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REDD in the news: 15-21 June 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.

 

15 June 2015

The Sustainability Strategy That No One Talked About
By Allie Goldstein, Ecosystem Marketplace, 15 June 2015
When Sean Kinghorn started his new job as a senior sustainability manager at the software company Intuit, he wasted little time in proposing an ramped-up emissions reductions goal to the company’s executives. His plan involved cutting emissions 20% under a 2012 baseline by 2020 and targeting both direct and indirect emissions, categorized as scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. He also suggested using offsets to deepen the impact beyond this 20% reduction. “Since I was two months into the honeymoon phase, I kind of put my neck out there and said, ‘I do not believe in us investing in offsets unless we’re going to set a science-based goal and be incredibly aggressive for all of our scopes.’ And they said yes,” Kinghorn said, speaking during a panel discussion at the Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego last week.

Climate change: the challenge for Australia
By Ross Garnaut, The Age, 15 June 2015
Australians may soon be ready to look again at economically rational approaches to reducing emissions through carbon pricing. We now know that large reductions in emissions were achieved in covered sectors under the so-called carbon tax, and reversed after its abolition in July 2015. New schemes in China, Korea, US states, Canadian provinces and elsewhere makes carbon pricing less lonely today. Awareness has grown that carbon reduction measures that raise rather than absorb government revenue serve fiscal as well as climate-change purposes. Australians are starting to put the several sources of past electricity price increases into perspective – and an astute political leader could point out that only the increases from carbon pricing were compensated by tax cuts and social security adjustments. The scary prognostications about the effects of carbon pricing on industry and electricity supply did not come to pass…

[Australia] Could Greg Hunt have the last laugh?
By Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 15 June 2015
On Friday while the Prime Minister Tony Abbott was busy reasserting the idea that wind farms were ugly and potentially harmful, his Environment Minister Greg Hunt was celebrating the goal from the recent meeting of the Group of Seven major developed economies (G7) to do away with fossil fuels. Hunt told Fairfax media: “The G7 announcement represents that all the G7 are deadly serious, and China is serious [about reducing greenhouse gas emissions], and that’s a good sign for the world.” He also said: “I believe it’s not only possible but likely that Australia will achieve zero-emissions energy by the end of the century.”

Brazil: Demarcation of Indigenous Lands Stalls and Violence Worsens
By Santiago Navarro, Upside Down World, 15 June 2015
“People from NGOs and the government have come to talk about REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, the platform for a market for the exchange of carbon credits, or pollution permits, by the world’s corporations that produce carbon dioxide emissions] and protected areas, but we are careful, because there is always something else going on behind the scenes. Without these programs, we are taking care of our Mother Earth. Moreover, we know how to take care of her and do our own monitoring; the government has no reason to get involved,” Ytajibá [Souza, one of the indigenous leaders of Tucum village] said.

First intra-african transaction of carbon credits in West Africa
Naija247news, 15 June 2015
ecosur afrique, the leading carbon finance group in Africa, Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), an impact investment fund dedicated to small and medium size enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa and Volta cars Rental Services (VRS), a car leasing company operating in West Africa, today announced the first ever carbon credits transaction involving a Seller and a Buyer from West Africa. The transaction, which has been structured by ecosur afrique, allows VRS customers to offset the CO2 emissions of vehicles leased in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. Thomas Crand, the co-founder of VRS, states: “We develop a strong environmental strategy; CO2 emissions are at the heart of our concerns and we are pleased to offer our customers the option to offset their carbon footprint. Today’s transaction is pioneering and a unique choice, which distinguishes us on the West African market. We hope it will become standard in our sector.”

Taiwan approves climate law, will launch carbon market
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 15 June 2015
Taiwan’s parliament on Monday approved a greenhouse gas emission reductions and management act that will set binding CO2 targets to 2050 and lead to the establishment of a domestic emissions trading scheme. Under the law, Taiwan will cut its emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050, according to a press release by Taiwan’s legislative yuan. “The Taiwan Government will be implementing a cap and trade scheme to achieve low-carbon economy cost-effectively, with the development of international climate negotiation outcomes taken into account while ensuring companies remain competitive globally,” it said. The statement did not give a specific start date for Taiwan’s carbon market, but said it would be introduced “gradually”. This is likely to mean a market will be in place by the end of the decade as the statement also refers to Taiwan reviewing its targets every five years to ensure progress is made.

[USA] VW uses NorCal Forest to make e-Golf carbon neutral
By Stebastian Blanco, AutoBlog, 15 June 2015
On the one hand, it’s just a forest. There are beautiful redwood trees and clean air, cool, quiet creeks and hidden wildlife. You know, a forest. The kind that have existed for millions of years. On the other, it’s a carefully managed collection of natural resources that lets companies pay money to make their products more beneficial to the environment. Welcome to the Garcia River Forest. For our purposes, the Garcia River Forest is interesting because of its connection to Volkswagen. Its young redwoods are helping Volkswagen create something almost unheard of in the automotive industry: a (mostly) carbon-neutral car. The 10,000-foot overview of how this works is as follows: when you buy the electric car, part of your money goes to support three carbon offset projects.

16 June 2015

Go veggie to save the planet, says world champion freerunner Tim Shieff
By Lilah Raptopoulos, The Guardian, 16 June 2015
So 13% of emissions come from global transport, but 51% come from animal agriculture. [The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation reports that 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from global livestock, but one study by WorldWatch claims that livestock and their byproducts actually make up as much as 51%.] You vote with your money for what you want to support. If you buy less meat and support the animal agriculture industry less, they’ll change. Tesco and Sainsbury’s won’t buy as much, more farmland will be producing crops which will save more land and cause less pollution, and the price of healthy food will go down. If you’re an environmentalist and you want to help the planet for our future, start buying more vegetables and fewer products that come from animals.

Climate negotiators make key breakthrough on forest protection deal ahead of Paris talks
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 16 June 2015
Negotiators at U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany, have produced a draft agreement on the technical provisions of a plan to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Known as REDD+, the forest conservation plan is now far more likely to be included in a climate deal to be negotiated in Paris this December, thanks to the breakthroughs made in Bonn. The fact that a complete REDD+ draft was agreed to in Bonn came as a bit of a surprise to many observers of U.N. climate negotiations, which are notorious for proceeding at a glacial pace. Some particularly difficult issues needed to be resolved, and it seemed likely that settling them would be left to the Paris talks — even countries fully in support of REDD+ want every bargaining chip they can get.

Agreement on a REDD+ Mechanism at Bonn Softens a Frustrating Delay in the Road to Paris
By Patricia Galvao Ferreira, CIGI, 16 June 2015
In the aftermath of the 11-day Bonn meeting, the general feeling among observers was one of frustration with the slow pace of the process. Parties were only able to reduce the draft text from 90 to 85 pages , and they avoided any meaningful substantive discussions on key issues such as finance and compliance, thus failing to simplify the next steps of the negotiation. One exception was the discussion on REDD+, the mechanism to mitigate GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which became the bright spot of the June 2015 Bonn climate talks. Ten years after first discussing the mitigation of GHG emissions from deforestation in 2005, parties have agreed not only to formally include a REDD+ mechanism in the next climate agreement, but have also settled on the main features of such a mechanism…

$4.5 Billion Spent On Voluntary Carbon Offsets Over Past Decade: Report
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 16 June 2015
Nearly one billion carbon offset credits were voluntarily purchased over the past decade, which netted conservation and clean energy projects almost $4.5 billion, according to a recent report by the Washington D.C.-based conservation group Forest Trends. Voluntary carbon markets provide corporations, governments, and anyone else looking to counterbalance their greenhouse-gas emissions the opportunity to buy offsets. One carbon offset credit represents one metric ton of carbon-dioxide emissions, or the equivalent in another greenhouse gas, saved through actions like preserving endangered rainforests, increasing energy efficiency, or installing clean-energy systems. By contrast, in so-called “compliance markets,” such as the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, carbon credits are bought to make government-mandated emissions reductions.

VCU Researchers to Use Newly Developed Metrics to Study Impact of Ecosystems on Climate
AZOCleantech, 16 June 2015
For decades, scientists have relied on an established formula to measure the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. However, these global-warming potentials (GWPs) don’t tell the whole story when it comes to an ecosystem’s role in climate change, according to new research by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Scott Neubauer, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biology, part of the College of Humanities and Sciences… In a new paper, “Moving Beyond Global-Warming Potentials to Quantify the Climatic Role of Ecosystems,” Neubauer and co-author, Patrick Megonigal, Ph.D., deputy director of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, challenge the status quo and offer new models to determine whether ecosystems such as wetlands or forests have a warming or cooling effect on climate.

How green is Amazon’s cloud?
By Brandon Butler, Network World, 16 June 2015
Amazon Web Services has been under fire in recent weeks from a group of activist customers who are calling for the company to be more transparent in its usage of renewable energy. In response, rather than divulge additional details about the source of power for its massive cloud infrastructure, the company has argued that using the cloud is much more energy efficient than customers powering their own data center operations… Furthermore, the company’s US-West location in Oregon, its EU region in Frankfurt and its GovCloud region in the U.S. are what the company calls “carbon-neutral” – which refers to the practice of offsetting the amount of carbon the site is responsible for with the purchase of a corresponding number of carbon credits that fund green projects. And AWS is building a 150 megawatt wind farm in Indiana.

‘Deadly’ trans-Amazon railway sparks fear among tribes
Survival International, 16 June 2015
A controversial mega-project to build a transcontinental railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific has caused outrage among indigenous people and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. The railway, which is backed by the Chinese government, would cross through many indigenous territories and areas of high biodiversity across the Amazon rainforest in Peru and Brazil. If realized, it would wreak havoc on indigenous peoples’ lands and lives by opening up the area to industrial exploitation, illegal mining and logging, and encourage colonization. Ninawá Kaxinawá, an indigenous leader whose community lives near the proposed railway line, told Survival, “This railway is evil and it threatens our people. For us Indians and our uncontacted relatives this project represents a deadly danger which would put an end to our forest and our lives!”

[India] Himachal Pradesh earns Rs 1.93 crore through carbon credits under bio-carbon project
By Ashwani Sharma, The Indian Express, 16 June 2015
More than 50,000 farmers in 602 villages of Himachal Pradesh who raised multiple forest plantations on degraded public land in the mid and high hills under the community-led initiative have become eligible to share cash benefits of nearly Rs 1.93 crore earned through carbon credits. This will be the first installment of the sequestered carbon credits ,which the state government has received from the government of Spain for implementing the climate change mitigation Project under the Kyoto Protocol. The government had signed an agreement with the state government a few years back to purchase carbon credits under bio-carbon project of World Bank-funded HP Mid Himalayan watershed project, being implemented in the state to increase livelihood means of the poor people, mainly small and marginal farmers.

Indonesia at risk from huge fires because of El Niño
By Allan Spessa and Robert Field, The Conversation, 16 June 2015
In 1997-98, extremely dry El Niño conditions in Indonesia kicked off a wave of large–scale uncontrolled burning, destroying about five million hectares of tropical forest (equivalent to seven million football fields). Much of the burning occurred in carbon-rich peatland forests and continued in two phases from July 1997 until March 1998, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and huge clouds of smoke and haze across the region. Present conditions in the Pacific Ocean are similar to what they were in mid-1997. El Niño is set to strengthen, and seasonal weather prediction models point towards this being an exceptionally dry season. Indonesia and its neighbours should be worried. In order to predict, and hopefully prevent, such fires in the future, we’ve looked at how far in advance they can be anticipated using a seasonal weather prediction model.

17 June 2015

Stop eating Nutella and save the forests, urges French ecology minister
AFP, 17 June 2015
France’s ecology minister, Ségolène Royal, has rankled the company that makes Nutella by urging the public to stop eating its chocolate hazelnut spread, saying it contributes to deforestation. “We have to replant a lot of trees because there is massive deforestation that also leads to global warming. We should stop eating Nutella, for example, because it’s made with palm oil,” Royal said in an interview late Monday on the French television network Canal+. “Oil palms have replaced trees, and therefore caused considerable damage to the environment,” she explained. Nutella, she said, should be made from “other ingredients”. The comments needled Ferrero, the giant Italian chocolate group that makes Nutella. Without referring to Royal directly, the company issued a statement Tuesday saying it was aware of the environmental stakes and had made commitments to source palm oil in a responsible manner.

Tree Talks: Bonn talks end with agreement on REDD+
Earth Day Network, 17 June 2015
As the preliminary climate talks in Bonn, Germany wrapped up last week, participants finally came to an agreement regarding the acceptance of the most progressive policy initiatives on forests to date. The United Nation’s program, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), an effort to mitigate deforestation and cut greenhouse gas emissions especially in developing countries, has finally been fully accepted by participating nations. Currently, forestry is the second largest contributor of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a necessary issue to sort out amongst global warming concerns. Delegates in Bonn rounded out requirements in REDD+ regarding additional safeguards, non-market-based approaches, and non-carbon benefits.

Pope’s climate letter is a radical attack on the logic of the market
By Steffen Böhm, The Conversation, 17 June 2015
What makes Pope Francis and his 183-page encyclical so radical isn’t just his call to urgently tackle climate change. It’s the fact he openly and unashamedly goes against the grain of dominant social, economic and environment policies… In fact, the encyclical is a radical – for a pope and international leader, unprecedented – attack on the logic of the market and consumerism, which has been expanded into all spheres of life. The document states: Since the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. Compulsive consumerism … leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume. But those really free are the minority who wield economic and financial power. (p. 149-150) The pope rejects market fundamentalism…

[Australia] Landcare helps farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions
By Laurissa Smith, ABC Rural, 17 June 2015
Selling carbon credits to help the Federal Government meet its emissions reduction target might not appeal to every farmer. However, there are plenty who are interested in reducing their own carbon footprint. A landcare group in south-west New South Wales has stepped in to help. In 2012, Holbrook Landcare Network received federal funding to deliver the extension and outreach program, through what was the Carbon Farming Initiative. It spent some of the money profiling the greenhouse gas emissions of eight livestock farms, including Holbrook, Bowna, Tooma, Tumbarumba, Jindera and Morven. Landholders provided property and production information including rainfall, tree plantings, stock numbers, fuel usage, grazing regime, fertiliser use and types of crops sown.

Chevron hits out at British documentary on oil pollution in Ecuador
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 17 June 2015
The US oil giant Chevron has attacked the British makers of a short art-house documentary film about oil pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon featuring the actor Julie Christie reading a Pablo Neruda poem for ignoring the environmental record of the country’s own state oil producer. The 13-minute film, follows the unresolved, 22-year-long series of legal fights in the US, European and Latin American courts over the dumping by US oil company Texaco of 18bn gallons of toxic wastewater and crude oil in the forest near the town of Lago Agrio between 1964 and 1992. It has no commentary except for Neruda’s 42-line poem recited by Christie and the words of some “afectados” – people affected by the historic spills. But Chevron said the film ignored more recent environmental problems.

[Guyana] New gov’t facing key decisions on Norway forest pact, $$
By Gaulbert Sutherland, Stabroek News, 17 June 2015
Up to the end of March this year, US$39.4 million earned from Guyana’s efforts in limiting deforestation under its partnership with Norway, remained in the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) and as the partnership wraps up this month, the new administration seems unsure on how to proceed. Stabroek News has been attempting to find out who has responsibility for climate change-related matters and the Guyana-Norway agreement in the David Granger administration but no one could give an answer. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Hope for Indonesia’s valuable but threatened mangroves
By Johnny Langenheim, The Guardian, 17 June 2015
Indonesia is home to the largest tracts of mangrove forests on earth – but they are disappearing at a rate of up to 2% a year, faster than anywhere else in the world. A study by Conservation International (CI) in West Papua province is trying to determine the potential value of these mangroves, both for Indonesia – the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases – and for the Papuan communities that live among them. Threatened mangroves and coastal marine ecosystems in general get far less attention than tropical rainforests in climate negotiations, despite the many useful services they provide. Mangroves are highly efficient carbon sinks, absorbing up to five times as much carbon dioxide as tropical forests. They are also important ecosystems, providing spawning grounds and habitat for hundreds of species, many of them commercially important.

Voices from the Communities: Targeted communication to communities is key to the success of REDD+ in Malawi
The UN-REDD Programme blog, 17 June 2015
Interview with Duncan Chiza Mkandawire, chairman of the Nyika-Vwaza Association. The Nyika-Vwaza Association (NVA) is a community-based organization established in 2000, which stands as an umbrella body for the local communities living adjacent to the protected area of Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh in Malawi. The organization’s role is to promote activities with these local communities that serve to reduce deforestation, strengthen rural incomes and increase biodiversity. Interviewed at a recent REDD+ event, NVA’s chairman, Duncan Chiza Mkandawire, said, “We at NVA focus on the forestry and wildlife, and we have established committees that work collaboratively with the Forestry Department in terms of conserving natural resources. An additional role of these committees is to report any illegal activity—such as poaching, tree cutting, bush fires, charcoal burning—to relevant departments, for action.”

[Peru] Gold miners invade Amazonian indigenous reserve
By Rhett A Butler, The Guardian, 17 June 2015
Illegal miners have invaded an indigenous reserve in the Peruvian Amazon, reveals new analysis of satellite imagery. The research, published by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP), shows that small-scale miners have penetrated the Amarakaeri communal reserve, a protected area co-managed by Peru’s parks authority (Sernanp) and the Harakmbut, Yine and Machiguenga indigenous peoples. While only 26 acres of the reserve have been stripped of trees, large-scale clearing of the reserve’s buffer zone suggests there is reason for concern. “Our analysis shows that gold mining deforestation, expanding from Huepetuhe/Delta-1, entered the southeast corner of the reserve in 2013 and expanded in 2014 and 2015,” states MAAP in a blog, referring to expansion from the massive Huepetuhe mine nearby. “We also show that gold mining deforestation is spreading within the reserve’s south-eastern buffer zone.”

[South Korea] Gov’t carbon goals chided
Korea JoongAng Daily, 17 June 2015
Local manufacturers rebuked the government’s carbon reduction goals announced last week, saying they are unrealistic considering currently available technologies and the public’s opposition expanding nuclear power. The government’s four goals ranged from a 15 percent to 30 percent reduction annually in carbon emissions by 2030. The private sector claimed that excessive emission reductions may result in a hollowing of industry, in which Korea loses its own manufacturing competitiveness as production lines escape to countries with cheaper production costs. The nation’s six major business lobby groups, 26 sector associations and 38 individual companies held a press conference Tuesday morning in Yeouido, eastern Seoul, to call for new reduction goals lower than 15 percent and request additional carbon credits for the 2015-2017 period.

18 June 2015

Interview: Environmentalists Celebrate Pope’s Eco-Encyclical
teleSUR, 18 June 2015
In an exclusive interview with teleSUR, Asad Rehman said the document released by the Vatican is an important step forward for the climate justice movement. Asad Rehman, senior campaigner for the environmental organization Friends of the Earth, celebrated the position taken by Pope Francis in defense of the planet in his encyclical released Thursday. “It is a significant intervention by the church. It is more significant in the sense that it is a moral call for all of humanity to act and to act urgently on the issue of climate change,” said Rehman in an exclusive interview with teleSUR. Rehman said that the Pope’s statement, being referred to as the eco-encyclical, “takes a justice approach to ecology.” The papal document makes a deliberate effort to link the struggle over the well-being of the planet with a thirst for social justice, something Pope Francis has repeatedly embraced since becoming the head of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis encyclical warns on use of carbon credits
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 18 June 2015
Using carbon credits would not help global efforts to cut greenhouse gases, according to Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change released by the Vatican on Thursday… The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), a business association promoting the use of markets to tackle climate change, welcomed the overall message calling on all society to take action but said the Pope’s reference to carbon markets “was out of step with the views of most economists and analysts.” “IETA stands firm in its belief that market approaches can benefit climate action and enable businesses to do well by doing good,” it said in a statement… “Through their cost-effectiveness, market approaches can enable more ambitious emissions cuts to be achieved – and more quickly than cumbersome regulations,” IETA said.

Papal Encyclical: key statements on climate, energy and the environment
Carbon Brief, 18 June 2015
Carbon Brief has read though the Papal Encyclical and here are the document’s key statements on climate, energy and the environment… On energy transition: “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.” On population growth versus consumerism: “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” On fossil-fuel phaseout: We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.” On responsibilities: “We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities.”

Pope attacks emissions trading as a possible ‘ploy’
By Nina Chestney, Reuters, 18 June 2015
Pope Francis attacked one of the major policy initiatives in the fight to combat climate change, warning in his encyclical published on Thursday that the trading carbon credits could merely reward speculators instead of controlling global greenhouse gas emissions… The European Commission declined to respond to the pope’s comments but the International Emissions Trading Association, a lobby group for the carbon trading industry, issued a statement that described Francis’s views on carbon trading as “out of step with most economists and analysts.” Carbon markets “contain safeguards against the excessive speculation warned about in the encyclical,” the group said. “It misses the more important point that market mechanisms can help keep the costs down for producers and consumers alike.”

Pope condemns global warming’s snake oil
By Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, 18 June 2015
The most interesting thing about Pope Francis’s 184-page encyclical on climate change released Thursday is its unequivocal and accurate condemnation of the modern day snake oil known as “carbon credits.” Indeed, self-described “green” politicians praising the Pope’s words, might first want to read what he actually said. Specifically, in section 171, that: “The strategy of buying and selling ‘carbon credits’ can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.” That’s exactly what carbon credits do.

Championing Environment, Francis Takes Aim at Global Capitalism
By Coral Davenport, The New York Times, 18 June 2015
In particular, environmental economists criticized the encyclical’s condemnation of carbon trading, seeing it as part of a radical critique of market economies. “I respect what the pope says about the need for action, but this is out of step with the thinking and the work of informed policy analysts around the world, who recognize that we can do more, faster, and better with the use of market-based policy instruments — carbon taxes and/or cap-and-trade systems,” Robert N. Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at Harvard, said in an email. The approach by the pope, an Argentine who is the first pontiff from the developing world, is similar to that of a “small set of socialist Latin American countries that are opposed to the world economic order, fearful of free markets, and have been utterly dismissive and uncooperative in the international climate negotiations,” Dr. Stavins said.

Pope Comes Out Against Carbon Credits, Disappoints True Eco-Believers
By Gene J. Koprowski and S.T. Karnick (Heartland Institute), The American Spectator, 18 June 2015
Pope Francis, earlier today released his environmental encyclical to great acclaim by the global Left and their acolytes in the mainstream media. Well, not quite universal hallelujahs. The National Catholic Reporter quotes Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor and longtime global warming alarm activist Michael E. Mann as saying although the consensus among the climate alarmist friends he has communicated with is that the pope “got the science right,” Mann is disappointed at the pontiff’s “overly conservative” approach. Some people are never satisfied. On the whole, however, the MSM have hailed the pope’s statement with breathless excitement. They have not suddenly gotten religion, of course, but are simply using the pontiff for their own advocacy efforts.

Climate change projects in poorest nations lose out in battle for funds
By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 18 June 2015
Urgent plans to help the world’s poorest people become more resilient to extreme weather and rising seas are on hold because of a lack of cash in a U.N. climate fund set up for least developed countries, amid fierce competition for limited aid. Projects awaiting support include helping government officials in Bangladesh and Rwanda work out how to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change, and keeping health facilities safe from storms and tidal surges in Pacific Island nations. Other schemes would provide climate risk insurance to small farmers in Burkina Faso, and set up systems to warn Afghans of flash floods and landslides. The Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), which backs initiatives to adjust to climate shifts in around 50 poor nations, now has 29 projects that have been cleared but are in need of $215 million to put them into practice.

[Australia] Journalists declaring conflicts of interest sounds simple, but …
By Martin Hirst, The Conversation, 18 June 2015
Lateline host, Tony Jones, is regularly in the firing line. In March this year, Herald Sun columnist and Channel 10 presenter, Andrew Bolt, accused Jones of a conflict of interest when he was MC of Carbon Expo in 2012. Carbon Expo is an annual conference focused on sustainability issues and the generation of a market for carbon credits. According to Bolt, Jones has a conflict because of his role at the ABC, which requires him to be impartial in the presentation of news and opinion. Bolt believes Jones is too close to what he calls the “warmist” view of climate change and cites his hosting of Carbon Expo as proof. But the ABC has never taken any action against Jones and his participation in forums such as Carbon Expo occurs with the explicit approval of ABC management. Jones is represented by two speakers’ agencies, and charges – according to the Ovations website – a minimum of A$5,000 per engagement.

[Canada] Carbon trading: How does trucking fit in?
By Steve Laskowski, Truck News, 18 June 2015
[T]he province of Ontario recently announced it would establish regulations that will govern carbon emissions. The carbon trading rules, expected to be finalized in 2016 and come into force in 2017, will no doubt be similar to those introduced in Quebec, British Columbia, California and other jurisdictions that are a part of the Western Climate Initiative. So, what does that mean for truckers in the province of Ontario? The bad news first: There’s no doubt when the rule kicks in, you’ll pay more for fuel. The number being tossed around is two to three cents per litre. Why is that the case when there’s no actual carbon tax being imposed? Well, a carbon trading system imposes a similar cost on fuel makers and distributors.

Norway Supports The Governors’ Task Force To The Tune Of $25 Million
By Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 18 June 2015
During this week’s annual Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) meeting, Hanne Bjurstrom emphasized the importance of markets as well as on-the-ground activities that require subnational support. “Last year we saw the importance of subnational leadership in driving the international agenda,” said Bjurstorm, Norway’s special envoy on climate change. She also cited subnational commitments such as the Rio Branco Declaration, an agreement among 13 rainforest nation governors to slash deforestation by 2020, during her speech at the GCF event. These comments were perhaps expected as the GCF is a collaboration of states and provinces from seven countries with the shared goal of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) using jurisdictional approaches. A more surprising comment was what Bjurstrom announced shortly afterward: 200 million Norwegian krone (roughly USD $25 million) in financial support…

[UK] Arable farmers could get paid to keep carbon in their soils
By Caroline Stocks, Press and Journal, 18 June 2015
A scheme to help companies offset their greenhouse gas emissions could see farmers being paid for helping to keep carbon in their soils. The scheme, which has been trialled across 30 UK sites in the past year, allows companies to pay farmers to capture carbon from the atmosphere and lock it into the soil. Known as carbon sequestration, the process involves using techniques such as cover crops, no-till and using non-synthetic fertilisers. Farmers who enter the scheme will have their baseline carbon levels measured, with annual tests being conducted to see how their land management has improved carbon levels. Organic farmers and those who have already been using the techniques may be paid for the work they have done provided they have kept verifiable measurements along the way.

[USA] Pope blasts California’s cap-and-trade system
By David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 June 2015
In its brief history, California’s cap-and-trade system to fight global warming has faced many foes, including oil-company executives and manufacturing magnates. On Thursday, it came under fire from a new quarter: the Vatican. Pope Francis, in his highly anticipated call to action against climate change, took an unexpected swipe at the cap-and-trade systems used in both California and Europe to control greenhouse gases. They may sound good, the pontiff argued. But they won’t work… His comments stunned many California environmentalists. Some had expressed their own reservations about cap and trade before the system launched in 2012, and in several cases, their concerns mirrored the pope’s. But they have largely rallied around the system to defend it from political attack. “I don’t disagree with the pope at all on this,” said Kathryn Phillips, the Sierra Club’s director for California.

[USA] Current Climate Change Debate Misses Mark In South Florida
By Dr. Marion D. Thorpe, Jr., RISE: Miami News, 18 June 2015
The matter of climate control has intensified recently with the Pope’s entry into the fray. Though it can be argued that the Pope is outside his realm of knowledge when addressing scientific matters, there is no denying that the Pope’s encyclical points to man as a destructive force that is negatively impacting the many delicate balances that exist in nature… My focus entails examination of the Climate’s impact on the Health of the Public. Regardless of how Ozone depletion may occur, it’s effects regarding the increased incidence of adverse health outcomes must be resolved. Yes, I strongly support saving the Everglades. I also strongly support saving lives from preventable conditions such as skin cancer, asthma, and malnutrition.

Venezuelan tribes protest against violent mining gangs
Survival International, 18 June 2015
Venezuelan Indians blocked the landing strip of Canaima National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in protest at illegal miners destroying their lives and lands. Over the last decade, illegal mining for gold, diamonds and other minerals – some run by armed gangs claiming to be members of Colombia’s guerrilla army FARC – has spread like wildfire through the Venezuelan Amazon, affecting tribes such as the Yanomami, Hoti, Eñepa, Yekuana and Arekuna. An Arekuna spokesperson told Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, “Mining is a huge problem in our indigenous territories. The miners are extracting the riches of our land and the earth is crying out for help. Our rivers are drying up because of the mining. We must look after nature; if we don’t, the whole planet will suffer.”

19 June 2015

In-depth: the science behind the papal encyclical
By Sophie Yeo, The Carbon Brief, 19 June 2015
Pope Francis attempted to start a global conversation yesterday with his new encyclical on the environment. Unlike most encyclicals, it was addressed not to Catholics, but to “every person living on this planet”. There was one group, however, that received particular attention: scientists. For a select number, including climatologists, botanists, and oceanographers, the conversation began long before the Vatican presented its much-anticipated document in Rome yesterday. Their influence can be found throughout the 184-page document, which some had speculated could be filled with theological obscurities rather than an empirical call to action on climate change. They needn’t have worried. The apostolic exhortations and catechisms were relegated to second place behind the Pope’s concerns about melting ice caps, methane gas and carbon credits.

What to do? The pope’s practical tips for helping the environment
By Carol Glatz, Crux, 19 June 2015
Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” is a call for global action as well as an appeal for deep inner conversion. He points to numerous ways world organizations, nations, and communities must move forward and the way individuals — believers and people of good will — should see, think, feel, and act. Here are some of the pope’s suggestions, with references in parentheses to their paragraphs in the encyclical: Do not give in to denial, indifference, resignation, blind confidence in technical solutions. (14, 59) Have forthright and honest debates and policies; issues cannot be dealt with once and for all, but will need to be “reframed and enriched again and again” by everyone with plenty of different proposals because there is no one way to solve problems. (16, 60, 185) Reduce, reuse, recycle. Preserve resources, use them more efficiently, moderate consumption and limit use of non-renewable resources. (22, 192)

You’re really spoiling us: has Ferrero been wrongly accused over Nutella?
By Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian, 19 June 2015
“Ségolène Royal opened her mouth but didn’t engage her brain,” said Scott Poynton, founder of the Forest Trust, an NGO that works closely with Ferrero and other companies on their palm oil supply chain. “It’s a shame that she chose Nutella. Ferrero are the leaders. If all the companies in the palm oil industry operated like Fererro, the palm oil industry would not have the reputation that it does.” … “I’m not a great fan of the RSPO,” said Poynton. “Ten years ago people sat around a table and came up with the lowest common denominator standard. That’s rubbish.” Marcus Colchester, a senior policy adviser for the Forest Peoples Programme, said the issue was with ensuring that voluntary commitments to the RSPO were followed. “We are trying to make this mechanism work but we’re not happy that it is working yet. There’s a lot of work to be done to ensure compliance.”

GENISA director arrested in Honduras as Panama’s President sends riot squad to indigenous protests
By Richard Arghiris, Intercontinental Cry, 19 June 2015
President Varela of Panama dispatched the riot squad to Tolé yesterday, June 18, in a move intended to intimidate activists protesting against the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam on the Tabasará River. Since Monday, June 15, the ’22 September Movement’ and the ’10 April Movement’ (M10) have been periodically closing the Interamerican highway for no more than two hours at a time, in addition to continuously blocking the entrance to the project to prevent workers from entering. The influx of state troopers coincided with the arrival of the governor of Chiriquí province, Hugo Méndez, with whom the protesters have been in dialogue. The display of brute force by the Panamanian state is sure to dredge uncomfortable memories of the reviled Martinelli administration which governed Panama from 2010 to 2014.

Peru climate pledge hinges on forests wager
By Alex Pashley, RTCC, 19 June 2015
Peru, a country three-fifths covered by Amazon jungle, is setting itself up for a fall in staking its UN climate pledge on exacting aims to tackle deforestation, according to experts. The Andean nation has put four options to slash greenhouse gas emissions – ranging from a 4-42% cut by 2030 on current projections – up for public consultation until mid-July. In the draft proposal the environment ministry favoured the third scenario of a 31% reduction, which “optimises” the contribution of several carbon-sucking projects already underway and improves its “socio-environmental performance”. That target gives a prospectus of 58 “mitigation options” in sectors ranging from waste to electricity. Emissions would still rise 10% from 2010 levels, but be 82 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year lower by 2030 than under business as usual.

[Philippines] Environmental group calls Aquino admin ‘polluter,’ anti-environment
Inquirer News, 19 June 2015
In time for the release of Pope Francis’ much awaited encyclical on climate change and the environment, an environmental group on Friday slammed the Aquino administration’s supposed “environmentally destructive” policies, saying the Philippines should serve as model for other climate-vulnerable countries in the world. Calling President Aquino a “polluter politician,” Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said the Philippine Catholic Church and Filipinos in general should step up its action against large-scale mining and other forms of “development aggression.” “Pope Francis challenges poor countries such as the Philippines ‘to eliminate extreme poverty and to promote social development of the people,’ while combating the ‘scandalous level of consumption’ and ‘corruption’ of the local ruling classes, and pushing for propeople and pro-environment policies at the national and local levels,” Kalikasan PNE said in a statement.

[UK] FCA secures victory in £4.3m investment scam battle
By Jun Merrett, New Model Advisor, 19 June 2015
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has secured a further victory in its land bank battle as a man has been sentenced to six years and nine months imprisonment for his part in operating a £4.3 million unauthorised collective investment scheme. In June eight men were convicted for their roles in orchestrating the land banking investment scheme, with five of the men sentenced to a total of 26 years in prison. They were Scott Crawley, Dale Walker, Daniel Forsyth, Aaron Petrou and Ross Peters. This week Adam Hawkins was sentenced to six years and nine months imprisonment for his involvement, which the FCA said was primarily as a salesman and helping the management of the three land banking companies.

20 June 2015

[Guyana] Norway halts forest payments pending new Govt. decision –Norway report
Kaieteur News, 20 June 2015
On May 11, an election in Guyana ended the 23-year rule of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), which had been a partner for Norway’s US$250 million forest climate deal with the South American country. Five days before the election, Norway announced its decision to pay another US$40 million (NOK 300 million) to Guyana for avoided deforestation during 2013, bringing total Norwegian payments to US$190 million. According to the deal with the former government, Norway rewards Guyana for keeping its rate of deforestation low. Funds are disbursed for projects listed in Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy, whose flagship is the Amaila Falls hydropower dam. Development Today is told that the latest US$40 million is being held back, pending discussions with the new government in Georgetown. Key elements of the deal are being re-assessed.

[Guyana] Customs fraud in the export of wamara logs
By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor Stabroek News, 20 June 2015
The price range for exported wamara logs was reported as being between US$200 and 220 per cubic metre during January to March 2015 (FPDMC Market Export Report, April 2015, page 10). However the CIF import price for wamara logs into China was US$760 per cubic metre, as reported in the latest edition (19 (11) 1-15 June 2015) of the Tropical Timber Market Report of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). This difference of US$500 per cubic metre provides an indication of the scale of Customs fraud, which was estimated for Guyana at US$84 million in 2003 rising almost continuously to US$440 million in 2012. Around half of the illicit flows (US$1,464 million for 2003-2012) were attributed to export under-invoicing (Global Financial Integrity 2014). The transfer pricing in wamara log exports is a very good example of why forensic audits in the natural resources sector are urgently needed.

21 June 2015

[Guyana] Massive Customs fraud taking place with BaiShanLin’s Wamara logs export – Bulkan
Kaieteur News, 21 June 2015
A prominent forestry expert has warned of a massive Customs fraud taking place in exports of Wamara logs to China. In a letter published yesterday in Kaieteur News, Janette Bulkan said that public records available indicate systematic under-invoicing when it comes to shipping of the logs to especially China. An Assistant Professor at a Canadian university, Bulkan is now urging for a forensic audit to be carried out in the natural resources sector. Guyana learnt about Wamara logs last year after it was disclosed that one company, BaiShanLin, was shipping container loads of it out of Guyana every month. It sparked an investigation by Kaieteur News which found a huge log yard in the area east of Kwakwani, Berbice River and the company benefitting from significant tax and other concessions.


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