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REDD in the news: 5-11 September 2011

REDD in the news: 5-11 September 2011

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.

The Climate Movement: Australia’s Patrons of Climate Change Activism

By Guy Pearse, The Monthly, September 2011 | It’s a far cry from 2009 when the environmental movement split over the so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Climate Institute went one way – backing the CPRS in exchange for Labor adopting a highly conditional 25% emission-reduction target for 2020. The Greens, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Wilderness Society, Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and GetUp!, among others, went another way, knowing the conditions attached to the 25% target meant it wouldn’t happen. Now environmentalists are cheering almost as one, not just for ‘climate action’ but for Gillard’s plan. The Greens, as co-authors, declare “the old, polluting ways will have to change and a new, exciting era is set to begin”; the ACF calls the plan an “important step to start Australia’s transition to a low carbon economy”…

Issue Brief: Tenure and Indigenous Peoples

USAID, August 2011 | Indigenous peoples (IP) often live on lands governed by customary or informal law. Securing access to these natural resources and formalizing land tenure rights is an essential foundation for vulnerable IP to maintain themselves; exercise their civil, social, cultural, political, and economic rights; and contribute to local, national, and global sustainable development. Legal recognition and demarcation of tribal areas, territories, or domains are the key means for empowering IP. However, these legal protections often do not exist.

REDD Lights: Who Owns the Carbon in Forests and Trees?

ANSA, no date | This paper argues in favor of the ownership by indigenous peoples and local communities of carbon in forests and trees and that such ownership could be the basis of social accountability that should be mainstreamed in implementing what is popularly known as the REDD-Plus mechanism.

Ethical and responsible carbon offsetting

Carbon Retirement, no date | One of the standout statistics from this year’s report on the state of the voluntary carbon markets by Ecosystems Marketplace was the meteoric rise of carbon credits from REDD projects (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) which generate offset credits from the protection of forest or woodland. REDD projects constituted 29% of the number of credits transacted in the voluntary carbon markets in 2010, more than all credits from renewable energy (20%) or methane destruction (20%). Such credits are being generated by large scale forestry projects in diverse locations such as Kenya, Indonesia and Canada… One of the most significant criticisms of current mechanisms is the potential for negative social impacts resulting from forced land grabs and the displacement of indigenous communities. Friends of the Earth has been highly critical of REDD projects and the role of the World Bank, through its FCPF, in promoting them.

First forest project on Sabah, Borneo registered under the VCS

Face – The Future, no date | Face the Future has registered the world’s first tropical Improved Forest Management project under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). The project, known as “Infapro”, is situated on 25.000 hectares of threatened Orangutan habitat in Sabah, Borneo. The pioneering Infapro project was designed as a rainforest rehabilitation project that operates through the avoidance of re-logging and the rehabilitation of degraded forest via enrichment planting, cutting of climbers and vines and liberation thinning. The project has proven successful, as it has resulted in the recovery of forest, in scientifically supported biodiversity enhancements and achieved long-term carbon sequestration… “By rehabilitating this magnificent forest we enlarge the habitat for these species. The VCS registration and issuance of carbon credits enables us to continue with our rehabilitation activities.” said Denis Slieker, Managing Director of Face the Future.

SADC REDD+ Network Newsletter – August 2011

SADC, August 2011 | Welcome to our newsletter for the SADC REDD+ information network! In this newsletter, you will find information about current developments on climate change and REDD+ with a special focus on the SADC region. This month, we are pleased to announce that SADC will be launching the SADC Photo Competition “Crossing Borders – Diversity of nature and wildlife in forests of the SADC region” that is being held on the occasion of the International Year of Forest 2011 and the Biodiversity Decade. We invite you to participate in this event and send us your photos.

5 September 2011

$40bn a year could halve deforestation worldwide

By Will Nichols, The Citizen, 5 September 2011 | Investing just 0.034 per cent of global GDP could transform the world’s forestry sector, halving deforestation rates, slashing carbon emissions and creating up to five million new jobs by the middle of the century.That is the conclusion of a major new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which argues that investing an average of $40bn a year in forest protection would allow forests to absorb 28 per cent more carbon from the atmosphere than they do now… The report, entitled Forests in a Green Economy, also references the work of the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity report, which sought to calculate the value of the natural world to nations’ economies and was followed by a UK equivalent.

New proposal aims to put more green shackles on developing economies

By Nitin Sethi, Times Of India, 5 September 2011 | The meeting was meant to review the work done two decades after the famed Rio summit or the UN meet on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. But the Rio+20 conference is turning into another global ground to put green fetters on developing economies. A proposal floated in the run-up to the main meeting has suggested “sustainable development goals” along the lines of millennium development goals. But the goals could turn into green chains on growth in emerging economies with goals like carbon emissions and fixed renewable energy content in energy mix being forced down in the name of sustainable development… The proposal from Columbia, which is likely to slowly see support from European countries in the coming days, could also take forward the attempts of the developed countries at the UN climate change convention.

Kyoto ban could leave Romania with 537 million unsold AAUs

Business Review, 5 September 2011 | Romania has got lost in the clouds of pollution, failing to benefit from the carbon emission trading scheme. Legislation that was thrown together in a hurry, reckless political negotiations and the institutional lack of experience in dealing with AAUs could see Romania end up with 537 million tons of carbon surplus by 2012, with no benefit in the form of the green infrastructure that the country needs.

Ban Ki-moon: Remarks with Solomon Islands Prime Minister

Scoop News, 5 September 2011 | The Solomon Islands was the first Pacific country to benefit from the Adaptation Fund for Climate Change. And the Solomon Islands has secured more than five and a half million dollars in funding from the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – what is known as REDD – in Developing Countries. There is great potential for advancing the “blue economy” here through fisheries and sea-bed mining. The Solomon Islands can benefit from the Exclusive Economic Zones established by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas.

Borehole breakthrough for Botswana’s Bushmen

Survival International, 5 September 2011 | Survival International has been speaking to Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve as they celebrate drinking water from the Mothomelo borehole for the first time in nine years. It marks a significant step towards their full return to their ancestral lands following a landmark court ruling in 2006. Despite winning Botswana’s longest running court case over four years ago, the Bushmen’s fundamental right to water was only recognized this January by Botswana’s appeal court. Now, with the help of the NGO Vox United, the Mothomelo borehole or well has been re-drilled and a solar pump installed. Bushmen are already returning to the area and have been bathing in the water. It is their first opportunity to use the borehole since 2002, when it was capped by the Botswana government. The Bushmen were forbidden from re-opening it, and many were forced to collect water from self-made sand depressions and melons.

IDB to help cut carbon dioxide emissions in Colombia

Inter-American Development Bank, 5 September 2011 | The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will support a $10.5 million project to set up a system of Verified Emissions Reductions (VERs) in Colombia, with the aim of cutting over half a million tons of carbon emissions over four years through a voluntary trading system, among other measures. The project will be partially financed with a $2.7 million grant from the Global Environment Fund, which provides grants to developing countries for projects tackling biodiversity, climate change and other related topics. The IDB has been a GEF executing agency since 2004.

[Australia] Old-growth forests won’t save planet

By Martin Moroni and Ian Ferguson, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 September 2011 | Sure, photosynthesis takes carbon from carbon dioxide, an atmospheric gas, to form wood. Dry wood is half carbon by weight and each tonne of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere into wood came from about four tonnes of carbon dioxide. So wood products store carbon in them and trees can absorb some carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. But trees can’t absorb all the carbon released from the burning of fossil fuels. To do so would require us to produce enough wood to form a 30-cubic-kilometre block of wood almost four times the height of Mount Everest, from forests each year. This is impossible. We must focus on reducing the burning of fossil fuels. Growing forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but as they die they emit it. Wildfires frequently burn our forests releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere and preventing many forests from becoming old-growth.

EU chief confirms talks to link carbon trading with Australia

By Will Nichols, BusinessGreen, 5 September 2011 | The world’s newest carbon trading scheme could be linked to its largest carbon market if negotiations between Australia and the EU prove successful. Australia’s top 500 carbon emitters will be forced to pay $23 per tonne from July next year until a full carbon trading system is introduced in 2015 under controversial plans announced by prime minister Julia Gillard in July. After a meeting with Gillard today, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso echoed British prime minister David Cameron in praising the scheme, and said that both sides have a “strong mutual interest” in working to expand and deepen global carbon markets. “Australia’s decision to put a price on carbon emissions is, in our view, an important step, both environmentally and economically, because in our European experience it is the most cost-efficient way to reduce emissions and also a great, green business opportunity,” Barroso said in a statement.

[Philippines] Phl to sell carbon credits after 2012–CCC official

By Jerome Carlo R. Paunan, PIA press release, 5 September 2011 | The Climate Change Commission (CCC) expressed optimism that the Philippines will still be able to sell its carbon credits to other markets outside of Europe despite the 2012 deadline. According to Commission vice chairman Mary Ann Lucille Sering, the 2012 deadline “is still up for negotiation.” “We will discuss in South Africa by December if we will still continue the Kyoto Protocol, which is where the carbon credit mechanism is included. They are saying and they’re very confident that it will continue. We’re confident there will still be a carbon market,” Sering said. The Philippines as a developing country can no longer trade its carbon credits to the European market after 2012 as only those from least developed countries will be accepted.

6 September 2011

Can game theory save the UN climate talks?

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 6 September 2011 | Like all theories, though, the game theory analysis has been based on assumptions, and here’s why it seems unrealistic. Firstly, it assumes that all countries will act in a fundamentally rational way. Secondly, it assumes that the players all share the basic aim of climate protection. And, as we all know, any country that does not take climate change seriously cannot, by definition, be acting rationally. And secondly, the selfish behaviour of countries we’ve seen in previous years of climate talks shows that the basic aim of cutting emissions stabilising the climate has been forgotten in the politics of the UN process.

Deutsche Bank downgrades carbon market forecast in wake of sovereign debt fears

By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 6 September 2011 | Deutsche Bank has lowered its forecast for the price of carbon in Europe’s emissions trading scheme (ETS), predicting the market will take longer than expected to recover from volatility caused by concerns over Europe’s sovereign debt. As many traders return from their summer break, a note issued today by Deutsche Bank said its previous carbon price forecasts for year-end 2011 and for 2012-14 are too optimistic. The bank now predicts the price of carbon at the end of 2011 will be €12/t rather than €17/t, and €15/t instead of €19/t at the end of 2012. The bank has retained its emissions forecasts, projecting that participants in the scheme will see allowances capped at 395m tonnes through to 2020, which will force many companies to switch to less carbon-intensive fuels.

Valuing Nature’s Services Today Is an Investment in the Future

Worldwatch Institute press release, 6 September 2011 | Countries around the world are embracing “payments for ecosystem services” (PES) as a verifiable approach to protecting biological diversity and mitigating climate change, according to research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for the publication Vital Signs Online. PES are financial arrangements designed to protect the many benefits that are provided by the natural environment. They include payments for projects that invest in biodiversity and watershed protection, ecosystem restoration, and carbon capture in forests. “Nearly 60 percent of all ecosystem services are being degraded or used in an unsustainable manner,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch. “With PES, we can put a monetary value on these important services, from water filtration to carbon sequestration, to ensure that they are being properly sustained for the benefit of both people and the planet.”

Managing Congo Basin Forests – a Regional Approach for a Regional Resource

World Bank press release, 6 September 2011 | Although deforestation rates (0.17 percent) in the Congo Basin are still low compared to large forest blocks in the Amazon or South-East Asia, these rates are expected to amplify drastically in the coming decades driven by a variety of forces such as industrial logging activities, road development, agricultural expansion (both for subsistence purposes and for commercial agriculture), as well as oil and mineral extraction. Curbing these accelerating deforestation rates means that less carbon will be released into the atmosphere, that habitat for endangered species is conserved, and that other important ecological forest functions … are maintained… To support the Congo basin countries, the World Bank in August 2011 approved a five-year project financed with a $13 million grant from the GEF to strengthen countries’ capacities to meet the institutional and technical prerequisites necessary to benefit from a future REDD+ incentive mechanism.

Peru awarded US$11mln grant for forest management

Andina, 6 September 2011 | Peru has been awarded a US$11 million grant to help the country on the initiative of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) for sustainable forest management.Such mechanism involves the participation of local towns and native communities, the Directorate-General for Climate Change of the Environment Ministry noted. The financing, which comes from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation as well as from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) will initially ensure measures for three consecutive years. Thus, the ministry will improve processes to support major initiatives nationally and internationally, such as the National Forest Conservation Program, which in July gave the first subsidies to native communities in Satipo. Although Peru is considered as a country with low deforestation rates, there are threats to Peruvian forests that endanger national forest cover estimated at more than 73 million hectares.

Brazilian Indians demand Shell leave their land

Survival International, 6 September 2011 | Indians of the Guarani tribe in Brazil have demanded that energy giant Shell stop using their ancestral land for ethanol production. Ambrosio Vilhalva, a Guarani man from one of the communities affected, told Survival, ‘Shell must leave our land… the companies must stop using indigenous land. We want justice, we want our land to be mapped out and protected for us’. Shell is united with Brazilian ethanol company Cosan, in a joint venture company called Raizen. Some of Raizen’s ethanol, sold as a biofuel, is produced from sugarcane grown on the Guarani’s ancestral land. In a letter to the companies, the Indians warn that, ‘Since the factory began to operate, all our health has deteriorated – children, adults and animals’. The chemicals used on the sugarcane plantations are thought to be causing acute diarrhoea amongst Guarani children, and killing fish and plants.

7 September 2011

Trees Pull Nitrogen from Rocks and Microbes

By Tiffany Stecker, Scientific American, 7 September 2011 | Nitrogen-rich forest bedrock — the geologic rock formation located under forest soil — may aid trees in better sequestering carbon, according to a recent study that offers a new understanding on why some forests store greenhouse gases more efficiently than others. While geologic rock isn’t a carbon sink itself, it plays an important role in helping the soil and trees above absorb CO2, say the study’s authors, who published their findings last week in Nature. But a lack of research on nitrogen has left it largely ignored by climate scientists and policymakers scrambling to identify carbon sinks that mitigate carbon dioxide pollution from large emitters… Climate modelers … did not accurately account for the element. “It means we’re underestimating climate change,” [Benjamin Houlton, University of California, Davis] said. “It could be a degree Celsius warmer than has been expected because nitrogen hasn’t been very abundant.”

Think Tank Warns About Flaws in Sustainable Forestry Scheme

JustMeans, 7 September 2011 | The UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development has issued a warning that tropical countries participating in REDD+ schemes, whereby they get compensated for protecting their forests to limit emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation, could fail to reap social and environmental benefits… The report highlights success stories at the national level, in which FGLG [Forest Governance Learning Group] teams have influenced policy processes to promote outcomes that benefit forest-dependent communities who have been marginalised. It concluded that national plans for REDD+ Ghana, Indonesia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Vietnam could do more harm than good. The reason is that in many countries top-down, government-led plans for REDD+ been have been rushed through and focus more on how to count carbon stored in trees than on how to actually implement a system that brings real benefits for communities, biodiversity and the climate.

[Chile] Colgate enters into agreement to offset carbon emissions

The Observer-Dispatch, 7 September 2011 | As part of its aggressive push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance sustainability, Colgate has signed a 15-year commitment with Patagonia Sur to purchase forestry-based carbon offsets. Under the agreement, a total of 225,000 native-species trees will be planted on 430 acres of land in Chile’s Aysén Region of Patagonia. The Colgate University Forest, as the land will be known, will meet or exceed global Verified Carbon Standard requirements. Annually, the forest will offset approximately 5,000 tons, or about one-third of Colgate’s present carbon footprint. The partnership makes Colgate the first of 12 universities that will ultimately comprise Patagonia Sur’s University Conservation Circle.

Despite risks, Indonesia’s farmers stake their future in palm oil

CIFOR Forests Blog, 7 September 2011 | Indonesia has capitalised on the soaring price of crude palm oil, but further action is needed to ensure Indonesia’s farmers benefit from the development of oil palm, according to a new report by the Center for International Forestry Research. Over the last twenty years, Indonesia’s agricultural policies have made it the world’s leading producer of valuable palm oil, but unclear land ownership issues and a lack of leadership in smallholders’ collectives undermine the ability of local communities to share in this boon. The authors studied the impact of oil palm development on the Bungo district, in the province of Jambi, Sumatra. In this area, there has been a rapid shift from rice and rubber cultivation to oil palm, which offers higher profits and a better return on investment.

[Indonesia] French Miner Eramet to Invest $450m in Halmahera Nickel Project

By Camelia Pasandaran, Jakarta Globe, 7 September 2011 | In a move expected to give eastern Indonesia an economic boost, a French mining group plans to invest in a nickel mining project in North Malaku. “Eramet will have spent around $450 million on this project before the final investment decision,” Eramet’s chairman and chief executive officer, Patrick Buffet, said on Wednesday after meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The $450 million is part of the first phase of a $6 billion investment that would develop a nickel and cobalt mine as well as a processing plant on North Malaku’s Halmahera Island, he said.

[Uganda] Simmering tension over forest give-away

AlertNet, 7 September 2011 | A plan to replace a large swathe of protected rainforest in Uganda with sugarcane could lead to further civil unrest in a year when nine people have been killed during strikes and protests against the rising cost of living. Politicians and activists have warned they will fight the revived plan to uproot just less than a quarter of the 30,000 hectare Mariba Forest, 50km east of Kampala, and allocate the land to the perennially unprofitable Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL), a joint venture between India’s Mehta Group and the Ugandan government. In its defence, the government points to the prospect of new jobs and the need to alleviate the country’s chronic sugar shortages. It also claims the forest area at stake is degraded. In August, President Yoweri Museveni warned he was ready for a fight and dismissed his detractors as “unarmed terrorists”. More recently, he appears to have softened his stance, saying he is open to alternative proposals…

Peru approves ‘historic’ indigenous rights law

Survival International, 7 September 2011 | Today, indigenous people across Peru are celebrating President Ollanta Humala’s decision to approve the Prior Consultation Law. This is an important step forward for indigenous rights in the country. On Tuesday night, Peru’s Congress unanimously approved a ‘historic’ new law that guarantees indigenous people’s right to free, prior and informed consent to any projects affecting them and their lands. President Ollanta Humala says he supports consultation, and now has 15 days to sign the bill into law. It is a significant step away from the policies of former Peruvian President Alan Garcia, who vetoed a similar bill. The ‘Prior Consultation Law’ complies with commitments set out in ILO Convention 169, the only international law designed to protect tribal people’s rights. Peru ratified the ILO 169 in 1993 but has consistently failed to uphold it, causing widespread unrest amongst the country’s indigenous population.

Peru president signs indigenous consultation law

AFP, 7 September 2011 | Peru’s President Ollanta Humala signed into law a measure requiring that indigenous people be consulted before any mining, timber or petroleum projects are begun on their traditional lands. “What we want to do with this law is have the voice of indigenous people be heard, and have them treated like citizens, not little children who are not consulted about anything,” the leftist Humala on Tuesday said in Imacita, in the Amazon basin province of Bagua. In June 2009, under his predecessor Alan Garcia, massive protests by indigenous people over laws that gave free access to mining and oil firms led to a tense standoff. Clashes that ensued led to the deaths of 24 police and 10 indigenous people. Humala pushed for this Prior Consultation law, which he called “a step forward,” hoping to reduce the chances of social tensions without derailing the mining and other resource development that have helped Peru become one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies.

China to increase forest coverage

By Cheng Guangjin and Cang Wei, China Daily, 7 September 2011 | President Hu Jintao on Tuesday laid out plans that would see China increase its forest coverage by nearly 10 percent over the next decade. “China is ready to make new contributions to green and sustainable growth,” Hu said at the first APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Forestry, held on Tuesday in Beijing. The country currently has 196 million hectares of forest coverage, with 62 million hectares of that man-made -the most man-made forest in the world. A large-scale survey in 2005 found that the country had 175 million hectares of forests, and by 2020 that will have increased by 40 million hectares, Hu said. “The continuously increasing forest coverage in the Asia-Pacific area has become an important force in reversing the decline of world forest resources,” Hu said. “The Asia-Pacific region possesses the most abundant and unique forest ecosystem in the world.”

[Guyana] Gov’t announces new $50M Amaila Falls road contract

Kaieteur News, 7 September 2011 | The government yesterday announced a new $50 million contract to cut a road through the Amerindian Village of Kaburi to facilitate the eventual construction of the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project. The award of the contract, for the “rehabilitation and reconstruction” of the Kaburi Village road, was announced by Dr Roger Luncheon, who serves as Secretary to Cabinet – the Council of government ministers chaired by the President. He said the new contract is outside the scope of works of Synergy Holdings, the company that was given a controversial US$15.4 million contract to upgrade approximately 85 kilometres of existing roadway and the design and construction of approximately 110 kilometres of new roads leading to Amaila Falls. According to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), which was released earlier this year, the access road to Amaila Falls would not have passed through “any Amerindian lands.

8 September 2011

South-South Learning: From Payments for Environmental Services to REDD+ in Latin America

Profor, 8 September 2011 | The experience of payments for environmental services (PES) systems set up in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ecuador in the last decade could provide valuable inputs for shaping REDD+ strategies in participating countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region. This activity supported by PROFOR will help share technical lessons from PES for REDD+ within the context of a South-South learning exchange initially limited to the REDD+ countries in the region. Although the challenges related to the appropriate design and implementation of REDD+ go beyond those of PES schemes, the PES experience in these three countries could provide insights on many of the core elements of a future REDD+ strategy…

Valuing the trees through the forest

MIT News Office, 8 September 2011 | How do you value an ecosystem? Putting a dollar value on natural systems such as forests has long beset economists… Researchers from the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change have used an economic model to explicitly represent recreation value of ecosystems and their carbon storage value. The study examines how demand for ecosystem services will affect land use, food prices and the prospects for biofuels production. Their study found that growth in demand for biofuels increases when a carbon tax is implemented, leading to increases in CO2 emissions from the conversion of forests to cropland. However, if that carbon tax also includes emissions from land use change, the resulting economic incentive is enough to avoid deforestation. And, if a tradeable credit program to incentivize CO2 sequestration on land is implemented, significant reforestation occurs, such that land use becomes a large net sink for CO2.

Assessing REDD+: beyond carbon measurements

By Isilda Nhantumbo, IIED, 8 September 2011 | Assessing projects to reduce deforestation and forest degradation is not just about measuring how much carbon they have sequestered or enhanced. It is equally about asking what such projects have done to reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. Strategies to reward developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and for conserving or sustainably managing forests (REDD+) are rapidly gaining credence as a key weapon in the fight against climate change. But how do we gauge the success of these projects? REDD+ and other low-carbon development projects are not all about reducing emissions — they are also meant to be a vehicle for alleviating poverty and promoting development.

Keeping Track of Carbon Standards for Farming and Forestry

Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 September 2011 | Farming and logging generate more than 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is why industrial emitters have begun using carbon offsets to underwrite more efficient uses of land and reduce their carbon footprint. That’s led to a proliferation of standards for measuring the impact of different activities on the amount of carbon captured in trees and soil. Earlier this year, the journal Forests published a special report entitled Options for REDD+ Voluntary Certification to Ensure Net GHG Benefits, Poverty Alleviation, Sustainable Management of Forests and Biodiversity Conservation. Written by Eduard Merger of Unique GmbH (Germany), Michael Dutschke of Biocarbon Consult (Germany), and Louis Verchot of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, Indonesia), the report compares and evaluates the 10 most popular voluntary standards…

WikiLeaks cables reveal Australian ‘middle power diplomacy’ on green issues

By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 8 September 2011 | In the wake of the disastrous Copenhagen climate change talks, Martin Parkinson, secretary of Australia’s Department of Climate Change, “expressed concern to Chinese diplomats over the lack of ambition” in China’s stated goal of a 40-45% reduction in carbon intensity by 2020… It is perhaps surprising that Australia attacked China for a lack of ambition over emissions targets when it has itself committed to a mere 5% cut on 2000 levels by 2020. Doubts have been raised that even this modest goal will be achieved.

[China] Beijing praises emissions plan

By Adam Morton, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 September 2011 | Australia’s proposed emissions trading scheme has won praise from Beijing, where it will be the model for one of six Chinese pilot schemes to be introduced in 2013. Jiang Kejun, head of the Chinese government’s energy and environmental policy agency, said pilot carbon trading schemes currently being researched would trial different designs based on schemes from Australia, Europe and California. “So far we don’t have a good idea what kind of model for emissions trading to implement in China, so they will take the six provinces and try different ways,” he told The Age in Melbourne yesterday. “Some say what is happening in Australia is even better [scheme design] than in Europe, so in that sense Australia is leading.”

[Australia] Late changes to give carbon cop more power

By Sid Maher, The Australian, 8 September 2011 | The carbon tax legislation will undergo last-minute changes to crack down on dodgy solar credits traders after it emerged the regulator was unable to act against a company in the scheme despite receiving complaints up to a year before it collapsed with debts of $6 million. The Australian understands that Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has ordered alterations to the legislation, which will be introduced to parliament next week, to give the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator the power to review and suspend a company’s ability to trade in renewable energy certificates if there are doubts about its solvency or conduct. The decision comes in the wake of the collapse of small-scale renewable energy certificate trader WellBeingGreen, which left more than 100 solar installers and householders unpaid…

New map gives public a global view of biofuel development

By Karin Holzknecht, CIFOR Forests Blog, 8 September 2011 | Assessing how biofuels affect forests and people’s livelihoods and how its production can be more sustainable has been made easier following the recent release of an interactive map which provides a geographical overview of biofuel production, consumption and investment around the world. The Global Biofuel Information Tool (GBIT), developed by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), with support from Profundo, is the first systematic attempt at gathering and consolidating data on biofuels and making this accessible in a user-friendly format. The GBIT was developed under a project funded by the European Commission exploring bioenergy, sustainability and trade-offs between the two. The project aims to analyse bioenergy developments and their implications for forests and people’s livelihoods.

Indonesia unlikely to meet 2025 biofuel goal, says report

By Frank Swain, CIFOR Forests Blog, 8 September 2011 | Indonesia is unlikely to meet its goal of supplying 5% of the country’s energy demand with biofuels by 2025, according to a recent report published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). In addition, weak legal protections for local communities and lax enforcement of environmental regulations threaten to undermine the green credentials of the country’s palm oil, leading them to call on Indonesian authorities to reconsider plans for the development of palm oil plantations.

Clark Labs Hosts Two New Videos on Website Exploring IDRISI’s Land Change Modeler

Clark Labs, press release, 8 September 2011 | Clark Labs of Clark University is pleased to announce that two new tutorials have been added to the video series on its website. Both videos highlight functionality within the IDRISI software’s modeling applications: Land Change Modeler and Earth Trends Modeler. The video entitled “REDD BaselineModeling with Land Change Modeler in IDRISI,” demonstrates its use for REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Utilizing a case study from Conservation International, the video highlights how Land Change Modeler can be used to prepare the required maps of projected land change. REDD project proposals require a variety of information and are particularly complex. One of the requirements is a comparison of models of two futurescenarios of deforestation. The baseline scenario projects land cover change based on historical and current land change trends.

Bolivia: Amazon protest – development before environment?

By Federico Fuentes, Green Left, 8 September 2011 | The decision by leaders of the Sub Central of the Indigenous Territory and National Isiboro Secure Park (TIPNIS), to initiate a 500-kilometre protest march on Bolivia’s capital of La Paz capital has ignited much debate about the nature of Bolivia’s first indigenous led-government. The Sub Central of TIPNIS unites the 64 indigenous communities within the park… However, what the protests have actually revealed is the complicated reality of Bolivia’s social movements. It has shown the deep challenges they face in overcoming centuries of underdevelopment and internal fissures, which both threaten to undermine the process of change underway since Morales was first elected in 2005.

Mexico Reduces Annual Deforestation 34 Percent

AP, 8 September 2011 | Mexico’s environment secretary says the country has reduced the average annual loss of forests and jungles. Juan Elvira says deforestation in Mexico has averaged 383,000 acres (152,000 hectares) a year over the most recent five years. That is down 34 percent from the 580,000 acres (235,000 hectares) lost annually from 2000 through 2005. Elvira says the government has spent strongly since 2007 for programs to conserve and restore forests. He says Mexico’s National Forestry Commission has an annual budget of 6.4 billion pesos ($512 million) and 69 percent of that goes to reforestation programs. Elvira made the comments Wednesday.

9 September 2011

European forest sector calls for genuine common policy

By Anne Eckstein, Europolitics, 9 September 2011 | The inclusion of forests in measures to combat climate change – REDD+ programme – was the subject of a debate. Saskia Ozinga, coordinator of the NGO FERN, argued that the allocation of carbon allowances under the programme could undermine the environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol. Responding to her arguments was Paul Clements-Hunt, head of the United Nations Environment Programme/Finance Initiative (UNEP/FI), a global partnership between the UNEP and the financial sector that brings together more than 180 institutions, including banks, insurers, fund managers and investors. He stressed the need to recognise the economic value of forests and ecosystem services. Addressing the question of how to finance forest actions, he announced the publication, on 13 September, of an important report entitled ‘Ready, set, grow’ that will outline five scenarios for raising funds in support of forests…

10 September 2011

Climate Change Shows Old Model Not Only Dated, but Dangerous, Secretary-General Says at University of Sydney, Warning: ‘We Cannot Burn Our Way to the Future’

By Mariah Jen, IEWY, 10 September 2011 | Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at Sydney University today, 8 September: … We need to keep building, including at the climate conference later this year in Durban. We need ambitious mitigation targets that ensure that any increase in global average temperature remains below 2° C. Moreover, given that the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires next year, a political formula must be found to ensure that a robust, post-2012 climate regime is agreed upon, and is not delayed by negotiating gamesmanship… Climate change is showing that the old model is not only dated, it is dangerous. We cannot burn our way to the future… On forests, Governments have agreed on an action plan to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – REDD plus.

11 September 2011

[Guyana] Guidelines for design of Amaila Falls road poorly done – review

Stabroek News, 11 September 2011 | A review of the Amaila Falls access road conducted by external consultants in June highlighted the poorly outlined specifications in the original project document and recommended immediate changes to the design including widening the road and reducing its steepness (grades). According to documents seen by this newspaper, Sithe Global, the developer of the project, contracted BBFL Caribbean Ltd in collaboration with Earth Investigation Systems Ltd to undertake a review of the proposed road to see whether the road, as designed and specified, would be able to function for its intended use. The review was conducted by the consultants in June and a final report was released in July. Reliable sources provided evidence to this newspaper which suggested that the report came months after representatives from the proposed hydropower contractor China Railway visited here… [R-M: Subscription needed.]


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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