REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
10 April 2017
Forests offer cool way to ease climate fears
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 10 April 2017
European and US scientists have worked out how the Northern hemisphere keeps cool − so be grateful for the trees, and especially for the forests.
Forests don’t just sequester carbon dioxide and slow the pace of global warming. And they do more than alter the planetary albedo and absorb radiation that would otherwise bounce back into space.
They breathe, and they stir the atmosphere. The very existence of a well-established forest creates turbulence and mixes the air at the planet’s surface, while trees transpire vast volumes of moisture.
And both processes are part of the machinery that regulates local climates and makes a walk in the woods one of life’s more sustainable pleasures.
Flammable floodplains are weak spot of Amazon forest
Phys.org, 10 April 2017
Peripheral parts of the Amazon forest were long thought to be most vulnerable to climate-induced collapse. Now, a study by an international team of scientists reveals in the scientific journal PNAS that seasonally inundated areas in the heart of the forest may be an unexpected Achilles’ heel. Those floodplains turn out to be particularly prone to fire which may subsequently spread into the surrounding forest.
The team made the discovery by combining satellite and field datafor the entire basin, with information on more than 250 forest fires, to compare how forest resilience varies between floodable and non-floodable areas, and in relation to climatic variables. Analyzing the distribution of trees across the basin, they found that fire-related savannas can dominate the flooded parts already when rainfall drops below 1500 mm/year, whereas in other parts rainfall as low as 1000 mm/year can be tolerated.
[USA] Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme Upheld in CA
By Jennifer Hermes, Environmental Leader, 10 April 2017
California’s cap-and-trade system, which allows companies to purchase carbon credits through an auction or a secondary market, is not an illegal tax, a state appeals court has found. The system, because of voluntary participation and the purchase of a specific thing of value, preclude a finding that the auction system has the hallmarks of a tax, said Judge Elena J. Duarte
The decision keeps the program safe through 2020, when the program will “still be vulnerable to legal challenges that cite Proposition 26, a 2010 initiative that extended Proposition 13 to apply to fees as well as taxes,” writes Scientific American.
11 April 2017
In complex palm industry, “certified sustainable” falls short
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News, 11 April 2017
As global demand for palm oil has grown in recent years, so has consumer concern over deforestation caused by expanding plantations. In response, the industry devised systems for certifying “sustainably produced” palm oil, but they haven’t been as effective as expected.
Certification systems, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, aim to address the environmental, social and economic factors that are commonly considered the three pillars of sustainability.
The idea behind certification is that palm oil produced according to certain standards can command a higher price in the market, creating an incentive for growers to implement measures that will ensure sustainable production systems and notably reduce deforestation.
How Trase links companies and commodities to deforestation risk
Trase, 11 April 2017
Is Company X somehow linked to deforestation through its supply chains? This is a question that more and more companies, consumers, and investors are asking, especially when it comes to commodities like beef, soy, palm oil and timber, which are responsible for two thirds of tropical deforestation.
Trase helps to answer this question by quantifying deforestation risk associated with a particular supply chain or company that is sourcing from a particular production region. This opens up new opportunities for sustainable agricultural trade and production.
Permafrost thaw threatens flood of emissions
By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 11 April 2017
Permafrost, the layer of permanently frozen ground that lies just beneath the Earth’s surface in the polar regions, has been found to be more sensitive to the effects of global warming than climatology had recognised.
In a new study published in Nature Climate Change journal, scientists say they expect the warming to thaw about 20% more permafrost than previously thought, potentially releasing significant amounts of greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere.
[India] Good monsoon may lead to more forest fires this summer
By Abhishek Samuel, Times of India, 11 April 2017
The excellent monsoon in 2016 brought cheer across the state but it may not be so good for forests.
Experts say it has increased the chances of forest fires this summer because of the healthy grass cover. Nearly 60 small forest fires have already been reported around Pune.
Deputy conservator of forests Satyajit Gujar said, “The rainfall last year led to wild grass growth across various forest areas in the Pune region. However, with the onset of summer, the grass has begun to dry.”
[Vietnam] National programme targets 42% forest cover by 2020
Vietnam Net, 11 April 2017
Vietnam’s national forest cover is targeted to reach 42% of the total land area, equivalent to 14.4 million hectares, by 2020.
It is among the goals set out in the Prime Minister-approved national programme on reducing greenhouse emissions through the limitation of deforestation and forest degradation, preservation and improvement of carbon reserves, and sustainable management of forest resources (Programme REDD+) until 2030.
The programme also seeks to contribute to eliminating greenhouse emissions via REDD+ activities in the next three years, stabilise the area of natural forests by 2030 at least at the same level as in 2020 and increase the national forest cover to 45%, thus contributing to realising the national target of cutting 8% of greenhouse emissions by 2030 compared to a Business-as-Usual (BAU) scenario as committed in the Paris Agreement on climate change.
12 April 2017
Plants can’t cover up fossil fuel damage
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 12 April 2017
The vegetable world – the original consumer society – is responding to climate change. As the supply of carbon dioxide goes up, so does demand from plants, according to new research.
Foliage now is currently removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it did two centuries ago − and the world is getting greener.
Scientists in the US confirm in Nature journal that the green things are taking advantage of the growing greenhouse gas emissions that follow the prodigal human combustion of fossil fuels in the last century or so.
Analysts up EU carbon price forecasts on market reform hopes
By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 12 April 2017
Analysts have significantly increased their forecasts for European carbon prices in the bloc’s Emission Trading System (ETS) for 2018 and 2019 to take into account the progress made in market reforms designed to curb oversupply.
Analysts expect EU Allowances (EUAs) to average 6.23 euros/tonne in 2018, and 8.78 euros/tonne in 2019, according to the poll of seven analysts published on Wednesday.
The forecasts were up 10 percent and 23 percent, respectively, on prices given for the last poll published in January, of 5.67 euros for 2018 and 7.12 euros for 2019.
Guatemala issues red alert as national parks burn
By Sandra Cuffe, Mongabay, 12 April 2017
The Guatemalan government issued a red alert for the Peten department Tuesday due to forest fires in national parks inside the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
The biosphere reserve covers the northernmost fifth of the country and borders both Mexico and Belize. Along with adjacent areas in those two countries, the Maya Biosphere Reserve is part of one of the largest contiguous tracts of tropical forest north of the Amazon, according to the United Nations.
A fire that began Saturday in the Laguna del Tigre National Park has proven to be especially challenging to combat, according to an official government video communiqué. The fires may have already consumed 30,000 hectares of land, according to the National System for the Prevention and Control of Forest Fires (SIPECIF).
13 April 2017
The Roadmap to Decarbonization Won’t Go Far Without Land
World Resources Institute, 13 April 2017
A decarbonization roadmap recently published in Science outlines decadal targets that put into perspective the monumental progress we need to make to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keep warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). The authors detail specific measures and incentives for the energy and transport sectors, but the agriculture and forestry sector, the third major component of the roadmap, is offered comparatively few concrete actions — reflective of its overlooked status within the global climate dialogue.
Rainforest conservation may be aimed at the wrong places, study finds
By Dyna Rochmyaningsih, Mongabay, 13 April 2017
As the earth gets warmer, nations are putting their hope in tropical rainforests. Located along the equatorial belt of the planet, scientists estimate tropical forests are home to around half of the world’s terrestrial plant and animal species and may store more than 250 billion tons of carbon. Because of their carbon-storage superpower, the protection of tropical rainforests has become a central facet of international climate change mitigation policies, such as REDD+. Standing for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation,” the United Nation’s REDD+ policy framework aims to encourage developing countries to keep their rainforests in the ground – and, thus, the carbon they contain out of the atmosphere – by providing financial incentives from richer countries.
But do carbon-focused conservation approaches also protect forests that are biologically important?
[UK] Ban For Directors In £3.5m Carbon Credit Scams
By Louise Jones, SciClonic, 13 April 2017
Legal experts are warning investors not to buy worthless carbon credits as directors of two firms involved in scams were closed.
In both separate cases, the directors were disqualified for selling voluntary emission reduction certificates (VERS) to consumers as investments, even though they knew their customers had no way to make a profit from the purchase.
VERS are certificates showing a business has paid some money to offset their carbon footprint.
Investors have no market where they can sell a VER.
14 April 2017
[Fiji] World Bank mission
By Monika Singh, Fiji Times, 14 April 2017
A World Bank mission was in the country last week to review the annual work program, budget and provide technical and other relevant advice in terms of social and environmental safeguards and fiduciary compliance with its relevant policies.
A statement from the Ministry of Forests said the World Bank mission was in the country to provide implementation support and review the progress of Fiji’s REDD+ readiness preparation program funded by the forest carbon partnership facility (FCPF) and the preparation of the “reducing emissions and enhancing livelihoods program” (ERP).
15 April 2017
When it comes to the environment, do good guys finish first?
By Jeremy Hance, ALERT, 15 April 2017
At an Eco-Business event in Singapore in February, a corporate CEO rocked the audience by pointing out the environmental equivalent of the Emperor having no clothes.
He argued that, despite all the hoopla over “sustainability” in recent decades, financial markets around the world do almost nothing to reward corporate progress on the environment.
Is the CEO right? Are we failing to punish corporate sinners and reward the good guys?