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.

China CORSIA withdrawal reports inaccurate, official tells media
Carbon Pulse, 9 July 2018
Reports that China has withdrawn from the voluntary first phases of the UN’s CORSIA aviation offsetting scheme are inaccurate, according to a representative of China’s delegation to ICAO. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

The importance of collective action
By Kavita Prakash-Mani, WWF, 12 July 2018
The 2018 UN High Level Political Forum to review the Sustainable Development Goals is underway and next week 47 countries will present voluntary national reviews, to demonstrate their progress in meeting goals 6, 7, 11, 12 and 15. All eyes and ears will be on the ministerial representatives as we urgently need to see more encouraging reporting of success on the SDGs, especially environmental goals, including those (such as Clean water and sanitation, Responsible consumption and production, and Life on land) being reviewed this year. However, we can not expect governments alone to achieve the goals.

Nobel-Winning Economist to Testify in Children’s Climate Lawsuit
By Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News, 11 July 2018
One of the world’s top economists has written an expert court report that forcefully supports a group of children and young adults who have sued the federal government for failing to act on climate change.
Joseph Stiglitz, who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize for economics in 2001 and has written extensively about environmental economics and climate change, makes an economic case that the costs of maintaining a fossil fuel-based economy are “incalculable,” while transitioning to a lower-carbon system will cost far less.
The government, he writes, should move “with all deliberate speed” toward alternative energy sources.

China’s falling emissions raise climate hopes
By Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, 12 July 2018
Say it softly, but a look at China’s falling emissions of carbon dioxide may suggest that there could be some good news on the climate change front.
Over recent years China has supplanted the US as the world’s biggest emitter of climate-changing greenhouse gases, mainly because of the country’s booming economy and its reliance for energy on coal, the most polluting of fossil fuels.

[USA] California meets its 2020 emissions goal early
By Kate Wheeling, Pacific Standard, 11 July 2018
California reached a critical emissions reduction milestone: The state’s greenhouse gas emissions dipped below 1990 levels in 2016, according to data released Wednesday by the California Air Resources Board.
That’s four years earlier than California’s goal of reaching 1990 levels by 2020—a huge accomplishment and one that proves states can slash emissions and experience economic growth.

Reforms to EU ETS raise emissions prices, make system more relevant – analysis
Clean Energy Wire, 12 July 2018
German energy think tank Agora Energiewende*, together with the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut), has published a new analysis of the recent reforms to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). After remaining in the single digits for years, the cost of each emissions certificate has risen to and stabilised at roughly 15 euros in the wake of the recent changes to the system, Agora Energiewende writes in a press release. Next decade, excess certificates will begin to be removed from the market so as to give regulated firms greater incentive to reduce their emissions. “The recent reform to the emissions trading system has taken an important first step to once again making carbon pricing a relevant part of the climate policy toolkit,” says Felix Matthes, research coordinator for energy and climate policy at Öko-Institut.

[Swaziland] “Even a small country can bring a big change in the world”
UN Development Programme, 12 July 2018
The kingdom of eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, is an African lower middle-income country. This small, landlocked monarchy in southern Africa, is known for its wilderness reserves and festivals showcasing traditional Swazi culture.
The country is ‘a low-volume consuming Party’ as per the Montreal Protocol. Nonetheless, eSwatini feels the impacts of climate change firsthand as the majority of the country’s employment is provided by its agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

Glimmers of Hope
The World At 1°C, 15 July 2018
When we think about climate change we usually focus on worsening impacts — the droughts, fires, famines, and floods that sometimes make the headlines. What we tend to think of less frequently are the countless efforts of people from all walks of life to make the world a better place. But as Paul Hawken wrote in his book Blessed Unrest, “If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t have the correct data. If you meet people in this unnamed movement and aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a heart.”

Why Congo’s decision to open national parks to drilling isn’t really about oil
By Patrick Edmond and Kristof Titeca, African Arguments, 13 July 2018
Last month, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) triggered international outrage when it confirmed that it was considering opening up two of its national parks to oil exploration. It said a committee would put together plans to declassify parts of Salonga and Virunga in a bid to increase oil production.
Both national parks are renowned UNESCO world heritage sites. Salonga is Africa’s largest tropical rainforest reserve and contains several endemic endangered species. Virunga is one of the world’s most biologically diverse areas and is home to hundreds of the critically endangered mountain gorillas.

An Open Goal: Why Forests and Nature Need to be at the Center of the Sustainable Development Agenda
By Alistair Monument and Hermine Kleymann, IISD, 8 July 2018
In fewer than 900 days, the world will have halted deforestation, taken urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity, and ensured that ecosystems are being conserved, restored and sustainably used.
That, at least, is part of what the governments of the 193 countries of the United Nations agreed to in 2015 with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The above commitments are just a few of the targets due to be achieved by 2020 under SDG 15, ‘Life on Land.’
So how is it going? Not too well, unfortunately. Recently released figures show that, far from being halted, global tree cover loss actually increased by 51% in 2016; for tropical tree cover loss, 2017 was the second-worst year on record. And with wildlife abundance projected to decline by two-thirds between 1970 and 2020, dramatic changes will be needed to reverse the long-term trend.

African countries up their REDD+ safeguards game to take ownership of national processes
By Steve Swan, UN-REDD programme, 9 July 2018
In October 2017, I stated that, “no country in Africa has yet to meet the REDD+ safeguards requirements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”. Referring to the status of REDD+ safeguards progress in Africa, captured in a regional workshop on ‘Navigating the Transition from REDD+ Readiness to Implementation,’ I went on to declare that, “no country in the region has an operational safeguards information system, and no African country has made a start on a summary of safeguards information”.

[Ehtiopia] Forests: The greenest pastures?
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 10 July 2018
How can you keep farms productive for generations while reducing the impact on the environment? In sub-Saharan Africa, the answer might be forests – and cow poo.
Agricultural intensification – producing more food on less land – has relieved the hunger of millions, through a combination of improved crop variety, fertilizers and irrigation. This “Green Revolution” has improved food security in many countries, but it has also had unforeseen environmental and social consequences. Farming the same land over and over can deplete the nutrients in the soil, and to restore them, the conventional approach has relied on chemical fertilizers and fossil-fuel guzzling machinery to distribute them.

As Indigenous Groups Wait Decades for Land Titles, Companies Are Acquiring Their Territories
By Laura Notess and Peter Veit, World Resources Institute, 11 July 2018
The Santa Clara de Uchunya community has lived in a remote section of the Peruvian Amazon for generations. Like many indigenous groups, this community of the Shipibo-Konibo people have traditionally managed and relied on forests for hunting, fishing and natural resources.
But in 2014, someone started cutting down large sections of the community’s ancestral forests.

Repositioning forests in rural economic development
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 12 July 2018
Every time we pick out a new end table or order a burger, there could be an impact on forests. Rising incomes and ensuing changes of lifestyle and consumer demands, particularly in the world’s skyrocketing Asian markets, don’t come without taxes on the environment – unless we change our strategy, says Jack Hurd, Asia-Pacific Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy. At the 2018 Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit, we spoke to him about rethinking how forests factor into development, if they are to keep giving us the things we want and need.

Mangroves and their deforestation may emit more methane than we thought
By Morgan Erickson-Davis, Mongabay, 13 July 2018
Mangroves, the dense tangled forests that buffer land from sea in many coastal areas of the tropics, are renowned for their ability to store carbon and help fight climate change. But new research finds mangroves may emit more carbon as methane than previously estimated – emissions made even worse by deforestation.
The ability of mangroves to sequester carbon in the ground – termed “blue carbon” – is unparalleled, with previous research finding a tract of mangrove can bury 40 times more carbon than a similarly sized area of rainforest.

Disaster-Focused Headlines from the Congo Often Hide Signs of Progress
By Molly Bergen, World Resources Institute, 13 July 2018
In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) northwestern city of Mbandaka, health workers spent recent months racing to contain the latest Ebola outbreak — including the first urban cases in the country since 1995. While the crisis appears to be abating, 28 people died from this bout of the disease.

Future of tropical forests: Time for a paradigm shift
Fern, 11 July 2018
Ten years after the introduction of REDD+, what is there to celebrate? What challenges remain? At the Oslo Tropical Forest Summit on 27-28 June 2018, key forest stakeholders explored these questions. The flurry of discussions left mixed views and a sense of déjà vu, but core truths emerged.
Forests are part of the climate equation, and although REDD+ failed to deliver on its promises to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, it was commended for bringing indigenous peoples’ rights to the fore, and for providing a framework to share climate responsibilities more fairly. Whether REDD+ will deliver over the next ten years remains to be seen, but better technology, more data and increasing financial rewards alone cannot save forests. We also need improved governance and stronger recognition of communities rights’ to their forests.

Pessimism grows over expected start date for China carbon trading
By Emily Feng, Financial Times, 10 July 2018
Chinese industry players are more pessimistic than ever about when the nation will begin trading in a national carbon market, despite announcements of a limited rollout at the end of last year, according to the largest survey of market expectations. 
Nineteen per cent of those surveyed expected China’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be fully functional by 2020 or earlier, down from 47 per cent in 2017’s survey results, according to an annual report by the China Carbon Forum, a non-governmental organisation that tracks carbon trading.

[Madagascar] Who pays the price for tropical forest conservation?
By Emily Yeung, Alternatives Journal, 11 July 2018
Earth’s tropical forests serve as valuable carbon sinks and biodiversity hotspots, vital to maintaining the diversity of life on the planet. While protecting tropical forests should remain a priority for environmentalists everywhere, many based in the developed world often fail to recognize the true costs of global forest conservation. This is especially true in developing countries where lower-income communities abutting forest conservation projects can be hurt by efforts to preserve globally significant ecosystems located in their backyard.

[USA] California’s cap-and-trade air quality benefits mostly go out of state
By Lisa Owens Viani, Phys.org, 11 July 2018
During the first three years of California’s five-year-old cap-and-trade program, the bulk of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions occurred out of state, thus forgoing in-state reductions in harmful co-pollutants, such as particulate matter, that could improve air quality for state residents, according to a new study led by San Francisco State University and University of California, Berkeley researchers.
The study assessed how patterns of greenhouse gases and associated air pollutants changed through time and with respect to environmental equity between 2011 and 2012, prior to the start of California’s cap-and-trade program, and from 2013 through 2015, after carbon trading began.

[USA] Protecting Land And Storing Carbon: Nature Conservancy Taps A New Market For Conservation Projects
By John Dillon, VPR, 12 July 2018
A Nature Conservancy project in northern Vermont will store carbon to meet California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. The group says proceeds from the sale of these “carbon credits” will pay for future land protection projects.
It’s no surprise that people who work for The Nature Conservancy would be very much into nature.
Jim Shallow, director of strategic conservation initiatives for the Vermont chapter, was describing the new forest project on Burnt Mountain. But he kept interrupting himself each time he heard a new bird song.

[Indonesia] A brief explainer of the blue economy
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 11 July 2018
Carbon-rich coastal ecosystems are rocketing to the forefront of global actions on climate change, and uncomfortable terms like “plastic oceans” and “water wars” are casting a growing shadow over the future of the world’s collective water resources. Yet, ocean-based economic growth – the “blue economy” – shows no signs of slowing, leaving only the option of harnessing its expansion to reverse dangerous trends and protect the health and wealth of oceanic ecosystems.

Intersectionality is important for forests too
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 16 July 2018
Aristocrats are like the enduring ironwoods, and commoners are like the strangling fig that kills. And yet, when Center for International Forestry Research Senior Associate Carol J. Pierce Colfer lived for a year in the Indonesian Dayak community from which this tenet arose, it was a commoner – a very clever, sharp-tongued commoner who could argue down all of his upper-class rivals – who was elected Head Man.
“This was important because decisions the Head Man made could be undercut by this factional antagonism,” she says. And this class divide was only one element in the community’s narrative, at different times sharing the stage with age, gender, and underlying animist belief systems mixed with religious differences between Catholics and Protestants; at other times, hidden behind the curtain while others came to the fore in different sub-plots. “But you wouldn’t know all that unless you spent time there.”