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REDD in the news: 29 December 2008 – 4 January 2009

This week, a series of conflicting views on REDD: A blogger reports on a closed EU meeting; the Tenessean looks at forest carbon trading; HuntingtonNews and Ecosystem Marketplace present opposing views on carbon trading; the Jakarta Post wants new forest protection laws; Sunita Narain critiques REDD; and Mongabay explains how carbon trading will save the Amazon rainforest.

29 December 2008
The UN Climate Conference concludes – everyone is “waiting for Obama”
Blog post on Planet in Limbo by someone who gatecrashed a closed EU meeting in Poznan.

LULUCF (Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry) discussions were described by Malta as an “abomination”. Malta pointed out we must prevent REDD (Reduction Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries) from “following the lousy rules of LULUCF” and “prevent REDD from becoming like LULUCF”. We need clarity on the rules because we cannot say to developing countries “we’ve got bad rules, you need to do better”. Australia argued that we “do need action in REDD”.

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30 December 2008
Carbon credits’ value may grow
The Tennessean discusses the pros and cons of forest carbon trading — in the USA. “As industries that pollute face the possibility of government sanctions if they don’t reduce their emissions, they may be willing to pay landowners to claim the trees’ ability to store carbon.”

Officials there say the market for carbon credits is still developing, and is at best speculative. So state forestry officials are urging landowners in Tennessee to proceed with caution.

“It’s just like the gold rush, where early on you had these wild price claims,” said John Fenderson, environmental affairs and public outreach forester with the Tennessee Department of Forestry.

If forest owners get into long-term commitments with carbon traders now when credits are cheap, they could lose thousands in potential revenue. “These companies are lining up to try to buy these credits at a lower rate,” Fenderson said. “Right now … it’s best to sit on the sidelines.”

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31 December 2008
The Commodification of the Future and the Battle for Middle Earth
Article on HuntingtonNews.Net which is critical of market approaches:

Yet, as the Kyoto Protocol signatories move towards negotiating a post 2012 arrangement regarding the commitments described in the Protocol which will be expiring at that time, there is mounting concern that the process of clearing the path for market-based schemes such as carbon trading have hijacked the global peoples movement of climate justice, and are being driven by a strategy of the industrialized north of evading emission cuts by buying carbon credits from the indigenous territories of Middle Earth especially, while continuing on the disastrous global trajectory of over-consumption by the rich countries of the world, again predominantly in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Ecosystem Markets Finish Year on (Relatively) High Note
Ecosystem Marketplace looks back at a year of carbon trading. The REDD process “hit a wall at this December’s meeting in Poznan, however, when negotiators failed to agree on methodologies for rewarding the sequestration of carbon in trees”.

REDD features prominently in US regional cap-and-trade initiatives, and also in most proposed national US cap-and-trade legislation, but it’s proving a tough sale in the European Union. That could be changing, as France floated a proposal to begin phasing forestry credits into the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) after 2012.

That scheme would start with funds raised by auctioning credits flowing into capacity building for REDD in the developing world, with governments then being allowed to invest directly in REDD projects, and then the private sector being allowed. Details are expected in January, and Ecosystem Marketplace will bring them to you.

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2 January 2009
Favorable forest protection laws needed
Jakarta Post article discussing REDD, a history of forest destruction and the need for new policies for forest protection in Indonesia.

While population pressures and poverty are typically regarded as inevitable causes of forest loss in developing countries (which entails government responses by, for instance, providing alternative job opportunities), deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia continue because of forestry policies and regulatory frameworks that are substantially similar to those that were issued under the New Order government.

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2009 is full of promise
“But where’s the action? As there is more acceptance of climate change, there is less willingness to tackle it,” writes Sunita Narain, the Director of the Centre for Science and Environment, in Business Standard.

As a result the mechanism, in negotiators’ parlance called redd or ‘reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation’ — naturally, in developing countries — is being built with absolutely no understanding that forests here are not mere carbon sticks to beat the world’s conscience with, or sinks for garbage carbon, but habitats of millions of people. There is no comprehension of the role forests play in a developing country’s economy or in people’s lives. Instead, the intent is misbegotten and single-minded: pay as cheaply as possible to buy rights over forests in the developing world and build as many accounting and certification procedures as possible to make sure there are no ‘leakages’ in the transaction. It is clearly a great business for the crashed and failed consultancy companies of the western world — creative carbon accounting, this time in the forests of the poor. So, this opportunity, which could have enjoined the interests of forest-economies and its people to plant, protect and manage forests so that the world would in addition get the benefit of reducing emissions, is being lost to the self-interest of greedy polluters.

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4 January 2009
How to save the Amazon rainforest
“Is forest carbon the answer?”, asks Mongabay. This long article briefly considers some of the concerns with REDD before handing over to pro-carbon trading REDD proponents such as Dr. Daniel Nepstad of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

“REDD can benefit biodiversity conservation as well as indigenous and rural peoples,” Nepstad wrote in a report co-authored last year with Stephan Schwartzman of Environmental Defense and Paulo Moutinho of the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM). “To succeed, national REDD programs must be consistent with UNFCCC and other UN principles, be transparent and have the active involvement of indigenous peoples and forest communities.”

“Rejecting REDD will not defend indigenous rights. Substituting official aid from developed countries for carbon market funding will not be a better, less risky alternative for reducing deforestation. Indigenous rights abuses, often caused by the same activities that drive deforestation, must be addressed directly.”

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