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REDD in the news: 30 March – 5 April 2009

Several articles on the negotiations in Bonn this week. Greenpeace launches a report which states that trading forest carbon would crash carbon markets.

Elsewhere, GEF held a workshop on conservation, sustainable forest management and REDD. Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme generates discussion. Mongabay’s Rhett Butler recommends trading REDD credits in compliance markets. BBC reports on forest fires in Nepal. Virgilio Viana (director-general of the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation) writes about REDD in Brazil. The Prince’s Rainforest Project puts forward a proposal to G20 for bonds financed through carbon markets. Global Forest Coalition rejects the proposal. Forest Carbon Portal analyses the US Waxman-Markey bill. Tierramérica interviews John Nash, the World Bank’s lead economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. Dallas-based lawyer, Scott Deatherage, comments on REDD. Norway produces a “REDD options assessment report”.

30 March 2009
Perspectives on the CPRS
Interesting discussion on an Australia blog, Larvatus Prodeo, about Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

Guy Pearse is in The Age discussing the subsidies to Big Carbon and the likelihood of most of Australia’s “cuts in emissions” being the result of purchasing carbon credits on the international market.

Pearse’s belief is that most of the purchased credits will be the result of avoided deforestation in developing countries, and he’s probably right. However, his argument seems to sometimes veer dangerously close to the position that only emissions reductions obtained by burning less fossil fuels are somehow legitimate:

    Moreover, if cheap carbon storage in forests is done instead of cutting emissions, that enables industries to continue on their merry way and delays the hard task of cutting actual greenhouse pollution by another couple of decades.

Can carbon credits from REDD compete with palm oil?
Article by Rhett Butler on Mongabay about research published in Conservation Letters arguing that unless REDD credits are traded in compliance markets (as opposed to voluntary markets), REDD will not be competitive with palm oil.

To compare how REDD stacks up with oil palm, ETH Zürich ecologists Lian Pin Koh and Jaboury Ghazoul and I devised economic models to evaluate returns from each land use under different price scenarios. We found that as long as carbon credits from avoided deforestation is limited to voluntary markets where it fetches 10-20 percent of the price in compliance markets like the European Union’s Emission Trading System, REDD will fail to be competitive with palm oil.

UN negotations, Bonn: Policy download
Post on It’s Getting Hot in Here about the climate negotiations in Bonn this week. By Thomas Spencer, an Australian working with Germanwatch in Berlin.

There was a push from PNG [Papua New Guinea] to have a specific contact group on REDD established under the LCA [Ad-hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action]; this received very explicit support from Australia. Previous calls from Parties for more time on REDD had been tactfully ignored by the Chair, which gives me the feeling that he would like to concentrate on critical topics like financing mechanisms in the LCA and scale of reductions in the KP [Kyoto Protocol], which need to be in place before we can start really talking about the role REDD can play. Australia is to be commended for taking a miniscule target for themselves, and doing every thing they can to be able to swap pollution at home for trees in PNG. People in Australia, bash them please. You can’t reach any long-term target if you lock your country into a high emissions infrastructure, setting future emissions in cement while protecting forests which future unmitigated climate change will destroy anyway.

Forests could undermine carbon market -Greenpeace
Reuters reports on a new Greenpeace report.

A report issued on the sidelines of U.N. talks in Bonn working on a climate treaty said that a flood of forest carbon credits could also slow the fight against global warming and divert billions of dollars from investments in clean technology.

“Cheap forest credits sound attractive but a closer examination shows they are a dangerous option,” Roman Czebiniak, Greenpeace International political adviser on forests, said of estimates by Kea 3 economic modelling group in New Zealand.

31 March 2009
Rain Forest-Saving Credits May Cut Carbon-Emission Prices
Bloomberg article about new Greenpeace report.

“There is clearly the fear that if you have one market, the forest funds would flood it and push prices so low that there wouldn’t be an incentive to invest in technological change in industry and power generation,” Michael Zammit Cutajar, who chairs one of the negotiating forums at the UN talks, said March 26 in a telephone interview.

Forest Conservation, REDD and SFM
A workshop on REDD, Forest Conservation and Sustainable Forest Management: Options for GEF-5 (LULUCF, SFM to REDD) organised by the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel of the Global Environment Facility, at the World Bank in Washington DC.

The GEF is currently developing strategic programs for its fifth replenishment, covering the period from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2014. Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) have been formed for all current focal areas and the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) program. STAP will be represented on each TAG and this workshop and associated consultancies will be part of STAP’s contribution to GEF-5 strategies for climate change, SFM, land degradation and biodiversity.

Including Forest Protection in Carbon Markets Will Harm Emission Reduction Efforts, Greenpeace Report Warns
Article on Treehugger about new Greenpeace report.

We Must Protect Forests Separately From Carbon Markets
What to do? The answer according to Greenpeace is we should provide “sufficient and reliable financing” for REDD programs, work to make deep emissions reductions in industrialized nations and speed up investment in green technologies in developing nations. So, basically, REDD and global carbon markets can’t be linked if we want either one to do what it is intended to do.

U.N. agrees to save the forests … but how?
Agence France-Presse article about REDD and the climate negotiations in Bonn, focussing on the financing mechanism for REDD.

For Kim Carstensen, leader of the WWF’s global climate initiative, both market and public funding mechanisms are necessary, but not all at once.

“The initial stages need to be funded by public mechanisms, not tradable credits. Markets are not a good option now because in the near term we don’t see any credible REDD units coming into existence,” he told AFP.

1 April 2009
PNG poses REDD questions to Europe in AWG LCA
Post on Tropical Forest Group website about a workshop of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG LCA) in Bonn.

Papua New Guinea’s representative Kevin Conrad asked … given Europe’s position that it did not want to see REDD in carbon markets before 2020, wouldn’t that create a perverse incentive for countries NOT to propose reducing deforestation until 2020?
[ . . . ]
Europe responded . . . “we need to learn under what conditions we can link markets with REDD. And in the meantime, we need alternative funding for REDD.”

Indonesia should drop forest carbon credit plan: Greenpeace
Agence France-Presse (Jakarta) interview with Bustar Maitar of Greenpeace.

[Indonesia], a key backer of “avoided deforestation” measures that would award tradeable carbon credits for conservation, should abandon the plan in favour of funds to preserve forests, campaigner Bustar Maitar said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should use meetings on the sidelines of the G20 meeting this week in London to push for a modified version of its draft Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation (REDD) plan, Maitar said.

The REDD plan should replace the proposed credits with a global fund, paid for by rich nations, to finance forest conservation efforts, he said.

Climate change ‘fans Nepal fires’
BBC article about forest fires national parks in Nepal.

In the wake of the 2007 United Nations climate change conference in Bali, Nepal has been preparing to join an international effort known as Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

But if the forest fires it saw this year became a regular phenomenon, the country will instead be emitting increased carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – a case of climate science’s not very aptly-named “positive feedback”.

A tree falls in the forest…and it definitely makes a sound
Blog post summarising some of the latest developments on REDD.

[T]he [U.S.] Senate just passed an amendment 89-8 stating that cap-and-trade will not increase energy or gas prices (with a clarifying Boxer amendment to the amendment), the highly influential U.S. Climate Action Partnership is all about forests (presumably for similar reasons), and the Waxman-Markey behemoth makes REDD a key piece of its massive offset strategy. Market flooding? Why not! Credit price crashing? No problem! Unsurprisingly, the EU has been taking a more conservative position.

Seeing REDD
Article by Virgilio Viana (director-general of the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation and an IIED Visiting Fellow) about REDD in Brazil.

The global carbon market reached US$118 billion in 2008 but very little of it was invested in protecting tropical rainforests. Meanwhile, the international community faces a process of great strategic importance: the new international climate agreements, to be signed in December 2009 in Copenhagen. If these include forest carbon as both a market instrument and a mechanism for intergovernmental funding, they will set a historic precedent.

Forests conservation and greenhouse-gas emission reduction targets must top the list of priorities in the new climate agreements. REDD can become a significant catalyst of change to stop deforestation and eradicate poverty in many regions of the planet. As Nelson Mandela has said, “Those who are hungry are in a hurry.” We urgently need to start a revolution in the world’s forests. Time is running short.

2 April 2009
Forest Campaigners Reject Prince Charles’ Rainforest Speculation Plans
Global Forest Coalition rejects Prince Charles’ plans to finance rainforest protection with a system of bonds to be financed through carbon markets.

“It appears that the Prince has not read any newspapers in the past year,” responded Dr. Miguel Lovera, the chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition. “Carbon markets have proven to be a highly unreliable source of funding for environmental protection. The last thing forests and forest peoples need is yet another form of financial speculation.”

Strong Push for Reducing Deforestation in 1st Draft US Climate Bill
Analysis of the Waxman-Markey bill by Maria Bendana, the manager of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon Portal.

International forestry – and in particular reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) credits – may be issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and used as offsets in the US climate regime. Based on the recommendations of the Advisory Board, the EPA may include forest degradation and soil carbon losses associated with forested wetlands or peatlands within the meaning of deforestation.

The total quantity of offsets allowed each year cannot exceed 2 billion tons and may be based on sector-wide reductions or avoidance of emissions, or sector-wide increases in sequestration. It is split evenly between domestic and international offsets. Starting in 2012 offsets can be used to meet 30% of the compliance target and the share will progressively increase up to 66% in 2050 and each year thereafter.

Going Beyond the Carbon Market
Tierramérica interview with John Nash, the World Bank’s lead economist for Latin America and the Caribbean. Nash argues for expanding the clean development mechanism to include REDD.

TIERRAMÉRICA: Among the criticisms is the lack of participation of indigenous peoples, the native inhabitants of the affected areas.

JN: The World Bank has safeguard policies, which should be followed in preparing each project, and one is to protect indigenous peoples. In this process of post-Kyoto preparation, we are going to take the rights of those communities into full account. I believe there won’t be inconsistencies. In many cases, the most effective way to protect forests is to create a system of land possession for the communities who live in those areas.
[ . . . ]
TIERRAMÉRICA: In the REDD framework there can be programmes for investing in forestry for industrial purposes, such as plantations for producing paper. Does the World Bank see this as a risk?

JN: The Bank finances these projects in the private sector, it’s true. But, although it’s not my area, I know that there are safeguard policies as well, and they are very careful about the possible negative environmental and social effects of the plans they finance.

3 April 2009
Latest Rainforest Coalition/Australia submissions
Links on Tropical Forest Group to REDD submissions from the Coalition of Rainforest Nations and Australia.

4 April 2009
PointCarbon Expert Predicts the US Market Would Be Short Allowances and Offsets under Waxman-Markey Approach
Blog post by Scott Deatherage, a partner in the Environmental Law Practice Group at Thompson & Knight, in Dallas, Texas,

We are working with several clients on forest carbon projects and believe this will be growing long term investment in both avoided deforestation (REDD) and reforestation/afforestation. Look for this sector to grow in the future. Those industries such as utilities with coal-fired power plants, natural gas suppliers, and petroleum refineries will find that forest carbon is an attractive source of future offsets.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD): An Options Assessment Report
A new report commissioned by the Norwegian government: “The REDD Options Assessment Report”. Produced by the Meridian Institute.

The REDD Options Assessment Report suggests a flexible, three-phase approach to policy measures and positive incentives in order to accommodate (i) the diverse capabilities and circumstances of REDD countries; (ii) an expanded scope of REDD to include conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks; and (iii) the near-term constraints of the current global financial crisis.

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