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REDD in the news: 23 February – 1 March 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.

 

23 February 2015

When is a forest not a forest? When it’s a plantation
By Julian Moll-Rocek, The Star, 23 February 2015
“We live in a world of constant beta,” explains James Anderson, communications officer for the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) forests programme. Nearly every week features are tweaked on the Global Forest Watch (GFW) platform, an innovative mapping system that allows users to track changes in global forest extent, among other features. Constant innovation in technological capability as well as broad social engagement, allowing for more on-the-ground verification, keep GFW on the cutting edge of forest monitoring. However, one fundamental thing remains elusive: what exactly is a forest? With forest definitions differing from country to country, and primary forests, secondary forests, and even tree plantations all perceived collectively as “tree cover” by satellite data, how does one accurately keep tabs on land changes? To confront this issue, GFW has implemented a number of new features in recent months.

Radical transparency: Tracking deforestation through satellite imagery
By Julian Moll-Rocek, The Star, 23 February 2015
Floating softly through the vacuum of space, the Landsat 7 satellite has faithfully provided imaging of the entirety of Earth’s surface, every 16 days, since 1999. Now, a series of technological developments has made this silent spectator a dominant force in tracking forests worldwide. From his personal computer in Redwood City, California, Rhett Butler, founder and director of mongabay.com (a popular environment news website), identified an area of recent deforestation on the island of Sumatra. In less than 72 hours, he was bumping along a freshly cut logging road in a 4×4 Jeep, following his GPS to the coordinates of the identified forest loss. Rounding a hill, Butler came face to face with a massive clearing, oil palm seedlings already planted amidst the ruins of the freshly cut forest.

The wealth of forests
By Kaz Janowski, SciDev.Net, 23 February 2015
Wealth is usually assessed solely in monetary terms. But, as economist Rana Roy recently told SciDev.Net: “Money is simply an instrument with which we measure the things we value.” The wealth of forests, then, which in basic terms comprises trees and non-timber products, should also be recognised as being grounded in wider values. Forest inhabitants derive social, cultural, psychological, even spiritual value from where they live. Of course, it hasn’t only been indigenous people who have harvested the wealth of forests. Over the past century and a half, governments — both colonial and local — have passed laws allowing companies to grab forest land, to the detriment of local people’s livelihoods. Wealth, for those from the outside, has been purely about money.

EU plan to curb illegal logging: Think big by thinking small?
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 February 2015
Faced with growing pressure to root out “illegal timber” from international trade, some tropical timber-producing countries have a choice. On one hand, they can adopt and enforce a legality verification system that instantly covers their entire timber supply chain, from large-scale industrial logging for export markets to small-scale artisanal operators serving the domestic market. On the other: They can start “small” and ramp up enforcement slowly. The decision could have wide implications for the short-term success and long-term sustainability of the initiative. For a decade, the European Union (EU) has been negotiating with tropical timber-producing countries to stem illegal logging. Recent research indicates that they may have to leave small-scale producers aside—temporarily—to bring their joint efforts to fruition.

[Indonesia] Dial M for merger: Jokowi’s climate call
By Warief Djajanto Basorie, The Jakarta Post, 23 February 2015
In his first 100 days as President, one major move Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made was the merging of the environment and forestry ministries. It was a four-in-one act. Under Presidential Regulation No. 16/2015 on the Environment and Forestry Ministry that Jokowi signed on Jan. 21, the functions of the REDD+ Managing Agency (BP REDD+) and the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) are now under the wing of the Environment and Forestry Ministry. Indonesia’s climate change program is consolidated into the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s directorate general for climate change mitigation… In principle a merger was acceptable, viewed Abdon Nababan, secretary-general of the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of Indonesia’s Archipelago, AMAN.

[New Zealand] Greenhouse gas emissions claims rejected
Radio New Zealand News, 23 February 2015
The Government has rejected forest owners’ claims that New Zealand is going to miss its greenhouse gas reduction targets. The Forest Owners Association said it was clear that New Zealand was going to fall short of its 2020 emissions reduction target by a country mile and the longer term goal of halving emissions by 2050 was also out of reach. It wants the Government to call an urgent meeting of primary sector and Maori leaders to discuss the blow-out. The association’s chief executive David Rhodes said that was going to happen because new forestry plantings would fall well below the level needed to generate the emission credits required to meet the targets. “We’re down to around 3000 hectares a year. To put that in context, the generally accepted figure is more around 20,000 hectares of new planting is what you need. In the past we’ve had up 100,000 hectares…”

[USA] Study Sees $1.6 Billion For Blue Carbon In Louisiana Wetlands
Ecosystem Marketplace, 23 February 2015
A two-year assessment of the potential to develop blue carbon projects on Louisiana’s coast estimates that carbon finance revenue can provide up to $1.6 billion in critical funding to assist with wetland restoration over the next 50 years. The study, supported by Entergy Corporation through their Environmental Initiatives Fund, and prepared in partnership by New Orleans-based Tierra Resources and Portland-based nonprofit The Climate Trust, examines existing wetland restoration techniques—river diversions, hydrologic restoration, wetland assimilation, and mangrove plantings—identifying areas for future scientific investigation to support carbon offset programs. Findings from the report will be shared by Tierra Resources and the American Carbon Registry at a free national webinar, scheduled for March 5, 2015, at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.

24 February 2015

How does land tenure affect agricultural productivity? A systematic review
By Steven Lawry, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 February 2015
Economic theory and common sense tell us that if a family is going to invest in their property, they need to have a clear expectation that, far into the future, the kinds of sacrifices, investments of labor, capital, materials, into that land, and the benefits that come from those investments, will accrue to them. There’s a very simple relationship between land tenure security, property rights security, and investment: Theory predicts positive outcomes, and these are often observed practice, where people have clear tenure security. However, in many developing countries, the kind of formal certification, property rights and titling systems that we are familiar with in wealthy countries often do not exist. A lot of farmers farm on land owned by the state. In Africa particularly, a lot of farming—up to 90 percent—is done on land held under customary tenure regimes, where land rights are not certified formally.

Is Bolivia going to frack ‘Mother Earth’?
By David Hill, The Guardian, 24 February 2015
The momentum is building. Bolivia’s state oil and gas company YPFB announced in early 2013 it would begin studies to identify shale gas deposits, and in November that same year it gave a presentation in Santa Cruz on shale gas and the country’s probable reserves. Also in 2013 it ordered companies to take samples of one particularly promising geological formation, sent a delegation to the Vaca Muerte shale gas deposits in Argentina, and signed an agreement with YPF, Argentina’s state oil and gas company, to “evaluate shale gas potential” in Bolivia’s Chaco region and train Bolivians in shale gas techniques. That’s to say nothing of the “minifracking” that has already been done at one Bolivian well “with the support of the Halliburton company” and which found tight oil, according to Reporte Energia in June 2013 drawing on “trustworthy sources in the hydrocarbons industry.”

Brazil detains man accused of being Amazon’s biggest deforester
Associated Press, 24 February 2015
Brazil has detained a land-grabber thought to be the Amazon’s single biggest deforester, the country’s environmental protection agency said. The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources said Ezequiel Antônio Castanha, who was detained on Saturday in the state of Pará, operated a network that illegally seized federal lands, clear-cut them and sold them to cattle grazers. The agency blames the network for 20% of the deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon in recent years, though the statement issued on Monday did not provide the estimated scale of the devastation. It quoted the agency’s head of environmental protection, Luciano Evaristo, as saying he hopes Castanha’s arrest will “contribute significantly to controlling deforestation in the region”.

Today is a defining moment for Europe’s flawed biofuels policy
By Laili Khairnur, The Guardian, 24 February 2015
Today European politicians will decide whether or not to put millions of tonnes of crops, including palm oil, into car fuel tanks. MEPs on the European Parliament Environment committee are set to vote on whether to put a cap on the use of food crops in biofuels. Their judgment will have serious repercussions, affecting some of the most vulnerable people and ecosystems in Indonesia. When I visited Brussels last year to talk with EU decision-makers about Europe’s policy to promote biofuels, my message to them was clear: by using and promoting crops such as palm oil for biofuels, Europe shares responsibility for deforestation and the increase in carbon emissions in Indonesia, not to mention human rights abuses. It’s time for Europe to step up and fix the problem.

EU “backtracks” on climate goals in UN pledge, says experts
By Ed King, RTCC, 24 February 2015
Europe’s proposed new climate goals could be weaker than previously announced due to its method of accounting for changes in land use… Niklas Höhne, an analyst at the NewClimate Institute, told RTCC this would place less pressure on other sectors such as buildings, agriculture and transport to reduce their carbon footprint. “Forests grow and sequester more and more carbon without an additional intervention… they allow in the end accounting for reductions without any additional action,” he said… A non-paper from Germany’s environment ministry dated 28 November 2014 and titled “The EU’s INDC: Key issues and proposals” warned that counting land use in its 2030 target would “significantly weaken its ambition level.”

European carbon market reform set for 2019
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 24 February 2015
Reforms to strengthen the EU’s flagship policy for cutting carbon, the emissions trading scheme (ETS), will start at the end of 2018 following a vote by MEPs on Tuesday. The carbon market is supposed to drive Europe’s transition to cleaner sources of energy, but a cocktail of recession, free allocations to polluters and over-achievement on green energy targets have created a flood of 2bn allowances. That has led to a carbon price of around €7 (£5) per tonne, too low to encourage power companies to switch from polluting fuels such as as coal. Under the new compromise proposal, around 1.6bn surplus allowances will be taken off the market and put into a market reserve, two years ahead of the commission’s preferred timetable. “We still believe that this reform should come sooner rather than later,” the Labour MEP Seb Dance told the Guardian. “However, the compromise deal does represent a significant improvement…”

IDB hands over US$32.16M in loans to Guyana
INews Guyana, 24 February 2015
The International Development Bank on February 19 awarded US$32.16M in two separate loans to the Government of Guyana at the fourth IDB Caribbean IDB Governors Regional Meeting held in Freeport, Bahamas… “The programme will support the consolidation of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). The activities under this operation include: (a) organizing multi-stakeholder consultations; (b) supporting the implementation of a transparent, rules-based, and inclusive accountability and enforcement system for forest governance; (c) aiding MNRE’s efforts to minimize and manage forest degradation from extractive activities, in particular from mining; (d) integrating land use planning; and (e) operating a reliable Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) for these activities,” the release read.

Evolution of Finance for REDD in the UK: A History and Overview of the UK Government’s Engagement with Forest Finance, with a Focus on Performance- Based Payments for REDD+
By Kate Dooley and Charlie Parker, Center for Global Development, 24 February 2015
This paper offers a perspective on the political factors that have influenced the size, nature, and timing of UK commitments to forest finance, specifically the significant and committed finance being programmed under the International Climate Fund (ICF), during a time of austerity in the UK. In particular, the paper analyzes opportunities and constraints (past, current, and future) related to the channeling of funding through performance-based mechanisms, such as REDD+. Towards the latter half of the 2000s, at a time when UK finance for forests under the international climate negotiations was scaling up, the global financial crisis put considerable pressure on the UK government’s aid budget. This led to an increased scrutiny of ODA in general and an increased appetite across government for a more results-based approach to aid.

[USA] EPA Recognizes Chevrolet with Climate Leadership Award
Chevrolet press release, 24 February 2015
Chevrolet’s efforts to help U.S. colleges further reduce their carbon footprint earned a Climate Leadership Award for Innovative Partnerships from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Center for Corporate Climate Leadership. The award recognizes organizations working collaboratively on leading-edge climate initiatives. The Chevrolet Clean Energy Campus Campaign engaged hundreds of stakeholders spanning the education, energy, carbon, auditing, and nonprofit sectors to develop a way for campuses to draw on a new source of funding – carbon credits from the voluntary carbon market – to help further their large-scale energy efficiency efforts.

25 February 2015

[Brazil] Surui Outline Management of Carbon Funds for Community Projects
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 25 February 2015
The Metareilá Association, which is the community organization that oversees the Surui Forest Carbon Project, has offered a detailed overview of project activities to-date – and criticized the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) for posting what it says are false accusations about the project on its web site. In a statement posted in Portuguese here and translated unofficially to English here, the association said that money raised from the sale of forest carbon credits is already flowing to roughly 20 initiatives, most of which were laid out in the 50-Year Management Plan that the carbon project was created to support. According to CIMI, indigenous people should be shielded from all aspects of the market economy. CIMI’s complaints about the Surui project were based on an interview with a Surui member who is involved in the sale of illegally harvested timber from the Surui territory.

[EU] Roadmap to Paris takes a wrong turn
FERN press release, 25 February 2015
This Press Release explains why the European Commission’s ‘Roadmap to Paris’ is a weakening of its commitment to reduce emissions by 40 per cent. By including forests and agricultural land, the European Commission has weakened its target since such land removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases. Different sources are now citing between 2.4 and 5 per cent reduction as a result of this inclusion meaning the target could in actual fact be 35 per cent or lower; a disaster given that climate science shows that even 40 per cent was not enough. This sets a dangerous precedent for the Paris summit.

The critical flaw in the EU’s climate plan
By Bruce Babbit and Nigel Purvis, The Guardian, 25 February 2015
One simple fix would be for all major economies to do more at home — but this is politically unrealistic in the near-term. China and the US, the two largest climate polluters, have already set their domestic carbon pledges and are not likely to change them this year. Even the EU may lack the political will to do more internally right now. Fortunately, there’s an affordable solution that does not depend on additional domestic action in these nations. Many developing nations – from Colombia to India and Indonesia – have an abundance of low-cost opportunities to cut climate pollution. Since 2005, for example, Brazil alone has cut more carbon pollution than the entire EU, simply by reducing deforestation in the Amazon… Last year the EU took a half step toward this type of collaborative climate policy. In September 2014, at the UN climate summit, the EU endorsed the New York Declaration on Forests…

[Malaysia] Reports blame illegal logging for felling Sarawak forest
By Ethan Harfenist, mongabay.com, 25 February 2015
A recent report by the international affairs think tank Chatham House has highlighted Malaysia’s lack of progress in dealing with illegal logging, blaming corruption and a lack of transparency on the country’s sluggish approach to environmental policy reform. “Widespread problems remain, particularly in the state of Sarawak,” the report said, adding that timber, as well as pulp, palm oil and rubber plantation expansion were the main drivers of forest loss in Malaysia… A separate report published by NGO Global Witness last December investigated Japan’s role in fueling Sarawak’s rapid deforestation. Global Witness claims Japan’s construction industries are utilizing vast amounts of timber derived from Sarawak, which harbors some of Malaysia’s last remaining old growth rainforests.

[Tanzania] How sustainable charcoal has transformed Kilosa residents
By Gerald Kitabu, IPP Media, 25 February 2015
A period of one year was enough time for Ihombwe villagers, in Kilosa District to defy abject poverty, after making more than 100 million shillings from sustainable charcoal production. The villagers who, since independence in 1961 had never enjoyed full basic social services, had become millionaires, they had built a dispensary, classrooms, doctors and teachers’ houses from the project, according to the village Chairman Philemon Robert. Before, pregnant mothers had to be ferried by bicycles to Kilosa town to get health services but now, they can at least get first Aid at the village… Under the project, ecologically sustainable and energy efficient charcoal production and a package of support for forest-friendly agriculture are being introduced within a REDD framework.

[Zimbabwe] Parly to craft law to protect environment conservation projects
By Veneranda Langa, NewsDay Zimbabwe, 25 February 2015
Parliament has been called upon to craft legislation on carbon trading as a climate change mitigation measure and to protect environmental conservation projects like Redd+ from corruption. The calls were made during a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) consultative workshop on the implementation of the corruption risk assessment in the Redd+ sector, which they said was prone to corruption to the detriment of communities who were affected by deforestation and carbon emissions from cutting down of trees… University of Zimbabwe researcher in the Centre for Applied Social Sciences Steve Mutema said there was need for accountability in the control of natural resources. “The law will ensure there is monitoring and transparency in the control of our natural resources and we need it yesterday because the benefits are that we will have accountability,” Mutema said.

26 February 2015

Tropical deforestation on the rise, contrary to reports
By Michael Casey, CBS News, 26 February 2015
Tropical forests from Indonesia to the Amazon are being lost an astonishing rate, with a new study suggesting deforestation has intensified 62 percent in just 20 years. The study also calls into question a more optimistic picture from U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s assessment, which found the rate of deforestation had actually decreased 25 percent during the period stretching from 1990 until 2010. “It is not good news,” said Do-Hyung Kim, lead author of the new study to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “Between 1990 and 2010, it shows all these efforts to cut the deforestation rates were not effective.” While the FAO assessment was based on country reports, Kim and his University of Maryland colleagues Joseph Sexton and John Townshend used satellite data.

Climate Finance Tops $35 Billion a Year, U.S. Envoy Says
By Reed Landberg, Bloomberg, 26 February 2015
Industrial nations are delivering more than a third of the $100 billion in annual aid they’ve pledged by 2020 for climate-related projects in developing nations, a senior U.S. State Department envoy said. About $35 billion to $40 billion a year now is flowing from western governments in the form of direct aid and loans from development banks, said Todd Stern, the lead U.S. diplomat on climate matters. That doesn’t include money from export credit agencies or private companies… “If you look at what has taken place over the last couple of years it is actually a positive story,” Stern told reporters in London on Thursday. “Is that everything that will make every country seeking assistance happy? Of course not.” The numbers Stern provided, which he acknowledged “are not absolutely clear,” are at the low end of an estimate made last year by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Failure in Paris would be grave, warns US climate envoy
By Pilita Clark, Financial Times, 26 February 2015
Failure to agree an international deal in Paris this year would have grave consequences for UN negotiations to counter global warming, the US special envoy for climate change has warned. “If the process were to fail then I think that that would be a serious thing for the UNFCCC as an institution,” said Todd Stern, referring to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty that governs the unwieldy talks… Speaking to reporters in London, Mr Stern said he thought there would be an agreement in Paris, given the good start that had been made. “But I do agree that with as much teed up as is teed up now, if the thing really were to not get over the finish line, I think that would be a consequential thing for the UNFCCC,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen.” He added: “I’m not saying that it will be easy. . . I think the time is now for countries to do the best they can and cut a deal.”

2015: A year for integration
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 February 2015
Few people in development and environment circles could have missed that this year will see a confluence of global agreement-making. Following a 43-year process from Stockholm 1972, through Rio 1992 and Rio+20 in 2012, the post-2015 development agenda is maturing and will be the highlight at the UN General Assembly in September. And after 21 years of negotiations, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is heading toward a new treaty at COP21 in Paris in December. With these two agreements in place, the world will have a fresh framework for action, agreed at the highest political level. Two immediate reflections on these high-level processes arise: (1) How will these two mega-tracks complement each other? (2) How can economic sectors, such as forestry, best mobilize actions toward achieving these ends? The key word seems to be “integration.”

[Australia] Indigenous carbon farming project still burning bright despite market uncertainty
By Matt Brann, ABC Rural, 26 February 2015
One of the Northern Territory’s longest running carbon farming projects is gearing up for another season, but for the first time it is not working with a fixed price on carbon. Since 2011, the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) has generated over 80,000 carbon credits from its Fish River Station through a savanna burning carbon farming project, which reduces the frequency of late season wildfires. The project has previously sold credits to Caltex for more than $500,000. The acting manager of ILC’s environment, carbon and heritage team, Nerissa Walton, said that going into this year’s savanna burning program there was a lot of uncertainty. “February 2 was essentially the end of the carbon pricing mechanism, so it’s quite difficult to put a price on an Australian carbon credit at the moment,” she said. “There still remains a voluntary market [for carbon credits], which we hope to see grow and thrive over the coming years…”

[Australia] Carbon tax repeal raised energy prices: Alumina
By Peter Ker, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 February 2015
Alcoa’s Australian assets have faced higher energy costs since the carbon tax was repealed, in revelations that challenge one of the primary criticisms of the controversial scheme. The higher energy costs were revealed on Thursday by Alcoa’s local joint venture partner, Alumina Limited, which said its energy costs had risen in the six months since the carbon tax was repealed, once currency fluctuations were put aside. “Excluding the currency impact, energy costs were higher than 2013 levels mainly due to increased prices and the loss of carbon tax credits in Australia,” the company said. The outcome demonstrates the extraordinary level of compensation granted to big industrial companies under the carbon tax, in a bid to shield them from rising power prices.

[Germany] Opel Boss Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann Seeks Dialogue Regarding CO2 Regulations Beyond 2020
By Sam McEachern, GM Authority, 26 February 2015
Opel and company CEO Dr. Karl Thomas-Neumann are questioning the benefits of current and future CO2 regulations in Europe… Neumann proposed a new CO2 regulations model which is based on sensible fleet consumption limits and other factors such as integration into the European emissions trading scheme. His remarks followed findings from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that indicated the current regulations, which only address CO2 emissions of new vehicles, are “neither very effective in regards to the climate effect nor under macroeconomic aspects.” Representatives from the European Centre of Economic Research, along with Professor Andreas Löschel from Münster University, agreed with Neumann and showed possible alternatives to the current regulations in place, including the proposed emissions trading plan.

[Guyana] WPA questions IDB’s commitment to transparency, rule of law
Stabroek News, 26 February 2015
The Working People’s Alliance ( WPA) today called into question the commitment of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the rule of law and transparency. The WPA, a member of opposition coalition APNU, made the statement in the wake of another loan by the IDB to the government despite concerns that the monies could be used for electioneering and over the fact that Parliament remains suspended. A WPA release follows: IDB disrespect for Guyanese continues, in tandem with Government’s electioneering The Working People’ Alliance, the WPA, follows up on its call, as published in the Stabroek News (SN) article, IDB Approves $17.2M environmental loan, dated February 16th, 2015, for the IDB to publicly declare whether this loan has been disbursed, after being published as a single instalment.

[Guyana] Stalled Amaila Falls hydro project…Norway’s Ethics Council warns of corruption with Chinese company
Kaieteur News, 26 February 2015
Watchdog body, the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), has urged Government to hold public consultations before proceeding with a Chinese firm that has been awarded a contract to build the stalled Amaila Falls Hydro Electric project. Government had been signaling intentions to start the project before the end of this year but there is emerging worries over the questionable track record of an associated company of that Chinese contractor which is embroiled in bribery scandals. The situation has reached the attention of Norway and a critical committee has recommended that no business should be done with China Railway Group Ltd (CRG). CRG’s subsidiary, China Railways First Group (CRFG), is the company awarded the US$506M contract to build the US$850M-plus project in Region Eight, Guyana.

[Guyana] Norway ethics body blacklists parent company of proposed Amaila builder
Stabroek News, 26 February 2015
Norway’s Council on Ethics (CE) has recommended that the parent company of China Railways First Group (CRFG) be excluded from the Scandinavian country’s sovereign fund “due to the unacceptable risk of the company being responsible for gross corruption.” China Railways First Group is involved in several major multi-billion projects here and was selected to construct the Amaila Falls Hydropower… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Guyana] Bai Shan Lin leases 27.4 acres of Amerindian land at $5,000 an acre
Kaieteur News, 26 February 2015
In a bizarre event yesterday, Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai anxiously signed a “communist” lease agreement with Chinese company, Bai Shan Lin, and the Amerindian village of Hururu. The lease agreement was not fully negotiated between the Company and the Village at the time cameras were set up for the event. The negotiations took place in full view of the media. Before signing, Bai Shan Lin wanted the agreement to explicitly state that upon signing it would be able to use the existing wharf in the Village. Sukhai did not agree, and suggested that the Hururu Village Council could write to the company to say that it could use the existing facilities. Bai Shan Lin officials hesitated, but the Minister saw nothing unsure about what she was suggesting. “That will suffice in the communist kind of agreement too,” a giggling Sukhai told the officials.

The Indonesia-Norway REDD+ Agreement: A Glass Half-Full
By Frances Seymour, Nancy Birdsall, and William Savedoff, Center for Global Development, 26 February 2015
Over the last decade, efforts to slow deforestation and climate change merged with new ideas on paying for performance in the context of development aid to culminate in a series of agreements between Norway and tropical forest countries. These experiences hold lessons for international cooperation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and for financial relationships between countries addressing this and other global challenges. In this paper we set out the origins and trajectory of an agreement signed by Indonesia and Norway in 2010 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, assess the extent to which it can be called a success, and draw some lessons from the experience for other pay-forperformance agreements.

[USA] Fossil fuel interests donated millions to Clinton charities. Is this a problem?
By John Light, Grist, 26 February 2015
At the same time that Hillary Clinton was pushing to make it easier for major corporations — including oil and gas companies — to do business abroad, many of those same companies were donating to the Clinton Foundation, which she administers with her family. At least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state also donated a combined total of more than $26 million to the foundation, and played a role in philanthropic projects through the Clinton Global Initiative. ExxonMobil and Chevron were among the donors to give to various Clinton groups and initiatives. So was Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, and Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department, which is tasked with promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.

27 February 2015

Europe rescues its carbon market
By Gerard Wynn, Energy and Carbon Blog, 27 February 2015
Something remarkable happened on Tuesday, when a group of European parliamentarians voted to approve reform of Europe’s carbon market. The Environment Committee of the European Parliament reversed a previous existential threat to the market, assuring its future; and in so doing, they made the Commission’s proposals more ambitious. The European Commission is well known for pushing social and environmental goals, which the European Parliament and EU member states subsequently tone down. On Tuesday, however, took the Parliament committee took the Commission’s proposals to make the carbon market more environmentally effective, and made them tougher. This new enthusiasm probably reflected the realisation that the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) has been wrecked now for too long.

[Guyana] Bai Shan Lin lease agreement…APNU-AFC would rescind improper deal – Harmon
Kaieteur News, 27 February 2015
General Secretary of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Joseph Harmon, is convinced that the recently signed lease agreement between Bai Shan Lin and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs is improper and does not reflect that sufficient consultations were done on the matter. As such, the politician said that once the coalition, A Partnership for National Unity – Alliance For Change (APNU-AFC) assumes office, the deal would be rescinded and properly reviewed to ensure that all the requirements were met. Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai on Wednesday, signed a “communist” lease agreement with Bai Shan Lin, and the Amerindian village of Hururu. It is believed that the agreement was not fully negotiated between the company and the village, as media operatives observed that discussions on the contract were still taking place. This was even as cameras were being set up for the occasion.

[Guyana] Hururu and Bai Shan Lin sign lease accord – Company to build wharf, log pond, village’s road
Guyana Chronicle, 27 February 2015
Hururu an Amerindian community in Region Ten, has signed a lease agreement with Bai Shan Lin Forest Development Inc. for 24.7 acres of land that will see the company constructing a wharf, log pond and buildings.Village Toshao, Mr Winsbert Benjamin on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with General Manager of Bai Shan Lin, Mr Han Zhen Jun, for a 15-year lease that will see the village receiving $5,000 per acre over time. The MoU was signed in the presence of Amerindian Affairs Minister, Ms Pauline Sukhai and representatives of Bai Shan Lin, along with members of the Village Council of Hururu and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment at the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. The MoU will also cater for the construction of two-storied buildings, and a parking area to accommodate equipment.

WPA slams “arrogant” IDB’s US$32M loans to Guyana
Kaieteur News, 27 February 2015
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) has vowed to join with the other Opposition parties to review a recent loan granted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), yesterday questioning the entity’s commitment to transparency, accountability, ethics and the rule of law. WPA, one of the several political parties comprising A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the country’s largest Opposition, also again called for IDB to disclose whether the monies have been disbursed to Government. “To date, the IDB has refused the Guyanese public and their parliamentary representatives the courtesy of a response,” the party said in a statement. “We wish to place on record our strongest condemnation over the egregious actions of the IDB in the face of repeated calls from the Opposition, Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), and other Guyanese stakeholders, to tread carefully on making loans to the Guyana Government on the eve of national elections.”

[Guyana] Iwokrama not removing embattled Chairman – CEO
Kaieteur News, 27 February 2015
Embattled UN climate scientist Dr. Rajendra Pachauri will remain in his current capacity as Chairman of the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation’s Board of Trustees until further notice, according to the local office yesterday. This is even after revelations recently came to light that Dr. Pachauri was named as the principal in a sex scandal involving one of his female employees, reminiscent of the sexual scandal that brought down the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn four years ago. Pachauri has already resigned as head of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and has gone on leave “for the time being” from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Delhi where the incidents allegedly occurred. Immediately after stepping down, the IPCC designated vice-chairman Ismail El Gizouli as their acting chair until elections slated for October determines a new chairman.

Reports slam Malaysian timber companies, urge reforms in forest management
By Ethan Harfenist, mongabay.com, 27 February 2015
Two international NGOs have called out Malaysia in recent months over the country’s widespread illegal logging. Malaysia has been accused of not doing enough to protect its diminishing forests and thwart the illicit timber trade, particularly in Sarawak, the site of the country’s worst deforestation. In reports issued recently, the organizations claim lack of governmental oversight, endemic corruption and limited transparency have allowed Malaysia’s forests to be plundered by the private sector. In its report, Global Witness specifically calls out Shin Yang and Samling, two of Malaysia’s biggest timber companies. Both are significant suppliers of timber products to Japan.

[UK] Cold callers and your pension: watch out for dangerous boiler room scams
By Sean O’Grady, The Independent, 27 February 2015
All the cold callers are, painfully, obviously driven by their pitiful bonuses to try to mug as many punters as possible – “leads” for their own clients. So it’s very welcome that under new plans published this week the Information Commissioner will be able to take stern action when a complaint is received. But that may be too late. The firms should first have to obtain a licence and be bound by rules before they start calling. Last week I received a call that was much more sinister than normal, if predictable enough in its own way. Yes, someone wants to get their hands on my pension, now that the Department for Work and Pensions say we can move it around and cash in a bit more then we used to be able to. This is a much more dangerous game.

28 February 2015

1 March 2015

[USA] State, tribe reach multimillion-dollar deal on carbon offset
By Glenda Anderson, The Press Democrat, 1 March 2015
A nearly 5,600-acre swath of tribal forest land in remote, northeastern Mendocino County will be contributing to California’s effort to reduce greenhouse gases while generating revenue for the Round Valley Indian Tribes under a new agreement with state officials. The state Air Resources Board this month approved the issuance of some 540,000 carbon offset credits worth millions of dollars to the tribe in exchange for it managing the forest in a way that increases its carbon-absorbing potential, typically by allowing trees to live longer. Carbon offsets are sold at the state’s quarterly cap-and-trade auctions to fossil fuel-burning companies that want to increase their greenhouse gas limits. Polluting companies can purchase up to 8 percent of their limits under the program, said Dave Clegern, spokesman for the state Air Resources Board’s climate change program. Each offset is equal to one metric ton of carbon dioxide.

[USA] Middleton’s woodlands granted carbon credits of more than $2 million
By Warren L. Wise, Post and Courier, 1 March 2015
Thousands of acres of woodlands adjacent to a historic Charleston landmark have gained another layer of protection in a first-of-its-kind project in the United States. More than 3,700 wooded acres of the 5,800-acre Middleton Place plantation forestlands west of S.C. Highway 61 have been awarded carbon credits to limit the amount of trees cut on the property and help California industries. If the more than 250,000 credits issued were sold at once, they would generate more than $2 million for the Middleton Place woodlands, a separate entity from the tourist attraction across the street along the Ashley River, said Colby Hollifield, Middleton’s woodlands manager. The property, already under a conservation easement to protect it from development, can now sell carbon credits from its protected forestland to California companies that exceed their carbon emission limits.

[USA] RGGI supporters keep eye on N.H. Legislature
By Craig Robert Brown, seacoastonline.com, 1 March 2015
A series of bills that would repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Renewable Portfolio Standard are going before the New Hampshire House and Senate. The Republican-led committee on Feb. 5 voted to amend House Bill 208 presented by state Rep. Richard Barry, R-Merrimack, who originally brought the same concept to the table in 2011 and again in 2012. The amendment would keep New Hampshire in RGGI, but rebate all RGGI auction proceeds to ratepayers instead of using part of the rebates, as it currently does, to invest in low-income and municipal energy efficiency projects. The first vote before the House was held Feb. 18, which resulted in a decision to stay in RGGI with a 201-154 vote to stop investing any funds in energy efficiency. The bill will still go before the Senate, where it could pass, before being presented to the governor.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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