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REDD in the news: 30 January – 5 February 2017

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

30 January 2017

Grabbing the bull by the horns: it’s time to cut industrial meat and dairy to save the climate
Grain, 30 January 2017
When we think of the big drivers of climate change, cars and air travel often come to mind. But transformations over the past century in the way food is produced and consumed have resulted in more greenhouse gas emissions than those from transportation. The biggest culprits? Industrial meat and dairy.
The most widely cited official estimate holds that the food system is responsible for up to 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some of these emissions are due to the growth of packaged and frozen foods, the increased distance foods are shipped and the rise in food waste. But the most important source of food system-related GHG emissions is the escalation of meat and dairy consumption—made possible by the expansion of industrial livestock and chemical-intensive feed crops. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says meat production alone now generates more GHG emissions than all the world’s transport combined.

Record heat and drought seen in Amazon during 2015-16 El Niño
By Claire Salisbury, mongabay.com, 30 January 2017
The 2015-16 El Niño had a record-breaking impact on the Amazon rainforest, with the region experiencing new extremes of heat and drought, a recent study found. Weather conditions such as these negatively affect the growth and functioning of the Amazon’s trees, which play a critical role in regulating the global climate.
The El Niño, or, more fully, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, is at one extreme of a natural cycle and is marked by unusually high sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.

Chile forest fires: 43 detained for suspected arson
By Richard Forrest, BBC News, 30 January 2017
Chilean authorities have detained more than 40 people for their “possible responsibility” in causing deadly forest fires in southern and central Chile, President Michelle Bachelet says.
At least 11 people have been killed and several thousand left homeless by the fires, which have raged across large sections of the country for nearly two weeks.

A step backward for the South Korean government‘s goals for greenhouse gas reduction
The Hankyoreh, 30 January 2017
Increasing number of carbon credits enables corporations to lessen the burden of reducing greenhouse gases
The South Korean government decided to increase the total amount of carbon credits that are allocated to corporations during the first phase of the greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme, which is ending this year, by 17.01 million tons, from the initial amount of 1,597,730,000 tons to 1,614,740,000 tons. Increasing the total amount of carbon credits enables corporations to lessen the burden of reducing greenhouse gases. At the same time, the corresponding increase in greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere represents a step backward in dealing with climate change.

Zimbabwe schools lead in tree planting
By Andrew Mambondiyani, The Zimbabwean, 30 January 2017
An increasingly balding landscape in the district pointed to the triumph of tobacco farmers over those fighting for the preservation of forests.
But that was only until locals discovered that they could also make money out of preserving their forests – now there is a reforestation frenzy.
Chitindiva Primary School under Chief Chundu’s area is even vowing to plant as many trees as possible this year.
The school has planted over 900 trees in the school yard over the past two months.

31 January 2017

Emissions trading: Time to make it work
By Stig Schjolset, Energy Post, 31 January 2017
Few dispute that polluters must pay for the carbon they put into the atmosphere, while money should be saved for those who are able to cut their emissions. Without much stronger economic incentives it will likely be impossible to get anywhere close to the ambitious global targets everyone signed up to in the Paris Agreement.
Currently, around 13 percent of global emissions are facing a carbon price, either as carbon taxes or mandatory emissions trading schemes, according to the latest State and Trends of Carbon Pricing report from the World Bank. This will go up to between 20 and 25 percent if the Chinese national Emission Trading System (ETS) will be implemented this year as planned. Of the 189 countries having made emission reduction pledges for the Paris Climate Agreement, currently 40 countries are putting a price on carbon and some 60 more are considering carbon pricing schemes.

Trading guns for motorcycles in Cameroon
By Christine Lepisto, Tree Hugger, 31 January 2017
People exploit the environment to live. When it comes down to the survival/prosperity of humans versus saving the environment, we too often lose sight of the fact that the existing situation ensures current success at the cost of future generations, much less at the cost of the unknowable impacts on the future that loss of species and habitats entails. That is what makes conservation projects that demonstrate a win for the local economy at the same time they protect our natural wealth so inspiring.
The news team at DW offers one such story on “Swapping guns for motorbikes in Cameroon.”

The worst forest fires in Chile’s history have now destroyed more than a million acres of land
By Claudia Romeo, Business Insider, 31 January 2017
More than a million acres of land have been ravaged by dozens of forest fires in the central-south regions of Chile.
Fires started mid-January 2017 and have been described as some of the worst the country has ever faced.
Firefighting planes arrived from Russia and Brazil to help combat the fires which have left several thousand people homeless. At least 11 people have been killed since the fires started.

[USA] Seeing the value of the forest in the trees: Chugach enters California’s carbon market
By Jennifer Pemberton, KROO, 31 January 2017
“Anyone who’s been to Prince William Sound can tell you it’s an area of tremendous beauty,” said Josie Hickel, Senior Vice President of Chugach Alaska Corporation. “Glaciers, forested acres, wilderness areas. The area is full of wildlife and birdlife, and the fishing is obviously fantastic.”
Among Chugach Alaska’s 900,000 acres are hundreds of thousands of acres of forest — some of it old growth and a lot of it hard to get to. Instead of selling their trees directly, they’re selling the carbon stored in those trees. There’s a market for this in California, and it recently opened up to Alaskan landowners.

1 February 2017

Companies from Chanel to Ben and Jerry’s are benefitting from the new “carbon insetting” trend
By Meg Wilcox, Ensia, 1 February 2017
Ten years ago, serendipity set Tristan Lecomte on his path to planting millions of trees around the world.
Lecomte was CEO of the French organic and fair trade company Alter Eco, and his eco-conscious consumers were pressing him about his actions on climate change. So Lecomte calculated his company’s carbon footprint and began planting trees in partnership with the Peruvian farmers who supplied Alter Eco with cocoa to both offset the company’s emissions and help the farmers. The 5,000 hardwood trees they planted helped restore the soil, biodiversity and water systems on the cocoa farms, while giving the farmers another source of income.

Hot, dry conditions fan wildfires in Chile
By Tamsin Green, The Guardian, 1 February 2017
Raging wildfires have swept across central and southern Chile, claiming at least 11 lives and destroying more than 400,000 acres of forest over the past week. Reported as the worst disaster in Chilean history, the fires were aggravated by a combination of strong winds, historically high temperatures and almost a decade of drought.

Donors dish out millions while the DRC government ups the moratorium breaches
Greenpeace Africa press release, 1 February 2017
Greenpeace Africa has today revealed further breaches to the 2002 moratorium on industrial logging titles by top Congolese government officials. Barely a month after these breaches the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) paid out $40 million to safeguard the DRC forest.
The illegal concessions were signed by Former Environment Minister Bopolo Mbongeza to Faustin Lokinda Litalema and Jacques Mokako Nzeke in a highly irregular manner, as detailed in a newly published Greenpeace briefer titled DRC Donors Released $40 million after 4000 km² Forest awarded to Kabila Adviser and MP.

Germany to complete yet another coal plant
By Craig Morris, Energy Transition, 1 February 2017
Last October, I wrote about the saga at Datteln 4, the 80% finished one-gigawatt hard coal plant that should have gone into operation in 2011 but was built five kilometers from the site for which a permit had been granted. Climate activists exploited that violation in court, but the company, Uniper, managed to finally get a permit for the actual site on January 19. Now, Uniper says it will complete the plant and put it into operation. The project has basically been on ice since mid-2009.
With a billion euros already sunk in the plant, Uniper’s decision to proceed is understandable. On the other hand, the outlook for coal power is bleak in Germany. If Datteln 4 goes into operation in, say, 2018, it may only have 20 years to stay in operation.

Malaysia’s first carbon credit firm to offset CO2 emissions
Free Malaysia Today, 1 February 2017
Malaysia’s first carbon credit rating company hopes to see other states follow Kelantan’s move after the state gave the company 25% of its land mass for forest preservation and to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Under the United Nations (UN) collaborative programme – Reducing Environment from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) – Climate Change Protector (CCP) Sdn Bhd was given 396,000 hectares of forest in a move to preserve the flora and fauna of the region.

[Norway] Biggest Wealth Fund Seen Dashing Hopes of Green Energy Activists
By Sveinung Sleire, Bloomberg, 1 February 2017
Environmental activists hoping to see a big push by Norway’s $890 billion sovereign wealth fund into emerging market renewable energy and infrastructure projects are likely to be disappointed, according to a key Norwegian lawmaker.
The government and parliament are set to again review later this year whether to allow the fund to expand into infrastructure. But the conservative nature of the oversight framework will likely mean that it won’t get too adventurous in where it puts its cash even if it gains more freedom, which the fund has also indicated.

[USA] Lars Larson asks for aggressive logging during White House briefing
By Lizzy Acker, Oregon Live, 1 February 2017
Lars Larson, Portland’s conservative radio talk show host, had his moment to question the White House on Wednesday, when he was the third Skype seat to be allowed to ask a question during the daily press briefing.
“Commander Spicer, it’s a pleasure,” he began before asking Press Secretary Sean Spicer a question he told us he might ask on Tuesday.
Spicer currently holds the rank of commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

2 February 2017

Ecosphere+ makes senior appointments and announces new collaboration
Ecosphere press release, 2 February 2017
Ecosphere+ today announces several key appointments to its senior team, bringing a broad set of skills and experience to launch its sales and marketing operations.
Ecosphere+ was established by the Althelia Climate Fund in September 2016 to develop and scale the market for carbon assets, environmental services and sustainably produced commodities generated through transformational forest conservation and sustainable landuse projects.
Lisa Walker, the former Vice President of Environment and Climate Change at BG Group (now part of Royal Dutch Shell), was appointed CEO of the venture in September 2016.

[India] 95 % forest fires are ‘man made’ in Jammu Kashmir
Northlines, 2 February 2017
While 230 forest fire incidents were reported in Kashmir in the year 2016, 95 percent of such incidents happened due to “negligence” of the government and the people alike, an official report says.
Official data reveals that atleast 230 fire incidents happened in the valley in 2016. The highest number of fires, 63, has been recorded from Lidder forest range in south Kashmir, followed by fires at Kamraz, 30, in north Kashmir and in the Langate area, 27, of the Kupwara district.

[India Union Budget 2017-18: Govt to levy 10% concessional tax on income from carbon credit
Money Control, 2 February 2017
The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today proposed to provide a concessional tax rate of 10 percent in case of income arising from transfer of carbon credit, in a bid to provide green growth. The tax would be levied from April 1, 2018, over along with additional surcharge and cess. Income-tax Department has been treating the income on transfer of carbon credits as business income which is subject to tax at the rate of 30 percent.

Emulate Kelantan, says Malaysia’s first carbon credit rating firm
The Sun Daily, 2 February 2017
Malaysia’s first carbon credit rating company hopes to see other states follow Kelantan’s move after the state gave the company 25% of its land mass for forest preservation and to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Under the United Nations (UN) collaborative programme called Reducing Environment from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD, Climate Change Protector Sdn Bhd (CCP) was given 396,000ha of forest to preserve the flora and fauna of the region.

[USA] Amazonas Florestal Ltd. Announces Filing of Its Q3 and Naming of C.E.O.
Amazonas Florestal, 2 February 2017
Amazonas Florestal, Ltd., a natural resources company dedicated to innovative, sustainable forest management, the certification and sales of carbon credits, and Industrial Hemp, today announced that the company has filed its Annual List with the State of Nevada naming Peter W Stebbins as C.E.O. and company accountants have submitted and posted the pending Q3 Quarterly Report, Financials and OTC Disclosures for 09.30.2016 making the company compliant with its disclosure responsibilities.

3 February 2017

Foreign flights to slip under the radar of EU emissions limits
By Julia Fioretti, Reuters, 3 February 2017
International flights in and out of the European Union could be exempted from emissions limits for at least another four years to give the United Nations time to implement a global system to curb pollution from planes.
The EU proposed extending the exemption, which was set to end at the start of 2017, on Friday to avoid a repeat of tensions when it tried to include all flights in 2012.
But it was immediately criticized by environmental campaigners who oppose an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) deal struck in October on a global market-based measure for offsetting airline emissions.

Finance Minister: Chile’s Forest Fires Will Cost Government $333M
Reuters, 3 February 2017
Chile’s massive forest fires that have killed 11 people and destroyed nearly 1,500 homes will cost the government $333 million, Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdes told reporters on Friday.
The government will reallocate $100 million from the current budget to mitigate the effects of the blazes, while another $233 million will be taken out of a rainy day fund that the government maintains for such situations, Valdes said at a press conference.

Donors remain indifferent as moratorium breaches occur in the DRC
By Irene Wabiwa Betoko, Greenpeace Africa, 3 February 2017
The forest industry in the DRC has been plagued for years by confusion, uncertainties and illegalities. Although the country pays lip service to the principles of reducing emission from deforestation and degradation (REDD), this is only in the guise to benefit from significant donor funding. Policy makers have repeatedly violated the moratorium without regards for local communities whose livelihood depends on the forest.
After the war in 2002, the Congolese government decreed a moratorium on the allocation of new forest titles to avoid widespread destruction of the forest. With the technical and financial support from the World Bank, the DRC was supposed to take the path of sustainable forest management. This was meant to generate billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs for Congolese while in principle, preserving the forest.

[India] Jaitley’s 10% tax on income from carbon credits a mixed bag
By Lubna Kably & Ranjani Ayyar, Times of India, 3 February 2017
The Finance Bill proposes to levy a tax of 10% on income earned on transfer of carbon credits. Such a tax will be levied on the gross income, without allowing for any deductions.
According to the explanatory memorandum to the Finance Bill, the income tax (IT) department has been treating the income earned on transfer of carbon credits as business income subject to tax at the rate of 30%. In this context, it seems like a favourable position on the face of it, but it is a mixed bag, say tax experts and industry specialists.

[USA] How Trump Can Affect Climate Change: 6 Questions with Jack Cushman
By John Cushman, Inside Climate News, 3 February 2017
What do you expect the new Trump Administration to mean for climate change?
Unless the president and his whole team reverse course, it means the end of any leadership by the United States federal government in the world’s attempts to address the climate crisis.
Practically the whole cabinet, from President Trump himself to Vice President Mike Pence and most of those named to head government agencies, are on the record questioning the mainstream consensus that the problem of climate change is urgent or that its solution lies in a rapid, global shift away from the uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels.

4 February 2017

[Indonesia] Riau gets forest fire squad ready to crack down on field burners
By Rizal Harahap, Jakarta Post, 4 February 2017
In anticipation of drought this year, the Riau provincial administration has prepared a forest fire emergency team comprising thousands of personnel from the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Environment and Forestry Ministry team Manggala Agni, civilian volunteers and firefighting teams from private companies.

[UK] ‘Firm approached me about selling my carbon credits, is it a scam?’
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 4 February 2017
T.D. writes: Pentagon Asset Management approached me about selling my carbon credits. Its website address is pentagonassetmgt.com and the telephone number is 020 7859 4985.
I assume this company is a scam, but perhaps you can check it out and let readers know if it is to be avoided.
Thank you. I have checked them out. This is a scam. Avoid.
Carbon credits were a scam investment to begin with, so any firm claiming it can sell them for you is just another rip-off.
One investor says Pentagon told him his credits were worth more than £8 each but – surprise, surprise – he would have to pay an up-front fee to start the sales ball rolling.

5 February 2017

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