Au revoir America. Trump announces that the US will leave the Paris Agreement

On 1 June 2017 Donald Trump announced that the US has left the Paris Agreement. Yesterday, I wrote that there were two ways of leaving: leaving the Paris Agreement (which would take four years); or leaving the UNFCCC (which would take one year). Trump isn’t taking either of these options. Instead, Trump is taking what Richard Black on the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit website calls the “truly nuclear option”.

Continue reading

REDD in the news

REDD-Monitor’s on-going round-up of the news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter. For weekly REDD in the news posts, click here.

New climate calculations could buy the Earth some time — if they’re right
By Chris Mooney, Washington Post, 18 September 2017
A group of prominent scientists on Monday created a potential whiplash moment for climate policy, suggesting that humanity could have considerably more time than previously thought to avoid a “dangerous” level of global warming.
The upward revision to the planet’s influential “carbon budget” was published by a number of researchers who have been deeply involved in studying the concept, making it all the more unexpected. But other outside researchers raised questions about the work, leaving it unclear whether the new analysis — which, if correct, would have very large implications — will stick.

Trump Adviser Tells Ministers U.S. Will Leave Paris Climate Accord
By Lisa Friedman, New York Times, 18 September 2017
Gary D. Cohn, the top White House economic adviser, told ministers from several major allies on Monday that the Trump administration was “unambiguous” about its plans to withdraw from the Paris agreement on climate change unless new terms were met.
Ministers emerging from the 90-minute breakfast in a back room of The Smith, a brasserie near the United Nations, described the meeting as genial and productive. But, they said, they learned no specifics from Mr. Cohn about the likelihood of the United States’ remaining in the global accord or what changes would be needed to make it acceptable to the White House.

[USA] Jerry Brown’s climate coalition now covers 39% of the global economy
By Karl Mathiesen, Climate Home, 18 September 2017
The Marshall Islands and Mozambique have joined a growing group of governments convened by California governor Jerry Brown that have committed to deep carbon pollution cuts.
The Under2 coalition has now been signed or endorsed by 187 governments. Signatories agree to reduce their CO2 emissions drastically by the middle of the century.
On Sunday, on the eve of the UN’s Climate Week in New York, Brown announced ten new members, including the low-lying Pacific islands.

[USA] Landmark California bill for 100% clean energy unexpectedly put on hold until next year
By Sammy Roth, The Desert Sun, 16 September 2017
California lawmakers will go home for the year without voting on a landmark renewable energy bill, in an unexpected setback for the state’s efforts to lead the world in fighting climate change.
The bill would have required California to get 60 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030, up from the current legal mandate of 50 percent. It also would have tasked state regulators with charting a path to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045, which could have included energy sources not considered “renewable,” like nuclear power, large hydropower plants and gas-fired power plants that capture their carbon emissions.

Norway’s oil fund tops $1tn in assets for first time
By Richard Milne, Financial Times, 19 September 2017
Norway’s oil fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, has topped $1tn in assets for the first time in its history.
The oil fund, which started in 1996, reached NKr7,811bn ($1.001tn) in market value on Tuesday. Officials confirmed it was the first time it has breached the trillion-dollar barrier. 

Ambitious 1.5C Paris climate target is still possible, new analysis shows
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 18 September 2017
The highly ambitious aim of limiting global warming to less than 1.5C remains in reach, a new scientific analysis shows.
The 1.5C target was set as an aspiration by the global Paris climate change deal in 2015 to limit the damage wreaked by extreme weather and sea level rise.
It was widely seen as impossible because analysis at the time indicated it required carbon emissions to fall to zero within seven years, a speed deemed “incompatible with democracy” by one climate economist.

How tax support for the petroleum industry could contradict Norway’s climate goals
By Adrian Down and Peter Erickson, Stockholm Environment Institute, September 2017
This discussion brief evaluates how two tax support measures will boost future oil and gas production in Norway, increasing the country’s fossil fuel exports and the world’s CO2 emissions.
For the past four decades, Norway has built a large portion of its economy on oil and gas production. The government’s shared ownership with industry of oil and gas fields has helped it build the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.

Killings highlight risks of land trafficking and corruption in Peruvian Amazon
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 18 September 2017
The slaughter of six farmers in the Peruvian Amazon has placed a spotlight on issues of land grabbing, corruption and illegal deforestation in the eastern region of Ucayali.
The farmers, members of the Bello Paraiso Association of Agriculturalists, were tied up, tortured and shot by a group of between 20 and 40 assailants. The attack stemmed from a dispute over the ownership of agricultural land in the area, with local farmers and press reports blaming land traffickers.
“We have received death threats from the same land trafficking gang,” Robert Guimaraes, president of the local indigenous federation Feconau, told the Guardian.

Lao PDR to Host a Meeting of Forestry Minds to Exchange Knowledge
Climate Investment Funds, September 2017
The city of Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, will play host to the 2017 Forest Investment Program (FIP) Pilot Countries Meeting, on September 27-29. The FIP provides indispensable direct investments to benefit forests, development and the climate, with a parallel focus on enhancing partner learning and coordination. Annual pilot country meetings bring together participants from government, the private sector, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, local community groups, and colleagues from the multilateral development banks (MDBs) that implement FIP-funded projects, to foster peer-to-peer learning among the 53 pilot countries—from practical issues related to the design and implementation of FIP investment plans to other forestry activities.

Heat and drought drive south India’s farmers from fields to cities
By Rina Chandran, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 20 September 2017
Vinod Kumar remembers a time, not so long ago, when the fields in his village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were green all year round.
His family lived comfortably from its farmland of just over 2 acres (0.8 hectares), growing vegetables, coconuts and millet irrigated by the Cauvery river and the rain.
Kumar grew up believing the farm would be his life.
But today, the 30-year-old drives a car for a living in the city of Chennai, 250 km (155 miles) away. His family joined him two years ago, abandoning what had been for generations their home and their land.

Brexit drops more uncertainty on EU carbon rollercoaster ride
By Ben Garside and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 20 September 2017
The EU ETS faces an extensive re-wiring next year as Brussels prepares contingency plans to guard against an un-coordinated Brexit, wrapping a new layer of uncertainty around the market just as lawmakers near completion of an extensive, years-long reform process.
Carbon Pulse is gathering carbon traders, analysts, regulators and other experts in London on Sep. 26-28 for the second annual Carbon Forward conference, an event aimed at helping emitters, traders and investors navigate the quickly evolving European and global carbon market landscape.

Article 6 submissions portal
IETA, September 2017
Ahead of COP23, governments have been invited to submit their views on the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to the UNFCCC. This submission process excludes observers and other stakeholders, including the business community and NGOs.
We at IETA strongly believe that observers, and the business community in particular, are key to the success of Article 6. Our voice must be heard. This is particularly true in areas where business and other observers can add strength to the process – such as on carbon markets.
To respond to this gap, we decided to create a space where business can put forward its views on the implementation and operationalisation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. All the submissions made via this portal will be publicly accessible, viewable by anyone from the general public to policymakers and government officials.

Nicaragua to sign Paris Agreement, leaving America and Syria as the only countries not in it
By Mythili Sampathkumar, Independent, 21 September 2017
Nicaragua has announced it will sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, which leaves the US and Syria as the only two countries not participating in the global accord.
Nearly 200 countries signed the deal in December 2015 in an effort to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and contain global warming while helping poorer countries adapt to an already-changed planet.

Brazil photo essay; A eucalyptus plantation from cradle to pulp mill
By Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, 19 September 2017
In June 2011 the Tree Biotechnology Conference hosted by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations took place in Bahia, Brazil where many industrial eucalyptus plantations are concentrated and where future plantations of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees are planned.
On Wednesday, June 29th, I joined conference participants for a tour of a eucalyptus plantation owned by Veracel, a major Brazil-based pulp and paper corporation. This photo essay describes the field trip, which shows eucalyptus plantations from their beginnings in the clonal greenhouse, to their end in the pulp mill.
The tour was also mainly a public relations ploy by Veracel and began at their visitors center next to to a patch of wild forest that is surrounded by eucalyptus plantations.

[USA] San Francisco, Oakland sue major oil companies over rising seas
By Kurtis Alexander, SFGate, 20 September 2017
The cities of San Francisco and Oakland are suing some of the world’s largest oil companies over climate change, joining an emerging legal effort to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for the damages wrought by rising seas.
The suits, filed separately in Superior Court in San Francisco and Alameda County and announced Wednesday, claim that a slate of oil, gas and coal producers not only caused the heat-trapping gases that drove sea level rise but knowingly did so, a challenge akin to litigation against big tobacco companies in the 1990s.
Both cities are asking the companies, which include Bay Area-based Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and BP, to pay billions in compensation for past and future flooding, coastal erosion and property damage resulting from climate change.

Leonardo DiCaprio Commits $20 Million To Fight Climate Change
By Philip Perry, Big Think, 20 September 2017
Leonardo DiCaprio is more than just a leading man in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Along with being a writer and producer, he’s also an outspoken activist ringing the alarm bells of the catastrophe to befall us, should we ignore our role in global warming. DiCaprio himself has been a long-time advocate for the environment, and sits on the board of many prominent organizations including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Scientists Call for “Rapid Mitigation” to Stay under 1.5°C, Climate Champions Launch Climate Action Leadership Network
By Elea Kosolapova, IISD, 21 September 2017
High-level Climate Champions Hakima El Haite, Moroccan Minister Delegate in Charge of Environment, and Inia Seruiratu, Fijian Minister of Agriculture, launched the Climate Action Leadership Network to drive climate action ahead of 2020. Also during Climate Week NYC 2017, scientists have published an article outlining greenhouse gas (GHG) emission budgets and pathways consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, which is likely to require strengthened pledges for 2030, followed by “challengingly deep and rapid” mitigation.

The Largest Ever Amazon Restoration Project Is Set to Happen in Brazil
By Ankita Rao, Motherboard, 20 September 2017
The Amazon rainforest has been under threat for decades now—losing close to 20 percent in the past 40 years. Deforestation for the sake of so-called development in the Brazilian part of the Amazon has been rampant again since 2012, as a Yale article pointed out, with a sharp increase of 29 percent last year.
But finally, the region might be catching a much-needed break. Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment has promised to restore almost 30,000 hectares—or 73 million trees—of the rainforest by 2023 in an $8 million joint initiative with international agencies like the World Bank and Conservation International.

[Nigeria] Environmentalists urge Ambode to consider recommendations on past climate change summits
By Tunde Alao, Nigerian Tribune, 20 September 2017
In view of unpleasant environmental conditions experienced by Lagos residents in the past few weeks such as flooding, including the seemingly uncontrollable sand digging exercises in the metropolis, which are considered inimical to a safe environment, stakeholders in the environment sector have urged Lagos Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to look at the past recommendations made at the various Climate Change Summit.

Stronger forest protection key to Amazon replanting push – experts
By Karla Mendes, Reuters, 18 September 2017
An ambitious Amazon restoration effort could help cut forest losses in Brazil – but only if it is combined with stronger policies to curb logging and agricultural expansion in forest areas, environmentalists and scholars say.
Conservation International, an environmental protection organization, announced late last week a project to add 73 million native trees to Brazil’s Amazon by 2023.

Figueres calls for EU action plan on ‘imported deforestation’
By Frédéric Simon, EURACTIV.com, 18 September 2017
Former UN climate Chief Christiana Figueres, one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, has called on the European Union to step up regulatory action against deforestation in the global south by tackling emissions of imported agricultural goods like beef, soy and palm oil.
As climate week opens in New York, the former secretary-general of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was in Brussels to drum up support for tackling emissions related to forestry and land use.

New blockchain-based ‘carbon currency’ aims to make carbon pricing mainstream
By Madeleine Cuff, Business Green, 19 September 2017
A new carbon market founded upon the crypto-ledger principles that define blockchain technologies will be launched later today in New York, promising to bring carbon pricing to the mainstream by allowing customers and businesses to track the carbon footprint of their transactions.
Blockchain is the name given to a technology which creates an incorruptible digital ledger that records, tracks, and executes transactions between parties without the need for external validation.

Poseidon Brings Value To Nature Through Carbon Blockchain Technology
By Richard Kastelein, Blockchain News, 19 September 2017
Laszlo Giricz, founder of the venture Poseidon, announced the launch of a partnership to create a carbon currency that will revolutionise the way we value nature, using Blockchain technology to access the carbon market.
This initiative aims to bring carbon pricing to the mainstream by giving both consumers and incorporates an economically viable, incorruptible, and transparent way of making sustainable transactions and lowering their carbon footprint in real terms.

Preeminent Investor & CNBC Contributor BRIAN KELLY Joins Veridium Labs Board of Advisors
Veridium Labs press release, 20 September 2017
September 20, 2017 — Veridium Labs Ltd., the environmental fintech company creating an open natural capital market powered by blockchain, has announced that prominent investor Brian Kelly has joined its Board of Advisors. Announced at the United Nations headquarters in a forum moderated by CNN host Fareed Zakaria, Brian Kelly will advise the team on business development and lend his expertise in investing and cryptocurrency to further Veridium Labs’ mission of creating a transparent and liquid marketplace for natural capital, and providing economically viable solutions for corporate sustainability. Last month, Veridium Labs, in collaboration with ConsenSys, the world’s largest blockchain venture studio, announced plans to create the platform. Alchemist Ventures, a full-service blockchain consulting company will be providing advisory services.

[USA] Uh-oh: Dueling carbon initiatives
The Olympian, 19 September 2017
The political path to imposing a tax on carbon-fuel emissions is very rocky in the U.S. Even in a politically green state like Washington, there is no carbon tax to strongly curb the emissions from fossil fuels that climate scientists link directly to global warming.
Resistance from business groups and Republicans — along with divisions among environmental and labor interests — have stymied progress in the state Legislature and on the statewide ballot.
So it is with some concern that Washington tribes are talking about a rival measure in 2018 that could go alongside any carbon measure that environmentalists groups are already working on.
Thus far, the Quinault Indian Nation is the main force behind talk of a second ballot measure addressing climate in addition to one getting drafted by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy.

[Indonesia] Forest Fires, 24 Hot Spots Observed in West Kalimantan
Netral English, 21 September 2017
Land and forest fires (karhutla) was observed to have increased particularly in West Kalimantan with 24 hot spots observed by NOAA satellite on Wednesday (9/20/2017) at 20 pm.
Director of Land and Forest Fire Control of Directorate General of Climate Change Raffles B. Pandjaitan, in Jakarta, Thursday (9/21), said the rise in hot spots in West Kalimantan can be caused of land clearing is done at the same time, although there are limitations in implementation.

ConsenSys And Tapscotts Are Warming Up To Global Ethereum-Based CarbonX Platform
By Jeremy Nation, ETHNews, 22 September 2017
On September 21, 2017, blockchain software company ConsenSys announced the launch of a peer-to-peer (P2P) trading company, CarbonX, which will employ the Ethereum blockchain to tokenize carbon credits.
CarbonX is backed by a co-founding group that includes co-authors of best-selling book Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World, Don and Alex Tapscott. The company intends to purchase Certified Emission Reduction Credits, also called carbon credits, to be tokenized with the Ethereum blockchain.

Fiji’s forestry sector
Fiji Times, 23 September 2017
Forests have long played an integral role in the development of national economies. About 30 per cent of the world’s land surface is covered by forests; more than two million people rely on forests for shelter, livelihoods, water, food and fuel security and around 300 million people live in forests, which is 0.4 per cent of the world’s population (World Wide Fund for Nature, 2017).
The formal forestry sector employs around 13.7 million people globally, representing 0.4 per cent of the total labour force (International Labour Organisation, 1996-2017).