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REDD in the news: 21-27 September 2015

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2015-09-28-160657_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.

 

21 September 2015

The Paris climate deal in the making
By Stig Schjølset, Energi og Klima, 21 September 2015
The countries have so far been careful not to criticise each other’s INDCs, and in some cases the major emitters have even developed their pledges in cooperation with one another – with the US-China agreement announced last year as the most prominent example. This gives a degree of legitimacy to the process that is very different from the run-up to the climate summit in Copenhagen. Supported by a number of bilateral talks, high-level meetings in the G7 and G20 and increasing public support (epitomised by the papal encyclical), we expect the momentum to be sufficiently strong to get a deal that will be good enough to claim a political success in Paris. But only the iterative process to increase the targets that will happen after Paris will determine whether it ever will be possible to get an environmental ambition closer to the scientific recommendations consistent with the 2°C limit.

Progress on cutting fossil fuel subsidies ‘alarmingly slow’ – OECD
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 21 September 2015
Major nations are “alarmingly slow” in keeping pledges to cut fossil fuel subsidies despite signs of a decline in support worth up to $200 billion (£129 billion) a year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Monday. Reductions in damaging subsidies for oil, coal and natural gas would reduce air pollution, save cash and help a shift to greener energies before a Nov. 30-Dec. 11 U.N. summit in Paris on limiting climate change, it said. “We are totally schizophrenic,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria told an online news conference. “We are trying to reduce emissions and we subsidise the consumption of fossil fuels” blamed for stoking global warming. “Support for fossil fuels seems to have peaked, but global progress remains alarmingly slow,” he said of an updated inventory of subsidies.

UN Honors Innovative Plans to Slow Climate Change
By Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera, 21 September 2015
An indigenous group living on the border of Guyana and Brazil has used drones, smartphones and GPS units in a grassroots effort to pinpoint deforestation and other environmental damage caused by illegal logging and mining in their territory. These tools allow the South Central People’s Development Association (SCPDA), a federation of Guyana’s Wapichan communities that had been reporting illegal logging and mining activity for years, to more quickly detect such activity and alert the community authorities who can then take action to stop perpetrators. The SCPDA is just one example of a growing movement of indigenous and community-led efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainable development around the world. The federation, along with 21 other groups, was honored Monday at the United Nations headquarters in New York City with the Equator Prize…

For Brazil nuts, a little logging may go a long way
By Virginia M. Moncrieff, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 September 2015
In one corner is the Brazil nut, the most economically important non-timber forest product in the Amazon Basin. It supports thousands of rural families and generates tens of millions of dollars in exports – but harvesters face long fruitless months every year. This ongoing question of compatibility between timber and Brazil nuts (both valuable products sourced from trees that grow side by side in the forests of Peru, Bolivia and Brazil) is at the heart of a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “Often the people who have the Brazil nut trees are smallholders,” said Manuel Guariguata, a principal scientist at CIFOR and co-author of the study. “Many of them see a financial security in timber and told us that the potential income from timber sales justified any risk to their Brazil nuts…”

Selectively logged Amazon forests play important role in climate
Phys.org, 21 September 2015
With careful management, selectively logged tropical Amazonian forests can recover their carbon stocks within a cutting cycle of 20 to 30 years, according to researchers who report their findings in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on September 21. The findings show that sustainably logged tropical forests continue to play a key role in global carbon sequestration, with important implications for global climate. “We found that under current timber-harvesting intensities, Amazon forests logged with reduced-impact logging techniques shall recover their initial carbon stock in 7 to 21 years,” says Ervan Rutishauser of CarboForExpert in Switzerland and CIRAD in France. “This is fast, compared to the recovery time of commercial volumes that can take up to a century to go back to pre-logging stocks.”

Malaysia’s Leader, Najib Razak, Faces U.S. Corruption Inquiry
By Louise Story, The New York Times, 21 September 2015
The embattled prime minister of Malaysia, facing mounting political turmoil and a parade of inquiries at home and abroad into a sovereign wealth fund that he oversees, is now coming under the scrutiny of American investigators as well. A federal grand jury is examining allegations of corruption involving the prime minister, Najib Razak, and people close to him, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation. The inquiry, being run by a unit of the Justice Department that investigates international corruption, is focused on properties in the United States that were purchased in recent years by shell companies that belong to the prime minister’s stepson as well as other real estate connected to a close family friend, said the people knowledgeable about the case, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it.

REDD process challenged in Nepal’s Supreme Court, First Hearing Today
Community Empowerment and Social Justice (CEmSoJ) Foundation Public Statement, 21 September 2015
A writ petition has been filed at Supreme Court on Friday demanding annulment of REDD+ process being implemented in Nepal for mitigation of impacts of climate change. The petition claims that the process will negatively impact the national authority over forests and rights of indigenous and forest-dependent communities. First hearing of the petition is scheduled for today. Community Empowerment and Social Justice (CEmSoJ) Foundation filed the writ petition with the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation and the Departments under it, among other government agencies as defendants. The Foundation has demanded issuance of an interim order to halt implementation of REDD+ processes in Nepal until final decision is made on the case.

22 September 2015

Harry Potter and the Mysterious Defeat Device
By James Grimmelmann, Slate, 22 September 2015
Last week, the EPA revealed that it had trusted Volkswagen’s diesel cars, without checking to see where they kept their brains. It sent a letter to the carmaker detailing how VW programmed about 500,000 cars over half a decade to cheat on its emissions tests. (The worldwide total, VW has revealed, is now 11 million.) It’s a story of massive corporate fraud but also an object lesson in everything that’s terrifying about a world in which cars and other things can think for themselves. VW used software to put a new spin on an old scam. Wherever there is a test, someone will try to cheat on it. The EPA has banned emissions test “defeat devices“ for decades. In 1995, it fined GM $11 million for turning off carbon monoxide controls when the air conditioning was on. Some observers have defended GM, arguing that carbon monoxide pollution is primarily an issue in the winter. But the larger principle—truth in testing—is important.

We Have Some Heartbreaking News About Leonardo DiCaprio
By Tim McDonnell, Mother Jones, 22 September 2015
“To date,” the report reads, “436 institutions and 2,040 individuals across 43 countries and representing $2.6 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuel companies.” “That’s real money,” said Ellen Dorsey, director of the Wallace Global Fund, in announcing the number, to much applause. And it is! Pulling that kind of cash out of the fossil fuel juggernaut could land a true financial blow, a clear victory in the global war to stop climate change. But there’s a catch. That big number—$2.6 trillion—has nothing to do with the amount of money that is actually being pulled out of fossil fuel stocks. In fact, the investment consultancy behind today’s report has no idea how much money the institutions surveyed have invested in fossil fuels, and thus how much they have pledged to divest.

EIB board approves climate lending strategy, greens say it’s full of holes
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 22 September 2015
The board of the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Tuesday approved a new climate lending strategy, which held the climate-focused portion of the bank’s total lending at 25% but aims to take climate considerations into account in all disbursements and focus on projects with more impact. The 29 board members from the EU member states that own it plus the European Commission signed off on draft proposals for the revised strategy despite green groups dismissing it as hollow… Anna Roggenbuck of watchdog CEE Bankwatch commended the guidelines in principle but said they lacked the teeth to guarantee they lived up to Europe’s agreed climate targets. “It lacks clear implementation timelines, action plans or measurable objectives that would ensure investments in energy and infrastructure projects are in line with Europe’s goal of a transition to a low-carbon economy,” she said.

Climate change: Why the Paris conference may not be enough
By John Quiggin, The Economist, 22 September 2015
With global temperature data setting new records each month, “sceptical” positions about climate change have crumbled. Those seeking a more credible basis for opposing action to reduce carbon emissions have shifted their ground. Most have moved to the view advocated by “lukewarmers” like Bjorn Lomborg: that unmitigated global warming would not be so bad after all, and that adaptation is the best response. Surprisingly, advocates of this view cite the authority of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for this assertion. The leading source for this claim is Jim Manzi, editor of the National Review, who summarises the evidence presented in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report as follows: “There are six estimates for expected impacts of warming at 3°C or above, with a median estimated impact of a 3.6 percent reduction in global GDP for 3–4.9°C of warming.”

UN Climate Change Agreement Must Address Corporate Right to Sue Countries
By Maude Barlow, Huffington Post, 22 September 2015
As the Paris talks approach, hopes for a real and meaningful multilateral agreement on climate change are growing. But there is a problem that needs to be addressed if any agreement or treaty reached at the Paris summit is to be realized in the home countries of the parties. The central problem is that many of the same countries pledging to take serious action on climate change are also party to, or are aggressively negotiating, trade and investment deals that contain a mechanism that gives large corporations the right to challenge any changes to the current rules under which they operate. The mechanism in these trade deals is called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). It gives foreign corporations the right to directly sue governments for financial compensation if those governments introduce new laws or practices — be they environmental, health or human rights — that negatively affect corporations’ bottom line.

UN seeks carbon offset market boost with new “Climate Neutral Now” initiative
BusinessGreen, 22 September 2015
The UN is today calling on businesses and individuals to reduce and offset their carbon footprints through a new international initiative dubbed Climate Neutral Now. The programme, which is being launched as part of New York Climate Week, calls on individuals, governments and businesses to measure their carbon emissions, reduce their carbon footprint, and then offset their outstanding emissions by purchasing UN-certified carbon credits. Under the programme, the UN is to provide a new online portal designed to make it easier for organisations and individuals to measure their carbon footprint and source certified emission reduction (CER) credits, which are issued through the UN-approved Clean Development Mechanism offset scheme.

[Canada] Carbon offsets plan could clear the way for coal-fired power plants in B.C.
By Nelson Bennett, Business in Vancouver, 22 September 2015
When former auditor general John Doyle issued a damning report on B.C.’s carbon offsets program under the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) in 2013, Terry Lake, then minister for the environment, dismissed Doyle’s criticisms out of hand. Despite that dismissal, the government decided several months later to shut PCT down, bringing the controversial carbon offset program in house, where it fell off the public’s radar while continuing to collect millions of dollars in penalties from schools, hospitals and other public organizations for failing to meet government-decreed carbon neutrality objectives and then doling the funds out mostly to industry. But B.C.’s carbon offsetting scheme appears to be poised for a comeback in the form of what might be called liquefied natural gas (LNG) indulgences.

[Indonesia] Dayak Benuaq community wins Equator Prize
ANTARA News, 22 September 2015
The indigenous community of Dayak Benuaq in Muara Tae, West Kutai, East Kalimantan province, has won the Equator Prize of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). It won the prize for its efforts towards protecting and securing their rights to land, territory and natural resources. Secretary General of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara/AMAN) Abdon Nababan said here on Tuesday that Muara Tae is a real example of a community rescuing the forest, and should be supported by the international community. The indigenous peoples in Muara Tae keep protecting and preserving their traditional forests by establishing forest guard huts and carrying out nursery activities and tree planting campaigns. Muara Taes target was to rehabilitate 700 hectares of damaged forest land.

[The Maldives] It’s Clooney v Blair as ‘climate hero’ Nasheed fights for freedom
By Ed King, Climate Home, 22 September 2015
The alliance of small island states, which the Maldives currently leads, wants the world to agree to limit warming to 1.5C, a level it says could ensure the worst impacts of climate change are avoided. For the past two decades its capital Male – perched on a coral atoll and surrounded by sea walls – had become emblematic of the fight against global warming. That changed on 14 March this year, the day Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected president and famed climate campaigner, was jailed for 13 years on terrorism charges. Since then a PR storm has exploded over the capital and its beleaguered government, which supporters of Nasheed say is a dictatorship determined to crush any opposition.

23 September 2015

Obama, the Pope, and the President of China Are Teaming Up to Save the World
By James West, Mother Jones, 23 September 2015
Ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York City, an unprecedented triumvirate will be on US soil: President Xi Jinping, the Communist leader of China’s 1.3 billion people and the world’s biggest carbon polluter; Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, and a self-modeled reformer; and US President Barack Obama, the leader of the world’s largest economy (and a man who doesn’t need to be reelected). In one way or another, they each have made fighting global warming a core part of their leadership at home and abroad. The trio isn’t publicly scheduled to meet each other in America this week—though they will almost bump into one another. But the confluence of these heavy hitters is pumping optimism through green groups that a climate accord may finally be forged at the UN meeting in Paris at the end of the year. Suddenly, they say, political rhetoric is turning into real momentum.

Forget ‘developing’ poor countries, it’s time to ‘de-develop’ rich countries
By Jason Hickel, The Guardian, 23 September 2015
This week, heads of state are gathering in New York to sign the UN’s new sustainable development goals (SDGs). The main objective is to eradicate poverty by 2030. Beyoncé, One Direction and Malala are on board. It’s set to be a monumental international celebration. Given all the fanfare, one might think the SDGs are about to offer a fresh plan for how to save the world, but beneath all the hype, it’s business as usual. The main strategy for eradicating poverty is the same: growth. Growth has been the main object of development for the past 70 years, despite the fact that it’s not working. Since 1980, the global economy has grown by 380%, but the number of people living in poverty on less than $5 (£3.20) a day has increased by more than 1.1 billion. That’s 17 times the population of Britain. So much for the trickle-down effect.

Primer: History of Climate Talks Leading to COP21
By Nithin Coca, TriplePundit, 23 September 2015
Ready for Paris? The upcoming United Nations climate negotiations are shaping up to be the biggest, potentially most historic gathering of global climate and environment leaders in human history. But just what is going to happen in Paris? And why is the meeting called COP21?

Pope Francis and the case for climate change optimism
By Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, 23 September 2015
These days, climate change momentum is everywhere. It’s in U.S. politics, as the Clean Power Plan promises to significantly curb U.S. emissions by 2030. It’s in the clean energy industry, as a solar and wind boom couldn’t possibly arrive at a more opportune time. It’s in the international arena, as the nations of the world appear finally on the verge of a carbon agreement this December in Paris. And most of all it’s in hearts and minds, as Pope Francis, arriving in the U.S. as a climate rockstar the likes of which we’ve really never seen before, tells a billion Catholics and then some that climate change is a moral issue — and gives the Paris talks even more momentum.

Global warming: are trees going on strike?
By Joshua Melvin, AFP, 23 September 2015
Trees, crucial absorbers of climate-harming carbon dioxide gas, may finally be balking at an ever-earlier spring season brought on by global warming, researchers said Wednesday. Over the past several decades, trees across central Europe have been steadily sprouting their spring leaves earlier in response to warmer temperatures, they said. As a result, forests absorbed more carbon dioxide in a longer growing season — a boon that has been worked into global warming projections. But a study published in the science journal Nature said trees have slowed their pace of seasonal advance — raising fears it may stop altogether. The slowdown “suggests a current and possible future weakening of forests’ carbon uptake due to the declining temperature sensitivity of (trees),” lead author Yongshuo Fu of Peking University in Beijing told AFP.

ZERO DEFORESTATION SPECIAL: Pledges doomed without government support
By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 September 2015
Not cutting down trees might sound simple enough, but it’s turning out to be rather complicated. Or so it turns out for the agribusiness giants that, under pressure from environmental and consumer campaigns, have lined up to embrace the “No deforestation” movement. Take Indonesia, for example – the world’s largest producer of palm oil, where some 60,000 sq km of forest was cleared between 2000 and 2012 – and where companies seeking to reduce deforestation face such obstacles as conflicts with communities, unsupportive government policies and fears of market disadvantage. And they need government support in overcoming them, according to a new analysis by CIFOR. “Advocacy groups and company spokespeople can stand up and demand or promise whatever they like, but the pledges mean nothing if the tricky realities are not sorted out,” says CIFOR senior scientist and study author Romain Pirard.

ZERO DEFORESTATION SPECIAL: Are we getting any closer?
By Laura Dattaro, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 September 2015
A year ago, the New York Declaration on Forests set a daring goal: a world without deforestation. But it didn’t lay out a plan for how to get there. The agreement – to cut deforestation in half by 2020, and eliminate it entirely by 2030 – was signed by 30 national governments, 50 private companies, and many nongovernmental organizations and indigenous peoples on 23 September 2014 during the United Nations Climate Summit in New York. Over the past 12 months, governments, NGOs and corporations have tried to find answers to the many questions the declaration left open-ended. “The pledge is very new, but there’s been significant work done over the last year on addressing a number of the implementation issues,” says Steven Lawry, Director of Forests and Governance Research at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Paris, give us carbon pricing – and market mechanisms
By Joan MacNaughton, Energy Post, 23 September 2015
The sums required to deliver emissions reductions, while also maintaining energy security and moving towards universal access to affordable energy ( the three goals of the Energy Trilemma, as developed by the World Energy Council) are huge – $53 trillion by 2035, according to the IEA. Most of this investment will have to come from the private sector, particularly the energy sector, which is responsible for about 40% of all emissions.

Brazil’s Environmental Agency Denies Operating License to Controversial Belo Monte Dam
By Brent Millikan, International Rivers, 23 September 2015 Last night, the Brazilian press reported that the country’s Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) had temporarily denied Norte Energia’s request for an operating license for Belo Monte Dam, citing serious examples of non-compliance with legally required measures to mitigate and compensate project impacts. Without the license, Norte Energia can’t close floodgates and fill a reservoir that would flood large portions of the city of Altamira before it begins generating power. In response to Ibama’s announcement, International Rivers released the following statement from Brazil Program Director Brent Millikan: “Yesterday’s decision should send a shot across the bow of the investors who plan to move forward with further destructive dams in the Amazon…”

Poaching-terrorism link that contributed to tribes’ persecution ‘largely wrong’
Survivial International, 23 September 2015
A new report has debunked the argument that the illegal wildlife trade in East Africa significantly funds terrorism – an exaggeration used to justify the militarization of anti-poaching squads and the persecution of tribal subsistence hunters. The report titled “An Illusion of Complicity: Terrorism and the Illegal Ivory Trade in East Africa” was launched by former U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague on Tuesday and concluded that, in the case of terrorist group Al Shabaab, evidence for its participation is “extremely limited and controversial”, adding that any involvement is “dwarfed by organized criminal networks and corrupt officials across East Africa …” The findings expose the flaws in a narrative that has held sway in conservation and political circles over several years and has led to the persecution of tribal hunters across Africa.

EU ETS not driving innovation, not delivering -lead MEP
Carbon Pulse, 23 September 2015
The EU ETS is failing to deliver emission reductions now or drive innovations for future cuts said Ian Duncan, the MEP that will steer the market’s proposed Phase 4 changes through the bloc’s Parliament. “The carbon market now is a bit like a car without any fuel. It’s not going anywhere, that’s evident, it’s not driving forward innovation, it’s not driving forward change, it’s not delivering against our ultimate climate change targets. Frankly, I think trying to stop it breaking again in the future is very much something for another day – let’s try and get the bloody thing working again now,” said Duncan in an interview with EurActiv published on Wednesday. He said it was no surprise we are not seeing carbon leakage with prices at €8, but suspected evidence of it could emerge as prices rise.

[Indonesia] Kalista Alam case set precedent for combating forest fires
By Windu Kisworo, The Jakarta Post, 23 September 2015
The serious air pollution (euphemistically referred to as ‘haze’) emanating from Indonesian forest fires has continued to result in wide-ranging harm, not only to human health, but also to people’s security as well as to local and national economies. Recent satellite imagery showed that Kalimantan had 1,312 hotspots, of which 508 were in the worst-affected West Kalimantan province. Sumatra had 575 hot spots, 78 percent of which were in South Sumatra province. According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), nearly 15,000 residents in Riau, 22,855 residents in South Sumatra and about 40,000 in South Kalimantan have suffered from upper-respiratory infections due to the severe air pollution from forest fires in the last couple of weeks.

Russia rejects criticism of greenhouse gas plan, will not amend: top Putin adviser
By Andrey Kuzmin, Reuters, 23 September 2015
Russia has rebuffed calls for a more ambitious plan to cut its carbon dioxide emissions after environmentalists branded its current pledge inadequate and backward-looking. The world’s fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Russia pledged in March to keep its emissions at 25-30 percent below the level it generated in 1990, the year before the Soviet Union and its vast industrial complex collapsed. Green groups say the pledge, made ahead of a global warming summit in Paris in December, is far too easy for Moscow to fulfill because 1990 was a time when Soviet industry was a notoriously prolific polluter whereas Russia’s industrial base today is much smaller.

Al Gore urges UK over climate change position
By Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 23 September 2015
The UK government should “resume” its leadership on climate change, former US Vice-President Al Gore has urged. Mr Gore said he was “puzzled” by the government’s wholesale cuts to subsidies for renewable energy. And he issued a veiled taunt to Prime Minister David Cameron by implying that Chancellor George Osborne had seized renewables policy. The government insists it will continue with world-leading policies on climate change.

[USA] Obama says Paris climate talks bound to ‘fall short’ on carbon curbs
Reuters, 23 September 2015
President Barack Obama said he hopes major countries agree to “aggressive enough targets” to cut carbon emissions at climate talks in Paris later this year, but he said any deal will fall short of what is needed to slow global warming. “I’m less concerned about the precise number, because let’s stipulate right now, whatever various country targets are, it’s still going to fall short of what the science requires,” Obama said in an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine. Scientists say global warming needs to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid devastating droughts and rising sea levels. Countries are submitting pledges to cut emissions ahead of the UN summit. So far, those pledges are estimated to limit warming to 3 degrees Celsius.

[USA] Obama Takes on Climate Change: The Rolling Stone Interview
By Jeff Doodell, Rolling Stone, 23 September 2015
Policywise, the president didn’t have much to offer in Alaska. He restored the original Alaska Native name to the highest mountain in North America (Denali), accelerated the construction of a new U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, doled out a few million bucks to help Alaska Native villages move to higher ground — largely symbolic gestures that didn’t do much to help Alaskans deal with the fact that their state is melting like a popsicle on a summer sidewalk. In the end, the trip was mostly a calculated and well-crafted presidential publicity stunt. And it raised the question: If the American people see the president of the United States standing atop a melting glacier and telling them the world is in trouble, will they care?

24 September 2015

Disappointment… Deep disappointment
By Mark Charles, Native News, 24 September 2015
About half way through his speech, Pope Francis mentioned the indigenous peoples of this land. My heart jumped. I was nervous, but eager. This was it. Here was the section. What would he say? What sin would he address? The Catholic Church’s Doctrine of Discovery? The colonialism of Europe? The stolen lands and broken treaties of the United States? Congress, the nation, even the world was listening. Speak Pope Francis! Lift up the voices of the oppressed! Use your global pulpit to speak truth to the nations! I waited in anticipation… “TRAGICALLY, THE RIGHTS OF THOSE WHO WERE HERE LONG BEFORE US WERE NOT ALWAYS RESPECTED. FOR THOSE PEOPLES AND THEIR NATIONS, FROM THE HEART OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, I WISH TO REAFFIRM MY HIGHEST ESTEEM AND APPRECIATION. THOSE FIRST CONTACTS WERE OFTEN TURBULENT AND VIOLENT, BUT IT IS DIFFICULT TO JUDGE THE PAST BY THE CRITERIA OF THE PRESENT.” What??? Did I hear him right???

Global goals can deliver on 2C and new development finance – here’s how
By Owen Barder, Alex Evans and Alice Lépissier, The Guardian, 24 September 2015
What if there were an affordable programme to prevent catastrophic climate change and provide the finance that developing countries need to end poverty by 2030? With summits this week on the sustainable development goals and in December on climate change, this year marks the most significant push on the world’s biggest challenges since 2005, the year of the G8 meeting at Gleneagles and the UN world summit. It’s sobering to compare then with now. A decade ago, big ideas were on the table: timetables for donors to reach 0.7% of national income on overseas development assistance (ODA); cancellation of all debt to the World Bank and IMF; a development trade round. Today, by contrast, it’s like watching tumbleweed roll across the desert.

We keep choosing cars over clean air – that’s the real scandal
By Steffen Böhm and Ian Colbeck, The Conversation, 24 September 2015
The Volkswagen emissions investigation looks set to be of one of the biggest corporate scandals in recent history – and we’ve seen quite a few. While most of the focus will be on VW in the coming days and weeks, the real scandal lies elsewhere: with European governments and regulators who turned a blind eye to rule-bending. In some cases they’ve actually helped carmakers avoid environmental restrictions. Documents leaked to the Guardian reveal just four months ago the UK, France and Germany all lobbied to maintain loopholes from outdated car emissions tests. Such behaviour isn’t unusual. For decades European car industry regulation has been weak and inconsistent, while car traffic and the resulting air pollution levels have been allowed to increase manifold.

Green groups issue checklist to ICAO for global aviation CO2 market design, urge on-time launch
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 24 September 2015
A coalition of green groups has urged the UN’s civil aviation body and its member nations to next year deliver on their commitment to finalise a global market-based mechanism for the sector, setting a 10-point checklist for governments to ensure the scheme is robust. The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), which is comprised of six environmental campaigner organisations, said the litmus test for the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) leadership will be an on-time launch for the market and an open process to establish a “review and ratchet” mechanism to cut the sector’s emissions below 2020 levels. The group published its checklist ahead of discussions on the issue at the Global Sustainable Aviation Summit in Geneva next week.

UN Program Backed by Microsoft Set to Boost Carbon-Credit Demand
By Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 24 September 2015
A United Nations program backed by Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. that allows companies and individuals to offset their emissions online may spur demand for 50 million carbon credits through 2020, according to one of the project’s advisers. The forecast, equivalent to 26 percent of the volume of credits traded on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London last year, is based on current demand plus new buying from businesses that want to be associated with the brands already participating, said Daniel Rossetto, the managing director of Climate Mundial, an emissions trading consultant that’s working with the UN on the program. UN Certified Emission Reduction credits, used by developed countries to offset domestic pollution by investing in green projects elsewhere, have slumped 98 percent since 2008 amid a glut as nations failed to encourage buying.

INDC Roundup: Slew of UN pledges sent ahead of Oct. deadline
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 24 September 2015
Several nations submitted their long term climate pledges to the UN on Thursday, as the pace of INDC entries increases ahead of a soft Oct. 1 deadline for the contributions to a global climate pact. Big emitter Indonesia, along with Albania, Eritrea, Ghana, Madagascar, and Mongolia submitted their INDCs, with an entry from Ghana late Wednesday. New submissions are expected to take INDC coverage to over 90% of global emissions by the end of this month, up from almost 70% last month. Of the remaining big emitters, India’s submission is due by Sep. 27 and Brazil’s on Sep. 27, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said last week. India is expected to set a 35% carbon intensity cut 2030 goal, the Business Standard has reported. Brazil has said its pledge will include a goal to eliminate illegal deforestation by 2030.

China to Announce Cap-and-Trade Program to Limit Emissions
By Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Coral Davenport, The New York Times, 24 September 2015
President Xi Jinping of China will make a landmark commitment on Friday to start a national program in 2017 that will limit and put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, Obama administration officials said Thursday. The move to create a so-called cap-and-trade system would be a substantial step by the world’s largest polluter to reduce emissions from major industries, including steel, cement, paper and electric power. The announcement, to come during a White House summit meeting with President Obama, is part of an ambitious effort by China and the United States to use their leverage internationally to tackle climate change and to pressure other nations to do the same.

[New Zealand] Carbon farmer appeals in MRP dispute case
By Suze Metherell, Scoop News, 24 September 2015
New Zealand Carbon Farming, the country’s largest supplier of post-1989 bulk carbon credits, is appealing a High Court decision which found in favour of Mighty River Power over a $34.7 million liability NZCF claims it’s owed. The original case, heard by Justice Kit Toogood in the High Court at Auckland last November, centred on a change to the methodology for working out the amount of carbon credits produced by forests under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). NZCF’s legal claim related to a dispute with MRP over carbon credits under a 15-year contract for NZCF’s Harwarden Forest in North Canterbury. At the time, MRP opposed the claim which meant it would have to buy significantly more carbon units from the supplier than was originally forecast because the contract included a pro-rata scaling clause if the quantity of carbon sequestration produced by the forest was altered by a new methodology.

[USA] USDA Funds New Pilot Project to Help Almond Growers Gain Greater Access to Greenhouse Gas Markets
Almond Board of California press release, 24 September 2015
The Almond Board of California (ABC) will join with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other partners in carrying out a new USDA-funded pilot project designed to give both almond and corn growers greater access to greenhouse gas markets like those under California’s cap-and-trade program. The $960,000 project is part of a $20.5 million allocation from the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant Program (CIG) to help farmers and ranchers implement practices that will make their operations more resilient to climate change. This will be the first large-scale pilot project generating greenhouse gas credits from nutrient management practices in growing almonds and corn. The goal is for growers to enter the cap-and-trade market and sell carbon credits to companies and industries seeking to meet their emission targets.

25 September 2015

The Pope Wants Climate to Be a Human Rights Issue
By Brian Kahn, Climate Central 25 September 2015
Pope Francis made history on Friday by being the first Pope to open the United Nations General Assembly. Climate and the environment were key parts of a wide-ranging speech that laid out the Pope’s vision for the future of the planet. The Pope pulled no punches in framing the gravity of climate change and environmental degradation to humanity. “Ecological destruction could place the human species in danger of extinction,” he said.

Common Ground with the Pope on Markets
By Fred Krupp, Forbes, 25 September 2015
When Pope Francis addressed Congress Thursday, in addition to his urgent call to action on climate change I was listening for what he might say about the role of markets in driving climate solutions. Would he express suspicion about market-based environmental policies? That’s what he did in his environmental encyclical, Laudato Si, which worried that “the strategy of buying and selling ‘carbon credits’” — part of the approach known as cap and trade — “…may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.” As a long-time advocate of such policies, I believe that the Pope and pro-market environmentalists share a great deal of common ground. And I was heartened that in his address to Congress he noted that that “the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.”

ZERO DEFORESTATION SPECIAL: One wicked problem, three major challenges
By Pablo Pacheco, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 September 2015
To achieve zero deforestation, new ties need to be woven between different levels of government, the private sector and civil society. But in order to act on private-sector commitments, incentive systems and regulations that are reinforcing old patterns first need to be untangled. Beef and soybean production are the main drivers of deforestation in Brazil, and oil palm expansion threatens Indonesia’s forests and peatlands. These two countries have the largest forest areas in the world – and the largest forest losses over the past five years. Powerful industry and multi-stakeholder groups that have an extensive supply base in Brazil and Indonesia signed the New York Declaration on Forests in 2014, pledging to make their supply chains deforestation-free by 2030. The Indonesian government signed the declaration; Brazil did not, although some of its subnational governments did.

Indonesia to curb rising greenhouse gas emissions; details thin
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 25 September 2015
Indonesia promised on Thursday to curb its rising greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but a lack of detail made it hard to judge the magnitude of Jakarta’s plan or how much it would help a U.N. push to combat climate change. Indonesia, among the world’s top 10 emitters of greenhouse gases, called the plan a “fair share” for a developing nation. “Indonesia is committed to reducing emissions by 29 percent compared to a business as usual scenario by 2030,” the government said in a plan submitted to the United Nations on Thursday that builds on a Sept. 2 draft. It gave few details of the current rate of growth of emissions in Southeast Asia’s largest economy but said business as usual would lead to emissions of about 2.88 billion tonnes by 2030, sharply up from the last official estimate of 1.80 billion tonnes for 2005.

[Luxembourg] Taking a wider view
By Jim Kent, Delano, 25 September 2015
Luxembourg fund professional debated some of the wider issues affecting their business at the MDO roundtable held in Kikuoka last week… The afternoon commenced with a presentation on reversing climate change through the pursuit of financial profit, made by Stephen Rumsey of Permian Global… Specifically, he explained how his firm earns tradable carbon credits by working to prevent greenhouse gas emissions, using assets raised through a Luxembourg-based investment fund. For example, they establish 50/50 joint ventures with local businesses, governments and social groups in Asia, Africa and South America to prevent the depletion of rainforest. This prevents the release of gigatons of carbon dioxide that has built up over centuries in the trees and below the forest floor. Carefully audited, this work is then translated into financial securities, which can be traded at a profit.

26 September 2015

27 September 2015

Brazil pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions
By Karl Ritter, Associated Press, 27 September 2015
Brazil on Sunday became the first major developing country to pledge an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for an envisioned global pact against climate change. The world’s seventh biggest greenhouse gas polluter said it would cut its emissions by 37 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels by reducing deforestation and boosting the share of renewable sources in its energy mix. It also indicated an “intended reduction” of 43 percent by 2030. “Our goals are just as ambitious, if not more so, than those set by developed countries,” President Dilma Rousseff said as she announced the targets at the U.N. in New York. In talks on a new climate agreement, set to be adopted in Paris in December, developed countries are expected to shoulder the biggest responsibility for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. For example, the U.S. has pledged to reduce its emissions by 26-28 percent between 2005 and 2025.

Peru says to crack down on palm oil-related Amazon deforestation
By Hugh Bronstein, Reuters, 27 September 2015
Peru will confront the deforestation of its Amazon region by issuing a decree next month putting palm oil plantations under federal rather than local authority, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said on Sunday. With big areas of Peru already stripped of natural vegetation, largely due to farming, Pulgar-Vidal said it was important to strengthen regulations on palm oil. He expects the decree within two weeks. “It’s ready to go,” he said. Demand for palm oil, a cash crop widely used in food and cosmetics, has fueled deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil plantations are relatively new to Peru and other South American countries. “Part of the problem is that land use procedures are too easy in some cases, and managed by regional governments that are not strong enough to deal with the problem,” Pulgar-Vidal said on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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