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REDD in the news: 18-24 December 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.

18 December 2017

DIALOGUE: What future for the voluntary carbon market in a world full of emission targets?
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 18 December 2017
The voluntary carbon market is maintaining demand from corporate buyers but seeing average carbon credit prices fall under a looming global climate regime that could potentially squeeze them out.
Faced with a potentially terminal threat of the NDCs of the Paris Agreement and CORSIA commandeering VER market share by covering a larger segment of global emissions after 2020, voluntary market business association ICROA has suggested several options as a way forward and is consulting on them with the UNFCCC, governments, certifiers, and civil society.

Paris delivers on climate change again, at One Planet Summit
By Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF, 18 December 2017
Once again, Paris delivers. Two years on from the landmark climate agreement that carries the city’s name, President Emanuel Macron’s One Planet Summit has delivered leadership, progress, momentum and the connections we will need to address climate change.

Byte Power switches on to try and turn carbon credits into crypto
By Rachel Williamson, Stockhead, 18 December 2017
Junior crypto stock Byte Power has struck a deal to manage an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for a small Canadian gas explorer.
Byte Power is following DigitalX (ASX:DCC) — which has recently taken on four similar deals — into the ICO advisory game.
An ICO is like an initial public offering — but instead of offering shares in a company, an issuer offers digital tokens that can be traded on “cryptocurrency” platforms or for digital services.

Threats to Congo peat forests put people, wildlife and climate goals at risk
By Julie Mollins and Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 18 December 2017
Looming potential infrastructure projects pose a serious threat to the forested peatlands of the Congo Basin, and could prevent the achievement of global goals on mitigating climate change, according to an environmental expert.
Spanning 3.7 million square kilometers and 10 countries, including Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo, the Congo Basin contains the largest undisturbed tract of tropical rainforests and peatlands in the world. The region is home to rich biological diversity, including the world’s most endangered great ape, the bonobo (Pan pansicus), and provides food, shelter and livelihoods for 40 million people.

[India] Karnataka: Ghat shocker! Forest fire in December itself
Deccan Chronicle, 18 December 2017
Hills in the Western Ghats turn picturesque during this time of the year with fog and clouds moving above them. The greenery and white clouds attract a lot of people.
But for the trekkers of Sahyadri Sanchaya, it was not a usual fog or the clouds that were seen atop the Barimale hill near Charmadi Ghat. It was the smoke due to a forest fire!
The trekkers, Dinesh Holla and team were on their way to Devaramane. While travelling on the Charmadi Ghat they saw smoke on Barimale hill. It was clear the forest on the hill had caught fire. What was more concerning for them was that the forest fire had started in the Western Ghats too early this year.

‘This Fraud Must Stop’: How a Green Norwegian Company is Using Climate Change to Exploit Ugandan Villages
By D. Amari Jackson, Atlanta Black Star, 18 December 2017
When it comes to our global climate, few would argue that growing more trees is a bad thing. After all, forests naturally soak up greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and other industrial functions, pulling harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and recycling it to optimize Earth’s capacity to sustain life. Consistently, a decade ago, the Norway-based company Green Resources began planting forests on 2,670 hectares (6600 acres) of land in the government-owned Kachung Central Forest Reserve in northern Uganda under an international ‘carbon credit’ program where governments, industry or private individuals can compensate for the emissions they generate.

19 December 2017

Why indigenous rights matter for REDD+
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 19 December 2017
Indigenous rights have recently taken on a more prominent role in international discussions on forests and their role in combating climate change. Growing from an increasing understanding of the role of traditional knowledge in sustainable management of forests, as well as the connections between forests and climate, indigenous peoples are increasingly being involved in national and international policy processes in this area.
Ahead of the Global Landscapes Forum opening today in Bonn, Germany, Forests News caught up with CIFOR analyst Stephen Leonard to hear more about recent developments in research and policy on forests, restoration and climate change, and the rights and knowledge of indigenous peoples.

IUCN launches first Bonn Challenge Barometer report highlighting restoration progress
IUCN, 19 December 2017
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the Barometer Spotlight Report 2017 that details the progress Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador, Rwanda and the United States are making in bringing degraded and deforested landscapes into restoration. It is the first product of the Bonn Challenge Barometer, the only global progress tracking protocol focused on forest landscape restoration.

Carbon Loophole: Why Is Wood Burning Counted as Green Energy?
By Fred Pearce, YaleEnvironment360, 19 December 2017
It was once one of Europe’s largest coal-burning power stations. Now, after replacing coal in its boilers with wood pellets shipped from the U.S. South, the Drax Power Station in Britain claims to be the largest carbon-saving project in Europe. About 23 million tons of carbon dioxide goes up its stacks each year. But because new trees will be planted in the cut forests, the company says the Drax plant is carbon-neutral.
There is one problem. Ecologists say that the claims of carbon neutrality, which are accepted by the European Union and the British government, do not stand up to scrutiny. The forests of North Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi — as well as those in Europe — are being destroyed to sustain a European fantasy about renewable energy. And with many power plants in Europe and elsewhere starting to replace coal with wood, the question of who is right is becoming ever more important.

Ecosystems could once bounce back from wildfires. Now, they’re being wiped out for good
By Lakshimi Supriya, Science, 19 December 2017
Uncontrollable infernos that have torched about half a million hectares and displaced more than 100,000 people have made this the worst wildfire year yet for California. From such ashes, ecosystems usually bounce back, but a new study reveals this is no longer a guarantee. Thanks to climate change, areas ravaged by wildfires may never recover, wiping out entire ecological communities forever.
Wildfires are a natural part of many environments. They are nature’s way of clearing out the dead litter on forest floors. This allows important nutrients to return to the soil, enabling a new healthy beginning for plants and animals. Fires also play an important role in the reproduction of some plants. For example, seeds in some pinecones are sealed with a resin that melts in fires, releasing them and allowing new growth.

China moves towards launch of carbon trading scheme
By Emily Feng, Financial Times, 19 December 2017
China has taken the first step towards launching its much-delayed carbon emissions trading scheme by setting emissions quotas for companies in the power sector.
The long-awaited scheme, which is expected to be the world’s largest carbon trading market, has been beset by delays and was initially scheduled for launch in 2017.
Environmentalists have hailed the plans for the country’s carbon market as a sign that China, regularly criticised for its environmental transgressions, is moving towards a more sustainable future.

Guest post: Bioenergy ‘flaw’ under EU renewable target could raise emissions
By Prof Sir John Beddington, CarbonBrief, 19 December 2017
Europe is currently considering a renewable energy directive that would raise the requirements to use renewable energy from a level of roughly 16% of final energy demand in 2015 to a level of 27-35% by 2030.
While this is a laudable target, policymakers do need to consider very carefully some potential unintended consequences of the rules that they are proposing. There is a real risk that these policies may even lead to a situation whereby global emissions accelerate.

Ghana was able to negotiate in all areas at COP23
By Josephine Naaeke, Ghana News Agency, 19 December 2017
Mr Kyekyeku Yaw Oppong-Boadi, National Focal Person for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has described the 23rd conference of Parties held in Bonn as successful.
He explained that Ghana engaged in bilateral agreements with German government, Executive Director of Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board aimed at getting support.

[Indonesia] Gov’t Claims Drastic Reduction of Land Vulnerable to Forest Fires in 2016-17
By Dames Alexander Sinaga, Jakarta Globe, 19 December 2017
The government on Tuesday (19/12) claimed to have drastically reduced the number of forest and land fire hot spots across the country by 94 percent in 2016 from 2015 and by 37 percent in 2017 from 2016, a minister said.
The reduction of forest fire hotspots has affected government regulations, directed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said.
The minister said that according to data obtained by NASA’s Terra satellites, there were 70,900 forest fire hot spots detected across the country in 2015.
In 2016, the number dropped dramatically to 3,000 and continued to fall to 2,411 this year, she added.

Peru Leader Could Be Biggest to Fall in Latin America Graft Scandal
By Andrea Zarate and Nicholas Casey, New York Times, 19 December 2017
In this seaside capital, the tales of graft were multiplying like the potholes.
There was the unfinished highway to the airport that had left a trail of indictments and protected witnesses instead. There was the light rail line that prosecutors say was built with $8 million in bribes.
Not even the statue of Christ the Redeemer standing above the ocean was untouched: It was donated as a gift by the Brazilian construction giant that had doled out the bribes.
The company, Odebrecht, has been at the center of Latin America’s biggest corruption scandal in a generation, with government officials jailed in Ecuador and Brazil and dozens under investigation in Venezuela and Colombia.

UK polluters face Brexit anxiety over carbon credits
By Peter Teffer, EU Observer, 19 December 2017
The UK association for energy companies, Energy UK, has asked the British government several times this year to provide clarity over what will happen to UK involvement in the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) after Brexit, in a series of papers.
In February 2017, it asked for a decision “by the second half of 2017”.
In August 2017, it asked the UK government and the EU to confirm continued participation in the ETS by October 2017.
By September 2017, in the lobby group’s third ETS paper, it gave up asking for clarity by a certain date – perhaps because it knew that such a request would fall on deaf ears.

UK aviation has managed to decouple passenger increase from carbon and noise growth, says industry report
Green Air, 19 December 2017
UK cross-industry coalition group Sustainable Aviation (SA) says the sector has succeeded in disconnecting the growth in passenger numbers from the rate of growth in carbon and noise emissions. In its latest progress report, carbon emissions from the six airline members of the group – British Airways, easyJet, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson Airways and Virgin Atlantic – increased by less than half a per cent between 2014 and 2016 despite a 9% increase in the number of passengers flown. During the same period, it reports a reduction of 12,000 people in the noise contour areas of five SA member airports. Commending the report, the UK Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, said sustainable growth was one of the key objectives of the government’s long-term strategy for UK aviation.

US Govt is in the process of extraditing Bitcoin fraudster Renwick Haddow
By Maria Nikolova, Finance Feeds, 19 December 2017
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has provided an update to the New York Southern District Court with regard to its case against Renwick Haddow, the founder of fraudulent entities Bitcoin Store Inc. and Bar Works Inc.
On Monday, the SEC informed the Court that Haddow’s time to answer (or otherwise respond to) its complaint currently expires on January 4, 2018. However, the Commission anticipates that Haddow may seek to extend his time to answer because he is currently being held in a Moroccan jail.

20 December 2017

Wildfires mark the new reality of climate change in 2017
By Bob Berwyn, Pacific Standard, 20 December 2017
Sometimes the effects of climate change seem to creep up, as when sea levels rise an inch every few years, or when temperatures break records by a tenth of a degree. But when your backyard is on fire, you feel global warming breathing down your neck.
In the last three years, as global temperatures spiked to new records, it sometimes felt like the whole world was ablaze, as a series of “worst-ever” fires damaged and destroyed ecosystems and human communities on nearly every continent, under new climate conditions that will be the norm by 2050.

Carbon Credit Trading Scheme is Malfunctioning in S. Korea
By Jung Suk-yee, Business Korea, 20 December 2017
The South Korean government held a cabinet meeting on December 19 and assigned a carbon emission of 538.46 million tons for next year to 591 companies.
Once the amount by company is determined, each company sets up a carbon emission plan for the period of 2018 to 2020. Each that exceeded its quota during 2015 to 2017 has to purchase carbon credits by June 2018 from those that did not.
The carbon credit trading is unlikely to be large in size. This is because companies can better handle uncertainties by carrying surplus credits forward than by selling the credits. In addition, they are thinking that the presence of surplus credits can negatively affect their next quotas.

[USA] CSU study finds link between climate change, reduced forest resilience
By Jacy Marmaduke, Coloradoan, 20 December 2017
A new Colorado State University-led study unearthed unhappy news for the resilience of Rocky Mountain forests.
The study examined nearly 1,500 sites in five states — Colorado, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and Montana — and found a link between Earth’s changing climate and significant decreases in post-fire tree regeneration, according to a Colorado State University press release. Regeneration is an important factor for forest health.

21 December 2017

Guyana developing REDD+ grievance procedure, redress mechanism
By Danis Chabrol, Demerara Waves, 21 December 2017
In implementing the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Project in Guyana, the Ministry of Natural Resources has inked a contract with a local consultancy firm to develop a Grievance and Redress Mechanism (GRM) for the REDD+ readiness process.
This is the first consultancy awarded under FCPF, which is readying Guyana to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). The GRM is the national coordinating structure and procedures to receive, process and investigate issues affecting stakeholders/communities under the REDD+ implementation process.

[UK] Fund Manager Sues U.S. Law Firm for Fraud Over Carbon-Tax Advice
By Jeremy Hodges and Nishant Kumar, Bloomberg, 21 December 2017
Fund manager David Gorton sued a U.S. law firm for fraud after its lawyers convinced him to buy into a carbon-credit investment that they had an undeclared financial interest in, according to a London lawsuit.
Gorton, who runs a joint venture with Brevan Howard Asset Management, was advised to invest to gain “significant tax relief” by Alastair Wilson and Menna Bowen, who were then at McDermott, Will & Emery, attorneys for the co-founder of DG Partners LLP said in suit filed at the U.K. High Court.
“In acting for and advising Mr. Gorton, Mr. Wilson and Ms. Bowen were, as qualified lawyers, aware of their regulatory and fiduciary obligations to him,” Gorton’s lawyers said. “In the circumstances, they knew that the representations were false, or were reckless as to whether they were true or not.”

22 December 2017

Here’s what you need to know from the Global Landscapes Forum
By Sophie Edwards, devex, 22 December 2017
This year’s Global Landscapes Forum aimed to launch a revitalized “movement,” bringing together a range of actors under one banner to drive progress toward the climate change and sustainable development agendas.
But as the dust settles on the conference, attendees have expressed mixed views about the new platform.

Failing our forests: in two years we’ve lost enough trees to cover Spain
By Jeremy Hance, The Guardian, 22 December 2017
Two years ago the world signed the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. It included specific pledges to “conserve and enhance” the world’s forests in order to combat rising temperatures. But in the last two years – 2015 and 2016 – we’ve lost enough trees to cover 493,716 square kilometres, according to satellite data recently released by Global Forest Watch (GFW). This is nearly equal to the entirety of Spain – or about four Englands.
Currently, deforestation accounts for around 10-15% of annual global carbon emissions. Even as combating deforestation has long been seen as one of the cheapest ways to tackle global warming, GFW’s data shows just how far we have to go.

23 December 2017

[Guyana] Grievance mechanism contract signed under project to limit forest carbon emissions
Stabroek News, 23 December 2017
The Ministry of Natural Resources has signed a contract with a local consultancy firm to develop a Grievance and Redress Mechanism (GRM) under a project which aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions from forests.
This is the first consultancy awarded under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which is readying Guyana to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). According to a release from the FCPF Project under the Ministry of Natural Resources, the GRM is the national coordinating structure and procedure to receive, process and probe issues affecting stakeholders/communities under the REDD+ implementation process. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[India] Workshop on reducing emission from deforestation held
The Assam Tribune, 23 December 2017
The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), an autonomous body of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and its Jorhat-based Rain Forest Research Institute (RFRI) organised a daylong regional stakeholders consultations and capacity building workshop on national REDD plus strategy for NE region at the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD) here recently, stated a press release. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries and role of conservation collectively known as REDD plus under UN Climate Negotiations intends to give financial incentives to the developing countries for reducing deforestation and forest degradation, promoting forest conservation and sustainable management of forests. Paris Agreement on Climate Change also reiterated its support to promote REDD plus in developing countries for climate change mitigation.

24 December 2017

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