REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
26 June 2017
Carbon in Atmosphere Is Rising, Even as Emissions Stabilize
By Justin Gillis, New York Times, 26 June 2017
On the best days, the wind howling across this rugged promontory has not touched land for thousands of miles, and the arriving air seems as if it should be the cleanest in the world.
But on a cliff above the sea, inside a low-slung government building, a bank of sophisticated machines sniffs that air day and night, revealing telltale indicators of the way human activity is altering the planet on a major scale.
For more than two years, the monitoring station here, along with its counterparts across the world, has been flashing a warning: The excess carbon dioxide scorching the planet rose at the highest rate on record in 2015 and 2016. A slightly slower but still unusual rate of increase has continued into 2017.
Virgin Atlantic Drops CO2 Emissions 22% in 9 Years
By Jennifer Hermes, Environmental Leader, 26 June 2017
Virgin Atlantic successfully dropped its CO2 emissions from more than 5.2 metric tons to slightly over 4 metric tons from a series of carbon savings initiatives including purchase of a multi-billion dollar fleet investment in Boeing 787 aircraft, single-engine taxiing, real-time weather technology to optimize flight planning, and rigorous weight management of all products on the aircraft, the company says. That’s a 22% reduction in aircraft carbon emissions over the last nine years.
Saving Brazil’s Amazon: A Job for Tiny Norway
By Jan Lee, Triple Pundit, 26 June 2017
Earlier this month, Brazil’s immensely popular supermodel Gisele Bündchen managed to do something that environmental and human rights organizations have been trying to accomplish for months: With a single tweet, she got Brazil President Michel Temer to promise he would drop his support for legislation that would have removed protections from the country’s Amazon preserves.
It’s a move that may seem small in the scope of global ecological woes, but since Temer took office in 2016, the government’s efforts to stop the deforestation of its Amazon Rainforest has taken a dramatic back slide. Many critics credit that failure to Temer’s affiliation with the country’s agribusiness lobby and his lukewarm attitude toward environmental protections. The bill that Temer was expected to have signed (and which he himself proposed) would have opened up tracks of land to agricultural businesses that, according to Mongabay, supported Temer’s rise to power after former president Dilma Rousseff was impeached last year.
[Guatemala] Why indigenous communities are essential to prevent forest fires
By Lorenzo Brenna, Lifegate, 26 June 2017
According to a study presented in Guatemala, granting the rights to land to rural communities contributes to reducing the risk of forest fires.
Indigenous communities are the best guardians of the ecosystems they live in, as the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights Survival has been claiming for years. And yet another demonstration comes from Guatemala, where a new study on the importance of rural communities in preventing forest fires has been presented.
U.S. Rice Farmers Turn Sustainability into Carbon Credits, and Microsoft Is First to Buy
By Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News, 26 June 2017
The world’s largest software maker made a novel purchase recently—from a handful of rice farmers.
Microsoft bought carbon offsets from rice farmers in Arkansas, Mississippi and California who had worked for the better part of the last 10 years to implement conservation measures on their farms. Through a complicated measurement and verification process, these conservation steps ultimately translated to carbon offsets purchased by the software giant.
The transaction this month was the first of its kind and, in the complex and controversial world of carbon markets, it represents a milestone for agriculture.
[USA] Is California Selling Climate Illusions?
By Gary Graham Hughes, Friends of the Earth US, 26 June 2017
California Governor Jerry Brown has aggressively positioned himself as a global climate leader to fill the vacuum created by the arrival of an ignorant climate change denier in the White House. But not all that glitters is green. The Governor has spent the last months promoting the expansion of complicated market-based carbon trading mechanisms, known as “Cap-and-Trade,” as a cornerstone of state and global climate policy — in a move that directly threatens vulnerable communities both in California and abroad.
California’s current Cap-and-Trade program is set to expire in 2020. Last summer the state legislature established ambitious and unprecedented emissions reductions goals for 2030, without extending the authorization of Cap-and-Trade. The Governor signed the emission reductions goals into law — but he made it clear that Cap-and-Trade was the primary option he would consider for meeting those goals.
[Vietnam]Smallholders — our best hope for sustainability
By Tam Le Viet, WWF, 26 June 2017
Vietnam is one of the world’s largest exporters of wood and wood products. Overall exports in 2016 were valued at nearly $7 billion. Yet its forests, ravaged by war and degraded by logging and land clearance, contain almost no untouched primary forest and the country imports a significant amount of timber, some still from unsustainable sources that drive deforestation in neighbouring countries.
The Greater Mekong region as a whole, with only 13 per cent of its primary forest remaining, could become one of 11 global ‘deforestation fronts’ if nothing is done.
Deforestation is a never-ending story — but there is hope.
27 June 2017
REDD+ results-based finance
By Stephen Leonard, CIFOR Forests News, 27 June 2017
As we approach the next meeting of the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), we can expect a significant and long awaited step to be taken concerning REDD+ Results-Based Payments.
The fourth REDD+ voluntary meeting of focal points was held this past May in Bonn, Germany, which provided a number of insights as to what to expect on the topic of results-based payments and REDD+ via the GCF, as well as through the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.
The country that will hold the COP23 Presidency, Fiji, opened the meeting in Bonn. Its delegates emphasized the importance of land use efforts as essential climate change actions, and the fact that more than 100 NDCs mention REDD+.
Connecting Investors with Purpose: Harnessing Capital Markets for the SDGs
By Alexandra Klopfer Herdandez, IISD, 27 June 2017
Speaking at the London School of Economics in April, World Bank President Jim Kim laid out a new strategic direction for development finance: he called on the development community to find win-win outcomes by connecting capital seeking reasonable returns with developing countries’ needs to maximize sustainable investments.
This shift in thinking is driven on the one hand by the magnitude of the challenges—from climate change to lack of access to education, health, and sustainable infrastructure —and on the other hand by the realities of the global economy, where yields are low. By acting as honest brokers between capital and development needs, we can turn the challenges into an opportunity for everyone. And we will have a much better chance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)— a set of 17 goals designed to guide international cooperation to achieve sustainable development, end poverty, ensure healthy lives, end hunger, restore terrestrial ecosystems, build resilient infrastructure, promote decent work for all and much more.
Calling China’s carbon market ‘ambitious’ shows how low the bar has fallen
By Emil Dimantchev, Climate Home, 27 June 2017
Much hype surrounds China’s national carbon market. Expected to begin later this year, the cap and trade system has been ballyhooed as an “ambitious” climate policy that will deliver a major portion of Beijing’s pledge to the Paris Agreement.
This narrative makes intuitive sense in the current political times. As the US federal government abdicates its responsibility to combat climate change, we are eager to fill the void in what we perceive as climate leadership. And for those following the arduous, halting history of carbon pricing, China’s plan offers hope that such policies can indeed make a big difference.
A fair EU carbon market: but for whom?
By Femke De Jong (Carbon Market Watch), Euractiv, 27 June 2017
Today, the representatives of EU Member States, the European Parliament and the Commission will sit down for one of the final meetings on how the EU’s flagship climate instrument – the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) – should look like in the 2021-2030 period.
A key issue which remains to be solved is the amount of free emission allowances the different industry sectors will receive in the next trading period to avoid that industries move their production to countries with less stringent policies (‘carbon leakage’).
28 June 2017
Has clampdown on illegal gold mining caused deforestation leakage?
environmentalresearchweb.org, 28 June 2017
When gold prices climb, trees come down. A study has revealed that deforestation in some parts of South America is strongly linked to gold prices. What’s more, policies such as REDD+ designed to protect forest may lead to greater deforestation in neighbouring countries if action against illegal gold mining is not applied equally across national borders.
Land-use change, including deforestation and forest degradation, is estimated to account for between 12 and 29% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Bringing emissions from land-use change under control is essential if we are to tackle climate change, and that is why REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing countries) was first negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change back in 2005. Since then REDD has been modified to REDD+ but significant challenges still remain when it comes to implementing this initiative.
Protect sacred sites to realize indigenous rights says African Commission
By Hannibal Rhoades, Intercontinental Cry, 28 June 2017
From North and South Dakota to the Highlands of Ethiopia, the sacred natural sites and territories of Indigenous Peoples face the threat of destruction; destruction that is often legitimized and legalized by state and regional institutions. But on the African continent, there are hopeful signs things are beginning to move down a different path.
Last week, Africa’s largest and most respected human rights institution published a new resolution urging states, businesses and civil society to recognize and protect Africa’s sacred natural sites and territories in order to guarantee the human rights of her people, and especially the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Passed at the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ (ACHPR) 60th Ordinary Session in Niamey, Niger, the resolution is remarkable for its decolonizing tone and content.
EU nations, Parliament still divided on carbon market reform
Reuters, 28 June 2017
European Union nations and the European Parliament remain divided on how to reform the EU carbon market and whether it should mention aviation and shipping, EU sources said on Wednesday. Negotiations to finalise a legal text on reforms to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) post-2020, agreed in outline by the European Parliament in February, have dragged on for weeks. The ETS, a cap-and-trade system to regulate industry pollution and help the 28-nation bloc meet its climate goals, has suffered from an excess supply of permits to pollute, adding political urgency to efforts to pass reforms. The next round of talks will take place on July 10, with the Estonian presidency of the EU saying it will push hard for progress on the complex file during its six-month chairmanship.
Nordics consider alternative to EU emissions trading system
By Lisbeth Kirk, EU Observer, 28 June 2017
If the European emissions trading system is not reformed to work efficiently, a Nordic carbon price floor could be introduced to secure future green investments in the region, according to a new strategic review of energy co-operation by the Nordic Council.
The plan, which has been in preparation for over a year, is penned by Finnish businessman Jorma Ollila, who had formerly chaired Royal Dutch Shell for almost ten years and was the chairman and CEO of Nokia.
G20 stage set for climate change battle
By Ruby Russell, DW, 28 June 2017
Next week, leaders of 20 of the world’s most powerful nations will come together in Hamburg, Germany. Among them, “Climate Chancellor” Angela Merkel – and US President Donald Trump, who has called climate change a hoax and dismayed the world by pulling out of the Paris Agreement to limit climate change to maximum 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
With Germany wearing the mantle of the revolving G20 presidency, Merkel isn’t shying away from what promises to be a controversial topic. The German government recently set out its agenda for the conference, confirming climate change as a focus of the talks.
“Climate change will be high on the agenda,” Alois Vedder, head of politics department WWF Germany, told DW.
[Indonesia] Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve
Natural Capital Partners, 28 June 2017
Projects like Rimba Raya play an essential role in protecting forest habitats, mitigating climate change, and developing livelihoods for forest communities.
Following a recent project visit, this video explores some of the activities that have been implemented to support both the critically endangered Borneo orangutan and the communities that live in the project area.
[USA] Californians pay to fight climate change – and court says they’ll keep paying
By Dale Kasler, Sacramento Bee, 28 June 2017
Californians pay more for gasoline and other goods to finance the state’s war on climate change. The state Supreme Court decided Wednesday they’ll continue paying for at least three more years.
The court declined to hear a lawsuit challenging the state-run auctions of carbon-emissions allowances, which cement makers, food processors and others must purchase in order to spew greenhouse gases. Two lower courts already ruled the auctions, which have raised billions of dollars since their introduction in 2012, are constitutional.
29 June 2017
UN Council Calls for Considering Human Rights under UNFCCC
By Elena Kosolapova, IISD, 29 June 2017
During its 35th session, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution on ‘Human rights and climate change’ (A/HRC/35/L.32), calling on States to consider human rights within the UNFCCC framework, and to adopt a comprehensive and integrated approach to climate change adaptation and mitigation policies, consistent with the UNFCCC principles and objective, to address the economic, cultural and social challenges associated with climate change, for the full and effective enjoyment of human rights for all.
Coal on limited lifespan as CCS hopes go up in smoke
By Giles Parkingson, Renew Economy, 29 June 2017
The coal industry is facing a new crisis point as a group of leading scientists call for the construction of new coal generators to cease within three years, and as the industry’s flagship “clean coal” and carbon capture and storage project went up in smoke in the US.
As reported elsewhere on this web site, the US energy utility Southern Co finally gave up on its much-vaunted Kemper coal gasification and CCS project, after costs soared from $US1.8 billion to more than $US7.5 billion ($A10 billion), and it realised it wasn’t going to work.
The Amazon’s new danger: Brazil sets sights on palm oil
By Tom Levitt, The Guardian (supported by RSPO), 29 June 2017
Jorge Antonini takes a palm kernel in his hands and slices it open. Squeezing it between his fingers, the kernel oozes the oily liquid found in hundreds of everyday products, from cakes to chocolate spread.
The scientist is standing on a government-owned farm near the Brazilian capital of Brasília. Here, he and a small group of colleagues from Embrapa, the powerful state-owned agricultural research agency, are trialling different methods of growing oil palms to improve yield.
China Focus: Evolving forest policies breed greener growth
Xinhua, 29 June 2017
Walking along the shady zigzagging mountain paths, village head Deng Wenshan recalls a decision made 19 years ago that transformed the mountains and his village.
Deng is the head of Hongtian Village, in east China’s Fujian Province. More than 80 percent of the village is forest, an important source of income for around 1,000 villagers.
Back in 1998, Deng was worried that the forests might disappear due to illegal logging.
Though collectively owned by the village, the forests were, in practice, managed by the Hongtian village council, which caused some villagers to feel left out.
[Côte d’Ivoire] Mondelez furthers initiative in West Africa
By Matt Hamer, bakingbusiness.com, 29 June 2017
Cocoa Life, the sustainable cocoa sourcing program spearheaded by Mondelez International, East Hanover, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Environment as part of the country’s REDD+ program to eliminate cocoa deforestation. It also has signed a letter of intent with the Forestry Commission of Ghana and the UN Development Programme to establish a REDD+ partnership in Ghana.
“Cocoa farmers and community leaders in West Africa tell us climate change is already impacting their farms,” said Chris McGrath, chief well-being, sustainability and public affairs officer at Mondelez International. “With our investment in Cocoa Life, we have the capacity and the partnerships to help farmers become more resilient by adopting climate-smart solutions and protecting forests. These new agreements will amplify our existing work to protect the precious environment in cocoa-growing regions.”
[Republic of Congo] Revealed: Bronx Zoo organization funds serious human rights abuses
Survival International, 29 June 2017
An investigation by Survival International has revealed that the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the parent organization of New York’s Bronx Zoo, is funding the abuse and eviction of Bayaka “Pygmies” and other rainforest tribes in the Republic of Congo.
WCS manages and helped create a national park on Bayaka land without the tribe’s consent, and has formed a partnership with two logging companies working on their land. WCS is also funding anti-poaching squads which prevent the Bayaka from entering their ancestral lands, and Survival International has documented dozens of instances of harassment, beatings and even torture.
30 June 2017
Mirova set to take a majority stake in Althelia Ecosphere
Impact Alpha, 30 June 2017
The acquisition is expected to close in a few weeks and over the next five years Mirova would increase its stake in the Luxemburg-based fund manager. The deal could put serious money behind Althelia’s model of forest conservation projects based on both carbon credits and sustainable commodities such as rubber in Indonesia, cocoa in the Ivory Coast and cattle in Brazil. France-based Mirova is an $8 billion unit of Natixis Global Asset Management, which has nearly $900 billion under management. Financial News reports the Althelia team would help Mirova raise €1 billion for a Land Degradation Neutrality fund, in conjunction with the United Nations. The European Investment Bank and France’s AFD are backing the fund, which will seek investments from pension funds and other institutional investors.
Sustainable Forestry 2017: IFC Forests Bond
Environmental Finance, 30 June 2017
Preventing deforestation can yield numerous social as well as environmental benefits. Many governments have therefore taken action to protect their forests, but it is widely acknowledged that their efforts are inadequate and that substantial private finance will be required.
A major step forward in this effort came in October 2016 when the International Finance Corporation (IFC) issued an innovative bond to support a project in the Kasigau Corridor of east Kenya.
Mobile payments for REDD+
By Michele Graffeo, Nature Climate Change, 30 June 2017
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative aims to financially reward forest stakeholders who improve their carbon management. One challenge influencing REDD+ effectiveness is the ability to distribute its benefits. Specifically, logistical difficulties — for example, paying participants dispersed over a large landscape — consume time and energy, while organisational costs such as for payment disbursal erode available funds.
Forests, people and data
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 30 June 2017
Growing up in a village in Indonesia’s Central Java in the 1980s, Dian Ekowati went to the local Posyandu every month.
At the community primary healthcare center, her height and weight were recorded and reported to the government by local healthcare volunteers called kaders. One of those kaders was Ekowati’s mother, who volunteered there for years, receiving only a tiny stipend in exchange for her labor – just enough to pay her bus fare.
Beef (and Burger King) still eating away at forests
By Irene Banos Ruiz, DW, 30 June 2017
Burger King has pledged to stop deforestation by 2030 – that’s just greenwashing, environmental activists say. Suppliers for the fast food chain are still responsible for deforestation in South America.
How environmentally friendly is your beef burger? There’s the climate impact of meat production to consider, and the dubious value of using land for meat that could feed many more with vegetarian produce.
But what about the food beef cattle themselves eat?
Recent reports by environmental group Mighty Earth reveal forests are being torn down to produce soy, which is mainly used in animal feed.
Congo violence fuels fears of return to 90s bloodbath
By Jason Burke, The Guardian, 30 June 2017
Thousands of people have been killed and more than a million displaced in the most severe outbreak of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent years, raising fears of a return to the bloody civil wars of the 1990s and increasing pressure on President Joseph Kabila to step down or hold elections.
The violence in the vast, resource-rich central African country has been concentrated in the central Kasai region, where local communities formed a militia in support of a local leader who opposed the government and was killed by the police last summer.
Europe’s contribution to deforestation set to rise despite pledge to halt it
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 30 June 2017
Europe’s contribution to global deforestation may rise by more than a quarter by 2030, despite a pledge to halt such practices by the end of this decade, according to a leaked draft EU analysis.
An estimated 13m hectares (Mha) of the world’s forestland is lost each year, a figure projected to spiral in the next 30 years with the Amazon, Greater Mekong and Borneo bearing the brunt of tree clearances.
But despite signing several international pledges to end deforestation by this decade’s end, more than 5Mha of extra forest land will be needed annually by 2030 to meet EU demand for agricultural products, a draft EU feasibility study predicts.
1 July 2017
NASA detects drop in forest fires worldwide
The Indian Express, 1 July 2017
NASA satellites have detected a NASA satellites have detected a drop in forest fires and burn scars worldwide, indicating a transition from nomadic cultures to settled lifestyles and intensifying agriculture, scientists say. Across the grasslands of Asia, the tropical forests of South America, and the savannas of Africa, shifting livelihoods are leading to a significant decline in burned area.
Globally, the total acreage burned by fires declined 24 per cent between 1998 and 2015, according to the study published in the journal Science.
2 July 2017
[Brazil] Creating maps that reflect indigenous geography
By Raleigh Seamster, Google, 2 July 2017
Brazil has one of the world’s most diverse populations, with more than 500,000 indigenous people living on 472 territories certified by the government—representing 13 percent of Brazil’s total land. Most of these territories are in the rapidly-changing Amazon region, the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world. Deforestation has had a devastating effect on indigenous people and the local economy, destroying biodiversity, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
Indigenous communities play an important role in preserving the natural biodiversity and cultural richness of the Brazilian Amazon by sustainably managing their lands in a smanner sensitive to the delicate ecosystem.
[Ghana] Mortgaging Atiwa forest
Ghana Web, 2 July 2017
Ghana is at a point of mortgaging the Bauxite deposit in the Atiwa Forest and Nyinahin to the People’s Republic of China for some $15billion.
Good as it may sound, it appears Ghana in our quest to mortgage the Bauxite deposits is losing sight of the fact that we are also mortgaging the livelihoods of close to 5million Ghanaians.
Ghana’s Senior Minister is on record to have said in an interview with the BBC that mortgaging the bauxite deposits can create in excess of 100,000 jobs for the many unemployed youths of the country.