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REDD in the news: 30 May – 5 June 2016

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REDD in the newsREDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, visit REDD-Monitor’s “REDD in the news” page, or follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.


 
[Bangladesh] PLEASE SIGN – keep coal power plants out of tiger country!
Rainforest Rescue, June 2016
The Sundarbans – the world’s most extensive mangrove forest – is a world of its own on the Bay of Bengal. A dwindling population of Bengal tigers roams the countless islands in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers. Crocodiles, freshwater dolphins and Indian pythons are also at home in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
That may soon be history: the Rampal coal power plant is planned for a site only 14 kilometers from the mangroves in Bangladesh. Environmentalists fear that the plant would have a massive impact on the delicate Sundarbans ecosystem and push numerous species toward extinction.
The realization of the power plant depends on Exim Bank India, which is set to finance the project to the tune of $1.6 billion. Please stand up for the unique environment of the Sundarbans and tell Exim Bank India to withdraw from the project.

Brazil: Recolonising a continent
by Sue Branford, Red Pepper, May 2016
‘There is an operation spreading through Latin America in which coups, once carried out by the military, now occur with a legal facade, through constitutional processes. This happened in Honduras [with the overthrow of Manuel Zelaya in 2009] and in Paraguay [against Fernando Lugo in 2012],’ comments Rui Falcão, president of the PT (Workers’ Party), the party of Dilma Rousseff, the president whose impeachment is currently being sought. Nobel Peace Prize winner Pérez Esquivel, from neighbouring Argentina, is even clearer: ‘What is happening in Brazil is part of a US project for recolonising the continent.’
There seems little doubt that the US is backing the ousting of Dilma, as she is universally called in Brazil.

30 May 2016

Reserves need tweaks to withstand Amazon fire threat
By Samuel McGlennon, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 30 May 2016
Nearly one million square kilometers of land in Brazil are currently designated as ‘Sustainable Use Reserves’ (SURs).
However, a new study shows that these reserves are failing to address one of the Amazon’s biggest threats- fire.
“Our research reveals that these reserves don’t affect the timing, frequency or density of fires that occur within them,” said Rachel Carmenta, lead author of the study and a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
“In the context of extending fire seasons globally, and continued regional development, there is some urgency for efforts to improve the performance of sustainable use reserves.”

[India] Delhi: Waste-to-energy plants face opposition from people in vicinity
By Kedar Nagarajan, The Indian Express, 30 May 2016
Waste management experts and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) have found waste-to-energy plants the simplest solution to tackle the increasing garbage pile-up in the city. While converting the city’s waste to electricity does seem a feasible solution, several residents near these plants have complained about their “negative impact” on health and even filed cases against the operation of these plants. The city has three large-scale waste-to-energy plants. The plants at Timarpur-Okhla and Ghazipur use 1,300 tonnes of municipal solid waste each to produce 16 MW and 12 MW of electricity, respectively.

Indonesia says coal output will fall next year as smaller miners struggle
By Fergus Jensen, Reuters, 30 May 2016
Indonesia, the world’s top thermal coal exporter, expects its coal production to edge down in 2017, as smaller miners cut output due to a plunge in prices for the commodity.
Reduced output from the Southeast Asian nation could provide some support to prices that hit their lowest in 10 years earlier in 2016 due to slowing demand, new supply from South America and depressed oil prices.
“It’s natural selection. The small mines that are not efficient will not be strong and will die,” Bambang Gatot, director-general of coal and minerals, told reporters at an industry event.
Smaller miners are expected to find it difficult to market their coal and “will face obstacles”, Gatot said.
Indonesia will churn out 419 million tonnes of coal this year and 409 million tonnes in 2017, Gatot said. That compares with “above 400 million” in 2015, he added.

Nepal assesses forests for maximum carbon credits
By Smriti Mallapaty, SciDev.net, 30 May 2016
Nepal has begun reassessing the state of forests in the politically sensitive southern Terai plains following a national woodlands survey, the results of which were published five months ago.
According to the survey, Nepal has close to six million hectares of forests and another half-a-million hectares of shrub land, which adds up to 45 per cent of its total surface area, compared to the 38 per cent reported in the previous assessment in 1995.
Most of Nepal’s forests lie in the middle mountains — the heart of community forestry. Still, tree volume remains the lowest in this region, with the higher mountainous regions retaining the tallest, broadest trees.

31 May 2016

You’re witnessing the death of neoliberalism – from within
By Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian, 31 May 2016
What does it look like when an ideology dies? As with most things, fiction can be the best guide. In Red Plenty, his magnificent novel-cum-history of the Soviet Union, Francis Spufford charts how the communist dream of building a better, fairer society fell apart.
Even while they censored their citizens’ very thoughts, the communists dreamed big. Spufford’s hero is Leonid Kantorovich, the only Soviet ever to win a Nobel prize for economics. Rattling along on the Moscow metro, he fantasises about what plenty will bring to his impoverished fellow commuters: “The women’s clothes all turning to quilted silk, the military uniforms melting into tailored grey and silver: and faces, faces the length of the car, relaxing, losing the worry lines and the hungry looks and all the assorted toothmarks of necessity.”
But reality makes swift work of such sandcastles.

Leveraging finance to support solutions for smallholders
By Deanna Ramsay, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 31 May 2016
There is little homogeneity in our world.
This is true even among those cultivating a single crop like oil palm, and the complexities involved mean attempts to support sustainable practices can be tricky.
But there are also opportunities, especially in Indonesia where oil palm has been expanding rapidly, largely due to smallholders.
“What is interesting to note in Indonesia is that there is not a scarcity of resources flowing to support investments in oil palm, which is associated with the rapid growth of smallholders in the sector,” said Pablo Pacheco, a principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Food for Thought
By Michael Brune (Sierra Club), Medium, 31 May 2016
When it comes to the problem of climate disruption, I love solutions. I love them so much that several years ago I wrote a whole book about some of them. But like most of us, I sometimes need to step back and look at the bigger picture. And when I did that last week, I saw cows and pigs.
How’s that? Let’s get back the basic problem for a moment. Humans are putting too many greenhouse gases into our planet’s atmosphere, and degrading the soils and forests that can help moderate the effects of all that climate pollution. An obvious solution is to drastically reduce emissions, and the obvious place for the United States to start is with our single largest source of those emissions: fossil fuels.
But as I was reminded this week, the obvious solution isn’t necessarily the only solution. Case in point: last week, China’s Ministry of Health announced new nutritional guidelines recommending that its citizens eat more fish and chicken and less red meat.

ETS Phase IV Proposal
By Ian Duncan, ianduncan.org.uk, 31 May 2016
Ian Duncan MEP today published his report on Phase IV of the EU ETS putting heightened ambition to tackle climate change, focussed carbon leakage protection, and greater innovation at the heart of his proposal to fellow MEPs.
The Duncan report includes a ‘triple lock’ of ambition:
– The possibility to increase the annual emissions reduction rate (Linear Reduction Factor) after the first UN global stocktake in 2023,
– Empowering Member States to retire allowances connected with national electricity capacity closures,
– Empowering the Commission to put a proposal to the Parliament and Council if overlapping EU energy policies are affecting the market balance.

EU carbon price forecast inches up on reform plans
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 31 May 2016
The EU should leave the door open for faster emissions cuts from 2023, in line with a UN global stocktake of ambition.
That was the recommendation of Ian Duncan MEP, in a report to kick off parliamentary debate on carbon market reform.
The British lawmaker also proposed st2ricter criteria for handing out free carbon allowances to industry under the bloc’s flagship climate policy.
These tweaks to the European Commission’s reform plans would make the emissions trading system (ETS) “an ambitious and effective tool to meet our climate change obligations,” Duncan said.
Analysts warned the draft amendments would do little to raise the cost of pollution, however.

More Carbon-Market Cuts Eyed as EU Parliament Starts Debate
By Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 31 May 2016
The European Parliament will consider enabling faster carbon reductions in Europe’s emissions market after an assessment in 2023, the strongest signal to date that a global climate deal may prompt tougher caps on companies.
Ian Duncan, the European Union assembly’s lead lawmaker on a reform of the world’s biggest cap-and-trade program, made the proposal in a draft report that kicks off legislative work on the post-2020 overhaul. The law, proposed to adjust the Emissions Trading System to EU climate goals for 2030, needs majority backing from the Parliament and weighted majority support from national governments to take effect.

May 2016 Climate Finance Update: Calls for Adaptation Funding, Attention to Climate Risk
Natural Resources Policy & Practice (IISD), 31 May 2016
A number of international meetings that convened in May 2016 included a focus on climate finance. Carbon pricing continued to receive attention, alongside climate change planning and financing in Africa. Calls were also made to pay increased attention to the growing ‘adaptation finance gap,’ and climate and disaster risks, including in investments. A number of resilience projects received funding, and development banks and climate funds organized readiness workshops.
In the Paris Agreement, adopted by 195 UN Member States in December 2015, countries agreed to make “finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate-resilient development.”

‘How modern slavery is destroying the environment’
By Kevin Bales, Special to CNN, 31 May 2016
It’s all about the trees.
We all know that transportation contributes to climate change. Cars, buses, airplanes, all the different ways we move around powered by fossil fuels, push CO2 into the air.
Anything we can do to reduce those emissions is good, but what we often fail to realize is that transportation accounts for just 14% of CO2 emissions, while other sources not only account for more, they are also easier to reduce. One of the most important of these is the deforestation that contributes 17% of all CO2 emissions — and that is where slavery comes in.

[Brazil] Tribes reject calls for forced contact with uncontacted peoples
Survival International, 31 May 2016
South American tribes have denounced the call from American academics Kim Hill and Robert Walker for forced contact with uncontacted tribal peoples in the Amazon, warning of the catastrophic consequences such contact would bring.
Speaking in a video as part of Survival’s Tribal Voice project, Guajajara Indians rejected the idea entirely. Several members of the tribe, known as the “Guajajara Guardians,” have acted to protect nearby uncontacted Awá people in the absence of greater government support.
The leader of the Guardians, Olimpio Guajajara, said: “We are here… Monitoring the land and defending the uncontacted Indians and the Guajajara who live here. Why? Because there are some people, some anthropologists in other countries who want, once again, to violate the rights of the uncontacted Indians in the country.”

How drought is changing rural India
By Ajay Sharma, BBC, 31 May 2016
When I started my nearly 7,000km (4,349 miles)-long road journey from the southern state of Karnataka in October, my brief was simply to report on how poor rains were changing India’s rural landscape.
I had no inkling that I would be witnessing the making of a drought, that would change a country and its people.
The change is writ large in the wrinkled face of the 101-year-old widow, Hanumanthi: a face that symbolises the endless struggle of India’s rural poor.
I met her in Hunchinal village in the southern state of Karnataka.
Hanumanthi, who owns a small patch of land, told me she was going to “die soon because there was nothing to eat”.
She told me that she had nothing, and nobody, to care for. There were no tears in her eyes, and no bitterness in her voice.
Her neighbours said she could survive but only if the rains came. But the weather gods had not relented for three consecutive years, so these were high hopes indeed.

[Indonesia] President Jokowi receives visiting Norwegian FM
ANTARA News, 31 May 2016
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) received visiting Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Berge Brende at the Presidential Palace here on Tuesday.
During the courtesy visit to the Presidential Palace, the Norwegian foreign affairs minister was accompanied by the Norwegian ambassador to Indonesia, Director of Regional Relations Gunn Jorid Roset, Deputy Director of the Secretariat of MOFA Anne Kirsti Karlsen, and political adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway Peter Egseth.
President Jokowi was accompanied by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, State Secretary Pratikno, and Chief of the Presidential Staff Teten Masduki.
During the meeting, the president emphasized that the cooperation between Indonesia and Norway was focused in the fields of environment and fisheries.
In the environmental field, the president hoped the Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program will be implemented as part of the cooperation.

[Kenya] Can’t put a price on woodlands
By Mark Huxham and Jamie Pearson, The Scotsman, 31 May 2016
A team at Edinburgh Napier University, led by Professor Mark Huxham and working with the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute in Mombasa, has been exploring the ecology and management of mangroves in Kenya for the past 14 years. This work has traced fish migration from the forests to the coral reefs, restored land left barren and degraded four decades ago to health and helped show how management can lead to forest conservation.
It has also revealed the exceptional ability of these forests to trap and to store carbon. With an average of 1,500 tonnes per hectare buried in their soils, these mangroves are more than six times more carbon­-dense than most terrestrial forests. Keeping mangroves healthy, and re­foresting degraded areas, is an efficient way to trap more carbon, whilst removing the forests leads to rapid release of large amounts of greenhouse gases.
This scientific understanding of carbon stocks and flows laid the foundation for Mikoko Pamoja (‘mangroves together’ in Swahili), the World’s first community-­based mangrove conservation project funded by the sale of carbon offsets. By selling carbon credits to individuals and organisations concerned to reduce their carbon footprints, Mikoko Pamoja raises money for mangrove forest conservation and restoration in Kenya. It also generates funds for a community account, owned by the villagers who live in and next to the forests.

Gold Mining Has Devastated The Peruvian Amazon
By Alejandro Davila Fragoso, Climate Progress, 31 May 2016
When Meraldo Umiña moved to the Madre De Dios region of Peru in 1983, the toxic gold rush that’s destroyed swaths of Amazon rainforest there was in its infancy. There were no laws regulating informal or illegal mining, and artisanal miners like him were few.
“Gold was cheap,” Umiña, 59, told ThinkProgress in Spanish — “a gram was about $12.” Using simple but still harmful chemical methods, miners worked just by the rivers then, and the gold was easy to get, he said. There was no need to encroach on the jungle, and no financial incentive to use machine-intensive techniques of extraction.

[UK] Scammers Preying On Savings Of Over 55s, Says FCA
By Jim Atkins, iexpats.com, 31 May 2016
One in 10 investment opportunities offered to the over 55s are scams, according to research by consumer watchdogs in the UK.
Crooks are preying on those approaching retirement who want to win a better return from their savings.
Trapped in low interest rates, thousands of savers are looking to make more from their savings but are finding only risky unregulated investments promise the high returns they yearn.
The Financial Conduct Authority, the UK regulator of advisers and financial firms, has published a report that shows 40% have moved from cash into investments.

UK to fight North Sea’s £1.5bn EU carbon burden
By Jillian Ambrose, The Telegraph, 31 May 2016
The UK is set to fight an EU loophole which stands to burden North Sea explorers with spiralling carbon emissions costs of £1.5bn in the next decade.
The struggling North Sea sector pays millions of pounds to buy ‘allowances’, which are used to offset the carbon intensity of the electricity it uses on offshore rigs through the EU’s emissions trading system.
Other energy intensive industries, however, such as steel and cement, are entitled to free carbon allowances, while sectors that generate power can offset the extra charges by passing the costs on to consumers through their bills.

[USA] Analysis: Negative emissions tested at world’s first major BECCS facility
By Sophie Yeo and Rosamund Pearce, Carbon Brief, 31 May 2016
Decatur, Illinois, is a city built on corn. At the centre of its economy are two giant agribusinesses, Tate & Lyle and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which together grind thousands of bushels a day into syrups, sweeteners, ethanol fuel and other useful products.
Thanks to the second of these companies, Decatur is also a city that is built on CO2 — literally. For the past nine years, ADM has been part of an ongoing experiment to capture the emissions from its ethanol plant and trap it in the layer of sandstone that lies beneath the Illinois corn belt.
This is is called carbon capture and storage, a struggling technology that would see CO2 emissions collected and sequestered, rather than being released into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

1 June 2016

Why open markets are our best hope to fight climate change
By John Danilovich, Climate Home, 1 June 2016
The anti-trade rhetoric from the US presidential primaries suggests that many Americans essentially view global economic change in zero-sum terms.
Asia rises, we decline. Economic inequality is reduced between countries, but widens at home. Globalisation is no longer something we do, it is something that others do to us. Polls show that an increasing number of Europeans feel the same way.
This zero-sum equation is even more forcefully applied when it comes to the nexus between trade and climate change. Newspaper headlines point to a raft of “secretive agreements” destined to scupper the Paris agreement before its ink is barely dry.

Why investments in agricultural carbon markets make good business sense
By Sara Kroopf, EDF, 1 June 2016
Over the past decade, private investment in conservation has more than doubled, with sustainable forestry and agriculture investments as the main drivers of growth. This unprecedented expansion in “impact investing” or “conservation finance” has occurred as investors seek good returns that can also benefit the environment. According to Credit Suisse, sustainable agriculture is particularly appealing to investors as it offers a wider array of risk mitigation approaches than sectors such as energy and transportation.
Yet despite this boom, there has been very little investment from private capital in emerging ecosystems markets, especially in the agricultural sector.

[Bhutan] Sensitisation program for youth on soil, land, watershed management and REDD+ readiness Program
Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan, 1 June 2016
In its quest to create awareness on the importance of sustainable management of the natural resources, the National Soil Services Centre (NSSC) of the Department of Agriculture and Watershed Management Division (WMD) of the Department of Forests and Park Services conducted a sensitisation workshop for youth in six colleges from May 2 to 28, 2016.
Officials from NSSC and WMD kick-started the month long program from the College of Natural Resources (CNR) and ended from Royal Thimphu College (RTC). The event was participated by over 2000 student participants and faculty members in total.

Leaked figures show spike in palm oil use for biodiesel in Europe
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 1 June 2016
Leaked trade industry figures show a five-fold increase in the use of palm oil for biodiesel in Europe between 2010 and 2014, providing new evidence of links between deforestation in southeast Asia and the EU’s renewable energy mandate.
The leaked figures, which the Guardian has seen, show that 45% of palm oil used in Europe in 2014 went to biodiesel, up from 8% in 2010.
Greenhouse gas emissions from biodiesel are more than three times higher than those from conventional diesel engines when indirect effects are considered, according to recent research by the European commission.
Campaigners say the leaked figures from the Fediol trade association provide further evidence that an EU target for sourcing 10% of Europe’s transport to renewables by 2020 is fuelling global warming.

[Indonesia] National scene: REDD+ remains RI’s focus with Norway
The Jakarta Post, 1 June 2016
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is seeking to improve cooperation in the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation ( REDD+ ) project with Norway. On Tuesday, the President held a courtesy call with the visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende.
Currently, the country is at a transition point between the first and the second phase of the three-phase REDD+, lagging behind the initial target.
The Indonesia-Norway REDD+ cooperation program is divided into three phases. The first is the preparation stage.
The second is the transformation stage and the last is the contributions-for-verified emission reducti ons phase, which will see Norway deliver US$800 million to Indonesia if Indonesia is proved to have reduced its emissions from deforestation.
The third phase was supposed to begin in 2014. However, Indonesia has not completed the second phase and it still does not have a comprehensive Integrated Measurement, Reporting and Verification ( MRV ) system, which is mandated by the agreement.

2 June 2016

Airlines Reaffirm Sustainability Commitments
IATA press release, 2 June 2016
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 72nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging governments to adopt a single global carbon offset mechanism to address carbon emissions from international aviation at the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) later this year.
“Airlines are committed to sustainability. With improvements to technology, operations and infrastructure and the deployment of sustainable alternative fuels, we are delivering results against our climate change commitments. However, to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020, we also need a mandatory global carbon offset scheme,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

WWF issues rallying call to airlines to do even more to protect the environment
By Joe Bates, Airport World, 2 June 2016
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is calling on airlines to commit to high quality carbon credits and sustainable alternative fuels in order to meet their climate targets.
According to WWF-UK, its newly commissioned research shows that there is no need for airlines to use any measures with poor performance on emissions or risks to sustainable development.
The research comes as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is discussing climate change at its AGM in Dublin.
WWF notes that although the 2015 Paris Agreement did not explicitly mention aviation, it claims that emissions in the sector are growing fast and must be reduced to keep global warming “well below 2°C”.

Higher air fares on the way as airlines tackle greenhouse gas emissions
By Barry O’Halloran, Irish Times, 2 June 2016
Passengers will have to pay for a scheme to tackle airlines’ greenhouse gas emissions due to be agreed later this year.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation, a United Nations body, is likely to decide in the autumn on a trading system to allow airlines to pay to cut the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from their craft.
International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general, Tony Tyler, confirmed at its annual general meeting in Dublin yesterday that the proposal would cost the industry.
“Ultimately customers will have to meet that cost,” he said. “The overall cost to the industry will be affordable and will not adversely affect the price of tickets.”

EU Power-Price Boost on Hold as Traders Doubt Carbon Tax
By Rachel Morison and Weixin Zha, Bloomberg, 2 June 2016
A jolt in power prices because of the introduction next year of a carbon floor price in France has so far failed to materialize as traders suspect the measure may be delayed or won’t happen at all.
French Environment and Energy Minister Segolene Royal said last month that the nation will introduce a floor price for carbon of about five times current permit levels. The tax would probably boost power prices because of higher running costs for price-setting coal-stations, potentially leading to closures and increased imports.
“A rational market participant wouldn’t have priced in the carbon price floor yet, after all it’s still very uncertain whether such a minimum price will be introduced in France,” said Michael Redanz, chief executive officer of the energy trading unit of EWE AG, a municipal utility in Oldenburg, Germany.

Paris prosecution seeks jail terms for 12 alleged scammers; 5 said to be living in Israel
By Simone Weinglass and Charlotte Guimbert, The Times of Israel, 2 June 2016
Prosecutors in the Paris trial of Arnaud Mimran and 11 other men accused of carbon VAT fraud in a case referred to in France as the “heist of the century” made their closing arguments last Thursday. Prosecutor Patrice Amar requested 10 years in prison and a million euro fine for each of the three alleged masterminds, Arno Mimran, Marco Mouly and Jaroslaw Klapucki.
In addition, the prosecutor asked for the seizure of €283 million of assets from the 12 defendants, five of whom are reported to have fled to Israel under the Law of Return — which grants citizenship to individuals of Jewish ancestry — and who did not present themselves at their trial.
In 2008-2009, the French government lost approximately €1.8 billion to a scheme that involved fraudsters buying carbon credits in EU countries where no VAT (value added tax) was charged, and reselling them in France while charging 19.6 percent VAT but never remitting that tax money to the government.

[New Zealand] Trees provide 30-year pay-off for Otago farmers
By Rob Tipa, Stuff.co.nz, 2 June 2016
David and Helen Vollweiler, winners of the Landcare Trust Award for Innovation in Sustainable Farm Forestry, are people who appreciate trees, landscape, biodiversity and good land use better than most.
Berriedale Farm lies on typical South Otago hill country with broad ridges and steep gullies and an estimated 20 to 30 kilometres of streams and waterways, most of them draining into the nationally significant Waihola-Waipori wetlands.
The Vollweilers, with the help of their son Byron, run an intensive sheep and beef farm with 6000 Wairere romney-highlander breeding ewes, 1750 hoggets that are lambed every year, and about 130 trading cattle on a total area of 1020ha.

Panama’s indigenous tribes launch drones to fight deforestation
zeenews.india.com, 2 June 2016
Indigenous people in Panama are using drones as a new weapon to monitor deforestation on their lands as thousands of hectares disappear every year in one of the world`s most biodiverse rainforests, the United Nations said.
More than half of Panama is covered with tropical rainforest, home to various indigenous groups who rely on the forests to survive.
“The main objective of monitoring with drones is to identify changes in specific points of the forest cover,” the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The monitoring is carried out in areas under deforestation and degradation pressure, which are only observable with high resolution spatial images.”

3 June 2016

Airlines can offset carbon without cutting corners, WWF argues
By Michael Hodder, Business Green, 3 June 2016
WWF report claims airlines can meet climate targets through committing to high-quality carbon credits and sustainable fuels
Consensus among the aviation industry for a deal on its carbon emissions is building.
Just this week international airline CEOs came out overwhelmingly in support of adopting a single global carbon offset scheme for aviation at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 39th AGM in Dublin – just days after similar sentiments were expressed by G7 leaders.

Airlines Have This Solution for Reducing Carbon Emissions
Reuters, 3 June 2016
Airlines want one global deal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from air travel despite higher costs, in order to avoid a patchwork of regulation that would be harder to manage, an executive of the International Air Transport Association trade group said on Friday.
The market-based plan must win the support of the United Nations aviation agency’s 191 member countries at a fall assembly, or risk the European Union’s imposing its own emissions trading scheme on international airlines.
At its annual meeting this week in Dublin, the trade group said the deal led by the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, should be the only agreement to reduce emissions from international aviation.

Using fintech to forge a more transparent world
By Deanna Ramsay, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 3 June 2016
Issues of provenance – regarding what is on your table, or what your table is made of – are increasingly important in the world today.
Amid rising awareness of the hastening depletion of the Earth’s resources, both producers and consumers are striving for sustainable supply chains that can be tracked and trusted.
But creating systems that can faithfully trace items from farm to table is difficult, requiring verifications and monitoring immune from tampering across wide, potentially global networks.
Recent technological advances may offer solutions, so consumers can rest assured their coffee is organic, the wood of their kitchen table was harvested legally and even that their property rights are secure.

[Indonesia] RI torn by conflicts over environment
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 3 June 2016
From Acehnese fighting to protect the Leuser National Park to Papuans resisting the expansion of palm oil companies, thousands of people across the archipelago are waging an environmental war.
The Indonesian Forum for the Environment ( Walhi ) has recorded 773 cases of environmental activists being unfairly charged in the past five years, with 233 being assaulted and 28 murdered.
“We can see that assaults against activists and people who fight for their rights is still rampant,” Walhi executive director Nur “Yaya” Hidayati said.
According to her, there is a contradiction when it comes to how the government treats environmental activists and local people in environmental conflicts.
“On the one hand, the government opens up room for the public to be involved in decision making but on the other hand, repression, such as arrests, is increasing,” Yaya said.

Indonesia’s Salim Group linked to ‘secret’ palm oil concessions in West Papua
By Daniel Pye, mongabay.com, 3 June 2016
One of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates, the Salim Group, has likely acquired four palm oil concessions in West Papua using a complex network of shared directorships and offshore companies, new research suggests.
Online watchdog awas MIFEE reported in May it had uncovered evidence that the four plantations — PT Rimbun Sawit Papua, PT Subur Karunia Raya, PT Bintuni Agro Prima Perkasa and PT Menara Wasior — were under the Salim Group’s control after discovering directorship and shareholding links that are not declared in the Salim Group’s stock exchange filings.
The organization said the use of shell companies and offshore mechanisms appeared to be an attempt to distance the Salim Group from association with contentious projects and maintain a veneer of responsibility while quietly flouting its own sustainability guidelines, which include a ban on converting ecologically important High Conservation Value areas.

[UK] Government could ditch pledge to shut all coal-fired power stations by 2025
By Ian Johnson, The Independent, 3 June 2016
In the run-up to the historic Paris summit on climate change, energy secretary Amber Rudd made a startling pledge: the Government would “set out proposals to close coal by 2025”….
However, The Independent can reveal the Government is considering allowing coal-fired power stations to continue to operate if they can reduce their emissions by a certain amount using fledgling carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. This would not necessarily be 100 per cent of the plant’s emissions.

4 June 2016

[UK] RBS sued for £145m over its alleged role in huge carbon trading VAT fraud
By Adam Luck, Daily Mail, 4 June 2016
Royal Bank of Scotland is being sued for £145million over its role in a huge carbon trading VAT fraud.
The legal action, which dates back to 2009 just months after the bank was bailed out by taxpayers, alleges that two traders at the bank carried out deals which helped fraudsters cheat Revenue & Customs out of millions of pounds in VAT payments.
High Court documents seen by The Mail on Sunday claim that RBS traders were ‘wilfully shutting their eyes to the obvious, which was that there was no legitimate explanation for the trades and that they were connected with VAT fraud’.

5 June 2016

George Monbiot: Full session
BBC, 5 June 2016
The writer and journalist on how neoliberalism has played its part in financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump.

Alleged French Fraudster Received 50 Million Euros in Israel, Prosecution Says
By Dov Alfon, Haaretz, 5 June 2016
The prosecution in the fraud trial of French tycoon Arnaud Mimran in Paris believes that at least 50 million euros of the 283 million euros he is suspected of stealing from French taxpayers were paid to him in Israel.
Details of Mimran’s ties with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have come to light during the ongoing trial, including testimony by Mimran that he contributed about one million euros to one of Netanyahu’s election campaigns.
Spokesmen for Netanyahu have described Mimran’s testimony as “lies and falsehoods.”

Probe ordered into PM over donation by accused French fraudster
By Miriam Weinglass, The Times of Israel, 5 June 2016
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has reportedly instructed employees in the state prosecutor’s office to look into allegations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted 1 million euros (about $1.1 million) from accused French fraudster Arnaud Mimran in 2009.
After an initial probe, state prosecutors and police will decide whether to launch a criminal investigation against Netanyahu, according to Channel 10.
Mimran is currently on trial in France for his alleged role in a massive fraud involving the sale of carbon credits in a case referred to in France as the “heist of the century.”
 

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