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REDD in the news: 14-20 September 2015

2015-09-21-171146_1045x992_scrotREDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, forests and climate. The links are organised by date (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news links on delicious.com are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

 

14 September 2015

Activists in Durban declaration, flay REDD+ scheme in Africa
By Chinedum Uwaegbulam, The Guardian, 14 September 2015
Amid current deforestation rate in Nigeria estimated at 3.7 per cent, which is one of the highest in the world, activists from the civil society alternative space have called for the cancellation of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) programme in Africa, saying that the scheme promotes monoculture plantations and genetically modified trees and violates human rights. The activists under the No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN) at the World Forestry Congress held in Durban, South Africa said in statement, loggers and the United Nations want to grab African forests for REDD+, “Hands off Africa! Loggers go home! No REDD!” According to them, REDD+ is a carbon offset mechanism that is a false solution to climate change and the pillar of the green economy, the privatization of nature and the upcoming Paris Accord of the UN climate convention.

Smarter forest and land-use policy could help make Paris climate deal a success
By Ben Adler, Grist, 14 September 2015
As the world gears up for the U.N. climate negotiations in Paris this December, almost all of the talk is about greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning. How much will countries cut their emissions? When will they commit to having their emissions peak? But there’s another major component that’s being neglected: the way we manage our forests and other lands, which can serve as carbon sinks. Big carbon polluters are failing to offer strong, specific plans for land use as part of the pledges they’re releasing ahead of the Paris talks, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The U.S. and the European Union ignored the land-use sector almost completely in their INDCs, says report coauthor Doug Boucher. The report examines the land-use pledges from four countries that did address the sector: China, Canada, Morocco, and Ethiopia.

IETA makes carbon market push for Paris, poor nations wary
By Ben Garside and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 14 September 2015
Business association IETA published its priorities for the Paris climate agreement on Monday, aiming to persuade countries to secure a “sound foundation” for carbon pricing by making several technical decisions in the agreed texts amid doubts among poor nations about whether such a move should be linked to aid guarantees from rich governments. The group said the core Paris agreement should contain a provision to enable countries to transfer units between pricing systems under a transparent accounting framework, arguing that networked carbon markets perform better and allow nations to be more ambitious. IETA added that the wider “decision” text, aiming to thrash out further details before the agreement enters into force from 2020, should adopt decisions to establish by 2017 a unified project-crediting mechanism and market tools to assist countries in achieving their INDCs.

Better data can help international forest finance flow
By Marigold Norman, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), 14 September 2015
Better information on donors and finance that protect forests is also more readily available. ODI helped make improvements in this area through the analysis of more than 23,000 projects and pledges of financial support. Our research, which we presented to the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance last week, uncovers an intricate web of finance, involving a growing number of developing country governments and a relatively small number of steady donors. We found a significant proportion of international finance comes from the public sector, with individual institutions managing 51% of finance, compared to 33% managed by dedicated multilateral funds. Norway, the US, Germany, Japan and the UK are the top donors, contributing more than 77% of global finance. We also found a lack of transparency surrounding private and some public finance which should be addressed through better reporting.

Promise and perils: Recognizing indigenous forest territories
By Samuel McGlennon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 September 2015
Indigenous peoples around the world are gaining ground – but gaining rights to tropical forests creates new challenges. Supporters of indigenous rights are finding the issue more fraught and politicized than expected. “It’s kind of foolish to think this sort of power transfer over territory is not going to be problematic,” says Anne Larson, a principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and lead author of a new study on the struggles to realize indigenous territories in Nicaragua, Bolivia and the Philippines. “There are some obvious reasons for the difficulties involved in land claims, including the intrusion of non-indigenous agricultural, ranching and mining interests into indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands,” Larson adds. “Another reason, however, is that the recognition process itself is invariably more complicated than many assume.”

Australian PM Abbott ousted, successor Turnbull won’t touch climate before election
By Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 14 September 2015
Australia’s Prime Minister-designate Malcolm Turnbull will stick to current policy on climate change, he said after ousting Tony Abbott by 54 party room votes to 44 on Monday night, denting hopes that a change in leadership would immediately lead to a more ambitious emissions target or a carbon trading scheme for the country. In a press conference after the dramatic vote, Turnbull told reporters he would carry on Australia’s policy on climate change, which relies on the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) to cut carbon emissions. “Policies are reviewed and adapted all the time. But the climate policy is one that I think has been very well designed. That was a very, very good piece of work,” he said.

Indonesia’s New Emission-Reduction Strategy To Emphasize Clean Energy, De-Emphasize Forests
By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Ecosystem Marketplace, 14 September 2015
Indonesia plans to limit its greenhouse-gas emissions to a level 29 percent below a business-as-usual projection by 2030, according to a draft copy of its climate action plan, or “Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution” (INDC), which Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya posted for comment on the ministry’s web site. That’s 3 percent deeper but ten years later than the current target, which was announced in 2009 and promises a 26 percent reduction by 2020 if the country goes it alone, and a 41 percent reduction if international help materializes. Surprisingly, the new INDC relies heavily on curtailing rising emissions from the growing energy sector, and less on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests (REDD), which was a cornerstone of the country’s strategy before its REDD+ Agency was absorbed into the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in January.

[Indonesia] RI’s emission target lambasted
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 14 September 2015
Activists have urged the government to revise its Intended National Determined Contribution (INDC… Greenpeace Indonesia’s forest political campaigner, M. Teguh Surya, said that the most glaring flaw of the INDC was that it is not quantifiable. “The final INDC has no analysis of Indonesia’s emissions over the last ten years, no baseline predictions and no assessment of what reductions, in terms of tons of CO2 emissions in various sectors, would have to be achieved to meet the 26 percent emission reduction target. There is nothing that we can measure,” he said. Teguh also criticized the government’s decision to shift its focus from deforestation and land-use to energy consumption post-2020 based on the assumption that the country’s deforestation rate is declining.

[Indonesia] Children are dying from respiratory ailments as haze blankets Sumatra
By Made Ali, mongabay.com, 14 September 2015
At a housing complex in Riau, an epicenter of Indonesia’s haze crisis, Muklis shows a picture of his little daughter, seated before a piano and peering into the camera. She passed away last week, as forest fires blanketed the region in noxious smog. “The doctors said she died of respiratory failure,” said Muklis, who works as a journalist. “There was nothing else.” The haze crisis is an annual event in Indonesia, but this year it is especially intense, with El Nino delaying rainy season and causing drought in most provinces. As usual, smoke from the fires has drifted into Singapore and Malaysia, prompting calls for law enforcement against oil palm and pulp-and-paper developers that have allowed their concessions to burn, or even set fires themselves for the purpose of clearing land, which is illegal. But it is Indonesians who have suffered the most.

[Indonesia] Nearly 1,000 hotspots detected in Sumatra as haze thickens
By Sujadi Siswo, Channel NewsAsia, 14 September 2015
Hotspots in Sumatra rose to 982 on Monday (Sep 14) the highest in two months. Satellite images showed most of the hotspots, suspected to be caused by forest fires, were in the provinces of South Sumatra, Jambi and Riau. Air quality in the three provinces has reached hazardous levels which means the Pollutants Standard Index is above PSI-301. The very high levels of pollutants has forced schools and airports to close. The seriousness of the situation has also prompted health experts to urge authorities to evacuate residents from affected areas. Smoke from the forests fires has affected neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, blanketing parts of both countries in haze in recent days, with air quality reaching to unhealthy levels of more than PSI-101.

107 Charged for Lighting Dozens of Forest Fires Across Indonesia
By Farouk Arnaz, Jakarta Globe, 14 September 2015
Police in various parts of Indonesia have charged at least 107 individuals believed to be responsible for dozens of forest fire cases that continue to blanket much of Sumatra and Kalimantan as well as Singapore and parts of Malaysia in smoky haze. “To this day there have been 107 people [who have been named suspects],” National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Suharsono said on Monday. “They are involved in 68 acts of slash-and-burn practices, which are being investigated.” The officer said that Central Kalimantan became the province with the highest number of forest fire cases investigated by police, with 28 cases. Next on the list is South Sumatra with 16 cases, followed by Riau (13), West Kalimantan (six) and Jambi (five). Of the cases investigated, Suharsono continued, 21 will move to trial soon. Police in Riau have also charged an oil palm company with similar practices…

Rogue oil palm company must pay $26m, rules Indonesia’s Supreme Court
By Philip Jacobson, Indra Nugraha, Chik Rini, mongabay.com, 14 September 2015
Indonesia’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from oil palm developer PT Kallista Alam, which had been ordered to pay a staggering 366 billion rupiah ($26 million) in fines and reparations for cut-and-burning forest in the Tripa peat swamp region. The ruling puts to rest a three-year legal process that began when the Environment Ministry (since merged with the Forestry Ministry) brought charges against the company in a district court in Aceh province and that continued through Kallista Alam’s appeals of both that court’s decision against it and the Banda Aceh High Court’s upholding of the verdict. Tripa has been severely damaged by rogue plantation operators, and the Environment and Forestry Ministry is prosecuting four more of the biggest firms in a case that is unprecedented both for the scale of the official response and the severity of the punishments that have been handed down.

Indonesia declares a state of emergency in haze-choked province
AFP, 14 September 2015
Indonesia on Monday, September 14, declared a state of emergency in a province choked with thick haze from forest fires, as fears mounted that worsening air quality could affect the upcoming Grand Prix in neighboring Singapore. The emergency announcement in Riau province on Sumatra island came as aircraft were deployed to water-bomb the raging blazes and conduct “cloud-seeding”, which involves chemically inducing rain. President Joko Widodo also said he would send 1,000 additional troops to Riau to fight the haze, Indonesia Military Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo told Rappler. Smog-belching fires are an annual problem during the dry season in Indonesia. Vast tracts of land are cleared on Sumatra and the Indonesian part of Borneo island, using illegal slash-and-burn methods to make way for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations.

[New Zealand] Foresters bailing out of ‘failed’ ETS scheme
By Rob Tipa, Stuff.co.nz, 14 September 2015
Whatever happened to the emissions trading scheme? When the ETS was introduced in 2008 it was sold to the New Zealand public as the country taking responsibility for its carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol and making an international commitment to reduce those emissions by 2020. Initially, forest owners embraced the scheme with both hands, actively encouraged by the Government to register their forests and claim the annual carbon credits they were entitled to. The scheme allowed owners of forests planted since the Kyoto Protocol baseline year of 1990 to annually claim for carbon credits equal to the amount of carbon stored by their trees each year. Despite their reservations about its risks and liabilities, it gave foresters a welcome injection of cash and investors the confidence to plant trees in an industry that is by nature a long-term commitment.

[UK] Daniel Burgoyne ordered to pay investors back £27k after conning them
By Eleanor Perkins, Kent Online, 14 September 2015
Deceiving dealer Daniel Burgoyne has been forced to dish out his leftover fraudulent earnings to the investors he conned. The 24-year-old Folkestone man, who is nine months into his two-year sentence after admitting 18 fraud charges, attended Canterbury Crown Court from Standford Hill open prison in Sheppey. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Judge Simon James ordered him to return the remainder of his money £27,427.58, seized by police, pro rata to his 18 victims. It means they will each receive a proportionate amount of compensation relevant to the amount of money they invested and lost. The sum was all the “real diamond geezer”, formerly of Cheriton Road, had left from the £75,000 he obtained from his clients who thought they were investing in carbon credits, diamonds and wine. The rest he had blown on the “high life” including in casinos, on champagne and holidays abroad.

[UK] Sham gold trader who set up fake Mayfair company swindled would-be investors out of life savings
By Louisa Clarence-Smith, Your Local Guardian, 14 September 2015
A sham gold trader who created a fake investment company and duped the elderly and vulnerable out of thousands of pounds has been jailed for two years. Alan Taylor, of Garratt Lane in Tooting, claimed to run the fictional Mayfair-based gold investment company “European Gold Ventures Limited”. The 36 year old targeted older people across the UK, aggressively cold calling them and persuading them to part with their savings in exchange for promised huge returns. After a year of trading he closed the company and relaunched it as “Simple Gold Investments Limited”, purportedly based in Old Broad Street. He advertised his business on websites and made high-quality brochures to make the scam seem more realistic. Police have so far identified seven victims between the ages of 55 and 73, who together were swindled out of £163,000 between 2011 and 2012. But it is believed there could be more.

[USA] Republicans are becoming the party of climate supervillains
By Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, 14 September 2015
As Politico recently reported in a news story that seems better suited for bad a Hollywood movie script, Republican Party leaders are actively trying to sabotage the critical international climate negotiations that will happen in Paris at the end of this year. Top Republican lawmakers are planning a wide-ranging offensive — including outreach to foreign officials by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office — to undermine President Barack Obama’s hopes of reaching an international climate change agreement that would cement his environmental legacy. Republican Party leaders have often argued that the United States shouldn’t take action to curb its carbon pollution unless China and other countries do as well.

[Zambia] From a birds-eye view it’s clear – “we need to conserve our forests”
BioCarbon Partners, 14 September 2015
Clement was one of seven (7) community ambassadors from Mwanya that was recently given the rare opportunity to board a plane and see his communities’ forest from an aerial view point. This was just one of many activities that took place in the last several weeks to raise community awareness about the challenges – and potential opportunities – of protecting their forests. Mwanya is one of the locations to which BCP is looking to expand its USAID-funded Community Forests Program (a REDD+ initiative). However, in order for this to work, the communities must be fully engaged and supportive of the program, and BCP is committed to adhering to the principles of obtaining “Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)” – essentially, ensuring communities understand what they are saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to.”

15 September 2015

Paris pledges on greenhouse gases still fall short
By Pilita Clark, Financial Times, 15 September 2015
If people were even half as good at cutting carbon dioxide pollution as they are at talking about it, there would be no such thing as a climate change problem. Almost every year for the past two decades, hundreds of diplomats, officials and campaigners have trooped diligently to a UN climate negotiating conference to talk about how to stop global warming. Each meeting ends with an eloquent set of pledges to do more, usually enshrined in an agreement named after the place where the talks are held. But the net results of the Kyoto protocol, the Bali Action Plan, the Copenhagen Accord and the Cancún Agreement have been far from impressive. Global emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change, have risen from about 22bn tonnes a year in the early 1990s to more than 35bn tonnes today. This year, however, is supposed to be different.

Global climate change pledges will not be enough-U.N.
By Barbara Lewis, Reuters, 15 September 2015
National promises to cut emissions as part of preparations for a United Nations summit at the end of the year would cap global warming at the unacceptably high level of 3 degrees Celsius, the U.N.’s climate boss said on Tuesday. The talks in Paris, starting on Nov. 30, will seek a global deal to curb warming, which scientists say needs to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid the most devastating consequences in the form of droughts and rising sea levels. U.N. Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said so far 62 nations had submitted promises, covering around 70 percent of global emissions. The United Nations has said it will add up the pledges by the start of October and issue a report by Nov. 1.

EU industries eye ETS auction pot for further free allocations after 2020
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 15 September 2015
European industries are exploring how they can get a more generous share of free carbon allowances under post-2020 EU ETS reforms, including raiding a pot ring-fenced for auctioning, a round table event heard on Monday. Manufacturers face escalating costs under Phase 4 of the EU ETS (2021-2030) as the European Commission proposes to hold the share of auctionable allowances at 57% of the total, resulting in an increasingly dwindling share of free units available for industry. Despite this ratio also being flagged by EU leaders in an overarching deal setting out the bloc’s 2030 climate ambitions last year, industries are already seeking ways to secure more free allowances, several participants at a seminar at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) said.

Norway to complete $1 billion payment to Brazil for protecting Amazon
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 15 September 2015
Norway will make a final $100-million payment to Brazil this year to complete a $1-billion project that rewards a slowdown in forest loss in the Amazon basin, Norway’s Environment Ministry said on Tuesday. Brazil had more than achieved a goal of reducing the rate of deforestation by 75 percent, the condition for the payments under an agreement for 2008-15 meant to protect the forest and slow climate change, it said. The remaining cash would be paid before a U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December, the ministry said. Since 2008, Norway has paid about $900 million to Brazil’s Amazon Fund. “Brazil has established what has become a model for other national climate change funds,” Norwegian Environment Minister Tine Sundtoft said in a statement.

Norway fulfils one billion dollar committment to Brazil, in recognition of reduced deforestation in the Amazon
Government of Norway press release, 15 September 2015
Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment Tine Sundtoft announced yesterday that before the global climate change summit in Paris in December, Norway will have fulfilled its 2008-commitment to contribute one billion USD to the Brazilian Amazon Fund. This is in recognition of Brazil’s outstanding results in reducing Amazon deforestation over the last decade. “The partnership between Brazil and Norway through the Amazon Fund shows intensified support for one of most impressive climate change mitigation actions of the past decades,” says United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “This is an outstanding example of the kind of international collaboration we need to ensure the future sustainability of our planet.” In 2008, Norway made a commitment to pay up to 1 billion USD to the Amazon Fund in the period of 2008-2015 if Brazil would reduce deforestation in the Amazon – the world’s largest rainforest.

Canadian activists and artists back Leap Manifesto’s call to end fossil fuel use
By Jessica Murphy, The Guardian, 15 September 2015
In the middle of a national election campaign, Canadian artists and activists are calling for shift in the country’s economy to a sustainable system weaned off fossil fuels. The Leap Manifesto – a wide-ranging document signed by more than 100 prominent progressive Canadians – lays out an ambitious plan to end fossil fuel subsidies, increase income taxes on corporations and the wealthy, cut military spending and implement a progressive carbon tax. Signatories include actors Donald Sutherland, Rachel McAdams, and Ellen Page; musicians Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and Alanis Morissette; and writers William Gibson and Michael Ondaatje, along with major environmental groups and labour unions. “We start from the premise that Canada is facing the deepest crisis in recent memory,” the manifesto states.

India losing green cover faster than ever, warns study
The Times of India, 15 September 2015
The world’s forests have shrunk by three per cent since 1990 – an area equivalent to the size of South Africa – and India is among the countries who are losing their forest cover faster than others, researchers have warned. The green cover is being more rapidly lost in some of the developing and poorest countries including India, Vietnam and Ghana. “In low-income countries with high forest cover, forests are being cleared for direct subsistence by individuals and families and large scale agriculture for broader economic development,” said lead researcher and professor Rod Keenan from University of Melbourne. “Some have policies and regulations to protect forests, but they do not have the capacity and resources to implement them,” he added in United Nation’s Global Forest Resources Assessment (GFRA) 2015 report released this week.

[Indonesia] Why oppose zero deforestation?
By Agus P. Sari, The Jakarta Post, 15 September 2015
While the entire island of Sumatra is covered over with smoke, the government’s opposition to a voluntary commitment of some palm oil companies to zero deforestation is profoundly out of place. Sumatra’s burning wasteland gives the impression that the government is incapable of managing the forestry and land use sector sustainably. Yet the good intentions and voluntary actions from the private sector are not welcomed. It is as if the government wants to continue to support forest degradation. In the past few weeks, opposition to the zero deforestation commitment has been markedly open in the media. The opposition has tried to denigrate the commitment as a kind of “cartel”, or an “imposition of foreign interests” that seeks to “sell out Indonesia’s sovereignty”. In its most extreme form, opposition claims that such a commitment from the private sector is “unconstitutional” and represents some kind of “government takeover”.

[Indonesia] The palm oil plantations powering communities and tackling climate change
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 15 September 2015
Environmental concerns over palm oil production tend to focus on rainforest felling and the plight of the orangutan. But palm oil companies are now starting to grapple with a lesser-known issue that could make a significant difference in the quest to curb climate change. The rapid expansion of palm oil cultivation has resulted in the creation of vast wastewater lagoons beside plantations in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s two dominant producers. These murky ponds, containing the brown-hued detritus from processed palm oil fruit, release a huge amount of methane into the atmosphere – a gas so potent it traps around 34 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.

Laos kidnap probe mired in suspicion
Bangkok Post, 15 September 2015
One thousand days after civil society leader Sombath Somphone was abducted at a police checkpoint in Vientiane, Lao authorities say they still have no clues about what may have happened to him. “It’s been 1,000 days of waiting, 1,000 days of anxiety — and 1,000 days of nothing,” Shui Meng Ng, Mr Sombath’s wife, told a panel held to mark the milestone. Mr Sombath, a renowned community activist, was last seen on Dec 15, 2012, when he was stopped at a police checkpoint in Laos’ capital city. While his apparent abduction was caught on CCTV camera footage, the probe into the case has stalled. The video footage shows Mr Sombath being stopped at the police checkpoint and several men forcing him into another vehicle and driving away.

[Singapore] Haze unlikely to improve until Friday; haze subsidy scheme to kick in tomorrow, 30,000 care packs to be given out
By Audrey Tan, Linette Lai, Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 15 September 2015
Air quality will continue to be in the mid to high section of the unhealthy range for the next 24 hours, said officials on Tuesday, as the Government announced it will roll out measures, such as handing out haze care packs to vulnerable households. The situation, however, is expected to improve on Friday (Sept 18) when the wind patterns change. Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, who spoke to reporters after the briefing, said he does not expect the situation to be as bad as that in 2013, when the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) peaked at the hazardous level of 401. At the joint briefing, officials said the haze situation is likely to persist for the next 24 hours because of dry weather conditions. A storm in the South China Sea has brought a shift in the winds, which are blowing from the south-west, bringing the haze towards Singapore.

16 September 2015

African nations threaten veto if climate deal too weak
By Charles Ole Ngereza, SciDev.Net, 16 September 2015
African negotiators plan to block a global agreement on reducing global warming if the deal is too weak and fails to consider the implications of climate change for the continent’s wellbeing. At a conference to agree a unified position for African countries ahead of the UN climate change summit in Paris, France, this December, negotiators said they will demand that global warming must be kept below two degrees Celsius to protect Africa from extreme weather. They passed a joint strategy for the negotiations… “If the outcomes are not favourable for us, if [negotiators] think they will get a raw deal, they should threaten a walkout as the only way to change the balance of forces in Paris,” said Patrick Bond, a global governance researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, who attended the meeting in Tanzania.

David Attenborough backs huge Apollo-style clean energy research plan
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 16 September 2015
An Apollo-style research programme to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels has won the backing of Sir David Attenborough, who says this alone would be enough to halt climate change. The renowned naturalist joins a group of eminent scientists, business executives and politicians backing a 10-year public research and development plan to cut the costs of clean energy and deliver affordable technologies to store and transport solar and wind power. In a letter to the Guardian, the group argue that the approach, mirroring the intense Apollo programme that put men on the moon, “will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world”. “I have been lucky enough to spend my life exploring the world’s oceans, forests and deserts. But the Earth, with its spectacular variety of creatures and landscapes, is now in danger,” said Attenborough.

Carbon market linking on back burner as governments stay at home
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 16 September 2015
The growing global patchwork of carbon markets is likely to remain fragmented for many years as governments focus on driving abatement within their own territories, a conference heard on Wednesday. Over 60 national and sub-national jurisdictions have or plan to set up carbon pricing instruments, covering almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But far from uniting in a push to drive down the cost of cutting pollution, these markets are becoming more fractured, experts told Eurelectric’s To Paris and Beyond conference in Brussels. “Only domestic offsets are eligible in most markets. It used to be international credits,” said Stig Schjolset, an analyst at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon. “This is killing the international credit markets and it also means a more fragmented carbon market, as the CDM used to be the glue drawing markets together,” he added.

An oxymoron is born, or what the WFC said about landscape approaches
By James Reed, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 September 2015
A few, very consistent messages reverberated through the many meeting rooms of Durban’s convention center, which, when summarized, show that significant challenges remain – but that there is also considerable opportunity ahead. Members of The Forests Dialogue explained that, despite the growing emphasis on landscape approaches, examples of successful implementation remain scarce. We were advised that now is the time for urgency, that we must address this implementation gap and capitalize on the growing political will. Words of warning were also voiced. CIFOR’s Director General Peter Holmgren noted that, while now might be the time for urgent action, it is also a time for patience: these initiatives are not going to yield quick returns and we must have the foresight to realize that big wins will ensue only by playing the long game.

[Australia] Can Turnbull create an effective climate policy without an ETS?
By Tristan Edis, Business Spectator, 16 September 2015
“Emissions trading schemes have worked better in theory than in practice” – Malcolm Turnbull As a fellow strong advocate for carbon pricing I have to concede I agree with Malcolm Turnbull. The European ETS in particular has completely failed to generate the kind of significant and credible commercial incentive required to drive meaningful investment in low carbon technology. The fact the National Party has obtained a commitment from Turnbull that he will not introduce a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme is not a sensible approach, but it is equally not the end of the world. This is because we can now see there are plenty of other ways to skin this particular cat than relying primarily on a pure, broad-based emissions trading scheme. However, unlike Turnbull’s assertions to parliament yesterday, Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s Emission Reduction Fund also doesn’t work in practice either.

[Indonesia] Editorial: Justice for forest burners
The Jakarta Post, 16 September 2015
Indonesia’s long fight against forest and land fires has taken a new twist after the Supreme Court found company Kalista Alam guilty of deliberately burning peatland in 2012, and fined it a record Rp 366 billion (US$25.8 million). This should be enough to force the oil palm plantation company based in the Aceh regency of Nagan Raya to declare bankruptcy. It is not an exaggeration to call the court ruling a landmark in the nation’s efforts to enforce the law against people and corporations whose acts have not only threatened many lives, but also inflicted huge losses in the form of environmental degradation. Two children in Jambi died last week of respiratory infection, almost certainly due to constant exposure to smoke from forest fires.

[UK] Fraudsters ‘rubbing their hands’ at prospect of pensioners seeking early access to pensions
By Paul Peachey, The Independent, 16 September 2015
Intelligence gleaned from hundreds of prison interviews has revealed that fraudsters are “literally rubbing their hands” at exploiting pensioners seeking early access to their pension funds. Detectives have found that criminals convicted of economic crimes have been remarkably open in discussing the secrets behind “boiler-room” scams and other investment cons that cost the UK £30bn every year. Inmates have agreed to speak to police 90 per cent of the time even though they are not rewarded for their information or get time off their sentences, according to the City of London Police. The interviews revealed that fraudsters target an estimated 320,000 people every year set to benefit from new rules allowing over-55s unlimited access to their pension pots.

17 September 2015

Outcomes of the World Forestry Congress: The Same Old Industry S*%t
By Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, 17 September 2015
The outcomes of this UN FAO sponsored endeavor, which occurs only once every six years, are also key to what we can expect from the UN Climate Convention in Paris later this year. So called COP 21 is supposedly where the world’s governments will do something on climate change, but where, as we have seen endlessly before at previous COPs, absolutely nothing will be accomplished. There will be a huge focus in Paris on using forests and tree plantations as a green screen behind which governments and industry will continue business as usual. This is leading many to insist that no deal in Paris would be better than a bad deal. And others, like award-winning Nigerian activist Nnimmo Bassey, who spoke in Durban last week, are demanding “we have to stop the COP!”

US science agency says 2015 is 97% likely to be the hottest year on record
By Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, 17 September 2015
The world has experienced record-breaking warmth every month so far in 2015, making this year virtually guaranteed to be the hottest on record, according to a US science agency. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) said that 2015 was 97% likely to be the hottest year so far, eclipsing 2014, the current warmest year. Last month was the warmest ever August globally since records began in 1880, at 1.58F above the 20th century average. Every month this year has been the hottest on record, with the period of January to August 1.51F above the long-term average. In an update published on Thursday by Noaa, scientists said that manmade global warming and the El Niño climate phenomenon were the cause.

What does a successful Paris climate deal look like?
By Joss Garman, RTCC, 17 September 2015
John Podesta – the architect of President Obama’s climate reforms and the man now running Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency – has similarly identified the task as being ‘to give leadership and credibility to that effort’. To this end, it can be argued that the UN climate process has already been a success. The road to Paris has already prompted promises from countries around the world that very probably would not otherwise have been made, and certainly not within this timeframe. Establishing the confidence and conditions required to enable each country to do more than it would do otherwise is what climate diplomacy, and these talks, are all about. While the ‘ambition gap’ on emissions will not be closed altogether at the Paris summit, the result of the pledges made already is that the global carbon pollution curve should at least begin to bend in the right direction.

Can new climate finance numbers clear fog around $100bln goal?
By Megan Rowling, Reuters, 17 September 2015
New figures due out in early October are expected to show how much funding to help developing states address climate change needs to be drummed up to meet a 2020 pledge of $100 billion a year, dispersing the fog surrounding the numbers. The estimates, produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), will be the first to use a definition agreed by donors, intended to avoid duplication and help clarify the complex picture of international climate finance. Ensuring wealthy countries are on the road to meeting their 2020 commitment, made at a U.N. conference in 2009, is seen as crucial to the success of Paris talks in December, expected to produce a new global agreement to curb climate change.

The Climate Wars Are Coming
By Paul Hockenos, Al Jazeera America, 17 September 2015
In his State of the European Union address on Sept. 9, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker broached a topic that until now has been virtually absent from discussion about Europe’s refugee crisis. “Tomorrow morning we will have climate refugees,” he said bluntly, urging European leaders to tackle climate change, one of the factors exacerbating the ongoing exodus. “We should not be surprised or astonished if the first climate refugees are coming to Europe.” Global warming is responsible for longer-lasting droughts, more violent storms and rising sea levels that worsen the living conditions of hundreds of millions of people. Its fallout, Juncker warned, will trigger massive and increasing refugee flows — unless the EU and its international partners get serious about reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Surge in illegal logging by Chinese in Myanmar alarms activists
By Tom Phillips, The Guardian, 17 September 2015
A torrent of illegal timber worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year is pouring across Myanmar’s border into China as loggers reach deeper into the country’s forests in search of profits, activists have claimed. In a report released in Beijing on Thursday, the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency said there had been an alarming escalation of timber flowing into China over the last three years. “Within Myanmar we are being told that Chinese operations are going deeper into the country as they seek valuable hardwoods, mainly teak and rosewood,” said Faith Doherty, one of the report’s authors. “New investments in infrastructure in the country, including dams, ensure roads are built, leading timber bosses from China straight to Myanmar’s valuable forests. If this continues, the impacts on both the communities that rely on the forest and the country’s forest itself will be irreversible.”

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/indonesia-arrests-seven-company-executives-for-illegal-forest-fires
By Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, The Straits Times, 17 September 2015
Indonesian police nabbed seven corporate executives on Wednesday (Sept 16) in connection with illegal forest fires across Sumatra and Kalimantan, as part of a wide-ranging effort to arrest the haze crisis. Suspects from the latest bust included a senior executive from Bumi Mekar Hijau, a unit of Singapore-based Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which is also Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper producer. The national impetus, revealed on Wednesday, includes deploying more police to help with firefighting and handling probes against culprits, and increasing cloud-seeding sorties to douse the blazes, especially those burning on dry peatlands… An APP spokesman, responding to queries from The Straits Times, said last night it was “not aware of any new formal police charges against any of our suppliers at this time”. She maintained that APP has operated a “zero burning” policy in its supply chain since 1996.

[UK] Convicted criminals reveal their scamming secrets to police
By Lucy Clark-Billings, Telegraph, 17 September 2015
Jailed criminals are revealing their secrets to detectives to help crack down on fraud, the City of London Police has said. Commissioner Adrian Leppard said detectives have visited convicted fraudsters to find out how they carried out their crimes and the information has helped disrupt cybercrime and reduce the number of victims. The prisoners were not rewarded with reduced sentences, he told the BBC. Police have always spoken to convicted criminals, however the force’s widespread use of the practice since 2012 is thought to be unprecedented. City of London Police, which leads on economic crime, said most of the convicts their officers had visited were imprisoned in the UK, but detectives had also travelled overseas to conduct interviews. Mr Leppard said: “We’re grappling with this type of crime and we’ve got to find out how to protect people.

[Zimbabwe] Call to reduce deforestation
By Munesu Nyakdya, The Herald, 17 September 2015
There is need to curb deforestation to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure sustained economic development, director in Water and Climate Ministry Mr Washington Zhakata has said. He said deforestation statistics were alarming as the country has lost 300 000 hectares of forest land in the past few years especially in rural and communal areas. Mr Zhakata was speaking at the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) workshop, a United Nations strategy aimed at creating financial value for the carbon stored in forests to lure investors to invest in forest conversation. He cited the current rolling power cuts and increase in tobacco farming as some of the major reasons causing deforestation. Most tobacco farmers are using firewood to cure their crop as they cannot afford coal, the traditional source of fuel.

18 September 2015

Brazilian Indians kidnapped by ranchers
Survival International, 18 September 2015
Members of one of Brazil’s most persecuted tribes have been kidnapped by the ranchers who occupy their land, who have also attacked their community and forced women and children to flee. The Guarani Indians of Pyelito Kuê community reoccupied a fraction of their ancestral land two days ago, and have been under attack ever since. One Guarani woman was reportedly raped and beaten up, and is now in hospital. Earlier today gunmen employed by the ranchers attacked the Indians again. Reports indicate several were injured, with many fleeing in panic into a small patch of forest. Around 30 Indians were forced into the back of a truck and driven away. They were eventually dumped by a roadside. Communications equipment from Survival’s Tribal Voice project, which the Indians had been using to speak to the outside world, was destroyed by the gunmen.

EU nations agree mandate for Paris global climate talks
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 18 September 2015
EU environment ministers agreed a united stance on Friday for the bloc’s negotiating position at the December UN climate talks in Paris, which included a push for all countries to achieve “sustainable climate neutrality” by the end of the century… Greenpeace said the agreement was weak and the EU should have been clearer on committing to phasing out its own fossil fuel use… As expected, the EU ministers agreed to a previously drafted paragraph stressing that the Paris agreement should allow for the international use of carbon markets.

[EU] Preparations for the 21th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 11), Paris 2015
European Council, 18 September 2015
The Council of the European Union, 1. UNDERLINES the critical importance of the 2015 Paris Conference as a historic milestone for enhancing global collective action and accelerating the global transformation to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society. Urgency and need for global action 2. NOTES with concern the findings contained in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); UNDERLINES that global warming is unequivocal and that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

French, German energy experts have low expectations of Paris summit -surveys
Carbon Pulse, 18 September 2015
The UN climate summit in Paris is unlikely to lead to a legally binding international agreement but failure to strike a deal would not water down national climate policies, two surveys found. According to the ZEW and GEM Energy Market Barometers, twice-yearly surveys of German and French energy experts, more than 70% of the German experts and 60% of French ones believe Paris will not lead to a legally binding international treaty. Yet for both countries, about 80% of the experts believe that the national climate targets will remain unchanged even if the Paris Climate Summit fails to produce. “In Germany and France, citizens have very strong preferences towards climate change. As a result, national climate policy is rather independent of the outcome of international negotiations,” said Joachim Schleich, Professor of Energy Economics at Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM).

EU agrees market fix for beleaguered carbon-trading scheme
By Madeleine Cuff, BusinessGreen, 18 September 2015
European Environment Ministers have agreed new measures to revive the bloc’s emission trading scheme (ETS), which has suffered for years from a chronic oversupply of emissions allowances that has pushed down the price of carbon. Following months of negotiations, the EU Environment Council today agreed the introduction of a market stability reserve (MSR) that will remove surplus carbon allowances in an attempt to curb the supply glut and push up the price of carbon credits. The MSR will come into effect in January 2019, two years earlier than originally planned, Ministers confirmed. The decision represents the final legislative stage of a lengthy process to agree the reform package, which was first presented by the Commission in January 2014.

UN seeking to buy 350,000 CERs
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 18 September 2015
The UN has launched a tender to buy a total 350,000 CERs from multiple regions and projects with co-benefits, according to an ‘invitation to bid’ (ITB) document. The tender, which was launched on Sep. 8 by the UN’s Office for Project Services (UNOPS), invites holders of CERs from various regions to submit bids, as well as those with CERs from LDCs, Gold Standard-certified credits and CERs with co-benefits relating to the health, safety and welfare of people living near the projects. The deadline to offer credits is Sep. 25 at 0900 GMT, the document said. The contracts will then be awarded on Oct. 12, with deliveries to commence Oct. 30.

[Indonesia] Inaction leads to annual torment
By Rendi A. Witular, Rizal Harahap and Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post, 18 September 2015
In late November last year, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued an ultimatum demanding that all stakeholders prove their commitment to resolving land and forest fires, especially in Riau province, where the issue has persisted for the last 17 years. “There is no new solution to the issue. Everyone understands what must be done. This is a matter of whether we are willing to resolve the issue,” Jokowi said during a visit to Pekanbaru, Riau. Jokowi reiterated that he had received reports from all quarters familiar with the issue. “If we master the situation in the field, making decisions is easy,” said the President, a graduate of Gadjah Mada University’s School of Forestry. But the President’s call can do little to stem the immediate plague of smoke from forest fires that have raged ferociously since first being detected in February.

[Indonesia] ‘Masterminds of forest fires are companies’: BNPB chief
The Jakarta Post, 18 September 2015
Question: Can you elaborate on your ambitious two-week plan to clear up the haze? Answer: Soon after my inauguration, the President instructed me on several matters. Among other issues was to tackle the forest fires and haze […] immediately. This is why I translated these instructions into a mission. In relation to the two-week ambition, it really depends on the location. For example, in Riau, after talking with the local authorities, we came to the conclusion that we would need 14 days. The target really depends on the magnitude of the threat and the available resources and capabilities. I went to South Sumatra, where the local administration was also upbeat that it would need 14 days, but after a discussion with all stakeholders we concluded that we would need about 30 days. For West Kalimantan, we’ve concluded that the haze will be contained within 30 days.

[Indonesia] Sputtering law enforcement
By Rendi A. Witular, Rizal Harahap and Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post, 18 September 2015
As the haze frenzy from forest fires intensifies, the National Police named on Wednesday seven companies and 133 individuals suspects for their alleged involvement in clearing land by burning in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Last year, at the height of rampaging haze, the police also announced at least four companies suspects, a decrease from eight companies named in 2013. However, critics have often characterized the police’s stern measures as little more than an annual Legal public relations stunt designed to appease the international community and show that Indonesia is serious about enforcing its laws. Such criticism is buttressed by the fact that few cases related to the fires have made it to court in the last three years.

[Indonesia] Rain comes, but haze remains
By Rizal Harahap and Syamsul Huda M. Suhari, The Jakarta Post, 18 September 2015
The rain that has poured over several regions across Sumatra and Kalimantan over the last two days has failed to significantly lower the intensity of the haze that has blanketed the fire-scorched parts of the country. Despite the rain, the haze continues to disrupt the activities and movement of local residents, and has disrupted operations at local airports. “Haze at destination airports, especially in Pekanbaru, Jambi and Medan, has yet to dissipate significantly, and some flights are still being cancelled,” said Suwarso, head of Hang Nadim Batam International Airport’s general affairs division, in Batam on Thursday as quoted by Antara news agency. The haze that has blanketed Hang Nadim for the past two weeks has caused a total of almost 100 flights to have been cancelled.

19 September 2015

[Ghana] Ministry launches programme to check deforestation
By Akwasi Ampratwum-Mensah, Graphic Online, 19 September 2015
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has launched the Ghana Forest Investment Programme (GFIP) to help address the underlying drivers of deforestation in the country. The $5 million programme is to be implemented under three projects namely; Engaging local communities in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+/Enhancing Carbon Stocks); and engaging private sector in REDD+; enhancing the natural forests and agro-forestry landscapes project (ENFALP). It is being jointly funded by the World Bank (WB), the African Development Bank (AFDB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and would be implemented by the Forestry Commission (FC), the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FoRIG), under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

[Indonesia] Government predicts rise in C02 emissions by 2020
The Jakarta Post, 19 September 2015
The government unveiled on Friday its annual emissions target, also known as Forest Reference Emission Levels (FREL), as part of its commitment on implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) scheme. Although the national agency for REDD+ (BP REDD+), formed in 2013 to fight climate change, was officially disbanded in January and was later merged with the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the government said it continued to maintain its commitment under the ministry. The FREL figures released by the ministry on Friday started from 0.575 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) this year and are expected to reach 0.593 gigatons of CO2e in 2020. The projected increase was expected due to deforestation, forest degradation and peat decomposition. The benchmark increases 1.6 percent every year due to inherited emissions from peat decomposition.

20 September 2015

New principles to help accelerate the growing global momentum for carbon pricing
World Bank, 20 September 2015
Around the world, about 40 national and 23 city, states and regions are using carbon pricing schemes, like emissions trading systems (ETS) or carbon taxes. These represent about 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, or 12% of global greenhouse emissions, a threefold increase over the past decade. To help countries navigate the waters, the World Bank Group, together with the OECD and with input from the IMF, also released a report today on the FASTER Principles, which helps governments and business develop efficient and cost-effective instruments to put a price on the social costs of emissions. The FASTER principles are: F for fairness; A for alignment of policies and objectives; S for stability and predictability; T for transparency; E for efficiency and cost-effectiveness and R for reliability and environmental integrity.

Climate change: Biggest threat to plants may be competition, not heat
By Olivia Lowenberg, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 September 2015
What happens to existing plants when a new species, forced out of its former habitat by rising temperatures, invades their territory? Mountaintop plants, for example, now face competition from flowers and shrubs that previously grew at lower elevations but have begun migrating uphill as temperatures rise – and that makes all the difference, according to a study in the latest issue of Nature. “Finding out that it is competition from lower-elevation flora that serves as the decisive effect, and not higher temperatures as previously assumed, is a very valuable discovery,” said plant ecologist Jake Alexander, lead author of the study, in a press release.

[Indonesia] Accepting our neighbors’ help
The Jakarta Post, 20 September 2015
It is quite clear that with the unrelenting forest fires and the toxic air pollution imposed on local residents, we could use all the help available to extinguish the fires as soon as possible. It seems strange and deeply hurtful for affected Indonesians and people in neighboring countries that the government so far has not taken up the offer from Singapore to help put out the fires. The new chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Rear Adm. (ret.) Willem Rampangilei, has said, as we reported Friday, that at least 30 days would be needed to put out fires, particularly in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, and West and South Kalimantan.

[Indonesia] Haze crisis escalates
By Syofiardi Bachyul Jb and Syamsul Huda M. Suhari, The Jakarta Post, 20 September 2015
With no sign of immediate recovery, regions enveloped by smoke produced from land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan have continued to struggle not only with the impact of deteriorating air quality, but also with the expansion of affected areas. In West Sumatra, a Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) station in Bukit Kototabang, Agam regency, reported that the air quality in areas around the station had dropped to the “dangerous” zone after its level of particulate matter (PM10) was measured at 436 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³) on Saturday morning, the highest level recorded this year.

[Indonesia] Hazeonomics: Seeing through the smoke
By Joseph Cherian, Jack Loo and Ang Swee Hoon, The Jakarta Post, 20 September 2015
And so, the haze is back in the news. Containing the haze has become a cyclical problem. It usually starts off with complaints of the lack of firefighting resources, followed by rejections of offers to help. Accusations fly of parties responsible for starting the fires. More often than not, it ends with the announcement of a regional joint agreement to fight haze. Yet, when the haze is blown away, the political will to follow through dissipates. And the cycle resumes when the haze returns the following year. Although ASEAN has taken some steps, it has been largely ineffective in ensuring that the haze does not recur. Two years have passed since ASEAN adopted a joint monitoring system for locating fire hotspots, but what remains is an empty shell with governments reluctant to share map data.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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