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REDD in the news: 2-8 February 2009

REDD in the news: 2-8 February 2009

The big news in Guyana this week was President Jagdeo’s meeting in Oslo with Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. Consultation on President Jagdeo’s REDD plans are to start in two months. Elsewhere, Malaysia’s The Star is critical of REDD; Winrock International India’s Chetan Agarwal questions whether REDD will benefit local communities.

The Earth First! Journal critiques the whole climate negotiations as does Z magazine; David Neibauer reviews forestry carbon standards; World Resources Institute and NewPage Corporation set up a partnership in Indonesia, while the Indonesian government delays awarding permits for REDD projects; and a blog called Tubuans & Dukduks critiques REDD in PNG; .

3 February 2009
Snags in the plan
Critical article in Malaysia’s The Star about REDD.

But as usual, the devil is in the details. The overwhelming reliance on funding from carbon trading and the contentious inclusion of plantation forest as part of the scheme worries certain quarters.

Indigenous peoples are raising the alarm that any proposal that increases the value of forests may trigger a rapid increase in abuses of land rights by the state and corporations at the expense of their customary rights. Voices of dissent were heard since Bali and the opposition to REDD grew stronger in Poznan.

Friends of the Earth International points out that if REDD is funded through carbon offsetting it will undermine current and future emission reductions agreed to by industrialised countries.

Indigenous rights ignored
Article in The Star reports on Victor Hugo Vela’s criticism of the Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project in Bolivia.

“There are many problems with the project. We still have yet to see a cent though on paper we are supposed to get 20% of the fund administered by TNC,” revealed the head of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organisations of Bolivia.

He said the 14,500 indigenous people who were affected were not consulted when the deal was signed with the previous government.

“We only found out two months ago about the contract and we tried to renegotiate the term but now we just want it to be cancelled.”

UN Climate Convention
Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle writing in Z magazine criticise UNFCCC’s failure in Poznan.

The impacts of climate change and false solutions to climate change on forests and indigenous peoples were highlighted by indigenous peoples organizations and climate justice groups, especially with regard to a mechanism called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries). Contrary to its presumed mission to protect forests, the emphasis of REDD is on how to best use the world’s remaining forests as carbon offsets to enhance the profits of polluting industries and industrialized countries and ensure they do not have to reduce their carbon emissions by any significant amount.

Money on trees
Chetan Agarwal of Winrock International India writing in Down to Earth about Global Canopy Programme’s The Little REDD Book.

The value of this guide is primarily twofold. One, it compiles and summarizes the proposals of various countries. Two, it provides a simple and comprehensible framework for analyzing the various proposals, and also looks into the merits and flaws of different proposals. Key elements of the proposals are presented graphically. But most proposals in the guide do not talk of rewarding communities for the current stock of forests. The rewards are only for future conservation. Such incentives are not only weak they also let historically high emitters off the hook.

Joint statement on climate and forest issues
Joint statement from the President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, and the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, after their meeting in Oslo, 3 February 2009.

They agreed on the need to keep climate change firmly at the top of the international agenda and underlined that it is essential to reach an ambitious agreement in Copenhagen in December. They agreed that if the world is to prevent irreversible climate change, it is essential that greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are drastically reduced, given that deforestation and forest degradation currently cause about one fifth of the global emissions.


4 February 2009
Guyana and Norway cooperate to reduce green house gas emissions
Report in Caribbean Net News about the meeting in Oslo between President Jagdeo and Norway’s Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, based on their joint statement.

“We agreed that if the world is to prevent irreversible climate change, it is essential that greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are drastically reduced, given that deforestation and forest degradation currently cause about one fifth of the global emissions…to achieve this vital objective, they agreed that determined and concerted action is needed. They emphasized that efforts under the UNFCCC towards Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) efforts must be properly designed to ensure that deforestation is significantly reduced in countries where it is already occurring, and avoided in countries where deforestation rates are still low,” the statement said.

Guyana, Norway strike climate change deal
Guyana Chronicle article about President Jagdeo’s meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. The article reports that “Guyana is getting significant backing, including financial support, from Norway, for its model to push saving rainforests as a central platform in the global plan to avert climate change disaster.”

The bilateral co-operation will be founded on a broad-based, transparent, inclusive, multi-stakeholder national strategy developed in Guyana. Crucial components will be the creation of low-carbon employment and investment opportunities in Guyana, sustained efforts to avoid deforestation and forest degradation, strengthening open, transparent forest governance, and establishing an international monitoring, reporting, and verification system for Guyana’s forests. A financial mechanism run by a reputable international organisation will be set up through which performance based compensation can be channelled to implement Guyana’s low-carbon development strategy.

On this basis Norway is prepared to provide performance-based, substantial and sustained compensation for the progress Guyana makes in limiting emissions from deforestation at low levels and further decreasing forest degradation. In cooperation with Guyana and its multilateral partners, this will include contributing to the development and implementation of the necessary strategies and reforms, capacity building, and developing, funding and implementing suitable low-carbon and adaptation investments.

Jagdeo secures European ally in ‘money for standing forest’ quest
Kaieteur News reports on President Jagdeo’s meeting with Norway’s prime minister.

The two leaders emphasised that efforts under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) towards Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) efforts must be properly designed to ensure that deforestation is significantly reduced in countries where it is already occurring, and avoided in countries where deforestation rates are still low.

Guyana, WWF sign carbon storage grant
Kaieteur News reports on a US$151,250 grant from WWF Guianas to the Guyana Forest Commission. The grant is to “support the government’s bid to quantify the carbon storage capacity in its forests and stock assessment of Guyana’s forestry resources.”

At the signing ceremony in the GFC boardroom, WWF Regional Representative, Dominiek Pouvier, said that the organisation has been very supportive of President Bharrat Jagdeo’s actions in different parts of the world in order to get money for standing rain forests.

He added that WWF has been active in supporting the president’s pleas, especially at the latest conference.

Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud emphasized that the selection of Guyana in these emerging programmes is not a coincidence; rather, it demonstrates that the sustainable forest management practices and avoided deforestation policies are now being given due recognition internationally.

Carbon storage survey pact sealed
Stabroek News reports on the deal between WWF Guianas and the Guyana Forestry Commission. The project is funded by the Dutch Global Environmental Facilities (DGIS), French Global Environmental Fund (FFEM) and WWF-Netherlands.

WWF said that the research will be conducted by Dr. Denis Alder and Dr. Marijke van Kuijk and the sustainability of the project is ensured by a number of measures including the establishment of a REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Secretariat which will facilitate the execution of activities in support of climate change mitigation efforts.

The project will run for one year and three main outputs are expected: development of a method for measuring and monitoring carbon stock at the national level; implementation of the methodology; and increased capacity for assessing Guyana’s forest carbon stock.

Toward Mass Action in Copenhagen and the Belly of the Beast
The Earth First! Journal on the Copenhagen COP and the planned protests against it.

Indigenous groups have been mobilizing against a new UN program called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Launched in September, this World Bank-funded program would privatize indigenous forestlands and bring them under the control of the global carbon market in order to “better manage” them. At the failed climate meetings in Bali, indigenous groups pronounced that “REDD will steal our land…. States and carbon traders will take control over our forests.”

The REDD document itself admits that the program would “deprive communities of their legitimate land-development aspirations, that hard-fought gains in forest management practices might be wasted… and that it could erode culturally rooted not-for-profit conservation values.” The document does not distinguish between healthy, native forests and monoculture tree plantations. In theory, one could cut down a native rainforest, sell the timber, replant it with a Eucalyptus tree plantation and get carbon credits for “reforestation.” Around 60 million indigenous people depend upon the forest lands that REDD considers most threatened.


5 February 2009
Norway sets basis for forest protection aid to Guyana
Starbroek News reports on the joint statement between President Jagdeo and Norways’s Prime Minister.

While the amount that Guyana could potentially receive was not stated, the statement noted that the two countries will work together, both on climate change issues in general and on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in particular and Norway is prepared to provide performance-based, substantial and sustained compensation for the progress Guyana makes in limiting emissions from deforestation at low levels and further decreasing forest degradation.

The Norway climate deal a significant step forward
Guyana Chronicle editorial about the “recent deal on climate change clinched between Guyana and Norway.”

This development certainly will catapult Guyana into the limelight of the global stage, and deservedly so because President Jagdeo has been persistently chipping away on the issue at every possible opportunity. His efforts are not going in vain as he was won plaudits from prominent figures from both the developed and developing world including Prince Charles. But very importantly many governments are now responding favourably to President Jagdeo’s idea.

President Jagdeo meets with Prince Charles
Guyana Chronicle reports on a mmeting between President Jagdeo and Britain’s Prince Charles in London.

Prince Charles’ Rainforest Project has recently published recommendations on financial structures to raise funding to provide incentives to avoid tropical deforestation – the cause of about one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Prince Charles has repeatedly pointed to Guyana’s leadership on the issue of tropical deforestation. At a Mansion House dinner in September 2008, Prince Charles stated that “one of the most optimistic developments is the leadership on this issue shown by President Jagdeo of Guyana.”

Review of Forestry Carbon Standards 2008
Blog post by David Niebauer, a corporate and transaction attorney in San Francisco, about a paper written by Eduard Merger titled “Forestry Carbon Standards 2008” (pdf file 2.0MB).

The standards compared are Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS), CarbonFix Standard (CFS), Plan Vivo Systems and Standard, and the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU).

As with the controversy surrounding REDD, significant issues exist affecting the forestry sector in general relating to the complexity of conducting carbon sink or sequestration activities on the land. The entire program has been beset with doubts over the integrity of carbon emissions reductions being generated, particularly over permanence, additionality and adverse non-carbon environmental impacts.

WRI, NewPage Launch Partnership to Protect Indonesian Forests
Press release from NewPage Corporation and World Resources Institute about a partnership called “Project POTICO” (Palm Oil, Timber, Carbon Offsets) aimed at protecting forests in Indonesia.

Through Project POTICO, WRI will implement a three-year strategy designed to curb new oil palm plantations from clearing Indonesia ‘s virgin forests. The strategy will divert new oil palm plantations onto degraded lands and bring forests that were slated for conversion into certified sustainable forestry or conservation status. Project POTICO is designed to help curb illegal logging, which often occurs hand-in-hand with oil palm plantation development.

The project seeks to convert up to 1.25 million acres of degraded land into oil palm plantations. Lands slated to be oil palm plantations will remain standing as protected forest or will be sustainably managed to supply Forest Stewardship Council -certified wood or fiber for use in paper products.


6 February 2009
Rainforest Politics & the Carbon-Credit Trade in PNG: An Essential Introduction
A post on the blog Tubuans & Dukduks about REDD in Papua New Guinea. The post notes that the World Bank approved PNG’s Readines Plan Indicative Note (R-PIN) for the Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility despite the lack of consultation in PNG.

So, what does this mean? Well, it raises a number of issues and presents a number of questions that need to be answered. One important issue has already become a problem. In October 2008, it was reported in the Post-Courier that the PNG Government was “grabbing the last tracts of virgin forests for the proposed REDD projects” and that “such ‘forest grabs’ by the State might lead to future conflicts if landowner’s equity interests were not properly catered for“.

This problem is a muddy reflection of the biggest issue concerning the global carbon-credit trade in PNG: How exactly is the OCCCT [Office of Climate Change and Carbon Trading] going to ensure that the small people who own 97% of PNG’s rainforests will rightfully benefit from this undertaking – particularly when these very stakeholders were left out in the cold when it came to formulating PNG’s R-PIN?


7 February 2009
National consultations to begin in two months – Jagdeo
Kaieteur News reports that “The local consultations on the President’s ‘Avoided Deforestation’ initiative will begin in two months’ time. The paper is being finalized.”

Guyana’s efforts in lobbying for provision of incentives for the preservation of rainforests have been noticed by many international agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Recently, the Head of State told the media that a number of NGOs around the world have been using Guyana, because of the studies and technical work the country did, as an example of a model in the preservation of standing forests.

Jagdeo noted that he intends to continue with the awareness raising and with the discussions to ensure that Guyana and other developing countries get the desired outcome in the Copenhagen Agreement.

Government delays awarding permits for REDD projects
The Jakarta Post reports that the Indonesian government has “decided to delay awarding permits for forestry carbon projects so it can first issue regulations that set out detailed arrangements for business mechanisms and financing schemes.”

“We have identified more than 20 REDD-related projects on the starting blocks, especially in Kalimantan, Sumatera and Papua provinces. But the central government will not issue permits until we have regulations in place,” said the Ministry’s Head of Research and Development Tachrir Fathoni.
[ . . . ]
Tachrir said many carbon brokers and international NGOs had been approaching local authorities to develop the REDD projects.

“But we are hoping local administrations will show some restraint and wait for mechanisms from the central government. If they don’t, they might not benefit from the financial incentives from the REDD business,” he said.

The ministry is expected to issue a ministerial decree on REDD this month, which would elaborate business mechanisms and how to calculate carbon emissions stocked in the forests.

“Right now we’re waiting for a response from the Finance Ministry to formulate a decree regulating the REDD financial mechanisms,” Tachrir said.


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