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REDD in the news: 25-31 October 2008

REDD in the news: 25-31 October 2008

In the week that ETF Securities launched the world’s first carbon exchange traded commodity on the London Stock Exchange, the World Bank announced the expansion of its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and representatives from Mekong countries met in Hanoi to discuss REDD.

Reuters reported on a REDD project in Indonesia while noting the “many concerns” with REDD. Rainforest Alliance’s Jeff Hayward explained why he is so enthusiastic about REDD in an interview with Ecosystem Marketplace.

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24 October 2008
High Demand Prompts Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to Expand Beyond Original 20 Developing Countries
More than 40 countries have asked to become part of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), which started in June 2008. In this World Bank press release, the FCPF said it will increase the number of “developing country participants” from 20 to 30.

“It is very encouraging to note the enthusiasm for REDD among such a large number of developing countries,” said Per Pharo, Deputy Director of the Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative. “We are very happy with how this is evolving, especially in light of the close cooperation being established between the World Bank and the UN-REDD Programme. It is essential that REDD countries remain in the driver’s seat, and that all stakeholders are involved going forward.”

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Indigenous People in Colombia on the march for survival
10,000 Indigenous People in Colombia recently demonstrated against President Alvaro Uribe’s policies. Brenda Norrell’s post on her blog, “Censored News” juxtaposes this news with an article about UN-REDD: “UN Admits Its Climate Change Program could Threaten Indigenous Peoples”.

In carefully phrased UN language, the document further acknowledges that REDD could cause severe human rights violations and be disastrous for the poor because it could “marginalize the landless.and those with. communal use-rights”.

This is tantamount to the UN recognizing that REDD could undermine indigenous peoples and local communities rights to the usage and ownership of their lands.

Could it be that the UN is paving the way for a massive land grab?

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27 October 2008
Jeff Hayward: Quantifying Carbon, Communities, and More
An interview with Jeff Hayward, climate initiative manager for the Rainforest Alliance in Ecosystem Marketplace.

Hayward says that all of the recent REDD projects he’s evaluated had not just conservation components but other types of economic benefits to local people as well.

“What’s pretty cool about all of this is that in the last few years, so much has come together that was missing,” Hayward says, citing the emergence of markets and convincing carbon-based science.

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Who’s Afraid of REDD?
An opinion piece by Ben Vickers, Senior Programme Officer at the RECOFTC, after the Rights, Forests, and Climate Change meeting in Norway two weeks ago. Vickers starts by saying that “REDD” is Norwegian for scared, but concludes as follows:

REDD, by definition, will reward avoided loss of forest carbon only and will not explicitly recognize and value rights. There may well be a need for additional financing mechanisms, such as a dedicated international fund, to channel benefits to forest communities with no history of deforestation. However, international negotiators are increasingly aware that, without safeguarding rights, REDD will be stillborn. The continuing, diligent participation of civil society groups is required to inform negotiators on appropriate methods to secure these rights, based on past experience, and thus ensure that REDD is, indeed, nothing to be scared of.

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‘The prospects of carbon gains in Guyana are relatively small’
A letter from Janette Bulkan published in The Stabroek News refers to a study by Hans ter Steege (2001) titled “Biomass estimates for forests in Guyana and their use in carbon offsets, developed for Iwokrama”. The report concludes that “the prospects of carbon gains in Guyana are relatively small”.

It would be misleading to imply to international audiences that Guyanese forests are under threat of conversion/deforestation for farming as in Africa or South Asia. It should be noted that the President of Guyana has publicly stated his intention to continue the current logging (with massive over-cutting of the commercially preferred timbers) while appealing for REDD funds and other international support. This appeal is, to put it mildly, very misleading.

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Translating Science to Policy Effectively: Looking to the Amazon
A look at translating science into policy – based on an article in NERC’s “Planet Earth” by Alan Grainger. Refers to the work of the Amazon Forestry Inventory Network (RAINFOR), which was first established as part of CARBONSINK – “the European contribution to the large-scale biosphere-atmosphere experiment in Amazonia”.

When Alan Grainier reported that UN estimates of forest loss could be overinflated due to their statistical modeling techniques, and possibly underestimating the influence of natural forest regrowth, he stressed the importance of errors when making forest estimates. So that the message wasn’t misinterpreted in his research, he emphasised the need for a better monitoring system. After exposure from the BBC, and subsequently across the globe, it is hoped that carbon credits trading under REDD, (Reducing GHG Emissions through Deforestation and forest Degradation), will consider Alan’s idea of creating a World Forest Observatory.

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28 October 2008
ETFS to launch carbon futures ETC
The world’s first carbon exchange traded commodity (ETC) on the London Stock Exchange was launched this week by ETF Securities. “ETCs were designed to be simple and accessible tools for all types of investors,” said ETFS chief operating officer Nik Bienkowski.

ETFS Carbon will track the ICE ECX EUA Futures Contract traded in London on the ICE Futures Market, which ETFS said was currently the most liquid exchange traded contract within the EU ETS. The ETC is issued by ETFS Oil Securities Ltd and is backed by matching energy contracts from an entity of Shell Trading.

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Mekong nations save forests to help fight climate change
A report from the Vietnam News Agency on a meeting in Hanoi between representatives from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Laos and Burma. The four day meeting discussed REDD. Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hua Duc Nhi, said, “Sustainable forest management in sub-Mekong river countries will help increase the absorption of carbon dioxide and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Nhi said Viet Nam had adopted a national forestry-development strategy that ran from 2006 to 2020. It was aimed at speeding up afforestation, improving forest quality as well as increasing economic benefits from forests to help those who lived in forested area. The ministry had built bio-gas facilities on farms raising livestock, encouraged the development of clean energy, and begun afforestation and forest-protection programmes.

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Cashing In On Forestry Carbon Credit Schemes
An article from Gadens Lawyers on how “forests have the potential to deliver new income streams in a climate conscious world, particularly in developing nations.”

gadens lawyers’ PNG office (which opened in 1969) is already advising on accessing PNG’s forests for carbon credit purposes.

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29 October 2008
Nations see REDD in rush for carbon credits
Reuters article on the 750,000 hectare “carbon forest” project in the Ulu Masen ecosystem, Aceh province, Indonesia.

“I strongly believe there should be a market for carbon credits and forests. It’s about the only mechanism that could provide local incentives,” said Frank Momberg, project director for international NGO Fauna and Flora International, the group at the heart of the Ulu Masen forest conservation project. [ . . . ] Momberg said interest in REDD investments has jumped since the United Nations formally backed the scheme last December. “I’m getting phone calls every month from investors into REDD. The appetite for REDD and voluntary carbon credits was non-existent two years ago.”

The article includes two Factboxes: one on forest preservation-carbon credit schemes in Asia; and one on UN-REDD. Reuters notes that there are many concerns with REDD, including:

  • Permanence, or compliance. How to ensure the forest will remain standing for the long-term and that a country has the means to protect that forest from fire or illegal logging.
  • Baseline. Each country will need to set a starting point for REDD to report changes to forest cover over time (increase and decrease). The problem is calculating that baseline.
  • Leakage – How to prevent a halt on logging in one area driving deforestation in another location.
  • Flood of carbon credits. The European Union fears a flood of cheap REDD credits could overwhelm Europe’s emissions trading system. But some researchers dispute this, saying a properly regulated market would allow for a gradual increase in REDD credits over time. The United States also needed to commit to modest emissions cuts as a minimum.
  • Benefits for local communities. Central to REDD is ensuring long-term funding to local communities. But some NGOs fear the commoditization of forests could lead to land disputes and loss of livelihoods for locals by corrupt officials.
  • Dodging responsibility. Some NGOs also fear the availability of cheap REDD credits could allow rich nations to avoid real and deep emissions cuts at home.

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31 October 2008
Chemical released by trees can help cool planet, scientists find
The Guardian reports on work by scientists in the UK and Germany on a chemcial released by trees that thickens clouds above them. The clouds reflect more sunlight and cool the earth.

The scientists looked at chemicals called terpenes that are released from boreal forests across northern regions such as Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. The chemicals give pine forests their distinctive smell, but their function has puzzled experts for years. [ . . . ] The team found the terpenes react in the air to form tiny particles called aerosols. The particles help turn water vapour in the atmosphere into clouds.

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