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REDD in the news: 31 July – 6 August 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.

31 July 2017

Planet has just 5% chance of reaching Paris climate goal, study says
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 31 July 2017
There is only a 5% chance that the Earth will avoid warming by at least 2C come the end of the century, according to new research that paints a sobering picture of the international effort to stem dangerous climate change.
Global trends in the economy, emissions and population growth make it extremely unlikely that the planet will remain below the 2C threshold set out in the Paris climate agreement in 2015, the study states.

Inside the Effort to Fight Climate Change Beyond the Power Sector
By Justin Worland, Time, 31 July 2017
The transportation, manufacturing and agriculture industries have received a fraction of the attention of the power sector in the fight against climate change, but together they account for more than twice the harmful pollutants that are emitted during the production of electricity in the United States. And as sources of clean energy such as wind and solar comprise more of the nation’s power, many experts believe it’s time to focus attention on those other sectors.

FLEGT in Indonesia: An interview with Charles-Michel Geurts
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 31 July 2017
The introduction of FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) licensing in Indonesia has opened access for businesses of all sizes to export certified legal timber to the European Union.
A national policy dialogue held in Jakarta on 13 July discussed how to maximize the benefits for small- and medium-sized enterprises, and ensure the best outcomes for trade, conservation and livelihoods.
Charles-Michel Geurts, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation in Indonesia, sat down with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) on the sidelines of the event to give some brief insights into what the FLEGT scheme means for Indonesia and the EU.

1 August 2017

We’ll never tackle climate change if academics keep the focus on consensus
By Warren Pearce, The Guardian, 1 August 2017
In a democracy, we hope that science helps to inform the public about its problems. In the case of climate change, believe it or not, the evidence suggests this is going relatively well.
Climate science is a vast, sprawling field of knowledge that has achieved great success in occupying the public consciousness. According to Yale University’s Climate Change in the American Mind project, six in ten Americans are worried about global warming, seven in ten think global warming is happening and eight in ten think humans have the ability to reduce global warming. These figures have fluctuated very little since 2012, suggesting that the US public is relatively well informed about the risk, reality and policy potential of climate change, even in the face of well-documented attacks by climate sceptics.

Green bond funds struggle to put capital to work
By Jennifer Thompson, Financial Times, 1 August 2017
Green bond funds are under increasing pressure to find environmentally friendly fixed income products that meet their stringent investing criteria, despite a boom in green bond issuance.
The popularity of so-called green bonds, which finance projects such as cleaner waste treatment systems and renewable energy technologies, has soared over the past two years with issuance hitting $113bn last year, according to Fitch Ratings.

Guidelines for Forestry Monitoring to Support Achievement of Global Goals
By Wangu Mwangi, IISD, 1 August 2017
According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) data, only 45 countries worldwide were able to assess changes in forest area and characteristics through consecutive systematic national forest inventories in 2010. The ‘Voluntary Guidelines on Forest Monitoring,’ published by FAO, help address this issue and underpin the tracking of national forestry management commitments under diverse global agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Complementary regional initiatives have elaborated priority areas and monitoring guidelines for forest and biodiversity protection.

Brazil’s Temer threatens constitutional indigenous land rights
By Sue Branford and Maurício Torres, Mongabay, 1 August 2017
A storm of protest greeted the 19 July announcement that Brazilian President Michel Temer has approved a recommendation made by the Attorney General’s office (AGU), that federal government bodies should adopt new criteria for setting the boundaries of indigenous land.
Respected lawyer Dalmo de Abreu Dallari, who headed the University of São Paulo’s legal faculty for many years, said that the recommendation was a “legal farce,” with the objective of “extorting from the indigenous communities their right to the land they have traditionally occupied.”

A View from Brazil: Promoting Indigenous Leadership in Pará, Mato Grosso and Beyond
By Allison Martin, The Nature Conservancy, 1 August 2017
The Amazon was even more beautiful than I had imagined. Even in the big city of Belém, in Brazil’s Pará state, every space was bursting with foliage, delighted epiphytes (“air plants” that grow on trees or other structures) and boisterous birds of all shapes and sizes. My eyes widened at the huge mango trees lining the streets, and I learned that the impact these large fruits can have when falling on unsuspecting windshields leads many residents to purchase mango insurance for their cars.

FLEGT in Indonesia: An interview with Sulthon M. Amin
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 1 August 2017
Many timber-based businesses in Indonesia made a smooth transition to the European Union’s FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) licensing system, because of its compatibility with the existing national Timber Legality Assurance System (Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu, SVLK). One of the major challenges has been getting small businesses on board that may not have been previously registered under the national system.
A national policy dialogue held in Jakarta on 13 July discussed how to maximize the benefits of SVLK and FLEGT for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and ensure the best outcomes for trade, conservation and livelihoods.

[Papua New Guinea] Stained Trade
Global Witness, 1 August 2017
The South Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is home to the largest remaining tropical rainforest in the Asia-Pacific region, and one of the biggest land grabs in modern history.
Between 2014 and 2016, Global Witness traced a supply chain spanning some 9,000 miles from the PNG’s forests to retail shelves in the U.S.
Stained Trade reveals for the first time, how companies along wood product supply chains leading through China are failing to screen out illegal timber, the risks this creates for U.S. companies, and the devastating impacts the trade is having on people in PNG.

[USA] California coastal communities sue 37 fossil fuel companies for ‘knowingly contributing to climate change’
By Emily Shugerman, Independent, 1 August 2017
Three California communities are suing 37 of the world’s largest oil, gas and coal companies for knowingly contributing to climate change.
San Mateo and Marin counties, as well as the city of Imperial Beach, have filed suit against companies like Exxon, Shell, and Chevron, which they claim produced roughly 20 percent of all greenhouse emissions between 1965 and 2015.
The communities are now seeking relief from the costs of climate change, which include rising sea levels and carbon dioxide pollution.

2 August 2017

Is our environmental future better than we thought?
By Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 2 August 2017
Welcome to the New Pangaea, a virtual supercontinent created by globalised human society. Able to hitch-hike on boats and planes, land species are no longer constrained by the oceans and can turn up anywhere and everywhere. Does that excite or appal you?
If the political world is divided between the globalisers and the localisers, so too is environmental thinking. And never more so than in these two compelling tracts.

Financial incentives could conserve tropical forest diversity
University of Missouri-Columbia press release, 2 August 2017
The past few decades have seen the rise of global incentive programs offering payments to landowners to help reduce tropical deforestation. Until now, assessments of these programs have largely overlooked decreases in forest diversity. In what might be a first of its kind study, University of Missouri researchers have integrated forest imaging with field-level inventories and landowner surveys to assess the impact of conservation payments in Ecuador’s Amazon Basin forests. They found that conservation payment programs are making a difference in the diversity of tree species in protected spaces. Further, the species being protected are twice as likely to be of commercial timber value and at risk of extinction.

Global rights, local struggles: barriers to women’s participation in community land decision-making
By Celine Salcedo-La Viña (WRI), Rights and Resources, 2 August 2017
Seven women quietly filed in and sat on the rough cement floor of the tiny stone block house. We were in a small, dusty village in Tanzania’s Kisarawe District, just outside the capital, Dar es Salaam. There were a couple of wooden chairs and empty spots on an old couch, but none of the women ventured to sit on them. Except for two spokeswomen, they remained largely silent during the interview, which happened only with the permission of the men in charge of the village.

China Prepares to Launch National Carbon Trading Scheme
By Gloria Luo, CSR Asia, 2 August 2017
The stage is set for China to become a global leader in climate action, as it prepares to launch the world’s biggest carbon market. The market will be unprecedented in its scale and complexity. China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), will reportedly institute its national carbon trading scheme (“the scheme”) in November 2017 at the earliest, and likely only cover three industries, including power, cement and aluminum, at the initial stage given the availability of their emissions data.

Deforestation may soar now Colombian civil war is over
By Kata Karáth, New Scientist, 2 August 2017
The end of war doesn’t necessarily bring peace to the environment. An increase in illegal logging could be one of the unexpected consequences of peace in Colombia.
In 2016, the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the guerrilla group FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), ending the longest war in the Americas. During the 52-year-long conflict, as many as 220,000 people are reported to have died and millions were displaced.
But the armed group may unexpectedly have helped protect the regions it occupied from deforestation. As the group disbands, conservationists fear the lush forests it occupied will be left vulnerable to illegal logging.

Guyana’s road to Brazil presents opportunity and challenge
By Carinya Sharples, Mongabay, 2 August 2017
Imagine for a second you’re on a road. A long, rough, red-dirt road lined by thick rainforest. You’re in a small, crowded minibus coming from Georgetown, Guyana’s coastal capital on the Atlantic Ocean, and heading for Lethem on the southern border with Brazil. For the first couple of hours, up until the once-flourishing Bauxite-mining town of Linden, the road was paved and progress was quick. But now the bus is moving in fits and spurts, lurching left and right to avoid the giant potholes that have been gouged in the road by passing trucks, groaning under the weight of freshly timbered trees.

Many Indonesian forest fires detected as dry season approaches
Today, 2 August 2017
Indonesian satellites are detecting hundreds of hotspots from forest and land fires as dry season approaches, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said Tuesday (Aug 1).
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said satellites of the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space detected 176 hotspots on July 27, 277 on July 28, 238 on July 29, and 239 on July 30, mostly in the provinces of West Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara and Aceh.
“During the past four days, forest and land fires in West Kalimantan have spread to several areas with 126 hotspots being detected Sunday morning,” Mr Sutopo said.

Five instances in which Peru won the battle against deforestation
By Milton López Tarabochia, Mongabay, 2 August 2017
In Peru, five major instances in which deforestation has successfully been prevented from expanding were detected by the Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP). MAAP followed the development of these five deforestation “hotspots” in the Peruvian Amazon using satellite images that recorded, in near-real time, how the loss of forest cover by illegal gold mining and agro-industrial farms.
The first two cases are related to agroindustrial business in the Amazon owned by Czech-American entrepreneur Dennis Melka that have established oil palm plantations in the Ucayali region and a cacao plantaiton in the Loreto region. MAAP also highlighed Peru’s Romero Group corporation and its palm oil operations, also in the Amazonian region of Loreto.

3 August 2017

Greater collaboration between companies and governments necessary to enhance climate action, report finds
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 3 August 2017
A new report that looks at the collaborative efforts of private sector and government actors to halt deforestation in two key tropical forest nations could have lessons for countries around the world.
The report, released by the NGOs Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Forest Trends (FT) last week, consists of case studies on how companies are working with the governments of Brazil and Indonesia, which together accounted for nearly 40 percent of total tropical deforestation in 2014.

Humans have been altering tropical forests for at least 45,000 years
Phys.org, 3 August 2017
The first review of the global impact of humans on tropical forests in the ancient past shows that humans have been altering these environments for at least 45,000 years. This counters the view that tropical forests were pristine natural environments prior to modern agriculture and industrialization. The study, published today in Nature Plants, found that humans have in fact been having a dramatic impact on such forest ecologies for tens of thousands of years, through techniques ranging from controlled burning of sections of forest to plant and animal management to clear-cutting. Although previous studies had looked at human impacts on specific tropical forest locations and ecosystems, this is the first to synthesize data from all over the world.

Capacity Building and Technology Update: Initiatives Focus on Transport and Indigenous Peoples’ REDD+ Readiness
By Elena Kosolapova, IISD, 3 August 2017
Recent capacity building and technology-related developments highlight the importance of integrating climate considerations in the transport sector. They also focus on forest-dependent indigenous peoples’ participation in the implementation of REDD+ readiness activities, and the high cost of capital as a barrier to growth in Mongolia’s energy efficiency and renewable energy market.

Climate Mitigation Finance Update: Investments Scale Solar Capacity, Improve Energy Efficiency and Accelerate REDD+
By Gillian Nelson, IISD, 3 August 2017
Recent solar energy investments include finance for off-grid solar energy in Kenya, 500MW large-scale solar plants in Egypt and a tool to chart solar energy potential in Pacific Islands. In addition, three energy efficient kindergartens and a modernized district heating facility were launched in Kazakhstan, while China and Kenya, among others, are seeing the environmental and socio-economic benefits of land-use and forest-related projects and partnerships.

The long and winding road to sustainable palm oil
By Pablo Pacheo, CIFOR Forests News, 3 August 2017
The polemic around the expansion of oil palm plantations in the tropics continues, and increasingly involves consumers concerned with sustainability. At the core of the debate is the matter of hard trade-offs between conservation and development. Reconciling such trade-offs is still the major challenge facing governments and companies.
Available evidence suggests that palm oil production has contradictory impacts. It has positive impacts on both local and national economic growth, and in alleviating rural poverty. Yet plantations also drive social conflict in their development, and bring detriment to forests and peatlands as they expand, leading to negative impacts due to biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Study finds human influence in the Amazon’s third 1-in-100 year drought since 2005
By John Abraham, The Guardian, 3 August 2017
If you are like me, you picture the Amazon region as an ever lush, wet, tropical region filled with numerous plant and animal species. Who would imagine the Amazon experiencing drought? I mean sure, if we think of drought as “less water than usual,” then any place could have a drought. But what I tend to envision with respect to drought is truly dry.
People who work in this field have a more advanced understanding than I do about drought, how and why it occurs, its frequency and severity, and the impact on natural and human worlds. This recognition brings us to a very interesting paper recently published in Scientific Reports, entitled Unprecedented drought over tropical South America in 2016: significantly under-predicted by tropical SST [sea surface temperature]. So, what did this paper show?

Training on REDD+ Strategy and Safeguards for REDD+ Program of Bhutan
Royal Government of Bhutan Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, 3 August 2017
A three day training workshop on Strategy and Safeguards for the REDD+ Program of Bhutan is underway at Metta Resort and Spa. Participants include the officials from all the territorial forest divisions, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Taryayana Foundation and Social Forestry and Extension Division.
The workshop aims to build awareness and capacity on REDD+ and their components under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and discuss initial proposed REDD+ Strategy options and methods to identify their potential risks and benefits. It will also build capacity of the participants to conduct consultation workshops at Dzongkhag and local levels on the REDD+ Strategy options and Polices & Measures (PAMs).

Malaysia minister seeking to visit Indonesia over forest fires before SEA Games
Straits Times, 3 August 2017
A Malaysian Cabinet minister said he would seek to visit Indonesia before this month’s South-east Asian (SEA) Games to offer Malaysia’s assistance to fight forest fires in the country.
“Our request is as soon as possible. If we can go tomorrow, I will go but we have to seek permission from Indonesian side first,” Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafaar said in a press conference after the 12th national water resource committee meeting.
He said Malaysia would offer to send the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART), bombardier plane and firemen to Indonesia.

$1bn to clean up the oil in Peru’s northern Amazon
By David Hill, The Guardian, 3 August 2017
Who is going to clean up Peru’s northern Amazon after decades of companies spilling oil and dumping billions of barrels of toxic production waters? Certainly not US company Occidental which ran the biggest concession, Lot 1-AB, until 2000, nor, it would seem, the state-owned Petroperu, which ran the other major concession, Lot 8, until 1996 and operates the rusty, leaking North Peruvian Pipeline to this day.

4 August 2017

Motion of rejection and solidarity with local leaders facing threats in Acre – Brazil
World Rainforest Movement, 4 August 2017
More than 80 organizations and individuals from all over the world sent today the letter enclosed below to relevant authorities in Brazil, Germany and California / USA rejecting “any and all attempts to intimidate or censor people and organizations that critique and oppose the environmental and climate policies implemented by the Acre government.”
In the letter the organizations and individuals reaffirm their “solidarity with all those who suffer threats or retaliation because of their firm political stance to defend their territories against the incessant exploitation of capital: You are not alone!”

Chile: Forest Fires – Emergency Appeal Revision (MDRCL013)
Relief Web, 4 August 2017
This revised Emergency Appeal seeks a total of some 267,982 Swiss francs (reduced from 528,860 Swiss francs) to enable the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to support the Chilean Red Cross (ChRC) to deliver assistance and support to some 2,000 people for seven months, with a focus on the following sectors: health (including psychosocial support); water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH). The main reason for the revision is to allow for the alignment of the operational plan with financial resources available and expected to mobilise including a reduced time frame for implementation. Some of the needs are also being covered by the Government of Chile or other local actors.

[India] NGT asks environment ministry to evolve national policy to prevent forest fires
By Mayank Aggarwal, Live Mint, 4 August 2017
Pulling up the Union environment ministry for failing to deal effectively with forest fires, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday asked the ministry to evolve a national policy for prevention and control of forest fires.
It also sought a network of “automated surveillance or watch towers” at strategic locations to provide regularly, on a real time basis, data for forest fire alerts.
The NGT’s order came on a 2016 plea that had sought immediate directions to control massive forest fires in Uttarakhand and Himachal that damage hundreds of hectares of forests. It also sought steps to ensure that such disasters do not recur.

[Indonesia] Jokowi issues harsh appraisal of forestry reforms
The Straits Times, 4 August 2017
President Joko Widodo has criticised the lack of progress in reforming the forestry sector, calling for better management that benefits both the environment and the economy.
Mr Joko, who studied forestry in university, said there had to be “corrective action” to make breakthroughs in the management of forests, a sector he is banking on to support his flagship agrarian reform and social forestry schemes.
“For a long time now, I’m sorry to say, our forest management has been a monotonous routine. There have been no breakthroughs,” Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, said in his remarks during a belated commemoration of Environment Day at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. He also kicked off the ministry’s national working meeting, which gathers ministers, lawmakers and non-governmental groups to discuss issues ranging from forests to climate change.

[UK] Cold call ban latest: concerns Treasury will delay again
By Jack Gilbert, New Model Advisor, 4 August 2017
People who supported the pension cold calling ban are concerned the Treasury could delay the ban further with another consultation on the proposal.
The Treasury will ‘shortly’ be setting out the next steps on the pension cold calling ban, but New Model Adviser® understands the government thinks the proposal is complex and one that requires a lot of consultation with industry figures.
Last year the Treasury announced it would ban pension cold calling following a petition started by IFA Darren Cooke. The petition, which was first reported by New Model Adviser®, garnered 8,690 signatures and support from firms such as Royal London and Hargreaves Lansdown.

US officially tells UN it wants out of Paris climate deal
By Seth Borenstein, AP, 4 August 2017
The Trump administration on Friday officially told the United Nations that the U.S. intends to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate pact.
But the State Department’s announcement doesn’t formally start the process of the U.S. getting out of the voluntary agreement. That’s still to come.
Still, the department described its communication as a “strong message” to the world, following President Donald Trump’s decision in June to leave the accord.
“The State Department is telling the U.N. what the president already told the world on June 1 and it has no legal effect,” said Nigel Purvis, who directed U.S. climate diplomacy during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

[USA] Schwarzenegger launches climate change project
By Ed Adamczyk, UPI, 4 August 2017
Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday unveiled an environmental initiative to answer President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords.
Called the Digital Environmental Legislative Handbook, it is a searchable database of environmental bills and laws designed to help legislators create their own climate change laws.
The initiative is a cooperative effort between the Schwarzenegger Institute at the University of Southern California and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.
Although it’s a California project, advocates said it can be used to fight climate change nationwide.

[USA] Trump admin leaves room to stay in pact
By Zack Colman and Jean Chemnick, E&E News, 4 August 2017
The Trump administration will signal its intent to leave the Paris climate deal today but will leave the door open to stay in if the right conditions are met, sources said.
The sources cited State Department communication from Kim Carnahan of the department’s Office of Global Change that indicated the United States intends to remain engaged in the Paris process until it can officially exit in November 2020. But the memo to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will also state that the U.S. could reverse course if “suitable terms for reengagement” are met.

5 August 2017

Indonesian military officer orders that forest burners be shot
Channel NewsAsia, 5 August 2017
A military official in the Indonesian province of Jambi said on Saturday (Aug 5) he has ordered that anyone who deliberately sets fire to forest areas be shot, as authorities struggle to contain fires that cause choking smoke in the region.
Five Indonesian provinces have declared emergencies because of forest fires, according to Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB), with the number of hotspots steadily increasing in many areas over the past week.

[UK] Banned for 11 years… the £1m bogus investment cheat who confessed
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 5 August 2017
A Controversial businessman has been banned from acting as a company director after making a series of damning admissions about a scam investment firm he controlled.
Brett Jolly, 56, is disqualified from running any British company for the next 11 years, beginning last Thursday.
He confessed to investigators from the Insolvency Service that he allowed carbon credit investment firm Anglo Capital Partners Limited to trade ‘with a lack of commercial probity’.

[UK] How the Bar Works mastermind made a career of duping investors
By Paul Peachey, The National, 5 August 2017
Promotional videos posted on YouTube showed a busy agricultural operation in Sierra Leone where three-metre high grass had been cleared and replaced by acres of rice fields. Farm buildings had been built. A new milling machine could produce 12 tonnes a day, officials confidently predicted standing in front of sacks of rice piled high in the warehouse.
Not for the first time, a lucrative opportunity linked to serial entrepreneur and now detained British fugitive Renwick Robert Haddow was not all that it seemed to be.

6 August 2017

Paying for forests has multiple benefits
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 6 August 2017
Two new studies have reinforced the idea that financial incentives can help save forests. Research from the Amazon region has confirmed that payments to landowners can conserve forest biodiversity. And a study from China suggests that rural communities, if given an incentive, could help restore the nation’s native forests.
Both studies come within weeks of a finding that African villagers will conserve their forest plots more carefully if given even quite small payments not to clear the woodland.
Forest conservation is a key part of any global strategy to mitigate climate change: forests are also reservoirs of natural biodiversity and play a vital role in water conservation.

Some Indonesian districts not on emergency alert for forest fires despite hotspots
By Saifubahri Ismail, Channel NewsAsia, 6 August 2017
Despite the detection of hotspots, some districts in Indonesia have yet to be on emergency alert for forest fires, said Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) on Sunday (Aug 6).
In a statement, BNPB said the districts include those in Kapuas Hulu, Sanggau, Sintang and Landak – all in the West Kalimantan province.
West Kalimantan, however, declared an emergency alert status on a provincial level on Jul 26.

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