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REDD in the news: 17-23 August 2015

REDD in the newsREDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, forests and climate. The links are organised by date (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news links on delicious.com are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

 

17 August 2015

Large food firms back voluntary plan to stop land grabbing
Reuters, 17 August 2015
Global food giants and international NGOs have drafted a framework to prevent land grabs just as hedge funds, companies and plantation owners race to acquire new territory. Drafted by senior figures from Nestle, Unilever, Coca-Cola and other large firms, along with researchers from Oxfam, Global Witness and the other international organizations, the voluntary guidelines on responsible land acquisition were released on Monday. Indigenous people and local farmers in some of the world’s poorest countries in recent years have seen companies push onto land they have inhabited for generations, as investors scramble to secure land rights and forest resources. “Companies are taking greater responsibility to avoid forced evictions. They don’t want to be expelling people from their land in order to produce goods,” Jeffrey Hatcher, managing director of Indufor, a consultancy, and one of the authors of the new guide, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

[Australia] ‘The Irish boys’ alleged Queensland scam gang ‘pocket $4m from victims’
By Joshua Robertson, The Guardian, 17 August 2015
An alleged crime gang known as “the Irish Boys” netted at least $4m from a “boiler room” investment scam on the Gold Coast, says Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission. Four of the alleged syndicate ringleaders, including two Irish nationals, are in custody on serious fraud charges after raids on Gold Coast offices connected to the alleged scam by the CCC and police on Monday. One of these is Irish-born Stephen Keating, who was a principal target of the joint investigation, the CCC confirmed. The alleged syndicate employed at least 45 people in their call centres and another office at Robina. This included two allegedly active “boiler room” call centres – from which alleged victims received unsolicited phone calls targeting them with bogus investment offers – at Surfers Paradise and Bundall.

[Australia] ‘The biggest mistake in my life’: how Gold Coast boiler room scams duped investors
By Joshua Robertson, The Guardian, 17 August 2015
The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) has estimated that 2,600 Australians have lost $113m in boiler room frauds. This is equivalent to what the nation spends on dating services or organic dairy products each year. But the figure is three years old and the ACC acknowledges the true losses are greater. It was not until the emergence of boiler rooms as a cottage industry on the Gold Coast that the ACC realised such frauds were taking place inside Australia. Investigators now describe the Gold Coast as the country’s undisputed investment fraud capital, a place where boiler room operators mingle, share methods, buy and sell “sucker lists” and reinvent themselves under new banners in new locations, often with the same core staff… Queensland fraud squad superintendent Terry Lawrence says the key difference between a scam and a legitimate broking firm is the latter “do not cold-call members of the public to solicit investments”.

[Australia] ‘I think Tony Abbott’s ideas are dangerous’: Naomi Klein takes aim
By Tom Arup, Farm Weekly, 17 August 2015
Naomi Klein sounds slightly bemused that her ideas on capitalism and climate change are considered dangerous. “I think they are safe,” the globally renowned social activist and author says laughing. “I think Tony Abbott’s ideas are dangerous.” She tries another line: “I am about safety for the people and the planet. I am sorry to disappoint you all with my safety.” Klein will headline next month’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House, after a turn at the Melbourne Writers Festival. It will be her first trip to Australia in 14 years… “As long as we are trapped in the logic of neoliberalism and market fundamentalism it will not happen. And the reason it will not happen is we have been trying that for 25 years,” she tells Fairfax Media from her home in Toronto. Klein says the world is facing overlapping crises, including climate change, which are rooted in this logic – the reliance on short-term profits above all else.

EIB proposes to extend shadow CO2 price to 2050, keep climate spending ratio
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 17 August 2015
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has proposed to extend its shadow carbon price on which it bases its investments by 20 years to 2050, but doesn’t want to increase the proportion of its lending towards tackling climate change. The draft proposals are set out in the EU member state-owned bank’s climate strategy, which review its approach to supporting climate action. They are due to be adopted before October by the EIB’s board, whose 29 members are nominated by each member state and the European Commission. The EIB says it is the largest climate financier in the world, investing more than €88 billion over the past five years both inside and outside the EU. But it has faced criticism from environmental campaigners for continuing to lend extensively to fossil fuel-based projects and for favouring road and airport-building projects over rail and urban public transport.

[USA] Roanoke environmentalist Tom Clarke bids for coal mines to fuel new carbon-credit venture
By Jeff Sturgeon, Roanoke Times, 17 August 2015
If your electric bill jumps 10 percent to capture climate-warping carbon dioxide from power plants, you can blame Tom Clarke. But Clarke is betting you’ll prefer that to suffering the heat, megastorms and sea rise that climate change scientists predict from rising carbon pollution. Clarke, one of the region’s best-known environmentalists, plans to help save an overheating planet by selling electric utilities coal that’s been bundled with carbon credits, which would be an industry first, he said. He’s going to mine coal, the usual fuel for electricity generation, and bundle each shipment with an exclusive feature: a prepaid vehicle to sequester the carbon dioxide that burning coal for electricity emits. Trees, which he intends to plant by the thousands, are that vehicle. West Virginia-based Patriot Coal Corp., which is in bankruptcy, plans to sell a Clarke affiliate the mines and disturbed mine lands the project needs…

18 August 2015

Islamic leaders issue bold call for rapid phase out of fossil fuels
By Arthur Nelson, The Guardian, 18 August 2015
Islamic leaders have issued a clarion call to 1.6bn Muslims around the world to work towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a 100% renewable energy strategy. The grand mufti’s of Lebanon and Uganda endorsed the Islamic declaration on climate change, along with prominent Islamic scholars and teachers from 20 countries, at a symposium in Istanbul. Their collective statement makes several detailed political demands likely to increase pressure on Gulf states ahead of the Paris climate summit in December. “We particularly call on the well-off nations and oil-producing states to lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century,” it says.

Terrifying math: How Carbon Tracker changed the climate debate
By Ed King, RTCC, 18 August 2015
Mark Campanale is not your typical tree hugger, favouring expensive suits over hessian shirts. After dabbling in green activism at York University in the early 1980s, the founder of CTI became a fund manager, working his way through Jupiter Asset Management, AMP Capital and Henderson Global Investors. Few were interested in his theories about the risks associated with high carbon investments. But Campanale had tracked US coal stocks throughout the 1990s and early 2000s and was convinced they were overpriced. He had at least one angry argument on the Henderson trading floor with a “very senior fund manager” who dismissed his concerns. This, he tells RTCC, was not unusual. “The city is populated with people who… it’s not that they can’t get it – it’s that they don’t want to get it. My own experience of talking to mining and oil analysts at Henderson where I worked was their struggle with the idea you couldn’t burn all the fossil fuels.”

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 18 August 2015
The Mexican government officially tossed its hat into the voluntary offset market ring last week, when it launched the Mexican Carbon Norm (NMX). The norm aims to become the new, all-encompassing standard for almost all voluntary forest carbon projects in the country – except those that Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). The government’s first step is creating a national carbon accounting system; once that is in place, NMX will take stock of most existing land-based projects and create an independent regulatory body to oversee them. The registry will then validate those projects that wish to participate (regardless of pre-existing certifications) under a number of voluntary standards, including the Gold Standard, the Verified Carbon Standard and Plan Vivo. Though REDD gets left out in the rain, it is already the focus of a number of Mexican states – including Chiapas, Oaxaca, Jalisco and the Yucatan states…

Why the Pope is wrong on markets
By Maximilian Auffhammer, The Energy Collective, 18 August 2015
On a recent speaking engagement in Germany I ran into Prof. John Schellnhuber, who was pope francison his way to the Vatican to present Pope Francis’ major coming out document on climate change. After I got over feeling oh so cool for being one degree of Kevin Bacon removed from one of the most powerful figures in the world, I did my homework and read the Laudato Si, which carries the subtitle “On care for our common home”. This is a well researched position paper which touches on a variety of topics and makes it very clear that the pope cares much more about distributional issues than the average economist. This is not difficult as we are too often obsessed with efficiency (maximizing the size of the pie) rather than equity (who gets what size slice). Even though I am a Bavarian protestant married to a lovely South African Jewish lady, I have been a big fan of Pope Francis until I got to point 190 in the Laudato Si…

Future of Brazil’s babassu fruit breakers threatened by deforestation
By David Hill, The Guardian, 18 August 2015
Life for the quebradeiras – like so many people in rural Brazil – has been one long, often violent struggle. Huge swathes of babassu have been knocked down by cattle-ranchers or loggers, or for eucalyptus, teak, soy, sugar cane, palm oil and bamboo plantations, while more and more of the standing forests are being fenced off. “The eucalyptus situation is so bad right now I can barely explain it to you,” Tereza says. “Where there was once babassu now there is eucalyptus. I can’t even tell you what that has done to our lives.” While some quebradeiras have access to babassu because they own their own land following agrarian reform, many do not. Although Brazilian law allows them to collect babassu on private property in one state, Tocantins, and some municipalities in Maranhão and Pará, the quebradeiras say landowners ignore it.

Cambodian Government Takes Umbrage at US Congressman’s Comments on Land Grabs
Radio Free Asia, 18 August 2015
Cambodia’s Ministry of Land Management is acting in accordance with the country’s laws and making an effort to respect citizens’ rights, a ministry official said Tuesday, rejecting comments by a U.S. congressman that people in the Southeast Asian country are denied basic protection from land grabs. U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a press release on August 12, announcing a hearing in California on property rights in Cambodia and the Philippines, where citizens “are still denied basic protections under the law” when it comes to “the right to secure property, raise capital and freely participate in the economy.” Seng Loth, deputy general director of the ministry’s administration department, refuted Royce’s assertion, saying Cambodia’s constitution has guaranteed citizens’ such rights under the 2001 Land Law…

Democratic Republic of the Congo Submits INDC
Climate Change Policy & Practice, 18 August 2015
The UNFCCC Secretariat has reported that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the 56th Party to formally submit its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC), which sets a conditional emissions reduction target of 17% by 2030 compared to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. The Party’s intended contribution is dependent on adequate support in the form of technology transfer, capacity development and financial resources. The INDC covers the energy, agriculture and forest sectors, noting that the industrial processes and waste sectors have minimal greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels. The INDC focuses on the following gases: carbon dioxide (CO2); methane (CH4); and nitrous oxide (N2O). According to the INDC, approximately US$12.5 billion will be necessary to reach the country’s mitigation goal, which, if achieved, will avoid just over 70 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent (MtCO2e).

Norway meets with Guyana on new forest deal
Kaieteur News, 18 August 2015
A high level team from Norway yesterday met with Government, with the five-year-old multi-billion-dollar forest agreement discussed. The agreement is set to expire in just over two months, with Guyana likely to opt for a renewal. Meeting with President David Granger was Director of the Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, Per Fredrik Ilsaas. Also attending the were Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman; Finance Minister, Winston Jordan; Marianne Johansen; Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, and Advisor on the Environment, Gary Best. In November 2009, Guyana and Norway signed a ground-breaking US$250M to preserve forests as part of a scheme to slow climate change. Norway, which has led donor nations in slowing tropical deforestation with a budget of 3 billion Norwegian crowns (US$530 million) a year, said it had wanted to help Guyana maintain forests that cover 75 percent of its land.

[Malaysia] Global Financier Relocates…..
Sarawak Report, 18 August 2015
Sarawak Report has now reliably established that the global financier, self-styled philanthropist and international party lover, Malaysia’s Taek Jho Low, has relocated to Taiwan. The news is likely to provoke considerable dismay amongst the Crystal-drinking Las Vegas nightclub set and trendy Hollywood pals like Leonardo di Caprio. However, those in the know confirm he has become rooted in the island state and appears to have jettisoned his previous Hong Kong base and hyper-active travel schedules for several weeks.

Norway fund divests from Asian firms over deforestation
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 18 August 2015
Norway’s US$870 billion sovereign wealth fund is divesting from four major Asian companies over deforestation concerns. The fund added South Korean firms Daewoo International and Posco, and Malaysia’s Genting and IJM to its exclusion list on Monday. Its ethics advisors found the companies or their subsidiaries were involved in clearing tropical forest for palm oil plantations in Indonesia or Malaysia. In each case, it judged there was an “unacceptable risk” of “severe environmental damage”. The fund’s shares in those four companies totalled 2.2 billion Norwegian crowns (US$270 million) at the beginning of 2015.

[USA] Former Manager of Telemarketing Room Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy and Money Laundering
FBI, 18 August 2015
United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Mark Gardner (28, Osteen) has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering for his role in the operation of a boiler room. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for the conspiracy count and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for the money laundering count. Sentencing has been set for October 30, 2015. Gardner and Tammie Lynn Cline (33, Leominster, MA) were indicted on January 28, 2015. According to court documents, Gardner and Cline operated a boiler room in Central Florida. Along with the telemarketers who worked at their call center, they made unsolicited calls to owners of timeshare properties located throughout the United States.

[Zambia] Charcoal: An Important Driver of Deforestation in Africa
By Jessica Breitfeller, Forest Trends, 18 August 2015
It was early morning and smoke wafted over grass-thatched huts along the side of the highway, as we sped along the Great East Road. “What’s the main driver of deforestation in Zambia?” I ask, peering out the cruiser window. Expecting the usual culprits – new agricultural expansion, infrastructure development, or mining – I am surprised by his answer: “Charcoal.” Zambia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world: each year the country loses an estimated 250,000-300,000 hectares of forested land. While it is known for its copper mining sector and maize exports, charcoal production remains the main cause deforestation. Used as an inexpensive fuel for cooking and heating in the most Zambian homes, rural households rely heavily upon income derived from selling charcoal to city-dwellers within the capital city of Lusaka.

19 August 2015

National climate pledges made so far falling short -study
Carbon Pulse, 19 August 2015
Emissions-reduction pledges made so far by some of the world’s top polluters fall short of what’s required to stave off dangerous climate change, a study released on Wednesday showed. The INDCs published by 46 nations as of July 20 – representing more than half of the world’s emissions and around a quarter of all countries – would lead to annual global emissions of 56.9-59.1 billion tonnes of CO2e by 2030, according to the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science.

Citi finds low carbon doesn’t have to cost the Earth
Carbon Pulse, 19 August 2015
‘Why would you not follow a low carbon path?’, Citi concludes in a 132-page study finding that the incremental costs of doing so are limited and seem affordable, return on investment is acceptable and the likely avoided liabilities are enormous. It set out two scenarios for investment in the energy sector, finding the cost under climate ‘action’ at $190.2 trillion over 2015-2040, and ‘inaction’ at $192.0 trillion. “The difference is marginal between the two scenarios; mainly due to the fact that although we spend more on renewable resources and energy efficiency in the ‘Action’ scenario, this is offset by savings in fossil fuels through lower usage and the lack of fuels used by wind and solar.”

Climate philanthropist George Soros invests millions in coal
By Kalr Mathiesen, The Guardian, 19 August 2015
Billionaire climate philanthropist George Soros invested more than $2m (£1.3m) in struggling coal giants Peabody Energy and Arch Coal in recent months, despite having once called the fuel “lethal” to the climate. Filings with the Securities and Exchange commission show that between April and June this year Soros Fund Management (SFM) bought more than 1m shares in Peabody ($2.25m), the world’s largest private coal company, and 500,000 shares in Arch ($188,000).

Why INDCs can be a firm foundation to a climate deal
By Gareth Brydon Phillips (African Development Bank), Eco-Business, 19 August 2015
You may be forgiven for thinking that Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs are just another UNFCCC requirement to add to a long list of reports and official submissions on the UNFCCC website which consume resources in hard-pressed Finance, Planning and Environment Ministries. In fact, whether or not Parties make any significant progress at CoP21 in Paris in December, the mitigation element of INDCs could become the roadmap for public and private sector funded development and for this reason, it is vitally important that all nations take their INDCs seriously and build in, inter alia, realistic emission projections. Any financing institution specializing in large scale infrastructure these days will face tough questions around the financing of fossil fueled energy infrastructure and with an increasing number of funds divesting from fossil fuel, the costs of capital will be going up.

The REDD scheme: putting a price on forests in order to save them
By Antony Funnell, ABC Radio, 19 August 2015
In essence, REDD—which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation—seeks to put a greater economic value on keeping trees alive, rather than chopping them down. It does this by trying to link the preservation of forests to a much broader environmental issue. ‘This is part of a strategy for fighting climate change,’ says science journalist and author Fred Pearce, ‘for keeping as much carbon as we can in nature and preventing it leaking into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and adding to the problems of global warming being caused by our own emissions from burning fossil fuels… REDD isn’t just complex, it’s also controversial. One person who’s pessimistic about what it can effectively achieve is Chris Lang, who runs an environmental website called REDD Monitor.

China’s CO2 emissions exaggerated by up to 14%, study finds
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 19 August 2015
China’s CO2 emissions over 2000-2013 may have been overestimated by as much as 10.7 billion tonnes, a new study published in Nature magazine found, implying China might be left room to emit more CO2 in the future under a global carbon budget. The study, carried out by researchers from a number of international institutions, said samples from around 600 Chinese coal mines showed the coal’s carbon content was up to 40% lower than the default values recommended to be used in emission calculations by the UN’s IPCC. “The problem is that most international datasets go for harmonised assumptions, but this means they miss country specifics. That makes a big difference for China,” said Glen Peters, a researcher at Oslo’s Center for International Climate and Environmental Research.

In Mexico, it’s the politics…
By Tim Trench, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 19 August 2015
In Spanish the word for politics and policy is the same – ‘política’ – reminding us that policy is always political. Although in Spanish the adjective ‘pública’ can be added to distinguish the senses that English tries to maintain, it can serve us well to focus on their overlapping meanings. There is no policy truly outside of the political, partly because policy usually serves some political purpose and is designed with a particular political economy in mind, but also because policy is implemented in political contexts at different scales. Political histories and cultures – both national and local – matter, and can shape the ways international initiatives, such as REDD+, are implemented on the ground. So what political realities determine national policies and land use decisions? How does this power operate, at what scale and through whom? Who decides what, and who wins and who loses?

[UK] Surge of investment scams sparks alarm in City
By Judith Evans, Financial Times, 19 August 2015
A surge of investment fraud based in London’s financial centre has sparked alarm over the possible contamination of its brand, and authorities have begun a campaign of disruption against suspected criminals using exclusive addresses such as Tower 42 on Old Broad Street and Heron Tower. Dozens of people have been arrested as police made unannounced office visits, and at least 14 suspected criminal groups disrupted, police say. Two serviced office providers have also been fined after failing to carry out adequate checks on their tenants, in a move designed to send a message to the rest of the sector. Police set up their stall at an alternative investments fair in May for the first time — prompting several prospective exhibitors to suddenly pull out.

[UK] Dodgy diet pill is banned director George Andreetti’s follow-up to carbon credit scam
By Andrew Penman, Mirror, 19 August 2015
Has investment charlatan George Andreetti gone straight? Fat chance. Andreetti has just become the latest boss to be banned from any company directorship for the maximum period of 15 years. He ran a scam that I’ve exposed more times than I can remember – ­flogging so-called carbon credits as investments. Carbon credits are bought by firms to offset their pollution, and Andreetti’s company Alternative Capital Limited told potential customers they would shoot up in value and could be sold at a profit. Alternative Capital was put into compulsory liquidation last year in the public interest. It was part of a web of 13 firms involved in the carbon credit investment scam that collectively made more than £19million. Investors were targeted with slick brochures and high-pressure sales pitches. Vulnerable victims were callously urged to buy more and more credits at inflated prices.

[USA] Bankrupt Patriot Coal Finds Angel in Former Foe With a Tree Plan
By Mark Drajem, Bloomberg, 19 August 2015
An environmentalist is scooping up mines from bankrupt Patriot Coal Corp., betting he can turn the scorned fuel green and help revive the struggling Appalachian region. In a sign of how low coal’s fortunes have plunged, the purchase price is as shocking as the buyer: $0. Tom Clarke — a Virginia hospital executive and climate activist — is crafting a first-of-its-kind deal in which investors concerned about climate change take over mines along with hundreds of millions of dollars in liabilities. He plans to sell the coal bundled with carbon credits accrued from planting trees — something he thinks will appeal to utilities trying to meet new power-plant regulations. “This is not your typical M&A deal,” Clarke said in an interview. “We want to be part of the solution.”

20 August 2015

UNEP helps financiers make the case for forests
By Ivo Mulder, Global Landscapes Forum, 20 August 2015
A growing number of producers, traders and retailers have over the past few years made zero-deforestation pledges aiming to decouple production of palm oil, soy, beef and other commodities from deforestation impacts. The financial sector, however, has largely remained absent even though it is an important stakeholder as capital is a fundamental component of agricultural production systems. UNEP and the Natural Capital Declaration have now published a new report, which will help financiers to develop risk policies for loans and investments to reduce the probability that debt or equity will contribute to deforestation. The new UNEP report provides a conceptual business case for banks and investors to develop soft commodity risk policies thereby reducing the probability of deforestation by requiring certain minimum standards and provisions from clients in the agribusiness sector.

Western Mainstream Media Censor Green Left Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si’” Message For Urgent Action On Climate Change
By Dr Gideon Polya, countercurrents.org, 20 August 2015
Mainstream media lie as no better exampled by the extraordinary censorship of the powerful and radicalizing climate change action message of Green Left Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato si’” by US, UK and Australian Mainstream media, most notoriously by the UK BBC, the US CBS, the US Murdoch Media Empire’s Fox News and The Australian, and the taxpayer-funded Australian ABC. Censorship, lying by omission and lying by commission will doom the planet. Green Left Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato si’” (“Praise be to you”) with the sub-title “On care for our common home” was officially released on 18 June 2015. It runs to 192 pages including 246 Sections and is a powerful, science-informed statement of the need to urgently cease the destruction of the environment and cease pollution of the environment, particularly with fossil fuel burning-derived greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are causing global warming.

Like herding scientists: one man and many many trees
By Virginia M. Moncrieff, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 20 August 2015
A recent study by a 143 international scientists revealed statistics that were surprising – mainly because they had never been collated before. Who knew that we have never been able to count tropical tree species properly? Who knew there were between 43,000 and 50,000 tropical tree species? And who knew there were that many scientists to count them? Coordinator and lead author of the report is scientist Ferry Slik, a Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) associate, based at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. He did this interview with Forests News.

Germany and Brazil join forces on climate change action
By Anthony Boadle, Reuters, 20 August 2015
Germany and Brazil committed themselves on Thursday to a joint stance on climate change, putting the largest economies in Europe and Latin America on the same page ahead of global climate talks in Paris in December. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff focused mainly on environmental cooperation during a 24-hour visit by the German leader that was also aimed at boosting trade and investment in Brazil’s stagnant economy. “We agreed on common actions to deal with one of the most important challenges of the 21st Century,” Rousseff said. She said Brazil is committed to reducing deforestation in the Amazon to zero by 2030.

Brazil’s satellite-dodging loggers recast deforestation fight
By Alex Pashley, RTCC, 20 August 2015
Brazil’s drive to nip illicit tree-felling in the bud has shifted the nature of the problem, according to researchers. Small-scale illegal logging is – proportionally speaking – on the rise, says a report by the Climate Policy Initiative and the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. Deforestation rates fell nearly 80% from 27,000 square kilometres in 2004 to 5,000 km2 in 2012, following a strict regime of regulation, monitoring and enforcement. But over the same period, destruction of patches smaller than 25 hectares has increased from a quarter of the total to more than half. By clearing areas of that size – equivalent to 15-20 football pitches – illegal loggers can normally avoid detection from satellite monitoring.

EUAs rise above €8.40 to new 33-mth peak
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 20 August 2015
EU carbon prices rose on Thursday to match then later extend the previous session’s 33-month high of €8.38 as speculators bet on further gains while auction supply is curtailed. The benchmark Dec-15 EUAs shot to as high as €8.43 in early afternoon, but eased back to settle at €8.37, a 2 cent daily gain, on turnover just under 12 million on ICE. The EU’s auction of 1.459 million spot EUAs cleared one cent above market at €8.31, with three out of four of this week’s sales now bucking the regular pattern of clearing slightly below secondary market levels. The sale was 3.82 times oversubscribed, with all sales this week well above the year’s average bid-to-cover ratio just above 3.

Will REDD+ help save Indonesia’s forest, or create ‘carbon cowboys’ instead?
By Simon Pollack, mongabay.com, 20 August 2015
“REDD and the idea of money incentive has split some communities in Indonesia,” said Adriana Sri Adhiati, a member of Watch Indonesia!, a German-based NGO focusing on environmental protection and human rights in Indonesia. Sri Adhiati told Mongabay her consultation with communities in Indonesian areas where REDD has been trialled – including the provinces of Aceh, Kalimantan and Sulawesi – showed poor communication meant many local people did not understand what REDD is. “Once there is an idea of payments but not enough information, this creates rivalries between communities,” she said. Such social discord is greatly exacerbated when local government officials engage in “irregularities” over the allocation of land for REDD and other uses, said the environmental campaigner, who has been following Indonesian REDD issues for the past eight years.

[New Zealand] Carbon unit surrender in NZ ETS plunges 36% as forestry loophole closes
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 20 August 2015
Participants in New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme surrendered 36% fewer units for 2014 compared to the previous year, as fewer forest-owners reported emissions, government data showed Thursday. ETS participants handed over a total of 29.8 million emission units for 2014, compared to 46.6 million in 2013, according to an annual ETS report released by the EPA. The drop was due to forest-owners only surrendering 10.1 million units for 2014, 63.5% or 17.6 million fewer than in the previous year. Forest-owners are not required to report emissions and surrender units every year, and the lower number of permits submitted for 2014 is likely to be a result of the government plugging the loophole for post-1989 foresters that had allowed them to swap NZUs for cheap UN offsets.

[UK] City fraudsters stealing millions from vulnerable pensioners in toxic scams
RT.com, 20 August 2015
Ruthless white collar criminals in the City of London are targeting large numbers of vulnerable Brits, luring them into investment scams, stealing their hard earned cash and driving some to commit suicide, it has emerged. Soaring levels of investment fraud across London have caused serious alarm, as UK authorities scramble to disrupt fraudsters and salvage the City’s reputation as a safe space to invest. Dozens of suspected criminals have been arrested in recent months as detectives arrived unannounced at offices around London’s financial district, the Financial Times revealed on Thursday. The scams are varied, meticulously constructed and devastating to those whose funds they steal. Detective Inspector Teresa Russell of the City of London Police said growing reports of financial crime in the City have forced anti-fraud authorities to take urgent action.

[UK] Revealed: how Londoners are being fleeced out of £3m each month in fake wine and diamond scams
By Justin Davenport, Evening Standard, 20 August 2015
Conmen are fleecing Londoners out of nearly £3 million a month in a range of sophisticated investment scams, a senior police officer warned today. Thousands of people are falling victim to cons involving speculating in goods ranging from rare metals and wine to property and alternative energy. Det Supt Jayne Snelgrove, head of Scotland Yard’s Falcon cyber-fraud crime unit, said investment fraud was one of the most prolific crimes being tackled by her force. “We are seeing significant numbers of investment frauds as conmen target older people, not just because they are vulnerable but because of the cash in their accounts,” she added. “These are too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities. The commodity is almost irrelevant. “There are wine investment frauds, coloured diamonds are often offered, plus oil, carbon credits — you name it.”

Environmental group seeks to rescue US coal assets in carbon credit-linked deal
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 20 August 2015
A US conservation group has reached a deal with bankrupt Patriot Coal to acquire some of its assets in a landmark move that involves restarting coal mining and earning carbon credits from planting trees. The Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund has agreed to acquire for free mining permits and equipment to restart one mine, pick-up $176 million-worth of clean-up liabilities and a $109 million pension and healthcare bill from former workers. The new company formed under the deal intends to sell 4 million tonnes of coal a year from a West Virginia mine and employ other former miners on restoration projects. All 683 employees are intended to be kept in work. “In VCLF, we have found an experienced partner who will responsibly manage our remaining assets consistent with the highest environmental standards, and we believe this proposed transaction is in the best interest of Patriot and its stakeholders,” said Bob Bennett, Patriot’s President…

21 August 2015

Global Witness: the media is dependent on NGOs to investigate corruption
By Tom Levitt, The Guardian, 21 August 2015
Delving into the murky world of natural resources and corruption is dangerous work. Two people are killed every week, on average, defending land, forests and waterways against companies and criminals staking their claim on land. Even those figures are likely to be an underestimate, with publicly available information from most parts of Africa, as well as Central Asia, Burma and China severely lacking. London-based NGO Global Witness has spent the past 20 years delving into this issue to expose some of the worst wrongdoing, starting in the mid-90s with its campaign against the illegal timber trade between Cambodia and Thailand, used to fund the genocidal Khmer Rouge rebels. In 2011, Global Witness turned its sights on Shell and the company’s decision to pay $1.1bn (£702m) to the Nigerian government for the rights to an oil concession.

[Australia] Fraud squad boss Brian Hay at centre of Crime and Corruption Commission investigation
By Kathleen Skene, The Courier-Mail, 21 August 2015
The man charged with ridding the Gold Coast of fraud is caught up in “allegations of corrupt conduct involving the Queensland Police Service”. News Corp has learned an Ethical Standards investigation involving Gold Coast-based Fraud Squad boss Detective Superintendent Brian Hay was taken back by the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) just one month after he announced a 12-month “career break”. The probe comes as the commission targets suspected boiler room scam operations across the city — many operating from Surfers Paradise, where Supt Hay was based for over a decade.

How Costa Rica Intends to Become Carbon-Neutral (VIDEO)
By Jaime Lopez, Costa Rica Star News, 21 August 2015
Costa Rica’s path towards carbon neutrality as a nation began in earnest in 2012; during the administration of former President Laura Chinchilla, a nationwide campaign for residents of Costa Rica to get involved in the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2021 was launched. “Limpia tu huella” (clean up your carbon footprint) officially started on Monday, March 26th, 2012. Although the “Limpia tu huella” blueprint for sustainable development has not been fully embraced by the current administration of President Luis Guillermo Solis, a few major steps have taken place towards achieving this goal. The Costa Rica Star has reported on a few of these developments, including an extended period of clean electricity production, a review of coffee production at a national level, and the negotiation of carbon credits.

[Indonesia] Customary land included in one-map policy
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 21 August 2015
Following the disbandment of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) agency, concerns are mounting over whether customary lands that belong to indigenous people can be incorporated into the government’s policy to produce a single, integrated map depicting various political and economic features covering the entire country, known as the one-map policy. As of now, the maps of indigenous communities have not been incorporated into the single map, the policy for which was officially implemented at the end of 2014 to resolve disagreements resulting from the use of different data and maps that often caused land disputes and overlapping permits in plantation and mining operations.

22 August 2015

[Indonesia] KPK to investigate illegal forest land use permits
The Jakarta Post, 22 August 2015
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) started work on Friday to deal with the rampant illegal issuance of forest use permits by enlisting the help of three relevant ministries. KPK leaders on Friday held a meeting with Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya and Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Ferry Mursyidan Baldan to devise a strategy to deal with the issue. “The KPK asked us to come to map a number of areas of forests, including mining areas, in every city and regency [nationwide]. There has been a real problem of overlapping use of land. On average, provinces have more than 300 [pieces of forest land] for which use permits are held by more than one person,” Tjahjo told reporters at the KPK headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday. Tjahjo said that at the meeting, the KPK and the three ministries agreed to set up a team to issue technical guidance on how to deal with the problems.

23 August 2015


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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