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REDD in the news: 2-8 March 2009

The World Bank agrees to a US$1.3 billion loan to Brazil. Indonesia puts in a submission to FCPF. As Climatico notes, this comes only two weeks after Indonesia announced a decree allowing conversion of peatlands to oil palm plantations. Writing in the Jakarta Post, EIA argues that the Lacey Act could help strengthen REDD. Mitsuru Osaki of Japan’s Hokkaido University estimates that Indonesia loses US$1 billion a year from the release of carbon from its peatlands. WWF and Bharrat Jagdeo visit Capitol Hill for a congressional briefing on tropical deforestation and climate change. Mongabay reports on forests under threat in Cameroon and interviews The Nature Conservancy’s head, Mark Tercek. Greenpeace’s David Ritter blogs about the need for an agreement on forests in Copenhagen. GEF-STAP will post papers on its website before a meeting on REDD at the end of this month.

2 March 2009
Cameroon may liquidate rainforest reserve if conservationists don’t step forward
Mongabay reports on a one million hectare area of rainforest in Cameroon that may be re-opened to loggers. The government suspended logging rights in 2002 to protect Ngoyla Mintom, providing someone agreed to pay for it. So far no one has done so.

Ultimate funding for Ngoyla Mintom could come from an unlikely source: its trees. Under Reducing Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), a proposed mechanism for fighting climate change by protecting tropical forests, Ngoyla Mintom could see tens of millions of dollars for keeping its trees standing. But REDD is only possible with upfront funding to finance project design and development. Without it, Ngoyla Mintom may well fall to the axe.

GEF-STAP to Hold Workshop on REDD, Forest Conservation and Sustainable Forest Management
The Global Environmental Facility-Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (GEF-STAP) will hold a workshop on REDD, forest conservation and sustainable forest management on 31 March 2009. The workshop website is here.

Synthesis papers on science-based criteria, as well as on guidelines and options for strategic programmes relevant to land use, land-use change and forestry, sustainable forest management and REDD, will be posted in advance of the meeting.

3 March 2009
Economic crisis hits conservation but may offer opportunities, says TNC president
Mongabay intereviews Mark Tercek, ex-investment banker at Goldman Sachs and now president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy.

Mongabay: What’s ahead for TNC and REDD? TNC really pioneered avoided deforestation with Noel Kempff – and you did it before a market existed and carbon was worth next to nothing.

Mark Tercek: Well yes, Bolivia showed that it could be done. The technical issues that people worry about can be accomplished. It doesn’t mean it will be easy at the outset, but it can be done. It is important to set high bars for certification standards to ensure that the system is credible. Local people must absolutely be engaged and benefiting economically from projects.

In Indonesia we have a new project where we are trying to demonstrate again that it can be accomplished. It’s difficult but in time we will be able to line up the governance that we need, the sustainable forestry operators, and the local people. The project will protect critical orangutan habitat on Borneo and prevent large-scale emissions from deforestation and conversion of peatlands.

4 March 2009
Indonesia applies for World Bank forest CO2 scheme
Reuters reports that Indonesia has made a submission to the World Bank for FCPF funding.

The submission says between 1997 and 2000, Indonesia’s deforestation rate was 2.8 million hectares per year, falling to 1.2 million hectares in 2000 to 2005.

It says the main drivers are extensive forest harvesting by pulp, paper and palm oil firms, expansion into rainforests and peat land by agriculture and forest plantations as well as encroachment by low-income communities into forest lands.

It also says REDD could be a major driver for investment.

5 March 2009
US Lacey Act: Respecting the laws of trade partners
Article in the Jakarta Post by Andrea Johnson of the Environmental Investigation Agency, about the Lacey Act and illegal logging. The article mentions REDD in the last two paragraphs:

Finally, and critically, the Lacey Act structure helps to build the conditions for effective reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). It is simply incoherent for the US or the EU to pay countries not to cut down their forests while still buying millions of dollars of illegal wood from those same countries.

It is also clear that few donors or private investors feel comfortable paying for REDD projects in countries that struggle to enforce basic forest sector laws. Indonesia should welcome the Lacey Act, and call on the EU to explicitly prohibit illegal timber imports as well.

Guyana President to Join WWF CEO at Hill Briefing on Impact of Tropical Deforestation on Climate Change
WWF press release about a briefing in Washington about tropical deforestation and climate change, featuring Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo.

As the Head of State of a key rainforest nation, President Jagdeo will provide his perspective on the impact of deforestation and how to implement effective REDD programs.

Also participating will be Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA); Per Federik Ilsaas Pharo, Director of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, and Deputy Minister of the Environment; and Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

World Bank okays $1.3 billion for Brazil environment
Reuters reports on a US$1.3 billion World Bank loan to Brazil.

The loan “will support Brazil’s ongoing efforts to improve its environmental management system and integrate sustainability concerns in the development agenda of key sectors such as forest management, water and renewable energy,” the World Bank said.
[ . . . ]
Some Brazilian environmental groups had objected to the loan, saying they feared the resources would be used by the government to finance large-scale infrastructure projects in the Amazon.

6 March 2009
Burning need for forest protection at Copenhagen
Post on Greenpeace UK’s blog by David Ritter about the recent fires in Australia.

My job is to work on this issue, with specific responsibility for REDD which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. In economic terms, we have to find a way of making the forests worth more standing, than cut down. So, we need an international deal on REDD in Copenhagen in December, but meanwhile, early action in key areas to halt the destruction.

Today’s work started with a meeting about communicating some of the finer points around REDD financing. There is a growing international consensus on the need to fight deforestation, but the devil is in how we do it. The danger is that the money flow will be too little, too late or that the system will fail to result in a real reduction in emissions, or could lead to the dispossession of forest peoples. Under some proposed models, the trading of forest credits could actually be a sneaky way for developed nations to avoid meeting their obligations to reduce emissions at home.

It isn’t too late to act on tackling deforestation. We need credible early action to halt rainforest destruction and a good deal on REDD in Copenhagen. There is time still. But the smell of smoke is getting closer.

Carbon emissions may cost RI dearly
The Jakarta Post reports on a study by Mitsuru Osaki, a professor at Hokkaido University’s Graduate School of Agriculture in Japan, which found that Indonesia loses an estimated US$1 billion each year from the release of carbon stored in its peatlands. Osaki is reported as saying that “Indonesia’s peatlands store between 10 and 32 gigatons of CO2.”

“If we convert it to the price of carbon, Indonesia loses about $1 billion annually, equal with the release of 0.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide [CO2],” he said Thursday on the sidelines of an international conference on carbon management in peat forests in Central Kalimantan.

8 March 2009

Peat land palm oil plantations and the decision to join the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility – Is there a connection?

Climatico notes that Indonesia’s submission to the FCPF comes only two weeks after the decree allowing oil palm plantations on peat lands and suggests that there may be a link.

The submission also provides an analysis into how much the scheme would have to pay to prevent such deforestation. While failing to mention the cost for clearing virgin tropical rainforest, it does provide figures for degraded forest and peat land. To deter palm oil plantations on degraded land would take a pricing of $21.54 (27 Euros) a tonne while for peat lands it would only need to be priced at $4.19 (5.25 Euros) a tonne. Therefore any deforestation scheme based on the current depressed price of carbon (10.83 Euros as of 6th March) would not deter plantations on degraded land, but would on peat lands. It has also been suggested that Indonesia losses a potential $1 billion a year in opening up the peat lands for agriculture through carbon loss.

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