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REDD in the news: 14-20 December 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.

 

14 December 2015

Seven Wrinkles in the Paris Climate Deal
By Oscar Reyes, Foreign Policy in Focus, 14 December 2015
The headlines from the Paris climate talks tell an inspiring story. Agence France-Presse reported an outbreak of “euphoria” as the international climate accord was sealed. Reuters hailed a global “turn from fossil fuels.” The Guardian headlined “a major leap for mankind.” The celebratory tone is partly relief at the fact that 195 countries managed to agree to any kind of climate deal at all. It drew a stark contrast with the finger-pointing and despair that followed the failed 2009 talks in Copenhagen, which ended with only vague promises to action and left many climate activists pessimistic that negotiators would be able to bridge their differences. Unfortunately, however, the main text of the agreement is long on rhetoric and short on action. Here are seven takeaways from a closer parsing of the deal.

Climate justice and an end to fossil fuels: the Paris agreement won’t satisfy activists
By Rebecca Pearse, The Conversation, 14 December 2015
A global climate agreement was adopted in Paris on Saturday evening, but it will leave activists demanding direct action on fossil fuels and energy market reform. Before the Paris talks even began there were activists arguing that the negotiations would not deliver what they want. The Climate Justice Action network said that the COP21 will continue a 20 years of ineffective climate policy, demonstrated by a 65% rise in fossil fuel emissions since 1990. Naomi Klein said she “refused to put our future in the hands of [negotiators] cloistered in the Bourget”. Klein places more hope in bottom-up energy democracy. Meanwhile, Saturday’s protests were about saying campaigns for climate justice will continue.

How a Last-Minute Deal Hatched in Warsaw Two Years Ago Spawned a Paris Accord That Includes Both Markets and Mother Earth
By Steve Zwick, Huffington Post, 14 December 2015
When French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius banged his little green gavel on Saturday, he did more than just signal the adoption of the Paris Climate Accord. He also took a decisive whack at an illusion that has done almost as much to stifle climate action as climate-science denial has. It’s an illusion that features prominently in books like Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and it’s explicitly delineated in the book’s subtitle (“Capitalism vs. The Climate”). My high-school philosophy teacher would call it a “false duality”, because it says that climate change is either a moral challenge or an economic one, when in fact, it’s both, and meeting one challenge doesn’t preclude meeting the other.

U.S., Japan, Germany Among 18 Nations to Build Carbon Markets
By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg , 14 December 2015
Eighteen nations including the U.S., Japan and Germany will work together to develop international carbon markets to help speed the pace of emission reductions under the Paris climate deal struck Saturday, according to the New Zealand government. The nations will develop standards and guidelines to ensure trading of carbon credits has environmental integrity, according to a statement sent by Jonathan Franklin, spokesman for Tim Groser, New Zealand’s climate and trade minister. Saturday’s deal by envoys from more than 190 countries gathered in Paris allows cooperation between nations to meet emission-limitation pledges. It also creates a new market to promote sustainable development, speeding carbon cuts by state entities and private companies. China plans to create the world’s biggest carbon market by 2017, about double the size of 10-year old European program, currently the largest. China and India aren’t part of the 18-nation group.

Paris deal absolves rich of past emissions: CSE
The Tribune, 14 December 2015
The Paris climate change deal is “weak and unambitious” in allowing the developed countries avoid their “historical responsibility”, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has said. While differentiation between developed and developing countries has been made in text on finance, it is based on capabilities and not on historic responsibilities. The environment group warns: “India also believes that it will not have to do much before 2030, but the CSE analyses is that India will be under constant pressure to take more burden for mitigating climate change by 2020 and beyond, especially when the next review of all nationally determined contributions of countries take place.” “To erase any notion of historical responsibility, the developed countries have gone to the extent of also mentioning in the text that the loss and damage due to climate change does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation,” it says.

‘Concessions 2.0’: A new concept for sustainable community forestry
By John Cannon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 December 2015
Alain Karsenty, Research Director at the French agricultural research organization Cirad, made this argument at a discussion at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris on 5 December, which brought together more than 3,200 people to explore the role of land use in achieving climate and development goals. He said that proper management of these concessions necessitates a land-sharing paradigm with multiple uses – what he calls “Concessions 2.0.” … The Congo Basin is one of the last places on Earth with tracts of forest large enough to support concessions of a million hectares or more. Yet with so large an area, efforts to secure local claims to concession lands such as the “Mapping for Rights” project by RFUK have revealed that overlap between the concession, these customary titles (known as “finages” in French), and protected areas is “very common.”

When the climate changes, migration does too
By John Cannon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 December 2015
With climate change causing shifts in migration patterns, which in turn increases pressure on scarce land and natural resources, experts at a global conference have called for a greater focus on resilience and holistic approaches as a way of averting conflict. “Environmental migration is not a new form of migration, but climate change makes it different,” said Paula Caballero, a Senior Director at the World Bank, told a dedicated session at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum, held alongside COP21 in Paris this month. One of the big issues is that migration, which often takes place in response to the effects of climate change or conflict, exacerbates those effects on the environment, said Louise Baker, Coordinator for External Relations and Policy with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. “It becomes a bit of a degrade–abandon–migrate paradigm,” Baker said.

Gray Not Green: a Technocratic Climate Accord in Paris
By Alexander Reid Ross, CounterPunch, 14 December 2015
In terms of actual execution, the agreement declares: “In accounting for anthropogenic emissions and removals corresponding to their nationally determined contributions, Parties shall promote environmental integrity, transparency, accuracy, completeness, comparability and consistency, and ensure the avoidance of double counting, in accordance with guidance adopted by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.” Relying on the good faith of some of the most heinous violators of human and ecological rights in the world sounds great when read off of an official document signed by those perpetrators, but when one steps outside into an abject police state at permanent war with its own population and countless other groups, sects, and parties, the clarity begins to fade into an overwhelming, terrifying, and stark sense of grey.

Forests Win Big In Paris Agreement
By Gustavo Silva Chavez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 14 December 2015
The global climate agreement reached in Paris marks a historic moment for forests as they are now enshrined in international climate action. All countries agreed on simple but strong language that operationalizes forest protection and flips the ‘on’ switch for the international finance to make it happen. It also brings in the necessary technical and scientific rules to make sure there is the blueprint to build national forest protection plans. In doing so, they expanded the opportunities for forests to play a key part in our global response to climate change, helping to achieve both mitigation and adaptation goals. Why was it so important that forests be included prominently in the Paris Agreement? Deforestation, primarily in the tropics, currently accounts for about 10 percent of annual carbon emissions worldwide — about as much as all cars and trucks on the planet combined.

Setting the record straight on the Paris Climate Agreement
By Brigitte Osterath, DW.com, 14 December 2015
The actual treaty is made up of 11 pages and 29 articles. They set out in black and white how 195 nations plan to tackle climate change in the future. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called it “ambitious and balanced.” adding that it would mark a “historic turning point.” United States Secretary of State John Kerry said that the pact would “prevent the worst, most devastating consequences of climate change from ever happening.” Nongovernmental organizations were less satisfied with the agreement, and warn that “the treaty might become an empty shell.” It defines the goal, but not the pathway to reach that goal, they say. “It won’t contribute to stopping climate change at all,” Andreas Link of BUND Jugend, a German conservationist youth group, told DW. He added that only civil society itself was able to prevent climate change.

Paris Climate Summit Was Like Agreeing To Cut Down From Five Burgers A Day To Just Four, Says Naomi Klein
By Owen Bennett, Huffington Post, 14 December 2015
The “scientifically catastrophic” Paris climate change agreement was like someone agreeing to cut down from five burgers a day to four, according to leading environmental activist Naomi Klein. In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post UK in London this morning, the best-selling author of No Logo and The Shock Doctrine set out her views on the deal. While she praised the agreement secured this weekend as “politically historic”, Ms Klein accused David Cameron of throwing his early green credentials “under the bus” in the wake of the 2008 global banking collapse. Speaking ahead of her appearance at University College London’s ‘Socialism, Capitalism and the Alternatives: Lessons from Russia and Eastern Europe’ event, Ms Klein gave her reaction to seeing “politicians wildly cheering for themselves in Paris” after the deal was agreed.

Forests in the Paris Agreement — Plus Prizes, Protests, and All-Male Panels
By Frances Seymour, Center For Global Development, 14 December 2015
The agreement reached on Saturday is a triple win. As I described in my podcast on what to expect from Paris, on the table was the question of ambition, i.e., whether the goal would be to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a more ambitious target, or something more squishy. Most observers in Paris seemed to be pleasantly surprised by the sudden coalescence of support behind the aspiration to keep warming below 1.5 degrees. Some worried that a focus on a more ambitious long-term goal was a cynical ploy by rich countries to divert attention from more immediate financing needs. To the disappointment of developing countries, the target of at least $100 billion/year articulated by Hillary Clinton at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 was relegated to the less binding preamble of the Paris agreement.

Inclusion of REDD+ in Paris climate agreement heralded as major step forward on deforestation
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 14 December 2015
Heading into the Paris climate talks, there was serious doubt about the long-term viability of REDD+, the UN program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, without a major breakthrough. The conventional wisdom, so to speak, was that REDD+ would not survive as originally envisioned if a strong deal wasn’t signed at COP21. We now have the final Paris Agreement, and it is being hailed as a substantial, even historic, step in the right direction that just might signal the end of the era of fossil fuels. The international community is getting serious about lowering emissions to stop global temperatures from continuing to rise unabated — and negotiators in Paris did indeed include mechanisms for addressing deforestation as a major means of accomplishing that goal.

[Australia] International carbon credits needed for post-2020 climate targets: Hunt
By Primrose Riordan, Financial Review, 14 December 2015
The peak business lobby says the change to allow the purchase of international carbon credits to meet post-2020 climate targets is crucial to containing the costs of meeting emissions reduction goals. Environment Minister Greg Hunt says he will likely allow the purchase of international carbon credits despite backbench anger over the weekend’s Paris climate agreement. “We have to set in place a mechanism to allow us [reach new targets], in particular to look at the question of international units and I expect we probably will take on board international units and that will give us the flexibility as we head into 2020 to re-pledge if needed,” Mr Hunt said. The Australian Industry Group, which has been calling for Australia to allow the trade in permits, said the change was “critical”.

China rescues US from Paris climate deal ‘typo’ fiasco
By Ed King, Climate Home, 14 December 2015
For over an hour on Saturday night, the Paris talks hung in the balance. At stake was US participation in a global agreement. Screens beaming coverage of the main plenary to thousands of delegates outside were turned off, as what was billed as the coronation of a global climate deal rapidly turned sour. The problem? One word: shall. The issue? Whether the US and other developed countries would be signing up to a UN treaty that would legally bind them to make specific greenhouse gas cuts. That was always a US red line. Cross it and a hostile US Senate would have eaten the treaty for breakfast. But a proposed UN deal delivered on Saturday morning contained just that, in Article 4.4, using the legally binding ‘shall’ instead of the looser ‘should’ when referring to developed country contributions.

EU says 1.5C global warming target depends on ‘negative emissions’ technology
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 14 December 2015
The EU has admitted it has not yet looked into the polices needed to hold global warming to 1.5C, as agreed at the landmark Paris agreement, and will instead ask a UN climate science panel for advice involving “negative emissions” technology… Negative emissions can refer to geoengineering but usually means the mass deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies which bury CO2 in underground fissures. These would be fixed to power plants powered by “carbon neutral” bioenergy, which removes carbon from the air as it grows. More carbon would be saved than re-released into the atmosphere, the theory goes, so creating net zero emissions.

Germany to set out climate action plan by mid-2016
Reuters, 14 December 2015
Germany will lay out a climate action plan for 2050 by the middle of next year and is talking to industry groups and trade unions about ways to end coal-fired power generation, its Environment Minister said on Monday. Global leaders clinched a breakthrough deal in Paris on Saturday to transform the world’s fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a bid to arrest global warming. While Germany’s green energy campaign has earned it the reputation of a leader in environmental policy, critics say it needs to set a timetable to scrap coal power if it is to meet its own ambitious long-term climate targets. “It is completely clear that we need to exit fossil energy sources by the middle of the century,” Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said, adding Germany needed to find a way to cushion the social impact in some regions.

Greenland May Seek UN Climate Deal Opt-Out Amid Emissions Goal
By Peter Levring, Bloomberg, 14 December 2015
The ink hasn’t yet dried on the UN climate accord and one of the territories most at risk from global warning is already demanding an opt-out. “We still have the option of making a territorial opt-out to COP21,” Kim Kielsen, the prime minister of Greenland, said during a visit to Copenhagen on Monday. “We have an emissions quota of 650,000 tonnes of CO2, which is the same as a single coal-fired power plant in Denmark, or a minor Danish city.” Kielsen oversees a self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. With a size roughly that of Mexico and a population that’s smaller than the Cayman Islands’, Greenland is the least densely populated country in the world. More than 22,000 people live in the capital Nuuk, while the remaining 34,000 are dispersed over an area of 2.2 million square kilometers. As a result, the most common way for locals to traverse its icy expanses is via highly polluting planes.

Addressing Climate Change and Deforestation: A Solution From Guatemala
By Anika Rahman, Huffington Post, 14 December 2015
Fortunately, and despite the loss of 10.6 percent of its forest cover between 1990 and 2013, Guatemala is making steady headway in developing initiatives to protect its forest resources. But how is it doing this? The answer: By being an innovator in promoting sustainable community-based forest management… Local communities are also looking to benefit financially from reduced carbon emissions. The GuateCarbon project–which is managed as a partnership between the Guatemalan government and local communities, with the support of international organizations–will allow concessionaires to benefit from the sale of carbon credits generated by the avoided greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the enhanced protection and oversight of more than 660,000 hectares of forest. According to the most recent estimates, the project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 7.5 million tons over the next 10 years.

Indonesia Ready to Manage Grant from Norway-REDD+
Ministry of Finance, Indonesia, 14 December 2015
The Government of Norway will give grant for forest conservation and deforestation reduction which is included in a program of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). To that end, Ministry of Finance will introduce the institution which manages the fund by early next year. “We are going to introduce the institution managing the grant from Norway-REDD+,” the minister of Finance Bambang P.S. Brodjonegoro says in World Economic Forum, Jakarta today (14/12). The fund is expected to stimulate further initiative on green financing in Indonesia, both in small and medium scale. “We will distribute it across the nation to encourage massive participation. The grant will be divided into small portion, and then distributed to local level,” he says. In addition, the minister continues, there will be green financing scheme in New Development Bank which is going to be established next year.

[Indonesia] Government to cut red tape in indigenous land recognition
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 14 December 2015
The government has earmarked at least Rp 20 billion (US$1.4 million) in its 2016 budget to cut red tape blocking indigenous people’s access to their land. The Environment and Forestry Ministry’s social and partnership forestry director-general Hadi Daryanto said on Saturday that the budget would be distributed to regional governments to fund draft bylaws on indigenous land. “We have allocated part of the 2016 budget to facilitate the drafting of bylaws. In the past, the central government only went to the field to verify [data on indigenous people],” he said. Two years after a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court on the 1999 Forestry Law that invalidated the government’s claim to customary forests, indigenous people still find it hard to claim their land rights as they need to gain recognition from their local government first.

[New Zealand] ‘Help us replant’: Fresh call from foresters after Paris climate deal
By Catherine Harris, Stuff.co.nz, 14 December 2015
Foresters say the Paris climate deal has cast a spotlight on New Zealand’s poor tree replanting rate and the needs to fix it. The deal struck last night in Paris involves 185 countries which have all pledged to reduce emissions over the course of this year. New Zealand has given itself until 2030 to cut harmful emissions back to 30 per cent below 2005 levels. It also announced a $200 million contribution towards climate finance, particularly for Pacific Island countries, over the next four years. Minister for Climate Change Issues Tim Groser hailed the Paris deal as a “huge and historic step forward”. “This is the first truly global agreement on climate change. All countries are committing to take ambitious action,” he said.

Nigeria: Cross River Seeks Review of UN Forest Conservation Scheme
By Chinedum Uwaegbulam, The Guardian (Lagos), 14 December 2015
Bothered that the implementation of the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) programme in Nigeria is falling short of set objectives, Cross River State government has called on development agencies to review the scheme… Governor Ben Ayade who spoke at the Paris Climate Change Summit, said that the REDD programme needs to be reconstructed to reflect the peculiarities of the African situation. “The REDD readiness programme is a little to scientific and complicated for the basic needs of man. The whole essence of the REDD programme is to reduce emission and carbon footprint, it is to stop forest degradation.”

15 December 2015

The conceptual breakthrough behind the Paris climate treaty
By David Roberts, Vox, 15 December 2015
What the Paris architecture can do is rationalize a process that is already underway and, at the margins, accelerate it. It can clarify shared aspirations, send clear market signals, and document ongoing progress, fostering a positive feedback cycle of ambition. It can serve as a reminder that the family of nations owes its poorest members a helping hand, and that current commitments fall far short of just or wise. But it cannot impose or engineer a global energy transition. It is a reflection of national politics more than a driver. The architecture will grow stronger when and if countries become comfortable and confident on the path toward decarbonization. Whether that happens depends on forces far larger than the UN.

After Paris, UN’s new “light touch” role on markets to help spawn carbon clubs
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 15 December 2015
It may take years for enough governments to ratify the new Paris Agreement for it to come into force, or to agree on the rules underpinning the new emissions trading mechanism enshrined by it, but any parties wanting to link up their carbon markets under the pact need not wait. The agreement approved by 195 governments in the French capital on Saturday carried provisions effectively setting up two tracks for the use of market-based mechanisms in meeting nations’ emissions reduction pledges, now officially known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Article 6.4 of the agreement takes a centralised approach, establishing a market-based mechanism akin to the Kyoto Protocol’s CDM or JI, which is to be developed by countries between now and 2020. It will create a new type of carbon unit that, similar to those generated under Kyoto, can be used by governments that have ratified the agreement.

The Promise of Paris
By Rhea Suh (Natural Resources Defense Council), Medium, 15 December 2015
Six decades ago, in the aftermath of the Korean War, my parents left their native land and came to the United States in search of a brighter future for themselves and their children. They came during a moment of unquestioned American leadership in a world of promise, uncertainty, and hope. Those same themes echoed through my mind as I boarded my flight home from Paris a few days ago. There, for the first time in history, the world stood united against the dangers of climate change, determined to take real action to move away from the dirty fossil fuels driving the problem and toward cleaner, smarter ways to power our future without imperiling our world.

The Paris Agreement has a few ideas about how to curb deforestation
By Clayton Aldern, Grist, 15 December 2015
Under REDD , countries and private companies can fund deforestation-reduction efforts in developing countries, often in exchange for carbon credits or similar offsets. The Paris Agreement also encourages forest-protection payments to flow through systems like the Green Climate Fund. While REDD has been on the U.N.’s radar for years — the official program was launched in 2008 — it has never received political endorsement until now. An entire article of the Paris Agreement is devoted to conserving and enhancing “sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases.” (It would be too easy to call them trees.) Still, many forest advocates and indigenous rights campaigners aren’t sold on REDD . They’re suspicious of a market-based system that allows developed countries or corporations to continue to pollute. Additionally, these opponents argue, the REDD system often disregards indigenous peoples’ sovereignty and land rights.

Report back from Paris: What the new climate deal means – and where we go from here
By Nat Keohane, Environmental Defense Fund, 15 December 2015
The unsung hero of the agreement, meanwhile, is a set of provisions that encourages the use of markets to drive up investment in clean energy and drive down pollution. You won’t find the word “markets” in the text. But that is what the agreement is referring to, when it lays out clear rules for “cooperative approaches that involve the use of internationally transferred mitigation outcomes.” By affirming a role for this powerful tool, the agreement recognizes the realities already on the ground, where emission trading systems are already at work in more than 50 places that are home to nearly 1 billion people. What’s more, the deal strikes the right balance between “bottom-up” and “top-down.” Carbon markets will continue to be driven and shaped by national priorities. The UN’s role will be limited to providing clear guidance to ensure that … the emissions reductions are correctly tracked and accounted for.

Our Call for an Ambitious Global Climate Agreement Has Been Answered
By David Burns, National Wildlife Federation, 15 December 2015
An important feature of the Agreement that the National Wildlife Federation fought to preserve is the explicit recognition of the role that tropical forests play in reducing climate pollution because of the immense amount of carbon they can hold. Forests and deforestation are so important to reaching our shared goal that they were referenced in the Agreement and the United Nations’ Decision to adopt it eleven times (other sectors were rarely, if ever specifically named). Article 5 of the Paris Climate Agreement calls on governments to take action to conserve and enhance forests, and explicitly recognizes “REDD+” (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and the “+” referring to the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) – a package of previous United Nations decisions designed to incentivize developing countries to leave forests standing.

Toothless Paris treaty won’t stop climate change
By Leonid Bershidsky, The Age, 15 December 2015
As 195 countries hammered out an agreement to minimise climate change, the town council of Woodland, North Carolina, met to ban a solar farm on its land and prevent all future attempts to establish one of these devilish installations. One speaker, a retired science teacher no less, opposed the green energy project because she claimed it would soak up all the sunlight and kill plants in the vicinity. The Paris agreement is powerless to counter such moves. Article 12 states: “Parties shall co-operate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate-change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognising the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under this agreement.” And yet this commitment is as unenforceable as the rest of the document.

[Australia] Paris climate pact: Credits offer climate goal safety valve
By Andrew Probyn, The West Australian, 15 December 2015
The Federal Government will likely ensure Australia can meet ambitious emission reductions by allowing international credits, which Tony Abbott once flayed as “dodgy carbon farms”. Environment Minister Greg Hunt confirmed the new thinking amid expectation that Australia would have to go beyond targets it set itself for the Paris climate change conference. Australia’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent by 2030, based on 2005 levels, would still leave it the biggest polluter per capita in the OECD. Unlike most OECD nations, Australia has also booked “carry-over” carbon credits from bettering previous emission reduction targets, making the 2030 commitment easier.

[Canada] B.C.’s carbon capture conundrum: economics versus environment
By Nelson Bennett, Business in Vancouver, 15 December 2015
Last year, Saskatchewan became the first jurisdiction in the world to commission a large-scale carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project for a coal-fired power plant – an $850 million project that removes one million tonnes of CO2 per year from the Boundary Dam Power Station. Last month, Alberta officially commissioned the first CCS project for the oilsands: a $1.35 billion CCS plant that will capture one million tonnes of CO2 annually from Shell Canada’s Scotford heavy oil upgrader in Fort Saskatchewan and sequester it underground. And now the pressure is on B.C. to make it a triumvirate of western Canadian provinces leading the way on carbon capture and storage by implementing it in B.C.’s natural gas industry.

Indonesia forest fires cost twice as much as tsunami clean-up, says World Bank
Agence France-Presse, 15 December 2015
Indonesia’s economy took a $16bn hit this year from forest fires that cloaked south-east Asia in haze, more than double the sum spent on rebuilding Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, according to the World Bank. The fires and resulting haze are an annual occurrence caused by slash-and-burn land clearance. But the blazes in 2015 were the worst for some years, causing air quality to worsen dramatically and many to fall ill across the region. In a quarterly update on the Indonesian economy, the World Bank said the fires had devastated 2.6 million hectares (6.4m acres) of forest and farmland across the archipelago from June to October.

Indonesia to name firms linked to forest fires
By Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, The Straits Times, 15 December 2015
Indonesia is set to name the companies responsible for illegal fires that led to this year’s transboundary haze crisis. The firms, which mainly run plantations on concession land in Sumatra and Kalimantan, will also have their business licences suspended while a decision is made on whether to initiate legal proceedings against them for breaching environmental laws. This was revealed yesterday by Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, while he was testifying at the ethics committee hearing on the Setya Novanto-Freeport-McMoRan saga. The case involving the country’s House Speaker Setya Novanto, who is accused of trying to get kickbacks from the United States mining firm, is not related to the haze crisis.

A forest the size of Sligo and Leitrim is needed to tackle Ireland’s global warming targets
By Richard Halleron, Agriland, 15 December 2015
Growing a forest the size of the entire of Sligo and Leitrim would allow Ireland meet its 2030 global warming targets, according to Institute of International and European Affairs senior research fellow Joseph Curtin. “Planting 20,000ha of trees is the target that we should be aiming for,” he said. “And this is feasible, as back some years ago land areas of this magnitude were being planted out in trees.” If Curtin’s targets are achieved, this means that a forest equivalent to the combined size of counties Sligo and Leitrim will be established between now and 2030. “All of this comes with the proviso that agreement is reached on the contribution of Ireland to the EU’s 2030 climate change targets. “Afforestation is a win-win scenario for beef farmers in marginal areas. Current performance figures confirm that these producers are losing up to €250/ha…”

Norway, Statkraft and The Conservation Fund Initiate a Strategic Greenhouse-Gas Reducing Partnership
Business Wire, 15 December 2015
The Conservation Fund and Statkraft, Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy, have formed a strategic partnership to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by purchasing offsets generated under California’s pioneering cap and trade program. Statkraft’s purchase supports an investment in redwood and Douglas fir forests owned and operated by The Conservation Fund in California. With world leaders having just negotiated an historic global climate treaty at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, such partnerships underscore California’s role as a global leader and innovator in the fight against climate change, and the importance of working forest conservation and sustainable management in that effort. “We cannot fight climate change without improving the management of forests worldwide to store carbon,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Mary D. Nichols.

Japan, South Korea stick to coal despite global climate deal
Reuters, 15 December 2015
Less than a week since signing the global climate deal in Paris, Japan and South Korea are pressing ahead with plans to open scores of new coal-fired power plants, casting doubt on the strength of their commitment to cutting CO2 emissions. Even as many of the world’s rich nations seek to phase out the use of coal, Asia’s two most developed economies are burning more than ever and plan to add at least 60 new coal-fired power plants over the next 10 years. Officials at both countries’ energy ministries said those plans were unchanged. Japan, in particular, has been criticized for its lack of ambition – its 18-percent target for emissions cuts from 1990 to 2030 is less than half of Europe’s – and questions have been raised about its ability to deliver, since the target relies on atomic energy, which is very unpopular after the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

[USA] After N.Y. legal deal, Peabody ignores climate change in SEC filing
By Benjamin Hulac, eenews.net, 15 December 2015
Peabody Energy Corp. announced plans yesterday to raise $1 billion from investors but did not mention climate change or emissions-cutting policies as investment risks. That exclusion came one month after Peabody finalized an agreement with New York’s attorney general to file updated public documents about its financial hazards related to climate change and potential climate regulations. In the document filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Peabody did not reference climate change, greenhouse gases, carbon emissions, global warming or any comparable terms or phrases. The St. Louis-headquartered company, the largest publicly traded coal company in the world, listed competition from natural gas and renewable energy as risk factors to would-be investors, as well as “new environmental” regulations — a general term that could apply to more than climate change.

[USA] Paris agreement ‘does not need Senate approval’ say officials
By Ed King, Climate Home, 15 December 2015
Senior US administration officials say they are confident the Paris climate agreement will not need to be ratified by the US Senate. “It probably won’t surprise you that we aren’t spending a lot of time thinking of ways that the Congress could veto this. But look, the truth is this is an agreement that doesn’t require ratification by the Senate,” one US diplomat told a reporters’ briefing. “The targets are not binding; the elements that are binding are consistent with already approved previous agreements,” they added. Some Republican senators expressed outrage at the new UN pact – agreed late on Saturday – which for the first time will see developed, developing and emerging economies commit to a pact. “Senate leadership has already been outspoken in its positions that the United States is not legally bound to any agreement setting emissions targets or any financial commitment to it without approval by Congress,” said Jim Inhofe…

16 December 2015

Paris: Unifying Global Political Will
By Dan Nepstad, Earth Innovation Institute, 16 December 2015
On December 12th, almost 200 nations agreed upon a pathway forward for avoiding the most dangerous impacts of climate change. I join the world in celebrating this historic moment. The United Nations has finally joined the quiet revolution that is already blazing the trail of climate change solutions. The curmudgeon in me is painfully aware of what the Paris Agreement is not. It does not tie the nations of the world to legally-binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, nor commit rich nations to mobilize sufficient funds to pay for the transition to low-carbon economies. It does not establish a price on carbon that would unleash market forces and private finance for this transition at the scale that is desperately needed. The optimist in me is thrilled by what the Paris Agreement is—a unified expression of global political will to tackle climate change. The Agreement establishes a shared, ambitious goal…

A ten-year battle to root forests in a climate pact is won
By Alex Pashley, Climate Home, 16 December 2015
Conservationists are championing a new global warming accord’s goal to protect the planet’s fragile forests. Almost 200 countries vowed to “conserve and enhance” the world’s “sinks and reservoirs” in last week’s Paris deal to fight climate change. It was a coup for the land sector, say experts, as a forest protection programme – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests (REDD+) – received an explicit mention in a separate article of the 11-page treaty. “We are ecstatic. That was our goal going in,” says Kevin Conrad, a negotiator for Panama who heads the Coalition of Rainforest Nations bloc.

Five climate paradoxes after Paris
By Gareth Bryant, Progress in Political Economy, 16 December 2015
The new, aspirational goal of limiting temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels requires a rapid end to the burning of fossil fuels. This was, of course, also true of the old goal of 2°C. Research published in Nature earlier this year found that 88 per cent of existing coal global reserves must remain in the ground to have just an even money chance of avoiding warming above this level. The Paris Agreement itself recognises that the combined voluntary emissions pledges made by governments will not come close to either target. Even more concerning is that references in the text to the peaking of emissions and then the balancing of carbon sources and sinks do not translate to any mention of phasing out fossil fuels. Australia’s government exemplified this disconnect by proclaiming coal “here to stay” just days before joining the ‘high ambition coalition’.

Why Paris means nothing
A Srinivas, Business Line, 16 December 2015
The Paris climate meeting was a damp squib. OECD businesses and governments refused to put their money where their mouth was — they failed to back their pious concerns with money and technology. What options does that leave the world with? The usual mechanisms cannot be relied upon. Cap and trade will fail if the price of ‘carbon credits’, which would have to be purchased by those who pollute beyond the limit, falls. This will happen in a country of imperfect institutions like ours. With technologies that reduce the cost of clean coal and wind hard to come by, the only way out is to create carbon sinks (grow and preserve trees) and – most important of all — be content consuming less. We — or 300 million Indians, the population of the US — need to think about our lifestyle choices, rather than outsource the task of making the planet more livable to ‘markets’, businesses and governments. Paris has made this abundantly clear.

Where Is The Massive Military Emissions Footprint in Paris Agreement
Kansas City infoZine, 16 December 2015
Nick Buxton said Tuesday: “We don’t have a proper accounting, but we do know the Pentagon is the single largest organizational user of oil and gas. The massive carbon bootprint of the military needs to be radically cut if political leaders are to meet the promises they made at the Paris climate talks. Military emissions were specifically excluded from the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 at the behest of the U.S. government. There are indications in the wake of the Paris Agreement that they may no longer be specifically excluded from greenhouse gas emissions reporting. However, countries’ current reporting of emissions and planned actions known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), have so far failed to include military emissions and they will only be included if there is mass pressure to do so.” See Buxton’s recent interview on The Real News.

China’s clean coal plan isn’t very clean
By Zachary Davies Boren, Energy Desk (Greenpeace), 16 December 2015
Nearly half of China’s new clean coal power plants are violating emission standards — often because the technology isn’t even switched on. Analysts from Greenpeace China caught 12 out of 26 ‘ultra low emission’ coal power plants producing more pollution than new limits would allow. Eleven of these power plants are run by China’s major energy groups. During the Paris climate conference, the Chinese government announced it would cut coal power pollution by 60% and carbon emissions by 180 million tonnes over the next five years by upgrading power stations to new ‘clean coal’ techniques.

Land injustice at the heart of Indonesia’s deforestation dilemma: Discussions at GLF
By Fred Pearce, Water, Land and Ecosystems, 16 December 2015
What is the future for Indonesia and its landscapes? The country is at an extraordinary moment. Under the new populist government of Joko Widodo, huge areas of the country’s state lands, including some of the world’s largest remaining tropical rainforests and peatlands, may change hands in the next few years. Meanwhile, the recent forest fires and smoke from smouldering peatlands are triggering a new round of international concern about how to stop one of the world’s largest natural carbon sinks giving a new boost to global warming. In the weeks before the Paris climate conference, the fires made Indonesia briefly an even bigger emitter of greenhouse gas than the US.

[Indonesia] Are APP and Suppliers Responsible for Lion’s Share of South Sumatra Fires?
By Brihannala Morgan, Rainforest Action Network, 16 December 2015
On December 3rd, a network of five grassroots NGOs from South Sumatra, in Indonesia, released a report highlighting the fires in South Sumatra––the province most affected by the recent burning––and the close link between those fires and APP and its suppliers. Their findings are powerful: 78% of areas that are burned inside plantations are in areas owned by APP or by suppliers to APP. This amounts to 37% of APP’s plantations in South Sumatra having gone up in smoke. 174,080 hectares of APP’s burned concession area is on carbon rich peat soil. While APP denies having set these fires, many Indonesian NGOs still hold them responsible.

[Indonesia] Oil palm trees cleared from protected forest
By Hotli Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, 16 December 2015
The Aceh Tamiang regional administration on Tuesday began cutting down thousands of oil palm trees illegally planted in the Leuser Ecosystem Area in order to protect the conservation forest from the unlawful expansion of oil palm plantations by both individuals and major companies. Aceh Tamiang Regent Hamdan Sati said his administration had found that 1,070 hectares within the forest had been used to illegally grow oil palm trees in recent years. The illegal oil palm plantations, located within the jurisdiction of Tenggulun district, according to Hamdan, are owned by residents and private companies who have been destroying the forest for a long time. The law breaking parties have severely damaged the natural environment and caused recurrent floods in the regency. “We are against activities that damage our water sources. We must reforest the damaged areas [within the protected forest],” Hamdan said.

Norway appoints new climate change minister after Cabinet reshuffle
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 16 December 2015
Norway on Wednesday appointed the prime minister’s chief of staff, Vidar Helgesen, as its new climate change minister in a Cabinet reshuffle that saw former climate minister Tine Sundtoft left out in the cold. The move came just days after Sundtoft helped pull off the Paris climate change agreement by co-chairing a facilitator group on long-term ambition at the UN talks. Helgesen has been Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s chief of staff since October 2013 as well as the minister for European Economic Area and EU affairs, and as such is well versed in Norway’s integration in the European emissions trading system. Like his predecessor, Helgesen represents the Conservative party. Sundtoft was not offered a new ministerial post after the reshuffle.

17 December 2015

Carbon markets in the Paris Agreement – an early holiday gift
By Vikram Widge, The World Bank, 17 December 2015
The World Bank Group is able and stands ready to support this every step of the way… In addition to the nearly $3 billion managed in various carbon funds since 2000, we have the Partnership for Market Readiness that supports countries to establish market-based carbon pricing mechanisms as best suits their economic circumstances. ​IFC is engaging with existing exchanges and financial institutions to test trading approaches and develop risk management and liquidity products. The recently launched Transformative Carbon Asset Facility, which was announced on the first day of COP21, will help create and monetize the next generation of carbon credits, including those achieved through policy actions. And the Networked Carbon Markets initiative is working in partnership with many to help make the voluntary cooperation approaches workable, by establishing the basis to make them comparable and fungible.

Global agreements, but local action
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 December 2015
As global climate and development frameworks fall into place, experts at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum amplified the call to transform these frameworks into action on the ground – which they expect will be driven by local forces. “It’s been a fantastic year in terms of policies and frameworks and agreements,” Paula Caballero, the World Bank’s Senior Director for Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice, said of 2015 in her address at the Forum. “But the day the COP ends: I would like to say that that is the day that 2016 starts. And 2016 and beyond have got to be about implementation.”

Climate Change and the Road Through Paris
By Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan, Democracy Now!, 17 December 2015
On Dec. 12, nearly 200 nations approved the “Paris Agreement.” The 32-page document spells out humanity’s new, official plan to confront the crisis of climate change. The accord was negotiated in a secure facility in the Paris suburb of Le Bourget. Public demonstrations across France were banned under the “state of emergency” imposed after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Activists defied the ban, saying that same phrase, “state of emergency,” describes the planet’s climate. Protests, at times violently repressed by police, occurred throughout the two-week United Nations summit, as people from around the world demanded a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty to avert the worst consequences of global warming. “What I see is an agreement with no timetables, no targets, with vague, wild aspirations,” British journalist George Monbiot told me two days after the talks ended.

Carbon trading finds its feet again
By Sophie Robinson-Tillett, Environmental Finance, 17 December 2015
The carbon markets have kept up last year’s optimism, with 2015’s Market Rankings suggesting most participants are bullish – particularly about the North American and European regimes. Ruby Canyon Engineering, Element Markets and Redshaw Advisors have all hired new staff this year, or are planning to expand in 2016 on the back of expected growth in business. Evolution Markets hopes to triple the size of its London team, although this is across its entire commodities platform, not just carbon. Prices are on the rise across many of the major markets. The exception in 2015 has proven to be China, where the price of carbon credits on most of the seven pilot markets fell throughout the year – dramatically so in the case of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.

Equity doubted in REDD+ programmes
By Shahani Singh, SciDev.Net, 17 December 2015
Findings from a 2014 study in Nepal titled Gender Equality Challenges to the REDD+ Initiative in Nepal, published by the International Mountain Society, show that the REDD+ policy process is inadequate to account for underlying power dynamics, and thus is unable to achieve equity goals. “It goes back to governance issues,” explains Bhaskar Singh Karky, co-author and environment economist at the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). “If local governance is poor, equity will not be possible in REDD+ programmes. My visit this year to a community forestry site in Dhulikhel still revealed basic inequities in gender relations — the women don’t speak up,” Karky tells SciDev.Net.

[Canada] Paris or pipelines? Trudeau can’t have both
By Aurore Fauret, Ricochet, 17 December 2015
Today, TransCanada filed the rest of its Energy East pipeline application to the National Energy Board, making nearly 700 changes to the proposed route and raising the projected price tag by $4 billion. Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan is also meeting with the NEB today to argue that its 1,150-km pipeline is in the public’s interest. Canada just signed onto an international climate agreement, signalling a willingness to tackle climate change and reinforcing the inevitably of the transition away from fossil fuels. Yet there is a huge gap between rhetoric and action in the Paris deal, with existing plans far from what is required to keep global temperature rises within a safe level. The same sort of gap is found in the Trudeau government’s policies here at home. ‘Real change’ looks like more of the same.

Guyana set for another Norway forest deal
Kaieteur News, 17 December 2015
Guyana is set to sign another Norway forest conservation deal next year with that country preferring to fund energy projects rather than the controversial, US$1B Amaila Falls hydro-electric project. The disclosures were made to government officials by Norwegian representatives during a meeting earlier this month in Paris, France. Also present at the meeting were top officials of Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is managing proceeds of that US$250M, ground-breaking forest deal that expired last month. Yesterday, Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who was part of the Paris meeting with Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, said that from the talks, it is mere formality that another forest deal will be signed next year. The delay would not hamper or interrupt current collaboration between the two countries.

US grants Indonesia $250m for ambitious environmental scheme
By Lisa Yosephine, The Jakarta Post, 17 December 2015
The US government, through its development aid agency, granted US$250 million to Indonesia to fund an ambitious long-term partnership as Indonesia plays a pivotal global role in tackling environmental problems. US Ambassador Robert Blake said on Wednesday evening that the program in Indonesia conducted by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was the largest in the world. “Building on the momentum of the recently held COP21 in Paris, we want to achieve a sustainable natural resource management in Indonesia through this partnership,” said Blake during an event at his official residence in Jakarta. Blake said that the projects under this initiative were going to address challenges in several different areas, like forestry and land use, marine conservation and fisheries management, clean energy expansion, access to water and sanitation services, adaptation to climate change and disaster risk reduction.

New Zealand to draw on Kyoto surplus to meet 2020 emissions target
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 17 December 2015
New Zealand will use over 30 million Kyoto units from its massive surplus from the 2008-2012 period to meet its 2020 emissions target, the Ministry for the Environment said Thursday. Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett on Thursday released three reports showing that New Zealand had met its Kyoto Protocol first commitment period goal, carrying a surplus of 123.7 million Kyoto units with it for future use. “New Zealand’s second biennial report to the United Nations shows that we met our target for the period from 2008-2012 through a combination of emissions reductions, carbon removal by forests, and international trading,” Bennett said. Almost the entire surplus comes from the 121.5 million ERUs, CERs and RMUs New Zealand emitters have bought overseas from 2010-2014 to comply with the emissions trading scheme, most of them at prices below NZ$0.15 each ($0.10, €0.09).

Polish Utilities Rise as Regulator Boosts Coal Plant Support
By Maciej Martewicz and Marek Strzelecki, Bloomberg, 17 December 2015
Polish utilities advanced as the country’s energy regulator increased its budget to support coal-fired power plants. State-controlled Enea SA was the biggest gainer, rising as much as 5.2 percent, while ZE PAK SA, owned by billionaire Zygmunt Solorz-Zak, climbed as much as 2.2 percent and Tauron Polska Energia SA added as much as 4.8 percent. The benchmark WIG20 Index rose 3.2 percent by 2:39 p.m. Warsaw time, heading for the biggest increase in more than two years. Emerging-market stocks rose after the Federal Reserve said Wednesday that further interest-rate increases will be gradual. Poland’s energy market regulator Thursday increased the spending for power supply security by over 200 million zloty ($50 million).

[South Korea] Hyundai Steel loses suit over state’s carbon credit quota
The Korea Herald, 17 December 2015
Korean conglomerate Hyundai Steel lost its suit against the state’s move to allocate carbon credits to businesses, a court announced Thursday. The Administrative Court dismissed the steelmaker’s request to revoke the Environment Ministry’s action to allocate a set amount of carbon credits to the company. This is the first verdict released over the controversial carbon credit quota after a number of companies filed lawsuits against the state to nullify the carbon credit move earlier this year. In December last year, the government gave a certain quota for carbon credits to 525 companies, including 84 petrochemical firms, ahead of the opening of Asia’s first-ever carbon trade market in January this year. If companies exceed the emissions allowed, they are mandated to purchase the carbon credits. The business sector, however, has complained about the insufficient quota, claiming the ministry allocated only 80 percent of carbon credits…

Boost for steelmakers as UK gets EU approval to refund ‘green taxes’
By William James, Reuters, 17 December 2015
Britain received European Union approval on Thursday to compensate firms in some energy-intensive industries for the cost of “green taxes”, offering help to its ailing steel sector. Weak prices, high energy costs and Chinese competition have prompted a number of UK steel plants to close in recent months, increasing pressure on the government to help as the job losses mount. “This is very welcome news,” Business Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement. “Relief from energy costs will save our steel industry hundreds of millions of pounds.” Britain promised in October it would start refunding the costs as soon as it received EU approval. High energy costs have contributed to thousands of job losses in the British steel sector… A government spokeswoman said the estimated value of the support was 240 million pounds by 2020 for the steel sector and 1.2 billion pounds for all energy intensive industries over the same period.

[USA] What Just Happened to Solar and Wind is a Bigger Deal Than Oil Exports
By Tom Randall, Bloomberg, 17 December 2015
The clean-energy boom is about to be transformed. In a surprise move, U.S. lawmakers agreed to extend tax credits for solar and wind for another five years. This will give an unprecedented boost to the industry and change the course of deployment in the U.S. The extension will add an extra 20 gigawatts of solar power—more than every panel ever installed in the U.S. prior to 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The U.S. was already one of the world’s biggest clean-energy investors. This deal is like adding another America of solar power into the mix. The wind credit will contribute another 19 gigawatts over five years. Combined, the extensions will spur more than $73 billion of investment and supply enough electricity to power 8 million U.S. homes, according to BNEF.

18 December 2015

The Word From Paris
By Michael Brune, Medium, 18 December 2015
The French probably have a word for it, and if the French don’t then the Germans likely do. It’s the word for a monumental and historic accomplishment that at the same time falls short of complete success and, in some ways, falters completely. Yet the door to success hasn’t shut — it’s open and beckoning, with the fresh-baked scent of something wonderful wafting from a clean, well-lighted future. Complicated, right? But that’s where we are after nearly 200 countries spent two weeks forging a major new international climate agreement at the UN’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris.

Before you call Paris critics party poopers, double-check the guest list
By Kate Colwell (Friends of the Earth), Medium, 18 December 2015
I wanted so badly to celebrate. As the people in the plenary room cheered and hugged and shook hands over the first global climate agreement in history, the policy analysts and COP veterans around me sat stone-faced, eyes downcast. The party was over — the gifts were unwrapped — and we had lost. Lost who? Leaders from 195 countries decided that climate change posed a bigger threat than their individual plights. That level of global buy-in is incredible. Lost what? Delegations would return home and get to work bringing their global emissions closer to a 2 degrees Celsius warming above preindustrial levels by the end of the century. That goal would make a huge impact.

Forests gain long-awaited recognition in Paris climate summit
By Gabriela Bueno, The Conversation, 18 December 2015
The climate change agreement adopted by 195 countries in Paris last week raised the profile of forests in ways never seen before. In past multilateral environmental conferences, deforestation proved too thorny for nations to reach agreement. Now, however, some of the most heavily forested countries in the world have pledged to fight deforestation and promote forest conservation. This is a key shift. Cutting emissions from deforestation by leaving forests standing or promoting reforestation is arguably one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to address climate change. Forests and climate change are intrinsically related. As they grow, trees capture and store carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. But they release their stored carbon and become sources of greenhouse gas emissions when they are harvested or burned.

Forests a big winner in the Paris Agreement
By Cassandra Kane (Conservation International), Thomas Reuters Foundation, 18 December 2015
Forests scored a crucial victory in the Paris Agreement. While its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, did not create or endorse any specific method for incentivizing reductions in deforestation, the new agreement explicitly endorses a nature-based initiative called REDD . Question: What role does REDD have in the final Paris Agreement? Answer: It is even stronger than what we hoped going in, and that’s because in the final agreement, REDD got a really explicit call-out. In fact, REDD is included as a standalone article (Article 5). CI started these negotiations saying that while specific mentions of REDD and the role of forests in the new agreement would be great, it wasn’t actually essential. And that’s because the key decisions around REDD had already been made before. In the end, we got a very explicit mention of the role of forests and other ecosystems in mitigating climate change.

Saving Forests in Paris: Breakthrough for REDD+?
By Michele de Nevers, Center For Global Development, 18 December 2015
REDD+ was originally conceived as a simple market mechanism for compliance carbon markets (cap-and-trade programs) in which companies subject to emissions limits (caps) could buy emissions reductions both from other capped companies who could reduce emissions more cheaply, or from non-capped sources that could also reduce emissions, like tropical forests. (The advantages of carbon trading are clearly explained by CGD’s Jonah Busch in a recent blog.) But when negotiators failed to agree on global emissions limits in Copenhagen, demand for emissions reductions from compliance markets didn’t scale up as expected, and was limited to the few cap-and-trade programs that went ahead anyway, like the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and California’s cap-and-trade program, AB32. The legislation that established California’s program allows for companies to buy emissions reductions from the forest sector…

Outcomes from COP21: Forests as a Key Climate and Development Solution
World Bank, 18 December 2015
Last weekend, at COP21 in Paris, international governments recognized and acknowledged the key role that resilient forests and landscapes play for both climate change and development in the final agreement achieved and through a number of financial pledges and green initiatives. Healthy forests absorb immense amounts of carbon dioxide, providing essential carbon sinks. However, when deforestation happens, often due to logging or converting land for agricultural use, forests release damaging greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Because of this important climate regulating function, the land sector – and forests in particular – are critically important in both the post-2020 agreement and for the immediate actions necessary to slow climate change.

The Paris Agreement: 1.5C to Stay Alive
By Bianca Jagger, Huffington Post, 18 December 2015
On 12th December at 7:16 p.m. Laurent Fabius, French Minister for Foreign Affairs and President of COP21, announced to a room packed with ministers, negotiators, NGOs and prominent guests “I see the room and I see that the reaction is positive. I don’t hear any objection. The Paris Agreement for the Climate is adopted.” His voice quivered with emotion as he banged his gavel on his sounding block, marking the end of a tense and often strained two weeks of climate negotiations. COP21 was over after 21 years of failed negotiations, broken promises, distant targets and shattered hope, world leaders finally agreed on a global, legally binding agreement, a framework upon which we can begin to tackle catastrophic climate change. Paris was always going to be the end of the line. As Fabius brought down his gavel to seal the deal, the room erupted into rapturous applause; some people hugged, other people cried.

Fairtrade Climate Standard Hopes Minimum Offset Prices Will Boost Carbon Markets
By Allie Goldstein, Ecosystem Marketplace, 18 December 2015 Carbon offsets are now keeping unusual company, appearing alongside acai, bananas, coffee, cocoa, cotton, quinoa, rice, sugar, and other commodities on a list of Fairtrade products. The listing comes after a three-year effort by Gold Standard, Fairtrade, and other partners to develop the Fairtrade Climate Standard, which officially launched on December 4 during the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris. The most head-turning aspect of the standard is its established minimum price for carbon offsets, set for now at 13 Euros (US $14.1) for tree-planting projects, 8.2 Euros (US $8.9) for energy efficiency projects, and 8.1 Euros (US $8.9) for renewable energy projects. On top of that, buyers must pay a Fairtrade “premium”, an extra sum that goes directly into the pockets of producers, set at 1.5 Euros for tree-planting offsets and 1 Euro for both energy-related ones.

Loss of monkeys and birds in tropical forests driving up carbon emissions
By Damian Carrignton, The Guardian, 18 December 2015
Large fruit-eating monkeys and birds in tropical forests have been revealed as surprising climate change champions, whose loss to over-hunting is driving up carbon emissions. This is because their seed-spreading plays a vital role in the survival of huge, hard-wooded trees. Tropical forests store 40% of all the carbon on the Earth’s surface and the slashing of trees causes about 15% of the greenhouse gases that drive global warming. Long-lived, thick and hard-wooded trees are especially good carbon stores, but they have large seeds that can only be dispersed via defecation by large animals. These big creatures have suffered huge losses from subsistence hunters, meaning hardwood trees are being replaced with softwood trees, which have smaller seeds but store less carbon.

Global coal demand stalls after more than a decade of relentless growth
International Energy Agency, 18 December 2015
Following more than a decade of aggressive growth, global coal demand has stalled, the International Energy Agency said Friday in its annual coal market report. The report sharply lowered its five-year global coal demand growth forecast in reflection of economic restructuring in China, which represents half of global coal consumption. Greater policy support for renewable energy and energy efficiency – the foundation of the COP21 agreement in Paris – is also expected to dent coal demand. The IEA’s Medium-Term Coal Market Report 2015 slashed its five-year estimate of global coal demand growth by more than 500 million tonnes of coal equivalent (Mtce) in recognition of the tremendous pressures facing coal markets. The revision comes as official preliminary data indicate that a decline in Chinese coal demand occurred in 2014 and is set to accelerate in 2015.

[Indonesia] Forest moratorium map updated
The Jakarta Post, 18 December 2015
The government released on Thursday the ninth edition of its forest-clearance moratorium map, adding another 71,099 hectares. The extra land brings the total area covered by the current moratorium to 65.08 million ha, after the ministry added concessions the permits for which had been revoked following the recent forest fires. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said the public could expect more drastic changes in the next edition of the map, which is updated every six months, following President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s instruction to stop issuing new permits for peatland cultivation for monoculture, restore damaged peatland and review all current peatland licenses. “I expect there will be lots of changes in the next six months,” she said during the publication of the map at her office in Central Jakarta. Greenomics executive director Vanda Mutia Dewi applauded Siti’s comment…

Efforts to stop Indonesian haze fires may not work for 2016
By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 18 December 2015
South Sumatra’s governor, Alex Noerdin, is adamant there will be a “significant reduction” next year in fires on deforested and peat land in his province. Those fires have contributed to the haze crisis choking South East Asia almost annually. But many experts believe fires in Indonesia are likely to start up again when the rainy season ends in March. They say not enough has been done yet to head off the risks. Slash-and-burn clearance of land – much of it to plant oil palm, and trees to make pulp and paper – is the main culprit fueling the fires that smoulder deep underground in peat. They have pushed up pollution levels, disrupting daily life from Indonesia to Singapore and Malaysia. Who is responsible for starting the fires is unclear, although a finger is often pointed at small-scale growers of the palm that produces cheap, edible oil.

NZ Carbon Farming loses appeal in carbon credit spat with Mighty River Power
By Fiona Rotherham, The National Business Review, 18 December 2015
The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by New Zealand Carbon Farming, the country’s largest supplier of post-1989 bulk carbon credits, against a High Court decision in favour of Mighty River Power [NZX: MRP] over a $34.7 million liability NZCF claimed to be owed. It has also dismissed cross-appeals by MRP and ordered NZCF to pay standard legal costs for an appeal minus 10 percent. The original High Court case, heard by Justice Kit Toogood at Auckland, centred on a change to the methodology for working out the amount of carbon credits produced by forests under the Emissions Trading Scheme. Justice Toogood released a decision in June dismissing NZCF’s claim relating to a dispute with MRP over a doubling of carbon credits under a 15-year contract for NZCF’s Hawarden Forest in North Canterbury.

NZ achieved emissions reduction targets: Paula Bennett
New Zealand Herald, 18 December 2015
New Zealand has achieved its first round of emissions reduction targets and is on track to meet its 2020 target, Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says. In the first commitment period in the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand had to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Mrs Bennett said the target was reached through a combination of emissions reductions, the capture of carbon through forestry, and international trading. Reports released by the Ministry for the Environment today showed New Zealand would also hit its targets for the second agreement period between 2013 and 2020. The ministry said New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions had increased by more than 42 per cent since 1990, but these had been offset by carbon sequestration and the purchase of carbon credits.

Norwegian power company invests in California carbon credits
By Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 December 2015
A government-run power company in Norway has agreed to buy carbon credits from the owners of a Northern California forest, a clear signal that the eyes of the world are on California’s pioneering cap-and-trade program after last week’s landmark global climate treaty in Paris. Statkraft, Europe’s biggest generator of renewable energy, is essentially investing in the carbon stored in California trees, which can be bought and sold under the state’s one-of-a-kind, stock market-style program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Companies that release more gases than state law permits can avoid fines by purchasing the carbon credits, or offsets, from those who conserve or capture greenhouse gases. “Everyone should take notice,” said Chris Kelly, the California program director for the nonprofit Conservation Fund, which is selling the offsets.

19 December 2015

20 December 2015


 


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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  1. Steve Zwick’s Huffington Post 12-14-2015 article, “How a Last-Minute Deal Hatched in Warsaw Two Years Ago Spawned a Paris Accord That Includes Both Markets and Mother Earth”, was also posted at Ecosystem Marketplace at https://tinyurl.com/otsscsg. There it received essentially the following critical comments from Forest Keeper:

    How does REDD+ in the Paris Accords encourage moral markets when it does not require the recognition and enforcement of the resource tenure and human rights for Indigenous and forest communities?

    Steve Zwick states, “that an illusion that features prominently in books like Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’,…” is “…explicitly delineated in the book’s subtitle (“Capitalism vs. The Climate”).” He argues that “Capitalism vs. The Climate” is “a ‘false duality’, because it contends “that climate change is either a moral challenge or an economic one, when in fact, it’s both, and meeting the challenge one way doesn’t preclude meeting it the other (way)…” He states that the Paris Accord which now includes REDD+ encourages …”the development of moral markets that are well-structured, well-run, and well-regulated…”

    A well-regulated market requires clear ownership of resources, the rule of law and enforced human rights in order to fairly: trade, negotiate and litigate. These are fundamental principles necessary for a fair market. So how does REDD+ in the Paris Accords (REDD) encourage moral markets that are well-regulated when it does not require the recognition and enforcement of resource tenure and human rights for Indigenous and forest communities prior to payment or funding?

    Mr, Zwick or your allies, if you read no further, please answer this question using the agreed REDD text and its Paris Accord references. If the answer is not in the text, then what is your REDD strategy to ensure those rights are recognized and enforced?

    To explore “REDD’s ethics (I prefer to explore the term “ethics” as it refers more to social contract, as opposed to morality’s basis in a higher power), lets start by reading REDD’s text in Decision 1/CP.16:


    “72. Also requests developing country Parties, when developing and implementing their national strategies or action plans, to address, inter alia, drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, land tenure issues, forest governance issues, gender considerations and the safeguards…”

    The key non-binding words there are, “…request…to address…” applied to the “…land tenure issues… forest governance…safeguards.” This is vague “UNese” language providing the dangerous illusion of safeguards that are not there. The fate of millions of forest peoples reside in the difference between enforcing resource and human rights vs addressing them.

    The world’s largest forests and their peoples primarily exist because these forests were not profitable to exploit due to inaccessibility or danger. REDD is creating an economic incentive to now make these forests and their peoples much more profitable to exploit but without the enforcement of the rights and safeguards that will protect them. Carbon credit entrepreneurs, Government entities and NGOs have already started pushing REDD into the last remote forests endangering many forest peoples.

    Jorge Furagaro Kuetgaje, climate coordinator for COICA, the Indigenous People of the Amazon Basin stated, “For us to continue to conserve the tropical forests … we need to have strong rights to those forests. Death should not be the price we pay for playing our part in preventing the emissions that fuel climate change.” A Global Witness report found that at least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014, and 40% of the victims were indigenous.

    ?Got The Golden Rule?

    How is REDD ethical, if it only is “requesting to address land tenure rights, forest governance, safeguards (read human rights) and participation” for marginalized traditional forest peoples? Would the Paris Accord negotiators and REDD promoters sign an agreement not to have their family’s property rights or human rights enforced but just request them to be addressed? Not to secure those rights prior to REDD funding or payment for marginalized people with minimal legal means and sophistication is unethical.

    Mr. Zwick identifies and interprets REDD in Article 5, Paragraph 2 where he states:

    “While reaffirming the importance of incentivizing, as appropriate, non-carbon benefits associated with such approaches,” refers to things like biodiversity and the protection of indigenous rights.
    Mr. Zwick, please explain exactly what binding protection this text provides for indigenous rights?

    He continues:
    
“Activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” refers to REDD, but without mentioning the acronym directly, because it’s become a target for people with duality delusion syndrome.

    As revealed above, many of REDD supporters at COP21 stopped using its’ 10 year old acronym and started referring to saving the forests to avoid REDD’s text from being scrutinized. Not all REDD’s critics have “duality delusion syndrome”, many of us support ethical markets. But REDD is ethically inadequate and needs to be based on The Golden Rule.

    Find further analysis of the need to stipulate forest peoples rights in REDD+ at https://livingstoryfoundation.wordpress.com/
    Forest Keeper comments at Living Story Foundation.