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REDD in the news: 17-23 November 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.

 
REDD+ Safeguards: Practical Considerations for Developing a Summary of Information
Meridian Institute, November 2014 | This paper responds, and builds upon agreement already made under the UNFCCC, offering a pragmatic approach for countries to consider when preparing their safeguards summary of information for the UNFCCC. The authors solicited input on the paper’s content and framing with diverse stakeholders including those from indigenous peoples’ and non-governmental organizations, researchers, and forest and donor countries.

Non-Carbon Benfits [sic] in REDD+
International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), November 2014 | Non-Carbon Benefits are more valuable than carbon. They are critical for indigenous peoples’ continued survival and development including of their present and future generations, as their identities, livelihoods and cultural heritage are historically rooted in their forests that are part of their traditional territories. It is therefore necessary and imperative to ensure the recognition of indigenous peoples’ collective rights to their forest, land and resources as part of the human rights framework in approaches to Non-Carbon Benefits as well as to the overall design and implementation of REDD+. Likewise, incentivizing Non-Carbon Benefits should take into account the historical role of indigenous peoples and, in particular, indigenous women in forest protection and conservation with a view of providing for their needs and priorities for their overall wellbeing.

Forest Tenure Reform in Asia and Africa: Local Control for Improved Livelihoods, Forest Management, and Carbon Sequestration
By Randall Bluffstone and Elizabeth J. Z. Robinson, Routledge, November 2014 | Forest tenure reforms are occurring in many developing countries around the world. These reforms typically include devolution of forest lands to local people and communities, which has attracted a great deal of attention and interest. While the nature and level of devolution vary by country, all have potentially important implications for resource allocation, local ecosystem services, livelihoods and climate change. This book helps students, researchers and professionals to understand the importance and implications of these reforms for local environmental quality, climate change, and the livelihoods of villagers, who are often poor. It is shown that local forest management can often be more successful than top-down management of common pool forest resources. The relationship of local forest tenure reform to the important climate change initiative REDD+ is also considered.

Ending deforestation: REDD+ CGF = Ø Deforestation
pwc, November 2014 | 130 governments, businesses, civil society and indigenous peoples’ organisations endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests on 23 September 2014. They have pledged to halve forest loss by 2020 and to end it a decade later in 2030. For businesses, this builds on a commitment made in 2010 by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) – a coalition of 400 companies with combined revenues of US$ 3 trillion. The CGF aimed for Zero Net Deforestation by 2020 from four key commodities: soy, palm oil, pulp & paper and cattle products. These products drive approximately half of global deforestation and are major ingredients in the supply chains of most consumer goods companies… Whilst there are individual examples of the CGF and REDD+ community working together, there has not yet been systematic collaboration on a large scale. This is despite the fact that 100% of CGF and REDD+ organisations recently surveyed by us thought that the two communities should be working closer…

17 November 2014

To stop the killings of environmental defenders, we need land reform and binding laws
By Jeff Conant, Friends of the Earth, 17 November 2014 | Two months ago, in early September, four Asháninka indigenous forest defenders were brutally slain in a remote region along the border of Peru and Brazil. One of the activists, Edwin Chota (pictured at left) had received frequent death threats from loggers he had previously tried to expel from the lands for which his community was seeking title. As the New York Times reported, “Pervasive corruption lets the loggers operate with impunity, stripping the Amazon region’s river basins of prized hardwoods” — and leading to killings such as these. Today, at events in Lima and New York, the daughter of one of the murdered men will accept an Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Environmental and Human Rights Activism from the Alexander Soros Foundation on behalf of her father and their Asháninka community. The award ceremony also marks the launch of Peru’s Deadly Environment, a report by Global Witness…

Interpol launches most-wanted list of environmental fugitives
By Arthur Nelson, 17 November 2014 | Suspects wanted for crimes including poaching rhino, trafficking ivory and illegally chopping down forests feature on the first ever Most Wanted-style appeal to catch environmental criminals. Interpol’s public appeal hopes to catch nine fugitives suspected of environmental crimes costing hundreds of millions of dollars, in a move to catapult the issue to the forefront of international law enforcement. Stefano Carvelli, the head of Interpol’s fugitive investigative support unit, said that the offences were only the tip of the iceberg of an environmental crime wave, which agency reports have estimated to be worth $70bn-$213bn annually. “If we talk about illegal logging, we have many pending cases,” he said. “We also have many serious biodiversity cases. The problem is very big, I can feel it. These are crimes with many, many different parameters.”

‘Honeymoon’ over, REDD struggles with politics and power
By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 November 2014 | In theory, the plan seemed rather simple: a financial mechanism to reduce carbon emissions by incentivizing the protection of forests. In practice, REDD+ has struggled to achieve what it aims to do—reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. As climate negotiators head to Lima for the UNFCCC COP, where does REDD+ stand now, and after nearly eight years, why is it still in most countries in the early, “readiness” stage? Politics and power struggles explain part of the problem, a leading expert says, pointing to difficulties in designing—and implementing—policies that an ever-growing number of stakeholders can agree on. “The honeymoon phase is over,” said Maria Brockhaus, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in a recent interview. “You have actors that no longer happily agree on the broad idea, that strongly disagree on how to realize that idea.”

REDD+ Learning Session 28: Expectations for REDD+ at UNFCCC COP20
WWF, 17 November 2014 | This is an archive of the session that took place on Monday, November 17 2014. In this session, Josefina Braña-Varela, Policy Director of the WWF Forest and Climate Programme, discusses the challenges and opportunities for REDD+ at the upcoming UNFCCC COP20 in Lima, Peru.

Joint NGO Media Briefer on High Carbon Stock (HCS) Approach to Ending Deforestation
By Laurel Sutherlin, Rainforest Action Network, 17 November 2014 | The HCS Approach is being developed as a tool to help companies and other stakeholders implement commitments to end deforestation. It builds on the methodology developed by Golden Agri Resources, Greenpeace and TFT since 2011. It aims to provide a practical and credible way to identify degraded areas suitable for potential plantation development and forest areas that merit protection to maintain and enhance carbon, biodiversity and social values. In practice, the approach integrates HCS assessments with High Conservation Value (HCV) assessments, the protection of peat lands, processes to accommodate local communities’ livelihoods and aspirations, and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to proposed developments that may affect their lands.

Protecting forests alone would not halt land-use change emissions
Phys.org, 17 November 2014 | Global forest conservation measures meant to mitigate climate change are likely to drive massive cropland expansion into shrublands or savannahs to satisfy the ever-growing hunger for arable land. The consequent changes in land use could cause substantial greenhouse gas emissions, a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change shows. In contrast to previous assumptions, conservation schemes that focus only on forests may thus fail to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from land-use change. If ecosystem protection policies aim at climate protection, they need to cover the whole range of land types, according to comprehensive computer simulations. To compensate for such restrictions on land use, intensification of agriculture to generate higher yields is important.

Local activists are paying with their life to protect their forests in Peru
By Alex Soros, The Guardian, 17 November 2014 | Edwin Chota was killed in the forest he had fought to protect. The Peruvian environmental activist had appealed to his government for help after receiving death threats from the illegal loggers that plagued the area around his village, deep in the Amazon rainforest. And yet, in September, he and three other prominent members of the Peruvian Ashéninka community were ambushed and shot on a jungle trail as they travelled to meet fellow activists from neighbouring Brazil. Chota’s widow journeyed six days by river to the regional capital to report their deaths. Chota’s death is a reminder of the price that local activists in some of the world’s most remote areas are paying as they fight to defend their communities from exploitation and industrialisation. Global demand for natural resources is growing, and indigenous people are receiving little protection from those who would destroy their land, forests, and rivers.

Spotlight on murders of activists as Peru prepares for Lima climate talks
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 17 November 2014 | Two weeks before Peru hosts a key global climate conference, the country has come under fire for failing to protect activists who were murdered trying to defend the country’s rapidly diminishing rainforest and other ecosystems. The South American nation has become the fourth most dangerous state in the world for environmental and land defenders, according to the NGO Global Witness, which accused the government of putting a dangerous emphasis on exploitation rather than conservation of natural resources. In a new report, Peru’s Deadly Environment, the group noted at least 57 activists have been killed in Peru since 2002, more than 60% of them in the last four years. Only Brazil, Honduras and the Philippines have a more deadly record.

[USA] Will More Red States Constrain More REDD Finance?
By Frances Seymour, Center For Global Development, 17 November 2014 | Among the many questions raised by the Republican takeover of the US Senate is what impact it will have on US international climate policy. Will the rosier tint of US domestic politics mean less rosy prospects for US leadership and finance toward the particularly important objective of reducing emissions from tropical deforestation and forest degradation (REDD )? A new CGD Policy Paper, “US Support for REDD : Reflections on the Past and Future Outlook” by Michael Wolosin and Donna Lee, provides timely analysis that helps answer this question. Their paper covers both the “big-P” politics that determine the existence and amount of US funding for REDD , as well as the “small-p” politics that shape REDD investments.

[USA] Forest, Ag Project Developers See Opportunity, Concern In California ODS Offset Invalidation
By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, 17 November 2014 | California regulators shook the North American carbon markets to their core with their plans to invoke the invalidation provisions featured in the state’s carbon offset program for the first time. While the affected producers of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) offsets and their allies loudly lobbied the regulators to change their minds, developers of forest and livestock carbon offsets quietly mulled what the decision means for them. The ODS invalidation “could be the most important topic affecting California offsets right now,” said Kevin Townsend, Chief Commercial Officer of Blue Source, which develops forestry and other types of carbon offset projects. “This is immensely important for all California offset types, including forestry.”

[USA] Drummond Woodsum lawyers help Appalachian Mountain Club cash in on uncut trees
By James McCarthy, Mainebiz.biz, 17 November 2014 | Drummond Woodsum is an example of a law firm harnessing the interests of its associates to strengthen its legal practice… A recent example is the legal work that Kallin and the practice group did in helping AMC qualify for carbon sequestration credits for a 10,000-acre ecological reserve within the 37,000-acre Katahdin Iron Works tract it purchased from the International Paper Co. in 2003 for $17 million. In July, AMC sold those credits — based on the 100,000-plus carbon tons sequestered, or stored, in the growing trees of its reserve above the baseline year of 2007 — for an undisclosed sum to The Climate Trust, a Portland, Ore., nonprofit that specializes in carbon financing. That deal is only the second one to be completed in Maine. The first was Down East Land Trust’s sale of nearly 200,000 carbon offset credits on 19,000 acres in eastern Maine in 2013…

[USA] GM’s Latest Plan To Combat Climate Change: Protect Grass
By Ari Phillips, Climate Progress, 17 November 2014 | Chevrolet, a unit of GM, will become the first company to purchase carbon credits in a new program administered by the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) in an effort to prevent natural grassland from being converted into cropland. GM is purchasing almost 40,000 metric tons of carbon credits from North Dakota ranchers, which will protect around 6,000 acres from large-scale crop development. Cropland conversion is a growing concern in the Midwest as commodity prices of staples like corn and soybeans rise along with their use in biofuels, Paul Schmidt, chief conservation officer with Ducks Unlimited, a conservation organization participating in the program, told the AP. Robert Bonnie, USDA’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment, is announcing the purchase at the USDA’s headquarters on Monday. “Along with GM’s interest, our hope is there will be additional companies that will be interested in pursuing this,” Bonnie said.

[USA] Chevrolet buys carbon credits to help N.D. ranchers
By Greg Gardner, Detroit Free Press, 17 November 2014 | By partnering with a group of North Dakota livestock ranchers, Chevrolet and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are creating incentives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. In a program to be launched today in Washington, D.C., Chevrolet is buying credits from owners of about 11,000 acres of grasslands in North Dakota that will remain in production while eliminating about 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide emission through a variety of conservation practices. “The amount of carbon dioxide removed from our atmosphere by Chevrolet’s purchase of these credits equals the amount that would be reduced by taking more than 5,000 cars off the road,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

18 November 2014

Time for urgent action on social safeguards for REDD+, researchers say
By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 18 November 2014 | It’s time to get serious about the social dimensions of REDD+ projects, say the authors of a new study. The paper, published recently in the journal Forests, surveys the evolution of multi-level policy frameworks to develop “social safeguards” for REDD+… In particular, the study looks at how REDD+ programs in three countries have pursued safeguards including ensuring synergy with national policies and international conventions; transparent governance; free prior and informed consent (FPIC) and land tenure; participation of affected communities; and enhanced social benefits. “Expectations are high for an international consensus on social safeguards at the Lima climate change conference in December,” said lead author Pam Jagger, a senior associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and an assistant professor of environmental policy at the University of North Carolina.

Rich countries ‘backsliding’ on climate finance
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 18 November 2014 | “We are not applauding the announcements [of pledges] yet,” said Meena Raman, an official observer on the GCF board, representing civil society from developing countries. “The devil will be in the details of these contributions – whether they come with conditions; whether they are grants or loans; and whether the amounts are earmarked for specific purposes.” The contributions, which include $3bn from the US and $1.5bn from Japan, are to be spread over four years and could be a third lower a year than was pledged for developing countries at the UN climate summit in Cancun in 2010. “It appears that the current pledges … will be close to $10bn and for the four year period of 2015-2018. This is really not much given the scale of the challenge. In 2009 the [fast track] funds were supposed to be $30bn for three years (2010-2012) – or $10bn a year. $10bn over four years for the GCF is actually a backsliding of efforts,” said Raman.

Green Climate Fund is not a charity but investment in our future
Isabella Lövin (Sweden’s minister for international development cooperation), The Guardian, 18 November 2014 | A world that does not manage to curb global warming is an insecure world. A series of recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it abundantly clear. If we do not succeed in staying below the target of keeping temperature rises below 2C over preindustrial levels, the consequences are likely to be far-reaching and disastrous. We will see a dramatic rise in sea levels, by up to a metre in this century alone, a greater frequency of violent storms, increased desertification, with hundreds of millions of people experiencing water scarcity, and radical changes in entire ecosystems. This will pose a serious threat to the livelihoods of large swathes of people, causing unprecedented refugee flows and, in the worst case, new conflicts and wars.

Stunning NASA Visualization Reveals Secret Swirlings of Carbon Dioxide
By Peter Miller, National Geographic, 18 November 2014 | NASA has released a striking visualization of how carbon dioxide flows around the world. In the simulation, plumes of the greenhouse gas gush into the atmosphere from major industrial centers, swirling from continent to continent on the winds of global weather systems… Its superhigh-resolution mapping—64 times as great as the average climate model—dramatically illustrates two often neglected facts. The first is that CO2 emissions come almost exclusively from the Northern Hemisphere… The second is that massive amounts of carbon dioxide are absorbed seasonally by forests and other vegetation. As the model moves from late spring into summer, the rivers of red gas begin to fade away—drawn out of the atmosphere by photosynthesizing plants. Then, as the model slips into early winter and vegetation dies or goes dormant, CO2 flows back into the atmosphere.

Australian “Direct Action” climate plan to reward corporate polluters
By Barry Andrews, World Socialist Web Site, 18 November 2014 | Some of Australia’s major corporate carbon emitters stand to gain millions of dollars from the Abbott government’s so-called Direct Action plan on climate change, which is expected to be law by the end of the year. The Senate narrowly approved the government’s bill at the end of last month, with the support of mining baron Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party. The scheme is even more of a travesty than the previous Labor government’s carbon tax and emissions trading regime, which also sought to boost business profits while doing nothing to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Whereas Labor’s plan enhanced the prospects of alternative energy and other “green industry” companies, as well as financial firms involved in carbon trading, the main beneficiaries of the Abbott government’s scheme will be the coal giants and operators of the country’s coal-fired power stations, which produce 74 percent of Australia’s electricity supply.

Emissions Loophole Stays Open in E.U.
By Andrés Cala, New York Times, 18 November 2014 | The European Union agreed last month to keep open until 2030 a loophole allowing some of its biggest atmospheric polluters to avoid bearing an increasing share of the costs of cutting global-warming emissions. The decision, at a summit meeting of European leaders on climate and energy policy, followed warnings by industry lobby groups that manufacturers, threatened with having to pay more for emitting carbon dioxide in Europe and under pressure from global competition, would shift their most polluting operations elsewhere — an avoidance strategy known as carbon leakage. Safeguarding against carbon leakage, according to industry lobbyists, is necessary not only to protect jobs and investments, but also to avoid transferring greenhouse gas emissions to countries with environmental regulations that are more lax.

[Ghana] Degradation of forest cover is a threat – Forestry Commission
SpyGhana, 18 November 2014 | Mr Yaw Kwakye, Manager of Climate Change Unit of the Forestry Department, has expressed concern about the loss of forest cover and forest degradation in Ghana, saying it was leading to Green House Gas emissions and global warming. He said deforestation was on the increase in Ghana with an alarming rate of 1.9% per annum, one of the highest rates in Africa. This is as a result of unsustainable agriculture, illegal logging and illegal chainsaw operations, high demand for fuel wood and charcoal, population and development pressures, mining and wildfires. Mr Kwakye was speaking at a workshop organized by the Forestry Commission Ladies on REDD+ and safeguards on the theme: “Ensuring a Gender Responsive REDD+ Process.”

[Malaysia] Minimum RM1m price tag for foreign buyers
The Sun Daily, 18 November 2014 | Foreigners intending to buy properties in Malaysia will have to fork out RM1 million as compared with RM500,000. This new move is expected to come under the Guideline on Real Estate Acquisition, Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department… The guideline was among four consideration and three information papers touching on several important policies on land and forestry discussed… The three information papers presented included one on the involvement of the federal and state governments in the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) mechanism to reduce the effects of climatic change.

Papua-Wide meeting calls for 10 year Moratorium on Plantation and Forestry Industries
LifeMosaic, 18 November 2014 | This was an important meeting, as the difficulties and expense of travel around Papua means that communities are frequently isolated to face the companies alone, even though the problems they face are remarkably similar. With many more plantation companies set to start operations within the next few years, and timber companies still keen to harvest high-value logs, it is also vital to share the (often bitter) experiences of communities which have already seen how these industries operate, and also to formulate some common platform of demands with which to confront government and policy makers. Participants at the event heard about the long-term injustices connected with plantations in Jayapura, Keerom and Boven Digoel, where land was taken with military backing during the Suharto dictatorship causing problems which are still not resolved. In Papua’s deep south, participants told of how they have been marginalised by plantations connected to MIFEE…

[Philippines] Germany to support mega-diverse forest in DavOr
Philippine Information Agency, 18 November 2014 | To strengthen its sixty years of diplomatic relationship with the Philippines, the government of Germany vows to help solve the biodiversity crisis in the country by picking the province of Davao Oriental, to benefit from a program that aims for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity conservation. Dr. Bernd-Markus Liss, principal advisor of the German Development Cooperation recently arrived here to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon for the implementation of the National REDD-plus (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Philippines Project. Aside from helping reducing emissions and biodiversity conservation, the German-funded project will have other co-benefits including provision of livelihoods and safeguarding the rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

[Tanzania] UN-led REDD project praised for alternative income sources
IPP Media, 18 November 2014 | The government has commended the UN backed Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project saying other than the environmental benefits, the project has created alternative income sources for communities around forest areas. This was said yesterday by the Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals Charles Kitwanga when responding to a question by Ali Khamis Seif Mkoani Legislator (CUF) as to the benefits of the project. “A lot of money is dedicated to this project…I just want to know whether people living around the areas where the project is implemented have benefited since it was established in 2007,” the MP queried… He said the project is carried in 9 pilot areas of Kondoa, Kigoma, Kilosa, Kilwa, Lindi Rural, Rungwe, Muheza, Kisarawe, Shinyanga rural and Kahama districts and on the Isles in Chakechake, Wete, Mkoani, Micheweni, South Unguja, Centra and North B districts.

Tanzania: Private Sector Challenged On Climate Change Adaptation
By Finnigan Wa Simbeye, Tanzania Daily News, 18 November 2014 | Private sector should invest in climate change mitigating projects including establishing plantation and natural forests which will start attracting payment from polluters in a post Kyoto Protocol due in 2016… The Director of Environment in the Vice-President’s Office, Dr Julius Ningu, Senior Forestry Officer at Tanzania Forest Services Agency, Ms Amina Akida, said in Dar es Salaam last week that investing in forests by the private sector will soon be profitable.Dr Ningu said under the ongoing negotiations for a post Kyoto deal will seek to adequately compensate communities and private forest owners, as they will be sequestering carbon dioxide. “We hope this will attract private investment because it’s good for the environment but also profitable,” said Dr Ningu, while addressing a national climate change conference organised jointly by Vice-President’s Office, UK’s Department for International Development and World Bank.

19 November 2014

The Baker’s Dozen: A 748-Year-Old Solution for Climate Offsets
By Jonah Busch, Center For Global Development, 19 November 2014 | Just as the medieval baker’s dozen ensured that bread buyers would always get at least as much bread as they paid for, so too can a modern-day baker’s dozen ensure that the atmosphere receives at least as many emission reductions as offsets pay for. If regulated companies buy 12 tons of emission reductions through REDD+ to offset emissions domestically, they’d be required to buy a 13 ton which they’d retire without using, just to be on the safe side. This concept has been variably termed a discount, a trade ratio, or partial offsetting. Under Waxman-Markey, for every four emission reductions purchased by companies to use as offsets, a fifth would have been bought and retired. The effect of a baker’s dozen rule is that offsetting not only contains costs, it is also assured of having a direct positive effect on the atmosphere.

VCS, CCB To Cooperate On Standards
By Allie Goldstein, Ecosystem Marketplace, 19 November 2014 | After a long courtship, the most popular carbon standard and the leading co-benefits standard on the voluntary carbon market have taken their relationship to the next level: The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) will now manage the day-to-day operations of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standards. More than 70% of forest carbon offsets developed under VCS also pursued certification with CCB, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2014 report, to be released this week. For many buyers, the “beyond carbon” benefits of these projects – benefits such as job creation and endangered species protection – are what piques their interest in carbon offsets in the first place. “Corporate buyers are really placing an increasing importance on non-carbon benefits,” said David Antonioli, VCS’s Chief Executive Officer. “At the end of the day, that’s often what’s creating demand.”

Introducing the Tri-Caucus: “It takes a village”
By Allison Silverman, CIEL Worldview, 19 November 2014 | As negotiators were designing the REDD Warsaw Framework at COP 19 last year, which provides the basic rules for implementing REDD , an equally important process took place outside the closed doors of the negotiating rooms. A number of groups recognized the need to improve collaboration and an opportunity to influence the negotiations by working more strategically, by working together. These groups – the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, REDD Safeguards Working Group, and the Accra Caucus – have been engaging in REDD in the international arena to ensure that in protecting forests to prevent climate change, environmental issues such as biodiversity and water protection, as well as human rights, are protected and even promoted.

Brazil carbon emissions rise for the first time since 2004 -report
By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters, 19 November 2014 | Brazil’s annual greenhouse gas emissions increased last year for the first time since 2004 after years of reductions as deforestation and the use of thermal power plants rose, a new study found. Latin America’s largest economy generated 1.56 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2013, a 7.8 percent jump over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Climate Observatory, a network of civil society organizations. Emissions from deforestation rose 16 percent over the previous year while those from the energy sector climbed 7.3 percent. The numbers can be expected to fuel criticism from environmental groups over the government’s Amazon protection policies and its increasing use of fossil-fueled power plants.

[Indonesia] Burning an ecological treasure to extinction
By Kim H. Tan, The Jakarta Post, 19 November 2014 | Peat, gambut in Indonesian, is a unique ecosystem treasure of the country and takes millions of years for Mother Nature to form – yet it is being threatened with extinction within just a couple of years. The usually thick and dense peat forests, presenting a dangerous and mysterious environment, remained undisturbed for years and years. Obviously, the seemingly treacherous environment, together with known health risks such as malaria, have discouraged people from opening the forests for use as ladang or rice fields. However, the discovery of fossil fuel (oil) during the Dutch colonial era shattered the mystique of the peat forest, providing an initiative for clearing the forests.

[Paraguay] Massive illegal forest clearance threatens unique uncontacted tribe
Survival International, 19 November 2014 | The last uncontacted Indians outside Amazonia are running out of forest to hide in, say campaigners, as alarming new photos reveal rampant, illegal destruction of their territory. Ayoreo-Totobiegosode Indians, whose uncontacted relatives are hiding in the last patches of forest in western Paraguay, have watched helplessly as cattle-ranching firms illegally invade their territory and raze the forest. The Paraguayan government has ignored their pleas to intervene. Satellite photos show that two firms, Yaguarete Porá S.A. and Itapoti S.A., are defying national and international laws in a race to clear as much forest as possible. Yaguarete is owned by Brazilian rancher Marcelo Bastos Ferraz, who earlier this year rebuffed a Totobiegosode appeal to stop destroying their forest.

[UK] Green Queen signs up to UK carbon-cutting club
By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 19 November 2014 | Buckingham Palace has signed up to a carbon-cutting club – the latest sign that the UK’s queen thinks green. The Royal Household, which also takes care of St James’s Palace, Kensington Palace and Windsor Castle, has joined a network of organisations which swap practical tools and techniques to lower their carbon footprint. It emerged earlier this month that the queen is privately concerned about climate change, after she pondered to Met Office chief scientist Dame Julia Slingo whether the high level of flooding at Balmoral, her Scottish getaway, might have been caused by climate change. The year-old programme was launched by the National Trust and sustainable energy charity Ashden last year, and now has 85 members, including the Church of England, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Oxford University.

Carbon Farming Gaining Traction In US
SustainableBusiness.com, 19 November 2014 | If you read our news, you know we keep writing about reversing climate change by re-building soil either through applying compost, moving to organic agriculture or bringing back herds of grazing animals. Could it be catching on? We’ve heard about three programs – one starting in the US, one in Kenya and another in Australia. A new program rewards ranchers for leaving grasslands undisturbed – allowing them to earn money for leaving carbon in the soil. The more carbon in their soil, the more carbon credits they generate, which corporations buy to offset their emissions. It’s even got a new name, Carbon Farming! “Ranchers benefit from new revenue streams, while thriving grasslands provide nesting habitat for wildlife, are more resilient to extreme weather, and help mitigate the impact of climate change,” says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

[USA] California postpones greenhouse-gas credits auction
By Dale Kasler, The Sacramento Bee, 19 November 2014 | Hoping to inaugurate a historic link with a Canadian province in the fight against global warming, California officials were forced instead to call off a scheduled auction of carbon-emissions allowances Wednesday due to technical problems. The California Air Resources Board said the carbon credits auction was postponed due to “technical difficulties.” It hasn’t yet been rescheduled. Wednesday’s auction was supposed to be the first sale extending beyond California’s borders by including the province of Quebec. Carbon credits purchased in California could be used by companies to emit carbon in Quebec, and vice versa. Linking to another state is considered crucial in fighting climate change. So far, California is the only North American government entity with a carbon market, and state officials say that bringing more states and provinces into the fold will strengthen the overall fight against global warming.

[USA] Jurisdictional Forest Offsets: California Dreamin’?
By Frances Seymour, Center For Global Development, 19 November 2014 | After two weeks in Indonesia I returned to Washington to discover that fall had turned to winter in my absence. A new CGD Working Paper explains how the prospects of jurisdictional forest offsets have experienced a similar chill in California since first proposed in the late 2000s… Last week I participated in a “Learning Exchange on Jurisdictional Approaches to Green Development” organized by the Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Jakarta along with participants from Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. Although REDD+ was a topic of discussion—indeed, Indonesia’s new REDD+ Management Agency was a co-sponsor of the workshop—village-level planning and implementation of recent “deforestation-free” commodity supply chain commitments received as much if not more attention. The possibility of finance from California’s cap-and-trade program for efforts to reduce deforestation was not mentioned, at least in my presence.

[USA] Emission Statement: A carbon tax won’t happen anytime soon. Chevrolet just proved it should.
By Peter Moskowitz, Slate, 19 November 2014 | GM readily concedes that the deal, part of its four-year green initiative, is partially about buffing the company’s image. “No auto company had ever used climate change and carbon credits to engage in a discussion on a very important issue that a large portion of America cares about,” says David Tulauskas, GM’s director of sustainability and the program manager for Chevrolet’s carbon reduction initiative. “Chevy helps build baseball diamonds in communities, but so do other companies. … This is taking a new approach to strengthening the brand.” The company will reduce carbon by paying landowners to sequester it—a process of pulling carbon out of the air and burying it in the ground. Farmers and ranchers in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota will be paid to keep their property free of row crops like corn and soy, which require a lot of carbon to produce, and require intensive tiling, which can release even more carbon.

20 November 2014

Research on market-based conservation creates more confusion than clarity, analysis shows
By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 November 2014 | Market-based instruments to conserve ecosystems and biodiversity are becoming increasingly popular over regulatory instruments, but the term is so broad and misleading that it is nearly impossible for policy makers to draw conclusions from them, according to a new study. The study by researchers at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) analyzed 106 peer-reviewed scientific articles on such market-based instruments (MBIs) and found that many so-called MBIs described had little to do with markets. For example, Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), a widely used instrument categorized as an MBI, often end up being government payments to service providers, acting more as “a subsidy in disguise” rather than a market mechanism, in which providers of ecosystem services would receive funds from beneficiaries, the study notes.

Palm Oil: Where to From Here?
By Laurel Sutherlin, Rainforest Action Network, 20 November 2014 | Let’s be real: palm oil plantations are directly descended from a colonial model that requires artificially cheap (read: stolen) land and artificially cheap (read: slave) labor to be profitable, or at least to be as wildly profitable as it has proven to be. This industrial-scale, scorched-earth style of agriculture has now been violently imposed upon tens of millions of people across millions of acres of forest in Indonesia and Malaysia and is now aggressively seeking to expand into primary forests in Africa, Latin America and Papua New Guinea. So when we talk about achieving a deforestation-free palm oil sector that respects its workers and does not leave wholesale ecological carnage in its wake, we are not talking about reforming a few bad apples or tweaking some industry practices here and there. We are talking about fundamentally transforming a deeply entrenched multibillion-dollar business empire…

Consumers trust certification labels and expect companies to label products, PEFC research shows
PEFC press release, 20 November 2014 | More than 80% of consumers globally want companies sourcing certified material from sustainable managed forests to use certification labels, according to the first PEFC Global Consumer Survey, released today. The survey shows that certification labels, such as the PEFC label, are the most trusted means of giving confidence to consumers that wood-based products are sustainably sourced. Consumers globally believe that it is important to make ethical choices, with 60% of all those surveyed agreeing that their shopping choice for a labeled product can make a positive difference to the world’s forest. Only a small minority, 10%, felt that their choice for a sustainably sourced product would not make a difference.

UK should be proud of its pledge to the Green Climate Fund
By Ed Davey, The Guardian, 20 November 2014 | Climate change is at last heading up the international agenda. With the climate science evidence now so overwhelming even some of the sceptics have been forced to change tack. There is no time to lose. That’s why today’s announcement that the UK is to pledge up to £720 million into the Green Climate Fund to help the world’s poorest countries tackle climate change is so important. The context for this major British funding pledge is the all-important climate summit to be held in December next year in Paris. This will be the most significant moment in global climate diplomacy since the disappointing Copenhagen summit in 2009 when Ed Miliband was doing my job. The good news is that the politics, economics and science are now all in a much stronger place.

UN Climate Fund Falls Short of $10 Billion Target
By Frank Jordans, AP, 20 November 2014 | A U.N. fund that will help poor countries tackle climate change has fallen short, for now, of its target of collecting $10 billion, officials said Thursday. About 30 countries meeting in Berlin pledged a total of $9.3 billion toward the Green Climate Fund, according to Germany’s development ministry, which co-hosted the conference. Last week, the U.S. pledged $3 billion, the biggest amount so far. Britain announced Thursday it would give 720 million pounds ($1.13 billion). Japan, Germany and France also have given $1 billion or more. Despite the shortfall, Germany’s environment minister said she was satisfied by the result because some countries had indicated they would increase their contribution in the coming months. “I’m confident that we will reach the $10 billion goal,” Barbara Hendricks told reporters. “$9.3 billion is already pretty close.”

Green Climate Fund gets $9.3 bln in pledges at Berlin conference
By Madeline Chambers, Reuters, 20 November 2014 | Donor nations pledged a total $9.3 billion on Thursday to a U.N. fund to help developing countries tackle climate change, but environmental campaigners said the funds fell short of what is needed. The U.N. Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a major part of a plan agreed in 2009 whereby rich countries agreed to mobilise $100 billion a year from both public and private sources from 2020 to help developing nations adapt to a changing global climate and reduce their own carbon emissions. The United Nations has set an informal target of $10 billion in initial contributions this year, a goal that Germany – host of Thursday’s donor conference – said was now within sight, but developing countries are pushing for $15 billion.

[Australia] Abbott’s emissions bluff steering Australia into $100bn carbon hole
By Sophie Vorrath, Renew Economy, 20 November 2014 | Just as Tony Abbott seemed to cast off his climate change resistant armour and call for strong binding emissions reduction targets at next year’s UN conference in Paris, two major reports have suggested the Prime Minister is well off the mark with Australia’s own climate targets and risks steering the nation into a hundred billion-dollar carbon hole. The first is from UNEP – the United Nations Environment Programme – whose 2014 Emissions Gap Report, released this week, measures the world’s progress on the path to limit global warming to 2°C and stave off dangerous climate change. “Conversely,” the report continues, “Australia is no longer on track, due to the abolition of its carbon pricing mechanism,” which means that Australia – along with Canada, Mexico and the US – will almost certainly need to take further action and/or purchase offsets in order to meet its pledge.

Indonesia imposes moratorium on new logging permits
By Robert S. Eshelman, mongabay.com, 20 November 2014 | Indonesia’s new Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar imposed a moratorium on the issuance of all new logging permits a little over a week after being appointed in late October. The move is being celebrated by conservation groups and signals that interest in reforming Indonesia’s notoriously corrupt and dysfunctional forestry sector has reached the highest levels of government, with direction coming from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. “The President’s order is for permit-issuances to be fair, accurate, clear and accountable, which means that the procedure is clear and the result is certain,” said Siti. “We will halt issuance of all permits until the integration process is completed to the President’s satisfaction.” The moratorium is likely to last between four and six months says the ministry.

Simon Terry: Pressure mounting on NZ to deliver real emission reduction
NZ Herald News, 20 November 2014 | After many years focused on creative accounting, New Zealand is facing pressure to deliver emission reduction results. Things are different partly because the two biggest carbon polluters, the US and China, last week pledged to do something meaningful – though not that much. Mainly things are different because New Zealand’s options for more pretence are running out as old games come back to bite it. Tackling the actual problem requires a big change in thinking. It begins by facing up to the size of the multi-billion dollar carbon hole New Zealand has been digging itself into. Official figures acknowledge that government policy directed at climate change has reduced gross emissions by less than 1 per cent to date, and the projected reduction in 2030 is just half a per cent. In other words, these emissions would be essentially the same if the government had taken no action at all.

Nigeria: Reaching Consensus On Forest Conservation Strategies
By Lillian Chukwu, The Guardian, 20 November 2014 | For a long time now, Nigeria has generated a number of plans aimed at forest conservation and preservation, but it had recorded very minimal achievement and success. A close look had shown that even-though the plans were well laid out, and of international standard, the challenge has always been the will to follow through with the execution… Director of Forestry, Ekiti State Ministry of Environment, Felix Akinluyi, assured that “Ekiti State is prepared to be one of the states in Nigeria selected for the REDD+ national programme, as it is perceived as a means to halt the deforestation trends and a gateway for promoting a green development path.” He said that a bill focused at shifting emphasis from government intervention to community forestry is currently before the state governor, Ayo Fayose for assent.

Campaign Update: Peru Shamed as COP 20 Approaches
Cultural Survival, 20 November 2014 | Next month, governments from 195 countries will be meeting in Lima, Peru for the “COP 20” United Nations Climate Change Conference. In preparation for the conference, the government of Peru unveiled a plan in July to reduce carbon emissions per capita to 75 percent of current levels by the year 2050. But serious doubt about their commitment to protecting the environment has arisen after the death of four Indigenous environmental defenders in September cast a light on the country’s systematic violence and disregard for those who are protecting the environment on the frontlines of the Amazon.

[USA] Harvard Sued Over Push for Fossil Fuels Divestment
AP, 20 November 2014 | Seven Harvard University students have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to force the university’s governing body to divest from fossil fuel companies. The lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges investment in those companies violates the university’s duties as a public charity. The complaint asks the court to compel the Harvard Corporation, the governing body, to stop investing any of its $36.4 billion endowment in gas, coal and oil companies. Harvard students have pressed the university to divest from fossil fuels as a way to slow climate change. “Climate change is now causing harm through mortality, economic damage and political instability,” said Benjamin Franta, one of the students who filed the lawsuit. “The Harvard Corporation has a moral and legal duty to avoid investing in activities that cause such grave harms to its students and the public.”

[USA] The Choice to Conserve: University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Prepares Students for a Diverse, Sustainable World
3BL Media, 20 November 2014 | At the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, we believe sustainability is important to our students, our university and our communities. That’s because the choices people make today to conserve our resources and make sustainable decisions will benefit our future quality of life. The choice to conserve is up to all of us. UW-Stevens Point’s strategic plan, A Partnership for Thriving Communities, engages students and local communities by encouraging them to pursue balance, stability and future abundance. We strive to lead by example. We purchase electric vehicles, use natural gas instead of coal at our heating plant, strive for carbon neutrality, consume solar energy and apply sustainable forestry practices at 13 university-owned properties.

[USA] Technical snafu stalls state’s cap-and-trade carbon auction – Sacramento Business Journal
By Allen Young, Sacramento Business Journal, 20 November 2014 | The state’s first joint carbon auction with Quebec was postponed on Wednesday due to “technical issues,” the California Air Resources Board reported. Some participants being able to access the electronic auction and submit bids while others were not, wrote the board in a statement. The auction will be rescheduled but will be forthcoming, wrote the board. No further details were made available. Carbon auctions are held quarterly and part of the state’s cap-and-trade program. Wednesday’s auction marked the first joint program between the government’s of California and the Canadian province of Quebec. The program places a price on a companies’ right to emit units of carbon by the ton and allows companies to trade those “carbon credits” on an open market. The program came under fire this year for its inclusion of motor-vehicle fuels beginning on Jan. 1, a move that could raise gas prices in California.

[USA] Merchants of Doubt film exposes slick US industry behind climate denial
By Stephen Leahy, The Guardian, 20 November 2014 | Who remembers that climate change was a top priority early in George W Bush’s first term as US president? Merchants of Doubt, a new documentary film released in US cinemas this week, reminds us that in June 2001 Bush and the Republican party were 100% committed to curbing carbon emissions causing global warming. Six months later everything changed. The film shows Republican party leader John Boehner calling the idea of global warming “laughable”, said Merchants of Doubt director Robert Kenner. With the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center occupying attention, Americans For Prosperity, a powerful, fossil-fuel lobby group founded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, launched a decade-long, multi-pronged campaign to sow doubt about the reality of climate change.

21 November 2014

Palm oil sustainability body to expel non-compliant companies
WWF, 21 November 2014 | WWF has welcomed a move by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to expel member companies that have failed to keep even their most basic promises to the sustainability body. At the organizations’ 12th annual meeting, the Chair of the RSPO Board announced that member companies who have ignored annual reporting requirements for the last three years will be expelled within six weeks and those failing to report over two years will be suspended. Member companies are required to report annually on progress towards time bound plans to reach sustainability milestones. “This is a sign that the RSPO has finally lost its patience with those members who have been bringing the organization into disrepute by failing to make commitments, never mind keep them,” said Adam Harrison, WWF’s lead on its work on palm oil.

Laser scanning accurately ‘weighs’ trees
By Ruth Howells, Phys.org, 21 November 2014 | A terrestrial laser scanning technique that allows the structure of vegetation to be 3D-mapped to the millimetre is more accurate in determining the biomass of trees and carbon stocks in forests than current methods, according to new research involving UCL. The research paper, an international collaboration led by Wageningen University, is published today in Methods in Ecology and Evolution and demonstrates the technique in Australian forests. The study authors believe it could be an important development in the monitoring of carbon stocks for worldwide climate policy-making. Both above-ground biomass and carbon stocks are important details for UN-REDD, the United Nations initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation that is striving to keep the destruction of forests in check and thereby preserve the uptake of carbon by trees.

[Australia] Melbourne Airport traffic powers ahead in October
The Australian, 21 November 2014 | Melbourne Airport continued to power ahead in terms of traffic growth, with passenger numbers up 5.8 per cent in October compared with last year and international numbers rising 9 per cent. The airport, which benefited from a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, saw total passenger numbers hit a new monthly record of almost 2.9 million, with domestic numbers up 4.2 per cent. Sydney Airport saw total numbers rise 2.6 per cent to 3.47 million, with domestic numbers up 3.3 per cent and international passengers rising 1.7 per cent… Qantas is supporting a move by North Kimberley Aboriginal groups to reduce greenhouse emissions and generate certified carbon credits they can sell. The North Kimberley Fire Abatement project will see the four indigenous groups conduct early dry season burns aimed at preventing uncontrolled wildfires. Qantas will buy the carbon credits for its voluntary Fly Carbon Neutral program.

Bank of America Partners with Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to Raise $100 Million for Clean Cooking Solutions
Bank of America press release, 21 November 2014 | Bank of America today announced a partnership with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) to raise $100 million to help provide clean cooking solutions to millions of households in the developing world. Advancing clean cooking solutions – which greatly reduce emissions that are harmful to people’s health and the broader environment – is a component of the bank’s recently launched Catalytic Finance Initiative. Bank of America announced the new initiative at the United Nations Climate Summit in September, committing to catalyze at least $10 billion of capital toward investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access. “We understand there is a critical need for clean cooking solutions for families and communities throughout the developing world,” said Anne Finucane, Bank of America global chief strategy and marketing officer.

NZ ducking the climate question
By Brian Fallow, New Zealand Herald, 21 November 2014 | The Government faces two big decisions next year affecting the cost and effectiveness of climate policy over the next 15 years. It has to decide what commitment to make in the negotiations on an agreement to govern global action on climate change through the 2020s. And it has to decide what steps it is prepared to take to render the emissions trading scheme fit for purpose. At this point we can be confident of two things: the Government will claim it has “got the balance right” between the environment and the economy; but judging by its record to date, it will do no such thing. The momentum behind the international negotiations, which resume in Lima early next month, is mounting. The Europeans are offering an emissions cut of 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.

[USA] Carbon markets reward 10 pioneering states. Who’s next?
By Derek Walker, EDF, 21 November 2014 | A handful of states are already proving that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand – and they’re using market forces, price signals and economic incentives to meet their goals. These results are particularly salient as states consider how to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit dangerous pollution from power plants. So let’s take a closer look at what’s happening on our two coasts… California’s landmark cap-and-trade program is closing out its second year with some strong results. Between 2012 and 2013, greenhouse gas emissions from the 350+ facilities covered by the program dropped by 4 percent, putting California solidly on track to meet its goal to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. During the same period, the state’s gross domestic product jumped 2 percent.

22 November 2014

Dear Tri-Caucus: Introducing the Tri-Caucus (Part II)
By Allison Silverman, CIEL Worldview, 22 November 2014 | It is hard to believe that a year has passed since we formed the Tri-Caucus to improve coordination between those who focus specifically on rights related to REDD+. As we finalize last-minute logistics for the upcoming UN climate negotiations – the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) in Lima, Peru – I wanted to reflect upon what we have accomplished as a loose collaboration of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society organizations. In writing this, I am reminded of how impressive our work is! Despite disparate time zones, we have managed to meet monthly with the support of our dear “Tri-Caucus Focal Points.” These meetings have enabled us to clarify what opportunities lay before us during the COP 20 in Lima. Together, we’ve created a coordinated message that strengthening communities’ rights over forests, and effective safeguards implementation, are fundamental to the success of all forest policies.

23 November 2014

[Kenya] State has neglected us, starving Mau evictees continue to cry out
By Gilbert Kimutai, Standard Digital News, 23 November 2014 | Mau Forest evictees living in camps for the Internally Displaced Persons at Konoin constituency, Bomet County have accused the Government of neglecting them. Representatives of the more than 900 evictees from Kusumek and Chebugen camps, said despite promises to compensate them immediately the Jubilee administration took power, there is no hope of them being resettled any time soon. Led by their spokesman William Cheruiyot, they said their families were starving and their their children malnourished. Mr Cheruiyot said many of them go without food for weeks because no relief food is forthcoming from the Jubilee Government. He said the last batch of food sent to the camps was during the coalition government under the then special programmes, and that was two years ago.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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