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REDD in the news: 12-18 December 2011

REDD in the news: 12-18 December 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.

Save Prey Lang!

Cultural Survival petition, no date | Dear Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, I am deeply concerned that Cambodia has lost almost all of its primary forests. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, primary forests covered 70 percent of Cambodia’s land mass just 40 years ago. Tragically, these magnificent forests have shrunk to only 3.1 percent of the nation’s territory today. One of the remaining forests, Prey Lang, is in danger of being lost as more and more concessions are granted to agro-industries and mining companies.

12 December 2011

International Energy Agency welcomes climate pact

By David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December 2011 | The world’s global energy authority has welcomed the Durban road map for a new climate pact as a positive step towards avoiding catastrophic climate change but warned countries not to use to the talks as a reason to ease off on immediate action. The International Energy Agency, which recently offered a particularly stark warning on the need for urgent action, today welcomed the Durban agreement to hold talks on a new agreement covering all major emitters as ”good news”.

‘Polluters won, people lost’

iolscitech, 12 December 2011 | The interests of profit-hungry and polluting corporations have won at the recent United Nations climate talks, Greenpeace said on Sunday. “Polluters won, people lost,” said Greenpeace International’s executive director Kumi Naidoo in a statement. “Our governments this past two weeks listened to the carbon-intensive polluting corporations instead of listening to the people who want an end to our dependence on fossil fuels and real and immediate action on climate change,” said Naidoo.

The verdict on Durban – a major step forward, but not for ten years

Mark Lynas,, 12 December 2011 | Following the marathon negotiations session at Durban, all the delegates should now be back home – and if not quite rested, certainly ready to assess the outcome with the benefit of some distance. In this (rather long) post I will look at the key documents agreed in the Durban outcome, and try to offer some sense of what they mean for the climate regime, and for the climate.

Carbon markets still on life support after climate deal

By Nina Chestney and Jeff Coelho, Reuters, 12 December 2011 | Carbon markets are still on life support after a U.N. climate deal agreed in South Africa on Sunday put off some big decisions until next year and failed to deliver any hope for a needed boost in carbon permit demand… Many traders and analysts said the agreement will do little for carbon prices which are at record lows, as the two main European Union and U.N.-backed markets are stricken by flagging investments, an oversupply of emissions permits and worries about an economic slowdown.

Durban Package lacks ambition and equity

By Payal Parekh, climate & energy expert, 12 December 2011 | Thirty-six hours after the climate change conference countries agreed to a weak agreement that is lacking in ambition, equity and justice. While a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has been agreed to, three major polluters Japan, Canada and Russia (and of course the United States) are not participating, the targets are much lower than what science demands, and there are a number of loopholes that essentially negate the targets. Forestry management rules are akin to cooking the books, and dealing with surplus AAUs has been punted to next year. It is not yet clear whether the commitment period is 5 years or 8 years long.

Durban climate deal: the verdict

The Guardian, 12 December 2011 | Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC executive secretary: “There are still many details to be hammered out, but we now need to start negotiating the new legal agreement as soon as possible and there are still many details to be hammered out. I salute the countries who made this agreement. They have all laid aside some cherished objectives of their own to meet a common purpose – a long-term solution to climate change. I sincerely thank the South African Presidency who steered through a long and intense conference to a historic agreement that has met all major issues.”

Chinese wall on climate crumbles

By Gerard Wynn, Reuters, 12 December 2011 | On Sunday, emerging economies including China, which is now the world’s top carbon emitter, appeared to accept an equal legal commitment to fight climate change alongside the United States (Kyoto backers already face binding emissions caps). This was significant: China agreed to move in step with Washington, even though the United States is still a far richer country, has cumulatively pumped out more greenhouse gases and arguably has made no more effort than China since 1995. Durban was also important because by launching negotiations on a global climate deal – to come into force after 2020 – the conference met a condition set by a handful of Kyoto backers to continue their binding targets under the protocol.

DENR freezes land titling in forest lands, protected areas

By Kristine L. Alave, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12 December 2011 | To curb the encroachment of human population and disruptive economic activities into forest lands, the Department of Environment declared on Monday that no land titles would be given to areas that overlapped with or were included in proposed protected areas. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said he would suspend activities related to land titling in areas that have become part of planned protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS)…

New accord for tropical forests enters into force

International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), 12 December 2011 | The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) announced the entry into force of the International Tropical Timber Agreement, 2006 (ITTA, 2006) effective Wednesday, December 7th 2011. The ratification of the agreement by the West African nation of Benin triggered the entry into force of this successor agreement to the Organization’s current governing treaty (ITTA, 1994).

The Fate of the U.N. Forest REDD Program is Still Undecided

By Lana Bandoim, Yahoo! Contributor Network, 12 December 2011 | The REDD program had been largely ignored at the Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa. Although it was officially organized in 2008, the recent climate talks in Durban failed to make any new progress in this area. This is another example of the general failure of COP17 to accomplish anything important in Durban. The main issue of funding for the REDD program remains unresolved. As early as 2006, the United Nations was considering private-sector investments for the forestry programs. Unfortunately, the REDD program was a side event in Durban and never received the proper amount of attention that it deserved.

Indigenous Peoples Call for REDD Moratorium

By Stephen Leahy, IPS, 12 December 2011 | A new coalition of indigenous peoples and local communities called for a moratorium on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programs, a key part of the negotiations for a new international climate treaty that took place over the last two weeks in South Africa. The new Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD and for Life issued a statement stating that based on “in-depth investigations, a growing number of recent reports provide evidence that indigenous peoples are being subjected to violations of their rights as a result of the implementation of REDD+-type programs and policies.”

Joint Statement with the Prime Minister of Norway

IEWY News, 12 December 2011 | Prime Minister Stoltenberg congratulated Prime Minister Gillard on the passage of the Clean Energy Future legislation, noting market-based approaches were the most efficient and cost effective ways of reducing emissions and would drive innovation and investment in renewables. Norway first set a price on carbon in 1991 and has had an emissions trading scheme since 2005. The two leaders welcomed cooperation between Australia, Norway and the Indonesian government to preserve Indonesia’s forests through REDD+ and the recent Declaration of Intent on REDD+ in the Congo Basin, supported by Australia and Norway at Durban. As two major energy exporters, the Prime Ministers discussed how Australia and Norway could utilise their leadership in the mining and resources sectors to support efforts by developing countries to translate their resource endowments into sustainable growth and prosperity for their communities.

REDD+ biggest success in climate change talks, Norway says

By Leony Aurora, CIFOR Forests Blog, 12 December 2011 | Norway’s Environment and International Development Minister said that REDD+ is the biggest success story so far in global climate change negotiations, but he called for countries to be “more daring” in their efforts to cut emissions and slow global warming. “The main lessons learnt are that…(reducing deforestation) can only be done realistically with governments of developing nations in the driving seat, and that payments should be results-based,” Minister Erik Solheim said on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa. “Governments are the key drivers. Private sector of course has to be involved, but without the governments, nothing will happen.”

Climate change: Durban and everything that matters

The Economist, 12 December 2011 | A hundred years from now, looking back, the only question that will appear important about the historical moment in which we now live is the question of whether or not we did anything to arrest climate change. Everything else—the financial crisis, the life or death of the euro, authoritarianism or democracy in China and Russia, the Great Stagnation or the innovation renaissance, democratisation and/or political Islam in the Arab world, Newt or Mitt or another four years of Barack—all this will fade into insignificance beside the question of whether we managed to do anything about human industrial civilisation changing the climate of Planet Earth.

Durban climate conference agrees deal to do a deal – now comes the hard part

By Fiona Harvey and Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 12 December 2011 | The Durban climate conference may have agreed a deal – or at least a deal to agree a deal – but the scale of the work that still needs to be done became plain today. Although talks are supposed to start immediately, America’s special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, infuriated the EU by warning that much preparatory work had to be done before the negotiators could sit down to haggle. “[In drawing up] the Kyoto protocol, there was a period of a year to year and a half of scoping out so I expect that will go on … for a year or two,” Stern said. “Then you still have two to two and a half years to negotiate, and finish in 2015.” EU officials are acutely aware that the time to forge a deal is short, and the issues to be resolved vastly complex.

[Indonesia] House set to pass long-awaited land acquisition bill this week

By Linda Yulisman, Jakarta Post, 12 December 2011 | After months of deliberation, the House of Representatives expects to pass the long-awaited land acquisition bill later this week, a legal instrument that is expected to solve a long process involving land acquisition, a legislator said. “We will meet with the government for the final decision on Wednesday and hopefully we can pass it during the plenary session on Friday,” the bill’s special committee (Panja) deputy chief, Taufik Hidayat, told The Jakarta Post in a telephone interview on Sunday. He said the committee still needed to make the content and the wording of the bill congruous before forwarding it to the House’s plenary session for final approval.

13 December 2011

Adding vast forests to cut climate change could boomerang, study says

By Peter Reuell,, 13 December 2011 | Planting a tree is always a good thing, right? After all, trees provide natural beauty and wildlife habitat, and are good for the environment. But what if, instead of one tree, you’re planting a million trees? Or 10 million? Or 100 million? Such massive expansion of forest cover in North America and Eurasia — proposed by some analysts as a way to combat climate change — could have the surprising effect of altering the environment by increasing temperatures in some parts of the world, resulting in changes in rainfall patterns across the globe, Harvard researchers say. The research, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Dec. 5, found that “we can’t plant our way out of the (climate) problem,” said Abigail Swann, Giorgio Ruffolo Post-Doctoral Fellow in Sustainability Science, and the paper’s lead author.

Gabon’s forest alone absorbs 4 times the carbon that France emits

Sierra Express Media, 13 December 2011 | The high-level African leaders who included the Africa Union’s Chairman Hon. Jean Ping, the head of the African Development bank Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Congo-Brazzavile’s minister for sustainable development, Hon. Henrie Jombo and South Africa’s minister for National Planning, Hon. Trevor Manuel took the opportunity to launch the Green Initiative. This three-program initiative shall focus on protecting the Congo basin and forest, creating a green wall across the Sahara from Djibouti to Dakar that is aimed at halting desertification and thirdly, it shall revive the fast disappearing Lake Chad.

CERs crash 8.8 percent, hit record low

Point Carbon, 13 December 2011 | UN-backed carbon offsets plunged to an all-time low Tuesday on the back of continued fears of over-supply in the market, albeit in thin trade. By 11:00 GMT, the December 2011 CER contract on ICE Futures Europe was trading at 4.47 euros, a record low for the contract and down 43 cents on Monday’s 4.90-euro close. Traders said the low EUA prices, combined with continued fears of over-supply in the CER market had pushed prices down, although turnover was relatively thin at just over 600,000 credits. Meanwhile, the December 2011 EUA contract was down 4.5 percent at 7.20 euros, having hit 7.08 euros in earlier trade, the contracts lowest level since touching 6.95 euros on Dec. 8.

Mixed messages from REDD+

By Nick Oates, Climatico, 13 December 2011 | REDD+ has for some time been stranded from the mainland of negotiations, with little clarity on how the mechanism relates back to an international agreement. Or in a more literal sense, it sits in the COP texts on its own as a mitigation action separate to NAMAs. Alas, Durban has presented a slightly clearer picture of the direction and merging of the AWG-LCA track of the AWG-KP track over the next few years, and consequently some more clarity on the context in which REDD+ will form part of a future agreement. Although still abstract, by “context” we mean that REDD+ could, for example, function largely in the same way as the flexible mechanisms do, the CDM and JI, as addendums to a protocol, or it could be a separate, additional mitigation theme, spanning multiple sources of funding or mechanisms.

UCS at the Climate Talks in Durban

Union of Concerned Scientists, 13 December 2011 | Negotiators also established benchmarks for accurately gauging emissions reductions through REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, plus pro-forest activities). These benchmarks, known as reference levels, were a significant accomplishment, insuring that technical experts have a scientifically credible way to determine reductions in carbon pollution from forest conservation efforts. However, the REDD+ talks failed to find a way to ascertain if countries met specific safeguards to protect indigenous people and the environment. They did, however, agree on the major sources of funding for REDD+, including markets, foreign aid and the new Green Climate Fund. Negotiations next year will address these financing options for REDD+ in more detail.

Outcome at Durban Climate Negotiations Offers Limited Progress

Union of Concerned Scientists press release, 13 December 2011 | The conference made concrete progress in some areas, including the Green Climate Fund, climate technology information sharing networks and the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation plus pro-forest activities (REDD+) program… “Though four years in the making, we’ve done incredibly well moving REDD+ forward,” said Doug Boucher, director of the UCS Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative. “The reference levels are a linchpin of the REDD+ program and the scientific process is vital in implementing them and saving forests while addressing climate change.” REDD+ negotiators are still struggling with a way to measure if countries are adequately protecting indigenous people and the environment, but they did agree on major sources of REDD+ funding, including markets, foreign aid and the new Green Climate Fund. Negotiations next year will address financing options for REDD+ in more detail.

Africa: New UN Iphone Application Highlights Role of Ecosystems in Tackling Climate Change

UNEP press release, 13 December 2011 | How many mangroves does it take to offset a transatlantic flight? What consumer actions can we take to reduce damage to rainforests? Answers to these questions and many more are provided by a new iPhone application launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at the Eye on Earth summit in Abu Dhabi today. The UNEP application draws attention to the critical role played by ecosystems such as salt marshes, mangroves, tropical forests and seagrasses in tackling climate change. Users of the application can calculate their personal carbon footprint for journeys taken by air, train or road. They will then be shown the equivalent area of a particular ecosystem (such as a tropical forest) that can store this amount of carbon dioxide.

A day in the life of a REDD+ negotiator

By James Maiden, CIFOR Forests Blog, 13 December 2011 | He has over 1500 twitter followers and nearly 5000 Facebook friends and yet he is not your usual social media junkie or celebrity. Tony La Viña is a lead negotiator at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) facilitating the important issue of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). Tony’s approach to the secretive and sensitive negotiations is one of more transparency and optimism, tweeting and posting constant updates on Facebook from the COP. He believes his role as the facilitator of the negotiations on REDD+ is not just about mediating the parties in the negotiating room but also to inform REDD+ stakeholders on the state of play from the negotiating table.

Hope after Durban

By Tony La Viña, Manila Standard Today, 13 December 2011 | Concluding that the Durban results are inadequate or even bad does not mean they should be rejected. This explains why many countries, including the Philippines, in the final plenary early morning last Sunday (after a 36-hour extension as the conference was supposed to end on Friday), stated they were unhappy but still agreed to adopt the package. Governments cannot and should not leave these climate change conferences without a result. To do so, as we did in Copenhagen, would damage, even doom permanently, multilateral efforts to address climate change. To use the language of negotiation experts, there is no best alternative to an agreement in the case of the UNFCCC process. That is why one should always aim for the maximum, not the least, common denominator; if you don’t aim high, there is no choice but consent to the low. Walking away, as Bolivia learned in Cancun, is not an option.

What is Up Next for Forest Carbon after Durban?

Ecosystem Marketplace, 13 December 2011 | With the Durban talks coming to a close over the weekend, it is now time to digest the decisions, looking at what was accomplished and what still needs to be determined. One of the central outcomes of COP17 in Durban was the Durban Platform. Instead of a detailed agreement, the Durban Platform is a two-page document establishing a timeline and process for instituting a treaty for mandatory caps on emissions for developing and developed countries. In addition to this platform, there were also more substantive texts and agreements coming out of Durban. These decisions will inform the expected treaty as well as outline or initiate activities that will take place until a global agreement is formally adopted. Below is a look at key aspects from these texts and decisions.

Cancun consensus triumphs in Durban

By Adisti Sukma Sawitri, Jakarta Post, 13 December 2011 | President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono’s special envoy for climate change, Rachmat Witoelar, said that he was satisfied with the outcomes of Durban. “The extension of two days in the conference reached the best compromise to accommodate requests of many countries,” he said. Climate financing and the operation of REDD have been the major negotiation forums that Indonesia engaged in during the two-week climate talks.

ERA Surpasses 2 Million Tonnes in Carbon Offset Sales

ERA press release, 13 December 2011 | ERA Carbon Offsets Ltd. is pleased to announce that the company has achieved a new sales milestone, having sold more than 2 million tonnes of forest based carbon offsets to customers and clients around the world… Beyond North America, ERA continues the development of its internationally recognized REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first concession based forest conservation project to be awarded in that country. Additional markets for forestry based carbon offsets are expected to include Australia, Korea and Japan.

Violence engulfs Kenyan tribe just miles from royal hideaway

Survival International, 13 December 2011 | Kenya’s Laikipia district has been part of the traditional territory of the Samburu tribe for centuries until two US-based charities – The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) – agreed to pay $2 million for their land, which was officially owned by former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. Soon after, the Kenyan police began a series of brutal evictions of the tribe, burning their villages, killing and stealing their animals and assaulting men, women and children. Survival has recently received reports of an elder being shot ‘in cold blood’. 2,000 Samburu families now live in makeshift squats on the edge of the land and 1,000 others have been forced to relocate entirely. Conditions are appalling, and resources scarce. A Channel 4 documentary caught on camera the extreme nature of these evictions in the Eland Downs.

14 December 2011

Why Canada shuns its green commitment?

By Li Hongmei, Xinhua, 14 December 2011 | Canada’s widely criticized quit from Kyoto Protocol might act as a timely reminder that a toothless form of words involving just diplomatic censure can hardly prevent countries from walking away from their commitments. This really sends some dismay to negotiators at the Durban climate conference burned the midnight oil over the weekend to agree on an accord that should lead to a legally binding deal to cut emissions after 2020.

We can still avoid a ‘lost decade’ on climate change

New Scientist, 14 December 2011 | No amount of late-night machismo or theatrical last-minute extensions can disguise the huge gap between the aspiration of limiting warming by 2 °C, agreed by ministers two years ago, and the paltry efforts so far taken to reach it. As Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), noted last week, there was nothing on the table in Durban that sought to close this gap – and the fear is that it will only widen over the next decade… But the next decade is not lost just yet. A third perspective is that the Durban summit marks the moment when convoluted UN diplomacy, aimed at sharing the burden of cutting emissions, gave way to a new world of voluntary national commitments and the aggressive, profit-driven adoption of green technologies.

Speaking out on climate change: COP17 in quotes

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 14 December 2011 | “Like love sometimes, a REDD agreement is near yet so far away. But as I said I don’t give up until everyone gives up.” Tony La Viña, REDD+ facilitator. “This has been an astonishing success story. REDD+ has been so far the biggest success story of the climate negotiations… For Norway, I think the main lesson learnt is that we need to be more able to take risks, and more daring. Because there are numerous reasons why this may fail or how it can be criticized.” Erik Solheim, Norwegian Minister for the Environment and International Development. “We are seven years into REDD and we’re still looking at what the options are. We’re not making the hard decisions.” Louis Verchot, Principal Scientist at CIFOR.

EU carbon plunges 10 percent to record low of 6.30 euros

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 14 December 2011 | EU carbon prices fell to their lowest ever level on Wednesday as the euro currency and equities slid on renewed fears over the bloc’s debt crisis and oil prices tanked after producers promised to maintain high output. The ICE ECX December 2011 EUA contract fell 73 cents to an all-time low of 6.30 euros, down 10.4 percent on Tuesday’s 7.03-euro settlement. By 16.30 GMT, the contract had recovered slightly to 6.41 euros on healthy turnover of around 15 million units.

Reduced Emissions from Deforestation Opening Window for Green Economy Transition

IEWY News, 14 December 2011 | Countries across the developing world are engaging with developed country governments and the private sector to simultaneously reduce emissions from forests and fast track transitions to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy. These multiple benefits of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) were the focus of a side event at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban today – in particular plans by Indonesia to utilize around US$1 billion-worth of funding from Norway under REDD+.“In the same way that the Green Economy promotes sustainable, low carbon and resource-efficient economic growth, REDD+ also explicitly addresses the need for a balance between income growth, jobs and social equity”, said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

COP17 climate change progress: cause for optimism, 14 December 2011 | Dr. Tony La Viña is Dean of the Manila Ateneo School of Government in the Philippines, as well as a world renowned expert on issues related to Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and a REDD+ facilitator. His areas of expertise are climate change, biodiversity, biosafety policy, genetic resources, and trade & environment. Commenting on the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) blog, La Viña feels that one should remain optimistic about progress made on climate change during COP17.

Durban talks both good and bad for REDD+, says expert

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests Blog, 14 December 2011 | The U.N. climate change talks in Durban resulted in a mixed bag for REDD+: progress on how to set reference emissions levels, progress on defining how to measure emission reductions stemming from forestry initiatives, but a weak decision on social and environmental safeguards for the program, and no advances on sources of long-term funding, according to CIFOR’s leading climate scientist. “We are now seeing the technical obstacles to REDD fall by the wayside and the decisions made on REDD in Durban are a vote of confidence in the progress that the scientific community has made over the last few years. However, we do not have progress on the ‘politics behind the money’ and without this we cannot talk about sustainability of REDD,” said Louis Verchot, CIFOR Principal Scientist.

“We must be optimistic about progress on climate change in Durban”

By Tony La Viña, CIFOR Forests Blog, 14 December 2011 | Aside from the LCA decision on REDD+ Finance, the COP also adopted the Guidance for Forest Reference Levels and for the Safeguards Information System. While falling short of expectations from an environmental integrity point of view, the reference levels decision is an advance as countries now have enough to construct their first reference levels. The safeguards guidance was also criticised by NGOs for not being specific enough to the safeguards but I think this is OK. We should not lock ourselves in guidance that is either impractical or ineffective. There is always a chance to review next year.

[Indonesia] Peatland moratorium slipping on oil palm plans

By Elly Burhaini Faizal, Jakarta Post, 14 December 2011 | Aceh may soon lose part of its forests with the granting of a concession for commercial use to a private company by Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf, a decision that jeopardizes the moratorium on forest clearing, a watchdog says. The permit issued to PT Kallista Alam to convert the protected peatland forest for use as a palm oil plantation had been legalized, thanks to the first revision of the indicative map set out in the moratorium, Elfian Effendi, the executive director of Greenomics Indonesia, said on Tuesday. The revision, adopted in a Forestry Minister Decree that was issued on Nov. 22, allows for the issuance of permits to log and convert primary forests and peatland areas, he said. “This revision of the indicative moratorium map has deleted one block of peatland that was already included within the palm plantation concessions of PT Kallista Alam,” Elfian told The Jakarta Post.

[Indonesia] Ministry to Probe Aceh Forest Clearing Permit

By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, Jakarta Globe, 14 December 2011 | The Forestry Ministry has promised an “intensive probe” into a controversial permit issued by Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf for a pristine, wildlife-rich forest to be razed and replaced by a palm oil plantation. Hadi Daryanto, the ministry’s secretary general, said on Monday that under the terms of a forestry moratorium for primary and peat forests, the permit should never have been issued. “It’s clearly a violation because the area in question is a peat forest,” he said. “On the moratorium map it’s clearly marked out as protected, but in the revision that followed, it was somehow excluded. That exclusion in itself is also a violation because it occurred after the moratorium went into effect.”

UN-REDD Programme Invites Comments on Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guidelines

Climate Change Policy & Practice, 14 December 2011 | The UN-REDD Programme has announced that the draft Guidelines on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) are open for public review. Comments are requested by 15 January 2012. The Guidelines aim to outline a normative, policy and operational framework for UN-REDD Programme partner countries to seek FPIC, as and when appropriate, as determined by the Programme partner country in consultation with relevant rights-holders. The Guidelines also provide definitions of the underlying elements of FPIC and information on grievance and accountability.

China, Japan say Canada’s Kyoto withdrawal regrettable

By Chris Buckley and Sui-Lee Wee, Reuters, 14 December 2011 | China and Japan said on Tuesday Canada’s decision to quit the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions was “regrettable” and called on it to continue abiding by its commitments on climate change. On Monday, Canada became the first country to announce it would withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. Canada, a major energy producer, has long complained that the agreement is unworkable because it excludes many significant emitters from binding action. China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases from human activity, has long insisted the Kyoto Protocol remain a foundation of global efforts to curb these emissions causing global warming.

EU carbon plunges to record low of 6.58 euros

Point Carbon, 14 December 2011 | EU carbon prices fell to their lowest ever level on Wednesday, dropping to 6.58 euros as the euro currency and equities slid on U.S. fears that last week’s EU summit had failed to rein in the euro zone’s debt crisis. By 1000 GMT, the ICE ECX December 2011 EUA contract was trading at an all-time low after falling 6.4 percent compared to Tuesday’s 7.03-euro settlement. Volume was steady with almost 4 million units changing hands. The drop sends the contract into unchartered territory, falling further than the previous low of 6.77 euros on December 6 as market traders see few signs of respite in the EU economy to boost demand for emission permits. “I still don’t see any bottom to this market,” said one carbon trader, who said any positive sentiment from this weekend’s landmark U.N. climate summit in Durban was purely psychological as it brought no increase in market demand.

Kenya’s Samburu people ‘violently evicted’ after US charities buy land

By Clar Nichonghaile and David Smith, The Guardian, 14 December 2011 | Members of the Samburu people in Kenya have been abused, beaten and raped by police after the land they lived on for two decades was sold to two US-based wildlife charities, a rights group and community leader have alleged. The dispute centres on Eland Downs in Laikipia, a lush area near Mount Kenya. At least three people are said to have died during the row, including a child who was eaten by a lion after the Samburu were violently evicted in November last year. The London-based NGO Survival International said the Samburu were evicted following the purchase of the land by two American-based charities, the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation. The groups subsequently gifted the land to Kenya for a national park, to be called Laikipia National Park.

15 December 2011

UNECE Hosts Expert Panel on Forests 2030

Climate Change Policy & Practice, 15 December 2011 | Experts from governments, international organizations, NGOs and industry participated in a panel on “Forests 2030: The future of forests in Europe and North America,” in Geneva, Switzerland. The panel was chaired by Michael Zammit Cutajar, former UNFCCC Executive Secretary, under the patronage of Janusz Zaleski, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Poland. Held on 13 December 2011, the panel focused on the key findings of three reports: the State of Europe’s Forests 2011 report; the European Forest Sector Outlook Study (2010-2030); and the North American Forest Sector Outlook Study (2006-2030). The panel concluded that policy makers should look at costs and benefits beyond the forest sector alone, while being aware of potential policy conflicts.

Carbon credit market sags even after Durban climate talks

By Rajesh Bhayani & Piyali Mandal, Business Standard, 15 December 2011 | Emission reduction certificate prices at record lows, reflect question marks on the climate change policy. To the surprise of the carbon trading market, prices of carbon emission reduction (CER) certificates traded on the Intercontinental Exchange have been sliding even after last week’s global deal on future emission reduction. CER prices closed at a then all-time low on Friday, when the Durban talks were leading to uncertainty on a deal. Yet, after the weekend agreement, CER prices in the past three sessions have fallen nearly 22.8 per cent, over and above the 37.2 per cent fall in the past three months till last Friday. Last Friday, CER prices closed at 5.3. It opened slightly higher on Monday but prices have been falling since and reached a further low of 4.1 on Wednesday in the opening session.

Climate change drops off ‘hot topic’ list

By Adam Corner, New Scientist, 15 December 2011 | This year’s British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey comes complete with gloomy headlines on public opinion about climate change. Compared with surveys in 1993 and 2000, concern about the seriousness of environmental threats has decreased, and the number of people saying they were willing to pay more for environmentally friendly services has dropped significantly. Against a backdrop of economic woes, the finding that people are less keen to pay a sustainability surcharge should be no surprise. More intriguing is the explanation offered for the receding concern about the threat posed by climate change. The survey’s authors suggest that the lingering effects of the 2009 Climategate affair – the release by climate sceptics of private emails between climate researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) – has knocked people’s trust in climate science.

For Haiti, climate change is more present fear than horrible imagining

Prospery Raymond, The Guardian, 15 December 2011 | For people in the UK, a weak deal at Durban on climate change may be disappointing, but it is not something that will affect their everyday life – at least not for some years to come. In Haiti, though, hurricanes are becoming more frequent and unpredictable. In 2008, the summer before the earthquake, Haiti endured four tropical storms in a row. Our fourth largest city, Gonaives, was inundated for months.

REDD advances—slowly—in Durban

By Rhett A. Butler,, 15 December 2011 | A program proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation made mixed progress during climate talks in Durban. Significant questions remain about financing and safeguards to protect against abuse, say forestry experts. REDD+ aims to reduce deforestation, forest degradation, and peatland destruction in tropical countries. Here, emissions from land use often exceed emissions from transportation and electricity generation. Under the program, industrialized nations would fund conservation projects and improved forest management. While REDD+ offers the potential to simultaneously reduce emissions, conserve biodiversity, maintain other ecosystem services, and help alleviate rural poverty, concerns over potential adverse impacts have plagued the program since its conception.

Little headway in Durban on deforestation: experts

By Yana Marull, AFP, 15 December 2011 | The UN’s Durban conference on climate change failed to make enough headway in efforts to curb deforestation, experts warned, saying forest preservation plays a central role in the global warming debate. After 14 days of marathon talks in the South African city, the conference on Sunday approved a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major greenhouse-gas emitters under a single legal roof. If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change. “Durban has failed to deliver progress on fundamental issues like social and environmental safeguards, and on strict rules to ensure that global deforestation is reduced,” said Lars Lovold, head of Norway’s Rainforest foundation.

[Vietnam] Timber traffickers targeted by forest management body

VietNam News, 15 December 2011 | The forest management sector is planning stricter measures to fight timber trafficking following a recent spate of illegal activities. In a meeting in the capital on Tuesday, the Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)’s Department of Forest Management, Nguyen Huu Dung, said that the country annually lost nearly 32,000ha of forest due to informal deforestation. This year alone, more than 1,960ha of forest had been destroyed, an increase by 15 per cent compared to last year. Hot spots included northern Bac Kan Province alongside Central Highlands provinces and coastal southern provinces, he said. “Timber traffickers utilise sophisticated measures in transporting timber,” he added.

Violence fears as PNG parties stand ground

By Liam Fox, ABC News, 15 December 2011 | Papua New Guinea’s leadership crisis shows no signs of ending and there are growing fears violence will break out between the opposing camps of Sir Michael Somare and Peter O’Neill. The political deadlock is entering its third day and no-one seems able to broker a resolution to the problem, which has both Sir Michael and Mr O’Neill claiming each man is the legitimate prime minister. With the leaders each having their own ministers and cabinet, and most importantly their own police commissioners, non-government groups are warning the situation is becoming dangerous.

16 December 2011

Brussels urged to help flailing carbon market

Financial Times, 16 December 2011 | Royal Dutch Shell, Philips and more than a dozen other top international companies have made an urgent plea to Brussels to prop up the flailing European Union carbon market after another week of plunging prices.

Warming Arctic Permafrost Fuels Climate Change Worries

By Justin Gillis, New York Times, 16 December 2011 | A bubble rose through a hole in the surface of a frozen lake. It popped, followed by another, and another, as if a pot were somehow boiling in the icy depths. Every bursting bubble sent up a puff of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas generated beneath the lake from the decay of plant debris. These plants last saw the light of day 30,000 years ago and have been locked in a deep freeze — until now. “That’s a hot spot,” declared Katey M. Walter Anthony, a leading scientist in studying the escape of methane. A few minutes later, she leaned perilously over the edge of the ice, plunging a bottle into the water to grab a gas sample.

The Durban Package: “Laisser faire, laisser passer”

By Pablo Solon, World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, 16 December 2011 | REDD: a perverse incentive to deforest in this decade. If you don’t cut down trees you won’t be able to issue certificates of reduction of deforestation when the REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism comes into operation. CONSEQUENCES: deforest now if you want to be ready for REDD. The safeguards for indigenous peoples will be flexible and discretionary for each country. The offer of funding for forests is postponed until the next decade due to the fact that demand for Carbon Credits will not increase until then because of the low emission reduction promises.

Farming Carbon Credits a Con for Africa: The many faces of Climate Smart Agriculture

Gaia Foundation, 16 December 2011 | “African Agriculture has been ignored by UN Climate Change discussions!” bellowed the South African minister for Agriculture, Tina Joemat-Pettersen at the high-level launch of Climate Smart Agriculture during the Durban climate negotiations. “We need your ideas to over throw this dictatorship of Climate Change! No Agriculture, No Deal!” Her words echoed those of South African president Jacob Zuma, whose own rhetoric forcefully pushing for a deal on Agriculture had raised eyebrows for ignoring UN etiquette that prefers its host countries to act as impartial facilitators. However, South Africa was not alone in its vision for African Agriculture. On the same panel, Zuma and Joemat-Pettersen were joined by Kofi Annan, Meles Zenawi, Mary Robinson and Andrew Steer of the World Bank- all calling for Climate Smart Agriculture, and all clamouring for the UN to agree a work programme on Agriculture to make this happen.

Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the ‘Big Green’ Patriarchy

By Anne Petermann, Climate Connections, 16 December 2011 | ut as with many actions that bring together such a diversity of people (youth being a very politically broad constituency), at a certain point the action diverged from the script. The tightly controlled messaging of the pre-arranged mic checks, began to metamorphose as youth began to embody the spirit of the occupy movement, from which the “mic check” had been borrowed. New people began calling mic check and giving their own messages. Unsanctioned messages such as “World Bank out of climate finance,” “no REDD,” “no carbon markets” and “occupy the COP” began to emerge as repeated themes. At first, the action’s youth leaders tried to counter-mic check and smother these unauthorized messages, but eventually they were overwhelmed.

Mixed results from Durban climate talks for Indonesia

By Fitrian Ardiansyah, Jakarta Post, 16 December 2011 | This decision will not only open the door for new and long-term investments in REDD+ but also at least help ensuring the future of investments already put in place in supporting REDD+ readiness and early actions. Other aspects of REDD+ were also agreed, among others, covering the reference levels and safeguards. The progress made on the reference levels is necessary since establishing these levels is important not only for determining emission reductions but also as a basis for REDD+ funding mechanisms. However, the aspect of rules on safeguards in REDD+ decision appears to be weak, especially when it comes to rules on protecting indigenous communities and biodiversity. This may undermine the credibility of REDD+ and make it unattractive in the eyes of investors.

[Cambodia] Concerns over illegal mining

By Sieam Bunthy, Phnom Penh Post, 16 December 2011 | A surge of illegal artisanal mining has raised concern among Battambang provincial authorities as the mining activity encroached on the environment and put miners’ lives in danger. Local people in the province are rushing to open unlicensed, small-scale mines regardless of attempts to stop the practice, Cheu Chheang, director of Battambang’s Ministry of Industry, Mine and Energy, told the Post. “It’s difficult to control. We have cracked down on it many times but they still do it when we leave the area,” he said, adding that the only authorised miners in the area were with a Chinese company.

Indonesia Passes Land Acquisition Bill

Jakarta Globe, 16 December 2011 | Indonesia’s House of Representatives on Friday approved a long-awaited land acquisition bill investors hope will give a big boost to government infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia’s top economy. The bill is an attempt to break the bottleneck in infrastructure development that has long been seen as holding back growth in Southeast Asia’s top economy. It also presents major investment opportunities in a country where roads, ports and airports are overloaded. The House, also known as the DPR, on Wednesday signaled it would pass the bill. A day later, Fitch Ratings gave Indonesia an investment grade rating, which could act as a spur to much-needed investment. Fitch had cited weak infrastructure as one reason why it had delayed the upgrade.

VERs: the preferred carbon offset instrument for communicating voluntary action

As members of ICROA (International Carbon Reduction and Offset Alliance), The CarbonNeutral Company works with standards that meet the highest quality requirements. These quality standards, combined with the track record of innovation and breadth of project types with access to VER finance, provides the voluntary buyer with choice. VERs offer the flexibility to design a carbon portfolio that meets specific requirements for price, charisma and communication value. VERs have consequently become the instrument of choice for action ahead of and beyond compliance. While some early buyers favoured CERs for the quality of a compliance grade instrument, they now place confidence in the quality VER standards. In 2012, CERs will continue as an instrument of compliance under Kyoto and the EU-ETS. It is unlikely, however, that CERs will regain a meaningful share of the voluntary carbon market.

17 December 2011

Canada and climate change: Kyoto and out

The Economist, 17 December 2011 | Under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, Canada has failed to do much to curb its carbon emissions, which rose by 20.4% between 1990 and 2009. That has disheartened environmentalists. It has also put the country in breach of a promise to cut its emissions by 6% from their 1990 level in accordance with the Kyoto protocol, an international treaty. On December 12th Peter Kent, the environment minister, announced that Canada was pulling out of the protocol, becoming the first country to do so.

Durban climate conference: bitter disappointment

By Jonathan Neale, Socialist Worker, 17 December 2011 | The United Nations climate talks in Durban, South Africa, have ended. Evil has been done on a scale that is hard to grasp. Delegations from the governments of the world have been meeting each year to negotiate an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Along the way many countries signed up to the Kyoto protocol, which came into force in 2005. Kyoto called for small emissions cuts. It was riddled with market loopholes. The US government refused to sign. Kyoto did not cover developing countries. So under Kyoto global emissions rose faster than ever before. But at least it was an attempt. Kyoto is due to expire in 2012. Durban was the last chance to extend and deepen an international agreement to limit climate change.

Brazil judge says work can resume at Amazon dam, 17 December 2011 | A judge in Brazil on Friday revoked his own order to halt work on a controversial $11 billion dam in the Amazon region, a project that has been criticized by environmentalists and native groups. Judge Carlos Castro said the company behind the Belo Monte dam had shown that local fishing will not be impeded during construction, and the natural flow of the Xingu river will not be affected. “There are no legal grounds to justify maintaining the stoppage measure,” Castro said. In September, Castro had ruled in favor of a fisheries group that said the dam could affect local fishing stocks, which are key to the indigenous families who make a living by fishing.

Peru: Amazonian Peoples Call For Organized Resistance Against The Government

AIDESEP, 17 December 2011 | The Ordinary National Congress XXII of AIDESEP issued a statement on the current political situation in which it called for grassroots organizations and Andean brothers, workers and social movements to be vigilant and in a state of mobilization to organize resistance to the militarization of the Government of Ollanta Humala and prepare a march of the peoples. The intention of the people is to stop the greed of the multinationals, and prevent the head of state ends up betraying the voting citizen and impose authoritarianism and militarization; This Government speaks of your choice for continuity of economic growth adding the little word “social inclusion” but wonder who includes to whom?

Saving the rest of the rainforests

By Erik Solheim, New Straits Times, 17 December 2011 | There are important risks involved with Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, internationally known as REDD+. However, business-as-usual spells certain disaster. Therefore, we must address the risks of REDD+ head on: developing countries will have to improve forest governance to deliver lasting results in deforestation; groundbreaking levels of transparency will be required to verify the results qualifying for REDD+ finance; and financial mechanisms must be established that balance sovereignty over development spending priorities with the demonstrated application of high international safeguards standards.

New funds to protect the climate through forest conservation

Press Release, 17 December 2011 | In a sign of strong support for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through forest conservation, Germany has committed an additional EUR 30 million to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development signed the agreement, which makes Germany the biggest donor to the Facility, with total commitments of EUR 84 million (approximately USD 110 million). “Germany supports countries that actively and through their own efforts are taking this path towards climate protection. The FCPF is such an important instrument, because developing countries, donor countries, private business, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations cooperate on designing solutions for the protection of forests,” said Mr. Dirk Niebel, Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Germany.

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 16 December 2011 | The recognition of rights, including rights to land, territories and resources, and Free, Prior Informed Consent is crucial for indigenous peoples as this will rectify violation of their rights in the implementation of climate change solutions. The safeguards identified in the Cancun Agreement include the “full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders…including indigenous peoples;” respect for the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples, “taking into account relevant international obligation,…noting the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The other safeguard refers to the conservation of natural forests and biodiversity, and ecosystem services to enhance other social and environmental benefits. These safeguards must be implemented to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are recognized, protected and fulfilled in REDD Plus activities.

18 December 2011

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