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REDD in the news: 22-28 November 2008

REDD in the news: 22-28 November 2008

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached record highs in 2007, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The price of European carbon emissions permits remains low. Meanwhile, the carbon market could be swamped by credits from carbon offsets, leading to a price collapse, according to a forthcoming report by Carbon Trust.

Friends of the Earth International, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the World Agroforestry Centre and the Global Canopy Coalition released statements ahead of the climate summit in Poznan next week. A report by CIFOR looks at the potential impacts of climate change on forests, while insurance companies look at the difficulties of insuring forests against fire.

24 November 2008
Forest protection plan could displace millions, say campaigners
The Guardian reports on a new report to be released by Friends of the Earth International. The report can be downloaded here.

“It re-focuses us on the question, who do forests belong to? In the absence of secure land rights, indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities have no guarantees that they’ll benefit from Redd,” said Joseph Zacune, a climate and energy coordinator at Friends of the Earth International. “There’s increased likelihood of state and corporate control of their land especially if the value of forests rises.”

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Leasing quarter of Scotland’s forests ‘would raise £200m’
The Times reports on plans by the Scottish Government to lease plantations in Scotland to overseas timber companies. The Government’s consultation paper suggests that it would be possible both to encourage renewable energy developments and provide funding for woodland creation by releasing capital from Scotland’s national forest estate, which is valued at £850million. This could be achieved “by offering long leases and cutting rights”.

That notion was at best misguided, Duncan McLaren, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said. “We all love the notion of increasing woodland cover – it’s important for hydrology, for soil protection and biodiversity – but its benefits for the climate are very uncertain in temperate latitudes,” Mr McLaren said. “This is a very end-of-the-pipe solution. It would be much better to engage properly with the power sector or to cut down emissions from cars. This a complex and risky proposal and there are better alternatives.”

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Let us debate actual areas affected by forest harvesting
Letter to the Editor of the Guyana Chronicle from Janette Bulkan about rates of logging in Guyana.

These figures are important for the international negotiations about possible external financial support for forest conservation through the Reduced Emissions from avoided Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme.

As Guyana’s proposal for REDD funding is notably misleading in some aspects, the GFC should be more open about the data on which it makes public statements and about how it charges for resource access rights.

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25 November 2008
United Nations Must Address Deforestation at Poland Meeting, U.S. Science Group says
The Union of Concerned Scientists urges the UN to “develop a plan to curb global warming by stopping the destruction of the world’s tropical forests”. UCS will publish a report on 6 December 2008, “Out of the Woods: A Realistic Role for Tropical Forests in Curbing Global Warming”, which will be available for download here.

Paying to keep tropical forests standing would cost a third less than the price of carbon under the European Union’s cap-and-trade program, UCS found. The EU program sets a cap on global warming pollution, which will be ratcheted down over time. Companies must reduce their emissions to comply with the cap. Those that cannot reduce their pollution must buy allowances from companies that can. Ton for ton, it most often would be cheaper to reduce emissions from deforestation than buy allowances on the market.

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ImageTree, CATHALAC Collaborate to Build Carbon-credit Ecomarket Infrastructure in Latin America, the Caribbean; Sign 5-year Agreement
Image Tree and the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC) “have signed a five-year exclusive agreement to collaborate on delivering cost-effective carbon and forest biomass baseline inventories and monitoring systems on a national scale.”

“This collaboration will provide the foundational integrity required for the countries that CATHALAC serves to participate in carbon-credit ecomarkets emerging from such initiatives as the United Nations Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) Programme and the World Bank’s avoided deforestation program,” said CATHALAC Director Emilio Sempris.

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UN: Greenhouse Gases at New Record Highs
Greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere have reached record highs, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

”CO2 and N2O are increasing steadily … and there is no sign of leveling off,” said Geir Braathen, a climate specialist at the Geneva-based agency. Methane also has been rising, but its growth had been slowed until last year.

Carbon dioxide was up most in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available. It increased to 383.1 parts per million, one-half percent more than the 2006 amount. Methane and nitrous oxide rose by lesser amounts, the WMO said.

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Carbon offsets could swamp EU carbon price -report
“A ballooning global supply of carbon offsets could flood the European Union’s emissions market and dent prices,” according to a report to be published next month by the Carbon Trust.

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Meeting review: Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation adopts strategy on REDD
A report from the Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on REDD which took place from 12-14 November 2008 in Baguio City, the Philippines is available for download here. The meeting produced a series of recommendations for international processes and organisations.

Participants to the Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) adopted an Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ Global Strategy on REDD. The strategy makes reference to a number of overarching principles, including a human-rights approach to all REDD activities on the basis of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Labour Organization Convention no. 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, and the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples in REDD activities. It also stresses the need to distinguish between reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as a goal that interests all climate change stakeholders including indigenous peoples (redd) and the use of term REDD to signify possible future policies and instruments designed to achieve this goal.

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26 November 2008
Guide to reducing emissions through forest conservation released
Mongabay reports on Global Canopy Programme‘s guide to REDD, titled “The Little REDD Book”. The book is available for download from the Global Canopy Programme’s website.

“Discussion often focuses on the differences between REDD proposals, but in reality there has been a steady progression in the thinking,” said Anna Creed who led the study at The Prince’s Rainforests Project. “Our analysis demonstrates areas of similarity and divergence among the proposals, which we hope will aid clarity and understanding in this area and ultimately help stakeholders to move forward towards consensus.”

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27 November 2008
Low carbon price may stunt investment in wind, sun
Last week, the price of carbon fell to its lowest level since March 2007. This could have an impact on investments in wind and solar power.

“If the price goes too low, we won’t get investment in the kind of infrastructure we want to see. You might be more tempted to invest in a coal-fired power plant if you thought the carbon price would stay at 15,” said Deutsche Bank analyst Mark Lewis.

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Trees to fight warming? Insurers ponder risks
Reuters article on the problems of insuring forests against burning down. Of course, anything can be insured (including Tina Turner’s legs, as the U.N.’s Wojciech Galinsky points out), “But there is wide disagreement on how to assess the risks under the new U.N. treaty, due to be agreed by end-2009,” notes the article.

“As the climate changes, there is a greater risk of forest fires, due to hotter temperatures,” [Frances] Seymour at CIFOR said.

ForestRe’s [Phil] Cottle said insurers were likely to issue only short-term contracts because of the difficulty of predicting the climate over time.

“Unfortunately, despite what everybody wants, we won’t be getting into 50-year contracts. It will be five rolling years . . . perhaps rising to 10,” he said.

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Forestry group lobbies for carbon credits
Reuters reports that the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre is in favour of carbon offsets for planting trees and protecting existing trees. The article is based on a statement released by the World Agroforestry Centre, available here.

The EU’s carbon market also allows companies to buy carbon offsets from developing countries up to a certain limit, but excludes forestry. Allowing them to buy offsets from curbing deforestation would swamp the scheme, the Commission argued.

The World Agroforestry Center said that argument was unfair and “should not be used as an excuse to exclude low-cost opportunities for emissions reduction and emissions offsets that would benefit the poor.” It said that carbon offset sales would comfortably exceed any profits from slash and burn forest clearances, for example, and so could help stamp that out.

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World’s forests face climate-change crisis
New Scientist reports on a review of the scientific literature on the impacts on global warming on forests. The review, carried out by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) conlcuded that climate change “will have a dramatic effect on forests, irrespective of the future rate of greenhouse-gas emissions”. CIFOR’s review, titled, “Facing an uncertain future: How forests and people can adapt to climate change,” is available here.

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Pro-Logging Protestors Riot in Brazil
An article on Celcias linking the signing of agreements between the governors of states in the USA, Brazil and Indonesia to reduce emissions from deforestation, with the reality of stopping deforestation in Brazil.

This week, the political realities of trying to prevent deforestation were brought into stark relief as a mob of 3000 angry people in Brasilia, Brazil attacked government offices and went after environmental workers with the federal environmental protection agency, IBAMA, over crackdowns on illegal logging.

Some of the protesters were wood company owners and logging truck drivers, according to IBAMA official Marco Antonio Vidal.

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