REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
6 February 2017
[Indonesia] Riau steps up vigilance on fires
By Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, 6 February 2017
Facing a higher risk of forest fires as a result of a prolonged dry season, Riau province administration will deploy a special team of over 1,000 personnel to prevent “annual” disastrous haze that is caused by slash-and-burn practices.
On Friday, 1,500 personnel from the military, police, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and members of several related organizations gathered in Pekanbaru to ensure the joint operation’s preparedness.
7 February 2017
A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months
By Jugal K. Patel, New York Times, 7 February 2017
A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day.
The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf.
[Brazil] Destruction advances along the Xingu River
Instituto Socioambiental, 7 February 2017
Company announces environmental license for the largest gold mine in Brazil before the government of Pará formalizes measure. The project is an environmental time bomb located adjacent to the Belo Monte Dam.
The Canadian company Belo Sun announced on Feb. 2th the concession of the installation license for the Volta Grande de Mineração project, located adjacent to the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant, in the city of Senador José Porfírio (Pará state), before the government of Pará formalized the approval. The mining company published a press release in English with the news before the end of the meeting of the State Secretariat of the Environment (Semas), which was discussing the authorization. The government of Pará is headed by Simão Jatene (PSDB).
SC Johnson goes ‘Acre-for-Acre’ with customers to protect the Amazon rainforest
edie.net, 7 February 2017
SC Johnson, which owns household brands such as Pledge, Glade and Ziploc, has pledged to match donations made by consumers towards protecting areas of the Amazon Rainforest. Consumers can donate $25 to Conservation International (CI) and SC Johnson will match donations up to 5,000 acres.
“The Amazon rainforest provides a wealth of ecosystem services that are critical for the sustenance of life on this planet … everything from fresh water and fresh air, to carbon sequestration and extraordinary biodiversity, even tourism and recreation,” SC Johnson’s chairman Fisk Johnson said. “It is not only worth protecting, it is a necessity. We are delighted to help CI educate about and protect Amazonia.
Thousands of Chile’s poorest displaced in wildfires
By Lisa Nikolau, Humanosphere, 7 February 2017
The worst wildfires in Chile’s modern history are dying down, but have left thousands of people displaced from their homes in some of the poorest regions of the country.
For the moment, no new blazes have been reported ”and the rest are mostly controlled,” President Michelle Bachelet said in her daily briefing on the wildfires on Saturday. “… That doesn’t mean, however, that we are letting down our guard.”
The fires left 11 dead, 6,370 affected and 1,603 homes destroyed, according to the latest report from Chile’s Interior Ministry. The government said Friday that the preliminary cost of the forest fires has reached around $333 million.
Europe fights to save broken climate fix
By Kalina Oroschadkoff and Sara Stefanini, Politico, 7 February 2017
Europe once had a revolutionary idea to reduce emissions. Almost a dozen years ago, it created an incentive for companies to pollute less through the Emissions Trading System, or ETS.
The ETS turned out to be a flop. Now EU countries and Brussels are struggling to come up with a workable fix, with make-or-break decisions coming down the pike this month.
“We have to be honest in recognizing that the [Emissions Trading System] is falling short of expectations as a cornerstone of EU climate policy,” Nick Hurd, the U.K. climate change minister, told fellow ministers in December.
[USA] Amazonas Florestal Ltd. Announces The Company Has Leased 100 Acres of Land In Dacono, Colorado — Will Operate Plantation Under the Name of Its Wholly-Owned Subsidiary Amazon Hemp Ltd.
Amazonas Florestal press release, 7 February 2017
Amazonas Florestal, Ltd. (www.azflusa.com) (OTC PINK: AZFL), 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 reactivated and changed the name of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Amazons Hemp Ltd., that was incorporated in 2015 in the State of Colorado and will from now on be known as AMAZON HEMP LTD. AMAZON HEMP LTD has achieved funding to plant 100 acres of Industrial CBD Hemp In Dacono, Colorado and has signed the lease on 100 Acres of farmland and paid a security deposit on the seeds.
8 February 2017
From biodiversity offsets to ecosystem engineering: New threats to communities and territories
By Silvia Ribeiro, World Rainforest Movement, 8 February 2017
At a meeting in a wixárika community in Jalisco, México, with organizations and villagers from other areas, the language we used to communicate was Spanish. We discussed threats to territories, corn, transgenics, agrochemicals, “biopiracy” and the patenting of plants and indigenous knowledge. Most participants were wixáritari (called huicholes in Spanish). During the meeting, they talked amongst themselves in their language. They say words like “transgenics” and “biopiracy” in Spanish.
“Jurisdictional Sustainability: Primer for Practitioners”
Earth Innovation Institute press release, 8 February 2017
The loss of tropical forests is one of the greatest challenges faced by humanity today. How do we solve it in a way that will also increase food security and improve the livelihoods of rural communities? A new publication sheds light on this question.
“There is no silver bullet for solving tropical deforestation and other challenges of sustainable development. The jurisdictional approach recognizes that when local governments, farm sectors and civil society come together to solve deforestation, progress can be very rapid,” states Dr. Daniel Nepstad, Executive Director of Earth Innovation Institute, which led the publication.
Soy invasion poses imminent threat to Amazon, say agricultural experts
By Sue Branford and Maurício Torres, mongabay.com, 8 February 2017
Over the last 40 years the north of the state of Mato Grosso has profoundly changed. This far-reaching transformation — matched almost nowhere else in the world — is largely due to the rapid expansion of industrial agribusiness, particularly soybean production, which has destroyed huge swathes of savanna and tropical Amazon rainforest.
“There are certain regions, near Brasnorte [to the west of Sinop], for example, where you can look completely around, 360 degrees, and not see a single tree,” says anthropologist Rinaldo Arruda, a lecturer at the Catholic University (PUC) in São Paulo.
[Canada] Cap And Trade Takes From Poor And Gives To Rich
By Christine Van Geyn, Huffington Post, 8 February 2017
Take from the poor, and give to the rich. The reverse Robin Hood philosophy has been fully embraced by the Ontario government, an odd turn of events for the self-proclaimed “social justice premier.”
Nothing shows this philosophy better than the government’s newest costly experiment, the cap-and-trade carbon tax.
Air Pollution Problem Could Disrupt Nepal’s Tourism Industry
By Slok Gyawali, Earth Island Journal, 8 February 2017
Consistent haze is interfering with the stunning views many trekkers expect, raising concern among some industry professionals.
South Asia’s notorius “atmospheric brown cloud” could impact Nepal’s appeal as a tourist destination. Visitors are voicing their concern about the three-kilometer-thick toxic cloud that sits over much of the region, including large swaths of Nepal, and interferes with their experience of a country promoted as a trekker’s paradise.
[UK] Does Brexit offer a ‘golden opportunity’ to pursue EU ETS alternatives?
By George Ogleby, edie.net, 8 February 2017
With MPs set to vote on the final amendments of the bill to withdraw the country from the European Union (EU), the debate surrounding the UK’s future involvement in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) has intensified this week with a lively debate in Parliament.
The ETS covers 45% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emitted from energy-intensive sectors. In the UK, more than 700 UK-based energy intensive installations, including power stations, manufacturing facilities and oil refineries, participate in the system. Unlike the departure from the EU there is an option for the UK to continue to participate in the scheme. Indeed, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway all do so despite not being members of the EU.
[USA] We can meet the US Paris Agreement commitment without federal support
By Peter Weisberg (The Climate Trust), Carbon Pulse, 8 February 2017
Learning in part from the failures of the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement went to great efforts to ensure the United States would join the global effort to mitigate catastrophic climate change. By building the agreement from the bottom up, with each nation making its own commitment to reduce carbon pollution, only the processes governing the reporting and review of these goals are mandated by international law.
A Conservative Case for Climate Action
By Martin S. Feldstein, Ted Halstead and N. Gregory Mankiw, 8 February 2017
Crazy as it may sound, this is the perfect time to enact a sensible policy to address the dangerous threat of climate change. Before you call us nuts, hear us out.
During his eight years in office, President Obama regularly warned of the very real dangers of global warming, but he did not sign any meaningful domestic legislation to address the problem, largely because he and Congress did not see eye to eye. Instead, Mr. Obama left us with a grab bag of regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions, often established by executive order.
9 February 2017
Study: EU must abandon coal power by 2030 to meet climate pledge
EurActiv, 9 February 2017
The European Union must close all 315 of its coal-fired power plants by 2030 in order to meet its commitments under the Paris climate agreement, a research institute said Thursday.
The goal set at the December 2015 Paris climate conference to maintain average temperature increases to less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels requires the gradual closure of EU coal plants, Climate Analytics said.
[Indonesia] Government wins in forest fire case
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 9 February 2017
Ministry wins another case in court against firm responsible for forest burning Court orders fine of US$35 million for Waringin Agro Jaya
In the fight against deforestation and forest fires, the Environment and Forestry Ministry is on a winning streak, with the courts ruling in favor of the government in cases against companies.
Still, the enforcing of penalties remains weak.
In its latest victory, the South Jakarta District Court found palm oil company PT Waringin Agro Jaya (WAJ) guilty on Tuesday of illegally starting a forest fire to clear land in Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra. The court ordered the company to pay Rp 466.5 billion (US$35 million), Rp 173.5 billion of which will serve as compensation for the burning of 1,626 hectares of land in its land concession and another Rp 293 billion to cover the rehabilitation cost for the burned land.
UK unlikely to remain in EU carbon market: EU policymaker
By Susana Twidale, Reuters, 9 February 2017
Britain is unlikely to remain in Europe’s carbon market following its exit from the European Union, the European Parliament’s lead carbon policymaker said on Thursday.
Britain has a legally binding target to cut emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, such as those produced by fossil-fuel-based power plants, by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
Leaving the scheme would raise questions about how Britain plans to meet its targets. Several utilities said the scheme offered an important policy signal to encourage their investment in renewable and low-cabon electricity production.
[USA] The early stages of cap-and-trade compliance – Lessons learned from California
By Adrienne Baker, Carbon Pulse, 9 February 2017
Mandatory and voluntary participants of Ontario’s recently launched cap-and-trade market need to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. US-based Tracy Kayhanfar, the Senior Director or Environmental Management with ConAgra Foods, describes some of the challenges they faced at the launch of California’s program and what lessons they take with them as they prepare to voluntarily participate in Ontario’s newly launched program. Kayhanfar was interviewed by Adrienne Baker, Director at Canadian Clean Energy Conferences, which is organising the Apr. 26-27 Ontario Cap-and-Trade Forum in Toronto.
Livelihoods and Land Uses in Environmental Policy Approaches – The Case of PES and REDD+ in the Lam Dong Province of Vietnam
By Leif Tore Trædal and Pål Vedeld, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 9 February 2017
This paper explores assumptions about the drivers of forest cover change in a Payments for Environmental Services (PES) and Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) context in the Lam Dong Province in Vietnam. In policy discourses, deforestation is often linked to ‘poor’ and ‘ethnic minority’ households and their unsustainable practices such as the expansion of coffee production (and other agricultural activities) into forest areas. This paper applies a livelihood framework to discuss the links between livelihoods and land use amongst small-scale farmers in two communities. The findings of the livelihood survey demonstrate no clear linkages between poverty levels and unsustainable practices. In fact, the poorest segments were found to deforest the least. The ways in which current PES and REDD+ approaches are designed, do not provide appropriate solutions to address the underlying dimensions of issues at stake. The paper criticizes one-dimensional perspectives of the drivers behind deforestation and forest degradation often found in public policies and discourses. We suggest more comprehensive analyses of underlying factors encompassing the entire coffee production and land use system in this region. Addressing issues of land tenure and the scarcity of productive lands, and generating viable off-farm income alternatives seem to be crucial. Sustainable approaches for reducing deforestation and degradation could be possible through engaging with multiple stakeholders, including the business-oriented households in control of the coffee trade and of land transactions.
10 February 2017
Forests, The Heart Of Our Mission
Rainforest Alliance, 10 February 2017
In the mid-1980s, when deforestation in Latin America had reached crisis levels, most conservationists believed the way to save the world’s rainforests was a complete boycott of tropical wood. But the founders of the Rainforest Alliance took the unconventional view that such a boycott would ultimately fail — because it did not take into account the needs of well over 1 billion people who depend on forests for their livelihoods. From the very beginning, the Rainforest Alliance understood that in order to succeed over the long term, the environmental movement must work with the people who use forests for their shelter, sustenance, and livelihoods — for they have the strongest incentive to conserve them.
Chile’s forest fires have been raging for weeks. What caused them?
By Ricardo Martinez, PRI, 10 February 2017
It started with a burst of flames in the steep Chilean hillsides of Valparaíso, two days after crowds celebrated New Year’s. Then flames started popping up farther south. Since then, almost 100 fires have burned hundreds of thousand of acres across the country.
A month later, many of the fires are still burning in what President Michelle Bachelet has called the “greatest forest disaster” in Chilean history.
The blazes have killed at least 11 people and wiped out homes, pasture and livestock, leaving a total burn scar about the size of Delaware.
President Bachelet says some fires were likely started deliberately and others were accidents.
European airlines seek speedy EU agreement and clarity on the future of EU ETS legislation
Green Air, 10 February 2017
European airline leaders welcomed last week’s proposal from the European Commission to continue with the ‘stop the clock’ scope of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) until 2020 and urged EU legislators to apply the required new regulations as soon as possible. Speaking at the inaugural Airlines for Europe (A4E) Aviation Summit in Brussels on Wednesday, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said A4E members expected the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme to replace the EU ETS from 2021 and called for a smooth transition between the two. However, German Green MEP Michael Cramer said during a panel session at the conference that it was likely the European Parliament would vote to continue with the EU ETS alongside CORSIA, raising the prospect of European airlines having to comply with two carbon schemes. Meanwhile, the Pope has described the buying of carbon offsets to compensate for air travel as hypocritical.
[Indonesia] Greenpeace slams paper giant over loophole in fire-prevention policy
By Alice Cuddy, mongabay.com, 10 February 2017
A recent audit of a leading pulp and paper manufacturer in Indonesia has highlighted a significant gap in its sustainability policy, which the company says it is now working to address.
According to the audit conducted by Amsterdam-headquartered KPMG last year, short-term suppliers used by Asia Pacific International Resources (APRIL) — which boasts of pioneering sustainable forest management efforts in Indonesia — are not required to provide details of fires on concessions or of any related government sanctions.
[Kenya] KFS warns not to start fires in tinder-dry land
By Eliud Waithaka, The Star, 10 February 2017
The Kenya Forest Service has warned residents near Mt Kenya and the Aberdare Forest against lighting fires that could become devastating wildfires.
The risk of forest fires is at its highest during the prolonged drought.
Last month, more than 17,000 acres of forest were destroyed by fire in the Aberdares.
Nyeri ecosystem conservator Muchiri Mathinji said all departments have been put on alert to deal with any forest fire.
He was speaking at Kahurura Forest on Tuesday during a meeting with Mt Kenya West Forest Association members on how to prevent and fight fires.
11 February 2017
A Price On Carbon Is Neither Liberal Nor Conservative. It’s Just Practical
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 11 February 2017
Earlier this week, a group of prominent Republicans called for a nationwide price on carbon to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and slow climate change.
It’s a proposal we should all be talking about, but we know Congress won’t – at least not before 2018 –because while these elder statesmen of the Republican party were floating the paper, their juvenile progeny in the Senate were voting to let US oil companies pay bribes overseas and stifling any mention of the $20 billion per year in subsidies and tax breaks that the US gives the fossil-fuel sector.
Still, the proposal exists, and it may revive the only debate we should be having now: not if we should have a price on carbon, but how to determine it and what to do with the proceeds. Here’s a primer to help you along.
Indigenous Woman Shot Dead in Colombia as Activists Targeted
teleSUR, 11 February 2017
Another Indigenous leader and activist was killed in Colombia as authorities refuse to acknowledge the return or existence of paramilitaries in native communities.
Yoryanis Isabel Bernal Varela of the Wiwa tribe in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a strong spiritual Indigenous territory, fought to protect Indigenous and women’s rights in her community.
“They took away a great leader, and when this happens, our culture is diminished because there are not many people brave enough to face our issues in public order, which is always dangerous,” said head of the tribal council of the Arhuaco, Kogui and Wiwa peoples, Jose de los Santos Sauna.
Nepal’s forest fires
By Chun Bahadur Gurung, CIFOR Forests News, 11 February 2017
Forest fire, during dry season last year, hit the headlines in Nepal – the Himalayan country ravaged by a deadly earthquake in 2015. At least 15 deaths were reported and confirmed by multiple sources.
It was not the first time that Nepal experienced fire. In 2009, 13 armymen were killed in the central region of Ramechhap when they were dousing the flames.
12 February 2017
Humans causing climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces
By Melissa Davey, The Guardian, 12 February 2017
For the first time, researchers have developed a mathematical equation to describe the impact of human activity on the earth, finding people are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces.
The equation was developed in conjunction with Professor Will Steffen, a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, and was published in the journal The Anthropocene Review.
The authors of the paper wrote that for the past 4.5bn years astronomical and geophysical factors have been the dominating influences on the Earth system. The Earth system is defined by the researchers as the biosphere, including interactions and feedbacks with the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and upper lithosphere.
Scheme to gut eco-safeguards being railroaded through Brazil’s congress
By Philip Fearnside, ALERT, 12 February 2017
A proposal to create a special abbreviated licensing channel for “strategic” projects, such as major dams, would basically destroy Brazil’s environmental licensing system — a system that took decades to create.
Even the current system is full of loopholes and weaknesses. This is abundantly evident when one sees the environmental and social crises being generated by massive dam schemes on the Madeira River, at Belo Monte, and the Tapajós River in the Brazilian Amazon.
[India] Perils of forest fire in focus
By E.M. Manoj, The Hindu, 12 February 2017
Raising the slogan ‘Conserve water by protecting forests,’ an awareness campaign to sensitise the public to the dangers of forest fire began in villages adjacent to the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) on Saturday.
Inaugurating the programme, Chief Secretary S.M. Vijayanand said the Forest Department was standing not only to conserve forests and wildlife but also to preserve water.