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REDD in the news: 4-10 December 2017

REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.

Fertile Ground: State of Forest Carbon Finance 2017
By Kelley Hamrick and Melissa Gallant, Ecosystem Marketplace, December 2017
Policymakers around the world recognize the potential for natural land area to combat climate change: a total of 97 countries mentioned specific plans to reduce emissions from deforestation or increase forest cover in their Paris Agreement commitments. As the international community and domestic lawmakers figure out how to meet their emissions reductions targets in a cost-effective way, many are looking to innovative mechanisms that channel finance towards enhancing the ability of forests and other natural land areas to absorb carbon from our atmosphere. This report details this finance. In particular, we share the latest data and trends for three forest carbon finance mechanisms: voluntary carbon markets, compliance carbon markets, and payments for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programs. For each of these mechanisms, the report covers the volumes and values of offsets transacted, key market actors, and relevant trends and policy developments. We also include information about the projects that receive these payments, how they operate, and how they are influencing the communities and ecosystems around them.

4 December 2017

Did we get it wrong? CIFOR responds to critique
By Robert Nasi, CIFOR Forests News, 4 December 2017
In the past week, sharp criticism was leveled at CIFOR’s recent publication, ‘Rights abuse allegations in the context of REDD+ readiness and implementation’ (Larson and Sarmiento, 2017 — for further references, see end of article). In a blog (Meyer, 2017), the Environmental Defense Fund’s Senior Manager for Amazon Forest Policy, Chris Meyer, raised several charges regarding the assumptions, sources and conclusions made by the authors of CIFOR’s Infobrief, and criticized the research approach undertaken by CIFOR.

Carbon collapse in fragmented forests
By Bill Laurence, ALERT, 4 December 2017
As we all know, habitat fragmentation is an enormous peril to Earth’s biodiversity. And it increasingly appears to be a danger to our climate as well.
As humans fragment forests they create large amounts of abrupt, artificial forest edge. In the tropics, for example, there is now an incredible 50 million kilometers of forest edge — enough to stretch one-third of the way between the Earth and the Sun.
According to two recent studies, such fragmentation causes tropical forests to lose a large amount of their carbon. That lost carbon goes into the atmosphere, increasing the risks of harmful climate change.

Can You Put a Price on a Forest?
By Marlene Cimons, Nexus Media, 4 December 2017
Forests don’t get a lot of credit in the fight against climate change. Left alone, they soak up a huge volume of carbon from the atmosphere. They are what scientists call a “carbon sink.” But, when people burn down forests to clear land for farming or grazing, those trees become a liability, bleeding their vast stores of carbon into the atmosphere.
Right now, countries are putting more money toward expanding agriculture than they are toward safeguarding forests. The challenge for governments is to create policies to protect existing forests and grow new ones. Doing so could put a big dent in climate change, according to a series of new reports.

Animal agriculture is choking the ​Earth and making us sick. We must act now
By James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron, The Guardian, 4 December 2017
Our collective minds are stuck on this idea that talking about food’s environmental impact risks taking something very intimate away from us. In fact it’s just the opposite. Reconsidering how we eat offers us hope, and empowers us with choice over what our future planet will look like. And we can ask our local leaders – from city mayors to school district boards to hospital management – to help, by widening our food options.

Blockchain Platform Rewards Carbon-Friendly Consumer Choices
By Mario Valdvieso, psfk, 4 December 2017
In the fight against climate change, we have to do all we can to keep the environment and the planet on the right track. Understandably it can be a difficult task for a person to go through their day while also trying to be constantly environmentally conscious, sometimes we need an extra push to get there. A Canadian startup company called Carbon X wants to give people that push by financially rewarding people for making carbon friendly consumer choices.

Guest post: Trees are the dominant source of methane emissions in Amazon wetlands
By Prof Vincent Gauci, Carbon Brief, 4 December 2017
The world’s wetlands pack quite the climate punch. Not only can they store vast amounts of carbon in their saturated soils, they also release it as methane – a greenhouse gas that is 34 times more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
While wetlands are also frequently overlooked in favour of upland forests when considering the exchange of greenhouse gases between ecosystems and the atmosphere, there have been some truly stunning breakthroughs this year in these ecosystems.

Brazil Has Not Complied with Its Climate Guidelines
By Ana Carolina Amaral, Folha de S. Paulo, 4 December 2017
For those who have been covering Brazil’s behavior since it committed itself to the Paris Agreement measures there is simply no room for argument: the country has been moving in the opposite direction of the very policies it devised.
Casting aside the rising level of carbon emissions in the country – which grew 8.9% in 2016, thus making the target of reducing emissions by 37% by 2025 even more unlikely – what truly worries climate organizations is the lack of coordination between levels of government as well as the lack of continuity when it comes to executing an environmental agenda.

[Burma] Tug Of War over Indigenous Rights and Govt’s Forestry Plan
By Moe Myint, The Irrawaddy, 4 December 2017
Civil society organizations (CSOs) want the rights of indigenous people to be officially recognized in Myanmar’s Nationally Determined Commitment (NDC), the government’s action plan to implement the Paris Agreement for tackling carbon emissions, in order to prevent tribal people being driven from the forest to make way for climate-change mitigation projects.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) includes a legally established rights platform for indigenous people to support the exchange of experiences and the sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation. It was approved as part of the Paris Agreement that was signed in December 2015 at COP 21 (the Conference of Parties).

Interview: How DR Congo’s President Hired Rebel Fighters to Crush Protests
By Stephanie Hancock and Myrto Tilianaki, Human Rights Watch, 4 December 2017
As President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo tried to extend his rule beyond the constitutionally mandated two-term limit last December, senior Congolese security force officers secretly recruited former rebel fighters to violently crush protests against him, Human Rights Watch found in a new report. The officers brought in at least 200 former rebels from the M23 rebel group from neighboring Uganda and Rwanda and gave them orders to kill protesters if necessary and suppress any threat to Kabila’s rule. At least 62 people died in the resulting crackdown. The report is the result of months of painstaking research by a team of experienced researchers working with Human Rights Watch. Here, the researchers describe their work to uncover the truth.

[Indonesia] The palm oil industry promises reform, but there’s still no sign of change
By Bagus Kusuma, Greenpeace, 4 December 2017
It was ten years ago that Greenpeace first published an investigation into Indonesia’s palm oil industry. We showed that the world’s biggest brands got their palm oil from companies destroying Indonesia’s rainforests – threatening local people as well as tigers and orangutans.
As people learned the truth about their shampoo, cosmetics and chocolate bars, brands and their suppliers started to feel the pressure. In 2013, Wilmar became the first palm oil trader to adopt a No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) policy. Others followed suit, and by the end of 2014, most household brands and big palm oil companies had sworn to protect Indonesia’s rainforests.

[Kenya] KenGen eye revenue boost through non-traditional green projects
By Kamau Macharia, Standard, 4 December 2017
Power producer KenGen earned Sh57 million from the sale of carbon credits in the year to June this year. Managing Director Rebecca Miano said while the firm would continue participating in the emissions trading system, earnings are likely to remain subdued by the sub-sector’s prevailing trading framework and a slowdown in the global momentum. The carbon trading system is aimed at reducing pollution by penalising polluters and at the same time enabling companies or countries to earn from their environmentally friendly projects.

Empowering villagers to combat illegal deforestation in Zambia
By Susan Kirimania, Transparency International, 4 December 2017
In the district of Nyimba in Zambia — a rural area east of the capital Lusaka where subsistence farming and hunting are the main sources of livelihood — demand for the beautiful and rare wood of the Mukula tree creates ample opportunity for corruption.
Local villagers used to mostly turn the wood into charcoal to sell in Lusaka, but now international buyers want the timber for use in gunstocks and ornaments.
Trade in the wood is illegal, but with middle men offering good money for Mukula logs, plenty of the tribal chiefs who control 90% of all land in Zambia have been happy to turn a blind eye.

5 December 2017

3 Ways Governments Can Prevent Fake Data on Forests
By Hidayah Hamzah, Rizky Firmansyah, Arief Wijaya and Surahman Putra, Global Forest Watch, 5 December 2017
For years, non-government organizations in Indonesia have been pressuring the government to release data on its forests, such as the location of agricultural plantations and protected areas. Access to government-owned forest data is critical in the country because deforestation runs rampant, in part due to unreliable or inaccessible data that makes forest monitoring and law enforcement difficult. Yet, the Indonesian government has been reluctant to release digital spatial data, citing concerns it could be altered and misused. But the reality is that there are a number of ways to stop the spread of fake data.

Greening the economy, one blockchain at a time
By Todd Lemons (Veridium Labs), Business Green, 5 December 2017
At the core of a sustainable economy is the concept of a ‘sustainable supply chain’ – a process that involves integrating environmentally and financially viable practices into the complete supply chain lifecycle. With adverse environmental and social impacts embedded into every good and service we consume, sustainable supply chains are critical to protecting our planet.

Launch of a New Livelihoods Carbon Fund
Sustainable Brands, 5 December 2017
Crédit Agricole, Danone, Firmenich, Hermès, Michelin, SAP, Schneider Electric & Voyageurs du Monde accelerate their actions for climate & the most vulnerable populations.
This new impact investment fund, with a target of 100 million euros, aims at improving the lives of 2 million people and avoiding the emissions of up to 25 million tons of CO2 over a 20-year span.
On 11 December 2017 in Paris, just before the International Climate Summit, these 8 companies will officially launch the new Livelihoods Carbon Fund. They will invite other companies and impact investors to join the momentum to reach the 100 million euros investment target as of 2018. The new Livelihoods Carbon Fund will start investing in ecosystem restoration, agroforestry and energy projects next year. Projects will be mainly implemented in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Shots Fired At Indigenous Leader Who Documented Illegal Logging In Brazilian Amazon
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 5 December 2017
Just days after indigenous leader Narayni Surui and other members of the Paiter-Surui indigenous people ejected four logging trucks from their territory, one of the loggers retaliated by attempting to assassinate Narayni and his wife, award-winning teacher Elisângela Dell-Armelina Surui, according to the daily newspaper Folha de São Paulo.
The attack took place around 7:30 pm on November 29, as the two rode their motorcycle along the rutty dirt road that leads into the Sete de Setembro Indigenous Territory. Narayni identified a logger named Rael as the gunman, and said neither he nor his wife were hit. Police are investigating.
Tensions have been rising across the 248,000 hectare territory, which is experiencing a resurgence of illegal logging, along with incursions by diamond miners, after the Surui Forest Carbon Project collapsed earlier in the year.

[USA] Mayors: Don’t Let Food Waste Be a Wasted Opportunity
World Resources Institute, 5 December 2017
An Open Letter to the World’s Mayors:
Welcome to Chicago! As you gather this week at a major climate summit, I hope you will make the most of your time in one of the world’s best food cities. Try the popcorn, the Chicago dogs, the deep-dish pizza and the haute cuisine. While you’re savoring, it would be fitting for you to discuss how to fight climate change.
That’s because food — and the amount we let go to waste — presents a real opportunity for mayors. More than 1 billion tons of food (about a third of all that is produced) goes uneaten each year. Food that is lost or wasted is responsible for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, if it were a country, food loss and waste would be the world’s third largest emitter, right after China and the United States.

6 December 2017

Here’s a great way to visualize the huge potential of forest conservation and restoration as ‘natural climate solutions’
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 6 December 2017
Recent research found that 20 different “natural climate solutions” have the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 23.8 billion metric tons every year — and that nearly half of that potential, or some 11.3 billion metric tons of emissions, represent what the study’s authors call “cost-effective climate mitigation.”
The researchers behind the study defined “cost-effective” as including those relatively low-cost natural climate solutions that require less than $100 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions reduction per year. As Susan Minnemeyer, a mapping and data manager for the World Resources Institute (WRI) who co-authored the study, and colleagues point out, forest conservation and restoration, especially in the tropics, are a major component of these cost-effective climate mitigation strategies.

Tropical Forests in Our Daily Lives
Rainforest Alliance, 6 December 2017
Do you think of tropical forests as faraway places that have nothing to do with your daily life? Think again. You rely on forests more than you know.
If you live in the industrialized global North — spending your days at an office desk, perhaps, or running around suburbs or cities, your trusty iPhone never more than a few inches away — you could be forgiven for thinking tropical forests have little do with your daily life (other than providing fodder for vacation daydreams, of course). After all, tropical forests are home to howler monkeys, armadillos, and sloths. What could they possibly have to do with you?
Plenty, as a matter of fact. For starters, they provide vital services, like stabilizing climate and absorbing carbon dioxide. But they also offer a vast array of products that many of us use on a daily basis.

Q&A: Will the reformed EU Emissions Trading System raise carbon prices?
By Simon Evans, Carbon Brief, 6 December 2017
In July 2003, at a series of meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg, EU lawmakers adopted an Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to help combat climate change.
The cap-and-trade scheme for industrial CO2 was part of the EU’s response to the Kyoto Protocol, which had set the then-15 member bloc a target to cut emissions 8% below 1990 levels by 2012.

[Ghana] World Bank gives US$5.5 million in support of forest project
By Josephine Nyarkoh, Ghana News Agency, 6 December 2017
Ghana’s effort at rolling back the increasing deforestation and forest degradation has received a huge boost with the launch of a five-year project targeting forest-rich communities in two regions – Western and Brong-Ahafo.
The US$5.5 million project funded by the World Bank would be piloted in 51 communities and would involve providing the people with sustainable alternative livelihood, adoption of climate smart practices and strong extension service support to farmers.

In rural Indonesia, a village learns to embrace its forest through sustainability
By Dedek Hendry, Mongabay, 6 December 2017
Yoyon remembers being elected head of his village back in 2010, here on the southwestern coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, following a spate of arrests of his fellow villagers.
Those arrested were accused of farming in Bukit Daun, a protected forest. The last arrests that Yoyon, who goes by one name, can recall came two years before his election, when six villagers were held.
“I’ve lost count of how many locals have been detained,” he said in an interview.

Environmental crusaders risk their lives to save Philippine paradise
AFP, 6 December 2017
Tata gives hand signals for his men to drop to the rainforest floor as the searing whine of a chainsaw fades, their mission to save a critically endangered piece of paradise in the Philippines suddenly on hold.
Former paramilitary leader Efren “Tata” Balladares has been leading the other flip flop-wearing environmental crusaders up and down the steep mountains of Palawan island for the past 15 hours in the hunt for illegal loggers.

[USA] California fires: LA braces itself as new blaze threatens city
By Jeremy B White, Independent, 6 December 2017
Wind-whipped wildfires are continuing to scorch the Los Angeles area, with a trio of existing infernos expanding overnight and a newly ignited blaze forcing evacuations in the upscale Bel Air neighbourhood of Los Angeles.
After spending Tuesday battling the sprawling Thomas Fire in Ventura County and the fast-growing Creek Fire and Rye Fire in northern Los Angeles County, firefighters were scrambling to combat the newly named Skirball Fire in one of the tonier Los Angeles areas.

7 December 2017

ICAO opens consultation with States on proposed rules for CORSIA implementation
Green Air, 7 December 2017
ICAO’s proposed rules for States and aeroplane operators on the administration; monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of CO2 emissions; carbon offsetting requirements; and emissions units under the CORSIA scheme have been circulated to the UN agency’s 192 member States for comment. The so-called CORSIA Package is made up of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and related guidance material. The 128-page document sent by the ICAO Secretary General to States on Tuesday contains a proposal for a first edition of a new Volume IV (CORSIA) to Annex 16 (Environmental Protection) of the Chicago Convention to apply from 1 January 2019. It also includes draft Implementation Elements and supporting documents. States have been requested to forward their comments on the proposals to ICAO by 5 March 2018, an unusually short consultation period.

Carbon Pricing and Markets Update: Discussions Advance on Markets under Paris Agreement
IISD, 7 December 2017
November carbon pricing and market news included the World Bank’s annual state of carbon pricing report, which brought both positive and less positive news. The UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, also known as COP 23, included discussions on carbon markets on both the intergovernmental negotiating agenda and at several side and special events. Also, the EU reached agreement on the reform of its emissions trading scheme (ETS) for the post-2020 era.

[Ghana] Community Representatives Receive Training To Fight Climate Change
By Bossman Owusu, Modern Ghana, 7 December 2017
Sixteen members of the National Steering Committee (NSC) and project officers of the Ghana-Dedicated Grant Mechanism (G-DGM) project have completed a five-day intensive training programme on climate change and REDD+ from 27 November to December 1, 2017. The training happened on the flanks of the second NSC meeting held in Kumasi.
The goal was to increase communities’ understanding of the linkage between their current activities and climate change, gain an appreciation of climate-smart activities and the G-DGM project as well as share and apply the knowledge in their practices.

[PNG] Environment minister urges action on climate change while contracted to logging company
PNGi, 7 December 2017
Papua New Guinea’s Minister for the Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, John Pundari, was in Germany last month for the COP23 Climate Change talks, where he urged countries to uphold their climate change promises under the Paris Agreement.
Pundari was leading the PNG delegation in Bonn, a role he has become accustomed to having attended numerous international climate conferences as Minister since 2012. In Germany he called on the delegates to secure real and serious action to effectively tackle global warming by cutting carbon emissions.

[UK] McDermott Sued by Investment Manager Over Claims of Fraudulent Misrepresentation
By Alec Berry and James Booth, Law.com, 7 December 2017
McDermott Will & Emery’s U.K. arm is being sued by an investment fund manager over claims of fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty.
The claimant, investment manager David Gorton, alleges that two former McDermott London lawyers advised him to invest in carbon credit trading schemes in which they had undisclosed personal financial interests.

8 December 2017

Hotter world than predicted may be here by 2100
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 8 December 2017
Tomorrow may experience a hotter world than anyone had feared. Global warming, under the notorious “business-as-usual scenario” in which humans go on burning fossil fuels to power economic growth, could by 2100 be at least 15% warmer than the worst UN projections so far. And the spread of uncertainty in such gloomy forecasts has been narrowed as well.

Norway cuts payments to Brazil after Amazon forest losses rise
Reuters, 8 December 2017
Norway has slashed its annual payments to Brazil to protect the Amazon rainforest by 60 percent to $42 million after a rise in forest destruction in 2016, but welcomed signs that losses have slowed this year, Norway’s Environment Ministry said on Friday.
Norway makes annual payments to Brazil as part of a long-term billion-dollar program to curb the loss of Amazon rainforest to slow global warming. Forests are a giant store of carbon dioxide, the main man-made greenhouse gas, but are being cut down for logging and to make way for farms.

[Nepal] Attracting green dollars
By Marissa Taylor, VMAG, 8 December 2017
There is little doubt that global temperatures are rising at an alarming rate. There are two main factors that are contributing to this increase: the rise in global carbon emissions from fossil-fuel combustion and the increase in deforestation.
Forests play an important role in the planet’s carbon cycle. When forests are cut, the amount of carbon absorbed by the atmosphere decreases, and the carbon that is stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2). This adds significantly to earth’s greenhouse gas levels—which is responsible for the rise of global temperatures. Increasing global temperatures means bad repercussions of all sorts: from more extreme-weather occurrences (such as flash floods) to islands and coastal cities drowning in the rising seas and oceans.

9 December 2017

10 December 2017

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