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REDD in the news: 27 October – 2 November 2014

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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.

 
UN-REDD Summarizes Climate Summit 2014 Discourse on Forests
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), October 2014 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (UN-REDD) has released summaries of forest-related outcomes from the UN Climate Summit 2014. The reports, which present proceedings of the Forests Plenary and Forests Pavilion held during the Summit, highlight the New York Declaration on Forests, a multi-stakeholder pledge to reduce deforestation and accelerate forest restoration. According to the ‘Report on the UN Climate Summit Forests Action Area Plenary Session,’ the plenary focused on the urgent need for action to ensure the continued contribution of forests to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to sustainable economic development. The event was co-hosted by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway.

27 October 2014

No concrete result reached in UN climate talks in Bonn
Xinhua, 27 October 2014 | The third round of United Nations’ 2014 climate talks wrapped up in Bonn, Germany, on Saturday, reaching no concrete result and leaving heavy workload to climate conference in Lima, Peru, in December. In the past six days, nearly 1,200 negotiators from 176 countries and organizations gathered in the city which hosts the secretariat of United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to negotiate on a new agreement addressing climate change, which was planned to be passed at the end of 2015 in Paris and come into force in 2020. As the last round of negotiation before Lima conference, the climate talks in Bonn failed to reach a concrete conclusion on elements of the 2015 agreement and what should be included in “intended nationally determined contributions” which was requested to be submitted by governments early next year. What has happened here, according to some negotiators, were “repeating positions” and “brainstorming-type discussion”…

IPCC report is “roadmap” to Paris climate deal – Pachauri
By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 27 October 2014 | Scientists and delegates from more than 100 governments are meeting in Copenhagen this week to thrash out the definitive round-up of climate science. By the end of the week, they will have approved the final building block of the UN climate panel’s fifth assessment report – a 100-page document bringing together five reports released over the last six years on the state of the world’s climate. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since 2002, told delegates this provides the “roadmap” to a climate change deal in Paris next year. It will guide policymakers as they “find their way to a global agreement to finally reverse course on climate change,” he said.

How do trees change the climate?
By Abby Swan, RealClimate, 27 October 2014 | On a 20-40 year time scale, there is no question that planting trees will transfer carbon from the atmosphere into the trees, slowing the growth of CO2 in the atmosphere and thereby slowing global warming. On a 100-year time scale, I would say that we cannot plant our way out of the problem. However, we know that tropical forests keep carbon out of the atmosphere, keep the land surface cool, and play a critical role in providing habitat, maintaining biodiversity, and other good stuff for people. These things are hugely important and it is a no-brainer that we need to fight to keep tropical forests as intact as possible. Maintaining tropical forest does lots of great things, and also helps to slow global warming. But we probably shouldn’t expect to combat global warming in the long term by planting trees in other latitudes. It might not totally save the planet, but we should do everything we can to maintain the tropical forest.

Drying Amazon Could Be Major Carbon Concern
By Brian Kahn, Climate Central, 27 October 2014 | The Amazon rainforest inhales massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping keep the globe’s carbon budget in balance (at least until human emissions started throwing that balance off). But as a new study shows, since 2000 drier conditions are causing a decrease in lung capacity. And if the Amazon’s breaths become more shallow, it’s possible a feedback loop could set in, further reducing lung capacity and throwing the carbon balance further out of whack. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, shows that a decline in precipitation has contributed to less healthy vegetation since 2000. “It’s well-established fact that a large part of Amazon is drying. We’ve been able to link that decline in precipitation to a decline in greenness over the last 10 years,” said Thomas Hilker, lead author of the study and forestry expert at Oregon State University.

Cameroon research adds to growing consensus on sustainable climate change strategies
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 October 2014 | It’s a propitious time for climate change adaptation. Climate talks in Bonn in June seemed to open the door to formally linking strategies for adaptation with mitigation measures, and a growing body of evidence is showing that linking the two methods is integral to the success of both. Add a new study in Cameroon to the list. In a paper published earlier this year, researchers in the Central African country showed that efforts to mitigate global warming by curbing deforestation can no longer be conducted separately from measures to help people adapt to a degree of inevitable climate change.

WWF commends Norway and Guyana for their efforts to make REDD+ work
WWF, 27 October 2014 | WWF Guianas welcomes Guyana President Ramotar’s announcement of Norway’s 2012 calendar year performance-based payment into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). The payment of US$35 million was reduced by US$10 million due to the disappointing 50% jump in deforestation between 2011 (0.054%) and 2012 (0.079%). WWF recognizes that REDD+ implementation is an enormous challenge and commends the two governments’ commitment to work through the process and deliver results that enable Guyana’s sustainable economic development while contributing to the global fight against climate change. Encouragingly, preliminary 2013 results indicate the rate of deforestation dropped to 0.068% last year (a 15% reduction from 2012); a positive development, signifying a payment closer to the $45 million annual maximum amount will be due once those results are verified.

[Indonesia] Govt promises to ease licensing procedures in mining sector
By Raras Cahyafitri, Jakarta Post, 27 October 2014 | The Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s directorate general for mineral and coal plans to simplify the complicated licensing procedures in the country’s mining sector in order to boost investment. The simplification will reduce the number of required permits to only 71 types, from the 101 types that exist at present. Out of the total 71 permits, 26 are issued by the energy ministry while another 51 are issued by other government agencies. The director general for mineral and coal, R. Sukhyar, said the simplification would be carried out in the issuance of permits from his ministry because the issuance of the other 51 permits were handled by other government offices. Permits to be reduced to 71 types from 101 types at present. Simplification will cut red tape, and attract more investment. New policy expected to be implemented next year; pending approval by new energy minister.

[Indonesia] Asia Pulp and Paper reveals how zero deforestation became a reality
By James Murray, BusinessGreen, 27 October 2014 | Few companies have seen their green reputation undergo a more dramatic transformation than that experienced in recent years by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP). For years the Indonesia-based paper giant was a bête noire of environmental campaigners and was repeatedly targeted by high-profile protests designed to highlight the connection between the company’s blue-chip clients and the rainforest destruction that cleared the way for APP’s plantations. Then, in early 2013, something remarkable and largely unprecedented happened. The company announced it would bring an immediate halt to deforestation, and what is more it would work with its former foes at Greenpeace to ensure the new zero deforestation policy was fully enacted.

[USA] Californians Get Free Electricity From Cap-and-Trade
BillMoyers.com, 27 October 2014 | In a cap-and-trade system, the government sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and then lets companies trade carbon credits on the open market. The idea goes back to the days of the Reagan White House, when conservatives embraced the idea as a market-based approach to reducing pollution without direct regulation. Robert Stavins, a Harvard economist who sat on the EPA’s Environmental Economics Advisory Board under both Republican and Democratic administrations, told NPR that for many years, Republicans and conservatives loved this idea and it was Democrats who were skeptical. But in 2009, it was Democrats who pushed a bill called the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would have established a modest, nationwide cap-and-trade system.

Zimbabwe: Outcry Over Kariba Redd Project… .as NGO Seeks to Tighten Governance, Accountability
By Jeffrey Gogo, The Herald, 27 October 2014 | Cracks are beginning to emerge in the implementation of Zimbabwe’s biggest privately-funded project aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD ) in Kariba. Carbon Green Africa (CGA), a UK firm, has since 2009 implemented the REDD project across the four Mashonaland West rural district councils of Mbire, Nyaminyami, Binga and Hurungwe. Under REDD , monetary compensation is paid for projects that limit greenhouse gas emissions growth in tropical forests. Those carbon savings are later sold to Western countries or firms in the form of credits (a.k.a offsets or units), keen to neutralise pollution in their home economies. However, temperatures are boiling in Binga, a 20 percent shareholder in the Kariba REDD project. The community is bitter over unfilled promises, lack of buy in and accuses Carbon Green Africa of lying.

28 October 2014

UN-REDD Releases Semi-Annual Progress Update
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 28 October 2014 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (UN-REDD) has released its 2014 Semi-annual Progress Report in preparation for its 13th Policy Board Meeting. The report highlights the completion of the external evaluation of UN-REDD, which covered the period 2008 to 2013. The report also highlights the preparation of the Draft UN-REDD Programme Strategy 2016-2020 following the adoption of the Roadmap at the 12th Policy Board Meeting. It welcomes six new Policy Board member countries as well as closer collaboration with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF).

Transparency International Evaluates UN-REDD
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 28 October 2014 | Transparency International has conducted an assessment on the level of accountability of the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (UN-REDD). The assessment reveals that UN-REDD has achieved some best practices in transparency although there is some room for improvement when considering criteria for accountability at the senior policy level. The publication, titled ‘Protecting Climate Finance – An Anti-Corruption assessment of the UN-REDD Programme,’ highlights UN-REDD successes in civil society participation, accountability within the Secretariat and UN organizations, and the provision of training and setting of standards among individuals administering UN-REDD projects and programmes.

UN-REDD and FCPF Welcome Civil Society Observers
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 28 October 2014 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (UN-REDD) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) have announced the outcomes of the self-selection process for Civil Society Observers… The UN-REDD programme is welcoming Observers from Africa, Robert Chimambo, representing the Zambia Climate Change Network; from Latin America and the Caribbean, Gustavo Sánchez Valle, representing Red Mexicana de Organizaciones Campesinas Forestales (MOCAF) in Mexico; and from Industrialized Countries, Chris Meyer, representing the Environmental Defense Fund, US. The FCPF is welcoming Observers from Africa, Augustine Njamnshi, representing the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA); and from Latin America and the Caribbean, Gustavo Sánchez Valle, representing Red MOCAF in Mexico.

New guidebook seeks to boost forest clout for a massive, marginalized group
By Martha Cuba, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 October 2014 | Consider it a problem-solver for a problem-solver. In recent years, “top-down” approaches to managing forests and other natural resources have given way to methods that are more inclusive of local communities—especially the widely used Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) method. But for all the effort spent on including local people, one group of people too often remains cut off from decision-making: Women. A new guidebook seeks to rectify this by offering a framework for increasing women’s participation in the context of the dynamic problem-solving ACM method.

Population Control Will Not Solve Pressing Environmental Issues
By Bret Urgamy, Capital OTC, 28 October 2014 | According to a new study under the aegis Corey Bradshaw and Barry Brook, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, population control by itself cannot solve the pressing environmental issues and consumption must be reduced. The looming global environmental crisis cannot be averted by population control itself. The population of the planet is so big that even a substantial reduction in Global Birthrates will have little impact on the climate and environment issues which the human race will face during the course of this century. So there are too many people for population control to make much short-term difference. However scientists are quick to point out the importance of population control if we are to survive as a species. Even if we managed to cut the global birth rate by 50% next year, we will still be facing enormous environmental issues in the coming years. The real culprit is increasing affluence…

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 28 October 2014 | In 2007, the forests of Indonesia’s Ulu Masen Ecosystem were rapidly disappearing, thanks to encroaching development caused by the country’s burgeoning palm oil sector. The problem caught the attention of Governor Irwandi Yusuf of Aceh Province, who saw REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) as a possible solution. A consulting team hired by Yusuf estimated that an 85% reduction in deforestation in the ecosystem, which spread across 750,000 hectares, would prevent more than three million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere every year. Yusuf launched what would have become the largest REDD project to date – one designed to slow deforestation in part by jump-starting sustainable palm oil, coffee, and cocoa programs, as detailed in the latest installment of Ecosystem Marketplace’s series, Palm Oil vs The Peatland Forest.

2007: The Year Indonesia Went REDD (Sort Of)
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 28 October 2014 | Governor Irwandi Yusuf of Aceh Province was an early proponent. Big REDD: the Ulu Masen. Project Roughly 2000 kilometers to the west of the operation that Lemons and Galdikas were undertaking, Yusuf was looking to save a rapidly-disappearing forest called the Ulu Masen Ecosystem. It spread across 750,000 hectares, and the consulting team he hired, headed by John-O Niles of the Tropical Forest Group, estimated that an 85% reduction in deforestation would prevent more than 3 million tons of CO2 from billowing into the atmosphere every year. Yusuf began spearheading what would have become the largest REDD project to date – one designed to slow deforestation in part by jump-starting sustainable palm oil, coffee, and cocoa programs. This would ensure that the activities driving deforestation in Ulu Masen don’t just migrate down the road (a process called “leakage”), but are instead transformed into more sustainable practices…

29 October 2014

Why you should bother to read the IPCC’s synthesis report
By Richard Black, RTCC, 29 October 2014 | The IPCC reports already contain the conclusion that this is an essential component of a solution. But it’s partially concealed in two layers of jargon. One is the ‘carbon budget’ – the maximum total amount of CO2 that can be put into the atmosphere before the 2C target disappears in the rear-view mirror. (Short-hand; at current rates, we’ll use it up in about 25 years.) The other lies in the scenarios that researchers use to model the future and explore implications of various choices. (Short-hand; unless emissions peak within a decade or two and begin swiftly declining towards zero, 2C is very unlikely.)

Methane Emissions May Swell from behind Dams
By Bobby Magill, Scientific American, 29 October 2014 | Imagine nearly 6,000 dairy cows doing what cows do, belching and being flatulent for a full year. That’s how much methane was emitted from one Ohio reservoir in 2012. Reservoirs and hydropower are often thought of as climate friendly because they don’t burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. But what if reservoirs that store water and produce electricity were among some of the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions? Scientists are searching for answers to that question, as they study how much methane is emitted into the atmosphere from man-made reservoirs built for hydropower and other purposes. Until recently, it was believed that about 20 percent of all man-made methane emissions come from the surface of reservoirs.

On women and social sciences, forestry institutions still missing the picture, expert says
By Martha Cuba, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 October 2014 | Rural women remain “somewhat invisible” to the forestry world, despite a growing understanding of their roles in forest environments, according to a leading expert. Most forestry institutions “have been ignoring the potential contribution of half the world’s population,” said Carol Colfer, a senior associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who has been studying anthropology and forests for 20 years. In a keynote speech at the recent IUFRO 2014 World Congress, Colfer laid out the challenges and opportunities for research to inform sustainable forest management by focusing on people, especially women. But focusing on women alone “has not been enough,” she said: “We need to look at male-female interactions instead of just what women do and what men do.”

[Australia] Direct Action: Clive Palmer and crossbenchers reach deal with Greg Hunt
By Mark Kenny and Lisa Cox, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 October 2014 | Tony Abbott has left open the possibility of a return to emissions trading in a trade-off for the Palmer United Party’s support for his controversial Direct Action climate policy. A deal was struck late on Wednesday afternoon after protracted negotiations and represents a major symbolic concession by the Prime Minister, who once swore a blood oath to repeal the carbon tax and never again have a price on carbon. Under the agreement, the government has backflipped on a promise to abolish the Climate Change Authority and will instead fund the body to undertake an 18 month inquiry into the effectiveness of emissions trading programs around the world. Direct Action, the key plank of which is a $2.55 billion fund that pays major polluters to reduce their emissions, is now set to become law, assuming independents Nick Xenophon and John Madigan also back the legislation.

[Guyana] In any other country, the government would have fallen
By Freddie Kissoon, Kaieteur News, 29 October 2014 | I would strongly urge all Guyanese to keep in front of their eyes, the big picture in relation to the Anil Nandlall tape. It is the story of a cabal inside the Government of Guyana that came to a decision on what to do with Glenn Lall and the Kaieteur News paper itself. In the coming days, the obsessive talk on this scandal will persist. But the big picture will be lost if we keep Nandlall in the frame as the main culprit. He is not. The chief conspirator in this drama is the cabal. Nandlall is just one of the players who mouthed off to a journalist he knows well. Why did the Government in less than 24 hours, issue a statement supporting Nandlall? Because the statement was in support of the government itself.

[Indonesia] Cleaning up the mining ministry
The Jakarta Post, 29 October 2014 | President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s appointment of Sudirman Said, an anticorruption activist and good-governance champion, as energy and mineral resources minister only reaffirms his priority to clean up the country’s bureaucracy. With former energy and mineral resources minister Jero Wacik a corruption suspect and former Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas) chief Rudi Rubiandini now behind bars for corruption, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry should be one of the top targets of Jokowi’s reform drive. It is reassuring to know that Sudirman, 51, fits this Cabinet portfolio well. Even though he is an auditor by training, he also gained a master’s degree in business management from George Washington University and has built years of experience in state and private oil companies as well as demonstrating his managerial and leadership qualities in many organizations.

Spain and Netherlands among countries to buy way to green targets
By Peter Teffer, EU Observer, 29 October 2014 | Up to nine EU countries may buy their way to achieving targets set under an international climate change treaty, with around €2.5 billion to be spent on purchasing emission-reduction credits from other countries. The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, set binding reduction targets for 37 industrialised countries, to be achieved in the period 2008 to 2012. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has assessed the achievements of its 33 members: the 28 EU nations, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey. Of those countries, 30 had a country-specific Kyoto target. The agency expects the vast majority to achieve their targets, but some of them will actually pay to do so.

[Thailand] TEI: Carbon footprint key to agenda
By Lamonphet Apisitniran, Bangkok Post, 29 October 2014 | Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) seeks to push carbon footprint reduction onto the national agenda despite lack of interest from carbon credit companies due to the low price. Government support for company participation in the scheme is crucial for its success, said TEI adviser Sirithan Boriboon. Carbon credit prices have sunk below one euro (41 baht) per tonne from 23 euros in 2008 when the scheme first started, denting demand in Thailand. As in other countries, Thai companies have lost confidence in the carbon trading programme because they do not believe credits are commercially viable.

[Peru] Indigenous Groups Occupy Airport Near Amazon Oil Reserves
By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams, 29 October 2014 | A large group of indigenous Peruvian community members took control of an airport in the Andoas region of the Amazon on Monday to protest Argentine energy company Pluspetrol, which they say is polluting the land and exploiting resources in the region to build their oil drilling operations. Indigenous rights group Aidesep told the Latin American Herald Tribune on Wednesday that the occupation had grown to 2,000 people, a significant increase from the days before. On Tuesday, Nuevo Andoas community chief Tedy Guerra told Reuters, “Right now there are about 500 of us at the airport … flights have stopped.” Nuevos Andoas residents occupied the airport along with other community leaders, including those from Alianza Capaguari.

30 October 2014

Banks invest a record €66bn in coal sector
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 30 October 2014 | Commercial banks poured record sums of money into coal last year, despite mounting evidence of the climate risks. Banks provided more than €66 billion (US$88 billion) worth of underwriting and loans to 65 top coal companies in 2013, according to the latest report by BankTrack. That was a fourfold increase on 2005. In the last three years, Chinese banks overtook Western counterparts Citi, JP Morgan Chase and RBS to reach the first three spots in the coal backing leaderboard. Yann Louvel, campaign coordinator at BankTrack, said these banks were throwing a “lifeline” to coal mining and power companies, while putting the planet in “climate jeopardy”.

How the deforestation agenda came in from the wilderness
By Will Nichols, BusinessGreen, 30 October 2014 | Inevitably, however, REDD+ has not met with universal approval, with many critics questioning whether carbon credits are the best approach to addressing the problem of deforestation, echoing critics of the CDM who argue that market-based approaches struggle to reduce deforestation if the price of credits are not kept high enough. Conservationists also fear forest communities could be persuaded to sign away their rights to land by cowboy carbon traders who fail to adequately protect the forest and ensure carbon emission reductions are delivered. But without trading, the question remains over how forestry projects are to be funded when governments are still feeling the pinch of the global slowdown. A UN-backed report published in February 2014 found that if an EU target for a 50 per cent reduction in tropical deforestation by 2020 is to be met, current commitments would effectively fund only three per cent of the reduction.

AkzoNobel details financial benefits of carbon credits methodology
GlobeNewswire, 30 October 2014 | Two ship owners are due to be awarded a combined total of almost $500,000 when the first claims resulting from a new carbon credits methodology developed by AkzoNobel and The Gold Standard Foundation are finalized next year. The scheme allows ships to generate income in the form of carbon credits, which are earned by reducing CO2 emissions. A total of 17 vessels feature in the first two claims, while 50 further vessels are expected to join the scheme by the end of the year. The landmark methodology is based on ship owners converting existing vessels from a biocidal antifouling system to a premium, biocide-free advanced hull coating such as Intersleek, part of AkzoNobel’s International marine coatings product line.

[Australia] Forestry Tasmania posts $43m loss, Minister blames peace deal
ABC News, 30 October 2014 | The Tasmanian Government is blaming the forest peace deal brokered under its predecessor for another big loss posted by Forestry Tasmania. The Government-owned forest estate manager lost $43.1 million after tax in the financial year that ended in June. That was despite the previous Labor-Greens government handing the company $37 million during the year in a bid to keep it solvent. Resources Minister Paul Harriss told Parliament the peace deal that led to the creation of new native forest reserves was to blame for the result. “Forestry Tasmania has had another very challenging year,” he said.

[Australia] Emissions trading will be back in the game if Direct Action proves ineffective
By Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 30 October 2014 | Greg Hunt vows emissions trading is dead and won’t be revived for 20 years or more. But he has quietly given himself the power to bring back a form of carbon trading, and he has advice that if he doesn’t use it, Australia cannot meet the climate promises it has made to the world. The seeds of an emissions trading scheme are buried in the deal Hunt did with crossbench senators. And the power for them to bloom into a new form of carbon trading also rests with him. The catch is, if he doesn’t allow this to happen, Australia is very unlikely to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets, and has almost no chance of meeting the deeper targets it will have to commit to after that. In a few years the minister is very likely to face a choice – break the Coalition’s promise never to introduce any form of carbon price, or break Australia’s promise to the world about how much we would reduce greenhouse emissions.

[Brazil] Bead by Bead, Saving the Rainforest and Fighting Climate Change
Forest Trends, 30 October 2014 | Through an innovative financing project called the Suruí Forest Carbon Project — which is supported by the non-profit Forest Trends — the Suruí became the first indigenous tribe in the Amazon to globally to earn carbon credits under internationally recognized standards for maintaining the carbon that is held in standing trees. The project can serve as a model for other indigenous people across the Amazon who do the crucial work of preserving endangered tropical rainforests. The proceeds from the carbon project, as well as support from the IKEA Foundation via Forest Trends, enable the Suruí women to fully engage in activities — like the handicrafts and running the new store — that use forest products in a sustainable manner to support their families and livelihoods.

Regreening program to restore one-sixth of Ethiopia’s land
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 30 October 2014 | Fifteen years years ago the villages around Abrha Weatsbha in northern Ethiopia were on the point of being abandoned. The hillsides were barren, the communities, plagued by floods and droughts, needed constant food aid, and the soil was being washed away. Today, Abrha Weatsbha in the Tigray region is unrecognisable and an environmental catastrophe has been averted following the planting of many millions of tree and bush seedlings. Wells that were dry have been recharged, the soil is in better shape, fruit trees grow in the valleys and the hillsides are green again. The “regreening” of the area, achieved in just a few years for little cost by farming communities working together to close off large areas to animals, save water and replant trees, is now to be replicated across one sixth of Ethiopia – an area the size of England and Wales.

[Indonesia] New minister to focus on scrutinizing forestry permits
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 30 October 2014 | With the merging of the Forestry Ministry and the Environment Ministry in President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s new Cabinet, newly-appointed Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar faces the daunting task of balancing the exploitation and preservation aspects of both ministries. Environmental activists have questioned how Siti would helm the ministry to reach a balance in the management of the country’s abundant, yet massively exploited, natural resources. Fresh from the hand-over ceremony with her predecessor Balthasar Kambuaya on Wednesday, Siti made it clear that one focus of the ministry would be on the issuance of permits. “The issuance of permits should be made easy for the business world so that natural resources could truly become a source of public wealth,” she told reporters at the ministry’s office in Kebon Nanas, East Jakarta. Siti said that in the future, permits should be obtained quickly and cheaply.

[UK] MP backing campaign to fight fraud
Bradford Telegraph and Argus, 30 October 2014 | A Bradford MP has helped to start a new awareness campaign designed to protect those most at risk of investment fraud. David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East (pictured), has backed the actions of finance regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which has issued warnings on how to spot a potential scam. The FCA said investment scams generally involve unexpected phone calls and high-pressured sales tactics, for products which often do not exist, including land-banking schemes, carbon credits and rare earth metals. Those most at risk are said to be retired people looking to make investments. The regulator is calling on people to report suspected scams, either on their website, or by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. “It’s important for Bradfordians to know how to spot the signs of a potential scam, and encourage friends and family to be alert to a deal that seems too good to be true,” said Mr Ward.

[UK] Carbon companies ordered into liquidation
By Niamh Burns, Energy Voice, 30 October 2014 | Both Carbon Green Capital and Agora Capital were found by the High Court in London to have made false claims about investment returns. A petition against the companies was presented to the High Court by the Secretary for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable. The companies were accused of selling carbon credit investments which were misleading, raking in almost £1million in profit. Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor, said: “This formally brings to an end the activities of two heartless companies that claimed to pride themselves on the investment returns for clients but who in truth were peddling near worthless carbon credits, which in some instances they even failed to supply, raising approaching £1million from the public. Far from the claimed world class investment services dedicated to helping clients, these companies were dedicated only to helping themselves.”

[USA] California’s carbon market is leaking
By David Roberts, Grist, 30 October 2014 | One concern that faces all carbon markets is “leakage,” whereby emissions are reduced within a carbon market merely by being pushed outside it. The kind of leakage most people are familiar with has to do with displaced industrial activity. Say State X implements a carbon market. In response, a company with a factory in State X closes it and reopens it in State Y. Now State X has reduced its carbon emissions, but total carbon emissions haven’t fallen at all — they just migrated. That doesn’t do anybody any good. California’s critics are always warning that AB32 will cause industrial leakage, but it hasn’t really happened, and isn’t likely to. (A subject for another post.) There is, however, another kind of leakage that’s less widely understood. It’s a bit wonky but, in the case of California’s fledgling carbon market, a very big deal. It’s called “resource shuffling.” Allow me to blogsplain.

31 October 2014

Safeguards research gauges local participation, views of early-stage REDD initiatives
By Martha Cuba, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 31 October 2014 | Preliminary research shows somewhat limited village-level participation in early-stage efforts at curbing emissions through avoided tropical deforestation, according to scientists presenting at a recent conference. The findings from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD ) initiatives in six countries relate to REDD safeguards, which were created to mitigate social and environmental risks and promote non-carbon benefits. Among these is ensuring the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, including local people. “We found low levels of knowledge about and participation in the early stages of REDD initiatives at the village level,” said Amy Duchelle, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who is involved in CIFOR´s Global Comparative Study (GCS) on REDD.

Amazon rainforest deforestation linked to extreme weather events
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 31 October 2014 | The Amazon rainforest has degraded to the point where it is losing its ability to benignly regulate weather systems, according to a stark new warning from one of Brazil’s leading scientists. In a new report, Antonio Nobre, researcher in the government’s space institute, earth system science centre, says the logging and burning of the world’s greatest forest might be connected to worsening droughts – such as the one currently plaguing São Paulo – and is likely to lead eventually to more extreme weather events. The study, which is a summary drawing from more than 200 existing papers on Amazonian climate and forest science, is intended as a wake-up call. “I realised the problem is much more serious than we realised, even in academia and the reason is that science has become so fragmented. Atmospheric scientists don’t look at forests as much as they should and vice versa,” said Nobre, who wrote the report for a lay audience.

[Australia] Forestry Tasmania’s $43m loss nothing to do with ‘peace deal’, say experts
By Michael Safi, The Guardian, 31 October 2014 | Environmentalists and the forestry industry have rejected the Tasmanian government’s claim that a disastrous deficit posted by the state’s taxpayer-owned forest corporation was the result of a “peace deal” between loggers and green groups. Forestry Tasmania, which is responsible for logging the state’s forests, posted a $43m loss on Thursday, more than triple the $14m deficit it recorded last year. This was despite $37m compensation given to the company by the previous Labor-Greens government as part of the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement (TFA), a historic truce between the forestry industry and environment groups following 30 years of bitter conflict. The state’s resources minister, Paul Harriss, said the huge loss was a “direct result of the 400,000 hectares of land locked up under the job-destroying Labor-Green forest deal”.

[Australia] Relief as pig gas plan takes flight
By Rachel Baxendale, The Australian, 31 October 2014 | For pig farmer Tom Smith, the Palmer United Party’s agreement to support the Direct Action policy on climate change was a big relief. Mr Smith has spent more than $600,000 on a system to capture the methane produced by effluent from his 24,000 pigs at Yarrawalla, north of Bendigo, and is intending to invest at least that much again on infrastructure to generate electricity from the resulting biogas. Passing the legislation means Mr Smith and his two adult sons, also involved in running the piggery, have certainty the carbon credits earned under the previous Labor government’s system will be honoured. Mr Smith said he was still concerned smaller-scale farmers would not have enough incentive to invest in emission reduction. “Because of our size, we could justify an investment where we calculated we might not get a ­return for seven years, but in most industries, for smaller producers, that’s unviable,” the 62-year-old said.

[Brazil] Rio says it will offset 3.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions at 2016 Olympic Games
DNAIndia, 31 October 2014 | The Rio 2016 local organizing committee set a target on Thursday to offset the total amount of greenhouse gases estimated to be produced by the world’s largest multi-sport event. The Olympic Games are expected to generate 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), mostly due to traveling and accommodation of spectators, the local organizing committee (LOC) said… Rio’s committee said Dow Chemicals will be its official carbon partner, in charge of offsetting 2 million tonnes of CO2e. Dow plans to reach the emissions reductions by implementing programs such as a fuel switch at power installations in its plants in Brazil. It will also calculate the reductions achieved with the use of some of its products in the agriculture and the food processing sectors in the country. Rio’s government will complement the Games’ carbon footprint offsetting with a reforestation program for degraded areas of the Atlantic Rainforest.

Colombia to launch voluntary carbon credit trading
By Peter Murphy, Reuters, 31 October 2014 | A Colombian environmental charity will launch a carbon trading platform in mid-2015 to companies at home and abroad seeking to voluntarily offset emissions, it said on Thursday, as projects in the Andean nation to cut greenhouse gases intensify. The Andean nation, one of the world’s most biodiverse, has up to 17 million potentially reforestable hectares, an area larger than Greece, to generate carbon credits, said Fundacion Natura, the charity heading up the planting initiatives around the country. Though Colombia does not have legally binding greenhouse gas emissions limits, some local companies eager to show ecological credentials have paid upfront to finance projects generating credits independent certifiers will issue next year. “Colombia has big potential. There are large areas available for reforestation, and this is a big advantage in the voluntary markets,” said Alexandra Ochoa, a climate change expert from the foundation…

World-first REDD+ academy launched in Indonesia
UN-REDD Programme, 31 October 2014 | The world’s first REDD Academy designed to energise efforts and strengthen the capacity of developing countries to combat deforestation and harness related financial, social and environmental benefits, was launched in Indonesia. The event brought together 83 representatives from Asia-Pacific governments, Indonesian parliamentarians and members of the media. The REDD Academy is a new initiative of the UN-REDD Programme that aims to bolster the progress that many governments are making towards reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD ). In addition to building the capacity of developing countries to implement REDD , it seeks to integrating environmental sustainability and economic development.

1 November 2014

[Ghana] The Asante Akyem South District Assembly’s Wealth-Creating Bamboo Project
By Kofi Thompson, Ghanaweb, 1 November 2014 | A bamboo products incubator project initiated by the Asante Akyem South District Assembly and the Rural Enterprises Project (REP), is a shining example of rural wealth-creation, which alleviates rural poverty. Were the Asante Akyem South District Assembly and the REP to collaborate with the Ghana Green Building Council, extensive use of bamboo could be promoted in the green building sector, of Ghana’s construction industry. And because it is a substitute for many timber products, bamboo plantations could qualify as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) projects. For that reason, perhaps the Asante Akyem South District Assembly and the REP ought to consider approaching the Norwegian and German embassies, with a view to discussing the possibility of getting REDD+ payments from Norway and Germany, for all the bamboo plantations that are established by youth cooperatives in the district.

REDD+ launches Pacific website
FBC News, 1 November 2014 | REDD PLUS (+) an international initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation yesterday launched their Pacific web site. The online information will allow Pacific stakeholders access and exchange of up to date information on the project which is currently been piloted in FOUR Melanesian countries. Minister for Fisheries and Forest, Osea Naiqamu says the online tool will go some way towards the sustainable management of our natural resources. “The platform will be able to provide the comprehensive data and information needed for developing REDD plus in the Pacific island region, it is designed to provide information to various stakeholders such as policy and decision holders in SPC member countries, regional and international organizations, donor agencies and educational institutions, NGOs, community stakeholders including resource landowners.”

2 November 2014

[Indonesia] RI hosts inaugural sessions of REDD+ Academy
The Jakarta Post, 2 November 2014 | Indonesia is hosting inaugural sessions of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Academy in Yogyakarta, which has been established to aid the global fight against deforestation by creating economic value from carbon stored in forests. Head of REDD+ Indonesia, Heru Prasetyo, said it was crucial for countries to collaborate and remain vigilant in the fight against deforestation and forest degradation. “This aims to provide knowledge on what sustainability means; what it means in relation to forests and the price we will pay if we don’t address this matter now,” Heru said in the opening of the program, which began on Oct. 28 and will conclude on Nov. 7.

World’s Scientists Warn: We Have ‘High Confidence’ In The ‘Irreversible Impacts’ Of Climate Inaction
By Joe Romm, ThinkProgress, 2 November 2014 | The world’s top scientists and governments have issued their bluntest plea yet to the world: Slash carbon pollution now (at a very low cost) or risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” Scientists have “high confidence” these devastating impacts occur “even with adaptation” — if we keep doing little or nothing. On Sunday, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the “synthesis” report of their fifth full scientific climate assessment since 1990. More than 100 governments have signed off line by line on this review of more than 30,000 studies on climate science, impacts, and solutions. Like every recent IPCC report, it is cautious to a fault — as you would expect from “its consensus structure, which tends to produce a lowest common denominator on which a large number of scientists can agree,” as one climatologist explained to the New York Times.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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