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REDD in the news: 20-26 April 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.

 
What is the potential for a climate, forest and community friendly REDD in Paris?
By Jonas Hein, Karen Meijer, Jean Carlo Rodríguez de Francisco, Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), 2015
In this Briefing Paper, we discuss the prospects for REDD . We structure these on the basis of options included in the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) Negotiating Text of February 2015: (1) forests in a market-based mechanism, (2) result-based approaches for REDD , and (3) non-result-based approaches. In addition, we discuss for each of these the likeliness of substantial international finance that they may raise, their mitigation potential, their contribution to forest conservation, and their social co-benefits. We conclude that large sums for REDD can only be expected when REDD credits can be used to offset fossil-fuel based emissions, provided the carbon credit price is high enough.

20 April 2015

Australia’s Direct Action climate policy challenged by US, China and Brazil at the UN
By Shalailah Medhora and Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 20 April 2015
Australia has been been asked to defend the credibility of its Direct Action climate change policy at the UN after several countries submitted questions to the Abbott government querying how the policy would reduce carbon emissions. The US, China and Brazil – all large emitters – have joined other countries in challenging Australia on its emissions reduction target and commitment to renewables. The questions were submitted to the UN framework convention on climate change. Australia has not yet submitted answers to the questions but is expected to do so by the end of May. The paper also questioned whether Direct Action was enough to make up for the Coalition’s decision to axe the carbon price and whether Australia would be able to meet its commitment of cutting emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020.

Hilton Worldwide to launch A-P Clean Air Program
MICEBTN, 20 April 2015
Hilton Worldwide will reduce the environmental impact of meetings and events held at more than 90 hotels and resorts in Asia Pacific through an expanded carbon emissions solution, the ‘Clean Air Program’, starting 01 May. The Clean Air Program will provide a calculation of the carbon emissions of the event at no cost to the customer. Hilton will then purchase the equivalent carbon credits to finance environmentally-friendly projects across Asia Pacific in partnership with carbon offset solutions provider Climate Friendly. The program is designed to make it easier for meetings professionals to incorporate environmental solutions into their meetings and events… Hilton has identified nine projects across Asia Pacific to be funded under the Clean Air Program including the Tasmanian Native Forest Protection Project in Australia.

France’s Hollande sees many obstacles to climate deal in Paris
Reuters, 20 April 2015
French President Francois Hollande said on Monday there were many obstacles to reaching a U.N. deal to fight climate change at a summit in Paris in December, with concerns about the strategy of big emerging nations such as India. “Everybody thinks this is a meeting where we will easily find an agreement. I don’t think so,” Hollande said in a speech on “green growth” at the Elysee presidential palace. “The more I get into the preparations for this conference, the more I see obstacles,” he said. Experts say plans submitted by 34 nations for fighting climate change beyond 2020 would leave the world on track for warming well above the limits agreed with the United Nations.

[India] Developed world needs to walk the talk on climate change: Prakash Javadekar
By Urmi Goswami, The Economic Times, 20 April 2015
Ministers from the 17 major emitters, including Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar, are meeting in Washington DC on Sunday and Monday to address some contentious issues and find a way to ensure a successful outcome at the UN-sponsored climate meet in Paris later this year. Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, hosted by the US state department, is expected to discuss climate action plans, or intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) as these are known in UN climate parlance, and the provision of finance and technology by rich industrialised countries to developing countries — a point that India will stress on. “Developed world would now have to walk the talk and will have to provide green climate fund to the developing world,” Javadekar said ahead of the meeting.

The Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership: A Murder Mystery
By Robin Davies, Center For Global Development, 20 April 2015
This paper describes the truncated life of IAFCP in its political context and interrogates a number of possible reasons for its demise. It concludes the main culprit was neither political change nor mismanagement, but rather the failure of the project developer, the Australian government, to engage single-mindedly with the central thesis of REDD+: that the provision of proportional financial incentives to relevant actors can achieve sustained, costeffective reductions in land-based carbon emissions, thus creating the conditions for public and private investment in the production of internationally tradeable REDD+ credits. Under a more effective KFCP, performance-based payments for measures to protect and rehabilitate peatlands, tied to rough, proxy indicators for emission reduction, would have been provided as early as possible to both communities and sub-national government agencies.

Commentary: Indonesia’s Mangroves Are a Treasure Worth Saving
By Andrew Campbell & Benjamin Brown, The Jakarta Globe, 20 April 2015
Which of the world’s great forests store the most carbon per hectare? The dense tropical rainforests of the Amazon, Borneo, the Congo or Papua New Guinea? The vast northern forests of Canada and Siberia, or the towering mountain ash forests of Victoria and Tasmania? None of the above. In fact (counting carbon stored in soils), mangrove forests store the most carbon per hectare. Mangrove forests are amazingly tough, versatile and productive. They play a critical role in the feeding and breeding cycles of many fish and other aquatic species, and fish catches are much higher close to intact mangrove communities. They provide valuable timber and many other forest products. Recent cyclones have reminded us yet again that coastlines with intact mangroves are much more resilient.

[USA] Corporations Fund Deltaic Wetland Restoration With Carbon Credits
By Adriana Lopez, Forbes, 20 April 2015
On April 10, 2010, exactly five years ago to the day, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded off the coast of Louisiana, causing detrimental effects to Louisiana’s delicate coastline and the animals that inhabit it, as well as businesses throughout the Gulf Coast region… For some in Louisiana, the catastrophe became an opportunity. People received monetary settlements for their business and land loss… As a result, Louisiana is starting to become a hub for the water management industry, with over 14,000 positions in the industry increasing since the oil spill, according to The Coastal Index published today… One of the leaders in the growing water management field in Louisiana is Dr. Sarah Mack, who created an innovative methodology to create revenue for coastal restoration through the blue carbon market and the sale of carbon offsets.

21 April 2015

Funding for Africa ‘key to global climate change deal’
By Judith Ugwumadu, Public Finance International, 21 April 2015
Ministers from across Africa have said additional funding for low-carbon energy schemes across the continent must be part of any global deal to tackle climate change reached later this year. At the African Carbon Forum in Marrakech, countries from across the region called for new public and private funding to unlock the continent’s clean energy potential… The ACF focused on programmes to unleash private sector finance, such as the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, used to help developed countries obtain carbon credits by investing in emission reduction schemes. There is also a need to scale up other forms of climate finance to strengthen the sustainable development of African countries.

Public and Private Sectors Progress REDD+ Implementation
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 21 April 2015
New commitments and partnerships to reduce the contribution of deforestation and forest degradation to climate change continue across the public and private sectors. Burkina Faso and El Salvador have become the 59th and 60th partner countries to the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD). The two new members now have access to UN-REDD targeted and global support and have observer status on the Policy Board.

McDonald’s to axe deforestation from its global supply chain
By Siri Srinivas, The Guardian, 21 April 2015
On Tuesday, global fast food giant McDonald’s pledged to end deforestation across its entire supply chain. The announcement follows recent similar pledges by Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Yum Brands and many others. But the World Wildlife Fund, which advised McDonald’s on its new commitment, said it could have big influence on other fast food chains. “McDonald’s brings size and scale to the debate of sustainable sourcing. Their reach is large, they are global, they work closely with the suppliers and so this outreach can only help,” said David McLaughlin, vice president of agriculture at the World Wildlife Fund. But tackling deforestation has proven vastly complex, and with tens of thousands of franchises, the company faces super-sized challenges to meeting its goals.

[Japan] JAXA Astronaut Noguchi Takes on the Job of Official Supporter of ‘Japan Public-Private Platform for REDD+’
Japan International Cooperation Agency, 21 April 2015
On April 13, Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), assumed the position of “Official Supporter” of a project called the Japan Public-Private Platform for REDD+ that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is jointly promoting with other partners. The REDD+ Platform is an effort to promote the REDD+* climate change initiative that contributes to reducing emissions and increasing absorption of greenhouse gasses using forests, the sustainable development of developing countries dependent on forest resources and the conservation of biodiversity, through an all-Japan effort including the private sector, organizations, research institutes and government agencies. It was established in November 2014 in response to a call from JICA and the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute of Japan.

[UK] Fraud Squad
ITV, 21 April 2015
Fraud Squad follows detectives as they arrest Kerry Golesworthy at a luxury penthouse apartment in a gated community. The couple seem to have an addiction to designer goods. They hid the source of the wealth from neighbours claiming they had won the National Lottery. Detectives also arrest the parents of Matthew Noad. Father Roger, who spent 30 years at Coutts, the Queen’s banker, used his experience to launder £600,000 of his son’s criminal proceeds. This money gave Roger and his wife Linda a lavish lifestyle, a £1 million home and luxury foreign holidays. Awaiting trial, with their passports seized and bank accounts frozen, Griston and Noad have set up a new multi-million pound fraud while on police bail – selling worthless carbon credits to the same elderly, vulnerable investors. Commander Steve Head says: “They are in the judicial system awaiting trial and they use that as an opportunity to go out and target more people, steal more money, ruin more lives.

[USA] Beyonce Beats Environment as Media Favors Celebrity News
By Jeremy Van Loon, Bloomberg, 21 April 2015
Pity the trees. For U.S. newspapers and television, celebrity articles and gossip trump stories about the environment by a wide margin. Beyonce Knowles, the pop singer and actress, gets 11 times more mentions in U.S. media than stories about deforestation and five times more than the ocean’s health, according to a report by the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage non-profit group. Environmental stories made up less than 1 percent of headlines last year, its survey shows. “The environment intersects with a number of other issue areas people care a great deal about, like health, the economy and national security to name a few,” said Todd Pollak, co-director of the group. “And we know Americans want more.” About 79 percent are interested in more environmental stories, he said.

[USA] The Climate Trust Buys First Avoided Forest Conversion Offsets in the California Market
The Climate Trust press release, 21 April 2015
The Climate Trust, a mission-driven nonprofit that specializes in financing climate solutions, today announced the receipt of the first-ever California Carbon Offsets (CCOs) from an Avoided Forest Conversion project. The Green Assets-Middleton Place project conserves more than 3,700 acres of pristine southern coastal habitat near Charleston, S.C. The Climate Trust purchased 243,375 carbon credits from the project’s owner Middleton Place. This is equivalent to the annual electricity use of over 65% of the households in the city of Charleston. Avoided Conversion projects prevent forestland from being converted to non-forestland use by dedicating the property to continuous forest cover. Additionally, Middleton Place makes a concerted effort to manage its forest resources for sustainability and the provision of critical habitat for a diversity of wildlife.

22 April 2015

Satellites can mislead: policy makers beware!
By David Gaveau and Romain Pirard, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 April 2015
The loss of old-growth tropical forest area through fire and agricultural expansion has for decades challenged many of the sustainability goals set out by policy makers, conservation groups, and forest managers. As part of the solution to halt tropical deforestation, a strong trend has emerged to assign blame – and it’s industrial commodity plantations that are very much scrutinized. Maps showing the boundaries and ownership of land parcels, and the timing and distribution of deforestation and fire events (with satellites), are increasingly combined in online mapping services as a way to improve transparency, traceability and accountability of the corporate sector.

Earth Day Apology to Future Generations
Wildlife Works press release, 22 April 2015
The Wildlife Works projects that Prince Ea visited in Kenya and the DRC represent two of twelve forest conservation projects participating in the new Stand for Trees campaign, an online initiative created by environmental NGO Code REDD that enables the general public to take direct action to combat climate change through crowd-funding the protection of threatened forests… “The Stand for Trees campaign was designed to put the power to save forests in the hands of the people to whom the future matters most: young people,” explained Mike Korchinsky, founder of Code REDD and founder and president of Wildlife Works.

Earth Day Pay Day: Bankers Work to Make Nature Finance Itself
By David Bank, Institutional Investor, 22 April 2015
To be sure, fundraising continues to be tough for many funds. Carbon markets have been volatile, and policy risks remain maddeningly high. Yet even with the still low market prices for carbon credits, some forest preservation deals pencil out. California’s cap-and-trade market has become one of the largest new sources of capital for sustainable forestry projects nationwide. One such example is $2 billion, Sydney-based fund manager New Forests’ financing and development of the first forest carbon project registered on the California market. Another is the $122 million raised by the Luxembourg-headquartered Althelia Climate Fund to help back new production of certified sustainable cocoa, coffee and other products, as well as forest carbon credits for the voluntary markets in Europe. Althelia’s fundraising included €15 million from individual investors through special Nature Conservation Notes issued by Credit Suisse…

Climate change: Paris ‘last chance’ for action
By Helen Briggs, BBC News, 22 April 2015
Scientists are calling on world leaders to sign up to an eight-point plan of action at landmark talks in Paris. The key element is the goal to limit global warming to below 2C by moving to zero carbon emissions by 2050. The UN meeting in December is “the last chance” to avert dangerous climate change, according to the Earth League… The statement involves eight calls for action: Limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. Keeping future CO2 emissions below 1,000 gigatonnes (billion tonnes). Creating a zero-carbon society by 2050. Equity of approach – with richer countries helping poorer ones. Technological research and innovation. A global strategy to address loss and damage from climate change. Safeguarding ecosystems such as forests and oceans that absorb CO2. Providing climate finance for developing countries.

Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
By Steve Connor, The Independent, 22 April 2015
There is a one-in-ten chance of the world being 6C warmer than it is today by 2100 which would lead to cataclysmic changes in the global climate with unimaginable consequences for human civilisation, leading climate researchers have warned in an “Earth Statement”. The risk of hitting the highest upper estimate for global warming based on current levels of carbon dioxide emissions is now so high that it is equivalent to tolerating the risk of 10,000 fatal aircraft crashes a day, according to the 17 “Earth League” scientists and economists who have signed the joint statement. The experts have drawn up a three-page summary of the action needed to be agreed on at the UN meeting in Paris this December, which is widely seen as the last chance for the world’s political leaders to agree on a binding treaty to prevent the global climate from slipping into a dangerously precarious state.

Australia should ‘get off sidelines’ with 30 per cent emissions cut by 2025: report
By Lisa Cox, Tom Arup, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 2015
Australia has been urged to rapidly accelerate its cuts to greenhouse gases, with the independent Climate Change Authority recommending the Abbott government adopt an ambitious 30 per cent reduction target on 2000 levels by 2025. In a report to be published on Wednesday, the authority has also declared Australia is falling far short of the task required to cut emissions by 2020 if it wants to match the efforts of other countries to halt global warming. It comes as the world’s biggest emitters, including the US and China, were revealed this week to have questioned the credibility of Australia’s climate change targets and the Abbott government’s direct action policy to pay polluters to reduce emissions.

Honduras is world’s number one for killing environmental activists
By David Hill, The Guardian, 22 April 2015
More people were killed in Honduras per capita than any other country for each of the last five years as a result of their efforts to defend land and the environment, according to a report by UK-based NGO Global Witness. The report, How many more?, alleges that people are being “killed in record numbers” and that this is happening in response to “increased competition over natural resources” – particularly from hydropower projects, agribusiness, logging and mining and other extractive industries. It states: “These deaths occur because ordinary citizens and local communities are increasingly finding themselves at the forefront of the battle over the planet’s natural resources. . . At the same time, national governments are failing to protect their rights from rising threats from agribusiness, mining, logging and hydropower projects.”

[Norway] World’s largest sovereign wealth fund takes stand against deforestation
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 22 April 2015
Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global — the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund — is adopting standards to avoid investing in companies linked to tropical deforestation, sending a strong signal that forest destruction is not an acceptable practice for responsible businesses, reports Rainforest Foundation Norway. Conducting an analysis of the Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global’s (GPFG) annual report, Rainforest Foundation Norway finds that while the fund still invests 137 billion Norwegian kroner ($19.7 billion) in sectors tied to deforestation, it has strengthened its policies to reduce exposure to companies that destroy forests. The guidelines, which apply to companies with direct or indirect impacts of tropical forests, ask firms to disclose climate change risks associated with their operations.

[UK] Police arrest suspect over £3m metal investment scheme
By Jun Merrett, Citywire, 22 April 2015
A Glasgow man has been arrested on suspicion of working for a London-based boiler room scam that is believed to have made £3 million selling fraudulent investments in rare and expensive metals. The 41-year-old was arrested by the City of London Police’s fraud squad on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. The City of London Police said it believes the man was part of a gang that set up an illegal operation that persuaded up to 250 people to put their savings into fake investments in metals including platinum and palladium, which is used to make catalytic converters for cars. It said victims were cold-called by boiler room operators and told they could make ‘big profits’ with the metals supposedly being stored for them in secure vaults in Geneva and the Channel Islands. One victim invested more than £200,000 in the scheme.

[UK] Kent fraudsters jailed for 15 years for scam worth £23 million
By Josie Griffiths, News Shopper, 22 April 2015
Two Kent fraudsters who denied £11.7 million from British taxpayers in a fraud worth £23 million have been jailed for a combined 15 years. Narinder Chada, 62, of The Russetts, Meopham, and Gurmail Dosanjh, 46, of Singlewell Road, Gravesend, were sentenced to seven and eight years in jail respectively, yesterday morning (April 22) at Southwark Crown Court. The pair were found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public purse at Southwark on March 26, after setting up fraudulent companies to buy and sell carbon credits. They bought the credits at market value and sold them cheaply while charging clients VAT, which they did not pass on to the government. The pair have been disqualified as company directors for 10 years and ordered to return all remaining bills. Daniel Andrew Barrs, 65, from New Place Gardens in Lingfield was given three seven year sentences for money laundering the £23 million made in the scam.

23 April 2015

A Call to Foundations to Step Up Giving, Act on Climate
By Justin Guay, Huffington Post, 23 April 2015
It’s time foundations stepped up their game when it comes to climate. That’s the message from two foundations that have invested big in climate: Larry Kramer and Carol Larson of the Hewlett and Packard Foundations. They delivered their message in The Chronicle of Philanthropy (read the op-ed here) in what amounts to a philanthropic call to arms when it comes to fighting climate change. Put simply, their message is that the challenge we face is too great for philanthropy to be sitting on the sidelines. So what exactly is their point? Well, it’s the fact that less than 2 percent of all philanthropic dollars are being spent in the fight against climate change. That’s right, 2 percent. That’s an appallingly low investment in the greatest battle of our time.

New Climate-Economic Thinking
By Gernot Wagner and Martin Weitzman, Climate 411 (EDF), 23 April 2015
Each ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere today causes about $40 worth of damages. So at least says standard economic thinking. A lot goes into calculating that number. You might call it the mother of all benefit-cost analyses. It’s bean-counting on a global scale, extending out decades and centuries. And it’s a process that requires assumptions every step along the way. The resulting $40 figure should be taken for what it is: the central case presented by the U.S. Government Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon when using its preferred 3% discount rate for all future climate damages. But it is by no means the full story. Choose a different discount rate, get a different number. Yale economist Bill Nordhaus uses a discount rate of slightly above 4%. His resulting price is closer to $20 per ton of carbon dioxide. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change uses 1.4%.

Australia buys 47.3 million tonnes of CO2 cuts in first ERF auction
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 23 April 2015
Australia bought emission cuts totalling 47,333,140 tonnes of CO2e at an average price of A$13.97 ($10.82) from 144 projects at the first auction under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), the Clean Energy Regulator announced Thursday. The total value of the contracts resulting from the auction was A$660 million, the Regulator said, more than a quarter of the fund’s total budget. The emission cuts will be delivered over the next 7-10 years, and only just over half will be delivered by 2020, meaning Australia is unlikely to meet its 2020 target unless prices go down substantially in future auctions or additional policies are introduced. “On the present trajectory, the ERF budget would be eroded very quickly, so the medium-term sustainability of the scheme is a concern,” Hugh Grossman, executive director at market analysts Reputex said.

Local and national interests clash in Indonesia’s palm oil industry
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 23 April 2015
Much of the power over land allocation flowed to bupatis (little kings) who preside over districts and have been accused of widespread corruption in the way they hand out logging concessions. “They take decisions in best interest of companies, often from Singapore or Jakarta, rather than communities,” said Tomasz Johnson, forests campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). The EIA conducted an in-depth investigation into the palm oil industry last year and found multiple instances of corruption and lax law enforcement. Violations included the flouting of plantation licensing laws, attempts by a palm oil firm to bribe police to drop an investigation into its activities and regional governments transferring community resources to private firms.

Gaps in Indonesia’s Forest Legality Verification System Put Forest Products’ Customers at Material Risk
By Emma Lierley, Rainforest Action Network, 23 April 2015
Indonesia’s wood products audit and certification system remains inadequate in assuring legality, a new briefing finds. The briefing provides detailed recommendations about how the system can be improved to address these shortcomings. Buyers wishing to avoid products that violate community legal rights, as well as authorities charged with enforcing import legality legislation, should refrain from relying solely on the verification system for assurance that products certified by the system comply with Indonesian law. Known as the Indonesian Timber Legality Verification System, or Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK), the certification system was put into place to regulate Indonesia’s forestry sector. However, the briefing finds that rigorous, enhanced due diligence into the sourcing of forest products is still needed, even when those products bear a SVLK “legality” or “sustainability” certificate…

[Indonesia] In Mataram Declaration, Belated Recognition of Indigenous Rights
By Kennial Caroline Laia, The Jakarta Globe, 23 April 2015
Proponents of the rights of indigenous groups have hailed a pledge by the Indonesian government to do more to recognize their stewardship of forests, seen as crucial in efforts to stave off deforestation. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar made the so-called Mataram Declaration last weekend in a belated response to a May 2013 Constitutional Court ruling relinquishing the state’s default claims to forested areas settled and used by indigenous groups. “Long before this, civil society organizations and local communities were struggling for the recognition and protection of customary land,” said Abetnego Tarigan, the executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, or Walhi. “Now the government has shown good faith, and we really appreciate it.” He said the central and local governments often violated indigenous people’s land rights because the latter lacked title deeds to their land.

[Indonesia] Grandmother Jailed for Stealing Wood in East Java
The Jakarta Globe, 23 April 2015
A court in East Java’s Situbondo district on Thursday sentenced a 63-year-old woman to 15 months in prison for stealing timber from a teak plantation owned by state-owned logging company Perhutani. “Based on the evidence presented during the trial, we decide that the defendant Asyani has violated the 2013 Forest Destruction Law,” Judge Kadek Dedy Arcana said on Thursday as quoted by Kompas.com. The panel of judges also ordered Asyani to pay a Rp 500 million ($38,000) fine. It is not clear what the court will do if she fails to pay the fine. Asyani, who lives in Secangan village in Situbondo’s Jatibanteng subdistrict, has denied the charges and says the timber came from her husband’s own teak trees that he cut down five years ago. After the hearing, Asyani shouted at the judges, accusing them of injustice. “I am innocent,” she said.

In Indonesia, making REDD+ about carbon won’t help biodiversity: study
By Philip Jacobson, mongabay.com, 23 April 2015
In Indonesia, preferential targeting of REDD projects in high-carbon areas won’t do much for biodiversity. That’s because areas important for carbon correlate poorly with areas important for biodiversity in the country, a new study shows. The researchers urged future REDD planning to take that reality into account. Despite their below-average carbon content, highly threatened lowland forests with high biodiversity should remain a priority for REDD , which seeks to incentivize developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. “Biodiversity-specific management will need to be incorporated in the planning, design, and implementation of REDD on the ground because protecting existing forest carbon stocks alone will not automatically protect other forest values,” reads the paper, titled “Spatial patterns of carbon, biodiversity, deforestation threat, and REDD projects in Indonesia.”

[UK] Directors cannot blame corporate wrongdoing on their company, Supreme Court rules
By Richard Crump, Accountancy Age, 23 April 2015
Bilta was compulsory wound up in November 2009 following a petition by HMRC. Liquidators at Grant Thornton then brought proceedings against its two former directors, Jetivia and its chief executive. The claim alleged that Bilta’s directors were parties to an “unlawful means conspiracy” to injure Bilta through a VAT ‘carousel fraud’ scheme involving carbon credits and that the appellants had dishonestly helped them. Through Bilta, the liquidators claimed damages from all four defendants, compensation based on constructive trust from the appellants, and a contribution under section 213 of the Insolvency Act 19… In its judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that it was “unjust and absurd to suggest that the answer to a claim for breach of a director’s (or any employee’s) duty could lie in attributing to the company the very misconduct by which the director or employee has damaged it”.

[USA] Cap and trade is hiding a gas tax increase
By Jim Patterson and James Gallagher, The Sacramento Bee, 23 April 2015
Why is gas so much more expensive in California than the rest of the United States? It’s not because of a new law passed by the Legislature. Rather, it is the result of new regulations imposed by the California Air Resources Board, a group of unelected bureaucrats who are unfazed by public opposition and cannot be voted out of office. The Legislature bestowed this unchecked power to the CARB, and people are starting to realize how dangerous this abdication of duty is to our state’s economy. When Democrats approved cap and trade in 2006, they also gave the CARB the unfettered authority to expand this controversial program to include fuels. With that power, CARB devised a scheme to create a new gas tax by selling “carbon credits” to oil and gas producers.

24 April 2015

The big spill: Intensive farming alters soils in forest remnants, study finds
By Virginia M. Moncrieff, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 April 2015
Failure to consider the effects of agriculture spillover into areas adjacent to intensely farmed zones will likely have severe consequences for soil variables a new study reports. The study, conducted in the Waipa District on the north island of New Zealand, looked at areas representative of “land sparing,” the combination of small isolated forested areas or forest remnants embedded within lands used for food production. These areas—typically two to 16 hectares—represent the only remaining natural habitats in lowland agricultural landscapes. The authors report that intensive agricultural land use appears to have a major impact on soil properties in these forest areas, apart from any other natural differences that might have occurred among soil types prior to conversion to agriculture. They found that there is a “pervasive” alteration of soil properties in areas where intensive farming occurs…

Don’t judge Paris on level of carbon cuts, say top emitters
By Ed King, RTCC, 24 April 2015
Leading economies don’t think the success of a Paris climate change summit should simply be measured on the level of greenhouse gas cuts it manages to deliver. Instead it should be assessed on whether it sets up a durable international regime which allows for regular and clear assessments of how countries are cutting carbon emissions. That’s one of the more interesting outcomes from the Major Economies Forum, a meeting held on 19-20 April involving the US, EU, China, India among other major carbon polluters. “There was much support for the notion that one cannot judge the ambition level of the Paris outcome solely based on the INDCs [national climate pledges] that are submitted in 2015 that relate to the 2025 or 2030 timeframe,” reads a report of the meeting, chaired by US deputy national security advisor Caroline Atkinson.

Climate tracker: What’s happened to pledges for Paris summit?
By Ed King, RTCC, 24 April 2015
So far, 36 countries have revealed how they will contribute to a global climate change pact, set to be agreed in Paris later this year. These promises, known as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), will form the foundations of a deal to curb global warming. The pledges received cover just 29% of world greenhouse gas emissions. With nearly 200 countries set to take part in this deal, pressure is rising on those who have yet to submit their data. A leaked EU memo seen by Reuters indicated several big emitters will not deliver their climate strategies by 30 June, a target the bloc has set for drumming up actions. But EU diplomats aim to make sure governments are ”sensitised to the political importance of submitting an ambitious contribution”.

[Brazil] Petition – The death of the forest is the end of our people
Rainforest Rescue, 24 April 2015
Brazilian rainforest dwellers are standing up against a proposed constitutional amendment, PEC 215. Brazil’s Congress is also due to vote on a new mining law. Both bills would allow the Brazilian legislative branch to roll back government protection of land in the name of “relevant public interest”. This would clear the way for massive dam-building, industrial agriculture and mining projects on indigenous land while effectively blocking the creation of new protected areas. The government is responsible for the designation of protected areas and indigenous territories. But since the elections in late 2014, the influence of lobbyists for the agricultural, mining and energy industries has increased, and with it, wholesale destruction is looming for the environment of the Amazon region. Large parts of Brazil are already suffering a catastrophic water shortage. Rainfall is also declining along the Amazon.

Indonesia’s biofuel subsidies may speed up forest loss
By Nithin Coca, SciDev.Net, 24 April 2015
Indonesia looks set to stimulate domestic consumption of palm oil after an announcement raising biofuel subsidies by over three times to 5,000 rupiah (US$0.40) per litre, from 1,500 rupiah per litre, by the end of May. The new subsidies aim to boost the production of palm oil, Indonesia’s primary source of biofuel, and reduce the economy’s fast growing demand for imported petroleum. According to Indonesia’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the goal is for biofuel production to reach 3.5 million tonnes by next year, double the 1.7 million tonnes produced in 2014. “The desire of Indonesia to achieve energy security is understandable, but such a broad brush economic tool can have all sorts of negative consequences,” Will McFarland, a researcher at the climate and energy programme of the London-based independent think tank Overseas Development Institute (ODI), tells SciDev.Net.

25 April 2015

A record hot year ahead?
By Gerard Wynn, Energy and Carbon Blog, 25 April 2015
Last year was the hottest yet, in a global temperature record dating back to around 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). The latest global average temperature data show that record temperatures last year have continued into 2015, and rising. Global average surface temperature for January and February broke new records, compared with annual averages dating back to 1850 (see figure below). Temperatures are rising mostly thanks to greenhouse gas emissions. They will keep rising, without very substantial cuts in annual emissions. But there is an additional factor at play for the temperature rises just now. The “El Nino” weather cycle originates in the Pacific Ocean, and has various effects including raising average temperatures. I was advised by a climate scientist that we will find out very soon (April/ May) whether the present weak El Nino will intensify or die away.

Spanish ferry operator enrolls in AkzoNobel carbon credits program
Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide, 25 April 2015
Leading Spanish ferry operator Baleària has signed up to AkzoNobel’s landmark carbon credits program. The company has enrolled its passenger ferry Martin i Soler into the scheme, which financially rewards ship owners by enabling them to generate income in the form of carbon credits earned by reducing CO2 emissions. The landmark program was developed in 2014 in conjunction with the Gold Standard Foundation. It is based on ship owners converting existing vessels from a biocidal antifouling system to a premium, biocide-free advanced hull coating such as Intersleek, part of AkzoNobel’s International® line of marine coatings. Intersleek products are proven to reduce fuel consumption, and hence reduce CO2 emissions.

[UK] Ruse? All I did was shift cash, says lawyer
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 25 April 2015
Three brothers from London linked to a series of scam investment firms have been banned from acting as company directors for the next 14 years. John Nwikpo, alias John Peters, his brother Daniel, who also used the names Dan Peters and Dan Fox, and a third brother, Barinua Nwikpo, who called himself Barry, were behind Tullett Brown Limited. The company sold plots of land which it claimed were ripe for housing development, but which were actually part of the Green Belt or, in one case, fields at high risk of flooding. Tullett Brown then expanded into selling carbon credits to investors, though there was no secondary market through which investors could turn their credits back into cash and reap the profit they were promised. I warned against the unsavoury trio in 2012, and reported that they were also linked to two other carbon credit rip-offs, Foxstone Carr Limited and Carvier Limited. All three of their companies were wound up…

26 April 2015

[UK] Boiler-room bullies drove my father to a stroke
By Melanie Wright, The Sunday Times, 26 April 2015
They are the ruthless salesmen who sell worthless, or even non-existent, investments using high-pressure techniques — giving them the nickname “boiler-room” scams. Their victims rarely talk about their plights, often feeling ashamed of being duped and distraught over their financial losses. Many are targeted because the fraudsters know they have bought shares in the past and have the money to do so again. Today, Money can reveal the distressing story of Geoffrey Brown, 92, an experienced investor who lost more than £135,000 after being relentlessly pursued by conmen over several years. The money did not stop flooding out of his account until he collapsed while on the phone to a conman who wanted another £9,600. His son, Julian, 64, happened to be with him at the time. The police were alerted and an investigation is under way. [R-M: Subscription needed.]


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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