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REDD in the news: 23-29 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 March 2015

Interview chief climate negotiator for France Paul Watkinson: “COP21 will not solve everything”
By Karel Beckman, Energy Post, 23 March 2015
The agreement is supposed to be legally binding. What does that mean exactly? … “We sometimes get very worked up by single terms. This is a good example. What we are talking about is an international agreement which has existence in international law. It has some bindingness on states who sign it and ratify it. It’s important to make clear this is not just a one-off agreement that can be changed next year. But bindingness can mean many different things. It could mean you have consequences, penalties, if you don’t meet your targets. Or it can mean that you can work together and facilitate people do so. We need to break it down and understand it. A legal agreement is needed. The format needs to be adapted to what the international community collectively wants. There are constraints in different countries on what they can do. We need to find something which is workable, realistic, useful and that will deliver long-term predictability.”

Countries reveal progress on forest restoration challenge
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 23 March 2015
Governments have explained how they plan to restore 59 million hectares of forest worldwide in initiatives revealed in Bonn, Germany on Saturday. Ethiopia and Liberia are collaborating in the “great green wall” to curb the spread of the Sahara. Mexico is leading restoration efforts in Latin America, while the private sector is getting involved in Southeast Asia. The schemes, which add up to roughly the size of Kenya, meet 40% of the 2011 Bonn Challenge target to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land by 2020. Barbara Hendricks, German environment minister, said the programme had multiple benefits: “We can do something about climate change and species extinction and help restore the livelihoods of millions of people.”

Global warming is now slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
By Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, 23 March 2015
According to a new study just out in Nature Climate Change by Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a group of co-authors, we’re now seeing a slowdown of the great ocean circulation that, among other planetary roles, helps to partly drive the Gulf Stream off the U.S. east coast. The consequences could be dire – including significant extra sea level rise for coastal cities like New York and Boston. A vast, powerful, and warm current, the Gulf Stream transports more water than “all the world’s rivers combined,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But it’s just one part of a larger regional ocean conveyor system – scientists technically call it the “Atlantic meridional overturning circulation” — which, in turn, is just one part of the larger global “thermohaline” circulation (“thermohaline” conjoins terms meaning “temperature” and “salty”).

[Australia] Comment: Don’t close the door on Indigenous opportunities on country
By Wade Freeman, SBS News, 23 March 2015
In the 2014 fire season alone, more than 60 traditional owners were employed in the Kimberley Land Council’s, North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project. During the 40-day burning period the Rangers worked over an area of 35000 square kilometres of remote country. As well as employment and environmental benefits the project also generating a return income through selling carbon credits from the greenhouse gas reductions that the program results in. While these programs are funded through government programs and grants, the work is real and adds value to the National estate. These jobs are of at least equal value to any other government funded department or private operation that work in natural resource management. In fact they are often more important due to the off-shoot benefits to community members.

China should link southern carbon markets ahead of nationwide scheme -study
By Kathy Chen and Dominique Patton, Reuters, 23 March 2015
Academics that advise the government on carbon trading in China have proposed linking two emissions exchanges in the southern province of Guangdong as a first step towards integrating all seven of the country’s pilot markets. China aims to launch the first phase of a nationwide carbon trading scheme as early as next year, creating the world’s largest emissions trading scheme. But integrating the seven pilot schemes already in operation will be challenging, with each operating under different trading rules, eligibility criteria and prices. Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University have proposed to the government that carbon traders in the Guangdong and Shenzhen pilot schemes be allowed to trade on either exchange and to use permits from either region to meet their compliance targets.

[Fiji] Value of forests
By Felix Chaudhary, Fiji Times, 23 March 2015
A study undertaken in 1994 to determine the value of Fiji’s ecosystem services, forests and mangroves pegged the estimate of more than $543.7million annually, said Minister for Fisheries and Forests, Osea Naiqamu. Speaking at the launch of International Day of Forests in Nanukuloa Village in Ra on Saturday, he said the figure was never appreciated and not accounted for in national books for various reasons. “But it brings home the message that the central role that forests freely play in supporting national development and sustaining livelihoods must be celebrated,” he said. “Government has been allocating significant amount of funds annually (up to about $0.5m annually) and for 2015 the amount is $0.6m, focusing on reforestation and forest protection activities.

[Indonesia] ADB grants RI $17m in forestry investment
The Jakarta Post, 23 March 2015
The US$17 million Forest Investment Program (FIP) funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help tackle deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia is set to start in July, an official has said. “The FIP is funded by a $17 million grant from the Climate Investment Fund channeled through the ADB to support the Indonesian government to implement the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) targets in West Kalimantan,” said ADB principal climate change specialist Ancha Srinivasan, who is also the FIP’s focal point. “The program is particularly aimed at reducing obstacles in the implementation of REDD+ at subnational levels and increasing institutional capacities at the provincial and local levels,” he went on.

[UK] Lord Stern: development and climate finance should not be separated
By Charlotte Malone, Blue and Green Tomorrow, 23 March 2015
Lord Nicholas Stern has argued that government should not consider development and climate finance to developing countries as separate issues because they are interconnected in a new policy paper. The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics published the paper. The paper states, “The challenges of development, growth, poverty reduction and sustainability are deeply and intricately interwoven with those of mitigation of and adaption to climate change. It would be deeply damaging to try to treat them as separate entities for action and for finance.”

[UK] FCA: seek impartial advice to avoid pension scams
By Ollie Smith, Citywire, 23 March 2015
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is encouraging consumers to seek impartial advice so they do not fall victim to pension scams. With weeks to go before the 2014 Budget pension freedoms come into force on 6 April, the regulator has issued fresh warnings over pension scams, urging consumers to be on the look-out for ‘dodgy investments’ by getting impartial advice, either in the form of regulated financial advice or Pension Wise guidance. The warnings are part of the FCA’s ‘ScamSmart’ campaign, which it launched in October 2014 which highlights the signs consumers need to be aware of from pension scammers. The FCA said the new pension flexibilities announced in 2014’s Budget could mean thousands of consumers making retirement decisions will face ‘unscrupulous fraudsters’ who will offer them ‘dodgy investments’ with high returns.

[USA] Two Guys, Two Bikes and One Money-Making Plan to a Better World
By Margaret Collins, Bloomberg, 23 March 2015
Adam Wolfensohn and Jason Scott hatched a plan to invest the money of wealthy families and tackle some of society’s most complex challenges as they biked the six miles together each day from their Brooklyn homes to offices in Manhattan. The duo decided to merge Wolfensohn’s private-equity fund that invests in clean energy and financial services in developing countries with Scott’s Eko Asset Management Partners, which specializes in environmental markets such as sustainable fisheries and forestry. The new firm, which started today under the name of Encourage Capital, expects to attract more than the $250 million they’ve raised separately over the past seven years by offering a wider range of investments. “They are people with the skills of investment bankers who want to make the world a better place,” said Mark Tercek, chief executive officer at the Nature Conservancy and a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive for 24 years.

24 March 2015

Jurisdictional REDD: Long Deferred, Soon Delivered
By Steve Zwick and Christopher Pollen, Ecosystem Marketplace, 24 March 2015
Forest-carbon projects are now conserving as much forested land as you’ll find in all of Malaysia. It’s a stunning achievement, but one that needs to get big fast if we’re to make a dent in global greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, jurisdictions like the Brazilian state of Acre are developing “jurisdictional REDD” programs to do just that… When the rubber tappers of the Rio Preto Extractivist Reserve (Reserva Extrativista Rio Preto) wanted to stave off deforestation in the Jacundá National Park (Floresta Nacional de Jacundá), they also tapped the carbon markets – and they soon hope to join roughly 40 other community-based forest carbon projects identified in the latest State of the Forest Carbon Markets report, which found hundreds of projects globally, covering enough forests to fill the entire country of Vietnam.

Tribes call on world leaders to recognize their right to hunt
Survival International, 24 March 2015
Indigenous organizations and thousands of people from around the world have called on delegates attending a major conference on the illegal wildlife trade to recognize tribal peoples’ right to hunt for their survival. Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, indigenous organizations from Brazil, Cameroon, Kenya and many other countries, and over 80 experts on hunter-gatherers, have urged delegates attending an intergovernmental conference in Kasane, Botswana, on March 25, to recognize that tribal people should not be treated as criminals when they hunt to feed their families.

Now cleared for landing at airports: Bees
Deccan Herald, 24 March 2015
Last year, Aeroports de Montreal, the corporation that runs both of the city’s airports, Mirabel and Montreal-Trudeau International, approached Miel Montreal, a beekeeping cooperative that Beaudoin helped to found. As part of its environmental initiative – Aeroports de Montreal was the first Canadian airport to sell its carbon credits – it wanted to start a pilot project placing beehives in an empty field. The hives were installed in June. Mirabel is just the latest in what is becoming a common undertaking – keeping beehives on airport green space. For airports, beehives can be an easy way to flaunt green credentials while putting space to work in fields that legally cannot be built on. The first was Hamburg Airport in Germany in 1999. Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Dresden, Hannover, Leipzig/Halle, Nuremberg and Munich followed.

[USA] The Scrubbing of $1.5B Russian fertilizer plant, EuroChem deal, in Louisiana
BayouBuzz, 24 March 2015
One Iberville Parish official said late last year that he did not believe the project was going to move forward because of relations between the U.S. and Russia over the Ukraine crisis and because of current restrictions in Iberville on air emissions from existing plants which limits the amount of air emission credits available. And it is those air emission, or carbon, credits that appeared to be the key in the entire deal. One person close to the St. John transaction said that the purchase of the Iberville property “had to do with environmental credit.” The credits, he said, were available from another company at the time they purchased the Iberville tract but are now gone. He refused to identify the company from whom credits were supposed to be available nor did he say what happened to those credits. “One was the deal (for construction) and one was about emission credits,” he said.

25 March 2015

New Site Tracks Corporate Action on Deforestation
Ecosystem Marketplace, 25 March 2015
The earth loses more than 6 million hectares of tropical rainforest – an area the size of Sri Lanka – every year, and two-thirds of it goes to meet demand for palm oil, soybeans, beef, and wood products, according to environmental NGO Forest Trends. At the same time, new Forest Trends research finds that companies worth nearly US$4 trillion have promised to reverse their role in degrading the world’s critical ecosystems. At least one third of these new pledges were made in 2014, nearly doubling 2013’s announcements. These private sector actions are encouraging, but how realistic are the promises? How many of these promises are being kept? What challenges are businesses encountering? To answer that, Forest Trends’ new platform Supply-Change.org lets users track the actions that companies are reporting against the promises they’ve made – in near – real time.

Green Climate Fund urged to ban coal funding
By Ed King, RTCC, 25 March 2015
The UN’s flagship climate fund has received fresh calls to exclude all fossil fuels from potential investments it could make in the future. The moves came after an investigation by the AP news agency revealed Japan is giving funds earmarked for climate friendly projects to coal plants in India and Bangladesh. That is on top of US$1 billion of loans Tokyo gave to Indonesia for cleaner coal power stations, also classed as “climate finance”. Board members are understood to have discussed a possible exclusion of fossil fuels during talks at the Green Climate Fund’s headquarters in Songdo this week, but no decision was reached. Bangladeshi scientist and veteran UN climate talks observer Saleemul Huq told RTCC there was “no way” funding for coal could count as a climate friendly investment.

How viable are payment schemes for ‘blue carbon’?
By Jacob Phelps and Dan Friess, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 March 2015
Much is made about the loss of such “charismatic” ecosystems as tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Far less is said about coastal wetlands, including mangrove forests, which are being lost due to development, agriculture and aquaculture. In recent years, a growing policy effort is seeking to protect these threatened habitats through payment for ecosystem services (PES) schemes—but the nature of coastal wetlands, and the threats they face, raises challenges for the viability of PES schemes. Coastal and marine ecosystems provide a range of valuable ecosystem services, ranging from fisheries and coastal protection, to carbon stocks that are important for mitigating climate change. Coastal mangrove forests can contain much more carbon per unit area than their terrestrial counterparts: This coastal “blue” carbon has been deposited on every tide over thousands of years and is stored in deep peat soils.

EU Nations Reach Deal to Start Carbon-Market Reserve in 2021
By Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 25 March 2015
European Union member states agreed on a compromise to seek the start of automatic supply cuts in the world’s biggest carbon market in 2021, giving up plans to push for an accelerated introduction of the fix. The deal, approved today in Brussels, allows EU governments to begin on March 30 negotiations with the European Parliament about the final version of the draft law on a market stability reserve, said Latvia, the holder of the bloc’s rotating presidency. The reserve would ease a glut of permits that has pushed emission allowances down about 75 percent since 2008 to levels that fail to deter industry from burning coal, the most-polluting fossil fuel.

Half-trillion-dollar green bond market, led by China, looks for a regulator
By Benjamin Hulac, eenews.net, 25 March 2015
The global pool of issued green bonds, which are designed to fund environmentally friendly projects, tripled from $12 billion in 2013 to a little more than $36 billion last year. The market for these bonds has ballooned since 2008, when a Swedish bank issued the first green bond. Then, after the first green bonds were released, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank, among other development banks and later corporations, municipalities and local agencies, quickly followed suit. Today, those entities have created a $503 billion universe of outstanding debt securities, and development banks have largely led the charge to build this market. For future development, however, the spotlight has turned to China, which many believe presents a fertile field for these financial tools, the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI), a London-based nonprofit organization that tracks green bond developments, said in a report yesterday.

Indonesia defends deforestation for palm oil on economic grounds
By Stella Dawson, Reuters, 25 March 2015
Growing global demand for palm oil is fuelling rapid deforestation in Indonesia, at a faster pace than in Brazil’s Amazon region, making Indonesia a major contributor to global warming. But Prabianto Mukti Wibowo, assistant deputy minister for forestry in the Economic Affairs Ministry, told a World Bank conference on land and poverty held in Washington this week that deforestation was a rich-country concern. “We know that our primary customers are not concerned about deforestation,” he said. Asian nations, led by India, China and Pakistan, buy 55 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil exports, while Europe buys only 8 percent, yet Europe puts much of the pressure on Indonesia not to cut down and burn forests to make way for plantations, he said… The pace of forest loss declined rapidly between 2009 and 2013, he said, even before last year’s New York Declaration on Forests called for an end to deforestation by 2020.

Norway parliament approves new climate change law
By Ed King, RTCC, 25 March 2015
Norway will have a new climate change law after lawmakers voted 84-19 in favour of proposals to draft legislation by 2017. All parties backed the plan bar the right wing Progress party, part of the ruling coalition and home to a number of politicians who class themselves as climate sceptics. As revealed by RTCC earlier this week, the law will create binding greenhouse gas emission targets for 2020, 2030 and 2050, and set a series of carbon budgets for the government. WWF-Norway’s Nina Jensen welcomed the decision, but said she wanted to see what powers the proposed law would have. “When the law comes, the government must also begin to deliver annual climate budgets along with state budgets each fall,” she said. “These must show how the government intends to achieve climate targets… and describe how the proposed state budget is going to affect Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions.”

26 March 2015

World Forest Problems Include Deadly Fragmentation
By Sandy Dechert, PlanetSave, 26 March 2015
Another important issue came to the forefront last Friday, though, with a study by Nick Haddad of North Carolina State University and over 20 international coauthors in the journal Science Advances. Dr. Haddad notes: “There are really only two big patches of intact forest left on Earth—the Amazon and the Congo—and they shine out like eyes from the center of the map.” … Haddad’s research confirms that more than 70% of the world’s forest area now lies within about a half-mile (one kilometer) of the forest edges, and that no matter what the ecosystem (forest, prairie, patch of moss), habitat destruction causes an average of 50% of the indigenous plant and animal species to disappear within 20 years. Biodiversity dwindles from fragmentation. The core ecosystems of fragmented forests decline, and their ability to sequester carbon dioxide goes with them, as do productivity and pollination.

Global landscape restoration target within reach
By Tim Christophersen, The UN-REDD Programme blog, 26 March 2015
Nature has developed powerful carbon sequestration machines: they are called trees. And we are now at the point where just reducing emissions will not be enough,” said Tine Sundtoft, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment, at the Bonn Challenge Ministerial meeting on 20 and 21 March 2015. “We must actively remove carbon out of the atmosphere. Forest restoration is the most cost-effective carbon capture option we have”. Ms Sundtoft’s call for more forests and trees in the fight against climate change was echoed by meeting participants from around the world. Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Liberia and the Republic of Korea provided detailed insights into their restoration actions. Already 61.5 million hectares have been taken under active restoration since the first Bonn Challenge meeting in 2011, with further pledges in the pipeline.

2C climate change target ‘utterly inadequate’
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 26 March 2015
The internationally agreed target for preventing dangerous climate change is “utterly inadequate”, a leading scientist has warned. Governments have committed to limit temperature rise to 2C above pre-industrial levels, a goal that requires steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. But a meeting of scientific experts and negotiators at last December’s UN climate talks in Lima concluded that was unsafe for much of the world’s population. That was revealed by Petra Tschakert, a coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment of climate change impacts, in the journal BioMed Central. “The consensus… was that a 2C danger level seemed utterly inadequate given the already observed impacts on ecosystems, food, livelihoods, and sustainable development,” said Tschakert, associate professor at Pennsylvania State University.

A new framework for climate policy: beyond carbon pricing
By Adam Whitmore, Energy Post, 26 March 2015
It is often argued, especially by representatives from the energy sector, that climate change policy should be based exclusively on carbon pricing. In the EU this means: on the EU Emission Trading Scheme. However, a new book by Professor Michael Grubb convincingly shows why such a policy approach is misguided. We also need policies on energy efficiency and renewables as well as policies that drive system change.

Offsetters Announces AGM Results and Provides Progress Update
Offsetters press release, 26 March 2015
Offsetters Climate Solutions Inc. is pleased to provide the results of the Annual General Meeting held on March 25, 2015 and provide an update on the progress of the acquisition (the “Acquisition”) of Forest Finance GmbH assets as announced in a news release on February 5, 2015… The Company is pleased to report that the Third Amendment Agreement with Wildlife Works Carbon LLC (“WWC”), announced in a February 20, 2015 news release, was finalised and signed by both parties. Under the original agreement, WWC was required to make its final payment of USD $620,000 by January 1, 2015, relating to the acquisition of Offsetters’ 50% interest in the Mai Ndombe REDD+ project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Under the amended agreement, WWC shall remit payments to Offsetters to complete its outstanding obligation in four installments throughout 2015, with a final payment being delivered on or before December 15, 2015.

Roundtable: the sustainability of woody biomass
Environmental Finance, 26 March 2015
One of the opportunities to put on the table is to create a mechanism that will allow flexibility where we could attach carbon credits from reforestation or forestry in general to pellets, and sell that as meeting these requirements. What better way of getting sustainable, knowing that for every tonne of wood that I am combusting in the atmosphere I have got one tonne associated from a reforestation project? That is where you are going to get a big bang for the buck in terms of sustainability.

[Australia] Direct Action set up to allow large rise in emissions, says Climate Institute
By Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 26 March 2015
The final element of the Abbott government’s Direct Action climate change policy will at best mean major polluters continue business as usual and at worst lead to significant increases in their greenhouse gas emissions according to the Climate Institute thinktank. The framework for the final part of Direct Action scheme – the so-called “safeguards mechanism” – confirms it will allow big polluters to buy carbon credits if they exceed new baselines for their greenhouse emissions, but also that it will set those baselines at levels that ensure few companies will have to. An issues paper on the “safeguards” released Thursday confirmed the policy could become a “baseline and credit” emissions trading scheme, but said at the outset that emissions baselines would “reflect the highest level of reported emissions for a facility over the historical period 2009-10 to 2013-14”.

Ghana inaugurates REDD+ Gender sub-working Group
GhanaWeb, 26 March 2015
Ghana has inaugurated a cross-sectoral REDD+ Gender sub-working group to enhance women’s participation and contribution to the forestry sector. The move is to make the reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation a gender-sensitive process and to address gender inequalities from the onset of the process. REDD+ is an acronym for the Reduction of greenhouse gas Emissions from reduced Deforestation and forest Degradation The REDD+ scheme covers Climate Change mitigation activities in the forestry sector through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from reduced deforestation and forest degradation as well as conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks and sustainable forest Management.

‘Green’ dam linked to killings of six indigenous people in Guatemala
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 26 March 2015
A planned mega-dam in Guatemala, whose carbon credits will be tradable under the EU’s emissions trading system, has been linked to grave human rights abuses, including the killing of six indigenous people, two of them children. Several European development banks and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) have provided funds for the $250m (£170m) Santa Rita dam. But human rights groups back claims from the Mayan community that they were never consulted about the hydro project, which will forcibly displace thousands of people to generate 25MW of energy, mostly for export to neighbouring countries. The issue has become a focus of indigenous protest in Guatemala – which has led to a march on the capital and severe political repression.

[Indonesia] Why palm oil expanded, and what keeps it growing
By Pek Shibao, mongabay.com, 26 March 2015
Today, the Indonesian palm oil industry continues to grow at an unsustainable rate. Indonesia currently has 8.1 million hectares of oil palm plantations, about 37 percent of which were established on deforested land. Total acreage is projected to reach 13 million hectares by 2020. As plantations expand, forests are being put at increasing risk of destruction. One reason for the uncontrolled growth of the palm oil industry is the inability of the central government to extend its regulatory reach to the local level. Much of the palm oil industry remains under the de facto control of local officials, who often stand to reap personal benefits from the plantations’ continued expansion. Local politicians provide illegal permits and concessions to oil palm and other natural resource companies in exchange for commissions, which are often channeled into re-election campaigns.

Indonesia unveils new tool to help curb emissions
Center for International Forestry Research, 26 March 2015
Around the world, countries are trying to curb the emission of greenhouse gases due to deforestation and other land uses. But in order to cut emissions, you must know how much you’re emitting—a challenge for many tropical countries. Indonesia is no different. Now, though, it is poised to launch a powerful new tool to support its efforts to accurately measure, report and verify (MRV) land-based greenhouse gas emissions: The Indonesian National Carbon Accounting System (INCAS), developed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, will provide a nationally consistent approach to measuring emissions. These methods have already been used in a pilot project in Central Kalimantan province and will help guide the official expansion of the INCAS to the national level. Two new publications, about the INCAS methodology and the pilot, will be unveiled Friday, 27 March, in a public event in Jakarta.

Tanzania and Kenya Sign Forestry MoU
WWF, 26 March 2015
A new forest cooperation agreement between Kenya and Tanzania is set to improve the effectiveness of measures to tackle the rampant illegal logging and timber trade across the border. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Kenya Forest Service and the Tanzania Forest Service outlines cooperative measures to help improve the management of critical forests resources in the two countries. Speaking in Arusha, Tanzania during the signing ceremony for the MOU, the Chief Executive of Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) Mr. Juma S. Mgoo noted that the implementation of the MOU would, over the next five-years, focus on trans-boundary collaboration around law enforcement to reduce illegal trade in forest resources such as timber and charcoal.

Large fall in UK greenhouse gas emissions of over 8% last year
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 26 March 2015
The UK’s greenhouse gas emissions plunged by 8.4% last year, as household energy consumption slumped, the use of coal for electricity generation fell, and policies on climate change took effect, according to government statistics released on Thursday. Carbon dioxide output fell by almost a tenth, as renewable energy generation rose to a new record high, accounting for nearly a fifth of electricity. It was the biggest fall in emissions since 1990. Over the last five years, following a sharp fall in 2009, emissions appeared to have reached a plateau, with slight rises in some years owing to increasing coal use. The price of coal has dropped on world markets, as shale gas has sapped demand in the US, leaving a glut. Green campaigners welcomed the fall, but they warned that more must be done to reach targets. In part, the slump in carbon output was down to record average high temperatures across the UK in 2014…

[UK] FCA wins landmark appeal against exotic investments
By Laura Suter, Fundweb, 26 March 2015
Exotic investment schemes will now find it harder to avoid regulation by the FCA, after the Court of Appeal ruled in the regulator’s favour. The ruling means that collective investment schemes in assets such as property, wine, and other unquoted investments, may come under more scrutiny from the regulator. The FCA won a case against Capital Alternatives and other collective investment schemes, which it claimed were promoted and operated without FCA approval. The operators of the funds said the structure of their schemes meant they did not qualify as collective investment schemes, as each individual’s holding was run separately, and so came outside the FCA’s remit. The defendants appealed the High Court decision, but the Court of Appeal has ruled in the FCA’s favour.

[USA] Gold Mining Company Inks Deal To Save The Sage Grouse
By Kirk Siegler, NPR, 26 March 2015
In Nevada, federal wildlife officials have brokered a landmark conservation deal with a gold mining company that the government says could help protect thousands of acres of critical habitat for the greater sage grouse. Under the agreement announced Thursday, the company Barrick Gold Corp., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management are setting up a “conservation bank.” It will essentially work like this: each time the company improves sage grouse habitat on its private ranch lands, it gets a credit in that bank. It can then trade that out for expanding gold mining on federal lands in the state, subject to federal approval. You can think of the deal as similar to how private companies sell and trade carbon credits when it comes to curbing greenhouse gas pollution. Except that in Nevada, we’re talking about a multinational gold mining company — Barrick North America — and of course, the sage grouse…

27 March 2015

The World Bank’s Carbon Fund: Undermining indigenous rights or saving the planet?
By Jeff Tyson, Devex, 27 March 2015
Last month, RRI released a report in which it accused the World Bank of facilitating carbon trading without first protecting human rights. The report argued that a majority of the then 11 countries in the Carbon Fund pipeline had insufficient legal frameworks for protecting the land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. “On its current path, carbon trading will allow governments to make the decisions and control the proceeds of the market, undermining local peoples’ rights and putting at risk the protection of the forest itself,” said Joji Cariño, director of Forest Peoples Programme, at the launch of the report.

Green Climate Fund names 7 intermediaries to channel cash
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 27 March 2015
The UN’s flagship climate finance initiative has named seven intermediaries to channel cash to projects in poor countries. At around 0130 in Songdo, South Korea, the Green Climate Fund board approved Pacific island fund SPREP and national entities based in Senegal and Peru. Social impact investment fund Acumen, the Asian Development Bank, UN Development Programme and German development bank KfW also got accreditation. Chosen out of 41 applicants, these bodies are responsible for getting donations from governments, so far totaling US$10 billion, to low carbon development and climate adaptation projects in the developing world.

[India] Tribal leader targeted for resisting eviction from tiger reserve
Survival International, 27 March 2015
A tribal leader in one of India’s tiger reserves is fearing for his safety after a wildlife official urged his community to beat him and drive him out for defending their right to remain on their land. Telenga Hassa, a Munda man from Jamunagarh community inside what is now Similipal Tiger Reserve, has been leading his village’s struggle against official moves to evict them in the name of tiger “conservation.” During a village meeting in January, during which Telenga was absent, an honorary wildlife warden reportedly urged Telenga’s fellow villagers to attack him or drive him out of the reserve if he didn’t agree to their relocation. Telenga told Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, that during previous meetings, the same warden had shouted abuse at him and his tribe, and ripped up a statement detailing their opposition to the evictions.

[South Korea] Market looks to KAU reserve to aid paralysed Korea ETS
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 27 March 2015
Emitters are calling for the Korean government to release CO2 permits from its market reserve to break an ETS deadlock that on Friday saw spot KAUs close unchanged and untraded at 10,100 won ($9.15) for the 25th consecutive day. Market regulators have the option to release supply from the 14.9 million KAU reserve if the average price stays above 10,000 won for three months. At current levels, that average will be reached on Apr. 13 – three months and one day after the market opened. Power generators and manufacturers say they have been given 20% fewer permits than they need, and the last trade to go through on the Korea Exchange (KRX) was Jan. 16 due to a dearth in supply. In addition to filing several lawsuits, emitters are now urging the government to use the reserve to alleviate the situation.

[UK] Advisor firm forced to close over whistleblower
By Beth Fisher, Bridging & Commercial Distributor, 27 March 2015
Portman Chandlers Limited, a company claiming to be an international investment business, including equity investment solution services, has been ordered into liquidation by the High Court due to a lack of transparency to its management… The company, which contacted victims of investment scams promising that it could recover any funds lost, cold-called an investor of a now-liquidated company that had mis-sold them carbon credits. The investor was told that he was one of the ‘lucky ones’ whose carbon credits had actually been saved and even increased in value. Consequently, he was advised to invest in a bond under Portman’s management, particularly by a salesman named James Knight.

28 March 2015

[Indonesia] Lives matter most around plantations
By Abetnego Tarigan (WALHI) and Iwan Nurdin (Agrarian Reform Consortium KPA), The Jakarta Post, 28 March 2015
The recent torture and murder of Indra Pelani is a shocking tragedy. It’s a tragedy for his family, his community and all those who are risking their lives to advance rights and justice — and also for the company whose subsidiary employed the guards who reportedly killed him. This murder was not just a random act, nor due solely to a local land rights conflict, but rather to the more widely entrenched industrial plantation system whereby whole swaths of rural land have been taken from locals without their consent. Companies have militarized the protection of their plantations and their armed guards routinely act violently and with impunity. The long-standing criminalization of local people in accessing their own, traditional lands and forests has resulted in tragic abuse, violent conflict, murder and the destruction of communities for decades across Indonesia.

29 March 2015


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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