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.
By Andrew Millar, World Green, no date | In October 2010, Guyana’s Office of Climate Change released a report of its compliance with REDD+ enablers. In response, John Palmer, independent consultant to the UK government’s global forest research and planning, released an evaluation of Guyana’s self-assessment. In his response, Palmer takes issue with many of Guyana’s claims, most notable among them being the plan’s Financial Mechanism, the Continuous Multi-Stakeholder Consultation Process, and the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification measures. Regarding the financial mechanism outlined by the report, Palmer states that both “The high level and high volume of allegations of corruption and financial malpractice in Guyana” are a warning sign to Norway and the other countries that donate. “The President’s opposition to the application of well-established World Bank safeguards and due diligence,” indicate a pattern of noncompliance with international standards.
climatecapacity.org, May 2011 | Why is a network of community forestry groups engaged in climate change issues? – Southern Voices News asked. “The key task for MJUMITA is to act as an advocacy platform for the communities living near the forest, on issues like forest management and governance” Rahima [Njaidi from MJUMITA] explains. “Now that REDD mechanisms are being introduced in Tanzania MJUMITA must ensure that the forest users are involved.” Since 2009 the network has engaged its members in education on climate change and REDD through training workshops and community radio, supported through the previous Southern Voices project in the preparation towards COP15. “The key objective in our advocacy is to ensure that forest communities receive a fair share of the benefits from the forests” Rahima states. “REDD mechanisms are now being introduced in Tanzania, and since MJUMITA is involved we are asking for representation on the national task force on REDD”
Transparency International, no date | In March 2009, US$4.4 million in funding was approved for Vietnam and the country has now begun implementing the REDD programme. In January 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) established the Standing Office of the Steering Committee for implementation of the “Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+)”. MARD is also in the process of preparing the national REDD strategy. Whilst REDD is seen as having enormous potential as part of a global climate change strategy, it nonetheless brings with it considerable challenges. Given the huge flows of money involved, corruption is a major threat to the successful governance of the programme.
Forest Trends and Climate Focus, 2011 | In international climate negotiations there is consensus that the climate benefits from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, sustainable forest management, conservation, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) will ultimately be measured and rewarded based on national-level accounting systems. Working towards this goal is a principal focus of current REDD+ readiness funding. In the meantime, public and private demonstration projects are already being implemented that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the subnational or project level, while countries develop national policies, data, and capacities.
Timber Trade Journal, no date | Key players in timber buying and forestry can learn about responsible purchasing, certification and sustainable forest management in the next ProForest summer training sessions (July 18-22). The three-day Responsible Forestry and Timber course on July 18-20 will focus on linking production to changing market requirements, covering certification schemes, the auditing process, supply chain management, responsible purchasing policies, illegal logging, and regulation (including the EU Timber Regulation & US Lacey Act). Another of the sessions is Forests and Climate Change on July 21, providing an update on the global debate about forests within the climate change context including a look at Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). All sessions will be held in Oxford. Optional evening events include a barbecue reception on July 19, a boat trip on the Thames on July 20 and a guided tour of Oxford on July 21.
9 May 2011
By Fred Pearce, The Guardian, 9 May 2011 | British cats, dogs, cows, pigs and even goldfish are helping destroy the rainforests of south-east Asia. A new study for the government finds that more than a tenth of all the world’s palm kernel meal – a lucrative by-product of the production of palm oil – is fed to British animals. Palm oil is an ingredient in an estimate third of all products on supermarket shelves, from biscuits and margarine to shampoo and confectionery. And it turns up on garage forecourts in biodiesel. Britain imports more than half a million tonnes of the oil a year. But the study for the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reports that Britain imports even more palm kernel meal, mostly for animal feed. The report found that while retailers and manufacturers of branded foods are rushing to buy certified “sustainable” palm oil that does not destroy the rainforests, animal feed manufacturers show “little awareness of sustainability”.
By Elly Burhaini Faizal, Jakarta Post, 9 May 2011 | Indonesia may not meet its development targets unless the nation makes an effort to promote green, sustainable growth, according to a top British diplomat. According to UK Ambassador to Indonesia Martin Hatfull, Indonesia has recently pursued ambitious growth targets for its citizens who want higher standards of living, more prosperity and improvements in education and health services. “The problem is how do you balance it with low carbon growth — because unless it is a low carbon growth, you won’t achieve the standard of improvements,” Hatfull told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the launch of the UK Climate Change Unit. Hatfull said Indonesia had a vast potential to contribute to tackling climate change globally due to its experience in the forestry sector. which generates about 80 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions… Hatfull said one obstacle faced by Indonesia was ensuring the effectiveness of the moratorium.
Point Carbon, 9 May 2011 | The World Bank is considering launching a start-up finance scheme to help emission reduction projects get off the ground in the world’s poorest nations, a bank official said. The bank is mulling plans to provide early-stage finance for new clean development mechanism (CDM) projects in poor countries that may find problems securing investment, Klaus Oppermann, head of the policy team at the World Bank’s Climate Finance Unit said in an interview with Point Carbon News. “We are looking at a facility that may have a strong focus on providing advanced payments on future carbon credits for projects in low-income countries which often have greater commercial risks and find it harder to secure capital,” he said. “This would be a major innovation for us, as even though advanced payments on expected carbon credits have been done by the bank before on a case by case basis, this would be the first carbon-linked facility to focus on this,” he added.
Reuters, 9 May 2011 | Liberia has signed a deal with the European Union promising to crack down on illegal logging on its territory, home to more than half of West Africa’s rainforests, a group linked to the accord said. Ghana, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed similar deals last year ahead of an EU ban on imports of illegally harvested timber that takes effect in 2012. The new deal tightened restrictions on logging, said the European Forest Institute, an EU-wide group that helps draft accords on illegal logging. It also set out ways for Liberia to show its timber was legal, allowing it to continue trading with EU states, the groups added.
By Brendan Brady and Sorng Rukavorn, Time, 9 May 2011 | Leslie Durschinger, managing director of Terra Global Capital, the San Francisco-based company that is marketing Oddar Meanchey’s carbon assets, anticipates the forests could garner as much as $50 million over the course of 30 years (a typical duration for a REDD contract). First, however, Oddar Meanchey’s carbon assets must be jointly validated by the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate Community and Biodiversity Standard, both third-party carbon auditors, as well as attract a buyer. For now, the revenue remains theoretical: clean technologies, renewable energy and technology transfers earn credit as offsets in legislated carbon markets but REDD has yet to gain official currency.
By Antonio M. Claparols, Inquirer.net, 9 May 2011 | The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change should realize that more than 40 percent of all greenhouse gases come from food, a necessity for survival, and address the scrapping of REDD+ and all other carbon development mechanisms. The sooner they get down to reducing greenhouse gases and understand that forests are of value and not to be traded, the better it will be for us all. Have they not heard of peak oil? Already the price of oil has reached record highs and yet we have consumed more than half of the known oil reserves. Don’t they see the end of the tunnel? Why don’t they fast-track the road to renewable energy and save the planet from extinction? We cannot eat gold and drink mercury; our social and ecological systems are more valuable than all the precious metals in the world.
World War 4 Report, 9 May 2011 | The Native Federation of the Río Madre de Dios and Tributaries (FENAMAD) issued a statement protesting that the state company PeruPetro has demarcated three new oil exploration blocs in Peru’s southern Amazon region of Madre de Dios. The new blocs – numbered 187, 190 and 191 – are located in the provinces of Tahuamanu and Tambopata, and bring to 22 the number of new exploration blocs instated nationally under President Alan García. FENAMAD charges that the new blocs threaten the Manú Biosphere Reserve and the Vilcabamba-Amboró biological corridor – already under threat by the operations of Hunt Oil and Repsol YPF in Lot 76, established in the ancestral territory of the Harakmbut, Yine and Matziguenka indigenous peoples. Hunt and Repsol have concluded seismic exploration in the bloc, over the protests of traditional indigenous leaders of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, which overlaps with the exploration bloc.
carbonpositive.net, 9 May 2011 | The enormous potential of forest carbon mechanisms must be harnessed with well-designed policy that will attract private sector finance on a large scale. That’s the only way the large multi-billion-dollar funding requirement needed to halt deforestation and help mitigate climate change can be fulfilled, a new UN report says. The report, “REDDy – Set – Grow: Opportunities and roles of financial institutions in forest-carbon markets”, comes from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative, a partnership between UNEP and some big corporate players in the financial sector, including bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The market for forestry carbon has significant potential but will require concerted efforts in the design phase by policy-makers to ensure that it attracts flows of private capital,” said Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
By Felix Mwakyembe, AlertNet, 9 May 2011 | Soaring gas and electricity prices in Tanzania are forcing more and more people to return to the use of charcoal and wood for heating and cooking, threatening the country’s forests and contributing to climate change. Following electricity price hikes of up to 25 percent in December last year, even the country’s middle classes on reasonable incomes are resorting to cheaper sources of fuel. Solving the problem will require improved technologies to enable charcoal production using fewer trees and the use of efficient cooking stoves, as well as greater investment in solar power and biogas, experts say. But for now, rising demand for charcoal and wood will complicate Tanzania’s efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation under the United Nations REDD+ mechanism, aimed at curbing climate change.
By Clea Paz-Rivera (UN-REDD Secretariat), 9 May 2011 | Conclusions: REDD+ progressed quickly in the negotiations. Big items still unclear: future of KP, legal form of the new agreement. Cancun agreements set the basis to implement and expand REDD+ readiness efforts. REDD+ and NAMAS?, financial mechanism? Ambitious SBSTA and LCA agenda can be affected by delays in the political discussion. High expectations in REDD+ countries that need to be managed and addressed.
IIED, 9 May 2011 | Failures in implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) over the last 17 years have been attributed to lack of clarity about ownership of land resources, and hence the responsibility for conserving biodiversity on them. Unless carbon rights are clear, REDD+ too is likely to fail to deliver the much needed emissions’ reduction and co-benefits. REDD+, like the CBD before it, needs to seize the opportunity to ‘clean the house’ first. That is, give priority (with technical and financial resources) to existing legislation and new reforms in land resources tenure that favour indigenous and forest-dependent communities while equally developing policy and legal instruments to enable company-community partnerships that reduce emissions (especially in agricultural intensification). It would also be wise to suspend plans to allocate large plots of land to the private sector, allegedly for REDD+ contribution.
By Peter Persaud, letter to the editor, Guyana Chronicle, 9 May 2011 | Once again the mischievous and irresponsible Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) is tying to mislead the national and international communities by the spewing of absolute trash substantiated by a lack of specifics in relation to Amerindian land issues, mining, logging and Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). At the APA’s assembly, no doubt funded by foreign taxpayers’ money, it was reported by the Stabroek News (SN Sat, 7th, May 2011) that “Land rights take centre stage – 66 communities say consultations on LCDS inadequate.” Mr. Editor, kindly allow me to raise the following points to prove to the world that the APA is a dishonest and perverse Amerindian organisation not committed to the economic empowerment of Guyana’s indigenous peoples whom they claim to represent.
By David de Groot, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 9 May 2011 | The Norway International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) appears to me to be quite an amorphous entity and the report on its implementation regarding this country’s thrust on the Low Carbon Development Strategy as “unsatisfactory” is simply too superficial to be taken seriously. (Sunday Stabroek, May 8, 2011) Without full knowledge of all the dynamics of the political environment which have been consuming the best efforts of successive governments towards achieving national cohesion over the past fifteen years, any conclusions can only be highly questionable, to say the least.
Stabroek News, 9 May 2011 | Varying levels of progress have been made in the formulation and implementation of Guyana’s REDD strategies and several areas need attention, according to a report on the impact of Norwegian support here. The first report of an ongoing real-time evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) acknowledges the progress made by Guyana and made recommendations on several issues which need attention. “Our hope is that the reports from the first phase of the real-time evaluation will not only add to the experience and lessons learnt through this initiative, but as well contribute to an informed public debate about an important topic,” said Asbjørn Eidhammer, the Director of Evaluation [of NORAD].
10 May 2011
By Mauel Guariguata, CIFOR Forests Blog, 10 May 2011 | Almost 20 years ago, a new tool to promote sustainable forest management came to light ‑ the idea of independent certification. This was primarily developed and promoted by different sectors of civil society in response to the chronic failure of national governments, and a series of intergovernmental meetings, in halting forest loss and degradation. The hope was that by complying with a set of standards covering a range of technical, environmental and social issues, timber and other forest products from “certified forests” would gain access to preferential markets and price premiums… Yet a study from forest-rich Cameroon by CIFOR scientist Paolo Cerutti and colleagues reports that the capacity of the forest to produce the most valuable timber over the long term – that is, sustainably – can be compromised even where certification schemes have been put in place.
By Verina Ingram, CIFOR Forests Blog, 10 May 2011 | The idiom denoting that too much attention is paid to detail, losing the big picture, can well be applied to the Congo Basin. Export products, such as timber, dominate any superficial glance at the forests of the Congo Basin. Recent studies however argue that there is more to the forest – in this case of the 2nd largest tropical forest in the world – than just its trees as export products. A spate of recent publications highlight that there are massive hidden economies, mainly for domestic and regional consumption- that are largely hidden or ignored. Whether from a perusal of academic literature or from a policy perspective, timber dominates. Current international and bilateral policy focuses predominately on exported timber, a handful of exported non-timber products, and more recently on carbon.
Tanzania Natural Resource Forum, 10 May 2011 | The TZ-REDD quarterly newsletter is a part of the TFCG/MJUMITA project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway. The newsletters aim to keep practitioners, donors, universities and CSOs up-to-date about REDD projects in Tanzania, upcoming events, and REDD developments around the world.
The Citizen, 10 May 2011 | Tanzania green revolution initiative, dubbed as Kilimo Kwanza, will make meaningful gains if it takes on board tree-planting inventiveness, an expert has said. A Finnish forestry expert, Ms Anna-Leena Simula said in the wake of climate change, Tanzania, just like many other countries in the world, are dire need of planting more trees to develop their forests. “It is in this view that I see Kilimo Kwanza as making a lot of meaning if planting of trees becomes part of it (Kilimo Kwanza),” Ms Simula said in Dar es Salaam at a function to officially wind up a five-day seminar on ways of coming up with executable business plans. The seminar, held at the University of Dar es Salaam premises and in which some 25 entrepreneurs dealing in forestry products took part, was a brainchild of the federation of forestry products industries, known by its Kiswahili acronym as Shivimita.
By Bryan Walsh, Ecocentric Blog, Time.com, 10 May 2011 | Yesterday the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out with an early summary of a new report projecting the future of renewable energy… The bottom line: a major shift to renewables may be doable, but as IPCC economist Ottmar Edenhofer said, it would be “technically and politically very challenging.” … But as Nathanial Gronewold of Climatewire wrote in a smart piece today, the IPCC’s estimates may actually be much more optimistic than they seem, even with the high costs the group cites. That’s because the IPCC counts as a renewable energy source “traditional biomass” – the use of wood for heating and cooking, either as charcoal or directly burnt… But the dependence on biomass for energy is already a major component in deforestation and habitat loss for endangered species.
By Emilio Godoy, IPS, 10 May 2011 | The implementation of a forestry programme against climate change in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas poses a threat to indigenous people in the state, non-governmental organisations warn. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme “will alter indigenous culture, will commodify it, giving commercial value to common assets like oxygen, water and biodiversity,” Miguel García, general coordinator of Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste, an NGO founded in 1991 that supports indigenous people and rural communities and defends the environment, told IPS. “Under an ecological pretext, the social fabric is being broken down and resentment of and confrontation with the Zapatista grassroots supporters are being accentuated,” he added, referring to the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), a Chiapas-based left-wing guerrilla group that defends indigenous rights.
By Bernadius Steni (HUMA), 10 May 2011 | ASEAN turns a blind eye to the real problems resulting from climate change. Its strategy has no reference to help people suffering from climate change effects, such as floods, prolonged drought or caterpillar plagues that are currently in Java and Madura. Apparently, ASEAN climate change is hijacked by the international fora and trapped in a kind of “step forward, step back” strategy that maintains business as usual. Climate change actions ignore the main reasons why ASEAN should deal with those technicalities. Stressed in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the main goal of endeavors against climate change is giving hope to the future of the existence of humans. It means the first priority of all mitigation and adaptation efforts is protecting people. Subsequently, those who are potentially impacted by climate change should be the priority.
ghana.gov.gh, 10 May 2011 | The Chairman of the Council of State, Professor Kofi Awoonor has said forests preservation is key to addressing the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) one of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and goal seven of ensuring environmental sustainability. He said Ghana can address the challenges of meeting these two goals by adopting an integrated and inter-sectoral approach to forest management. Speaking at the national launch of the International Year of Forests, 2011, on the theme “Forest to the People” in Accra, Prof. Awoonor said government views forests as an important asset for promoting enterprise especially at the rural level and through the Better Ghana Agenda will put in place the needed infrastructure to achieve these goals.
Guyana Chronicle, 10 May 2011 | The Office of Climate Change (OCC) has issued a statement in response to an article published on Sunday, May 8th 2011 in the Sunday Stabroek headlined: PNCR exclusion from LCDS Committee ‘unsatisfactory’ – Norway. According to the OCC, the Stabroek News article is selectively extracted from a ninety seven (97) page study as part of a “Real Time Evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI)” carried out by a team of independent consultants (LTS International in collaboration with Indufor Oy) as an external commentary on “Norway’s Contributions to National REDD+ Processes 2007-2010”. The report clearly states that although the consultants received funding from NORAD, the report does not represent the position of the Norwegian Government. “The Stabroek News headline of the story describing the report as a statement coming from the Government of Norway is, therefore, totally inaccurate and calculated to mislead,” the OCC stated.
Demerara Waves, 10 May 2011 | Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud on Tuesday said that the discovery of narcotics in agriculture exports from Guyana is a “living nightmare” for the government and one which could have implications for national security and the economy. He made the comments at a news briefing where he announced a US$48M deal to supply Venezuela with white rice and paddy. “Let me state that that for me is our living nightmare in terms of what it can do to harm the great possibility we have for agriculture exports and including forestry,” Persaud said. He added that the every time such a report or find surfaces the ministry tries to get the other stakeholder agencies involved because they do not handle security matters.
Stabroek News, 10 May 2011 | Developer of the Amaila Falls hydropower plant Sithe Global will this week be holding community meetings in Linden and Georgetown to discuss the recently released Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Report (ESIA). According to an advertisement placed in Sunday’s edition of this newspaper, the meeting in Linden will be held at 4 pm today at the Linden Constabulary Hall. Tomorrow, a similar meeting will be held at the Hotel Tower in the city. Starting time for this meeting is also 4 pm.
11 May 2011
By Daniel Cooney, CIFOR Forests blog, 11 May 2011 | A CIFOR-led project is yielding innovative tools that help rural people improve their livelihoods and protect their natural resources. In recent years, the Lao PDR government has championed participatory land use planning (known by its abbreviation PLUP). This approach aims to increase the involvement of villagers in decision making on land zoning and management. Nonetheless, an analysis by CIFOR and its partners of some PLUP pilot projects revealed deficiencies in the methodology, which was frequently participatory in name only. In response, the research teams developed a tool – ‘PLUP Fiction’ – and tested it in the six villages of the Muongmuay Kumban (village cluster) in 2010. Villagers – half of whom were women – were trained to serve as members of the village land management committee using simulated zoning negotiations.
By Alexei Barrionuevo, New York Times, 11 May 2011 | Brazil’s Congress fiercely debated changing a cornerstone environmental law on Wednesday night, a move conservationists warned could roll back one of the most effective pieces of legislation protecting forests and biodiversity in Brazil and undermine the country’s efforts to slow greenhouse gas emissions… After announcing an agreement late Wednesday, the government’s leader in Congress could not raise a quorum and the vote was pushed to next week. A group of so-called Ruralistas in Congress, who favor expanding Brazil’s agribusiness, including Representative Aldo Rebelo of the Communist Party, proposed changes to the law that would open up more land for agricultural expansion. Currently the law, known as the Forest Code, requires that 80 percent of a property in the Amazon, and 20 to 35 percent of land in certain other areas, remain forest. The proposed revisions would exempt small farms from those rules…
WWF, 11 May 2011 | Brazil’s most important environmental legislation is on the chopping block again, with politicians in the country’s lower chamber proposing to alter it by claiming it impedes economic growth. Brazil’s Forest Law (also known as the Forest Code) was first enacted in 1934 and determines how much a landowner can deforest and how much must be kept as a “legal reserve”. The percentage of a forested property that needs to be set aside as a legal reserve varies from region to region. Currently in the Amazon, the law states that 80% of a property has to remain forested. For the Cerrado, this figure is 20%. A proposed amendment to the law by the ‘ruralistas’, and put forward by Federal Representative Aldo Rebelo of the Brazilian Communist Party would make profound alterations to the law. Representative Rebelo has said the changes will address the outstanding needs of Brazilian agriculture, especially in the case of small-scale farmers and livestock producers.
environmentalresearchweb.org, 11 May 2011 | Johanne Pelletier and her colleagues from McGill University have, for the first time, looked at the uncertainty and detectability of emissions reductions for REDD+ for an entire country – Panama. They chose Panama because it is one of the first countries to be selected for funding by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank and the UN-REDD initiative and it is currently starting its readiness phase for REDD+. The researchers found errors of up to 50% when compared with a reference emissions level, with the primary source of error being the mature forest carbon stock estimates. “The problem is that the data available in Panama was not collected for REDD, but for other purposes, making it unsuitable for REDD estimates,” Pelletier told environmentalresearchweb. “Without better data it will be hard for a country like Panama to fully benefit from REDD.”
Office of Climate Change, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 11 May 2011 | The Office of Climate Change has noted the article of Sunday, May 8th 2011 in the Sunday Stabroek headlined `PNCR exclusion from LCDS Committee ‘unsatisfactory’ – Norway’. The article is selectively extracted from a ninety-seven (97) page study as part of a “Real Time Evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI)” carried out by a team of independent consultants (LTS International in collaboration with Indufor Oy) as an external commentary on “Norway’s Contributions to National REDD+ Processes 2007-2010”. The report clearly states that although the consultants received funding from NORAD, the report does not represent the position of the Norwegian Government. The Stabroek News headline of the story describing the report as a statement coming from the Government of Norway is, therefore, totally inaccurate and calculated to mislead.
By Leonard Gildarie, Kaieteur News, 11 May 2011 | Public consultations, key to tying up financing for the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project, kicked into high gear yesterday at Linden, but to a poor turnout. While around 30 persons trickled in during the four-hour event at the Linden Constabulary, Amaila Falls Hydro Inc. (AFH), a subsidiary of the developer, Sithe Global, will be preparing for an expected larger audience for the second session at Hotel Tower on Main Street today. The project, with an installed capacity of 165 megawatt (mw), which Sithe Global says will cost between US$650M-$700M, will become Guyana’s largest single investment, once the financiers give the green light. Sithe Global has hired a US firm to handle the public relations which in turn has retained a local consultant.
By Cathy Richards, Stabroek News, 11 May 2011 | Lindeners yesterday questioned the developers of the Amaila Falls hydropower project, expressing concerns about the cost of power and jobs at a community meeting to discuss the recently released Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report on the project. A sub-station is expected to be built in the Region Ten mining town and a company official highlighted the benefits of the project during the first of two meetings planned. The other is expected to be held in Georgetown. Despite the small turnout at the early stage of the meet yesterday, organizers were pleased by the participation. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
12 May 2011
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 12 May 2011 | The residents said they were told to bring their wares to show to visitors, including foreigners. They thought it was for tourism promotion. However, the visitors came to assess the village’s potential to be the pilot project for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, known as REDD Plus. “We were told to gather at this office to show our products,” Apriliani Rahayu told The Jakarta Post in a recent visit to the village. She only shook her head when asked about the government’s decision to name Central Kalimantan the pilot site of REDD Plus… Henoh also said he had no idea why so many eminent figures had visited Palangkaraya in recent months, namely philanthropist George Soros and a number of foreign envoys to Indonesia to oversee the REDD pilot projects in the area.
Post Courier, 12 May 2011 | In the debate over the Special Agricultural and Business leases (SABLs), all the attention is focused on the Lands Department. This may have happened because the Lands Department, which is tasked to manage State and to some degree, customary land in Papua New Guinea, issues the SABLs. But for the SABLs to be of benefit to those that hold the leases, three other government departments play crucial roles in the whole scheme of things. The Agriculture and Livestock Department, the National Forest Service (NFS) and the Environment and Conservation Department (DEC) also play a part in allowing these lease holders to exploit the resources and the land. It is the role NFS and DEC departments play in the whole process that is of great concern to a lot of people as well as us.
By Nitin Sethi, Times Of India, 12 May 2011 | In the first phase of REDD+ programme, the Centre would pass on the revenue to the state government, and let it distribute among the people. In the second phase, it would provide guidelines for distribution at the district level. The government sees this as the next large flow of carbon funds into the country after the Clean Development Mechanism, which helped industry turn greener by using money from developed countries through a market mechanism. But, tribal groups across the world have expressed worries that the scheme, especially its market-based mechanisms, would end up dictating terms to countries on forest management and leave the poor, who depend on the forests, out in the cold. The forests need to be grown in a particular fashion and maintained in order to lock carbon dioxide into the plants and soils better.
IUCN, 12 May 2011 | Video: IUCN’s Mario Escobedo explains the pro-poor REDD+ approach in Guatemala in Spanish.
The CarbonNeutral Company, 12 May 2011 | Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is an emerging system for bringing rainforest conservation within the carbon market. Under this system, companies can offset their carbon emissions by buying credits from programmes that work with local communities to protect sections of rainforest. REDD+, the system currently under discussion through global climate negotiations, broadens the scope of REDD by incorporating conservation, sustainable forest management, and the enhancement of forest carbon stock.
By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 12 May 2011 | Sithe Global, the developer of the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project, is eyeing financial closure by the third or fourth quarter of this year; and with 40 months of construction time, commissioning of the project by 2015. The subsidiary company in Guyana, Amaila Falls Hydro Inc, Wednesday held a consultation meeting at the Tower Hotel at which stakeholders had a chance to make their comments on aspects of the project’s development that could affect them. Speaking to the Guyana Chronicle in a short interview before the meeting, Sithe Global’s Senior Vice President of Development, Jim McGowan, explained the funding arrangements for the groundbreaking project, touted as one that will lift the country from its dependence on fossil fuel for electricity generation.
Kaieteur News, 12 May 2011 | Synergy Holdings Incorporated sold or transferred its licence to build a hydroelectric power plant in Guyana to the current developer Sithe Global, a senior official revealed yesterday. “I believe we acquired the licence from Synergy Holdings,” said James McGowan, Senior Vice President (Development) at Sithe Global which is in Guyana for a round of consultations that would help finalise an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and close financing for the project. “Sithe Global and its affiliate Amaila Falls Holdings have since acquired 100 per cent interest of the project from Synergy,” McGowan said at Hotel Tower yesterday when he spoke with journalists and other interested parties.
By Sam Hinds, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 12 May 2011 | The headlines of Stabroek News(SN) of 2011-05-12, “Motilall sold Amaila licence to Sithe”, and of Kaieteur News (KN) of the same date, “Fip flips licence to Sithe Global” do our people and country great harm. SN and KN prefer to continue the innuendos about some sort of corruption and to be flippant about this tremendous development for our people and country, rather than to take the opportunity to educate our population at large, about what is a very common way in which big projects, such as the Amaila Falls hydropower project, get done.
13 May 2011
Private Eye, 13 May 2011 | A global scheme to reward poorer rain-forested countries for halting deforestation has led to plans for more commercial logging, a blind eye being turned to illegal logging and the displacement of forest people all helped by McKinsey consultants funded by British and Norwegian taxpayers. The Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) scheme aims to allow richer countries to buy avoided deforestation as part of carbon trading. This depends on calculating how much forest would have been chopped down and then preventing some of it (at as little cost to the economy as possible). Not surprisingly, countries have already been accused of overestimating the amount of logging that might have happened without REDD so when the Democratic Republic of Congos (DRC) environment minister announced in January that the country was to lift its moratorium on new logging concessions, this could still somehow be spun as a reduction in deforestation.
By Jeff Conant, Upside Down World, 13 May 2011 | In the first Rural City, Juan de Grijalva, the houses are much bigger, like 60 cubic meters, while here the houses are 30 cubic meters, and rather than walls of brick they’re made of pressboard, this wood conglomerate that is essentially good for nothing; so the houses that the State is giving them have very little useful life. You can see the racism implicit in these new houses, no? There’s a mentality of “they’re indigenous so we’ll give them less and they’ll accept it.” You can see also that there’s no sense of the indigenous cosmovision, of how to live in a place. For one thing, there are no agricultural plots – absolutely no place to plant. For another, indigenous families tend to be large, so you have eight, nine people and you’re putting them in these little houses, two rooms of 30 cubic meters. In this you see clearly that the architects have no idea, no vision.
Survival International, 13 May 2011 | US oil giant ConocoPhillips has announced it is pulling out of the controversial oil block 39 in the northern Peruvian Amazon. The decision comes after global outrage over the risk oil companies pose to the lives of two uncontacted tribes living in the area. More than 50 international NGOs signed Survival’s letter last year asking oil companies Repsol, Perenco and ConocoPhillips to withdraw immediately from the region. Uncontacted Indians lack immunity to diseases brought by oil workers and could react violently if their lands are at threat.
Kaieteur News, 13 May 2011 | I attended the community meeting hosted by Sithe Global on the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project at the Tower Hotel on Wednesday night and was disappointed to find it was not the “town hall” structure I had expected, but more of an expo of project. It felt more like a launching than a place to “have your say,” as billed by their ad for the meeting. I attended the meeting to get a better understanding of the project and I left with just that. Although the atmosphere was not what I expected, I did indeed have most of my questions answered, not all to my satisfaction, but an answer was attempted. However, as I left I felt very disturbed about a piece of information I discovered during my visit. It seems that although there are several Amerindian villages throughout the nation that will be impacted by this project, none of them will reap the advantages of the electricity once it is finished. Not one village.
Stabroek News, 13 May 2011 | Prime Minister Sam Hinds yesterday said that there was nothing sinister behind Synergy boss Fip Motilall’s decision to transfer his licence to develop the Amaila hydropower plant to Sithe Global, saying that this is a common international practice in the construction of large projects. Hinds, when contacted last evening, told Stabroek News that as far as he is aware, Sithe Global has not yet made any payment to Synergy Holdings, since the licence was transferred. The government, meanwhile, also emphasised that that the transfer did not occur as a result of a sale – as was reported by this newspaper – explaining that Hinds, who has responsibility for the electricity sector, authorised the transfer of the interim licence from Synergy Holdings to Sithe Global. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
Kaieteur News, 13 May 2011 | Prime Minister Samuel Hinds has responded to two headlines in the private media. In a letter to the editors Hinds said, “The headlines of Stabroek News(SN) of 2011-05-12, “Motilall sold Amaila licence to Sithe”, and of Kaieteur News (KN) of the same date, “Fip flips licence to Sithe Global” do our people and country great harm.” “Mr Motilall and his partners have expended cash and invested lots of unpaid time in this development since he first began in 1997. From the work done along the way unto the entry of Sithe Global in 2007, an estimate of cash expenditure approaching US$5 million and unpaid time and other costs exceeding US$5 million is not unreasonable.” The suggestion is that Makeshwar Fip Motilall should be paid at least US$10 million for the licence. The Prime Minister said that since the mid-1980s Amaila was recognized to be an interesting site “for development, perhaps the site that best matched our needs.”
Kaieteur News, 13 May 2011 | Sithe Global, the developer behind the construction of a hydro electric plant at Amaila Falls, is guaranteeing that the project will be completed in three and a half years and will cost no more than US$700 million. But if the developer defaults on the project, the financiers of the project will reserve the right to seize the assets and name a new developer, James McGowan, Sithe’s Global Vice President (Development) said Wednesday. “There is no recourse to the parent company in the event of a default or a limited recourse,” McGowan stated. “In the event of a default by the company, the lender’s rights are to step in and take ownership of the assets and most likely restructure the deal and to operate it with a new owner.”
14 May 2011
The Citizen, 14 May 2011 | Multi-billion pound spending on climate change and carbon markets could be wasted because of significant corruption and fraud, according to charity Transparency International. “Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is always a risk of corruption,” Transparency said. In a report released mid this week the anti-corruption group warns that all of the 20 countries most affected by climate change score badly on its corruption index. The industries likely to benefit from the $100 billion spending on anti-climate change measures include forestry and agriculture. Transparency International is warning it is these industries that could be targeted by fraudsters. The report states: “Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is always a risk of corruption.” The report was released in Bangladesh, one of the countries most at risk from climate change.
Stabroek News, 14 May 2011 | The Steering Committee of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) met Thursday but gave no final approval for projects to access funds from Guyana’s forests’ agreement with Norway as work remains to be done on the one submitted. Government officials were tight-lipped on the outcome of the deliberations when contacted after the meeting, but Stabroek News learnt that discussions centered on the project involving institutional strengthening of the agencies involved in the implementation of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) because the proposals for the others are not at a stage where they are ready for submission for approval. A source told Stabroek News that Norway asked that its comments on the project be addressed. [R-M: subscription needed.]
By Vanessa Narine, Guyana Chronicle, 14 May 2011 | President Bharrat Jagdeo, early in April, made two significant commitments to the education sector; one was the launch of the new Education Television Broadcasting Service (ETBS) and the other was a commitment of some US$11M for an International Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity at the University of Guyana (UG). Spearheaded by the Head of State, Guyana’s initiatives to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change continue to receive validation from stakeholders the world over – the most recent being that of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which found that renewable energy, more particularly hydropower, will be key in tackling global warming.
By E. Fredericks, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 14 May 2011 | When the government stated that Mr Fip Motilall’s company was given the contract for the Amaila Hydro Project, there was much objection from the diaspora, mainly because it was felt that the company did not have the requisite experience for such a large undertaking. Therefore, the news that this project was transferred to another company, Sithe Global, should be welcomed by those genuinely interested in the success of this project. It is hoped that similar scrutiny is given to this new company as was done with Mr Motilall’s company. I have watched the almost fanatical obsession that people/groups of authority, mainly the two daily newspapers KN and SN and some other high-profile citizens, have had over this Amaila project and sometimes wondered if this intense scrutiny was for the benefit of the project or simply to cheapen a government-approved development project.
Kaieteur News, 14 May 2011 | Sithe Global, the developers of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, says that it is confident in the ability of China Railway First Group to build the plant in northwestern Guyana, a senior company official has said. In July last year, the Guyana Government signed off on a loan deal to build the project and formalize the cooperation between the Guyana Power and Light Company, Sithe Global, China Development Bank and China Railway First Group Company Limited. At that time, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh said that the agreement clearly sets out the parties’ intent to bring financial closure within 12 months, or “ideally…sooner”. Sithe Global now says it expects financial closer towards the end of the year.
By Michael Jordan, Kaieteur News, 14 May 2011 | Amerindian People’s Association (APA) Project Administrator, Jean La Rose, says that the Sithe Global management has failed to explain what significant benefits indigenous people will receive from the Amaila Falls hydroelectric project. La Rose told Kaieteur News that she was still left in the dark even after the APA had a lengthy meeting on Thursday with Sithe Global Senior Vice President, James McGowan, and Consultant Phil Mooney at the APA’s office. “From what I was told, I did not get a clear picture of benefits the communities would get. I did press the (Sithe Global) officials, and did not get any straightforward answers. I told them ‘there are a lot of maybes’. We are not happy with what we are hearing. “We do not consider it a consultation we had. A consultation would give you time to get independent technical information. We need more information. There is a lot of information we did not get to digest.”
By Johann Earle, Guyana Chronicle, 14 May 2011 | Prime Minister Sam Hinds yesterday put to rest the assertion that Synergy Holdings Inc. signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project in 2006, saying that the document signed in that year was in relation to a call by the Guyana Power and Light for Independent Power Producers to come on board in electricity generation. Speaking at a hurriedly called press conference at his office yesterday, the Prime Minister produced to reporters copies of the signature page of the MOU for the Amaila Project signed on June 26, 1998, between the Government of Guyana, represented by Hinds, and Synergy Holdings Inc., represented by Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall, and Harza International Development Company Inc., represented by Vice President Frank Dickerson.
Kaieteur News, 14 May 2011 | With the rising fuel cost Guyana Power and Light says that the consumer is not going to see a reduction in energy charges anytime soon. A few years ago the power company was complaining about energy losses and line losses. The energy losses resulted from people stealing power thus forcing legitimate consumers to pay for them. The stated promise was that when the number of consumer increases then the cost to the consumer would be lowered. It turns out that there are numerous other factors that would influence the cost. And one of these is beyond the control of the power company. It is the cost of the heavy fuel oil that powers the generators.
Stabroek News, 14 May 2011 | The local workforce involved in the construction of the Amaila hydropower plant is likely to be less than what was projected in the updated ESIA, Sithe Global’s Senior Vice President Jim McGowan says. The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) released in March said the construction was likely to require an average workforce of approximately 700 persons and a peak of about 1,200 workers. The document said that about 40 percent of the workforce would be Guyanese, meaning that approximately about 280 to 480 locals should be employed when the project eventually gets underway. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
By Emile Mervin, letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 14 May 2011 | It would have been wiser if Prime Minister Samuel A Hinds, had just kept quiet about Synergy’s Mr Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall, transferring his licence for the development of the Amaila Falls Hydro-Electric Project (AFHEP) to Sithe Global, rather than pen a back-fired missive taking umbrage with Stabroek News and Kaieteur News for their reportage on the licence transfer.
15 May 2011
By Dinesh Singh Rawat, ABC live, 15 May 2011 | India laid a Statement At the United Nations Ministerial Roundtable during CSD-19 On The 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Development on 12th May, 2011 . As a part of the G-77+China, India urges that the 10 YFP Plan of Action is structured to include the following: A combined strategy of the Developed and the Developing countries, without introducing a ‘bridge’ element of ’emerging’ economies. It should be appreciated that historically, extreme poverty and a lack of access to energy and material use have resulted in constrained but sustainable living patterns among the poor countries…
By Adma Harris, Kaieteur News, 15 May 2011 | If the government is honest, then the transfer of the licence was properly done. The government could have been the only party to effect the transfer. If Mr McGowan is correct then this is a whole new kettle of fish. Indeed the two newspapers have been questioning aspects of the project largely because they have been kept in the dark. When the equipment for the road project came in they were not allowed even the courtesy to take a photograph. They have never been able to visit the road works to report on its progress and the effect it would have on the hydro project. They have not been kept abreast of the developments. When they questioned the record of Mr Motilall to construct a road they were abused by the government, not Mr Motilall. This rush to protect Mr Motilall had led to the belief that there is a special relationship between him and the government. I am one being attacked and I believe that I am one of the most honest reporters.
By Emile Mervin, letter to the editor, Kaieteur News, 15 May 2011 | Whenever the official history of the actual Amaila Fall Hydro Electric Project is written, the writers should be careful to insert this fact: Kaieteur News, as a courageous member of Guyana’s Fourth Estate, has kept Guyanese at home and abroad abreast while holding the government’s feet to the fire on the shenanigans associated with this project in its still embryonic stage. After 47 years of the PPP and PNC, I truly wish for the Alliance For Change (AFC) to form the next government, failing which, it should be in a stronger position to leverage the outcome of decisions affecting the country’s development. But regardless of which party wins this year’s election, I want to see Kaieteur News maintain this level of intense focus on the performance of government, because the sole purpose of government is the people, not politicians and their friends.
Stabroek News, 15 May 2011 | Synergy’s boss Fip Motilall is still being held to the September 9 deadline for the completion of the Amaila Falls access road project, government’s technical advisor Walter Willis says. The government has not modified any part of the US$15.4 million project, Willis disclosed even as Synergy is badly behind schedule. According to Willis, Synergy is still expected to produce an all-weather road to the site, as well as the Butakari pontoon crossing, the Kuribrong bridge and 15 timber bridges. Synergy won the contract for “the upgrading of approximately 85 km of existing roadway, the design and construction of approximately 110 km of virgin roadway, the design and construction of two new pontoon crossings at… [R-M: Subscription needed.]
By Christopher Ram, Stabroek News, 15 May 2011 | Mr Hinds’s intervention on the Amaila issue came one day after the press carried a report that hydro-electric “pioneer” Mr Fip Motilall had received approval for the transfer of a licence to Sithe Global, which some time in 2002 he had been awarded under the Hydro-Electricity Act Cap 56:03 to develop a hydroelectric plant at Amaila Falls… It is important to nail the myth that Mr Motilall pioneered the Amaila Falls project. The studies on that Falls’ potential were done in the 1970s, and Mr Motilall was given access to them by this administration. If the Prime Minister would care to read from his own website, he would notice that the feasibility study done by Kaehne Consulting Ltd for the government in 2002 described Synergy/Harza as “developers.” [R-M: Subscription needed.]