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REDD in the news: 21-27 November 2011

REDD in the news: 21-27 November 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.

Amazon Crude

By David Gilbert for Amazon Watch, PhotoPhilanthropy, 2011 | The first time I visited Chevron’s operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon one of my Ecuadorian colleagues began to cry. The air was heavy with the smell of fossil fuels. Our Cofan guide showed us how Chevron had built holding ponds, thick with carcinogenic heavy metals, with drainage pipes leading directly into the rivers. After living in a Huaorani village deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon for the past year, I was deeply impacted by the oil contamination in their territory. I became committed to doing what I could, as a photographer and researcher, to bring Chevron’s toxic legacy in the Amazon to light.

REDD-plus & Biodiversity e-Newsletter – Volume 17

CBD, November 2011 | The Africa meeting concluded the series of regional consultations and capacity building workshops on REDD+. In total, representatives from 63 CBD Parties and from 55 international organizations, non-governmental organizations, private sector institutions and indigenous and local community organizations participated in the workshop series. The summaries of the workshops were submitted to the UNFCCC in response to a request by its SBSTA to submit views on methodological guidance for activities relating to REDD+. The submission is available in English, French and Spanish. Full reports of the workshops listed in the submission are available on CBD meetings page.

UN-REDD Newsletter 24

UN-REDD Programme, November 2011 | Next week in Durban, South Africa, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet for the 17th time to advance critical negotiations on an agreement to supersede the Kyoto Protocol and ensure a legally binding commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Briefing Paper on ASEAN, Climate Change, REDD+ and Indigenous Peoples

Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, no date | Many Indigenous Peoples fear that the implementation of REDD+ may have the same impacts to them as the imposition of conservation areas such as national parks. They are apprehensive about implementing REDD+ because such imposition has led to conflicts, physical and economic displacements, food insecurity and loss of income, and loss of biodiversity and traditional knowledge due to prohibitions of their traditional livelihoods, resettlement or eviction. On the other hand, independent studies have shown that biodiversity and forest conservation in genuine partnerships and under co-management arrangements with Indigenous Peoples have been more successful and are mutually beneficial.

REDD+ and adaptation to climate change in East Africa

By Kimbowa Richard, David Mwayafu and Harriet Smith, REDD-net, 2011 | In East Africa REDD+ has the potential to contribute to national adaptation objectives, however if uncoordinated, it also has the potential to increase vulnerability in key sectors such as agriculture, energy and water resource management. This paper outlines the linkages between REDD+ and adapation strategies in the region, and highlights where these could be strengthened.

REDD+ and adaptation: will REDD+ contribute to adaptive capacity at the local level?

By Kristy Graham, REDD-net, 2011 | Adaptation is of high priority in many developing countries where the impacts of climate change are already being felt. REDD+ is a mitigation opportunity for many developing countries, however for the benefits to be maximised it should be designed in a way that meets national development objectives, including adaptation objectives. This paper examines how synergies between REDD+ and adaptive capacity at the local level can be maximised and analyses whether this is likely to occur, highlighting tradeoffs that need to be explicitly addressed.

21 November 2011

Shadow over Kyoto Protocol threatens UN

AFP, 21 November 2011 | A new round of UN climate talks opens in South Africa next Monday; testing global resolve to tackle what scientists warn is a time bomb with an ever-shorter fuse. Even as the latest research paints a future of climate-inflicted chaos and misery, the quest for a political solution remains elusive. Analysts say the UN process is still traumatised by the near-collapse of the 2009 Copenhagen Summit and, in Durban, faces a bust-up over the Kyoto Protocol, the only agreement setting legal curbs on greenhouse gases. Brandished by its defenders as a model of climate cooperation between rich and poor, Kyoto’s first roster of pledges expires at the end of 2012. But the treaty has been gravely weakened by the absence of the United States and the lack of binding constraints over emerging giants such as China and India.

The Contribution of Peatland CO2 to Climate Change

By David A Gabel, ENN, 21 November 2011 | A new study has revealed that peat also has a high potential to contribute to climate change. The study, published by researchers from Bangor University in Maine, found that drought causes the release of far more carbon dioxide from peat than previously assumed. Peatlands of the world lie in regions which are predicted to experience more frequent and severe droughts as climate change deepens. This will lead to the peat drying out and releasing vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Peat normally contains ample moisture which locks in the greenhouse gas. As it dries, the peat becomes exposed to the air where CO2 can be released. The new study was published in the journal Nature Geosciences by Dr. Nathalie Fenner and Professor Chris Freeman of Bangor University.

Beyond repair? Bank lobbies for carbon markets

Bretton Woods Project, 21 November 2011 | As UN climate talks loom, the Bank is lobbying G20 countries to resuscitate shrinking carbon markets through controversial measures, including using public climate finance to stimulate demand and creating markets for soil and forest carbon. The Bank will use the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit in Durban, South Africa, in late November to launch the Carbon Initiative for Development fund. This aims to provide up front finance for carbon-credit-generating projects in least developed countries. The Bank is also expected to continue to lobby for international agreements to support the viability of carbon markets, which allow countries and companies to claim a reduction in carbon emissions by purchasing credits generated by emissions reductions from other sources.

Asia Pacific negotiators hope for decision on REDD+ financing in Durban

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 21 November 2011 | Countries in the Asia Pacific hope to get a decision on the financial mechanisms for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) at the U.N. climate summit in Durban, negotiators said, despite low expectations that an overarching global agreement will be reached at the meeting. “We hope the long-term finance for supporting REDD+ implementation will be settled as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Chunfeng Wang, who has been designated by State Forestry Administration of China as the country’s head of forest-related negotiations under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Achieving concrete outcomes on REDD+ in the next round of climate negotiations wouldn’t be easy as the mechanism is closely linked with other relevant issues, he said in an e-mail to CIFOR’s Forests blog.

Palm Oil Need Not Harm Environment or Local Communities, says New Study

Forest Peoples Programme, 21 November 2011 | The exponential growth in the palm oil sector, which accounts for a third of the total global trade of 130 million tons of vegetable oil annually, is strongly challenged by indigenous peoples and civil society organisations. Indiscriminate land clearing and acquisition for oil palm plantations is resulting in rapid habitat loss, species extinctions and alarming greenhouse gas emissions. It has also led to the dispossession of both indigenous peoples and the rural poor who depend traditionally on forest habitats for their survival. With the global biofuel industry set to double between 2007-2017, the choices nations make today will have far reaching social, economic and environmental consequences. This new study by Forest Peoples Programme, SawitWatch, Samdhana Institute and RECOFTC – The Center for People and Forests, documents for the first time the various ways in which oil palm plantations are expanding across South East Asia.

Fears about community rights under REDD+ are justified despite tenure reforms

By Karin Holzknecht, CIFOR Forests Blog, 21 November 2011 | The fears of forest-based communities about their rights under REDD+ schemes are justified, concluded a comparative study of recent forest tenure reforms conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Rights and Resources Initiative. “Indigenous organisations have been among the most vocal critics of REDD+ schemes, warning against risks to their land rights and the need for indigenous participation at all stages,” said CIFOR scientist Anne Larson, who led the comparative study of forest tenure reform. “The communities in our study all faced obstacles even after winning tenure rights, so we can say with certainty that community concerns about REDD+ are valid. For REDD+ to be effective and sustainable, there must be a substantial effort to challenge the status quo in forest governance, particularly in community tenure rights.”

On COP17 Climate Change Conference, Brazil Keeping The Faith

By Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 21 November 2011 | A signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, Brazil has its own set of national laws that bind the country to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in new, cleaner tech. The country’s ambassador for the UN Climate Change Conference, Luis Alberto Figueiredo Machado, said that the country feels no pressure to reduce carbon emissions to meet international Kyoto agreements. They’re going to meet those goals easily. He also said that despite the U.S. Congress generally in disagreement on climate change, with politicians out of lock step with most Americans who believe climate change is a problem, Brazil believes that the U.S. will deliver on climate change. Some day. “We are absolutely convinced that the U.S. government will do what they said in terms of reducing CO2. They are a major party in (climate change) negotiations. We are confident,” he said during a press conference on Monday.

New Report Exposes Human Rights Abuses in Wilmar Group Plantation in Jambi, Indonesia

Forest Peoples Programme press release, 21 November 2011 | A new report released today exposes how local Indonesian police (BRIMOB) in Jambi, working with plantation staff, systematically evicted people from three settlements, firing guns to scare them off and then using heavy machinery to destroy their dwellings and bulldoze concrete floors into the nearby creeks. The operations were carried out over a week in mid-August this year and have already sparked an international controversy. Andiko, Executive Director of the Indonesian community rights NGO, HuMa said: “Forced evictions at gun point and the destruction of the homes of men, women and children without warning or a court order constitute serious abuses of human rights and are contrary to police norms. The company must now make reparations but individual perpetrators should also be investigated and punished in accordance with the law.”

Starbucks Carbon Neutral?

By Dawn Paley, Green Muze, 21 November 2011 | Together with Conservation International, Starbucks has undermined the strength of smaller coffee cooperatives, writes Renard, who points out that AMSA plays an intermediary role in the CAFE Practices’ program. “They want to monopolize the production and cultivation of coffee,” said Jordan Orantes Balbuena, Efraín’s father and the owner of Finca Arroyo Negro, referring to AMSA. “They monopolize production, and they pay producers the price they want.”

Will Programs to Off-Set Carbon Emissions Fuel Further Conflict in Bolivia’s Forests?

By Kylie Benton-Connell, IPS, 21 November 2011 | The Bolivian government, mirroring the position of climate justice groups across the world, has been a prominent voice rejecting carbon markets. Though it has argued for countries in the South to be compensated for the carbon stored in their forests, it has argued against Northern polluters being able to be able to use Southern trees as offsets, thereby allowing continued pollution from factories or power plants. Bolivian government representatives have also objected to a market-based system on the grounds that it represents a dangerous ‘commoditization of nature.’ This position — radical, by the standards of the UN climate debate — has made the Bolivian government a high profile player in climate politics, and a thorn in the side of those attempting to build a new market in forest carbon.

[Cambodia] Kingdom’s three-year land rush

By May Titthara, Phnom Penh Post, 21 November 2011 | The government has granted more than 7 million hectares of land to private companies through concessions since 2008, with 222 private companies claiming more than 2 million hectares alone in economic land concessions, rights group Adhoc said yesterday. Ouch Leng, head of Adhoc’s land program, said that data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and government sub-decrees revealed that the government had granted about 2,153,408 hectares in economic land concessions to private companies. He added that the total figure reached 7,021,771 hectares out of a total 17,651,500 hectares in the Kingdom since 2008, if mining and forest concessions for logging purposes are included. “If we add all the concessions, including forest concessions and mining concessions, the government granted about 7,021,771 hectares,” he said, adding that about 1,101,080 hectares awarded were classified as protected land.

Remarkable Indonesia: What’s Next?

By Stephen P. Groff (Asian Development Bank), Jakarta Globe, 21 November 2011 | A third challenge is the sustainable management of the environment and Indonesia’s vast natural resources. Deforestation, forest degradation, over-exploitation of coastal resources, and unsustainable use of water resources are serious threats to the country’s natural resources and biodiversity, and compromise the potential for growth and development. To address these threats, Indonesia needs to consider appropriate pricing of carbon emissions to better reflect their true cost, promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and better management of forests and peat lands.

[Nepal] Community Forestry Unfazed by Political Turmoil

By Keya Acharya, IPS, 21 November 2011 | Nepal’s joint forest management system has taken such deep roots that the country’s prolonged political instability has had little effect on it. “We’re doing well anyway,” Ganesh Bahadur Silwal, 65, general secretary of the Godavari community forestry group, tells an international audience seated in an arc around him in a concrete hall in the scenic Godavari valley, 14 km southeast of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital… ICIMOD, meanwhile, has been conducting three pilot schemes, with help from the Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD), on REDD +, the UNFCCC’s new plan on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, together with livelihood options. Begun in 2009 with 104 community forest groups and covering nearly 28,000 hectares in east, west and central Nepal, ICIMOD’s REDD+ runs the Carbon Trust Fund, one of the world’s first, with capital from NORAD.

For corporate welfare queens and their crystal baths, there is no benefit cap

By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 21 November 2011 | Working in India in 2004, I came across the leaked minutes of a cabinet meeting in which the consultancy McKinsey insisted that the desperately poor state of Andhra Pradesh – where millions die of preventable diseases – cough up between £50m and £75m a year to support F1 [Formula 1].

22 November 2011

Carbon becomes dirty word for climate investors

By Nina Chestney, Reuters, 22 November 2011 | In a sign of the tough times facing the carbon sector, the Carbon Markets and Investors’ Association last month dropped the word “carbon” from its name. The group, which represents more than 50 firms that finance and invest in emissions reduction, is now the Climate Markets and Investors’ Association (CMIA)… The VCS Association, which manages a voluntary carbon offset standard, stopped spelling out the word “carbon” in its name last year. “We never really thought twice about moving away from the word ‘carbon’,” said VCS Chief Executive David Antonioli. “Carbon trading in particular does not have the best reputation so if you want to stay in this space but draw less ire from some quarters it would make sense to use climate instead of carbon.”

Prospect of gaining carbon credit fires private sector investment

By Jude Njoku, IIED report, 22 November 2011 | The prospect of gaining carbon credits by acquiring land to implement reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation REDD+ has caught the eye of the private sector. This view was canvassed by Isilda Nhantunbo, a senior researcher in the International Institute for Environment and Development, IIED’s Natural Resources Group who has since February 2010 supported REDD+ in Mozambique. The paper “REDD+: Ready to engage the private sector? is one of three papers published by IIED on Thursday. The papers centred on REDD+ which is one of the key proposals for tackling climate change; it will be on the agenda of the UN climate change conference slated for the South African city of Durban later this month.

New Trove of Stolen E-Mails From Climate Scientists Is Released

By Justin Gillis and Leslie Kaufman, New York Times, 22 November 2011 | The anonymous hacker who shook the world of climate science two years ago by posting a trove of stolen e-mails delivered a new batch on Tuesday, stirring up climate-change contrarians a little more than a week before global negotiations on greenhouse gases are to begin in Durban, South Africa.

Will agriculture be incorporated into Durban’s climate change text?

By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 22 November 2011 | Efforts to cut agricultural greenhouse gas emissions while also helping farmers adapt to the impacts of global warming will emerge as a critical issue for world leaders at UN climate change talks starting in South Africa next week. South African President Jacob Zuma is expected to lead a Heads of State meeting during the second week of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP17 conference, in a bid to include a specific mention for agriculture in the negotiating text. Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, directly accounting for about 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. But farmers are also vulnerable to the effects of rising temperatures, such as prolonged droughts and flooding that can damage crops.

How to connect REDD+ and markets for a new world with no land crisis

By Karin Holznecht, CIFOR Forests Blog, 22 November 2011 | Connecting the idea of paying developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions with markets that demand sustainable products could be a step towards a new model of world development and fend off the global land crisis, according to Daniel Nepstad of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute. The global demand for food is growing faster than supply and has led to a land crisis that puts forests on the frontline of agricultural expansion. The crisis concerns proponents of rural poverty alleviation, food security, forestry, agriculture, water security, and biodiversity alike.

Amazon countries vow to enhance conservation efforts

By Hector Velasco, AFP, 22 November 2011 | Eight South American countries pledged Tuesday to boost cooperation to protect one of the planet’s largest natural reserves from deforestation and illegal trafficking in timber and minerals. Representatives of Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela gathered in Manaus, northern Brazil, also vowed to speak with one voice at next June’s UN conference on sustainable development in Rio. The Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest, is one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water. Tuesday’s meeting involving signatories of the 1978 Amazon Cooperation Treaty (OTCA), focused on the Amazon Fund, a joint initiative launched in 2008 to combat deforestation and support conservation and sustainable development.

Towards COP17: Support safeguard information systems for REDDplus

By Abdul-Razak Saeed (Civic Response), Ghana Business News, 22 November 2011 | Developing countries, including Ghana, are at the heart of implementing the REDD+ mechanism given that the bulk of the world’s remaining forests that need to be salvaged are in these countries. Though implementation of REDD+ is voluntary, the countries that choose to implement it would be given funds to help them reduce the deforestation and forest degradation rates in their countries and hence avoid the accompanying carbon emissions. Agreement was reached in Cancun that mitigation activities that can be funded also include Sustainable Management of Forests, Conservation and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks (collectively the “+” of REDD+). However, various details on key elements of the design of REDD+, which include a Safeguards Information System (SIS), and on the finance mechanism needed to implement it are still to be agreed.

New uncontacted pictures validate Brazil’s Yanomami territory 20 years on

Survival International, 22 November 2011 | Survival has released new pictures of an uncontacted Yanomami village in Brazil, 20 years after one of its crucial campaigns created the biggest forested indigenous territory in the world. Survival International, Yanomami leader Davi Kopenawa and Brazil’s Pro Yanomami Commission were instrumental in securing the victory. These new pictures emphasize how important the territory is in protecting the Yanomami from goldminers who devastated the tribe in the 1980s. The ‘Yanomami Park’ is one of many initiatives spearheaded by Survival International. In a new section of its website, it highlights how the time when entire peoples could be wiped out without anyone noticing is drawing to a close.

[Indonesia] Papua’s special autonomy funds going to waste, say experts

Jakarta Post, 22 November 2011 | The government’s lack of supervision has knocked special autonomy in Papua and West Papua off track, leaving residents in the midst of poverty and a conflict that is seemingly never ending, experts say. Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) researcher Adriana Elisabeth said that the central government may have deliberately neglected local governments in Papua, arguing that it was necessary for central government to assist and mentor local government officials on development planning. “Since the early transition years [of Papua’s special autonomy status], there has never been any accompaniment and clear guidance from central government to local Papuans on how they should handle the special autonomy funds,” Adriana said. “This caused special autonomy funds to be not utilized optimally.”

[Indonesia] Report questions legitimacy of Asia Pulp & Paper’s conservation initiatives

By Rhett A. Butler,, 22 November 2011 | A new report by an Indonesian environmental group casts doubt on Asia Pulp & Paper’s commitment to sustainability. In its corporate social responsibility reports and advertisements, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), one of Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper suppliers, has touted several forest reserves as indicators of its commitment to environmental stewardship. APP has portrayed these as voluntary, goodwill efforts to conserve Sumatra’s endangered wildlife. But in a new report, Greenomics-Indonesia, a Jakarta-based NGO, says that at best these projects represent compliance with existing Indonesian laws or are in areas where commercial exploitation isn’t viable. “APP’s claim that it is voluntarily setting aside land for conservation is without merit,” said Elfian Effendi, Executive Director of Greenomics.

[Laos] Carbon reduction projects get underway

By Khamphone Syvongxay, Vientiane Times, 22 November 2011 | The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) is cooperating with the Forestry Department to implement the Lowering Emissions in Asia’s Forests Programme (LEAF) in Laos. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed last week in Vientiane by SNV Country Director Ms Megan Ritchie and department Director General Dr Siranvanh Sawathvong. The programme will be implemented for a period of four years and nine months, initially in Huaphan province and then in the southern provinces. Under the MOU, the department will supply necessary information for the successful implementation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) projects in Laos to SNV. The department will also support SNV and provide facilities for technical staff and experts to implement project activities.

[Papua New Guinea] Illegal logger and human rights abuser Rimbunan Hijau moving into mining

Papua New Guinea Mine Watch, 22 November 2011 | Notorious illegal logger and human rights abuser, Rimbunan Hijau, is moving into the mining sector in Papua New Guinea and has announced a new joint venture with Australian company Siburan Resources (see below). Earlier this year RH invested AUD1.5 million in Siburan to take a 12% stake in the company. Together, RH and Siburan are courting Chinese mining companies to join their cozy collaboration. RH also owns The National newspaper in PNG which it uses as a propaganda vehicle for its logging operations. The National is a keen supporter of the Chinese owned Ramu nickel mine. RH has an appalling human rights record in PNG, as exposed in numerous reports and television documentaries, and many of its logging operations have been exposed as illegal.

23 November 2011

Climate talks – US optimistic

News24, 23 November 2011 | The Obama administration on Tuesday said it was optimistic ahead of a new round of UN climate talks in South Africa next week, but did not raise hopes of sealing a binding deal on gas emissions. Analysts say the UN process to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, blamed for climate warming, is still traumatized by the stormy 2009 Copenhagen summit and, in Durban, faces a fracas over the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only pact setting legal curbs… The US special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, confirmed Kyoto was not up for discussion. “Kyoto is not on the table for the United States [but] we don’t see it as a logjam,” he told a press conference, adding he believed the process “has to open up and include all major economies”.

UN chief slams rich nations’ plans to delay climate change treaty

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 23 November 2011 | The United Nations’ environment chief has slammed plans by the world’s richest nations to put off a global treaty on climate change to 2020, saying the proposals were “very high risk”. Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN environment programme, said postponing an agreement – which was meant to be signed in 2013 – to the end of this decade was a “political choice” rather than one based on science. The Guardian revealed this week that most of the world’s rich economies have quietly decided to shelve plans for a global agreement on climate change to take effect within the next few years, instead pushing for an agreement by the end of 2015 or 2016, and coming into effect until 2020. Scientists and economists have said this plan risks leading to catastrophic and irreversible climate change. Steiner is the first senior UN official to speak out against the plans…

UN overhaul required to govern planet’s life support system: Experts

Earth System Science Partnership, 23 November 2011 | Reducing the risk of potential global environmental disaster requires a “constitutional moment” comparable in scale and importance to the reform of international governance that followed World War II, say experts preparing the largest scientific conference leading up to next June’s Rio+20 Earth Summit. Stark increases in natural disasters, food and water security problems and biodiversity loss are just part of the evidence that humanity may be crossing planetary boundaries and approaching dangerous tipping points. An effective environmental governance system needs to be instituted soon, according to independent experts commissioned by organizers of the huge “Planet Under Pressure” conference in London March 26-29, 2012.

Who’s holding us back?

Greenpeace International, 23 November 2011 | The corporations most responsible for contributing to climate change emissions and profiting from those activities are campaigning to increase their access to international negotiations and, at the same time, working to defeat progressive legislation on climate change and energy around the world. These corporations – while making public statements that appear to show their concern for climate change and working with their own seemingly progressive trade associations like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) – threaten to defeat urgent global progress on climate change and economic development for the 99% of the world’s population that desires both clean energy and clean air.

Emission trading questioned at EU debate

By Helen Burley, Corporate Europe Observatory, 23 November 2011 | The EU’s emissions trading system has fundamental flaws and is failing to deliver the carbon cuts needed, campaigners told a debate in Brussels (Tuesday) ahead of the start of UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa. And an MEP warned the debate that industry lobbying was damaging the EU’s position on climate change, accusing BusinessEurope of failing to represent the views of its members who are calling for tougher targets. Bas Eickhout MEP (Green) told the debate, organised by Corporate Europe Observatory, TNI, Friends of the Earth Europe and FERN, that BusinessEurope claimed to speak on behalf of European industry but in fact represented the lowest common denominator position, effectively silencing those companies which support a 30% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020.

International Carbon Markets – Looking to Durban to deliver

Environmental Finance, 23 November 2011 | Will the international climate talks help lay the foundations of the next stage of growth in the world’s carbon markets – or will deadlock further hit fragile sentiment? A special report from Environmental Finance and Carbon Finance… REDD market begins to bud. Ilona Millar and Martijn Wilder review progress since Cancún in the development of a mechanism to support efforts to tackle tropical deforestation – and warn that some crucial elements remain overlooked.

Carbon investors eye UN climate talks

AAP, 23 November 2011 | More and more economies are looking to create carbon markets to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, but development is being stymied by uncertainty in climate politics. Experts hope that talks opening next week under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will deliver a dose of clarity to this vital part of the fight against global warming. Concern has focused on a tool under the Kyoto Protocol which aims to enlist market forces in a carbon clean-up. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allots rich countries bound by Kyoto a “credit” for every tonne of greenhouse gas that is averted if they invest in cleaner-energy schemes in the developing world. These credits can then be traded to help meet a country’s emissions quotas under the Protocol. Since its inception in 2005, the CDM has channelled tens of billions of dollars into such projects.

Attacks on climate scientists are the real ‘climategate

By Stephan Lewandowsky, The Guardian, 23 November 2011 | The real climategate involves active censorship within NASA by Bush appointees, which the agency’s Inspector General later found to have “reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science”. The real climategate involves Bush White House staff replacing assessments of the National Academy of Sciences with a discredited paper by two individuals with no expertise in climatology. This paper, funded by the American Petroleum Institute, was so flawed its appearance in a peer-reviewed journal led to the resignation in protest by three editors and the publisher’s unprecedented acknowledgement of mishandling… In Canada, the real media climategate involves the ongoing list of defamatory articles by the “National Post.” The tabloid is finally being sued by Professor Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria.

REDD+ best chance for progress on climate change at Durban, says scientist

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 23 November 2011 | There is a clear consensus around the forest preserving scheme REDD+ and it offers the best chance for progress on U.N. climate change negotiations to be held in Durban next week, said Louis Verchot, scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research. “REDD+ offers a better chance for progress than other proposed climate initiatives being discussed at COP17,” said Verchot in an interview (watch the video below). “Certainly there is a clear consensus around REDD — we’ve been discussing it for 7 years now and we’ve got a number of decisions that are already in place that will allow that to move forward.”

Oil palms and conservation – do they mix?

By Tom Marshall, Natural Environment Research Council, 23 November 2011 | Conservation science can help protect the variety of living things in tropical landscapes even if they are being turned into oil palm plantations, new research argues. Throughout the tropics, rainforest is being cut down at an alarming rate to make room for palm oil plantations. This has a devastating effect on the plants and animals that lived there, driving many species into extinction. But we need much more research into the benefits and costs of different tactics, as at the moment many efforts to conserve forest biodiversity are working in the dark. ‘Some conservationists just focus on protecting the biggest possible number of forest species, particularly charismatic animals,’ says Dr William Foster, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge and the lead author of the paper, which was published in a recent special edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Brazil ‘risks loss of forest area equal to Germany, Italy and Austria’

By Robin Yapp, The Telegraph, 23 November 2011 | Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has declined steadily since 2004 and fell to the lowest level on record in the year from August 2009 to July 2010 following improved satellite monitoring and tougher enforcement. But this year has already seen signs of a resurgence in several areas and environmental groups believe proposed changes to Brazil’s Forest Code will exacerbate the problem in the Amazon and beyond. They warn that the legislation would open up vast swathes of the world’s biggest rainforest to uses such as cattle ranching and soy production and end hopes of replanting many illegally cleared areas. According to WWF, Brazil’s efforts to position itself as a “global environmental leader” risk being severely damaged before it hosts the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – known as Rio+20 – in Rio de Janeiro in June next year.

Forest Communities in Burkina Faso, Ghana and DRC to Benefit From Dedicated CIF Grant (AfDB)

African Development Bank press release, 23 November 2011 | In the coming year, pilot countries of the Climate Investment Fund’s (CIF) “Forest Investment Program” (FIP), including Burkina Faso, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, can expect to see additional support for their REDD+ activities in the form of a Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. The proposed design of the mechanism was approved by the FIP Trust Fund Committee at the CIF Governing Bodies Meetings from 31 October to 4 November 2011 in Washington, D.C. The USD 50 million mechanism aims to help enhance the capacity of indigenous peoples and local communities to participate fully, effectively and continuously in FIP pilot country REDD+ activities. A global component will focus on knowledge management bringing together indigenous peoples groups and local communities from FIP pilot and other countries to exchange good practices and lessons learned on how to effectively address REDD+.

Forest and Peatland Still Being Destroyed despite Moratorium in Indonesia

Greenpeace Southeast Asia press release, 23 November 2011 | Indonesia’s forests and peatlands are continuing to be destroyed in the many areas that are not covered by the Government’s moratorium on deforestation, according to evidence collected by a coalition of environmental groups. Greenpeace, Walhi, KKI Warsi and WBH today presented the evidence to the President of Indonesia, the Forest Minister, the anti-mafia taskforce and the Environment Minister. Activists clad in tiger costumes and riding tiger-decorated motorbikes visited Government offices in Jakarta and urged the Government to extend the moratorium to protect all peatland, review all existing permits, and demanded that industry adopt zero deforestation policies.

[Indonesia] Violent teak forests dispute resolved

Timber Trade Journal, 23 November 2011 | A long-running violent dispute between the world’s largest teak producer and Indonesian forest communities has been resolved, resulting in the recertification of two Indonesian forest districts by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The Forest Trust (TFT) said that firearms had been laid down by forest guards, employed by state-owned teak producer Perum Perhutani on Java, while forest communities they were in conflict with have also dropped their guns. Perhutani lost its FSC certification 10 years go after forest guards were accused of killing dozens of villagers over illegal logging disputes, hitting the reputations of companies that bought Indonesian teak. European and North American customers, through the TFT, agreed to fund the cost of solving the problems and pave the way for forest recertification. The “drop the gun” programme has resulted in a 65% decline in illegal logging and a 70% increase in community involvement.

Indonesian NGO wants ‘immoral’ M’sian firms out

By Stephanie Sta Maria, Free Malaysia Today, 23 November 2011 | A furious Indonesian NGO has branded Malaysian palm oil companies based in Kalimantan as ‘cruel and immoral’ for their indiscriminate clearing of the forests which has deeply affected the population of the orangutans there. Blowtorching these companies, the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) said their (companies) destructive activities in Muara Kaman, East Kalimantan was putting the orangutan population on the path to extinction. COP campaigner, Daniek Hendarto said Indonesia had reached the end of its tether and wants these companies to get out now. He singled out Metro Kajang Holdings (MKH) as a prime offender and lambasted it for shattering Indonesia’s reputation in the eyes of the world.

Aceh’s ‘green’ governor breaks Indonesia’s moratorium by granting oil palm plantation, alleges group, 23 November 2011 | Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf may have broken Indonesia’s moratorium on new concessions in peatlands when he approved an oil palm plantation in the Tripa peat swamp in August this year, alleges WAHLI, an Indonesian environmental group. WAHLI says Governor Irwandi granted a permit to palm oil company PT Kallista Alam to convert 1,605 hectares of peat forest in Nagan Raya District into an oil palm plantation. The approval appears to violate a presidential instruction issued earlier this year banning new concessions in primary forests and peatlands. WAHLI is now suing the governor in Aceh’s administrative court. It says the governor could face up to 5 years in prison under Indonesian law.

[Indonesia] Villagers face off against palm oil firm’s bulldozers

EIA International, 23 November 2011 | Villagers in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province are squaring off against a palm oil company’s bulldozers in an ongoing land rights dispute which some observers fear may spill over into violence. PT Munte Waniq Jaya Perkasa has moved into the forests around Muara Tae, a village in West Kutai, and has started clearing land for conversion to palm oil production, backed by the police and other security personnel alleged by witnesses to be out-of-uniform military. Sources report that the firm’s bulldozers have been clearing approximately five hectares a day for the past week. With the situation at crisis point, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and its Indonesian partner Telapak fear the conflict could spill over into violence.

24 November 2011

New study: Climate not as sensitive to carbon dioxide as some fear

By Eric Berger,, 24 November 2011 | Here’s what the research group did to reach this conclusion: They compiled land and ocean surface temperature reconstructions from the Last Glacial Maximum about 20,000 years ago and created a global map of those temperatures. They then compared those values with those of climate models. There was a big difference, suggesting the models were overcooking the sensitivity of temperatures to carbon dioxide levels. “If these paleoclimatic constraints apply to the future, as predicted by our model, the results imply less probability of extreme climatic change than previously thought,” Schmittner said. As a result the group’s best estimation of climate sensitivity for a doubling of carbon dioxide levels is 2.4 Celsius degrees, which is 20 percent below the IPCC’s best estimate of 3 Celsius degrees.

Carbon prices tumble to record low

By Javier Blas, Financial Times, 24 November 2011 | The price of carbon permits has fallen to an all-time low, prompting bankers and traders to question the future of the European Union and United Nations’ cap-and-trade scheme. The sharp price fall comes as several top commodities trading houses and Wall Street banks cut sharply their activity in the market. “The carbon scheme isn’t working,” Per Lekander, analyst at Swiss bank UBS, told clients in a note. Noble Group, the Singapore-listed trader, said earlier this month it had “limited” its activity in the carbon market, complaining there was “insufficient market liquidity” to insure its positions. In another sign of companies losing faith in the scheme’s prospects, JPMorgan sold its ClimateCare carbon permits business in August, although the bank remains active in the carbon market.

Carbon at record lows, confidence at rock-bottom

By Jeff Coelho and Nina Chestney, Reuters, 24 November 2011 | European Union carbon permits and U.N.-backed credits collapsed to record lows on Thursday, extending this week’s sharp price slide as fears of a slowing economy sapped demand in the markets that are heavily supplied with emissions units. It was also a signal that market participants are losing confidence in the flagging EU carbon market, the world’s biggest cap-trade scheme, traders and analysts said. This latest crash could not have come at a worse time. In just a few days a U.N. climate summit in South Africa will resume work on a new globally binding pact to cut emissions. Investors are already nervous about the future of carbon markets, given the uncertainty around when a new climate pact will emerge and what trading mechanisms will operate under it. “Confidence is at an absolute minimum. It’s the macro-economic picture and the whole sentiment is not too good,” said a carbon trader at a financial institution.

Price on Carbon Essential (OECD)

Citola Blog, 24 November 2011 | The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released a report that says a price on carbon is essential to combating changing climatic conditions supporting the passing of the Clean Energy Legislative Package to put a price on carbon in Australia this month. ”A significant carbon price is needed to induce technological change,” the report says and is timely as the international community prepares for the COP 17 climate conference in Durban, South Africa next week. The report continues that carbon tax policies and emissions trading schemes would ”provide a dynamic incentive for innovation and private investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure, plant and equipment.”

#OccupyCOP17, Durban climate talks: African and Indigenous voices for real climate justice, not false solutions

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, 24 November 2011 | About 50 protesters held a pre-COP17 action on November 25, chanting “Phansi [down with] CDMs, phansi!” In the background is the World Cup white elephant, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, a few kilometres north of the extremely well-guarded International Convention Centre… Below is the call for a general assembly from… Here in Durban, where Nelson Mandela cast his first vote and Gandhi held his first public meeting, we’re putting out an invitation to anyone who wishes to have their voice heard: to join a dialogue of how we must react to ensure the present culture of 1% of the worlds population does no injustice to the future of the 99%.

Failure to have second Kyoto Protocol will threaten UN climate system, says Indonesian negotiator

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 24 November 2011 | The leader of Indonesia’s delegation at climate change talks in Durban warned that the entire U.N.-led multilateral negotiation process could be in danger if a legally-binding mitigation framework that still differentiates emission cut responsibilities of developed and developing nations is not reached in the next few years. “A second commitment of Kyoto Protocol is a must because if it’s disturbed, it could also break the whole system of UNFCCC,” Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia’s lead negotiator in the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban in South Africa, told journalists in Jakarta recently. The global community reached a consensus about the obligations of developed and developing nations four years ago in Bali and that became the basis for subsequent negotiations, he said. “The tasks of the next COPs were to elaborate on how much (new emission cut targets) and when” by COP15 in Copenhagen.

Nigeria, Indonesia top deforestation list, China lowest

By David Fogarty, Reuters, 24 November 2011 | Nigeria, Indonesia and North Korea have the world’s highest rates of deforestation while China and the United States, the top two greenhouse gas polluters, have the lowest, a global ranking released on Thursday shows. Growing demand for food and biofuels, rising populations, poverty and corruption are driving deforestation in many developing countries, said risk analysis and mapping company Maplecroft, which compiled an index for 180 countries. The company used the latest data from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization to calculate changes in the extent of overall forest cover, and in primary and planted forests between 2005-2010. Those at the top are ranked extreme risk.

UK calls for new legal climate deal by 2015

By Richard Black, BBC News, 24 November 2011 | The UK’s climate secretary has called on delegates at next week’s UN climate summit to agree on a way to deliver a legally-binding global treaty by 2015. It should “start to bite” into emissions by 2020, Chris Huhne said. He embarked on a potential crash course with developing countries by suggesting each should pledge action appropriate to its level of development. The developing world’s overt line is to keep the firewall between “rich” and “poor” in the UN climate convention. In a speech at London’s Imperial College, Mr Huhne observed: “China is not, and will not be, the same as Chad or India. “We need to move to a system that reflects the genuine diversity of responsibility and capacity, rather than a binary one that says you are ‘developed’ if you happened to be in the OECD in 1992.”

REDD+ Financing – Some Contradictory and Some Emerging Assumptions

Forest Peoples Programme, 24 November 2011 | As covered in the Global Climate Talks article in this newsletter, it seems that State Parties to the UN Climate Convention, meeting in Durban 28 November to 9 December 2011, are unlikely to reach a decision on the use of public and private finance for REDD+ and that this will seemingly be left to the discretion of governments. However, while that may be the official ‘non-position’ that is strengthened at Durban, there are four key factors regarding REDD+ financing that need to be borne in mind. These were discussed extensively and very usefully at the recent Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) 11th Dialogue on Forests, Governance and Climate Change held in London on 12 October 2011.

Carbon – Would You Credit It?

By Anthony Day, Think Africa Press, 24 November 2011 | Carbon trading is here and hopefully here to stay. If carbon allowances are restricted and gradually reduced we may be able to achieve the ultimate aim of decarbonising the world economy and preserving the planet. But to do this, governments need to tackle fraud and hold firm and face down those who look no further than the pursuit of short-term profit.

EU committee plans move to support carbon price

By Philippa Jones, Environmental Finance, 24 November 2011 | With the price of carbon in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) crashing to a record low today, the European Parliament’s environment committee has proposed measures to cut the supply EU carbon allowances set to flood the market. The committee this week tabled an amendment to the draft EU energy efficiency directive calling for the cancellation of 1.4 billion EU allowances (EUAs) from Phase III (2013-20) of the ETS. Green MEP Bas Eickhout said that “realising ambitious energy savings will play a crucial role in reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions”. However, he insisted that “setting aside and cancelling emissions permits is a necessary step to prevent carbon prices falling even further as a result of the implementation of new energy efficiency rules”.

At Durban, the big emitters will no doubt fail us again on climate change

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 24 November 2011 | I have just spent 10 days travelling across Africa to assess the impact of climate change. From north to south the broad observations are remarkably similar. More floods, droughts, storms and changing seasons are being experienced: the heatwaves are getting longer and more frequent; the storms more intense; the nighttime temperatures higher; the farmers see new diseases and pests; and the growing seasons appear disrupted. On top of that, the marginal areas are turning to desert and cities are becoming unbearably hot. The peer-reviewed science is still sketchy, but it’s the best there is in a continent starved of research funds and it is consistent with the latest models done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What is less predictable is the extreme variability of governments’ responses to this unfolding drama.

Adding ‘gender’ not always a recipe for REDD+ success

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests Blog, 24 November 2011 | The inclusion of women in the design of climate adaption and mitigation strategies, such as REDD+, will have little impact on the sustainable management of forests unless they are given power to influence policy decisions, says a new study in the gender themed edition of the International Forestry Review. The study highlights the need for a better understanding of how actors, power structures, and hierarchies influence decision making in the forestry sector. With such knowledge, policy makers, practitioners and women themselves can better design actions aimed at influencing policy decisions.

Global Climate Talks: Business as Usual or Progress on Social and Rights Issues?

Forest Peoples Programme, 24 November 2011 | The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) work-plan to develop guidance on a Safeguards Information System in REDD+ is underway. An expert workshop held in Panama soon after the UNFCCC pre-COP discussed the characteristics of the system. Participants, however, fell short of defining to what extent Indigenous Peoples’ rights will be recognized and respected in such a system and how much data on progress in respecting safeguards in REDD+ would be included. The dedicated contact group of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) that met in Panama converged on a call for a specific decision on REDD+ financing in Durban. However, it is unlikely that any clear indication will emerge regarding the prevalence of public versus private financing for REDD+, and governments would therefore be left free to pursue various options or combinations.

US blocks key fund in climate agreement

By Pilita Clark and Javier Blas, Financial Times, 24 November 2011 | The US is refusing to sign off on a flagship global climate fund, as already fraught negotiations intensify ahead of next week’s UN climate summit and carbon prices plummet to new lows… The eurozone debt crisis is partly to blame for the price falls in the world’s largest emissions trading scheme, but a UBS report saying “the scheme is not working” and will suffer from an oversupply of permits until 2025 has also unnerved traders. The price of European allowances under Brussels’ six-year-old emissions trading scheme fell to a record low of €7.80 on Thursday, and have tumbled 15 per cent this week. As a result, the EU could be more open to charges from those opposed to a deal in Durban that its own policies are inadequate.

Organisations call to donors to halt funding REDD+ projects

EngageMedia, 24 November 2011 | On last 21 September – the World Day against Monoculture Tree Plantations – the “No REDD Platform”, a coalition of environmental groups and Indigenous peoples organizations, launched a call to the international donor community to halt the diversion of forest conservation funding to REDD+-type projects and related activities, while also noting that the ´detection, documentation and rejection of the negative social and environmental impacts of REDD+ projects´ suffer from a lack of support. The letter aims to be a wakeup call to funders as well as an invitation to bridge this funding gap.

Options for monitoring and estimating historical carbon emissions from forest degradation in the context of REDD+

7th Space, 24 November 2011 | Measuring forest degradation and related forest carbon stock changes is more challenging than measuring deforestation since degradation implies changes in the structure of the forest and does not entail a change in land use, making it less easily detectable through remote sensing. Although we anticipate the use of the IPCC guidance under the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there is no one single method for monitoring forest degradation for the case of REDD+ policy. In this review paper we highlight that the choice depends upon a number of factors including the type of degradation, available historical data, capacities and resources, and the potentials and limitations of various measurement and monitoring approaches.

What Exactly is Global About Climate Change?

By Andrea Nightingale, Think Africa Press, 24 November 2011 | When the problem is framed globally it has three consequences. First, it provides justification for a number of top-down measures to gain compliance. Many adaptation and mitigation programmes have paternalistic undertones and millions of dollars have been earmarked for research on how to change the behaviour of ordinary people. REDD+, for example, seeks to encourage forest conservation by paying developing countries for carbon credits gained from forest protection. While in principal it is difficult to find fault with these goals, in practice the international community is effectively dictating to developing countries how they ought to be using their natural resources, a practice that has long roots in our shared colonial histories.

REDD+ and Durban: Benchmarks for Success

By Nick Oakes, Climatico, 24 November 2011 | REDD+ is one of the building blocks for a new international agreement, and like other blocks, such as finance and technology transfer, it is one that many observers are hoping will become operational relatively soon, perhaps even in absence of a post-Kyoto agreement and the merging of the AWG-LCA with the AWG-KP. There are four forums/themes in which REDD+ will be discussed at Durban. Most of the discussions so far have taken place within the AWG-LCA and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), whilst there have also been discussions in the AWG-KP, and the talks across multiple bodies on the common theme of finance. Briefly analysing each of these forums/themes will indicate some benchmarks for success and the likely outcomes at Durban.

Dominican Republic: Proposed Legislation Would Erase Indigenous Peoples, 24 November 2011 | A new piece of legislation has been proposed in the Dominican Republic that would effectively erase the country’s Indigenous population—the Taino. According to a recent article on Dominican Today, the “Dominican Republic Electoral Law Reform” Bill identifies just three ethnicities for the country’s new citizen ID cards. Those ethnicities are Mulatto, black and white. While the country’s Indigenous population has been reduced by roughly 98 per cent since 1492, according to some estimates, that population continues to exist. An emergency petition has been set up to stop to the Bill from being ratified. You can sign the petition at

Kenya – ensuring Wangari Maathai’s legacy branches out

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 24 November 2011 | Wangari Maathai, the Nobel prize-winning founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, died in October, but her group, which has worked with communities across Africa to plant tens of millions of trees, is thriving. I caught up with them just outside Nairobi, where deputy director Edward Wageni was planting two-year-old silver oak and teak trees in the degraded N’gong road forest, where illegal loggers have stripped vast areas bare. To restore this one small forest to anything like its former density will need 200,000 trees to be planted, but Green Belt works with a local women’s group that helps plant trees and gets firewood in return.

[Kenya] Meru and Nanyuki – building a sustainable future with carbon finance

By Nathan Wimble, The CarbonNeutral Company, 24 November 2011 | Recently I travelled to the foothills of Mount Kenya to visit the Meru and Nanyuki Community Reforestation Project, so I and a client could meet the communities benefitting from carbon finance and project developer TIST and see the project first hand. My abiding takeaways were of industrious and creative farmers collaborating with a view to effect long term change; of the impressive network of local people who were using technology to empower and manage a very broad scheme; and of vastly different ecosystems all within a few kilometres of each other.

[India] UN conference hope for Sunderbans

Times Of India, 24 November 2011 | And that is where the local community in the Sunderbans could benefit by devising projects that can leverage the mechanisms. A study by Calcutta University has quantified the carbon absorption capacity of Indian Sunderbans stretching across 2,118 sq km at 4.15 crore tonne of carbon dioxide a year. If the REDD mechanism is introduced, the carbon sink can be monetised into carbon credits worth over $25 billion or Rs 1,25,000 crore. The amount is derived from a project in Himachal Pradesh in which carbon credits were sold under the UN-mandated Clean Development Mechanism to World Bank at the rate of around $6 per tonne of carbon.

[Indonesia] NGOs present forest destruction evidence to govt

Antara News, 24 November 2011 | Environmental NGOs consisting of Greenpeace, Walhi, KKI Warsi and WBH here Wednesday (Nov. 23) presented evidence of continued forest destruction to the president, the forestry minister, the anti-mafia taskforce and the environmental affairs minister. “We gathered a lot of evidence showing that companies like Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) are undermining President Yudhoyono`s commitment by continuing to destroy forests and peatlands,” said Zulfahmi, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner, in a statement here on Thursday. Indonesia`s forests and peatlands continue being destroyed in many areas not covered by the Government`s moratorium on deforestation, according to the evidence collected by the coalition of environmental groups.

Indonesia Draws US Criticism for Human Rights Abuses in West Papua

AK Rockefeller, 24 November 2011 | In an unexpected and unprecedented public criticism of, emerging US ally, Indonesia, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama quietly took Indonesia to task for human rights abuses in their battered province of West Papua this month. Just prior to this year’s ASEAN summit, that both the US Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama attended, Hillary issued a statement that certainly shocked Indonesia. Clinton responded to a student’s question at the Asia Pacific Economy Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, saying: “The U.S. government has very directly expressed concerns about the violence and the abuse of human rights (in West Papua). There needs to be continuing dialog and political reforms in order to meet the legitimate needs of the Papua people, and we will be raising that again directly and encouraging that kind of approach.”

[Indonesia] The Risk to Our Forests? ‘Extreme’

By Ulma Haryanto, Jakarta Globe, 24 November 2011 | Despite government efforts, Indonesia still has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, a new study showed on Thursday. In the ranking of 180 countries released by British risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft, Indonesia was near the top along with Nigeria and North Korea… Hadi Daryanto, secretary general of the Indonesian Forestry Ministry, said the numbers were “misleading.” “Their calculation is based on average number,” he said. “They don’t see how much we have reduced deforestation.” … Hadi said Indonesia had been losing 3.5 million hectares of forest per year until 2003, but this number had been reduced to 1.1 million hectares in 2009. “By 2010, the amount was down to 700,000 hectares,” he said.

Envelopes of Cash Show Indonesia Corruption Rivaling Suharto Era

Jakarta Globe, 24 November 2011 | Investing in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy is now more complex than in the 1980s and 1990s, during the rule of former President Suharto, according to Hal Hill, a professor of Southeast Asian economies at Australian National University in Canberra who advises the World Bank and Asian Development Bank… “Under the old regime, corruption was highly organized and predictable, and now it’s highly disorganized and unpredictable,” said Hill. “You knew who to pay, how much and what the payoff would be. Now, none of those are clear.” Corruption is discouraging spending on roads and plants that HSBC Holdings Plc says the country needs to catch up with the region’s fastest-growing economies. Foreign direct investment in Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous nation, fell to 1.9 percent of gross domestic product last year from 2.9 percent in 2005, World Bank data show.

WWF says 40% of Borneo’s forests can be managed by firms

By Ubaidillah Masli, Brunei Times, 24 November 2011 | Almost 40 per cent of land in the 22-million hectare Heart of Borneo (HoB) conservation area can be managed by the private sector, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) has estimated based on a report it launched recently. This figure was based on an estimate on current concession allocations, which make up 8.6 million hectares or 39 per cent of HoB, and thus stressed the importance of the private sector’s role in realising the goals of the tri-nation initiative. “Many of the key threats to the HoB are perceived to arise from private sector activity, but equally, the private sector has the opportunity to be the source and implementer of solutions to environmental and social challenges, and can continue to be a driver of economic and social development,” said the WWF report, called “Business Solutions: Delivering the Heart of Borneo Declaration”.

Sierra Leone: Timber!

By Sorious Samura, Al Jazeera, 24 November 2011 | Illegal logging is laying waste to Sierra Leone’s endangered forests. Despite years of laws and bans, its precious timber is still being exported abroad and unless something is done the country’s woodlands will have been destroyed within a decade. So why can the authorities not do more to stop it? In this edition of Africa Investigates, reporter Sorious Samura exposes the high level corruption that is stripping his homeland bare. With an undercover team he discovers that an illegal multi-million dollar timber trade is flourishing under the nose of the government and that associates of one of the most powerful politicians in the country are involved.

25 November 2011

A meaningful Durban treaty would be a triumph of weak over strong

By Mark Lynas, The Guardian, 25 November 2011 | When the UN climate system was first set up back in the late 1980s, the industrialised world contributed by far the most global greenhouse gases – and therefore the 1992 Climate Convention and 1997 Kyoto Protocol understandably envisaged emissions curbs for rich emitters only. Today, carbon emissions from OECD countries have declined by 6% since 1990, while the majority of greenhouse pollution now comes from the developing world – in particular China, India and Brazil. To point this out is not to criticise these countries, nor to undermine their legitimate rights to development.

Carbon Crash Spurs Price Bottom Debate

By Jeff Coelho, 25 November 2011 | European and international carbon prices plunged to record lows on Thursday, prompting a debate about how low prices could go. Carbon prices have lost half their value since June, knocked down by flagging demand for emissions permits and credits as the euro zone’s crisis deepens. The European Union’s carbon market, which was valued at $120 billion last year, is also oversupplied with hundreds of millions of permits. It caps the emissions of some 11,000 power generators and industrial plants in 30 European countries. Benchmark carbon permits, known as EU Allowances (EUAs), hit a record low 7.80 euros on Thursday. Analysts and traders are now trying to figure out whether there is a bottom to the market, the EU’s main policy tool to fight global warming. “There is no ‘hard’ or real floor I’m afraid. Prices can go where they want,” said Emmanuel Fages, an energy and carbon analyst at Societe Generale in Paris.

Greenhouse cuts are not enough, says UN report

By Ben Cubby and David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 November 2011 | The greenhouse gas cuts promised around the world will not be enough to avoid the ”tipping point” into dangerous climate change, according to a United Nations report released before next week’s climate conference in Durban. But the yawning, 6-billion-tonne ”emissions gap” between safe levels of emissions and the current situation could be bridged by breaking it down into bite-sized chunks, the report said. ”The window for addressing climate change is rapidly narrowing but equally the options for cost-effective action have never been more abundant,” the head of the UN environment program, Achim Steiner, said in a statement. If each sector of the global economy made a concerted push for best-practice emissions cuts and energy efficiency, the target could be met ”without any significant technical or financial breakthroughs needed”, Mr Steiner said.

UN climate talks must agree REDD funding

Argus Media, 25 November 2011 | Financing has remained a barrier to the success of the REDD programme because discussions at climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, last year deferred a decision on REDD project financing until Durban. The majority of funding for REDD and REDD-plus — which incorporates sustainable forest management — comes from public financing through governments, organisations such as the World Bank and some non-governmental organisations (NGOs). But public funding and incorporation in the voluntary carbon markets is not enough to make the REDD-plus programme meaningful, according to sustainable investment adviser Dasos Capital partner Markos Katila. “If REDD is to be implemented on the scale needed, we have to see a massive increase in private-sector funding,” Katila said. “And in the longer-term, REDD-plus credits have to be integrated into a formal carbon market together with the voluntary market.”

Safeguards failing to protect customary rights during large-scale land acquisitions

By Laura German, CIFOR Forests Blog, 25 November 2011 | Legislation and practices aiming to safeguard customary land rights are largely failing to give real decision-making authority to communities affected by large-scale land acquisitions in sub-Saharan Africa, says a recent report by the Center for International Forestry Research. This has seriously undermined the widely anticipated benefits from the recent surge in land-based investments for food, fuel and fiber on the continent. “That some of the most progressive laws and policies on land tenure in the continent are failing to secure the rights of rural and customary land holders in the context of private sector land acquisitions is a cause for concern,” says Esther Mwangi, CIFOR scientist and one of the authors of, Contemporary processes of large-scale land acquisition by investors: Case studies from sub-Saharan Africa.

Forest protection must be salvaged from troubled UN climate negotiations

Global Witness press release, 25 November 2011 | Forest protection presents a rare chance to make tangible progress on climate change in upcoming UN negotiations in Durban, Global Witness said today. While key players in the main talks are reportedly writing off chances of reaching a binding agreement until 2020, a pioneering scheme to protect forests and the people that live in them could start delivering very soon if delegates make the right decisions in Durban. To make this happen, rich countries must deliver the funds they have promised and delegates in South Africa must agree the right rules to govern the scheme.

Climate talks on “African soil” must help developing countries fight climate change, says Sierra Leone’s negotiator

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests Blog, 25 November 2011 | Sierra Leone hopes to gain international support so it can move ahead in preparing for REDD+, says one of the country’s climate negotiators, adding that with the U.N. climate talks “being held on African soil” there is pressure that it lead to concrete steps to help developing countries adapt to global warming. Scientists warn that Africa is likely to be one of the most vulnerable continents to the impacts of climate change. Sierra Leone is leading the fight with their ‘National Carbon Programme’ which, steered by the National Secretariat for Climate Change, will develop three integrated REDD+ and Payment for Environmental Services (PES) schemes across the country. The programmes hope to protect over 2.5 million hectares of forested land.

Silent forests and famine in east Africa

By Wangari Maathai, The Guardian, 25 November 2011 | This is the International Year of Forests. What we know is that intact forests are essential to stabilising local climates and securing the livelihoods of Africa’s farmers, herders and entrepreneurs. However, some governments, institutions and organisations are aggressively promoting the planting of exotic species of trees at the expense of indigenous ones as a solution to both drought and climate change. It is not. One of the most important environmental benefits indigenous forests provide is regulating climate and rainfall patterns; through harvesting and retaining rain, these forests release water slowly to springs, streams, and rivers; this reduces the speed of water runoff and with it, soil erosion. Indigenous forests and trees also play an important role in spiritual and cultural life. Exotic trees, like pine and eucalyptus, cannot offer these environmental benefits.

Adaptation activity funding left hanging since Cancun – progress needed at Durban

By Karin Holzknecht, CIFOR Forests Blog, 25 November 2011 | A decision on reliable funding for adaptation projects has been left hanging since the climate talks in Cancún last year. The Green Climate Fund — while struggling to gain support from developed countries — needs to progress at talks in Durban so adaptation efforts can move forward, says CIFOR and CIRAD senior scientist, Bruno Locatelli. Negotiators at the 2010 climate talks in Cancún agreed to establish the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help developing nations finance adaptation (adapting to climate change) and mitigation (reducing carbon emissions) activities. Adaptation works towards limiting the negative effects of climate change on people and ecosystems- including forests.

Lessons from the field: REDD+ and the rights of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities

Forest Peoples Programme, 25 November 2011 | In October 2011, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) conducted a survey of our local partners asking them to pinpoint key experiences and emerging lessons learned in relation to REDD+ and rights issues over the last three years. Partners who contributed include the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) and Association Okani (Cameroon), CEDEN (DRC), Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Knowledge (Panama), Amerindian Peoples Association (Guyana), Association of Village Leaders in Suriname, Association of Saamaka Authorities (Suriname), AIDESEP (Peru), Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples (Paraguay) and Scale-up, Pusaka and FPP field staff (Indonesia). Observations and lessons are also drawn from workshops with local partners, field studies and issues stemming from indigenous peoples’ representatives in dialogues with national and international REDD+ policy-makers.

Who owns which forests? Investigating forest tenure in Asia

By Julian Atkinson, RECOFTC’s Blog for People and Forests, 25 November 2011 | A recent study, Forest Tenure in Asia: Status and Trends, provides a starting point to exploring these questions. Tenure security plays a strong role in the structure of incentives that motivate the protection, development or destruction of forests. Importantly, it can determine who benefits or loses in the competition for economic goods and environmental services provided by forest ecosystems. Unsurprisingly, the study found that governments in almost every country in the region still retain administrative control over the majority of the national forest estate (the two big exceptions are China and Papua New Guinea). In most countries, the proportion of forestlands designated for use, or privately owned, by local communities and indigenous groups are minor. For example, in Indonesia only three million (2%) of the country’s 135 million hectares of classified forestland are legally non-state domain.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 25 November 2011 | The Climate Action Reserve released a version of their “Mexico Forest Protocol” for public comment. The protocol was developed to encompass a number of project types – IFM, A/R, REDD – and is aligned with Mexico’s emerging REDD program and California’s soon-to-launch cap-and-trade program. Across the Pacific pond, In China two methodologies to measure carbon from A/R projects using bamboo were announced. One was developed under the Panda Standard while the other was developed by the China Green Carbon Fund, and is expected to be adopted by projects across South East Asia.

What’s happened to Guyana’s rainforest deal with Norway?

By Grish Gupta, The Ecologist, 25 November 2011 | Guyanese president Bharrat Jagdeo was once the posterboy for an international community eager to play up its dedication to climate change. The West was finally engaging with developing nations like his – tucked into a corner of the Amazon jungle between Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname – by handing over millions of dollars in exchange for the maintenance of vast tracts of primary rainforest. Jagdeo was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. As his presidency comes to end, however, so does his image as the forward-thinking saviour of rainforest-rich developing countries. His government offers nothing but a veneer of hope, according to analysts of Guyana’s groundbreaking deal with Norway signed exactly two years ago.

[Indonesia] Aceh Chief Sued Over Plantation In Forest

By Nurdin Hasan, Jakarta Globe, 25 November 2011 | A leading environmental group is suing Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf for allegedly approving a permit for an palm oil plantation inside a protected peat forest. T.M. Zulfikar, executive director of the Aceh chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said on Thursday that his organization filed suit at the Banda Aceh State Administrative Court a day earlier. He said the suit arose from Irwandi’s decision on Aug. 25 to issue a permit to palm oil company Kallista Alam for a concession inside the Tripa peat swamp in Nagan Raya district. “The permit signed by Irwandi is for the conversion of 1,605 hectares of protected forests in the Tripa peat swamp into a palm oil plantation, destroying forests and peatlands protected by prevailing laws that forbid any new permits on primary forests and peatlands,” Zulfikar said. “By issuing the permit and violating these laws, the governor could face up to five years in prison.”

Australia eyes carbon credits from Indonesia’s forests

Jakarta Post, 25 November 2011 | Efforts to prevent the deforestation and degradation of Indonesia’s forests could yield much-needed carbon credits that Australia will be looking to purchase to help meet its emissions targets, says Australian Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet at a talk at the Australian National University (ANU) on Friday… “Australia’s carbon price policy opens up significant opportunities for Indonesia to tap into financial resources to support the development of REDD+ and to demonstrate that REDD+ indeed results in real emissions reduction. It is timely for Indonesia to push forward the development of this scheme in a credible way,” said Fitrian Ardiansyah, a climate and sustainability specialist based in the ANU. “REDD+ could lend Indonesia a competitive edge in a low carbon future,” Ardiansyah added.

[Indonesia] Interpol criticised over attempt to arrest Asian separatist leader

By Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 25 November 2011 | An Interpol red notice has been issued for the arrest of the Oxford-based leader of an Asian separatist movement, triggering allegations of political abuse of the international police alert system. Benny Wenda, 37, who has been granted asylum and has lived in the UK since 2003, fears that if he travels abroad he could be detained and returned to Indonesia, where he is a wanted man. Wenda, head of the Free West Papua movement, claims the charges against him have been trumped up in order to silence him. Fair Trials International is supporting him and calling for greater accountability of the police notice system which, it claims, has become “a legal black hole”. It is not the first time, according to the civil liberties group, that an Interpol red notice has been issued for the arrest of a political opponent or deployed to prevent someone from travelling.

Victory! Mega-Dam in Peru’s Amazonian rainforest halted by indigenous peoples’ opposition!

Rainforest Foundation UK press release, 25 November 2011 | In what is being internationally heralded as a victory for the world’s indigenous peoples, Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht, has announced its withdrawal from the planned development of the Tambo-40 Hydroelectric Dam on the Tambo River in the Peruvian Amazon, due to the strong opposition by potentially affected indigenous communities. In a letter newly obtained by the Rainforest Foundation, Odebrecht stated to the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines on October 24th that after completing preliminary studies, the company decided to withdraw from the project to “respect the opinion of local populations”, referring directly to the more than 14,000 indigenous peoples of the Ashaninka communities who have opposed the construction of dams on the Ene and Tambo Rivers, fearing the loss of the 73,000 hectares of forest and farmland that would have been destroyed if construction had gone ahead.

Peru protests at huge Conga gold mine in Cajamarca

BBC News, 25 November 2011 | Thousands of people in northern Peru have protested against plans for a huge open-cast goldmine in the high Andes. People in the Cajamarca region say the proposed Conga mine will cause pollution and destroy water supplies. The US-based mining company Newmont has promised modern reservoirs to replace threatened mountain lakes. The dispute is a test for President Ollanta Humala, who has promised to continue mining development while protecting affected communities. Mining is the main engine of Peru’s booming economy, but it is also the cause of numerous social conflicts around the country. The $4.8bn (£3.1bn) Conga project would be the biggest mining investment in the country’s history.

26 November 2011

Building the Foundation for REDD+: Recommendations for Durban on Forest Monitoring

By Loretta Cheung and Kemen Austin, WRI Insights, 26 November 2011 | Countries need to develop national measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) systems to monitor progress towards achieving REDD+ goals. Establishing procedures to do so would be a significant outcome of the UN climate negotiations in Durban. This task falls to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Developing reliable MRV systems is imperative to the accurate accounting of emission reductions, cultivation of confidence in activities to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (known as REDD+), and ultimately, to the implementation of REDD+. So what should the SBSTA focus on?

Forests and REDD+ in COP17 Durban

By Florence Daviet, WRI Insights, 26 November 2011 | The situations in Brazil and Indonesia should lend a sense of urgency and purpose to the climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa. This will be the fifth year of REDD+ negotiations (seventh if you consider the very first proposals in 2005), and there are still some fundamental issues on the table. Until these are resolved, forested countries may be hindered in developing robust REDD+ programs and tackling deforestation pressures. Primarily this requires answering the first of two major questions posed by the REDD+ Chair in the Panama negotiations in October: what should be paid for in “results-based” actions, and where should the money come from?

Strong New Indigenous Statement Against REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation scheme)

Climate Connections, 26 November 2011 | Declaration of Members of the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA) Initiative, Durban, South Africa, November 26th… We, the Indigenous Peoples denounce the serious situation we are facing; the harmonious relationship between humans and Mother Earth has been broken. The life of people and Pachamama has become a business. Life, for Indigenous Peoples, is sacred, and we therefore consider REDD+ and the carbon market a hypocrisy which will not impact global warming. For us, everything is life, and life cannot be negotiated or sold on a stock market, this is a huge risk and will not resolve the environmental crisis.

27 November 2011

UN climate summit gets ‘occupy’ warning

Al Jazeera, 27 November 2011 | Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, environmental campaigners calling for “climate justice” are set to protest on Monday at the opening of the United Nations climate talks in Durban, South Africa. Patrick Bond, a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, told the AFP news agency that “negotiations have begun with the city on an authorised protest space”. A website dedicated to “Occupy COP17” echoed the frustration of many poorer nations already facing climate-change effects with the slow pace and low ambition of the talks. “Inside their assembly and inside their declarations, the needs of the 99 per cent are not being heard,” read the declaration on a the site. Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s police minister, said on Friday his country would deploy 2,500 officers at the UN climate talks starting this week.

UN conference to deal with carbon reductions

By Arthur Max, AP, 27 November 2011 | The U.N.’s top climate official said Sunday she expects governments to make a long-delayed decision on whether industrial countries should make further commitments to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. Amid fresh warnings of climate-related disasters in the future, delegates from about 190 countries were gathering in Durban for a two-week conference beginning Monday. They hope to break deadlocks on how to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. climate secretariat, said the stakes for the negotiations are high, underscored by new scientific studies.

Action now could double forests saved

WWF, 27 November 2011 | It’s possible to reduce deforestation to near zero by 2020, but delaying action to save forests by even a decade means double the area of forests lost by 2030, says WWF. According to the latest chapter of WWF’s Living Forests Report, “Forests and Climate”, the world stands to lose 55.5 million hectares of forest between now and 2020, even if we take urgent action to reduce deforestation. If the world delays the necessary steps, we stand to lose 124.7 million hectares by 2030, according to the report… The report further finds that new plantations are not the solution, as they will not begin to sequester enough carbon to offset emissions from deforestation until 2040 at the earliest.

UN Approves $4m for Nigeria’s REDD Programme

This Day Live, 27 November 2011 | The Minister of Environment Hajiya Hadiza Mailafiya has stated that the United Nations has approved Nigeria’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme with a funding of 4 million dollars.She made this statement in Abuja yesterday during the Press briefing on Nigeria’s preparation towards United Nations climate change conference in Durban,South Africa.

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