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REDD in the news 27 April – 3 May 2009

REDD in the news 27 April - 3 May 2009

Several articles about the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change this week. At the meeting, Indigenous Peoples rejected carbon trading and forest offsets as “false solutions”.

Meanwhile those who stand to benefit from forest offsets hope that they will be included in a post-Kyoto agreement. In separate articles, the International Emissions Trading Association, EcoSecurities, The Nature Conservancy and US-based law firm Thompson & Knight promote forest offsets.

25 April 2009
Indigenous Peoples from around the World Outraged at the Rapid Escalation of Climate Change and Denounced False Solutions
Without Your Walls.
Press Release from REDOIL and Indigenous Environmental Network from the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change in Alaska.

At a World Bank presentation at the global summit, Egberto Tabo, General Secretary of COICA, the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin denounced “the genocide caused by the World Bank in the Amazon.” Mr. Tabo also categorically rejected the inclusion of forests in the carbon market and the Bank’s funding of REDD. The World Bank’s representative, Navin Rai admitted that “the Bank has made mistakes in the past…We know that there were problems with projects like the trans-amazon highway.” But REDD, he argued would not be more of the same. However, indigenous leaders at the global summit were unconvinced by his assurances and the Work Bank presentation ended with a Western Shoshone women’s passionate appeal to the Bank to stop funding projects that endanger the survival of indigenous peoples.

27 April 2009
Burden Lies with Rich Polluters, Native People Say
By Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service.
Report on the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, Alaska.

However, many indigenous peoples explicitly reject mainstream climate mitigation proposals like carbon offset programmes and carbon trading, calling them “false solutions” that have nothing to do with solving climate change crisis. Such programmes continue to allow ever greater amounts of carbon to be emitted, said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, an NGO based in the U.S.

“It’s privatisation of the air,” Goldtooth told IPS. Under such programmes, the atmosphere becomes another property that can be bought and sold, he said. “We cannot reconcile this with our strong cosmovision (understanding of the world) and spirituality.”

Goldtooth and many others are also wary of a proposed carbon emission reduction programme called reduced deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Deforestation and degradation account for up to 25 percent of all anthropogenic carbon emissions annually.
[ . . . ]
[REDD] would be a disaster for indigenous peoples without national recognition of their land rights, said Jorge Franco, co-director of Los Pueblos Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, an indigenous organisation in Latin America.

Indigenous Amazonian people are displaced and sometimes killed by paramilitaries taking over indigenous lands for oil palm plantations, Franco said through an interpreter. Oil and gas projects keep happening in their territories without their consent. “Land titling must come before anything like REDD,” he stressed.

28 April 2009
Government’s Commitment on Global Warming Questioned
By Reh Atemalem Susanti, Tempo Interactive.
“Indonesia’s policies do not reduce [global warming] but instead adds to the amount of carbon emission,” according to Bernardinus Steny, coordinator for the Development of Critical Legal Thinking Program.

The problem is, Steny said, the president’s commitment was not being followed by his ministers. Steny cited as example, Regulation No. 68/2009 on Carbon Emission Reduction from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) issued by the Forestry Minister.

Yet, later on the Agriculture Minister issued Regulation No. 14/2009 on Peat Land Utilization for Palm Oil Plantations Guideline. “That’s contradictory. One minister issues a regulation on forest conservation, another allows carbon emission,” he said.

Carbon traders call for land-use offsets in climate deal
The International Emissions Trading Association is lobbying to include forest offsets in the post-Kyoto climate agreement.

“Limiting international offset credits from the land-use sector to only deforestation reduction activities at the national level precludes many projects that could generate verifiable emission reductions and lower overall compliance cost,” the organisation stated. It said emissions could be cut by at least an additional 5%, should agricultural and other land use qualify for offsets.

Forest credits alone have proven to be a controversial issue, as they might have a significant impact on carbon markets (EurActiv 20/04/09).

The Anchorage Declaration: Indigenous Meeting Demands Action on Climate Crisis
Climate and Capitalism.
Text of the final declaration adopted by the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, April 20-24, 2009, in Anchorage, Alaska.

5. All initiatives under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) must secure the recognition and implementation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including security of land tenure, recognition of land title according to traditional ways, uses and customary laws and the multiple benefits of forests for climate, ecosystems, and peoples before taking any action.

6. We challenge States to abandon false solutions to climate change that negatively impact Indigenous Peoples’ rights, lands, air, oceans, forests, territories and waters. These include nuclear energy, large-scale dams, geo-engineering techniques, “clean coal”, agro-fuels, plantations, and market based mechanisms such as carbon trading, the Clean Development Mechanism, and forest offsets. The rights of Indigenous Peoples to protect our forests and forest livelihoods must be ensured.

G8 Environment Ministers: Climate, Biodiversity, Health Essential
Environment News Service.
Report from Syracuse, Italy, where the G8 Environment Ministers Meeting finished on 24 April 2009.

The Syracuse Charter includes a strong paragraph on the importance of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, REDD, and combating illegal logging, noted [Julia] Marton-Lefevre [IUCN’s Director General].

Hyundai Grants Pave Way for Emerging Forest Offset Projects
PR Newswire.
Hyundai Motor America and, in conjunction with the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance, announced more than $100,000 in grants to three new forest offset projects: Alto Mayo Forest Carbon Project, Peru; Nhambita Community Carbon Project, Mozambique; and Kakamega Forest Again Project, Kenya.

The Alto Mayo Forest Carbon Project, Peru

As part of the organization’s overall climate change strategy, Conservation International’s office in Peru is carrying out the Alto Mayo Forest Carbon Project in northern Peru to reduce deforestation in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest, an area that has been threatened by agricultural encroachment, disorganized settlement, illegal logging and the presence of the nearby Northern Interoceanic Highway. The project will also serve as an input to the development of a national Peruvian strategy on reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).

In search of rainforests’ El Dorado
By Andrew Mitchell, BBC News: The Green Room.
Andrew Mitchell is director of the Global Canopy Programme.

It seems to me that a new way of looking at the Amazon is to consider it as a locally owned “eco-utility”, which is providing ecosystem services across regional and global distances that currently no-one pays for.

It is likely that these services are potentially worth a great deal to those who deliver them and to businesses whose prosperity depends on them.

A 10% fall in rainfall over time – less than some conservative predictions – could deliver a 40% drop in river flow, for example.

Perversely, beneficiaries such as Brazilian beef and soy farmers are at the same time potentially undermining their future success. through their expansion into the forest.

An international bank investing in agriculture and hydropower in the region might legitimately ask if the former investment is, in fact, weakening the latter.

Could the beneficiaries therefore be persuaded to pay a tax to maintain the services?

Doing so might make the Amazon worth more standing up than cut down. This would help sustain global food and energy security, worth billions to national economies.

29 April 2009
Economic woes may damage moves to slow deforestation
By Niluksi Koswanage and Aloysius Bhui, Reuters.
Reuters calculates that countries could be paid $2,077.50 per hectare under REDD, but companies can earn $4,826.11 per hectare growing oil palm.

“REDD has no chance. Malaysian palm oil yields are high and better estate management is key,” said an official with a listed Malaysian planter with holdings in Indonesia as well as Malaysia, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“Even in Indonesia, which many thought would revert back to keeping forests, yields are going up and above the usual 3-4 tonnes because Malaysians are buying up these estates and Indonesian companies are developing very fast,” he said.

Forestry offsets head back to the future
By Lisa Ashford,
Lisa Ashford is global head of voluntary and new markets at EcoSecurities. Not surprisingly, the article does not mention the words “pollution” or “loophole“.

Curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and is vital if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Maybe that’s why more and more companies are looking to incorporate forestry projects into their carbon-neutral programmes to show leadership and promote innovation.

30 April 2009
Recognizing People as Well as Forest Carbon
By Chrissy Schwinn, Cool Green Science.
Post on The Nature Conservancy’s blog based on a press conference held by TNC during the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change. The post notes Indigenous Peoples’ concern about carbon markets (but does not mention that Indigenous People rejected carbon trading in their Declaration from the Global Summit). TNC claims that in any case the concerns don’t apply to the Noel Kempff project in Bolivia.

[O]ne of the Conservancy’s most successful forest carbon projects — the Noel Kempff Climate Action Project — addressed rights for indigenous communities and has helped identify what needs to be done for REDD to work.

In setting up the project, the Conservancy worked with seven indigenous communities around Noel Kempff and the Bolivian government to have the land declared as traditional indigenous lands, providing the communities for the first time with full legal rights to the land. Securing “land tenure” may be the single most important piece to giving indigenous communities a voice in the decision-making process. At the same time, the Conservancy helped the community create a sustainable development plan that would guard against land degradation.

2 May 2009
The guilty secrets of palm oil: Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests?
By Martin Hickman, The Independent.
Article about the impacts of oil palm plantations, mentions REDD in passing. (Another article by the same journalist notes that palm oil is used in five of Prince Charles’ Duchy Originals organic products: “Prince Charles, who is touring the world campaigning to save the rainforests, is selling products containing an ingredient blamed for wrecking them.”)

The wealthy Western countries who have already felled their own forests (woods once covered Britain from Cornwall to Caithness) may have to pay more and more to protect those that remain in other parts of the world. At the Copenhagen summit in December, Britain and other countries will press for REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation) – essentially a scheme for funding jungles in developing countries.

3 May 2009
Should Trees Be Industry’s Best Friends in a New Climate Change Regime?
By Scott Deatherage, The New Carbon Cycle.
Post by a partner in the Environmental Law Practice Group at law firm Thompson & Knight in favour of forest offsets.

Though the real game right now for REDD and reforestation projects lies with the VCS and voluntary carbon credits, it appears fairly clear that forest carbon projects will play a role and be large part of future US federal legislation and already has been accepted as an offset mechanisms in the California climate change regulatory system and will likely be part of the three multi-state climate change regulatory programs that are evolving and will go into effect even if Congress does not act to pass climate change legislation. The discussions at the international level appear to be moving toward accepting forest-based offset credits.

The greenhouse gas emissions from forest destruction are so massive, that we cannot avoid taking on the need to reduce this destruction dramatically. More and more major greenhouse gas emitters in the United States are beginning to review this opportunity and to look at investing in project-based REDD opportunities. The thinking is that investment in a project or entering into emission reduction purchase agreements that allow a company to have a right to purchase REDD credits once approved and verified, provides a good hedging mechanism for future offset prices. More and more of our clients are looking at both domestic and international forest carbon projects either as project developers or as investors to ensure that they take advantage of the opportunities that forest carbon projects provide. Ironically, utilities and oil and gas companies may find that trees are truly their best friends when it comes to addressing the first few years of a cap and trade system in the United States.

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