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REDD in the news: 27 July – 2 August 2015

2015-08-02-214730_1045x992_scrotREDD-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.

 
UN-REDD Supports Development of REDD+ Forest Reference Emission Level
Climate Change Policy & Practice, July 2015
The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) has released a new technical publication that aims to support countries seeking to develop a REDD+ Forest Reference Emission Level and/or Forest Reference Level (FREL/FRL) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Titled ‘Technical considerations for Forest Reference Emission Level and/or Forest Reference Level Construction for REDD+ under the UNFCCC,’ the document provides a structural overview of UNFCCC requirements for FREL/FRL construction, summarizing UNFCCC guidance and translating it into elements needed for FREL/FRL construction. It also provides a description of possible advantages and risks associated with different options for each of these elements.

27 July 2015

[Australia] Is Labor’s 50% renewables target a joke?
By Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 27 July 2015
When questioned yesterday by Andrew Bolt about Labor’s 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, Labor frontbencher and a public critic of the Renewable Energy Target several years ago, Joel Fitzgibbon, said: “it’s not a policy – it’s an aspiration”. Shadow Environment Minister Mark Butler effectively confirmed that they were not committed to achieving the 50 per cent target by lifting the target embedded within the existing Renewable Energy Act which obligates electricity retailers to purchase renewable energy or pay a fine. Instead, Butler said, Labor “has an open mind about the best way to get to 50 per cent” from the 23.5 per cent share expected by 2020 under the existing legislation.

[Australia] ETS would be more cost-effective than higher renewables target, analyst says
By Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 27 July 2015
The author of the $60bn price tag for Bill Shorten’s new renewable energy goal – cited by Tony Abbott as proof the scheme is unaffordable – says an emissions trading scheme like the one the Coalition abolished would be more cost-effective than either the coalition’s “Direct Action” plan or Labor’s new goal. ACIL Allen Consulting chief executive, Paul Hyslop, told Guardian Australia his $60bn cost estimate of Labor’s goal to have 50% of Australia’s electricity generated by renewables by 2030 was based on a quick calculation of how much extra renewable capacity would be required, and the cost to deliver it though wind power. He said a carbon price would be much more cost effective than either a specific electricity sector goal, or the government’s own “Direct Action” plan.

[Australia] Hunger striking farmer Peter Spencer loses landmark Federal Court case over property rights
By Michael Condon, ABC Rural, 27 July 2015
Hunger striking New South Wales farmer Peter Spencer has lost his Federal Court case calling on the Federal Government to compensate him for the loss of his farm. The court case centred around the right of the Australian Commonwealth to acquire carbon credits from farmland, without compensating the farmers or landholders. In 2009, Mr Spencer went on a hunger strike for 52 days over the issue of land clearing legislation and property rights as they affected his property at Shannon’s Flat, near Cooma. Mr Spencer claimed that state and federal governments colluded to introduce land clearing legislation to lock up carbon on Australian farms, so Australia could meet carbon targets in the Kyoto Protocol. In 2010, the High Court, in an unusual move, had agreed that the matter should be sent back for a full hearing in the Federal Court.

Sebastião Salgado focuses on big picture with parable of reforestation in Brazil
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 27 July 2015
When the renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado took over family land in the state of Minas Gerais, instead of the tropical paradise that he remembered as a child, he found the trees cut down and the wildlife gone. He was devastated. It was 1994 and he had just returned from a traumatic assignment reporting on the genocide in Rwanda, he told a meeting of religious leaders discussing climate change in Paris last week. “The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed,” said Salgado. “Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees. Then my wife had a fabulous idea to replant this forest. And when we began to do that, then all the insects and birds and fish returned and, thanks to this increase of the trees I, too, was reborn – this was the most important moment.”

Cambodia: With the closing down of democratic space, could international justice offer a solution?
Global Witness, 27 July 2015
Attention last week turned to Wednesday’s second submission of evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on an unprecedented case against Cambodia’s ruling elite. Originally filed last October by law firm Global Diligence and supported by international human rights movement FIDH, the case alleges that land grabbing conducted in Cambodia ‘on a truly massive scale’ by senior members of the Cambodian government, its security forces, and government-connected business leaders amounts to a crime against humanity, and should be punishable under international law. The case also highlights the tactics employed by Cambodian elites to quash resistance to their plunder, which have included persecution, unlawful imprisonment, violence and murder.

Life in and around a palm oil plantation in Cameroon – in pictures
By Victoria Schneider and Dylan Collins, The Guardian, 27 July 2015
Welcome to the Cameroonian plantation guarded by security firm G4S, where a collective of palm oil farmers are in conflict over access to land. Socapalm is a private oil palm company that owns six plantation concessions in Cameroon, located in two regions along the country’s fertile coast. In the Dibombari plantation, which covers around 6,000 hectares, entire villages lie within the company’s concession area. They share roads, water and land. One of the many issues that have tainted the relationship between Socapalm and the local population is that of theft inside the company’s plantation area. ‘20% of our harvest is stolen,’ said Michel Noulowe, chairman of the board. In response Socapalm has begun a crackdown on small-scale milling stations that it claims are involved in the theft of fruit from the plantation’s trees.

[Germany] Eight Deutsche Bank staff to be charged in carbon VAT fraud probe -Der Spiegel
Carbon Pulse, 27 July 2015
German prosecutors are set to lay charges against eight Deutsche Bank employees following a probe into a multi-million euro VAT fraud linked to the EU ETS, German online magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday. The Frankfurt prosecutors’ office will allege the eight individuals secured fees and bonuses by facilitating the evasion of at least €136 million in taxes for the bank’s clients, Der Spiegel reported, without citing any sources or printing any names. The magazine said that the prosecutors have decided not to charge three people that were suspected of participating, adding that a further 12 or so individuals remain under investigation. It was not clear how many were current Deutsche Bank employees and how many were former. German magazine Focus in April reported that 11 of the bank’s middle managers were named as culpable in helping clients evade tax via the EU ETS, citing a Mar. 27 report by German tax investigators.

[Indonesia] Strategy to side with indigenous people
By Eid Purwanto, The Jakarta Post, 27 July 2015
To deal with rampant land disputes involving indigenous communities, the Environment and Forestry Ministry has set a target of redistributing 12.7 million hectares of social forests (2015-2019), in which the majority (6.8 million ha) would be taken from concession forests — totaling 30 million ha, which is composed of industrial forest permits (HTI) of around 10 million ha and natural production forest concessions (HPH) of around 12 million ha — in the form of partnership forests, Hutan Kemitraan (HK). The remaining 5.9 million ha will come from open-access production forests with no existing permits (unmanaged production forest) in the form of village forests or Hutan Desa (HD), community forests or Hutan Kemasyarakatan (HKM) and customary forests or Hutan Adat (HD).

A little-known big producer: Will forest policy reform in Peru support farm-forestry?
By Robin R Sears, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 July 2015
Collectively, 20 farming households in a Peruvian Amazon village can easily produce 760 cubic meters of sawn lumber per year on their farms, or rather, agricultural fallows. That’s 18 tractor-trailer trucks filled with small-dimension lumber going from the Amazon region to the nation’s capital, Lima, primarily for use in pre-fabricated houses for the city’s marginal populations. The farmers mainly manage the fast-growing species Guazuma crinita, known locally as bolaina, which seeds itself into crop fields going to fallow, creating what often looks like a messy, dense timber plantation. Farmers manage these forest stands in their complex production landscapes for both the environmental services they provide and timber production. It’s not a plantation. Or is it? How the timber produced in these systems should be regulated is a tough and interesting question. It’s where science and public policy come together.

Sierra Leone News: American Ambassador pledges to support STEWARD REDD+ Policy with great commitment
Awareness Times, 27 July 2015
The Sustainable and Thriving Environment for West Africa Development (STEWARD), in collaboration with the National Protective Area Authority (NPAA) and with support of USAID, has completed a one day Policy dialogue forum on Reduction of Emission, Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)+ effort in Sierra Leone at the Miatta Conference Center Brookfield in Freetown during which the American Ambassador to Sierra Leone, promised continued support for such policies. Making his remarks, the American Ambassador John Hoover described REDD+ as the greatest challenge facing the existence of the human race. The Ambassador said U.S. government has shown great commitment over the past years in working towards combating climate change and will continue to support STEWARD. He said partners around the world also need to meet the climate change challenges in many ways especially in protecting and restoring the world’s forest.

28 July 2015

UN set to launch voluntary CER cancellation platform in September
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 28 July 2015
The CDM’s executive board last week approved the September launch of an online platform to voluntarily cancel CERs, hoping the service will provide a new source of demand and help mop up the oversupply of credits currently overshadowing the scheme. The platform, to be operated by the UNFCCC, will make it easier for consumers and small businesses to purchase and cancel CERs, allowing them to buy directly from the project owners that have credits to offer rather than brokers. Brokers have been the main sellers of CERs since the inception of the CDM, but most don’t sell small quantities to individuals and they typically require any corporate clients to undergo rigorous background checks.

Northern Forests Falter in Combating Climate Change
By Malaika Vyawahare, Scientific American, 28 July 2015
The Earth relies on its vegetative cover to extract and hold onto carbon dioxide when a great deal of it finds its way into the atmosphere, as has happened with the burning of fossil fuels. The forests, which form the largest part of this land-based cover, are referred to as carbon sinks. Now, new research shows that one of the planet’s largest and most important carbon sinks, the forests of northern Eurasia, may be pulling in carbon at a slower rate than in the past. What is even more worrying is the possibility that regions that were absorbing carbon may emerge as sources of carbon emissions as the permafrost melts. In northern Eurasia, the annual net sink rate increased from the 1960s to the 2000s, but since then, the rate at which carbon is sequestered by the region has leveled and even showed signs of weakening, said Michael Rawlins, an assistant professor in the University of Massachusetts’ Department of Geosciences.

[Cambodia] Dammed if they don’t
By May Titthara, The Phnom Penh Post, 28 July 2015
People who have accepted relocation from the future reservoir zone of the Lower Sesan II hydropower project have called for the suspension of the resettlement program for one year and help to repair homes built by the Cambodian-Chinese energy firm constructing the dam. Villagers who held negotiations with Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Company (HPLS2) and officials here yesterday asked the company to sign a guarantee to halt the relocation of villagers so that they could store enough food to survive at the new villages, which those affected and NGOs have said are not placed on fertile land. Ly Pe, a 60-year-old villager representing families in Chrab and Sre Sronok villages, some of whom have recently accepted a compensation offer from HPLS2, said if the authorities and the company did not agree to the suspension, the displaced villagers would go hungry at the resettlement sites.

INDONESIAN MANGROVES SPECIAL: Indonesia’s best hope for slowing climate change
By Samule McGlennon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 July 2015
Indonesia’s mangroves are a massive storehouse of carbon and a key bargaining chip for the country in the upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris, according to the authors of a new study published in Nature Climate Change. “Indonesian policymakers should see protecting and sustainably managing mangroves as a potential solution for climate change mitigation,” says Daniel Murdiyarso, the study’s lead author and a principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “But to make progress, it is crucial that mangroves are protected and managed sustainably.” Large areas of Indonesia’s mangroves have been cleared in recent decades, but there’s perhaps never been a better time – nor such stark political motivation – to change this dynamic.

INDONESIAN MANGROVES SPECIAL: Fact File: A global treasure under threat
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 July 2015
Indonesia contains the largest area of mangrove forest in the world About 3 million hectares of mangrove forest grow along Indonesia’s 95,000 km coastline. This is 23 percent of all mangrove ecosystems in the world (Giri et al., 2011). Mangrove forests are found in many parts of Indonesia, with regionally important mangrove ecosystems located in Papua, Kalimantan and Sumatra (FAO, 2007). Mangrove trees in Indonesia can reach up to 50 metres in height. They are densely packed, with intertwined roots extending from the tree trunks. During the high tide, mangrove forests are flooded. During low tide, the ground is a layer of dense mud, with soil containing high levels of organic materials (FAO, 2007).

[USA] Clinton campaign goes ‘carbon neutral’
By Tony Dokoupil, MSNBC, 28 July 2015
Hillary Clinton portrayed herself as a crusader against climate change Monday, making a moral push for the importance of renewable energy production. Then she glided onto a private jet that burns 387 gallons of fossil fuel an hour, touching down in New Hampshire for another campaign event. The former first lady’s journey was caught on film by America Rising, which backs Jeb Bush’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. The group gleefully mocked Clinton for the apparent contraction between her words and deeds… [T]he biggest portion of the earlier campaign’s carbon-neutral pledge was the purchase of “carbon offsets” through NativeEnergy, a Vermont-based company that produces renewable energy.

29 July 2015

World Bank rejects energy industry notion that coal can cure poverty
By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 29 July 2015
The World Bank said coal was no cure for global poverty on Wednesday, rejecting a main industry argument for building new fossil fuel projects in developing countries. In a rebuff to coal, oil and gas companies, Rachel Kyte, the World Bank climate change envoy, said continued use of coal was exacting a heavy cost on some of the world’s poorest countries, in local health impacts as well as climate change, which is imposing even graver consequences on the developing world. “In general globally we need to wean ourselves off coal,” Kyte told an event in Washington hosted by the New Republic and the Center for American Progress. “There is a huge social cost to coal and a huge social cost to fossil fuels … if you want to be able to breathe clean air.”

Banks urged to tighten lending rules to curb deforestation
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 29 July 2015
Most banks are failing to ensure the agricultural commodities firms they lend money to are complying with forest protection laws, according to a UN-backed study of 30 financial institutions published on Wednesday. Of those assessed, the majority did not have policies that explicitly require clients to comply with applicable local, national and ratified international laws and regulations related to forest conservation. This increases the risk of tropical deforestation due to unsustainable trade in soft commodities, especially soy, palm oil and beef, according to study authors the Natural Capital Declaration (NCD), a finance-focused initiative from UNEP and think-thank Global Canopy Programme.

Climate talks hinge on money
By Kalina Oroschakoff, Politico, 29 July 2015
Finally, environment ministers in the European Union have started talking dollars and cents. With only 10 days of negotiations left before the United Nations’ global climate summit in Paris in December, the thorny subject of money has once again raised its ugly head, challenging the success of the talks. “Everybody knows, to really succeed we need to make financial efforts,” said Estonia’s Environment Minister Marko Pomerants. In the failed climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, developed nations pledged to come up with $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries fund efforts to cut emissions and strengthen resilience to climate-change risks. The majority of that money will flow through the Green Climate Fund. So far, however, contributions total a mere $10.2 billion…

UNEP, UN-REDD Programme Address Bank and Investor Risk Policies on Soft Commodities
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 29 July 2015
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report, titled ‘Bank and Investor Risk Policies for Soft Commodities,’ along with an accompanying Soft Commodities Forest-risk Assessment Tool addressing deforestation and forest degradation risk in the agricultural value chain. A UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) information brief, titled ‘Banking on REDD+: Can Bank and Investor Risk Policies on Soft Commodities Benefit REDD+?’ was produced in parallel. The ‘Bank and Investor Risk Policies for Soft Commodities’ study, commissioned by UN-REDD, was produced by the Natural Capital Declaration (NCD) – a global finance-led and CEO-endorsed initiative co-convened by UNEP’s Finance Initiative and the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) that seeks to accelerate the integration of natural capital considerations into financial products and services.

Alarm over ‘timber grab’ from Cambodia’s protected forests
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 29 July 2015
Ancient, highly valuable forests are being lost at an “unprecedented” rate from protected lands in Cambodia, according to a new report. The analysis, from campaign group Forest Trends, says that large corporations are using legitimate development permits to illegally clear land… “We are basically setting up these ‘cancer cells’ in the best forest areas and this is getting out of hand, the whole rule of law in the sector is melting away,” Marcus Hardtke, an expert on forest issues in Cambodia told BBC News… As part of global climate talks, the UN has been promoting the idea of REDD+ … But the REDD+ programme is seen as ineffective in preventing the corruption and lack of legal capacity that Forest Trends say is widespread in Cambodia. “They have websites and newsletters but it is all irrelevant,” said Marcus Hardtke. “The house is burning but they are discussing the colour of the curtains.”

[India] Don’t say ‘diversion’ of forest land, say ‘reforestation’, says Prakash Javadekar
By Jay Mazoomdaar, The Indian Express, 29 July 2015
Wary of the perception that his ministry is clearing too many projects too fast, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has asked ministry officials to replace the word ‘diversion’ of forest land with ‘reforestation’ in all communications. An intra-ministry communication issued on July 16 by Javadekar’s private secretary Vinay Srivastava stated: “Hon’ble minister has desired that henceforth in all communication the word ‘Clearance’ should be replaced by ‘Approval with Adequate Environmental Safeguards’ and the word ‘Diversion’ should be replaced by ‘Reforestation’.” Asked about it, Javadekar said: “For every diversion of forest land for a project, a condition for clearance says that compensatory afforestation on equal area of non-forest land is a must. So ultimately, it is reforestation only. This is all about thinking positive and using the right expression.”

[Indonesia] Joining efforts to fight forest fires
By Dadang J. Mutaqin, The Jakarta Post, 29 July 2015
Forest and land fires frequently hit the country when the dry season comes. Currently, fires are facing Riau and, as has happened in the past, they may occur in Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and East Kalimantan. The disaster plays havoc on the environment and sparks health concerns due to the haze it creates. It affects not only Indonesia but also Southeast Asian neighbors. The worst came in 1997-1998 when a climatological disturbance called El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) caused large-scale wildfires that impacted the air quality of the Southeast Asian region. To mitigate the disaster, all members of the regional grouping, ASEAN, signed in 2002 the Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (ATHP). Nevertheless, for almost 12 years the implementation of the ATHP was ineffective because Indonesia, as a source of haze pollution, refused to ratify the treaty.

[Indonesia] Singapore upset by RI’s haze
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 29 July 2015
While President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was on a state visit to Singapore on Tuesday, on the same day in Jakarta a Singaporean minister expressed his country’s growing impatience with Indonesia’s slow progress in controlling the annual forest fires. Speaking during a meeting in Jakarta with five ASEAN country members about the haze issue, Singapore Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said that the goal of a haze-free ASEAN by 2020 was not good enough for Singaporeans as the country had suffered too long from the air pollution. “As far as Singaporeans are concerned, we want a haze-free ASEAN now, not in 2020. We want it now. The human, social and economic cost of haze in our part of the world has been too high and been going on for far too long,” he said in front of his counterparts, including Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

[Indonesia] Haze exporter
The Jakarta Post, 29 July 2015
With the dry season returning, Indonesia is again doing the routine job of putting out forest and land fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan and defending itself from a barrage of complaints from the people and governments of neighboring countries. The fires seem to be dotted across 25 hotspots in the Sumatra province of Riau. As usual health problems have been caused by the thick smoke shrouding areas around the hotspots, not to mention flight delays resulting from reduced visibility. In Riau the local government has distributed 2,000 face masks as air quality decreases, while warning schools to suspend learning activities as the situation worsens. For many years, the disaster has been repeated similarly: in the same provinces and sadly, with similar text-book measures taken to overcome it. For a long time this country has been upholding a fire brigade mentality in coping with annual forest fires by taking action only when the forests are already burning.

Peru stalling new national park for unique Amazon mountain range
By David Hill, The Guardian, 29 July 2015
The Sierra del Divisor region in the Peruvian Amazon was identified as a biodiversity conservation priority back in the early 1990s. More than 20 years later and Peruvians are still waiting – some more desperately than others given all the narco-traffickers, illegal loggers and gold-miners in or near the region. What’s so special about the Sierra del Divisor? It’s the “only mountainous region” anywhere in the lowland rainforest, according to Peruvian NGO Instituto del Bien Comun (IBC), while The Field Museum, in the US, describes it as “a mountain range” rising up “dramatically from the lowlands of central Amazonian Peru” and boasting “rare and diverse geological formations that occur nowhere else in Amazonia.” Its most iconic topographical feature is “El Cono”, an extraordinary peak visible from the Andes on a clear day.

30 July 2015

Could carbon pricing still play a role in Paris climate talks?
By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 30 July 2015
A global deal on climate change could yet include ambitious language to encourage countries to put a price on carbon emissions, even though the latest text remains sparse on details when it comes to the potential use of market mechanisms. That is the view of Jonathan Grant, director of sustainability and climate change at PwC, who this week argued more than a thousand businesses were likely to be left disappointed by the lack of a commitment to a global carbon price in the latest version of the UN negotiating text… Speaking to reporters yesterday, Grant, who is also a co-chair of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) UN working group, complained the latest text contained little reference to carbon markets. “We have been advocating for the inclusion of market mechanisms for as long as the negotiations have been going on,” he said. “So to see such limited references is disappointing.”

African river study fills gap in carbon emissions tally
By Gilbert Nakweya, SciDev.Net, 30 July 2015
African rivers emit a vast amount of greenhouse gases, a major paper on this understudied topic reveals. As rivers carry organic matter from the land to the oceans, bacteria turn it into greenhouse gases. While previous analyses had quantified emissions of these gases from rivers in Brazil, Europe and North America, the study in the journal Nature Geoscience last week (20 July) largely fills the African gap. It used measurements of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide taken from 12 rivers between 2006 and 2014 to estimate carbon emissions from inland waters across Sub-Saharan Africa. The study found that river channels alone emit about 400 million tonnes of carbon a year, which is equivalent to two-thirds of the net amount previously reported as being captured and stored on the land in Africa.

[Australia] Hunt’s climate change ‘get out of jail free’ card
By Trsitan Edis, Climate Spectator, 30 July 2015
Yesterday the government released a document outlining a decision on a matter that on face value seems utterly obscure, but could in fact have huge ramifications for climate policy. It touches on a far broader fundamental issue around whether or not Australian governments should use international carbon credits to meet emission reduction targets. The decision related to what to do about roughly $200 million collected by landfills from customers in order to meet future carbon price liabilities associated with the expected future methane emissions that would flow from decomposing waste. With the carbon price now abolished, the landfills (at least for now) don’t have to worry about a carbon price liability on this methane. But landfills are unable to accurately refund the money because they don’t collect details on who dumped the waste and how much.

[Guyana] Trotman tells BaiShanLin, Vaitarna … Start value added operations else…
By Kiana Wilburg, Kaieteur News, 30 July 2015
Major logging companies, BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc and Vaitarna Holdings Private Incorporated (VHPI), have been running the same, old, unfulfilled promise of creating considerable value added operations to Guyanese. But Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, explained that after meeting with both companies, they have promised to get their wood processing facilities up and running within months. Trotman noted however, that the companies this time around will not escape sanctions, for should they fail to make good on their promise then their contracts will be reviewed. He made these statements following questions by this newspaper at his post cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency yesterday.

New forest fires threaten Indonesia’s protected areas
By Tjokorda Nirarta Samadhi, The Jakarta Post, 30 July 2015
Extreme haze caused by forest and bush fires throughout Sumatra and Kalimantan has been a perpetual problem affecting the quality of life and economy of local residents and neighboring countries. As this year’s dry season approaches, the fires are just starting to pick up, especially in the fire-prone province of Riau in Sumatra, but they are already threatening some of the most biodiverse and carbon-rich ecosystems in the country — protected forests and peatlands. According to NASA’s Active Fire Data on the Global Forest Watch Fires (GFW Fires) platform, half of the fire alerts in Riau are occurring in protected areas or those where new development is prohibited under Indonesia’s national forest moratorium. And an alarming 38 percent of Riau’s fires are burning on carbon-rich peatlands, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and fueling global climate change.

[Malaysia] ARREST WARRANT FOR THE PRIME MINISTER! – The Real Reason The Attorney General Was Fired – EXCLUSIVE!
Sarawak Report, 30 July 2015
Sarawak Report has acquired documents, now verified, which explain exactly why Abdul Gani Patail was dramatically fired on Monday. The Attorney General was on the brink of bringing charges for corruption against the Prime Minister of Malaysia. We have acquired the secret draft charge sheet documents, which Gani Patail was in the process of drafting. They include a charge sheet for corrupt practices under Section 17 (a) of the MACC Act, allowing for punishment of a sentence of up to 20 years in prison under Section 24 of the Act. In an unprecedented situation the person being charged was none other than the Prime Minister “Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak” along with a company director, Dato’ Shamus Anuar Bin Sulaiman.

Peru to initiate dialogue with uncontacted tribe
Survival International, 30 July 2015
The Peruvian government has announced plans to initiate dialogue with a group of uncontacted Mashco-Piro Indians who have been put at great risk by sporadic contact with outsiders. The plans follow increased sightings of a group of around 30 Indians on the fringes of the Manu National Park in Peru’s southeastern Amazon rainforest. Local Yine Indians, who speak a similar language to the Mashco-Piro, will attempt communication with the tribe. Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, takes the following position on the initiative: Where members of a tribal people initiate contact, the country’s government has an obligation to react swiftly and decisively to try and reduce the very high risk of loss of life.

[UK] Boiler room fraudsters used Tower 42 address
By Martin Evans, The Telegraph, 30 July 2015
A company which allowed a sophisticated boiler room scam to operate out of one its prestigious offices in the City of London has been successfully prosecuted. Regus Management UK Ltd, a well-known serviced office provider, was fined after it emerged that it had allowed fraudsters to use an address in the capital’s famous of Tower 42. Having such a prestigious address helped the scammers convince would be investors that they were a legitimate and respectable business. Offering investment opportunities in things like wine and diamonds, the fraudsters were able to convince a large number of victims, many of them vulnerable, to part with their life savings. But the company did not even exist and simply used the seventh floor office as a postal address. Regus UK was fined £11,000 and ordered to pay more than £16,000 in costs after it emerged that one of the victims had been falsely reassured that the investment company was above board.

[UK] Wine fraudster who duped doctor out of £500,000 is jailed
By Kate Palmer, The Telegraph, 30 July 2015
An former trader who ran a five-year, £1m wine investment scam was jailed for eight years yesterday after promising investors huge returns on crates of non-existent fine bordeaux. Spyros Constantinos, 44, plundered the life savings of his unsuspecting victims, who included a vicar and a doctor, promising returns varying from 8.9pc to as much as 50pc. But rather than investing in French vintages, the conman spent the money at Harrods, Selfridges and Hotel Chocolat and used it to pay private school fees and for family holidays to San Francisco… But similar investment scams can be spotted by checking the company’s official records and accounts via an official database. You can check if a company director has been disqualified or that the firm has genuine registration and VAT numbers at Companies House. Constantinos was disqualified from running a company for 10 years in 2008…

31 July 2015

Allcot secures exclusive sales agreement for Ferrero carbon credits
Allcot Group press release, 31 July 2015
Ferrero Trading Lux SA has agreed that sustainability solutions provider, ALLCOT AG will have exclusive worldwide marketing and sales rights for its Gold Standard carbon project portfolio. In 2007, Agrigeorgia LLC., a full subsidiary of Ferrero but 100% locally managed company, developed Ferrero’s first carbon project “Afforestation with Hazelnut Plantations in Western Georgia”. The plantation represents the first ever Gold Standard food afforestation project and involves the planting of 2.5 million trees over 3,600 ha. With a focus on nature conservation practices, including the creation of ecosystem corridors and natural re-vegetation processes, it offers a replicable, best-practice model.

EUAs struggle to rebound amid weak auction demand
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 31 July 2015
EU carbon prices kept below €8 on Friday as the last auction to sell more than 2 million units for a month drew little interest. The Dec-15 EUA contract settled down 1 cent at €7.88 on ICE amid fairly thin turnover of around 7 million after easing back from €7.95 in early trade. The benchmark carbon contract has gained 5.6% in July despite dropping out of the month’s upward channel on Thursday, when speculators pushed prices below support at €8 to trigger stop-loss orders. The contract traded in a €7.33-8.15 range throughout the month, with the top trade its highest for 2.5 years as Backloading reforms slowly choke supply. “The market is consolidating and underwent what I see as a normal correction yesterday. I still believe we will be above €8 quite soon,” said one trader.

Greece bailout rescues EUAs from write-down as analysts hold price forecasts
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 31 July 2015
Analysts at Energy Aspects left their EUA price forecasts unchanged on Friday, judging the Greek bail-out and higher-than-expected temperatures to have removed a bearish weight that had been hanging over the bloc’s carbon market. “Last month we highlighted that an eventual Grexit would probably lead us to write down these forecasts. With the immediate risk of that scenario having fallen substantially, the August market can probably take something of a breather before the winter period,” the analysts said in a monthly report. They added that higher-than-expected temperatures in late June and July had boosted thermal generation, increasing their emissions forecast for the year by 1.1% or 20 million tonnes. The report means Energy Aspects have left their price forecasts unchanged since January in projecting benchmark EUA prices to average €8 over Q3 and €8.50 over Q4.

Meet the “clean cow” technology that could help fight climate change
By Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, 31 July 2015
[O]ne fundamental way of fixing the problem involves trying to change the chemistry of what’s happening in cows’ rumens — after all, methane emissions represent lost food energy that could have gone towards cow growth or milk production. For some time now, the Dutch life sciences and materials company DSM has been pursuing such a solution, which it appropriately calls its “Clean Cow” project. DSM is a Netherlands-based life and materials sciences giant with ten billion euros in annual sales — including 32 percent of its market in animal feed. The company has created a powder that can be added to cow feed that, it says, can produce “a reduction of over 30% in methane emissions with no negative impact on animal welfare, performance, or the amount of feed they consume.” And now, newly published science backs this idea up.

‘Slow forest drought recovery may boost climate change’
Daily Times, 31 July 2015
Trees and other vegetation take longer than expected to recover from extreme drought, thus storing less carbon dioxide and accelerating global warming, a study said on Thursday. Previous climate models assumed that forests bounced back rapidly after periods of severe water shortage, but a report in the US journal Science found that trees actually took two to four years to resume normal growth rates after droughts ended. During this prolonged recovery period, forests can store less carbon dioxide than completely healthy forests, according to the study. The amount of time needed to recover after a drought was previously unknown. Trees and other plants play an important role in stemming the effects of climate change by storing carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions released by human activity. “If forests are not as good at taking up carbon dioxide, this means climate change would speed up,” said study lead author William Anderegg.

[India] “That’s some toxic shit”- Chennai born rapper sings to Unilever CEO over mercury poisoning
The News Minute, 31 July 2015
It’s been over a decade since mercury hastily dumped by the Unilever’s mercury thermometer factory at Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu was first discovered. In April this year, fourteen samples of lichen, moss and sediment still showed high levels of mercury. Factory workers have been demanding compensation and rehabilitation for years, but it’s always fallen on deaf ears. After repeated calls for action to take responsibility for the effects of the dumping which is seen even today, Chennai-born rapper Sofia Ashraf, has come out with a special song addressed to Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman. Set to Nicki Minaj’s hit song “Anaconda”, Ashraf sings that Kodaikanal will not back down until Unilever steps up and takes responsibility.

Prioritizing key to climate change battle in Indonesia
By Jensi Sartin, The Jakarta Post, 31 July 2015
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s latest pledge to award US$5 million to Indonesia is encouraging news. If the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF) uses it to address the right problems, the money could make a huge difference. This is important not only for Indonesia but for the world. Indonesia is predicted to play a key role in the global battle to stop climate change. But what are the real problems? When it comes to climate change, the global community might feel overwhelmed as it seems as though there is too much to fix. The answer, then, lies in prioritizing. In Indonesia, there are three main agenda items that should be tackled first. Unsurprisingly, these three items were there before climate change issues popped up into mainstream consciousness, when there were no funds available to address them. With the new incoming support, first we need to improve the governance of the extractive sector.

Malawi’s forests going up in smoke as tobacco industry takes heavy toll
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 31 July 2015
For cigarette smokers and tobacco growers, the sight – and sweet smell – of the Chinkhoma auction house near Kasungu in central Malawi is heaven. Tens of thousands of metre-cubed bales of golden leaf, each with enough tobacco to make more than 50,000 cigarettes, cover the floor of a warehouse the size of three football fields. Malawi, now the poorest country in the world according to the World Bank, depends on tobacco as a cash crop. Chinkhoma, in the heart of the tobacco-growing Central region, is where much of it is sold before being exported and made into cigarettes. However, while tobacco is central to the economy, there is a high price to pay. The industry contributes greatly to the destruction of forests, with millions of trees required for the drying barns involved in air- and heat-curing. The cost also includes floods, changed rainfall patterns, and a reduction in food growing.

1 August 2015

A carbon price for Canada
By Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, 1 August 2015
Welcome to the federal election that could impose a national carbon-pricing scheme on Canadians to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. Based on party platforms, public statements by the leaders and government documents, here’s what the national parties are proposing. If NDP Leader Tom Mulcair wins, Canadians will be paying higher prices for virtually all goods and services through a national cap-and-trade market. In Ontario, that means we could soon be facing higher prices from two cap-and-trade schemes, one federal, introduced by Mulcair, the other provincial, introduced by Premier Kathleen Wynne, which will take effect in 2017. If Prime Minister Stephen Harper wins, Canada could develop a carbon pricing system similar to Alberta’s, in which major industries that don’t meet emission reduction targets pay into a clean energy fund, or purchase carbon offsets.

[Indonesia] Govt ready to distribute customary lands
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 1 August 2015
The government has wrapped up the task of setting up a task force aimed at protecting the rights of indigenous people and preserving their customary lands. Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said that the government had finished preparing the final draft of the presidential decree for the formation of the team and would soon submit it to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to be signed later in August. “After that [the task force] can start working immediately,” he told reporters after a meeting with Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar at her office in Central Jakarta on Friday. The task force will aid long-neglected indigenous people in cultivating and conserving their lands, according to Andi.

[South Korea] The standards are not tougher
Korea JoongAng Daily, 1 August 2015
The government’s new carbon agenda announced last month with a higher reduction goal has drawn heavy protests from the corporate sector as well as opposition from environmentalists. Under the plan, Seoul will work to reduce 37 percent of estimated greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – an increase from earlier proposals that included cuts between 14.7 and 31.3 percent. Industries complain that the new goal will damage their ability to compete, while environmentalists say the government is still falling short on its green agenda pledges. The outline Seoul finalized to meet the new United Nations-led global agreement on climate control due in December can be broken down into three crucial points.

[UK] Lloyds comes up sparkling over ‘Elite’ diamonds
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 1 August 2015
Ansar Ali’s name has cropped up in scams with monotonous regularity in recent years. He was a director of Charles Stratton Limited, a rip-off business that sold near-worthless carbon credits as if they were a good investment. The company has filed no accounts since it was set up in 2011 but has not been struck off by Companies House, which I hope means there is an investigation in hand… Now for the good news. You bought two of your diamonds by paying a deposit with your Lloyds Bank MasterCard. Under the Consumer Credit Act, this was enough to make the bank a party to the sale, jointly responsible alongside Ansar Ali if it turned out – as it has – that there was any dodgy dealing. I contacted the bank’s head office and explained what had happened. The bank has been as good as gold. Even though you only paid a deposit with your card, staff immediately accepted full responsibility.

[UK] Time to shut these dodgy offices for the dodgy dealers
By Patrick Collinson, The Guardian, 1 August 2015
It’s the prestigious address that gives an air of authenticity to the con artists who are duping the unwary out of millions of pounds before they disappear without trace. It only costs a few hundred pounds to rent a “virtual office” that redirects mail and phone calls. What could be more respectable than, say, an office in Tower 42, still better known as the former NatWest Tower and an icon of the London skyline? One investor, though, had her suspicions. She had been cold-called, and was convinced she had been defrauded. So she decided to do a bit of her own investigating, and rang the number in Tower 42. The office was managed by Regus, the self-styled “world’s largest provider of flexible workspace”. Our investor had done her research, and knew that the con-artists only had a mail forwarding facility and not a physical presence in the sksycraper.

2 August 2015


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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