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REDD in the news: 27 February – 5 March 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.

27 February 2017

[Bangladesh] Sustainable forest resource management
By Dr Abu Syed, The Daily Star, 27 February 2017
Forests provide timber, fuel and essential ecosystem services in addition to carbon storage and delivery of oxygen to the atmosphere. It is vital for the continued provision of essential life-sustaining services like health, livelihoods, water, food, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration and climate security. The natural forests in Bangladesh are not uniformly distributed and concentrated only in the 12 districts and 28 densely populated districts are devoid of any forest.
Bangladesh has been experiencing demographic pressure which drives large number of people to get goods and services from a single unit of land, compared to any other country. The forest ecosystem has been modified by human influence, especially by the transformation into other land uses. Exponentially increasing use and dependence on forest goods and services by the fast growing population are the main problems.

[Nigeria] Controversy trails Cross River’s plan to overrule EIA on UN conservation site
By Chinedum Uwaegbulam, The Guardian, 27 February 2017
The pendulum of global attention over the earth’s health swung again to the realm of natural conservation, as civil society organizations protest threat by the Cross River authorities to go ahead with the superhighway project.
The proposed project is located within the United Nation’s fledgling new initiative tagged ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+),’ under the banner of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Republic of Congo: on the cusp of forest conservation
By John C. Cannon, mongabay.com, 27 February 2017
On the surface, the Republic of Congo appears to be making strides toward both conservation and economic development. But the process of becoming an emerging economy is not without its growing pains, especially when it comes to conservation and the country’s forests.
The Republic of Congo’s high forest cover and low annual deforestation rates of just over 0.05 percent, according to the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), have led to the country’s designation as a priority country by the UN’s REDD+ program. Short for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries,” REDD+ shuttles financing for development and conservation to low-income and emerging economies.
The Republic of Congo is one of six countries in the region that will split $47 million from Norway and several EU countries aimed at tackling the drivers of deforestation through CAFI. In February 2016, the CAFI board approved an initial grant for the Republic of Congo of $698,000 to jumpstart preparations for how later funds will be invested.

Climate Change: Nigeria To Inaugurate Green Bond
The Tide, 27 February 2017
Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Federal Government was making arrangements to inaugurate the first African Sovereign Green Bond to address climate change and environmental projects.
Osinbajo said this at the Green Bonds Capital Market & Investors Conference organised by the Federal Ministry of Environment and the Debt Management Office (DMO) at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) office in Lagos, Thursday.
Green Bonds are debt instruments tied to environmental projects to address climate change.

[Nigeria] Controversy trails Cross River’s plan to overrule EIA on UN conservation site
By Chinedum Uwaegbulam, The Guardian, 27 February 2017
The pendulum of global attention over the earth’s health swung again to the realm of natural conservation, as civil society organizations protest threat by the Cross River authorities to go ahead with the superhighway project.
The proposed project is located within the United Nation’s fledgling new initiative tagged ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+),’ under the banner of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The REDD+ programme therefore seeks to create financial value for the carbon that is left stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.

[UK] £1million Carbon Credit Scam Directors Banned
ABC Money, 27 February 2017
After an investigation by the Insolvency Service, the directors of Cleartrade Limited have been banned as company directors for a total of 43 years.
Mr Marcel McKeigue, Mr Graham Stephen Philip Hawrysh and Mr Carl Stuart Thornton sold voluntary emission reduction carbon credits (VERs) to members of the public that were completely worthless and had no investment potential. The VERs were sold by the company at highly inflated prices.
Cleartrade Limited was incorporated on 19 October 2011 and registered at a London address.

US foreign aid expected to be biggest casualty of Trump’s first budget
By Ben Quinn, The Guardian, 27 February 2017
US spending on overseas aid is expected to bear the brunt of dramatic cuts as part of Donald Trump’s plan to increase defence spending by $54bn in his upcoming budget.
The US operates the largest and most expansive overseas aid programme in the world, with a proposed federal spend of $50.1bn (£40.3bn) for 2017 alone. More than $18bn of that is made up of economic and development assistance, commonly referred to as humanitarian aid. A further $8.1bn was due to go towards security assistance.

28 February 2017

Congo plantation firm financed by UK aid accused of breaking promise to help workers
By Chris Arsenault, Reuters, 28 February 2017
One of Africa’s largest palm oil companies that is majority-owned by the British government through foreign aid funding has failed to meet a promise to improve housing for its Congolese workers or pay them on time, investigations have revealed.
A Thomson Reuters Foundation expose in 2014 showed how development funds from European taxpayers helped rescue loss-making Canada-listed Feronia that manages about 105,000 hectares of land in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
But Feronia was found to be paying some of its 3,600 staff less than the minimum wage and providing abysmal housing, prompting questions from human rights groups about using public money to fund a foreign company not helping poor labourers.

Reform of EU carbon trading scheme agreed
By Daniel Boffey, The Guardian, 28 February 2017
An overhaul of the EU’s flagship trading scheme for cutting carbon emissions by European industries has been approved by the member states.The acceleration in the EU’s efforts to toughen up the carbon reduction regime illustrates widespread acknowledgement of the need to plug loopholes in current legislation.
The agreement to reform the emissions trading system comes after almost two years’ of discussions but just two weeks after the European parliament voted in favour of a new directive.

[India] Four forest fires in 10 days destroy 700 acres of trees in Karnataka, no one knows the cause
By Theja Ram, The News Minute, 28 February 2017
There’s a wildfire almost every other day in Karnataka now, and the latest incident has been reported from Chikkamangalur, where the Madhuguni forest in Balehonnur range of the district was ablaze.
With this incident, the number of forest fires in the last 10 days has gone up to four – the first three in Bandipur, Biligiri Ranganatha Temple Tiger Reserve and Srirangapattana.
Shockingly, at least two of the fires could be manmade. A senior officer told TNM that the Bandipur and Srirangapattana fires may have been incidents of arson.

[India] Growing a Forest Transforms Jharkhand Village
By Chhandosree, The Wire, 28 February 2017
There are many instances of communities coming together for a common cause but such action is usually catalysed by government schemes or interventions initiated by non-governmental organisations. Hesatu village in Jharkhand’s Ormanjhi administrative block, 27km from state capital Ranchi, is a notable exception.
In a state that derives its name from forests but where tree felling is rampant, 93 households of Hesatu have shown how to create a sustainable economy from ecology by raising a forest of over 100,000 trees on what used to be 365 acres of wasteland barely six years ago.
Spread across a 3 km radius, this village of 800 people had large acres of land lying fallow, but till 2010, villagers who owned them did not know what to do with it. The situation is much different in 2017. “The annual income through our agro-forestry initiative is between Rs 40-50 lakh. That is what we had been earning for last few years,” resident Shivnath Pahan told VillageSquare.in.

PNG’s CDDA To Strengthen Communities On Sustainable Management Of Forests
PNG Today, 28 February 2017
PNG’s Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA) is designing a system to help people resolve problems arising from the Government’s actions to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from deforestation and forest degradation.
Approximately 10 per cent of global GHG emissions are caused by land-use change and, in particular, the destruction of tropical forests. Papua New Guinea (PNG) has one of the most significant areas of largely-intact tropical forest in the world but these forests are facing acute and imminent threats.
Since 2008, PNG has been at the forefront of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to develop an international mechanism to compensate developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD plus).

[UK] Heathrow aims to make third runway carbon neutral
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 28 February 2017
The huge growth in flights from Heathrow’s planned new runway could be carbon neutral, according to an ambition revealed by the airport.
The 260,000 extra flights a year anticipated from the third runway would make the airport the UK’s largest source of carbon emissions. But Heathrow’s new sustainability plan suggests other ways to offset the leap in emissions, including by restoring British peat bogs.
The new plan, called Heathrow 2.0, sets a wide range of targets to tackle carbon emissions, illegal levels of local air pollution, and noise. The airport will use 100% renewable electricity from April and aim to get 35,000 more people a day using public transport rather than arriving in cars by 2030 and double that by 2040.

[USA] The Northeast’s carbon trading system works quite well. It just doesn’t reduce much carbon.
By David Roberts, Vox, 28 February 2017
The danger of climate change has been understood for decades, but the US still has no coherent national climate policy. That has left climate-friendly states to fend for themselves amidst an inconsistent patchwork of federal subsidies and regulations. It’s a daunting task given the scope and complexity of the problem.
One of the oldest and most enduring state efforts is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced “reggie”), a carbon cap-and-trade system operating in nine Northeastern states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. (New Jersey was also involved, but dropped out in 2011 at the insistence of Gov. Chris Christie.)

[USA] More airports join San Diego in Good Traveler offset program
By Robert Silk, Travel Weekly, 28 February 2017
A carbon offset program founded by San Diego International Airport in 2015 is spreading to airports nationwide.
Austin-Bergstrom, Seattle-Tacoma, Dallas/Fort Worth and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (operator of Newark, JFK and LaGuardia airports) all joined the Good Traveler program over the winter.
While those airports are in the early stages of implementing the program, San Diego claims to have already offset 11.5 million flight miles with the Good Traveler program from September 2015 through the end of 2016.
Under the program, flyers purchase credits to offset the carbon emissions generated by their trip. A $1 credit offsets 500 miles of air travel.

1 March 2017

The Carbon Chronicle
Ecosystem Marketplace, 1 March 2017
Prior to 2009, industry was chopping the mountain hemlock, fir, yellow cedar and white pine trees in the Cheakamus forest in British Columbia at a rate of 200 hectares per year.
But then eight years ago, the Municipality of Whistler and the First Nations of Squamish and Lil’wat decided to turn Cheakamus into a community forest, which they would manage primarily for conservation with a limited amount of harvesting. In order to make their ecosystem-based management approach financially sustainable, the three groups turned to carbon finance.
As the Operations Manager at Cheakamus Community Forest Tom Cole said, “the benefits that derive from the forest don’t have to come from the logs themselves.” Instead, they come from carbon stored in its live trees.

Burger King animal feed sourced from deforested lands in Brazil and Bolivia
By Arthus Neslen, The Guardian, 1 March 2017
The hamburger chain Burger King has been buying animal feed produced in soy plantations carved out by the burning of tropical forests in Brazil and Bolivia, according to a new report.
Jaguars, giant anteaters and sloths have all been affected by the disappearance of around 700,000 hectares (1,729,738 acres) of forest land between 2011 and 2015.
The campaign group Mighty Earth says that evidence gathered from aerial drones, satellite imaging, supply-chain mapping and field research shows a systematic pattern of forest-burning.

Danish Proposal Calls For Tax On Meat To Fight Climate Change
By Steve Hanley, Clean Technica, 1 March 2017
The Danish Council of Ethics is recommending that the country impose a tax on meat to fight global warming. The group says that its research finds cattle account for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Food production taken as a whole — which includes transportation, irrigation, fertilizers, and refrigeration — is responsible for nearly 30% of all emissions, the council says. The Council concluded that “climate change is an ethical problem.”

EU Carbon Permits Jump After Ministers Agree on Market Overhaul
By Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 1 March 2017
European Union emission allowances climbed to the highest in almost two months and trading surged after environment ministers agreed on a carbon-market overhaul aimed at reducing a glut and boosting prices from 2019.
The proposal includes doubling the rate at which a mooted reserve would absorb surplus emission allowances from the market, according to the accord struck late Tuesday in Brussels. The deal includes an option to cancel the equivalent of two years’ worth of allowances by 2030, based on calculations by Sandbag, an environmental group in London.

[Indonesia] Water-Bombing Choppers Bound for Riau’s Forest Fires
Jakarta Globe, 1 March 2017
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, will send water-bombing helicopters to Riau in Sumatra as soon as possible since dozens of fire hot spots have been detected in the province last week.
An MI-171 helicopter, which can carry up to 5,000 liters of water, will be used to help aerial firefighters in Riau, BNPB head Willem Rampangilei said in Pekanbaru on Tuesday (28/02).
The Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) is also looking to add two more water-bombing helicopters. The BNPB declared last month that Riau and South Sumatra are already in disaster response preparation mode in regard to forest fires.
“This year, which is expected to be hotter, is going to be more challenging compared to 2016,” Willem told state news agency Antara.

[USA] California carbon market sees weak demand for permits
By Rory Carroll, Reuters, 1 March 2017
California’s carbon market generated little interest from buyers at last month’s permit auction, results released on Wednesday showed, raising concern about the program’s ability to deliver funding for projects like the state’s bullet train.
California along with its carbon market partner Quebec sold 18 percent of the over 65 million permits it offered up to businesses at the sale, which was held on February 22.
The permits cleared at $13.57 a metric tonne, the minimum price allowed under the program, raising approximately $8.2 million.

2 March 2017

Deforestation vs. Degradation: How we underestimate tropical forest greenhouse gas emissions
By Neha Jain, mongabay.com, 2 March 2017
Greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs often focus on the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities that lead to tropical deforestation. However, according to a new study published last week in Carbon Balance and Management, policy makers have failed to address the significant levels of carbon dioxide emissions caused by rainforest degradation, which amount to one-third of the emissions arising from deforestation and are five times greater than total emissions from the global aviation sector. For a third of the countries studied, emissions from degradation were even higher than those from deforestation.
Until now, the contribution of forest degradation to overall forest carbon emissions has been largely unknown. This is the first study to comprehensively quantify the major sources of forest degradation, and the results suggest that emissions from degradation of tropical forests comprise a quarter of the combined emissions from degradation and deforestation — a much higher proportion than the researchers expected.

Not All Carbon In The Atmosphere Is Created Equally
By Gord Miller, Huffington Post, 2 March 2017
A few months ago, I was on a panel on a public affairs TV show talking about electricity supply and price. At the very end of the show, an economist panelist opined that the solution to keeping energy costs down was to reopen Ontario’s coal plants and buy carbon credits to offset. I was shocked. Not only is coal burning the source of respiratory illness and mortality, cessation of coal burning is essential to the mitigation of climate change. How could he be so wrong?
I have now realized that most economists operate under a very different concept of the nature of atmospheric carbon then ecologists like myself. Their paradigm turns any and all carbon into a market commodity to be manipulated by price and economic tools. They don’t share the ecologist’s concern that such a simplistic model can lead to truly dangerous and perverse public policy. They don’t understand that not all carbon that is being emitted by human activity is equivalent with respect to the biogeochemical cycles of the Earth.

Legislators attempt to mine Amazon’s riches
By Jan Rocha, Climate News Network, 2 March 2017
Environment campaigners in Brazil say attempts by legislators to reduce the extent of protected land in Amazonia are driven by a determination to exploit the region’s mineral wealth.
They fear that a bill about to be introduced in the national congress that proposes cutting conservation areas in the south of the Amazon region is designed to help the parliamentarians to develop its resources, which include gold, iron ore, cassiterite (the main tin-bearing ore) and niobium (a metal used in many alloys).
If the bill passes, more than 1 million hectares of protected rainforest will be opened up. Four recently created conservation areas will lose 40% of their combined size, down from 2.8m ha at present to 1.8m ha, and one will disappear altogether.

Ombudsman launches investigation against EIB
by Janie Matthews, EURACTIV.com, 2 March 2017
The EU’s watchdog is investigating the EIB for maladministration after three NGOs submitted a complaint this week.
European Union Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly sent a formal letter opening the case on 27 February after ClientEarth, CEE Bankwatch Network and Counter Balance highlighted the bank’s lack of transparency and its attempts to block scrutiny.
She said she would investigate the case and ask the European Investment Bank (EIB) to explain its policy and its reaction to the complaint.

[Nepal] Money grows on trees for Nijgadh airport project
By Sangam Prasain, Kathmandu Post, 2 March 2017
The money from the sale of trees that will be cut down at the proposed construction site of an international airport in Nijgadh will pay for half of the construction cost, officials said.
A swathe of jungle will be flattened to build the airport, which is expected to be the biggest in South Asia in terms of area, yielding more than 600,000 trees.
The market value of the lumber stands at over Rs60 billion, according to sources privy to the matter. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) said the new airport was estimated to cost Rs121 billion.

[USA] Top Trump Advisers Are Split on Paris Agreement on Climate Change
By Coral Davenport, New York Times, 2 March 2017
The White House is fiercely divided over President Trump’s campaign promise to “cancel” the Paris agreement, the 2015 accord that binds nearly every country to curb global warming, with more moderate voices maintaining that he should stick with the agreement despite his campaign pledge.
Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, is pressing the president to officially pull the United States from the landmark accord, according to energy and government officials with knowledge of the debate. But, they say, he is clashing with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who fear the move could have broad and damaging diplomatic ramifications.

[USA] Trump’s been silent on the climate deal, and that’s making UN officials hopeful
By John Light, UN Dispatch, 2 March 2017
Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington, DC earlier this week, Patricia Espinosa, the head of the UN’s climate change program, expressed hope that the US would still cooperate with international efforts to minimize global warming. “One of the reasons that I am today here in Washington is to show how much we value the US as an important partner in this process,” she said.
And, indeed, the last week has given some small reasons for hope. With Scott Pruitt installed as EPA director, President Donald Trump has set about dismantling many of the policies that Obama put in place to confront climate change — but, The Wall Street Journal reports, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner have convinced the president to leave any mention of the Paris agreement out of these executive orders.

3 March 2017

The promise and potential of tropical forests: Q&A with forests expert Frances Seymour
mongabay.com, 3 March 2017
In their new book Frances Seymour and Jonah Busch explore solutions to help arrest the global loss of tropical forests. In particular, the authors lay out the potential impact of spatial econometrics, using forest-related data, to estimate the costs and benefits of protecting forests. Their book entitled, “Why Forests? Why Now? The Science, Economics, and Politics of Tropical Forests and Climate Change,” also takes a hard look at the political interests of industrialized and developing countries – and the intersections where their interests meet to advance the agenda of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
An important part of that work is REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) a global program geared to foster countries’ efforts to curb emissions from land use change. The program also facilitates and fosters conservation efforts, supports the sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Permafrost collapse
By Hilary Beaumont, Vice News, 3 March 2017
The climate-driven collapse of Canada’s Arctic permafrost is much more widespread than previously thought, according to new research that presents a dire picture of the changing northern landscape. The study maps an unprecedented area of permafrost that is poised to thaw, threatening local communities and infrastructure, and may speed up global warming.
From Siberia to Canada, giant craters and canyons are opening in the Arctic permafrost, the result of climate change in the north. Now for the first time, scientists have mapped the permafrost thaw across a huge swath of the Canadian north — a 1.27 million square kilometre region from the Yukon to Nunavut.

Did Pinochet-era deregulation cause Chile’s worst-ever wildfires?
By Piotr Kozak, The Guardian, 3 March 2017
The smoke has almost cleared, the blazes that raged over half a million hectares of forests, bush and grassland mostly extinguished, but the air is still thick with recriminations against Chile’s eucalyptus and pine plantation owners who are accused of putting profits before safety.
Following the worst fires in the country’s history, activists are asking whether the unregulated expansion of the forestry industry under the dictator Augusto Pinochet will lead to more problems in a future that is likely to be hotter and drier as a result of climate change.

4 March 2017

As Israel-based financial fraud soars, police swoop on 20 suspects as part of global, FBI-led sting
By Simona Weinglass, Times of Israel, 4 March 2017
Israel Police arrested 20 people this week in conjunction with a global FBI sting against an international crime ring that has allegedly scammed tens of millions of dollars from individuals and companies over the Internet.
Among those detained on March 1 were Harry Meir Amar of Netanya, Shimon Ben Shitrit of Ashdod, Tamzi Bebershvili of Netanya, Ori Saadon of Beit Shemesh, Stanislav Nazarov of Or Akiva, Timur Kardanov of Netanya, Rabia Abdel Hai of Tira, Ahmad Abu Naji of Nazareth, Husam Hariri of Umm el-Fahm and Moshe Hazan of Ramat Gan.
They are suspected, variously, of fraud, aggravated fraud, conspiring to commit crimes, threats, extortion, money laundering and running a criminal organization.

5 March 2017

The oil deal, the disgraced former minister, and $800m paid via a UK bank
By Lionel Faull, Ted Jeory, Nick Mathiason and Jamie Doward, The Guardian, 5 March 2017
Britain’s commitment to tackling high-end money laundering through the City of London is under serious scrutiny after it emerged that regulators appear to have waved through an $800m bank transfer to a convicted criminal as the proceeds from one of the most corrupt deals in the history of the oil industry.
A joint investigation by the Observer and journalists from Finance Uncovered, a non-profit organisation based in London, has discovered that prosecutors in Milan believe two payments of $400m each were wired through JP Morgan in London as the spoils of a huge deal to develop a Nigerian oilfield involving Shell, its joint venture partner the Italian oil giant Eni, and the government in Abuja.

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