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.
Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development, May 2011 | The following bodies will meet in Bonn in June: The fourteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 14) (second part); The sixteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 16) (second part); The thirty-fourth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 34); The thirty-fourth session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 34). There are many links related to REDD-plus between the negotiations in these bodies. For example negotiations about new rules for land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) in Annex I countries under way in the AWG-KP may have implications for future REDD-plus rules.
By Unna Chokkalingam and S. Anuradha Vanniarachchy, Forest Carbon Asia, May 2011 | Sri Lanka has had little forest carbon activity so far, both at the national level and on the ground. Two state agencies administer 93% of Sri Lanka’s forest lands. Recent policy amendments seek to enhance private and community participation in conservation and production activities and are open to exploring alternative tenure, financing and benefit-sharing options. These policy developments in principle allow more room for public participation in and benefit from REDD+ in public and private lands. The Forest Department is the key focal point for REDD+ and it is currently drafting a UN-REDD supported program for building national REDD readiness.
ONF International, May 2011 | Developing REDD+ Projects In the Democratic Republic of Congo: Progress in a Pioneer Country Friday, June 3rd from 10:15 to 11:15 in Room 12 Fira Barcelona, Downtown Montjuïc Venue, Palau de Congressos Avda. Reina Mº Cristina s/n 08004 Barcelona. Forest carbon: It’s time to invest Thursday, June 2nd at 6:30 pm Location: Room 4; Level 2. Experimenting with REDD+ through projects is a pillar of DRC’s readiness process. Indeed REDD+ projects are starting in DRC under various circumstances and already involve a wide-range of very different stakeholders. The country is aware of the challenges associated with the development of these projects and fully committed to address them. The objective of the side event is to present the latest developments concerning these pilot projects and how they fit into the larger REDD+ picture in DRC.
23 May 2011
By Hazel Henderson, IPS, 23 May 2011 | Economists pushed policy proposals for ‘market-based solutions’ to climate change in the US Senate during the Reagan and Clinton administrations. Influenced by the ideologies of conservative economists and elite environmentalists, they joined the push to privatise, deregulate, and promote expansion of market-based globalisation. US policy dominated the UN’s first climate summit in Kyoto in 1997, and led to the CO2 emissions-trading approach of the Kyoto Protocol. The focus on CO2 followed largely because financial traders on Wall Street and in London needed a single commodity — carbon — to construct tradable financial instruments.
Times of India, 23 May 2011 | A person uses an average of 8,000 trees in his lifetime and 10% of these are under threat, said N Krishna Kumar, director, Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding, Coimbatore, on Sunday. He was speaking at an event to mark International Day for Biological Diversity, organised by his institute and the National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai. It was also the centenary celebrations of Fischer Herbarium, which has been functioning in the institute since 1911. “People use trees for food, fibre, paper, non-wood forest produce and timber. Some species of trees are exploited, making them endangered,” he said. Over the years, forest density has decreased and this is the main reason for man-animal conflict, Krishna Kumar said.
infochangeindia.com, 23 May 2011 | Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in India to sign an agreement with the World Bank to secure carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in 11 watershed divisions under the Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Project. Under the agreement, the World Bank will buy carbon credits from new forests being developed on degraded land in Himachal Pradesh under a watershed management programme called the Reforestation Project-Improving Livelihood and Watersheds Project. It is being implemented in 177 gram panchayats in 11 watershed divisions. The aim is reforestation in watershed areas, improving livelihoods, and generating carbon revenue for the community.
CIFOR Forests Blog, 23 May 2011 | Find an unofficial translation of the Presidential Instructions below by Pete Wood from PT Green Gecko.
By Angela Dewan, newmatilda.com, 23 May 2011 | You know that something’s not quite right when one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies celebrates a ban on deforestation. On Friday, Indonesia’s biggest paper producer, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), welcomed a two-year logging ban in Indonesia’s forests and peatlands. It’s not because the company – which in the past has been accused of rampant forest destruction – has decided to go green, but because the moratorium allows it to essentially continue logging as usual. The trumpeted deforestation ban is part of a US$1 billion climate deal with Norway under the REDD+ scheme, which aims to monetise carbon stocks locked in forests, preventing their release into the atmosphere and thereby mitigating climate change. As New Matilda reported last month, the ban was delayed for five months as the corporate lobby pushed for concessions.
mongabay.com, 23 May 2011 | Indonesia’s mining industry expects the just-implemented moratorium on new forestry concessions in primary forests and peatlands to allow underground coal and gold mining in protected areas, reports the Jakarta Globe. Speaking with Jakarta Globe reporter Fidelis Satriastanti, Irwandy Arif, chairman of the Indonesian Mining Professionals Association, said the decree’s exemption on permits for thermal energy could extend to minerals. “We’ve been waiting for this presidential regulation, especially for mining lead in Dairi, North Sumatra,” Irwandy told the Jakarta Globe. “The regulation gives legal certainty and will attract miners to invest more in silver, lead and gold mining.”
Tempointeractive.com, 23 May 2011 | The Forestry Ministry’s secretary general Hadi Daryanto, has called on the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation’s (REDD+) task force to form an independent agency to measure emissions. The call follows a moratorium on the logging of primary forests that was issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week. The ruling states that new permits for the conversion and use of primary forest and peat land will be halted for two years. The move is intended to improve agricultural productivity, reduce the number of overlapping concessions and curb illegal logging. Hadi said the government had selected Central Kalimantan as a pilot project site and the result of the moratorium would be studied in the area. Next year, provinces in Aceh, Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, West Papua and Jambi may also be chosen as potential study sites.
Jakarta Post, 23 May 2011 | Deforestation has severely ravaged Indonesia’s tropical forests, and a recently introduced moratorium on forest conversions would help reverse the trend, a senior official says. President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono’s special aide on climate change, Agus Purnomo, said illegal practices such as squatting and logging, had encroached on primary forests, leading the government to consider it necessary to give double protection to areas already under legal protection from exploitation. “The decree will help stop such problems, as it will explicitly emphasize the duty to protect forests. With the decree, the Presidential Work Unit for Development Control and Monitoring [UKP4] will be able to issue recommendations to the president on punishing perpetrators,” he said.
The REDD Desk, 23 May 2011 | The policy does not explicitly mention climate change issues and it has been revised to take into consideration significant changes and climate change issues which have occurred since it was enacted in 1998. The revision is waiting for government approval. Some of the challenges identified in the policy in achieving a sustainable forest management regime include wild fires that occur annually, unclear boundaries, lack of including economic and environmental values of forests in product pricing and royalties and uncontrolled settlement in forest plantations… The identified challenges and strategies to address them have implications for REDD programs, either directly or indirectly, which should not be lost sight of in the early and advance stages in implementing the programs.
By Jeff Conant, Climate Connections, 23 May 2011 | San Francisco’s Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment (CRPE) announced today that it received the judge’s writ in its lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB); the writ gives the green light to most of the policies advanced under AB32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, but puts a permanent hold on cap and trade. “Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court ruled that CARB violated CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) when, among other things, it failed to properly consider alternatives to a ‘cap and trade’ program in its Scoping Plan to implement AB 32,” CRPE’s statement says. “The Court’s Writ, issued Friday, enjoins, or stops, all implementation and actions in furtherance of cap and trade until CARB completes a lawfully adequate CEQA review.”
By Dinakar Sethuraman, Bloomberg, 23 May 2011 | The Asian Development Bank is spending $60 million to help set up three venture capital funds developing climate-change technology in China and India, the Manila-based lender said in an e-mailed statement today. The bank will invest $20 million each into Aloe Environment Fund III, Keytone Ventures II and VenturEast Life Fund III, which may raise an additional $700 million from the private sector, according to the statement. ADB said it has invested $4.8 billion in clean energy projects in the past three years even as climate mitigation efforts for developing countries may exceed $100 billion a year by 2030. Cost estimates for Asia may be $40 billion a year from now to 2050, it said… Philip Erquiaga, director general of ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department, said… “Investing in these venture capital funds will help channel finance into innovative and affordable technologies that tackle the challenge of climate change.”
FAO press release, 23 May 2011 | FAO and the World Bank have unveiled a new guidance framework which can help countries assess the governance of their forest resources. The ability to demonstrate good governance in forestry is becoming increasingly important for countries wishing to participate in emerging climate change mitigation schemes. The framework provides countries with a comprehensive checklist they can use to identify and address problems in governance of forest resources… Developed by FAO and the World Bank-managed Program on Forests (PROFOR), the “Framework for Assessing and Monitoring Forest Governance” looks at three key components or “pillars” of forest governance — policy, legal, institution and regulatory frameworks; planning and decision-making processes; implementation, enforcement, and compliance — and grades performance in six areas: accountability, effectiveness, efficiency, fairness, participation, and transparency.
By Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360, 23 May 2011 | In 2010, the NGO Global Witness revealed that the Liberian government had leased a fifth of its forests to a British company, Carbon Harvesting Corporation. The company didn’t want to harvest the trees. It wanted to profit by selling carbon credits earned under the proposed UN system for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Since there is no immediate risk to the forests concerned, this seemed a dubious proposition. But the real scandal, according to Global Witness, was that if nobody bought the credits, the contract would leave the Liberian government liable for up to $2.2 billion a year in compensation. That amounted to more than the country’s entire GDP. Last June, the City of London Police arrested Carbon Harvesting’s director, Mike Foster, on suspicion of bribery, and a Liberian official in Monrovia was dismissed. But no case has yet come to court in Britain.
24 May 2011
By Thalif Deen, IPS, 24 May 2011 | An international coalition of academics and environmental activists has launched a global campaign for the creation of a new U.N. convention to protect “mother earth”. With the United Nations fighting a relentless battle against water pollution, loss of biodiversity, desertification, deforestation, climate change and a depleted ozone layer, the campaign for a “Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth” has taken added significance. “It is not too late to change course and improve our relationship with Mother Earth,” says U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. “But time is running out,” she warns. Maude Barlow, a lead campaigner for the U.N. convention and chairperson of the Council of Canadians, a citizen’s advocacy organisation, said: “We hope that one day a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth will stand as the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the guiding covenants of our time.”
Environmental Defense Fund press release, 24 May 2011 | Indigenous groups in the Amazon Rainforest will develop plans to execute pilot projects to reduce emissions from deforestation to combat climate change, through an innovative agreement announced in Washington today between the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The project, “Pueblos Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica frente al Cambio Climático” (Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin to Combat Climate Change) is funded by the IDB, and gives a major boost to indigenous-led efforts to combat climate change. Similar projects that involve indigenous peoples and reducing deforestation have historically been directed by outside non-governmental groups, but this puts indigenous groups, led by COICA, at the helm of the project’s planning and execution.
By Karimeh Moukaddem, mongabay.com, 24 May 2011 | Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency busted an illegal logging ring following analysis of satellite imagery, reports Globo. Illegal loggers managed to clear more than 400 hectares of Amazon rainforest in southeast Pará before authorities spotted the crime using Brazil’s satellite-based deforestation detection system.. Brazil’s environmental enforcement agency, the Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA), responded by dispatching agents to surprise deforesters in the act of clearing rainforest. In its action, IBAMA officers confiscated a tractor used to haul logs and maintain access roads in the rainforest, two trucks used to transport illegally sourced wood, and 200 liters of diesel. The agency fined the owner of the equipment R$2 million ($1.2 million) for environmental crimes.
mongabay.com, 24 May 2011 | Ten former environment ministers weighed in on Brazil’s looming vote on the forest code governing land use in the Amazon rainforest. In a letter addressed to President Dilma Rousseff and leaders of the National Congress, former ministers Carlos Minc (Brazil’s environmental minister from 2008-2010), Silva (2003-2008), José Carlos Carvalho (2002-2003), José Sarney Filho (1999-2002) Gustavo Krause (1995-1999), Henrique Brandao Cavalcanti (1994-1995), Rubens Ricupero (1993-1994), Fernando Jorge Coutinho (1992-1993), Jose Goldemberg (1992) and Paulo Nogueira Neto (1973-1985) asked Brazilian political leaders to delay today’s planned vote on changes to the Forest Code. They warn that hasty passage of an amended version of the code could undermine Brazil’s progress is reducing its deforestation rate. Data released last week by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute showed a big jump in forest clearing over last year.
By Tom Philipps, The Guardian, 24 May 2011 | Six months after predicting his own murder, a leading rainforest defender has reportedly been gunned down in the Brazilian Amazon. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo, are said to have been killed in an ambush near their home in Nova Ipixuna, in Pará state, about 37 miles from Marabá. According to a local newspaper, Diário do Pará, the couple had not had police protection despite getting frequent death threats because of their battle against illegal loggers and ranchers. On Tuesday there were conflicting reports from about whether the killing happened on Monday night or Tuesday morning. A police spokesperson said there were reports of a “double homicide” at the settlement called Maçaranduba 2.
By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 24 May 2011 | José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva, were gunned down last night in an ambush in the city of Nova Ipixuna in the Brazilian state of Pará. Da Silva was known as a community leader and an outspoken critic of deforestation in the region. Police believe the da Silvas were killed by hired assassins because both victims had an ear cut off, which is a common token for hired gunmen to prove their victims had been slain, according to local police investigator, Marcos Augusto Cruz, who spoke to Al Jazeera. Suspicion immediately fell on illegal loggers linked to the charcoal trade that supplies pig iron smelters in the region. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva, who also went by the nickname ‘Ze Claudio’, was a vocal critic of illegal logging in Pará, a state in Brazil that is rife with deforestation. He also worked as a community leader of an Amazon reserve that sold sustainably harvested forest products.
By James Bacchus, Huffington Post, 24 May 2011 | While a majority of the US House of Representatives continues to hinder U.S. climate actions nationally and internationally by denying that climate change is real and man-made, other countries continue to work together to try to stop it. They have now achieved what may prove to be a notable breakthrough in the battle against global warming with a new plan to protect the remaining virgin forests of Indonesia. Although little noted thus far in the US, Indonesia has just announced the details of a far-reaching program intended to diminish forest destruction and thereby reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are the main cause of climate change. Key to the plan is a two-year moratorium on the issuance of new permits to clear more than 150 million acres of primary forest and carbon-intensive peatlands scattered across the several time zones spanning the thousands of equatorial islands of the vast Indonesian archipelago.
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 24 May 2011 | But, as the debate on what constitutes “natural forest” continued to rage, ministers and senior officials claimed that a decree signed last week – after a four month delay – to impose the moratorium had nothing to do with the Norway agreement. “The moratorium is not a result of [the deal with] Norway,” president special staff on climate change Agus Purnomo said, adding that the Norway money was too little compared to the value of the forests protected by the decree. The decree covers 64 million hectares of the primary forest and peatland, but most of that area is already protected by the Forestry Law. Green activists and overseas observers have not been impressed by the moratorium. Citing its own calculations, Greenpeace Indonesia said the moratorium should cover 104.8 million hectares if the moratorium were based on the Norway deal.
By Audryne Karma, Wall Street Journal, 24 May 2011 | In Indonesia, there has been much to celebrate since the democratic reformasi began in May 1998. Most Indonesians are freer under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono than they ever were under the “Guided Democracy” of Sukarno or the “New Order” of Suharto. But for many West Papuans like me, the old regime dies hard. Indonesia has yet to realize the promise of democracy and human rights for all of its citizens. In 2001, President Megawati Sukarnoputri promised West Papuans autonomy. But real autonomy has been denied. Worse, the government has systematically persecuted West Papuans for calling attention to this broken promise.
By Olufunso Somorin, CIFOR Forest Bog, 24 May 2011 | Bringing together researchers, policymakers, civil society and practitioners on development issues is quite challenging. Particularly more challenging is policy response towards climate change adaptation and mitigation in Congo Basin forests. One thing that is apparent in all six Congo Basin countries is their profound interest in the reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) mechanism. This is evident in their preparation of the readiness-plain idea note (R-PIN) for funding opportunities from the World Bank, national and regional dialogues on REDD+. As members of the Least Developed Countries under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a number of these countries are required to produce national adaptation plan of actions (NAPAs) due to the vulnerability of the region to climate impacts.
Kaieteur News, 24 May 2011 | Sithe Global, the company developing the Amaila Falls Hydro project, has already spent “several million dollars,” Senior Vice President James McGowan said yesterday. Civil society activist and chartered accountant Christopher Ram has already questioned Sithe Global’s stated intention to put US$200 million into the project. Financing for the project, estimated by Sithe Global to cost between US$650 million and US$700 million, has not yet been finalised. “The project will be financed through debt from multilateral and development financial institutions per an agreed upon funding schedule over the course of the construction period, and equity from Sithe Global,” McGowan told Kaieteur News via email. He said Sithe Global has already contributed “several million dollars to the development of this project and expects to ultimately contribute around $200 million of equity.”
By Rafael Herz (Sithe Global), letter to the editor, Stabroek News, 24 May 2011 | Recent coverage of the Amaila Hydro-power Project by your paper, including a statement in Christopher Ram’s Business Page of Sunday, May 15, contained inaccurate information that Sithe Global believes it is necessary to correct. With regard to Mr Ram’s statement that “Sithe is acting as if it has a final licence and one wonders whether the pattern of non-compliance with the law will continue despite increasing scrutiny,” we reiterate that Sithe Global holds an interim licence to complete the project. The Government of Guyana has made clear that this interim licence was transferred to Sithe Global from Synergy Holdings and subsequently renewed; both actions were in accordance with Guyanese law. Upon satisfaction of the conditions of the interim licence, Sithe Global expects that the Government of Guyana will issue the final licence in connection with the project.
Media Newswire, 24 May 2011 | Tony James, Vice-President of Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, said that the waters of all nine indigenous peoples in Guyana were at risk from the increasing commercialization of their mineral, hydrocarbon and forest resources. They were put at further risk as the realization grew of the value of their land to the low-carbon economy and climate-change mitigation. In Guyana’s interior, an internationally supported Low-Carbon Development Strategy and projects under the United Nations Collaborative Programme on REDD+ were paving the way for massive investments in hydroelectric generation that could flood parts of the territories of indigenous peoples and change the flow of the rivers sustaining their communities… There should, he said, be doubt regarding the urgent need for indigenous rights to be protected and respected, particularly the right to free, prior and informed consent.
25 May 2011
By Karimeh Moukaddem, mongabay.com, 25 May 2011 | Brazil’s conservation units are poorly run and in need of better funding, finds a new study published by Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The assessment, released last week, concludes Brazil’s protected areas system should be open to creative management solutions. The study reveals that Brazil’s protected areas, the majority of which are in the Amazon, operate with sparse workforces and under insufficient budgets. Brazil protects 1,278,190 km² of land, making it the fourth-largest system of preserved areas in the world, but many areas are protected in name only, lacking the resources to ensure their conservation status.
By Richard Black, BBC News, 25 May 2011 | They kept us in suspense for longer than an Oscars jury; but now, deputies in Brazil’s lower parliamentary house have passed a batch of reforms easing the decades-old Forest Code. As discussed here a few weeks ago when the long parliamentary discussions began, the code sets down national standards aimed at ensuring the really important bits of the nation’s forests are protected from development. The main force pushing the reforms is Aldo Rebelo, head of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCDoB). His rationale is that the current code works against small-scale farmers. Regional rivals that compete with Brazil as food exporters are not expected to labour under such a handicap, supporters say. Among the reforms, restrictions on clearing forests along rivers and on the tops of hills will be eased. There will also be an amnesty for small-scale landowners who illegally chopped down trees prior to July 2008.
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 25 May 2011 | A controversial bill environmentalists say could increase deforestation in the Amazon rainforest moved a step forward to becoming law in Brazil after winning approval in Brazil’s lower house of Congress. The measure, which has been hotly debated for months, next goes to the Senate where it is expected to pass, before heading to President Dilma Rousseff, who has vowed to veto any bill that grants amnesty for illegal deforestation. The bill includes such a measure, although it could be subject to change before a final decision by the president. The bill aims to reform Brazil’s Forest Code, which requires landowners in the Amazon rainforest to maintain 80 percent of their holdings as forest. The Forest Code also mandates forest cover along waterways and on mountain slopes.
andina.com, 25 May 2011 | A new deal aims to help indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon reduce the carbon emissions caused by deforestation and help fight climate change. The partnership between the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), aims to put the people who actually live in this priceless environment at the heart of protecting it. In addition to Peruvians, COICA represents indigenous groups in the Amazon basin in Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana and Brazil. The project, called ”Pueblos Indigenas de la Cuenca Amazonica frente al Cambio Climatico” (Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin to Combat Climate Change) was announced in Tuesday in Washington after initial discussions in Ecuador and is funded by the IDB. It aims to allow indigenous people to be actively involved in the planning and execution of emission reduction projects.
By Nadya Anscombe, environmentalresearchweb.org, 25 May 2011 | Arima believes indirect land-use change could complicate Brazil’s efforts to achieve REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) targets. “For example, the government could support a biofuels project to cut emissions, but this project may indirectly be increasing deforestation in another part of the country,” said Arima. “Thus, environmental policy in Brazil must pay attention to indirect land-use change.” The results also suggest that supply chains crossing international boundaries may stimulate Amazonian deforestation via indirect land-use change. That is, as global demands for Brazilian agricultural commodities grow, Amazonian deforestation may increase.
By Agus Purnomo, CIFOR Forests Blog, 25 May 2011 | Climate change calls for a fundamental shift in how the government and business community evaluate situations, make plans and implement them. Environmental sustainability has to become an integral part of Indonesia’s economic development. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, when speaking at the Global Business for Environment forum in Jakarta in late April, reiterated Indonesia’s pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions and put the country on a more environmentally sustainable growth path… The President has pledged that palm oil producers can expand into Indonesia’s more than 30 million hectares of degraded land: a vast area that can be used productively, economically and without adverse effects for the environment… The President has laid the course for sustainable economic growth in Indonesia. It is now up to the government and the business community to follow his lead down this path.
By Ahmad Maryudi, Jakarta Globe, 25 May 2011 | To ensure that the moratorium produces results as initially intended, its implementation period should be used to review licensing procedures and to improve the administration of forests as a whole. Unfortunately, reviews of existing licenses are outside the scope of the moratorium. This will legitimize poor practices in forest areas, undermining REDD efforts as a consequence. To conclude, the forest moratorium as outlined in the presidential decree has poured cold water on the initial optimism that the policy would provide a solid stepping stone for REDD. The government should have shown more serious efforts to meet its promises of a 26 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions. The moratorium could have proved a huge step if not weighed down by exemptions.
Climate-L, 25 May 2011 | The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has released a zero draft of the “Climate Change for Forest Policy Makers- An approach for integrating climate change into national forest programmes in support of sustainable forest management,” and is calling for comments on the draft by 20 June 2011. The draft is part of the FAO Forestry Department’s and National Forest Programme Facility’s programme on integrating climate change issues into national forest programmes. The development of guidelines is the second phase of the programme following preliminary analyses of the challenges and opportunities climate change poses for the forest sector in Cambodia, Paraguay, South Africa and Tanzania. The final guide is expected to be published in September 2011.
By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, Ghanaian Chronicle, 25 May 2011 | FAO and the World Bank have unveiled a new guidance framework which can help countries including Ghana assess the governance of their forest resources. The ability to demonstrate good governance in forestry is becoming increasingly important for countries wishing to participate in emerging climate change mitigation schemes… Despite its promise, REDD+ does present some formidable challenges. Unintended disruptions for local communities, fraud and ineffective projects, and corruption and misappropriation of funds have all been cited as possible problems. “At the last UN Climate Change summit in Cancun, there was basic agreement on the core activities, principles and safeguards that should underpin REDD+,” said Peter Holmgren, Director of FAO’s Climate, Energy and Tenure Division. “This included the need for systems to provide information on how safeguards are being addressed and respected.”
Survival International, 25 May 2011 | The official in charge of Rwanda’s controversial policy to eradicate all thatched roofs in the country by the end of this month has admitted that ‘sometimes we apply some force’ . The admission came after hundreds of Twitter users responded to Survival’s condemnation of the destruction of Batwa Pygmy houses, which has left many of Rwanda’s most marginalized people without shelter. The government, which is also active on Twitter, has tweeted that the anti-thatch programme ‘is about decent housing for all, no one is left homeless.’ The official overseeing the anti-thatch programme, Augustine Kampayana, told journalists, ‘for anyone to still be in nyakatsi [thatched houses] up to now only means that it is in their general attitudes to prefer to live in grass thatched houses. Some of them just do not want to change, but we cannot let these drag everyone else back.’
By Roland Oliphant, The Moscow Times, 25 May 2011 | The EU Directorate of the Environment is currently in talks with the Russian Environment and Natural Resources Ministry to develop a domestic certification system that should help crack down on illegal logging. Timo Makela, who is director of International Affairs and Environmental Finance at the EU’s Directorate General for the Environment, and is leading the negotiations, said he has found the ministry “very receptive” to the idea. And Russia stands to be the main beneficiary of the program for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), a scheme currently being negotiated as part of the international climate talks that would reward countries that preserve their forests. International diplomacy and regulation is a slow process, however. Almost as slow as an oak tree grows.
By Jeff Conant, AlterNet, 25 May 2011 | San Francisco’s Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment (CRPE) announced today that it received the judge’s writ in its lawsuit against the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The writ gives the green light to most of the policies advanced under AB32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, but puts a permanent hold on cap and trade. “Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court ruled that CARB violated CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) when, among other things, it failed to properly consider alternatives to a ‘cap and trade’ program in its Scoping Plan to implement AB 32,” CRPE’s statement says. “The Court’s Writ, issued Friday, enjoins, or stops, all implementation and actions in furtherance of cap and trade until CARB completes a lawfully adequate CEQA review.”
The White House press release, 25 May 2011 | The United States and the United Kingdom therefore continue to seek to hold the increase in temperature below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. We also continue to work towards implementing the key agreements reached in Cancun, including making the very best use of the climate financing and encouraging innovation that will help the poorest countries get on a climate resilient, low emissions path to sustainable economic growth and development. By employing existing technologies, such as drought and flood resistant crops, and new ways of delivery clean and affordable energy, we will work with the private sector and other stakeholders to ramp up investments in clean technologies while protecting the world’s precious forests and rich biodiversity. Our support for the REDD+ partnership will increase the incomes of the 1.2 billion of the world’s poorest people who depend on forests for their livelihoods.
By Vanessa Narine, Guyana Chronicle, 25 May 2011 | The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), yesterday handed over a report on the inventory of mangrove forest cover along the coastal zone and the report found that from 1990 Guyana’s mangrove forests have been significantly depleted from over 80,000 hectares to only 22,632 hectares. In July 2010 the GFC and the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which stated that GFC will be provided funding to implement the Mangrove Species Inventory Programme. Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud, who received the report, stressed that it forms the baseline for moving forward with efforts to protect, restore and manage Guyana’s mangroves forests. Speaking at a stakeholder meeting, he noted that these efforts will continue long after the three-year Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GRMP) has ended.
Kaieteur News, 25 May 2011 | The National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) on July 26, last year, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which ensured that under the agreement, the Government through NARI would provide the financing for the implementation of the Mangrove Species Inventory Programme. At the Ministry of Agriculture’s boardroom yesterday, a Geographic Information System (GIS) report was presented to the Chairperson of the Mangrove Action Committee, Annette Arjoon-Martins, in the presence of members of the European Union, GFC and NARI, where an overview of the GIS and its findings was discussed. Kaieteur News understands that the undertakings included having 470 kilometres of mangrove forest coastline inventoried for a period of three years while providing the development and operation of a computerized Geographic Information System (GIS) for the mangrove forest along the coastline and river bank areas of Guyana…
Stabroek News, 25 May 2011 | A recent study conducted by the GIS unit within the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) indicates that the total area of mangrove forest along the coastland is significantly less than was recorded ten years ago. Speaking at the boardroom of the Ministry of Agriculture where a report in the form of an inventory undertaken by the GFC was presented to the Agriculture Ministry, Haimwant Persaud, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS)… [R-M: Subscription needed.]
26 May 2011
By Scott Fallon and John Reitmeyer, NorthJersey.com, 26 May 2011 | New Jersey is dropping out of the nation’s largest regional effort to reduce greenhouse gases in a move announced by Governor Christie on Thursday that was praised by business groups and criticized by environmental advocates. Governor Christie said that he will pull New Jersey out of a regional cap-and-trade energy program. Christie called the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative a “failure” and said it has been ineffective in battling global warming. “RGGI has not changed behavior and it does not reduce emissions,” Christie said at a news conference in Trenton. “RGGI does nothing more than tax electricity, tax our citizens, tax our businesses, with no discernable or measurable impact upon our environment,” he said.
By Emilio Godoy, IPS, 26 May 2011 | The World Bank is working to update the mechanisms it uses to measure the effects of the financing it provides, particularly in environmental and social terms, now that it is gearing up to administer the new Green Climate Fund. “The Bank is working to deepen the measurement of impacts,” not only “the outcomes associated with a project, but also its long-term effects, such as impacts on health, ecosystems or the quality of life of the population,” Gustavo Saltiel, the director of sustainable development for the World Bank in Mexico, told Tierramérica.
By Christy van der Merwe, Engineering News, 26 May 2011 | Climate change experts and negotiators from Brazil, South Africa, India and China, the ‘Basic’ grouping, are meeting in Durban over the next two days, to discuss a common negotiating position for the 17th conference of the parties (COP17) in December. The meeting would be followed by a Ministerial meeting on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29, which would be attended by Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, Chinese National Development and Reform vice-Minister Xie Zhenhua, Indian Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, and Brazilian Environment Ministry executive secretary Francisco Gaetani. This would be the second Basic meeting since COP16 was held in Cancün, Mexico, in December 2010. The first was held in India in February.
By Adianto P. Simamora, Jakarta Post, 26 May 2011 | Environmental activists have raised concern that businesses will focus on securing permits to convert secondary forests, because a recently imposed moratorium on forest conversion only covers primary forests. Palm oil producers, who are a major force in the nation’s forestry sector, have said that the recently signed forest-clearing moratorium does not allow them to operate on degraded land located in areas designated as primary forest areas. “It is almost impossible to expand business in those areas,” Association of Palm Oil Producers (Gapki) secretary-general Joko Supriyono told The Jakarta Post. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that palm oil producers would be allowed to operate in degraded forests… “With the moratorium, the real opportunity for palm oil plantations is secondary forests,” Presidential aid on climate change Agus Purnomo said.
By Meena Menon, The Hindu, 26 May 2011 | Communities that manage the forests in Nepal are grappling with the vagaries of erratic rainfall, drought and depleting water for drinking and agriculture. The rainfall pattern has changed in intensity and quality as a result of which production of paddy is decreasing, says Eak B. Rana, project coordinator, REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) Ecosystem Services at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu. While the people have adapted in some ways to the changing rainfall pattern and lack of water, migration has increased. An ICIMOD study on community perceptions and responses to climate change impacts in Nepal, India and Bhutan points to increased migration, though not due to climate change alone. The study says income generation options are inadequate in Nepal, apart from poor social capital and support systems, leading to labour migration.
Survival International, 26 May 2011 | American diplomats consider the Indian government ‘unwilling and unable’ to ‘end the exploitation and victimization’ of the country’s 84 million tribal people according to secret cables released by The Hindu newspaper. The cables reveal that the American government feared this neglect ‘plays into the hands of Naxalites’ – the Maoist extremists who are currently engaged in an armed insurgency in India. While the Indian government is concentrating on economic growth, the cables warn that ‘India’s rapidly expanding population and growing economy have worsened the tribals’ plight by increasing pressure on shrinking forest areas and their resources.’ The government has responded to the tribal peoples’ plight by passing the Forest Rights Act – a law which aims finally to recognize the rights of tribal communities to the forests on which they depend. But the cables point out that there are ‘entrenched and corrupt interests exploiting the forests’.
VOV News, 26 May 2011 | A seminar was held in the Central Highland province of Lam Dong on May 25 to seek ways to combine the REDD+ programme with the region’s development plan. Participants focused discussions on a wide range of issues such as climate change and its impact, the benefits and challenges of the implementation of REDD+ in Vietnam as well as how to work out a regional development scheme coupled with the performance of REDD+ in disadvantaged areas. The delegates also debated prioritized orientations and requirements of the implementation of REDD+ in the Central Highlands to promote sustainable development in the region. Experience from the two-year performance of REDD+ in Lam Ha and Di Linh districts of Lam Dong province was also shared at the workshop, jointly organised by the UN Development Programme, the Ministry of Planning and Investment and General Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Johann Hari, The Independent, 26 May 2011 | So where does Ecuador come in? At the tip of this South American country there lies 4,000 lush square miles of rainforest where the Amazon basin, the Andes mountains and the equator come together. It is the most biodiverse place on Earth. When scientists studied a single hectare of it, they found it had more different species of tree than the whole of North America put together. It holds the world records for different species of amphibians, reptiles and bats. And – more important still – this rainforest is a crucial part of the planet’s lungs, inhaling huge amounts of heat-trapping gases and keeping them out of the atmosphere. Yet almost all the pressure from the outside world today is to saw it down. Why? Because underneath that rainforest there are almost a billion barrels of untapped oil, containing 400 million tones of planet-cooking gases. We crave it. We howl for it. Unlike biodiversity and a safe climate, it’s tradable for cash.
Kaieteur News, 26 May 2011 | Sithe Global, the company developing the Amaila Falls Hydro project, has refused to answer further questions about the project. This week, Senior Vice President James McGowan, via e-mail, said that Sithe Global had already spent “several million dollars” on the project. Kaieteur News then e-mailed McGowan, asking him to say exactly how much money was spent. He was also asked to say what this amount of money was used for. Instead of answering, an e-mail was sent by the Sithe Global team stating: “Thank you for your interest in the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project. We will not be commenting further at this time. For more information, please see www.amailahydropower.com.” Civil society activist and chartered accountant, Christopher Ram, has questioned Sithe Global’s stated intention to put US$200 million into the project. Financing for the project, estimated by Sithe Global to cost between US$650 million and US$700 million, has not yet been finalised.
27 May 2011
Carbonica press release, 27 May 2011 | UK-based carbon trading and carbon offset company Carbonica will generate VCS REDD and reforestation carbon credits in Chile… Carbonica is pleased to announce a partnership with REDDMontt Forestry, a UK-based private equity venture investing in forestry assets. REDDMontt has carried out a number of land acquisitions in Chile and it is committed to sustainable forestry and investing in ecological assets maximising community and environmental benefits. Carbonica has partnered with REDDMontt with exclusive rights to generate carbon credits from its forestry assets in Chile. Carbonica will use the latest VCS-approved verification and certification methodologies to generate REDD and reforestation credits, as well as improved land management and afforestation credits.
By Paulo Adario, The Guardian, 27 May 2011 | Less than one year ago, the Brazilian government stood proudly on the world stage as a country that would not allow development to destroy its rainforests and announced the lowest rate of Amazon deforestation on record. Brazil’s newly elected and first female president, Dilma Roussef, promised to prevent any changes in law that would allow more deforestation or give amnesty to environmental criminals. She vowed to uphold the previous government’s commitments to reducing deforestation by 80% by 2020. Yet, only a few months later, the gloss has worn off and the promises look shaky. Forest loss is climbing again and millions of hectares are on the chopping block. According to the latest Brazilian governmental figures, deforestation in the Amazon has spiked over the last two months – an increase of more than 500% compared with the same timeframe last year.
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 27 May 2011 | Lack of clarity makes it difficult to assess whether Indonesia’s moratorium on new logging concessions in primary forest areas and peatlands will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, according to a new comprehensive assessment [PDF] of the instruction issued last week by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The analysis, conducted by Philip Wells and Gary Paoli of Indonesia-based Daemeter Consulting, concludes that while the moratorium is “potentially a powerful instrument” for achieving the Indonesian president’s goals of 7 percent annual growth and a 26 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from a projected 2020 baseline, the language of the moratorium leaves significant areas open for interpretation, potentially offering loopholes for developers.
By Dessy Sagita, Jakarta Globe, 27 May 2011 | The government on Thursday countered claims by environmental activists that the recent two-year moratorium on new permits to clear primary forests and carbon-rich peatland was too flawed to preserve the country’s forests. Speaking at a discussion on the moratorium, Yani Saloh, a presidential adviser for climate change, said: “This moratorium is a breakthrough. We’ve had six presidents, and this is the president who has the courage to actually do it.” Since the long-awaited moratorium was announced last week, environmental activists have been voicing their disappointment to what they perceive as a weak and unclear regulation. Critics have said the ban covers too little of the country’s forests and should have included existing logging concessions.
Channel 6 News, 27 May 2011 | The government of Germany on Friday agreed to aid Indonesia with its Forest and Climate Change program (ForClime), local media reported. ForClime, which is targeting to decrease the CO2 emission rate from deforestation and forest degradation by 300 to 400 thousand tons during a seven-year period, will be carried out through two cooperations: Technical Cooperation via GIZ with a 6.75 million euro ($9.64 million) fund and Financial Cooperation through KfW with a 20 million euro ($28.57 million) fund, Indonesia’s forestry ministry told Antara news agency. The bilateral negotiation begun in October 2007, and in addition to cutting greenhouse gas emission from the forestry sector, ForClime is also aimed at improving the living condition of rural people in Indonesia.
Jakarta Post, 27 May 2011 | International human rights group Amnesty International released a report on Friday on the unnecessary and excessive use of force against farmers in Jambi. The report documented an incident in which Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers opened fire on a group of local farmers at a palm oil plantation in Jambi, Central Sumatra, on January 15. As a result, six farmers suffered critical injuries due to the rubber bullets fired, while seven other villagers were arrested for questioning and were subsequently freed. The incident occurred amid a land dispute between the farmers and palm oil company PT Kresna Duta Agroindo that has been ongoing since 2006. The farmers said the deal in which they loaned the land to the company in 2001 had expired, returning the land rights back to the farmers.
Business Times, 27 May 2011 | Global Palm Resources, another Indonesian oil palm producer listed in Singapore and a member of the RSPO, has not issued a standalone sustainability report yet, though it has a detailed sustainability section in its annual reports… ‘We are currently conducting a company-wide strategic planning process to align our company around the shared goal of sustainable development, and will definitely evaluate the need for standalone sustainability reports in the longer term,’ says Global Palm executive chairman and CEO Suparno Adijanto. Besides a longstanding ‘zero burning’ policy and a ‘zero waste’ policy, Global Palm has an ongoing Plasma programme with the government, under which some 2,835 ha of plantation land is cultivated by 1,400 small landholders. It is now working on a clean development mechanism to derive revenue from trading carbon credits.
By Rajiv Tikoo, Financial Express, 27 May 2011 | The United Nations Environment Programme has for the first time chosen India as the global host of World Environment Day on June 5. In an email interview with FE’s Rajiv Tikoo, UNEP chief Achim Steiner explains that India has been chosen for a variety of reasons, including its growing influence on environmental issues.
28 May 2011
CIFOR Forests Blog, 28 May 2011 | A decision by UNFCCC’s Adaptation Fund to finance a major project in Honduras – one of the first to be approved by the Fund – shows how CIFOR is influencing the allocation of resources to climate change adaptation. A study by CIFOR and CATIE was cited in a successful proposal to the Adaptation Fund on climate change risks for water resources in Honduras. The US$5.6 million project will be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and the Secretariat for Natural Resources and Environment in Honduras. The earlier study was carried out under the Tropical Forests and Climate Change Adaptation project (TroFCCA), a 4-year initiative by CIFOR and CATIE aimed at defining the impacts of climate change on tropical forests and the role that forests play in helping societies adapt. The project covered seven countries, including Honduras.
29 May 2011
Stabroek News, 29 May 2011 | The findings and recommendations in a recent report on Guyana’s forest partnership with Norway will be discussed bilaterally but whether or not follow-up measures are taken here is the sovereign decision of the Guyana government, a top Norwegian official has said. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) recently released the first Guyana country report in an ongoing Real-Time Evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI). The report contained a number of observations about the REDD+ partnership process here, where Oslo is providing support to Guyana to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in a deal potentially worth up to US$250 million by 2015. The support from Norway’s development aid budget is being channelled through NICFI.
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 29 May 2011 | Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency. The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change” – is likely to be just “a nice Utopia”, according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions. Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.