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REDD in the news: 2-8 February 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.

 
Special Report ESG: Carbon Risk, Emission Impossible
By Martin Steward, Investment & Pensions Europe, February 2015
When Chris Hitchen, CEO of the UK’s Railpen, thinks about portfolio fossil-fuel exposure, there is no room for moral absolutes. The discussion is “quite different” now that oil trades at $45/bbl rather than $115/bbl, he insists. These are risks that must be measured in dollars and cents – and whose price can swing wildly from one year to the next. Cheap oil removes our incentives to dial-down the central heating or trade in our gas-guzzlers, but it also removes the incentive for producers to extract many of their fossil-fuel assets. And while oil has halved in value, the world’s leading carbon credits, Certified Emission Reduction units (CERs), are now worth virtually nothing.

2 February 2015

World Bank pricing carbon: real solution to climate change?
Bretton Woods Project, 2 February 2015
The World Bank continues to promote putting a price on carbon as a key policy to tackle climate change. To coincide with the United Nations (UN) climate summit in September 2014 the Bank played a leading role in coordinating a nonbinding statement on pricing carbon signed by 74 countries, 23 subnational jurisdictions and over 1,000 businesses. According to the Bank this covers around half of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Bank followed up on this work by effectively calling for the inclusion of carbon pricing in the draft negotiating text at the most recent round of UN climate change talks held in December in Lima, Peru. The draft text contains a range of options, with one describing carbon pricing as a “key approach for cost-effectiveness of the cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions”.

Cheap drones could revolutionize forest monitoring, but turbulence ahead
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 February 2015
Sending small unmanned drones to fly over tropical forests has great potential for enhancing community-based forest monitoring—and in measuring carbon for climate change mitigation efforts, experts said at an event on the sidelines of the recent UN climate conference. “They can monitor and measure many things, including carbon; they are fast; they’re cheap; they’re immediate—and they will save an enormous amount of drudgery and labor,” said Michael McCall, a senior researcher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) and one of the authors of a new paper on the subject. The word “drone” has a certain amount of baggage—from its association with U.S. military operations—but these researchers believe their peaceful application can reap dividends for forest conservation and forest communities. Monitoring changes in forest cover is also an essential part of REDD+…

[Indonesia] Concerns loom over Jokowi’s climate change resolve
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 2 February 2015
Now that the National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Agency (REDD+) has been abolished by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, calls are mounting for him to ensure the country achieves its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 41 percent by 2019. The REDD+ program in Indonesia was deemed critical to meeting that reduction target, as the burning of forests and peatlands accounts for more than 60 percent of the country’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Jokowi could extend the moratorium set by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s on the issuance of permits for primary forests and peatlands in areas designated as “Conservation Forest”, “Protection Forest”, “Production Forest” and “Other Uses of Land”. However, Greenpeace Indonesia has said that on its own, an extension of the moratorium would be an inadequate response.

Peru’s indigenous people protest against relicensing of oil concession
By David Hill, The Guardian, 2 February 2015
Hundreds of indigenous people deep in the Peruvian Amazon are blocking a major Amazon tributary following what they say is the government’s failure to address a social and environmental crisis stemming from oil operations. Kichwa men, women and children from numerous communities have been protesting along the River Tigre for almost a month, barring the river with cables and stopping oil company boats from passing. Oil companies have operated in the region for over 40 years, and have been linked by local people to pollution that has led the government to declare “environmental emergencies” in the Tigre and other river basins. “The Tigre is the most contaminated, but the government has done nothing serious,” says Jose Fachin, a Kichwa leader. “This is a protest by the whole Kichwa people. They’re ready to die for it. The price of oil is low, but the pain caused is extremely high.”

For sharing REDD+ benefits in Peru, consensus more important than cash
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 February 2015
For REDD+ benefit-sharing arrangements to function well, their design must be consultative and seen as legitimate by communities on the ground, a new study in Peru has found… A key concern for emerging REDD+ initiatives is how those incentives are best shared among different people in the community. In Peru, national policies for REDD+ benefit sharing are still in their infancy, says Ashwin Ravikumar, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and co-author of a new brief on the subject. “Policies that govern how benefits should be shared from the national to the subnational down to the project level have been really slow to emerge,” Ravikumar said.

3 February 2015

Farming Now Worse for Climate Than Clearing Forests
By John Upton, Scientific American, 3 February 2015
The federal raids in Alta Floresta, Brazil surprised locals in 2005. The year before, nearly 60,000 acres of rainforest had been torn out of the municipality. Now farmers and loggers were being arrested by armed police, accused of environmental crimes. “It was a radical operation,” the newly elected mayor later recalled during an interview with a Princeton University researcher. “All our economic activity stopped.” A few years later, Brazil’s central bank made it harder for property owners there, and in 35 other blacklisted areas, to borrow money unless they proved they were protecting the rainforest. The campaign marked a sharp change from the 1970s, when the federal government, then a military dictatorship, had encouraged clearcutting. Now the federal government was cracking down on it—and doing so successfully. In 2010, fewer than 1,000 acres of Alta Floresta was deforested.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 3 February 2015
And as Ecosystem Marketplace looks towards our 10th birthday in 2015, we’re launching “Gen A” – our secret code name for the next generation of our initiative. Since 2010, our specialized web portals – EcosystemMarketplace.com, ForestCarbonPortal.com, and reddx.forest-trends.org (tracking expenditures to avoid deforestation) – have been viewed by over 1 million unique users. Gen A will bring it all together. We imagine a new, GIS-based decision support tool that overlays our data on forests, cookstoves, biodiversity and water markets in a way that will allow project developers and funders to query investable opportunities. But this critical, thought-provoking work will only be possible with the financial support of our loyal and eager audiences. Sponsors benefit from exposure – logo placement on reports that are downloaded tens of thousands of times and shout-outs in this news brief – as well as further insight into our findings…

Once ‘invisible,’ Africa’s domestic loggers come into the light
By Paolo Cerutti, Robert Nasi and Joan Baxter, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 3 February 2015
In the past seven years, our team from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), together with the French agricultural and development research center CIRAD and numerous national partners in several African countries, has focused on domestic wood markets, conducting in-depth research on their importance and how they function. Our work shows that we are talking about hundreds of thousands of people who live off this sector directly or indirectly, and also about millions of cubic meters of wood—often in volumes higher than those officially exported to Europe or to China. We are also talking about millions of consumers in need of this timber.

China carbon offset prices diverge on regional bans
By Kathy Chen and David Stanway, Reuters, 3 February 2015
The lack of a unified regulatory system for China’s fledgling carbon offset market has led to wild variations in prices in different regions, causing uncertainty among both buyers and project developers, traders said. China’s national carbon offset registry was launched earlier last month, allowing offsets – known as Chinese Certified Emissions Reductions (CCERs) – to be transferred between buyers and sellers on the country’s seven pilot emissions trading schemes. The move was considered an important first step in China’s plans to create a unified national carbon scheme from 2016, but price discrepancies between the pilot platforms could make it harder to harmonise the markets.

[Indonesia] Conservationists v chainsaws: the RSPB’s battle to save an Indonesian rainforest
By Colm O’Molloy, The Guardian, 3 February 2015
Harapan came about in 2007 after an RSPB-led group decided to buy up a series of logged-out forests. Their mission: to bring Sumatra’s last dry lowland rainforest back from the brink. Harapan is damaged, but still very much alive. An estimated 30 Sumatran tigers live here. There are only 300 left in the wild. The forest is home to over 260 species of birds, many of them endangered. RSPB hidden cameras, intended to study tigers, have even photographed little-known tribes hunting deep in the jungle. But in recent years, Harapan has become mired in conflicts with migrant farmers. Satellite data shows that since 2007, Harapan has lost at least four times as much forest as it has replanted with trees. By early 2012, increasingly organised groups were cutting into the forest at a rate of one square mile per month.

Restoring hope in Indonesia’s forests
By Jonathan Barnard, RSPB, 3 February 2015
The Guardian has today published an article based on a site visit in 2012 when the circumstances in the forest were somewhat different to those of today. The journalist who wrote this article visited Harapan Rainforest nearly two-and-a-half years ago, at the height of conflict with migrant encroacher communities claiming affiliation to Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI) who had entered an area of Harapan during the previous 12-months. These were difficult times for the project, and challenges still remain in tackling one of the most pressing issues facing forest conservation in Indonesia – that of pressure for land from an ever growing human population. However, since 2012 both the rate of encroachment and incidences of conflict have decreased significantly, and the article perhaps paints a harsher picture when compared with the realities on the ground today.

‘South Africa’s financial infrastructure ready for carbon trading’, says study
Out-Law.com, 3 February 2015
Prometheum Carbon said the completed demonstration programme is the culmination of a three-year research project conducted in “close cooperation” with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the JSE’s commodities registry Silocerts and the registry’s technology provider Done Technologies. The objective of the programme (17-page / 609 KB PDF), which was funded by the British High Commission in Pretoria through the UK’s ‘Prosperity Fund’, was to investigate the applicability of existing South African commercial and financial infrastructure for use as a carbon trading platform. The demonstration consisted of performing actual trades of carbon credits on an over-the-counter basis from a wide variety of international standards such as the clean development mechanism (CDM), which can include projects such as hydropower, wind energy and industrial efficiency improvements.

4 February 2015

New Analysis: World Bank, in Rushing the First Global Forest Carbon Market, Threatens Forest Peoples’ Rights—Stronger Protections Needed
Rights and Resources Initiative, 4 February 2015
A new report finds that Indigenous Peoples and local communities control less than one sixth of tropical forests—despite living in or near the forests and safeguarding them—in eight of the 11 countries accepted by the World Bank for initiating the proposed carbon market. The report, produced by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), identifies only two countries participating in the market that have laws defining who has rights to forest carbon, and not one with a law defining how to trade it.

Could 2015 be a breakthrough year for community land rights?
By Astrid Zweynert, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 4 February 2014
2015 is set to be a pivotal year for the global recognition of land and resource rights if momentum in protecting the world’s forests and their communities can be kept up, land rights experts and campaigners said on Wednesday. Judges in Canada, Paraguay, Chile and Colombia among others took the lead in enshrining the rights of communities, and legislators in El Salvador passed community land laws in 2014, all big steps in ensuring human rights are respected, the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) said in its annual review. “Without these rights, you will get the resource curse,” RRI coordinator Andy White said at the report’s launch, referring to a well-documented phenomenon in which countries that trade their natural resources are plagued by corruption and stagnation rather than social and econonomic development. “We need governments to work with communities and corporates to stop that from happening.”

To save tropical forests, scientists are turning to satellites in space
By Michael Casey, CBS News, 4 February 2015
As world leaders search for ways to combat global warming, they have rallied around the idea of paying countries to save tropical forests. The approach, known within the United Nations as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), makes sense on a lot of levels. It gets cash for conservation into the hands of poor countries and helps reduce deforestation, which contributes about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change. But the program has long been dogged by one problem – there aren’t any good ways to accurately assess whether the likes of Indonesia or Kenya are really saving their forests or simply gaming the system. Now, a project led by the European Space Agency hopes to change that. Known as the Biomass mission, it will provide a global picture from 2020 to 2025 of the carbon stored in forests.

UN climate change talks and the Paris deal – a guide
By Ed King, RTCC, 4 February 2015
Envoys from nearly 200 countries will descend on Geneva from February 8-13, tasked with crafting a draft of a proposed UN climate change pact. Time is tight. They have to deliver the basics of an agreement by May, and a final version for world leaders to sign in Paris by December. The vast majority of governments agree global warming is an existential threat, but there is limited convergence on what should be done to avert catastrophic temperature rises. Countries last tried to deliver a similar deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. That meeting ended in a weak ‘Accord’ after two weeks of bitter negotiations, pitting rich and poor countries against each other. So has anything changed, and will 2015 be the year the world finally gets to grips with climate change? Here’s our guide.

All eyes on Paris: Was the COP20 Summit really that disappointing?
By Anne Sandbrink, blog.annesandbrink.com, 4 February 2015
Brazil, followed by Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Guyana, took the initiative to submit their reference levels to benchmark their emissions from deforestation, clearing the way to receive performance-based payments for forest conservation and restoration… The integration of land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) and the REDD mechanism into the draft 2015 agreement has not been decided upon. The little amount of discussion about REDD focused on clarifying safeguards and not on its inclusion in the draft agreement. This despite the efforts of several countries that pointed to the importance of the inclusion of the REDD mechanism, and the need for institutional arrangements for adequate, predictable and sustainable REDD funding from public and private sources. Finding common ground for an MRV framework, a necessary ingredient to enforce any law or agreement, seemed to be a tough cookie.

EU to reveal UN climate deal pledge on February 25
By Ed King, RTCC, 4 February 2015
European member states will reveal their collective contribution to a proposed UN climate deal on February 25. A statement from the European Commission said the bloc would reveal its pledge later this month, well ahead of a deadline agreed by major economies. The 28-country strong grouping announced it would target 40% greenhouse gas cuts on 1990 levels by 2030 last October, an increase on its 2020 goal. A Brussels source suggested the communication will be fairly brief, detailing EU mitigation targets and including a short justification for the goals. It could also include some references to adaptation and climate finance, although these are not expected to be detailed. UN talks on a global carbon cutting deal resume in Geneva this Sunday, with envoys tasked with developing a draft agreement by May this year.

Yellow light for forest-saving programme in Indonesia
Victoria University of Wellington press release, 4 February 2015
Dr Andrew McGregor, from Victoria’s School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, has been working with a team of international experts examining the societal impacts of the REDD+ programme… Dr McGregor’s three-year Marsden funded study of REDD+ efforts in Indonesia, which has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, found the initiative has led to some positive improvements but encountered many complications. “When REDD+ was first conceived it was thought to be a quick and cheap way to mitigate climate change,” says Dr McGregor, “but this research shows mitigation is difficult, uncertain and expensive.” Dr McGregor says the key difficulty in Indonesia came from an existing political economy based on forest destruction. “For example, the payments businesses get for not cutting down trees don’t match the payments they could get for selling oil palm.”

5 February 2015

World Bank’s forest carbon program falls short on indigenous peoples’ rights, argues report
mongabay.com, 5 February 2015
Countries poised to receive World Bank funds for achieving reductions in deforestation have insufficient safeguards for ensuring that local communities don’t lose out in the rush to score money from the forest carbon market, argues a new report published by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). The report, released last week, says that without laws defining who has what rights to forest carbon, the influx of money via the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) could increase land-grabbing, jeopardizing livelihoods of local communities and potentially further marginalizing already underserved groups. “For centuries, governments have been handing out Indigenous Peoples’ forests to supply the next commodity boom—whether rubber, oil palm, cattle or soy,” said Andy White, coordinator of the Rights and Resources Initiative.

[Indonesia] More to conservation than APP’s clearing halt
WWF, 5 February 2015
Two years after Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announced a new “forest conservation” policy, APP’s pledge to halt forest clearing has held, but its forests are still disappearing. A Rainforest Alliance audit released today confirmed the findings by WWF and local NGOs that APP is failing to stop deforestation and illegal activities in its concessions by other parties, even in areas already identified by the company as containing high conservation values and carbon stocks. “APP has halted its own forest clearing and embarked on a wide array of assessments in its concessions,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Leader WWF-Indonesia. “But not much has changed on the ground – forests continue to disappear, peat soils continue to be drained and social conflicts remain unresolved. The company has even failed to protect forests they are legally required to conserve.”

6 February 2015

External stressors: Overlooked threats to PES schemes
By Hannah Watson, Global Landscapes Forum, 6 February 2015
A fire rages, not only clearing large swathes of forest, but also threatening a protected area nearby. Managers are largely powerless to control the fires outside their site boundaries. A new dam is constructed on a river, starving a downstream protected wetland of the sediment and nutrients it needs to survive, so that it is less able to contribute to local fisheries. These cases exemplify a set of ‘hidden’ threats that many conservationists face: Events that occur outside the borders of their immediate control. Even when an individual site is protected and well managed, outside activities can have profound effects on its maintenance and permanence. External stressors like forest fires, pollution, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and invasive species, can have profound environmental impacts on a protected site over the short to long term.

Liberians need legal rights to forest, says report
By Inga Verper, SciDev.Net, 6 February 2015
Liberia’s government must do more to award land rights to forest dwellers to protect natural resources from exploitation and encroachment of palm oil plantations, warns a report published by a global coalition pushing for forest policy reform. Forests should be maintained as a future economic resource, says the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) report on Liberia’s palm oil industry. Forests are valuable because of the carbon price of trees and the variety of genetic and scientific resources found in forested land, a panel discussing the report heard. The panellists said local residents have proven to be the best managers of forest areas, and that their rights to access and use forests must be enshrined in international legislation.

7 February 2015

[UK] My £158,000 of carbon credits went up in smoke
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 7 February 2015
Citadel Trustees, based in Camberley, Surrey, has not gone into liquidation. It has simply changed its name to Highpoint Trustees. But this is where the good news ends. Diffraction did not just go into liquidation. It was ordered to do so last June by the High Court for making seriously false claims to investors who stumped up £1.3 million. The company sold carbon credits for £4.81 apiece, having bought them for just £1.11 from Eco-Synergies Limited, another company in the same corrupt gang. There is no proper market for ordinary investors to turn credits back into cash. In effect, you have been robbed at the point of a pen rather than the barrel of a gun.

8 February 2015

Mars, Danone Launch Fund to Support Sustainable Farming
Vikas Vij, Justmeans, 8 February 2015
Global challenges in the area of sustainable farming can be met more effectively when multinational food-products corporations join forces to find adapted, innovative and concrete solutions. Mars, Inc. and Danone, the France-based global food manufacturer, have come together to support economic, social and environmental objectives through sustainable agriculture. Mars and Danone have jointly created an investment fund called the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (Livelihoods 3F) that aims to help companies understand how to sustainably source materials from smallholder farmers. Livelihoods 3F will invest $137 million over the next 10 years to implement projects in this direction across Africa, Asia and Latin America. The fund will provide upfront financing and technical support to non-governmental organizations and farmers’ organizations to implement projects in the field.

Withering clouds: Climate change damaging biodiverse Costa Rica forest
By Ryan Shuessler, Al Jazeera, 8 February 2015
The cloud forests of Monteverde are known around the world for their biodiversity. But locals and scientists are warning the delicate ecosystem is increasingly without the clouds. Increasing temperatures have caused the clouds in the mountain forests around Monteverde to rise, and scientists believe the warming climate is leading to the redistribution of species in the highlands, renowned for the striking biodiversity that draws in hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. That is bad news. Monteverde’s cloudless cloud forests are a symptom of a regional change in climate with ecological and economic implications, since farming patterns change and the tourism industry could be hit.

[Pakistan] Something in the air: Govt snuffs out CDM Cell, deprives country of carbon credit facility
By Shahzad Anwar, The Express Tribune, 8 February 2015
Owing to the poor performance and non-serious attitude of bureaucrats, the government has finally wrapped up the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Cell, depriving the country of the benefits of the international carbon credit facility. The CDM Cell was established in 2005 at the Climate Change Division to provide technical and policy support and to advise the government in matters related to the implementation of the CDM strategy in Pakistan and approval of projects for carbon credits. Carbon credits and carbon markets are a component of national and international attempts to cap greenhouse gas emissions and to allow market mechanisms to drive industrial and commercial processes towards lowering emissions.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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