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REDD in the news: 5-11 October 2015

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REDD-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.

 

5 October 2015

The coming tragedy of Paris: A disastrous climate deal that will see the planet burn
By Mary Louise Malig, Global Forest Coalition, 5 October 2015
There are only 5 negotiating days left before the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). From October 19-23, 2015, the UNFCCC is supposed to hammer out the modalities of the Paris deal. At this point, we should have a good sense of what the Paris deal will be. After all, since the COP17 in Durban, South Africa, where the mandate to draft a new climate agreement until 2030 was adopted, there have already been a total of 85 negotiating days, a carbon filled amount of flights for 193 parties to the convention, and at the wayside thousands of dead and displaced from destructively intense typhoons, hurricanes, floods or droughts. In the Philippines alone, the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall, Typhoon Haiyan, killed 6,000 and left thousands more homeless and without livelihood.

TPP Negotiations Conclude as Grassroots Opposition Grows
Cultural Survival, 5 October 2015
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has taken another step forward today as trade representatives from 12 countries concluded negotiations for the deal. The TPP will be the largest trade deal in history, affecting forty percent of the world’s economy. Yet the text of the deal has remained hidden from the public, despite corporate advisors and interest groups being closely involved in the drafting of the text. Through the deal has been developing since 2008, the public will never have a chance to give input into the text, only a yes or no vote to approve or shut down in congress. This is a result of the TPA ‘’Fast Track” law passed in June 2015.

Click and pay: UN’s new tool for offsetting carbon
By Medilyn Manibo, Eco-Business,5 October 2015
Businesses and individuals wanting to take their responsibility to the environment seriously and reduce their carbon emissions can do that easily now, with the help of a new website set up by The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Using an online calculator, an individual can work out his or her climate footprint, and take steps to reduce that footprint. Emissions that cannot be reduced will be offset via an online store – Climate Neutral Now. Launched last month, Climate Neutral Now is the UNFCCC’s public platform for businesses and individuals to use its certified carbon emissions reduction method voluntarily and help reduce carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

The Global South Will Make Its Contribution to Fighting Climate Change
By Diego Arguedas Ortiz, IPS, 5 October 2015
Seen for years as passive actors in the fight against global warming, more than 100 countries of the Global South have submitted their national contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonising their economies. With differing levels of ambition and some targets conditional on international financing, the commitments assumed by developing economies put pressure on the big global emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) and reinforce the ethical stance that the phenomenon of climate change requires contributions by all countries, said experts consulted by IPS. “We’ve seen a number of strong commitments from Global South countries in spite of their small role in creating this challenge,” said Ellie Johnston, the World Climate Project manager at Climate Interactive, a U.S.-based organisation that helps people see what works to address climate change and related issues.

Toughen climate action every five years, U.N. draft suggests
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 5 October 2015
All nations should agree to toughen curbs on greenhouse gas emissions every five years under a U.N. accord to combat global warming due in December, according to a first suggested text of a U.N. agreement on Monday. The 20-page accord, slashing a previous text of more than 80, is a step towards a deal due at a summit in Paris from Nov. 30-Dec 11 by narrowing down core elements of an agreement. It leaves many details unclear, such as the role of carbon markets. While the draft gives no details of how quickly curbs would have to be ratcheted up, regular reviews are vital because the United Nations says national plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions are not strong enough to keep temperatures below a U.N. ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

Draft climate text released – but what about the emission gap?
By Hilke Fischer, DW.com, 5 October 2015
In only eight weeks’ time, representatives from all over the world will be entering the most critical phase of the 2015 United Nations climate change conference in Paris. This Monday (05.10.2015), co-chairs of the ad hoc working group on the Durban platform (ADP) – the body tasked with negotiating the agreement – submitted a first draft for the treaty text, which contains the basis for negotiation of the Paris climate package. The Paris summit, also known as COP21, is set to adopt a framework on how to manage climate change. All member countries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were asked to submit their emission reduction targets ( Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, INDCs ) for 2025 and 2030. An informal deadline passed October 1. Until now, the UNFCCC has received responses from 146 countries, or three-quarters of all member countries.

Work on carbon markets held back as diplomats slash UN climate text
By Stian Reklev and Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 5 October 2015
Mention of carbon markets was largely left out of the main draft Paris agreement released Monday, though references to building an international carbon market regime made it into a draft decision for negotiators to craft detailed rules on later. The new 20-page working text, trimmed down from 83 pages previously by Algeria’s Ahmed Djoghlaf and the USA’s Daniel Reifsnyder, contained two main elements – a draft core agreement for the December climate summit and a draft decision to thrash out further details before the agreement enters into force in 2020. Gone was the section of unallocated items that contributed to bloating the size of the previous draft. Most options for carbon markets had been kept in that final section, and Monday’s heavily-bracketed draft contained few references to or mentions of an international emissions market in the core agreement.

World leaders sidelined at Paris climate talks
By Sara Stefanini, Politico, 5 October 2015
The Paris global climate summit wants to reverse the way such talks have been held in past years by summoning world leaders at the start — and then leaving the messy business of hammering out a deal to their representatives. The reason is the bruising experience of the Copenhagen climate summit five years ago, widely remembered as a failure after fraught last-minute, closed-door negotiations between a handful of world leaders did little but anger the many more left out in the hall. Paris therefore plans to switch up the agenda for the COP21, bringing the leaders and heads of state in for the first day-and-a-half “in order to get the negotiations going,” according to a French official. It will then be up to their representatives to work out the grittier details of what many hope will be a legally binding agreement that puts the world on course to limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

[Indonesia] Upcoming Asia Pulp & Paper pulp mill ‘will guzzle timber’
By David Fogarty, The Straits Times, 5 October 2015
APP is building the US$2.6 billion (S$3.7 billion) mill, majority-funded by a Chinese bank, to feed ever- growing demand for paper products from Asia’s rapidly growing middle class. But to do that, the mill, once running at full capacity by around 2018, will consume a vast amount of timber. And that has conservationists worried. “The construction of such a massive mill certainly raises questions about whether APP will be able to maintain its ‘zero deforestation’ commitment once it starts operating,” said Mr Christopher Barr, executive director of Woods & Wayside International and a veteran pulpwood sector analyst. APP, part of Indonesia’s Sinar Mas Group, says the mill in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) district in South Sumatra will rely only on Acacia plantation timber, not rainforest timber, reflecting its zero-deforestation pledge made in 2013.

[Indonesia] National scene: Police question foreign firms over forest fires
The Jakarta Post, 5 October 2015
The National Police are investigating two foreign companies for alleged involvement in causing land and forest fires in Central and West Kalimantan. National Police spokesperson Agus Rianto identified the two companies as Chinese-owned PT ASP and Australian-owned PT KAL. “Two foreign investors are currently under investigation, namely, PT ASP [in Central Kalimantan] and PT KAL [in West Kalimantan],” Agus said on Sunday as quoted by kompas.com. The government has recorded a total of 42 million hectares of land on fire in Sumatra and Kalimantan while the police are currently working on 238 cases. Agus added that of the 238 cases, 191 involved individual perpetrators while 47 involved corporations. “Two hundred and five people have been named suspects in individual cases while 11 people have been named suspects in the corporate cases. Seventy-two people have been detained,” he said.

A tailor-made approach to REDD+ benefit sharing in Mexico
IUCN, 5 October 2015
In Mexico, REDD+ is already being integrated into existing sustainable rural development and landscape management schemes. The country has adopted an approach to benefit sharing that focuses on livelihood improvements with the aim of motivating local stakeholders to sustainably manage natural resources. In REDD+ pilots on the Yucatan Peninsula, CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad) and the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR, Comisión Nacional Forestal) are supporting communities in land-use planning, conservation, sustainable forest management, agroforestry and silvopastoral management. These two commissions are promoting multi-purpose uses of forests, including ecotourism, with the aim of diversifying and improving the incomes of local producers and communities while ensuring the conservation of forests and their biodiversity.

Deaths of four anti-mining protesters a catastrophic consequence of Peru’s weakened environmental safeguards, warns Global Witness
Global Witness, 5 October 2015
The recent police killings of four anti-mining protesters in Peru highlights the problems caused by the country’s weakening of environmental safeguards and its dangerous crackdown on civil society, says campaign group Global Witness. The killings are part of a trend in Peru that Global Witness exposed, in its November 2014 report Peru’s Deadly Environment. The report showed how 73% of the 57 killings of environmental and land defenders between 2002-2014 happened at the hands of state and private security forces, mostly related to protests against extractive sector projects. With these four killings that brings the death toll to 61. In the run up to the flagship UN Climate Conference in Paris, the deaths of the four protesters remind the world that Peru has a lot to do to live up to its human rights and environmental aspirations.

6 October 2015

In the fight to stop climate change, forests are a vital weapon
By Frances Seymour, The Guardian, 6 October 2015
The good news is that climate negotiators have already agreed on a way to make this happen. It’s called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation or REDD+, in which rich countries reward developing countries for reducing deforestation on a pay-for-performance basis. Many developing countries have indicated that they would be willing to reduce emissions further in return for international financial support. Rich countries could do more to fight climate change at lower cost by financing tropical forest conservation in addition to their own domestic emission cuts. The few REDD+ agreements already in place have priced avoided CO2 emissions at only $5 per ton, truly a bargain compared to most other options.

A Korean Economist is Elected to Lead the U.N. Climate Change Panel
By Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, 6 October 2015
Hoesung Lee, a Korean economist who was a vice chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has been elected chairman, defeating European and American candidates with far more prominent public profiles. Lee is a professor at Korea University in Seoul, specializing in the economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development… Lee, like many economists who came of age at the peak of the traditional environmental movement, has a very locked-in view that raising the cost of polluting is the critical way to shift global economies away from cheap fossil fuels. Just price that externality and all will be well. That’s true in a rational system. But the real world hasn’t proved very rational in this arena, leading other analysts in this arena to focus as much on spurring innovation to make clean energy cheap as they do on finding ways to regulate or tax polluters.

Will the Paris climate talks be a COP of the crops?
By Clare Birkett, Global Justice Now, 6 October 2015
Tackling carbon emissions from agriculture from farming isn’t even on the table at the UN climate talks in December. It ought to be, and it’s big agribusiness that’s at the heart of the problem. In 2006 a report from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) threw the climate change effects of farming into the spotlight. It claimed that the meat and dairy industries are responsible for more greenhouse gases than the whole transport sector… Despite the severity of the situation, and although food security is stated as a core objective of the UN climate negotiations, agriculture is still off the agenda at COP21 in Paris this December. The climate talks could be a prime moment to tackle the climate impact of agriculture, but doing so requires addressing the real issues at stake and powers at play.

Deforestation declines in the Amazon rainforest
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 6 October 2015
Destruction of primary forests across the Amazon basin has declined significantly since the 2000s, finds research published Monday by a group of Latin American social and environmental organizations known as The Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG). The study, released as a report with a detailed map of deforestation, indicates that deforestation between 2010 and 2013 fell sharply both inside and outside the Brazilian Amazon. The findings are significant because they are the first to document change in primary forest in the Amazon outside of Brazil. The decline in Brazil’s deforestation has been widely reported due to the country’s advanced monitoring system. Less well-known is the trend in non-Brazilian countries.

[Brazil] Amazon residents resort to militias to keep out illegal loggers
By Dom Philips, The Washington Post, 6 October 2015
The Guardians are one of two indigenous groups on this eastern fringe of the Amazon that have taken radical action to reduce illegal logging. They have tied up loggers, torched their trucks and tractors, and kicked them off the reserves. As a result, such logging has sharply declined in these territories. But the indigenous groups have faced reprisal attacks and death threats for their actions, raising fears of more violence in an area known for its lawlessness. The clashes highlight the continuing grave threat to the Amazon, the world’s biggest remaining rain forest, which plays a crucial role in maintaining the world’s climate and biodiversity. From 2005 to 2012, deforestation plunged in Brazil, as the government increased its conservation efforts and cracked down on illegal loggers. But since then, the numbers have begun to creep up again.

[Cambodia] Anti-Logging Vigilantes Get International Recognition
By Aun Chhengpor, Voice of America, 6 October 2015
In late September, the network was selected as one of the world’s top 21 local community groups working for environmental conservation in the United Nations Development Program-supervised Equator Prize 2015. On its official website, the Equator Prize states that it “recognizes outstanding local achievement in advancing sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.’ The Prey Lang Community Network’s stated mission is to guard Prey Lang through community action against loggers, and through disruption of agro-industrial companies granted land concessions in forested areas, said spokesman Seng Sok Heng.

Growth in Chile’s plantations may have spelled growth in poverty
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 October 2015
Timber production is a $6 billion business and the economic mainstay in south-central Chile. But the people who live around industrial plantations may include the poorest in the country, a new study has found. The study of 180 municipalities or comunas – the first to examine the socioeconomic impact of industrial tree plantations in Chile over a decade, from 2001 to 2011 – found that the greater the expansion of tree plantations in a locality, the higher the poverty rate. “Our data indicate that large plantations inevitably displace agricultural land,” said Manuel Guariguata, principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), one of the study’s co-authors. “And because they require a more technically skilled workforce, they may not generate enough economic opportunities for local workers or local development,” he added.

[Guyana] Amaila road could now reach Kaieteur Falls
Kaieteur News, 6 October 2015
The Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project is dead but the road will be completed and possibly extended another 12 kilometres to reach Kaieteur Falls. This was revealed by Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, who yesterday met with media operatives and provided an update. According to Minister Patterson, Government is in receipt of a number of proposals for alternative uses for the road. He said that one such proposal includes extending the road to Kaieteur Falls for use as part of a tourism drive. He told media operatives, “I have received detailed proposals on uses of the road…from miners’ groups who have asked for extending the road to Kaieteur.” Patterson said that the decision was taken to firstly have the proposals sent off to the Protected Areas Commission for vetting. This is to indicate whether the proposal is at all feasible to pursue.

Mexico’s Forest People Are Stepping Up On Forestry. Will The Government Utilize Them?
By Felicia Line, Ecosystem Marketplace, 6 October 2015
Mexico is currently preparing investment plans for its five Early REDD+ Action Areas (including Calakmul, among other areas), in order to submit to the World Bank to compete for Payment-for-results funding from the Carbon Fund of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). In these jurisdictional areas, the three levels of government, together with local experts and communities, will use funds to align policies that aim to prevent the causes of deforestation, which in many areas are agricultural and livestock activities. ‘Public technical agencies’, such as inter-municipal boards, or decentralized government agencies, will supervise the implementation of funding that will leverage existing public financing so that agricultural, infrastructural, social and environmental policies are modified and aligned towards a common goal of integrated management of the territory and low emissions rural development.

U.K. Said to Consider Closing All Coal-Fired Plants by 2023
By Alex Morales and Rachel Morison, Bloomberg, 6 October 2015
The U.K. is considering whether to close all of its 12 coal-fired power plants by 2023 as part of its effort to reduce the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, an official with knowledge of the discussions said. Europe’s second-biggest polluter is also considering whether to make the announcement before Nov. 30, when United Nations climate talks start in Paris, according to the official, who asked not to be identified because the talks haven’t yet reached a conclusion. Plants fitted with equipment to capture and store carbon emissions would be exempt from closure, the official said… National Grid Plc estimates that under a scenario where the U.K. chooses to pursue green policies, coal-fired capacity without carbon capture plants attached will fall by more than 10 gigawatts to 8.7 gigawatts in 2021, before declining to zero by 2030. The amount fitted with carbon capture would be small.

7 October 2015

First Draft of COP21 Climate Agreement Released, with Glaring Omissions
By Hannah Furlong, Sustainable Brands, 7 October 2015
“[This] new text has left out a significant piece of the climate change solution puzzle: forests. The land-use sector accounts for about 10 percent of annual global emissions,” said Gustavo Silva-Chávez, Program Manager for the Forest Trends’ REDD Expenditures Tracking Initiative (REDDX). “The text that will kick off negotiations in Paris needs to have clear and specific mentions of the key mitigation role that REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) can play, the levels of finance needed to pay countries for reducing emissions from deforestation, and a way for countries to meet a portion of their national climate commitments (also known as ‘INDCs’) by using REDD . Previous versions mentioned REDD in several sections but this new version has left them out completely; this would be a grave mistake,” Silva-Chávez added, and urged forests be re-added to the text during the next negotiation session.

Paris climate talks should not put figure on finance, says World Bank vice-president
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 7 October 2015
The Paris conference on climate change should not set a target for future financial assistance to developing countries, according to the World Bank’s top official on climate change… Rachel Kyte, World Bank vice-president and special envoy for climate change, told the Guardian that she rejected the idea that a Paris agreement should contain a similar pledge. She said: “I hope there is not a number [on climate finance] for beyond 2020 at Paris. I understand the need of developed countries to ensure that finance is going to those countries but that is not it.” She accused governments at the Copenhagen meeting of making up a symbolic number in the closing days of the talks, just to try to get a last-minute deal. “The $100bn was picked out of the air at Copenhagen,” she argued. “If you think about the global economy and the challenge for finance ministers in developed countries, I’m not sure that an abstract number like $100bn is helpful…”

Yes, The Pope Supports A Carbon Price. Economists Just ‘Misinterpreted The Encyclical.’
By Joe Romm, Climate Progress, 7 October 2015
The pope’s climate encyclical does not oppose carbon pricing. Quite the reverse, as we will see. Leading climate economists who support putting a price on carbon, including William Nordhaus and Robert Stavins, have criticized the pope for supposedly opposing or ignoring carbon taxes and/or carbon pricing. I have long thought that some people were misreading and overemphasizing one paragraph in the encyclical at the expense of others that are clearly supportive of carbon pricing. This week I was able to get some insight from economist and longtime Vatican observer, Anthony Annett, a 15-year veteran of the International Monetary Fund who is a climate change and sustainable development advisor at Columbia’s Earth Institute and Religions for Peace.

IMF Chief: We’re cooked if we fail on climate change
By Frank Bajak, AP, 7 October 2015
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that failure to take urgent action on global warming will condemn humanity to the same fate as the Peruvian poultry that so many delegates to the group’s annual meeting are enjoying this week in a country famed for its cuisine. “If we collectively chicken out of this we’ll all turn into chickens and we’ll all be fried, grilled, toasted and roasted,” said Lagarde. Her comments came in a panel discussion involving World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, U.N. climate talks executive secretary Christiana Figueres and economist and climate expert Nicholas Stern. Lagarde and Kim argued strongly for removing subsidies on fossil fuels that are worth more than $5 trillion a year and on the immediate need for carbon taxes so that the burning of fossil fuels can fund clean energy replacements. But they both acknowledged it’s a big challenge.

Study on land use change underlies Brazil’s climate commitment
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), 7 October 2015
Brazil can balance its goals of protecting the environment and becoming a major global producer of food, wood products, and biofuels, according to a new report based on IIASA research. The report provides the land use, agriculture, and forestry background for Brazil’s proposed Indented Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), the country’s commitment to greenhouse gas reductions until 2050. This is the main message of the report launched today in Brazil, which was produced by the REDD+ Policy Assessment Centre (REDD-PAC), a collaboration between IIASA, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) – Brazil, the Brazilian Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) , and the United Nations Environment Program and World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). It assesses deforestation, forest regrowth, crop production, and emissions from land use, forests and agriculture from 2020 to 2050.

[Brazil] The Unseen Truth: Mega-dams and Human Rights
By Maíra Irigaray Castro, Amazon Watch, 7 October 2015
Every day you turn on at least one light. Have you ever stopped to think about where this energy comes from and how it gets there? As society begins to move away from fossil fuels and towards a clean energy future, there remain some common misperceptions about clean energy. In Brazil, for example, over 70% of energy comes from hydropower created by mega-dams. Yet contrary to common belief, hydropower is not clean and cheap energy. Marketing messages created by hydropower promoters might lead you to mistakenly believe that mega-dams provide “clean energy,” yet such dams are in fact the start of greater ecosystem collapse, unleashing forces responsible for the devastation of forests, fisheries, biodiversity, global climate change and human rights abuses.

[Brazil] Actor Mark Rylance fronts battle to save the last of the Kawahiva Indians
Survival International, 7 October 2015
Ahead of Columbus Day on October 12, actor Mark Rylance and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, have launched a new campaign to save the Kawahiva – a small uncontacted hunter-gatherer tribe in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. The Kawahiva are one of the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. Their forest is being invaded by armed loggers, miners and powerful ranchers – in a region of Brazil’s Mato Grosso state known for its violence, rampant illegal logging and land grabs. The uncontacted Indians are forced to live constantly on the run from invaders. Many of their relatives have been killed in genocidal attacks. The Kawahiva have demonstrated their wish to remain uncontacted. Their right to choose not to make contact must be respected.

In Ethiopia, jobs might grow on trees
By John Cannon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 October 2015
Work on a timber plantation in Ethiopia is tough, with low wages, poor conditions and little security – but at least it’s a living. And in a country with high demand for wood products and widespread rural poverty and youth unemployment, industrial timber plantations offer a lot of promise, according to an analysis by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “The sector could generate employment opportunities in Ethiopia, and also relieve the growing pressure on natural forests,” said one of the study’s authors, CIFOR scientist Habtemariam Kassa. “The government is committed to promoting reforestation and afforestation, but our observations show that realizing the promise will take some major changes,” he added. As Ethiopia’s population increases – already 95 million and counting – the demand for wood for construction, paper products and, especially, fuel is also rising.

[Indonesia] ‘Blusukan’ to hot spot areas
The Jakarta Post, 7 October 2015
A responsible government would seek out every path to save its citizens at whatever price, but does not necessarily close the doors to outside assistance, particularly given the fact that the haze has spilled out of Indonesian jurisdiction. A more responsible government would dare to declare fighting the forest fires a top priority and devote time and energy to quickly address the disaster. If necessary, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, known for his blusukan (unannounced visits), should run his office in haze-stricken cities to lead the fight against the fires and ensure that the efforts work.

Drone footage: Massive Indonesian forest fires could emit more CO2 than the UK
By Zachary Davies Boren, Energydesk Greenpeace, 7 October 2015
Forest fires ravaging Indonesia’s rainforests will likely release far more carbon dioxide this year than the entire United Kingdom. That’s because the country’s peatlands have also caught ablaze, and with them a reserve of 60 gigatonnes of carbon — which is 6 times greater than annual global fossil fuel emissions. Add to that the biggest El Nino event in nearly 20 years and you’ve got a climate catastrophe in-the-making. The last time Indonesia’s peat and forest fires were this bad, they produced equivalent to between 13 and 40% of global carbon emissions from fossil fuels. That was in 1997, when the region’s fires were responsible for between 0.81 and 2.57 gigatonnes of carbon emissions.

NASA photo shows New Guinea going up in flames
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 7 October 2015
While fires in Borneo and Sumatra are garnering most of the headlines for the choking air pollution they are causing across Southeast Asia, New Guinea is also experiencing widespread fire outbreaks amid a severe El Nino-driven drought across parts of the island, reveals imagery and satellite data released by NASA. A September 24, 2015 photo taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite showed dozens of active hotspots burning in southern New Guinea, on both sides of the Indonesia-Papua New Guinea border. Fires were particularly clustered in areas where forests and peatlands have been cleared and degraded by loggers and for industrial agriculture as well as open grasslands.

Norway increases budget for CER buying as home GHG cuts prove too costly
By Stian Reklev and Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 7 October 2015
Norway plans to more than double its spending on CERs next year, a move analysts said could signal a sustained jump in the country’s offset purchases to 2020 as it struggles to cut emissions domestically. Norway’s centre-right coalition government plans to spend NOK 270 million (€29 million) on buying CERs in 2016, according to a budget proposal presented Wednesday, as part of the country’s strategy to meet its emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period (2013-2020). The oil-rich country earmarked nothing in its 2015 budget, but carried forward NOK 138 million from 2014. It expects to spend NOK 120 million on CERs this year, government documents show. The Scandinavian nation has a binding Kyoto target to reduce GHG emissions 16% below 1990 levels by 2020, but its annual output has barely changed in the past six years at around 53 million tonnes, leaving it off course towards meeting its goal.

PEFC Dismisses Romanian Government Findings, Clears Austrian Company Despite Documented Illegalities
EIA, 7 October 2015
The certification body PEFC has closed its complaint against Holzindustrie Schweighofer (Schweighofer), despite an investigation by the Romanian Ministry of the Environment, Water and Forests that concluded the company has been involved in various illegal activities. The Romanian government report was handed over to the national prosecutor in July 2015. Alexander von Bismarck, Executive Director at EIA, said, “We are very concerned that PEFC has actively dismissed the public findings of the Romanian Ministry of the Environment, Water and Forests, which found illegal wood, faked documents and other illegalities at Schweighofer Romania. The government’s findings confirmed EIA’s own investigations which had revealed that Schweighofer not only accepted, but actively encouraged illegal harvesting.”

South Korea sees first CO2 allowance trades since January
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 7 October 2015
South Korea’s emissions trading scheme on Wednesday broke a nine-month deadlock when it saw its first allowance trades since Jan. 16, but market participants were unconvinced the deals represent a lasting new trend of improved liquidity. Three deals for a total of 12,000 Korean Allowance Units (KAUs) went through on the Korea Exchange within 40 seconds of each other, all at 11,300 won ($9.78), 1,000 won or 9.7% higher than where the KAUs have been stuck since Apr. 23. The Korean ETS saw a handful of KAU trades during the first week after its Jan. 10 launch, but not a single allowance had changed hands since amid industry complaints that the market has been at least 10% under-allocated. Most analysts say the market is long, but several industry organisations have filed lawsuits against the government, demanding more permits.

[USA] Lumber Liquidators Pleads Guilty to Smuggling Illegal Timber
EIA, 7 October 2015
Announced today, Lumber Liquidators, the largest hardwood flooring retailer in the United States, pleads guilty to violations of the Lacey Act among other charges, will pay more than $10 million in penalties to the Department of Justice, and will be placed on a 5 year probationary period while it implements an environmental compliance plan. In response to this announcement, Executive Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, Alexander von Bismarck issued the following statement: “This is the first time that a major U.S. corporation is found guilty of a criminal felony for smuggling wood, related to violations of the U.S. Lacey Act. It’s a long time coming, and urgently needed to protect the U.S. consumer from unknowingly financing organized crime and the destruction of the last virgin forests on earth.”

8 October 2015

What the heck is REDD+ and why should you care?
By Natalie Prolman, Global Citizen, 8 October 2015
REDD+ is a United Nations envisioned climate change mitigation strategy that when implemented can quickly reduce millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions and deliver significant benefits to local landowners and forest communities, as well as the wildlife that inhabits the forest areas. And guess what?? It works! … By making forests more valuable standing than cut down, the REDD+ mechanism provides forest communities and countries with an awesome model for economic development where both people and the planet can benefit.

The Pope & the Market
By William D. Nordhaus, The New York Review of Books, 8 October 2015
Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and capitalism, Laudato Si’, is an eloquent description of the natural world and its relationship to human societies… In reading the encyclical, one senses the struggle of an ancient institution, immersed in its doctrine and history, slowly and incompletely adapting to modern science. Most commentaries have focused on the pope’s endorsement of climate science, but my focus here is primarily on the social sciences, particularly economics. My major point is that the encyclical overlooks the central part that markets, particularly market-based environmental policies such as carbon pricing, must play if countries are to make substantial progress in slowing global warming.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s V-Carbon Newsletter
Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 October 2015 Ecosystem Marketplace’s V-Carbon News Brief quietly celebrated its 100th issue last month, marking more than four years of continuous coverage of voluntary carbon news. Meanwhile our Forest Carbon News Brief published its 96th issue in September. In honor of this centennial and almost-centennial, we’re letting these two newsletters go into retirement and as of today launching a joint newsletter with a few new features.

Now ‘right moment’ for carbon tax: IMF chief
AFP, 8 October 2015
The time is right for governments to introduce taxes on carbon emissions, which would help fight global warming and raise badly needed revenue, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday. “It is just the right moment to introduce carbon taxes,” Lagarde said at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Lima, Peru. The issue is in the spotlight two months from a key United Nations conference in Paris tasked with delivering a comprehensive carbon-cutting pact to save the planet from the potentially catastrophic impact of global warming.

Coal Industry Seeks Unusual Partner in UN Green Climate Fund
By Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 8 October 2015
The coal industry, viewed as a key contributor to global warming, is seeking a once-improbable collaborator: a fund set up under United Nations climate negotiations. With more than 2,000 new coal power stations planned or being built in Asia to Africa, the UN Green Climate Fund should help finance making the plants more efficient, according to Mick Buffier, the chairman of the World Coal Association. New coal technology can cut climate-warming gases by about a third per unit of power, though it adds about 50 percent to the $315 million cost of a 500-megawatt plant in China, the group said. The Green Climate Fund is meant to channel climate-related aid from industrial nations to developing countries. Bangladesh alone said it needs $16.5 billion in the 20 years through 2030 to ensure its plants will use so-called “super-critical” clean technology.

Fighting to save the largest lowland forest in Cambodia
By Joe McCarthy, Global Citizen, 8 October 2015
339 villages housing more than 200,000 indigenous people live in and around the Prey Lang forest in Northern Cambodia. It’s an essential watershed that provides water and food security to the country, is a key part of cultural traditions and is integral to the local economy. Prey Lang sequesters a lot of carbon just by being its 500,000 hectare-self. It fosters more than 27 endangered animals and 20 endangered plants. It fosters countless other plants and animals. It’s also spectacularly beautiful. Yet, Prey Lang (like so many other forests around the world) is under threat by industrial interests. Hypothetically, you can mine Prey Lang. Hypothetically, you can harvest the trees of Prey Lang. Hypothetically, you can set up resource processing plants in Prey Lang. And hypothetically, you can get rich off Prey Lang. But why would you ever do any of these things?

[Indonesia] Haze cancels Jokowi haze visit as greater cooperation looms
mongabay.com, 8 October 2015
Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s flight to visit firefighting efforts in Sumatra was diverted on Thursday after the region’s haze kept flying visibility below the legal minimum. Jokowi and Health Minister Nila Moelok cancelled their visit to the haze-hit region on Thursday. Indonesian news magazine Tempo said it was the second time in a week Jokowi canceled the visit to the region. Air quality in Malaysia and Singapore improved on Thursday after rain on Wednesday dispersed pollutants. Air on Thursday afternoon was firmly in the “moderate” range in both countries with southerly winds too weak to carry pollution over the Malacca Strait. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tweeted a picture of blue skies.

[Indonesia] Following forum in Jakarta, NGOs send letter to Asia Pulp & Paper urging reform
By Joshua Martin, Environmental Paper Network, 8 October 2015
A group of NGOs sent a letter to Asia Pulp and Paper Director, Linda Wijaya, after a stakeholder engagement forum in Jakarta on October 5th. At the forum, APP presented information on how it is attempting to implement its Forest Conservation Policy and associated plans. NGO’s raised the issues contained in this letter and sought assurances from APP that it will increase its efforts to quickly reform its structures and practices. The signatories to the letter make clear to APP that their re-engagement, which follows a withdrawal earlier this year after the murder of farmer Indra Pelani by security guards in an APP concession in the province of Jambi, is not an endorsement of the company’s policies and practices and should not be used by the company to promote its products in the market place or seek additional finance.

[Nigeria] Lack of viable alternatives threatens forest conservation – Expert
The Guardian Nigeria, 8 October 2015
The Chairman of Cross River State Forestry Commission, Dr Odigha Odigha, on Thursday identified lack of viable alternatives as a threat to forest conservation in the country. Odigha said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos. According to him, cutting of firewood leads to deforestation while its domestic use brings pressure on the environment. However, when you say people should not use firewood what alternatives are you bringing for them? Other issues are that our forest is serving multiple purposes of alleviating poverty at rural levels,’’ he said. The chairman remarked that the United Nations (UN)-Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) was being implemented in Nigeria in spite of serious poverty at the rural level… Odigha said that the political will was also not strong enough to run the REDD+ Programme in the country.

Tapping into Peru’s mining conflict
Al Jazeera, 8 October 2015
Pressure is mounting on the Peruvian government to resolve a mining dispute following deadly protests that rattled the country’s southeast region. Locals are fighting a $7.4 billion copper mining project. They accuse the China-backed company MMG Limited (MMG) of changing the Las Bambas project’s environmental plan and failing to employ more locals. Following deadly clashes between protesters and police in late September, a state of emergency was declared and martial law implemented in the Apurimac and Cusco regions. Despite this, government officials have maintained support for the Las Bambas project saying it will generate economic growth for Peru, a country where more than 50 percent of its exports comes from mining copper, gold and silver. In a statement released on Tuesday, MMG said the company “remains deeply concerned about the violent incidents that occurred in the vicinity of our project…”

Haze prompts Singapore banks to set ESG guidelines
By Jean Chua, Eco-Business, 8 October 2015
In a historic move, banks in Singapore will for the first time adopt standards that govern responsible financing and integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues such as deforestation, human rights and corporate ethics into their lending and business practices. The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which represents 158 foreign banks as well as the three largest local banks – DBS, UOB and OCBC – on Thursday released a set of guidelines that it says will align the financial sector’s activities to support sustainable development.

[USA] Environmentalist Tom Clarke getting into coal business
roanoke.com, 8 October 2015
Tom Clarke, the Botetourt County environmentalist, health care executive and purchaser and operator of the troubled Natural Bridge attraction on Interstate 81, received a green light Thursday to enter the coal mining business. The Wall Street Journal reported that a judge in Richmond verbally approved a plan to break up struggling Patriot Coal Corp. of West Virginia, with a portion of the mines and idle mine land in need of reclamation going to Clarke’s Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund nonprofit organization… Clarke has announced a business model designed to help the environment, in that he will deliver reforestation carbon credits to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of the electrical generating plants that buy his coal. ERP, to be based at Natural Bridge, has $35 million in financial backing and experienced coal mining executives hired to run it, he said.

9 October 2015

Carbon Trade Lobby Says UN Deal May Cut Outlays in Poor Nations
By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 9 October 2015
The United Nations’ draft climate proposal may reduce clean-technology investment to developing countries because it still limits the role of global carbon markets, according to the International Emissions Trading Association. The latest draft keeps language from a previous pact that discouraged demand for UN emission credits over the past decade, said Dirk Forrister, president of the Geneva-based industry group. Countries can only buy carbon credits from one another to meet climate pledges if it’s “supplemental to domestic action,” according to one of the options in the preliminary plan published Oct. 5. “It’s reared its ugly head again,” Forrister said by phone, referring to the clause in the draft plan. “An open market would serve the climate better and the interests of developing countries.”

[Australia] Greg Hunt orders inquiry into Kakadu bushfire sparked by ‘controlled burn’
By Helen Davidson, The Guardian, 9 October 2015
The federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, has ordered an investigation into a week-long bushfire in Kakadu national park sparked after a mining company lost control of a controlled burn. The bushfire which started on 1 October destroyed more than 200 square kilometres of bushland in the world heritage national park, and threatened a number of culturally and historically significant sites. Traditional owners blamed the operators of the Ranger uranium mine, ERA, for lighting a fire too late in the top end’s dry season and losing control of it… Rowan Foley, general manager of the Aboriginal Carbon Fund, said carbon farming and incorporated traditional fire burning practises would create work for local Indigenous people and carbon credits for corporations. “A return to traditional burning practice through a carbon farming model would see an appropriate pattern of fires throughout the region,” he said.

[India] ‘Involve farmers in fight against climate change’
By Gargi Parsai, The Hindu, 9 October 2015
A regional consultation on agro forestry on Thursday underscored the need for enabling policies to ensure that farmers get technology and financial incentives to integrate trees and shrubs on farmland for developing resilience to climate change. “India has the most progressive agro forestry policy in the world,’’ Director-General of Kenya-headquartered ICRAF (World Agro forestry Centre) Tony Simons told The Hindu on the sidelines of the conference here. “This needs to be followed up with investments and better coordination between States.’’ “There is a lot of degraded land and farm land without trees in India. The key is to add trees to the landscape,’’ he said. Agro forestry is defined as a land use system which integrates trees and shrubs on farmlands and rural landscapes to enhance productivity, profitability, diversity and ecosystem sustainability.

Indonesia loses up to US$9b from timber clearing: anti-graft body
The Business Times, 9 October 2015
Unreported forest clearing cost Indonesia up to US$9 billion between 2003 and 2014 in lost timber royalties – about three times the royalties it actually received, an investigation by the country’s main anti-graft agency showed on Friday. An eight-month investigation by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) estimated the value of the lost timber at up to US$81 billion, with the cleared land often used for growing crops or mining. A copy of its report, seen by Reuters and due to be handed to government ministers on Friday, will put further pressure on President Joko Widodo who has been criticised by green groups and other Southeast Asian nations on forestry policy and for failing to stop the annual “haze” problem from forest-burning.

10 October 2015

Seeing Indonesia through the haze
By Simon Tay, The Jakarta Post, 10 October 2015
There are reasons to be frustrated and angry about the haze pollution, caused by fires in Indonesian provinces. There are also reasons to question whether real action will be taken and can be effective. The problem is driven not by natural causes but by man-made deforestation and land clearance for the expansion of oil palm and pulp and paper plantations. Addressing the root of the problem is even more problematic because of uncertain land rights, corruption, decentralization and conflicting rules. Powerful corporations are involved and while some have made pledges for greater transparency and sustainability, others remain opaque and uncommitted. Moreover, rather than consistent priority, there have been periods of inaction and statements by high-ranking Indonesian officials that play down the problem. It would be easy to be cynical and last week, visiting Jakarta, I felt a sense of déjà vu.

[Indonesia] On the spot visit reveals peatland forest fires
By Imanuddin Razak, The Jakarta Post, 10 October 2015
A central government delegation led by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut B. Pandjaitan discovered during an on-the-spot visit to the Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) regency that a large part of the blame ought to be borne by the owners of industrial forest concessions (HTI). “I found out during our helicopter flight to get here that the hotspots were found on your HTI concession areas here,” Luhut told local South Sumatra administration officials alongside the management of PT Bumi Andalas Permai (BAP), a subsidiary of Sinar Mas Group, at the company’s plantation area in the Air Sugihan subdistrict, OKI regency. “Local people are often blamed for the fires. In fact, HTI concession holders like you are the parties [who are mainly to blame],” he added. PT BAP, which holds a HTI concession of 192,000 hectares in the regency, produces paper products.

Vietnam’s readiness to realise REDD+ evaluated
VietNamNet, 10 October 2015
The event is part of activities to complete the readiness package (R-package) report, which enables Vietnam to join the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), before it is submitted to the FCPF in January 2016. The FCPF is funding REDD readiness preparation support in Vietnam with 3.8 million USD from 2013-2015. Participants at the conference agreed that thanks to the early formation of the National REDD Steering Committee and the active engagement of organisations in the project, almost all 10 criteria of the project have been fulfilled. However, they also pointed to the need to improve accountability and transparency and build REDD supervision and evaluation mechanisms suitable to Vietnam’s laws and international practices. To this end, it is necessary to encourage stronger engagement of the community, private sector and social organisations in the implementation of REDD projects, they said…

11 October 2015

Food justice: what’s at stake in Paris?
By Doreen Stabinsky, Medium, 11 October 2015
The build-up to the December Paris climate summit is focusing world attention on the issue of climate change. In the process, there is significant opportunity to raise and highlight justice issues that lie at the intersection of climate change and food — for example, the fact that climate change will threaten the right to food, with the gravest impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable, through devastating impacts on food production. A second critical issue to highlight is the central role played by industrial systems of agricultural production in causing climate change, in particular through massive emissions from industrial meat production, production and use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, and large-scale monocultures of commodities shipped around the world.

[USA] California has unspent billions from carbon auctions
By Dan Walters, The Sacramento Bee, 11 October 2015
One of the chores the Legislature left undone when it adjourned was spending billions of dollars from auctioning carbon dioxide emission credits. There’s no shortage of suggestions on how to spend the “cap-and-trade” money, but state law says it’s supposed to be spent on reducing carbon emissions and thus combating climate change. Gov. Jerry Brown already has a big chunk of the money – $250 million a year and growing – to spend on his pet bullet train project on the assertion that it will make a big dent in tailpipe carbon emissions. However, the Legislature’s budget adviser, Mac Taylor, has opined that the bullet train will have negligible impact on emissions by a 2020 deadline, and its construction may actually increase them.


 


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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