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REDD in the news: 5-11 January 2015

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.

 

5 January 2015

Protected areas: biodiversity troves and carbon sinks under one canopy?
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 January 2015
When biologists see a forest, they may think of the number of species it could support. When climatologists see a forest, they may think of how much carbon it could store. Rarely, alas, do those points of view meet in a policy context. But recent research conducted in the Kom-Mengamé forest of southern Cameroon shows that the two disciplines should converge on national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas, where they are likely to find both biodiversity and carbon storage in one place. “Protected areas in Africa store 49 gigatons of carbon, representing 13.7 percent of continent total,” wrote the authors of a carbon assessment of Kom-Mengamé. “It is clear that these protected areas could play an important role in the mitigation of climate change with the large amount of carbon they store, with associated benefit to biodiversity conservation.”

S. Korea to open carbon trading exchange next week
By Kim Eun-jung, Yonhap News Agency, 5 January 2015
South Korea will open a carbon trading system next week after years of delay, but the road ahead remains bumpy due to resistance from the business community and weak confidence in the nascent program. The Korea Exchange (KRX), the nation’s main bourse operator, will begin the cap-and-trade system on Jan. 12 with 525 local companies to join global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below business-as-usual (BAU) levels over the next five years. The government last month gave the companies an emission quota of 15.98 billion Korean Allowance Unit (KAU), with one KAU equivalent to a ton of carbon dioxide gas. The carbon derivative market will operate for two hours from 10 a.m. in the early stages and extend business hours depending on the trading volume, the KRX said. During the starting stage from 2015 to 2017, companies under the emission target will receive carbon allowances for free.

6 January 2015

Valuing carbon: One size doesn’t fit all
By Grace Chua, Eco-Business, 6 January 2015
Industry observers hoping for more to be achieved at the United Nation’s climate change meeting last month in Lima may have been disappointed with the weak, watered down agreement: pledges are not enough to cap warming to 2 degrees celsius, and the issue of how much advanced and developing economies should do remains problematic. At the same time, UN carbon credits have fallen to a record low before they expire in March, having declined 99 percent from a 2008 peak, causing uncertainty about the financing of current and future environmental projects. Yet, there are reasons for optimism, some say. Sub-national and regional efforts to put together a price on carbon have been taking root, said James Fahn, the executive director of the Earth Journalism Network, which covers environmental issues, in the New York Times.

Calculating economic value of forests often overlooks biodiversity, study finds
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 January 2015
If you are a land-use planner in a tropical country, how do you decide whether an area should be used to grow food, conserved for its biological diversity or protected for its ecosystem services (such as erosion control or pollination)? Conventional yardsticks for measuring the value of ecosystem services miss the nuances of highly varied tropical landscapes, researchers say. They especially underestimate the economic value of places with high biodiversity; these sites are often far from populated areas, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation. As a result, policies designed to protect areas where ecosystem services have high economic value may exclude places high in biodiversity, even though they are crucial for food security and livelihoods in remote communities, the study’s authors say.

Guest Post: Fighting Corruption in Anti-Deforestation Programs — The Case of REDD+
By Aled Williams, The Global Anticorruption Blog, 6 January 2015
It turns out that even when donors have pledged substantial amounts of money, spending that money effectively can be challenging. A major part of that challenge relates to the difficult political-economy of forest sector reform in developing countries, where corruption in its various guises can be a core feature. Indeed, despite being described as a potential game-changer for addressing tropical deforestation, REDD+ financing also risks increasing corruption and related problems like land grabbing. These challenges are not new and indeed were well-known among Norwegian aid practitioners as REDD+ pilots began some four years ago. But the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre has just completed a three year research project–based on case studies of REDD+ pilots in the DRC, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, and Tanzania–that sheds some new light on the issues.

[Pakistan] Reducing emissions: Training workshop begins
The Express Tribune, 6 January 2015
Twenty senior forest officers belonging to the Forest Department, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) are participating in the workshop. The programme is being conducted with the cooperation of Climate Change Division and Forest Department of G-B. In his keynote address, Inspector General of Forests Mehmood Nasir Syed asked forest officers to equip themselves with the latest technology and knowledge about REDD+ so they could help local farmers. Climate change expert Alamgir Gandapur spoke about the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol as well as climate change mitigation.

[USA] California’s experience proves Governor Inslee is right to pursue cap and trade
NPI’s Cascadia Advocate, 6 January 2015
Governor Jay Inslee’s bold yet sensible step to bring Washington State into the growing North American cap and trade system is predictably generating opposition from Republicans. State Senator Curtis King, the Republican chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, took to the pages of the Seattle Times to denounce Governor Inslee’s plan. Unfortunately for King, his attack on the governor’s cap and trade plan is disproved by recent events here on the West Coast. Senator King’s argument is that cap and trade will somehow hurt drivers: “The governor’s plan to punish big polluters was no surprise either. However, it won’t be the gas and diesel industry that would pay. It would be the people in our state who own a gas- or diesel-powered vehicle who would foot the bill. Every person who needs to drive a car or truck to get to work would be punished because they are the ‘big, bad polluters.'”

[USA] Cap-and-Trade in California Also Covers Cars
By S. E. Smith, Care2 Causes, 6 January 2015
As of January first, California implemented the next step in its ambitious energy policy, which aims to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Gas retailers are now required to either sell low-emissions fuels, or purchase carbon credits for emissions from the fuels they provide to consumers. Instead of relying on individuals to make changes in their habits or buy carbon credits to offset their driving, the state is solving the problem by targeting the retail end of things. Anyone buying gas in California will be participating in a plan to reduce emissions and make a greener state. Naturally, implementing the regulation didn’t come without significant costs. California’s plan to put a more sound energy policy in place has been fought tooth and nail by a wide range of industry lobbies, and this particular stage was a sore point for gas retailers and corporations like Exxon and Chevron.

7 January 2015

In the tropics, an alien invasion remains largely below the radar
By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 January 2015
Little green invaders are poised to cause mayhem in the tropics, new research indicates. Outside the tropics, the scale of invasion by alien plant species has become unprecedented over the last few decades in terms of areas affected, species involved and the extent of economic, ecological and health impacts. Without greater attention to prevention, it may just be a matter of time before alien plant species wreak havoc inside the tropics, according to a recent literature review. The paper, published in Forests, noted that tropical forests cover some 1.7 billion hectares, more than one-third of the tropical land surface. They supply an estimated 9 percent of global demand for timber and wood products, and their production and processing generates significant income in many tropical countries. Little is known, however, about the risk and impact of external invaders inside the tropics, especially in continental forests.

Early EU carbon market reform paramount – UK study
By Simon Evans, Carbon Brief, 7 January 2015
Early implementation of planned reforms to fix the EU carbon market is much more important than the details of those reforms, according to a report produced for the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Rapid reforms are needed to tackle the “myopia of firms” who risk getting locked in to a high-carbon path, says the report published by DECC yesterday. Early reform is the single biggest factor in correcting the problems faced by the carbon market, it adds. The EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) is central to EU efforts to tackle climate change. But it has been suffering from chronically low prices that are insufficient to drive needed low-carbon investments, potentially leaving firms facing higher costs later on if they are forced to retire high-carbon technology early.

[USA] California Motorists Pay Double-Tax Under Cap and Trade
By Steve Byas, The New American, 7 January 2015
“A drought here, a flood there, a blizzard here, a warm day there — such normal weather events are seized upon by enterprising reporters as evidence for a changing climate caused by human industrialization,” wrote John R. Christy in Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths. While many now make jokes about the global warming alarmists (a group that includes former Vice President Al Gore) and their proposed solution of “cap-and-trade,” events in California demonstrate that this is really no laughing matter. What originates on the “left coast” as an absurdity to many in the rest of the nation, far too often becomes conventional wisdom among the liberals in the mainstream media, popular culture, and academia. “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” President Obama said while campaigning for the White House in 2008.

8 January 2015

Some psychological consequences of putting a price on nature
By Tom Compton, Common Cause, 8 January 2015
New research we’ve conducted provides further evidence that advancing the economic case for conservation is risky. It may undermine the foundations upon which deeper public concern about the environment will be built. We know that there are a range of problems with attempts to use estimates of the financial value of nature as a reason for conserving it. George Monbiot laid many of these out in his lecture at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute last summer. Common Cause highlights one reason that these attempts are particularly problematic (the one, incidentally, to which Monbiot also attaches the greatest importance in his lecture). It is this: the values which motivate concern about economic performance seem to be almost perfectly opposed to the values which motivate concern about the preservation of nature.

REDDX: Keeping Track Of Forest Carbon Finance In 2015
By Gustavo A. Silva-Chávez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 January 2015
The Lima Climate Talks last month yielded the Lima Call for Climate Action, which includes both a negotiating text that will be the basis for the start of negotiations in 2015 and general rules for countries to develop their Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the climate effort. With deforestation accounting for more than 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions, many countries will undoubtedly seek to incorporate REDD+ (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation and other land use activities (REDD+) into their INDCs, meaning we now have two separate REDD+ tracks to consider. That’s because INDCs don’t kick in until 2020, but REDD+ is already being deployed today through the private sector and various donor agencies. That means countries will need to figure out exactly how REDD+ is financed in the 2015-2020 period and how it will be integrated into INDCs after 2020.

9 January 2015

Forest Carbon in 2015: Market Experts Make Their New Year’s Predictions
Ecosystem Marketplace, 9 January 2015
For this New Year’s edition of Forest Carbon News, we asked market experts to look into their crystal balls and answer the following question: What are your predictions for the forest carbon markets in 2015? What policy, science, economic, and other developments could impact the market? “Let’s face it. The situation for forest carbon projects is very challenging. We experience an oversupply of projects and credits, falling credit prices, and no political signal in sight which could boost companies’ or countries’ demand. Unless there will be an ambitious international climate treaty including REDD and/or national legislation allowing forest carbon credits to be used for compliance purposes, this situation won’t change, which means investments in such projects will become economically unviable.” – Michael Sahm, Director of Markets & External Affairs, Forest Carbon Group AG.

Forget carbon offsetting, insetting is the future
By Tim Smedley, The Guardian, 9 January 2015
Planting trees for carbon offsets is little better than green-washing in many people’s eyes. But what if this sustainability cliche were turned on its head – if trees were planted to support agroforestry within a business’s direct supply chain? Welcome to the world of insetting. Coined and promoted by sustainability standards Plan Vivo and Pur Projet, it’s a potentially powerful concept that can benefit businesses and the environment. Offsetting may have long had a bad name (George Monbiot has strongly voiced his concerns), but it remains big business. Commodities Now reported that the globally-traded carbon market was expected to reach €64bn in 2014. If even a small slice of that were diverted towards sustainability schemes within supply chains, it could have a big impact.

EU climate official vows to protect heavy polluters
By Ed King, RTCC, 9 January 2015
The EU will act decisively to protect its remaining energy intensive industries against the risk of “carbon leakage”, the EU Commission’s chief climate official said on Thursday. Jos Debelke confirmed that European cement, steel-making and other high polluting sectors would get help to comply with the region’s future carbon-cutting policies. But during a TV debate in Brussels, he dismissed the idea the EU would impose tariffs on high carbon goods from India, China and other competing economies. “If we were to introduce that now, we could cross out the Paris outcome,” he said, referring to the proposed UN climate deal set to be signed in the French capital this December.

[USA] Contrary California: Gas prices inch downward
Central Valley Business Times, 9 January 2015
Even as Americans in 49 other states are continuing to see dramatic drops in gasoline prices, oil companies in California are now only grudgingly shaving their prices. Industry observers think that it’s not that they are somehow stuck with gasoline pricier than everyone else but that they are passing along their costs of California’s new cap-and-trade law to their customers. Even as the national average price dropped by nearly a penny a day over the past week, California’s average inched down a mere 1.4 cents over the same time period. In the case of at least the Visalia-Porterville market, prices actually went up week over week.

10 January 2015

[Indonesia] After only one year, REDD agency future is in doubt
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 10 January 2015
The future of the National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Agency (BP REDD+) has become uncertain after only one year because of a plan from the Environment and Forestry Ministry to liquidate it. BP REDD+ head Heru Prasetyo said on Friday that he was concerned about the plan from Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar to merge the agency with the ministry, which she is currently restructuring. “I met Bu Siti on Tuesday and before I had the chance to ask, she said there was this idea,” he said during a meeting with journalists at his office in Central Jakarta. Under Siti’s plan, BP REDD+ would be absorbed by the climate change mitigation directorate general, which she is yet to form. Under Siti’s plan the ministry would have two focuses, environmental issues and forestry.

11 January 2015

[Malaysia] Can Borneo’s Tribes Survive ‘Biggest Environmental Crime of Our Times’?
By Simon Worrall, National Geographic, 11 January 2015
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called the deforestation of Sarawak, a sliver of rain forest on the island of Borneo, in Malaysia, “probably the biggest environmental crime of our times.” In his new book Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia, Lukas Straumann investigates that crime. Straumann is director of the Bruno Manser Fund, which works to protect tropical rain forests. Speaking from his office in Zurich, Switzerland, Straumann describes the nexus of corruption and weak governance that has allowed Malaysia’s timber barons to destroy much of Sarawak’s rain forest and export that model to other parts of the world, how his organization is using everything from GPS mapping to the courts to help the Penan people of Borneo fight for their homeland, and what we can do to assist them.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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