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REDD in the news: 14-20 July 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.

14 July 2014

Could Rising Aviation Emissions be Good for the Environment?

By Adam Whitmore, The Energy Collective, 14 July 2014 | International aviation sector is likely to require a substantial number of offsets to meet its goal of achieving carbon neutrality above a 2020 baseline. If these offsets are forestry related there is the possibility of generating substantial biodiversity co-benefits… One source of offsets that looks particularly promising is reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD)… For a satisfactory scheme any offsets will of course need to be high quality, including meeting the usual tests of additionally, permanence and so forth, with adequate governance a prerequisite. Buffers, exchange rates or risk premiums may be necessary to account for residual risks around permanence, leakage and other factors, or to realise an explicit goal of generating net benefits, with (for illustration) 1.5 tonnes of REDD offsets required for every tonne of aviation emissions.

Challenges in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation

By Bryan Adkins, La Luta Continua, 14 July 2014 | As I work for a company that is working hard to promote REDD projects worldwide, as well as the active development of REDD jurisdictional programmes, and national policies, it may seem slightly strange that I am saying that REDD has some challenges. However, practically speaking, I think we have a real opportunity with REDD to create transformational impact on the ground. If we are going to do that, we need to address some key aspects of how REDD is implemented, that are currently creating challenges. With a combination of innovative approaches, dialogue, pragmatism and cooperation, I believe that these challenges can be overcome.

Unsustainable conversion of forests to private wealth must cease, economist says

By Bruno Vander Velde and Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 July 2014 | Shifting to a green economy will require ceasing the unsustainable conversion of public wealth to private wealth while accounting for for the full social costs of private-sector activities, according to a leading economist. The idea is hardly a new one, but it has gained currency as demographic changes and unsustainable development have hastened degradation of the environment — particularly in Southeast Asia, where rapid growth has come at the expense of the region’s forests. The benefits that forests provide, including water storage and management, carbon sequestration, crop pollination, biodiversity protection, among others, “are public goods and services — they don’t belong to anybody; they belong to everybody,” said Pavan Suhkdev, UN Environment Programme goodwill ambassador.

Mary Robinson named UN envoy for climate change

AP, 14 July 2014 | Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed former Irish president Mary Robinson as his special envoy for climate change. She has a mandate to mobilize world leaders to take action at the climate summit the U.N. chief is hosting in September. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday the Sept. 23 summit will be “an important milestone” to mobilize political commitment for a global climate agreement by 2015 and spur action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build “climate resilient communities.”

[Australia] Senator Bill Heffernan calls for investigation into News Corp carbon scheme

By Rory Callinan and Matthew Cranston, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2014 | The Senate should investigate a scheme which saw $9.19 million of taxpayers’ money wasted on a failed carbon farm that was supposed to make Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp carbon neutral, according to Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan. His call came as Fairfax Media learned nearly $4 million of taxpayers’ money will not be recovered from the $9.19 million originally outlaid to News Corp-backed company RM Williams Agricultural Holdings in a Caring for Country grant in 2011. RM Williams Agricultural Holdings Pty Ltd had sought to use the money to set up the world’s largest carbon farm as part of a secret deal to provide enough carbon credits to make News Corp carbon neutral.But the farm, on Northern Territory cattle station Henbury near Alice Springs, never eventuated and RM Williams Agricultural Holdings collapsed owing more than $50 million to Westpac, $30 million to News Corp as well as a number of private investors.

Europe handed out too many carbon permits, says China negotiator

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 14 July 2014 | The European Union handed out too many free carbon permits in its Emissions Trading System and did not set a deep enough emission reduction goal, China’s top climate negotiator said on Monday. China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, is testing its own carbon markets and aims to set up a national programme by 2017 to help curb its emissions. Prices in Beijing’s pilot carbon market became the highest in the world last week, rising to 74.07 yuan per tonne following a crackdown on compliance after some companies had ignored a key reporting deadline.

Carbon market pays off: €89m to fund French projects

EurActiv, 14 July 2014 | For the first time ever, the sale of carbon credits will finance projects that help tackle climate change. The EU Commission will fund 19 projects, two of which are in France. EurActiv France reports. For those who still question the point of a European carbon market, here is a possible answer. The European Commission announced on 8 July that 19 projects from 12 EU member states will receive their share of €1 billion raised through the sale of carbon credits. Established in 2005, the European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) set a cap on the total amount of certain greenhouse gases that can be emitted by some 12,000 factories, power plants and other installations across the EU. Most emission allowances were initially given away for free, while countries were allowed to auction off part of the credits destined for the industrial sites.

15 July 2014

The history of the contentious number behind zero deforestation commitments for palm oil

By Scott Poynton, mongabay.com, 15 July 2014 | It was just after lunch, Monday, November 8th 2010 when it all began. At the time, it was innocent enough; there were certainly no ill intentions. Yet, looking back, I now see it as the moment that kicked off the polarizing debate that today splits the palm oil industry and that drowns out much needed sensible discussion around how forest protection and palm oil expansion might go hand in hand. The debate, with all its spin and tension, has become the focus rather than that more important, bigger question. What happened? I was in a meeting room in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Jakarta with folk from Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) and Greenpeace. We were meeting for the second time in three days and we were struggling together to define “forest”.

Emitters in China’s largest carbon market meet targets amid falling prices

By Stian Reklev and Kathy Chen, Reuters, 15 July 2014 | Nearly every carbon emitter covered by China’s largest pilot emissions scheme met Tuesday’s compliance deadline, a government official said, as permit prices slipped to an all-time low amid ample supply and with no last-minute scramble for allowances. The Guangdong scheme – one of China’s seven pilot carbon markets aimed at controlling greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming – caps the carbon output of 202 electricity generators and manufacturers. The pilot markets are to prepare China for the launch of a national emissions scheme later in the decade that is expected to be the world’s largest. The country is the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter and is under increasing international pressure to slow down the rapid growth in its emissions.

Germany sets example, pledges $1 billion to U.N. climate fund

By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 15 July 2014 | Aid group Oxfam has called on other rich nations to follow the example of Germany, which has promised €750 million ($1 billion) for the U.N.’s fledgling Green Climate Fund. “This announcement ends the deafening silence we’ve had so far around the empty Green Climate Fund that is supposed to support poor countries in the battle against climate change. Now others must follow suit,” Oxfam Germany’s Jan Kowalzig said. “If rich countries such as the U.S., France, the UK, Japan and others manage to collect at least $15 billion in pledges ahead of the upcoming U.N. climate negotiations in Lima at the end of the year, this could give the talks a significant boost,” he added in a statement.

[Indonesia] Orwell would recognise the logic of postcolonialism at play in West Papua

By Morgan Godfery, The Guardian, 15 July 2014 | Indonesia annexed West Papua in the 1960s. Thus began and thus continues the deadliest postcolonial struggle in Oceania. In the past half century the Indonesian security forces have killed as many as 500,000 West Papuans. Last year the Asian Human Rights Commission released The Neglected Genocide, a report on atrocities committed in 1977 and 1978. Survivors describe how they escaped the killing fields while others recount their run-ins with the torture squads. Violence wasn’t just something that happened in West Papua, it was a form of government. One would hope that, some 40 years later, things have improved. It doesn’t seem so. According to the Free West Papua Movement a local independence leader was shot dead on his motorcycle in June. The UNPO reports that local democracy activists have been beaten and arrested for handing out leaflets encouraging West Papuans to boycott last week’s presidential election.

On track to ‘go beyond the critical point’: Sri Lanka still losing forests at rapid clip

By Janaki Lenin, mongabay.com, 15 July 2014 | In 1983, Sri Lanka became embroiled in a 26-year-long civil war in which a rebel militant organization fought to establish an independent state called Tamil Eelam. The war took an enormous human toll; unknown numbers disappeared and millions more were displaced. Economic development stagnated in the rebel-held north and east of the country, while foreign investment shied away from the country. During the latter half of the war, between 1990 and 2005, Sri Lanka suffered one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world as government soldiers burned vast tracts to flush rebels out of their forest strongholds.As a result, the country lost about 35 percent of its old growth forest and almost 18 percent of its total forest cover. The conflict ended in 2009, and while deforestation has slowed somewhat, Sri Lanka is still losing forest cover at a fast clip. Global Forest Watch figures show 49,652 hectares were lost between 2009 and 2012.

16 July 2014

To define future of forests, first define ‘forests’

By Paolo Cerutti, Robert Nasi and Plinio Sist, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 July 2014 | If we are to continue to use the term “forest” to describe a wide variety of states, as we do now, future environmental endeavors will suffer. Natural forest values, for instance, are jeopardized when land-use decisions are informed by remote-sensing analyses that distinguish only forest and non-forest, and when “forest” is defined solely on the basis of tree cover. These practices engender a somewhat false sense of accomplishment when the forests that are reported to cover substantial portions of tropical landscapes barely resemble “old growth.”

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 16 July 2014 | As Steve Zwick reports, though, REDD didn’t create an “incentive” to save the forests. A typical palm-oil plantation generates $1,000 per hectare in pure profit – more than twenty-fold the income that could be generated from the sale of offsets. So REDD will not sway those responding to purely economic incentives, but it does create a financing mechanism that may make it possible for people who want to save forests to do so. The Rimba Raya project has sold five million tonnes of offsets since 2010 and verified another five million tonnes of emissions reductions, more than four million of which remain unsold.

30% of Borneo’s rainforests destroyed since 1973

By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 16 July 2014 | More than 30 percent of Borneo’s rainforests have been destroyed over the past forty years due to fires, industrial logging, and the spread of plantations, finds a new study that provides the most comprehensive analysis of the island’s forest cover to date. The research, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, shows that just over a quarter of Borneo’s lowland forests remain intact. The study, which involved an international team of scientists led by David Gaveau and Erik Meijaard, is based on satellite data and aerial photographs. That approach enabled the researchers to separate industrial plantations from selectively-logged natural forests, while also mapping the extent of logging roads for various elevations, distinguishing between highly endangered lowland forests and inaccessible high-elevation forests.

[Indonesia] Slowing Down Deforestation Will Not Happen Overnight

By Agus Purnomo and Yani Saloh letter to the editor, The Jakarta Globe, 16 July 2014 | A recent study on primary forest cover loss in Indonesia in the years 2000-12 that was published in the journal Nature Climate Change proposed some startling figures which led to the unsubstantiated and unhelpful Jakarta Globe editorial of July 2, which claimed that “a new study has proven that [President Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono’s statements [on deforestation] add up to nothing but lip service and empty promises.” Let us state clearly and up front that we welcome this study and thank the authors for their attempt to contribute to a better understanding of deforestation issues in Indonesia. We are proud that the lead author, Belinda Margono, is a home-grown talent from the Ministry of Forestry. Some of the figures proposed are indeed startling. If they are true, they certainly give cause for concern. However, not only are the finding counterintuitive, the conclusion is an outlier…

17 July 2014

World Bank Poised to Deny Africa’s Indigenous Peoples Their Rights

By Nezir Sinani, Huffington Post, 17 July 2014 | While by no means uniform, the World Bank has been applying its Indigenous Peoples Policy in Africa for well over a decade. Now, the Bank is poised to introduce an “opt-out clause” for African governments who, for their own political calculations, prefer it not be applied. This would represent a huge reversal in what has been steady progress in favor of the rights of Africa’s indigenous communities, including the seminal work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights and legislative efforts in several African countries. At the same time, the proposed opt-out clause would constitute a significant dilution of World Bank policy, which Bank President Jim Kim pledged would not happen at the outset of the safeguard review.

Green bonds market grows by 60% in a year

By Gavin O’Toole, The Guardian, 17 July 2014 | The market for green bonds has grown 60% this year compared to 2013, surpassing expectations and leading experts to say a niche has now become mainstream. The climate bonds initiative (CBI) and HSBC said on Thursday that green bonds with a total value of $18.3bn (£10.7bn) were issued in the first half of 2014. The figure greatly exceed issuance of $11bn in 2013 and have been fuelled by the activity of corporations, investment banks and even local authorities that are now piling into a market previously dominated by multilateral banks and agencies. So-called green bonds are designed to raise capital for the low-carbon economy, and agreement by banks on a set of “green bond principles” in January has been seen as a major boost to growth.

Green bond growth of $40bn forecast for this year

By Andrew Bolger, Financial Times, 17 July 2014 | The era of green bonds that finance environmentally friendly projects has begun, with the market forecast to grow by $40bn this year and $100bn next year. This prediction is in a report by the Climate Bonds Initiative, an international non-profiit organisation set up in 2010 to promote investments that combat climate change. “Significant growth from a very low base will occur in new markets such as Germany, catalysed by a recently announced KfW bond, and China, where the government has called for the growth of a corporate green bonds market,” the report said. While the market has come a long way, the CBI said there was still a way to go to meet International Energy Agency projections of the capital flows needed to address dangerous climate change. The agency estimates the finance requirement to be about $1tn per year above business as usual.

Incrementalism vs. transformation: How to change in the face of climate change?

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 July 2014 | With climate change proceeding faster than previously expected, there is a growing realization that adapting to it will be as important as mitigating it. But how policymakers build resilience to climate change raises thorny questions. At what point do we stop pursuing incremental changes in favor of disruptive, transformative change? Do transformations occur only when it is too late? And what even constitutes a “transformation”? A recent conference saw climate and development experts grapple with these questions, drawing on real-world examples that reflected a diversity of approaches to some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. “In some situations, incremental adaptation may not be sufficient,” said Claudia Comberti of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.

[Germany] ‘Merkel might come back as a climate leader’

By Charlotta Lomas, Deutsche Welle, 17 July 2014 | This week, Germany hosted the fifth Petersberg Climate Dialogue in preparation for the Climate Change Conference in Peru at the end of this year. Christoph Bals from Germanwatch gives his verdict on how the talks went. “Big players for climate policy, and the EU too, are willing to get an ambitious deal next year in Paris for a new climate deal which is so necessary. China has, for the first time, announced a commitment about the peak year of China’s emission. China is the biggest emitter by far in the world and soon China will have twice as much emissions as the US, the second biggest emitter. And this announcement, that they will relatively soon stop increasing their emissions, would be a turning point for the international climate debate.”

UK funds carbon credits pilot trading scheme in South Africa

Out-Law.com, 17 July 2014 | The British High Commission in Pretoria has confirmed it is supporting the programme to help companies prepare for the introduction of the 120-rand (ZAR) ($11.21) per tonne carbon dioxide (CO2) tax. A pilot trade of carbon credits on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange will be included in the programme to show how businesses can “optimise the use of relief measures for carbon tax”, according to carbon and climate change advisory firm Promethium Carbon, which is conducting the programme. Robbie Louw, a director of South African energy consultancy Promethium, said: “The testing of the trading platform will demonstrate how business can optimise the use of relief measures for carbon tax.” According to Promethium, “a number of mitigation projects are currently stranded or parked due to a low carbon price and non-existing market”. The new UK funding will help to “fast track” development of a local carbon trading system, Promethium said.

[UK] Solicitor suspended over boiler-room scam

Legal Futures, 17 July 2014 | A solicitor involved in boiler-room scams has been suspended from practising for 18 months by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). Andrew Lawrence Greystoke, of Atlantic Law, London, had already been found guilty by the then Financial Services Authority (FSA) to have recklessly signed off the approval of 50 UK investment advertisements issued by unregulated Spanish stockbroker firms. He did so without taking reasonable steps to ensure the advertisements were clear, fair and not misleading, and despite having reason to doubt that the Spanish firms would deal with UK consumers in an honest and reliable way.

[USA] The fallacy of forest ‘offsets’

By Amy Moas, Capitol Weekly, 17 July 2014 | If protecting trees in Mexico so that companies can pollute more here sounds dubious, that’s because it is. In reality, it’s impossible to guarantee that the forests used as offsets would remain standing over thousands of years. Tropical forests face the same threat as those in California, which has lost large tracts of forest to fires and other causes. Yet CARB has identified projects in Chiapas Mexico, and Acre in the Amazon as potential first suppliers of credits. Fires, droughts and illegal activities are not the only problems that make forests unsuitable as part of carbon offset schemes. Tropical forests are home to millions of people. In recent years offset projects have repeatedly led to serious human rights violations and threatened the livelihoods of local communities and indigenous people living there.

[USA] Chevrolet Buys $600,000 In Carbon Credits From CF Industries

By Sam McEachern, GM Authority, 17 July 2014 | Nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing company CF Industries Holdings Inc. has announced the sale of $600,000 in carbon offset credits to General Motors and Chevrolet. The proceeds of the sale will benefit the National FFA Foundation, which financially supports various agricultural education organizations. Chevrolet is one of the most active companies in purchasing carbon credits and recently purchased an additional $500,000 in credits from three separate American universities as part of its Carbon Reduction Initiative. CF industries earned their credits through implementing nitrous oxide reduction technologies in order to lessen greenhouse gas emissions. The company began its nitrous reduction efforts in 2008. “Our products help farmers feed the world and this unique transaction will benefit a great organization teaching the next generation of farmers how to succeed,” said Tony Will, president and chief executive office at CF Industries.

18 July 2014

Australia scraps carbon tax

By Leigh Dayton, Science/AAAS, 18 July 2014 | Bucking global efforts to curtail carbon pollution, Australia’s conservative government yesterday abolished a national carbon tax that it had long opposed. The move to “ax the tax”—as Prime Minister Tony Abbott is fond of saying—makes Australia the first country in the world to abolish a functioning carbon pricing scheme. In 2009, Abbott, then leader of the opposition, dismissed climate change as “absolute crap.” The centerpiece of Australia’s Clean Energy Act passed in 2012, the carbon tax required 350 of the nation’s biggest polluters to purchase carbon credits, valued at AU$23 per ton, if they exceeded their allotted targets. At a press conference on Thursday, Abbott hailed the demise of the “useless, destructive tax.”

India’s forest cover is on the up – but are the numbers too good to be true?

By Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar, The Guardian, 18 July 2014 | Forest cover in India increased by 5871 sq km (2266 sq miles) between 2010 and 2012. That’s the cheery headline news from the State of the Forest Report 2013 released this month by India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar. The findings appear to mark a turnaround from the previous survey, which had found a marginal decline in forests. But the fine print reveals a less rosy picture. The bulk of the increase in forest cover – about 3800 sq km – was in just one state, the report shows, and is partly attributed to a correction in previous survey data. In fact, India may be losing quality forests. Dense forests are degrading into scrub or sparsely covered forest areas in many states, says the report. “Moderately dense” forest cover – areas with a tree canopy density of between 40-70% – shrank by 1991 sq km in the two-year period, while “open forests” with less than 40% canopy increased by 7831 sq km.

19 July 2014

[UK] Probe into carbon credit ‘firm’ that sought investors

By Simon Bain, Herald Scotland, 19 July 2014 | A company involved in the sale to private investors of overpriced carbon credits and diamonds is to be reported to the Insolvency Service for posing as a reputable UK business whilst operating offshore from the Marshall Islands, The Herald has discovered. Abacus Advisory, one of whose clients was Scottish investor Craig Jamieson, ran a website giving the impression of a substantial company with global departments and a head office in the heart of London. It was illustrated by a smiling girl in a busy call centre. The real business had no office in London and was based in the Marshall Islands. The UK-registered company called Abacus Advisory had one director, Philip Clarke, who set the company up in September 2012 and applied for it to be struck off in March 2014.

20 July 2014

Shuttle diplomacy in climate countdown

By David Shukman, BBC News, 20 July 2014 | A senior British minister is once again launched on a long-haul high-carbon mission of shuttle diplomacy in the cause of tackling climate change. The target is to try to land an international deal on limiting greenhouse gases at what is billed as a major summit in Paris in late 2015. In climate terms, Paris has become the new Copenhagen, the next venue for another push for a global agreement following the failed attempt in Denmark five years ago. As with the countdown to every global gathering of this kind, expectations are mounting and the smallest detail of phrasing or policy from key players is seized on as a sign that maybe, this time, perhaps, some cautious hope is justified.

The Environment and Indonesian Communities: Part 1

Clinton Foundation, 20 July 2014 | In Indonesia illegal logging and forest degradation destroy nearly 1 million hectares of forest each year, endangering indigenous species, threatening livelihoods, and contributing to harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The Clinton Climate Initiative works alongside the Indonesian government on nine Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) projects that support local government, community organizations, and private investors to protect 700,000 hectares of forest and areas of high biodiversity. CCI also works with local populations to understand the direct impact of these projects and best serve the needs of the community.

New Peru law weakens environmental standards

By Frank Bajak, AP, 20 July 2014 | Dozens of international groups, the United Nations, and even Peru’s own citizen ombudsman are objecting to a new law that weakens environmental protections in the Andean nation even as it prepares to host international climate talks this year. The law, aimed at increasing investment, strips Peru’s six-year-old environment ministry of jurisdiction over air, soil and water quality standards, as well as its ability to set limits for harmful substances. It also eliminates the ministry’s power to establish nature reserves exempt from mining and oil-drilling. The nation pocked by more than 300 major mines already offers the industry incentives unmatched in the Americas, even by mining-friendly Chile and Mexico.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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