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REDD in the news: 15-21 February 2016

REDD in the newsREDD-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.

 

15 February 2016

Does the Paris agreement rest on flawed assumptions?
By Kirsten Zeller, Medium, 15 February 2016
Of the 116 COP21 strategies reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 101 hinge on the use of negative emission technologies, designed to drain carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Given that these technologies are still in their infancy, does the optimism born out of the Paris climate talks rest too heavily on unproven solutions? … Anderson warns that relying on these technologies is a gamble, characterising the assumptions which underscore the success of BECCS as “breathtaking”. In December last year, he lauded the COP21 agreement as “a triumph for international diplomacy”, but one which “risks being total fantasy”.

Greed
By Benedicto Q. Sanchez, Sun.Star, 15 February 2016
Greed was supposed to be a virtue on stopping deforestation and mitigating climate change. Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Studies put it that under the efforts of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (Redd) program was to answer both the need—and the greed—of governments, private corporations, and forest-dependent communities for cash. The United Nations was supposed to create a financial value under Redd for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. “Redd+” goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. That means to save forests by selling the carbon they embody, harnessing the profit motive for the benefit of trees and climate.

Most vulnerable EU industries need 100 pct free carbon-France
Reuters, 15 February 2016
Energy intensive industries most likely to leave the European Union because of costs should get all of their EU Emissions Trading System permits free until other major blocs have a carbon price in place, France’s economy minister said on Monday. The European Commission is revising its rules for handing out free permits to cushion energy intensive industries, such as the steel sector and oil refiners, from the expense of offsetting emissions on the ETS. French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron was addressing a high-level debate hosted by the Commission in response to pressure from EU governments over the plight of the European steel industry. Thousands of steel industry workers marched in Brussels on Monday to demand action to defend their jobs against competition from cheap Chinese imports, as well as higher energy costs in Europe, caused in part by the ETS.

[Germany] Deutsche staff in the dock over carbon trading fraud scheme
Deutsche Welle, 15 February 2016
Frankfurt prosecutors have charged eight Deutsche Bank employees with being involved in the fraudulent trading of carbon permits and evading millions of euros in taxes. The trial, which started in Frankfurt on Monday, is to look into exactly what part Deutsche employees played in so-called carousel trades made back in 2009 and 2010. Buyers imported CO2 emissions certificates from one European Union country without paying value-added tax. They then sold those permits to each other, adding VAT to the price and generating tax refunds where no tax had been paid. Prosecutors believe that up to 220 million euros ($246 million) in taxes were evaded with the help of Deutsche employees. Germany’s largest lender itself is not in the dock, and says it’s been fully co-operating with the prosecutors.

[UK] Investment broker jailed for fleecing pensioners
FTAdviser.com, 15 February 2016
An investment broker who conned wealthy pensioners out of £372,000 by selling worthless carbon credits was jailed for two-and-a-half years today (15 February). Joseph Emery, 32, set up the ‘boiler room’ fraud company EM Trade Capital at a plush office in the Tower 42 skyscraper in the City of London. His sales team repeatedly cold-called victims to persuade them to invest their life savings in carbon credits and rare metals. When clients tried to withdraw their money or sell the credits they were met with silence and unable to contact Emery. He was arrested in February 2014 after he moved to another firm and later pleaded guilty to defrauding nine people. One victim, a retired woman who invested £44,000, told police: “This was money I had saved for my retirement and future. This incident has left me in ill health and without future financial stability.”

[UK] Investment fraud victims to get £2.9m back after FCA intervention
By Thomas Selby, Fund Strategy, 15 February 2016
Victims of a £5.5m unregulated investment scam are set to lose almost half of their money after a judge ordered funds retrieved from two ringleaders be returned to investors. Southwark Crown Court today ordered almost £2.65m to be returned to around 100 people who fell victim to the scheme, which was established and operated by Alex Hope. In addition, Hope has been hit with a £166,696 confiscation order which he must pay in full in three months. If he doesn’t, Hope will face a further 20 months in prison on top of the seven year sentence he was handed in January last year. Today’s order follows a similar order placed on Raj Von Badlo, Hope’s co-defendant, who was ordered to pay £99,819 at a hearing in December. This sum must also be paid in full within three month or he will be hit with a 15 month prison sentence on top of the two-year sentence he was given in January last year.

16 February 2016

‘Never seen it so bad’: violence and impunity in Brazil’s Amazon
By David Hill, The Guardian, 16 February 2016
Felipe Milanez [is] a political ecologist at the Federal University of Recôncavo of Bahia, activist, film-maker, former deputy editor of National Geographic Brazil, and the editor of the recently-published book, Memórias Sertanistas: Cem Anos de Indigenismo no Brasil… In 2015 49 activists – 45 in the Amazon – were killed, making it the most violent year since 2004, according to the Pastoral Land Commission (PLC), and representing a huge regression of policies put in place under the Lula administration to control violence and deforestation. Violence has been legitimized as a normal part of politics. It has become informally “acceptable.” I’ve never seen, working for the past 10 years in the Amazon, a situation so bad. All of my friends in Marabá receive death threats.

EU carbon price rout “overdone”, but buy with caution -SocGen
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 16 February 2016
Analysts at French investment bank Societe Generale on Tuesday slashed their EU Allowance price estimates by 24% across the board but said the recent price rout has been overdone, recommending that its clients buy with caution. The analysts predict that front-year EUA prices will end 2016 at €6.80, they wrote in an emailed report, down from their previous view of €9.00 published last September but 45% above current levels near €4.70. Prices are then seen creeping up to €7 by the end of 2017, SocGen said, adding that EUAs should continue to increase steadily to €7.80 by the end of 2020. Those forecasts were below the bank’s previous respective estimates of €9.23 and €10.22. Dec-16 EUA futures are down by more than 40% since the end of 2015, in a rout thought to be fuelled mainly by speculative selling and exacerbated by both industrials offloading spare allowances and utilities declining to buy at their historical rates.

[Guyana] Several large forest concessions forcibly repossessed
Kaieteur News, 16 February 2016
Records that were once kept under tight wraps by the previous government are lifting the veil on what transpired in the forestry sector in the last two decades. With Government saying that no productive forest lands remain available, records and complaints, including maps, are indicating that several concessions were repossessed, some forcibly, only to end up in the hands of not only close friends but a few foreign companies that have been under the spotlight.

The Great Timber Heist: The Logging Industry in Papua New Guinea
Oakland Institute, 16 February 2016
The Great Timber Heist: The Logging Industry in Papua New Guinea, exposes massive tax evasion and financial misreporting by foreign logging companies, allegedly resulting in nonpayment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is home to the world’s third largest rainforest. After the lease of 5.5 million hectares of land in recent years through the Special Agriculture and Business Lease scheme, today over 15 million hectares—more than one third of the country—are in the hands of foreign firms. With land and vital natural resources taken away from traditional owners, PNG has become the world’s largest exporter of tropical wood. Timber companies argue that logging is an important source of tax income needed for country’s development.

Papua New Guinea takes steps to develop National REDD+ Strategy to protect its forests
UNDP in Papua New Guinea, 16 February 2016
The Climate Change and Development Authority in close collaboration with UN Development Programme and PNG Forest Authority hosted a Project Executive Board Meeting to discuss the plans of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility Readiness (FCPF) project, which seeks to foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhance forest carbon stocks of Papua New Guinea (REDD+). The meeting was attended by project board members and key project partners from the Government, international development partners, civil society and public sector dealing with REDD+ activities in the country. Mr. Joe Pokana, Acting Managing Director of the Climate Change and Development Authority opened the meeting: “Today’s Project Board Meeting is aimed to provide overall guidance for the project through review and approval of the Project’s Annual Work Plan and Budget; provision of advice; ensuring better coordination among agencies…”

[USA] Carbon Credits Help Tribes Preserve Culture, Climate and Bottom Line
By Douglas Thompson, Indian Country, 16 February 2016
The National Indian Carbon Coalition (NICC), a tribal non-profit, has received a three-year, $300,000 grant to improve access to carbon markets in Indian country, enabling tribes to help mitigate climate change’s effects while improving their bottom line. “This is exciting for Indian country,” said NICC Program Director Erick Giles, Muscogee (Creek) and member of the Big Cat clan. “Generating and selling carbon credits is a mostly untapped way for tribes to promote economic development on their reservations through resource management.” Only in recent decades have reservation natural resources been managed directly by tribes for their own benefit. Historically these resources—minerals, timber, forage and croplands, and water—have benefited off-reservation interests at the expense of the environment and reservation communities.

17 February 2016

The heat goes on: Earth sets 9th straight monthly record
By Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, 17 February 2016
The January figures are in, and Earth’s string of hottest-months-on-record has now reached nine in a row. But NASA said January stood out: The temperature was above normal by the highest margin of any month on record. And January set another record: Arctic sea ice reached its lowest point for that ice-building winter month. NASA said January 2016 was 2.03 degrees Fahrenheit (1.13 degrees Celsius) above normal. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which calculates temperatures differently, said last month was 1.87 degrees (1.04 degrees Celsius), which is the second biggest margin in history. NOAA said the greatest was this past December.

Diverse Paris climate targets create accounting headache for carbon markets -report
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 17 February 2016
The Paris Agreement marked the first time nearly all countries took on national commitments to help battle climate change, goals known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). But the pledges varied in nature: some were absolute GHG emission reductions, some were intensity-based (CO2 per unit of GDP), and some were not directly related to emissions, for example goals for renewable energy, energy efficiency and so on. For the 100 or so nations that have expressed interest in making use of international carbon markets, which according to the Paris Agreement are to be based on Internationally Transferred mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs), these variations increase the risk of double-counting unless sound accounting standards are developed, according to the Wuppertal report dated Jan. 2016.

El Niño is causing global food crisis, UN warns
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 17 February 2016
Severe droughts and floods triggered by one of the strongest El Niño weather events ever recorded have left nearly 100 million people in southern Africa, Asia and Latin America facing food and water shortages and vulnerable to diseases including Zika, UN bodies, international aid agencies and governments have said. New figures from the UN’s World Food Programme say 40 million people in rural areas and 9 million in urban centres who live in the drought-affected parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland will need food assistance in the next year. In addition, 10 million people are said by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) to need food in Ethiopia (pdf), and 2.8 million need assistance in Guatemala and Honduras.

The Forgotten Climate Solution
By Justin Adams (TNC), Medium, 17 February 2016
With around 3,000 journalists in attendance, the UN Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris generated more column inches than any previous COP. And not surprisingly, energy terms and topics received hundreds of times more attention than the land sector, which received just 0.1% of the media coverage. Yet, the land sector can potentially deliver at least 20% of the climate solution — and likely much more… This is about changing the conversation around climate change solutions. Decarbonizing the energy sector is critical and it is encouraging that the renewable energy sector is now attracting some $300 billion of capital each year. But it is insufficient on its own. We can’t get to a 2 or 1.5 degree Celsius stabilization pathway without taking land use more seriously.

“Slash and burn” works, given time and space
By Harry Pearl, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 February 2016
It’s long been stigmatized, blamed for destroying forests and releasing greenhouse gases. But, when done properly, shifting cultivation can create natural ecosystems with high biodiversity, rich carbon stocks and low soil erosion. The catch? It needs to be practiced over a large area to allow different plots of land to go through the cycle from crop to fallow, to young forest, to secondary forest. And it takes time. This is what researchers discovered in a recent study that compared the level of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the traditional forest–swidden agriculture system of Northern Borneo with other land uses, such as natural forest and monoculture plantations.

Al Gore says ‘we will prevail’ in fight against climate change
By Lisa Johnson, CBC News, 17 February 2016
Al Gore is bullish on the future of humanity and our ability to confront climate change, telling the TED conference in Vancouver, “We are going to win this. We will prevail.” It’s been 10 years since Gore’s first TED Talk, when he delivered a slide show about the climate crisis, months before the release of Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth. On Wednesday, he brought good news about the exponential adoption of solar and other renewable energy sources, the closing of U.S. coal plants and the Paris climate agreement last November. “This is the biggest new business opportunity in the history of the world,” he said to the auditorium packed with Silicon Valley investors and Hollywood executives. “Some still doubt we have the will to act,” said Gore. “But I say the will to act is itself a renewable resource.”

Business leaders urge Brussels to tighten carbon market
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 17 February 2016
Brussels is not doing enough to deliver on its climate rhetoric, heads of 23 major European businesses have warned. After agreeing to bold climate goals at December’s UN summit in Paris, the EU should follow with radical reforms to its carbon market. That is the view of the Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), which represents multinationals including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Jaguar Land Rover. It called on the European Commission to reduce the cap on pollution permits faster and close loopholes that weaken ambition. Philippe Joubert, chair of the group, said: “The Paris Agreement was finalised by all nations right here in Europe. “Now Europe’s policy makers have the chance to follow through on their commitments by decisively reforming the EU ETS [emissions trading system] so that it truly plays its role in driving behaviour change, cutting carbon and transforming the EU economy for the future.’’

EU Market: Carbon climbs back above €5 as Iran remarks jumpstart oil prices
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 17 February 2016
EU carbon prices posted their biggest daily increase so far this year, rising 8.5% on Wednesday to rise out of their bearish trend channel on the back of an afternoon jump in oil prices, which triggered wider gains across the energy complex. The Dec-16 EUAs settled up 40 cents at €5.10 on ICE, just four cents off the day’s high, having earlier touched the 22-month low of €4.62 hit last week. Turnover was a heavy 24 million. The benchmark carbon contract rose steadily throughout the session but made a sustained move above €5 in the last two hours of trade, as oil surged by as much as 7% on news that Iran’s oil minister welcomed a co-ordinated effort among producers to stabilise prices. Carbon has correlated closely with oil in recent weeks. Other energy prices also climbed on what was widely seen to be a tacit endorsement of the first oil price support pact agreed outside of OPEC in some 15 years.

[Fiji] REDD Plus programme helps in our forest conservation
By Sainiani Boila, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, 17 February 2016
Forests reduce the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Following the introduction of the REDD+program in 2009, the Forest Ministry and government have strongly emphasized conservation of forests. The introduction of Red Plus programme in the Forest Ministry has greatly helped in conserving of our forests. Speaking on the 4 The Record Programme yesterday, Acting Forest Conservator Eliki Seniwasa says efforts to conserve forests need to be expanded. ‘’The government think that we need to expand the ares because the need is quite prominent now, Forest is very important,if you look at the UNFCC discussion,forest is one of the topics that is discussed at the top level. It shows that with good forest,you have good water system, good agriculture system, good biodiversity system to enhance the livelihood of our people’.

Indonesia’s most powerful palm oil company joins push for forest protection
Rainforest Foundation Norway, 17 February 2016
Astra Agro Lestari, considered one of Indonesia’s most politically influential companies, has joined the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP). This moment has been long anticipated. Astra first promised to join IPOP in June 2015 and then reiterated its commitment to do so in September 2015 when it announced its Sustainability Policy. “Astra Agro Lestari, as Indonesia’s second largest palm oil producer and a part of Astra International, Indonesia’s largest publicly traded company, has a lot of power over the fate of Indonesia’s forests,” said Deborah Lapidus, spokesperson for the Center for International Policy, one of the groups who negotiated with Astra and its parent company Jardines Matheson as it was developing its Sustainability Policy. “Astra joining IPOP is an important signal that it is ready to use its power for good.”

UK Boiler-Room Fraudster Jailed After Swindling Nearly £1M
By Steven Hatzakis, Finance Magnates, 17 February 2016
Following an investigation led by the City of London’s police unit, after a number of complaints surfaced from victims, Joseph Emery pled guilty to fraud by false representation, related to 950,000 GBP that he illegally solicited and subsequently swindled from investors. The fraudster, aged 32, was imprisoned this week following the plea, after a nearly yearlong investigation following his arrest in February of 2015. Emery duped investors by purporting to offer carbon credit contracts and rare earth metals, while no such investments were made with the monies invested by the fraud victims. Emery has been sentenced to 2.5 years at the Old Bailey, according to the official statement from The City of London Police.

[UK] Firms selling worthless carbon credits shut down for “one giant scam”
By Andrew Penman, Mirror Online, 17 February 2016
One of the joys of this job is seeing lawyers come over all pompous and outraged when someone dares suggest their bent client is running a rip-off. Take a sham called CNI (UK) Limited, one of 19 companies just put into compulsory liquidation by the High Court for what the Insolvency Service called “one giant scam”. Victims were fleeced by cold callers on commission, otherwise known as boiler rooms, who sold carbon credits as investments. These can be bought by companies which want to improve their green credentials by going carbon-neutral. But they are worthless as personal investments because there is no market for selling them. The climate change website REDD Monitor and the wonderfully blunt blogger Richard Smith on NakedCapitalism.com and have both meticulously recorded the activities of dodgy companies in this field.

18 February 2016

Beyond Paris, questionable efforts to combat climate change
By Markos Kounalakis, The Sacramento Bee, 18 February 2016
Germany has long been a leading advocate for confronting and ameliorating climate change. But actions speak louder than words – or signatures on an international accord. The recent Volkswagen scandal is only the latest case of climate policy hypocrisy. Meeting in Paris last December, countries around the globe finally recognized the generally accepted scientific evidence that climate change is real. They also accepted some responsibility to do something about it. To much fanfare, 195 countries, including Germany and the United States, signed the Paris Agreement pledging to hit targets to drop emissions, cut carbon and keep our aging Earth from experiencing too many hot flashes and cold extremities. Developed democratic countries, pushed by their citizens, led the charge for a comprehensive agreement to atone for past polluting and to prevent developing states from repeating their own sins.

Loud and clear: Paris Agreement signals need to protect ecosystems and human rights
By Purple S. Romero, Rosalind Reeve and Tony Lavina, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 18 February 2016
Can the Paris Agreement help to prevent these “wrong” climate actions? The answer is yes, as long as countries interpret the Agreement and develop its guidelines and procedures for implementation in the “right” way… The Agreement introduced a set of principles to guide climate actions in its Preamble. In particular, the Preamble states that countries should, “respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.”

Give the EU’s illegal timber policy a chance
By Mike Jeffree (Timber Trades Journal) letter to the editor, The Guardian, 18 February 2016
Your article “‘No evidence’ that EU’s illegal timber policy is working” (theguardian.com, 10 February) does not mention the huge challenge the EU timber regulation (EUTR) represents, nor the timber industry’s achievements in implementing it to date and wider commitment to eradicating illegal wood. The regulation entails every member state company that “first places” timber and other forest products on the EU market putting all suppliers through due diligence illegality risk assessment. Given that many suppliers are in countries with underdeveloped governance and infrastructure, this can be highly complex. Every EU country has also had to establish new structures for EUTR enforcement. So it’s small wonder that, after just three years, it remains a work in progress.

‘Consequences’ for the US if it quits Paris climate deal
BBC News, 18 February 2016
The US faces “diplomatic consequences” if a new President decides to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. American climate envoy Todd Stern said the reaction would be far greater than when the US left the Kyoto Protocol under President Bush. Many countries are worried that a Republican victory in November’s presidential election would see the US walk away from the landmark Paris deal. But Mr Stern said he thinks this is unlikely given the global reaction. The recent decision by the US Supreme Court to stall President Obama’s Clean Power Plan has raised concerns in many parts of the world that the US might not be able to live up to the carbon cutting commitments it made in the French capital in December.

19 February 2016

Climate change has dropped off the political radar
By Ed King, Climate Home, 19 February 2016
‘After Paris, what now?’ is a comment increasingly heard in conversations with civil society activists, diplomats and government officials. A senior figure involved at the Paris talks asked me recently if I’d heard what plans NGOs had to keep the pressure up on leaders through 2016. They’d heard little. Neither, I confessed, had I. It’s a curious state of affairs given last December nearly 200 countries finally agreed to start walking towards a future without fossil fuels. But there are concerns that the diplomatic masterstroke signed off in the French capital was the zenith – and now world leaders have other things on their mind. Fears of a global economic slump, US presidential elections, crashing oil prices, Syria, Brexit and the militarisation of the South China Sea have knocked global warming off the front pages.

What’s ahead for carbon markets after COP21?
By Anthony Mansell, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, 19 February 2016
The Paris Agreement establishes a fundamentally different framework from Kyoto. Rather than binding emission limits, which readily lend themselves to market approaches, the new climate regime requires all parties to undertake nationally determined contributions of their own choosing. As of writing, 187 countries had put forward NDCs, presenting various 2020-2030 target reduction dates. These contributions are not legally binding and come in many forms, ranging from absolute economy-wide targets to peaking years, carbon intensity reductions, and so on. A new transparency system will apply to all parties, but will be less prescriptive than the accounting of AAUs that underpinned the Kyoto Protocol. Fitting market approaches into this new landscape poses a different set of challenges. In a literal sense, the Paris Agreement is silent on markets, in that the term does not feature in the text.

UN climate chief Figueres, GCF head Cheikhrouhou to step down
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 19 February 2016
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres will leave her role in July, declining to renew her contract after six years in a post, while GCF head Hela Cheikhrouhou is also stepping down. “It is with deep gratitude to all of you that I write to formally announce that I will serve out my term as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which finishes on July 6 2016, and not accept an extension of my appointment,” Figueres wrote in a letter dated Feb. 12, as reported by several media outlets. Costa Rican diplomat Figueres was appointed in 2010 in the wake of the failed Copenhagen summit and has steered the UN climate negotiations to the signing of the Paris Agreement in December. Figueres is widely credited with rebuilding trust in the multilateral process, aiming for a looser bottom-up structure for Paris rather than the rigid, binding approach of its predecessor, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

20 February 2016

21 February 2016

[Australia] CSIRO climate cuts will breach Paris agreement and cost economy – report
By Michael Slezak, The Guardian, 21 February 2016
Cuts to the CSIRO’s climate modelling and measuring research will breach Australia’s obligations under the recent Paris agreement and will result in huge costs to the economy, a report by Australia’s Climate Council has found. The report adds to a chorus of eminent bodies and individuals criticising the move, which the CSIRO made after almost no consultation with its own scientists or other research institutions. Earlier in the month it was revealed CSIRO would be cutting up to 350 staff from climate research programs over two years. Over the following weeks, the organisation’s chief executive Larry Marshall explained that would result in a loss of about 50% of the staff working in climate modelling and measuring.


 


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.
 

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