If you read nothing else this week, read these three articles: MPs propose carbon tax; Finnish research shows a flaw in climate models; and City Dwellers Drive Deforestation in 21st Century. Where does this leave REDD? Carbon markets fail to deliver green investment; emissions from soils in a warmer climate will be way higher than previously thought; and new research indicates that urban consumption is driving deforestation (not the rural poor).
Here is this week’s round up of the last seven days’ news on REDD, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). For those who can’t wait until Monday for last week’s REDD news, REDD-Monitor’s news page is updated daily: “REDD in the news“.
REDD-net.org, February 2010 | Thousands came together in “Hopenhagen” from 7-18 December 2009 for what was the most covered and talked about of any United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) to date. Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD-plus) was one of few issues on which progress was made. However, implications of the wider negotiations for REDD-plus are not yet clear. In this summary Allison Bleaney, Leo Peskett and David Mwayafu consider the outcome of the COP15 negotiations, focusing on the status of REDD-plus and provisions in the current draft REDD-plus text for some of the conditions necessary to implement REDD-plus policies and programmes effectively on the ground. [R-M: The report can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/cUDVTR]
pactworld.org | Watch this video to learn about the unique and pioneering Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project in Cambodia, which links 13 community forestry groups in the province of Oddar Meanchey with the international voluntary carbon market. This project will lead to long-term protection of forest resources, improved livelihoods for forest-dependent communities, and effective sequestering of forest carbon to reduce global warming.
International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, February 2010 | Call for papers For a special section of a leading international journal in environmental science and policy Edited by Esteve Corbera (University of East Anglia), Heike Schroeder (University of Oxford) and Oliver Springate-Baginski (University of East Anglia) Supported by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests and the Earth System Governance Project.
GHG Emissions Trading, Environmental Intermediaries & Trading Group Limited, 8 February 2010 | REDD its impact on future Forest AAU prices: The acceptance of REDD will offer the benefit of potential access to the EUETS for NZ forest credits which may be good for maximising the price. Not so good is the expected flood of REDD credits into the market. So whilst countries are setting ambitious post 2012 targets of up to 1990 minus 30% in some cases, they are also insuring large scale supplies of cheap credits to take up the difference between their emissions and their cap.
8 February 2010
By Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 8 February 2010 | The European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) is failing to deliver vital green investment after a collapse in carbon prices, MPs warn in a report out today. The environmental audit committee is calling on the government to introduce measures such as a new carbon tax to push the price of carbon from its level of €15 (£13) a tonne to what the MPs see as a more credible price of €100. Tim Yeo, chairman of the committee, said: “Emissions trading should be helping us to combat climate change, but at the moment the price of carbon simply isn’t high enough to make it work. The recession has left many big firms with more carbon allowances than they need and carbon prices have collapsed. “If the government wants to kick-start serious green investment, it must step in to stop the price of carbon flatlining,” the MP added.
AFP, 8 February 2010 | The biggest causes of deforestation in tropical countries are population growth in cities and agricultural exports, a finding that should shape decisions on preventing forest loss, experts said Sunday. Under December’s Copenhagen Accord, rich countries are pledging some $10 billion over the next three years to help poor countries tackle climate change. A big but so far unspecified chunk of the cash will go on programs to prevent loss of tropical forests, which is a major source of greenhouse gases. Beyond 2012, tens of billions of dollars per year could be primed if a planned UN pact on curbing climate change comes to fruition. But environmental scientists publishing in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday cautioned against a rush to favor schemes that are unlikely to work.
By David Biello, Scientific American, 8 February 2010 | Instead of the typical “fish bone” signature of deforestation from small-scale operations, large, chunky blocks of cleared land reveal a changing driver for cutting down woods: large enterprises feeding urban demand, according to a new paper published in Nature Geoscience . . . . “There’s no surprise there,” observes Scott Poynton, executive director of the Tropical Forest Trust, . . . “It’s not about poor people chopping down trees. It’s all the people in New York, Europe and elsewhere who want cheap products, primarily food.” . . . “If policies [like REDD] are to be effective, we need to understand what the driving forces are behind deforestation,” DeFries argues, and there are some new pressures looming. “Competing land uses for other products such as biofuels will exacerbate these pressures on tropical forests,” the researchers wrote.
By Ben Block, WorldWatch, 8 February 2010 | While support for the policy has grown, considerable progress is still necessary before multinational organizations, national governments, and local authorities are ready to administer REDD programs, analysts said. Without proper reforms, the program threatens to increase human rights violations, land conflicts, and forest-sector corruption, and REDD’s ability to reduce emissions would be in doubt. “If significant payments were to flow today, REDD programs would be challenged to meet the tests of effectiveness in reducing emissions, efficiency in channeling funds, and equity in distribution,” said Frances Seymour, director general of the Indonesia-based Centre for International Forestry Research.
Finnish Environment Institute, press release, 8 February 2010 | The climatic warming will increase the carbon dioxide emissions from soil more than previously estimated. . . . The sensitivity of the soil carbon storage to climatic warming will endanger the carbon sink capacity of forests in the future. . . . According to the results, the climatic warming will inevitably lead to smaller carbon storage in soil and to higher carbon dioxide emissions from forests.
Rainforest Alliance, 8 February 2010 | ast week the Ecosystem Marketplace (a leading source of news, data, and analytics on markets and payments for ecosystem services) released a seminal report entitled “State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2009: Taking Root & Branching Out.” Based on the input of over 100 actors in the forest carbon market and representing 226 projects in 40 different countries, the report provides an overview of the growing forest carbon marketplace, assesses the progress made in forest carbon markets in 2009 and provides historical background on activity in the forest carbon markets over the past decade. [R-M: The report is available here: http://bit.ly/dhTxgk]
9 February 2010
By Hana Miller, The Jakarta Post, 9 February 2010 | While the investment by such a large international firm bodes well for the project’s apparent financial viability, the project in Ulu Masen has raised one of the main concerns with REDD and the cap and trade system in general: that of “carbon leakage”, or an increase in emissions or deforestation in one area as a result of a decrease in another, effectively moving the problem rather than solving it. According to landscape ecologist Dr. David Gaveau, “There is a contradiction between the establishment of the prominent Ulu Masen REDD project and the continuing expansion of roads and industrial oil palm plantations in the region. As such, one can question whether REDD in its present form will be able save northern Sumatra’s endangered lowland rainforests from logging and conversion to oil palm plantations, as the risk of leakage will be high.”
Government of Nepal, mofsc-redd.gov.np, 9 February 2010 | REDD-Forestry and Climate Change Cell is organizing REDD orientation workshops in all five development regions along with the annual planning workshop organised by the Regional Directorate of Forests (RDF). The participants include Regional Director, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, District Forest Officers, District Soil Conservation Officers, Chief Wardens, District Plant Resource Officers, and Regional Training Officer of respective . Please see schedule of the workshop on recent events.
By Martin Hickman, The Indenpendent, 9 February 2010 | Hundreds of millions of tonnes of palm oil look set to be pumped into Britain’s vehicles despite scientific evidence showing that chopping down rainforests to make way for plantations exacerbates climate change, according to a leaked report. The European Commission is planning to increase the amount of palm oil used in cars and power stations under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which is intended to reduce greenhouse gases, suggests the document. A loophole in the draft communication from Brussels on implementation of the directive would allow almost all palm oil currently produced to be used in vehicles on British roads.
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 9 February 2010 | The government on Monday defended its ambitious plan to plant 1 billion trees this year to check carbon emissions, saying the program would comply with international standards in which all trees must be verified on the ground. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said his office would allocate 500,000 hectares of land to plant about 500 million trees using the state budget. Each hectare will be planted with 100 trees. “The remaining target will be shared between members of the industrial forest concessions [HTI]. But all the planted trees must be measured, reported and verified [MRV],” he told reporters on Monday.
By Yasmine Ryan, takepart.com, 9 February 2010 | Yet much of the world’s forests are home to tribal peoples, and there are concerns that the billions of dollars likely to circuit if REDD becomes a major component of any climate regime, will bring them massive disruption and little benefit. “The fundamental concept that is underpinning the whole thing is antipathetic to indigenous people,” said Jonathan Mazower, Media Director of Survival International, a worldwide organization that advocates for the rights of tribal peoples. “Where outsiders place monetary value on land where indigenous people live, the indigenous people always almost suffer,” Mr. Mazower said. Tribal peoples, many of whom have lived through notoriously destructive quests for rubber, oil or mineral wealth in the past, are hardly likely to be thrilled that a huge price tag may soon be placed on the carbon stored by the trees that surround them.
10 February 2010
Guyana Chronicle, 10 February 2010 | The first tranche of funds under the Guyana-Norway Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of US$30M which is expected this year will be used to finance critical transformative infrastructure, low-carbon small business initiatives, land demarcation and land titling for indigenous communities, and the work of the Office of Climate Change. This was revealed by Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, when he presented the 2010 National Budget on Monday.
Guyana Chronicle, 10 February 2010 | Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud is currently attending a meeting in California, in the United States to discuss how Geographical Information Systems can be used as a tool to support the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV). Minister Persaud will deliver an address to the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), and is to have follow up discussions on formulating a plan for implementing ESRI software and training for the University of Guyana, Guyana Forestry Commission, Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, New Guyana Marketing Corporation, and the Office of Climate Change, among others. ESRI is the world’s leading GIS software company which has been developing GIS software and knowledge for 40 years with the mission to support users in the successful implementation of GIS.
By Sunanda Creagh, Reuters, 10 February 2010 | Indonesia’s forestry minister on Wednesday said he had revoked the land use permits for 23 mining and other firms operating in forested areas and may crack down further, indicating a tougher stance on environmental protection. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, 48, also told Reuters in an interview there were no plans to allow geothermal projects in protected forest areas, contradicting recent comments by other government officials on a key energy policy.
Carbon Finance, 10 February 2010 | [A]nalysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that the pledges would deliver only half of the emissions reductions against business-as-usual required to give the world a fighting chance of avoiding temperature rises above 2°C. And carbon market participants warn that the continuing lack of a roadmap to forge a legally binding climate agreement jeopardises the establishment of a global carbon market. . . . “Somewhere in a cupboard at the UNFCCC is a REDD paper that the private sector thinks is ok,” said Christian del Valle, director of environmental markets at BNP Paribas in London. The accord does, however, call for the “immediate establishment” of a REDD+ mechanism, which del Valle thinks will lead to “a lot of closed-door negotiations” in the coming months.
By Martin Khor, South Centre, 10 February 2010 | The UNFCCC Copenhagen Conference in December 2009 ended in some disarray and confusion because of a clash between two processes taking place. On one hand there was the open, transparent and multilateral process of the UNFCCC and its two working groups on long-term cooperative action (LCA) and further action in the Kyoto Protocol (KP). . . . On the other hand there was the two-day meeting, on the sideline, and held in secrecy, of 26 or 29 (no public information is available) political leaders convened by the Danish Presidency of the Conference without the knowledge of the other member states . . . The main lesson of Copenhagen is that hiving off some countries into a separate track with a separate document is not the right way to conduct global climate negotiations. The way forward is to return to the multilateral forum, where the complex issues have to be sorted out into a final conclusion.
11 February 2010
By Sara Schonhardt, Eco Business, 11 February 2010 | Indonesia offers lots of opportunities at the sub-national level, said Fitrian Ardiansyah, the programme director for climate and energy at World Wildlife Fund Indonesia. He was referring to projects in Borneo and Sumatra that have shown initial signs of success. Last month, Australia agreed to provide $26 million in grants to the provincial administration in Jambi, Sumatra, to develop begin calculating the amount of carbon stored in the surrounding forests. Several Indonesian companies have also begun selling carbon credits in the hope that even if REDD is not put into force they will be able to trade the forest offsets on the voluntary market. Many local leaders are eager to learn more about how they can develop their own REDD schemes, but they need education and training. Many of them say they are confused by talk of mitigation and adaptation, and the big question is still how much money they can get, said Mr Ardiansyah.
Stabroek News, 11 February 2010 | The LCDS has earned a separate section in the 2010 budget speech. The Minister announced the development of a new model of low carbon economic development, consistent with the national policy to avoid deforestation. . . . LCDS has a short but interesting history. . . . The President then considered, based on a study by McKinsey, consultants, two options – the first, logging and mining followed by forest clearance and replacement by agricultural plantation crops; and the other, foregoing this option in exchange for an annual annuity of US$580 million, computed on a remarkably optimistic 10 per cent annuity on the capitalised value of the exploitation and cropping. This was soon put in the first draft of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), at the centre of which was significantly reduced forestry activity, and a sketchy spending plan for some of the projects developed in the National Competitiveness Strategy.
By Servaas van den Bosch, IPS, 11 February 2010 | Countries are quietly signing up to the Copenhagen Accord, but commitments on emissions cuts and funding remain unclear. . . . At least half of the African governments that have signed on have high forest cover or significant reforestation potential, and their vote might be inspired by the wish to see a deal on REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) materialise sooner rather than later. . . . Several others, like the Republic of Congo and Madagascar, make any actions conditional on a REDD-deal. Others reserve the right to continue their chosen high carbon development paths. “Botswana is and will continue to be a carbon intensive economy – mainly coal-based,” notes the country’s U.N. ambassador in his letter.
12 February 2010
By Gaulbert Sutherland, Stabroek News, 12 February 2010 | While miners will still have to give notice of their intention to mine, they will be given an initial three hectares where they can begin operations before permission is granted for them to work other areas. . . . In his address to the gathering, Jagdeo reminded that he has always said that it is not the intention of the government to stop mining and there would be changes but in consultation with miners. . . . He said that over the next five years Guyana will get US$50M from Norway and this is twice as much as the country earns from the entire gold production in the country in terms of tax revenue. He said that the administration has decided that Guyana will keep deforestation at minimum historic levels so this allows Guyana enough space not just to continue mining but to expand mining.
13 February 2010
By Mohammed Abdul Baten, The Daily Star, 13 February 2010 | Considering the overwhelming dependency on forest recently REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) has been proposed where incentive will be provided to conserve existing forest. Undoubtedly, it is an opportunity for forest poor countries like Bangladesh; where many indigenous and local people directly rely on surrounding forests for their livelihood. The million dollar question, albeit, is how to manage the existing forest in a sustainable way. Village Common Forest (VCF), solely managed by the indigenous communities in CHTs, would be an influential model in this regard.
14 February 2010
By Janette Bulkan, letter to the Editor, Stabroek News, 14 February 2010 | In your report ‘Three hectares proposal eases mining fears’ (SN, February 12), you quote or re-state two sentences from the President’s address to miners at the Liliendaal International Convention Centre on February 11 where the reasoning does not seem to accord with the MoU which the President signed just three months ago. “He [the President] said that the administration has decided that Guyana will keep deforestation at minimum historic levels so this allows Guyana enough space not just to continue mining but to expand mining.” The minimum historic level is of course zero, because at the time of first European contact the Amerindian style of land use did not cause deforestation, in the current sense of permanent change in land cover.
By Clive Thomas, Stabroek News, 14 February 2010 | Specifically, the LCDS is situated at the front and centre of this contradiction. First, it sees Guyana’s pristine forests as part of the contribution tropical forests can make to solving the problems of climate change and global warming. As the LCDS indicates, typically tropical deforestation occurs because it is profitable to cut down trees and this action releases carbon to the atmosphere. In Guyana this occurs mainly because of logging and mining. Human settlement and its essential requirements (housing, recreation, transport, fuel, etc) also play a role. The basic idea, however, is that since forests contribute to environmental/atmospheric stability, they will be voluntarily reduced in exchange for compensatory forest carbon payments. In Guyana’s case this would be based on “avoided deforestation,” that is, keeping the forests standing.