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REDD in the news: 29 June – 5 July 2009

REDD in the newsThe World Bank approves R-Plans for Guyana and Panama. The Clinton Foundation’s Jan Hartke visits Guyana and gushes about President Jagdeo’s climate plans. The Guyana Human Rights Association is a lot more concerned. Guyana’s Amerindians demand meaningful consultation.

PNG’s director of the Office of Climate Change, Theo Yasause, is suspended. Cambodia signs an agreement for a REDD project. The Economist looks at Ecuador’s plans for Yasuní National Park. India wants conservation, afforestation and sustainable forest management to be included in REDD. Brazil opposes carbon markets for preventing deforestation. Brazil and India want historical emissions to be taken into account in Copenhagen.

John O. Niles of the Tropical Forest Group writes on forests, conservation and REDD on Mongabay. UNFCCC Secretariat adds a list of documents relevant to REDD to its website. A critical review of the film, The Burning Season, on Green Left Review.

29 June 2009
FCPF approves R-Plans for Guyana and Panama
Bank Information Center.
Bank Information Center reports from the third meeting of the Participants Committee (PC) of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), held in Montreaux Switzerland 15-18 June 2009.

With regard to the three countries, while there was significant debate within the PC around weaknesses in all three R-plans, the political pressure to move the process forward won the day, with approval of the Guyana and Panama plans, and approval pending for Indonesia.

A New Idea to Save Tropical Forests Takes Flight
John O. Niles,
John O. Niles is the Director of the Tropical Forest Group. Among other things Niles has worked as a consultant to The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense, and Conservation International. Here he explains how he got involved in rainforest conservation and why he’s optimistic about REDD.

REDD is also an incredibly risky gamble. The whole plan relies on resolving gaping problems in forest tenure and governance, technological capacities, and regulatory oversight. In many countries it is not obvious who has rights over a forest. And nowhere in the world are there clear answers to the trickier question of who has rights to the carbon stored in the trees. Another key challenge is the need for a new, uniform way of “interlocking” satellite data with tree measurements taken from forests around the world. We can tell reasonably well from space where and when forests are cleared. Not so well understood is how much carbon is stored in a particular forest and how much is oxidized upon deforestation. In addition to issues of rights and technologies, new global institutions are needed to make this REDD plan work. And even with all these pieces in place, REDD assumes that appropriate price signals for saving trees will make a real difference on the ground in forest communities. This is a huge leap of faith, given that many developing countries currently deforesting have only loose control over vast areas of their land. There are also huge political differences about the ideal way to design a new REDD system of forest conservation payments.
What is amazing is that, despite these challenges, some of the brightest conservation minds on the planet, and most governments, now believe that this so-called REDD plan is the best shot for saving millions of acres of tropical forests.

30 June 2009
UNFCCC Secretariat Publishes Quick Guide to REDD
The UNFCCC Secretariat has added a useful webpage to its REDD web platform website on REDD.

The webpage includes a list of UNFCCC sessions relevant to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) and associated meeting documents and links. The events are listed in a table and organized chronologically. The table uses the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC held in Montreal, Canada, in 2005, as its starting point, given that the REDD agenda item was first introduced then.

India negotiating emission targets and not UN’s Framework Convention: Jairam Ramesh
Government of India, Press Information Bureau.
Press release based on a media briefing about India’s approach to Climate Change by India’s Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Shri Jairam Ramesh. “India has no role in building Green House Gases (GHGs). Clearing the misconception about (GHG) emissions, Mr. Ramesh said that India is the third largest country in GHG emission volume after the US and China but the climate change is a result of the cumulative impact of GHG in the planetary atmosphere,” Ramesh said.

He also explained that India wants a comprehensive approach to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) and advocates REDD that includes conservation, afforestation and sustainable management of forests.

President Jagdeo’s leadership on climate change inspiring
Guyana Chronicle.
Clinton Foundation consultant, Jan Hartke, visited Guyana and gushed about President Bharrat Jagdeo’s climate change plans.

“The world is looking for a great example somewhere and wonderfully enough, President Jagdeo’s leadership has quite honestly inspired people around the world, and you really need leadership on something like this if we are able to get progress in Copenhagen. He will be able to show how other countries can follow the emergent Guyana model,” Hartke stated.
[ . . . ]
Hartke also noted that the Clinton Foundation is looking to work with Government on a variety of things that they have in common.

GHRA to write to DPP over sexual violence cases
Stabroek News.
REDD was one of the issues discussed by the Guyana Human Rights Association at its Executive Committee meeting in June 2009.

Following reports from members of the Executive who have attended REDD consultations and other meetings, some concerns were also expressed. These include a lack of clarity over the conditions or standards required to secure Norwegian support for a REDD programme. It was noted that of the 144 REDD initiatives being developed in various countries, only one country’s submission—Tuvalu–to the UN Frame-work Convention for Climate Change has made community-managed forests, that is indigenous rights, a binding part of the REDD agreement. There is also scepticism over governmental assurances, particularly in the light of current practices in mining prompted by the concessions of over 70 claims in the Rewa river and the appearance in recent months of six missile dredges–owned by one Brazilian–in the Barama River area of Region One, along with two Guyanese-owned dredges. There is also uncertainty over the implications of the concept that the REDD is a ‘developmental’ not an ‘environmental’ initiative, the GHRA said.
Furthermore, it pointed out that a recent international review of Guyana identified human rights infractions, lack of land tenure, lack of free prior and informed consent, weak enforcement of existing environmental laws and minimal risk analysis with regard to mining and infrastructural development as potential obstacles to wholeheartedly embracing the REDD as a development blueprint for Guyana. As a result, the GHRA Executive Committee agreed to be guided in its approach to REDD by Clause 6 of the Anchorage Declara-tion of the Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change, signed on April 14th 2009, which places emphasis on the rights of indigenous peoples.

1 July 2009

PNG climate office director suspended
Ilya Gridneff, 9 News.
Theo Yasause, director of Papua New Guinea’s Office of Climate Change has been suspended “after a series of media reports highlighted anomalies with the OCC issuing multi-million dollar carbon trading deals without any policy or legislation in place.” Yasuase denies any wrong-doing.

When AAP [Australia Associated Press] asked Yasause about the deals at a news conference in Port Moresby on June 15 he said even though the leaked documents appear to carry his signature, the OCC’s official seal and another colleague’s signature, they did not represent real deals.
“It’s not a false document but a sample,” he said.
Asked why he would make sample documents, he said: “We want to see what it looked like.”

Weekly CDM and VER market summary – 22-28 June 2009
By MF Global Staff, Business Green.
A summary of carbon trading activity which includes the sub-heading “Cambodia agrees to forestry projects”.

Cambodia has signed an agreement to develop REDD projects protecting 60,000 hectares while rewarding local communities. In 1994 the country emitted 12.76 million tonnes of CO2 but due to carbon storage was a negative emitter. Cambodia is eyeing future inclusion of REDD in a post 2012 Kyoto agreement but for now will operate in the voluntary market with three projects currently seeking methodology approval under VCS.

Guyana and Panama’s forest plans approved
COP 15, Copenhagen.
On its website about COP 15, Denmark’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs seems to have decided what form REDD will take – or at least what the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility is all about:

Thus, the readiness plans will form a basis for UN-backed carbon credits for developed nations that finance forest conservation in developing nations under a future REDD scheme. Much similar to the present UN-backed Clean Development Mechanism which allow countries to obtain carbon credits by supporting third world mitigation projects.

Amerindian leaders say must not be pressured on low carbon
Stabroek News.
Article based on a statement from a three-day workshop organised by the Amerindian Peoples Association about Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

According to the statement, after initial examination of the government’s draft LCDS and draft REDD plans, and following lengthy discussions over three days, several positions were reached. They called on the government, international agencies and donors to ensure that all public consultations meet international standards and good practice principles in order to ensure that indigenous peoples’ concerns, priorities and proposals are fully incorporated in national forest and climate policies and low carbon initiatives. “In particular, our peoples through their own representative institutions must be given adequate time for collective decision making and space to reach internal agreements on our responses to the government’s plans. We must not be pressured to make early decisions without full understanding of the implications of these policies for our forests, lands and livelihoods”, the statement said.

2 July 2009
REDD readiness plans for Panama, Guyana approved but rejected for Indonesia
Mongabay fails to raise questions about the World Bank’s approval of readiness plans for Panama and Guyana, despite the fact the Bank ignored the advice of its Technical Advisory Panel to do so.

Plans by Guyana, Panama and Indonesia were presented to the FCPF’s Technical Advisory Panel earlier this year but all three were found to be incomplete in their analysis of the drivers of deforestation. After modification, the plans by Guyana and Panama were approved, while Indonesia’s plan was sent back for revision.

Brazil wants C02 cuts based on historic emissions
Brian Ellsworth, Reuters.
Article based on an interview with Jose Miguez, the head of Brazil’s Interministerial Commission on Global Climate Change. “We are proposing that the second period of (Kyoto Protocol) commitments be based on the historic responsibilities of each country,” Miquez said.

“Our position is that we’re opposed to carbon markets for preventing deforestation,” he said. “People confuse this by saying we want to continue deforestation, which is false.”
He said REDD projects would also assign higher land values to states where the Amazon is being used for cattle farming or soy cultivation, he said, effectively rewarding Brazilian state governments that have done the least to protect forests.
REDD projects should be done without tradable carbon emissions through direct financing mechanisms, he said, such as the Amazon fund Brazil created last year that has already received a $1 billion donation from Norway.

Trees or Oil
The Economist.
Article about Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa and his plans not to extract oil from the Yasuní National Park.

It now centres on issuing bonds for the value of the carbon emissions avoided by not burning the oil and by preserving the forest. These would be worth up to $5.2 billion at the current carbon price in the European emissions’ market. The money would be lodged in a trust fund managed by international bodies such as the Inter-American Development Bank, and spent on alternative-energy projects in Ecuador. Bondholders would have a say in how the money is spent.
Last year Germany agreed to give €300,000 ($425,000) for feasibility studies, and last month reiterated its support. The scheme will go ahead once the first $350m is raised, says Roque Sevilla, a former mayor of Quito who is promoting it. The hope is that most of this money will come from European governments. If a future government in Ecuador opted to exploit the oil, it would have to repay the bondholders with interest, says Francisco Carrión, a former foreign minister who is another of the promoters.

4 July 2009
Can carbon trading save our forests?
By Susan Austin, Green Left Review.
A critical review of the film Burning Season, about the Ulu Masen project in Indonesia. Austin describes the film as a “well-orchestrated promotion for a carbon trading company”, called Carbon Conservation. A longer version of Austin’s review is available here.

By making a one-sided film on such a controversial issue, the film-makers have attempted to hide the debate, and instead try to convince us that a simplistic solution is possible — pay the locals to protect rather than log their forests.


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