REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
A Bumpy Ride: Guyana’s low-carbon development effort hasn’t been smooth sailing.
By Erica Gies, Earth Island Journal, December 2017
Guyana is the kind of place where anteaters and jaguars amble across the road, where Amerindians still follow the rhythms of the land, where you can sidle up to the very edge of a 740-foot waterfall and peer into the abyss. I’ve had countless wild encounters during my two trips to this country on South America’s Caribbean coastline several years ago: harpy eagles with mohawk feathers riffling; a piranha jumping into my boat; huge caiman hunting capybaras who came down to the river to drink. I had the good fortune to see these wonders, and many more, thanks to my Amerindian hosts who guided jungle hikes and river trips.
27 November 2017
Conserving Forests Could Cut Carbon Emissions As Much As Getting Rid of Every Car on Earth
By Susan Minnemeyer, Nancy Harris and Octavia Payne, World Resources Institute, 27 November 2017
New analysis from The Nature Conservancy, WRI and others estimates that stopping deforestation, restoring forests and improving forestry practices could cost-effectively remove 7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, or as much as eliminating 1.5 billion cars—more than all of the cars in the world today!
In fact, forests are key to at least six of the study’s 20 “natural climate solutions,” which could collectively reduce 11.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. That’s as much as halting global oil consumption, and would get us one-third of the way toward limiting global warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels — the threshold for avoiding catastrophic effects of climate change — by 2030.
Seeing REDD: Why The European Union Needs To Embrace Forest Carbon Finance
By Peter Graham and Jos Cozijnsen, Ecosystem Marketplace, 27 November 2017
Imagine there was a way to rapidly eliminate more greenhouse-gas emissions than are produced by the entire global transport sector, and start removing significant quantities of carbon from the atmosphere without the need for new technology. That doing so would also make a massive contribution to conserving biodiversity, while improving lives and livelihoods in developing countries. And that it would cost a fraction of most other climate solutions. Surely we’d do everything in our power to support it?
[Fiji] Deal will preserve forests
By Kalesi Mele, Fiji Times, 27 November 2017
Fijans will no longer be allowed to clear native forests by 2030, says Conservator of Forests Sanjana Lal.
Ms Lal said this was one of the conditions Fiji agreed to upon signing the new national and corporate climate action on forests at the recent COP23 meeting in Bonn, Germany.
The climate action on forests, which is designed to keep nations aligned to the goals set in the Paris Agreement, leaves Fiji with only 12 years to prepare areas for plantation forests.
Plantation forests such as those for Fiji Pine Ltd are the only areas where cutting down of trees will be allowed.
Planting the seeds for REDD+ payments in Indonesia
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 27 November 2017
In the wake of global climate talks in Germany, Indonesia continues to see a strong role for forests in tackling climate change.
Efforts are now moving ahead from the readiness stage to making performance-based payments for REDD+ — the national scheme to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, with an emphasis on conservation and sustainable forest management.
The challenge now is to find a way to ensure that REDD+ payments, the financial incentives for reducing forestry emissions, reach the hands of the people managing those forests at the ground level. And judging by the experiences of REDD+ schemes elsewhere, local governments are likely to play a crucial role.
[Indonesia] FILM: The farmer who fought back
Gecko Project, 27 November 2017
We met James Watt in the village of Bangkal during the reporting of The making of a palm oil fiefdom, in early 2017.
Bangkal lies on the banks of Sembuluh, a sprawling lake at the heart of Seruyan district, in Indonesian Borneo. A few decades ago, Seruyan was a sea of rainforest. During the dictatorship of Suharto, like many areas in Borneo, it was heavily impacted by logging that thinned out the forest and made it prone to fires. From the early 2000s, it was afflicted by a new and different problem: palm oil plantations.
PNG To Benefit From Green Climate Fund
Post Courier, 27 November 2017
It is anticipated that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, of which Papua New Guinea is a signatory, will be accumulating about US$100 billion annually.
These contributions will come from the international community into the Green Climate Fund, starting in 2020, for funding Climate Change programs including REDD+, which PNG is also party to.
Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa gave a rundown on the status of the PNG forest and other related activities during the parliament session last week.
Long-term logging study demonstrates impacts on chimpanzees and gorillas (Republic of Congo)
Lincoln Park Zoo press release, 27 November 2017
Research has shown human disturbance can have detrimental effects on great ape populations but now, due to a study published in Biological Conservation on Nov. 27 by Lincoln Park Zoo, there is evidence showing how selective logging impacts chimpanzees and gorilla populations differently by utilizing data collected before, during and after timber extraction.
28 November 2017
Want to save the planet? Scientists lay out 20 natural solutions to curb climate change
By Sydney Pereira, Newsweek, 28 November 2017
The Earth has a way of healing itself—particularly if humans help to conserve and restore it.
“Natural climate solutions” could help the world reach the goals of the Paris climate agreement—which include keeping the world’s temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. There are 20 conservation, restoration and land management actions that could help, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By increasing how much carbon the land can store through absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, these steps could provide 37 percent of carbon dioxide mitigation necessary through 2030.
Damming the tropics will not work
By Jeremy Hance, ALERT, 28 November 2017
Dam. Say it again. Dam.
That’s the sound of degraded wild rivers, devastated fish populations, planetary warming, and indigenous and local residents losing their homes and livelihoods. Damn.
While large-scale dams have long been touted as an environmentally friendly energy resource—as green—they are anything but.
Colombia Launches Partnership to Protect Amazon Rainforest from Deforestation
By Maxwell Hall, World Economic Foru,. 28 November 2017
The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020, an initiative hosted by the World Economic Forum, is joining forces with the Government of Colombia to launch a multistakeholder platform of businesses, civil society organizations and donor agencies to protect over 60 million hectares of Amazon rainforest within its borders from commodity-driven deforestation.
The platform, launched today, is called the TFA 2020 Colombia Alliance and follows the government’s target to have zero net deforestation in the Amazon by 2020.
[Tanzania] Ancient hunter-gatherer tribe protects traditional forest with help from carbon trading
By Sophie Tremblay and Willy Lowry, Mongabay, 28 November 2017
“Carbon,” said Mzee Sinze while sitting in the shade of an ancient, giant Baobab tree. “Carbon is very important to us Hadzabe.”
It’s not the answer one might expect from a tribal elder when asked why the forest is important to the hunter-gatherer Hadzabe tribe. But Sinze has a good reason for his statement.
“When you look around you see these beautiful trees and they belong to the Hadzabe,” he said. “From the mountains all around you can see the forest and this is because of carbon.”
29 November 2017
COP23 Special: Walking the REDD+ line, talking transformational change
By Deanna Ramsey, CIFOR Forests News, 29 November 2017
Has REDD+ worked?
Many at COP23 asked this question, and those in Bonn who were participating in negotiations, hosting discussions and telling their personal climate stories were likely to give a range of answers. But what does the research tell us?
Overall, REDD+ has not yet significantly reduced global forest loss, but Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) studies report positive, albeit small, changes in forest cover, livelihoods and tenure in many local projects.
At the CIFOR side event “REDD+: Where does it stand and what is needed now?”, panelists addressed the emissions reductions mechanism from different angles, with a professor giving out letter grades, a national REDD+ coordinator talking of heightened awareness levels a scientist discussing power relations.
Air transport must be restricted says climate change expert
By Valere Tjolle, Travel Mole, 29 November 2017
Tourism’s continued growth of CO2 emissions of will make it impossible to keep the global temperature rise below the 2 degree Paris Agreement limit, writes Professor Paul Peeters
The cause? The strong growth of air transport. In the year 2100 air transport will be almost nine times larger than it was in 2015, causing the average distance per trip to double.
As a result, air transport’s share of tourism’s CO2 emissions will increase from 50% in 2005 to 76% in 2100, while air transport covers only about one-third of the tourism market by 2100.
Public-Private Action on Using Land Sustainably: Early Lessons Learned from Results-Based Landscape Programs
World Bank, 29 November 2017
More and more countries across the developing world are launching large-scale, climate-smart initiatives to transform the way local communities derive their livelihoods from forests and broader land use. A key component to the success of these programs is engaging the private sector to shift behavior toward sustainable business models.
The World Bank Group’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL) have spent years working with private sector companies that produce, trade or buy commodities that play a role in driving deforestation or forest degradation. These funds have gained valuable insights into what has worked, and what more is required to bring about land use change in partnership with the private sector. Early lessons are captured in a new report entitled, Engaging the Private Sector in Results-Based Landscape Programs.
Indonesia: Fire Count at Record Low for 2017
By Jarryd de Haan, Future Directions, 29 November 2017
The latest dry season in Indonesia has ended with fires reaching a record low throughout the country. As seen in Figure 1, this year’s fire count peaked at 646 fires per day, the lowest since 2001, while the total fire count for the dry season was around a quarter of the usual count, reaching 13,813 (according to NASA statistics under “MODIS C6”). In response, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak personally thanked Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo for keeping transboundary haze out of Malaysia. The end of this year’s fire season (between July and October) marks the first time that the season’s total fire count was kept below 15,000 for two consecutive years since 2000. Forest fires break out each year in Indonesia as companies and individual farmers clear land for next year’s crop through slash-and-burn techniques.
Carbon dreams: Can REDD+ save a Yosemite-size forest in Madagascar?
by Rowan Moore Gerety, Mongabay, 29 November 2017
Two years ago, a group of foreigners visited Marovovonana, the riverside village where Amélin Toto Arison runs a general store, to make a presentation about carbon. Arison couldn’t recall what carbon was, exactly, but there was one thing he was sure of: “We know there’s some money from carbon,” he said, “but we don’t know where it is.”
“The local people, the farmers, when you tell them something, they believe it right away,” Arison said. As he understood it, residents of Marovovonana had been asked to protect the forest near their home in exchange for funding for community development projects; but he found the terms of the deal murky. Talk of carbon money had raised expectations for benefits that still hadn’t come. He worried people had soured on conservation as a result. “When it’s not clear, it’s best not to tell people. As soon as they hear it, they want it.”
[USA] California’s emissions dip—but climate policies get less credit than the weather
By Julie Cart, CALmatters, 29 November 2017
As Gov. Jerry Brown was making his way through Europe last month, striking an evangelical tone about the global peril represented by climate change, California’s Air Resources Board released good news about emissions reported by companies covered under the state’s cap-and-trade system.
Its report showed greenhouse gas emissions reduced by almost 5 percent in 2016, propelling the state toward meeting its ambitious goals. And for that we can thank Mother Nature.
According to analyses from the air board and independent experts, last year’s emissions drops came about not because of technological breakthroughs or drastic pollution reductions from oil refineries or other industries, nor did the lauded cap-and-trade program make a signifiant difference.
It was the rain.
30 November 2017
Who Will Pay For Nature? How To Catalyze Private Investment In Sustainability
By Mark Tercek (The Nature Conservancy), The Huffington Post, 30 November 2017
As more and more world leaders call for action on climate change, a difficult challenge arises: How do we pay for it?
It will take an estimated $5-7 trillion per year over the next 15 years to solve climate change and to meet the other U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”), from ending extreme poverty to ensuring clean water and sanitation for all. That’s a staggering amount of money.
Annual government grants today only punch in at $142.6 billion. Philanthropy produces about $400 billion per year in the U.S., though only a small percentage of this goes to environment or sustainability issues. That leaves a huge financing gap.
Are ‘No deforestation’ commitments working?
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 30 November 2017
In 2014, many of the world’s major companies buying, trading or producing palm oil and pulp and paper made a joint commitment to stop clearing natural forests by 2020. As the deadline draws near, how are these ‘No deforestation’ commitments progressing, and what effect are they having on forests?
Using LANDSAT satellite data to observe annual changes in forest area and annual expansion of industrial plantations, scientists at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are assessing the impact of corporate commitments to stop deforestation on the island of Borneo.
Can we move beyond the Paris climate pact to address the emissions gap?
By Jack Durrell, Landscapes News, 30 November 2017
Meeting the energy needs of a growing global population while mitigating the effects of climate change requires significant shifts in supply, efficiency and the rapid implementation of low-carbon development pathways.
Although this shift is not impossible, developed countries need to boost activities and many developing countries need more international support to implement green growth strategies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris Agreement signed by almost 200 countries to restrict global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to pursue efforts to limit increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius, was undoubtedly an important step towards effective climate action, but a new report on emissions from the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) argues that it was not ambitious enough.
Indonesian state court failing to enforce $26 million Supreme Court palm oil fine
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 30 November 2017
A state court in Indonesia is failing to enforce a Supreme Court ruling requiring a palm oil firm to pay US$26.5 million for illegal clearing with fire in the Tripa Peat Swamp, a vital orangutan habitat in the Leuser Ecosystem.
In a 2014 case brought by the Ministry of Environment, PT Kallista Alam (PT KA) was ordered to pay US$18 million to restore 1,000 hectares of burnt land, alongside US$8.5 million in compensation to the state treasury. An appeal against the verdict was rejected by the Supreme Court in August 2015.
But two years since the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Meulaboh State Court has yet to collect the fines, despite the Ministry of Environment and Forestry submitting letters requesting they do so.
[Indonesia] Corruption Is Becoming a Virus
Kompas, 30 November 2017
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) commissioner Basaria Panjaitan (right) and KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah (left back) together with KPK investigators at a press conference at the KPK building in Jakarta, on Wednesday display evidence in the form of Rp 4.7 billion in cash in connection with a raid in Jambi. The KPK has named four people suspects, including a Jambi official and regional legislative council (DPRD) member, in the 2018 regional budget bribery case.
The factors that have driven corruption include inconsistent law enforcement and the low morals of those people who should have been role models. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
New data indicate deforestation in Indonesia is reaching record highs
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 30 November 2017
Forest loss in Indonesia is reaching the highest levels since detailed measurements began according to new data published this week by the World Resources Institute, amid weak law enforcement and a failure to address the root causes of the crisis.
Total tree cover loss was recorded as 2.4 million hectares in 2016, up from 1.7m ha in 2015 and exceeding the previous record, set in 2012.
Forest loss within primary forests also hit a new high in 2016, surpassing 900,000 hectares. This was driven in large part by a spike in clearance for plantations in Papua, home to some of the last large tracts of intact forest in the country.
Forest Governance Provides UK With a Valuable Model for Expanding Sustainable Trade
By Eleanor Glober, Chatham House, 30 November 2017
As Britain looks to deepen trade links with developing countries post-Brexit, it will need to build on initiatives like the FLEGT programme.
Penny Mordaunt, the new head of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), has highlighted the need for the UK to expand trade with developing countries and build competitive markets to end poverty as it leaves the EU. On the same day she made these comments, Indonesia and the EU celebrated the first anniversary of FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) licences being issued, a programme DFID has supported since 2002.
If Mordaunt wants to achieve her goal, she will need to look at continuing and building on the success of initiatives like this.
[USA] The Big Suck: Can Atmospheric Carbon Removal Stop Climate Calamity?
By Glen Martin, Cal Alumni Association, UC Berkeley, 30 November 2017
Strategies to deal with climate change have focused largely on reducing emissions of CO2 and other planet-warming compounds from industry, transportation and agriculture. The news isn’t particularly heartening on that front. After three years of leveling off, CO2 levels are expected to rise by two percent by the end of 2017, due largely to increased coal-burning in China. For all the talk of solar, wind, carbon-neutral biofuels and fourth-generation nuclear, the world will continue to rely on fossil fuels for a long time.
And even in the best-case scenario, reducing emissions may not be enough to avoid the worst consequences of global warming such as melting ice caps and dramatic sea level rise. It’s likely we’ll need a complementary strategy such as carbon capture, the active removal and storage of atmospheric CO2.
1 December 2017
Bill McKibben: Winning Slowly Is the Same as Losing
By Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, 1 December 2017
If we don’t win very quickly on climate change, then we will never win. That’s the core truth about global warming. It’s what makes it different from every other problem our political systems have faced. I wrote the first book for a general audience about climate change in 1989 – back when one had to search for examples to help people understand what the “greenhouse effect” would feel like. We knew it was coming, but not how fast or how hard. And because no one wanted to overestimate – because scientists by their nature are conservative – each of the changes we’ve observed has taken us somewhat by surprise.
Climatecoin: Crypto Carbon Revolution
Climatecoin press release, 1 December 2017
CLIMATECOIN and CARBON TRADE EXCHANGE (CTX) – GEM, closed an agreement to create the first peer to peer decentralized platform for carbon credits trading/exchange in the world.
Climatecoin will become the first carbon zero cryptocurrency in the world by ‘stapling’ a carbon credit to every coin. CTX is the world’s first Global exchange for Carbon and has now joined with the world’s leading Climate ‘Finance’ Crypto currency to create a new future for both sectors. “Who better than the Best of Breed for us to partner with into the blockchain and Crypto currency sector?” says CTX founder and CEO Wayne Sharpe.
Global Oxygen Development Corp. to acquire 400 Million Co2bitCoins.
Global Oxygen press release, 1 December 2017
December 1st, 2017 – Co2Bit to offer a new and unique Crypto offering. To help alleviate the struggles of indigenous peoples in protecting their natural resources and fill the need for basic dependable energy.
Co2Bit is a Secure Network Based Digital Asset created as a means to finance and promote the proliferation of profitable sustainable carbon neutral energy generation to enable evolving participation in our global economy for all.
‘They want to occupy and take our land’: Land conflicts increase in Brazil
By Morgan Erickson-Davis, Mongabay, 1 December 2017
Deforestation is rife in the Brazilian state of Rondônia, which lies deep in the western Amazon rainforest. A new investigation by Greenpeace reveals that as deforestation of protected areas has risen in the state, so have allegations of attacks against the Indigenous communities that call its disappearing forests home. And as budget cuts deplete resources aimed at protecting these communities, many are worried this violence stands to worsen in the months and years to come.
[Uganda] Climate change: government announces Tree Fund
By Abubaker Mayemba, The Observer, 1 December 2017
To mitigate the effects of climate change, government, through the Environment ministry, is set to operationalise the ‘Tree Fund’.
The initiative directed at regenerating the country’s forest cover and drying wetlands will also help curb greenhouse gas emissions, a major factor driving climate changes, which are threatening the country’s ecosystems.
“There is some evidence to suggest that climatic changes in Uganda are connected to loss of forest and tree cover. In the last two decades alone, Uganda is estimated to have lost about a quarter (1.3 million hectares) of its forest cover,” according to the Advocates Coalition for development.
[UK] Four found guilty in £1.4m cold calling investment scheme case
By Jack Gilbert, New Model Adviser, 1 December 2017
Four individuals who ran an investment scheme that targeted potential investors through cold calls have been found guilty in a criminal prosecution brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The scheme, worth a total of £1.4 million, saw 300 investors buy shares in Symbiosis Healthcare. Many of these individuals were vulnerable and retired individuals, the FCA said.
Between 2009 and 2014 they were cold-called by brokers who sold them shares in the scheme.
2 December 2017
3 December 2017
Financial markets could be over-heating, warns central bank body
By Phillip Inman, The Guardian, 3 December 2017
Investors are ignoring warning signs that financial markets could be overheating and consumer debts are rising to unsustainable levels, the global body for central banks has warned in its quarterly financial health check.
The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) said the situation in the global economy was similar to the pre-2008 crash era when investors, seeking high returns, borrowed heavily to invest in risky assets, despite moves by central banks to tighten access to credit.
[Indonesia] How to Save the Rainforest: Build a Health Centre
By Yao-Hua Law, The Wire, 3 December 2017
The roosters were still asleep when Sri Wayunisih woke her daughter, Puteri. They could not afford to sleep till dawn. Wayunisih had taken a day off from working on the oil palm estates and Puteri had skipped school for this trip. They had to reach their destination before everyone else. Wayunisih pushed her motorcycle onto the road and her daughter climbed on behind her. The Mickey Mouse keychains on Puteri’s school bag clinked crisply. The two of them were heading towards Sukadana, a coastal district in south-west Borneo and the capital city of North Kayong, home to the only clinic in the area, some 80 km away. Soon, the roosters were crowing, their calls joining the dawn prayers playing from the many suraus along the road, the buildings lit only by the waning moon.