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REDD in the news: 2-8 November 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.

 
Carbon forestry in Africa: who wins?
By Ian Scoones, Global Landscapes Forum, November 2015
As our recent book on carbon forestry in Africa shows, carbon projects do not arrive on a blank slate. Many forests in Africa have long histories of intervention, including an array of forestry, environmental protection, and development projects. These have shaped and reshaped livelihoods and landscapes. They have generated experiences and memories that influence local responses to new interventions. Our research has found that carbon forestry projects – like previous interventions in forest use, ownership, and management – have not been the panacea some expected. Multiple conflicts have emerged between landowners, forest users, and project developers. Achieving a neat, market-based solution to climate mitigation through forest carbon projects is not straightforward.

2 November 2015

A landscape picture from Cameroon
By John Cannon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 November 2015
It’s a daunting challenge whose complexity only continues to intensify: How can we manage the land so that it can provide the food, timber, minerals and other natural resources we need, while also conserving carbon stocks and biodiversity? Enter the landscape approach, designed to manage these trade-offs—but in itself intricate, multifaceted and challenging to apply. The conundrum gave Eugene Loh Chia, a research officer with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), an idea. In Cameroon, where Chia is based, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife has broken up parts of the country that are used in multiple ways into what they call “Technical Operation Units,” or TOUs for short. To Chia, the TOUs seemed like a potential starting point to begin the complex and challenging process of applying the landscape approach in Cameroon.

Analysts slash EU carbon price forecasts on expected LNG import boom
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 2 November 2015
Analysts Energy Aspects have slashed their estimates for emissions from European utilities and subsequently EU carbon prices due to an expected boom in gas imports. “Our conviction that … developments in the related fuel markets (gas and coal) could start to drive down emissions on their own, reining in the upward momentum carbon is currently riding … has strengthened,” the London-based analysts said in a research note published late on Friday. “We think there is a bearish cloud on the horizon … as Europe accommodates the increases in global LNG supply by pushing gas into power at the expense of coal.” Energy Aspects predicted that liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports into Europe will swell in 2016 and 2017 due to the commissioning of new supply facilities against a backdrop of weak demand from countries outside the EU.

EU Market: EUAs ease on German dark spread drop
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 2 November 2015
European carbon eased on Monday on the back of weaker German clean dark spreads, but analysts said EUA prices could be supported this week by reduced auction volumes. The front-year EU Allowance futures trading on ICE Futures Europe closed down 3 cents at €8.59 on moderate volume of around 8.8 million. The benchmark contract dipped to a six-day low of €8.52 amid a brief bout of heavy selling around 0815 GMT before climbing back shortly after. They then dithered between €8.56 and €8.61 through steady afternoon trade. Volume down the EUA futures curve was also moderate at 2.1 million changing hands on the Dec-16s, 600,000 on the 17s and 1.8 million on the 18s.

Ghana bridges existing local forest governance with design of REDD+ benefit sharing
IUCN, 2 November 2015
REDD+ efforts are breathing new life into existing forest governance initiatives. For instance, Ghana – a country that has invested significant resources in strengthening local forest governance through its Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) – is now applying this work to build equitable REDD+ governance and benefit sharing. Linking REDD+ to these existing initiatives is opening up new streams of potential benefits for local communities and helping to ensure the long-term success of initiatives to foster natural resource democracy. Over the past 15 years, Ghana has established more than 25 CREMAs. These geographically-defined zones are where two or more communities come together to manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner. The strength of the CREMA model lies in the devolution of significant government power and management authority to the communities involved.

Indonesia’s Forgotten Genocide
By Gareth Evans, Project Syndicate, 2 November 2015
October marked 50 years since the Indonesian military launched one of the twentieth century’s worst mass murders. Yet the anniversary passed almost unnoticed. The massacre of some 500,000 members or sympathizers of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) during 1965-1966 is the least talked-about genocide of the last century. Lifting the veil on the bloodbath is long overdue, but those with a past to hide seem bound to resist this. Organizers of Bali’s renowned Ubud Writers and Readers Festival have just had a foretaste of what may be a new round of active censorship, with local officials threatening to cancel the entire festival if proposed panel discussions of the massacres went ahead.

Indonesia’s palm oil fires: Interview with Friends of the Earth Indonesia
By Jeff Conant (Friends of the Earth US), Medium, 2 November 2015
In response to the crisis, Friends of the Earth Indonesia, known as WALHI for its acronym in Bahasa Indonesia, has prepared safe houses in five provinces, and is distributing face masks, oxygen and free medical checkups for the public. They are also raising public awareness that these fires are man-made and not natural disasters, lobbying the government, and filing lawsuits against the multinational companies most responsible for the fires, as well as against local and regional governments for neglecting to sufficiently tackle the issue. The palm oil campaigners at Friends of the Earth Netherlands recently sat down with WALHI Director Abetnego Tarigan to ask him some questions about the forest fires in Indonesia.

[UK] Sports stars caught up in £200m Sipp biofuel scheme
By Alex Steger, Citywire, 2 November 2015
Sports stars including former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and snooker player Stephen Henry are caught up in £200 million investment scheme which is under scrutiny from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), according to reports. The Daily Telegraph reported that the stars, alongside other famous names from the world of sport such as former Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, were investors in renewable energy scheme Elysian Fuels. The scheme was set up by Future Capital Partners which is also behind a number of film schemes and has been involved in a long-running legal battle with HMRC over whether these investments were tax avoidance vehicles. Elysian Fuels was listed on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange and put money into biofuel refinery projects. It marketed returns of up to 10 times the original investment over eight years.

[UK] The nine most toxic investments ever
By Kyle Caldwell, The Telegraph, 2 November 2015
Conmen are quick to spot new targets so, with pension savers now enjoying the new freedom to access and invest their retirement cash, scams are on the rise. The latest ruse involves buying then renting out car parking spaces, often at airports. Returns of 8pc a year seem too good to be true. According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau the rhetoric used by salesman is similar to that employed to sell other high-risk investment schemes. High returns are offered, as well as guarantees that dividends will be paid for a set period. The sales patter of schemes like this has caught out thousands of savers over the years, either directly or via their financial adviser. Below we name nine of the most infamous toxic investments that have left investors bitterly disappointed. Many are still around in one form or another, but should be avoided at all costs.

3 November 2015

Misleading U.N. Report Confuses Media On Paris Climate Talks
By Joe Romm, Climate Progress, 3 November 2015
Memo to media: If countries go no further than their current global climate pledges, the earth will warm a total of 3.5°C by 2100… The best we can say right now is that, if we consider the Paris climate pledges and nothing further, the earth will warm a total of 3.5°C by 2100. Of course, we can continue to say that keeping total warming to 2°C is super cheap because we know that is also true. Note to nerdtastic readers: Yes, the 3.5°C calculation does assume that no unmodeled carbon cycle feedbacks kick in — such as the permafrost melting. I’ll cover that issue in a later post.

Paris climate summit goals a patchwork of confusion
By George Russell, Fox News, 3 November 2015
Wildly differing promises by countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years have turned into a patchwork of confusion in advance of the United Nations-sponsored climate summit in Paris this month, making it unlikely that draconian global action to fight “climate change” will be implemented at the urgent pace that supporters say is needed to meet the problem. According to a densely-worded and often convoluted 66-page U.N. “synthesis report” prepared in advance of the meeting, the result of those promises, known in climate-speak as “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” or INDCs, amounts to a slower future rate of growth for global carbon emissions, but not much more.

Markets emerge as main drivers of forest carbon cuts -report
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 3 November 2015
Carbon markets in 2014 emerged for the first time as the biggest source of funding for projects to cut GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, according to a report released Tuesday. Companies and governments spent some $705 million last year in efforts to cut emissions from deforestation, Ecosystem Marketplace said in its “Converging at the Crossroads: State of Forest Carbon Finance in 2015”, taking the total global investments over the past decade to $5.1 billion. Of the 2014 spending, $257 million was in the form of market-based payments for emission reductions, the report said. A further $229m was government funding for REDD+ readiness, and $219m was non-market based payments for carbon cuts, primarily from Germany and Norway to fund projects in Brazil and Guyana.

Owning the Amazon: Individual titles might not be the answer
By Tara Lohan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 3 November 2015
Holding formal individual property rights is widely seen as a boon for reducing poverty, conflict and environmental degradation. But in parts of the Amazon, an individual land title may not provide as much security as widely assumed, and social relationships can have more power than a piece of paper. These are some of the findings of a study that compared collective and individual land titling in Peru and Ecuador and their effects on tenure security, conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Establishing clear and secure tenure for forest-dwelling communities is viewed as essential for protecting livelihoods and rights, and also for achieving environmental goals. But how tenure can or should be secured remains unclear.

[Germany] Deutsche Post DHL Group launches new environmental protection product in the Germany’s Ruhr region
Automotive World, 3 November 2015
Over the last several years, a total of over 11 billion post and parcel items have been sent using the eco-friendly GOGREEN service, resulting in 650,000 tonnes of CO2 being offset on behalf of customers through external climate projection projects. This corresponds to reforesting approximately 1,300 hectares of land. Through the purchase of carbon credits, Deutsche Post DHL Group supports climate protection projects worldwide and ensures that emissions are offset on behalf of customers of climate-neutral GOGREEN products and services. To ensure quality results, these climate projects are selected based on the advantages they bring both to the environment and to local communities. In this way, GoGreen contributes not only to reducing emissions, but also to the economies and communities in developing countries.

[Nigeria] United Nations’ REDD academy takes off in Calabar
By Emma Obi, National Accord, 3 November 2015
Calabar, the Cross River State capital is playing host to a United Nations Training Programme involving 28 countries from across Africa. Participants are brainstorming on how best to create successful policies and measures to address deforestation and environmental degradation in Africa. The UN Reduced Emission on Deforestation and Degradation REDD+ week long Program attracted experts from Food and Agricultural Organization FAO , United Nations Development Project UNDP, as well as the United Nations Environment Program UNEP.

[USA] The Keystone XL Pipeline Isn’t Dead Yet. Here’s What You Need to Know About What Comes Next
By Tim McDonnell, Mother Jones, 3 November 2015
But the $8 billion pipeline, which would enable crude oil from Canada’s oil sands to reach refineries and ports in the United States, isn’t dead yet. The next step will be for the State Department to decide whether or not to grant TransCanada the delay it is seeking. The Department is “reviewing” the letter while it continues to weigh a final decision, a spokesperson said today. If it does choose to delay, the final outcome will essentially boil down to whether a Republican or a Democrat wins the 2016 presidential election. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley have said they would reject the pipeline application; all the GOP candidates have expressed support for it.

4 November 2015

Why business needs a REDD+ deal in Paris
By Jeffrey Hayward (Rainforest Alliance), BusinessGreen, 4 November 2015
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) and investments in green commodities have become to the land sector what renewables are to the energy sector. These are the innovations we have at our fingertips to scale up to adapt to a resource- and carbon-constrained world… But so far, no one can say the promise of REDD has materialised. There is less potential now for large amounts of financing through carbon markets to conserve vast amounts of tropical forest under threat than there was. REDD implementation has proven more complicated than we once thought. But the trend toward companies staking out goals to end deforestation, and integrating them with sustainable agricultural planning and production, put REDD’s promise more within reach.

International Financing For Forests And Climate Moves From Capacity Building To Implementation
By Mike Gaworecki, Ecosystem Marketplace, 4 November 2015
Ecosystem Marketplace’s new report on forest carbon finance finds that financing from both the public and private sectors intended to protect forests and their ability to mitigate global warming has indeed been ramping up, but whether or not that trend continues will depend greatly on the outcome of UN climate negotiations to be held in Paris in a few weeks. Deforestation and forest degradation account for about 10 to 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the report notes, meaning that mechanisms for keeping forests standing will be vital to the success of efforts to curb climate change. Over the past decade, companies and governments worldwide have provided some $5.1 billion to initiatives to safeguard threatened forests, promote less carbon-intensive land management strategies and plant new trees, according to the report.

China underreporting coal consumption by up to 17%, data suggests
By Tom Phillips, The Guardian, 4 November 2015
China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, has been dramatically underreporting the amount of coal it consumes each year, it has been claimed ahead of key climate talks in Paris. Official Chinese data, reported by the New York Times on Wednesday after being quietly released earlier this year, suggests China has been burning up to 17% more coal each year than previously disclosed by the government. The revelation – which may mean China has emitted close to a billion additional tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year – could complicate the fight against global warming ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, which begins on 30 November. In 2012 China consumed 600m more tonnes of coal – or more than 70% of the United States’ annual total – than previously disclosed, according to the revised data.

Sorry, New York Times: Your Big China Story is “Old News.”
By James West, Mother Jones, 4 November 2015
A prominent global environmental organization is questioning one of the central claims in a splashy New York Times story today about China’s outsized carbon emissions, calling the report “old news.” … But the World Resource Institute (WRI), and environmental monitoring, research and advocacy group, says UN officials are fully aware of the northward revisions of statistics by the Chinese government, and that the new numbers are included in the official UN documents used by negotiators. In other words, everyone is already on the same page—including analysts at WRI.

Behind-the-scenes look at Norway’s US$1.6 billion rainforest initiative
By Nancy Bazilchuk, ScienceNordic, 4 November 2015
Norway is by far the largest contributor to rainforest conservation through a United Nations programme called REDD +, with contributions totalling US$1.608 billion as of 2015, or more than 8 times the next largest contributor, Australia. You would think that the decision to contribute such an enormous sum would have required extensive negotiations and lots of horse-trading in the halls of the Norwegian Storting. But not so. The agreement on the decision came, remarkably, after just a few months of negotiations in 2007. “This is an example of a great victory for environmental organizations. The pace of the political process was sensational, as sensational as the size of the contribution. Norway is the world’s leading donor, and the decision to make this contribution was made in just a couple of months,” says researcher Erlend Hermansen from CICERO, the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research based in Oslo.

5 November 2015

On flying, forests and phasing out fossil fuels
By James Beard, WWF, 5 November 2015
[T]here is another global climate deal in the offing in Montréal next year – focused on cutting carbon emissions from international flights… This is why I’ve spent the past two weeks in Montréal, working through the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on the technical details of a global market-based measure (MBM) that countries will hopefully agree at ICAO’s General Assembly roughly one year from now… WWF-UK is working to ensure that offsets and biofuels promoted under the MBM generate real, permanent emissions reductions and promote sustainable development… We are part of the larger NGO group the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA)… In terms of forest offsets, one proposal is that airlines should be able to buy emissions credits from forest protection programmes (such as REDD+) and count them towards their own emissions targets.

New Online Platform on Indigenous and Community Territories to Help Secure Land Rights Worldwide
World Resources Institute, 5 November 2015
The launch of LandMark, the first online, interactive global platform that provides maps and other information on lands collectively held and used by Indigenous Peoples and communities. The platform was created to fill a critical gap in information on indigenous territories and community lands, and provide a reference guide on the legal rights to these lands. LandMark was developed under the guidance of a 13-member Steering Group including indigenous coalitions and land rights and research organizations around the world. Launch events are also taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Lima, Peru.

How the World Is Saving Itself From Coal Even Without a UN Prod
By Iain Wilson, Bloomberg, 5 November 2015
The energy industry is easing away from coal and will keep moving in that direction regardless of what happens at the United Nations climate talks in Paris next month. That’s the view of Michael Liebreich, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. At a conference in Shanghai this week, he identified several trends that show why Paris isn’t the “be all and end all” for shaping energy.

Thinking restoration? Think big and think inclusive
By Michael Casey, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 November 2015
Pledges to restore millions of hectares of degraded land could lead nowhere without improved planning, prioritization and monitoring, warn the authors of an analysis of 119 ecological restoration projects in Colombia. A series of international commitments have focused on landscape restoration as a way of reversing environmental damage, strengthening resilience to climate change, and improving supplies of water and other natural resources. But despite having numerous individual restoration projects and pledges underway, many countries seem unready to scale up their efforts to restore hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of hectares, the authors suggest. “It’s easy to make pledges,” said Manuel Guariguata of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which co-led the study.

African countries parley over environmental degradation menace
By Richard Ndoma, National Mirror, 5 November 2015
At least 28 African coun­tries are currently brainstorming in Cala­bar, Cross River States, on how best to adopt effective policies and measures to tackle deforestation and environmental degradation challenges in the African continent. National Mirror reliably gathered that participants would at the end of the programme acquire skills that would aid themknow how best to create policies and programmes that would help to address deforestation and environmental degradation after serious brainstorming.

Sustainability: Australia at the crossroads
By Benjamin L. Bodirsky & Alexander Popp, Nature, 5 November 2015
Despite Australia’s vastness and its swathes of untouched nature, its per-capita environmental footprint is one of the biggest worldwide. Because it is a major exporter of agricultural products, coal and other emissions-intensive commodities, there is great concern that binding climate agreements could harm the country’s economy. In 2014, under then prime minister Tony Abbott, the current conservative government replaced a carbon-tax policy with inefficient mitigation subsidies1. Abbott was toppled from the party leadership in September 2015. His successor, Malcolm Turnbull, was once a strong proponent of a carbon-trading scheme, but it remains uncertain whether environmental policies will be reformed under his leadership.

[Indonesia] Where there’s palm oil, there’s fire: Part I of III
By Jeff Conant (FoE US), Medium, 5 November 2015
The name Borneo has always conjured up a remote, exotic jungle: impenetrable rainforests and wild ancient cultures. Today, an hour flight from Jakarta, one of the world’s biggest megacities, most of the jungle is gone: burned and felled in great swaths to supply the world market with palm oil, paper and timber. The thick hot cloud that envelops Borneo is the burn-scar of our excesses… We’ve come at a good time, M tells us with some irony, because it appears extremely likely that in the next two months, if the monsoon rains don’t arrive, the entire Tanjung Putting National Park will burn.

[Indonesia] Red tape blocks customary land
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 5 November 2015
Two years after a landmark ruling in 2013 by the Constitutional Court on the 1999 Forestry Law that invalidated the government’s claim to customary forests, red tape continues to block indigenous peoples’ access to their land. The Association for Community and Ecology-Based Law Reform (HuMa) said on Wednesday that not a single customary forest had been declared by the government to be the property of the indigenous community following the landmark ruling, which should give hope to indigenous people whose rights had been denied for decades by the government in favor of large plantation and mining companies. “If we’re talking about an official customary forest in accordance to the ministerial regulation that has just been issued, then there’s none because only the Environment and Forestry Ministry can declare an area a customary forest,” HuMa advocate and campaign head Sisilia Nurmala Dewi said on Wednesday.

Indonesia’s carbon-spewing fires are a world crisis
Chicago Tribune, 5 November 2015
The timing is accidental but impeccable. Just as governments are about to launch an unprecedented effort to curb global greenhouse-gas emissions, one of the biggest carbon-dioxide gushers ever known has erupted with record force. At times during the past several weeks, fires in Indonesia have released as much carbon as the entire U.S. economy, even as they have destroyed millions of acres of tropical forest, a natural carbon sink. Neighboring countries, along with economic giants such as the U.S., China and Europe, have to join forces to turn off this tap.

[USA] California’s capped emissions rose by 0.8% in 2014 -data
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 5 November 2015
California’s emissions covered by the WCI carbon market rose 0.8% in 2014 to 146.1 million tonnes, up from 145.0 million a year earlier, data released by regulator ARB on Wednesday showed. The data means the market’s first two-year compliance period has a surplus of 31 million allowances, in line with analyst expectations of 30-33 million. “Emissions from the oil and gas sector were up by about 1.8 million year-on-year, all the other sectors were more or less unchanged,” said Chandan Kumar, an analyst at Climate Connect. An ARB spokesman said that part of the reason for the rise was due to another year of low output from hydroelectric generators, and also a slight increase in emissions from cement makers, which “is expected as the economy grows”.

6 November 2015

Green Climate Fund approves first eight projects
Carbon Pulse, 6 November 2015
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) board on Friday gave its approval to channel $168 million into eight climate mitigation and adaptation projects across Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, the first award from the fund almost five years after it was set up. The approval means that all the projects put forward by the secretariat last month were given the green light at the board meeting in Livingstone, Zambia, even though NGO observers had raised concerns around the consultation process and treatment of indigenous peoples’ rights under some of the projects. “The approved projects showcase the transformative impacts that GCF has been designed to deliver. The fund is now truly up and running, and I am confident the board will go on to scale and fund much bigger projects in the near future,” said board co-chair Henrik Harboe.

UN nations to agree on HFC phase-out plan in 2016
By Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 6 November 2015
UN nations agreed in Dubai in the wee hours of Friday morning to develop a plan next year to phase-out HFC emissions, a move observers say can prevent emissions of upwards of 100 billion tonnes of CO2e by mid-century. The latest round of talks under the Montreal Protocol failed to hammer out the details of the phase-out, but concluded with a commitment to use the treaty to end emissions of the dangerous greenhouse gas. “The progress in Dubai also indicates that the world is ready for a new chapter in the fight against climate change. In agreeing to address HFCs together, we have laid the groundwork for even greater co-operation toward a successful outcome in Paris – and the entire planet will be better off for it,” said US Secretary of State John Kerry.

INDCs close only a third of emissions gap needed for 2C -UNEP
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 6 November 2015
Even if all INDCs are implemented fully, the world will emit 12 billion tonnes CO2e more in 2030 than needed to stay on track to limiting global warming to 2C by the end of the century, UNEP said in a report on Friday. The UNEP study was based on INDCs covering 148 nations, or 88% of global emissions, and concluded – in line with other INDC analysis reports – that current pledges are not sufficient to meet the 2C target, but instead would likely lead to a 3C temperature rise. “In order to close the gap it is essential that the Paris Agreement adopt a dynamic approach in which ambitions, the mobilization of climate finance and other forms of cooperation can be adjusted upwards at regular intervals,” Achim Steiner, the UNEP executive director, said.

All Eyes On China as Climate Summit Approaches Project
Huffington Post, 6 November 2015
Ahead of the historic climate meeting beginning later this month in Paris, all eyes are on how China — the world’s largest carbon polluter — will navigate global negotiations to cap carbon and help curb catastrophic global warming. With new official data released this week revealing that China is burning significantly more coal than it had previously disclosed, some questioning the potential for success of any global pact to come out of Paris. But those familiar with China’s environmental situation say the country’s release of new figures is not all bad news. In fact, some analysts believe the release of the data — as stark as it is — may actually be an unprecedented step by China toward transparency. And, they believe, the data release reflects rising economic and social pressure within China to finally work toward mitigating further damage to the planet.

To Avert A Chocolate Shortage,Ghana Bets On Jurisdictional REDD+
By Tabitha Muriuki, Ecosystem Marketplace, 6 November 2015
In Ghana, cocoa is king: it accounts for almost 10 percent of the country’s economy and 30 percent of its exports – but it’s also a leading driver of deforestation, for a variety of reasons. To begin with, the cacao tree on which the cocoa bean grows is a ravenous beast that sucks nutrients out of the soil at rates that require massive infusions of chemical fertilizer. On top of that, cacao grows best in filtered sunlight, under shade trees; but more and more farmers have been chopping the shade trees to increase yields in the short-term – largely because of widely-held beliefs that new hybrids thrive in the sun. The result, says Yaw Kwakye, Head of the National REDD+ Secretariat within Ghana’s Climate Change Unit, is a perfect storm of practices that could drive up greenhouse-gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while hastening the end of the country’s cocoa industry.

[Guyana] Bai Shan Lin wants two years for wood mills – Trotman
Stabroek News, 6 November 2015
Restructuring and lack of financing are hampering Asian timber company, Bai Shan Lin Forest Development Inc. in meeting Government’s year-end edict to begin substantial value-added production or face the revocation of its contract. According to GINA, Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman at a post -Cabinet briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency yesterday said that when he last spoke with the company three weeks ago, he was informed that they were in no position to have the mills that are expected within the next 10 months, and have instead asked for two years to acquire them. “We have had discussions with them about an alternative mill or wood mill that would be available here in the region, but that is ongoing,” Trotman said.

[Guyana] BaiShanLin wants two years more to set up processing plant
By Kiana Wilburg, Kaieteur News, 6 November 2015
The APNU+AFC Government appears to have stayed its hand in the move to sanction those logging companies that have failed to establish facilities which would add value to Guyana’s highly valued woods. Chinese logging giant, Bai Shan Lin wants two more years to get its long-awaited wood-processing facility up and running and it seems as though this has been granted by the new administration, regardless of the fact that such a commitment to the Guyanese people had not been fulfilled for over ten years. This was made known yesterday during a post-Cabinet meeting with the press at the Ministry of the Presidency. Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, was questioned about his threat some months ago to reveal the action which will be taken by the end of October, should Bai Shan Lin and others fail to make any moves to add value to Guyana’s lumber exports.

[Guyana] Jagdeo accuses gov’t of deception over Amaila Falls hydro
Stabroek News, 6 November 2015
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday accused government of deception on the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) and called on the David Granger administration to join in a “conversation” about the project based on reason. “Finance Minister Winston Jordan is wrong when he says that Amaila Falls will cost GPL US$2.6 Billion over 20 years – in fact, it will save GPL US$2 Billion, or GY$400 Billion, over 20 years; the Government is wrong when they say that the IDB agrees with their plans to shelve Amaila Falls. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] Where there’s palm oil, there’s fire: Part II of III
By Jeff Conant (FoE US), Medium, 6 November 2015
While many of the large plantation companies in Indonesia blame the fires on peasant farmers — who generally supply the companies with oil palm fruit and thus have a strong incentive to plant as much of their land as possible in oil palm — WALHI’s investigations have shown that at least 10 oil palm conglomerates are involved in triggering the catastrophe. WALHI is supporting a class action suit against companies suspected of burning land. The organization has won similar cases in the past — during forest fires that destroyed millions of acres in 1998, and again in 2000. But in the past decade-and-a-half, the organization has not won any more claims.

Illegally planted palm oil already growing on burnt land in Indonesia
By Kate Lamb, The Guardian, 6 November 2015
Freshly burned land in Indonesia has already been illegally planted with oil palm, new evidence suggests, following the loss of two million hectares of forest and peatland since July to fires. Planted in charred earth, the oil palm saplings were identified near the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary in central Kalimantan, by Greenpeace Indonesia. According to public maps, no oil palm concession has been granted in the area. During a dry season exacerbated by El Niño, thousands of fires have ripped through Indonesian forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan over recent months, sparking a region-wide haze crisis and releasing alarming levels of carbon emissions.

Liberia: Land rights to cement Sirleaf’s legacy
By Andy White (Rights and Resources Initiative), The Africa Report, 6 November 2015
In Liberia, many rural communities are on edge as encroaching economic development projects that force families off their land continue to worry the countryside. But this could pave the way for the West African country to address the emotive land tenure issue and empower its people. Palm oil plantations, mines, and timber concessions are expanding across Liberia on land that communities have managed and lived on for generations. These concerns, however, have been heard by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,who is pushing for passage of a Land Rights Act that would help reverse this impoverishing trend. Recognizing the long-standing use of land by local peoples, Liberia’s Land Rights Act would establish local communities as the rightful owners of the country’s forests and rural lands.

[UK] Ex-Charlton defender branded ‘fraudster’ over £16m scheme
By Charles Walmsley, Citywire, 6 November 2015
Ex-Charlton Athletic defender Richard Rufus has been branded a ‘fraudster’ in court over his role in an alleged £16 million Ponzi scheme. Rufus, who was once voted Charlton’s greatest defender, took £16 million from 93 investors including friends, family and officials at two London churches, The Daily Telegraph reported. He is alleged to have used the money for currency exchange trading and paid people back with other deposits he received, according to paper. The allegations were heard in court yesterday during civil proceedings brought by the Insolvency Service which was attempting to impose a 15-year bankruptcy order on Rufus.

[UK] Lawyers warn on student housing investment schemes
By Tessa Norman, Money Marketing, 6 November 2015
Student accommodation schemes could be falling foul of FCA collective investment scheme rules, lawyers have warned. Law firms say they have seen a spike in enquiries about whether student accommodation investments constitute collective investment schemes after the FCA won a High Court case in February. The regulator took legal action against a scheme offering investments in rice farms in Sierra Leone, and another offering investments in carbon credits. The court agreed with the FCA that the schemes were unauthorised collective investment schemes. Operating or promoting a collective investment scheme without authorisation is a criminal offence.

[USA] Seniors beware: State officials warn of ‘relentless’ phone and mail scams
By S.P. Sullivan, NJ.com, 6 November 2015
The attorney general said studies have shown seniors are more vulnerable to scammers because they’re typically more trusting, have large nest eggs of retirement funds and are statistically less likely to report fraud once it’s occurred. “That is incredibly attractive to con artists, as offensive as that sounds,” he said. In many cases, scammers obtain victims’ personal information in bulk from the black market, where lists of seniors can fetch three to four times as much as those of other victims. Some of these cons have become well-known, like the “grandparent scam,” where an elderly person gets a phone call from someone claiming their grandchild has gotten into legal trouble and needs money wired to some distant location.

[Zimbabwe] Climate change threatens mega dam project
By Ignatius Banda, NewsDay Zimbabwe, 6 November 2015
Zimbabwe’s planned Batoka Gorge power project on the Zambezi River is expected to generate 2 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity, up from an initial 1 600 MW, but the worsening power cuts, blamed on low water levels have renewed concerns about the effects of climate change on mega dams. In the past two months, the country’s energy utility has increased load-shedding, with rolling power blackouts being experienced for up to 20 hours across the country per day… While there is no timetable of when construction of the $3 billion Batoka Gorge Dam will commence and whose eventual economic dividend will only be realised after a decade of construction, it will add much-needed energy in Zimbabwe. Officials say on completion of the Batoka hydropower plant, the country will be a power exporter.

7 November 2015

Statement of UNEP on Southeast Asian fires
UNEP, 7 November 2015
UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner issued the following statement today regarding the ongoing fires on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Papua: “UNEP has observed with increasing alarm the spread of forest and peat fires on the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Papua. We are deeply concerned about the effects these fires are having not only on the health of local populations, ecosystems and wildlife, but the global climate as well. “Reports that the fires are emitting as much carbon into the atmosphere in a day as some countries are in a year reflects the global ramifications of this disaster. Locally, one-third of the endangered wild orangutans on Borneo are threatened by the fires, and biodiversity hotspots such as the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra are under extreme threat.”

Peru creates ‘Yellowstone of the Amazon’: 3.3M acre reserve home to uncontacted tribes, endangered wildlife
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 7 November 2015
After more than a decade of discussion and planning, Peru on Sunday will officially designate Sierra del Divisor National Park, a 1.3 million hectare (3.3 million acre) reserve that is home to uncontacted indigenous tribes, endangered wildlife, and one of South America’s wildest landscapes. The much-awaited news was revealed late Friday night in a series of tweets by Peru’s Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who called the declaration a “historic event”. “The creation of the Sierra del Divisor National Park is a historic event,” he said. “It is a confirmation of the Peruvian government’s commitment to conservation, sustainable development and the fight against climate change.”

[USA] Killing KXL
By Anthony Swift (Natural Resources Defense Council), Medium, 7 November 2015
A decade ago, Susan Casey-Lefkowitz got one of her first eye-opening looks at the destruction wrought by the fast-expanding Canadian tar sands industry. A lawyer who specialized in international environmental issues, Casey-Lefkowitz was now a policy advocate at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, focused on the group’s growing work in Canada. Sitting in a darkened hotel conference room with allies from Canadian activist groups, Casey-Lefkowitz (the only U.S. representative in the room) watched a set of slides showing the extent of the industry’s ugly spread northern Alberta, and she knew that the environmental movement would need to mobilize against the devastation — and its potential consequences for the entire planet.

[USA] Passing the TPP Would Be a Disaster for Communities and the Environment
Greenpeace USA, Medium, 7 November 2015
As should be expected from any secretive negotiating process, this text makes clear that this agreement is a grave threat to environmental health and should be rejected by Congress when it comes up for a vote. The text includes toothless ocean conservation provisions with slippery language that encourages but does not require bans on trade in illegal timber, shark finning, commercial whaling and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. It fails to reference climate change at all, while opening new legal pathways for corporate polluters. It would accelerate our climate crisis by facilitating the export of natural gas, encouraging more fracking and methane emissions.

8 November 2015

[Indonesia] View Point: It’s about preventing, not putting out the fires
By Imanuddin Razak, The Jakarta Post, 8 November 2015
After months of forest fires, particularly in Jambi, Riau, South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan, and the resulting smoky haze that blanketed the provinces, their neighbors and even Singapore and Malaysia, the annual environmental problems will likely end soon, thanks to the beginning of the rainfall that marks the end of the extremely prolonged drought this year. The arrival of the rainy season is indeed a relief, particularly for the government, which has been struggling to put out the fires, mostly in peatland areas, and simultaneously attempting to put an end to the haze problem and its impacts on society — interrupted school, business and social activities, as well as repeated cases of flight cancellations or delays, including to and from the high-profile tourist island of Bali.


 


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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