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REDD in the news: 10-16 August 2015

REDDREDD-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.

 
[UK] Carbon Foxes
WOW247, August 2015
Like independent film? You’ll love Nightpiece. Since 2010 an ethos of stage to screen production has helped translate everything we delivered as theatre in previous Fringes into feature or short films. In 2014 we screened our original content alongside 69 films from around the UK and the world on an open access format. This year were pulling focus and curating the content with submissions open via FilmFreeway. On the opening day we premiere director Al Carrettas eighth indie feature Carbon Foxes, a biting satire inspired by the carbon credits trading scams of recent years.

10 August 2015

Developed Countries Enter Final Phase of Kyoto Protocol 1st Period
UNFCCC press release, 10 August 2015
Developed country Parties (Annex I) under the Kyoto Protocol today enter the final 100 days of the emission reduction treaty’s accounting period during which they ensure that they make up any shortfall in meeting their targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Preliminary analysis has already demonstrated that countries with targets under the Kyoto Protocol collectively exceeded their original ambitions by a large margin – a powerful demonstration that climate change agreements not only work but can drive even higher ambition over time. On 30 September the Secretariat will publish preliminary information on the actual situation of each party’s emissions and units. From 10 August to18 November, countries with quantified emission limitation and reduction targets under the protocol can acquire or transfer any of the Kyoto Protocol units.

The Forest Path to an Ambitious Climate Deal
By Paul Polman (CEO, Unilever), Huffington Post, 10 August 2015
At the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September 2014, over 175 countries, companies and organisations representing indigenous peoples, signed the New York Declaration on Forests – committing to cutting global natural forest loss in half by 2020, and ending it entirely by 2030, while also increasing forest restoration. A critical mass of tropical forest nations and global agricultural companies strongly endorsed these ambitious goals for the first time. And advanced economies committed to providing large-scale economic incentives to help make dramatic progress possible. Once implemented, according to the UN, achieving these goals will cut between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tons of carbon pollution per year by 2030 – about the same as ending all climate pollution from every car in the world. And doing so is more cost-effective than other climate solutions…

The Atlantic Ocean holds the key to western Amazon rainfall
By Samuel McGlennon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 10 August 2015
In 2010, catastrophic fires ravaged huge tracts of the western Amazon, a region of rainforest that until just a few years earlier was considered beyond the reach of serious drought. Those flames followed the major fires of 2005, which were also caused by extreme drought. Both of these conflagrations imperilled communities and livelihoods, sending massive pulses of carbon into the atmosphere. With each destructive fire, the forests of the western Amazon become more susceptible to drying and further burning. And that is a big problem according to Lou Verchot, one of the authors of a new study and Director, Forests and Environment Research at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

[Brazil] Groundbreaking communications technology gives remote tribes a voice
Survival International, 10 August 2015
Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, has launched a unique project to bring the latest communications technology to some of the world’s most remote tribal communities. The “Tribal Voice” project is the first of its kind and allows tribal communities without internet access to send video messages about their lives and their struggle to survive to a global audience in real time. So far, the project has been adopted by the Guarani and the Yanomami Indians in Brazil. Mariazinha, from the Yanomami community of Rokoari, said in the first-ever Tribal Voice video, “Today the communications equipment arrived and I am very happy … If we see illegal goldminers on our land, or if outsiders try to kill us, I will be able to let everybody know … We’ll be able to communicate with people who live far away.”

Mexico Aims For Inclusivity With New Carbon Norm, But Does It Bring Rigor?
By Ciro Calderon, Ecosystem Marketplace, 10 August 2015 The Mexican Carbon Norm, set to come into force on August 14th, aims to bring most of the country’s land-based carbon projects under one umbrella – though it leaves avoided deforestation projects out in the rain. The Norm, known as NMX, will be implemented step-by-step: first through a national carbon accounting system, then by taking stock of all existing land-based projects and creating an independent regulatory body to oversee them. “The purpose is to generate a national procedure, a certification, that provides access to uniformed validated credits in a voluntary market,” says Jaime Severino of the Carbon Projects and Markets program within CONAFOR, Mexico’s National Forest Commission. Mexico is already a mosaic of struggling conservation efforts – some designed with carbon finance in mind, and others simply aimed at conserving nature.

11 August 2015

Paris climate deal ‘not a failure’ if it busts 2C goal
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 11 August 2015
A Paris climate pact will not have failed if it does not deliver greenhouse gas cuts to limit global warming to 2C. So says Dan Reifsnyder, one of two UN co-chairs coaxing 196 countries towards a carbon-cutting agreement this December. In an exclusive interview with RTCC, he and colleague Ahmed Djoghlaf stress the significance of getting everyone on board with a deal – even if the combined efforts do not meet an international temperature goal. “It is not at all a failure if it doesn’t meet the 2C target,” says Reifsnyder. “People seem to think we are all going to get together at a single COP [climate summit] and solve the problem once and for all. “Climate change is a multi-decade problem; it is going to take the concerted efforts of countries for multiple decades to solve it.” Djoghlaf agrees: “No-one in his right mind expects to solve climate change on the 11 December 2015.”

Can climate action by business and mayors save the planet?
By Andrew Jordan and Harro van Asselt, RTCC, 11 August 2015
In the lead-up to the Paris Climate Change Conference, the French government and Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), have pursued a two-pronged strategy. First, they have pushed national governments to be as ambitious as they can in their “intended nationally determined contributions” – even while recognising that the national climate plans (known as INDCs in UN jargon) would likely fall far short of an internationally agreed 2C warming limit, given known economic and political constraints. So at the same time, they have worked to rally businesses, local governments and civil society to tackle climate challenges, building on growing momentum around the world. Achieving international climate goals clearly requires action by nation states.

Migrating Amazonian trees are a cause for concern
By Evelyn Perez, phys.org, 11 August 2015
Tropical forests in the Andes Mountains are changing in the face of climate change. A new study published in PNAS reveals the number of highland tree species is decreasing as a result of lowland tree species moving upslope along South America’s longest mountain chain in response to rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Instead of shifting to different locations, the highland trees are retracting, or dying back. The results suggest tropical tree species in the Andes are at risk of extinction with ongoing warming. “The effects of climate change are everywhere – you can’t escape it,” said Kenneth J. Feeley, a researcher in FIU’s Department of Biological Sciences and International Center for Tropical Botany (ICTB).

Why Green Bonds Are Laying the Groundwork for Climate-Friendly Financing
By Julian Spector, CityLab, 11 August 2015
There aren’t any legal qualifications for what constitutes a green bond. Instead, there’s a system of verification and scrutiny that goes into any green bond issuance, says Chris Davis, who directs the investment program at Ceres, a nonprofit group that advocates for sustainable business practices and investing. His organization recommends that green bond issuers go to an outside inspector to vet eligible programs before financing them. The issuer should then set up internal tracking protocols to ensure the money does indeed go to green purposes. That’s become standard practice, and is included in the Green Bond Principles, a voluntary code of conduct for issuers.

Australia sets 26-28% emission reduction target by 2030
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 11 August 2015
Australia will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Tuesday, leaving the nation trailing most other developed countries in efforts to combat climate change. The government plans to meet the target through its Direct Action policy, which relies on the Emissions Reduction Fund to pay polluters to cut their emissions. Australia does not plan to make use of the international carbon market, but will reconsider allowing emitters buying foreign offsets in a climate policy review in 2017-2018. It will carry over its surplus AAUs from the first Kyoto commitment period and use those towards the target, Environment Minister Greg Hunt said. “Our emissions reduction per person is the highest in the world,” Abbott said. But numbers from the Climate Institute showed the target would make Australia a laggard in climate efforts compared to other developed countries.

[Australia] Carbon emissions: Tony Abbott defends climate targets which critics say don’t go far enough
By Jake Sturmer, ABC News, 11 August 2015
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia’s climate targets have struck the right balance between protecting the economy and the environment, but green groups believe the Government’s commitment is inadequate and does not go far enough to avoid dangerous climate change. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will take a target of between 26 and 28 per cent to the global talks in Paris at the end of the year. The baseline for the reductions would be 2005 levels. The Opposition and the Greens argue that would put Australia at the “back of the pack” when it comes to international action on climate change. But Mr Abbott dismissed the attacks from Labor and the Greens over the new post-2020 emissions reduction target, saying it was “fairly in the middle of comparable economies”. “We are not leading, but we are certainly not lagging,” he said.

Australian emissions target fails climate and economic test
By Tierney Smith, TckTckTck, 11 August 2015
The Australian government has finally revealed the emissions reduction target it is considering taking to December’s United Nations climate talks in Paris, committing to a “pathetic” 26 to 28% reduction on 2005 levels by 2030. It is not only far below the 40-60 per cent on 2000 levels recommended by its own Climate Change Authority, but totally inadequate to meet its bipartisan goal of doing its bit to holding warming below 2C. If other countries took the same approach, the world would face a disastrous 3-4C of warming. Australia is currently aiming to reduce emissions by 5% by 2020 – based on 2000 levels.

Code REDD+ in Cambodia
By Tim Frewer, New Mandala, 11 August 2015
In a sense, REDD+ as a policy solution is nothing less than the triumph of neoliberal thought within the field of international climate politics. After a decade of the US’s aggressive promotion of ‘carbon markets’ in international climate conferences, the rest of the world, and especially the Global South, has been forced, bribed and coerced into playing the carbon market game. The allure of millions of dollars of start-up funds provided by the World Bank and others, and the supposed future bonanza of carbon credits, have often been great for smaller countries (especially aid dependent ones like Cambodia). The result is that, rather than demanding climate justice or what is owed to the poor who are the lowest carbon emitters and most likely to be effected by a changed climate (for example climate debt), countries like Cambodia are instead accepting a pittance of what they are owed for a scheme that has no evidence of actually working…

Creating coherence to combat deforestation: The FIP and REDD in DRC
By Ian Hamilton, Climate Investment Funds, 11 August 2015
It is clear that the Congolese government and people are undaunted by the magnitude of the task in front of them and have embraced a strategic vision which is built upon the transformative impact that the sustainable management of its forests can have on poverty reduction, biodiversity loss and environmental protection as well as acting as a model for REDD+ coordination in other countries and contributing to slowing the pace of climate change globally.

[Kenya] KenGen to trade its carbon credits on local bourse
By Paul Wafula, Standard Digital News, 11 August 2015
Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) is planning to start selling carbon credits on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) by March next year. The electricity generator is scouting for direct buyers for its carbon credits in the spot markets ahead of an expiry of its UN-­backed, exchange market deal next year. “We were looking at December this year, but to provide for necessary approvals we should be selling by March next year. We are targeting local companies who wish to buy carbon credits to reduce their carbon footprint and make their products more competitive,” Director for Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Simon Ngure said at a media briefing. The trade will be handled by the Environment and Clean Development Mechanism, a fully-fledged department within the Regulatory Affairs Division at KenGen.

[Indonesia] WWF and partners secure protection for critical Sumatran rain forest
WWF, 11 August 2015
One of the last places on Earth where Sumatran elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist in the wild has received long-term protection. The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry approved a conservation concession – a lease of the land – covering 100,000 acres of rain forest in Sumatra, Indonesia. Through an ambitious project model combining innovative financing approaches with traditional conservation, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and The Orangutan Project (TOP) will join forces with local communities to actively manage the 100,000 acres of former logging forest, known as Bukit Tigapuluh (known as Thirty Hills), to protect rather than exploit the land’s natural resources. The joint initiative in Thirty Hills ensures that some of the last unprotected lowland tropical forest in central Sumatra is formally zoned for restoration rather than clearing, and provides the conservation groups a 60-year license to manage the area.

[Indonesia] Suharto Family Ordered to Pay Back $324m in Embezzled Funds
The Jakarta Globe, 11 August 2015
The Supreme Court has ordered the family of former president Suharto to pay back to the state Rp. 4.4 trillion ($324 million) in funds misappropriated during the late strongman’s lengthy reign. The court ruled in favor of the prosecution in a civil case against the now-defunct Supersemar Foundation, controlled by the Suharto family. The ruling, made on July 8 but not announced on the court’s website until Monday, revised an earlier ruling in 2010 which ordered the family to pay just a tiny fraction of the losses to the state. The court repealed a 1976 government regulation issued by the former president ordering all state-owned banks to set aside 2.5 percent of their profits for the foundation. The court ruled that the funds accumulated since the foundation was established — a total sum of $420 million and Rp 185 billion — were largely embezzled and never used for their stated purpose: education.

[Tanzania] Experts tout green investments
By Finnigan Wa Simbeye, DailyNews, 11 August 2015
Private and public sectors should work together in protecting natural forests so that the country can save over 175m/- loss per annum, tame climate change and benefit from global carbon trading. Carbon Tanzania Limited spokesman, Mr Jo Andersen and former Director of Forestry and Beekeeping, Dr Felician Kilahama said in Dar es Salaam recently while commenting on a recent United Nations Environment Programme report which stated that the country will lose over 5.5bn/- between 2013 and 2033 due o deforestation. Mr Andersen said his company’s forest conservation project with communities in Manyara region prevents deforestation of an estimated 350 hectares per annum which sequestrates 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. “Our investment in forest conservation leads to the exact outcomes that the report identifies, which is delivering biodiversity conservation that supports local livelihoods…”

[USA] New Orleans’ future depends on coastal restoration, but where’s the money?
By Mark Schleifstein, NOLA.com, 11 August 2015
The state is also exploring out-of-the-box options, such as creating carbon sequestration credits linked to restoration projects. In March, New Orleans-based Tierra Resources, Entergy Corp. and the ClimateTrust released a study concluding that the state could earn up to $1.6 billion for coastal restoration projects over the next 50 years by selling credits for storing carbon in wetland plants and soils. The credits could be sold to private landowners and businesses, here and elsewhere, that create their own projects or who participate in publicly-financed projects. Buyers of the credits would include businesses that now must reduce carbon emissions in California under the nation’s first “cap and trade” program aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. The credits also could be sold in existing voluntary markets to businesses or individuals interested in offsetting their carbon “footprint.”

[USA] The Climate Trust Announces Purchase of Milestone Forest Carbon Credits from City of Astoria
The Climate Trust press release, 11 August 2015
The Climate Trust today announced that it will purchase verified carbon emission credits from the City of Astoria. Through this innovative agreement, Astoria will store greater amounts of carbon by reducing the volume of timber harvested in the city-owned Bear Creek Watershed in return for carbon credits. The City plans to only harvest about one third of the amount of annual growth in the coming decades, significantly less that what is allowed under the Oregon Forest Practices law. This new carbon revenue stream will replace foregone harvest revenue and provide critical support to Astoria’s capital improvement fund. All of the 245,000 carbon credits purchased by The Trust will be directed to offset the carbon dioxide emissions from Oregon utilities, helping to mitigate industrial pollution that contributes to climate change. This offset purchase is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over 51,000 passenger vehicles.

12 August 2015

Rich nations’ climate plans fall short of hopes for Paris summit
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 12 August 2015
Developed nations are on track to cut their greenhouse emissions by almost 30 percent by 2030, Reuters calculations show, falling far short of a halving suggested by a U.N. panel of scientists as a fair share to limit climate change. Australia became on Tuesday the last big developed nation to submit its strategy for cuts in the run-up to a U.N. summit in Paris in December, rounding off pledges by nations led by the United States, the European Union and Japan. The developed nations, which have historically emitted most greenhouse gases by burning fossil fuels, are expected to lead by announcing deep cuts before the Paris summit, which is meant to agree a United Nations pact to limit warming beyond 2020. Their collective ambitions are falling short.

Humans have already used up 2015’s supply of Earth’s resources – analysis
By Emma Howard, The Guardian, 12 August 2015
Humans have exhausted a year’s supply of natural resources in less than eight months, according to an analysis of the demands the world’s population are placing on the planet. The Earth’s “overshoot day” for 2015, the point at which humanity goes into ecological debt, will occur on Thursday six days earlier than last year, based on an estimate by the Global Footprint Network (GFN). The date is based on a comparison of humanity’s demands – in terms of carbon emissions, cropland, fish stocks, and the use of forests for timber – with the planet’s ability to regenerate such resources and naturally absorb the carbon emitted. That implies the excess demands being placed on natural systems are doing more permanent harm that cannot be easily undone.

Haunted by Copenhagen
By Kimone Thompson, Jamaica Observer, 12 August 2015
Six years later, and as preparations for the 21st summit scheduled for Paris in December get into high gear, the situation still haunts people like climate negotiator on behalf of the Government of Grenada Dr Spencer Thomas… “We had a situation in Copenhagen that is still bothering a lot of people because they feel that we are going to have a second round of Copenhagen in Paris,” Dr Thomas told the Jamaica Observer at a climate change meeting in St Lucia nearly two weeks ago. “We left the COP with an agreement that many people have not agreed with. They accepted it, and then they spent the next couple years trying to unravel what they have; what they agreed to, so we could have the same situation coming out of Paris,” he continued.

Yosemite stunt launches ‘Stop the Con’ campaign to change conservation
Survival International, 12 August 2015
With a daring stunt, suspended 3000ft in the air from the iconic monolith El Capitan, Survival International campaigner Tesia Bobrycki has launched Survival’s new “Stop the Con” campaign to end the destruction of tribes and their lands in the name of “conservation.” The short film “Soar for Survival” is set in Yosemite National Park and marks the 99th anniversary of the U.S. Park Service on August 25. It follows Tesia’s personal journey to expose the dark history of the U.S. conservation movement – one that is being exported around the world. Yosemite and other U.S. parks were home to thousands of Native Americans before they were violently evicted.

[Australia] The Coalition’s plan to reduce emissions is a load of hot air
By Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 12 August 2015
While there will be considerable argument among stakeholders about whether or not the Abbott Government’s 26 per cent-28 per cent emission reduction target is an appropriate contribution, whether environmentalists or business groups they all seem to be in agreement that the Government doesn’t have a remotely credible set of policies for achieving it. Environment Minister Greg Hunt continues to talk up his Direct Action plan as the answer — not just for 2020 or even 2030, but even beyond. Meanwhile, Tony Abbott said he’ll give him just $200 million per annum extra.

REDD+ in Brazil: Coordination needed. Now
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog 12 August 2015
Farming and ranching remain the main drivers of deforestation in Brazil, a new study from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) has found. But any new government policy to combat the problem may be undermined by lack of coordination and communication, says one of the study’s authors, Monica Di Gregorio, a senior CIFOR associate. Sharing information and coordinating efforts are crucial for implementing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), the study claims. So, to map information-sharing and collaboration networks in Brazil, researchers used questionnaires and in-depth interviews with 56 representatives of government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations, research institutions private-sector organizations and donors.

[Indonesia] After long battle, big swath of Sumatran rainforest wins protection
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 12 August 2015
In what conservationists are hailing as a major breakthrough in efforts to protect Sumatra’s fast-dwindling lowland rainforests, the Indonesian government on Wednesday finally approved an ecosystem restoration license for more than 44,000 hectares (110,000 acres) of forest bordering Bukit Tigapuluh, a national park renowned for its rich wildlife. After a long-running tug-of-war between plantation companies and conservationists over the right to manage the area, Indonesia granted the license to PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh, a for-profit company established by a coalition of environmental organizations, including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), The Orangutan Project, and Rainforest Trust, with the support of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and other groups. The license allows the company to pursue activities that protect and restore forests that have been degraded by encroachment and logging.

[USA] How the Midwest’s Corn Farms Are Cooking the Planet
By Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, 12 August 2015
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how fertilizer from the Midwest’s big corn farms seeps into streams and causes trouble—fouling water supplies in Columbus, Toledo, Des Moines, and 60 other towns in Iowa, and generating a Connecticut-sized dead zone at the heart of the continental United States’ most productive fishery, the Gulf of Mexico. (Farms in the region also plant soybeans, but corn is by far the bigger fertilizer user.) But there’s another way the Corn Belt’s fertilizer habit damages a common resource: by releasing nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas with nearly 300 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. It turns out that the region’s farms are likely generating much more nitrous oxide than scientists previously thought, according to a new peer-reviewed study by a team of researchers from the University of Minnesota, Yale, and the US Department of Agriculture.

Vietnam ready to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
VietNamNet, 12 August 2015
Since 2005 there has been a particular focus on the link between forest loss and climate change. A discussion on deforestation was initiated within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations and the concept of REDD was first discussed at COP11. In the COP13 meeting in Bali in 2007, three more activities were introduced – sustainable management of forests, conservation of forest carbon stocks and enhancement of forest carbon stocks constituting the “+” in REDD+. Some bilateral and multilateral programmes have been established to provide technical and financial support for REDD+ readiness, such as the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of Developing Countries (so-called the UN-REDD Programme) and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) under the management of the World Bank.

13 August 2015

We need a miracle on climate change
By Michael Gerson, The Washington Post, 13 August 2015
If climate scientists are right about the pace of global warming, and about the total amount of carbon dioxide that humans can emit in the future without potentially catastrophic consequences, then we currently do not have feasible policy responses that are adequate to the need, even if we had far greater political will. By some estimates, the world must keep two-thirds of its carbon-based energy resources in the ground — at the same time that vast numbers of people in China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil and elsewhere move toward middle-class levels of energy consumption. [Bill] Gates makes the point in another way. If the goal — as some scientists urge — is an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, then it will be necessary “to reduce emissions from transportation and electrical production in participating countries down to zero.”

Something is happening here
By Tom Burke (E3G), BusinessGreen, 13 August 2015
Environmentalists have long been vulnerable to their own passions. At times this can make us sound shrill and self-righteous. On other occasions it can blind us to political traps. The oil industry is now busy setting a big one for us. It is camouflaged under a call by the industry’s leaders for ‘clear, stable, long-term, ambitious policy frameworks’ to tackle climate change. Who could quarrel? This call was set out in a letter to Christiana Figueres, head of the UNFCCC, at the end of May. In case you missed it, it was repeated in a letter to the Financial Times on June 1st. They were specific about what they wanted. Governments should, ‘introduce carbon pricing systems… [and]… create an international framework that could eventually connect national systems.’ Let me summarise. They want a global carbon price… It would be easy to confuse oil companies calling for a carbon price with sinners repenting. They are not.

Survival Director condemns rise of ‘green militarism’ in conservation
Survival International, 13 August 2015 Survival’s Director Stephen Corry has exposed the hypocrisy in today’s conservation movement which is increasingly militarizing and targeting local populations for subsistence hunting. In a damning article in U.S. journal Truthout, Corry wrote: “Local people, including local tribespeople, have long been thought of by some conservationists as ‘in the way’ of the environment. They’re termed ‘poachers’ and abused accordingly. Baka people in Cameroon, the Bushmen in Botswana and Adivasi tribes in India are beaten up or worse by those claiming to protect nature.” But while tribal people are the best conservationists, they are accused of “poaching” for hunting to feed their families and targeted for “subsistence poaching” by conservation organizations.

Australia’s carbon reduction goal won’t make enough difference
By John Connor, The Australian, 13 August 2015 On Tuesday the government announced its initial offer to the international community on how much Australia could reduce carbon emissions after 2020. Australia now joins more than 50 countries that have made an initial offer as nations prepare for negotiations at the end of the year in Paris. The Climate Institute’s analysis is that the target of 26 per cent to 28 per cent reductions on 2005 levels by 2030 is neither scientifically credible nor economically responsible. However, the government has also offered some opportunities to build on.

Tree loophole casts shadow over EU carbon action
By Barbara Lewis and Nina Chestney, Reuters, 13 August 2015
European environment law provides more financial incentives to fell a tree than to plant one, campaigners say. They warn that EU claims it leads the fight against climate change are based on false data and the United States must not follow suit. For many nations, wood burning, or biomass, provided a fast, affordable way to meet a European Union goal to get a fifth of all energy from renewable sources by 2020. Spurred by subsidies, EU nations will meet almost 60 percent of that target from biomass, according to European Commission data. But as forests, which absorb carbon dioxide, are replanted more slowly than they are burned, not all biomass is sustainable and an assumption that it is carbon neutral can be wildly inaccurate. “The best role our forests play in fighting climate change is when they are standing so that they can store and sequester carbon,” Scot Quaranda, a director at the U.S.-based Dogwood Alliance said.

Deutsche Bank Employees Charged In Carbon Emissions Trading Scandal
By Avaneesh Pandey, International Business Times, 13 August 2015
Seven current and one former employee of Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG are facing tax evasion charges over their alleged participation in tax fraud schemes involving carbon emission certificates, according to media reports Thursday. The eight — whose names have not been revealed — are accused of being involved in fraudulent schemes between September 2009 and February 2010. “Our own investigations into the matter are continuing unabated,” Deutsche Bank reportedly said in a statement, without providing further details. “We’re fully cooperating with the authorities involved.” … In this particular case, the current and former employees of Deutsche Bank reportedly took advantage of the mechanism to file incorrect VAT notifications at the bank’s tax department, resulting in losses of about 220 million euros ($245 million), Deutsche Welle reported, citing prosecutors in Frankfurt.

German prosecutors charge eight in carbon VAT fraud probe – media
Carbon Pulse, 13 August 2015
Prosecutors have charged seven bank employees and one former employee, media reported on Thursday, without naming the company. The charges follow a report in German online magazine Der Spiegel last month that said charges were to be laid against eight Deutsche Bank staff following a multi-million euro VAT fraud linked to the EU ETS. The bankers, aged between 33 and 64, are alleged to have been part of a gang that secured fees and bonuses by facilitating the evasion of at least €136 million in taxes for the bank’s clients between September 2009 and February 2010. Thursday’s charges are now with the court, which will examine whether to proceed with them, local and international media reports said.

[Indonesia] APP to clear plantations to restore peatlands
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 13 August 2015
In a notable shift away from business-as-usual in Indonesia’s plantation sector, forestry giant Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) will undertake ecosystem restoration in 7,000 hectares of commercial timber plantations, converting acacia back to native peatland species as part of a broader peatland management program. The move, announced at a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday, represents the next step in APP’s efforts to reform its forest management practices, which were long a target of criticism by environmental groups. More importantly, the initiative could have far broader implications in Indonesia by establishing best practices for peat management and pressuring the government and other private sector players to curb ongoing destruction of peatlands across Sumatra, Borneo, and New Guinea.

[Indonesia] Encouraging first step, but still a long way to go for APP to stop peat destruction
Wetlands International, 13 August 2015
Wetlands International welcomes APP’s acknowledgement of the impacts of its plantations on peat and its efforts to improve the sustainability of its peatland management. We recognize that retirement of active productive plantations gives an important signal. Nevertheless, APP’s announcement that it will retire 7.000 hectares from production, divided over 5 different concessions, is just a tiny dot in a vast landscape. APP and its subsidiaries currently have extensive land-holdings in peatland areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan, amounting to over 600,000 hectares of peatland. Many of their concessions have been developed at the cost of primary peat swamp forests.

Kiribati president calls for moratorium on coal mines
By Ed King, RTCC, 13 August 2015
The president of Kiribati, one of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries, has written to fellow world leaders asking them to support to global moratorium on new coal mines. Anote Tong said the future safety of his people depended on collective and aggressive action to stem the use of coal, the largest source of the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. “Kiribati, as a nation faced with a very uncertain future, is calling for a global moratorium on new coal mines. It would be one positive step towards our collective global action against climate change and it is my sincere hope that you and your people would add your positive support in this endeavour,” he said.

[Tanzania] REDD+ Pilots Projects provide valuable lessons
Norwegian Embassy Tanzania, 13 August 2015
Results from the REDD+ Pilot Projects to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Tanzania provide valuable lessons for international climate negotiations. At a widely attended seminar on August 11 in Dar es Salaam, representatives of government, civil society, academia and the international community discussed an evaluation of seven REDD+ Pilot Projects. A number of local TV channels and newspapers covered the event, which was organized by the Government of Tanzania and the Norwegian Embassy. The evaluation of the projects show that Tanzania has come a long way since the infancy of REDD+ in 2008. Capacity has been built in government institutions and civil society, and useful lessons have been learnt through the pilot projects.

Tanzania commended for efforts to mitigate greenhouse emissions
IPPmedia.com, 13 August 2015
The Norwegian government has commended Tanzania for being at the forefront in scaling-up the UN initiative, Reduction of Emission Deforestation and Degradation (REDD ). The initiative seeks to mitigate climate change through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by enhancing forest management in developing countries. Norwegian embassy’s charge d’Affaires, Trygve Bendiksby made the remarks mid this week in Dar es Salaam when speaking at an environmental stakeholders’ workshop. The workshop served as a platform from which findings from the review of the five-year REDD pilot projects were presented. Bendiksby said the ultimate goal of REDD is for developing countries to obtain result based on financing for their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from forest. “Tanzania has been one of the first countries to test REDD implementation on the ground where many adjustments have had to be made along the way,” the official said.

[UK] FCA bans and fines IFA boss £166k over unsuitable Sipp sales
By Charles Walmsely, New Model Adviser, 13 August 2015
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has banned and fined Robert Shaw, former director of advice firm TailorMade Independent, £165,900 over unsuitable Sipp sales. The FCA found that he failed to ensure the firm assessed the suitability of investments made through Sipps for its clients and failed to ensure that the firm managed its conflicts of interest. Between 2010 and 2013 TailorMade Independent advised 1,661 customers to transfer £122 million into unregulated investments such as biofuels and overseas property held in Sipps… More than half of the affected customers, 923, were invested in overseas property owned by Harlequin Investments, which is currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

[USA] Big Oil in Retreat
By Michael Klare, TomDispatch, 13 August 2015
On July 14, 2011, at TomDispatch, Bill McKibben wrote that he and a few other “veteran environmentalists” had issued a call for activists to descend on the White House and “risk arrest to demand something simple and concrete from President Obama: that he refuse to grant a license for Keystone XL, a new pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico that would vastly increase the flow of tar sands oil through the U.S., ensuring that the exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands will only increase.” It must have seemed like a long shot at the time, but McKibben urged the prospective demonstrators on, pointing out that “Alberta’s tar sands are the continent’s biggest carbon bomb,” especially “dirty” to produce and burn in terms of the release of carbon dioxide and so the heating of the planet.

[Zimbabwe] Cecil the Lion and the Link Between Wildlife Conservation and Carbon Emissions
By Nadia Kähkönen and Christian Dannecker (South Pole Group), TriplePundit, 13 August 2015
In Northern Zimbabwe, near Lake Kariba, local villagers have been busy setting up their own sustainable businesses that allow living in line with conservational requirements. They take pride in native fruit tree cultivation and establishment of beekeeping, with honey sales contributing to family incomes. They participate in regular trainings that revolve around crop and pest management, composting and awareness of working with fire. All these efforts to improve income generation and environmental protection are financed by the Kariba REDD+ project. The community owned project is operated with the support of Carbon Green Africa, a Zimbabwe-based organization focused on conservation and reduction of climate change, and South Pole Group. It is financed in its entirety through payments for carbon credits.

14 August 2015

[Australia] Beef producers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to earn carbon credits but method still not approved by bureaucrats
By Sarina Locke, ABC Rural, 14 August 2015
Australia’s Direct Action policy on climate change has so far delivered about $300 million from the Federal Government to landowners around Australia to reduce their emissions. They include piggeries capturing methane from the effluent ponds and farmers who commit not to clear their native timber. Now the beef industry is hoping to get in on the action, with a methodology awaiting approval by the Department of Environment. But it is unlikely to be ready before the next Emission Reduction Fund auction, due to take place on 4-5 November 2015. Researchers have been hard at work trying to find ways to reduce emissions per kilogram of beef. A number of things will make cattle more efficient, in growing them from skinny calves to fattened weaners ready for sale.

EUAs extend 2.5-year high for 3rd straight day
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 14 August 2015
EU carbon prices extended a 33-month high for the third consecutive session on Friday, beating the previous mark by 10 cents to reach €8.36. The benchmark Dec-15 contract had barely budged in thin trade before jumping from €8.23 at 1043 GMT to an initial peak of €8.29 amid a flurry of trades that doubled the day’s turnover on ICE to 4.6 million. The contract climbed further in the afternoon and settled 13 cents up on the day at €8.33 on relatively thin volume of just over 8 million units. It has gained 54 cents or 7% week-on-week, at the halfway stage of a month of reduced auction supply.

Life is a carousel of fraud and the people involved can be clever and very dangerous
By Jim Armitage, The Independent, 14 August 2015
Carousel fraud sounds quite jolly, conjuring up images of painted horses and Victorian merry-go-rounds. But its consequences are far from fun. The billions of pounds and euros that organised crime gangs have defrauded from taxpayers through this nasty scam has found its way into some of the world’s most dangerous hands – none more so than the carousel scams carried out using carbon credits. One investigation into carbon fraud traced the proceeds to Middle-Eastern terror groups, and was based on documents found by British special forces in a cave on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Other cases have been connected to serious crime gangs running robbery, extortion and murder rackets, according to HM Revenue and Customs. It has emerged that seven Deutsche Bank employees had been indicted in Germany for their alleged part in a carbon credit carousel.

US state attorneys general ask court to delay Obama climate plan
Carbon Pulse, 14 August 2015
A group of 15 state attorneys general on Thursday asked a federal court to delay implementation of the Clean Power Plan until legal challenges against it had been dealt with, saying it would save states spending millions of dollars preparing for a plan that might never be implemented. The group was led by West Virginia’s attorney general Patrick Morrisey, who said the EPA did not have legal authority to carry out the plan. Normally requests for courts to freeze policy implementation would be submitted when a lawsuit is filed, but the attorneys general said in this case there was no time for that. “If we were to wait on the EPA to get this rule published, it could be well into 2016 before the States complete arguments and receive a ruling on a request to stay this rule,” he said in a statement.

[USA] California ETS admin delays keep almost $400m from consumer bill help
By Robert Mullin, Carbon Pulse, 14 August 2015
Administrative delays have kept California utilities from funneling almost $400 million in carbon allowance revenue back to consumers last year, regulators said. The California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) said in a report that the delays meant half the proceeds from the vintage 2013 carbon auctions still remain to be given back to consumers this year. The report covers how the state’s electric utilities deployed revenues from their allocation under the WCI’s first five auctions to November 2013. State law requires investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to return 85% of allowance revenues to customers via rebates to offset cost increases due to the WCI but California’s Public Utility Commission (CPUC) had not authorized final provisions for the rebate programs or spending programs for the categories covering the other 15% in time for the report’s June 2014 cut-off (it has since).

Zimbabwe’s Forest Carbon Programme Not All It Seems
By Ignatius Banda, IPS, 14 August 2015
The efficacy of attempts to sustainably manage forests and conserve and enhance forest carbon stocks in Zimbabwe is increasingly coming under scrutiny as new research warns that the politics of access and control over forests and their carbon is challenging conventional understanding. It all comes down to the question of land and of whether local rural communities can benefit if they are not the owners of land. Even where they do “own” land, say researchers, these communities often find themselves competing with other players driven by different economic considerations, nullifying the very ideals being pushed under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

15 August 2015

How developing countries are paying a high price for the global mineral boom
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 15 August 2015
While the spot price of gold and other minerals has recently seen its greatest annual decline in more than 30 years, the legacy of the global mineral boom is social conflict, human rights violations and environmental devastation across Asia, Latin America and Africa, says a global investigation into hundreds of the world’s mineral mines. As angry communities in Colorado last week counted the cost of a toxic spill from an old gold mine, a new atlas of 600 international mining and oil companies has identified more than 1,500 ongoing conflicts raging over water, land, spills, pollution, ill-health, relocations, waste, land grabs, floods and falling water levels.

Promised task force on indigenous rights in Indonesia hits snag
By Cory Rogers, mongabay.com, 15 August 2015 Last Sunday on the Indonesian island of Bali, the country’s environment and forestry minister had the uncomfortable task of telling hundreds of indigenous people something they did not want to hear: a promised task force on their rights was not yet ready for action. Many of those present on the opening night of the Nusantara Festival, an annual cultural event, including Abdon Nababan, secretary-general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), had expected the minister’s speech to double as the landmark policy announcement they’d been pushing for. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had suggested as much at a meeting with AMAN in June, according to the organization. Instead, they got appeals for trust and patience. “More time will be required to harmonize the task force proposal with other ministries,” said the minister, Siti Nurbaya. “But don’t think there is a lack of political will.”

[Indonesia] Jokowi’s sustainable community-based forest management
By Edi Purwanto, The Jakarta Post, 15 August 2015
The Environment and Forestry Ministry will distribute 12.7 million hectares to indigenous peoples (IP). To support this, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will establish a task force to protect the rights of indigenous people and preserve their customary lands and actively participate in the ratification of the draft of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Acknowledgment and Protection Bill (The Jakarta Post, Aug. 1, 2015). It is hoped that the program will run smoothly as planned. The next important question is, however, what the people will do with their new rights and authorities, how they will use these to create better lives for themselves in a lasting way, and what this means for forests and ecosystems under their control. This probably means a lot of additional efforts beyond the already complicated land issues — in the worst scenario they will cash out the land for short-term income gain.

[New Zealand] 100-day countdown begins for NZ Kyoto unit holders
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 15 August 2015
The New Zealand government this week began its 100-day Kyoto Protocol true-up process that is likely to mean traders holding potentially millions of UN-issued offsets will see their assets cancelled. As part of New Zealand’s compliance with the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period, all privately held Kyoto units in the national registry will be cancelled automatically after Nov. 18, the EPA announced. The government will ensure that private holders of cancelled AAUs generated in New Zealand will get access to an equal amount of other permits eligible in the domestic carbon market, the EPA said, probably NZUs. But any private company still holding units originating in other nations, whether AAUs, CERs, ERUs or RMUs, will have those cancelled without compensation.

[UK] ‘Disruption’, the buzzword as I join the City scambusters
By Patrick Collinson, The Guardian, 15 August 2015
The buzzword among the scambusters today is “disruption”. The so-called boiler room operators, the hard-sell purveyors of fake shares, bonds and carbon credits , too often scarper from the scene before the police can build enough evidence to prosecute. The victims, usually newly retired men conned into “the next big thing” on the stock market, are so embarrassed they fell for it, the police don’t hear until it’s too late. So the new approach is to get in early, even if no complaints have emerged. Our first raid is on one of the many serviced office companies offering luxury short lets, mail forwarding and virtual office services. The eagle-eyed trading standards boss, formerly a commercial lawyer, can spot the hallmarks of a scam after leafing through just a few records.

16 August 2015

[Indonesia] How extractive industry impacts orangutan conservation
By Ahmad Yanuar, The Jakarta Post, 16 August 2015
The development of land-based extractive industries has, however, threatened the existence of the orangutan habitat, causing the species to increasingly suffer. The biggest challenge is coming from oil palm plantations, the belle of economic development in Indonesia. The rising demand for palm oil in the international market means the industry has received favorable support from the government, at national and regional level, to covert more forests. Thick rainforest with hundreds of plant species has been changed to monoculture plantations. With only one plant species available it is difficult for orangutans to find food to eat and high canopy in which to nest. Development of pulp and paper plantations that use vast amounts of land also threatens the habitat of orangutans, in which all plants of the forest, including the orangutan’s food trees, become industrial crops, such as acacia for pulp and paper-making needs.

How Indonesian forest law is being used against poor people
By Anne-Sophie Gindroz, The Jakarta Post, 16 August 2015
Indonesia’s Forest Law No. 18/2003 on Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction, ostensibly intended to protect the forests from organized crime and illegal logging, is instead being used to criminalize Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Many have lived off and managed their lands and resources for generations. Few have the monetary resources necessary to defend these rights against powerful and sometimes corrupt interests that seek to control Indonesia’s forests Civil society organizations and academics have called for this Law to be abrogated because of its impact on poor and marginal communities. Teguh Yuwono, professor of Forestry at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, states that the law is “used as a weapon against poor people […] while the conglomerate heavily suspected to be involved in major forest plundering can still roam free.” Criminalizing Indonesia’s poor is nothing new.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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