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REDD in the news: 5-11 September 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.

5 September 2016

EU, US, China confirm support for aviation climate deal
By Ed King, Climate Home, 5 September 2016
The world’s first UN deal to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector edged closer to reality this weekend, with the US, China and EU offering support at G20 talks.
Nearly 50 countries will take part in the plan brokered by the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organisation, due for sign-off in little over three weeks.
In a joint statement, the US and China governments said they “expect to be early participants” in the market-based measure, which is scheduled to come online from 2021.
Speaking on Saturday, US president Barack Obama said the countries had presented a roadmap to get “negotiations done this year”.

Bai Shan Lin: the Chinese logger with multiple interests in Guyana
By Janette Bulkan, Dialogo Chino, 5 September 2016
The victory of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) coalition in Guyana’s May 2015 elections signalled the end to the uninterrupted rule of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) that had begun in 1992.
Many also expected an end to the preferential treatment given to partially state-owned Chinese logging company Bai Shan Lin (BSL), which in 2007 began operating in this small but resource-rich South American country nestled between Venezuela and Suriname on the Caribbean coast to the north of Brazil.

Climate change and the management of forests in India
By Dr R D Jakati, CLIFEM, 5 September 2016
Globally the forest ecosystems are threatened with modifications due to climate change. These ecosystems which have evolved over thousand years may see change in the structure and composition of flora and fauna, and quite importantly the less studied associated soil micro-flora. Some species of flora and fauna may go locally extinct or migrate to favourable climatic conditions. These ecosystems have not been static but dynamic in nature and have been adapting to the gradually changing conditions. However, they may not absorb the rapidly changing climatic conditions causing the structural and the compositional changes which are bound to reflect in the ecosystem services. These changes may not necessarily be in the interest of mankind.

Fighting fires and haze in Indonesia
By Chen Chen Lee and Pek Shibao, The Jakarta Post, 5 September 2016
The recent return of the haze to the region underlines the fact that agribusinesses should take more responsibility in fighting peatland and forest fires in Indonesia. While some industry leaders have stepped up to implement promising methods to tackle fires, many other agribusinesses are not doing enough to address the root causes of the problem.
Following the 2015 haze crisis — the worst in the region’s history — the Indonesian government has significantly ramped up its efforts against fire. It has suspended the further issuing of oil palm plantation licenses and pursued legal cases against companies linked to forest fires, handing down a record S$110 million (US$80.86 million) fine to one such company in August. It has also established a Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) to restore the country’s vast areas of degraded peatlands, which are much more flammable than mineral soil, although how effective the agency’s efforts will be remains to be seen.

Indonesia environment team threatened with death while investigating forest fires
Reuters, 5 September 2016
Dozens of Indonesian men, suspected of being hired by an oil palm plantation company, threatened to kill environmental investigators checking on fires on Sumatra island, the environment ministry said.
The incident illustrates the difficulties Indonesia faces tackling the illegal burning of vegetation to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations that causes clouds of smoke every dry season, which at times blanket the region, raising fears for public health and air travel.
The ministry said a group of up to 100 men detained seven investigators for about 12 hours on the weekend and threatened to burn them alive and dump their bodies in a river at an oil palm plantation in Rokan Hulu, Riau province.

[Indonesia] Palm oil firm takes officials hostage, resists law
The Jakarta Post, 5 September 2016
The Environment and Forestry Ministry has lashed out against a palm oil firm’s attempt to stop a forest fire investigation by taking hostage seven ministry officials in Rokan Hulu, Riau.
The officials, who were investigating the alleged involvement of PT Andika Permata Sawit Lestari (APSL) in a massive forest fire in the area, were held hostage by individuals dispatched by the firm, ministry spokesperson Novrizal Tahar said.

Q&A: Lessons from Latin America for forest landscape restoration
CIFOR Forest News Blog, 5 September 2016
This interview is Part II of a three-part series on forest landscape restoration to coincide with the IUCN World Conservation Congress, held from 1-10 September in Hawai’i, USA.
The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) will be represented in various panels and sessions at the event as part of the KNOWFOR partnership with the World Bank Program on Forests (PROFOR) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Manuel Guariguata, CIFOR Principal Scientist and Team Leader, spoke with Forests News ahead of the event.

Stakeholders approve $12m UN-REDD plus strategy for Nigeria
By Chinedum Uwaegbulam, The Guardian, 5 September 2016
A new scheme to deepen the initiative to combat climate change through improved forest governance has been validated by leaders and experts in conservation, climate and development communities.
The United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (UN-REDD+) programme in Nigeria, which is still at the REDD- readiness phase, is piloted in Cross River State; and as part of the process, both the state and the country are expected to collaboratively develop a strategy that will enable subsequent REDD+ implementation in Nigeria.
It was set up in September 2008, jointly run by three United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The Forest Department of the Federal Ministry of Environment is coordinating the Nigeria UN-REDD+ project.

Peru: NatGeo Race to compensate carbon footprints
Andina, 5 September 2016
Peru will host the NatGeo Race while respecting the environment for the second consecutive year, State-run National Service of Natural Protected Areas (Sernanp) confirmed.
Under the said concept, carbon credits generated by REDD+ project developed in Sernanp-managed Tambopata National Reserve (Madre de Dios region) will be used to compensate carbon footprints.
Set to take place in Lima on September 11, the race features a 4K walk and an 8K run.

6 September 2016

Ahead of COP22, countries struggle to make REDD+ safeguards a reality
By Steve Swan (UN-REDD), Global Landscapes Forum, 6 September 2016
The past 12 months have seen an intensification of countries’ efforts to meet UNFCCC safeguard requirements as they move towards REDD+ implementation, and the UN-REDD Programme has been stepping up its technical assistance to meet this upsurge in demand for support on safeguards.
Significant progress has been made in recent years on three of the four pillars of REDD+ architecture under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). An increasing number of countries now have near-final national REDD+ strategies drafted; reference levels submitted to the UNFCCC; and national forest monitoring systems ready to track greenhouse gas emissions reductions from forestry and other land-uses.

15 key issues for business tackling deforestation
By Toby Webb, Sustainable = Smart Business, 6 September 2016
Does the internet REALLY need another listicle, I hear you ask? Probably not. But readers do click on stuff like this, hence the headline. I think it’s because you know it’s not going to be very long (or deep) and you might have time to get to the end.
My guesswork aside, this listicle (it’s better than that, it is) is based on months of research and years of experience, so I hope has some vague value.
Let me explain. I’ve been through the conference agenda for our upcoming business conference, held with Unilever in Singapore and called: “How business can tackle deforestation: Asia under the lens” on this 27th-28th September.

Historic Aviation Carbon Agreement Moves a Step Closer
IATA press release, 6 September 2016
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed optimism for an agreement on a Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) when governments meet for the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization later this month.
The draft negotiating text for CORSIA, published on 2 September 2016, broadly aligns with the aviation industry’s call for a mandatory global carbon offset scheme as a tool to help manage the industry’s emissions as it pursues its goal of carbon-neutral growth. Instead of being mandatory from the start, however, the draft text defines a voluntary “pilot and implementation” period (2021-2026) after which participation would be mandatory for all eligible States (2027 onwards).

IATA urges governments to sign up to aviation carbon offset scheme
aircargonews.com, 6 September 2016
IATA has urged governments to sign up to a newly proposed aviation carbon offset agreement at ICAO’s annual meeting later this month.
IATA said the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) draft negotiating text, published earlier this month, “broadly aligns” with the aviation industry’s call for a mandatory global carbon offset scheme.
Instead of being mandatory from the start, however, the draft text defines a voluntary “pilot and implementation” period (2021-2027) after which participation would be mandatory for all eligible States (2027 onwards).

The limits of bank self-regulation in fighting deforestation
By Ben Goldsmith (Menhaden Capital), Financial Times, 6 September 2016
Banks and investors in Southeast Asia have poured billions of dollars over the past five years into hot forest-risk commodity sectors – palm oil, pulp and paper, rubber – helping to ignite a firestorm – literally – of tropical deforestation, land conflicts and human rights abuses.
Last year the haze from Indonesia’s forest fires, set as a cheap way to clear land for further plantation expansion, sparked a regional public health emergency as choking smoke spread across Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, closing schools, airports and businesses and leaving millions gasping for clean air. Scientists estimate fires in Indonesia emitted 1.5bn metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, more than Japan’s total annual fossil fuel emissions, while the World Bank said they caused more than $16bn in direct economic losses to the Indonesian economy. No wonder that Indonesia’s forest fires earned the title of the world’s worst environmental disaster of 2015.

Named and shamed: the top funds blocking climate action
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 6 September 2016
Environmental issues like climate change “have real and quantifiable financial impacts,” Blackrock CEO Larry Fink said in a letter to business chiefs in May.
Fink praised shareholder activists, saying they often had better strategies for dealing with long-term risk than company boards.
Why then did the world’s biggest fund of its kind, with US$4.7 billion of assets under management, side with ExxonMobil at its AGM against a proposal to do just that?
“It is real hypocrisy,” said Julian Poulter, CEO at non-profit the Asset Owners Disclosure Project. “There is no other word for it.”

[Indonesia] National Police to Decide on SP3
Kompas, 6 September 2016
National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said that only the National Police would be able to issue investigation termination instructions (SP3) on forest fire cases involving corporations. The statement was made on the heels of ongoing debate surrounding recently issued SP3s.
“I have given instructions that investigations into forest fires involving corporations cannot be terminated by regional police headquarters, let alone police precincts. They can only be terminated by National Police headquarters,” Tito said after a work meeting with House of Representatives Commission III in Jakarta on Monday (5/9/2016).

Indonesia Vows Action After Haze Investigators Threatened
By Sara Schonhardt and Anita Rachman, Wall Street Journal, 6 September 2016
Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry said Tuesday it would take legal action against a palm-oil company that allegedly cleared land through illegal burning and took environmental investigators hostage.
Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said that companies found responsible for the fires that cloak much of Southeast Asia in noxious haze each year need to be prosecuted. “If we let this carry on and don’t resolve it, then Indonesia will remain like this,” she said.

Norway’s fund barred from investing in U.S. firm Duke Energy
By Gwladys Fouche, Reuters, 7 September 2016
Norway’s $900-billion wealth fund can no longer invest in Duke Energy, the biggest U.S. power firm by generation capacity, due to alleged breaches of environmental law at its coal-fired plants, Norway’s central bank said on Wednesday.
The fund, which owns 1.3 percent of the world’s listed company equity with stakes in some 9,050 firms, is barred from investing in companies that make nuclear weapons, anti-personnel landmines or tobacco, among other ethical criteria.

U.K. May Delay Release of Plan to Reach Carbon Goals Until 2017
By Jessica Shankleman and Chris Martin, Bloomberg, 6 September 2016
The U.K. government may need to delay until next year the release of a plan on how the country will meet carbon reduction targets for 2030, according to the new climate minister.
In his first public comments since his appointment last month, Minister of Climate Change Nick Hurd said Tuesday that he’s reviewing the country’s progress to date and he doesn’t want to release a plan that won’t meet the goal.

U.S. companies tout climate policies, fund climate skeptics
By Richard Valdmanis and Grant Smith, Reuters, 6 September 2016
U.S. companies that have expressed the most fervent public support for President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda are also funding its biggest enemies – the scores of U.S. lawmakers who are climate change skeptics and oppose regulation to combat it, according to a Reuters review of public records.
Ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential and congressional elections, the donations from companies including PepsiCo, Dupont, and Google reveal a disconnect between how these companies present themselves to the public on environmental issues, and how they manage their political contributions to support business-friendly policy.

7 September 2016

Sorry deniers, even satellites confirm record global warming
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 7 September 2016
The people who deny the facts of climate science for a living have had a really tough time recently.
For years they had been dining off the “there’s been no warming since 1998” talking point. But that one was mortally wounded when 2014 became the hottest year on record — and then it died entirely when 2015 blew away the 2014 record. And now a stake is being driven through the heart of this vampire again and again as every month of 2016 has been totally crushing both the record for hottest month and the record for hottest 12 months on record.

Palm oil’s toxic legacy in Guatemala
By Jeff Conant, FoE US, 7 September 2016
One year ago, a series of spills dumped toxic palm oil effluent into the Pasión River where it runs through the municipality of Sayaxché in Guatemala’s Peten region. The spills were the latest in a long history of abuses associated with Guatemala’s palm oil industry — in this case likely tied to a Guatemalan company called Reforestadora de Palmas del Petén, S.A. (REPSA).
In a landmark decision, a judge in Guatemala ruled that the spill constituted “ecocide” and ordered REPSA to temporarily cease operations in order to undertake an investigation. Then things got ugly: the day after the decision, Rigoberto Lima Choc, a community leader who denounced the spill, was killed in broad daylight, the judge was forced to step down, and the ruling was overturned.

[Indonesia] Plantation neighbors in constantly recurring fear of peatland fires
By Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, 7 September 2016
Yadi, 60, of Sidodadi, Bengkalis regency, Riau, has for the last three years been gripped with worry because every time the dry season starts the vast peatland near his place always catches on fire.
For the last three days, for instance, dozens of hectares of peatland in his village have caught fire, thanks to a reckless oil palm plantation worker who cleared the land by burning it.
“I am worried that my place will also catch on fire, but I have no other choice except surviving here. I don’t know what work to do if I move from here,” said the grandfather of five who hails from North Sumatra and earns a living as a plantation keeper.

Indonesian government to investigate Korean palm oil giant over burning in Papua
mongabay.com, 7 September 2016
The Indonesian government is investigating a Korean palm oil giant accused of burning land in the archipelagic country’s easternmost province of Papua.
In response to an NGO report alleging that the company, Korindo, has made systematic use of fire to clear land in the heavily forested region, Indonesia’s environment ministry has sent a team to Papua to “to collect material and information,” the ministry’s law enforcement director Muhammad Yunus told Reuters.

[Indonesia] Ministry may press charges over hostage incident
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 7 September 2016
The Environment and Forestry Ministry is considering taking legal action against the people who allegedly held hostage and threatened officials from the ministry while they were investigating a forest fire.
Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said the ministry would first collect evidence on the incident, in which seven ministry officials were harassed by a group of people while they were investigating a forest fire in Rokan Hulu, Riau.

US carbon permits price falls as shale gas replaces coal
By Gregory Meyer, The Financial Times, 7 September 2016
The price of carbon dioxide in fledgling US emissions markets has been softening even as officials try to encourage investment in projects that spew fewer heat-trapping gases.
Futures contracts on carbon credits in the US north-east were this week trading for $4.64 per short ton on the ICE Futures US exchange, down from a peak above $8 in January. An auction for allowances scheduled Wednesday was also expected to draw bids in the $4 range, brokers said.
In California’s carbon market, launched in 2013, only a third of the permits offered at auction last month were sold, trading at a price floor of $12.73 per ton.
The tepid interest reflects legal uncertainty and the effect of shale energy boom on the electricity market.

8 September 2016

UNFCCC and FIFA join forces to combat climate change
FIFA press release, 8 September 2016
FIFA has today joined the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Secretariat’s initiative Climate Neutral Now, becoming the first international sports organisation to do so. By joining the campaign, FIFA has pledged to continue to strive towards becoming greenhouse gas emission-neutral by the mid-21st century, and has committed, as it did in Brazil in 2014, to measuring, reducing and offsetting all of its greenhouse gas emissions at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

How Forest Restoration Is Turning the Tide on Deforestation
By Mike Hower, Sustainable Brands, 8 September 2016
“Climate change and conservation are inextricably linked,” U.S. President Barack Obama said last week at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii. “Few people understand the stakes better than our Pacific island leaders because they are seeing already the impact. Rising sea levels and temperatures pose an existential threat to your countries.”
This came on the heels of the president’s August 26 announcement that he had approved the expansion of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, known in Hawaii as Papahānaumokuākea, to 582,578 square miles. Lying in the outermost stretches of the Hawaiian chain that extend 1,200 miles northwest of the island of Niihau, the protected area, now is quadruple the size of what it was before the announcement.

The alarming number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon
By Natália Girão Rodrigues de Mello, mongabay.com, 8 September 2016
From the speeding boat, the jungle was a single block of green, its shades recycled across the riverbank and reflected on the thick, black water. The steam rolling from the trees was as foamy as the tracks we were leaving. Birds cut the clouds with their multicolored feathers. The forest around us was dense, hot, all humming and watching. The hard light confused our senses.
Daniel was silent, scratching his head and reinforcing my suspicion that we were lost. But he is at home in the jungle. He works in the Brazilian Amazon as an environmental educator with sharp humor and a furry voice.

Q & A: Lessons from Ethiopia for forest landscape restoration
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 8 September 2016
What research has CIFOR being doing on forest landscapes restoration in Ethiopia?
Ethiopia aims to restore 15 million hectares of degraded lands and forests over the next 10 years, which will involve scaling up the restoration programs that have already been going in the country for about 20 years.
In Ethiopia there are two main kinds of landscape restoration: ‘Area exclosure’ which involves excluding people and livestock from completely deforested areas so the landscape can rehabilitate, and ‘participatory forest management’ which involves communities managing natural forests that are degrading.

[Indonesia] Palm oil producer caught flouting codes of conduct
By Marine Jobert, EurActiv.com, 8 September 2016
It is the fire season in Indonesia: voluntary forest fires, lit by companies to clear tropical forest to make way for plantations of oil palms as far as the eye can see.
The NGO coalition Mighty has accused Korindo, a Korean conglomerate with large interests in the wood industry and wind turbine construction, of being behind massive deforestation operations in Insodesia. The NGOs used footage from cameras mounted on drones, satellite photos and videos taken in the provinces of Papua and North Maluku to draw attention to the destruction of 50,000 hectares of virgin forest, home to birds of paradise, tree-kangaroos and thousands of other species.

[Indonesia] Komnas Ham to Evaluate Effectiveness of Law Enforcement in Forest Fire Cases
By Alin Almanar, The Jakarta Globe, 8 September 2016
The National Commission on Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, will evaluate the effectiveness of law enforcement in Indonesian forest fire cases over the past decade, amid public controversy over premature termination of investigations into some cases, the human rights watchdog said on Thursday (08/09).
Citing lack of evidence, the Riau Police terminated their investigations into 15 out of 18 plantation companies that are reportedly responsible for the 2015 forest and peatland fires. Three companies were brought before the court.
“It is clear that companies should be held responsible if fires occur within their concession areas,” Komnas HAM commissioner, Siti Noor Laila, said.
“Whether the land is burned intentionally or unintentionally, the companies should abide by the regulation,” she said referring to the 2015 presidential instruction on the improvement of management of forests and peatland.

[Indonesia] RAPP alleged to have converted peatland
By Rial Harahap, The Jakarta Post, 8 September 2016
Despite the government’s order for companies not to convert peatland into plantation areas, the country’s leading pulp and paper company PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) has allegedly converted peatland in their concession area into an acacia plantation.
Previously, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had ordered companies not to convert peatland pending mapping by the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) to see if particular areas were in protected or in production zones.
However, during his impromptu visit on Monday, BRG head Nazir Foead found that parts of RAPP’s concession area on Padang Island, Meranti Islands regency, Riau, had been converted into acacia plantations.

Kenya to plant a ‘green dress’ the size of Costa Rica
By Katy Migiro, Reuters, 8 September 2016
Kenya aims to restore trees and vegetation across almost nine percent of its land mass by 2030, the government said on Thursday, in a bold initiative to combat climate change, poverty and hunger.
The 5.1 million hectares of deforested and degraded land targeted for landscape and forest restoration is equivalent in size to Costa Rica in Central America.
“This program provides the most coherent and systematic effort to restore degraded forests and other landscapes,” Kenya’s environment minister Judy Wakhungu said at the launch of the program.

In Nicaragua, Poor Farmers Boost Their Income By Planting Trees To Soak Up CO2
By Ben Schiller, fastcoexist.com, 8 September 2016
About 10 years ago, Kahlil Baker had a good idea. He would pay farmers with spare land to plant trees. The trees would soak up carbon dioxide and, in return, he could claim “carbon credits” based on the greenhouse gas reductions.
Initially, though, he struggled. The smallholder farmers he spoke to in Nicaragua were suspicious because the pay-back period was not immediate, and they would have to do planting and growing before getting paid.
“If you build a well, people understand—there’s the well. If you plant trees and say people are going to make money over 10 years, they’re more [suspicious]. It’s like ‘you’re going to get me to work and pay me back next year?’,” he says.

[USA] California Fights to Save Market Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions
By Mark Chediak and Joe Ryan, Bloomberg, 8 September 2016
In 2012, when California began its cap-and-trade program, it was hailed as a model for the rest of the world. While Congress had failed to pass a similar system two years earlier, California was going to demonstrate how a large, industrialized economy could cut greenhouse gases while also raising billions of dollars for clean energy projects. The idea was fairly straightforward: By forcing oil refiners, power plants, and factories to buy permits to emit greenhouse gases and then gradually shrinking the supply of those permits, the state could steadily raise the cost of carbon dioxide pollution and compel businesses to lower their carbon footprint.

9 September 2016

Airline Optimism On Carbon Offsetting Prevails As ICAO Assembly Nears
By Chris Kjelgaard, Aviation Week, 9 September 2016
On September 5, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), an organization which represents the entire civil-aviation sector in coordinating common industry positions on the sustainable future of air transport, welcomed announcements by the USA, China and 44 European nations that they would voluntarily join a global carbon offsetting and reduction scheme for aviation.
At the International Civil Aviation Organization’s 38th Assembly (in 2013), its 191 contracting states mandated ICAO to present a proposal for a global market-based measure (MBM) to manage aviation’s carbon footprint at its 39th Assembly, which will take place from September 27 to October 7.

How to increase REDD+ benefits to indigenous peoples and other traditional forest communities
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 9 September 2016
To meet the target of limiting global warming to 2-degrees-Celsius established in the Paris Climate Agreement, it is crucial to curb tropical deforestation and encourage the reforestation of tropical forests that have already been cut down. Not only is tropical deforestation and forest degradation the source of 10 to 15 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, but tropical forests are an invaluable carbon sink that play a huge role in regulating the global climate.

Brazil to ratify Paris climate deal amid forest fire surge
By Jan Rocha, Climate Home, 9 September 2016
Brazil’s new president Michel Temer is expected to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change next week, committing the country to a reduction of 37% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and of 43% by 2030.
But critics say that the commitment glosses over the government’s failure to address the legal and illegal forest clearance that is adding to global warming.
Brazil’s emissions are the seventh highest in the world, and they come mostly from land-use change − in other words, deforestation.

China’s green car subsidy scandal spreads, 20 more car makers named
By Jake Spring, Reuters, 9 September 2016
China has accused more than 20 additional car makers, including Nissan and Hyundai, of breaking rules on green car subsidies, according to a state media report, widening a scandal over a $4.5 billion annual payout program.
On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Finance punished at least five car makers, accusing them of cheating its program to subsidize electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, receiving roughly 1 billion yuan ($150 million) in illegal subsidies.
“This is a major blow to the industry and also has a large impact on the country’s policy enforcement,” Xu Yanhua, a vice secretary for the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers told a news briefing.

Malaysian, Indonesian Banks Finance Most Forest Destruction in SE Asia
By Ratri M Siniwi, The Jakarta Globe, 9 September 2016
A new study has found Malaysian and Indonesian banks are among the top financiers of forest degradation across Southeast Asia.
More than $38 billion worth of loan from global lenders contributed to destruction of forests in Indonesia and Malaysia between 2010 and 2015, “Forests & Finance” report reveals. The report was released by California-based environmental group Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Indonesian community rights group TuK Indonesia, and Dutch research consultancy group Profundo.
“Forest financing is murky and sometimes you just don’t know where exactly the money goes – which is why we’re doing this, so that we can add more transparency to the funding scheme,” RAN Forest & Finance program coordinator Adelaide Glover said on Thursday (08/09).

[Indonesia] Plantations get military, police backup
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 9 September 2016
The involvement of police and military personnel in protecting plantations has come under scrutiny as their role may have become a stumbling block in efforts to curb forest fires.
Not only have security force personnel often been reported to side with companies in land disputes against residents, but the police have also recently terminated investigations into last year’s fires in Riau.

10 September 2016

[Indonesia] To lift the haze, call on soft power
By Jonathan McClory, The Straits Times, 10 September 2016
As a regular visitor to Singapore, I have seen for myself the many attractions this fascinating country holds. In fact, I have been so won over by its charms that I will be moving here with my young family at the start of next year.
Singapore is, of course, a busy and at times frantic place. Having lived in London and spent time in nearly every major global capital, I know all about the pros and cons of living in a bustling, thriving and often noisy city.
But what I had not realised until late last month was that those living here regularly have to suffer the effects of an environmental disaster unfolding hundreds of miles away.

[Indonesia] RAPP given slap on wrist for breaking moratorium rule
By Hans Nicholas Jonh, The Jakarta Post, 10 September 2016
The government has given the country’s leading pulp and paper company PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) a slap on the wrist even though it has violated President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s peatland moratorium policy.
Jokowi issued the policy in 2015 after massive land and forest fires that claimed the lives of 10 people and caused approximately 500,000 cases of respiratory tract infections.
The President ordered that even with licenses, all peatland was prohibited from being cleared until the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) finished mapping the location to see which areas were in protected or production zones. Peatland clearing is a major cause of forest fires.

[Indonesia] Bank Mandiri Denies Link to Companies Blamed for Forest Fires
By Dion Bisara and Ratri M. Siniwi, The Jakarta Post, 10 September 2016
Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s largest lender by assets, has reiterated its support for good corporate governance and environment conservation, in response to a report that claimed it is one of the largest financiers for companies linked to forest degradation in Southeast Asia.
According to the “Forest & Finance” report from Rainforest Action Network, Bank Mandiri disbursed more than $1 billion in loan or underwriting for clients which have been accused of destroying forests in Indonesia, including the Rajawali Group, Salim Group and Sampoerna Agro, between 2010 and 2015.
Bank Mandiri corporate secretary Rohan Hafas, however, said that Bank Mandiri had always set stringent requirements for their clients, scrutinizing administrative legality and good corporate governance of each prospective client.
“We would only finance corporations that have met our requirements and licensing regulations,” Rohan said in a text message to The Jakarta Globe on Friday (09/09).

11 September 2016

[Indonesia] Satellites detect 37 hotspots across Sumatra Island
ANTARA News, 11 September 2016
The Terra and Aqua satellites of NASA detected 37 hotspots in five provinces across Sumatra Island on Sunday.
The number of hotspots increased significantly from only three on Saturday, Slamet Riyadi, spokesman of the Pakanbaru meteorology station, said.
Of the 37 hotspots, 25 were found in Bangka Belitung, six in South Sumatra, three in Lampung, two in Bengkulu, and one in Riau.
In Riau, the one hostpot was detected in Kampar District and it was not developed into a fire, he remarked.

Indonesian firms pay farmers to be slash-and-burn ‘fall guys’
By Arlina Arshad, The Straits Times, 11 September 2016
Pay a landowner in Sumatra as little as 500,000 rupiah, or just S$52, and he will clear his land for farming using the easiest and cheapest method possible – fire.
Throw in a few hundred dollars more and he will farm any crop, from oil palm to trees for pulpwood, on his land, which can vary in size from one to a few dozen hectares.
Such arrangements by plantation firms are not only common in rural Indonesia, but they also make locals ready “fall guys” for the companies when the authorities look for culprits of slash-and-burn violations, say green activists.

[Nigeria] Gas flaring: Our patience is running out – Niger Delta communities warn FG …petitions UN
Letter to the editor National Accord, 11 September 2016
Women and men from over 20 Communities in Delta State Nigeria, have charged the Nigerian government to urgently take steps to put an end to the continued degradation of their environment, rights violation and destruction of their health and livelihood sources through continued gas flaring by oil and gas companies in the area or be prepared to face strong resistance to this evil act by community men and women.

Sri Lanka Air Force deployed to douse raging forest fire in Knuckles range
Colombo Page, 11 September 2016
Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has rendered its assistance to control a forest fire raging in the Knuckles Mountain Range in the central hills.
The fire which has erupted in the World Heritage mountain range has devastated hundreds of acres of land and is still spreading rapidly, according to reports.

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