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REDD in the news: 20-26 December 2010

REDD in the news: 20-26 December 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.

Developing Social and Environmental Safeguards for REDD+

Forest Trends, December 2010 | Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) mechanisms are one of the best short term alternatives for significantly reducing green house gas emissions, thus contributing to minimize the impacts of global climate changes. This guide describes a process for developing REDD+ socio and environmental safeguards in Brazil that is based on a broad participation of all parties involved. The discussion process included the private sector, environmental organizations, representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities, smallholders, and research institutions.

Building Forest Carbon Projects

By Jacob Olander and Johannes Ebeling, Forest Trends, December 2010 | Developing forest carbon projects is complex and often daunting for project proponents, whether they are from the private sector, civil society organizations or government agencies. Successful project development requires complying with rigorous requirements for analyzing and documenting carbon benefits as well as an array of legal, business, community relations issues – in addition to the challenging work of carrying out reforestation, forest and land management activities that go beyond business as usual – in order to create carbon benefits. This document aims to provide streamlined guidance to project proponents and developers to help navigate these challenges. It focuses on outlining key steps and components of developing a forest carbon project that can produce marketable emissions reductions under what are currently the most widely utilized carbon standards: the VCS, the CDM, and, as co-certification, the CCBS.

Contracting for Forest Carbon

By Slayde Hawkins, Michelle Nowlin, Daniel Ribeiro, Ryan Stoa, Ryke Longest and Jim Salzman, Forest Trends, December 2010 | Forest carbon payments – payments for restoring or planting forest, or for preventing forest degradation or deforestation – can help to prevent and reverse forest loss. However, forest carbon transactions today raise many challenging issues for participants, including difficult legal questions. Despite almost twenty years of transacting forest carbon, and more than 67.8 million tons of carbon dioxide transacted, transaction costs and legal fees remain significant and unpredictable due to the range of project types and complexity of forest carbon projects. This document seeks to lower transaction costs and level the playing field by explaining and discussing the clauses of an emission reductions purchase agreement (ERPA), which is a typical contract used to buy and sell credits for carbon emission reductions.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Indonesia: The need to learn from development experience

By Thomas Mouritz, Murdoch University, December 2010 | Over recent years the role that Indonesia could play in REDD has received increased attention. Although the country has one of the world’s largest stores of terrestrial carbon in its extensive coverage of tropical rainforest and peat swampland, it has experienced an alarming rate of long term deforestation. This paper discusses the development of REDD in international climate negotiations and asserts that effective implementation of REDD in developing countries will require the integration of development experience into the environmental and economic paradigms within which the issue is predominantly assessed. Further, it examines the concept of payment for economic services (PES) and other existing development mechanisms already in place in Indonesia which might be used, or at least provide guidance for, the implementation of a system for effectively reducing forest-related emissions.

Comparison of methods for the measurement and assessment of carbon stocks and carbon stock changes in terrestrial carbon pools

Collaboration for Environmental Evidence, no date | [T]he REDD+ instrument, as agreed at COP-16 of the UNFCCC in December 2010 … means that, potentially, all forest resources in developing countries are subject to accountable mitigation actions. The Cancun agreement also stipulates that robust and transparent national monitoring systems of the above mitigation activities shall be developed. As a consequence, for the implementation of REDD+, it is crucial to determine the spatio-temporal variation of carbon stocks. Obtaining field measurements and developing estimation models to do so is an expensive and time-consuming task. This systematic review will compare methods of measuring carbon stocks and carbon stock changes in all primarily vegetated land use and land cover types, e.g., forest, croplands, wetlands, pastures, agroforestry systems (FAO, 2005), and all major terrestrial carbon pools (soil including peat, deadwood, litter, above and below-ground biomass).

Carbon rights in REDD+: towards a common understanding – summary of Cancun event Dec 2010, December 2010 | This four page summary of an event on carbon rights in REDD+ at Cancun (4 December 2010) includes information on how carbon rights can be understood in a REDD+ context and gives insights on the interpretation of carbon rights in Costa Rica, Ghana and the Philippines.

Community Action vs. Corporate Control – A Reflection on Cancun

By Ananda Lee Tan, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, no date | The deals being brokered and negotiated, such as the rapid expansion of the CDM, World Bank management of climate financing, and the Horse Trading venture that is known as REDD, or (United Nations Collaborative Programme on) Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, underscore the emergence of one of the largest growing markets in human history. According to Soumya Dutta of the South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy: “Many debt-ridden small African nations are seeing the money that they might get through the scheming designs of REDD and have capitulated under the attack of this REDD brigade. It’s a win-win situation, both for the rich nations as well as for the rich of the poor nations. The real poor are a burden in any case, to be kept at arms length – if not further.”

Women and REDD

Healthy Parks Healthy People Central, no date | IUCN’s Global Senior Advisor on Gender, Lorena Aguilar, was in Cancun to launch the initiative. She spoke after the summit to HPHP Central about the critical role women play in climate action… What are some of the practical measures you have adopted to get women involved in REDD negotiations? One of the advantages of REDD is that it’s something new that no one has done before. This is not a women issue or a men issue, the communities have not yet put a tag onto these processes, so you have a tremendous opportunity to go and say: ‘This process is going to be with everyone in the community, men and women.’ So I think that the possibilities are there, the willingness in some of these institutions is there. For example IUCN has been doing this process in Ghana so far, and we have put as a condition that women have to come. Sometimes you need a special forum for them because they will not speak when the men are there, but that’s our role.

20 December 2010

The carbon detectives

NZ Herald, 20 December 2010 | Cutting greenhouse-gas emissions is challenging enough. But what if we can’t even measure the pollution we’re trying to reduce? … Today US$141billion ($188billion) worth of credits that help countries meet their Kyoto goals are changing hands in global emissions markets. And business is booming in offsets – the right for countries and companies that still pollute too much to claim credit for green projects elsewhere. All those efforts are based on bottom-up calculations being accurate… Pieter Tans, a Boulder, Colorado-based senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says with billions of dollars riding on markets that are literally based on thin air, emissions trading has to be especially transparent… “As soon as emissions become worth a lot of money, I start losing faith in self-reported numbers regardless of who signs off on them,” Tans says.

Getting down to the haze issue

CSR digest, 20 December 2010 | CAWG (Climate Change Working Group) is the first corporate driven alliance to address haze, led by Indonesian energy giant Medco from Indonesia, agri-giant Wilmar International and overseen by not-for-profit, Conservation International from Singapore… CAWG group member, Dorjee Sun, is also the CEO of Carbon Conservation and is passionate about forests, carbon, community development, conservation and climate change… In order to motivate haze-contributing companies to stop causing haze, or allowing haze to be caused, CAWG has adopted a carbon finance scheme, “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD)… REDD projects inherently possess a social element by including the local communities into consultations leading up to the plan, to ensure that benefits flow to them.

Commitment to environment questionable

By Wiryono, Jakarta Post, 20 December 2010 | Several months after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed the country’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions by 26 percent in Copenhagen, the Indonesian and Norwegian governments, in May 2010, signed a US$1 billion deal to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia. In November this year, we and another 192 signatory nations to the CBD agreed to save biodiversity. Also in November, we joined 12 other countries in expressing commitment to protecting tigers from extinction. These commitments seem encouraging for the environment. However, many have cast doubt on our seriousness in implementing these promises. The lack of government political will to combat rampant corruption, for example, may render environmental protection programs ineffective. After all, this is not the first time we have expressed commitment to the protection of the environment, but our environment continues to deteriorate.

Gurmit Singh – Series of Malaysian Climate Heroes in Cancun, COP16

Malaysian Youth Climate Justice Network, 20 December 2010 | 1. What do you do professionally during most of the year? General environmental work in my capacity as Chairman of CETDEM – attending meetings with government officials, speaking at seminars & events, chairing Board meetings. I am coordinating the regional node of Climate Action Network Southeast Asia [CANSEA] since July this year… 5. Should we paint Malaysia REDD? What is important in the REDD text? I advised the Minister against even REDD+ as I do not believe that we will be able to sustain environmental integrity of such protected forests given our current forestry management practises, especially in Sarawak. I have not carefully read the text and cannot offer any comments at this stage.

Nightmare and reality

Stabroek News, 20 December 2010 | However he may try to spin it, the record will show that President Jagdeo described Guyana’s experience tapping forest protection funds from Norway as a “nightmare”… In an interview with the Washington Post, Mr Erik Solheim said that much of the delay stems from the environmental, human rights and fiduciary safeguards the World Bank requires. “All these are good, but it takes time, it makes things slower,” Solheim told the Post, adding that to be fair, while Norway was also frustrated with the delays, these safeguards were “forced upon the World Bank by countries like Norway.” … Solheim added that when it comes to Norway, “We do not need a huge number of safeguards. It has to be non-corrupt, the money needs to be spent on [preserving forests that are] sequestering carbon.”

Biodiversity in Indonesia on the Brink

By Shari Nijman, Jakarta Globe, 20 December 2010 | As the United Nation’s International Year of Biodiversity draws to a close, Indonesia, home to some of the earth’s richest ecosystems, still struggles to protect some of its most vulnerable creatures. Indonesia is considered a “megadiverse” country because of its wide variety of ecosystems. It has the largest number of mammal species in the world and the third-largest number of reptiles. “There is an amazing concentration of species in Indonesia,” said Endang Sukara, vice chairman of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI). “In some places, we’ve found well over 200 different organisms wider or taller than 10 centimeters wide in an area of only 0.2 hectares.” However, Endang warned that protecting our biological resources was not high on Indonesia’s list of priorities. “Biodiversity is not on the national agenda right now, with such a fast developing economy,” he said.

The REDD+ Decision in Cancun

By Kemen Austin, Florence Daviet and Fred Stolle, World Resources Institute, 20 December 2010 | After almost three years of difficult negotiations, parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have agreed to slow, halt, and reverse forest loss and the related emissions in developing countries (REDD+). However, there is still much work to do before parties to the UNFCCC can recognize potential REDD+ countries’ actions. The Cancun Agreements provide important guidance for all actors – countries, NGOs, multilateral institutions – who are helping countries prepare for REDD+ in the “fast-start” period through 2012. However, their actions will remain outside of (though now guided by) the UNFCCC, until discussions about appropriate methods for tracking and financing national mitigation actions are completed.

Indonesia earns major benefits, leverage in Cancun environmental summit: minister

Xinhua News Agency, 20 December 2010 | Indonesian Environmental Affairs Minister Gusti M. Hatta said on Monday that Indonesia gained significant benefits and progress that would help the country in dealing with climate change issue in the recent world’s environment summit held in Cancun, Mexico. Speaking to the press on the results the summit, Gusti, who acted as head of Indonesian delegation in the summit, said that Indonesia has pocketed climate change deals and environment management with several countries on bilateral basis during the summit. “I made bilateral meetings with my counterparts from South Korea, Japan, Swiss, Congo and Mexico whose results would be greatly helping us in tackling the impacts of climate change,” Gusti told a press conference.

RI’s growing climate change challenge

By Yansen, Jakarta Post, 20 December 2010 | Therefore, our participation in nature-based solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation is the right pathway to follow. Indonesia’s active involvement in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is part of our shared responsibility to save our planet. The development of REDD to REDD-plus is a good sign of the changing paradigm on the plan itself. REDD-plus does not just view natural forests as carbon stock, but far more importantly, as natural ecosystem service resources. However, the development of nature-based solutions should not reduce developed nations’ responsibility to cut their emissions. Tropical biodiversity itself is also vulnerable to climate change. There are many tropical species that live in a narrow habitat range. These species are especially vulnerable to temperature and habitat changes.

Morales: Bolivia was not alone in Cancun, it stood with the people in defense of life

By Adalid Cabrera Lemuz, ABI, 20 December 2010 | President Evo Morales denied Monday that Bolivia stood alone at the climate change conference in Cancun, saying instead that it preferred “to be on the side of the peoples of the world that defend life in the face of aggression toward the environment and the planet.” Morales said Bolivia refused to sign the Cancun Accord “based on the principle of responsibility and the need to defend Mother Earth, which is under attack from the irrational politics of industrialization of the developed nations.” “It is unfortunate that the industrialized countries fail to assume their responsibility and expect developing countries like Bolivia to carry on their shoulders the crisis generated by capitalism,” he said.

Bad deal at Cancun

By Praful Bidwai, The International News, 20 December 2010 | The Cancun Agreements create REDD (reduced emissions through deforestation and degradation), a market mechanism ostensibly to promote forest conservation. As tribal activists argue, this commodifies forests by treating them as mere stocks of carbon and doesn’t recognise the rights of forest-dwelling communities… The CA will greatly expand carbon trading – through REDD and the inclusion of the dubious technology of Carbon Capture and Storage under the Clean Development Mechanism… Carbon trading is conceptually flawed. Using market mechanisms to combat climate change is irrational. Even former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern admits that climate change represents history’s greatest market failure. The CDM is a mega-scandal, with unreasonable emissions allowances for Northern corporations and inappropriate Southern projects (like making a refrigerant gas – only to burn it to earn credits).

REDD pilot projects in Indonesia

ECOS Magazine, 20 December 2010 | In October 2009, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) announced that ~15?000 ha of forest originally destined to become a pulpwood plantation in Kampar, in the Riau province of central Sumatra, would instead be used as a carbon reserve. Ms Chris Lang from REDD-Monitor argues that APP’s use of the term ‘carbon plantation’ creates uncertainty over whether a tropical forest or a plantation is being conserved. The current definition of a forest under the Kyoto protocol could potentially include a plantation. CIFOR’s Ms Seymour thinks this will not be a problem for REDD in Indonesia. ‘If the REDD finance mechanism is based on the actual carbon impacts, I don’t think there is an issue of converting native forests to plantations being eligible to finance due to the loss of carbon in this process,’ she says. ‘More legitimate concerns are essentially leakage – if you are protecting forests in one place, it might displace economic activity to other places…’ she says.

21 December 2010

Why Bolivia stood alone in opposing the Cancún climate agreement

By Pablo Solon, The Guardian, 21 December 2010 | Many commentators have called the Cancún accord a “step in the right direction.” We disagree: it is a giant step backward. The text replaces binding mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with voluntary pledges that are wholly insufficient. These pledges contradict the stated goal of capping the rise in temperature at 2C, instead guiding us to 4C or more. The text is full of loopholes for polluters, opportunities for expanding carbon markets and similar mechanisms – like the forestry scheme Redd – that reduce the obligation of developed countries to act.

Progress continues in implementation of Guyana/Norway agreement

Guyana Chronicle, 21 December 2010 | Guyana has fulfilled its commitment for the first tranche of funds under the Guyana-Norway Agreement, according to the office of Climate Change (OCC) based at the Presidential Complex in Georgetown. The first installment of US$30M of the US$250M pledged under the Agreement has been deposited at the World Bank, which will serve as the Trustee for the transfer of funds provided under the Agreement between the governments of Norway and Guyana, to support the delivery of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).

Remaining steadfast

Guyana Chronicle, 21 December 2010 | While, on a personal basis, President Bharrat Jagdeo can afford to ignore contentious protagonists because he has achieved immense stature as a brilliant economist and a visionary leader, who has propelled Guyana out of the image and the shadows of Jonestown to becoming a tiny dynamo within the third world framework, highly recognised on the world stage, as President of Guyana, he has no choice but to defend the policies, programmes and initiatives formulated to address socio-economic imperatives of the country that he heads… On a panel convened by the Avoided Deforestation Partners non-governmental organisation, which included Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg … President Jagdeo explained how Guyana and Norway’s experience could provide valuable lessons for how multilateral institutions like the World Bank could be modernised to provide the financial intermediary services required for climate finance.

Stabroek News, Kaieteur continue to play politics with climate change

By Donald Jackson, letter to the editor Guyana Chronicle, 21 December 2010 | Guyana remains committed to abiding by the social, environmental and fiduciary safeguards for the use of the monies so that its model can be replicated by other countries. The projects to which the funds are being allocated have long been identified in the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and are in no way being rushed. I remember that these were written up and presented again in the revised LCDS released in May this year, so what’s this fuss about projects being rushed? I find it amazing that politics can so cloud people’s patriotism. Guyana is poised to receive funds earmarked for the further development of people, yet some people are opposed to this. What’s wrong with projects for the development of Amerindian communities, like land demarcation and transforming the economies of villages? What’s wrong with developing hydro-power electricity to provide better and cheaper fuel to Guyanese?

A case of Ignorance, plain and simple

By Sylvan Blackman, letter to the editor Guyana Chronicle, 21 December 2010 | Christopher Ram, the accountant/lawyer who fancies himself as a TV talk show host and columnist and who recently declined to be considered as a presidential candidate for the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), is at it again and is getting it wrong – again. This political advisor to an opposition party is so eager to deride the Guyana Government and President Bharrat Jagdeo that he fails to do even basic homework… From what I know, Guyana has never said that it will stop gold mining, gold exploration, road building, etc. REDD does not mean that Guyana’s development is on hold but is about reducing emissions through sustainable forestry practices and other methods. It is also well-known that Guyana’s deforestation rate is well below the internationally accepted standard and I find it bewildering that Ram will say that we are increasing carbon emissions.

Oppose for the sake of opposing

By Carl Bruno, letter to the editor Guyana Chronicle, 21 December 2010 | I urge President Bharrat Jagdeo to carry on with the Low Carbon Development Strategy and to ignore the continuing attacks from the Kaieteur News, the Stabroek News and others. The LCDS has been a success and will continue to succeed in spite of what these people say. These were the same people who were opposed to the Berbice River Bridge, the National Stadium and other similar projects. They oppose for the sake of opposing. But the silent majority of Guyanese are firmly behind you, Mr. President.

Emissions trading: Questions and Answers on enhanced market oversight for the European carbon market

Eurasia Review, 21 December 2010 | The European carbon market has grown significantly both in size and sophistication during its first six years of operation, but it remains a relatively young market. The purpose of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is to ensure that the greenhouse gas emission reductions that are necessary in the participating sectors are made at least cost. It is therefore important to ensure that the market can continue to expand and be relied upon to give an undistorted carbon price signal. It follows that there needs to be an appropriate market oversight framework, the main purpose of which is to secure fair and efficient trading conditions for all market participants. This is achieved by way of transparency requirements as well as by preventing and sanctioning market misconduct, in particular insider dealing and market manipulation.

UN Urges Nations to Act on Cancún Agreements

UN press release, 21 December 2010 | In particular, [Ban Ki-moon] noted the important agreement reached on REDD Plus, backed by the financial resources to implement it… REDD-Plus goes beyond deforestation – which some estimates show has contributed up to one-fifth of global carbon emissions, more than the world’s entire transportation sector – and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. “By promoting the conservation and sustainable management of forests we can not only mitigate climate impacts and increase resilience, but go a long way towards slowing the accelerating rate of biodiversity loss,” Mr. Ban said in the message, which was delivered by Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Nukak’s desperate plea to return home

Survival International, 21 December 2010 | A leader of the Nukak tribe from the Colombian Amazon has made a desperate appeal for his people’s survival before the country’s top human rights committee. ’We want to return to our forest,’ said Joaquín Nuká, ‘from where the FARC guerrillas forced us out – why, we don’t know.’ The Nukak are a nomadic hunter-gatherer people from the Guaviare region of south-east Colombia. They have been forced to flee from their lands by the FARC, a left-wing rebel army that claims the Nukak pose a security risk to their illegal operations in the area. Since first emerging from the forest in 1988, more than half of the Nukak have been wiped out, mostly by common diseases caused by contact with outsiders. The Indians are now struggling to adapt to a new sedentary way of life, living on the outskirts of towns and relying on government handouts to survive.

Thirty Areas in Indonesia are Labeled REDD

Tempo Interactive, 21 December 2010 | More than 30 areas that could be used for future carbon reduction programs in Indonesia was announced by the Forestry Ministry on Tuesday. The scheme, also known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or REDD is still in its initial stages and is intended to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest damage. Nurma Sripatin, the Forestry Ministry’s Environment Control Center chief, says her office will keenly observe the progress of the existing programs. “We want to monitor the activity, look at who is involved and how it can be managed in the future,” Nurma told reporters at the Forestry Ministry. Later, she said, her office would also listen to what the businessmen expected from the government in relation to future REDD programs. Nurma acknowledged there were several problems on the ground such as land ownership and synchronizing policies between the central and regional governments. “Overlaps often occur,” she added.

Out of Cancun Climate Talks, A Breakthrough for Preserving Wetlands Globally

By Stacy Feldman, SolveClimate News, 21 December 2010 | Climate negotiators at UN talks agreed to consider letting rich countries cut their climate-changing emissions by “rewetting” degraded peatlands, in the first official sign of global action on the issue. It was a victory for conservationists who long fought for incentives in UN forestry and land-use proposals to entice governments to stop draining carbon-rich swamps. “It is really a big achievement,” Susanna Tol of the Netherlands-based environmental group Wetlands International said in a telephone interview… Still, nothing is final at this point. “Overall the … negotiators were not able to spend the time needed on this to get agreement,” Florence Daviet, a senior research associate at the Washington, DC-based WRI said … it still has not been determined if accounting for peatland drainage would be mandatory or voluntary. Tol said a voluntary scheme “is already an achievement,” though a binding commitment should be the goal.

What REDD can Learn from Soybeans and Corn

Ecosystem Marketplace, 21 December 2010 | Even if those frameworks come into existence, schemes seeking to slow climate change by harvesting the carbon markets to save trees and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) are risky propositions. After all, they ask people to invest up front for the delivery of a unproduced product at a specific time and place in the future, and hundreds of things can go wrong between the time the contract is made and the time the product is delivered. That makes them a lot like commodity forward contracts, which were pioneered by the Chicago Board of Trade in the 1800s and revolutionized agriculture by giving farmers, grain elevator operators, and anyone else who depends on food a way to compartmentalize and hedge their risk.

REDD: Protecting forests or shirking responsibilities?

Cabi’s blog, 21 December 2010 | Many fear the protection means ownership. “In various REDD pilot projects throughout the world, the rights of indigenous peoples have consistently been violated,” said Jihan Gearon, from the Indigenous Environmental Network. No laws protect indigenous inhabitants from being removed from their land by the corporate interests that own it through REDD, and this has already played out in pilot projects in Kenya, Congo and Papua New Guinea. The consequences? Potentially a REDD scheme that sees neither the rich world’s carbon emissions coming down, nor effective measures introduced to genuinely protect tropical forests. Under pressure to form commitments to reduce emissions, developed countries may be seeing REDD as the quick and easy option. Critics of REDD, such as Simon Counsell at the Guardian, argue that REDD will fail to mitigate climate change unless developed countries begin to reduce carbon emissions at home.

UN urges nations to act on Cancun agreements

Washington Bangla Radio USA, 21 December 2010 | Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also highlighted the achievements of the Cancún conference in a message to the closing ceremony for the International Year of Biodiversity, held in the Japanese city of Kanazawa on Saturday. In particular, he noted the important agreement reached on REDD Plus, backed by the financial resources to implement it. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development… “By promoting the conservation and sustainable management of forests we can not only mitigate climate impacts and increase resilience, but go a long way towards slowing the accelerating rate of biodiversity loss,” Mr. Ban said in the message…

Call for Peer Reviewers – VCS Requirements for Avoided Conversion of (Non-Forest) Ecosystems

Forest Carbon Portal, 21 December 2010 | The VCS Association has developed requirements for a new AFOLU category covering the Avoided Conversion of Ecosystems (ACE), specifically non-forested areas such as grasslands and shrublands. Eligible ACE activities would be those that reduce net GHG emissions by reducing or avoiding the conversion of non-forested, native or natural ecosystems (forested systems are covered under REDD and IFM) to other land uses with lower carbon densities. The VCSA would like to invite interested parties to participate in a peer review of the ACE guidelines. The peer review is undertaken with the goal of ensuring that the ACE guidelines are scientifically sound, workable in practice, and provide clear guidelines for validators, project and methodology developers.

Not totally unexpected…

The ecosystem services blog, 21 December 2010 | REDD mechanisms, recently established in Cancún, laid the carpet for escalating claims of “avoided emissions”. A first major shot was fired by the director general of the UN convention to combat desertification (UNCCD), Luc Gnacadja. He claims that slowing desertification and land degradation decreases the emission of carbon dioxide stored in the top-soil. A recent article in the Guardian (a UK newspaper) has him saying that people must be paid via global carbon markets for preserving the soil… REDD has also generated concern about its effects on biodiversity, which has led the world bank to set up a wildlife premium for wildlife friendly policies aimed at reducing deforestation… Does the bank’s market-based instrument mean that governments will be rewarded financially for not destroying a protected species’ habitat? Leaves you wondering doesn’t it?

Mexico: Hopeful end to Cancun climate talks

Plant Talk news, 21 December 2010 | Some of the most significant progress seems to have been around the eternally problematic REDD negotiations. To many REDD (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) represents the only realistic way the global community will save the rainforests from demise by paying poor countries with rainforest to protect them. To others including Simon Counsell, executive director of the Rainforest Foundation UK, REDD provides no more than another opportunity to badly manage huge pots of international money, and encourage even deeper corruption… But not everyone agrees with this analysis. In a recent commentary for Doug Boucher, director of the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative at the Union of Concerned Scientists, argues that deforestation has dropped over the past few years, that REDD is succeeding based on real case studies emerging from places like Brazil…

22 December 2010

Map: 15 million sq km of land suitable for forest restoration, 22 December 2010 | 1.5 billion hectares (5.8 million square miles) of land are suitable for forest restoration, according a new analysis by the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, a partnership between the World Resources Institute, South Dakota State University, and IUCN… The map was released as world leaders met in Cancun for climate talks. One of the hottest areas of discussion in Cancun was the so-called reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) mechanism, which proposes to pay tropical countries for protecting, restoring, and “sustainably managing” their forests. The conference ended with an agreement to pursue REDD. Some countries are already seeing forest regeneration. Costa Rica and Vietnam are among the nations that have seen recovery of forest cover outside industrial plantations.

Cancunhagen: Glass Three-Fourths Empty

Political Affairs, 22 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.

COP16 in Cancun: A Student’s Final Adventure

By Julianne Stelmaszyk, Global Exchange, 22 December 2010 | Before Cancun, I saw these conferences as a viable solution to climate change, but after being there I’m not so sure… My experience at the conference made me realize how the environmental movement is actually being capitalized…how carbon markets like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) only serve as another means to profit, another market to buy and sell while fueling the effects of climate change on vulnerable communities.

Indonesia’s Slice of Climate Fund Pie Under Negotiation

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 22 December 2010 | Although developed nations had pledged $30 billion for a climate change fund established at the 2009 Copenhagen summit, it remains unclear how big of a share Indonesia stands to receive. “We’d like to ask for the public’s patience concerning the Green Climate Fund,” Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia’s special envoy for climate change, said on Monday. “I’m sure everyone would like to know how much Indonesia will get or how the mechanism works. However, there’s a glitch in the discussions. We’re still trying to define what ‘vulnerability’ means.” … “If Indonesia really wants to lead, then we should really be serious about leading,” Giorgio [Budi Indarto, coordinator of the Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice] said. “We need to show other countries that we have what it takes – as a vulnerable country, we have it all here: we have forest issues, we have problems with coastal areas, we also have poor people.”

REDD+ Credits: Feasible Supply Less Than Expected

Resources for the Future, 22 December 2010 | Prior research shows large volumes of REDD+ offsets could be generated at reasonable prices based on the biophysical potential of the forest sector. However, feasible potential of REDD+ credits may be much lower given the political, technical, and institutional obstacles to generate and deliver these offsets. In the RFF Issue Brief “The Feasible Supply of RED Credits: Less than Predicted by Technical Models,” authors Erin Myers Madeira, Michael J. Coren, and Charlotte Streck conclude that actual deliveries of credits from REDD+ may be less than 50 percent of the technical supply. According to the authors, the feasible REDD+ credit supply could range from 35 percent below technical supply at $10 per ton to 40 percent lower at $20 per ton based on data from RFF and Climate Advisers’ Forest Carbon Index.

23 December 2010

Jakarta accused over Papua

By Philip Dorling and Nick McKenzie, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 December 2010 | The United States fears that Indonesian government neglect, rampant corruption and human rights abuses are stoking unrest in its troubled province of West Papua. Leaked embassy cables reveal that US diplomats privately blame Jakarta for instability and “chronic underdevelopment” in West Papua, where military commanders have been accused of drug smuggling and illegal logging rackets across the border with Papua New Guinea. A September 2009 cable from the US embassy in Jakarta says “the region is politically marginalized and many Papuans harbor separatist aspirations”… “The Indonesian official] claims that the Indonesian Military (TNI) has far more troops in Papua than it is willing to admit to, chiefly to protect and facilitate TNI’s interests in illegal logging operations,” says the cable, obtained by WikiLeaks.

Norway forest $$ can’t be accessed just yet

Stabroek News, 23 December 2010 | Money for approved projects under Guyana’s forest preservation deal with Norway could still take some time to be released as the “partner entities” to whom the money will go are finalizing transfer agreements between them and the World Bank. “Currently, the partner entities are finalizing the transfer agreements between them and the World Bank which have to be in place before funds can flow from the Fund to specific projects. This entails formal procedures in the relevant organisations that will still take some time”, Ambassador Hans Brattskar… [R-M: Subscription required.]

Forests or famine the choice for Papua New Guineans, says economist

Radio New Zealand International, 23 December 2010 | An Australian academic says feeding themselves will become very difficult for the majority of Papua New Guineans if more forests aren’t cleared for farmland. Ron Duncan says the comment was in response to a report by the PNG Forest Industries Association that looked at the country’s prospects for the REDD or reduction of emissions from degradation and deforestation scheme. The emeritus professor at Australian National University’s Crawford School says any financial gain through the REDD programme is dubious and economic growth is more likely to be achieved through an increase in agricultural activity. He says the population’s likely to hit 10 million by 2020.

Renewed confidence in Cancun

By Rebecca Razavi (British Embassy, Jakarta), Jakarta Post, 23 December 2010 | Equally, the UK is ready to work with Indonesia to help deliver its emissions reduction targets and thereby contribute towards the 2 degrees goal agreed in Cancun. The UK supports the aims of the REDD+ Partnership agreed by Norway and Indonesia earlier this year, and with the second largest tropical rainforest in the world and a deforestation rate of almost 1.3m hectares per year, it is essential that deforestation rates are reduced if we are to effectively tackle climate change. Reducing planned deforestation can be achieved without harming Indonesia’s economic progress. For example, estimates suggest that Indonesia could meet its target of producing 40 million tons of crude palm oil per year without any further forest conversion – instead focusing on increasing productivity on existing plantations and limited expansion on already-degraded land.

Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 23 December 2010 | REDD was a popular topic at this year’s climate summit at Cancún … here are the highlights: A formal decision from the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change produced the most comprehensive REDD+ text we have seen to date. In our view, the decision lays down the framework for the implementation of REDD schemes, but leaves several major questions unanswered and definitions in the air. The most notable gaps remain on whether markets will be tapped to fund REDD, on targets for curbing forest loss and degradation, and how exactly the environmental and social impacts of these activities will be monitored, reported, and verified. To read the quick summary on major developments regarding REDD and LULUCF in the negotiations, see Ecosystem Marketplace’s brief review here. For a wider breakdown of the Cancún talks, see coverage from Environmental Defense Fund here and the World Resources Institute here.

Finland to fund sustainable energy from forests in Indonesia

Stabroek News, 23 December 2010 | Finland is aiming to set up a scheme to produce renewable biomass energy from Indonesian forests next year, following in the footsteps of a lauded Norwegian agreement to tackle Indonesia’s high deforestation. Finland’s scheme, with initial investment of four million euros, is small compared to the $1 billion pledged by Norway, but is a sign more countries may look to do bilateral deals if U.N. talks in Cancun fail to produce a global climate pact… The Finnish project aims to support the forestry industry turn towards renewable energy production. “The focus will be on the utilisation of forest biomass and the residues of the wood processing industry as renewable energy sources,” Päivi Alatalo, the deputy head of the Finnish embassy in Indonesia, told Reuters.

World Land Trust’s summary of COP-16

World Land Trust, 23 December 2010 | The World Land Trust (WLT) was looking to negotiators to advance a global framework on what has come to be known as ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation’, or REDD+. Widespread forest loss in the tropics is a leading cause of species extinctions as well as carbon emissions, and excellent progress toward an international REDD+ framework at Cancun is very good news for conservation as well as for our climate. Negotiators must now address weaknesses in the emerging REDD+ framework to ensure forest dependent people do not lose out and that forest biodiversity is safeguarded. As the Carbon Balanced Programme at the WLT has successfully shown, REDD+ projects can safeguard local livelihoods, save threatened wildlife and prevent carbon emissions. We urge negotiators to urgently complete and implement a global REDD+ framework that will enable such successes to be realised across the tropics.

A Market Based Solution for a Market Caused Problem

By Dave Wheelock, Mountain Mail, 23 December 2010 | Lock up your daughters. This might be the next good piece of advice for mothers and fathers of the so-called developing world, as they face the “market solution” to the worldwide problem of disappearing forests. For the industrialized countries of the northern hemisphere, those which invented and continue to advance the phenomenon of manmade global warming, the carbon offset scheme known as REDD is a win-win. In return for cash payments to ostensibly preserve the carbon-absorbing quality of the global south’s remaining forests, corporations increasingly doing business as governments purchase the legal right to keep right on pumping pollutants into the sky. Unfortunately for the indigenous people living in and around these forests, REDD represents the opportunity to relive the experiences of sisters and brothers elsewhere who have already learned what it means to be guilty of living anywhere near something that can be bought and sold.

Cancun Agreement Succeeds in Meeting Low Expectations

By Laura Carlsen, La Prensa San Diego, 23 December 2010 | With the exception of one stubborn nation that insisted to the end on an agreement that would meet minimum scientific standards for reverting global warming, world leaders agreed to: dodge binding emissions controls, promise funds with no sources attached, leave untouched the intellectual property regime that restricts the flow of green technology, and expands market-based mechanisms that are correlated to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions… Major offset mechanisms through forestry and land-use management, such as REDD and the CDM included in the agreement, also undermine emissions reduction pledges by expanding the market for purchasing the ability to pollute above safe levels. No wonder Todd Stern, U.S. representative to the talks, expressed his pleasure at the agreement, saying, “This result was fundamentally consistent with U.S. objectives.”

COP16, the 2010 Climate Negotiations in Cancun

By Mary Gilbert, The Back Forty, 23 December 2010 | [REDD] is a market-driven (red flag!) way to pay countries for keeping their forests, which absorb carbon from the air and therefore aid in slowing climate change. REDD+ theoretically adds safeguards for human forest-living communities and for the forests themselves, but there are serious doubts about these safeguards. REDD+ will probably go through, since many countries who could receive money do not oppose it. Where do we say “Enough?” We now have a .8°C rise in global temperature, and we already have an increase in disastrous weather events. A few nations, including Bolivia and the Small Island States, want to see an agreed top limit of 1°. Others are calling for 1.5°. Language in the KP process refers to a permissible “less than 2°” rise, but current emission reduction pledges, if they are met, would lead to a 4° or more rise by the end of the century. Business as usual could bring us to a 7° rise…

24 December 2010

Santa’s help needed

By Terrance Greaves, Letter to the editor Guyana Chronicle, 24 December 2010 | [Christopher Ram] claimed that that road for President Bharrat Jagdeo “has been proving to be a rather rocky one” and that at the climate change meeting in Cancun, Mexico, the President had lost the respect of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and the World Bank. Contrast Ram’s claims to what Ambassador Hans Brattskar of the Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative has to say. Norway, he says, “remains pleased with the progress being made in our climate and forest collaboration with Guyana and the sustained strength of the partnership between our two countries.”

The Guyana-Norway REDD+ Partnership is progressing

By Ambassador Hans Brattskar, the Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, Guyana Chronicle, 24 December 2010 | Norway remains pleased with the progress being made in our climate and forest collaboration with Guyana and the sustained strength of the partnership between our two countries. Together, we made it clear from the start that we have the potential to create a replicable model for REDD+. We also made clear that this would take time, and that we would not get everything right the first time. We are proud of our joint efforts to deliver on that vision, and to work as partners to identify solutions to complex problems that will benefit the international community.

normalizing catastrophe

By Eddie Yuen, scurvy tunes, 24 December 2010 | Many activists were disappointed with the street level climate movement after Copenhagen, but there were no expectations for a major mobilization this time around. Instead, campaigners, many from the vibrant social movements of Mexico, understood that life, and politics, is elsewhere. Issues such as the commodification of nature, new rounds of enclosures justified by REDD, and climate apartheid are crucial, but will only truly be challenged and acted upon outside of the framework of “climate talks”. The facts on the ground, and in the atmosphere and oceans, will ensure that there will be climate movements in the next century. These may not take the form that many expected before Copenhagen, but the coming century of global defrosting will be nothing if not surprising.

Covering Climate from Cancún to Katmandu

By Andrew Revkin, New York Times, 24 December 2010 | Neil Marks, Guyana: Being in Cancún helped me to report back home on issues that Guyanese are interested in – money coming from REDD Plus… I was the only journalist from Guyana in Cancún. My reports attracted the ire of the president. He was angry at my coverage of the comments he made at a panel organized by Avoided Deforestation Partners. Columnists had a field day over the report and he was upset. Back in Guyana, he held a press conference. Word for word, for the fun: Neil Marks: Mr President, Neil Marks, Kaieteur News. President: You were in Cancun? Neil Marks: Yes, I was. President: You got all the things wrong. Neil Marks: I don’t know about that, sir. President: You don’t know about that? Well I am telling you; totally hopeless. You’re another of the hopeless ones. Neil Marks: OK (Shrugs; ask questions) My questions and the president’s responses were later edited out when the state TV broadcast the press conference.

Carbon lab project in Suriname

Stabroek News, 24 December 2010 | In January, construction will start of a so-called ‘carbon lab’ at the premises of Berg en Dal on the Suriname River. This research project, which will measure the storage of carbon in the soil and trees, must provide more information about the monetary value of Suriname’s forests. As carbon is stored in forests, it acquires financial value on the world market. Yet it is still unclear how much Suriname’s forest is worth. Project coordinator John Goedschalk explains that measurements and samples will be taken on ten locations. In the lab, the amount of carbon stored in the trees and soil can be determined. Conservation International, IamGold, Kersten, which owns Berg en Dal, and the Center for Agricultural Research Suriname (CELOS) are participating in the project. The results will be stored in a databank, which will be made available to the government. This is the first time such an experiment is carried out in Suriname.

The rate of felling is falling fast in the Amazon rainforest – but can it last?

By Geoffrey Lean, Telegraph, 24 December 2010 | Now here’s some really good news. Deforestation in the Amazon – poster child for the world’s rainforests – has plunged to unprecedentedly low levels. Indeed, at around 6,500 square kilometres this year, less than a quarter as much has been felled as in 2004. Admittedly that was a peak year, if not quite the worst ever; that dubious distinction belongs to 1995, but it has fallen steadily for five of the last six years, the most sustained reduction on record.

25 December 2010

Cancun and the Struggle for Climate Justice, 25 December 2010 | REDD+ has been a particularly thorny issue even within the climate justice movement. On the face of it, the provisions can lead to substantial outcomes in preventing deforestation and degradation. Several leading lights of the green movement like Jane Goodall and Wangari Maathai have joined hands with names like George Soros, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and Walmart chairman Rob Walton to champion the proposal. However, as Meena Raman with Third World Network noted, the devil’s in the details. Groups like REDD-Monitor point out that provisions to protect indigenous people’s rights aren’t strong enough and that it may very well be used to legitimize land-grab under a lofty pretext. Of perhaps even more importance, is the argument that funding for REDD+ can come from market based mechanisms like carbon trading and private financing.

26 December 2010

Year in Review: Mexico, 26 December 2010 | The biggest surprise in 2010 was the success of Cancun climate change conference. In the months leading up to the meeting, delegates and analysts summarily predicted Cancun would be a waste of time. Not so. When the conference concluded in early December, the world’s major emitters of greenhouse gases had inched closer to a new framework to reign in anthropogenic climate change. No hard pact was forged at Cancun. But four potentially significant agreements emerged from the meeting; 1) Provisions – known as REDD – were made to protect tropical forests. Essentially countries will be paid to preserve their tropical forests; 2) $100 billion will be allocated for a fund to help fight climate change, though more details are unclear; 3) A fund for the distribution of proprietary technology to curb climate change will be created; and 4) A deal to monitor progress on nation’s commitments will be put in place.

Charting forest path for REDD readiness

By Michael Simire, Daily Independent, 26 December 2010 | There is concern that over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s forests have already gone, and more than half of what remains is found in Cross River State. The forest there is considered to be one of the richest biodiversity reserves in Africa… If was therefore not entirely unexpected when a UN-REDD+ Programme’s Scoping Mission to the country in October headed for Cross River State. The weeklong mission was aimed at assessing the nation’s REDD potential, in the light of its desire to be elevated from its current Observers Status to a Full Participant… The UN-REDD Programme is being coordinated by the trio of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), whose officials – Josep Gari (UNDP Dakar), Julie Greenwalt (UNEP Nairobi) and Edward Kilawe (FAO Harare) – formed the core scoping team.

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