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REDD in the news: 11-17 May 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.

 
MRV, Multiple Benefits and Long Term Planning Are Focus of REDD+ Efforts
Natural Resource Policy & Practice (IISD), May 2015
The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) released the documents for the fourteenth meeting of its Policy Board, which will be held from 20-22 May 2015. The documents will support consideration of the UN-REDD Programme 2016-2020 Strategic Framework as well as expressions of interest and national programmes from Chile, Ecuador, Myanmar and Peru. Supporting ongoing work on REDD+, the UN Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) supported capacity development in spatial analysis linking biodiversity and REDD+. Through regional, national and sub-national workshops and mapping exercises, the resulting reports identify priority areas for REDD+ in order to maximize environmental, social and climate change adaptation benefits.

[USA] Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) CO2 Budget Trading Program – Forestry/Afforestation
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, May 2015
U.S. Forest Projects (Reforestation, Improved Forest Management, Avoided Conversion) U.S. forest offset projects sequester carbon through three project types that increase and/or conserve forest carbon stocks, increasing the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, or reducing or preventing the emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere. The eligible project types include Reforestation, Improved Forest Management, and Avoided Conversion.

REDD+ at the crossroads: Choices and tradeoffs for 2015 – 2020 in Laos
By M. B. Dwyer and M. Ingalls, Center for International Forestry Research, 2015
To date, REDD+ projects in Laos have made relatively conservative choices on driver engagement, focusing on smallholder-related drivers like shifting cultivation and small-scale agricultural expansion, to the exclusion of drivers like agro-industrial concessions, mining concessions and energy and transportation infrastructure. While these choices have been based on calculated decisions made in the context of project areas, they have created a pair of challenges that REDD+ practitioners must currently confront. The first is lost opportunity. By not engaging industrial drivers of forest loss, REDD+ misses an important chance to engage with high level economic decision making. This has implications not only for climate change mitigation, but more importantly for efforts to make Laos’s current trajectory of natural resource-intensive development more socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.

11 May 2015

Best predictor of severe fires in the Western Amazon? Drought
By Robert V S Redick, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 May 2015
Drought is a better predictor of Amazonian fire frequency and severity than the extent of forest cover or other vegetation present, according to a new study down in the Ucayali region of Peru. It challenges the longstanding notion that direct human activity, such as forest disturbance or agricultural practices, is the greatest single driver of fires in the Amazon. Drawing on ten years of remote sensing data and over 700 interviews with local farmers, the authors suggest that fire size and intensity is at least as important as the number of fires in determining their ecological impact—perhaps even more so. The findings have serious implications for fire management, adaptation, and damage mitigation. They are also very timely.

Apple Announces New Environmental Initiatives in China
Apple press release, 11 May 2015
Apple® today announced an expansion of its renewable energy and environmental protection initiatives in China, including a new multi-year project with World Wildlife Fund to significantly increase responsibly managed forests across China. The new forestland program aims to protect as much as 1 million acres of responsibly managed working forests which provide fiber for pulp, paper and wood products. Apple’s goal is to achieve a net-zero impact on the world’s supply of sustainable virgin fiber and power all its operations worldwide on 100 percent renewable energy. “Forests, like energy, can be renewable resources,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environmental Initiatives. “We believe we can run on naturally renewable resources and ensure that we protect—and create—as much sustainable working forest as needed to produce the virgin paper in our product packaging…”

[Indonesia] Jokowi Administration Must See Deforestation for the Evil That It Is
The Jakarta Globe, 11 May 2015
We are now in a grave emergency situation. Today is the last day of a moratorium on new land-clearing permits for primary and peat forests first imposed in 2011 by then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. As of tomorrow, anybody can clear these once-protected areas for plantations mines or logging, threatening the fate of Indonesia’s remaining 93 million hectares of woodland. We demand President Joko Widodo swiftly issue a stronger presidential regulation that allows for sanction and even punishment — as opposed to the weaker presidential instruction currently in use — to extend the moratorium before it expires. We have reason to be deeply worried because the current administration seems to have no sense of emergency, and to take the situation lightly, even as the clock ticks down to the destruction of the country’s forests. We can’t let this happen.

[Indonesia] Time to See the Forest for the Oil Palm Trees in Riau Row
By Dessy Sagita, The Jakarta Globe, 11 May 2015
Pungkat village, reached from Riau’s capital of Pekanbaru after a seven hour drive and two hours on a speedboat, has been entangled in a dispute with Setia Agrindo Lestari, or SAL, a palm plantation company and subsidiary of First Resources, which has been listed on the Singapore stock exchange since 2007. The conflict began when villagers were made aware of SAL’s plan to open a palm plantation stretching over 17,000 hectares of peat land in several villages in the Gaung subdistrict where Pungkat is located… Walhi has expressed its intention to bring the dispute between Pungkat village and SAL to the next Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) summit. “RSPO has expressed its commitment to fight against forest fire and First Resources is a RSPO member,” Riko said. SAL spokesman Thomas did not respond to the Jakarta Globe’s repeated attempts to contact him for comment.

Mozambique: Timber Operators Suffer From Anti-Corruption Drive
allAfrica.com, 11 May 2015
Licensed timber operators in the central Mozambican province of Sofala have protested against the drive by the provincial governor, Helena Taipo, to reorganize the sector in order to stamp out corruption. Cited in Monday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, they complain that the delay in issuing authorizations that would allow them to resume timber operations this year is causing the companies enormous losses. The chairperson of the Sofala Association of Forestry Opertaors, Rui Goncalves, told “Mediafax” that his association was trying to work with Taipo to allow the logging season to start. But he had no doubt that it was correct to reorganize the sector, despite the temporary losses that legitimate operators will suffer. “The problem is corruption in the Sofala forestry sector which ensures that the province is infested with pirates”, Goncalves said. “Forestry in Sofala is out of control. The forestry wardens don’t do their job…”

[New Zealand] Scheme to pay farmers for planting trees rebooted
By Isaac Davison, The New Zealand Herald, 11 May 2015
The Government has rebooted a scheme which pays farmers and other landowners $1300 a hectare for planting trees on their land. Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew said that next week’s budget would allocate $3.75 million a year for the afforestation grant scheme (AGS), over a period of six years. The funding would cover up to 15,000ha of new forest. Applicants had to plant new forests of between 5ha and 300ha, and landowners who planned to address environmental issues such as erosion would be given priority. “Farmers and landowners can … use the AGS to make better use of marginal land and increase farming diversification,” Ms Goodhew said. Under the previous scheme, 12,000ha of forest was planted between 2008 and 2013. Much of this was on erosion-prone land and helped to improve water quality and reduce the impact of flooding, the minister said.

12 May 2015

Feed the world: New global report highlights forests’ role
By Virginia M. Moncrieff, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 12 May 2015
Forests and trees must be considered essential in global food security and dietary diversity, according to a major new report. Forests, Trees and Landscapes for Food Security and Nutrition: A Global Assessment Report was released at the UN Forum on Forests in New York. Sixty of the world’s leading forestry scientists contributed to the report – several of them from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) – which was coordinated by the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) . The report looks at the value of forests which provide food for nearly one in six – almost one billion – people around the globe. “Despite impressive productivity increases” the report states, “there is growing evidence that conventional agricultural strategies will fall short of eliminating global hunger and malnutrition…”

Brazilian Ranchers Are ‘Dramatically’ Reducing The Amount Of Forest They Cut Down
By Samantha Page, ThinkProgress, 12 May 2015
Pressure from environmental groups and federal prosecutors is helping break the link between cattle ranching and deforestation in the Amazon, according to a new study. Agreements with Brazil’s largest slaughterhouses have “dramatically” reduced deforestation by ranchers, research published Tuesday in Conservation Letters found. Supply chain solutions — such as the market-driven agreements Brazilian beef companies entered into with Greenpeace and the Brazilian government in 2009 — are remarkably effective and have rapidly changed deforestation behavior for beef suppliers, said Holly Gibbs, a professor at the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an author of the study. Both 2009 agreements committed companies to only sourcing beef from ranchers who were not engaging in deforestation.

[Canada] U.K. company cultivates controversy in B.C. Interior
By Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, 12 May 2015
The plans of a global conglomerate to offset carbon emissions by planting trees on thousands of hectares of British Columbia agricultural land is courting conflict and unintended consequences, critics warn. Last week the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture estimated as many as 8,500 hectares have been bought for the purpose, which has the potential to push land prices out of reach for local ranchers, critics contend, as well as take land out of production at a time when attention is focused on the issue of food security. Bill Miller, chairman of the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN), worries that locking up agricultural land in carbon credits could put more pressure on the province to remove hectares from B.C.’s already stressed forest land base.

[Canada] Farmland is being planted with trees
By Les Leyne, Times Colonist, 12 May 2015
While metro Vancouver ponders the impact of foreign ownership on real estate, some B.C. farmers are raising the alarm over what offshore buyers are doing with properties in the agricultural land reserve. The B.C. Agriculture Council has written to the government twice in the past month with concerns about foreign ownership of farm land. The concerns arose mostly from a British manufacturing company’s moves in the Nechako Valley, Prince George and Cariboo regions, where trees are being planted on previously cultivated land to collect carbon credits and offset the firm’s emissions elsewhere. The issue resurfaced in the legislature Monday on the strength of the second letter, from council chairman Stan Vander Waal. He said current land-use policies are not adequately managing foreign ownership of farm land, and the issue has become a high priority for the agriculture council.

[China] Carbon prices hit record lows in Beijing, Shanghai
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 12 May 2015
Carbon permit prices slid to all-time lows in both Beijing and Shanghai on Tuesday as companies held off buying allowances in the hope they will still be able to snap up newly available cheap offsets in time to meet June compliance deadlines, according to analysts. Beijing permits fell nearly 5% on Tuesday to close at 47.83 yuan ($7.70), only the third time since the market began in November 2013 that they have dipped below 50 yuan. In Shanghai, allowances fell by just over 1% to 23.80 yuan, the second consecutive day of record low prices. Emitters in both markets have finalised verification of their 2014 emissions and must hand over allowances to their respective governments on June 15 (Beijing) and 30 (Shanghai) to cover for those. “Low prices might be due to a current slight mismatch of the supply and demand in the markets,” said Jian Wei Lim, director of Chinese carbon markets with analysts ICIS-Tschach.

[Colombia] Getting Down To Business: The Tolo River People Shift From Building Their Carbon Project To Selling The Offsets
By Tanya Dimitrova, Ecosystem Marketplace, 12 May 2015
“I feel pain when the forest is hurt,” says Eusebio Guisao, who is part of the Tolo River community in Colombia. “We are born here, and we love nature the way we love our grandchildren.” Guisao and the others in his community are not the only ones who suffer “when the forest is hurt.” By developing their REDD project – technically known as the Chocó-Darién Forest Conservation Project – the Tolo River community are keeping neighboring ranches from converting half of their ancestral community rainforest into cattle pastures. That means they’re preventing about 2.8 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) from going into the atmosphere over the next 30 years – and earning 2.8 million offsets in the process.

Europe quietly shelves forestry debate ahead of Paris climate talks
By Frédéric Simon, EurActiv, 12 May 2015
A delicate negotiation about how to account for forestry and land use emissions looms large over this year’s UN climate conference in Paris. The issue is potentially divisive within the EU, and threatens to unravel the bloc’s proclaimed leadership on climate change. On 25 March, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the integration of agriculture, forestry and land use into the EU’s climate and energy policy for 2030. The consultation, which largely went unnoticed, is more important than one would think, with implications stretching far beyond the anxieties of tree-huggers. European forests currently absorb and store around 10% of EU carbon emissions and their contribution is seen as crucial for the next round of emissions cuts expected in Europe, and globally.

[Indonesia] Weak moratorium endangers peatlands in Riau
By Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post, 12 May 2015
Thousands of hectares of peatland in Indragiri Hilir regency, Riau, are under threat by the advance of palm oil company PT Setia Agrindo Lestari (PT SAL), which has begun to clear the area to make way for new plantations. An indirect subsidiary of palm oil giant First Resources Limited, PT SAL obtained a location permit for the 17,059-hectare property, spread over five villages in Gaung district, from the Indragiri Hilir administration in 2012, a year after former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued a presidential instruction (Inpres) banning the issuance of new permits to clear primary forests or peatlands. The forest moratorium, which was extended in 2013, mandates the protection of primary forests and peatlands.

[Indonesia] Wilmar, Musim Mas supplier caught clearing elephant habitat for palm oil in Aceh
By Philip Jacobson, mongabay.com, 12 May 2015
A new report provides evidence that a supplier of palm oil giants Wilmar and Musim Mas is bulldozing valuable forests in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem in violation of the companies’ zero-deforestation policies. As of April 30, when the report’s author, policy development institute Greenomics Indonesia, conducted field checks to verify satellite imagery indicating the destruction, a Mopoli Raya Group subsidiary named Aloer Timur was clearing high-carbon stock (HCS) forest across its concession in Leuser, the only place on earth where Sumatran tigers, rhinos, elephants and orangutans still coexist in the wild.

[New Zealand] Minister touts forest grant in Wairarapa
By Vomle Springford, Wairarapa Times Age, 12 May 2015
Wairarapa landowners are being encouraged to take up a grant scheme to plant forests, which has just received a $22.5 million boost. Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew made a pre-Budget announcement at Federated Farmers Wairarapa president Jamie Falloon’s Bideford farm yesterday, saying it would be invested over the next six years and expected to result in 15,000ha of new forest. She said the previous scheme had already proved valuable in the region. “In Wairarapa, people have planted over 1000 hectares.” She said 92ha was planted in Carterton, 172ha in South Wairarapa and 800ha in Masterton, mostly in small land blocks. “It’s perfect for people who want to take poor performing or erosion-prone land and convert it to more profitable forestry use.” Mrs Goodhew said the scheme would support employment in the forestry sector and “there are significant environmental benefits”.

[USA] Can Carbon Markets Help Oregon’s Small Forests?
By Robert McClure, InvestigateWest, 12 May 2015
When cancer comes calling, what if owners of small forest plots had another choice but to sell or to cut? That’s the premise of a pilot program being launched in Washington and Columbia counties of northwest Oregon. Anchored by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and an $820,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Forest Health/Human Health Initiative envisions what planners call an “A-Tree-M” card for forest owners who are threatened by medical bills but don’t want to cut or sell. The source of the income: Emerging markets for sequestering planet-warming carbon dioxide. Are they serious? Well, they trademarked “A-Tree-M.” The idea is that family forest landowners can get cash now from cap-and-trade carbon markets like those in Europe and California, where power plants and others emitting greenhouse gases have to pay for the privilege. That money would offset polluters’ carbon emissions.

13 May 2015

UN Decoded: UN-REDD
United Nations News Centre, 13 May 2015
The UN-REDD programme seeks to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. It attempts to create financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. Launched in 2008, the initiative is led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that deforestation and forest degradation contribute globally to approximately 17 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the global transportation sector and third only to the global energy and industrial sectors.

UN climate official pans Arctic drilling in subtle slap at Obama administration
By Joby Warrick, The Washington Post, 13 May 2015
The United Nations’ top climate official took a subtle poke at the Obama administration on Wednesday over its decision to conditionally allow oil exploration off Alaska’s coast, suggesting that the Arctic’s oil and gas should stay underground. Despite the tentative green light given to Shell Gulf of Mexico earlier this week, both the environment and Shell’s stockholders would be best served if such projects are shelved, said Christiana Figueres, the executive director of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. “There is an increasing amount of analysis that points to the fact that we have to keep the great majority of fossil fuels underground,” Figueres said at a news conference.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 May 2015
One of Africa’s largest REDD+ projects, the Kulera Landscape Reduced Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) Program in Malawi, has officially made its first sale of carbon offsets to software giant Microsoft. These Verified Carbon Standard-certified offsets will go towards reducing Microsoft’s net emissions while the revenue will help reduce deforestation in protected areas and finance home-building projects in rural Malawi. The sale marks an important step in the project’s transition from donor-backing to a results-based finance model. Initially financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the project now is part of a broad value chain made up of foreign public donors, private buyers, local community associations and Malawi’s Department of Parks and Wildlife. Together these groups protect three areas under significant risk of deforestation…

Zero deforestation commitments bearing fruit in the Amazon
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 13 May 2015
A high profile pledge by the world’s largest meat company to limit deforestation for cattle production in the Amazon appears to be working, resulting in a dramatic increase in compliance with environmental registries and reduced forest clearing among supplier ranches, finds a comprehensive study published in the journal Conservation Letters. To reach that conclusion, researchers led by Holly Gibbs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison analyzed cattle sourcing by JBS, which along with two other Brazilian meatpacking giants Marfrig and Minerva, was pushed into a zero deforestation commitment by Greenpeace and federal prosecutors in 2009. Gibbs and her team examined the land use practices of all ranches that sold to JBS before and after its 2009 agreement.

Cambodia forest communities confront illegal loggers as authorities look away
By Axel Kronholm, The Guardian, 13 May 2015
Prey Lang, which means “our forest” in the local Kuy language, spans between 130,000 and 250,000 hectares and is the largest remaining lowland evergreen forest on the Indo-Chinese peninsula, and one of the largest in south-east Asia. It contains more than 20 species of endangered animals and seven distinct ecosystems. Around 200,000 people live in and around the forest. Grassroots organisations like the PLCN [Prey Lang Community Network] grew out of local action to protect the forest a decade or so ago. Sok Plok and his team are part of a patrol set up to challenge illegal logging, and all the information they collect – photographs and details of the number of tractors and quantity of logs – is recorded on a central database. In April, the PLCN published a report, Our Forest Remains Under Destruction, which accused political and business elites of being directly involved in and profiting from illegal logging.

EU carbon market sees renewed optimism, Point Carbon claims
By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 13 May 2015
EU plans to reform its emissions trading scheme (ETS) coupled with new 2030 climate change targets have buoyed confidence in the carbon markets this year, a poll by Thompson Reuters Point Carbon has shown today. The survey of more than 1,200 participants and stakeholders in global carbon markets found 19 per cent think cap-and-trade is an ideal policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is an increase of one percentage point since last year, which Point Carbon said showed a continued optimism which began in 2014. The survey also found two thirds of respondents think cap-and-trade is the best policy instrument that can be agreed on by politicians, and only eight per cent believe it does more harm than good, down from 11 per cent last year. “This year’s results indicate that the increased confidence of 2014 shows no signs of slowing,” said report author Anders Nordeng.

EU carbon prices expected to be above €9 by 2020 -Point Carbon survey
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 13 May 2015
EU carbon prices will climb to at least €9 by 2020 and may climb much higher, according to a Thomson Reuters Point Carbon annual survey of European carbon market participants and observers. Some 76% of 457 respondents said they expected benchmark prices to rise from current levels near €7.50 to at least €9, with more than 50% predicting EUAs would top €11 and 23% saying above €15. This is much lower than the €16.80 average predicted in a poll of 10 market analysts taken on Apr. 15, while the survey responses were received between Feb. 20 and Mar. 15… 30 utilities were asked how much carbon prices influence their power forward hedging structure, with half saying “to little or no extent”. As the main buyers in the EU ETS, utilities’ are closely watched to determine demand levels for CO2 allowances, which bigger power companies buy up to three years ahead to match their forward electricity sales and lock in profit.

Multinationals cannot prevent palm oil deforestation on their own
By Andrew Bovarnick, Samantha Newport and Tomoyuki Uno, The Guardian, 13 May 2015
As the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, Indonesia counts on this much-used commodity – that generates almost $20bn a year for the country and employs millions – to drive growth and development. But the palm oil boom has triggered controversy. With Indonesia set to increase production by 50% by 2020 to meet rising demand, the question is not one of palm oil or not, but of how to maximise the economic and development benefits while minimising the adverse social and environmental effects. To achieve this, the government needs to bring together all palm oil stakeholders, including private businesses and smallholder farmers, to lead on innovative yet decisive change that will boost sustainability and governance in the sector and steer the country towards a deforestation-free palm oil industry.

[New Zealand] Government pollution policy takes chainsaw to local forests
New Zealand Green Party press release, 13 May 2015
The Government should listen to forest owners and fix their climate change policies, which are driving trees to be cut down rather than planted, meaning New Zealand’s polluting greenhouse gas emissions will increase says the Green Party. The Forest Owners Association today called on the Government to fix the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to encourage more tree planting that can act as a carbon sink and help reduce our net greenhouse gas emissions. “By making it easy for polluters to buy cheap carbon credits offshore, the Government has kneecapped local forest planting,” said Green Party climate change spokesperson Russel Norman. “The Government’s public consultation on our emissions reduction target for the UN climate conference in Paris start today. This is a perfect opportunity for the Government to fix their forestry mess.

[UK] Analysis: How DECC spends its annual budget
By Simon Evans, The Carbon Brief, 13 May 2015
The Conservatives have pledged to shave a further £13 billion from government spending over the next two years. With the likes of health and overseas aid likely to be protected and welfare subject to a separate savings target, spending at other departments will be put under the microscope in search of potential cuts. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) “will be among the biggest casualties in terms of spending reductions”, according to an Independent article. Carbon Brief runs through how DECC spends around £8 billion a year, or just over one per cent of total government expenditure.

14 May 2015

Brazil beef industry pledges cut Amazon deforestation
By Siri Srinivas, The Guardian, 14 May 2015
Food retailers such as McDonald’s, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, as well as agribusinesses like Cargill, are among the big companies to recently make zero-deforestation pledges. But do these commitments achieve anything other than PR for food companies? New research indicates they might. A study published Tuesday in the journal Conservation Letters says that public agreements made by beef suppliers in Brazilhave had a real impact on rancher and slaughterhouse behavior in the Amazon. A team led by Holly Gibbs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison observed data on land use in the state of Pará before and after a 2009 agreement by major meatpacking companies to remove deforestation from their supply chain. The researchers found that the deforestation rate among ranch owners they studied has since been cut in half.

[Canada] Seeing the value of your farm beyond beef and grain
By Sean McGrath, Grainews, 14 May 2015
Most of us are well aware of our calves or bulls or bred heifers that are for sale. Some of our farms are also well aware of the bin of canola or wheat that is ready to go to town… These traditional items are not the only things that our farms and ranches produce and interest in nontraditional products is growing, as well as the willingness of members of the public to pay. Probably the best-known example at present is the carbon credit market. This market makes payment to farmers who use no-till technology to sequester carbon — a major component in greenhouse gases — from the air into the soil profile. While the carbon marketplace has a way to go in terms of paying for grassland and its highly effective carbon sink, this is an emerging trend. Carbon sequestration is a nontraditional product with a lot of public awareness. It is even possible for travellers to buy offsetting carbon credits when they book a flight.

iForest: Apple gets into forest conservation in China and the US
By Ucilia Wang, The Guardian, 14 May 2015
On Monday, Apple announced a plan to work with the World Wildlife Fund to improve the management of 1m acres of forests in China. This follows the iPhone maker’s announcement last month to donate money to Conservation Fund to buy and protect 36,000 acres of forests from commercial development other than forestry product production in Maine and North Carolina. Forest preservation groups welcomed the move, saying Apple’s motivation and its conservation approach set it apart from other corporate efforts to use more sustainably harvested forest products. A more common corporate practice is to only buy forest products that have been certified as sustainable by a recognized group.

[EU] Carbon Credits Over Growth
Wall Street Journal, 14 May 2015
Under the ETS, which started in 2005, companies such as utilities, factories and airlines must buy a tradable credit for each metric ton of carbon they emit each year. If the credits become too expensive, it will be cheaper for carbon emitters to upgrade their factories to emit less than it is to buy the credits. But because anemic economic growth is depressing industrial activity and the resulting emissions, Europe has been able to exceed its emission-reductions goals even as the price of tradable credits collapses—to around €7 or €8 per metric ton of carbon emissions today from about €30 before the financial panic. Honest environmentalists would hail this as a sign of carbon-cutting success. Instead, in recent years Brussels has tried to boost carbon prices by releasing fewer credits each year—in effect an arbitrary tightening of emissions standards. Now Brussels will create a “market stability reserve” in 2019 to maintain price stability…

Indonesia extends moratorium on partial forest clearing
By Sapariah Saturi, Ridzki Ridzki Sigit, Indra Nugraha and Philip Jacobson, The Guardian, 14 May 2015
Indonesia’s president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo extended the country’s partial forest-clearing moratorium on Wednesday, the day of its expiration, leaving largely intact a policy civil society groups had demanded be strengthened. Environment and forestry minister Siti Nurbaya said the government greatly appreciated the calls from organisations such as Greenpeace, Walhi, Kemitraan, Sawit Watch, World Resources Institute and others, and that now that the extension was official, a detailed, cross-ministerial dialogue to address the proposed changes could begin. Activist groups had asked for the moratorium itself to be strengthened.

[New Zealand] Government gets best credit years for trees
By Tim Fulton, Stuff.co.nz, 14 May 2015
A revived grant giving foresters cash for planting gives the Government the most productive carbon credit-bearing years of a tree’s life, an industry contractor says. Forest owners have been offered a new version of an old scheme – a grant of $1300 per hectare for new forest planting. In return, foresters give up rights to carbon credits generated by the trees in their first 10 years. The Government is putting $22.5m into the Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) over the next six years to encourage planting of an expected 15,000ha of land. Under a previous AGS that lasted from 2008 to 2013, landowners planted 12,000ha. Carbon Forest Services owner, Ollie Belton, said the re-jumped AGS was a “reasonably smart” move for the Government fiscally and good for landowners if they only wanted timber or a permanent carbon forest. But if a landowner wanted to trade carbon and harvest timber, the scheme had a “couple of fish hooks”, he said.

Pakistan stresses int’l arrangement at UN forum on Forests
Daily Pakistan Global, 14 May 2015
Pakistan has reaffirmed its support to the global objective of forests, telling the United Nations that it was taking many tangible steps for sustainable management of forests consistent with the International Arrangement on Forests. Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, Minister for Climate Change while speaking at the United Nations Forum on Forests in New York said Pakistan has already taken necessary legislative measures fulfilling its obligations under the Rio Conventions. He strongly argued for a strengthened International Arrangement on Forests that could address forestry issues in a holistic manner contributing to sustainable development and poverty eradication in the developing countries.

[UK] Former FSA chief warns of carbon bubble threat from climate change
By Simon Bowers, The Guardian, 14 May 2015
Lord Turner, formerly Britain’s top financial regulator, has become the latest finance sector grandee to warn that investment industry valuations are in need of urgent review in the face of the threat posed by climate change. The former chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) warned of “a major set of problems … in the relationship between finance and the real economy”. He said national economies, banks and businesses were effectively being encouraged to prioritise short-term returns and “do nothing about climate change whatsoever”. Turner is regarded as uniquely placed to assess the long-term investment industry’s readiness for climate change threats having largely authored the UK pension reforms a decade ago and served as the first chairman of the influential quango, the Committee on Climate Change.

15 May 2015

Bringing the Age of Fossil Fuels to an End
By Al Engler, Dissident Voice, 15 May 2015
David Ray Griffin discusses in his book, Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the Co2 Crisis? human-caused climate change from economic, moral, political, religious, philosophical and environmental perspectives… In Canada, BC has a carbon tax. But a carbon tax of a few cents a gallon has little impact. Meanwhile BC provides oil, natural gas, and coal companies with subsidies and tax breaks. It actively promotes exports of fossil fuels. This year, Ontario and Quebec announced plans to expand their participation in cap and trade. But cap and trade does not fund alternatives to fossil fuels. It doesn’t even require the worst polluters to reduce emissions. It allows them to continue emissions so long as they purchase carbon credits. In poorer countries–and here in BC–agricultural land is being lost as cap and trade speculators assemble agricultural land, plant trees and then sell carbon credits.

What’s the current deforestation rate in the Amazon rainforest?
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 15 May 2015
Month-to-month deforestation is highly variable leading to frequent misreporting in the media. Both MODIS and Landsat cannot penetrate cloud cover, so during the rainy season — from roughly November to April — estimates are notoriously unreliable when compared to the same month a year earlier. Furthermore, most forest clearing in the Amazon occurs when it is dry. So if the dry season is early, deforestation may increase earlier than normal. For these reasons, the most accurate deforestation comparisons are made year-on-year. For Brazil, the deforestation “year” ends July 31: the peak of the dry season when the largest extent of forest is typically visible via satellite. Nonetheless, short-term MODIS data isn’t useless — it can provide insights on trends, especially over longer periods of time. Generally, comparing 12 consecutive months of MODIS data will provide a pretty good indication of deforestation relative to other years.

Canada sets carbon emissions reduction target of 30% by 2030
By Margo McDiarmid, CBC News, 15 May 2015
Canada has announced it will commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, an ambitious target made possible in large part by the success of the provinces in reducing their own emissions. The announcement was made today in Winnipeg by Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq. “This target is fair and ambitious, an ambitious commitment based on our national circumstances, which includes a growing population, a diversified growing economy and Canada’s position as a world leader in clean-electricity generation,” Aglukkaq said in making the announcement.

China to invest $50 billion in Brazilian infrastructure
By Damian Wroclavsky, AFP, 15 May 2015
China will invest $50 billion to help overhaul Brazil’s aging infrastructure, Brasilia said Thursday, ahead of an official visit by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. “There are $50 billion in new projects,” said Jose Graca Lima, Brazil’s undersecretary of state, who oversees Asia and Oceania. “We shall have to await the end of the visit to expand upon which projects,” he said, without providing details. Battling a fifth straight year of poor growth and mired in a bruising graft scandal involving state oil giant Petrobras, Brazil is seeking to revamp its sagging infrastructure ahead of next year’s Rio Olympics, the first Games to be held in South America. A Brazilian government source said Brazil, Latin America’s biggest economy, was determined to overhaul its dilapidated roads, railways, airports and ports ahead of the Olympics. The Chinese cash infusion is set to cover various sectors, including transport and energy.

Ecuador’s president urges Brad Pitt to scrap Amazon oil spill movie
By Ben Child, The Guardian, 15 May 2015
The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, has asked Brad Pitt to abandon plans for a new film chronicling US oil giants’ victory in the face of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit for polluting the Amazon. In an unprecedented move, the country’s socialist leader launched a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #braddotherightthing aimed at convincing the Oscar-winning producer and actor to walk away from the proposed movie. Pitt’s film is expected to be partly based on the book Law of the Jungle, by US journalist Paul Barrett, which details how American oil firm Texaco (now owned by Chevron) overcame an Ecuadorian court order that it should pay $9bn (£5.7bn) in damages for pollution of forest areas populated by indigenous peoples between 1964 and 1992. Chevron obtained a ruling in March 2014 from New York judge Lewis A Kaplan which blocked US courts from being used to collect the damages.

Guyana opposition wins election in first change of government for 23 years
Reuters, 15 May 2015
Guyana’s multiracial opposition coalition has won a national election, breaking the ruling Indo-Guyanese party’s 23 year-old grip on power, the election board said on Thursday, signalling a new era in the ethnically divided South American country. The Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change coalition, led by former army brigadier and publisher David Granger, won 206,817 votes versus 201,457 for president Donald Ramotar’s People’s Progressive party (PPP), the authorities said after all votes were counted. Diplomats from the UK and US said the elections were free and fair, and the Guyana elections commission said its first tally was unlikely to change on review. But Ramotar said the elections were rigged and demanded a recount, without giving any basis for his accusations.

[UK] Boiler Rooms Meet Boardrooms as Scammers Invade London City
By Neil Callanan, Bloomberg, 15 May 2015
From the champagne bar atop Tower 42, there’s a clear view of the City of London, where some of the world’s largest financial crimes have been engineered. What can’t be seen, though, are the mom-and-pop swindles that are increasingly being run through offices below. Cold-calling con artists promising outsized returns are jumping on a surge in the availability of serviced offices at prestigious locations to give their operations an air of respectability, investigators in London’s main financial district say. These “boiler rooms” dupe investors out of about 1.25 million pounds ($2 million) on average before they “rip and tear” and disappear with little trace, they say.

[USA] Our Views: Disney helping pay for reforestation project in Louisiana
The Advocate, 15 May 2015
Disney is helping pay for a reforestation project in the lower Mississippi River that will help plant trees on 2,000 acres in the next two years. The program is using the private funding from Disney, along with U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation money, to help volunteer landowners plant trees on their property. That money will help pay for about 1,500 acres of the reforestation work. Additional funding is being collected to meet the 2,000-acre goal. The company’s contributions allow it to meet its corporate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon credits are available for the work and assigned to the company. About 600 acres have been enrolled in the voluntary program, which pays landowners in exchange for long-term easements to preserve the replanted forestlands.

[USA] Why Oregon Doesn’t Have More Forests Sold for Carbon Credits
By Rebecca Randall, GoLocalPDX, 15 May 2015
A trailblazing tree trend could capture carbon in Oregon’s forests mitigating the effects of global warming—at least if the relatively young concept of the carbon market turns out to be more enticing than the price of timber. This spring, Chevrolet purchased and retired carbon credits from a 980-acre project at Moss Creek near coastal Garbaldi, Ore., through its Carbon Reduction Initiative—one of the first forests in Oregon to do so. Another project, just up the coast in Astoria is still being explored, though seems viable for the city to sell carbon from the Bear Creek watershed rather than harvest timber… So far, California’s cap-and-trade program is the nation’s most aggressive mandatory program aiming to reduce emissions of the worst offenders, but companies are also voluntarily buying carbon credits—either to offset their own emissions or simply out of environmental values.

16 May 2015

[Canada] Harper channels Suzuki
By Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, 16 May 2015
It’s as if David Suzuki suddenly found a way to exercise mind control over Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. This in the wake of the Harper government’s bizarre announcement Friday that Canada will reduce its industrial greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, and may consider buying international carbon credits or offsets to do so. First, there is no conceivable way, based on its record to date, that the Harper government is going to reach that target for three reasons. First, because it’s a ridiculous target that is more onerous than previous ones it set and then ignored. Second, because it excludes Canada’s oil sands, which, while generating a small part of our overall emissions, is the sector of the economy where emissions are rising the fastest. Third, because Harper can’t commit future Canadian governments … to an emissions reduction plan that extends to 2030.

[Canada] Kathleen Wynne calling for more than Ottawa’s ‘nebulous notion’ of emissions targets
By Evan Solomon, CBC Radio, 16 May 2015
The federal government is considering buying international carbon credits as one way to meet its ambitious new emissions reduction goal. “We want to consider international mechanisms that actually produce real results in emissions reduction,” Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq told Evan Solomon on CBC Radio’s The House. Carbon credits invest in green projects in other countries and balance out rising emissions in Canada. That’s something the Conservative government had vowed not to do in the past, with former environment minister John Baird calling them “hot air credits.”

[Guyana] Granger sworn in as President
Stabroek News, 16 May 2015
David Granger was sworn in as President of Guyana on the balcony of Parliament Building at 2.19 pm today in the presence of a large, jubilant crowd. In his speech he referred to the symbolism behind holding the swearing in ceremony at Parliament. The oath was administered to him by the acting Chancellor the Judiciary, Carl Singh after the proclamation was read by Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Dr Steve Surujbally. He lauded candidates who acceded to the 11th Prliament saying that he would never prorogue it. A reference to the controversial proroguing of Parliament last year by former President Donald Ramotar.

17 May 2015


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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