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REDD in the news: 23-29 August 2010

REDD in the news: 23-29 August 2010

A round up of the week’s news on REDD, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news page (REDD in the news) is updated regularly.

CIFOR Releases 2011-2013 Plan of Work, August 2010 | On enhancing the role of forests in climate mitigation, CIFOR anticipates identifying policies and processes that lead to national-level strategies on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of carbon stocks (REDD+), which are effective, efficient and equitable; as well as identifying institutional and technical arrangements to lead to the implementation of effective, efficient and equitable REDD+ demonstration activities. This project will also lead to improved procedures for estimating and managing carbon stocks. On CIFOR’s project on enhancing the role of forests in adaptation to climate change, the plan of work provides that the project will identify: strategies for adapting sustainable forest use and management to the context of climate change; and the potential for forests to contribute to reduced social vulnerability.

UN-REDD Newsletter 11

UN-REDD, August 2010 | In this issue News 5 New Countries Join the UN-REDD Programme UN-REDD in Latin America New Resources for REDD+ Negotiators Subscribe to UN-REDD’s New RSS Feed Reports & Analysis Investing in Good Governance for REDD+ Looking ahead XXIII IUFRO World Congress 23 – 28 August 2010, Seoul, Republic of Korea Workshop on Forest Governance and REDD in Latin America and the Caribbean 30 August – 3 September 2010, Oaxaca, Mexico

Statement by Mr Ahmed Djoghlaf the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biologiyal Diversity on the occasion of XXIII IUFRO World Congress

CBD, August 2010 | Based on COP 10 outcomes, the CBD Secretariat would contribute to the discussions on, and the possible development of, REDD biodiversity safeguards and mechanisms to monitor the impacts of REDD on biodiversity. To this end, COP may request the Executive Secretary to investigate whether there are inadequacies in forest biodiversity reporting and monitoring, and if so, suggest ways to address these inadequacies, in collaboration the UN Forum on Forests, the FAO, and the other members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. In this context, the CBD Secretariat, in collaboration with the UN REDD Programme, is convening a global expert workshop on “Biodiversity Benefits of REDD-plus” next month in Nairobi, Kenya, which will discuss an extensive list of research and development needs that address inadequacies in forest biodiversity reporting and monitoring.

Urgent Action Needed On Climate-Forestry Research

By Daniel Cooney, CIFOR, August 2010 | Forestry scientists need to think big, act fast and communicate better if their work is to have an impact on global climate change negotiations, CIFOR Director General Frances Seymour said in a keynote address at an international forestry conference. “We’ve got get out there in climate-related policy arenas and practitioner communities and push the research results that we already have in hand,” she said at the International Union of Forest Research Organizations’ World Congress in Seoul on August 24, which was attended by about 3,000 scientists and other experts from around the world. While deforestation and forest degradation are a loss in the fight against climate change, forest conservation and expansion offer positive opportunities. That is why there is so much interest in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – REDD – which has the potential to deliver large cuts in carbon emissions at a low cost.

Gender and REDD+

WOCAN, August 2010 | Jeannette Gurung was invited by ESCAP to provide a Brown Bag Seminar on ‘Gender and REDD+’ on Aug. 18, 2010 in Bangkok. Participants included staff of FAO, UNDP and the Social Development and Environment Sections of ESCAP (UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific). REDD+ strategies go beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and include the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in reducing emissions. Forests provide global food security and resources, food, fodder, fuel and medicine for most of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty. Women constitute 70% of the poor worldwide.The way people use and manage forests depends on the socio-economic and socio-cultural factors, age and gender.

REDD financing and benefit distribution, August 2010 | While preparing for REDD+, the Government of Viet Nam (GoV) identified the design of a transparent and equitable benefit distribution system (BDS) as a priority for UN-REDD support. This is innovative because so few countries have looked at how benefits should be distributed. It is also courageous because, unlike carbon monitoring and other technical challenges, it raises potentially sensitive governance issues. Payments for REDD+ will pass different administration levels. From the national to sub-national level, they will finally reach communities and households. A series of policy decisions have been identified in a recent report to be of special importance for an efficient BDS, and for some of them recommendations have been made. The most important issues are summarized here.

23 August 2010

Gazprom Wins Approval From Voluntary Standards Group for Forestry Credits

By Catherine Airlie, Bloomberg, 23 August 2010 | Gazprom Marketing & Trading, a unit of the world’s largest natural-gas producer, said its method for generating carbon credits from forestry projects was approved by the Voluntary Carbon Standard. The International Emissions Trading Association and the World Economic Forum helped develop the voluntary carbon standard in 2005 to verify which credits companies can use to comply with carbon-reduction programs… “The approval of a methodology like this has real potential to be a game-changer in forest conservation,” Keith Martin, commercial director of Kingston, England-based Gazprom Marketing & Trading, said today in an e-mailed statement. “The gauntlet is thrown down to the negotiators at Cancun.” … Gazprom’s method will produce REDD credits in the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Borneo, southeast Asia.

Norway oil fund excludes 2 Israeli companies

By Walter Gibbs, Reuters, 23 August 2010 | Also blacklists Malaysian forestry firm Samling Global… Norway’s Ministry of Finance also said it would no longer invest in Malaysian forestry company Samling Global Ltd (3938.HK) because of some of its logging activities… Samling Global could not be immediately reached for comment.

Ex-Barama official takes letter-writer to task

By Rachael Bakker, Guyana Chronicle, 23 August 2010 | From the thrust of his copious letters to the press, he comes across as an authority on forestry management matters, but former Chairman of Barama Company Ltd. (BLC), Mr. Girwar Lalaram begs to differ. Lalaram said that after a careful review of Mr. Tarron Khemraj’s writings on such issues as certification, sustainable harvest management and Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), he has come to the conclusion that they are “a reflection of his [Khemraj’s] ignorance and lack of understanding” of such matters. “On many or all of these occasions, the critics have totally misconstrued or misinterpreted their own understanding of the issues, and the prerequisites regarding forestry management, and its connectivity to [the] LCDS,” Lalaram said.

Police arrest 12 activists in climate change protest

BBC News, 23 August 2010 | Climate change activists have been arrested after protests at the RBS headquarters in Edinburgh spread to different parts of the city. Activists arrived at Gogarburn last Thursday, angry at RBS’s investment in oil industry developments. There have been pockets of protest throughout the capital. Twelve people have been arrested. RBS said it had been one of the most active banks in the world in providing funding for renewable energy projects. Bank branches at Nicolson Street and North Bridge, Hunter Square and the fly-over at the Gogar roundabout have been the focus of protests, including camp members gluing themselves to branch doors. The arrests come as the police warned of a “robust” response after activists began their action last Thursday. There was damage to the bank’s Gogarburn headquarters on Sunday.

All-out geoengineering still would not stop sea level rise

By David Biello, Scientific American, 23 August 2010 | Mimicking volcanoes by throwing particles high into the sky. Maintaining a floating armada of mirrors in space. Burning plant and other organic waste to make charcoal and burying it—or burning it as fuel and burying the CO2 emissions. Even replanting trees. All have been mooted as potential methods of “geoengineering”—”deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment,” as the U.K.’s Royal Society puts it. The goal, of course, is to cool the planet by remove heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere or reflecting sunlight away. But rising temperatures is just one impact of our seemingly limitless emission of greenhouse gases, largely carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Arguably a more devastating consequence would be the rise of the seas as warmer waters expand and melting icecaps fill ocean basins higher, potentially swamping nations and the estimated 150 million people living within one meter of high tide.

Groups call for participation in forest activities

By Ben Ezeamalu,, 23 August 2010 | The Nigerian government should actively engage forest community dwellers and civil society groups in the ongoing Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, (REDD), negotiation process; and adopt community forest management practices as one of the concrete solutions to climate change. This was one of the ten point resolutions reached at the one day strategic meeting on REDD held in Calabar, Cross River State, organized by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in collaboration with Rainforest Research Development Centre and GREENCODE. Participants at the meeting, which aimed to build the capacity of critical stakeholders to understand, analyse, criticize, and as necessary, resist the REDD scheme prior to its adoption in Nigeria; were drawn from non-governmental organizations, representatives of civil society groups, forests communities and students from Calabar.

Conference in Phnom Penh (download files below)

Global Environmental Policy Window – Sasaki’s REDD & Environmental Research, 23 August 2010 | International Conference on Managing Forest Resources for Multiple Ecosystem Services under Robust and Fragile Environments… The conference brings together international and local academia, policy makers, representatives of forest communities, donors, NGOs, and companies to advance the management of forest ecosystems. The main objective of this conference is to discuss the timely important topics on avoiding deforestation and forest degradation, assessing forest ecosystem services and managing forest resources in the robust and fragile environments with national and international scholars, policy makers, and forestry practitioners.

24 August 2010

Reaping rewards from protecting forests, 24 August 2010 | During a recent national indigenous peoples’ conference on ancestral land rights in Baguio City, the Ikalahan have been cited for their “ecosystems approach” toward managing and protecting their land and resources. “We view ourselves as part of ecosystems, so what we do to one species affects the rest of us,” their leader, Sammy Balinhawang, said. The meeting was organized by the Tebtebba and the Philippine Traditional Knowledge Network, two nongovernment groups helping to educate indigenous peoples about their rights as enshrined in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Ipra) and in international conventions, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples… t the same time, they have begun protecting another 10,000 hectares of forests for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project by the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

Socialization of REDD Investment

KpSHK, 24 August 2010 | Carbon trading, climate change mitigation, and REDD become the focus of multilateral development banks. On last Wednesday (11 / 8), under the coordination of the Ministry of Forestry, the parties such as related units in the Ministry of Forestry, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the IFC (International Financial Corporation), and NGOs were invited to Manggala Wanabhakti, Jalan Gatot Subroto, Jakarta to listen to the socialization of the Forest Investment Program. This event, that promotes the three main issues of the multilateral development banks programs which are FCPF (Forest Carbon Partnership Facility)-LoI Norway, Forest Investment Program, and REDD Readiness, seems not much attended by NGOs of forestry and environment field. This is due to the beginning of Ramadan month in which the offices are closed on the first day of fasting.

David v. Goliath: Indian tribe in ‘stunning’ victory over mining giant

Survival International, 24 August 2010 | A tribe in India has won a stunning victory over one of the world’s biggest mining companies. In an extraordinary move, India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has blocked Vedanta Resources’ controversial plan to mine bauxite on the sacred hills of the Dongria Kondh tribe.
 Mr Ramesh said Vedanta has shown a ’shocking’ and ‘blatant disregard for the rights of the tribal groups’. The Minister has also questioned the legality of the massive refinery Vedanta has already built below the hills. 
The news is a crushing defeat for Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal , Vedanta’s majority owner and founder.

Global warming – It’s already happening

By Charles J. Hanley, The Star, 24 August 2010 | Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: from smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Pakistan and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way. The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says – although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming.

$28 billion pledged by rich nations to fight climate change, 24 August 2010 | $27.9 billion in “fast-start” funding has so far been pledged by industrialized countries to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, according to a new climate finance tracking tool released by the World Resources Institute (WRI). The tool aims to create transparency around climate change funds to ensure that rich countries follow through on their commitments and that the money is not wasted or “lost.” WRI says that while the pledges represent “a significant step in the right direction,” donors “still have much to do in meeting their Copenhagen fast-start pledge.” … Several countries involved in the Interim REDD+ Partnership — a process created parallel to the UNFCCC to ensure effective and sustainable REDD-plus (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) actions over the next few years — have also specified that at least 20% of their funds will support REDD-plus.

Claims of growth in India’s forests ‘misleading’

By Natasha Gilbert, Nature, 24 August 2010 | India is among the most densely forested countries in the world, and in 2008 the government announced goals to increase forest cover by nearly 10% by 2012. The India State of Forest Report 2009 by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) indicated that the outlook was good. But William Laurance, a conservation biologist at James Cook University in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, and one of the authors of the analysis, to be published in the journal Conservation Letters1, says that while the figures showing that forest cover in India has grown are “technically correct”, they are also “misleading”. “We found a very real and serious loss of native forest,” he says, adding that it could put India ahead of most other countries in terms of deforestation.

Brazil ups stakes for foreign investors in farmland

By Reese Ewing, Reuters, 24 August 2010 | “Brazil is very well positioned at the moment as one of the most desirable agricultural investments in the world,” General Manager of South American Soy Phil Corzine told Reuters. “From a purely economic perspective, they could make a huge mistake if they scare away foreign capital.”… Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of sugar, coffee, orange juice, tobacco, beef and poultry. It is also a major producer of pulp and paper, soybeans, corn and rice. Foreign funds have frozen land acquisition plans since June, when outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he was concerned about local land falling into foreign hands… Following Japanese, Argentine, U.S. and South Korean investors, Chinese companies have recently announced plans to invest in Brazilian farmland, as the world’s largest importer of soybeans reaches out to shore up its food security.

Gazprom, Shell and Clinton Foundation back rainforest carbon deal in Borneo, 24 August 2010 | A forest conservation project backed by Shell, Gazprom Market and Trading and the Clinton Foundation on the island of Borneo has won approval under a carbon accounting standard, reports Reuters. The Rimba Raya project, which covers nearly 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) of peat forest in Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province, could reduce projected emissions by 75 million metric tons over the next 30 years, generating hundreds of millions in carbon finance under the reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) program backed by the U.N. and World Bank. Rimba Raya is being developed by Hong Kong-based InfiniteEARTH in partnership with Orangutan Foundation International, which aims to protect red apes and their habitat. The project avoids carbon dioxide emissions by protecting peatlands and forests, which sequester massive amounts of carbon in their vegetation and soils.

Carbon traders demand EU action to restore ebbing market confidence, 24 August 2010 | The sense of drift that has dogged the European carbon market since the turn of the year has finally got too much for traders, who have today called on the EU to act now to inject some much needed confidence into the market. The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) lobby group has issued an open letter to EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard demanding that Brussels acts urgently to clarify how the cap-and-trade scheme will operate during the next phase of its operation, which runs from 2013 to 2020. In particular, the letter calls on the EU to confirm how many UN-approved carbon offsets can be used during the next phase of the scheme to help European businesses meet the carbon caps imposed through the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Norway fund shuts out Barama parent co. over forest breaches

Stabroek News, 24 August 2010 | Malaysian forestry company Samling Global, which operates Barama Company Limited (BCL), has been cited for “extensive and repeated breaches” here, resulting in its exclusion from Norway’s state pension fund, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. According to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) wire report, Samling Global was excluded based on its “unethical activity” both here and in Sarawak. “The Council on Ethics has assessed Samling Global, and concluded that the company’s forest operations in the rainforests of Sarawak and Guyana contribute to illegal logging and severe environmental damage,” Finance Minister Sigbjoern Johnsen said in a statement. BCL could not be contacted last night for comment on the report.

Norway divests from Malaysian logging company after rainforest destruction, 24 August 2010 | The Norwegian Government’s pension fund sold all its 16 million shares of Samling Global, a Malaysian timber company, after concluding the firm had committed “serious transgessions” in logging outside of concession areas and destroying protected rainforests, reports the Bruno Manser Fund. The sale, worth a total of $1.2 million, represents about 0.3 percent of the company’s outstanding shares based on today’s closing market price in Hong Kong.

Agri Minister slams Reuters report

Kaieteur News, 24 August 2010 | Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud yesterday rebuffed a Reuter’s article, “Norway oil fund excludes 2 Israeli companies” which he said conveyed the wrong message about logging operations in Guyana, and as such he had to offer some clarifications on a specific statement in the article. He was referring to the statement: “The Ministry said it had excluded forestry company Samling Global based on the environmental impact of its forest operations in Malaysia and Guyana.” That statement, according to Persaud, gives the false impression that Barama Company Limited’s (BCL) operations in Guyana have resulted in serious damage to the environment. He said that the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) which is engaged in continuous monitoring of BCL’s operations has found little evidence to substantiate such a position.

25 August 2010

Guyana to lodge formal representation with Norway

Kaieteur News, 25 August 2010 | Guyana will be lodging formal representations with the Norwegian Government as it relates to the Reuters article that painted Barama operations in Guyana in a bad light. This was confirmed by Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud who said that he was a little surprised at the statement given that the information was made available by that country’s finance ministry and it is known to them what Guyana’s forestry practices are. He said that the reports will not affect the monies that Guyana is scheduled to receive from Norway under the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed last year. Norway’s Ministry of Finance reported that it would no longer invest in Malaysian forestry company Samling Global Ltd because of some of its logging activities.

Indonesia’s forest conservation plan may not sufficiently reduce emissions, 25 August 2010 | One third of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation originate from areas not officially defined as “forest” suggesting that efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) may fail unless they account for carbon across the country’s entire landscape, warns a new report published by the World Agroforestry Centre (CGIAR). The policy brief finds that up to 600 million tons of Indonesia’s carbon emissions “occur outside institutionally defined forests” and are therefore not accounted for under the current national REDD+ policy, which, if implemented, would enable Indonesia to win compensation from industrialized countries for protecting its carbon-dense forests and peatlands as a climate change mechanism.

REDD to Offer No Net Emission Reductions in Indonesia – Too Many Forested Areas Omitted by Government

By Matthew McDermott, Treehugger, 25 August 2010 | Another interesting twist in the ongoing saga of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and how to slow them: As Mongabay reports, a new report by the World Agroforestry Centre shows that because so many of the nation’s emissions from deforestation actually occur outside of places officially designated as forests, the UN REDD program may actual reduce emissions in country far less than intended. The report finds that up to 600 million tons of emissions are not accounted for by the REDD forest protection scheme due to occurring outside of “institutionally defined forests”–in other words in forests and other lands that Indonesia doesn’t consider forests but are.

Carbon trading could start to gain traction in region: experts

By Chris Howells, Channel NewsAsia, 25 August 2010 | Industry watchers say Asia’s renewable energy market will be worth some US$50-55 billion over the next 5 to 10 years. And emission trading in the region could start to gain traction as policy makers focus on developing a definitive agreement to fight climate change. The awareness around climate change and emissions reduction is building up. And experts say Asia holds a huge potential for the development of renewable energy projects. Figures from the United Nations showed that as of July this year, there were 2,300 clean development projects globally, up 35 per cent on-year. Three quarters of the projects were in Asia. Observers say this presents a huge potential for the development of a carbon credits market in the region.

Seeing REDD in climate tool

By Hilary Chiew, Free Malaysia Today, 25 August 2010 | Last week, the first carbon offset and forest conservation workshop was held in Kuching, the state capital, to familiarise the timber-related parties with carbon offset and REDD. Key players in the commercial logging sector listened intently to speakers on how they can participate in REDD activities. Director of Forestry, Sarawak, Len Talif Salleh said the state is interested in the implementation of REDD and discussion has already been held with the Sarawak-chapter of the Wildlife Conservation Society (a US-originated non-governmental organisation) to look into the potential of REDD in the Anap Muput Forest Management Unit… If Sarawak truly wants to help the global fight in climate change, it should cancelled all these licences, recognise NCR and implement genuine reforestation in highly degraded forests that would enhance its forest carbon stock. Only in that way, it will be able to redeem itself through REDD-plus.

Kyoto’s Carbon Offsetting Moves from Tragedy to Farce

By Patrick McCully, Huffington Post 25 August 2010 | The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has long been known to be a honey pot of carbon credit income for cheating project developers. But a recent investigation commissioned by German NGO CDMWatch shows that the problem is even worse than many critics had feared. The investigation, carried out by carbon market expert Lambert Schneider, strongly suggests that chemical companies, mostly in China, are ramping up production of a climate-destroying waste gas purely to make money from its destruction. The companies are currently earning billions of dollars (yes that’s billions with a “b”) by selling UN-certified carbon offsets known as Carbon Emission Reductions (CERs). Each CER supposedly represents one metric tonne of carbon dioxide not emitted to the atmosphere.

Poorer nations hit with ‘exorbitant’ consultancy fees for carbon offset projects

By Reese Erlich, Guardian, 25 August 2010 | The UN-certified scheme that allows developed nations to pay for carbon reductions abroad instead of making domestic cuts has come under fire for paying high fees to consultants from rich countries. The Guardian has learned that the Nepalese government has so far paid €150,000 for a Norwegian company to verify a greenhouse gas reduction programme, for which Nepal is seeking carbon credits. The money is paid via a World Bank contract with the company for this evaluation work; the bank then pays the consultancy for the work. Such a sum would pay for 340 of the small-scale carbon cutting projects the Nepalese government is trying to set up. Seperately, the conservation charity WWF pays €20,000 (£16,000) per verification visit for a smaller project using the same technology, but under a different scheme.

VCS Unveils its First Methodology for Generating Carbon Credits by Saving Trees

By John Vidaurrazaga and Molly Peters-Stanley, Forest Carbon Portal, 25 August 2010 | The first Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) methodology to quantify the climate benefits for projects reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is now approved and available for us after going live this Monday. “The carbon market can now have a role in REDD, and that’s a sea change from where we were last week,” says David Antonioli, CEO of the Voluntary Carbon Standard Association. “It is great news for the sheer benefit of helping to channel finance to real projects that have real impacts on the ground.” The Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve Project in Borneo, Indonesia, served as the basis for the development of the methodology – and is set to be the first REDD project in the VCS pipeline using its freshly-minted rubric.

Climate change, REDD and biocultural diversity: consultations and grassroots initiative with indigenous people of Arunachal Pradesh

Current Science, 25 August 2010 | A report on series of village workshops on ‘Climate Change, REDD and Biocultural Diversity with Indigenous People of Arunachal Pradesh’ supported by Doying Gumin College, Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh… Throughout the world, concern has been expressed about the measurable changes in global climate, including extreme weather events and threats to sustainability of biodiversity, cultures and livelihoods of indigenous people. Studies show that now the climate change is affecting behaviours of the local phytodiversity and microbial biodiversity of certain food resources of traditional communities in Arunachal Pradesh (AP). There is a threat to livelihood of the people and biocultural diversity of the state. Through organizing village workshops and consulting the indigenous people of AP, an initiative to tackle climate change has been started in 2005. The first attempt was made with the Adi community.

REDD | A False Solution | Indigenous Leaders of the Alto Xingu Region

By Cory Morningstar, Canadians for Action on Climate Change, 25 August 2010 | Friend and fellow activist / documentary film maker Rebecca Sommer filmed several statements from the Indigenous leaders of the Alto Xingu region. See her videos and photographs below: … Alto Xingu – and how an NGO is promoting REDD:

Declining trees spell gloom for planet

By Ben Cubby, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 2010 | Less rainfall and rising global temperatures are damaging one of the world’s best guardians against climate change: trees. A global study, published in the journal Science, shows that the amount of carbon dioxide being soaked up by the world’s forests in the past decade has declined, reversing a 20-year trend. It diminishes hopes that global warming can be seriously slowed down by the mass planting of trees in carbon sinks. Although plants generally grow bigger as a result of absorbing carbon-enriched air, they need more water and nutrients to do so, and they have been getting less. A fierce drought that dried out vast areas of the Amazon Basin in 2005 is seen as a key to the global decline in carbon sinks in the past decade, but Australia is not immune.

Forest Changes in Alaska Reveal Changing Climate

By Lauren Morello, Scientific American, 25 August 2010 | Evidence is mounting that climate change is transforming Alaska’s boreal forest, an expert said yesterday. “A biome shift is now occurring,” University of Alaska, Fairbanks, forest ecologist Glenn Juday said. “You don’t have to wait for the effects. They’re happening.” The state’s white spruce stands, which according to one recent study contain half of the genetic diversity of all white spruce in North America, are suffering. Empirical studies of forests across Alaska show that North America’s white spruce require at least 280 millimeters (11 inches) of precipitation each year, a number that rises if mean summer temperatures are higher than 15.5 degrees Celsius (roughly 60 degrees Fahrenheit). When the mercury hits a mean temperature of 21.1 degrees Celsius, or just shy of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the trees can’t survive. In Fairbanks, conditions are hovering right on that edge.

Despite Reform, Banks Have Room for Risky Deals

By Nelson D. Schwatrz and Eric Dash, New York Times, 25 August 2010 | When Congress passed a new financial regulation bill last month, it sought to prevent federally insured banks from making speculative bets using their own money. But that will not stop banks from making bets that some critics deem risky, even as the rules go into effect over the next few years. That is because many such bets – on the direction of the stock market or the price of coal, for example – are done on behalf of clients. So, the banks say, they will continue to be allowable despite the new restrictions. Indeed, several trades that were made on behalf of clients went bad for the banks even as the new rules were being debated in Washington this year. JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, for example, each lost more than $100 million on transactions handled for customers in the period from April to July.

26 August 2010

Barama disappointed at Norwegian government characterisation

By Mohindra Chand (Head Corporate Affairs & Forests Planning Barama Company Limited), letter to the editor, Guyana Chronicle, 26 August 2010 | With reference to the Stabroek News Tuesday, August 24, 2010 edition article titled “Norway fund shuts out Barama parent co. over forest breaches” please find below our response. “We are disappointed by the announcement made by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund. Their public characterisation of us is inaccurate and not based on complete information. We had invited them to visit our operations for first-hand knowledge of our business and to clarify issues, with no response. The company remains committed to the continual improvement of its sustainable forest management processes and practices within the laws under which it operates. However, it is not our policy to comment on the decision of investors.”

Norway back-peddles on Barama, didn’t rule on condition of Guyana’s forests, 26 August 2010 | Norway has back-peddled from alleging that Barama Company Limited’s current environmental practices were the reason for refusing to give its Malaysia-headquartered parent company, Samling Global, a tranche of funds to help save the environment for future generations. State Secretary of Norway’s Ministry of Finance, Hilde Singaas also told Minister of Forests, Robert Persaud in a letter dated August 26, 2010 that the recommendation against Samling Global by the Council of Ethics did not any way refer to the condition of Guyana’s forests or forest-policies. “The recommendation of the Council of Ethics does not opine on the extent of deforestation, forest degradation or environmental damage in Guyana, nor does it assess the forest policies of the Government of Guyana,” said Singaas in a two-page letter released to the media by Persaud.

TreeCarbs to partner with the Asian Golf Course Owners Association

Shift2Neutral press release, 26 August 2010 | The announcement means that TreeCarbs will acquire all surplus carbon credits from Environmental Audits carried out by the Asian Golf Course Owners Association environmental partner, Shift2Neutral and the various certified Shift2Neutral agents around the globe. In November 2008 the Asian Golf Course Owners Association signed an exclusive agreement with Shift2Neutral to assist their members to perform Environmental Audits using ISO 4001 and to have their golf course facilities certified for carbon credits. Since this time TreeCarbs has been working with the Asian Golf Course Owners Association to formalize an agreement. Many of the golf courses have more than 2,000 carbon credits which are used to initially offset their emissions from the environmental audit of the golf course and club using an environmental management system (EMS) supplied by Shift2Neutral.

Climate aid reaches $30 bln goal, but is it new?

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 26 August 2010 | Aid promises from rich nations to help poor countries slow global warming are reaching the $30 billion goal agreed in Copenhagen but analysts say much of that is old funding dressed up as new pledges. Officially, the promises total $29.8 billion, Reuters calculations show, apparently meeting a pledge of “new and additional” funds “approaching $30 billion” for 2010-12 made at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen in December. But austerity policies to combat government debt problems and a re-labeling of past promises will undermine real funding that is vital to unlock a new U.N. climate deal by showing that the developed world is serious about taking a leadership role, analysts say. “I’m afraid the pledges of Copenhagen will not be realized,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “It would be a little political miracle if it happened. I’m fairly pessimistic.”

Brazil government gives go-ahead for huge Amazon dam

BBC News, 26 August 2010 | Brazil’s government has given the formal go-ahead for the building on a tributary of the Amazon of the world’s third biggest hydroelectric dam. After several failed legal challenges, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed the contract for the Belo Monte dam with the Norte Energia consortium. Critics say the project will damage the local ecosystem and make homeless 50,000 mainly indigenous people. But the government says it is crucial for development and will create jobs. Bidding for the project had to be halted three times before a final court appeal by the government allowed Norte Energia, led by the state-owned Companhia Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco, to be awarded the contract… Officials have dismissed the criticism and promised the winning consortium will pay $800m to protect the environment. “The government has signed a death warrant for the Xingu river and condemned thousands of residents to expulsion,” local Indian leaders said on Thursday.

‘Forest’ definition hinders REDD progress in Indonesia

Climate Action Programme, 26 August 2010 | A report published by the World Agroforestry Centre (CGIAR) has announced that one third of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation actually come from areas which are not officially designated as “forest”. This has led to concern over the success of the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) project if carbon output is not being measured throughout the entire country. The amount of carbon emissions which “occur outside institutionally defined forests” and are therefore not recognized by the REDD+ scheme could be as high as 600 million tonnes, according to the report. If implemented, the REDD+ policy would allow Indonesia to benefit from REDD credit exchange with developed nations through the protection of its rainforests and peat lands.

Survey and Guidance Notes for Submission of Information for REDD+ Partnership Database

Forest Carbon Portal, 26 August 2010 | Dear Stakeholder, With the agreement of the work program in Bonn, the Interim REDD+ Partnership is now ready to move forward on operational measures. Specifically, the co-Chairs would like to continue the work commenced by Australia, France and PNG on the development of a database of REDD+ financing and actions. As stated in the work program, the database will provide transparency and accountability and will also serve as a foundation for identifying gaps and overlaps in financing and technology… Please find attached the survey and guidance notes which will help you to provide information for the database. Thank you and we look forward to receiving your input. Sincerely, Junya Nakano Federica Bietta

Declaration: Social Forum of the Americas Rejects Market-Based Mechanisms and REDD

Canadians for Action on Climate Change, 26 August 2010 | We denounce Northern geopolitical countries governments rather than confront serious climate change impacts they are seeking to evade responsibility and to develop new carbon market mechanisms to make more profit, such as “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation “(REDD), which promotes forests commercialization and privatization and loss of sovereignty over territories. We reject such arrangements. We demand these countries to reduce their greenhouse gases emissions and to create an International Court of Climate Justice. We reaffirm the Cochabamba Agreement proposals from the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which recognize that real solutions are climate justice, food sovereignty, land recovery and agrarian reform, peasant agriculture and integration and solidarity among peoples against global warming.

Rajendra Pachauri innocent of financial misdealings but smears will continue

By George Monbiot, Guardian, 26 August 2010 | Has anyone been as badly maligned as Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? In December, the Sunday Telegraph carried a long and prominent feature written by Christopher Booker and Richard North, titled: Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri. The subtitle alleged that Pachauri has been “making a fortune from his links with ‘carbon trading’ companies”. The article maintained that the money made by Pachauri while working for other organisations “must run into millions of dollars”… There was just one problem: the story was untrue… After the Sunday Telegraph published its story, the organisation for which Pachauri works – a charity called The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) – asked the auditors KPMG to review his financial relationships. Today, for the first time, the Guardian is publishing KPMG’s report.

Fires cost Russia ‘300 billion dollars’ in deforestation

By Anna Smolchenko, AFP, 26 August 2010 | Wildfires have cost Russia 300 billion dollars in forest loss, environmentalists said on Thursday, explaining the scale of the disaster by Vladimir Putin’s “absurd” changes to forestry law. The economic damage amounts to 25,000 dollars per hectare (2.4 acres), or at least 300 billion dollars, according to estimates based on the market value of timber and the cost of reforestation, said Alexei Zimenko, general director of the Biodiversity Conservation Centre. “The figures are completely astronomical,” Zimenko told a news conference, adding that they did not include several factors, such as the loss of wildlife like insects and rare birds and animals.

Australia Firm Signs Congo Carbon Offsets Deal

By David Fogarty, Reuters, 26 August 2010 | An Australian carbon services firm has signed a deal aimed at protecting tropical forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as boosting renewable energy there, a senior company official said on Wednesday. Shift2Neutral and its partners would help value the carbon storage from forest and land protection, certify carbon related services to communities in the DRC and help sell certified carbon offsets. It had signed the deal with the national government as well as state governments and local tribal chiefs and landowners after more than a year of negotiations, the firm’s chairman, Brett Goldsworthy, said. The deal covers the whole country and is aimed at sourcing carbon offsets from saving forests and reforestation programmes as well as deploying renewable energy such as solar. “It’s the entire nation that we’re working toward but at the moment we’re taking it state by state, piece by piece,” Goldsworthy told Reuters.

27 August 2010

Don’t Sell Forests, Groups Urge Nigerian Govts

Scoop News, 27 August 2010 | A round table strategic meeting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), has kicked against continued selling of forests by communities and governments in Nigeria. The meeting which was organised by Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in collaboration with Rainforest Research Development Centre and GREENCODE, on August 18, 2010, said forests are human eco-systems… Recognising that forests play key roles in human lives, they resolved that protection of forests and environment in Nigeria is a duty citizens owe the earth and humanity. According to them, ”forests must be out of Carbon markets if there should be REDD. Forest is not for sale! It is our life and source of livelihoods for millions of forest-dependent peoples in forest-bearing communities in Africa. World Bank, IMF, UNEP and other multilateral institutions should hands off our forests”.

Norway retracts comment on Barama operations

Guyana Chronicle, 27 August 2010 | Norway’s Ministry of Finance has withdrawn comments that seemed to express concern over operations of the Barama Company Limited (BCL) here and has reaffirmed support for this country’s low carbon development thrust. “Norway strongly supports and is impressed by the efforts of the Government of Guyana to create a low-carbon and low-deforestation future and remains a committed partner to Guyana in these efforts”, Hilde Singsaas, State Secretary in the Norwegian Finance Ministry said. Singsaas, in a letter to Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud yesterday, explained that the recommendation to censure applied to BCL’s parent company Samling Global Ltd and its activity in Sarawak, Malaysia.

28 August 2010

Treasure hunt in the Kendujhar forests, 28 August 2010 | The district of Kendujhar … in north Orissa, bordering the state of Jharkhand, has many a tale of woe. With a predominantly adivasi population, including many aboriginal tribes who the Indian state in its inherited colonial lexicon calls PTGs (primitive tribal groups), Kendujhar was part of an expanse that once signified the ‘dense and dark wilds’ thanks to the forests and wildlife it contained… And first among the traders was the Indian Forest Department itself, which opened its ‘forest administration’ in the area in 1892, followed by the arrival of ‘a Dehra Dun-trained Ranger in 1906 to place the Department on an organised basis’… “Why is the forest department cutting down trees such as sal, piasal, mohua, asan etc, which are precious to the livelihoods of the natives and their livestock, and planting useless trees like acasia, eucalyptus, teak, simbarua, chakunda etc?” asks Padu Juang from Nadam village.

Samling refutes Norway’s state pension fund claims

Kaieteur News, 28 August 2010 | Sarawak-based Samling Global Ltd. has refuted its former investor Norwegian Pension Fund’s (NPF) claims that the group had repeatedly breached regulations of its timber activities in Sarawak and Guyana, contributing to illegal logging and severe environmental damage. A company spokesperson said that Samling Global was disappointed with NPF’s public characterisation of the group, which was inaccurate and not based on complete information. “Samling Global has invited NPF to visit our operations to gain first-hand knowledge of our business and to clarify issues, but to no response. However, we respect NPF’s decision and we do not wish to comment on the decision of investors,” the spokesperson told StarBiz.

29 August 2010

Not carbon offsets, but carbon upsets

By Douglas Kysar, Guardian, 29 August 2010 | In theory, carbon offsets are a way to lower the cost of emissions reductions. Credits are awarded when a project is less greenhouse gas-intensive than it would have been in the usual course. These credits can then be sold to polluters and used to satisfy their emissions reduction obligations which would have been more expensive to undertake directly. In practice critics have pointed to numerous problems with offsets. Most fundamentally, they fail to incentivise the kind of structural transformation toward a low-carbon future that we desperately need. Here’s where “carbon upsets” come in: Rather than award credits based on development that moves us toward a cleaner but still very dirty future, why not award credits to legal and political actions that have more dramatic impact? For instance, rather than bribe fossil fuel companies to stop flaring natural gas, why not reward indigenous groups that entirely block new exploration activities?

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