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REDD in the news: 13-19 December 2010

REDD in the news: 13-19 December 2010

Cancun continues to feature strongly in the news on REDD. Here’s 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.

Cancun Agreement stripped bare by Bolivia’s dissent

Transnational Institute, December 2010 | Cancun text: A backwards step: Document effectively kills of the only binding agreement, Kyoto Protocol… Increases loopholes and flexibilities… Finance Commitments weakened… The World Bank is made trustee of the new Green Climate Fund… No discussion of Intellectual Property rights… Constant assumption in favour of market mechanisms… Green light given for the controversial REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme which often ends up perversely rewarding those responsible for deforestation, while dispossessing indigenous and forest dwellers of their land. Systematic exclusion of proposals that came from the historic World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change.

13 December 2010

REDD –Week 2 of the Cancun Conference

By Natalie Antonowicz, Climatico, 13 December 2010 | Overall, however, the second week of the Cancun Conference can be regarded as a success, in terms of the progress on REDD. In the agreement concluded in Cancun, “REDD is also part of the package and proposed mitigation actions [that] include conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks and sustainable management of forests”. The agreement “calls for the creation of national systems of monitoring and reporting actions that save forests, but also for sub-national monitoring and reporting as an interim measure”. Concerns for human rights, have also been integrated into REDD. The overall goal of the agreement signed at Cancun is to integrate and unify existing pilot projects.

Climate change is big business

By Stuart Reigeluth, Gulf News, 13 December 2010 | President Barack Obama had intervened in the last hour of COP15 in Copenhagen to dash any hopes of reaching an agreement. He shifted gears and focused on forests. What’s so special about forests? Trees placed together in large parks or naturally surrounding cities serve as green lungs to inhale the carbon dioxide humans emit. The trees then exhale oxygen that we breathe. Hence the move to ‘greenify’ cities now, from sidewalks to gardens to rooftops. When the forests are immense like the Amazon, then the impact of cutting down trees is even greater for global emissions. Rather than cut man-made carbon dioxide emissions – that come largely from the northern or ‘industrialised’ hemisphere – Obama says let’s keep emitting as much as possible for the economy to continue churning and let’s make sure the forests are kept intact.

Humiliating, embarrassing moments for the champion

By Freddie Kissoon, Kaieteur News, 13 December 2010 | How interesting that President Jagdeo has secured our forests from logging investors but Norway continues to contribute to global warming and its citizens are not impressed with high taxation on its energy sector to achieve REDD. This was one of the sharpest condemnations leveled against Mr. Jagdeo when he discovered his LCDS toy. Why were Third World countries going out of their way to prevent investment activities in their forests when their efforts were not matched by the developed world? Norway is an egregious example. It continues to secure its high income from its oil resources.

Climate Deal Signals Forest Defense Investment Will ‘Pay Off,’ Lobby Says

By Cartherine Airlie, Bloomberg, 13 December 2010 | The United Nations climate agreement may encourage billions of dollars of private investment in protecting forests by allowing for emissions savings to be more accurately measured, according to the Tropical Forest Group lobby… “These decisions include clear signals that investing in tropical forest conservation will one day pay off,” John Niles, director of San Diego-based Tropical Forest Group, said today in an e-mailed statement. “Technical steps, agreed to by all nations, are essential for accurately calculating emissions reductions.” … Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and president of the Carbon Markets & Investors Association, the industry lobby group [said,] “Recognition of the importance of sub-national activities and strong safeguard provisions are both good.” … The “lack of specifics on finance including future use of carbon markets is a concern,” Karmali said.

Building Forest Carbon Projects That Work

Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 December 2010 | The Cancún Agreements open the door for UN recognition of carbon offsets that slow climate change by rewarding people who save trees and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). For that to happen, however, more people need to understand how forest carbon works. This new living document aims to foster that expertise… This version is also being released for the purpose of gathering feedback from experts, project developers and potential users, and any suggestions to improve this document can be sent to Jacob Olander or Johannes Ebeling.

Why Nature’s Forest Will Stay in the REDD

Frugivore, 13 December 2010 | The Cancun Climate Change Conference ended last week with no binding agreement which could have held overdeveloped countries and multi-national corporations to newer and stricter laws concerning capping their levels of pollution and hyper-exploitation of forest lands. The meeting at the plush resort hotel, Moon Palace, was supposed to help hammer out a solution to the world’s growing concern over global warming, but it seems to have failed miserably in the hands of the delegates from across the world.

Cautious optimism for Cancun REDD forest deal

By Will Nichols, businessGreen, 13 December 2010 | Experts have today cautioned that further agreements may be needed before rich countries can begin to pay poorer nations to expand forestry protection measures, despite the global deal negotiated at the Cancun Summit… Ministers swerved a decision on using carbon markets to generate the requisite cash… Jon Williams, a partner at PwC, told BusinessGreen that the $4.5bn (£2.85m) pledged so far to help set up REDD was likely to come from the ‘fast-start’ funding promised at Copenhagen last year, while more long term cash would be drawn from the newly formed Green Climate Fund. Industrialised nations have been pushing for forestry protection to be funded through the sale for carbon credits. But Williams said the entire deal would have been in jeopardy had negotiators insisted on including provisions to include forestry in the carbon market in the text.

The Cancun Agreements: A Modest Outcome That Saves The U.N. Climate Process

By Miguel Fredes, Santiago Times, 13 December 2010 | For much of the developed world, REDD is being viewed as a cheap and quick mechanism to reduce global GHG emissions. At present, developed nations are facing severe economic and political roadblocks to implementing concrete emissions reduction targets through domestic legislation. Therefore, the only choice they have left is to support, by means of short-term commitments like embodied by REDD, emerging nations to reduce their GHG emissions. This explains why Norway, Japan, Canada, U.S., U.K., France and Australia pledged $3.5 billion in short-term funding for REDD at the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen. My prediction is that REDD will rapidly move forward over the next three to four years with encouragement from developed nations and developing countries that view REDD as a faster vehicle to control deforestation and GHGs, as well as a source of economic incentives to tackle illegal logging and forest fires.

Climate pact should help rather than hurt people of tropical forests

By Kate Horner (FoE US), Washington Post, 13 December 2010 | Negotiators in Cancun have been so focused on their ability to secure cheap sources of carbon credits that they have failed to ensure even the most basic social and environmental standards in the U.N. agreement on REDD+. The Rimba Raya project mentioned in the article, far from being a model project, will provide a windfall for some of the world’s largest polluters. With a conservative carbon price of $10 per ton, the project is expected to generate carbon credits worth $750 million for Shell and Gazprom, the Russian oil giant. Only $25 million, 3 percent of the project benefits, will be placed in an endowment fund for local communities. This hardly counts as a benefit to those who have historically protected forests.

Cancun Climate Talks a Failure in Disguise

By Angela Dewan, Asia Sentinel, 13 December 2010 | There were hopes for an agreement on a comprehensive framework for a scheme that would curb deforestation. Working groups agreed on some of the nuts and bolts of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme (REDD+), but without an agreement on emissions cuts, a fully-fledged REDD+ framework could not go ahead. The praised Climate Fund that emerged in Cancun has been wrongly labeled a victory. By 2020, the fund is to mobilize US$100 billion a year from developed nations to assist developing nations with climate change adaptation and green technology, but this decision was made last year during talks in Copenhagen. What the parties did this year was finalize some details, give it a name and announce that a body would be created to administer it. They could not even decide on where the money would come from.

Cancún or Can’tcún? Summary of COP 16

By Jennifer Smokelin, Environmental Law ReSource, 13 December 2010 | At COP 16, there was clearly a divide between rich and poor countries over the future of the Kyoto protocol after 2012. Maintaining Kyoto is crucial to the future of the Clean Development Mechanism and the offset market, such as LULUCF and REDD+… At present, developed nations are facing severe economic and political roadblocks to implementing concrete emissions reduction targets through domestic legislation – they can use REDD credits instead to meet reduction targets. However, funding REDD remain unclear, particularly in the long term. As of now, REDD would be financed in an adhoc approach through seed funds set up by developed nations and through private sector voluntary carbon markets. When negotiators meet next year in South Africa they will need to add more substance to these efforts.

On Climate Change, Cancun Agreements Show a Pathway Forward

Conservation International, 13 December 2010 | A framework for a partnership between developed and developing countries to halt deforestation. Protecting tropical forests (or — as it’s known by international climate negotiators — REDD+) is set up to allow countries the flexibility to participate on sub-national levels while building a national program. This would enable conservation of critical, carbon-rich forests to begin now. The REDD+ framework also includes important protections for forest peoples and biodiversity. The success of REDD+ in this agreement is due in part to the significant efforts by countries (both developed and developing), the private sector and civil society on the ground and at the national level, which demonstrated the readiness of REDD+ activities to go forward.

Lessons Learned from Costa Rica, Mexico and Ecuador on PES and Other Instruments to Advance REDD+

National Commission for Forestry Mexico, 13 December 2010 | Marcela Aguiñaja Vallejo, Ecuador, discussed the necessary steps for developing market mechanisms in her country, noting recent collaboration with Costa Rica and Mexico. Juan Manuel Torres Rojo, CONAFOR, underlined the importance of: integrating knowledge and public participation at the national level; the differentiation of payments and flexibility within the market sector; making PES focal areas more effective; and integrating PES into rural development programs. Jorge Mario Rodriguez, Costa Rica National Forestry Financing Fund (FONAFIFO), described the pillars of Costa Rica’s PES program as: strong legal support; integration into national development planning; support from public and private sectors; and solid accountability and monitoring. Sergio Graf Montero, CONAFOR, described the allocation of funding and the legal aspects of Mexico’s PES program.

Climate agreement reached in Cancun, 13 December 2010 | Although many of the details around REDD+ are still on the table, the text includes social and environmental ‘safeguards’ and creates space for interim “sub-national” projects nested under national monitoring and reporting systems. The agreement does not address whether market-based mechanisms (e.g. carbon trading) can be used to finance REDD. John O. Niles, director of the Tropical Forest Group, a forest policy group, said that while the outlook for market-based REDD remains uncertain, the agreement is a step forward for forest protection. “The Cancun Agreement includes new decisions that encourage donors and the private sector to continue deploying billions of dollars for countries that lower rates of deforestation,” Niles said in a statement. “These decisions include clear signals that investing in tropical forest conservation will one day pay off.”

Climate-smart agriculture to eradicate world hunger: FAO

The Hindu, 13 December 2010 | Climate smart agricultural practises could address the twin problems of food security and climate change, FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) Director-General Jacques Diouf said. “Forestry and agro-forestry, sectors that hundreds of millions of rural people depend on for their livelihoods, also hold great potential for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing carbon sinks, stabilising rural livelihoods and strengthening household food security,” added Mr. Diouf. “The biophysical mitigation potential of forests is estimated at about 64 per cent of the emissions from forestry, while agriculture could provide an estimated technical mitigation potential that could reach 83-90 per cent of that sectors’ total emissions,” he said. The FAO chief referred to developed countries offsetting their own emissions by investing in “REDD projects” in the developing world… REDD+ could generate an estimated $ 30 to $ 100 billion worth of investment…

Collective sigh of relief over Cancun agreement to protect tropical forests

By Lindsay Patterson, EarthSky, 13 December 2010 | “I would say there was a collective sigh of relief with the end result,” said Doug Morton, a scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, speaking of the significant progress on a new deal to protect forests in tropical countries, struck at the 2010 climate talks in Cancun, which ended last Friday… The agreement formalizes the outline of how REDD will be put into action. It also includes safeguards for the people whose livelihoods may be affected by REDD. There are still many details to be worked out, Morton said. For example, negotiators have to agree on a way to measure, report, and verify that they’ve slowed the rate of deforestation and encouraged the regrowth of forests… Before relief, there was anxiety, Morton said. REDD has been in the works for several years, and had been discussed during the 2009 U.N. Climate Change conference in Copenhagen. Support for targeting emissions in tropical forests had grown.

Grounds for hope for the climate change agenda

By George Soros, The Guardian, 13 December 2010 | By failing to make any progress beyond keeping the talks alive, the Cancún summit has given the impression that nothing is happening, and that the situation is hopeless… Today, half of Indonesia’s peatlands remain intact; if they were exposed, emissions would double. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is determined to prevent this, and he has received financial support for his efforts from Norway. Their partnership has already been joined by Australia, and others will soon follow. That is not the case… The Redd partnership (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), an effort to create financial value for the carbon stored in forests, is the prime example here. Indeed, the greatest progress is now being made where the problem is the most urgent: it is much easier to preserve forests than to restore them.

Does the Cancún agreement show climate leadership?

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 13 December 2010 | It’s the same with forests. Those trying to protect tropical forests from rampaging loggers and corporations won a lot of hard-fought concessions, but this is just the beginning of a new forest conservation era. The test will be on the ground. Where the money comes from to administer the vast scheme known as Redd (reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation) – how it gets to which people protecting what forests, who will monitor the projects and what happens if there is corruption – are all unanswered questions. Meanwhile, a fundamental split remains between countries over whether to allow developed countries to buy forest credits as offsets rather than reducing their emissions at home. References to markets were struck out, but as one senior diplomat said: “Because it does not explicitly say ‘no markets’, in legal terms it is still open for them.”

The Cancun Climate Pact Is Not a Victory for Climate Justice

By Michelle Chen,, 13 December 2010 | From a climate justice standpoint, the deal lost credibility once it was tainted with REDD, a supposed anti-deforestation initiative that indigenous communities have long decried as an assault on native people’s sovereignty and way of life. Bolivia’s Evo Morales, representing the lone country at Cancun that rejected the final document, warned the plan would blaze new trails for industry’s destruction of precious forests. The driving principle of REDD, to deter deforestation under a market scheme in which businesses buy the “right” to pollute, strikes many indigenous activists as a blank check for the commodification of critical habitats under the guise of conservation.

Cancun endgame: Kyoto II or climate talks of the living dead?

By Craig Rucker, National Journal, 13 December 2010 | The status of forests as carbon sinks was formalized and a plan called REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) put in place to fund forestry programs in the developing world with the U.S. and developed nations paying the bills. Watch for REDD to become the textbook example of corporate rent seeking and the law of unintended consequences for ECON101. See, Christopher Booker’s expose of the billions WWF hopes to rake in.

United Nations Climate Change Conference: Change of Plans

By Richard Finkmore, California Western News, 13 December 2010 | Lastly, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, emphasized the many benefits of REDD-plus, saying, “The world needs examples of climate solutions that work.” Wearing a traditional shirt given to him by the Governor of the Mexican State of Chiapas (who was also on the program), Ban Ki-moon was very clear and direct: “The world is becoming discouraged at the lack of progress” in climate negotiations. “We must seize the momentum here to generate and solidify progress.” He received an enthusiastic standing ovation from an audience which is trying hard – often despite powerful forces – to maintain hope for our planet. This was a pretty exciting event and significant because it demonstrated that many people in high positions strongly support REDD-plus and tropical forest conservation. And it’s not every day that you’re in the same room as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

On REDD and reducing deforestation in Indonesia

Jakarta Post, 13 December 2010 | Adianto P. Simamora talked to Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of the REDD taskforce, about the preparations made so far while at the climate change talks in Cancun… SIMAMORA: What about the involvement of indigenous people in the process? MANGKUSUBROTO: I don’t think there should be a debate on that. We involved NGOs in the process of REDD preparation. But Indonesians are part of various cultures so I don’t think we recognize indigenous people. What I know is that in certain places there are communities that still practice their traditional cultures and we respect them.

Where angels fear to tREDD

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Blog, 13 December 2010 | Having had a chance to examine the REDD text of the Cancun Agreement, I find it a relatively positive step forward that manages to avoid some, but not all, of the misperceptions and biases that I encountered while attending REDD-oriented side events during my time at the COP. Below are some observations and lingering concerns… stopping the expansion of palm oil plantations in Indonesia would not likely cause the expansion of palm oil in, say, the Amazon, since Amazonian soils are far less nutrient rich than the Indonesian peat soils.

New resources on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)

Cultural Survival, 13 December 2010 | What is REDD? A Guide for Indigenous Communities: This book provides information material on REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries), one of the mitigation measures now promoted for combating climate change, and its implications for Indigenous Peoples… No REDD! A Reader: This reader aspires to broaden the debate on the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism. It aims to highlight critical perspectives that are frequently drowned out by large NGOs, corporative lobbies, governments, carbon traders, and international financial institutions.

EcoSecurities Says Cancun Talks Outcome May Spur Tighter EU Carbon Target

By Alexander Sarac (EcoSecurities), Bloomberg, 13 December 2010 | “National targets and national schemes like the EU emissions trading system are setting the future demand and it is not just the political signals here that create the demand for offset credits. From a market perspective it will be interesting to observe the EU reaction to this outcome, in particular if this will induce activities to address the 30 percent question but also what will be the impact on other regional schemes such as Australia and U.S. China seems to be including carbon markets as policy solutions in its next five-year plan, which will also create market opportunities.” … “Since Bolivia had tried to specifically block market approaches it is clear that the political will necessary to include these references must have been substantial.”

EU Carbon Erases Cancun Gains as Natural Gas, Power Decline

By Ewa Krukowska, BusinessWeek, 13 December 2010 | European Union carbon permits erased early gains as natural-gas prices slumped, damping demand for emission allowances and undermining optimism that followed an agreement reached at the global climate summit in Mexico. EU allowances for December 2011 dropped 0.3 percent to 14.85 euros ($19.88) a ton on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange. They earlier rose as much as 1.8 percent, the biggest intraday increase since Nov. 17, after envoys at the United Nations’ meeting in Cancun reached agreements on reducing deforestation and a fund to manage aid for poorer nations.

Sarawak government announces destruction of 1 million hectares of tropical forests

Bruno Manser Fund press release, 13 December 2010 | The Sarawak government intends to convert one million hectares of land into oil palm plantations within the next ten years. Most of this land is currently covered by secondary rainforests, yet it also includes fruit and rubber gardens as well as hitherto untouched primary rainforests, including peatland swamp forests. According to Sarawak’s Land Development Minister, James Masing, the government needed to look into a “more aggressive” conversion of native lands into oil palm plantations. He said that the state government intended to double its oil palm plantation area from the current 920,000 hectares to 2 million hectares by 2020, and stated that his ministry had requested funds from the Malaysian federal government for this purpose.

Cancun “Fireworks”

Kaieteur News, 13 December 2010 | The government has once again turned its guns on the Kaieteur News. After a gratuitous crack that we “accepted international funding to attend the Cancun Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”GINA accused us of peddling a “falsehood… about the reason for the delay in the disbursement of funds from Norway”… Since Guyana according to President Jagdeo so desperately needs the money we can safely surmise that it is Norway that has not signed along the dotted line. Ms. Tsikata helpfully provided Norway’s reason for balking, “Since this is considered development assistance, Norway wants to make sure that funds are used in the most transparent and effective way. Once transferred to project implementers, GRIF funds must be spent applying adequate financial management, safeguards and controls.”

14 December 2010

Warm praise for Cancun deal to stop logging

By Jennifer Macey, ABC News, 14 December 2010 | One of the key agreements from the Cancun climate summit is a deal to pay poor countries to stop chopping down their rainforests… It is still unclear where the funds will come from, but some countries like Norway and Australia are already putting money into Indonesia to stop the destruction of rainforests… European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard says stopping illegal logging and the legal clearing of forests for cattle farms and palm oil plantations was seen at the Cancun climate talks as a quick fix to tackle global warming. “As always at these talks it took a while. It took many hours, many efforts. But we succeeded in the end getting a substantial deal done,” she said. “We took some further steps also here that we decided in Cancun on adaptation, on forestry and technology and finance and a number of issues.” … One of the main sticking points was the possible inclusion of carbon markets to pay for forest protection but this has been left out.

Analysis and reaction: REDD deal hailed for forests, 14 December 2010 | Despite the Bolivian-led opposition, broad agreement appears to have been found on the range of social and environmental challenges that implementing an avoided deforestation scheme throws up for developing countries and their people. The text demands REDD national strategies and action plans address “the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, land tenure issues, forest governance issues, gender considerations and the safeguards … ensuring the full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders [including] indigenous peoples and local communities”. This, of course, is only the framework and the devil is still to come in the detail as REDD national strategies are developed and programmes rolled out.

Cancún climate agreement is a win for the climate and world’s forests

CIFOR press release, 14 December 2010 | An agreement at the U.N. climate talks in Mexico to move ahead with REDD+ is a boon for efforts to cut carbon emissions, slow the rate of deforestation, promote biodiversity and combat poverty. REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) aims to reward developing nations for protecting, restoring and sustainably managing forests. It offers one of the cheapest options for cutting global greenhouses gases. “This is a positive outcome from the talks and sends an important signal to REDD+ proponents to move forward,” said Frances Seymour, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “The agreement will likely lead to scaling up REDD+ as an officially recognized and politically accepted method of curbing carbon emissions, and brings with it many opportunities for co-benefits.”

Turn REDD on its head

By James Mayers, International Institute for Environment and Development, 14 December 2010 | National REDD strategies must be based on local, not government, control, say opinion leaders from ten countries in the IIED-facilitated Forest Governance Learning Group. Argument about REDD (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) was raging in Mozambique as well as Mexico last week. By the weekend the climate negotiators in Cancun had come up with an outline agreement on REDD – a useful step and a bigger one than looked likely two weeks ago. Meanwhile, I was in Mozambique among 40 people from ten countries grappling with the practical realities of REDD. We came to talk with the Madjajane and Goba communities about their forests and then continued to debate and plan our future work in the small town of Namaacha.

Cancun Agreement Includes Undefined Forest Initiative, 14 December 2010 | One proposal is to award forest preservation with carbon credits that could then be sold on to developed countries. This proposal has drawn strong opposition from forest advocates who say commoditizing the forests in this manner intensifies the threats of abuse and corruption. In addition, such a system may grant implicit ownership of forests, where ownership has never been clear. Furthermore, the Cancun agreement’s language on protecting the rights of indigenous forest people has been criticized for being extremely weak. Another crucial detail that has yet to be settled is the definition of what is a forest under the program. Without strict language and oversight, palm plantations could actually fall under the protection of REDD+, when they are in fact one of the major causes of increasing deforestation.

Cancun Delivers After All, but Trade Issues Prove Too Difficult

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, 14 December 2010 | The agreement also establishes rules on the enhanced Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) programme, a key issue pushed by Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon. The Mexican president played a prominent role in COP 16, making several speeches at formal UNFCCC events as well as side events taking place on the sidelines of the official discussions. Caldron appeared to adopt forest issues as a pet area of interest, perhaps in hope that parties would manage to find consensus in this one area if all else failed in Cancun. Notably, the rules on REDD+ now acknowledge the need for respect for the rights of indigenous communities and others, in accordance with international law. Some developing countries, most notably Bolivia, had reservations over the possibility of an international forests agreement impinging on the traditional practices of forest dwellers.

Cancun offers hope for forests and climate

GIS Lounge, 14 December 2010 | Over the last five years, the ESA GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) Forest Monitoring team has been working with national authorities, first in Cameroon and Bolivia and more recently in the Republic of Congo and Gabon, to include forest-cover monitoring by satellites within their national Reducing Emissions by avoiding Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) programmes. The GMES Forest Monitoring team is led by GAF AG and funded by ESA, the German Development Agency and the German Development Bank. In Cancun, the Cameroon government presented results of its REDD+ pilot project, reporting on national and sub-national projects as well as regional coordination through the Commission de Forets D’Afrique Central (COMIFAC).

Reflections on the Cancun Agreements

By Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute, 14 December 2010 | While many questions were answered in Cancun, there are still many more that need to be resolved before a REDD+ framework will be operational. For example: Who will use the information about how safeguards are being promoted and supported? How will the information be used to ensure real change happens on the ground? Will this empower REDD+ parties and donors to work together to track improvements in governance as part of the development of national monitoring systems? Other questions have also been left open, including how reference emissions levels should be set, the definition of forests and degradation, and the relationship between this section of the text and nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs). Questions about what types of finance will ultimately be used are also still unanswered, yet important.

Cancun Concludes With Bare Bones Commitments

By David Waskow (Oxfam America),, 14 December 2010 | Meanwhile tenuous progress took form in the deforestation deal known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation or (REDD), which establishes a framework for rich countries to reimburse poor countries to stop logging. However, the details of how to pay for REDD are still unclear. Environmental and indigenous activists are also concerned that the ambiguous language will allow logging companies to continue tree removal by simply avoiding protected areas of forest and that rich nations will utilize the deal to offset their own carbon emissions. At it current rates, deforestation accounts for approximately 20% of CO2 emissions worldwide—more than all cars, buses, air planes, trains, and ships combined.

Cancun: The Conclusion (With Drinking Game)

By Jill Richardson, La Vide Locavore, 14 December 2010 | Additionally, it seems that REDD, the scheme in which polluters in rich nations pay poor nations to protect their forests, is going forward. Despite proclamations that “the rainforests have been saved,” I have huge doubts about this, having visited the Amazon myself this year. The issues in that region are incredibly complex, and at stake are the homes, cultures, and rights of the indigenous people who live in the Amazon. I don’t see why rich countries aren’t being held responsible for protecting their own forests, or replanting them. Why don’t we have a scheme to recover massive amounts of prairie lost across the midwestern United States? Why isn’t our country being held accountable for the deforestation and environmental degradation of our past?

South-South Summit on Climate Justice and Finance

Climate Justice Now! 14 December 2010 | At the COP 16 negotiations, the so-called REDD mechanisms have turned into one of the most hotly debated issues because of the profit opportunities for the large transnational corporations and financial interests involved. Like CDM and all carbon credit offset mechanisms, REDD, and its variants, does not tackle the real causes of climate change, which are the capitalist mode of production, accumulation, and consumption, based on the aggressive extraction of fossil fuels and other natural resources. Moreover, REDD presents a menace to food sovereignty and an additional threat: it is intended to usurp territories from indigenous, afro-descendant and peasant’s communities, taking away their sovereign rights over their lands. This neo-colonial invasion process is already in place and in many cases through strong militarization and criminalization.

The worst Cancun headline plus Stavins explains why the climate talks produced a “successful outcome”

By Robert Stavins (Harvard Environmental Economics Program), Climate Progress, 14 December 2010 | I begin by assessing the key elements of the Cancun Agreements. Then I examine whether the incremental steps forward represented by the Agreements should really be characterized as a success. And finally I ask why the negotiations in Cancun led to the outcome they did… Fourth, the Agreements advance initiatives on tropical forest protection (or, in UN parlance, Reduced Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+), by taking the next steps toward establishing a program in which the wealthy countries can help prevent deforestation in poor countries, possibly working through market mechanisms (despite exhortations from Bolivia and other leftist and left-leaning countries to keep the reach of “global capitalism” out of the policy mix).

Chris Huhne on the Success & Challenges from the Cancun Climate Change Summit, 14 December 2010 | Forestry was a key area. The conference agreed the framework for ‘REDD plus’: reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, through which developing countries will be paid for keeping trees standing rather than logging them. The conference also made progress on rules for accounting for land use, land use change and forestry under the Kyoto Protocol; an issue that was too difficult to be settled at Kyoto and has remained problematic ever since.

California outpaces UN on REDD carbon market

By MaryKate Hanlon,, 14 December 2010 | While the UNFCCC has put off any decisions on REDD financing to a future session, California in the United States is moving ahead of the international negotiating process by allowing offsets from international forest carbon into its cap-and-trade scheme, set to start 1 January 2012. The regulations allowing for REDD crediting will go before the regulatory agency’s Board for approval in Sacramento this Thursday, 16 December.

Russia Approves Highway Through Khimki Forest Near Moscow

By Michael Schwirtz, New York Times, 14 December 2010 | Environmentalists on Tuesday appeared to lose a protracted battle to prevent construction of a highway through one of the Moscow region’s last remaining forests, just months after President Dmitri A. Medvedev succumbed to a public outcry and temporarily halted the project. A government commission has approved a plan to bisect the Khimki Forest with a five-mile stretch of a highway that will eventually link Moscow and St. Petersburg, officials said Tuesday. Environmentalists have complained that the highway project will throw off Moscow’s ecological balance, slicing through a thinning belt of green space that helps filter the city’s air pollution.

Botswana government rejects high-profile court ruling

Survival International, 14 December 2010 | Four years on from a court victory which saw the Kalahari Bushmen win the right to live on their ancestral lands, the Botswana government has issued a statement flouting the ruling. In 2002, the Botswana government forcibly evicted the Bushmen from their ancestral lands inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. On December 13, 2006, after the longest and most expensive legal battle in the country’s history, Botswana’s High Court ruled that the government had forcibly evicted the Bushmen from their lands illegally and unconstitutionally. However, since the ruling, the government has continued to prevent the Bushmen from returning home, and has issued a statement that flies in the face of the High Court judgment.

PNG leader Somare steps down

By Liam Fox, ABC news, 14 December 2010 | Papua New Guinea’s prime minister Sir Michael Somare has stepped down so a tribunal can hear allegations of official misconduct against him. Sir Michael says he has “voluntarily” stepped aside so a leadership tribunal can hear allegations he failed to lodge several annual financial statements in the 1990s. The move came after his lawyers failed to obtain an injunction preventing the public prosecutor from moving to appoint a tribunal. Newly-appointed deputy Sam Abal will assume full function and responsibility of the office of the prime minister while the tribunal hears the allegations against Sir Michael. In a statement, Sir Michael said he was the victim of a “gross injustice” because there had not been a judge available to hear his application for an injunction in the last few days.

Blunt talk on protecting forests to combat climate change

By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, 14 December 2010 | What exactly is the hold-up in terms of Norway’s forestry assistance to Guyana, which Guyana’s president Bharrat Jagdeo complained about last week during a panel sponsored by Avoided Deforestation Partners in Cancun? It’s complicated. Jagdeo put the blame squarely on the World Bank, which is serving as the go-between for the money. But World Bank officials countered they are simply an intermediary and don’t have a vote on the key steering committee, which must sign off before the first installment of Norway’s $250 million pledge is delivered.

Norway is not to be blamed!

By Peeping Tom, Kaieteur News, 14 December 2010 | The World Bank, more or less, is saying that there are procedures to be followed. This does not change anything for Guyana which by now should have been in receipt of the first US$30M under the agreement. This has caused our President to become very animated. During a panel discussion on climate change, he made known his displeasure at the fact that Guyana had met its obligations under the deal with Norway but is yet to receive a cent… At the same time, however, Guyana does not have to take this sort of treatment. Norway is not doing anything free for Guyana. The funds that are awaiting disbursement are not a gift to Guyana. Guyana is not being given any free lunches under this agreement. Every cent that will be forthcoming has been earned by Guyana.

Cancun forest deal lacks details on financing

Kaieteur News, 14 December 2010 | The UN Climate Summit in Cancun, which ended last weekend, has agreed on a deal that would get rich countries to pay poor countries like Guyana to protect forests, but explicit details on where the money would come from, who will get paid and how the scheme would be monitored were left out… “If we compare the decision here on forests with what was on the table two years ago, important progress has been made,” said Lars Løvold, Director of Rainforest Foundation Norway. “The decision reflects the growing understanding that a broad and participatory approach, based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and the many vital functions of forests, is needed to prevent deforestation and forest degradation.”

15 December 2010

Forestry and climate change: Cancun changes the game

By Alan Oxley (World Growth), Jakarta Post, 15 December 2010 | After the failure of last year’s climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, the rhetoric about climate change threats was scaled right back at the meetings last week in Cancun, Mexico. This produced two important developments on forestry, a key issue for Indonesia. First, independent research now shows that deforestation is not a major generator of greenhouse gas emissions. Second, industrialized countries and WWF and Greenpeace failed to win agreement for their proposals that cessation of conversion of forest land should be a precondition for climate change aid to developing countries. Exaggeration of the impact of forest industries and understatement of the cost of halting forest conversion has been a standard feature of the climate change debate for over a decade. This has been fostered by Greenpeace and WWF.

Cancun paves way for adaptation funding deal: RI delegation

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 15 December 2010 | Indonesia hailed the outcome of the Cancun climate change talks on adaptation issues, saying it would pave the way for local farmers who were suffering from poor harvests to claim for financial losses and damage. The country said the decision came as Indonesia planned to push for financing on adaptation, both through the state budget and bilateral ties to help the population adapt to impacts of climate change. “The decision comes at the right time,” Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said on the sidelines of a plenary meeting to adopt the outcome of the Cancun conference… Indonesia also welcomed the decision to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest deforestation (REDD-plus), saying it was the best compromise to avert deadlock.

Jagdeo insists that Norway-funded projects on track, 15 December 2010 | President Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday insisted that Norway’s payment of the first tranche of US$30 million for Guyana to keep its standing tropical rainforest is on track,but he warned against consultants “peeping” into villages. He was also unabashed about the political benefits of a chunk of the cash going to Amerindian communities. “Norway recently paid over the money into our account at the World Bank so we have the money now,” he told a news briefing at his office on Shiv Chanderpaul Drive.

The Climate Agreement and us

Kaieteur News, 15 December 2010 | Even though the dust hasn’t quite settled over President Jagdeo’s intemperate outburst at the UNFCCC COP 16 at Cancun, as a country that is affected at several levels by the grim prognostications of climate change, we ought to consider how the wind is now blowing after this latest conclave. If global warming is allowed to continue at the present rate our coastland – already some six feet under sea level – will surely be inundated unless massive mitigatory steps are undertaken. Against that background, the President’s decision to construct his new palatial (retirement?) mansion at Sparendaam with the ocean practically lapping on his doorsteps, is either a signal of his faith in the ongoing negotiations to deliver funds to ward off the waters or is another manifestation of his “don’t give a damn” attitude displayed most recently at Cancun. Our forests, as we all know by now, have also been all (practically) put into mothballs by the president…

What Came out of the Cancun Climate Meeting? The First World will Subsidize Trees

By Joseph Michaels,, 15 December 2010 | It seems that the Climate Poo-Bas are trying something other than muzzling first world economies or trying to keep the poor of developing countries from becoming middle class. Now they are subsidizing trees. How rich countries envision finding that $100 billion is suggested by a little-noticed provision concerning deforestation. Many participants have cited the Cancún Agreements concerning REDD (Reductions in Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) as another cause for optimism. After all, deforestation causes roughly as many emissions globally as transportation does, and the Agreements pledge to give developing countries financial incentives to leave forests standing. In other words we will be giving Third and Forth world countries billions so that they don’t cut down their trees. I’m not sure if we get to own the trees or if a country can double count trees so that they can get more money.

Many countries commit to helping Vietnam in developing low carbon economy

Vietnam Business Economy News, 15 December 2010 | Northern Europe countries and Japan had undertaken to choose Vietnam to pilot the programs to develop low carbon economy, the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said at a press conference on December 14. Norway pledged a support package of US$100 million for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program (REDD) of Vietnam. Besides, the meeting between high officials in agriculture, food security and climate changes and the chairman of World Bank, Prime Minister of Thailand, and the US Agriculture minister had raised $4.5 billion for REDD program and $6.5 billion for the climate change funds. The press conference was held to report the activities of Vietnamese delegation at the sixteenth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29 to December 10.

The Cancun consensus

By Bouwe Dijkstra, Nottingham Economic Review, 15 December 2010 | The agreement (III.C) incorporates REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), emphasizing the need for transparency and the rights of indigenous peoples. Many issues are still unresolved, such as how developing countries can use this scheme as a way to offset their domestic emissions. The issue of offsets saw the US and Australia pitted against Bolivia. Saudi Arabia also held up agreement on REDD. Ah yes (irony alert), the lush rainforests of Saudi Arabia. In fact, Saudi Arabia was looking for compensation for reduced oil revenues caused by climate change policies. This entered the agreement under the heading of “Economic and social consequences of response measures” (III.E). While billions of people will be harmed by climate change, we should also remember that some countries will suffer from the implementation of climate change policies.

Consensus minus One

Tomorrow is today, 15 December 2010 | All the decisions made in Cancun reached consensus. Kind of. In taking a stand against what they believed were weak and insufficient targets, the use of market mechanisms, and the general lack of direct action, the Bolivian government blocked everything. Yep, blocked everything. Understandably, they spoke out against REDD+, they scoffed at meager commitments, they called for more ambitious action. However, Bolivia also blocked due to typos and missing page numbers; they blocked adaptation funding, technology transfer, a second commitment period of Kyoto. Claiming they were acting with allies, such as the African nations and the small islands states, Bolivia offended countries who were counting on progress in these negotiations. From friends of the CYD, I’ve heard that if it hadn’t been 4 am, the small island states would have walked out in protest. The African nations spoke against Bolivia, along with other allies, like Venezuela.

New data shows REDD+ is succeeding

By Doug Boucher (Union of Concerned Scientists), 15 December 2010 | Furthermore, despite the common habit of discussing REDD+ in terms of projects and carbon market offset credits – a habit of both its supporters and its opponents – Brazil’s program is neither project-level nor offset-financed. On the contrary, its approach to REDD+, generously funded with up to $1 billion in results-based compensation from Norway, is a national one, and the financing has nothing to do with the carbon market. Norway is paying Brazil $5 for each ton of CO2 that it reduces its deforestation emissions, but this payment comes from public funds and doesn’t buy Norway the right to emit a single ton more.

Cancún: Job Well Done? Indigenous Peoples Have Mixed Response

By Terri Hansen, Mother Earth Journal, 15 December 2010 | The final day of the COP and the day before the Parties emerged with the new framework, Joan Carling of the Philippines reiterated the four demands of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change on any climate processes: The recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples consistent with the UNDRIP; the right to free prior and informed consent in all actions related to climate change that affects them; recognition and protection of their traditional knowledge; and ensuring their participation in all climate change processes. “As Indigenous Peoples, we have been engaging in the climate negotiations for many years to express our great concern over the current and future impacts of changes in the climate on our peoples, our cultures and our rights,” Carling said.

The Cancún Agreements: what they mean, where issues now stand, and where they’re going (to Durban!)

By Jennfier Haverkamp, EDF blog, 15 December 2010 | The deal U.N. climate negotiators reached last week in Cancún is modest, but the gathering’s dramatic conclusion does restore confidence in the U.N. process, which was limping badly after last year’s fiasco in Copenhagen… Once the euphoria wears off, the Cancún Agreements will look much like the Copenhagen Accord brought in from its limbo, but with more elaboration, more institutions and committees, and a detailed work program for 2011 that will necessitate additional negotiating sessions… The REDD+ decision also importantly includes a reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that could provide for annual reporting of social safeguards by countries to the UNFCCC, and should provide a safeguard framework from which to start REDD+ readiness work.

Ukraine Launches Criminal Investigation Of Former PM Tymoshenko

REF/RL, 15 December 2010 | Ukraine’s former prime minister and current opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has been accused by the government of embezzling state funds and ordered not to leave the country while the investigation continues. The Prosecutor-General’s Office announced December 15 that it is investigating Tymoshenko for misspending funds received by the government for the sale of carbon credits. The government earned some $425 million from the sale. The credits were purchased by businesses in exchange for the right to emit carbon dioxide, and are part of the international emissions trading mechanism implemented by the Kyoto Protocol, an accord targeting global warming. The money earned by countries when they sell the credit is meant to be used toward further combating emissions.

A less-than-clean development mechanism

By Cecilia Remón, latinamericapress, 15 December 2010 | Industrialized countries and their companies do little to nothing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, which are in turn triggering climate change. Instead, they have created a complex mechanism that allows them to pay to preserve forests in other regions; these expenditures, in theory, offset effects the countries and companies are producing by not reducing emissions themselves. This process is called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD); it is part of the Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM), and its objective is to reduce the production of six greenhouse gases that cause global warming: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride, the latter three being fluorinated industrial gases.

16 December 2010

Gunshot Wounds and Evictions: Taking advantage of the Wikileaks Whiteout

Intercontinental Cry, 16 December 2010 | With the world’s media focused on Wikileaks – and activists still working though the COP16 Summit in Cancun – governments have been seizing the opportunity to lash out at Indigenous Peoples, carrying out mass evictions and violent police offensives without anybody even noticing… Finally, in the Sarawak region of Borneo, the Penan just discovered that the rainforest to which they were planning to relocate, is being actively cleared for oil palm plantations. As reported by Aliran, “[1,000] Penan are being forced to move by the Sarawak state government to allow the billion-dollar Murum dam project to go ahead.”

Cancun and the Future of Offsetting

By Payal Parekh, International Rivers, 16 December 2010 | Other not so positive developments are the inclusion of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) into the CDM. Unfortunately CCS is proven to be neither safe nor sound. Another worrying aspect of the new texts is that the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is even more likely to be through an offsetting mechanism. If credits can be generated this way, there will be a flood of credits and they will be of poor quality. In addition to the problems that offsetting has, which we have often commented on, deforestation credits present another whole host of problems, including leakage, monitoring and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.

Carbon trading tempts firms to make greenhouse gas

By Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 16 December 2010 | This week, apparently following Chinese threats to vent stockpiles of HFC-23 into the atmosphere, a UN panel issued two million valuable carbon credits to a company called Juhua. It has a factory in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, where the gas can be destroyed. Nobody needs HFC-23. It is a waste by-product of the manufacture of a refrigerant called HCFC-22, used mostly in developing nations. To curb the release of HFC-23 into the atmosphere, the signatories to the Kyoto protocol agreed to pay carbon credits to refrigerant manufacturers that agree to capture and destroy it. The manufacturers can then sell the credits to western companies that want to offset their obligations to cut emissions of other greenhouse gases, under a Kyoto scheme known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Bharrat Jagdeo Speaks Out On Norway Climate Funds, 16 December 2010 | President Bharrat Jagdeo has expressed disappointment in what he described as a misleading reflection by some sections of the local media in their reportage of his comments in Cancun, Mexico about the release of the Norway climate funds to Guyana. Speaking to members of the press at the Office of the President, the Head of State said, ‘the money is already paid into our bank account at the World Bank… “For the model to work, there are several other institutions that form part of the system including the World Bank, a financial intermediary institution… Norway has the money to deliver to Guyana; Guyana has the projects ready… I was making the point that it took us from September last year to now to negotiate what is basically the setting up of a current account which you can walk into a bank and set up in a day,” President Jagdeo said.

US$70M from Norway funds early next year

By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 16 December 2010 | Guyana is to receive US$70M in the first and second tranches of the Norway funds by the end of the first quarter of 2011, President Bharrat Jagdeo announced yesterday as he lashed out at a local newspaper for distorting and sensationalising comments on the agreement during last week’s United Nations climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. At a press conference at the Office of the President complex in Georgetown he said, “Hopefully by January we would see money starting to go to various projects in Guyana.” Guyana is getting US$30M for 2010 and US$40M for 2011 for projects already identified in the climate change agreement with Norway, including financing equity in the Amaila Falls hydro-project, demarcation of Amerindian lands, solar panels for Amerindian villages and transforming the economies of those villages, among others.

Norway money is there, another tranche about to be deposited

Kaieteur News, 16 December 2010 | One week after fuming that Guyana had not received a cent from Norway because of World Bank delays, President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday insisted he was not quarreling about the money not coming in. Rather, he said, he was just using Guyana as an example to illustrate the lack of movement on so called REDD-Plus models in which forest-rich nations have to develop national plans to spend money they could get from rich countries to preserve the forest. “Guyana’s case is not that we ain’t get the money yet, but it took us so long to negotiate something so simple,” Jagdeo told a press conference at his Presidential Complex in Georgetown. The “something simple” Jagdeo said was the setting up of a current account at the World Bank, something he said that could take a day, but instead took over a year, given that the process started in September 2009. So, where is the money?

Australia cracks down on illegal timber

By Morgan Erickson-Davis,, 16 December 2010 | The Australian government has announced the creation of new legislation which will put further restrictions on the import of foreign wood products in effort to halt the flow of illegally logged timber. Taking effect next year, the laws will require importers to disclose the sources of all timber products, even paper. “Illegal logging is a major problem for many developing nations and directly threatens Australian timber jobs,” said Joe Ludwig, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry. “Under the legislation, importers will now need to meet a due diligence test to ensure the timber they are sourcing has not been illegally logged.”

COP16: Cancun – Colonialism by the sea

By Polly Higgins, The Ecologist, 16 December 2010 | The only deal on the table this year was REDD+ – the commercialisation of forests into the hands of the corporate sector to make money out of supposedly saving forests. The definition of forests includes previously decimated land; it will be traded for carbon credits, allowing countries to continue with their destruction, pollution and emissions-creation. In other words, continued abuse comes at a (small) price. The custodians of the land being subjected to trade have been ignored – they are not the ones who benefit. The indigenous rights of the local communities have been refused and earth rights have been dismissed in favour of silent corporate rights to control and trade. Where colonisation is defined as plundering of people and planet, REDD+ facilitates the flourishing of eco-colonisation of the forests.

Cancun and the Future of Offsetting

By Payal Parekh, International Rivers, 16 December 2010 | Other not so positive developments are the inclusion of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) into the CDM. Unfortunately CCS is proven to be neither safe nor sound. Another worrying aspect of the new texts is that the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is even more likely to be through an offsetting mechanism. If credits can be generated this way, there will be a flood of credits and they will be of poor quality. In addition to the problems that offsetting has, which we have often commented on, deforestation credits present another whole host of problems, including leakage, monitoring and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. It seems that offsets are here to stay for a long time. This means that International Rivers will continue to monitor the Clean Development Mechanism and the new offsetting mechanisms to ensure that the use of hydro credits is drastically reduced or even banned.

Reflections on Cancun

By Sean McDonagh, IgnatianEconet’s Blog, 16 December 2010 | No one in the hall was claiming that the Cancun Agreement was a historic moment in effectively dealing with climate change… I have been encouraging Catholic Development agencies to get involved with REDD projects. Such projects could deliver significant economic benefits to poor people who live in the vicinity of tropical forests… But, of course, these Development Agencies, which in the past have specialized in areas such as education, health care and livelihood projects, would need to develop a competence in this area. This should not be difficult as there is quite a bit of money there for capacity building. REDD also leaves the door open for big business to get involved in using forestry project in the carbon offsetting market. Many community groups would be opposed to this development.

Cancunhagen: glass three-fourths empty

By D. Raghunandan, Newsclick, 16 December 2010 | The much touted REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) scheme, now certain to be part of any future global arrangement, which has at its heart the correct idea of reducing deforestation and thus increasing the capacity to absorb carbon emissions, has now become the main mode of fund transfer from developed to developing countries, and a means for the former to avoid actual emissions reductions in their own countries. CDM Projects and other project-based financing, again used as offsets, will further reduce actual emissions reductions by developed countries. Clearly, the emissions reduction pledges under the Copenhagen Accord, which have been endorsed at Cancun and are most likely to be the anchor of any global agreement to emerge from Durban next year, are grossly inadequate and could well see temperature rising around 3 degrees C by 2020 with devastating impact.

United Nations Climate Change Conference: Rain Forest Field Trip

By Professor Richard Finkmore, California Western News, 16 December 2010 | Last Thursday promised a nice change of pace, a chance to get out of meeting rooms and into the local environment. I took a field trip to the Much’ Kanan K’aax forest, a three-hour bus ride south from Cancun. In Mayan, the name of the forest means “together we take care of the jungle.” This 3,000-acre forest reserve is a pilot forest carbon offset project under REDD-plus, the climate change program which was briefly described in an earlier blog post.

California’s Historic Vote on Climate Change and RED

Tropical Forest Group, 16 December 2010 | Tonight at 7:07 pm, the California Air Resources Board voted to adopt the cap and trade regulations for AB32, California’s global warming law. The final vote passed 9 -1. The new regulations include, among many things, strong preliminary support for sub-national RED international emissions reductions… Anyone watching CARB’s process today should be proud of the integrity and openness behind this new bold direction for California. Said CARB member Berg near the end of the meeting, “today is the beginning of a new level of details”. Congratulations CARB Board members, staff and of course California voters! A recent poll shows 64% of surveyed voters support the cap and trade parts of California’s bill.

Monitoring forests: Seeing the world for the trees

The Economist, 16 December 2010 | Peru’s forests cover 72m hectares of the country (278,000 square miles). That is three times the area of Britain. And Peru intends to hold on to its greenery. In 2000 its deforestation rate was 250,000 hectares a year. By 2005 that figure was down to 150,000. This year, according to Antonio Brack Egg, the country’s environment minister, it will be 90,000. In 2021, if all goes well, it will be zero. To make sure things stay on course, Dr Brack says, the government needs to spend more than $100m a year on high-resolution satellite pictures of its billions of trees. But he hopes that a computing facility developed by the Planetary Skin Institute (PSI), a not-for-profit organisation set up by Cisco Systems, a large computing firm, and America’s space agency, NASA, might help cut that budget.

REDD+: From Kyoto to Cancun

By Swapan Mehra (Iora Ecological Solutions) India-CarbonOutlook, 16 December 2010 | This article explores the journey of REDD through the course of the climate negotiations and reviews its current status after the Cancun round of negotiations ended last week… The Cancun Decision delivered an even more defined pathway for developing REDD+. However it again stopped short of defining the precise design of a REDD+ scheme.

17 December 2010

Cancun plans leave too much room for doubt

Bangkok Post, 17 December 2010 | Buntoon Setasirote, formerly a Thai negotiator for long term cooperation action, and director of Measwatch, a state-based environmental policy think tank, said the Cancun agreements reflected national interests rather than the global interest, given the fact that the parties have opted for voluntary cuts of GHG, which cannot guarantee to keep temperatures below 2 degree Celsius to avoid irreversible climate related damage… Mr Buntoon sees problems with REDD+. It needs to carefully consider the rights of indigenous people and properly address this issue if it wants to implement REDD+. Specially critical is the issue of mitigation. If the country makes some GHG cuts, it may help others gear toward more sustainable development. The problem is that the burden is not balanced. So Thailand, as well as other developing countries, should demand that the developed countries do more.

Settle long standing snags: REDD team

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 17 December 2010 | The presidential team tasked with paving the way for the REDD carbon credit scheme has set high reform targets for forest governance, including resolving long-standing zoning and licensing issues, ahead of a forest moratorium on new licenses that will become effective next year. The taskforce said it aimed to resolve forest boundary issues, forest categorization, spatial planning and overlapping use of forests. “The two-year moratorium will be a “time out” to improve things related to the forest governance,” said the president’s unit for development monitoring and oversight, Nirarta Samadhi. He said the REDD scheme, which stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, could not work effectively if forest problems remained unresolved. “Initially, the taskforce will focus only on REDD, but inevitably we need to settle forest manage-ment first.”

California approves cap-and-trade under global warming law, 17 December 2010 | The California Air Resources Board voted 9-1 to adopt cap and trade regulations for AB32, California’s 2006 climate law. The move, which establishes the first compliance carbon trading system in the United States, opens the door for carbon offsets generated via forest conservation projects. The new rules will allow polluting industries to buy and sell emissions allowances. 90 percent of allowances would be free during the early stages of the program, but as the cap tightens, fewer allowances will be available. By 2020 the cap would limit emissions to 1990 levels.

Offset standards: how to spot the good schemes

By Martin Wright, Green Investing, 17 December 2010 | Forestry was the earliest target for offset funding, and no wonder. Everyone loves the idea of planting trees for the future. One of the first specialist offset companies (along with ClimateCare) was originally called Future Forests – now the Carbon Neutral Company.Some early forest offsets drew sharp criticism, however, and were found wanting on the three key ‘tests’ of additionality, permanence and leakage. Wary of being associated with something so controversial, many organisations stopped buying forest offsets altogether. But recently they’ve returned to favour, not least because of renewed focus on the speed and scale with which the world’s tropical forests are being destroyed. This has in part been encouraged by the conclusions of the Stern Review, which warned that rainforest loss alone would, in just four years, release more carbon into the atmosphere than every flight from the dawn of aviation until 2025.

Weekly Mulch: Was Cancun Climate Conference a success?

By Sarah Laskow,, 17 December 2010 | The United Nations-led Climate Conference at Cancun was not a diplomatic disaster, but for climate activists and grassroots groups, it wasn’t a success either… As Michelle Chen explained at ColorLines, “From a climate justice standpoint, the deal lost credibility once it was tainted with REDD, a supposed anti-deforestation initiative that indigenous communities have long decried as an assault on native people’s sovereignty and way of life.” … At IPS, Stephen Leahy reported, “REDD remains very controversial. It is widely touted as a way to mobilise $10 to $30 billion annually to protect forests by selling carbon credits to industries in lieu of reductions in emissions. … Many indigenous and civil society groups reject REDD outright if it allows developed countries to avoid real emission reductions by offsetting their emissions.”

Battle in Cancun: The Fight for Climate Justice in the Streets, Encampments and Halls of Power

By Andalusia Knoll,, 17 December 2010 | Additionally, many people from the global north says that REDD allows their countries to continue with their carbon intensive projects, such as Tar Sands extracting oil in the sands of Canada, and the operation of polluting power plants and factories all across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Kerri Fulton with Youth for Climate Justice from Washington, D.C. said, “What we find in these carbon offset programs is that they will decide to plant a tree plantation in another country and think that they reduced their carbon emissions, but they didn’t actually stop the emissions at the source. We are dealing with people who live next to huge polluting industries in the U.S. in communities of color and low income communities. That pollution is what we want to see reduced at its source.”

California-Chiapas REDD Partnership Heating up Quickly: Hearings in Sacramento

By Jeff Conant, Climate Connections, 17 December 2010 | By the end of the day yesterday, AB 32 had been approved 9 to 1 by the California Air Resources Board. Of such significance that Governor Schwarzenegger put in a personal appearance at the hearing, the law will set the pace for global warming legislation nationwide; unfortunately, it locks in cap and trade as the keystone of the approach.

Prominent indigenous leader gets death threats in Guyana, 17 December 2010 | Environmental groups have written to Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo over recent threats against Tony James, the President of the Amerindian Peoples Association in Guyana… According to the Amerindian Peoples Association, James has received several threats during the past few weeks including one instance where his colleague was told “they want your head; they want you dead”. “Guyana has one of the highest crime rates in the world, so such threats must be taken seriously,” said a Guyanese source in Georgetown who asked that his name not be used.

Sectoral (and REDD) language in ARB’s Regulations Order

Tropical Forest Group, 17 December 2010 | The 188-page ARB rule is hyperlinked in the blog title bar. TFG has also transcribed the portion of the decision on sectoral crediting, where REDD is located. Below is our unofficial transcription of the relevant sections (from pages 176 to 178). § 95991. Sector-Based Offset Credits. Sector-based offset credits may be generated through reduced or avoided GHG emissions from within, or carbon removed and sequestered from the atmosphere by, a specific sector in a particular jurisdiction. The Board may consider for acceptance compliance instruments issued from sector-based offset crediting programs that meet the requirements set forth in section 95994 and originate from developing countries or from subnational jurisdictions within those developing countries, except as specified in subarticle 13.

18 December 2010

Give our trees a chance

By Jessica Cheam, New Straits Times, 18 December 2010 | The growing effort to preserve the world’s remaining forests received a major boost last week at the climate change talks in Cancun. The UN has moved a significant step closer to implementing a plan called Redd. This scheme would offer financial incentives to developing countries to stop destroying their forests. Details of the plan need to be fleshed out, such as ensuring the deal has environmental and social safeguards for the rights of indigenous people, and that deforestation does not just move from one part of a country to another. Still, it offers hope to those fighting to save the diminishing green havens that serve as the lungs of the globe. Rainforest Foundation Norway director Lars Lovold noted that ‘important progress has been made… The decision reflects the growing understanding that a broad and participatory approach… is needed to prevent deforestation’.

Lunacy at the Moon Palace: Aka: The Cancun Mess(e)

By Anne Petermann, Climate Connections, 18 December 2010 | I have not yet heard from Magoumi or Warren if Global Justice Ecology Project has lost its accreditation to participate in future UN Climate COPs. Or if any of us will be allowed to enter its premises in the future. But those conferences are such energy-sucking, mind-numbing, frustrating clusterf#*ks that if we are not allowed back in, I can’t say I will have any regrets. Next year’s climate COP will take place in Durban, South Africa, where the UN will face off with the social movements who, against all odds, brought down Apartheid. Now THAT will be something…

19 December 2010

Indigenous peoples’ forest rights and REDD in East Kalimantan

By Mark Poffenberger (Community Forestry International) and Jill Blockhus (The Nature Conservancy), Jakarta Post, 19 December 2010 | The establishment of the Berau Forest Carbon Program, a government-led district level REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) initiative is an attempt to slow deforestation and degradation trends by creating incentives for local stakeholders to adopt forest conservation and restoration measures. Whether this REDD program can generate sufficient financial incentives for sustainable management of forests to compete with potential revenues from massive palm oil plantations and coal surface mining, remains to be seen. Currently, around 52 percent of the district’s 2.2 million hectares has been allocated for timber and mining enterprises, and palm oil estates.

ADB will not finance dirty energy projects

By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 19 December 2010 | A lot of attention has been given to forest and land-use. Norway has pledged $1 billion in resources and there is also strong bilateral support from Australia, the United States, Germany, Japan and from multilateral support from agents of the climate investment fund. The ADB is working with the World Bank and the government of Indonesia. We have worked through the investment program in cooperation with the World Bank and Partnership to provide between $60 million and $80 million, mostly in grants. We are working with the REDD taskforce and it should be coordinated closely with Norwegian funding. In REDD-plus, the government should able to generate external financing of between $400 million and $450 million for the next three years. But I don’t think there will be any problems in finding financing for the REDD development phase.

Support for Amerindian communities should secure votes at next polls – Jagdeo

Stabroek News, 19 December 2010 | President Bharrat Jagdeo says that the administration’s support for Amerindian communities as part of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) is a service but he hopes it will result in support during the next election. Asked on Wednesday to respond to critics who say that his support of Amerindian communities is an effort to secure votes for his party at the next elections, Jagdeo said normally governments would engage in projects that would ensure they are re-elected. [R-M: subscription required]

Guyana will continue the fight

Guyana Chronicle, 19 December 2010 | can justifiably take pride in what it has achieved in trying to help the world avert the disastrous effects of climate change, and President Bharrat Jagdeo is determined that it will continue in this leadership role. He last week noted that Guyana was going through some tough climate change model-building experiences, but pledged, “We have strong shoulders; we can fight and deal with this.” … Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) has already garnered much international backing, including US$250M over the next five years from Norway as payment for preserving this country’s forests. The LCDS is based largely on the UN-backed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) which has been expanded to REDD+ which goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The element of trust versus the element of time are at the heart of the Norway-WB-Guyana impasse

By Emile Mervin, letter to the editor Kaieteur News, 19 December 2010 | On his return to Guyana after Cancun, Mexico, President Bharrat Jagdeo said he was not agitated about Guyana not having the money from Norway via the World Bank (WB), but about the time the WB is taking to deliver, especially given that it is part of the process in developing national REDD Plans… Norwegian Prime Minister, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, who was present, responded by explaining that Norway was willing to disburse its forestry funds once the country in question had proven it had sequestered carbon in its trees. “Results are what we’re looking for,” he emphasised. The issue, therefore, is not about time, but about trust, thus obviating the question: Why didn’t President Jagdeo produce documentation of the results for the world to see and satisfy Mr. Stoltenberg’s curiosity, which conveyed the impression Guyana did not satisfy the condition to receive the first tranche a year ago?

Jagdeo’s mis- conceptions of the details of Guyana-Norway MOU source of international embarrassment

By Christopher Ram, Stabroek News, 19 December 2010 | The road from Oslo, Norway to Cancun, Mexico has been proving to be a rather rocky one for Guyana’s President Jagdeo. In February 2009, Jagdeo and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg signed a memorandum of understanding in the Norwegian capital Oslo under which Guyana would receive from Norway up to US$250 million ($51.7 billion) during a five year period ending in 2015 for this country to preserve its forests. In return Guyana has undertaken to accelerate its efforts to limit forest-based greenhouse gas emissions and protect its rainforest as an asset for the world. [R-M: subscription reuquired.]

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