post, 30 May 2014 | Since he began making the perilous journey to Thailand to log rosewood 10 years ago, Sao Sophon* has had plenty of time to calculate the cost of dying. “When we cross the border to Thailand, our lives are equal to $80 or $90, because that is the amount we can earn for each trip. If the Thai soldiers shoot us, that is what our lives are worth,” Sophon said. Sitting on the back of the large two-wheeled cart that he pulls from Oddar Meanchey province into Thailand, Sophon, the head of an illegal logging cartel, told the Post that the hunt for lucrative rosewood leads loggers on a gruelling four-hour trek over the sprawling Dangkrek Mountains and into neighbouring Thailand. While the area offers an abundance of rosewood, it is also the base of armed, black-uniformed Thai soldiers, he said.

China expects to launch national carbon market in 2018-govt official

By Gerard Wynn, RTCC, 30 May 2014 | China expects to launch a national carbon market in 2018, based on regional schemes it is presently piloting, a senior official at the country’s planning ministry told a World Bank conference. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has previously said that its pilot schemes could provide useful experience for a national carbon market. The World Bank is trying to drive wider, global adoption of emissions trading schemes (ETS), under its “Partnership for Market Readiness” programme, which hosted a conference in Mexico in March. “Based on the outcomes and experiences of the seven pilot regions, we will establish directly the national ETS to implement cap-and-trade scheme at a national scale,” said NDRC official Wang Shu, in a presentation at the conference.

[DR Congo} Playing poker with Congo’s forests

By Alex Pardal, Global Witness, 30 May 2014 | The Democratic Republic of Congo has become the latest country to play poker with its forests. Environment Minister Bavon N’sa Mputu Elima was in London last week, trying to persuade donors to pay the DRC to keep its forests standing. The deal sounds simple enough – if the country raises $US 1 billion it will preserve the world’s second largest rainforest. Not only would this safeguard vital local ecosystems, it would also help global efforts to halt climate change. But Minister Bavon’s request comes at a time when his government’s commitments to preserving Congo’s rainforest are being seriously questioned.

[India] ‘Forest inventory key to policy planning’

The Hindu, 30 May 2014 | Experts who attended an international workshop held at the Kerala Forest Research Institute here said that South Asian countries should assign a high priority to undertaking and updating forest inventories. The workshop on “Tree volume and biomass allometric equations in South Asia” concluded on Thursday. Forest inventories are crucial for assessing the current status of trees, woodlands and forests in a country, and providing a benchmark for monitoring the performance of various policies. The inventories will reveal what the area of existing woodland is, the nature and condition of the woodland and whether it is improving or declining. Information gathered for an inventory will help calculate the number of trees per acre, the basal area, the volume of trees and the value of the timber.

[Indonesia] Campaign against tin mining in Bangka island targets Microsoft

By Sajid Shaikh, The Guardian, 30 May 2014 | A campaign against tin mining in Bangka and Belitung islands of Indonesia is targeting tech giant Microsoft. The islands, off the coast of Sumatra, are being stripped off their forests and marine wealth and dug up for tin, used widely in the electronics and IT industry by major brands making mobile phones, tablets, laptops, computers and other gadgets. Friends of Earth Netherlands, an environmental group fighting for sustainable sourcing of tin, said they are targeting Microsoft for “refusing to take steps to end irresponsible mining practices on Bangka and Belitung islands.” Asus, HTC and Huawei are other brands named by the group using tin sourced unethically. “Big brands such as Apple, Philips and LG openly support projects to produce tin in a better way. It is unacceptable that other brands still refuse to follow this lead and take responsibility.”

US Feds See Althelia Risk Guarantee As Template For Similar Endeavors

By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, 30 May 2014 | US Secretary of State John Kerry has long been an advocate of addressing climate change. He pleasantly surprised many attendees at the Carbon Expo 2014 conference in Cologne, Germany this week by announcing a new effort by the US federal government to support projects that prevent deforestation. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) will offer a new-risk sharing loan guarantee that will enable the Althelia Climate Fund to lend up to $133.8 million in commercial financing for forest conservation and sustainable land use projects in developing countries where people rely on the forests for their livelihoods.

U.S. govt puts financial muscle behind REDD forest carbon conservation projects

mongabay.com, 30 May 2014 | Christian del Valle, Managing Partner from Althelia Climate Fund, said the backing will help finance new models for sustainably managing and protecting resources. “This guarantee provided by USAID allows private capital to flow at scale toward financing sustainable land use models that drive livelihood improvements, ecosystem conservation and climate change mitigation,” del Valle said in a statement. USAID says the project will be backed by private sector money via the Development Credit Authority (DCA), requiring less than $6 million of the agency’s funds. “The Development Credit Authority (DCA) uses partial credit guarantees to mobilize local financing in developing countries. Guarantee agreements encourage private lenders to extend financing to underserved borrowers in new sectors and regions. By opening up local channels of financing, USAID is empowering entrepreneurs in developing countries at a minimal cost to the U.S. taxpayer….”

Melanie Nakagawa on Integrating Gender Into REDD at the Department of State and USAID

By Donald Borenstein, New Security Beat, 30 May 2014 | A central tenet of John Kerry’s time as Secretary of State has been an emphasis on climate change. In a speech in Indonesia this year, he compared the threat of changing climate conditions to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Though the United States has been slow to enact major climate legislation, the Department of State has developed a “road map” for responding in its own way. The REDD+ program could play a major role in this response, says Melanie Nakagawa of the department’s policy planning staff in this week’s podcast.

31 May 2014

1 June 2014

Indonesia Plays Dual Roles in Climate Change Issues

ANTARA News, 1 June 2014 | REDD+ is an alternative mechanism that will help cut global carbon dioxide emissions in developing nations. Under the scheme, forested nations will receive financial incentives for protecting their forests. The plus sign in the programs name refers to additional financial incentives given to countries that will launch projects to plant trees, conserve forest areas, and boost carbon retention. Last year, the government also extended forest moratorium for two additional years to prevent new clearing of primary forests and peatlands and protect over 43 million hectares of primary forests and peatlands. The government issued the Presidential Instruction No. 10 /2011 on forest moratorium for the first time in May 2011. The renewed moratorium is positive news for global efforts to combat climate change.

[New Zealand] Greens unveil bold carbon tax plan

By Isaac Davison, The New Zealand Herald, 1 June 2014 | The Green Party has unveiled a bold plan to tax companies for their carbon pollution, though farmers would be charged half-price and all revenue would be returned to households and businesses. The party has completely lost hope in the “failed” Emissions Trading Scheme and now wants to replace it with a carbon tax in order to ramp up New Zealand’s efforts to combat climate change… If elected, Greens want to charge all sectors except agriculture $25 per tonne on C02 equivalent emissions. Farmers would be charged $12.50 per tonne and forestry, which helps absorb carbon pollution, would be credited at a rate of $12.50 per tonne. Sheep and lamb farming would initially be exempt from a carbon tax. All of the revenue raised from the carbon charge would be returned to families and businesses. All individual income under $2000 would be tax-free and companies would get a 1 per cent tax cut.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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