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REDD in the news: 17-23 October 2016

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

17 October 2016

Indigenous Land Rights Bring Economic, not just Environmental Benefits
By Lyndal Rowlands, IPS, 17 October 2016
Secure indigenous land rights not only bring environmental benefits, they can also foster economic development, according to a new report released by the World Resources Institute.
The report, Climate Benefits, Tenure Costs: The Economic Case for Securing Indigenous Land Rights, describes how local communities can sustainably manage forests and generate economic growth when given tenure rights to their land.
In Guatemala, Indigenous communities have successfully created sustainable income from the forest, while treating it as a renewable resource, Juan Carlos Jintiach, Advisor of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) told IPS.
Indigenous communities in Guatemala export forest products including highly nutritious berries which are popular in Korea and Japan, said Jintiach.

The Kigali Deal on HFCs Is Important but Won’t Save us Another Half a Degree
By Andrew Jones and Ellie Johnston, Climate Interactive, 17 October 2016
The Kigali Amendment on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is excellent news for the climate. It tackles a powerful greenhouse gas, binds parties to take action with more teeth than the Paris Agreement, and demonstrates again our international capacity to cooperate.
However, the climate change benefits are unlikely to supplement those of the Paris Agreement and deliver the widely reported “high hopes” of an additional 0.5°C of avoided warming.
Here’s the source of the high hopes. Many have cited one study that estimates that HFCs could increase temperature change by as much as 0.5°C. So, as many have asked us here at Climate Interactive, can we now revise the temperature estimates resulting from the Paris Agreement?
No, we cannot, unfortunately. The Kigali amendment will not lead us to revise our estimate of expected temperature increase in the Climate Scoreboard – 3.5°C – down to a lower temperature (for example, to 3.0°C after a 0.5°C reduction.)

As the Paris Agreement becomes reality: How to transform economies through carbon pricing
By Laura Tuck, The World Bank, 17 October 2016
The remarkable pace at which nations of the world have ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change gives us all hope. It signals the world is ready to take the actions we need to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. We know, however, that delivering on Paris comes with a high price tag, and that we need to help countries not just transition toward renewable energy but unlock the finance needed to get there.
Amid the enormous challenge ahead, I want to emphasize the transformative economic opportunity that putting a price on carbon pollution presents.
Many governments across the world now make polluters pay for their CO2 emissions through carbon taxes and emissions trading systems (ETSs). The money generated through these efforts – about $26b in 2015 – is modest, but on the rise (up 60% from the year before).

[Indonesia] Activists howl at palm oil bill
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 17 October 2016
With Indonesia facing land and forest fires every year that are mostly man-made disasters that have degraded the health of its citizens as well as that of its neighbors, the government has vowed to improve the sustainability of its agroforestry sector, particularly the palm oil industry.
The government plans to impose a moratorium on the issuance of new permits for oil palm plantations and to ban oil palm expansion through land clearing, one of the main causes of land and forest fires.
According to data from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), from 439 companies involved in the 2015 forest fires, 308 of them were palm oil companies.

[Indonesia] Poverty alleviation part of the solution toward achieving sustainable palm oil
By Francine Pickup (UNDP), The Jakarta Post, 17 October 201
In spite of its infamous environmental track record, palm oil has brought considerable prosperity to rural Indonesia.
However, as market demands for sustainable palm oil rise, the future remains uncertain for many small-scale oil palm farmers who are dependent on the cash crop. Often unable to afford the capital required to invest in better agronomic practices, which limit the need for further plantation expansion, some small-scale farmers are at risk of being cut out of the market with little alternatives to turn to.

[Ivory Coast] World’s Biggest Cocoa Grower Is Wiping Out Its Rainforests
By Olivier Monnier, Bloomberg, 17 October 2016
After disease ravaged his cocoa farm, Philippe Zongo walked into one of West Africa’s last remaining rainforests to hack out new acreage.
Like thousands of young men from Ivory Coast and more arid neighboring countries, Zongo set out to find the best soil to plant new cocoa trees. He found it in the western Cavally forest, an area bigger than Chicago where chimpanzees live under the canopy of trees 100 feet tall.

Global warming experiment turns up the heat in Puerto Rican forest
By Daniel Grossman, The Guardian, 17 October 2016
Mid-morning in the Luquillo experimental forest in north-west Puerto Rico, and the thermometer already reads 26C. Tana Wood, an ecologist employed by the US Forest Service, pulls on a pair of heavy gloves for insulating against electrical shock.
Over two years, her team here has laid out hexagonal plots four metres across, each about the size of a backyard trampoline. Industrial-strength heaters suspended several metres above the ground from metal scaffolding on the perimeter of three plots will heat the soil and undergrowth to 4C above the forest’s ambient temperature.

Sweden proposes measures to strengthen carbon prices
Reuters, 17 October 2016
By Alissa de Carbonnel and Susanna Twidale, Sweden has proposed measures to strengthen carbon prices from 2020, the country’s climate minister told Reuters on Monday, seeking to soak up the glut of credit in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).
A European bill to reform the ETS system to make big polluters pay for emissions is being debated by EU lawmakers and member states, but Sweden’s climate minister Isabella Lovin has presented new proposals to 13 EU environment ministers with the aim of putting a ceiling on emmissions.
“The ETS system is not working now and we don’t see that the (European) Commission’s proposal is sufficient in making sure that the price signal is strengthened,” Lovin said after a meeting with the 13 ministers who call themselves the Green Growth Group.

[USA] It could be the nation’s first carbon tax. And environmentalists are fighting over it
By Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post, 17 October 2016
A new initiative slated for the ballot in Washington state next month would create the first-ever carbon tax to be implemented in the United States. But while the initiative promises to fight climate change by making it more expensive to emit greenhouse gases, it’s caused an unexpected controversy among environmentalists.
Despite the endorsement of dozens of climate scientists and economists, many environmental groups have refused to support it at all, citing concerns about the proposal’s revenue projections, its approach to the involvement of disadvantaged communities, and a lack of true investment in clean energy.

18 October 2016

British Airways: UN aviation deal won’t bite till 2030s
By Ed King, Climate Home, 18 October 2016
Airlines are unlikely to feel the bite from a new UN deal to limit their greenhouse gas emissions until the 2030s, the head of sustainability at International Airlines Group has admitted.
Earlier this month, nearly 200 countries agreed to a plan under the International Civil Aviation Organisation that could see the majority of emissions growth post 2020 offset by carbon credits.
But speaking at an event in London, Jonathan Counsell said prices for carbon credits would need to hit around US$40 a tonne to send a “strong signal” to the sector that it needs to green its game.
That level, he suggested, may only be met by 2035 when an estimated 80% of airlines will be participating in the UN-backed aviation carbon market.

More carbon trading could cut cost of climate change mitigation, says World Bank
By James Richards, Public Finance International, 18 October 2016
Greater global cooperation through carbon trading could reduce the cost of climate change mitigation by 32% by 2030, according to a World Bank report.
The State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2016 report was released by the bank at an international carbon event in Vietnam today.
New modeling analysis undertaken for the report shows that increased international carbon trading could enable large-scale emissions reductions at much lower cost than at present.
This is based on the carbon mitigation goals spelled out in countries’ national climate plans under the Paris Agreement – specifically, the nationally determined contributions, or NDCs.

Quality over quantity: Changing diets and consumption
By Charlie Nelson, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 18 October 2016
It might come as a surprise to most people that enough food is produced globally to feed approximately 10 billion people. That’s enough to support our growing population until we reach estimated 2050 levels. How is it that we produce enough food for 10 billion people yet still struggle to feed our current population of 7 billion? Simply, world hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not by a lack of production alone.
These issues and more were put to a global audience last week in a live Twitter Q&A session on food security and sustainability hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in partnership with the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) to mark World Food Day.

[Guyana] WWF-Guianas and North Rupununi Development Board launch project to prepare communities for REDD+ and OPT-IN
By Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves, 18 October 2016
WWF-Guianas and the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), on Monday , October 17th, 2016, launched their Opt-in Readiness Project in Annai, North Rupununi.
“The project will prepare the nineteen indigenous communities of the North Rupununi to be active participants and beneficiaries of Guyana’s Green Economy,” WWF said in a statement.
Indigenous communities hold title to three million hectares, or 16% of Guyana’s 18.5 million hectares of forest. Under the Guyana Norway Agreement, those communities are to be given the opportunity to opt-in and benefit directly from conserving their forests.

[India] Illegal felling: At least 11-lakh trees lost in 17 states from 2013 to 2016
By Chethan Kumari, The Times of India, 18 October 2016
As India discusses afresh its afforestation plans costing an estimated $6billion through the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015, ‘detected’ illegal felling has claimed at least 11 lakh trees in three years across 15 states and two Union territories (UTs).
Another 53% of India—there are 29 states and seven UTs in the country—has not reported any cases on record, but forest officials say it is impossible that there has been no illegal felling.

Latin America’s Forests Must Be Protected: UN
teleSUR, 18 October 2016
The world is facing an “unprecedented double challenge” of tackling hunger, food insecurity and poverty while also saving the climate before global warming sends the world over the tipping point, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, and improved forest conservation and agricultural policies will play a crucial role in taking on the crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean.
According to the FAO’s 2016 State of Food and Agriculture report, released Monday in the wake of World Food Day, the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean is the conversion of forests to other land uses, such as agriculture.

[Malaysia] Sizzling Sunday for firemen
By Peter Boon, The Borneo Post, 18 October 2016
Firefighters had their hands full on Sunday as they raced against time to contain 12 cases of open burning across the state amidst soaring temperature.
Sighing a relief, Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) assistant director (operations) Farhan Sufyan Borhan, said fires in all the affected locations had been extinguished except that in Bintulu.
He told The Borneo Post yesterday that the operation was still continuing with 15 firemen from Bintulu Fire Station backed by the land developer’s workers, braving heat to put out the fire that ravaged 20 hectares of land at an oil palm plantation near the Bintulu airport.

Norwegians take their government to court over Arctic drilling
By Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, 18 October 2016
The wave of youth-led climate lawsuits against national governments has moved to Norway, with a group of young plaintiffs filing a lawsuit against the Norwegian government today.
Spearheaded by Nature and Youth, the largest youth-led organization in Norway, and joined by Greenpeace Norway, the group of youth plaintiffs are arguing that the Norwegian government is violating their constitutional right to a healthy environment by allowing companies to drill for oil in the Arctic Barents Sea.
“Signing [the Paris climate agreement] while throwing open the door to Arctic oil drilling is a dangerous act of hypocrisy,” Truls Gulowsen, head of Greenpeace Norway, said in an emailed statement. “By allowing oil companies to drill in the Arctic, Norway risks undermining global efforts to address climate change. When the government fails to redress this we have to do what we can to stop it.”

Oil palm deforestation in the Central Peruvian Amazon
Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project, 18 October 2016
In MAAP #26, we presented a 2015 Deforestation Hotspots map for the Peruvian Amazon, which showed that the highest concentration of deforestation is located in the central Amazon region.
Here, we zoom in on one of these hotspots, located in the northern Huanuco region along its border with San Martin (see Inset E of Image 48a).
We found that the main deforestation driver in this hotspot was the establishment of small- and medium-scale oil palm plantations.

[UK] Climate change means no airport expansion – at Heathrow or anywhere
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 18 October 2016
The correct question is not where, it is whether. And the correct answer is no. The prime minister has just announced that her cabinet will recommend where a new runway should be built. Then there will be a consultation on the decision. There is only one answer that doesn’t involve abandoning our climate change commitments and our moral scruples: nowhere.
The inexorable logic that should rule out new sources of oil, gas and coal also applies to the expansion of airports. In a world seeking to prevent climate breakdown, there is no remaining scope for extending infrastructure that depends on fossil fuels. The prime minister cannot uphold the Paris agreement on climate change, which comes into force next month, and permit the runway to be built.

19 October 2016

A new flight on civil aviation emissions
By Kanika Chawla and Manu Aggarwal, Live Mint, 19 October 2016
In its current form, the agreement reached in Montreal will put considerable costs on developing countries like India.
It’s the season of climate negotiations, with the Paris Agreement about to come into force much earlier than expected, and enthusiasm around a possible agreement in the ongoing negotiations on the amendment to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali. However, the negotiations on emissions due to international civil aviation, concluded in Montreal last week, got much less attention. Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the most climate-intensive forms of transport. Its CO2 and non-CO2 impact is responsible for between 4% and 9% of anthropogenic global warming. However, despite their significant climate impact, international civil aviation emissions have remained largely ungoverned. In the last three years, the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao), a UN specialized agency entrusted to codify the principle and techniques of international air navigation, had accelerated efforts to reach an agreement. On 6 October, at the 39th Icao general assembly meeting, 191 countries reached a global aviation emissions deal, the first-ever industry-specific emission reduction agreement. While this agreement is historic and an important step in the right direction, it is also important to recognize the shortcomings of the agreement reached in Montreal.

Green Climate Fund earmarks more than $1 billion for developing countries
By Sanjay Kumar, Nature, 19 October 2016
The United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF) has now approved more than US$1 billion for projects to help developing countries to tackle the effects of climate change — although almost none of the money has yet been handed out.
The fund, a UN flagship programme to channel cash for climate mitigation and adaptation to poorer countries, was established in 2010. But it took years to get off the ground, and has been widely criticized for a lack of accountability and transparency. Before last December’s climate talks in Paris, it had been pledged $10.2 billion by rich nations, but had approved only $168 million for 8 climate projects.
This year, it has vowed to hire more staff and approve some $2.5 billion in funds. In July, it approved $256.6 million for 9 proposals. And at a board meeting last week at its headquarters in Songdo, South Korea, the fund cleared 10 new proposals worth $745 million, bringing its total so far to $1.17 billion for 27 projects.

Analysts dismiss ‘carbon bubble’ warning
By Ed Crooks, Financial Times, 19 October 2016
Oil and gas companies are valued largely on reserves that will be produced over the next 15 years, meaning that their investors are not vulnerable to longer-term changes in energy markets, a leading industry adviser has said.
Daniel Yergin of IHS Markit rejected warnings of a “carbon bubble” that could destabilise financial markets as policies to combat climate change hit fossil fuel producers, saying the transition to renewable energy would take decades and investors would have time to adjust their holdings.
The dangers for financial assets created by climate change have become an increasingly prominent issue for investors. Last year, ministers from the Group of 20 countries instructed the Financial Stability Board of their regulators and policymakers to start looking at the risks and how to address them.

Study finds Brazil isn’t counting all deforestation in official estimates
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 19 October 2016
Brazil drew widespread praise for drastically lowering Amazon deforestation over the past decade and half. But as forest destruction in the country is on the rise once again, new research finds that Brazil’s official estimates are missing large swaths of deforestation.
News broke last November that deforestation had jumped 16 percent in the Brazilian Amazon for the year ending on July 31, 2015, with an estimated 5,831 square kilometers (about 2,250 square miles) of rainforest, an area half the size of Los Angeles, destroyed that year.

Visionary or Cautious Reformer? Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s Two Years in Office
By Jonathan Emont, Time, 19 October 2016
When President Widodo was inaugurated on Oct. 20 2014, there was widespread hope that his “can-do” approach would translate into bold decision making and wide-ranging reforms. Two years on, experts believe his reforms have not gone far enough.
Two years ago, slum-born Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was elected Indonesia’s President, becoming the first leader elected outside of the country’s narrow political and military elite. The kindly Jakarta governor, with his pronounced Javanese accent and reputation for consulting with the poor before making policy decisions, became a vessel for progressive Indonesian hopes of building a prosperous and tolerant country.

NZ’s greenhouse gas bill could top $70 billion
By Eric Frykberg, Radio New Zealand, 19 October 2016
New Zealand could face a $72 billion bill to meet its obligations under the Paris climate change agreement unless there’s an effective international carbon market, an official says.
New Zealand ratified the accord two weeks ago, committing to reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Ministry for the Environment climate change director Kay Harrison told a conference last week that the cost to New Zealand to meet it its obligations hit $72 billion, or nearly 30 percent of New Zealand’s annual GDP.
That amount would cover the period 2021 to 2030.

Papua New Guinea ready to share REDD+ progress at COP22
UN-REDD, 19 October 2016
Papua New Guinea (PNG) will present the country’s progress on REDD+ readiness at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Morocco next month. In preparation, the Government of Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) is currently conducting a REDD+ training course in Kokopo, East New Britain, as part of its National REDD+ Strategy development process.
The National REDD+ Strategy will show how PNG will contribute to global efforts to address climate change by reducing deforestation and forest degradation. PNG will be eligible to receive international financial support in return for successfully reducing emissions from the country’s forests. The Strategy will help PNG attain the objectives laid out in the National Strategy for Responsible and Sustainable Development (StaRS) while also delivering benefits to communities.

Saudi Arabia says oil industry must meet climate goals
By Ed King, Climate Home, 19 October 2016
Oil companies must cut their carbon footprints to play a part in meeting the Paris Agreement on climate change, Saudi Arabia oil chief Khalid Al-Falih said on Wednesday.
“The industry has a role in playing part of the solution and meeting the commitments required by COP21 [the 2015 UN climate summit],” the influential oil minister told a meeting of executives in London.
Agreed last December, the deal outlines a global zero net emissions target in the second half of the century, effectively ruling out widespread use of fossil fuels without as-yet-unproven carbon capture technologies.
But Al-Falih avoided listing any specific policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas production, referring to technology investments and efficiency.

20 October 2016

Governments agree U.N. study of tough climate limit, despite doubts
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 20 October 2016
Governments gave the green light on Thursday for a U.N. scientific study on how to meet an ambitious global warming target, despite growing worries by some scientists that the goal may be unrealistic.
The report, due for completion in 2018, is meant to guide almost 200 nations including China and the United States on how to stop world temperatures rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). its’ open ended – no date set
But some scientists say the 1.5C ceiling, favored most strongly by tropical island states which fear rising sea levels, will likely be breached soon because of a steady buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels.

[India] Karnataka lost 51,278 trees to illegal felling in 3 years; faces shortage of foresters
By Chethan Kumari, The Times of India, 20 October 2016
Karnataka saw 51,278 trees being illegally axed between April 2013 and March 2016, accounting for 4.7% of the total destruction reported in 15 states and two Union territories (UTs). The state faces a manpower crunch, with just one officer in charge of every 8,000-10,000 acres of forest land.
The maximum trees were chopped in 2013-14 -20,155 -when 5,309 cases were booked. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, 17,917 and 13,206 trees were lost respectively, according to data accessed from the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEF).

[Indonesia] Obstacles to forest tenure reform deeply rooted in the past
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 20 October 2016
Ask people what ‘community forestry’ is, and you are likely to get different answers in different countries, or even in different parts of the same country.
In some places, communities own the land, but the government grants the right to use the forest. In others, traditional communities use forest resources on government-owned land. In others still, traditional communities and private owners have overlapping rights to the same land.
Each country’s forest tenure system has its own history, and understanding the past can help governments and communities design more equitable tenure systems in the future, says Anne Larson, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

[Indonesia] A peaceful photo of an orangutan has a worrying backstory about global warming
By Selina Cheng, Quartz, 20 October 2016
The orangutan clings to two entwined tree trunks, spiraling high above a lush rainforest canopy in Indonesia’s Gunung Palung National Park. He looks upward, reaching for the figs that will make for a sweet meal.
The dizzying photo won American field biologist and wildlife photographer Tim Laman the prestigious title of Wildife Photographer of the Year, awarded this week by London’s Natural History Museum. Before taking his winning shot with a GoPro camera, Laman had seen the same orangutan climb up the tree to feast on figs, and correctly predicted that he would return again. After spending three days climbing the tree himself to rig several cameras, Laman triggered the shutter from the forest floor when he saw the orangutan started climbing.
As peaceful as the image is, it’s part of a disturbing larger series called “Entwined Lives,” which tells the heartbreaking story of endangered apes facing drought and forest fires in Borneo in 2015. Forced to flee their natural habitat, many young orangutans are caught by poachers and illegally sold as pets.

Indonesia ratifies Paris climate change pact
By Arlina Arshad, The Straits Times, 20 October 2016
Strong efforts to tackle deforestation as well as forest and land fires will be key to Indonesia’s efforts to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said yesterday, shortly after Parliament ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Indonesia joined dozens of countries, including China, India and Singapore, that have ratified the pact this year. Malaysia is expected to do so early next month, when the pact goes into force globally.
Tackling “land and forest fires can give us the power to lower emissions”, Ms Siti said, when asked how the deal might affect Indonesia’s fight against land and forest fires.

[Kenya] Taita Taveta wants forest officers fired
By Raphael Mwadime, The Star, 20 October 2016
The Taita Taveta government has demanded the immediate interdiction of corrupt Kenya Forest Service officers.
On Monday the county said senior KFS officials collude with money-hungry charcoal and timber dealers to wipe out its forests. The county assembly Environment and Natural Resources Committee, led by chairman Raymond Mwangola, wants KFS director general Emilio Mugo, senior deputy director Esau Omolo and director Patrick Kariuki to act swiftly against the officials.
Two weeks ago, hundreds of residents stormed the KFS offices in Wundanyi to protest against indiscriminate felling of indigenous trees.

[USA] New California Law Recognizes Meadows, Streams As “Green Infrastructure”, Eligible For Public Works Funding
By Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 20 October 2016
The US state of California has spent the better part of the last hundred years cobbling together a massive network of pipes, pumps, and aqueducts that today suck water from remote rivers in angry parts of distant states up over high mountains down through dry valleys and into the Southern part of the state. It’s a technological and engineering wonder – one the Romans would envy – but it’s only as good as the forests and catchments that mop up that water and filter it for human consumption, and those ecosystems are increasingly under pressure.
So, with the state entering its sixth year of drought, Governor Jerry Brown last month signed a landmark law, Assembly Bill 2480, declaring that “source watersheds are recognized and defined as integral components of California’s water infrastructure.” In so doing, he made it possible to funnel billions of dollars in infrastructure finance towards the restoration of forests and the maintenance of meadows, streams and rivers – echoing a similar move by Peru last year and accelerating a decades-old trend towards the use of “natural infrastructure” to manage water supplies.

21 October 2016

Police and hired assassins are killing land rights defenders. Let’s end this violence
By Michel Forst, The Guardian, 21 October 2016
As demand for food, fuel and commodities cranks up pressure on land, companies are all too often striking deals with state officials without the consent of the people who live on it. But the stakes are high for anyone who tries to resist this pressure. Last year was the deadliest on record in terms of defending land, forests and rivers against industries like mining, hydro-electricity, agribusiness and logging. According to Global Witness, more than three people were killed each week in 2015 by police, private security or hired assassins.
At the UN general assembly on Friday, I will present a report setting out the vital steps that governments, companies and investors must take to tackle and end this hidden crisis.

The Pac Rim decision: What are the lessons for TPP?
By Bill Waren, Friends of the Earth US, 21 October 2016
On October 14, 2016, an Australian–Canadian mining company OceanaGold/Pacific Rim (Pac Rim) lost a $301 million dollar suit against the people of El Salvador before a tribunal associated with the World Bank. Pac Rim alleged that El Salvador violated investor rights when it was not able to open a dangerous cyanide-leach gold mine at the basin of the Lempa River.
But there were no winners in this litigation, which dragged on for seven years, and forced El Salvador to lay out over $12 million to cover litigation costs. The tribunal ordered Pac Rim to pay $8 million to El Salvador for the cost of their lawyers, which may be very hard to collect. But El Salvador will have to pay its share of the full cost of the arbitration itself. Nor is El Salvador being compensated for the social and environmental costs of Pac Rim’s mining exploration activities.

Even Small Scale Agriculture Threatens Rainforests: Study
Asian Scientist Magazine, 21 October 2016
An international research team has mapped the effects of small farmers on the rain forests of Southeast Asia for the first time, revealing discouraging findings with regard to environmental impact, biodiversity and the economy over the long term. The study was published in Nature Communications.
Until now, studies of this kind have always focused largely on large-scale palm oil producers and how they exploit the forest and soil. Instead, the research team led by Dr. Yann Clough of Lund University, studied the agricultural methods of small-scale Indonesian farmers.

The fight against deforestation: Why are Congolese farmers clearing forest?
University of Leuven, 21 October 2016
Only a small share of Congolese villagers is the driving force behind most of the deforestation. They’re not felling trees to feed their families, but to increase their quality of life. These findings are based on fieldwork by bioscience engineer Pieter Moonen from KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium. They indicate that international programmes aiming to slow down tropical deforestation are not sufficiently taking local farmers into account.
Forests, and especially centuries-old primeval forests such as in the Congo Basin in Africa, are huge CO2 reservoirs. When trees are cut down, large amounts of greenhouse gases are released. This contributes to climate change – both regional and global.

22 October 2016

What would happen if everyone in the world suddenly stopped eating meat?
By Keith Breene, World Economic Forum, 22 October 2016
We’ve all heard the animal welfare arguments for going vegetarian, but in recent years there has also been a lot of talk about the environmental benefits.
So what would happen if the whole world suddenly decided to give up meat? How much difference would it really make? And would it all be positive?

[UK] From carbon credits to payday loans, Jolly is back
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 22 October 2016
A Florida anti-scam organisation has sounded the alarm over an investment scheme linked to British trickster Brett Jolly. I warned against him three years ago when he was connected to a corrupt carbon credits business in Essex.
Jolly was a director of Anglo-Capital Partners Limited, which raked in more than £1 million from investors who were fooled by false promises of 20 per cent profits. I reported then that Jolly had previously been behind a major timeshare scandal in South Africa. He had claimed to own the world’s biggest diamond, said to be as large as a glass ashtray, but it was fake. Anglo-Capital was later shut down by the High Court.
Two years ago, Jolly popped up again when another of his companies, Green Planet Investment, was closed down after pocketing £14 million to finance a leisure development in Brazil that was never built. Now Offshore Alert, which organises anti-fraud conferences, has named Jolly as a main player in payday loans group Privilege Wealth, a network of linked companies registered in a dozen countries.

23 October 2016

Ecuador’s Yasuni park: where oil vies with tourism for the rainforest
By Kevin Rushby, The Guardian, 23 October 2016
Fernando was sitting on his veranda listening to the whoops and whistles of the jungle. Our visit was a surprise, but the old man was soon answering my questions, keen to talk.
“I arrived here in about 1960,” he told me. “A group of us came to start a new life. Hunting was easy. The animals were almost tame. We just used a blowpipe, no guns.”

[India] Forest officials bracing up for fire lines ahead of schedule
By R. Krishna Kumar, The Hindu, 23 October 2016
It is during the summer months that Bandipur feels the heat of forest fires. But this year, with deficient rainfall and soaring temperatures, authorities are bracing up early, with ‘fire lines’ being burnt ahead of schedule.
A ‘fire line’, also called fire break, is the practice of burning a strip of vegetation and clearing the land so that if there’s a fire, the flames don’t spread.

Indonesian villages rewarded for not burning to tackle annual haze crisis
By Jewel Topsfield, The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October 2016
A diminutive man in a peci cap and blue batik shirt, Yunus is the head of a tiny village, Sering in the Sumatran province of Riau, one of the areas worst affected by last year’s deadly haze crisis.
This toxic haze, which chokes South-east Asia year after year, is caused by fires on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.
Most are deliberately lit because burning is the cheapest and easiest way to clear land for palm oil and other crops.

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