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REDD in the news: 9-15 February 2009

REDD in the news: 9-15 February 2009

Several new reports released this week: WWF released “Keeping the Amazon Forests Standing: A matter of values”; UNHCHR released a report on climate change and human rights; and ITTO’s newsletter focusses on climate change and tropical forests. The price of carbon hit a record low. Islands Business gives an insight into discussions within AOSIS on carbon trading and forests.

COICA released a statement from the World Social Forum in Belem. Guyana’s President Jagdeo tells indigenous communities that they need to change their livelihoods and the Guyana Chronicle reports that Guyana will continue its plans for REDD. Avoided Deforestation Partners held a meeting featuring US Senators Kerry and Lugar. The Nature Conservancy asks how REDD payments can reach Indigenous Peoples. The devastating fires in Australia pumped out millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, reports The Guardian. An IPCC scientist warns of the impacts of climate change on forests, in particular the increased risk of “very large and destructive wildfires”.

9 February 2009
Carbon price close to record low as European sell-off continues
BusinessGreen reports on the collapse of the carbon price.

The price of EU allowances (EUAs) has been declining steadily over the past month and has now fallen more than 40 per cent in the past 30 days to €10.02 (£8.71) as decreased production in a number of carbon-intensive industries means that large numbers of firms are looking to sell credits they no longer need.

“We are still seeing a lot of selling in most industrial sectors, particularly in eastern Europe,” explained Stig Schgolset, senior analyst at research firm Point Carbon, adding that the company was now predicting that the price could slip below €10 and stay there for some time.

He said that falling production across many sectors, including metal, paper and pulp, glass and cement, meant many firms had a surplus of EUAs they were still looking to offload.

ITTO Newsletter Focuses on Climate Change and Tropical Forests
The latest issue of ITTO’s newsletter, “Tropical Forest Update” focusses on climate change and tropical forests.

10 February 2009
Amazon could prosper thanks to emission payments, be lost without
WWF press release about a new report: “Keeping the Amazon Forests Standing: A matter of values“, written by the Copernicus Institute at the University of Utrecht for WWF.

Johan van de Gronden, General Manager of WWF-Netherlands, comments: “REDD is not the only mechanism for the realisation of sustainable forest management, but certainly the one that is the most promising.’’

WWF Brazil emphasised the importance of tackling issues at the receiving end of any REDD mechanism, such as the lack of clarity concerning land ownership, the illegal occupation of land and the illegal land market.

Environment: Fears and Hopes of the Islands
Article in Islands Business about the Poznan negotiations and the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS).

Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu for instance were not seeing eye-to-eye over a carbon trading initiative the former is heavily promoting referred to as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

“I can see why Tuvalu will be interested in arguing that REDD will let the industrialised nations off the hook because of the credits that might be available. But then you also have the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and other credit mechanisms that are both private and voluntary that are available around the world,” argued Ambassador Robert Aisi, PNG’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

“We respect Tuvalu’s position but we will not be seen to be attacking another Pacific brother in a plenary session.”

Declaration of the Coordinator of the Amazon Basin Indigenous Peoples Organization (COICA)
Statement from COICA, signed 1 February 2009 at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil.

In regards to UN-REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries) we understand that as principle any and all concer on financial mechanism dealing with the protection of forests in our territories must unconditionally recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, in agreement with the U.N. declaration of indigenous peoples rights (UNDRIP): Our rights are non-negociable. We are currently in the process of information gathering and internal debate with our members in regards to potential negative impacts and risks within our territories of this program (as was the case with MCD, Mechanism of Clean Development, with many of our communities). Furthermore, the experiences and interpretations of climate change by our indigenous peoples, according to our worldview, is that this change interacts with multiple factors, both social and environmental and therefore must be consider in an integral way and not merely reduced to market concerns.

Indigenous communities need to diversify their economies – Jagdeo
An insight into President Bharrat Jagdeo’s thinking in the Kaieteur News. National consultations have not yet taken place in Guyana for Jagdeo’s “Avoided Deforestation” plans, but Jagdeo has already decided what indigenous communities should be doing.

There is need for indigenous communities to diversify their respective economies, in order to be less dependent on traditional crops — more specifically, the forest.
[ . . . ]
Citing the North West as an example, the Head of State said that if the villagers grow ‘ground provisions,’ they cannot get the crops to the Coast quickly enough.

He said that the idea of being paid for standing forest is to get the capital and create some mechanism whereby the villagers themselves would participate through technical discussions to transform the village economies.

This will allow them, he said, to continue growing crops that they need to eat, but also have some export potential or an activity that would generate income for the village.

Kerry, Lugar: U.S. has opportunity to lead on climate, forest conservation
Mongabay article based on a meeting organised by Avoided Deforestation Partners which featured Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar.

Arne Sorenson, CFO of Marriott International, cited his hotel chain’s recent investment in the Juma Sustainable Rainforest Reserve, a conservation project in the Brazilian Amazon. Though a low emitter of CO2, Marriott is helping protect 1.4 million acres of rainforest, reducing the potential emission of 190 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.

“Marriott is integrating environmental sustainability into our business strategy. Preserving rainforests is a centerpiece of our efforts,” said Sorenson. “We hope that the U.S. will act on its renewed environmental commitments this year by including strong forest protections in any climate legislation to protect these essential resources and address climate change.”

11 February 2009
A Paradox from Hell: The Waiãpí and Carbon Markets
A post on the Nature Conservancy’s blog describes the problem of REDD payments going to forest destroyers, rather than those protecting forests.

They are certainly doing much better than they were a generation ago, when waves of settlers and a series of invasions threatened to wipe them out. But they live at the center of a paradox. Despite their modest needs and demands, funding to satisfy these needs and demands is a perennial problem. Meanwhile, new markets being created to stimulate conservation look as if they will channel resources not to them, but to their non-indigenous, deforesting neighbours.

Further south, in Mato Grosso state, where there are far larger indigenous reserves, a distinguished group of politicians, foundation staffers, conservationists and others will meet in early April to explore how to move forward with avoided deforestation projects — a potentially transformative idea that, simply put, rewards deforesters for foregoing deforestation.

13 February 2009
Human rights and climate change
Writing on the Climate Thinkers Blog, Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, announces a new study by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about the relationship between human rights and climate change. The study includes the following paragraph about REDD:

Concerns have also been raised about possible adverse effects of reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) programmes. These programmes provide compensation for retaining forest cover and could potentially benefit indigenous peoples who depend on those forest resources. However, indigenous communities fear expropriation of their lands and displacement and have concerns about the current framework for REDD. The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stated that new proposals for reduced emissions from deforestation “must address the need for global and national policy reforms … respecting rights to land, territories and resources, and the rights of self-determination and the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned”.

Guyana will continue advancing plan on deforestation, degradation
Article in the Guyana Chronicle based on a statement by the Ministry of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh when he presented the 2009 budget to Parliament.

He said: “Guyana makes a very substantial contribution to global efforts to mitigate climate change, through the maintenance of our high forest cover and low deforestation rates.

“We have entered into a number of strategic partnerships, aimed at developing locally relevant methodologies to assess our carbon stock and preparing us to tap intro the emerging carbon markets.”

Australian bushfires pump out millions of tonnes of carbon
Article in the Guardian comments on the millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmostphere by the deadly bush fires in Australia.

“The world’s forests are crucial to the long-term future of the planet as they lock away millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide,” said Robin Webster, a climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “More must be done to protect them – deforestation is having a devastating effect and as climate change takes hold, forest fires like those in Australia are likely to become more frequent.”

14 February 2008
Climate change likely to be more devastating than experts predicted, warns top IPCC scientist
Press release from Stanford University – IPCC scientist Chris Field of Stanford points to recent studies indicating that higher temperatures could ignite tropical forests and melt the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gases.

Of particular concern is the impact of global warming on the tropics. “Tropical forests are essentially inflammable,” Field said. “You couldn’t get a fire to burn there if you tried. But if they dry out just a little bit, the result can be very large and destructive wildfires.”

According to several recent climate models, loss of tropical forests to wildfires, deforestation and other causes could increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 10 to 100 parts per million by the end of the century. This would be a significant increase, given that the total concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is currently about 380 parts per million, the highest in 650,000 years.

“It is increasingly clear that as you produce a warmer world, lots of forested areas that had been acting as carbon sinks could be converted to carbon sources,” Field said. “Essentially we could see a forest-carbon feedback that acts like a foot on the accelerator pedal for atmospheric CO2. We don’t exactly know how strong the feedback could be, but it’s pretty clear that the warmer it gets, the more likely it is that degradation of tropical forests will increase the atmospheric CO2.”

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