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REDD in the news: 6-12 July 2015

REDD in the newsREDD-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.

 
The GEF Incentive Mechanism for Forests – A New REDD+ Multilateral Finance Program
Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, July 2015
When has the GEF started to work on SFM and REDD+? The GEF has financed sustainable forest management since its inception in 1991. As such, GEF initiatives on forest conservation have substantially reduced greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in the past. For example, protected areas established with GEF biodiversity resources in the Brazilian Amazon between 2003 and 2007 could prevent close to 1/3 of the world’s annual CO2e emissions.

6 July 2015

Beyond Certification – Sense Or Nonsense?
By Johan Verburg (Oxfam), LinkedIn, 6 July 2015 The title of the book is not “VTTV”. With “Beyond Certification” the author shouts he thinks he is sexy ;-) especially because others aren’t. He seems to be marketing his own story and consultancy by defaming someone else’s efforts, notably FSC, RSPO and international NGOs. Certification has “failed” because it has not fixed all the problems and so, like the baby, must be thrown out with the bathwater… Despite these concerns, I want to present TFT as a palm oil hero, like I select one in each of my blogs. TFT is opening the debate, trying to look further than today’s solutions. As an RSPO Board member it is my duty to remain critical towards RSPO and all other initiatives that can contribute to transforming the palm oil sector. That goal is shared. Neither RSPO’s nor TFT’s solutions are perfect, but collaboration between both will get us a long way. It is not either/or, but “Certification AND beyond”.

New Climate Commitments Help Set the Stage for Paris #COP21
Triple Pundit, Medium, 6 July 2015
Three of the top 10 carbon emitting nations — the U.S., China and Brazil — announced new carbon reduction commitments in a joint news briefing on June 30. The countries pledged to obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, not including hydropower, by 2030. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was in Washington for the announcement. Brazil, which is considered the seventh largest emitter (if the EU is treated as one country), further announced that they would restore over 46,000 square miles of forests, an area the size of England, while pursuing “policies aimed at eliminating illegal deforestation.”

Defending tribes’ right to remain uncontacted
Survival International, 6 July 2015
Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has attacked the argument in a recent Science editorial that uncontacted tribes should be forcibly contacted. U.S. anthropologists Robert Walker and Kim Hill argued that governments are violating their responsibility to protect isolated tribes if they “refuse authorized, well-planned contacts.” But Corry evokes Brazil’s experience of forced contact missions, which was official policy for decades but led to the decimation of countless tribes. Sydney Possuelo, former head of Brazil’s indigenous affairs department FUNAI, recounts, “I believed it’d be possible to make contact with no pain or deaths, I organized one of the best equipped fronts that FUNAI ever had. I prepared everything… I set up a system with doctors and nurses… And the contact came, the diseases arrived, the Indians died.”

Climate change is a matter of human rights, agrees UN
By Sébastien Duyck, RTCC, 6 July 2015
Last Thursday the Human Rights Council sent a strong signal to the ongoing climate negotiations by adopting by consensus a new resolution on climate change and human rights. The resolution, championed by Bangladesh and the Philippines, emphasizes the importance of addressing the adverse consequences of climate change for the human rights of all, and in particular of those most vulnerable. It also stresses the importance of enhanced action and cooperation on adaptation. Additionally, the resolution calls for the Council to consider next spring how climate change adversely impacts the efforts of states to promote and protect the right of everyone to the highest standards of physical and mental health.

Calderon and Stern: Fight climate change, boost economy
By Felipe Calderón and Nicholas Stern, USA Today, 6 July 2015
Taking strong climate action is a multitrillion dollar opportunity for better economic growth. Recent trends in the global economy — such as the falling cost of clean energy, the spread of carbon pricing and the continuing volatility of oil prices — are building momentum for low-carbon growth and development. To meet the goals of raising living standards, tackling poverty and reducing climate risk together, the scale and speed of change must accelerate, spurred on by cooperation both internationally and between the public and private sectors. With the help of international partnerships, it is possible through 10 key areas of action to generate better economic growth while achieving nearly all of the emissions reductions needed in the next 15 years to avoid dangerous climate change.

[New Zealand] On your marks – the green race that’s never finished
By Nigel Parry, New Zealand Herald, 6 July 2015
Environmental improvement is a continual journey, according to organisations committed to sustainability. “It has no end point,” says Michael Wentworth of Yealands, the world’s first carbon neutral winery from the get-go. The Marlborough-based winery uses the carboNZero tools and audits to drive down emissions and as a marketing tool. For Wentworth, it adds a vital third party endorsement. “It’s backing up the claims that we were making and our focus on sustainability,” he adds. “We put carboNZero on our labels and on front of our packaging; it’s what we stand for and what we are about.” The scheme formally audits business carbon footprint annually, down to the level of supplier invoices and their own emissions. Any resulting CO2 is countered by buying carbon credits and in Yealands’ case that means New Zealand-sourced offsets.

7 July 2015

Palm oil giant Wilmar resorts to dirty tricks
Forest Peoples Programme press release, 7 July 2015
Oil palm giant Wilmar International Ltd. stands accused of resorting to ‘dirty tricks’ in its dealings with communities. The allegations come from community leaders and non-Governmental organisations who have tracked the company’s operations on the ground in Borneo, Sumatra, Uganda and Nigeria. In 2013, the company which trades some 45% of globally traded palm oil adopted a far-reaching policy to only deal in commodities with ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’. Yet reports suggest even its own operations are in violation of standards it signed up to in 2005.

Watch and read: Making timber plantations attractive for smallholders
By Jack Hewson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 July 2015
Encouraging Indonesian smallholders to view timber plantations as an attractive business opportunity could have far-reaching economic and environmental impacts, according to a new study. Indonesian government initiatives have sought to promote plantation development in a bid to reduce poverty in rural areas, increase forest cover, and boost wood supply to industry. But the study – from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) – found that many smallholders do not understand how to effectively cultivate and market timber, and steps must be taken to make plantation establishment an attractive business opportunity. “The point is to empower farmers who don’t make very much money,” says CIFOR scientist Dede Rohadi, one of the study’s lead researchers.

Banks urged to halt coal finance before Paris summit
By Alex Pashley, RTCC, 7 July 2015
A coalition of NGOs told banks to quit financing the coal industry on Thursday ahead of a summit tasked with securing a global warming pact. The Paris Pledge campaign is calling on lenders to draw up plans to phase out cash for mines and power plants within six months of the December conference, organisers BankTrack said. The muscle that drove the Industrial Revolution, coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel and the single biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. US$500 million of finance has flowed from 93 international banks to the sector since 2005, according to BankTrack research. Scientists estimate more than 80% of coal stocks must stay unburned to limit global warming to 2C – the international goal. “To stay within the 2 degrees temperature threshold, the use of coal must come to an end,” director Johan Frijns at the Netherlands-based pressure group said in a statement.

[Indonesia] Govt to redistribute land
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 7 July 2015
To deal with rampant land disputes involving indigenous communities, the government has unveiled a plan to allocate at least 20 percent of current concession areas operated by private companies for management by local people. The Environment and Forestry Ministry said on Monday that the government had set a target of allocating 5.5 million hectares of forest to local people within the next four years, the majority of which will be taken from around 30 million hectares of concession forest. “The 30 million hectares of forest consists of 10 million hectares of concessions for HTI [industrial forest permits] and another 20 million hectares for HPH [production forest concessions],” the ministry’s secretary general, Bambang Hendroyono, said. Bambang said that the move was necessary to meet the government’s pledge to give 12.7 million hectares of forest for use by local and indigenous people in the country.

New Zealand pledges to cut emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 7 July 2015
New Zealand will cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, Climate Change Minister Tim Groser announced Tuesday, but observers said the plan was too weak. The target will be submitted to the UN as part of New Zealand’s INDC, but will remain provisional until a final deal is agreed in Paris, including rules on accounting for land sector emissions and carbon markets. The target equals an 11% cut from 1990 levels, only slightly deeper than the country’s target of cutting GHGs 5% below 1990 levels by 2020. The INDC said New Zealand wants “unrestricted access to global carbon markets”. “Almost 80% of our electricity is renewable already, and around half our emissions come from producing food for which there aren’t yet cost-effective technologies to reduce emissions. So there are fewer opportunities for New Zealand to reduce its emissions right now,” Groser said in a statement.

[New Zealand] Forest sink scheme gets revamp
waateanews.com, 7 July 2015
The government wants to change to a scheme which aims to encourage landowners to lock up carbon emissions in forests. Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative offered potential benefits not just for climate change mitigation but erosion control, which has implications for water quality. Since it was introduced in 2006 just 16,000 hectares of land has gone into the scheme, which allows landowners to earn emissions units for stored carbon. Forest owners including iwi say that’s because National introduced conflicting policies which crashed the price of carbon credits, making it hard to cover management costs. The proposed changes include doing more to ensure the forests planted are permanent, improving the management of liabilities from natural disasters, and enhancing economic returns. The first hui to discuss the proposed changes is at Kawakawa this evening, followed by Rotorua and Gisborne next week.

[New Zealand] Climate change pledge ‘highly conditional’
By Brendan Manning, New Zealand Herald, 7 July 2015
The Government will take a highly conditional pledge to cut New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 11 per cent below 1990 levels – and therefore about 28 per cent from current levels – to the Paris climate conference in December. The conference is intended to agree a global deal to curb emissions more ambitious and wide-ranging than anything international negotiations have yet been able to accomplish. Climate Change Minister Tim Groser said the target is expressed as a cut of 30 per cent from 2005 levels to make it more readily comparable to the approach of the United States and Canada.

Pacific nations struggling with deforestation and malnourishment – UN report
By Melissa Davey, The Guardian, 7 July 2015
Some of Australia’s closest neighbours are struggling to address malnourishment, deforestation and sanitation, the United Nations’ final report on its millennium development goals shows, prompting aid organisations to call on the federal government to boost foreign aid. The report released on Tuesday revealed progress towards food security in Oceania – which includes Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Nauru – had been slow, largely because of a heavy dependence on food imports by the small islands of the region. “Food security in this region is also hampered by natural and human-caused disasters, which often result in volatile prices and sudden and unpredictable changes in the availability of important staple foods,” the report found. Oceania also reported a net loss of forest in the first decade of the 15-year agenda, largely due to severe drought and forest fires in Australia, the report found.

Paraguay: Indigenous group in voluntary isolation at risk
Amnesty International, 7 July 2015
Land that the Ayoreo Totobiegosode Indigenous people claim as their traditional territory has been invaded again in the department of Alto Paraguay, northern Paraguay. This threatens the survival of the Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation in this area. According to the Indigenous organization People, Environment and Territory (Gente, Ambiente y Territorio, GAT), a part of the Ayoreo Totobiegosode Indigenous people’s traditional territory (registration number 54RR03) is being rapidly deforested by a cattle ranching company in the department of Puerto Casado, Alto Paraguay, Chaco. This is despite the fact that the company’s licence, given by the Ministry of Environment (Secretaría del Ambiente, SEAM), is currently suspended. According to GAT, in just 16 days over last month, 1,500 hectares have been affected.

[UK] Privacy watchdog to investigate whether charities trading cold-calling ‘generous lists’
By John Bingham, The Telegraph, 7 July 2015
Major charities could be breaking the law by trading lists of telephone numbers of generous donors who are deemed “fair game” for fundraising cold-callers, the privacy watchdog has warned. Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, has launched an investigation into claims that charities are breaking data protection and privacy rules by targeting vulnerable people for cash and ignoring so-called “do-not call” lists. He said call centres which use hard-sell marketing tactics to pressurise members of the public into making donations to good causes appeared to be adopting the same tactics as “boiler room” scams. And he warned charities that they could still be breaking the law even if the people they target appear to have given their consent to have their personal details used by inadvertently ticking a box buried in the fine print of a form.

[UK] The £93bn handshake: businesses pocket huge subsidies and tax breaks
By Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian, 7 July 2015
Taxpayers are handing businesses £93bn a year – a transfer of more than £3,500 from each household in the UK. The total emerges from the first comprehensive account of what Britons give away to companies in grants, subsidies and tax breaks, published exclusively in the Guardian. Many of the companies receiving the largest public grants over the past few years previously paid little or zero corporation tax, the analysis shows. They include some of the best-known names in Britain, such as Amazon, Ford and Nissan. The figures intensify the pressure on George Osborne, the chancellor, just as he puts the finishing touches to his budget. At the heart of Wednesday’s announcement will be his plans to cut £12bn more from the social welfare bill. Yet that sum is less than the £14.5bn given to companies in direct subsidies and grants alone.

[USA] This Fund Sees The Trees–And The Forest
By Ellie Winninghoff, Private Wealth, 7 July 2015
How do you profitably invest in a sustainably harvested forest while directing efforts toward clean water protection, flood control, habitat for fish and wildlife, soil building and carbon storage? Industrial timberland is managed solely for the wood in the trees, but Ecotrust Forest Management, based in Portland, Ore., invests by putting its focus on entire forest ecosystems. It’s creating markets around forest diversity by selectively harvesting trees rather than clear-cutting, and also selling everything from carbon credits and development rights to edibles such as honey or salal for floral bouquets. This diversified approach to managing a forest renders the land more resilient, both ecologically and economically, said Ecotrust CEO Bettina von Hagen. Since its inception in late 2004, Ecotrust Forest Fund I, with $30 million under management, had average gross returns per year through December 2012 of 10.6 percent…

Video: West Africa’s first Carbon credit transaction
CNBC Africa, 7 July 2015
West Africa witnessed its first Carbon credit transaction last month. The transaction will allow customers of Volta Cars Rental Services offset the carbon footprint of vehicles leased in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal. Fabrice Le Sache CEO of Ecosur Afrique joins CNBC Africa to share some insight into this transaction and the Carbon credits market in Africa.

8 July 2015

Why is it so incredibly hard to stop deforestation?
By Anne Larson and Ashwin Ravikumar, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 July 2015
Who really holds power over land use decisions? Why are efforts to keep forests standing, such as REDD+ and other initiatives, still so far from altering development trajectories? At the recent biennial conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC), held in Edmonton, Canada, we presented findings of research on the politics of multilevel governance in land use change and climate policy. Understanding the politics of land use change is challenging in part because there are so many actors involved: national and sub-national government sectors including environment, forestry, mining, and agriculture, as well as private companies, NGOs, and indigenous and local communities.

Why do rainforests matter? You asked Google – and here’s the answer
By Tim Flannery, The Guardian, 8 July 2015
The extraordinary diversity of rainforests is without doubt their greatest value to humanity, for it has turned the rainforests into a great natural pharmacopeia. The warmth and humidity below the canopy allow pathogens to abound. If any one species becomes too abundant, disease transfers easily, and it will be ravaged by an epidemic. But the ubiquity of pathogens has also led to a proliferation of physical and chemical defences in every organism that inhabits the forest. As humanity gathers together in ever greater urban aggregations, the need for defences against pathogens grows. Around a quarter of all medicines originate from tropical forest plants, and it’s a fair bet that cures for many of humanity’s present and future ills lie undiscovered below the verdant canopy.

Greenpeace responds to Tropical Forest Trust on moving ‘Beyond Certification’
By Grant Rosoman (Greenpeace), mongabay.com, 8 July 2015
TFT says certification “stifles innovation”, is “falling behind” and has “weak standards”. Clearly TFT is underestimating change that is occurring within certification schemes and standards. Just ask any forest manager or certification body working with FSC — they will say there is so much change that they can hardly keep up! TFT have disengaged from certification for several years so may be out of touch — it would pay for them to take a look at the certification systems and see what innovations are afoot. For example, over the last 5 years there has been a huge overhaul in FSC standards for responsible forest management, with international generic indicators being approved recently, which will now be translated into indicators at a national level together with stakeholders. This will be the most comprehensive and strongest set of standards for forest management to date.

The true cost of the environmental destruction is impossible to measure
By Grant Tungay, Daily Maverick, 8 July 2015
Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si, is extremely critical of our economic choices, and suggests humanity needs to change its production and consumption patterns in our role as stewards of creation, and protect nature from irrevocable damage. It is also critical of what Pope Francis calls a ‘throw-away’ culture and an introspective lifestyle that does not take into account the impact that this lifestyle is having on common resources; common resources which both the poor and rich benefit from. However, if we look at environmental litigation in the United States, we can see it can be extremely difficult to place an economic price on environmental damage to common resources, thereby enabling energy companies, for instance, to financially account to the state for accidents such as oil spills. If this is true, how do we even begin to assess the damage that we are doing to the environment…?

BNY Mellon mandated for Brazilian green bonds
By Stephanie Palmer, Asset Servicing news, 8 July 2015
BNY Mellon Corporate Trust has been appointed as trustee, registrar, paying agent and transfer agent for the first green bonds of Brazilian food company BRF S.A. Denominated in euros, the offering is a €500 million senior notes issuance, with proceeds ear-marked for projects in energy efficiency, water management, sustainable and efficient packaging, sustainable forest management and reduction in the use of raw materials. BNY Mellon will provide environmental finance products such as custody of carbon credits, environmental trusts and escrows, green bonds and project finance. As of March, The bank’s corporate trust arm serves as trustee or paying agent on more than 60,000 debt-related issues around the world, with clients including governments and their agencies, global corporations and financial institutions.

EU carbon market reform backed by MEPs
BusinessGreen, 8 July 2015
The European Parliament has today approved plans to reform the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) in 2019. MEPs voted 495 to 198 in favour of a proposal to begin operating a Market Stability Reserve (MSR) to remove some of the surplus carbon credits that have depressed carbon prices to around €7.50 per tonne. The vote had been largely expected, despite months of discussions, with the proposal now set to be signed off by member states and become law. The MSR is set to store surplus carbon credits, which have mounted up in the EU ETS due to oversupply and a slowdown in the economy. As many as 1.6 billion could be removed from the system – and could be released again should demand increase.

EU officials seek to tap carbon market cash for foreign aid -sources
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 8 July 2015
EU officials are considering diverting tens of billions of euros from the bloc’s carbon market to use as foreign aid in a bid to secure allies for negotiating a global climate pact. This would involve ringfencing a small portion of EU carbon allowance auction revenues as part of the European Commission’s EU ETS reform proposal, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter. The Commission’s plan is expected to be released on July 15, but a draft of the text leaked last week had no mention of the aid provision. However, the two sources said some officials are pushing hard for it to be included in the final proposal. The entire reform process is expected to take at least two years and require most member states and MEPS to agree.

So we are reforming the ETS. Now what do we want it to do?
By Oliver Sartor, Energy Post, 8 July 2015
Today, Wednesday, the European Parliament is expected to vote to approve an amendment to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) Directive to establish a market stability reserve (MSR). This reform is expected to (gradually) redress the oversupply of emission allowances in the carbon market which is keeping down the CO2-price. However, while a lot of attention has been focused on the outcome of the MSR reform, a more fundamental question has been overlooked: what role is the carbon market being expected to play in the decarbonisation of the EU economy? This question is now more relevant than ever. With the 2030 climate and energy framework, the EU has begun develop the policies that will fundamentally shape its ability to achieve its 2050 climate targets. However, there is an increasing risk that the EU will expect the EU ETS to play a role that it is ill-suited to perform…

[New Zealand] Govt ‘ignores heat opportunities for addressing climate change’
Voxy.co.nz, 8 July 2015
The Bioenergy Association says it’s disappointed the Government’s climate change targets focus mainly on emissions reduction opportunities in agriculture and greater use of electric cars, with no mention of the potential of the heat sector. Association Chair Rob Mallinson says the Government has already run a Wood Energy Scheme that showed the cost of carbon emission reduction from renewable heat opportunities was only around $7 per tonne. “Buying carbon credits offshore will only meet our obligation for one ‘commitment period’ and the long-term cost of this approach hasn’t been properly assessed. We should be taking advantage of low-cost opportunities to reduce our carbon emissions here in New Zealand by increasing our use of bioenergy, particularly in the heat sector.

[New Zealand] NZ carbon market hots up
Radio New Zealand News, 8 July 2015
The New Zealand carbon market is hotting up with rising prices and volumes. In one big deal, up to 1 million tonnes of carbon credits are being offered by forest owners via the carbon trader OM Financial. The offer consists of a 200,000 tonnes initially, followed by another 800,000 tonnes if the price is right. One million tonnes would be ten times the typical daily turnover of OM Financial. The activity comes as the Government pledges to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This would require greenhouse gas emitters such as petrol companies to either reduce emisions or buy more credits from carbon-absorbing sectors like forestry. Senior OM Financial executive Nigel Brunel said the Government initiative had had some impact but it was not the main factor. “I certainly think the announcement by the Government yesterday of its target has had some impact on the market,” he said.

Investment of $600 Million a Year Required to Maintain Indonesia’s Forest Cover, Critical to National Economy and Local Livelihoods – UN Report
UNEP News Centre, 8 July 2015
Further degradation of Indonesia’s forests could impact the national economy and the lives of millions, according to a new UN study titled “Forest Ecosystem Valuation Study: Indonesia”. The report finds that an additional US $600 million annually is needed to maintain Indonesian current forest cover and enable forests to deliver critical ecosystem services to the Indonesian economy – with REDD+ acting as a catalyst for the rehabilitation of forest and forest ecosystem services. The study provides a valuation of the multiple benefits provided by forests in Indonesia.

9 July 2015

Fossil fuel firms risk wasting billions by ignoring climate change, says IEA
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 9 July 2015
The world’s fossil fuel companies risk wasting billions of dollars of investment by not taking global action to fight climate change seriously, according to the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Fatih Birol, who will take the top job at the IEA in September and is one of the world’s most influential voices on energy, warned that companies making this mistake would also miss out on investment opportunities in clean energy. Coal giant Peabody recently dismissed global warming as “an environmental crisis predicted by flawed computer models”, while another major coal producer Glencore Xstrata said governments would fail to implement measures to cut carbon emissions, as has oil and gas major ExxonMobil.

Brazil’s Amazon wilderness at risk from organised crime
By Wyre Davies, BBC News, 9 July 2015
No country has done more than Brazil in recent years to tackle the previously rampant levels of deforestation but there is a good reason the agents have their guns drawn – we have seen statistics which show that rates of Amazon destruction are again on the rise. There are big profits to be made from illegal logging and the fraudulent clearing of rainforest for valuable cash crops and these helicopter patrols are often shot at. Trying to locate illegal logging operations in the midst of this dense jungle from the air is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

[Indonesia] Peatland destruction ‘could cause devastating floods and socio-economic disaster’
By Annette Gartland, Changing Times, 9 July 2015
Vast areas of Southeast Asia will be frequently and irreversibly flooded before the end of the century if action is not taken to stop the destruction of tropical peatlands, a new study indicates. The resultant loss of agricultural production will have severe socio-economic consequences, says the non-governmental organisation Wetlands International, which is based in the Netherlands. “Radical changes to land use policies on peatlands in the region are needed in order to avoid this.” Tropical peatlands have a critical environmental function; they store about a third of the world’s terrestrial carbon reserves. In Southeast Asia, peat forests are also home to endangered species like the orangutan. Wetlands International has called on governments and businesses to stop the conversion of peat forests to agricultural or other use immediately, and to promote peatland conservation and restoration.

UN Report Makes Economic Case for Conservation of Indonesia’s Forests
By Daniel Waldroop, The Jakarta Globe, 9 July 2015
The United Nations Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia, or UNORCID, published a new study on the value of Indonesia’s forests this week, advocating that greater conservation was crucial to Indonesia’s economic success. The report, “Forest Ecosystem Valuation Study,” was formally presented at a press conference on Wednesday to Nur Masripatin, director general for climate change control, on behalf of the minister of the environment and forestry. Pavan Sukhdev, a UN Environmental Program goodwill ambassador who led the study, described the report as a “snapshot” of Indonesia’s forests. “The report itself is not the goal of our work. The report documents what we have done to understand the value of ecosystem services across five provinces in Indonesia,” he said. It also serves as an attempt to bring quantitative economic analysis to a subject that often puts its stock in the ideals of environmentalism rather than hard numbers.

[New Zealand] Government should try harder on climate change
Stuff.co.nz, 9 July 2015
The National-led Government has never been enthusiastic about fighting climate change. It gutted the emissions trading scheme, giving big polluters much more time to cut their emissions… So it is not surprising that its new greenhouse gas emission targets are weak and disappointing. The best that can be said is that an 11 per cent cut below 1990 levels by 2030 is the least it could get away with. Climate change issues minister Tim Groser says the new target is a significant improvement on the current target of 5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Massey University climate change expert Professor Ralph Sims says it is actually weaker. And the Government does not seem to have much of a climate change plan. Groser appears to pin his hopes on two things: a technological fix for agricultural emissions, which account for half the country’s total, and a big increase in the use of electric cars.

Nigeria palm oil land grab exposes need for human rights treaty
Friends of the Earth International, 9 July 2015
A new report on palm oil land grabs in Nigeria by Asia’s leading agribusiness group exposes the need for a binding treaty to regulate corporate human rights abuses globally, says Friends of the Earth International. Global palm oil trader Wilmar International Ltd. has come under scrutiny for a large-scale land acquisition in Cross River State, Nigeria where it destroyed areas of High Conservation Value, including community food-producing areas and water sources essential to local communities, according to a report released today. The new report, Exploitation and empty promises: Wilmar’s Nigerian landgrab, uses first-person testimonies, satellite maps, and Wilmar’s own filings with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to demonstrate that the company failed to gain the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of communities directly affected by its operations; failed to produce adequate Environmental and Social Impact Assessments…

Investing in Forestry Sector Can Reverse Estimated US$3.5 Billion Economic Drain of Deforestation, Alleviate Poverty in Tanzania
UNEP News Centre, 9 July 2015
Deforestation in Tanzania could cost the national economy 5,588 billion Tanzanian Shillings (US$3.5 billion, based on 2013 exchange rates) between 2013 and 2033 on current trends, highlighting the importance of investing in the forestry sector to alleviate poverty and boost growth, according to a new report released today. Forest ecosystems in the transition to a green economy and the role of REDD+ in the United Republic of Tanzania took into account the market value of timber resources as benefits that arise from deforestation, and costs in terms of lost timber forest products in the future, as well as other forest ecosystem services that will be lost as a result of deforestation.

[UK] Oxfam, Save The Children and Cancer Research forced into action over cold calling
By Katherine Faulkner and Lucy Osborne, Daily Mail, 9 July 2015
Bosses of Britain’s biggest charities were forced into action yesterday amid a growing outcry over their use of ‘boiler room’ tactics to pressure the vulnerable. They were made to account for themselves after the revelations in the Daily Mail about the way they try to secure donations over the phone. The growing scandal was also raised in Parliament yesterday as: Oxfam’s deputy chief executive had to explain her charity’s policy of taking donations from people with dementia Save The Children promised it would no longer take part in cold-calling Cancer Research UK said it was suspending its relationship with GoGen, the call centre exposed by the Mail. Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, wrote to all the charity’s supporters to assure them the claims were being taken ‘very seriously’ and it would ‘act swiftly and decisively’ if evidence of wrongdoing was found.

[USA] Climate change is driving Alaska’s worsening wildland fire seasons
By Nicky Sundt, Alaska Dispatch News, 9 July 2015
Alaska is burning. As of July 8 more than 300 fires are blazing across the state in an extreme and costly fire season that could last well into August. Firefighters and the resources they depend on are being pressed to the limits. I know exactly what our front-line defenders are going through. I’ve been there. During the summer of 1983, I was among a group of smokejumpers dispatched from western states to Alaska during a major “fire bust,” a relatively large number of fires started mostly by thunderstorms with lots of lightning but little rain. Our job as smokejumpers was to be first responders, rapidly deployed via aircraft to contain fires before they grew much larger and costlier. That summer, 450 firefighters were brought in to help control some of the 451 fires that scorched over 98,000 acres of Alaska wilderness. Alaska’s climate hasn’t been the same since. Neither have the fire seasons.

10 July 2015

Green Climate Fund partners with Deutsche Bank to green fury
By Alex Pashley, RTCC, 10 July 2015
A UN piggy bank to help poor countries deal with climate change partnered with a leading coal funder on Thursday, sparking an outcry from green groups. At a meeting in its South Korean headquarters, the Green Climate Fund approved Deutsche Bank and 12 other financial entities to receive and distribute cash. Germany’s leading investment bank is the world’s tenth largest backer of coal, with €15 billion invested in the industry from 2005 to 2014, according to the BankTrack network. Over 20 campaign groups said they were “tremendously discouraged and disappointed” in a joint statement, adding that the fund was at “real risk of losing credibility”. They argued Deutsche Bank’s support for coal was at odds with the green fund’s carbon-cutting objectives. And raised concerns over its ”very poor” record on human rights monitoring and failure to crack down on money laundering.

UN Postpones Action to Halt Deforestation by 10 Years under Pressure from Industry
Global Forest Coalition, 10 July 2015
The Global Forest Coalition reacted furiously to the final draft of the Sustainable Development Goals released this week. Despite the fact that most Sustainable Development Goals were agreed upon in July 2014, the latest draft, which will be adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 as the heart of the Post-2015 Development Agenda has suddenly been tweaked to postpone a crucial target to halt deforestation by an entire decade, from 2020 to 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals will replace the Millennium Development Goals, to end poverty through sustainable development in a time bound manner through quantifiable targets.

[Cambodia] Lawmakers Accuse Tycoons of Illegal Logging
The Cambodia Daily, 10 July 2015
CNRP lawmakers have written to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to stop the ongoing illegal logging of northeast Cambodia’s Virachey National Park, which they said they witnessed during a recent trip and blamed on businessmen An Mady and Try Pheap. Mao Monivann and more than 10 fellow CNRP lawmakers were traveling through the protected area in Ratanakkiri province on June 9 on the way to a disputed stretch of the Cambodia-Vietnam border when, they said, they saw the loggers at work, allegedly for Mr. Mady and Mr. Pheap. “We saw the Try Pheap and An Mady companies illegally logging in the forest and transporting wood anarchically from the forest,” the July 8 letter read. “If the government doesn’t take action to stop them this in time, the forest in Virachey Park will disappear completely in the near future,” it added. “Please, Samdech Prime Minister, review our request and take action to protect the forest in Virachey Park.”

Japan helps Vietnam manage sustainable natural resources
VietNamNet, 10 July 2015
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, authorities of the five provinces and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a document on the project in Hanoi on July 9. The project, focusing on policy support, sustainable forest management and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), biodiversity and knowledge sharing is expected to help improve Vietnamese localities’ capacity in managing natural resources. As the primary focus of the project, sustainable forest management and REDD+ will promote the implementation of the provincial REDD+ action plan (PRAP) in Dien Bien and the design of PRAPs in Lai Chau, Son La and Hoa Binh. Speaking at the signing ceremony, MARD Deputy Minister Ha Cong Tuan highlighted the significance of the project, saying it will contribute to accelerating the country’s forestry restructuring plan.

11 July 2015

12 July 2015

Financing for Development: What to expect from UN Addis Ababa summit
By Leo Barasi, RTCC, 12 July 2015
Who will foot the bill to end poverty and tackle climate change? That’s the big question as the third Financing for Development Conference opens in Addis Ababa on Monday, with an ambitious agenda to agree funding for global efforts against poverty and hunger. While foreign aid can partly meet these ambitions, aid alone will not be sufficient and conference delegates are seeking other ways to increase the finance available to support development. But after months of negotiations and with just four days until the conference finishes, details of how development will be financed remain unclear, and observers have warned that failure could imperil action to end poverty and achieve sustainable development. “We need some good announcements to put down momentum, but that’s not underway yet”, Alex Evans, a Senior Fellow at New York University’s Centre on International Cooperation, told RTCC.

[Indonesia] The week in review: Ahead of the exodus
By Ati Nurbaiti, The Jakarta Post, 12 July 2015
There was the announcement on Monday that indigenous people living around forests would be allocated extra land; the original quota of 5 percent of industrial forest concessions is to become 20 percent. The overall aim was to reduce industrial forest areas in the interest of environmental safety, and to prevent further conflicts blamed on local people’s lack of land for a sustainable livelihood. Despite the policy’s noble aims, we’ll need to pay attention to how the rule will be implemented, and whether concessions that have already been issued will be affected. Naturally businesses are worried, while advocates for the indigenous people say the 20 percent allocation is far from adequate, as the Constitutional Court had already invalidated the government’s claim to the nation’s millions of hectares of customary forests.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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