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REDD in the news: 29 January – 4 February 2018

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

29 January 2018

2017 Breaks Climate Records Despite No “El Niño Boost”
By Gaius Publius, Down with Tyranny, 29 January 2018
This is an update on the coming climate train wreck. The numbers are in for 2017, not just the global temperature itself (see graph above), but also the clearly climate-related damage that was done — the fires, hurricanes and other extreme-weather events. 2017 ranks in the top five hottest years on record, and broke the record for climate-related damage.

Transparent data needed to reach global goals on climate
By Christi Hang, CIFOR Forests News, 29 January 2018
With no shortage of interested stakeholders when it comes to climate change, there is a need for transparent land-use monitoring approaches that a wide range of actors can easily use for their goals.
This is easier said than done. Measuring the success of global goals set out under the Paris Agreement, and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) from individual countries, for the land-use sector requires Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of greenhouse gas emissions from land conversion, degradation and deforestation.

[EU] Trial of carbon tax ‘fraud of the century’ opens in Paris
By Emilie Boyer King, France24, 29 January 2018
Between 2008 and 2009, 1.6 billion euros were swindled in a huge carbon quota market scam dubbed the “fraud of the century”. On Monday, 36 people suspected of running the scheme’s largest operation went on trial in Paris.
At the head of the Marseille-based gang appearing before the judges this week is Christiane Melgrani, a former maths teacher who once managed a piano bar. The outspoken 59-year-old, known as “La Marseillaise”, had previously been sentenced for drug trafficking and sales tax fraud in telephone businesses.

Ghana to transform climate change policy into laws
Xinhua, 29 January 2018
To ensure unhindered enforcement of its Climate Change policy, government of Ghana seeks to transform these policies into legally Mandatory Instruments (laws), a senior public official has said.
In an interview with Xinhua after the one-day Stakeholder Engagement for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Readiness and Closure here on Friday, Peter Dery, Head of Climate Change and Sustainable Development Unit of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation explained that until these regulations were turned into laws it would be difficult to enforce them.

[Kenya] Leave Embobut or get cursed, Marakwet elders tell Sengwer
By Stephen Rutto, The Star, 29 January 2018
Marakwet elders have ordered illegal Embobut forest dwellers to move out or be cursed.
The elders joined Elgeyo Marwakwer governor Alex Tolgos and Marakwet East MP Bowen Kangogo in supporting the eviction of the indigenous people.

[Nigeria] UN-REDD trains communities, seeks forest protection
By Aniete Akpan, The Guardian (Nigeria), 29 January 2018
The United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD Programme) has trained about 800 people from forest reserved Communities of Cross River state on the effects of climate change.
The residents were trained at a capacity development workshops on REDD+ organised for five communities of Agoi Ekpo, Agoi Ibami, Etara, Ekuri Eyeyeng and Okokori in the state.

UK watchdog issues warning on online investment fraud
By Hannah Murphy, Financial Times, 29 January 2018
The UK’s financial watchdog has warned of the rise of online investment fraud, including bitcoin scams, that use attractive advertising to target young people, after investors in one product lost nearly £90,000 a day last year.
The Financial Conduct Authority said fraudsters were using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to lure people to invest in cryptocurrencies, foreign exchange and complex financial instruments such as binary options.

30 January 2018

Biofuel bomb is decimating nature
By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 30 January 2018
Malaysia and Indonesia are massive producers of palm oil, much of which is exported overseas.
Oil palm is not only the biggest direct driver of deforestation and peat-swamp destruction in these nations but is a growing forest-killer elsewhere in the tropics — often in mega-diversity areas such as New Guinea, Equatorial Africa, and Latin America.
Native forests and peat swamps in the tropics have remarkable biodiversity and are massive stores of carbon – the destruction of which spews out billions of tonnes of greenhouse-gas emissions each year.

UN makes open call for ideas on fighting climate change
By Megan Darby, Climate Home News, 30 January 2018
Researchers, campaigners, business leaders and members of the public have an unprecedented chance to influence UN climate talks in 2018.
In a radical opening up of the process, groups and individuals will present their ideas on climate action directly to government representatives during a meeting in Bonn this May.
The plans are led by Fiji, which holds the rotating presidency of the talks. They draw on Pacific “talanoa” storytelling traditions in a bid to make the process more inclusive.

Mondelez commits $4.9 million to reduce emissions in Ghana’s cocoa industry
IOL, 30 January 2018
Multinational snacks and chocolate company, Mondelez International on Tuesday announced it has entered a $4.9 million agreement with Ghana’s Forestry Commission to reduce emission in its cocoa supply chain across Ghana.
The agreement was sealed by a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Forestry Commission of Ghana, Ghana Cocoa Board and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

A New Green Deal for the Netherlands: Will the Dutch Embrace Voluntary Carbon?
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 30 January 2018
Jos Cozijnsen shakes his tangled black mane and adjusts his leathery blue suit – fashioned, it turns out, from overalls discarded by German railroad workers and available through his sustainable clothing company, Goodfibrations.
“[If you have] an office park, the Building Act says how much energy efficiency you need,” he explains. “But if you go to zero energy use, you do much more.”

Irish tycoon and three cronies ‘conned 32 pensioners out of their £3.5m life savings in “boiler room fraud” by promising huge returns on worthless carbon credits and inferior diamonds’
By Abe Hawken, Daily Mail, 30 January 2018
An Irish tycoon and three cronies conned elderly investors out of £3.5million by promising huge returns on worthless carbon credits and inferior diamonds, a court heard.
Dylan Creaven, 44, was the ‘prime mover’ who set up two fraudulent companies and financed the setting up of plush ‘boiler room’ office suites in Buchanan House, St James’s Square, central London, it is claimed.

31 January 2018

Women left out of forest decisions
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News, 31 January 2018
Firewood for fuel, fruits to feed their families, palm fiber for baskets, medicinal plants to heal their children — women in forest-dwelling communities in Latin America use a wide array of products from their farmland and forests in their daily tasks.
But when it comes to tenure rights to those forests or participation in decisions about their management, women are often left on the sidelines.

[Cambodia] Three killed in jungle when patrol comes under fire; fellow authorities suspected
By Khouth Sophak Chakrya, Mech Dara and Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon, Phnom Penh Post, 31 January 2018
A routine forest patrol by Ministry of Environment officials and a conservationist escorted by Military Police in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima Wildilife Sanctuary took a deadly turn yesterday when a shoot-out with Cambodian border officials erupted, leaving three dead, officials said last night.
Kong Putheara, Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary director, said that yesterday afternoon one of his rangers, along with a National Military Police official and a Wildlife Conservation Society staffer, were on patrol in O’Raing district near the O’Huch border crossing with Vietnam.

[Cambodia] Breaking: Police identify suspects in forestry patrol killings
By Mech Dara, Phnom Penh Post, 31 January 2018
Authorities are searching for two officials suspected to have ambushed and killed three men on a forestry patrol yesterday in Mondulkiri province.
Bou Bun Chheat, the O’Raing district police chief, said officers are searching for Phal Penh, a police officer in charge of the O’Rolear border post, and Keut Veha, the head of the armed forces’ Regiment 103. Bun Chheat said seven bullet casings from a rifle were found at the scene of the shooting.

Rewetting the Swamp: Indonesia’s Bold Plan
By Virginia Gewin, Scientific American, 31 January 2018
In the fall of 2015 an incredible 100,000 smoldering peatland fires turned Indonesia into a hazy hellscape, air thick with smoke and chemicals. More than 500,000 people were hospitalized with respiratory, eye and skin ailments. In addition to the $16-billion price tag the country catapulted from the sixth- to fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide.

[Kenya] Resume Sh3.6bn water tower funding, EU urged
By John Muchangi, The Star, 31 January 2018
Several groups have asked the European Union to resume Sh3.6 billion funding of a water tower conservation plan suspended two weeks ago.
It was suspended in protest against eviction of the Sengwer people from Embobut Forest.
The money funded several programmes to protect ground water in Mount Elgon and Cherangany Hills, of which Embobut is part.
Yesterday, the East African WildLife Society and Kenya Forest Working Group said withdrawal of the cash would undermine efforts to restore the forest. Communities depending on the forest ecosystem will be hurt, they said.

[UK] Fraudster jailed over £1.4m boiler room scam
By Yoosof Farah, Wealth Manager, 31 January 2018
A fraudster who played a prime role in a scheme which lost over 300 investors £1.4 million has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
FCA director of enforcement and market oversight, Mark Steward, said: ‘Mr Bhandari was the controlling mind in this scheme and he deliberately abused his position as a corporate advisor to exploit hundreds of investors for his personal gain.
‘This prosecution by the FCA reflects our commitment to protect investors by bringing the operators of unauthorised investment schemes such as this to justice and the sentence shows how seriously the courts view this kind of offending.’

[Vietnam] BCG to pilot carbon credit system
bizhub, 31 January 2018
Bamboo Capital JSC has signed a memorandum of understanding with New Era Energy Ltd. to pilot carbon credit protocol on the blockchain.
New Era will also invest US$50 million to develop BCG’s solar and wind projects this year as part of its commitment to accelerate clean energy adoption in Southeast Asia.
“Innovation and environmental responsibility are at the heart of BCG. We are excited to work with NERA in their efforts to promote clean energy amongst the masses in the world,” said Nguyen Ho Nam, chairman of BCG. “The collaboration will be a win-win for all parties.”

1 February 2018

Polish Crackdown Ahead of Climate Talks
By Todor Gardos and Katharina Rall, Human Rights Watch, 1 February 2018
In mid-January, the Polish parliament passed a government-sponsored bill which, will hamper the rights of environmental activists to protest at UN climate talks in December and subject them to government surveillance. President Andrzej Duda signed the law on January 29.
The summit, known as the COP24, taking place in the southern city of Katowice, brings together states parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and thousands of experts, journalists, businesses, and nongovernmental groups.

‘Silver bullet’ to suck CO2 from air and halt climate change ruled out
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 1 February 2018
Ways of sucking carbon dioxide from the air will not work on the vast scales needed to beat climate change, Europe’s science academies warned on Thursday.
From simply planting trees to filtering CO2 out of the air, the technologies that some hope could be a “silver bullet” in halting global warming either risk huge damage to the environment themselves or are likely to be very costly.
Virtually all the pathways laid out by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to reach the targets in the Paris agreement require huge deployment of so-called negative emissions technologies (NETs) in the second half of the century.

Weak by design: company commitments fall short on deforestation
By Sarah Lake, Global Canopy, 1 February 2018
More companies than ever have committed to address deforestation in their supply chains as seen in high profile statements such as the New York Declaration on Forests (pdf). Yet the global deforestation rate, and deforestation linked to agricultural production continues to rise. Why have these commitments not translated to improved protection of forests?
A recent study released in Nature Climate Change asks this same question. Authors, Eric Lambin and Holly Gibbs highlight the failure of many commitments to specify implementation actions, or to address indirect impacts, such as the movement of production and impacts to new regions by only focusing on one geography at a time.

Guatemalan Palm Oil Supplier REPSA Caught up in Corruption and Bribery Scandal
By Jeff Conant, Friends of the Earth US, 1 February 2018
A Guatemalan palm oil company called Reforestadora de Palmas AC (REPSA) was charged with corruption last week in a high-profile investigation of systemic tax fraud in Guatemala. As of this writing, the REPSA executives named in the case are considered “fugitives from justice” by CICIG, the UN-backed anti-impunity body in charge of the case. REPSA, which supplies palm oil to the global market, is among a group of companies that the investigative website Plaza Publica calls “a cartel of millionaire influence traffickers”.

[Sri Lanka] Forests and us
By Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Daily Mirror, 1 February 2018
Sri Lanka’s forest cover is estimated to be about 27% of the land area. It was three times this extent a few decades back. The Forest Department was one of the first to be established by the British and is a hundred years old. The dwindling forest cover is a constant lament among Environmentalists, Ecologists, Foresters and Wildlife enthusiasts. Forests and trees have recognized economic and aesthetic value. Bhutan is a good example, maintaining some 70-80% of the land area in natural forest, with a corresponding benefit to the “quality of life”. Generally trees are desirable and have many virtues that are the subject of this note. It is only exceptionally, such as when their roots invade building foundation or when they fall on roofs, that they cause damaging negative effects.

[USA] Learning the Tricks of the Boiler Room Trade
By Andelita Plemmer Williams, Nasdaq, 1 February 2018
Harry’s first telephone solicitation came more than a decade ago when a seemingly amiable caller offered him the opportunity to invest about $20,000 in a medical clinic. He decided to take that opportunity, and then lost everything. Thus began a cycle of losing money to boiler room investment fraud.
The 70-year-old Washington-state rancher lost money in that medical-clinic venture. Still, he took another chance. He invested thousands more in an Arizona gold mine following a telephone offer promising him he would strike it rich.

2 February 2018

Poland to put ‘common sense’ over climate ambition as host of critical UN talks
By Arthur Neslen, Climate Home News, 2 February 2018
Poland’s special climate envoy has called for the world to put “common sense” above climate ambition at this year’s COP24 summit in an exclusive interview with Climate Home News.
Tomasz Chruszczow, Poland’s top climate negotiator and 2018 UN climate champion, said a push to increase national pledges to stop the world warming more than 1.5C should not be the focus for the world’s climate negotiators when they meet in the Polish city of Katowice in December.
Instead, Chruszczow called for other states to slow down and concentrate on agreeing the rulebook for the Paris Agreement.

Maps tease apart complex relationship between agriculture and deforestation in DRC
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 2 February 2018
When a farmer cuts down a tree in the Democratic Republic of Congo, there’s often a reason for it. She’s most likely clearing the land to plant crops — the rice and corn and cassava that will see her family through another year. And chances are good that it’s an area she, or her husband or father or mother, has cleared before. She’ll farm this plot for a few years, and then when the soil tires and the nutrients have been used up, she’ll move on to a new plot.

[India] Researchers and environmental lawyers petition the Rajya Sabha to amend the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act(2016)
By Manasi Karthik, POLLNet, 2 February 2018
Environmental lawyers and researchers petitioned the Rajya Sabha in December, 2017 with concerns regarding the Compensatory Afforestation Act of 2016. The Compensatory Afforestation Act was passed in 2016 amidst great contestation. Forest rights groups oppose the Act, citing concerns regarding it implication for forest-dwelling communities.

Plan to protect Indonesian peatlands with aerial mapping wins US$1 million
AFP, 2 February 2018
A plan to use satellite imagery and aerial mapping to protect Indonesia’s peatlands – a vast carbon sink and source of much of the country’s greenhouse emissions – was awarded a US$1 million (S$1.3 million) prize on Friday (Feb 2).
The cutting-edge technology will be used by authorities to clamp down on illegal clearance of the land for plantations, helping to prevent a repeat of annual forest fires that plague the region while also reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

Indonesian palm, pulp companies commit to peatland restoration
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 2 February 2018
More than a hundred palm oil and pulp companies in Indonesia have pledged to restore a combined area of peat forest the size of the state of Connecticut, in response to government measures to prevent a repeat of the disastrous fires of 2015.
Eighty of the companies are palm oil planters and 45 are pulp and paper firms, according to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Of these, 49 palm oil companies and 31 pulp companies have had their plans approved by the ministry.

[Vietnam] WB supports emission reduction programme in central region
Nhan Dan, 2 February 2018
The World Bank’s (WB) Carbon Finance Unit approved a resolution on supporting the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme in central Vietnam, in line with a results-based payment, at a meeting in Paris on February 1.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development Ha Cong Tuan highlighted Vietnam’s efforts and success in escaping from poverty and promoting sustainable development over the last 30 years, saying that the country completed almost all of its Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule, especially those regarding poverty reduction.

[Vietnam] How NewEra is Revolutionizing Carbon Credits and Climate Change Initiatives with Blockchain Technology
By Amy Tori, TechBullion, 2 February 2018
Every person and business should be rewarded for being Green.
In January 2017, China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, announced its highly-anticipated emissions trading scheme (ETS) to help fight global climate change. Across the world, carbon credits were also a key issue of concern when it was announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords.
The founders of New Era Energy (“NewEra”), a blockchain-enabled carbon credits certification protocol, realized there are many flaws and inefficiencies in green technology. For example, historically it has been both costly and slow for companies to get certified for carbon credits. Given the carbon credits market is expected to grow to over $1 trillion by 2030, this creates a massive opportunity to disrupt the carbon credits market and improve current processes.

3 February 2018

Newera, a Firm Tokenizing Carbon Credits, Pledges to Invest up to US$50 Million in Renewable Energy Projects
NewEra press release, 3 February 2018
New Era Energy (NewEra), the Singapore company focusing on accelerating renewable energy adoption in Southeast Asia, entered into a partnership with Bamboo Capital Group (BCG) to pilot the world’s first blockchain-enabled Carbon Credits Certification Protocol. This MOU is the first activity lined up in NewEra’s pledge to invest up to US$50 million into renewable energy projects.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of climate change and accelerate the adoption of clean energy in Southeast Asia, and we believe with proper verification and certification of clean energy footprint, we can create a rewarding ecosystem to encourage individuals to go green,” says Mr. Leonard Ng, Co-founder of NewEra.

4 February 2018

How Bill Gates aims to clean up the planet
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 4 February 2018
It’s nothing much to look at, but the tangle of pipes, pumps, tanks, reactors, chimneys and ducts on a messy industrial estate outside the logging town of Squamish in western Canada could just provide the fix to stop the world tipping into runaway climate change and substitute dwindling supplies of conventional fuel.
It could also make Harvard superstar physicist David Keith, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and oil sands magnate Norman Murray Edwards more money than they could ever dream of.

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