Here’s the round up of the news on REDD from last week, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). For those who can’t wait until Monday for their REDD news, REDD-Monitor’s news page is updated daily: REDD in the news.
UNFCCC Newsletter, May 2010 | A multi-billion-dollar scheme to reduce climate-changing emissions from deforestation, an initiative announced by several Parties on the margins of COP15, was given further impetus at a meeting held on March 11 in Paris involving representatives of 60 countries. The purpose of the one-day meeting was to flesh out the initiative, whereby six developed countries – Australia, Britain, France, Japan, Norway and the USA – pledged a total of USD 3.5 billion from 2010 to 2012… The Paris talks were the first step towards deciding how to deliver the support, which could focus on readiness and capacity-building. Questions remain on how to enforce transparency, help indigenous forest dwellers and battle corruption. The next meeting will take place in Oslo on 27 May.
Carbon Watch, May 2010 | CARBON WATCH: What do you say to those students with respect to forests, where you’re using forests to offset emissions because it’s so much cheaper than building renewable energy alternatives on a major scale? MICHAEL G. MORRIS: My answer to that would be “You bet!” Because that’s what I’m required to do in the 11 states where I do business. I’m required to [provide energy] as cost effectively as I can. We’re doing renewables. We’re doing wind. We’re doing sun. We’re doing all of those things. We’ve been in the hydro business for 102 years. We’re a nuclear-power producer. But we’re doing this in the most cost-effective way we can. I think it’s incumbent upon us to do that, to protect our customers. So, in fact, I think that question was asked, and I said just that: “You bet I am.”
By James Clarke and Jeff Haskins, CIFOR, May 2010 | Owners of larger tracts of land, thought to be responsible for 80 per cent of current deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, would benefit most financially if direct payments are used to curb climate emissions from forests, according to a new study by researchers with CIFOR (the Center for International Forestry Research) and their partners. ‘When four-fifths of a major environmental problem is caused by large landholders, then any solution will have to provide some compensation to this group for their losses,’ says Sven Wunder, CIFOR scientist and co-author of ‘Direct conservation payments in the Brazilian Amazon: scope and equity implications’. ‘And if that achieves the desired emission reductions, perhaps this is a necessary evil.’
APTN National News, May 2010 | [R-M: news piece posted on YouTube about the deal between loggers and environmental groups in Canada. Includes an interview with Clayton George Thomas-Muller from the Indigenous Environmental Network, explaining why he is critical of the deal.]
GTZ, May 2010 | With the Forest and Climate Change Programme (FORCLIME), Germany supports Indonesia’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the forestry sector, to conserve forest biodiversity within the regional Heart of Borneo Initiative and to implement sustainable forest management for the benefit of the people. Germany’s immediate action will focus on helping Indonesia to get ready for the implementation of a future REDD mechanism (“readiness process”).
oneworld.net, May 2010 | Until former president Ravalomanana was deposed in a coup in March 2009, the country appeared to be making reasonable progress in tackling deforestation. His government had set in motion a range of pilot projects and institutional capacity building consistent with international proposals for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)… olitical instability under the current leadership of Andry Rajoelina has triggered devastating setbacks for the cause of sustainable forest management. In search of foreign currency, the interim government suspended the export ban on timber products. The consequence was an anarchic assault on precious ebony and rosewood resources to meet demand from China, at one point valued at almost $0.5 million per day.
By Lucas Liganga, The Citizen, May 2010 | Tanzania’s entire forest cover will disappear in about 10 to 16 decades if the current high level of deforestation is not checked, a new survey warns. While the survey by Conservation International, a non-profit organisation with its headquarters in Washington, DC, United States, has revealed that 2,300 square kilometres of forests is being destroyed yearly, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has put the annual deforestation rate at whopping 4,200 square kilometres.
17 May 2010
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 17 May 2010 | The government is upbeat it can reach its target to slice carbon emissions from forests after Norway pledged US$1 billion in grants to help Indonesia reduce forest degradation. The financial pledge on climate change was made during a meeting between senior officials from the two countries in Oslo, last week. “The cooperation convinces us that there will be international funding if we reduce emissions from forest and peatland areas,” the special assistant to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on climate change issues, Agus Purnomo, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
By Adi Warsidi, tempointeractive.com, 17 May 2010 | A number of state representatives are attending the Governors’ Climate and Forest Taskforce 2010 meeting held at the Hermes Palace Hotel, Banda Aceh, today. GCF Taskforce 2010 steering committee member, Husaini Samaun said the event will last until May 21. “Representatives from member countries as well as observer countries have come to Aceh to attend the event,” he said.
vhrmedia.com, 17 May 2010 | Governors’ Climate and Forest (GCF) Summit is started Monday (5/17). This 3 days meeting will discuss about the right of indigenous people on forest. This issue is rarely talked by the government on many environment and climate change forum. On this meeting, governors from several countries will discuss about regulation on forest management and climate change. The Governor of California Arnold Scharzenegger cancelled his present on this meeting. “We have not got concrete solution on previous meeting. Here, in Aceh, we try to find the solution,” the Governor of Aceh Irwandi Yusuf said, Monday (5/17). Significant problems will be discussed on this meeting, such as the right of indigenous people on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). This forum will also discuss about how to calculate the carbon stock and its implementation on REDD.
By John O-Niles, Tropical Forest Group, 17 May 2010 | GCF members and stakeholders have started to gather under the mountains of the Ulu Masen forests (pictured above), with prayer calls about and a gaggle of good people working at the nexus between federal and project REDD carbon accounting. Tomorrow formal talks begin on three working groups: one on project based accounting, another on nesting and state systems, and a third of needs and funding of/for GCF members. Stay tuned here for updates.
By Timothy Gardner, Reuters, 17 May 2010 | The climate bill unveiled in the U.S. Senate last week cuts funds to projects protecting tropical forests that also are inexpensive ways to reduce global pollution and keep U.S. power bills affordable, environmentalists and electric utilities said on Monday. “Unfortunately the Kerry-Lieberman bill … cuts the heart out of some of the most positive features of the bill that passed the House,” said Douglas Boucher, the chairman of the Tropical Forest and Climate Coalition, which consists of environmental groups, power utilities and other companies. The bill unveiled by Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman last week faces an uphill battle even though it contains sweeteners for the energy industry like incentives for nuclear power and offshore oil drilling.
By Florence Daviet, World Resources Institute, 17 May 2010 | An update on the role of forests and REDD in the international climate negotiations… The question of whether and how countries receiving financing for REDD+ activities will be held accountable for the safeguards is still unknown. Making sure these safeguards are “measurable, reportable and verifiable” (“MRV” – UN negotiations language that encourages accountability) is essential moving forward… A final unresolved issue is at what geographic scale REDD+ activities will be recognized. Most, if not all, negotiators seem to agree that ultimately REDD+ activities should occur at the national level to ensure that significant drivers of deforestation are being addressed and that efforts can be tracked in complete way.
By Nikhil Aziz, Grassroots International, 17 May 2010 | REDD is essentially a market-based “solution” that fits within the larger scheme of carbon markets and offsets being pushed by the United States, the European Union, the World Bank, and many countries around the world; and especially corporations who are its largest beneficiaries. Opponents question REDD on numerous grounds, from the fundamentally flawed nature of the model that allows polluters to keep polluting to the dangers of indigenous people and other forest-dwelling and dependent communities losing control of their resources and livelihoods. Bolivia’s official position thus far had been to engage with REDD. In fact, the government has undertaken one of the world’s first pilot projects funded by the World Bank. A 2009 report by Greenpeace International, shows how this project, touted as the poster child for REDD, is actually a scam.
By Ben Caldecott, Guardian, 17 May 2010 | Ensuring that nature is worth more to us alive than dead is a simple idea. It is also one the new UK government has promised to deliver. As the Conservative party put it in their election manifesto, they pledged to “pioneer a new system of conservation credits to protect habitats”. If the detail of this idea is successfully rendered, this could transform the way we value the natural world and finance its protection… In addition to property developers, companies that degrade ecosystem services, such as the provision of clean water and air, could be obligated to purchase conservation credits. This would include a wide variety of different sectors, from soft drink companies to manufacturers. Governments should also participate to offset any damage they might cause.
18 May 2010
By Hotli Simanjuntak, Jakarta Post, 18 May 2010 | The five-day Governors’ Climate and Forest (GCF) forum opened in Banda Aceh on Monday to discuss and formulate a number of policies to fight for the rights of local people to maintain their own forests and profit from carbon trade… Deputy secretary for climate change and energy at the California Natural Resources Agency, Anthony Brunello, who represents California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, said that the GCF Taskforce Meeting 2010 was expected to produce standards and criteria that would be beneficial for local people… He said it was important for Californians to know about developments in the governors’ meeting. He said his country had been running a program and developing various infrastructures to reduce carbon emissions. This was one reason, he said, why the US considered the forum an important part of their carbon trading programs.
By Bryan Walsh, Time, 18 May 2010 | But while the Kerry-Lieberman bill in the Senate has the same broad goal for conserving forests, it devotes no specific funds to stopping deforestation. And we all know how well unfunded mandates tend to turn out. “It’s a considerable step backward,” says Doug Boucher, chairman of the Tropical Forest and Climate Coalition, which consists of environmental groups, power utilities and other companies. The Senate bill excludes private-sector investment in rain-forest conservation for the next 10 years. Under the House bill, private companies that invest in rain-forest offsets — paying to keep trees standing in tropical countries — could generally claim credits against their carbon cap. Under the Senate bill, they won’t be able to do so, for the most part, unless tropical nations already have a national or state-level deforestation cap in place, which will likely take years to develop.
By Zulfikar and Angga Haksoro, vhrmedia.com, 18 May 2010 | Members of Civil Society Forum for Mukim Sovereignty staged a demonstration to refuse the Governors’ Climate and Forest Meeting (GCF) in Aceh. The meeting is held to discuss about REDD mechanism, which is examined to threaten the right of society on forest. The Civil Society Forum asked the Governor of Aceh Irwandi Yusuf to give back the right of people for land and natural resources and to acknowledge them as the cultivator of forest. They took REDD as not the solution to deal with climate change.
By Suzanne Goldenberg, Guardian, 18 May 2010 | Environmental action groups called a halt to decades of protests and came to a truce with logging companies today in a deal that will preserve an enormous swath of forest in Canada’s northern wilderness. The groups say it is the largest forest protection agreement in history. The extraordinary agreement, announced in Toronto, will see nine environmental groups end their boycotts of 21 forestry companies in return for a commitment to suspend logging and road building immediately on nearly 29m hectares (71m acres) of forest that store billions of tonnes of carbon and are critical to the survival of the endangered woodland caribou. Over the next three years, campaigners and forestry industry giants such as AbitibiBowater and Weyerhaeuser Co will work together to develop logging bans or sustainable business practices for 72m hectares of forest.
19 May 2010
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 19 May 2010 | The government plans to establish a special council that would prevent local authorities and middlemen from trading carbon credit on international markets without government approval. The council will decide whether to endorse projects before they are registered at the UN office for financial incentives… “The developers should first register REDD projects with the council for approval,” he told The Jakarta Post… It is not clear whether the REDD council will be integrated with the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) set up by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the main government body to tackle climate issues… The Forestry Ministry warned that many carbon brokers were directly approaching regents, mayors or local communities to develop REDD projects.
By Dan Vergano, USA Today, 19 May 2010 | In wide-ranging recommendations, the studies call for better coordination of federal climate research efforts and for setting a price on carbon emitted from industrial smokestacks, either through a tax or in a carbon market proposed in a bill that was approved in the House but still debated in the Senate. The report explicitly calls for cutting U.S. carbon emissions 50% to 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, in line with goals of both the Bush and Obama administrations. “This is a wake-up call from science telling Congress to get real,” says Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C. “Wake up and smell the carbon.”
Planting Empowerment, 19 May 2010 | A recent article on the BBC website decried the treatment of local populations in the development of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) projects… The gist of the author’s argument is that REDD will centralize decision-making over forest resources within government and prevent community managment. Panama is a good example of the decentralization process because it has been slowly recognizing indigenous peoples’ rights over their land… At the international level (FIP, FCPF, UNREDD) there is an understanding that indigenous peoples and communities will need to “own” REDD if it is to work. Without their buy in and receipt of the majority of the benefits, there won’t be a reduction in deforestation and payments will not flow to anyone – government included. Policy makers at the national level should use community forestry management programs in Nepal and Mexico as examples when designing their REDD programs.
By Don Felipe, phils-adventurous-life.blogspot.com, 19 May 2010 | The idea is great, but it will ultimately be judged after its implementation. Numerous factors endanger the success and need to be carefully considered. Currently, there is a rush to get everything done to reduce emissions as fast as possible. The situation is urgent, but one has to be careful, because a faulty realization of REDD may even cause a net increase in CO2 emissions. Test trials, as in Guyana, are vital to see how it works out on the ground. Preferably this shall be done in various locations across the world with methods created by national governments. Once those have been judged successful, then REDD shall proceed on a grand scale, as it would have been proven to work in most cases… I, personally, support the idea and will shortly commence my Master’s thesis work examining a case study relating to Mexico and REDD.
By Rebecca Rasch, blogs.edf.org, 19 May 2010 | 1. The American Power Act will help us research and develop innovative renewable energy sources here in America… 2. The American Power Act was crafted with the intention of rising above partisan politics. This bill is not about choosing sides or playing favorites, is it about finding real solutions to our climate and energy problems and laying the foundation for an international climate treaty… 3. The American Power Act will help America become the world leader in clean energy investment and technology, a title currently held by China… 4. The American Power Act is good for American manufacturers. The balanced energy strategy that includes development of alternative energy such as wind and solar as well as investment in new domestic energy sources will create jobs in clean technology manufacturing… 5. The America Power Act will create jobs, at least twice as many as an energy-only bill.
By John Barnes, Forestry Investment Blog, 19 May 2010 | Jutta Kill of FERN, a Brussels based environmental group said that “the risk is very big” when projects sell credits in advance based upon the projected amount of carbon the trees will absorb over time. “You have a lot of obligations for a very uncertain return of revenues,” said Kill. “Some involve signing a very long-term contract, guaranteeing your trees will be standing for the next 100 years.” … “Most of the contracts are not public, which puts a lot of the communities at a disadvantage,” Kill told CNN. “They have no way to know whether they are being offered a fair deal. When you have a project that involves local communities, it is interesting to see if it would benefit or if it would suffer from presenting itself as a carbon project,” Kill said.
20 May 2010
By Apriadi Gunawan and Hotli Simanjuntak, Jakarta Post, 20 May 2010 | Walhi declared on Wednesday that it would reject all agreements made during the Governors’ Climate and Forest (GCF) forum in Aceh. Walhi executive director Berry Nahdran Forqan said any agreements made during the five-day forum would not produce credible solutions to deal with climate change since the forum had not involved civil society members. The civil society members, he said, would have represented the general public, who would be directly affected by impacts of climate change. “The meeting is at fault, democratically and substantially. It should be stopped and the results should be rejected,” he told reporters in Medan on Wednesday. He said the meeting was more a ceremony than a credible forum and had come at a time when there were still unclear concepts about dealing with climate change. He said that in Indonesia many government projects conflicted with the public interest.
ASB News and Events, 20 May 2010 | While it is clear that deforestation is an important source of global carbon emissions, the potential role that agricultural mosaics at the forest margin could play, to help reduce pressure on the forest, store carbon and create benefits for local people is gaining evidence Scientists and forest stakeholders in Cameroon met in Yaoundé on 6-7 May, to share and validate new research on the potential for Reducing Emissions from All Land Uses (REALU) in the country… Concrete measures for enhancing sustainable biodiversity and carbon stock management at the landscape level are urgently needed. Serge Ngendakumana, a World Agroforestry Centre scientist working on land use and climate change concluded that an effective strategy would require “a more comprehensive and rights-based approach.”
By Eric R. Patel, NatGeo News Watch, 20 May 2010 | How sure are you that your favorite rosewood or ebony acoustic guitar was not made from rare illegally logged trees in Madagascar, an exceptional biodiversity hotspot with desperately little original forest remaining? … A new system called independent forest monitoring (IFM) may be needed in order stop illegal logging, monitor implementation of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Destruction) programs, restore the confidence of international donors, and ultimately to save Madagascar’s precious forests as well as attain social justice for Madagascar’s impoverished population.
21 May 2010
By Gregory Vickrey, CounterPunch, 21-23 May 2010 | Another tragedy befalls the environment and we can count on those that were once environmentalists to capitalize, figuratively and literally. As you read, perhaps a 1000 or so organizations are happily signing (or being bribed to sign) yet another refined letter to President Obama, praising his efforts to date and encouraging ‘change’. With stellar coordination, you witness the appeals via email from these faux-enviros that clearly state how you can save the sea turtles, or protect the shrimp, or rid us of our reliance on oil by donating today. This particular letter in circulation is about climate change, and is directly tied to the Gulf of Mexico in its appeal. As it stands, responsibility for pushing the letter lies with the minions at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Repower America aka the Climate Protection Action Fund aka The Alliance For Climate Protection (RA), and a few others.
By Rebecca Rasch, blogs.edf.org, 21 May 2010 | Grist has a piece by Nathaniel Keohane, Director of Economic Policy and Analysis at the Environmental Defense Fund, on how the America Power Act will return the vast majority of the emission allowance value to consumers and the public, even though some of the allowances will be distributed for free. Nathaniel acknowledges that “some progressives worry that free allocation is at odds with cutting emissions. After all, if you give emitters something for free, doesn’t that eliminate the “price on carbon” that creates an economic incentive to cut carbon emissions? The answer, actually, is ‘no.'” He explains that “the value of allowances doesn’t depend on how they are allocated. Rather, allowances have value because they are in scarce supply — thanks to the cap on emissions. The tighter is the cap, the greater is the scarcity, and the higher is the value of allowances, all else equal. “
By Mridul Chadha, ecopolitology.org, 21 May 2010 | The climate bill introduced into the U.S. Senate last week has reduced funding for forest conservation and reforestation efforts around the world… While financing forest conservation projects in other countries is one of the cheapest methods of achieving carbon emission reductions, many green activists may call it ‘outsourcing’ of emission reduction commitments… So even in the absence of a clause to aid the reforestation projects in the Climate Bill, it is obvious that the US government would have to contribute to the REDD fund. This would ensure that the US companies make real and absolute reductions in their carbon footprints and that the US achieves substantial overall carbon emission reductions. The only problem for the US would be to find an additional source of funding to meet its commitments towards the REDD program.
By Juliette Jowit, Guardian, 21 May 2010 | The study – called The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) shows that on average one-third of Earth’s habitats have been damaged by humans – with, for example, 85% of seas and oceans and more than 70% of Mediterranean shrubland affected. It also warns that in spite of growing awareness of the danger of natural destruction it will “still continue on a large scale”. Following an interim report last year, the study group will publish its final findings this summer, in advance of the global Convention On Biological Diversity conference in Japan in October, marking 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity… Other suggested reforms include … paying communities for the use of goods and services from nature – such as the proposed Redd international forestry protection scheme. Money raised by some policies could pay for others, says the report.
By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 21 May 2010 | With the world’s eyes on the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, many are beginning to ponder the rightness of not just America’s, but the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. Yet large-scale fossil-fuel energy projects continue to march ahead, including one in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo to build a 300 MW coal plant, which has come under fierce opposition from locals (already the project has been forced to move locations twice). The newest proposal will build the coal plant, as photos below reveal, on an undeveloped beach overlooking the Coral Triangle, one of the world’s most biodiverse marine environments, with transmission lines likely running through nearby pristine rainforest that are home to several endangered species, including orangutans and Bornean rhinos.
By Zara Maung, Guardian, 21 May 2010 | Environmental charity Greenpeace has made claims that HSBC’s asset management arm is sidestepping the bank’s environmental guidelines by holding shares in a company accused of destroying Indonesian forests and peatland. The Greenpeace campaign points to the bank’s Global Investment Funds 2009 annual report as evidence that its Global Climate Change Fund is investing in Golden Agri-Resources Ltd, the palm oil arm of Sinar Mas.
gcf2010.com, 21 May 2010 | Speech by the Minister of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia at the closing of the Governors’ Climate and Forest (GCF) Taskforce meeting, Banda Aceh, 20 May 2010 … REDD is a major opportunity to strengthen the sustainable management of our forest resources. In this context, the Ministry of Forestry has already conducted a plot of work to prepare for REDD using our own resources or with the support of other countries and agencies under bilateral and multilateral cooperation. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my high appreciation to countries or agencies which already have provided their continuous support on the preparatory and readiness phase of REDD/REDD+ in Indonesia I hope more support will be provided because there are still so many things to be done in order to make Indonesia fully implement REDD/REDD+ mechanism.
By Johan Hari, The Independent, 21 May 2010 | Global warming – and the worst environmental disasters – will only be tackled when green lobbyists in the US stop taking cash from Big Oil and Big Coal. [R-M: A version of Johan Hari’s article “The Wrong Kind of Green”, published in March 2010 in The Nation magazine here: http://bit.ly/bAOpdJ]
By Michael Szabo and Gerard Wynn, Reuters, 21 May 2010 | British tax investigators arrested four more people on Thursday they said were believed to be connected to a 38 million pound ($54.5 million) suspected tax fraud in European carbon credit trading. The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators also found firearms and large amounts of cash during the early morning raids on seven properties in London and Leicester areas, the agency said in a statement. “These arrests are the result of the hard work that our investigators have carried out during a sustained and complex 15 month operation,” said Chris Martin, an assistant director at the HMRC. None of those arrested was named by HMRC.