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REDD in the news: 30 March – 5 April 2015

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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.

 

30 March 2015

World Bank to hold $25 mn auction for UN carbon credits
Reuters, 30 March 2015
The World Bank will hold an auction worth $25 million in June for UN-backed carbon credits from projects designed to cut methane emissions, the bank said on Monday. The so-called Pilot Auction Facility will offer tradable put options, giving project owners the right to sell credits to the bank’s Methane and Climate Change Fund at a set price, said Brice Quesnel, a senior carbon finance specialist at the World Bank. Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States have contributed a total of $53 million to the fund, which is hoping to raise a total of $100 million to help finance schemes to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. The auction comes at a time when investment in carbon-cutting investments under U.N. programmes has slowed as countries wrangle over the design of a new global climate pact to come into force in 2020.

[Colombia] The Tolo River Community Project: The Importance Of Inclusion
By Tanya Dimitrova, Ecosystem Marketplace, 30 March 2015
Armed with the offset certificates, the community now just needed to find someone to purchase them. They found a buyer in a family-owned company that chose to go carbon-neutral: a Colombian oil services firm called Independence. Its business is drilling and managing oil wells as a sub-contractor for fossil fuel corporations such as BP, Occidental, and Petrogas. It is in charge of 30 percent of the oil production in Colombia, which recently reached 1 million barrels of oil per day. “Of course it’s a contradiction,” says Gaelle Espinosa, the company’s environmental coordinator, from the 19th floor of her modern office in downtown Bogotá, referring to the company’s core business and its interest in being carbon-neutral. “But we as a single company cannot be responsible for everything in the industry or in the world. So I think we move with the market.” Espinosa used to work at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Colombia…

Climate mitigation overshadows adaptation in the Congo Basin
By Joan Baxter, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 March 2015
Spend any time reading about climate change, and you’ll notice that the words “mitigation” and “adaptation” are never far from each other. Experts routinely extol the dual necessities of forestalling and adjusting to climate change—yet a new study undertaken by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) shows that mitigation is monopolizing the international agenda, even in developing countries that are relatively low emitters of greenhouse gases. That’s a matter for concern, according to the study’s authors, because adaptation seeks to limit the negative impacts of climate change on societies and ecosystems, which may be particularly vulnerable in developing nations. The researchers studied climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in the Congo Basin, examining the progress of projects and initiatives that promote adaptation and those that emphasize mitigation, many of which are related to programs for REDD.

South Korea’s green initiative meets resistance
AsiaOne Asia News, 30 March 2015
South Korea launched Asia’s first nationwide carbon emissions trading scheme in January. It is part of the government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent by 2020. The creation of the world’s second-largest cap-and-trade system, after the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, created a lot of excitement around the world. Locally, concerns about the lack of trading and the government’s top-down approach are mounting. Critics question whether the country can possibly meet its ambitious emissions reduction target.

[UK] Group convicted following multi-million pound investigation
ITV News, 30 March 2015
A group of fraudsters from Gravesend and Surrey have been convicted at court in connection with a fraud which denied British taxpayers of millions of pounds. Narinder Chada and Gurmail Dosanjh set up fraudulent companies to buy and sell carbon credits. They would buy the credits at market value, but sell them on the cheap while also charging their clients VAT. By keeping the VAT rather than passing it on to the Government, the scheme deprived the UK public purse of £11.7 million. Two other defendants, father and son duo Daniel Andrew Barrs and Daniel Barrs facilitated money laundering for this fraud and a previous case dealt with by HMRC in 2012. The total amount laundered was in excess of £20 million.

31 March 2015

Subsidies to industries that cause deforestation worth 100 times more than aid to prevent it
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 31 March 2015
Brazil and Indonesia spent over 100 times more in subsidies to industries that cause deforestation than they received in international conservation aid to prevent it, according to a report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). The two countries handed out over $40bn (£27bn) in subsidies to the palm oil, timber, soy, beef and biofuels sectors between 2009 and 2012 – 126 times more than the $346m they received to preserve their rainforests from the United Nations’ (UN) REDD+ scheme, mostly from Norway and Germany. “The fact that domestic subsidies for commodities that cause deforestation so vastly outweigh international aid seeking to prevent it shows we need a radical rethink,” Will McFarland, one of the report’s authors told the Guardian. “By making the cost of producing these commodities cheaper, subsidies increase their profitability and make them more desirable to investors…”

Citizen scientists map global forests
environmentalresearchweb, 31 March 2015
New maps of global forest cover from IIASA’s Geo-Wiki team provide a more accurate view of global forests. The maps were published in the journal Remote Sensing of the Environment, and are freely available for exploration and download on the Geo-Wiki Web site. While there are many existing sources of data about forests, including satellite imagery, there is broad disagreement between the data products. Knowing the location and extent of forests is vital information for ecology, climate change, and economic modelling, as well as for researchers looking for the best reference information to estimate deforestation and forest degradation. “The new maps rely on a combination of recent multisensory remote sensing data, statistics, and crowdsourcing,” says Dmitry Schepaschenko, the lead author of the study.

VCS releases robust accounting framework for REDD+ Projects in Tropical Peatswamps
Wetlands International, 31 March 2015
The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) has approved a comprehensive carbon accounting methodology for REDD+ projects in tropical peatswamp forests. This methodology for the first time provides a practical and scientifically robust framework for quantifying emission reductions from peatland conservation and restoration efforts, an essential prerequisite to catalyzing climate finance for these highly threatened ecosystems. The framework is a revision to VCS methodology VM0007 (REDD+ Methodology Framework (REDD-MF)) and enables carbon accounting for projects that address deforestation of tropical peat forests and projects aimed at restoring damaged peatlands. The methodology now includes REDD+ activities for avoided conversion and forest rehabilitation on all forest types, including forested peatlands.

On ‘landscape approach,’ scientists search for meaning
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 31 March 2015
It’s an increasingly prominent way of thinking about land use that has yet, somewhat usefully, defied easy definition. Now, it’s beginning to come into sharper focus, as scientists are beginning to lift the veil on the “landscape approach” to land management. This phrase has a wide variety of definitions, but can be broadly termed as a holistic way of looking at often competing land uses within a given area. Landscape approaches are designed to break down barriers between ecological, agricultural and social fields of land-use research and policy. The term has been batted around in development circles for years but avoided broader popularity in part due to a lack of universal agreement on what exactly the term means—and also because its putative meaning overlaps (or encompasses) that of other existing land-use terms. Is it an “ecosystem approach,” or is it closer to “integrated watershed management”? Does it matter?

Climate pledges: Deadline sees slow but promising start
By Richard Ingham, AFP, 31 March 2015
A rough deadline for Tuesday saw only 33 out of 195 countries submit pledges for tackling greenhouse gases under UN climate talks scheduled to conclude just over eight months from now. Analysts, though, said the commitments were generally encouraging, even if the UN’s aim to curb warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) remained worryingly distant. Among major carbon emitters, the United States, the European Union and Russia put their positions on the table as expected, along with Mexico, the first emerging country to do so. But developing giants China, India and Brazil were absent for now, which could further complicate an already tortured process, these observers added.

Leading economies miss UN deadline to file climate change pledges
By Pilita Clark, Financial Times, 31 March 2015
Some of the world’s leading industrial economies have missed a UN deadline to file their opening offers for a global climate change deal to be finalised in Paris at the end of this year. Japan, Canada and Australia all failed to meet the March 31 deadline, as did China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, although Beijing has already publicly outlined its plans. At UN climate talks in Lima in December it was agreed that countries “ready to do so” would formally file their pledges on cutting greenhouse gas emissions for the Paris meeting with the UN by Tuesday. As the end of the business day neared, it appeared the countries making such a filing would be the US, Russia, the 28 members of the EU, Norway, Switzerland and Mexico.

Paris 2015: Tracking country climate pledges
Carbon Brief, 31 March 2015
31 March marked the loose deadline for countries to submit their pledges to the UN on how far they intend to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These promises, known as “intended nationally determined contributions”, or INDCs, will determine the success of the deal that the UN hopes to sign off in Paris in December this year. While only five countries plus the EU made the deadline, more than a hundred others are expected to filter in throughout the coming eight months. Carbon Brief is tracking the pledges made by each country. We’ll update this post as each INDC comes in.

US, Russia submit INDCs, won’t use international markets
Carbon Pulse, 31 March 2015
The US submitted its INDC to the UNFCCC today, confirming President Obama’s domestic plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, but said it doesn’t intend to use international market mechanisms to help meet that target. Russia also submitted its INDC, pledging to extend its 2020 goal to cut emissions to 25-30% beneath 1990 levels for a further 10 years without using international markets. The goal effectively enables the country’s emissions to increase from current levels as its emissions plunged after the collapse of the Soviet Union and were around 32% below under 1990 levels by 2012. Both countries – the world’s second and fourth biggest emitters – aligned their views on credit use with those of the EU and Norway, which have also confirmed that they will not seek to use international carbon offsets from new or existing markets… Switzerland … proposed using credits to meet almost half of its goal.

[Australia] Emissions slide began to reverse after the end of the carbon price, data show
By Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 March 2015
Australia’s greenhouse emissions from the electricity sector jumped in the September quarter, reversing the industry’s declines during the two carbon tax years preceding it, the latest government data shows. According to the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, released without fanfare last week by the Abbott government, emissions from power plants in the 12 months to September totalled 181.9 million tonnes, or about 1.5 million tonnes more than for the year to June. The impact of the carbon price fell mostly on the electricity sector, which posted a year-on-year emissions reduction of 4 per cent, or 7.5 million tonnes, in the final 12 months of the carbon price, only to have that slide reverse in the September quarter after the tax was scrapped last July.

[Indonesia] Reducing inequality in farming
The Jakarta Post, 31 March 2015
The 2015 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), through a forum of developed economies, devotes a great portion of its 2015 Survey on Indonesia Economy, to the issues of inequality and suggests a number of policy recommendations to enhance inclusive and sustainable growth in various sectors, notably in financial and agricultural sectors. In agriculture, the OECD urges the government to accelerate the development of partnerships between big plantation owners and smallholders so that farmers can have better access to technical, marketing and financial assistance. The OECD report, which was released here last week, highly commends the nucleus estate and smallholder (NES) scheme Indonesia has been implementing for more than 30 years, whereby big estates serve as the development agent providing technical and marketing assistance to improve the productivity of neighboring farmers or smallholders.

Justice still being sought for murders of Peruvian forest campaigners
By David Hill, The Guardian, 31 March 2015
Upriver in Saweto itself – which the Guardian visited with Rios Rengifo, Rainforest Foundation US, Global Witness and Alexander Soros, son of the businessman and investor George Soros – little has changed since September. Numerous Ashéninkas say that loggers, based in a settlement called Putaya just a few minutes boat ride away, continue to operate in their territories and threaten them. “Why do they come to this side [of the river]?” asks Karen Shawiri López. “They know very well this is our side. They say it’s to work to feed their children, but they can do that on the other side. Don’t we have children to feed too? Of course we do!” Fear in the village is palpable. Some people, says Jaime González García, are now afraid to fish in certain areas or walk alone in the forest.

US climate treaty pledge relies on uncertain Obama actions
By Josh Lederman, Associated Press, 31 March 2015
The United States put forth its contribution Tuesday to a global climate treaty, relying entirely on a set of emission cuts ordered by President Barack Obama that may not survive beyond the end of his presidency. Environmental groups and like-minded governments hailed the U.S. pledge as substantial and ambitious, and Obama’s aides waxed hopeful that the U.S. announcement would spur other countries to follow America’s lead. Yet with Obama’s actions at home facing serious legal challenges and intense political opposition, the Obama administration conceded that many foreign capitals are dubious the U.S. will live up to its commitment. Todd Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, said the pollution rules Obama is counting on to achieve the U.S. goal are on solid legal ground, pushing back on Republicans who have pledged to repeal them or stop them before they can take effect.

CIEL’s Reaction to the US Climate Commitment
CIEL, 31 March 2015
Today, the United States announced that it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels in 2025 as part of the new international climate agreement to be adopted in Paris this December. Climate & Energy Program Director Niranjali Amerasinghe said: As the country that bears the largest responsibility for total historic greenhouse gas emissions, the United States must lead in the fight against climate change. The proposed US contribution is an important step in tackling climate change, but it does not yet represent the country’s fair share in meeting the globally agreed goal of limiting temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. Analysis by Climate Action Tracker indicates that taking “equal cumulative emissions and historic responsibility” into account would require “much more stringent reductions” from the United States than it is offering today. We have an obligation to close that gap.

1 April 2015

Sustainable Forestry: Credit Suisse/Althelia Ecosphere’s Nature Conservation Notes
Environmental Finance, 1 April 2015
The Nature Conservation Notes issued by Credit Suisse and Althelia Ecosphere in December are a novel impact investing product designed to help reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and promote sustainable agriculture. They were developed jointly by the bank and the environmental investment specialist Althelia, and the proceeds will be channelled to the Althelia Climate Fund. Though modest in size – €15 million ($16 million) – the issue innovatively combines two tools of environmental finance: carbon credits and green bonds. “The notes were immediately popular, raising the full amount in just ten days”, says Fabian Huwyler, vice president of sustainability affairs at Credit Suisse. “We believe that more could have been placed, but timing was a factor due to the fund’s final closing date of 11 December”, adds Sylvain Goupille, co-founder and managing partner of Althelia Ecosphere.

Technologies to Support MRV and Track Private Sector Deforestation Commitments
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 1 April 2015
During March, the month that marked the celebration of the International Day of Forests, a number of significant forest-related research studies, tools and technologies were released. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) produced a report examining the scientific evidence base for integrating plantations into forest conservation planning. The report notes that the assumption that plantations reduce pressure on natural forests may not always be valid, as plantations can displace “low value” activities such as fuel wood collection to natural areas and reduce the economic viability of sustainable production in non-plantations thereby increasing degradation. The report notes, however, that strategically placing high value plantations while carefully managing the demand for sustainable forest products can maximize the conservation benefits of plantations while minimizing degradation risks.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 1 April 2015
March ended with a bang here at Ecosystem Marketplace with the much-anticipated launch of a new initiative and website, Supply-Change.org. A year in the making, the project tracks pledges by 242 companies committing to eliminating or reducing deforestation in their supply chains. Commercial agriculture currently drives at least two-thirds of tropical deforestation, and palm oil, soybeans, beef and wood products are the major culprits. Growing consumer awareness about the deforestation costs of many household products – and pressure from NGOs such as Greenpeace have led to a cascade of corporate commitments around palm oil and other agricultural commodities. At least one-third of new pledges on deforestation were made in 2014, according to the Supply-Change report.

Carbon: ClimateCare’s ethanol cookstoves fund
Environmental Finance, 1 April 2015
“Carbon-only finance for community development projects doesn’t work any more, due to the low price of emission offset credits,” says Edward Hanrahan, CEO of the project developer ClimateCare. The ‘blended finance’ approach used to make clean ethanol cookers available and affordable in Kenya marks the start of a new phase in carbon finance, he says… For the initial demonstration project in Kibera, a slum in Nairobi of about one million people, the bulk of the finance for the revolving fund has come from a grant from the UK’s Department For International Development. The fund makes loans to stove buyers via local microfinance institutions, with buyers having a choice of repayment period. Six months is common, but ClimateCare says many pay back the loan early… Hanrahan says ClimateCare may pre-sell the carbon credits received as “several buyers have already shown interest”. As the price for CDM credits is currently a mere €0.4…

[Brazil] Tree cheers
Nature News & Comment, 1 April 2015
When deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon started to fall a decade ago, many scientists and environmentalists attributed the drop to unrelated trends in global commodities markets, which briefly depressed agricultural production in 2005–06. The assumption was that a developing country such as Brazil could not possibly assert control over its domain, and that farmers and ranchers would soon return to their old habits. But they didn’t. Production recovered and then increased, while the rate of deforestation continued to fall. Brazil proved the sceptics wrong, and in doing so it changed the global conversation on forests, food and rural development.

Stopping deforestation: Battle for the Amazon
By Jeff Tollefson, Nature, Nature News & Comment, 1 April 2015
Over the past decade, while the world has been busy haggling over future commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, Brazil has lowered its carbon dioxide output more than any other country through a historic effort to slow forest loss. The deforestation rate here last year was roughly 75% below the average for 1996 to 2005 — just shy of Brazil’s pledge to achieve an 80% reduction by 2020. The country has managed this feat while increasing the amount of food it produces, much of it for export to a growing and hungry world. Brazil’s experience suggests that humanity has a chance to control agricultural expansion and preserve the planet’s most diverse ecosystems. If other countries follow suit by protecting and expanding forests, which lock carbon up in trees and soils, they could slow the growth of global CO2 emissions and buy the world some time to solve the thornier problem of curbing emissions from cars, power plants and industrial facilities.

[Cameroon] One year on: WWF fails to act against abuse of ‘Pygmies’
Survival International, 1 April 2015
Conservation giant World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has failed to take action against the abuse of Baka “Pygmies” and their neighbors in southeast Cameroon by anti-poaching squads, exactly one year after it received reports of their harassment, beatings and torture, and thirteen years since it was first made aware of this abuse. These anti-poaching squads are made up of wildlife officers – and sometimes soldiers and police – who are funded and supported by WWF, and who could not continue without its crucial support. Nearly 9,000 people have written to WWF, urging it to take action to ensure that its funds are not used to violate the rights of the Baka and their neighbors. Last year, villagers urged WWF to suspend its funding.

Germany’s G7 can ensure Paris climate deal is a success
By Liz Gallagher, RTCC, 1 April 2015
In June, deep in the heart of Bavaria, the G7 Leaders will meet amongst the mountains and lakes to share plans for shaping a pivotal year. The stakes couldn’t be higher. Both the climate and development agendas combine this year. But this comes amidst the dramatic drop in the oil price, the rise of ISIS, intense diplomatic relations with Iran and the Ukraine crisis. Those of us (un)fortunate enough to have placed many a hope on these types of summits before, know all too well that the best laid plans can often go to waste when an international emergency strikes. But when the waters are calm, this meeting can make a difference… A solid G7 outcome should expand the political space ahead of the Paris summit in December. It will need to announce strategic confidence building measures to maintain momentum.

In Indonesia, local communities lose out as oil palm expands
By Manon Verchot, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 1 April 2015
Oil palm, billed as a way to improve local economic opportunity and reduce poverty in the tropics, may not live up to that billing, a recent report shows. In fact, a case study from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on the effects of oil palm on economy, ecology and society in West Papua paints a stark picture. On the front lines of oil palm expansion, the indigenous forest-dwelling Arfak people of West Papua Province of Indonesia believe they are not the beneficiaries of the palm’s promise—rather, the real winners seem to be skilled non-Papuan immigrants and other Papuan peoples who hold most of the jobs available at oil palm plantations. “It is unlikely that oil palm will help the rural poor, because they simply don’t have the skills and the knowledge to effectively engage in oil palm production,” said Krystof Obidzinski, a senior scientist at CIFOR and a the co-author of the study.

Indonesia to extend ban on forest clearing – govt official
Reuters, 1 April 2015
Indonesia, home to the world’s third-largest tropical forests and a powerful palm oil industry, will extend a ban on forest clearing, a government official said on Wednesday. Southeast Asia’s largest economy is under international pressure to curb deforestation and destruction of carbon-rich peatlands and forests that palm oil and mining companies say they need for expansion. “Indonesia will extend the moratorium policy,” Nur Masirpatin, policy advisor for the ministry of environment and forestry told reporters at a media event, without giving an exact timeframe or length of the renewal. “The policy will certainly continue.” The world’s biggest producer of palm oil imposed a two-year moratorium on clearing forest in May 2011 under a $1 billion climate deal with Norway aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation, and extended for two more years in May 2013.

Indonesia, Brazil subsidizing forest loss far more than REDD+ slows it
By Philip Jacobson, mongabay.com, 1 April 2015
International aid to protect forests in Indonesia and Brazil pales in comparison to domestic subsidies for commodities driving deforestation there, according to a new report by United Kingdom-based think tank Overseas Development Institute (ODI). If the countries received an average of $1 billion each year via the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme, their annual agricultural and biofuel subsidies for just four commodities associated with forest loss – palm oil and timber in Indonesia, soy and beef in Brazil – amounted to $41 billion. “As a result, these subsidies are likely to have a far more significant impact on private investment in activities that drive deforestation, than current REDD+ finance,” says the report, titled “Subsidies to key commodities driving forest loss.”

[UK] Guardian Media Group to ditch fossil fuels from $1.2 bln fund
By Simon Jessop, Reuters, 1 April 2015
Guardian Media Group (GMG) said on Wednesday it would sell all the fossil fuel assets held in its 800 million pounds ($1.2 billion) investment fund as the UK media company looks to boost its sustainable investing. The GMG would look to divest over the medium term, and is the largest fund to-date to announce a complete exit from all oil, coal and gas firms, chairman Neil Berkett said in an article in the firm’s Guardian newspaper explaining the move. “We are not doing this because it makes good headlines. We are doing it because it makes good business sense,” Berkett said. “GMG can prudently work towards allocating more funds to socially responsible investments without jeopardising our overall returns.

2 April 2015

WWF: Irresponsible food consumption fuels global climate change
EurActiv, 2 April 2015
Conservation organisation WWF says Germany’s eating habits are “fuel to the fire” for global climate change, with severe consequences for food security in developing countries. By 2050, the world population is expected to require 70% more food than today, which would also demand more fertile farmland. Meanwhile, Germans are consuming in excess. A WWF study shows that, on average, 1,562 m2 of land is needed to feed one person in the Federal Republic. And this number is steadily rising. Because Germany does not have enough arable land at its disposal, around one fourth of its landmass has to be “virtually imported”. This means soy used for feed in commercial meat production is often grown in South America. Palm oil plantations for chocolate and cocoa are located in Asia and Africa. “We are in the process of eating our planet bare,” warned WWF analyst Tanja Dräger de Teran.

Northern fires caused almost a quarter of global forest loss, study shows
By Karl Matheisen, The Guardian, 2 April 2015
Vast areas of forest in Canada and Russia were lost to fire in 2013, according to new satellite data. But there were encouraging signs from Indonesia, where the loss of forest cover fell to the lowest level in a decade. Scientists from Global Forest Watch collated 400,000 images of the Earth’s surface to map the world’s forests down to a resolution of 30 metres. Their findings showed that overall the world lost 18m hectares of forest in 2013. Between 2011 and 2013 fires in the boreal forests of Canada and Russia accounted for almost a quarter of global forest losses. Some of this will return, but northern forests are particularly slow to recover after fire. Boreal forests are one of the world’s great carbon sinks. But scientists predict that climate change will cause them to burn more often and with greater intensity, unlocking the carbon stored in the wood and soil.

Wind Powers “Green” Growth in Kenya, but for Whom?
By Chris Williams, Dissident Voice, 2 April 2015
The 310-megawatt wind farm, which will occupy 40,000 acres around Lake Turkana in Loyangalani District, Marsabit West County, one of the poorest counties in Kenya, equates to 20 percent of Kenya’s currently existing electricity supply and is part of the plan to overcome electricity shortages, which will become more acute as climate change progresses and the projected economic development of the country accelerates. Whether the 82 percent of Kenyans currently without electricity will be the recipients of any of the electricity generated by the wind farm, or whether locals around Marsabit and from the village of Sirima will see any of the jobs or wealth to be created, is another question entirely.

[UK] Beware of the modern-day ‘Fool’s gold’ from investments
BT.com, 2 April 2015
IPR Capital Ltd sold five-figure sum partnerships into a limited partnership that it wholly controlled, known as IPR Capital Mining 06 LP, to members of the public via a network of sales agents. One of these agents was Kendrick Zale. Giving a maildrop address in the City of London, Kendrick Zale coldcalled potential investors saying gold was about to soar but buying “physical gold” such as coins or bullion was outdated, thanks to a new model from IPR Capital. Its website told potential investors: “Gold remains a boom industry in Ecuador, as highlighted in a recent BBC News re-port(sic) which also ratified the purchase of the economic benefit of a mine to be a solid investment.” It also cited The Economist and Bloomberg, neither of which knew how it had been misused. There was a huge gap between this narrative and reality, which resulted in huge amounts of investor cash disappearing.

[UK] Pension freedoms: Six things NOT to do on Monday
By Katie Morley, The Telegraph, 2 April 2015
In just four days, people over 55 will be granted new “pension freedoms”. Hugely welcome, the changes represent the biggest shake-up to pensions in a generation. They will transform the way we save and spend before our retirement and during it. There are other implications, too, around how we arrange our assets in order to minimise the tax we pay during our lifetimes and even after our deaths, as the changes bring significant opportunities to limit inheritance tax. For the first time, savers will be able to take up to 100pc of their pension as cash, allowing them to spend their retirement funds as they like. Most will draw cash in order to meet daily living costs. A few could withdraw the lot and blow it on a Lamborghini, as pensions minister Steve Webb famously suggested. Hundreds of thousands of older savers are expected to take advantage of the new freedoms as soon as they become available with the new tax year on April 6.

3 April 2015

Disruptive Data Disputes Documentation of Declining Deforestation
By Jonah Busch, Center for Global Development, 3 April 2015
Two studies have come to sharply contradicting conclusions about recent trends in tropical deforestation. One study, based on official national statistics, says that the rate of deforestation in the humid tropics slowed by 25 percent between the 1990s and the 2000s. Another study, based on satellite data, says that forest loss in the humid tropics accelerated by 62 percent between the 1990s and the 2000s… Let’s start with the first study. Every five years the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) compiles a Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) by aggregating official national statistics on forest cover that are self-reported by forest ministries from every country’s national government… Satellite images now provide an independent source of data on forest loss. And information from these satellite data are superior to the aggregated international statistics in nearly every technical respect.

China turns away more than half of carbon credit applicants to curb glut
Reuters, 3 April 2015
China’s top regulator has ruled that more than half of the 54 mitigation projects that recently sought to register for carbon credits are ineligible, it said on Friday, amid worries that a glut of permits is undermining its pilot carbon markets. Projects that help cut climate-warming greenhouse gases can apply to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to be ruled eligible to receive a type of carbon credit known as a CCER, which can then be sold on some domestic exchanges to help companies cover their emissions reductions targets. But the NDRC said on its website (www.ccchina.gov.cn) that it approved only 21 out of a recent batch of 54 projects, and project developers suggested the rejections were the result of a recent tightening of qualification rules.

4 April 2015

5 April 2015


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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