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REDD in the news: 7-13 June 2010

REDD in the news: 7-13 June 2010, PHOTO: NASA

A 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.

Set for failure: As money for carbon-reducing forestry programs increases, so too does fraud and corruption

Probe International, June 2010 | As rich countries continue with plans to pour money into forestry programs in the developing world as a way to combat climate change they should heed warnings that the programs will fail to reduce carbon emissions, strip local citizens of their ownership rights, and be ridden with fraud and corruption… [REDD] could turn dreams of forest protection into a nightmare, with the programs spurring illegal logging, among a host of other problems. All the while, the programs may begin to slowly strip the rights of ordinary citizens so national governments can assume greater control over forests – now that carbon markets will increase their value by millions, if not billions, of dollars.

7 June 2010

Barren land barter for carbon market

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Kuensel Newspaper, 7 June 2010 | Land that has become barren by slash and burn cultivation may be a potential area, where the REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) mechanism could be used to bring back forest. “Such land could be given to REDD+ as per the land act,” said chief forest officer, Karma Tshering, department of watershed management (DoWM). “REDD+ potential in Bhutan” was discussed during a two-day seminar in Thimphu that began on June 3… “Bhutan will study the good, the bad and the ugly part of REDD+ before becoming a member of REDD+,” said the agriculture minister, Lyonpo (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho. “We’ll submit the proposal to the world bank, UN and UNDP for the fund.” Head of climate change program in Vietnam, Richard McNally said that REDD+ is trying to stop people from cutting down trees.

Including International Forest Carbon Incentives in Climate Policy: Understanding the Economics

the REDD desk, 7 June 2010 | A dimension that can greatly influence how international forest carbon policies work is the source of financing to pay for emission reductions. Compensation will likely come either from using part of the global carbon market a flexible compliance mechanism for those countries that face a mandatory cap on their emissions, some other nonmarket transfer of funds to the country achieving the reductions (often called the fund approach), or a mix of the two. This report directly assesses the consequences of including demand from a compliance market as the source of international forest carbon compensation. This does not presuppose or advocate the policy outcome (market or fund); rather, it uses the results of economic modeling to inform the discussion, including how the inclusion of forest carbon might affect the carbon market price and the distribution of abatement efforts across sectors and countries. [R-M: report available here:]

Moratorium on natural forests, peat not prompted by Oslo grant: Forestry Minister

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 7 June 2010 | Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan spoke with the The Jakarta Post’s Adianto P. Simamora about the two countries’ forestry partnership. Below are excerpts from the interview. Question: Could you explain the reasons for the two-year moratorium? Answer: Let me first explain about the partnership (between Norway and Indonesia). It did not come out of the blue. It was made through long negotiations. The agreement could be realized because of Norway’s trust in Indonesia’s strong commitment to deal with climate change. It is an appreciation for Indonesia by the international community. Our government under the leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made the commitment to slash emissions by 26 percent by 2020 with our budget. We are committed to meeting the target with or without money from other countries. Isn’t that an extraordinary commitment?

Ensuring Redd is not mere pulp fiction

By Michael Richardson, The Straits Times, 7 June 2010 | All this sounds good on paper. But implementing forest conservation schemes poses many challenges. Indonesia illustrates the scale of the challenge. For a start, how do you ensure that the money paid to cut emissions actually does so and that the benefits flow down to local communities and small farmers, the intended beneficiaries of the scheme? Some Indonesian officials would like the deal with Norway to be expanded from payments of a fixed sum per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions verifiably reduced through forest preservation, to rewards for efforts to expand forest cover by tree planting.

REDD alert for forest climate change policy

By Helen Mendes, SciDev.Net, 7 June 2010 | Carbon dioxide emissions from an unexpected rise in the number of forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon may be cancelling out emission reductions from efforts to preserve rainforests. Researchers analysed satellite data on deforestation and fires from the region between 1998 and 2007 and found that fires increased in 59 per cent of the areas where deforestation rates were reduced… “We were surprised to find this backward pattern,” Luiz Aragão — a researcher at the UK-based University of Exeter, who co-authored the study — told SciDev.Net. All other studies show that fires go down as deforestation levels are reduced, he said, but a combination of factors could have driven the increase… [Deforestation] “generates more forest edges — the intersection between agriculture land and the forest — and increases fragmentation. Forest edges and fragments, and secondary forests, are all susceptible to fire.”

Trailblazing social entrepreneur to highlight green economy

Brunei News, 7 June 2010 | Renowned social entrepreneur Dorjee Sun, CEO of Carbon Conservation and Time magazine’s “Hero of the Environment 2009″, will share his multi-award winning documentary “The Burning Season” at the National Environment Conference 2010 on July 1 at the Empire Hotel… The 2010 National Environment Conference is convened by Asia Inc Forum in collaboration with TOTAL, HSBC, Alcoa, ButraHeidelberg Cement and ST Engineering and supported by ITOCHU Corporation, Borneo Bulletin and Media Permata.

UN-REDD Activities Support Safeguarding Multiple Forest Benefits, 7 June 2010 | The UN-REDD Programme is supporting countries in their efforts to ensure that biodiversity and social safeguards are being met when implementing mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+). Activities supported by the UN-REDD Programme in this vein include: developing a draft “do no harm” approach for minimal social standards related to governance, stakeholder livelihoods and policy coherence, as well as an accompanying risk assessment tool; developing maps that identify high biodiversity and high carbon overlaps to allow for informed decisions on the biodiversity benefits of prioritizing different areas for REDD+; and assessing the real costs of alternative uses of forests, including addressing who bears the cost of present or future changes in uses. [R-M: UN-REDD press release available here:]

8 June 2010

Give decision makers access to the value of nature’s services

By Chantal Jouanno and Janet Ranganathan, Guardian, 8 June 2010 | A proposal for a new body, modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is in the making. This week, governments from all regions of the world will meet in Busan, Republic of Korea, to decide on whether to establish a new Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The effort is championed by France and Japan – whose leaders have made it a personal priority – and strongly supported by environmental and conservation groups, including the World Resources Institute. The new panel would provide a long overdue forum in which scientists engaged in research on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and their links to economics and human wellbeing could provide policy makers and other stakeholders with the independent, authoritative, peer-reviewed scientific information needed to promote more sustainable, nature-friendly development.

Friedrich Wulf from Friends of the Earth Switzerland, discussing REDD at the Bonn Climate Talks, 8 June 2010 | Friedrich Wulf, from Friends of the Earth Switzerland, discusses REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) with OneClimate at the UNFCCC Climate Talks in Bonn, Germany. 8th June 2010

Rich nations accused over ‘logging loophole’ at Bonn climate talks

By John Vidal, Guardian, 8 June 2010 | Rich countries led by Russia, Australia and the EU have been accused of trying to cheat their way out of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by creating “dishonest” forestry accounting loopholes. By seeking to change the rules that govern the offsetting of emissions from planting trees and ignoring those that are created by felling them, these nations would give the impression that they were acting to prevent climate change – but a growing number of developing countries and environmental groups say that in reality they would be undermining genuine cuts. The row surfaced at the resumption of the UN climate negotiations in Bonn this week, but today became a major point of contention between rich and poor nations.

With a Green Mission at Home, Indonesia Could Prove Naysayers Wrong in Cancun

By Akira Moretto, Jakarta Globe, 8 June 2010 | But it is not all bad news in Indonesia. Indonesian energy, agriculture and waste emissions are incredibly small compared to the United States and China. And the government announced its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020, saying that this could reach 41 percent with international assistance. In doing so, Indonesia has aligned itself with those states supporting stronger commitments to the fight against climate change. Brazil and South Africa are also targeting carbon emission cuts of up to 40 percent. This could prove particularly important in putting pressure on rich nations before the talks in Cancun, where strong impetus is needed to set a strong climate agenda for the years to come. Norway offered to provide financial backing to Indonesia’s additional carbon cuts and the two countries recently agreed on a $1 billion, two-year logging moratorium.

Climate solutions: The long and winding road from Oslo to Jakarta

By Fitrian Ardiansyah, Jakarta Post, 8 June 2010 | To strengthen the partnership, President Susilo Bambang Yudho-yono announced in Oslo that Indonesia would halt granting new concessions for peatland and natural forest conversions for two years starting January 2011. The announcement of a moratorium is timely, since previous development plans in the forestry, agriculture, infrastructure and mining sectors involved massive conversions of forests and peatlands. Many stakeholders welcome and are ready to support Indonesia’s commitment. However, the moratorium will only delay new concessions; previously-authorized land-use development will continue. This may be a good thing, if the government encourages actors in key sectors to embrace sustainable development, such as redirecting investment to non-forested and non-peatland areas. However, the moratorium may have a perverse effect and increase the number forest and peatland conversion concession requests before January 2011.

9 June 2010

Rich nations could increase emissions under pledge loopholes, UN data shows

By John Vidal, Guardian, 9 June 2010 | Instead of reducing emissions by a minimum of 30-40% by 2020 and holding temperatures to a rise of 2C – as many campaigners hoped the Copenhagen climate summit in December would achieve – many rich countries would not need to make any domestic cuts to stay within the legal limits of a new global climate deal being negotiated at resumed UN talks in Bonn this week. The figures, which are far higher than expected, could be achieved by a series of carbon accountancy tricks and devices including: • Selling “hot air” or surplus carbon allowances that were created when Soviet economies collapsed in the late 1980s; • Using carbon markets to “offset” as much as 30% of rich countries’ emission cuts; • Setting new rules to calculate emission gains and losses from logging and planting trees.

Countries hiding real rate of CO2 emissions – claim

By Frank McDonald, Irish Times, 9 June 2010 | EU MEMBER states and other developed countries have been accused of engaging in “creative accounting” to hide an estimated 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions every year – in their trees. The figure, referred to by environmentalists as a “gigatonne gap”, is equivalent to Spain’s total annual emissions or half those of Germany, and all of this was “going to go missing in the accounts if these guys get their way”, one of them warned. Seán Cadman, forest campaign co-ordinator for the Wilderness Society in Australia, said only Switzerland was standing out against “this massive logging loophole” in the negotiations to agree a deal on land use, land use change and forestry – known as LULUCF. “A dirty LULUCF deal is a dirty climate deal,” he declared, adding the consequences for the climate would be “disastrous”.

Forest for the trees

By Madhav Prakash Thakur, Kathmandu Post, 9 June 2010 | Another downside of REDD is it fails to take into account the poor institutional capacity of developing countries. Nepal’s community forestry for example has been nominated as the beneficiary of REDD and Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) has been proposed as the focal institution to regulate benefits of REDD in Nepal. The level of coordination among MoFSC and its line departments with Community Forest User Groups, however, leaves much to be desired. Problems like ill-defined property rights, corruption and weak regulations impede REDD’s success in developing countries. Existing forests alone cannot solve climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and REDD, with its present approach, will not be able to increase forest area to the desired extent.

10 June 2010

Massive forest carbon scam alleged in Liberia, 10 June 2010 | Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf established a commission investigate a proposed forest carbon credit deal between the West African nation’s Forest Development Authority (FDA) and UK-based Carbon Harvesting Corporation, reports Global Witness, an NGO that originally raised concerns about the scheme, which aimed to secure around a fifth of Liberia’s total forest area — 400,000 hectares — in a forest carbon concession. Police in London arrested Mike Foster, CEO of Carbon Harvesting Corporation, last week. The investigation by Global Witness questioned Carbon Harvesting Corporation’s “relevant inexperience, the lack of consultation, and the inadequate safeguards and monitoring mechanisms.” Global Witness said the project potentially exposed the Liberian government to more than $2 billion in liabilities.

Palm oil and tropical rainforest conservation

By Teddy Lesmana, Jakarta Post, 10 June 2010 | With Norway’s $1 billion assistance, delivered over three phases ending in 2016, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has committed to a two year moratorium on rainforest logging. This commitment may include reducing the speed of forest and peat land conversion into oil palm plantation expansions. The implementation of moratorium commitment in halting forest and peat land conversion will face challenges that have no easy solution. There is no guarantee the government will be able to control the rate of forest conversion considering that palm oil is profitable commodity. Moreover, many local governments are tempted to pursue local budget revenue by giving permission to land clearing for oil palm plantations in their regions.

Visiting Professor attracts anger over climate change gaffe

Kaieteur News, 10 June 2010 | Visiting Professor of Applied Ecology, Francis Putz, brings a global debate to Guyana and seems to have no difficulty finding parties to counter his arguments as the Minister of Agriculture comments on the Professor’s presentation… According to the Professor, if Guyanese forests are being logged at a rate of 500,000 cubic metres of timber annually using conventional logging practices then he estimates that “100,000 Mg (tons) of carbon could be retained annually in the forest by universal adoption of reduced-impact logging (RIL) practices.” … Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, when asked for comment on the matter said that “the benefits of RIL are clear in Guyana’s context and in actuality have been expounded in a number of publicly available documents including: the LCDS, the Terms of Reference for the Monitoring Reporting and Verification System, and the Readiness Preparation Proposal among others.”

SBY’s new hard act: To make REDD+ work

By Warief Djajanto Basorie, Jakarta Post, 10 June 2010 | Enlist NGOs. Engage local governments and local people. Turn loggers and planters into partners. These are three of numerous possible actions President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono can take in light of a new Indonesia-Norway partnership to reduce deforestation. To its credit, the Yudhoyono government has earned worldwide praise for two successful programs: The remaking of post-tsunami Aceh and the crackdown on in-country terrorism… Indonesia can learn from Brazil’s earlier start. Brazil has an Amazon Fund that manages the Norwegian pledge. It supports conservation with research and sustainable development projects such as rubber tapping and drugs from trees. Another scheme to study is Brazil’s Terra-Amazon satellite system for large-scale monitoring of deforestation.

De Boer passes on UN climate negotiation baton

EurActiv, 10 June 2010 | The Dutchman confirmed that an agreement over a new international climate treaty at the end of the year was unlikely. But he said the December Cancún talks could provide a “fully functional architecture” in several areas: adaptation, mitigation, technology, finance, capacity building and reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD).

11 June 2010

New U.N. climate text omits deepest 2050 carbon cuts

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 11 June 2010 | Negotiators from 185 nations end two weeks of talks on a new climate treaty on Friday with a new blueprint for a pact that omits the most draconian options for greenhouse gas cuts by 2050. The streamlined 22-page draft also cuts all references in a previous text to “Copenhagen,” the host city for a U.N. summit in December that fell short of a binding deal to slow a rise in temperatures blamed for heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels. The May 31-June 11 talks are the biggest since the summit, trying to get negotiations back on track even though many delegates say that a legally binding deal is out of reach for 2010 and is more likely in 2011.

RI to receive first $200 million grant from Norway

Aditya Suharmoko, Jakarta Post, 11 June 2010 | Indonesia will receive the first US$200 million in grants from Norway between 2010 and 2011, as part of the $1 billion grant to reduce emissions from deforestation, a minister said… “The first phase begins now until 2011. There will be consolidation and capacity building. We will build an internationally reputable financial institution, to be completed in October 2010, in which Norway will disburse $200 million,” Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said at the State Palace on Thursday… The Indonesia-Norway agreement also requires a two-year moratorium on new concessions on peat lands and natural forests. Hatta said the palm oil industry would not be hurt by the moratorium as the government had already allocated 8.5 million hectares of land for the industry’s operations.

Researcher warns Guyana…

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 11 June 2010 | A FOREIGN researcher has warned Guyana to be mindful of making trade-offs between the need for carbon sequestration of its forests and biodiversity protection. Professor Francis Putz, of the University of Florida, also expressed concern for what he called the neglect of emissions caused by degradation in international climate talks… “But we don’t have a good measure of degradation. To stop degradation, one has to stop the causes of degradation,” Putz contended, adding that one way to do this is through reduced impact logging (RIL), a term he said he coined in 1993. Putz said, when a logging operation is shifted to RIL, the likelihood of forest degradation is reduced and, when poor logging is done, carbon stocks get depleted. But, when RIL is practised, although there is a depletion of carbon stocks, they are restored. He said he is not too comfortable with market based solutions to the problem of carbon emissions.

Rich countries accused of carbon ‘cheating’

By Richard Black, BBC News, 11 June 2010 | Some rich countries are seeking new rules under the UN climate convention that campaigners say would allow them to gain credit for “business as usual”. Russia, Australia, Canada and some EU countries are among the accused… “These are double standards that make us question the legitimacy of the whole process,” added Kevin Conrad, lead negotiator for Papua New Guinea and chairman of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. “If rich states tell us we have to adopt robust standards (for REDD) and then use forestry as their biggest get-out clause – it’s double standards, it’s climate fraud.”

More funds may not mean better forest conservation

Jakarta Post, 11 June 2010 | Forest conservation in this country has become a multimillion dollar business; but in fact, there has been no real impact on the forest itself. Deforestation rates keep increasing. So what has been going wrong? According to many analyses, conservation problems in Indonesia are not really associated with the lack of funding, but rather on the lack of commitment from the government and its citizens. We can see a fine example of this in the “integrated conservation and development project” (ICDP) which was undertaken by the World Bank between 1999 and 2005 in an area of Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra (see my opinion in the Jakarta Post, Dec. 13, 2008). The most shocking result from the program, which was aimed at integrating ecosystem conservation and regional development, was that the greatest loss of forest area during the project happened in the area receiving the largest proportion of grants. In the end, this project was rated unsuccessful.

Miles to Go For Solid Progress in Climate Change Talks, 11 June 2010 | “While a final global deal on climate change is not yet in sight, climate action cannot wait. April 2010 was the warmest month on record for land and sea temperature combined. Much deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than the ones currently on the table are needed to keep global warming below 2°C. Failure to do so will lead to irreversible damage to livelihoods and ecosystems on which we all depend,” IUCN warned in a note for the media. It pointed out that after positive movements in Copenhagen, REDD (Reducing Deforestation from Forest Degradation and Deforestation) and REDD-plus (conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) did not get the attention it deserved in Bonn. “The adoption of a legally binding and ambitious international climate change regime is a crucial element in the global fight against climate change,” said Ninni Ikkala, IUCN Climate Change Coordinator.

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