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REDD in the news: 17-23 July 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.

17 July 2017

Global Tree Cover Loss Remains High. Emerging Patterns Reveal Shifting Contributors.
By Mikaela Weisse, Elizabeth Dow Goldman, Nancy Harris, Matt Hansen, Peter Potapov and Svetlana Turubanova, World Resources Institute, 17 July 2017
Global Forest Watch released new satellite-based data showing how forests around the world changed in the year 2015. The data, produced through the analysis of roughly a million satellite images by the University of Maryland and Google, measures the death or removal of trees at least 5 meters tall within 30×30 meter areas. This can capture any number of sustainable or unsustainable activities, from the clearing of natural forests to the harvest of tree plantations, but when analyzed appropriately with other contextual data and information can serve as a proxy for deforestation (typically defined as the permanent conversion of forest land for another use).

Brazil Snubs Gisele Bundchen, Pushes Amazon Deforestation Bill
By Simone Preissler Iglesias, Bloomberg, 17 July 2017
Brazil’s President Michel Temer is ignoring pleas from both supermodel Gisele Bundchen and the Norwegian Prime Minister by submitting a bill to Congress that would reduce protections of a large national forest in the Amazon, just weeks after vetoing similar legislation.
The new bill would downgrade the legal protections governing around 27 percent, or close to 350,000 hectares, of the Jamanxim national forest in the northern state of Para. The original proposal, vetoed last month on the eve of the president’s trip to Norway, would have reduced the area under preservation by nearly 600,000 hectares, according to World Wildlife Fund. During Temer’s visit, Norway announced plans to cut its funding of Amazonian conservation projects due to Brazil’s failure to prevent a rise in illegal deforestation.

[India] Government ignoring proposal on forest fires: Panel
By Rahul Chhabra, The Asian Age, 17 July 2017
Prevention of forest fires and the resultant climate change do not appear to be high on the agenda of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, the head of the department’s parliamentary panel has said, complaining of a cold response from officials to its suggestions on the issue.
A six-month-old report, offering steps on mitigating forest fires, has allegedly not been implemented in right earnest.
“In the coming days, I am planning to write to the ministry and seek a more responsible and quick response on the report that we gave in December 2016,” said Renuka Chowdhury, who heads the parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, environment and forests.

[Guatemala] On the Path to Low Emissions
Rainforest Alliance, 17 July 2017
In recent years, the forest concessions in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) have become a model of successful sustainable forest enterprise for the world, maintaining an astonishing near-zero deforestation rate while improving local livelihoods. And now the nearby municipality of Flores has stepped up to become an urban leader of low-carbon emissions. With the support of the Rainforest Alliance and USAID’s Climate, Communities, and Nature in Guatemala (CNCG) and Low Emissions Development projects, Flores aims to become a carbon-neutral municipality by 2020.

UNDP and the Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea of the Republic of Italy partner to support REDD+ implementation in critical countries
UNDP, 17 July 2017
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea of the Republic of Italy signed a Third Party Cost-Sharing Agreement today, to undertake a range of climate change and REDD+ forest-related joint and coordinated activities at the global, regional and national level (e.g. Ecuador, Ghana and Myanmar). Programmes run by UNDP and existing support provided to countries by the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea of the Republic of Italy share a number of geographic areas such as South-America, West-Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Huge ag investments by Africa’s richest man threaten expansion of illegal deforestation in Nigeria
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 17 July 2017
A corporation led by Africa’s richest man, which is already involved in the alleged illegal conversion of some of Nigeria’s few remaining areas of dense natural forest, has announced plans for a huge expansion of agricultural plantations in the country.
Secretive billionaire Aliko Dangote intends to invest nearly $5 billion in expanding oil palm, soy and sugarcane production in Nigeria, his firm’s executive director said on 12 July. The initial investments alone are expected to require more than 5500 square kilometres of land.

[USA] Amazon Hemp Has Joined Forces and Partnered with TSC, Inc.
Amazonas Florestal, 17 July 2017
Amazonas Florestal, Ltd. (www.azhempusa.com) (OTC PINK: AZFL), a natural resources company dedicated to innovative, sustainable forest management, Industrial CBD Hemp and the certification and sales of carbon credits, today announced that effective July 14th, 2017, Amazon Hemp has strategically partnered with TSC, Inc, on a mission to further research, develop, and manufacture future innovative products made with Hemp tailored to the wireless industry.

[USA] What The Heck Is ‘Cap-And-Trade,’ Anyway?
By Ben Bradford and Sally Schilling, Capital Public Radio, 17 July 2017
California lawmakers are taking up an extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program—a vote Gov. Jerry Brown has called the “most important” of their lives.
But cap-and-trade is also a complex regulatory system, which lacks the public appeal of other high-profile issues. A quick, informal survey on the street in Sacramento displayed a lack of clarity about the program.

18 July 2017

Conserving Forests to Combat Climate Change
WWF, 18 July 2017
In December 2015, the Paris Agreement recognized the critical role of forests in combating climate change. This recognition included actions to halt and reverse the rate of deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, which have contributed up to 20 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
To assist countries in these actions, the agreement includes a framework of policies and incentives for reducing deforestation and forest degradation and increasing carbon storage in forests through conservation and sustainable management. This is known as REDD+, a mechanism that has evolved over a decade of discussions, research, and negotiations to become a key piece of the newly adopted climate architecture.

[USA] California votes to extend its signature climate policy
By Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, 18 July 2017
The California Assembly and the California Senate both voted Monday to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to pay for carbon pollution, through 2030.
The bill passed with supermajorities in both chambers with bipartisan support, particularly in the Assembly, where seven Republicans voted in favor of the extension.

Macron’s delusion about bringing Trump back into the Paris climate agreement
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 18 July 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron appears to have bought into the myth that President Donald Trump is a skilled dealmaker — even though Trump’s entire history clearly shows that his talents lie in breaking deals.
The media, which helped create the dealmaker myth, has naturally jumped all over the story that “France’s Macron says his charm offensive may soften Trump’s climate stance,” as the AP and NBC news put it. The UK media went further: “Emmanuel Macron thinks he has convinced Trump to rejoin Paris agreement on climate change.”

19 July 2017

2017 is so unexpectedly warm it is freaking out climate scientists
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 19 July 2017
Normally, the hottest years on record occur when the underlying human-caused global warming trend gets a temporary boost from an El Niño’s enhanced warming in the tropical Pacific.
So it’s been a surprise to climate scientists that 2017 has been so remarkably warm — because the last El Niño ended a year ago. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Tuesday that the first half of 2017 was the second-warmest January-June on record for Earth, topped only by 2016, which was boosted by one of the biggest El Niños on record.

BP Target Neutral expands carbon offset portfolio
BP press release, 19 July 2017
BP Target Neutral, BP’s voluntary carbon offsetting programme, is celebrating its 11th year with an announcement that it has expanded the portfolio of carbon offsetting projects for 2017.
New projects in India, Peru, China and Mexico have been added to the portfolio, which includes activities as diverse as forest conservation, energy efficiency, renewable power and biogas.
BP Target Neutral only buys carbon credits that meet ICROA’s (International Carbon Reduction & Offset Alliance) best practice standards. Credits are used to offset carbon emissions as part of a “reduce – replace – neutralise” approach to carbon reduction. This supports the development of low carbon and carbon neutral products and services across BP’s businesses.

Methane Seeps Out as Arctic Permafrost Starts to Resemble Swiss Cheese
By Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, 19 July 2017
Global warming may be unleashing new sources of heat-trapping methane from layers of oil and gas that have been buried deep beneath Arctic permafrost for millennia. As the Earth’s frozen crust thaws, some of that gas appears to be finding new paths to the surface through permafrost that’s starting to resemble Swiss cheese in some areas, scientists said.
In a study released today, the scientists used aerial sampling of the atmosphere to locate methane sources from permafrost along a 10,000 square-kilometer swath of the Mackenzie River Delta in northwestern Canada, an area known to have oil and gas desposits.

[Kenya] Trade in carbon credits puts fishing villages on global map
By Fadhili Fredrick, Business Daily, 19 July 2017
Two small fishing villages along the Kenyan coast have earned their place on the global map for an ingenious community-led carbon offset initiative that is also helping to conserve the region’s rapidly disappearing mangrove forest cover.
Gazi and Makongeni villages, which are located in south Coast, are the site of the project that has earned its residents global acclaim for revolutionising the protection of mangrove trees.
Project Mikoko Pamoja, as it is officially known, is the first community-owned initiative of its kind in the world to use proceeds from sale of carbon credits to fund conservation of mangrove cover.

[UK] Gov’t urged to bring back cold calling ban
By Charles Walmsley, New Model Advisor, 19 July 2017
Zurich has urged the government to add a ban on cold calling about pensions and investments to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, which is due to be debated today.
A ban was due to come into place after chancellor Philip Hammond launched a consultation on measures to tackle pension scams in last year’s Autumn Statement.
This followed a lengthy campaign which was started by Darren Cooke, director of Derbyshire-based Red Circle Financial Planning.
However after Theresa May called a general election in June the government was forced to drop a number of proposals they wanted to put into law in order to pass bills before parliament was dissolved, including the cold calling ban.

20 July 2017

[Pakistan] Country can earn billions by saving forests
The Express Tribune, 20 July 2017
Pakistan has lost a considerable chunk of its forests during last couple of decades due to illegal and ruthless tree cutting, ill-planned development as well as expansion of farmland, fuel in far flung areas and for the impacts of climate change.
Thus, the country has not only lost its forest but habitat of various species that was crucial for our ecosystems and to keep the biodiversity intact.

Paying Uganda farmers not to cut down trees halved deforestation – study
By Ben Seabrook, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 20 July 2017
Paying Ugandan farmers not to chop down trees cut deforestation in half and was almost 50 times more cost effective in fighting climate change than many energy efficiency programmes in the United States, according to a study released on Thursday.
The study, by researchers from the U.S.’s Northwestern University and Dutch organisation Porticus, involved 121 villages with half paid about $28 a year for every hectare of forest left untouched while the others continued as normal.
Using satellite images to track deforestation over two years, the researchers found 5.5 more hectares of forest – the equivalent of five rugby pitches – was preserved in the villages in the payment programme compared to the other villages.

[Uganda] A Cheap Fix for Climate Change? Pay People Not to Chop Down Trees
By Brad Plumer, New York Times, 20 July 2017
The tropical forests in western Uganda, home to a dwindling population of endangered chimpanzees, are disappearing at some of the fastest rates on Earth as local people chop down trees for charcoal and to clear space for subsistence farming.
Now, a team of researchers has shown that there is a surprisingly cheap and easy way to slow the pace of deforestation in Uganda: Just pay landowners small sums not to cut down their trees. Their study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, demonstrated this by conducting something all too rare in environmental policy — a controlled experiment.

21 July 2017

Mounting outcry over Indonesian palm oil bill as legislators press on
By Hans Nicholas Jong and Philip Jacobson, Mongabay, 21 July 2017
A new palm oil bill is the latest battleground in the fight over how to regulate Indonesia’s plantation sector in the wake of the 2015 fire and haze crisis, one of the worst environmental disasters in the country’s history.
Legislators pushing the bill say it will help farmers and protect the nation’s palm oil industry from foreign intervention. But critics say it is actually a plum deal for large corporations, as well as a means for vested interests to undermine peatland protection measures President Joko Widodo installed to prevent a repeat of the 2015 fires, which burned an area the size of Vermont, emitted more carbon daily than all of Europe and sickened half a million people.

22 July 2017

[Malaysia] Kelantan gomen going green… but with a company on Bank Negara’s watchlist?
By Badd, Cilisos, 22 July 2017
Earlier this year, the Kelantan government signed a two-year contract with a company to audit their permanent forest reserves. The company in question calls itself Climate Protectors Sdn Bhd, and this contract gives Climate Protectors rights to approximately a quarter of Kelantan’s forest reserves for the next 30 years.
But what will the company be looking after? Well, it’s something called ‘carbon credits‘. We’ll explain what it is in a moment, but for now what you need to know is that carbon credits are something that you can sell. And the profits from selling these carbon credits will then be split among the Kelantan state government and Climate Protectors, 55-45.

[UK] Can I trust these offers for my carbon credits with advance payments demanded?
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 22 July 2017
J. C. writes: Over the past two to three years, I have received offers for my carbon credits, which I bought for £16,000. I have rejected offers of as much as £24,000 because each time the buyers wanted me to pay in advance for some sort of bond. I have now been approached by Taylor Marshall & Associates Ltd. I am inclined to reject this offer too, but am I right to do so?
When you contacted me you believed that Taylor Marshall was also after an upfront fee, in exactly the same way as the fly-by-night firms which have contacted you in the past. You believed this because of the sequence of events.
You were called by Taylor Marshall, based in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, with an offer of help to recover cash you had invested in rip-off carbon credits. You then received a letter from the company saying it operated on a no-win, no-fee basis.

23 July 2017

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