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REDD in the news: 19-25 December 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, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.

19 December 2016

Rainforest destruction threatens to KILL US ALL, shock research finds
By Sean Martin, Daily Express, 19 December 2016
Deforestation is unearthing new and weird strains of infectious diseases which human beings have NO way of fighting.
Destruction of Earth’s rainforests has caused a lack of biodiversity in the world’s most dense forests, meaning they are unable to contain viruses anymore, in developments which could prove fatal for the human race.
Scientists have already determined deforestation contributed to new strains of Malaria in Malaysia and it was also partly responsible for exposing humans to the Zika virus.
Now, a new study has shown humanity’s interference with the most tropical parts of the world is causing a rise in the amount of in flesh eating diseases.

New $250 Million, Women-Led Climate Fund Joins Forces with Conservation Organizations to Save Vast Forests in Asia, Africa and Latin America
Rainforest Alliance press release, 19 December 2016
Impact investment advisor AlphaSource announced today that they have teamed up with conservation NGO the Rainforest Alliance; wildlife and forest protection experts Wildlife Works; and the newly-formed environmental product marketing company Everland; in an ambitious plan to protect vast tracts of critically endangered forests across the globe.
The consortium aims to develop and fund comprehensive landscape protection programs aligning incentives that benefit smallholders, communities, government, businesses and consumers as envisioned by the UN climate change mitigation mechanism known as REDD+, an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

Companies are underestimating the risks of deforestation in their commodities supply chains
By Mike Gaworecki, Eco Business, 19 December 2016
Two new analyses show that companies reliant on agricultural commodities like beef, palm oil, pulp and paper, and soy have underestimated the risk of deforestation in their supply chains and are unlikely to achieve their current time-bound goals for severing ties with forest destruction.
London-based non-profit CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, released a report earlier this month, produced on behalf of 365 investors representing $22 trillion in funds, that analyses data disclosures by 187 companies regarding their deforestation risk management strategies.

Forests and Landscape Restoration Feature at UN Biodiversity Conference
By Leila Mead, IISD, 19 December 2016
Forests played an integral role at the UN Biodiversity Conference, both in the intergovernmental negotiations, as well as during side events and other special events. The High-Level Segment (HLS) of the Conference, held from 2-3 December 2016, featured a roundtable on forests.
The HLS adopted the Cancun Declaration on ‘Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Well-Being,’ which contains guidance for mainstreaming conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in, inter alia, forestry. The guidance recommends: designing and promoting incentive packages for restoration, conservation and sustainable use of forest resources; promoting private sector participation in the development of production chains aimed at reducing deforestation and forest degradation while increasing the benefits of landholders and local communities; and promoting the implementation of the International Agreement on Forests.

Conflicting Climate Plans Set To Clash on January 1
By Rick Adams, AINonline, 19 December 2016
The European Commission is racing its own “stop the clock” countdown on international aviation carbon emissions. The European Union emissions trading scheme (ETS), which the EC suspended in 2012 to allow the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) time to secure consensus on a global agreement, will automatically resume on January 1, 2017, absent any further action before then.
ICAO’s 191 nations reached an agreement in October at their triennial Assembly on a Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which conflicts with the ETS cap-and-trade system, currently applied to intra-European flights. Schedules call for the ICAO CORSIA to take effect worldwide in 2021 on a voluntary basis, becoming mandatory for most airlines in 2027.
“If we were to allow the ETS to revert to full scope to cover third-country flights, there would be a risk that we would destabilize those ongoing [ICAO] talks,” said Peter Vis, a senior advisor in charge of transport decarbonization at the European Commission. “We have to act very quickly to prevent the full scope of [ETS] from reverting inadvertently.”

What’s on CIFOR’s holiday reading list?
By Deanna Ramsay, CIFOR Forests News, 19 December 2016
With holidays approaching, now is the time to catch up on those articles, books and films missed out on over a busy year. We asked CIFOR scientists for their recommendations on interesting, science-based content to get immersed in over the break.

Indonesia’s forestry ministry takes Greenpeace to court over freedom of information request
By Basten Gokkon, mongabay.com, 19 December 2016
The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry is going to court over a successful freedom of information request by Greenpeace, setting the stage for a protracted legal battle over a form of data NGOs say they need if they are to play a monitoring role in the world’s third-largest democracy.
Greenpeace Indonesia on Oct. 24 won its yearlong suit submitted to the Central Information Commission (KIP) against the ministry demanding access to seven different geospatial maps of Indonesia, including those showing oil palm, timber, and mining concessions as well as the archipelago country’s land cover.
The group argued its case under the 2008 Freedom of Public Information Law, which established the KIP. “This is exciting news for us,” Greenpeace’s Kiki Taufik said immediately after the ruling came down. “The commission has made the right decision.”

[Spain] Marbella boiler room mis sold €6 million of loans to British buyers
expatica.com, 19 December 2016
A boiler room in Marbella mis sold loans worth €6 million to unwitting expats.
A judge in Bilbao has nullified 12 equity release mortgages sold by financial advisers in Estepona, Marbella and Fuengirola.
Sold to reduce the potential inheritance tax on a property, SL Mortgage Funding Limited (SLMF) did not have any of the necessary permits to sell such loans.
In fact, SLMF did not have any regulatory approval to legally raise funds from the public when it was selling equity release mortgages between 2004 and 2007.
A spokesman for Marbella-based lawfirm Lawbird said that the ruling ‘proves’ that the company was operating as a boiler room.

20 December 2016

Why does illegal logging continue after forestry reforms?
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News, 20 December 2016
The western Amazonian countries of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia have implemented significant forest reforms over the last two decades to help smallholders and communities better manage and benefit from their forests.
Despite the changes, however, many continue to manage their forests in ways that result in illegal logging.
Why does illegal logging persist among smallholders and communities? In search of an answer, scientists from the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) traveled to community forests, agroforestry plots, sawmills, government offices and other sites in the three countries. They interviewed policy makers, government officials and people who work in different areas of the timber industry.

[India] Suspend state forest chief if jungle fires continue for more than 72 hours: Uttrakhand high court
By Vineet Upadhyay, Times of India, 20 December 2016
Taking an exceptionally strict stand on the issue of rampant forest fires which ravaged the state earlier this year, the Uttarakhand high court (HC) on Monday ordered a string of measures including suspending the state forest chief and initiating disciplinary proceedings against the official if the forest fire continued for more than 72 hours. In addition, the court stipulated that “in case a forest fire continued for more than 24 hours, the concerned divisional forest officer (DFO) shall be deemed to be put under suspension and further if it continues for more than 48 hours, the conservator of forests shall be deemed to be put under suspension and disciplinary proceedings initiated against them.”

[India] Maha Forest Dept gets new tech to monitor wildfires
By Dhaval Kulkarni, DNA India, 20 December 2016
In a bid to improve its response to forest fires and mitigate its effects, the Maharashtra Forest Department is all set to launch a command and control room that has access to satellite communications. This will allow the department to track forest fires in real time across the state, and initiate immediate action to control it and minimise its effects.
Set up at the State Forest Department’s Nagpur headquarters, the control room will also respond to wildlife offenses, and coordinate with other states for crack downs on inter-state poaching gangs and timber fellers.
“In case of a forest fire, thermal radiations detected by the satellite will be transmitted on real-time basis to forest guards via SMS from the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad,” Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (APCCF- Information Technology and Policy), Pravin Srivastava told DNA.

[UK] Carbon credit trio banned after investors lose £3 million
By Elliot Smith, New Model Adviser, 20 December 2016
Three former directors of a carbon credit investment scheme which lost investors £3 million have been disqualified for a total of 44 years.
The High Court handed down a ban of 15 years against Lee John Thompson and Andrew Michael Spiteri on 30 November 2016. In May this year, Stephen Michael Leary agreed to a disqualification undertaking of 14 years.
Thompson was the director of the company, while Spiteri and Leary were not formally appointed directors but exercised day to day control of sales.
The trio were directors of Worldwide Commodity Partners Limited, which sold voluntary emission reduction (VER) carbon credits to members of the public as an investment.

21 December 2016

Alternative approaches to illegal logging
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News, 21 December 2016
Nearly two decades ago, western Amazonian countries began implementing new forest policies to help communities and small producers manage their forests more sustainably. Nevertheless, much of the timber harvesting in that area is still illegal.
What further steps could countries take to help protect forests and the people who depend on them for a livelihood, while reducing informal or illegal timber extraction by communities and smallholders?

EU’s top court upholds carbon tax on Swiss flights
Reuters, 21 December 2016
The European Union is within its rights to apply carbon taxes to flights between Switzerland and member states although flights to and from other countries outside the bloc are exempt, the EU’s top court said on Wednesday.
The case was brought before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by Lufthansa-owned Swiss International Air Lines [SWIN.UL]. It argued that its treatment under the EU’s Emission Trading System infringed on the principle of equal treatment under EU law by treating Switzerland differently from other third countries.
The ECJ, however, ruled that the bloc was not obliged to treat all countries outside the bloc in the same way.

[India] Forest fires more than doubled in 2016 in State: Report
By R. Krishna Kumar, The Hindu, 21 December 2016
With pre-monsoon showers largely failing and summer temperature touching a record high, the number of forest fires in the State has more than doubled over the past year.
While the State saw 295 forest fires in 2015, the number rose drastically to 830 so far this year, says the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, which recently submitted a report on ‘forest fires and its effect on environment, forests, biodiversity, and wildlife’. Nationally, fires detected rose by over 55 per cent, but in Karnataka it was a 181 per cent rise.

[USA] Petition calls for Barack Obama to fulfil Green Climate Fund pledge
By Michael Slezak, The Guardian, 21 December 2016
More than 100 climate and development organisations, along with 70,000 people, have called on Barack Obama to help secure the future of the Paris agreement by transferring the remaining $2.5bn committed by the US.
The Green Climate Fund was a key aspect of the historic Paris agreement signed in 2015, which aims to keep global warming “well below” 2C and aspires to keep warming to 1.5C.
The fund, established in 2010, is financed by wealthy countries and used to assist developing countries with adaptation and mitigation. It was widely seen as a key measure to bring both rich and poor countries to the negotiating table.
The US pledged $3bn towards the fund, making up nearly a third of the $10.3bn pledged in total. But so far, it has only transferred $500m.

[USA] Denial, Distraction, and Deception
By Michael Brune, Medium, 21 December 2016
In nominating ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to head the State Department, Donald Trump is paying homage to a pioneer of the climate-change head-fake. It’s simple: Act as if you acknowledge and care about climate change (as, in fact, a solid majority of American voters actually do), while simultaneously undermining all efforts to do anything about it. Tillerson and Exxon have been practicing this kind of deception for so long that they should have patented it.

22 December 2016

With an Enemy Like Trump, Climate Activists Should Look Beyond the Paris Accord
By Almuth Ernsting, Truthout, 22 December 2016
The first local environmental campaign I ever got involved in was against Donald Trump. I was living in Aberdeen, Scotland, when, in March 2006 Trump announced his plans to convert one of my favorite nature sites north of Aberdeen into a golf course, hotel and housing complex. Menie Estate, which he had acquired, lay at the heart of a landscape and ecosystem unique within Scotland: a large expanse of shifting sand dunes, home to a diverse community of plants found only on acidic, sandy soils, and well known for its birdlife. Residents were horrified by what the new landowner proposed and quickly linked up with environmental campaigners in Aberdeen to fight the plans. Yet, within weeks, the local Trump organization — Trump International Golf Links Scotland — had won over Aberdeen’s local media, the local Chamber of Commerce and the leadership of the newly elected social democratic Scottish National Party (SNP) government. The outgoing Scottish Labour government had already “honored” Trump by declaring him a “GlobalScot” ambassador.

[Indonesia] How to save forests? Run them like a business, says this former Wall Street man
By Carolyn Beeler, PRI, 22 December 2016
The sun is just starting to dip toward the horizon in Indonesian Borneo, and Dharsono Hartono is standing on a fire tower, looking out over a peat forest falling into shadow.
Hartono knows that all over Indonesia, this carbon-rich type of forest is being burned or cleared for palm oil or paper pulp plantations.
But when he looks down from the fire tower with his businessman’s eye, Hartono is more interested in the soil than anything he could plant in it.
“Unlike the typical mineral soil,” Hartono says, “peat soil is actually dead wood, leaves and logs that become part of the soil.”

[USA] Jeb Bush partners with oil and gas lobbying firm, then defends Trump’s EPA pick
By Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, 22 December 2016
On Tuesday, former Florida governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush penned an op-ed at CNN.com. Its purpose was to defend President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to tap Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma Attorney General and vocal critic of the EPA, to head that agency. Pruitt wants to roll back key EPA regulations, like the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule, and has argued that the EPA, in its current form, exerts too much power over environmental regulations.
“I cannot think of a person more suited to lead the Environmental Protection Agency than Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, someone who understands how to rein in an out-of-control bureaucracy and ensure that Washington focuses solely on its core functions,” Bush wrote.

23 December 2016

This Amazon tribe lived without the outside world. They may be the last
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 23 December 2016
The remarkable photos taken by Ricardo Stuckert of an uncontacted Amazon tribe reminded me of my own experience with the indigenous people of nearby Peru. “The Nomole are here, they’ve come. The Nomole,” were the hushed whispers I heard outside my tent as I was roused from my dawn slumber. Nomole was a term meaning brothers which I had heard many times in the last few days, at once embracing and familial yet also uttered with apprehensive concern.
With a jolt of adrenaline I pulled on some trousers and stumbled out into the open and jogged to the edge of a riverside bluff and gazed out. As the morning mist rose like steam off the Manu national park forest, 11 matchstick figures had emerged from the foliage and were walking out over a rock-strewn strand some 200m away across the turbulent Upper Madre de Dios river.

Brazil budget cuts put uncontacted Amazon tribe at risk, say activists
By Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, 23 December 2016
An uncontacted Amazon tribe could be at risk as Brazil makes austerity-driven budget cuts and proposals for constitutional change affecting land rights move through parliament, campaigners have said.
The tribe were photographed from a helicopter by Ricardo Stuckert this month near the border with Peru.
“These are dark times if you’re an indigenous person in Brazil,” said Fiona Watson, a field director at the London-based human rights organisation Survival International. “For the people in those photos the biggest threat is the loggers and drug traffickers on the Peru side. That’s the immediate, visceral threat. But the other threat is thousands of miles away in [Brazil’s] congress.”

EU to further exempt foreign flights from emissions scheme
The Irish Times, 23 December 2016
The European Union is set to extend the exclusion of foreign airlines from its emissions trading system to give a United Nations-brokered global deal time to come into effect, two EU sources said.
The move would be welcomed by the airline industry which wants a single, global emissions trading system (ETS) for aviation as opposed to a patchwork of national and regional schemes.
The EU had ordered foreign carriers to buy credits under its ETS in 2012 but backtracked when countries said it violated their sovereignty and China threatened to cancel plane orders to Airbus Group SE.

How Indonesia is stepping up fight against climate changef
By Simon Tay and Nirarta ‘Koni’ Samadhi, Malay Mail, 23 December 2016
United States President-elect Donald Trump may have labelled climate change a hoax, but that has not stalled the momentum behind last month’s United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco.
Less than one year after its adoption, the Paris climate agreement has entered into force, with some 175 countries already on board. The next step will be to begin implementing the commitments each country has made. In South-east Asia in particular, regional cooperation will be critical to address certain issues that transcend national boundaries.
One of the largest obstacles to climate change efforts in South-east Asia remains Indonesia’s forest and peatland fires. Though these fires are perhaps most notorious as the source of the annual haze that blankets our region, they should rightly be framed as a global concern about carbon emissions.

24 December 2016

WB pilots auction of carbon credit redemptions in ASEAN countries
By Myrna M. Velasco, Manila Bulletin, 24 December 2016
The World Bank (WB) has successfully piloted the auction of carbon credits redemption from the capture of methane emissions in some developing countries, including in the Southeast Asian region.
It divulged that it had succeeded in providing $3.0 million worth of innovative capital markets instruments for landfills in Malaysia and Thailand – and the other market involved is Brazil.
The carbon credits had been from four projects – the Jeram landfill gas recovery project in Malaysia; the Kamphaeng Saen West and East and Landfill Gas to Electricity Projects in Bangkok, Thailand; and the Central de Residuos do Recreio Landfill Gas Project in Brazil.

25 December 2016

[Indonesia] Peatland restoration helps prevent forest fires
ANTARA News, 25 December 2016
Set up nearly a year ago, Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) has wasted no time in protecting and restoring peatlands and, consequently, preventing wildfires in Indonesian forests.
The destruction of peatlands and forest fires are closely linked, because clearing and draining peatlands for oil palm and pulpwood plantations are major causes of Indonesias recurring fire and haze crises.
Last year, haze produced by forest fires impacted the health of thousands of people in South-East Asia, particularly in Sumatra and Kalimantan Islands, and cost Indonesias economy an estimated $16.1 billion, according to data from the World Bank.

[Indonesia] Carbon Sales Could Generate $16b in Foreign Exchange: BRG
By RH Napitupulu, Jakarta Globe, 25 December 2016
The Peatland Restoration Agency, or BRG, has estimated Indonesia’s peatland could generate a revenue of $16 billion (Rp 214 trillion) from carbon trading that should help the country to preserve its delicate biosphere and plug the deficit in its external balance.
“The carbon price in the Californian market is around 10 to 15 dollars per ton,” BRG head Nazir Foead told state news agency Antaranews.com on Saturday (24/12). “In Sweden the price for carbon per ton reaches up to $168, so the potential foreign exchange for peat lands could reach up to Rp 214 trillion.”
According to Nazir, this potential should be optimized so that Indonesia can achieve multiple outcomes. First, Indonesia can reach carbon emission reduction target of 29 percent in 2030, and secondly, exploit carbon sales for foreign exchange to a number of foreign countries.
This way, Nazir said, Indonesia could be the world’s center for peatland restoration and climate change mitigation.

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