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.
[Vietnam] A stronger voice
Transparency International, October 2015
“The voice of people in our village is stronger now.” Forest protection programmes have the potential to lift people out of poverty at the same time as saving trees from destruction. Yet when we visited one community in Vietnam, we found many families had no idea they could benefit. With the help of community leaders, we’re making sure no-one is left behind. Ho Thi Quy lives in Khe Ngang village, in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province. When Towards Transparency (the local chapter of Transparency International) visited the area, they learned that local leaders like Nguyen Thi Quyen had their concerns about the initiative. “We discovered that 70 families in Khe Ngang were not aware that they could join the programme and receive additional income from it,” she explains.
26 October 2015
UN’s Bonn Climate Talks End Up Better Than They Started
By Sandy Dechert, Clean Technica, 26 October 2015
Friday marked the end of the week-long October international climate meeting (11th part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) in Bonn, a runup to the first global climate change agreement in 18 years this December. As at previous meetings, a struggle between goals of the rich and poor countries dominated the discussion. Specifically, as we reported earlier in this series, less developed nations called out the more developed group for tardiness and double-counting in the financing measures adopted to help them transition to low-carbon energy and raise defenses against the sea level rise and big storms that have begun to result from climate change.
Eight lignite units to be idled under German reserve plan -ministry
By Mike Szabo Carbon Pulse, 26 October 2015
Germany has reached agreements with three utilities to idle eight of their coal-fired power units with total generation capacity of 2.7 GW to help the country hit its 2020 emissions reduction target. The German energy and economy ministry on Saturday announced that it had inked deals with RWE, Vattenfall and Mibrag to gradually halt power production at the eight lignite blocks from 2016, temporarily shutting them down before decommissioning them fully over the course of the next seven years. Under the plan announced in July, the units, which have been designated by the three utilities, will be put in a reserve to support baseload supply shortages, cutting Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions by 11-12.5 million tonnes of CO2 by 2020. Energy and Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the strategy is a “good and viable solution” for workers and companies, and will ensure that the country avoids blackouts.
[Guyana] Where They Stand
By Fred Pearce, Forest Peoples Programme, 26 October 2015
The Wapichan people of Guyana are using modern technology and community research to seek legal recognition of their ancestral land in the face of aggressive land-grabbing, destructive logging, and poisonous mining by illegal miners and foreign companies, finds new report by internationally acclaimed science writer Fred Pearce. This struggle is being faced by indigenous peoples across South America, and the Wapichan are an inspiring example of cutting-edge grassroots efforts to defend lands and forests. The report, published by the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), explains how Wapichan community organisations have mapped their lands using GPS tools to document the location of farms, hunting and fishing grounds, wildlife habitats, and sacred sites.
If the palm oil industry waited for consumers to care, sustainability would get nowhere
By Tim Smedley, The Guardian (sponsored by RSPO), 26 October 2015
Palm oil is the most-used vegetable oil in the world, accounting for some 65% of all vegetable oil traded, and is found in everything from washing powder to breakfast cereals. Global production has doubled over the past decade and is set to double again by 2020. But oil palm trees only grow in tropical areas, and vast monocrops are rapidly destroying virgin rainforests and peatland. Ecosystem collapse, air pollution and species extinction have followed. Global action to reverse these trends has been led by the certification scheme, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Yet, despite being established in 2004, only around 20% of palm oil is certified by the RSPO globally. For the remaining 80%, it’s business as usual.
Sustainable palm oil in Indonesia is possible
By Agus P. Sari, The Jakarta Post, 26 October 2015
We can produce 40 million tons of crude palm oil (CPO) by 2020 sustainably without any need to expand existing palm oil plantations, as stipulated by the Midterm National Development Goal (RPJMN). We really don’t need to convert healthy forested lands or vulnerable peatland into palm oil plantations. The key to increased sustainability and productivity of the industry is increased productivity and sustainability of oil palm smallholder plantations. Increasing their productivity also will increase the prosperity of the small farmers. There are possibly about 1 to 1.5 million smallholders in Indonesia with an average farm size of 4-6 hectares.
Indonesia’s forest fires threaten a third of world’s wild orangutans
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 26 October 2015
Raging Indonesian forest fires have advanced into dense forest on Borneo and now threaten one third of the world’s remaining wild orangutans, say conservationists. Satellite photography shows that around 100,000 fires have burned in Indonesia’s carbon-rich peatlands since July. But instead of being mostly confined to farmland and plantations, as they are in most years, several thousand fires have now penetrated deep into primary forests and national parks, the strongholds of the remaining wild apes and other endangered animals. Alarmingly, 358 fire “hotspots” have been detected inside the Sabangau Forest in Borneo which has the world’s largest population of nearly 7,000 wild orangutans. Elsewhere, fires are raging in the Tanjung Puting national park, home to 6,000 wild apes, the Katingan forest with 3,000 and the Mawas reserve where there are an estimated 3,500.
[Indonesia] REDD-I partnership celebrates five years with handover to FORDA
Center for International Forestry Research, 26 October 2015
The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Research, Development and Innovation Agency (FORDA) of the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry celebrated a five-year communications partnership last Wednesday. CIFOR’s Director of Communications and External Relations, John Colmey, officially transferred the management of REDD-Indonesia.org to FORDA Director General, Henry Bastaman, during the International Conference of Indonesia Forestry Researchers (INAFOR) at the IPB Convention Center, Bogor. REDD-Indonesia.org (REDD-I), jointly developed by CIFOR and FORDA, has become Indonesia’s leading website for reliable information on forests, climate change and REDD+ in Indonesia. It was launched in 2011 after CIFOR and FORDA identified an information gap on climate change problems and solutions in the country.
Indonesia’s fires labelled a ‘crime against humanity’ as 500,000 suffer
By Kate Lamb, The Guardian, 26 October 2015
Raging forest fires across Indonesia are thought to be responsible for up to half a million cases of respiratory infections, with the resultant haze covering parts of Malaysia and Singapore now being described as a “crime against humanity”. Tens of thousands of hectares of forest have been alight for more than two months as a result of slash and burn – the fastest and quickest way to clear land for new plantations… Sutopo Puro Nugroho, the spokesperson for the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has acknowledged that for months 43 million people on the two islands have been inhaling toxic fumes. Yet, he admitted, the number of unrecorded cases was likely much higher. “This is a crime against humanity of extraordinary proportions,” he said. “But now is not the time to point fingers but to focus on how we can deal with this quickly.”
27 October 2015
The REDD+ and its carbon trade will not resolve the climate crisis
Attac Gabon and Grain, 27 October 2015
As with other mechanisms supported by “world climate governance”, we doubted from the beginning that the Reduction of Emissions caused by Deforestation and the Degradation of Forests (REDD) mechanism would be likely to resolve the global climate crisis, ever since it was introduced in discussions on climate change. Now more than ever, the hidden face of this mechanism is revealed with the new market mechanism that is being devised and that may be adopted at the COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. The ground is a good place to sequester carbon, and speculators, businesses and multinationals see a great opportunity to make money and increase their profits. This time, real damage can be done. Very serious damage, because this time, the stakes are high; agriculture has become another target of the carbon trade.
Brazil: Guarani teenagers feared dead as ranchers’ warfare intensifies
Survival International, 27 October 2015
Two Guarani teenagers are feared dead amidst a wave of attacks on indigenous communities in west-central Brazil. The teenagers went missing earlier this month during an attack on their community, known as Mbarakay, by ranchers’ gunmen. The gunmen beat up several community members, tore out women’s hair, and shot at the Indians. The Guarani reported that a police squad stationed nearby was aware the violence was unfolding, but failed to intervene. Similar reports are emerging from other communities under attack.
[Cameroon] Baka ‘Pygmies’ report more abuse despite WWF assurances
Survival International, 27 October 2015
In shocking new video testimonies, Baka “Pygmies” in southeast Cameroon have reported ongoing abuse and torture at the hands of wildlife officers funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). WWF has helped to create a new protected area without the consent of the Baka or their neighbors. Baka living to the south of the reserve spoke out following the loss of their land. Having been shut out of their land in the new Ngoyla Wildlife Reserve, many are no longer able to access the food and sacred places that are vital to them. They and their neighbors are accused of “poaching” when hunting to feed their families and face arrest and beating, torture and even death at the hands of wildlife officers funded by WWF. One Baka man reports, “When they came to beat me here in my home, my wife and I were sleeping. They beat me with machetes. They beat my wife with machetes.”
[Indonesia] Life amid the fires and haze of Central Kalimantan
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 October 2015
In Central Kalimantan, schoolchildren are missing classes, farmers are losing their harvests, and orangutans are losing their homes. The effects of the fires and smoke – among the worst seen in Southeast Asia in years – are far-reaching and devastating. During a trip to Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan in mid-October 2015, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and their partners saw and documented just some of the ways that communities, wildlife, the environment and the economy are being affected. For the full album, visit our Flickr page: Fire and Haze, Central Kalimantan.
Indonesai Fires Seen From a Million Miles Away
By Phil Plait, Slate, 27 October 2015
Normally, I think pictures of Earth from space are among the most beautiful of all astronomical photos. Our home is gorgeous, especially when seen from afar. But Monday, NASA tweeted a picture of our world whose ugliness made me literally gasp when I understood what I was seeing. The photo above is from the Earth-observing DSCOVR satellite, which sits 1.5 million km (almost a million miles) over our planet, taking full-disk images every hour, which are then put online for the public to view. That shot was taken on Oct. 25 at 05:37 UTC. NASA put the picture on Twitter to point out the three tropical low systems developing in the Indian Ocean. Which is great, and very cool. But what caught my eye was the huge grayish hazy patch over Indonesia, over to the right a bit.
[Indonesia] Protecting peatland
The Jakarta Post, 27 October 2015
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s special instruction to the environment and forestry minister last week to stop issuing new licenses for peatland cultivation and to conduct an overall review of all peatland-use permits is a strategic part of the effort to prevent forest and land fires and the hazardous air pollution they cause. He also stated at the Cabinet meeting last Friday that damaged peatland must be rehabilitated, virgin peatland must not be opened for any purpose and all involved in the fight against forest and land fires must use the same map to prevent overlaps. To put it bluntly, companies can no longer convert active forests or peatland areas into monoculture plantations such as acacia for pulp and oil palm plantations. Recent research by forestry scientists at the Bogor-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) found that the main cause of hazardous haze in Riau came from burning dried and deforested peatland…
28 October 2015
Climate Leader’s report from Bonn ADP 2-11
By Edwin Usang, African Climate Reality Project, 28 October 2015
From this ADP 2-11, being the last session before COP 21 in Paris where a new climate change regime is expected to be approved by all the 196 countries, the RSWG had worked very hard to see that our concerns are incorporated into the Draft Agreement and Decision Text to be taken to Paris for approval. What we are concerned with is potential negative consequences resulting from implementation of climate actions. To address that, we want to establish an imperative in the agreement to take into consideration integrity and resilience of natural ecosystems and human rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. So providing for these considerations would help to minimize unintended consequences such as maladaptation, and in so doing, increase the sustainability and long term benefits of climate actions.
World leaders to attend Paris climate summit
The Guardian, 28 October 2015
At least 80 world leaders, including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, David Cameron and Narendra Modi, will attend a summit tasked with agreeing a global climate pact in Paris in December. Diplomats endorsed the outlines of the proposed deal in Bonn on Friday after five days of fraught negotiation that highlighted just how much work remains to be done in Paris. The aim is to unite all the world’s nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change, with the goal of capping warming at 2C over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
The Paris climate talks could jolt private sector investments worldwide
By Assaad Razzouk, Eco-Business, 28 October 2015
Over the past three decades annual climate talks under the United Nations banner have become part of the Zeitgeist of a large movement. They draw government officials, think tanks, civil society, journalists and the occasional hipsters into negotiations over which ride trillions of dollars and our future well-being on Earth. Expect a lot of drama at the next instalment, taking place in Paris in late November. Heads of state will make grandiose pronouncements. Negotiators from 190 countries will huddle, whisper, argue over words for days and bargain in stuffy rooms in a style that would make bazaar traders proud. Civil society will push for strong outcomes, prod for more climate finance, demonstrate occasionally (a welcome activity in Paris), express anger followed by frustration before going home let down again.
Brazil Deals Blow to Schwarzenegger-Championed Carbon Trade
By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 28 October 2015
Brazil damped hopes that an international carbon trade supported by Arnold Schwarzenegger five years ago will go ahead as South America’s biggest economy has no intention of exporting credits. Securities generated by protecting the Amazon rain forest will be needed by Brazil to meet its own emission-reduction targets and won’t be sold to another country or state, Carlos Klink, secretary of the climate change unit at the nation’s environment ministry, said Wednesday in an interview in London. California is considering importing credits from Brazil’s Acre state to comply with environmental rules at home, its Air Resources Board said Oct. 19 in a document. The potential trade would break new ground because it’s between two states rather than countries at a time when nations are publishing pledges on how to tackle climate change under a global agreement that may be signed in Paris in December.
Indonesia burning: forest fires predicted to be worst on record
The Guardian, 28 October 2015
Nasa satellites have detected more than 117,000 forest fires in Indonesia this year, according to the global fire emissions database. Most are believed to have been started deliberately to clear land for farming. They have been raging for several months and have destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of forest. Most of the fires are on the islands of Sumatra and the Indondesian part of Borneo, known locally as Kalimantan. Smoke, smog and haze have also affected neighbouring countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, grounding flights and forcing schools to close. Visibility has been reduced in some areas to less than 50 metres (160 feet). The smog and haze have been particularly bad in Borneo, measuring 1,986 on the pollution index compiled by Indonesia’s meteorology agency. Values over 350 are considered hazardous. Conservationists also say the fires threaten nearly a third of the world’s orangutan population.
[Indonesia] Govt to use REDD+ funds to restore peat lands
ANTARA News, 28 October 2015
Vice President Jusuf Kalla said here on Wednesday that the government would use funds from the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program to restore the peat lands in the country. “We will discuss the concept of peat land restoration that complies with the REDD+ program and credits from carbon trading and we will have to use a lot of funds from the national budget,” he said. Vice President Jusuf Kalla met with Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya and special presidential envoy for climate change control, Rachmat Witoelar, to discuss the problem. He had asked for a review of the financing system of the REDD+ program and carbon trading to see if funds can be diverted for restoring peat lands.
[Indonesia] Raja Ampat fires destroy livelihoods; Sumatrans suffer from drought amid haze
mongabay.com, 28 October 2015
Heavy rain on Tuesday night offered some respite in the city worst affected by smoke from Indonesia’s devastating wildfires as President Joko Widodo returned home early from an official visit to the U.S. to oversee the government response. Indonesia continues to ready assets on standby to evacuate residents over the next month as a worst-case scenario. Local government offices and health centers in several affected provinces have been opened to act as shelters, but few people have made use of them. Most have chosen to remain in their own homes.
[Indonesia] This Could Be the Worst Climate Crisis in the World Right Now
By Tim McDonnell, Climate Desk, 28 October 2015
Indonesia has the world’s highest rate of deforestation… From 2000 to 2012, according to research published in Nature, Indonesia lost more than 23,000 square miles of forest to logging, agriculture, and other uses. That’s roughly the size of West Virginia. In 2010, the government attempted to put the brakes on deforestation by exchanging a two-year moratorium on new logging permits for $1 billion in aid from Norway and the United States. But according to Susan Minnemeyer, a forest analyst at the WRI, that policy appears to have had the “perverse impact of accelerating [deforestation], because those with permits felt that they had to take action quickly or they would no longer be able to.” … Indonesia is the world’s fifth-ranking greenhouse gas emitter, coming in just behind Russia and India. In other words, we can’t stop climate change without saving Indonesia’s rainforests.
[Tanzania] MJUMITA Community Forest Project Validated and Verified by SCS Under the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards and the Verified Carbon Standard
SCS Global Services press release, 28 October 2015
Leading forest carbon offset verifier SCS Global Services (SCS) announced today that it has completed a third-party validation and verification of the MJUMITA Community Forest Project. Located in the Lindi region of Tanzania, MJUMITA (Mtandao wa Jamii wa Usimamizi wa Misitu or the Tanzania Community Forest Network) employs extensive community engagement strategies to protect regional forests. Through the validation and verification process, SCS confirmed that a net reduction of 1,350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) will occur over the 30-year crediting period. In order to achieve validation and verification, the MJUMITA Community Forest Project satisfied seventeen specific criteria under the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standards (CCBS), and demonstrated conformance to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).
[Tanzania] MRG deeply disappointed by Arusha Court land rights judgment against Loliondo Maasai
Minority Rights Group International, 28 October 2015
A High Court ruling, handed down today, against a Maasai community from Northern Tanzania, is deeply disappointing, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG). The land rights case was brought by the indigenous community against a subsidiary of a US-based safari company, and a government parastatal – Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) and Tanzania Conservation Limited (TCL) – claiming forceful and violent eviction from their ancestral land in Loliondo. The Arusha-based Court ruled against the Maasai on all but one point. The community had asked the court to revoke the company’s land title, prevent TCL from converting the land’s designated use from pastoralism to tourism, and award damages for the injuries they have suffered due to their exclusion from the land. They alleged that TCL, together with local Tanzanian police and government officials, had conspired to illegally confiscate their land.
[USA] Air Resources Board looks to tropical deforestation for cap-and-trade offsets
By Edward Oriz, The Sacramento Bee, 28 October 2015
California environmental regulators zeroed in on tropical deforestation Wednesday as a top cause of global climate change and looked for ways to halt the destruction of distant forests through the state’s pioneering carbon cap-and-trade program. The California Air Resources Board said it was considering allowing companies in the state to purchase a small amount of credits in the carbon trading system when deforestation is controlled in Brazil, Mexico or other countries. The board’s meeting Wednesday drew indigenous leaders and others from such tropical forest areas, all of them stressing the importance of saving the vegetation in their regions. Tropical forests are considered one of the world’s major carbon sinks and their destruction – often by burning – contributes up to 14 percent of global carbon emissions.
[Vietnam] PM approves plan for $3.6m carbon market
VietNam News, 28 October 2015
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a project worth US$3.6 million to help Viet Nam to build its own carbon market following an application from the Ministry of Planning and Investment. Created under the Kyoto Protocol, the carbon market enables the trading of carbon emission allowances between developed countries, which have higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions than permitted, and developing countries, which have lower levels than permitted. The ostensible purpose of this initiative is to encourage countries and companies to limit their carbon dioxide emissions. The project, with $3 million funded by the World Bank and $600,000 from the Vietnamese Government, would help to set up a database of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the country; issue policies and State management tools related to the carbon market; and implement the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) to create carbon credits.
29 October 2015
Several green groups outline demands for Pacific trade pact
By Timothy Cama and Vicki Needham, The Hill, 29 October 2015
More than a dozen environmental and conservation groups on Thursday laid out eight pages of demands that they say lawmakers must use to judge the strength of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The groups, led by the Sierra Club, are sending a letter to members of Congress well in advance of an expected vote on the sweeping Asia-Pacific deal that was completed nearly a month ago with 11 other nations, according to the document first obtained by The Hill. The groups are urging a “no” vote on the 12-nation deal if the TPP doesn’t address their concerns. The letter is a last-ditch effort from environmentalists, who feel that significant parts of what they demanded in TPP were not incorporated into the deal, despite the Obama administration’s efforts to highlight protections for wildlife and conservation.
Governments to raise $22 billion from carbon pricing in 2015: report
By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 29 October 2015
Governments around the world will this year raise around $22 billion from schemes putting a price on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions such as taxes or emissions trading systems, a report on Wednesday showed. The role of carbon pricing, in efforts to curb rising emissions blamed for global warming, has gained prominence this year after several multinational companies including oil majors said such a price is needed to spur investment in low-carbon energy. The figure is up 46 percent from an estimated $15 billion raised in 2014, the report by industry group the Climate Markets and Investment Association (CMIA) showed. “Revenues from carbon pricing appear likely to continue to increase around the world, and continuing debate will be needed about how these funds should best be used in future,” it said.
Carbon c-Reddit: UN climate chief takes on internet
By Alex Pashley, Climate Home, 29 October 2015
The diplomat steering UN climate talks put herself at the mercy of the internet on Wednesday. Christiana Figueres followed in the footsteps of Barack Obama, Buzz Aldrin and the Big Bird puppeteer with her maiden AMA on Reddit. It’s a month before envoys thrash out a new climate deal and all eyes turn to the two-week Paris gathering. At the helm of the UN climate body since 2010, Figueres came across more guarded than Bill Murray but more lively than Morgan Freeman. There were some provocative questions, but nothing like the abuse heaped on Ann Coulter, the US political commentator. She carries a blue marble in her pocket to remind her of the oceans, she buys carbons offsets for her air travel and she gets “frustrated” but not depressed.
Segolene Royal, Prince Charles target Paris deforestation goal
By Ed King, Climate Home, 29 October 2015
Prince Charles will tell world leaders they have one last chance to protect Planet Earth when he addresses the opening session of the 2015 UN climate summit in Paris on 30 November. The heir to the British throne, a passionate conservationist, revealed today he has been invited by France president Francois Hollande to take part in the meeting, called COP21. “We can’t possibly allow [warming] to be 4C as scientists have warned… a big increase I think it will be impossible to adapt to,” he said at an event to promote forest protection in London. “Billions of people and what is left of the rest of a rapidly diminishing creation depend on whether this time real concerted action – not just words – can be taken.” The Prince was joined by the heads of environment from the UK, Brazil and France at a one-day meeting held at Lancaster House in London.
Amazon Rainforest Defense Now Part of Activists’ Global Strategy to Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry
By John J. Berger, Huffington Post, 29 October 2015
The fate of the world’s climate and the Amazon Rainforest are intertwined. That was the message brought by Amazon Watch founder and board president Atossa Soltani to a session of the annual Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, CA on October 23rd. She shared the stage with Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a panel on disrupting the global carbon economy so as to protect the climate, indigenous people, and the environment. Brune was optimistic that the world is witnessing the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era and that the climate movement has the ability to resist the fossil fuel industry from the mine and wellhead to wherever fossil fuels are used. In his remarks, he laid out guidelines for defeating the fossil fuel industry.
Cambodia Among Poor Nations at Risk Under Climate Change
By Phorn Bopha, Voice of America, 29 October 2015
[Editor’s note: VOA Khmer recently spoke with Tek Vannara, director of the NGO Forum, who will attend the summit, about Cambodia’s climate change issues and what the Paris talks could mean for the country.] VOA Khmer: Is there anything else you are going to ask besides these? Another point is that we will ask to discuss the markets of carbon credit. We’ll ask them to help make the price better. When the market is good for the price of carbon credits, this would allow developing and least-developed countries to keep forests for carbon credits to sell. They can use the money from selling carbon to contribute to the communities. The benefit will go to the communities living in the forestry areas, as well as to the governments of least developed and developing countries. If the market for carbon credits is not good, it will drastically lead to deforestation, and the timber trade will increase because people have no choice.
Indonesia on fire again … and again?
By Suzanna Anderson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 October 2015
The fires in Indonesia have been raging for more than two months, creating a toxic haze that has blanketed much of the country and spread across neighboring regions. Rains in the past week have provided a little welcome relief, but the crisis is far from over. Most of the fires in Central Kalimantan are blazing in former peatland forests, which have been drained, cleared and burned for oil palm and agriculture, at large and small scales. The dried-out peat ignites easily and burns underground; the fire then creeps along under the surface. Peatlands are made up of decomposed forest debris. They have been around for thousands of years and are home to thousands of plants and animals, including endangered keystone species such as the orangutan. “In their natural state, the land here is covered in lush tropical forest and they are essentially bogs and watered all year round,”said David Gaveau, a scientist at CIFOR.
Indonesian fires now on a par with Brazil’s total annual emissions
By Roz Pidcock, Carbon Brief, 29 October 2015
Fires are raging across Indonesia, so far releasing almost as much carbon to the atmosphere as Brazil produces in a year, according to new data from the World Resources Institute. Standing at a staggering 1.6bn tonnes of greenhouse gases, emissions from Indonesia’s fires alone are already twice as high as those from the rest of economy combined, and have bumped Indonesia up from the sixth biggest emitting country to the fourth in just six weeks. With the international community keeping close watch ahead of the Paris talks next month, here’s a summary of the state of play and some context on what it means for the climate.
With Latest Fires Crisis, Indonesia Surpasses Russia as World’s Fourth-Largest Emitter
By Nancy Harris, Susan Minnemeyer, Nigel Sizer, Sarah Alix Mann and Octavia Aris Payne, World Resources Institute, 29 October 2015
New analysis reveals even more troubling news about Indonesia’s fires crisis. Emissions from this year’s fires have reached 1.62 billion metric tons of CO2—bumping Indonesia from the sixth-largest emitter in the world up to the fourth-largest in just six weeks. The analysis from Guido van der Werf with the Global Fire Emissions Database also reveals that: Emissions from Indonesia’s fires alone are approaching the total annual emissions of Brazil. Indonesia’s current total emissions hover around 760 Mt CO2 (excluding land-use change), meaning the fires alone have tripled Indonesia’s entire annual emissions. Indonesian fires during 38 of the past 56 days (as of October 26) have released more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire U.S. economy on those days.
How Indonesia’s fires made it the biggest climate polluter
By Alex Morales, The Age, 29 October 2015
Indonesia’s forest fires have catapulted the southeast Asian nation to the top of the rankings of the world’s worst global warming offenders, with daily emissions exceeding those of China on at least 14 days in the past two months. The nation’s total daily carbon dioxide emissions, including from power generation, transport and industry, exceeded those of the U.S. on 47 of the 74 days through October 28, according to Bloomberg analysis of national emissions data from the World Resources Institute in Washington and Indonesian fire- emissions data from VU University in Amsterdam. Smog caused by the fires has generated headlines and a diplomatic flare-up between Indonesia and its neighbours in southeast Asia. It’s a threat to human health and has disrupted flights in the region. At the same time, burning trees and peatlands are pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere…
Latin America needs stronger climate pledges – analysts
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 29 October 2015
Climate pledges by Latin America’s major economies do not go far enough to hold warming below 2C, analysts warned on Thursday. Climate Action Tracker awarded Brazil and Peru a “medium” rating for their targets, being at the weaker end of a “fair” contribution to global efforts. That is the same category as the EU, US and China. Offers from Chile and Argentina were branded “inadequate”, in line with 3-4C of temperature rise from pre-industrial levels. “None of these countries will be immune to the effects of climate change. An increase in warming of 2C would have severe impacts on all four of them, and on the rest of the continent,” said Marcia Rocha, head of climate policy at Climate Analytics. “Yet instead of taking action commensurate with the size of the threat, these governments are largely sticking with their current policies, which are heading in the wrong direction.”
[Nepal] Raising the standard: Communities, forests and carbon management
Griffith University press release, 29 October 2015
In a world first, a newly released standard for the good governance of forest projects in Nepal will ensure the management of forest-based carbon is guided by the wishes of local communities. With global implications for wherever the forest sector and local communities meet, researchers believe that applying the standard will avoid risk and generate local ownership around a wide range of forest projects and activities, including emissions trading, ecosystem services and sustainable development.
30 October 2015
INDCs will fail to halt global emissions growth by 2030, but door still open to 2C -UNFCCC
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 30 October 2015
INDCs from the 147 parties submitted by Oct. 1 will result in global emissions continuing to rise over the next 15 years though keep the door open to reaching the 2C temperature rise goal, the UNFCCC said in a report on Friday summarising the submitted pledges. The aggregate report, published on the UN website, was requested by almost 200 nations ahead of the December UN climate talks, without any scrutiny of individual INDCs. It found that with the INDCs fulfilled, global emissions would climb to 55 billion tonnes in 2025 and 57 billion tonnes in 2030, though growth in emissions is expected to slow down by a third in the 2010–2030 period compared to the period 1990–2010. This would mean that by 2030 the world had reached 75% of the cumulative emission budget since 2011 that UN-backed scientists say is consistent with the 2C goal.
Worst Climate Threat You Never Heard of Is Stronger Than CO2
By Alex Nussbaum, Bloomberg, 30 October 2015
The biggest global warming battle you’ve never heard of kicks off in Dubai this weekend. Climate negotiators from across the globe will gather in the Persian Gulf city to debate how to get rid of hydrofluorocarbons — a class of hundreds of artificial chemicals used in refrigerators, air-conditioners, fire suppressants and other widely used products. While less common than greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide or methane, HFCs can be thousands of times more potent, pound for pound, at heating up the planet. They’re also gaining in popularity as demand for air conditioning, refrigeration and other services is expected to soar in developing countries in coming decades. The result: HFCs are now the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases and projected to rise even more in the future.
Concerns grow that Australia will rely on cheap CERs to meet emissions targets
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse 30 October 2015
The recent Australian rush to buy millions of cheap, soon-to-be-cancelled CP1 CERs has fuelled concerns that the government plans to use them to cover any shortcomings of its Direct Action Plan, even though using international units goes against its long-standing policy. Australian landfill owners have driven demand for 20-40 million CP1 CERs costing €0.12-0.15 (A$0.18-0.23) in recent weeks, according to European traders. Unused CP1 CERs will be cancelled on Nov. 18 as the compliance period for the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends. The landfill owners are buying the CERs as part of a deal with the government to compensate for future income it earned by passing on the costs from Australia’s now-dismantled carbon tax. As part of the deal, the CERs will be transferred to the government, but Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s office has so far not responded to questions about whether the units will be used for Kyoto compliance…
[Australia] Gov’t tried to acquire huge amount of carbon credits with carbon tax money
By Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 30 October 2015
News has emerged that the Government will use money raised from the carbon price to acquire a very large number of international carbon credits in order to achieve its 2020 emission reduction target. The initiative makes a mockery of the Environment Minister’s prior claims about his confidence in the Direct Action policy alone to achieve the government’s emission reduction targets. It also shows just how quickly the government has moved to dump prior Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s insistence that such carbon credits were ‘dodgy’ and not to form part of the government’s climate policy. A few weeks ago Environment Minister Greg Hunt confirmed that the Government would be using surplus monies collected by landfill operators to meet future, now non-existent, carbon price obligations to purchase international carbon credits to count towards their 2020 emission reduction target.
Fire in Brazil threatens to wipe out uncontacted tribespeople
Survival International, 30 October 2015
A huge forest fire in the Brazilian Amazon is threatening to consume one of the most vulnerable peoples on the planet. The fire has destroyed over 730 square miles of rainforest, more than 42% of the Arariboia Indigenous Territory. This designated territory is home to Awá people who have no contact with the outside world. Like all uncontacted peoples, they are extremely vulnerable to exposure to violence or disease inflicted by outsiders. Other local tribes have been acting to protect the Awá people by extinguishing the fire. Without support from the Brazilian authorities, a group of Guajajara men has been working to contain it. The tribe have attracted attention in the past for resisting illegal logging activities, which if allowed to continue unchecked could also be catastrophic for their Awá neighbors. One man from a group called the “Guajajara Guardians” said: “We are defending our territory, so that the uncontacted Awá can survive…”
Groups See Carbon Credits as Way to Save Cambodian Forest Cover
By Phorn Bopha, Voice of America, 30 October 2015 Cambodian environmentalists say they will appeal to developed countries to ensure a carbon credit market, in the global effort to curb global warming. Cambodia, which retains some of its forest cover despite rampant illegal logging, could use carbon credits as a way to trade in on living forests, which act as a sink for carbon in the atmosphere. As world leaders prepare for a major round of climate talks in Paris in December, Tek Vannara, head of the NGO Forum, said carbon credits can work. But their markets need to be developed. “If carbon credits have no market, it contributes to deforestation.”
Indonesia is burning. So why is the world looking away?
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 30 October 2015
A great tract of Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre: visibility in some cities has been reduced to 30 metres. Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships; already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century – so far. And the media? It’s talking about the dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore to the James Bond premiere, Donald Trump’s idiocy du jour and who got eliminated from the Halloween episode of Dancing with the Stars. The great debate of the week, dominating the news across much of the world? Sausages: are they really so bad for your health?
Clearing the smoke: The causes and consequences of Indonesia’s fires
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 October 2015
In September 2015, large fires flared up in the forest, degraded lands and peatlands of Central Kalimantan, South Sumatra, and other parts of Indonesia. Fires continue to be lit. As of late October, more than 115,000 fires are active across much of the archipelago, but concentrated in the provinces of Riau and Jambi on the island of Sumatra, as well as Central and West Kalimantan on Borneo. The Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry has said fires have burned some 1.7 million hectares of land in Sumatra and Borneo. Fires are an annual, normal event in Indonesia’s peatlands and forests, peaking around September or October. But deforestation and repeated burning have made the landscape considerably more fire-prone. The fires are being made worse by an exceptionally intense El Niño event, which is predicted to persist into early 2016.
Indonesia on fire
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 October 2015
In Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province, the peat areas are burning and emitting a toxic smoke causing untold damage to the environment, wildlife and human health. Most of the fires in Central Kalimantan are blazing in former peatland forests, which have been drained, cleared and burned for oil palm and agriculture, large and small. The dried-out peat ignites easily, burns underground and creeps under the surface. Experts from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) travel to the heart of the fires to see the situation with their own eyes and measure the extent of the impact.
[Indonesia] Timber trade deregulation: Barking up the wrong tree
By Smita Notosusanto, The Jakarta Post, 30 October 2015
The Trade Ministry’s decision to deregulate sustainability certification for exports of wooden furniture has sparked concerns not only among NGOs working to prevent deforestation, but also in the furniture industry, which the government wishes to help. At a time when fire razes vast areas of forest, the government should think twice before introducing policies that contribute to even greater deforestation. Indonesia initiated the development of its own timber legality assurance system, called the Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu (SVLK), in 2001 to complement the tough law enforcement against illegal logging. Back then law enforcement was deemed as insufficient to stop the massive logging of the forests, especially in a decentralized country like Indonesia where the management of natural resources falls, albeit partly, in the hands of local governments.
[Indonesia] Trade Ministry defends new timber export policy
By Khoirul Amin, The Jakarta Post, 30 October 2015
The Trade Ministry has defended its stance on a revised regulation annulling the timber legality verification system (SVLK) requirement for exporting 15 downstream products of timber, saying that exporters are still obliged to show proof of environmentally certified material. Trade Ministry’s expert for foreign trade policy, Arlinda, said on Thursday her ministry strongly supported the SVLK system, meaning that every exported wood product had to be sourced from timber with legal certification. “For certain products, small to medium-sized exporters are required to prove that their raw materials are sourced from legal timber [without SVLK],” she said, adding that the new regulation was aimed at simplify the previous one.
[Indonesia] Food estate project may turn Papua into forest fire hotbed
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 30 October 2015
While the annual land and forest fires usually occurr in Sumatra and Kalimantan, a large agricultural project in Merauke, Papua, could turn the eastern part of Indonesia into a new hotbed of fires in the archipelago. The prediction was based on a latest finding by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, which monitored 112,000 hot spots from Aug. 1 to Oct. 26. “One of the most worrying things is the fact that 10 percent of the hot spots were found in Papua, the newest agriculture industry development. Fires of such a scale had not happened before in Papua,” Greenpeace Indonesia forest political campaigner Teguh Surya said during the launching of the finding on Thursday.
Norway plans to cut forest funding by 13% in budget overhaul
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 30 October 2015
Norway plans to cut its funding of forest protection initiatives 13% next year as part of a revised government budget to account for a record increase in asylum seekers. The move cuts NOK 378.3 million ($44.7 million) from Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, which funds REDD+ and initiatives in developing forested nations including Brazil, Indonesia and Guyana. The move saw Norway raise its 2016 fiscal spending forecast and rolled back some of its planned tax cuts from its original 2016 budget on Oct. 7, which had not taken into account the sharp rise in people seeking to escape wars in Syria, Afghanistan and other conflicts, Reuters reported… Coming a month ahead of the Paris climate talks and as forest fires are ravaging Indonesia, Norway’s climate policy “has lost all credibility,” said [Nina] Jensen [of WWF Norway].
[Vietnam] VN stands ready for carbon market
VietNamNet, 30 October 2015
The project aims to strengthen capacity for building, implementing and disseminating policy and management tools to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA). It also targets to build roadmaps to access to carbon markets in Viet Nam and the world. Accordingly, the new project will build a database on greenhouse gas emission, carbon market tools, and a roadmap to carbon market for solid waste; pilot NAMA and roadmaps for steel production; supervise and investigate operation of NAMA and carbon credits. Of US$3.6 million of investment, the project gets US$3 million of non-refundable fund. Viet Nam contributes the rest of money (US$600,000 or VND 13 billion).
31 October 2015
1 November 2015
Preventing fire & haze: sustainable solutions for Indonesian peatlands
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 1 November 2015
Fire in agriculture is a mixed blessing. A cost-effective tool for poor farmers, fire has been key for food production for millennia. In 2000, vegetation fires covered 350 Mha – or about 3% of the global land area – most of which were in Sub-Saharan Africa. The benefits of these fires must be recognized. Indeed, appropriately managed fire has an important role in many landscapes and ecological settings. Obviously, current agriculture fires on peatlands in the Indonesian archipelago do not fall in this category. They cause, in order of importance, health disasters, displacement of people, food production issues, business disruptions, land degradation, climate impact, political turmoil, and upset international relations. Clearly, hoses and water bombing are not going to make a key difference to put out the fires (rains will be needed), and no difference at all in addressing the underlying factors.
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.