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REDD in the news: 22-28 September 2014

REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, forests and climate. The links are organised by date (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.

IMF Analyzes Co-Benefits of Carbon Pricing
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), September 2014 | The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released a working paper, titled ‘How Much Carbon Pricing is in Countries’ Own Interests? The Critical Role of Co-Benefits.’ The paper assesses, for the top 20 emitting countries, the degree to which carbon pricing is in countries’ national interests by analyzing domestic co-benefits before even considering climate benefits. The paper, finds that carbon pricing is practical, raises revenue enabling tax reductions in other areas, and is often in countries’ national interests, implying that countries need not wait for an international agreement to implement carbon-pricing schemes. The efficiency argument for such schemes is based on: weak prospects for internalizing other externalities through alternative pricing instruments; and productive use of carbon pricing revenues. The report shows that nationally efficient prices are, on average, US$57.5 per ton of carbon dioxide (for year 2010)…

[Colombia] Forest and Climate Protection (REDD+)
GIZ, no date | The project provides support for Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) as it drafts and implements its national REDD+ strategy in a coordinated and participatory manner. It also supports the country’s preparations for the REDD+ mechanism. In doing so, it is applying the criteria of the multinational Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, which include regional structures as well as social and environmental standards. The project promotes communication and cooperation among the actors responsible for forest use and reducing deforestation. In the Northern Andes and the Amazon region, it is promoting pilot activities aimed at fighting deforestation. In both of the selected ecoregions, the causes of deforestation will also be analysed and regional reference scenarios developed. These should demonstrate how deforestation would progress if no countermeasures are taken.

22 September 2014

Brazil won’t sign on to global anti-deforestation plan, says it wasn’t consulted
By Alexandra Olson, Associated Press, 22 September 2014 | Brazil’s environment minister says her country will not sign on to a global anti-deforestation initiative being unveiled at the U.N. climate summit. Despite its critical role in protecting the Amazon rainforest, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, speaking on the eve of Tuesday’s climate summit, said Brazil was “not invited to be engaged in the preparation process” of the declaration. Instead, she says Brazil was given a copy of the text and asked to endorse it without being allowed to suggest any changes. An official with the U.N. Development Program, Charles McNeill, disputes that assertion, saying Brazil did not respond when asked to participate. The declaration has not been publicly released but it is expected to be endorsed by many countries, corporations and major environmental groups.

You Cannot Save the Climate Without Trees
By Dan Klotz, National Geographic, 22 September 2014 | In a controversial opinion piece that ran in the New York Times, the Yale professor presented a new argument for chopping down trees. The massive amounts of forest loss since the mid nineteenth century have supposedly cooled the planet by reducing the biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) released by forests, compounds that exacerbate the climate impacts of ozone, methane, and other industrial pollutants. Trees are also darker colored, and thus absorb more sunlight than light colored cropland. The op-ed and its theories, however, don’t hold up under scrutiny. According to forest ecologist Michael Wolosin, the piece’s underlying research establishes that the impact of forests on carbon is three times larger than the impact of forests on BVOCs. Many more variables need to be included, he argues, before calculating whether forests should be devalued in any climate equation.

We’re at a tipping point over climate
By Darren Walker (Ford Foundation), CNN, 22 September 2014 | Deforestation is responsible for 15% of global carbon emissions, but if we move quickly, we could start now to slow global warming, quickly and cost effectively, while buying vital time for the other solutions that leaders are seeking. We lose 32 million acres of forests every year, the equivalent of almost three soccer fields of forest every three seconds. Why? A recent study blames palm oil, paper and other agricultural commodities for more than half of the world’s tropical forest loss… But something remarkable happened this past year. Stirred by growing consumer demand for change and unprecedented new commitments to sustainability, companies whose business represents well over half the globally traded volume of palm oil have pledged to source their products without cutting down forests. Amongst the highest profile of these companies is the Asian trading giant Wilmar International…

Tackling The Oil Industry On Climate Change
By MIndy Lubber (Ceres), Forbes, 22 September 2014 | ‘Protect our climate’ was the rallying cry heard across New York City yesterday, but the underlying message really was ‘stop using fossil fuels.’ Here is the plain truth – and you’ve heard it before: We won’t solve climate change unless we wean ourselves off oil and coal and use cleaner energy sources. But there is a novel solution, and it’s not the one hundreds of thousands of people were talking about on the streets of Manhattan. Take the people making the most money off the extraction of vast oil and coal reserves – the investors who own oil and coal companies – and show them how they stand to lose billions if these companies get it wrong in navigating the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Climate Advocates Need to Embrace Carbon Tax
By Charles Komanoff, InsideClimate News, 22 September 2014 | Making polluters pay to emit carbon isn’t just textbook economics and basic fairness—though it is those things. A carbon tax is the only way for the climate damage caused by burning fossil fuels to be brought inside the arc of individual and societal decision-making that determines how much of those fuels society uses and, thus, how much carbon it emits. These decisions range from the immediate and quotidian: take transit vs. car, refill at the tap vs. buy bottled water; to institutional and far-reaching: build airplane frames with ultralight composites vs. aluminum, locate in town vs. on the outskirts, contract with a wind farm vs. a coal generator.

Forest-agriculture links not always clear-cut, expert cautions
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 September 2014 | All forests are not the same and all agricultural systems are not the same, says a top expert who urges land-use policies that better reflect complexities on the ground. “People talk about agriculture and forests as if it’s all one similar system, whereas we actually have many different types of forests, many different types of agriculture that connect to forests, and the connections themselves are quite varied,” said Cheryl Palm, a Senior Research Scientist and Director of Research at the Agriculture and Food Security Center at Columbia University.

[Ghana] Commission to embark on Climate Change Roadshow
VibeGhana.com, 22 September 2014 | The Forestry Commission is to embark on a maiden REDD+ roadshow to draw Ghanaians attention to the negative effects of Climate Change and encourage behaviour change that ensures sustainable use and management of natural resources. REDD+ stands for countries’ efforts to ‘Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation. It is also foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. It is an international mechanism that creates an incentive for developing countries to protect and better manage their forest resources, as one of the ways of addressing Climate Change.

[India] Carbon credit cheques distributed
The Hindu, 22 September 2014 | Over 80 entrepreneurs from Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and the State received cheques worth Rs. 96 lakh at the last of the cheque distribution ceremonies for carbon credit programme of the World Bank here on Sunday. This was the eighth such programme by Eco Carbon Pvt Ltd under the CDM programme signed with the World Bank, N. Bhanumathidas, director general, Institute for Solid Waste Research and Ecological Balance (INSWAREB) and managing director of Eco Carbon Pvt Ltd, said here. The contract with the World Bank has come to an end this year with the delivery of over 34,000 carbon credits. Another Rs. 27.55 lakh was earmarked for community welfare programme for the improvement of labour working in FaL-G brick units, she said.

23 September 2014

Global Leaders Pledge $1 Billion to End Deforestation by 2030
By Gloria Gonzalez and Allie Goldstein, Forest Carbon Portal, 23 September 2014 | Heading into this week’s United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, it would have been easy to take the pessimistic view that this would be another exhausting round of discussions where no concrete action was taken to address the climate challenge. But this summit is off to a fast start as governments, multinational corporations, civil society and indigenous peoples have issued the New York Declaration on Forests – a joint commitment to cut forest loss in half by 2020 and completely end it by 2030. The pledge, if successfully implemented, would reduce global emissions by anywhere from 4.5 to 8.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year – equivalent to removing the carbon emissions produced by the one billion cars currently on the world’s roads. The declaration also calls for restoring more than 350 million hectares of forests and croplands – an area greater than the size of India.

Unilever CEO: “Capitalism is fine. Capitalism leaving too many people behind isn’t fine.”
By Allie Goldstein, Forest Carbon Portal, 23 September 2014 | At an event yesterday hosted by the Ford Foundation and the Climate and Land Use Alliance that previewed the United Nations Climate Summit today, Unilever CEO Paul Polman spoke about business’s role in a climate-changed world. “It is very clear, increasingly, [to] the business community as well, that although capitalism is fine, capitalism leaving too many people behind isn’t fine,” he said. “Capitalism defined very narrowly as GDP (gross domestic product) growth or profit-and-loss growth while we end up not being able to breathe the air or create sufficient jobs for everybody or [we] have these issues with food security or hunger simply isn’t fine.”

Fortune 500 companies take center stage at U.N. climate summit
By Michael Sasey, Fortune, 23 September 2014 | A few years back at a United Nations climate talks in Bali, business executives hunkered down at a nearby hotel and talked mostly how they could make money off the problem. Outside, angry protesters accused carbon traders of trying to get rich off the poor. Fast forward to Tuesday, when many Fortune 500 CEOs will get a ringside seat at the U.N. climate summit in New York. About 125 presidents and prime ministers are expected at the one-day event featuring world leaders laying out their visions for combating global warming. Then, executives from the likes of Royal Dutch Shell, McDonalds, Unilever and Ikea will get lunch with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to talk further about climate change. “I think it’s a very, very positive sign,” Todd Stern, the State Department’s chief climate negotiator, told reporters last week.

Why a Carbon Tax Won’t Save the Climate
By Mitch Jones, Food & Water Watch, 23 September 2014 | As the UN meets this week to discuss our climate future, here’s one thing they probably won’t be talking about but should: how finance and regulating carbon don’t mix. When Food & Water Watch created the Common Resources Program in April of 2011, we did so to push back against the finance industry’s desire to use nature as a new source for profits. In the international community this effort is referred to as the “financialization of nature”. The basic idea is that new commodities are being created, which then necessitates new markets for those commodities. On top of those markets, Wall Street hopes to build new financial markets and speculative financial instruments like those that brought down the global economy in 2007.

UN Private Sector Forum Focuses on Carbon Pricing
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 23 September 2014 | The 2014 UN Private Sector Forum, held as part of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, brought together approximately 400 global business, government and civil society leaders. During the event, a list of 31 ‘Carbon Pricing Champions’ was announced and 11 ‘Corporate Commitments to Climate and Energy’ were presented. The Forum, which took place on 23 September 2014, in New York, US, was organized by the UN Global Compact, in cooperation with the World Bank Group and UN partners. The event aimed to: provide a platform for businesses and investors to demonstrate their contribution to climate action; and inspire new public policy measures, action commitments and public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Scientific community must do more to explain ‘green economy,’ expert says
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 September 2014 | he main barrier to a ‘green economy’? Mindsets, according to a leading environmental economist. A green economy is one that aims for sustainable development while minimizing environmental degradation—and yet despite its ‘win-win’ aims, it has been slow to gain uptake. “The barrier is the mindset,” says Pushpam Kumar, Chief of the Ecosystem Services Economics Unit at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). “There are barriers in the sense that sometimes people don’t understand the concept, they think, Oh, this is another green constraint, or green lobby or advocacy group talking about something obscure—so the problem lies with us, the scientific community, in that we have not been able to explain the opportunities which this concept offers,” Kumar said in an interview with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Out Now! PandaLeaks – The Dark Side of the WWF
Pandaleaks, 24 September 2014 | We are pleased and proud to announce the long-awaited publication of PandaLeaks – The Dark Side of the WWF: the controversial book by award-winning German journalist and filmmaker Wilfried Huismann, now finally available in an English language edition – unabridged and updated. PandaLeaks is a journalistic tour de force unearthing the grim secrets behind the warm and cuddly façade of the WWF, Huismann’s exposé went straight to the German bestseller list. This despite the fact that the WWF had initially managed to stop its sale for several weeks with a massive campaign of threats to the book trade. A series of lawsuits launched by the WWF also failed to achieve a book ban.

Climate Summit statements: Agriculture + Forests = Landscapes?
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 September 2014 | The New York Declaration on Forests focuses attention on deforestation or “natural forest loss.” Seven out of 10 bullet points address this issue directly, or indirectly by referring to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from forests. Two points highlight forest restoration needs and one pushes for improved forest governance. Across the 10 points, two link to broader sustainable development aims and the post-2015 development agenda. In its conclusion, the document states that the commitments have the potential to reduce emissions by “4.5 [billion to] 8.8 billion tons per year by 2030.” Climate change adaptation or resilience are not mentioned as potential outcomes. The accompanying Action Agenda presents a long list of ongoing or prospective initiatives, and it is expected that a number of direct commitments will be made at the summit.

STATEMENT: WRI Responds to Major Commitments on Forests at the UN Climate Summit
World Resources Institute press release, 23 September 2014 | WRI’s analysis finds that achieving zero net deforestation by 2030, as proposed by the Declaration, could result in emissions reductions of around 3 Gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year. The Declaration’s goal of restoring 350 million hectares, an area of degraded land greater than the size of India, by 2030 would generate an additional 1–3 Gigatons of CO2 equivalent of emissions reductions per year.

Climate change ‘back at the top of the political agenda’, but grueling talks remain ahead
By Tetet Nera-Lauron, IBON International, 23 September 2014 | Held right after a 400,000-strong People’s Climate March thundered through 80 blocks of New York City streets, the summit appears to have derived extra energy from the gigantic street demonstration. Both events have attracted tremendous media attention worldwide and have certainly combined to “put climate change back at the top of the political agenda”—in the short term. The question remains, however, in the minds of civil society, governments and other climate justice advocates across the globe: Will the momentum be sustained and provide enough power to break the deadlock in the climate talks, which has stalled climate action in previous years? Hoping for a breakthrough, all stakeholders are gearing up for Peru COP 20 just two months from now. But the world, especially poor, developing, and small-island countries, cannot wait much longer for continued climate deadlock and inaction.

Indigenous groups lead the way
By Ashley Renders, Corporate Knights, 23 September 2014 | Activists are using Flood Wall Street as an opportunity to popularize the conversation about how capitalism and climate change are related, says Clayton Thomas-Muller, an indigenous activist with Idle No More and Defenders of the Land. He says they are also attempting to send a message that if world leaders are not going to create legally binding mechanism with clear timeframes, then the people will. The Peoples Climate March yesterday was led by a large contingent of indigenous peoples and people of colour. Indigenous groups have always been at the forefront of the climate movement through their fight to protect their land rights. But yesterday’s march showed that people are starting to realize that indigenous people are not merely involved, they are leading the way, says Thomas-Muller.

[Indonesia] Editorial: Party Over for ‘Mafia’ In Resources Sector
The Jakarta Globe, 23 September 2014 | As the Indonesian economy still relies heavily on natural resources — oil, gas and minerals, which the country has in abundance at least for now — it’s only natural that most of the money and crime is concentrated in this sector. For more than 40 years massive corruption in this sector has seemingly gone unnoticed despite public knowledge that trillions and trillions of rupiah of state money was stolen by officials, politicians and businesspeople. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) estimates that the state may lose as much as Rp 200 trillion ($16.7 billion) from the sector every year. For decades, everybody has turned a blind eye as there is too much to gain, enriching them all. Like a mafia, they form cartels to steal state funds. These people can live lavishly while the country’s nonrenewable natural resources are being depleted at the expense of local people, who live in poverty as their lands are emptied and left scarred.

Liberia signs ‘transformational’ deal to stem deforestation
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 23 September 2014 | Liberia is to become the first nation in Africa to completely stop cutting down its trees in return for development aid. Norway will pay the impoverished West African country $150m (£91.4m) to stop deforestation by 2020… “We hope Liberia will be able to cut emissions and reduce poverty at the same time,” said Jens Frolich Holte, a political adviser to the Norwegian government, speaking to the BBC on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in New York… Liberia will refrain from issuing any new logging concessions until all existing ones have been reviewed by an independent body. The country agrees to place 30% or more of its forest estate under protected area status by 2020. It will also pilot direct payments to communities for protecting the forest. Ultimately the Norwegians will pay for results, with independent verification that trees remain standing.

Liberia and Norway pledge to tackle deforestation
By Ros Donald, RTCC, 23 September 2014 | Liberia is ready to bear some economic cost in order to stop the desecration of its forests, the country’s foreign minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan told a UN summit in New York today. It made for an emotional session: the country’s President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was unable to attend the summit due to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. Ngafuan told reporters the disease has isolated Liberia, compounding the effects of the civil war, which rendered the country a “pariah”. He said: “We as a small country can make a huge contribution to the global community.” Illegal logging is rife in Liberia since the end of its civil war in 2004. Norway has pledged US $150 million to help the country end all deforestation by 2020. The money will initially go to building capacity in government and society.

Sizing Up The Economic Value Of REDD+ Benefits In Panama
UNEP-WCMC, 23 September 2014 | A new UN-REDD report explores the potential value of REDD in three regions of Panama (Bocas del Toro, the Canal region and the Darién). Prepared by UNEP-WCMC under Panama’s UN-REDD National Programme, this economic analysis can help with deciding which land-use options can be most beneficial. The potential economic values of the multiple benefits from REDD in Panama: a synthesis of existing valuation studies is the first overview of the economic importance of REDD in Panama. By combining information from previous studies, this report explores the potential value of the main benefits REDD can achieve in the three regions of Panama. The benefits include: non-timber forest products, genetic resources; recreational and hydrological benefits; erosion prevention; pollination services and climate regulation. The potential average amount of these benefits combined varies across the three focal regions from US$626 to US$3,122 per year per ha of forest.

Peru to receive $300 million from Norway in new bilateral REDD+ agreement
WWF, 23 September 2014 | “We recognize the vital role that Peruvian forests can play in mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions as well as supporting local livelihoods, biodiversity and numerous other social and environmental benefits. We applaud this important commitment from Norway and Peru to tackle deforestation and forest degradation,” said Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF-International. “I hope this inspires other commitments and pledges so that protection of forests can be scaled up.” “This new bilateral agreement is a tremendous opportunity for Peru and Norway build momentum on REDD+ as we work toward our goal of zero net emissions from deforestation and degradation by 2021,” said Patricia León-Melgar, Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Peru. “We look forward to collaborating on this critical initiative in the years to come.”

Peru to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation with support from Norway, Germany, and the IDB
Inter-American Development Bank, 23 September 2014 | The Governments of Norway and Germany have agreed on a results-based mechanism to deter deforestation in Peru by 2021. The Governments of Peru, Norway and Germany have signed today a Letter of Intent for future collaboration for the implementation of the “Peru Results Based Initiative on REDD+ ” as a major effort for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Peru. In parallel, the Government of Peru and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding to accompany this initiative among governments. This agreement will contribute to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Peru, to the achievement of the target of zero net emissions from land use change and forestry in Peru by 2021, and will promote the sustainable development of the country’s agricultural, forestry, and mining sectors.

Four British men jailed for role in EU carbon credit thefts
By Michael Szabo, Reuters, 23 September 2014 | Four British men have been sentenced to a total of 19 years in jail for their part in the theft of 7 million euros ($9 million) in EU carbon credits, which led to the temporary suspension of trade in the European market. Ruman Patel, Hanif Patel, Ayyub Ibrahim and Mohammed Hanif Patel, arrested between June 2012 and April 2014, were part of an international syndicate that masterminded the theft of 500,000 EU Allowances from the Czech emissions registry in January 2011, Britain’s National Crime Agency said on Tuesday. Appearing in Burnley Crown Court in Northern England on Tuesday, the four men were handed jail terms of between 32 months and seven years for encouraging or assisting in the handling of stolen goods, money laundering and fraud. Helped by a hoax bomb threat made to the registry, the group on Jan. 18, 2011 hacked into the online account of Czech state-owned utility CEZ and stole the allowances…

[USA] Grand Prairie farmers taking part in carbon markets
By Leigh Hahn-Kreimeier, Stuttgart Daily Leader, 23 September 2014 | Arkansas farmers are participating in carbon markets. The agriculture-based carbon offsets, such as those created from rice management practices, can be sold to corporations to meet their internal sustainability goals, reduce their carbon footprints and to green their supply chains. The rice growers are in Stuttgart, Humnoke, Hazen, Slovak and one near Osceola. There is also a grower in Mississippi and others have been identified, so it’s growing. American Carbon Registry (ACR), a nonprofit enterprise of Winrock International (Winrock), received approval of mid-south modules for its first-of-a-kind carbon offset methodology to quantify greenhouse gas reductions from rice production.

[USA] California will join Quebec in November carbon-credit auction
Sacramento Business Journal, 23 September 2014 | California will join Quebec in a transnational cap-and-trade auction later this year, reports Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee this morning. Companies in either place will be able to sell or buy carbon credits into the market on Nov. 19. The concept began early last year after California held its first carbon-credit auction in 2012. Though the cap-and-trade program has drawn intense criticism from some in the business community, some welcomed expansion of the program through the alliance with Quebec.

24 September 2014

Climate Justice Resurfaces amidst New York’s Corporate Sharks
By Patrick Bond, teleSUR, 24 September 2014 | Public health activists in the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power warned of resurgent opportunistic infections thanks to climate change. Anti-war activists connected the dots between global warming and Middle East and African oil, as well as renewed water wars. Democracy activists noted the Koch brothers’ and other fossil fuel corporations’ malign influence in Washington and state capitals. Dozens more such groups related their particular concerns to our more general survival. Even better, not a single sign I witnessed over six hours traipsing back and forth from start to finish promoted establishment ‘fixes’. We have been bombarded with ‘false solutions’ by business and their government allies in climate policy debates the past fifteen years: carbon trading, carbon capture and storage (‘clean coal’), lacing the air with sulphur as a coolant, dropping iron filings in the ocean to create algae blooms (to suck up CO2), biofuels…

Cargill commits to zero deforestation across entire global supply chain: all commodities
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 24 September 2014 | Cargill, one of the world’s largest agricultural companies, has extended its zero deforestation commitment for palm oil to all commodities it produces. The commitment, announced Tuesday at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, is the more far-reaching zero deforestation policy ever established, covering Cargill’s sprawling global empire of businesses, including palm oil, sugar, soy, cattle, and cocoa. “We understand that this sort of commitment cannot be limited to just select commodities or supply chains,” said Cargill CEO David MacLennan. “That’s why Cargill will take practical measures to protect forests across our agricultural supply chains around the world.” “We know we can do it. Our stakeholders demand it. And it is the right thing to do.”

Climate Change: Not Just Any Action Will Do
By Pablo Solon, Josie Riffaud and Tony Clarke, Huffington Post, 24 September 2014 | If we are to stay on a path to a temperature rise of 1.5-2°C, emissions need to be reduced to between 37 and 44 gigatons of CO2e by 2020. This requires real action – not voluntary pledges – and it means legally binding cuts without carbon markets that just shift emissions around. Instead, Ban Ki-moon has organized a big party in New York City, inviting heads of state and heads of transnational corporations, many of which make a lot of money from trading polluting credits in carbon markets and are responsible for increasing greenhouse gas emissions. More specifically, according to the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado, two thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions come from just 90 oil, gas and coal companies. Of these, 50 were investor-owned oil corporations like Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell, plus coal producers British Coal, Peabody Energy and BHP Billiton.

Australia to host Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Sydney
Australian government press release, 24 September 2014 | The Australian Government is delivering on its election commitment to host the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit in Sydney on 12 November 2014. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop made the announcement in New York overnight at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit. The Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit will bring together ministers from countries across the region and leaders from business to find practical ways to reduce rainforest loss and restore rainforest landscapes. Asia-Pacific rainforests support extraordinary biodiversity, provide economic opportunity and livelihoods to millions and store billions of tonnes of carbon. Slowing and halting the loss of precious rainforests is critical to addressing the global challenge of climate change. The Summit will be preceded by a Stakeholder Dialogue on 11 November 2014 for technical and policy experts from business, government and civil society…

Emissions From India Will Increase, Official Says
By Coral Davenport, New York Times, 24 September 2014 | In a blow to American hopes of reaching an international deal to fight global warming, India’s new environment minister said Wednesday that his country would not offer a plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions ahead of a climate summit next year in Paris. The minister, Prakash Javadekar, said in an interview that his government’s first priority was to alleviate poverty and improve the nation’s economy, which he said would necessarily involve an increase in emissions through new coal-powered electricity and transportation. He placed responsibility for what scientists call a coming climate crisis on the United States, the world’s largest historic greenhouse gas polluter, and dismissed the idea that India would make cuts to carbon emissions.

[UK] Dewsbury man jailed for role in multi-million pound scam
Dewsbury Reporter, 24 September 2014 | A Dewsbury man has today been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for his part in an international multi-million pound carbon credit fraud. Ayyub Ibrahim, 61, was part of a group involved in stealing half-a-million carbon credits from the Czech Republic’s ‘Registry’. At the time of the cyber attack in January 2011, the credits would have sold for £7m Euros. Carbon credits represent permits that allow a company to emit carbon dioxide, but can also be traded. The men set up two separate businesses in Poland as a front for their criminality. A Preston man set up Segel Sp Zoo, while Huntingdon Sp Zoo was established by Ayyub Ibrahim, of Lees Hall Road, and two other men from Preston, one of whom was Ibrahim’s cousin.

Briton wanted for £1 billion fraud used to ‘finance terror’ by ripping off Italian government through scheme designed to combat global warming
By Hannah Roberts, Daily Mail Online, 24 September 2014 | A British national is wanted by Italian police in connection with a fraud of more than a billion pounds, allegedly used to finance terrorist groups. Imran Yakub Ahmed, from Preston, is accused of defrauding the Italian state out of €1.15 billion – (£1.17 billion) in VAT, which he allegedly laundered through slush funds and investments in Dubai. Prosecutors in Milan believe the funds were reinvested in the Middle East as a mask for the financing of Islamic terrorist organisations.

[USA] Two attorneys arrested for aiding ‘boiler room’ scheme
By Brian Bandell, South Florida Business Journal, 24 September 2014 | According to the SEC complaint, Flom and Schmidt received wire transfers of funds that were solicited by International Stock Transfer through cold calling and deception. Having the money go though attorneys bolstered the appearance of safety for investors, the SEC said. The attorneys kept 2 percent of the investor funds and transferred the rest to Speight, who used them for his personal expenses or to make “Ponzi-like payments” to string his victims along. The complaint said the attorneys knew or recklessly disregarded facts that pointed to Speight’s business being fraudulent. None of the money was used to purchase real securities.

25 September 2014

EU agrees to €5bn carbon permit giveaway
EurActiv, 25 September 2014 | The European Parliament’s environment committee on Wednesday (24 September) narrowly upheld plans to give billions of euros worth of carbon allowances to heavy industries for free, in order to help them compete in global markets. The 67-strong cross-party parliamentary committee voted by 34 to 30, with three abstentions, to uphold the proposal. It was supported by centre-right groups, and opposed by Greens and Liberal members, who said it would waste billions of euros of public funds on needless handouts to big business. “[A rejection] would be sending a wrong signal to companies,” said Peter Liese, a German member of the centre-right European Peoples Party (EPP), told the committee, sitting in Brussels.

Fighting Climate Change and Capitalism at the Same Time
By Eric Holthaus, Slate, 25 September 2014 | According to social activist and perennial agitator Naomi Klein, the really inconvenient truth about climate change is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. Three years ago, Klein wrote a powerful essay for the Nation that tackled this idea. Now, she’s turned her argument into a hefty book, which was released last week—just days before hundreds of thousands took to the streets in New York City, many of whom carried banners strikingly similar to the messages Klein supports. (Klein sits on the board of directors at 350.org, an organization at the heart of the growing grass-roots uprising against climate inaction, and which helped organize Sunday’s march.) This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate is focused on exposing how the relentless pursuit of growth has locked us in to a system that’s incompatible with a stable climate.

Why climate change policy won’t hinge on international talks
By Michael Levi, Fortune, 25 September 2014 | It’s not that international diplomacy won’t matter, but individual countries are already taking action to reduce carbon emissions for various reasons beyond worries about climate change. World leaders gathered at a United Nations summit this week to kick off 15 months of negotiations aimed at finalizing a climate pact next December in Paris. If you focus on those international climate talks, though, you’ll miss most of the real action. The fate of global efforts to tackle climate change – and of the businesses that will win and lose as a result – depends far more on what countries do at home. Climate change has long been approached as the ultimate foreign policy problem…

Colloquium seeks ‘ways forward’ on forests and climate
By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 September 2014 | The outcomes of the recent UN Climate Summit offer an opportunity for mainstreaming a more holistic approach to forests, climate change and development, according to Peter Holmgren, director general of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Introducing the “Colloquium on Forests and Climate,” a high-level scientific debate held in New York a day after the Summit, Holmgren pointed to a general lack of complementarity in declarations that came out of the Summit that addressed various aspects of climate change. This sectoral-based approach, Holmgren argued, can impede progress on fighting climate change—a problem that encompasses all sectors.

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Submission on Safeguards Information System (SIS): What Should SIS Deliver For Indigenous Peoples
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, 25 September 2014 | The COP 19 decision explicitly mentions that parties are required to submit the most recent summary of information on how all the social and environmental safeguards have been addressed and respected in order to be able to access the results-based finance. However, this does not provide clarity on how effectively and to what extent these safeguards will be addressed. It also lacks the information on ways to redress the potential violation of indigenous peoples’ rights resulting from the REDD+ activities. The COP 19 decision explicitly mentions that parties are required to submit the most recent summary of information on how all the social and environmental safeguards have been addressed and respected in order to be able to access the results-based finance. However, this does not provide clarity on how effectively and to what extent these safeguards will be addressed.

[Costa Rica] Carbon neutrality won’t solve everything, environmentalists say
By Lindsay Fendt, The Tico Times, 25 September 2014 | “Right now carbon neutrality is more of a political goal than an environmental one,” Mariana Porras, a coordinator with the Ceiba Association of Ecological Communities – Friends of the Earth Costa Rica, told The Tico Times. “It is letting the country appear green without actually addressing any of the issues that cause emissions.” Porras mentioned Costa Rica’s reliance on carbon credit initiatives like the U.N.’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Program (REDD) and other payment for environmental service programs, which pay land owners to maintain forest. With many of these programs, polluters can purchase carbon credits, which theoretically offset their carbon production by helping to pay for forest maintenance elsewhere.

Indonesia claims success in implementation of REDD+
Xinhua, 25 September 2014 | Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that Indonesia has been seeing enormous contribution from implementation of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD ) to reduce emission and impacts of greenhouse effect, a statement released Indonesian foreign affairs ministry said on Thursday. “REDD is a very essential mechanism should we want to see increase of average earth temperature below 2 degrees by the end of the century,” President Yudhoyono said in his remarks to open Indonesia’s REDD Forum in New York, the United States on Wednesday. He added that successful implementation of REDD needs several changes, which include a change in the way to exploit the forest resource, and that of social and environment condition in the field. “The third is that implementation of REDD must involve stakeholders that consisted of non-government organizations (NGOs), private sector, local people and government.

26 September 2014

New York summit: what it means for climate treaty prospects
By Ed King, RTCC, 26 September 2014 | The world’s superpowers have finally woken from their climate coma. That was the message from the UK’s secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Davey, speaking on the sidelines of the UN’s climate summit in New York. “If you talk to the Americans, you hear a message you have never heard before. Real leadership and action,” he told RTCC. “If you talk to the Chinese the issue of air pollution in some of their big cities has awoken the people and government to the environmental challenge. And I think the new government in New Delhi, prime minister Modi has a deep understanding of climate issues… all the signs are we’ll see action from the Indians on an ambitious level.”

How Did Leaders Respond to the People’s Climate March?
By Pablo Solon, Focus on the Global South, 26 September 2014 | Their two clear goals were focused on “carbon pricing” and “Climate Smart Agriculture.” “Carbon pricing” is a new name used to promote carbon markets in a new, clever way: by combining candy and poison. Under “carbon pricing,” the World Bank, which is the leading promoter of this initiative, mixes two very different things: carbon taxing and “cap and trade.” Carbon taxing penalizes companies and industries for their actual polluting emissions, while under cap and trade, governments establish an emissions cap and give stakeholders permits to pollute. After the permits have been distributed to the level of the emissions cap, they can be traded privately. The wealthiest and most polluting companies can buy from others and continue to pollute, and the market defines the price of each permit, which involves a lot of speculation and leads to the creation of new financial bubbles.

Investors worth US$2trn back green bonds at NY Climate Week
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 26 September 2014 | The fledgling green bond market got some wind beneath its wings this week as investors worth US$2 trillion gave it their backing. Pension funds, insurers and asset management firms signed a statement confirming their appetite for investment in climate change solutions. Zurich, Barclays and Aviva were among those promising to sink more money into green bonds, which offer a fixed return on capital put into climate-friendly projects. And there were warm words for the growing market from World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, speaking as part of New York’s Climate Week.

What’s ‘green’ about the green economy? Why scientists should read the history of development
By Kiran Asher, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 September 2014 | The United Nations (UN) Climate Summit and the People’s Climate March in New York are precursors to the UNFCCC COPs in Lima (2014) and Paris (2015)—among the many events concerned with curbing climate change and achieving sustainable development. Though these are not new challenges, the imperative to address them has become urgent in the face of global warming and economic crisis. Within this context, the idea of a green economy, with its promise of delivering economic growth without compromising the Earth’s ecological integrity, is seductive. But can the green economy deliver on its promises? A quick overview of prior economy-environment connections is in order before scientists and citizens can assess that question.

The UN climate summit reveals India’s hypocrisy on saving forests
By Janaki Lenin, The Guardian, 26 September 2014 | At the UN climate change summit in New York on Tuesday, Javadekar is reported to have said: “The moral principle of historic responsibility [those countries which have historically emitted the most] cannot be washed away.” But while he champions historic responsibility abroad, he’s an instrument of eroding historic justice at home. India legislated the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972, a law that granted state protection to wildlife. But it criminalised many communities living in wildlife areas. Unlike the west, India’s forests are not people-free wildlife havens. Conservationists and the country’s forest department regarded the presence of marginsalised people – mostly adivasis (tribal communities who have been living in the forests for centuries) – as a blight. They were, and still are, looked up on as people who degraded forests by cutting trees for firewood, clearing land for tilling and hunting wildlife for the pot.

[Indonesia] Finding a level playing field for mangroves
By Daniel Murdiyarso, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 September 2014 | To prepare for a rise in sea level, you should surely first know where sea level is. The dense mangrove forests around many of Asia’s coasts appear flat, but there is an invisible gradient hidden in them. As you move landward from the sea, the amount of salt dissolved in the water decreases. The waters become less saline and more brackish, as seawater increasingly mixes with fresh water from rivers and other inland sources. Change the sea level by even centimeters, and that hidden gradient of salinity will be immensely altered. Mangrove plants are rooted in this water. They are highly adapted to the salinity and frequency of inundation by sea water from tides. There are dozens of species with various coping mechanisms. Many have something unique to help them. These are specialised aerial roots which extract oxygen from the air.

[USA] States Won’t Leave Carbon Market for California, Quebec
By Lynn Doan, Bloomberg, 26 September 2014 | California and Quebec, which together created the largest carbon market in North America this year, face an uphill battle as they woo northeastern U.S. states to join their system. States including Vermont, which Quebec’s premier said is particularly interested in uniting, are members of a Northeast group that has been operating an emissions-trading system since 2008. And they’ve shown no signs of abandoning that cause, said Kelly Speakes-Backman, chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative known as RGGI. “We’ve had no discussion of any states leaving RGGI, either to go to California or elsewhere,” Speakes-Backman said yesterday by telephone from Baltimore. “I don’t see it as being realistic, especially as far along as we are. We have a good working relationship.”

27 September 2014

Program seeks to reclaim Australia’s missing woodland
By Himlal Baral, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 September 2014 | Theoretically, the area around the Murray should be a wooded landscape. But this is woodland that is mostly missing. At the moment much of it is a patchwork of dried-out wetlands and semi-abandoned land. To protect what is left in trees and biodiversity and promote carbon sequestration, Victoria’s state government has created financial instruments to encourage farmers to protect and plant native vegetation on private land, and promote other environmental uses. One of these new financial commodities has been given a catchy name: ‘BushTender’. The question is: Do they make financial sense? If there are better ways to make money, they may not be enticing to the landholders…

Chile becomes the first South American country to tax carbon
By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters, 27 September 2014 | President Michelle Bachelet of Chile enacted new environmental tax legislation on Friday making the country the first in South America to tax carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Part of a broad tax reform, Chile’s carbon tax will target the power sector, particularly generators operating thermal plants with installed capacity equal or larger than 50 megawatts (MW). These installations will be charged $5 per tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) released. Thermal plants fueled by biomass and smaller installations will be exempt. The new tax is meant to force power producers to gradually move to cleaner sources to help reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and meet its voluntary target of cutting these gases 20 percent from 2007 levels by 2020. Earlier this year, Mexico imposed a tax on the sale of several fossil fuels, based on their carbon content, averaging $3 per tonne of CO2.

[India] Delhi Metro makes a profit by reducing its carbon footprint
By Sumegha Gulati, The Indian Express, 27 September 2014 | After earning carbon credits through regenerative braking, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is now making profits from its second project — Modal Shifts — by successfully reducing its carbon footprint and selling the credits thus earned in the international market. Speaking to Newsline, DMRC Director (Finance) K K Saberwal said the organisation is earning a part of its income by selling carbon credits — the first Metro system in the world to reportedly achieve the feat. Carbon credits are like shares that are sold in the international market with a view to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases. One carbon credit is equal to one metric tonne of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide equivalent gases.

[Indonesia] Agrarian ministry to resolve land disputes
The Jakarta Post, 27 September 2014 | President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is planning to establish an agrarian ministry to speed up land acquisition to support his ambitious development programs, his aide said recently. “In the past, development programs were frequently hampered by land disputes. Jokowi wants a system that is able to settle this kind of issue more effectively, so he can ensure that his programs can be delivered in a timely manner,” Andi Widjajanto, a deputy in the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla transition team, said at the team’s headquarters in Central Jakarta. Jokowi’s ambitious programs, such as port development as part if his maritime axis vision, would require massive land acquisition, Andi said. Generally, the ministry would strengthen the existing National Land Agency (BPN). “The difference is that the ministry will have more power, for example, it will employ the regulatory function the BPN does not have,” Andi said.

Peru should start monitoring deforestation ahead of Lima summit, expert urges
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 September 2014 | A new partnership with Norway and Germany is an opportunity for Peru to put in place a comprehensive, public deforestation monitoring system by the time the country hosts the UNFCCC climate meeting in December, a top forestry expert says. On Tuesday, during the UN Climate Summit in New York, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala announced a Declaration of Intent that he said would reduce the country’s carbon emissions from deforestation and make the forest and agriculture sectors carbon-neutral by 2021. In return, Norway has pledged to pay up to US$300 million for verified emission reductions over the next six years, with Germany continuing its current financial support and possibly adding more money depending on Peru’s results. Daniel Nepstad, Executive Director of the Earth Innovation Institute, said on the sidelines of the Colloquium on Forests and Climate in New York this week that the agreement comes at exactly the right time.

28 September 2014

A Global Climate Treaty Is Crucial
By Nicholas Stern, New York Times, 28 September 2014 | A strong international agreement on climate change signed in Paris next year will be crucial because it will reinforce and encourage investments and policy decisions that are being made around the world by national, regional and local governments and by businesses. In turn, decisions by individual countries and businesses, together with a growing number of examples of successful transitions to the low-carbon economy, will help create the confidence necessary for making an international agreement.

A Treaty on Global Warming May Not Be Needed, But U.N Leadership Is
By Rajendra Shende, New York Times, 28 September 2014 | When industrialized countries agreed in Kyoto in 1997 to produce 5 percent fewer greenhouse gases in 2008 to 2012 than they did in 1990, it was clear that would never lead to a stabilization of global warming, which nearly all countries had pledged to seek in the 1992 Rio summit. But coming out of the Kyoto’s magnificent conference hall, I consoled myself that this small step would lead to a giant step later. That giant step never came, though. After 17 years, emissions are about 60 percent greater, not 5 percent less. The international climate agreement also failed miserably in meeting its pledge to provide developing countries with $10 billion a year from 2010 to 2012, rising to 100 billion per year by 2020, to mitigate the effects of climate change and help them deal with their own rising emissions as a result of needed development.

[USA] Visions of a quick switch: Conservationists try to prove second-growth timber harvests will work in Southeast
By Melissa Griffiths, Juneau Empire, 28 September 2014 | There’s big talk and plenty of controversy when it comes to talking about timber in the Tongass National Forest — is there a way for environmentalists and industry to each get what they want? If so, the magic words may be “young-growth forest.” Dominick DellaSala, Ph.D., president and chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, and Catherine Mater, president of Mater Engineering in Corvallis, Oregon, are not alone in dreaming up a compromise between industry and conservation. Their approach, however, may be the fastest way yet proposed to reach that compromise. Even conservation-minded individuals agree that compromise is necessary, that logging is a valuable industry in Southeast Alaska and the question is how to make the industry sustainable while maintaining the integrity of a rainforest that DellaSala calls “extraordinary.”

Chinese timber companies in Zambia: few jobs, but more outlets for local loggers
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 September 2014 | Basic research methods such as employment surveys fail to explore the complex social impact of China’s deepening involvement in the African timber sector, a recent article on Chinese logging companies in Zambia shows. “When studying the benefits of logging to the people, you have to look at the different dimensions that affect them on the scale of a country, a company and a household,” said Louis Putzel, a CIFOR senior scientist participating in a multi-year research project on Chinese trade and investment in Africa. “One that is often looked at is jobs: how many, how much they are paid… But another important topic is the economic opportunity the Chinese market represents to smaller businesses and informal timber traders.” Of course, such opportunities need to be considered against the ecological and social costs of logging in fragile environments and places where resource governance isn’t strong enough.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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