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.
Climate Change Policy & Practice, no date | This workshop is being organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Plan Bleu and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM). FFEM has provided support of Euro 1.3 million primarily to support opportunities for REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, as well as conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of carbon stocks) in the Mediterranean through engagement with pilot sites. The inception workshop swill consider pilot sites that are proposed in Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. It will also consider synergies with the III Mediterranean Forest Week and with the UN-REDD Programme. The workshop will conclude with a plan of action to be launched by the next steering committee in April 2013.
WWF, June 2012 | Welcome to the first edition of The Canopy, a new online publication of WWF’s global Forest and Climate Initiative in which we present REDD+ news and information from around the globe. In this issue, we meet a farmer from the Democratic Republic of Congo who is fighting climate change by developing economic alternatives to deforestation by practicing agroforestry on degraded lands, discover a resource for indigenous communities engaging on REDD+, and announce an upcoming learning session on REDD+ community planning. We hope you find this information useful to your work and encourage you to share this publication with other REDD+ practitioners.
REDD-net, July 2012 | REDD-net has worked with regional network members to gather stories and insight from across the world about safeguards in REDD+. Covering a range of topics, from the expectations of what safeguards should achieve to experiences implementing safeguard inititatives in practice, the series allows comparison across and insight into REDD+ projects from across the world. New articles will be added to the series as they are released (July and August 2012) so sign up to the newsletter or the blog in order to receive the newest updates to the series. Equity has a cost – Promode Kant (India). ‘Training the trainers’ to strengthen indigenous participatory processes within national REDD+ strategies – Elena Florien and Raffaele Vignola (Costa Rica).
9 July 2012
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 July 2012 | If a scheme to pay developing countries to reduce carbon emissions by slowing deforestation is to have legitimacy, land tenure needs not just to be clarified – but to be clarified in a way that respects the rights of local communities, according to experts from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). The principle behind Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+, is to reward people who are sequestering carbon or avoiding deforestation, to compensate them for lost opportunities, and to suspend payments if they don’t follow through on their promises, said CIFOR scientist Anne Larson. “Land tenure is important because you need to know who you’re compensating,” she said. “And you need to know who to hold accountable.”
By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 9 July 2012 | An expedition, followed up by some computer hunting on Google Earth, has discovered large remnants of old growth forest, including thriving bird communities, in the mountains of Angola. The Namba Mountains in Angola were expected to contain around 100 hectares of forest, but an on-the-ground survey, coupled with online research, has discovered numerous forest fragments totaling around 590 hectares in the remote mountains, boosting the chances for many rare species. “Afromontane forest is the most localized and threatened habitat type in Angola. For the past 40 years the estimate of the area covered by this habitat in Angola has been circa 200 hectares,” the scientists write in a new paper in Bird Conservation International, but the new discovery nearly quadruples the amount of mountain forest left in Angola to 700 hectares.
By Barbara Lewis and Jeff Coelho, Reuters, 9 July 2012 | A planned quick fix to the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme is expected to emerge over the coming weeks as a first step to the deeper reforms urgently sought by environmental and some business campaigners. The European Commission has yet to confirm the date when it will publish details of a review of the EU ETS, including delaying the auction of some allowances to reduce a huge surplus that has kicked carbon prices down to record lows. It has said only that the intention is to release them before the EU institutions’ summer break in August and has declined to comment on speculation that they will not be published until September. The benchmark carbon price fell to a low of 5.99 euros per tonne in April. It has since recovered to around 8 euros, partly because of expectations the Commission will act to support it.
Point Carbon, 9 July 2012 | European carbon allowances hit a two-week low on Monday as prices tested and failed a technical support level of 8.03 euros leaving the bellwether contract poised to close just below its 200-day moving average for the first time in more than a week. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
WWF, 9 July 2012 | This Spanish-language report provides a detailed mapping of REDD+ stakeholders, institutions and programs in the Madre De Dios region of Peru. It identifies who they are, what their roles are in regards to deforestation in the region, what the main barriers to REDD+ implementation are in the region, and what REDD+ funds and programs are active in the region. It was jointly commissioned by WWF’s “Institutions and Financial Arrangements for REDD+” and “Promoting REDD Readiness in Peru” projects for WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative as part of the initiative’s “REDD+ for People and Nature” (RPAN) program.
VietNamNet, 9 July 2012 | Dr Ngo Tien Dung from the Natural Conservation Department of the General Forestry Directorate, said that the special use forests play a very important role in protecting and conserving forest ecosystems, biodiversity, natural landscapes and the cultural and historical values. However, Dung has warned that the special use forests throughout the country have been facing the biodiversity decrease due to the humans’ activities. A report by the Vietnam National Parks and Protected Areas Association VNNPA showed that 21 percent of animal species and 1.3 percent of bird species in the world have got extinct with the increasingly rapid extinction speed. Other species are on the verge of exhaustion. The biggest threat to the biodiversity decrease is the loss of accommodations for animals. Especially, the separation of accommodations could lead to the rapid disappearance of the remaining species.
10 July 2012
By Karin Holzknecht, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 10 July 2012 | Payments for environmental services (PES) approaches have been embraced enthusiastically worldwide because of their perceived win-win potential for both economy and environment. But scientists said in a recent review that a lack of proper evaluation in PES approaches means to what extent they actually result in a better environment is anyone’s guess. “This is not just true for PES, but also for most other environmental policy tools: what works and what doesn’t remains cloudy. We still do not have many hard facts to fully understand the conditions in which different interventions have positive environmental and socioeconomic impacts,” explained Sven Wunder, Principal Economist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), a co-author of the review.
By Jake Schmidt, Huffington Post, 10 July 2012 | Stefan Lessard, founding member of Dave Matthews Band, recently wrote an editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch which condemned efforts to undermine a critical U.S. law that is helping curb deforestation by stopping the flow of illegal wood and wood products. The law, the Lacey Act, is under attack by some companies and Members of Congress. One House of Representatives committee recently passed a bill to undermine the Lacey Act, despite bi-partisan opposition to the bill’s passage. And House Leadership is pushing for this bill to come up for a vote by the whole House of Representatives before the end of July. Passage of this bill would be devastating for efforts to address deforestation, as Dave Matthews Band and other leading musicians recognized.
By David Twomey, Eco News, 10 July 2012 | According to experts from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) if a scheme to pay developing countries to reduce carbon emissions by slowing deforestation is to have legitimacy, land tenure needs to be clarified in a way that respects the rights of local communities. The principle behind Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+, is to reward people who are sequestering carbon or avoiding deforestation, to compensate them for lost opportunities, and to suspend payments if they don’t follow through on their promises, said CIFOR scientist Anne Larson. “Land tenure is important because you need to know whom you’re compensating, and you need to know who to hold accountable,” she said.
By James Murray, BusinessGreen, 10 July 2012 | The Chinese government has released a new set of regulations for the country’s emerging carbon market, potentially laying the foundations for the development of a national carbon market. Green NGO The Climate Group reported that China’s influential National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC) has this month released a new document entitled The Interim Regulation of Voluntary Greenhouse Gases Emission Trading in China. The rules, which are intended to govern those provinces currently pursuing trial carbon offsetting and emissions cap-and-trade schemes, set out a series of standards regional governments must follow as they roll out carbon trading mechanisms.
Stabroek News, 10 July 2012 | Considerable progress has been made in the Guyana-Norway forest partnership but the sloth of the funding mechanism is now the bigger challenge, according to a report prepared by the Office of Climate Change (OCC). The third Annual Progress Report on the Guyana-Norway partnership documents Guyana’s performance as at June 2012, and covers ‘Year 3’ – October 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011 – of the partnership, which runs up to 2015. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Guyana and Norway in 2009, provides for the provision of REDD+ results-based payments from Norway. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
By Bonnie Stevens, azdailysun.com, 10 July 2012 | [Northern Arizona University Ecological Economics Professor Yeon-Su] Kim Kim is studying how economic incentives might keep Indonesia’s rainforests intact. “We have a way of helping local communities while slowing the process of global warming,” Kim said. The United Nations REDD program has set up a system to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries by allowing developed nations to purchase carbon credits and decrease their greenhouse gas impact… For example, Norway is paying Indonesia $1 billion to put a moratorium on logging for two years. But Kim said that’s not a perfect solution. “If we do the negotiation on that level, it could be detrimental to poor farmers,” she said. “The government can lock them out of the land to create a carbon farm. So the question becomes, ‘Can we make people’s lives better with an ecosystem service payment?'”
By Fitrian Ardiansyah, Coal Asia, 10 July 2012 | A little over a year ago, Indonesia issued a two-year moratorium on new permits for primary forest and peat-land clearing. To date, a critical question remains whether the country has come up with better forest and land use management while allowing other sectors to develop. This moratorium is intended to contribute to the program of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and to some extent provide a degree of legal certainty in land use governance in Indonesia. Prior to the issuance of moratorium, for instance in December 2010, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) found in its study on forestry policies and systems that unclear definitions and boundary of forest areas in Law No. 41 of 1999 on Forestry and other relevant regulations are perceived to be a key reason of chaotic land use management in this country that eventually leads to a significant increase in deforestation.
By Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta Post, 10 July 2012 | The police, the Environment Ministry and the Forestry Ministry are all on the case, with the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) pushing for action. The UKP4’s visit to the site was part of a move to examine the situation on the ground and collect evidence against the palm oil company. Technicalities in the law, however, have hamstrung the investigation. Aerial photographs of the Tripa peat swamp, for example, cannot be used as evidence by the investigation team. “Based on the Information and Transaction Law, photographs can be only be used as evidence if they are backed up by an official report from the investigation and direct [confirmation and] testimonies from employees from the company who joined the trip,” the Environment Ministry’s investigation division head, Shaifuddin Akbar, said at the Cut Nyak Dien airport in Nagan Raya last week after wrapping up the aerial inspection.
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 10 July 2012 | In the 1980s images of loincloth-clad tribesmen blockading blockading logging roads in Malaysian Borneo shocked the world. But while their protests captured the spotlight momentarily, Borneo’s forests continued to be destroyed at rapid rates, undermining traditional communities that are dependent on these ecosystems for food, shelter, medicine, clean water, and spiritual inspiration. Nomadic tribes are now but a memory in Borneo, but other tribal groups continue to fight for their forests by seeking legal recognition of their lands and blocking destructive projects, including oil palm plantations, logging operations, and large-scale hydroelectric projects. Helping them is The Borneo Project, a Berkeley-based non-profit that works in partnership with indigenous communities and the small non-profits that support them.
By Dr. N. Yogaratnam, Daily Mirror, 10 July 2012 | We have been talking about the eco-friendly credentials and carbon sequestration potential of natural rubber plantations, mostly in our own forums, for several years now. But little has been done until now to market the green image of natural rubber for tangible financial gains. With the adoption of afforestation and reforestation sinks for CDM funding under the Kyoto Protocol, there is an opportunity to bring international funding into the natural plantation sector. The magnitude of CDM funding that a natural rubber plantation is theoretically eligible for is far greater than the financial assistance that is available today through the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL). It will be in the best interest of both the rubber processors/manufacturers and the rubber planters to attract CDM funding for natural rubber plantations.
By Prangtip Daorueng, IPS, 10 July 2012 | Small farmers in the Baan Pra village of Thailand’s southern Trang province have been living in anxiety ever since they were slapped with stiff fines by the government in 2006 and ordered to vacate their ancestral lands for ‘contributing to global warming’. Last month, the villagers, after suffering bankruptcy and loss of land, appealed in an administrative court, pleading against a controversial formula used by the department of national park, wildlife and plant conservation under the environment ministry to compute the fines and evict them. Baan Pra’s ordeal is not an isolated. Thousands of smallholders with farmlands abutting national forests have been in distress ever since the environment ministry began enforcing the 1992 National Environmental Quality Act five years ago. According to the Land Reform Network (LRN) that represents community-based farming throughout the country, approximately 2,000 small farmers hae been booked…
Reuters, 10 July 2012 | However, the WWF UK’s [Simon] Lewis said London organisers should have done a better job selecting their “sustainability” partners. “Some of the Olympic sponsors have not used the Games to create a positive change for sustainability and therefore they are not adding to the legacy, they are not helping the Games be greener,” he said. WWF reckons a good Olympic partner should be a progressive business that shows green leadership in their sector and that breaks new ground in reducing the impact of the Games while applying sustainability pledges to their business afterwards. Lewis cited EDF Energy and oil giant BP as examples of companies that could have done more. “EDF and BP are sticking with old and problematic approaches to energy provision and resisting a safer, cleaner and more affordable energy future,” he wrote in a blog in April. “They are dragging their heels at the back of the race to tackle climate change.”
By Nitin Sethi, Times Of India, 10 July 2012 | In what could make the trade battle over EU’s carbon tax on aviation more complicated for India, the US has suggested that countries adopt a global carbon tax system under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and adopt a worldwide cap-and-trade regime. It had earlier decided along with the BASIC group — China, Brazil, South Africa and India — Russia and 20 other countries to oppose the EU move with counter-measures. The US has asked for a meeting of 16 countries on the issue in Washington at the end of July where India too is invited. The US has softened its opposition to the EU tax directive, stepping away from countries like India and China on the issue. It has suggested that countries move along the lines of the ICAO resolution which pushes for a global annual average fuel efficiency improvement of 2% until 2020 and an aspirational global fuel efficiency improvement rate of 2% per annum from 2021 to 2050.
VietNamNet, 10 July 2012 | Many of the violations were far more serious than in the past, however, particularly in Huong Son District in Ha Tinh Province, in Ba Be National Park in Bac Kan and Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in Quang Binh Province, said Tuan. About 623ha of forest land were lost in the first six months of the year due to a variety of factors, including changes in forest use purposes, illegal logging and forest fires. Changes in use purposes included felling trees for agricultural production or mining, or logging of high-value wood, particularly the sua tree (Dalbergia tonkinensis). He emphasised the need to bring illegal loggers to court and urged forest rangers to fufill their duties responsibly. There was an imperative for all sectors, including the political system, to co-operate in protecting the nation’s forests.
11 July 2012
By Robert Goodland, New York Times, 11 July 2012 | One might expect the FAO to work objectively to determine whether the true figure is closer to 18 percent or 51 percent. Instead, Frank Mitloehner, known for his claim that 18 percent is much too high a figure to use in the U.S., was announced last week as the chair of a new partnership between the meat industry and FAO. FAO’s new partners include the International Meat Secretariat and International Dairy Federation. Their stated objective is to “assess the environmental performance of the livestock sector” and “to improve that performance,” starting with a three-year project to establish “methods and guidelines.”
By Tyler Lark, mongabay.com, 11 July 2012 | Colombia is targeting a six-fold increase in crude palm-oil production by 2020. Conservationists fear this may compromise the nation’s natural ecosystems, but a new study suggests the impact may be minimized by limiting new oil palm plantations to certain areas of pasture land. “In the Latin American context, characterized generally by extensive and often under-productive pastures, the expansion of oil palm plantations can be accommodated with minimal impact on forest cover,” explains study co-author Sean Sloan, a researcher at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. Such accommodation is predicated on political will and would likely require both policies and incentives to divert oil palm to pasture lands. These policies may have unintended side effects, however, such as artificially inflating land prices for both the oil-palm industry and ranchers.
BluForest press release, 11 July 2012 | BluForest is pleased to announce that it has entered into a Letter of Intent (“LOI”) with the Commonwealth of Northern Ecuador wherein BluForest will be granted the rights to carbon credits developed from 1.5 Million hectares of the Commonwealth’s lands. Upon certification to REDD+ standards, the LOI assures BluForest a minimum of 3.4 Million carbon credits annually for a period of five years and contemplates a further five year period pending mutual consent. The Commonwealth of Northern Ecuador is comprised of four Northern provinces including Sucumbios, Carchi, Imbabura and Esmeraldas covering a total landmass of approximately 4.2 million hectares. Some of the most pristine rainforests in the world are located throughout the Northern provinces and their preservation is a key element of BluForest’s business objectives.
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 11 July 2012 | Efforts to rapidly and accurately track deforestation and forest degradation in Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru got a boost this week with a special technical training session organized by the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF). The meeting, convened at Stanford University and Google’s Silicon Valley campus, paired staffers from government agencies and NGOs in the four tropical countries with technical experts from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Forum on Readiness for REDD, Woods Hole Research Center, and Google Earth Outreach. The participants received training to augment existing deforestation, forest degradation and biomass monitoring capabilities, which are highly variable both between countries and within sub-national agencies and jurisdictions.
By Zeo Cormier, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 July 2012 | Understanding local people’s perceptions of changes in climate and the perceived impacts on their landscapes and livelihoods could help researchers address the gaps in climate science. This could lead to better strategies aimed at protecting the most vulnerable communities, said CIFOR-CIRAD researcher Manuel Boissière, presenting new unpublished findings at a recent conference in Montpellier, France. “Climatic data is not always as accurate as people would like to believe it is; weather stations are expensive, can be sparsely distributed, and thus the data can be incomplete,” he explained. “Local knowledge can be used to fill information gaps to give a more complete picture of what is changing in people’s territories, either climatic or other changes.”
By Eben Kirksey, Huffington Post, 11 July 2012 | West Papua is one of the most difficult places to access on the planet. Still a steady trickle of adventurous travelers is being drawn there by images of highlanders wearing penis sheaths and birds of paradise. In the words of Lonely Planet this place has a mystique that “piques the imagination of the explorer… The diversity in lifestyle and culture of the indigenous people, who speak more than 250 languages, is matched only by [the area’s] biodiversity and geography.” Part of this mystique has been created by the Indonesian government. According to the website of their embassy in Washington D.C., West Papua is one of the “regions in Indonesia that the foreign national is not allowed to visit without special written permission and approval… Visitors who enter these restricted regions without permission are subject to arrest, detention, and will be prosecuted according to Indonesian law.”
By Emily Kirkland, AlertNet, 11 July 2012 | Indigenous peoples have extensive knowledge of their local environments, gained through hundreds of years of observation and trial and error. They possess a large repository of strategies, skills, and techniques for dealing with climate variability. Three examples from the Peruvian Andes – included in a Brown University paper – illustrate the importance of the role of indigenous knowledge for adaptation. In the southern Andes, an archaeologist named Ann Kendall is working with local communities to recover Inca-era terraces long abandoned as ruins. These terraces can successfully retain water for prolonged periods, allowing farmers to withstand droughts.
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 11 July 2012 | At least one of the coal plants for which Poland is requesting €7 billion of free carbon allowances under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS)’s little-known ’10c derogation’ does not exist, a EurActiv investigation has found. Poland has applied for €33-million worth of free allowances for the Łęczna coal plant, near the Ukrainian border, but there is no visible evidence that any construction work has begun at the sleepy greenfield site. Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat MEP and environment spokesman, said he was “outraged” at the lack of work at Łęczna. “The dirty tricks brigade is out and there’s an attempt to cheat the system,” he told EurActiv. “I think there will be enormous anger if the European Commission finds ways of stretching or re-interpreting the rules to accommodate Poland,” he added.
REDD Vietnam, 11 July 2012 | The Carbon Fund of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) held the 4th meeting in June 24 and 25, 2012 at Santa Marta, Columbia. The objective of this meeting is to show ideas of the member countries in emission reduction programs, criteria to select Emission Reduction Program Idea Notes (ER-PIN) for pipeline and processing steps from ER-PIN to Emission Reduction Payment Agreement (ERPA). Vietnam, one of the five countries getting supports from the Carbon Fund, has the country’s initial ideas on emission reduction in REDD+ programs at the meeting. As one of the countries identified to be the most affected by the climate change in the world, Vietnam is willing to together with the international community to take effort to protect the global climate system.
12 July 2012
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 12 July 2012 | The global battle for natural resources – from food and water to energy and precious metals – is only beginning, and will intensify to proportions that could mean enormous upheavals for every country, leading academics and business figures told a conference in Oxford on Thursday. Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, who convened the two-day Resource 2012 conference, told the Guardian: “We are nowhere near realising the full impact of this yet. We have seen the first indications – rising food prices, pressure on water supplies, a land grab by some countries for mining rights and fertile agricultural land, and rising prices for energy and for key resources [such as] metals. But we need to do far more to deal with these problems before they become even more acute, and we are not doing enough yet.” Countries that are not prepared for this rapid change will soon – perhaps irrevocably – lose out…
By Michelle Chan, Friends of the Earth, 12 July 2012 | This week, Friends of Earth, along with 30 other organizations based in California, urged Governor Brown to prevent international REDD carbon credits (carbon credits generated from efforts to prevent deforestation and forest degradation in tropical countries) from entering California’s carbon trading system… To understand just how much of a folly REDD credits are, one only has to look at recent scientific research on the Amazon suggesting that the rainforest may be turning from a carbon sink to a source of carbon emissions. A 2012 article in the journal Nature points out that around 10 years ago, the Amazon rainforest absorbed about 1.5 billion tons of CO2 per year. But due to extreme weather and droughts, vast expanses of the Amazon have died off. For example, in the wake of a 2005 drought, dying trees in the Amazon emitted an estimated 1.5 billion tons of carbon.
By Sarah Golden (ODI), REDD-Net, 12 July 2012 | The Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development pledged a renewed focus on sustainability challenges. By using a holistic framework that addresses economic, social and environment aspects of sustainability, it hoped to rekindle the essence of sustainable development that was a key part of the success of the 1992 Earth Summit. But you wouldn’t know that from The Future We Want, the final outcomes document from the global summit. You only need to look at the coverage of forests to see that Rio+20 fell short of finding a way to talk about the complexities of ecosystems and shift how the natural world is valued. Forests are emblematic of natural capital… Without a strong focus on forest ecosystems, we will not be able to find solutions to climate change, food security or better equity in the north-south divide. But the Rio+20 text does not do justice to their critical role.
By John Parnell, Responding to Climate Change, 12 July 2012 | By 2020 there should be (a bare minimum) of $100bn of climate finance flowing into projects to slash emissions in developing countries and to protect the most vulnerable nations from the effects of climate change. That means renewable power projects on land and sea, mega-city scale energy efficiency roll-outs, biblical flood prevention systems, intelligent agriculture, solar powered desalination, restoring degraded lands and protecting biodiversity; our natural toolkit. For the first three days of this week, 140 diplomats, business leaders and civil society representatives met in Bonn to take the next necessary steps towards achieving this idealistic vision of widespread, practical action. The next tangible progress will come at the next round of the UN climate change negotiations in Doha in November.
Climate Change Policy & Practice, 12 July 2012 | The UN-REDD Programme has issued a call for nominations for four Civil Society Organization representatives to it Policy Board: one each from Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, and one from a developed country. The nomination period will last three weeks, ending on 3 August 2012, and will be followed by a three-week voting period from 10-31 August 2012. The process is being conducted by the Bank Information Center, following consultations with the Independent Advisory Group on Forests, Rights and Climate Change. Self-nominations are accepted and should be sent to UNREDDObserver@bicusa.org.
By Ian Sample, The Guardian, 12 July 2012 | The destruction of great swaths of the Brazilian Amazon has turned scores of rare species into the walking dead, doomed to disappear even if deforestation were halted in the region overnight, according to a new study. Forest clearing in Brazil has already claimed casualties, but the animals lost to date in the rainforest region are just one-fifth of those that will slowly die out as the full impact of the loss of habitat takes its toll. In parts of the eastern and southern Amazon, 30 years of concerted deforestation have shrunk viable living and breeding territories enough to condemn 38 species to regional extinction in coming years, including 10 mammal, 20 bird and eight amphibian species, scientists found. The systematic clearance of trees from the Amazon forces wildlife into ever-smaller patches of ground.
By Jessica Evans (Human Rights Watch), Huffington Post, 12 July 2012 | “The soldiers would say, ‘Tell me about this sugarcane.’ If we do not say something good, they beat us. They have truncheons, guns, and stun devices. They come every day.” These are the words of a Mursi man, an indigenous pastoralist in southern Ethiopia, describing how he and his community are being forced to move from the Lower Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia to make way for 245,000 hectares of state-run irrigated sugar plantations. The World Bank’s board of executive directors today agreed to fund transmission lines from southern Ethiopia to Kenya. Disappointingly, it seems that the board did not hold central this Mursi man’s fate before proceeding to fund these transmission lines.
By Sreeram Chaulia, Economic Times, 12 July 2012 | India’s decision to fight the European Union’s (EU) impending carbon aviation tax highlights the politics of linkage between climate change and trade. New Delhi is in the company of several other emerging and advanced economies that are peeved at the EU’s insistence that civilian aircraft flying into or via European ports must pay a tax for polluting the environment. Tying climate-change mitigation goals to trade by aviation is an unacceptable burden being imposed by the EU at a time when the aviation sector is facing high jet fuel costs and lower passenger demand under duress of the global economic crisis. Carbon surcharges in a geographically-central location such as the EU region, which connects Asia to Africa and Latin America, can exacerbate an already bleak scenario and possibly tip more precarious airline companies into bankruptcies.
euronews, 12 July 2012 | Mafia groups are making billions from environmental crime, new research has found. Dumping toxic waste, illegal logging and trafficking of endangered species are just some of the many crimes according to a report called ‘Eco-Mafia 2012’ by Legambiente. Other environmental groups also claim the EU is currently failing to tackle the issue seriously. Julian Newman, Campaign Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, said: “The problem with these crimes is that they are often seen as low priorities, not given much in the way of resources. If contraband is stopped, it hardly ever leads to prosecution, yet, these are crimes which deserve a strong response from Europe and globally, because the impact of these crimes affect us all.”
By Olivia Rondonuwu, David Fogarty and Niluksi Koswanage, Reuters, 12 July 2012 | An Indonesian palm oil firm received preliminary approval six years ago for a large plantation in a swampy, forested corner of Borneo island, bringing the promise of jobs and roads to impoverished villages. By the book, that would have marked the start of a lengthy licensing and environmental approvals process before clearing and planting could start. The firm, PT Suryamas Cipta Perkasa (SCP), didn’t wait. It quickly cleared thousands of hectares of forest. That revelation recently set off alarm bells at major international palm oil trading firms Bunge and Cargill, which have made public pledges to source edible oil from plantations developed without cutting down forests illegally. PT SCP is now under investigation from a presidential taskforce on forests and land reform as well as local police for clearing and developing the concession before getting mandatory environmental approvals.
By Brian Fallow, New Zealand Herald, 12 July 2012 | Changes the Government plans to make to the emissions trading scheme will reduce demand and increase supply in a market already flooded with cheap imported carbon. They risk reducing the price signal from a pretty faint murmur now to one that is well nigh inaudible. Whether they are a pragmatic response to geopolitical reality or a shameful disregard of geophysical reality is, of course, an issue on which opinion will divide. The ETS limits the right to emit greenhouse gases and creates a market in permits to do so (“carbon”) along the lines of fishing quotas. It was enacted in the dying days of Labour’s nine years in power and kept, but watered down, when National took office. It has been operating in earnest for the past two years since oil companies, power companies and industrial emitters were brought into the scheme.
Yale Environment 360, 12 July 2012 | The rapid expansion of roads across the rural mountains of Southeast Asia often triggers unintended environmental consequences that in many cases undermine the socioeconomic benefits, according to an article in the journal Nature Geoscience. While international organizations have supported “aggressive” efforts to expand road networks to increase agricultural development, trade, and tourism in remote regions, poorly designed mountain roads can cause landslides, soil erosion, and increased deforestation, write researchers Roy Sidle and Alan Ziegler. An increase in road density has been “directly linked to drastic transformation, or even elimination, of traditional shifting cultivation methods (as practiced in rural uplands) and have been implicated in deforestation and land exploitation in remote regions,” they note. Without proper drainage systems, these roads can destabilize hillside and soil erosion, degrading water quality, aquatic habitats…
By JD Mallone, Morning Call, 12 July 2012 | The authority announced Thursday the completion of its forest management plan by the Nature Conservancy, and official certification from the Forest Stewardship Council. Lands bearing FSC certification can sell timber at a premium. The authority was netting $20,000 to $30,000 a year in sales of wood from its trees, and that should increase. The certification and management plan also created the carbon credits, which Callahan said had sold for significantly more than predicted. He declined to release the sale amount, or the identity of the company that bought them. In October 2010, authority Executive Director Steve Repasch told The Morning Call that the credits may net $500,000 to $1 million over a 10-year period. The credits were marketed by Blue Source, a climate credit broker. The authority receives 70 percent of the proceeds of its carbon credit sales.
13 July 2012
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 July 2012 | The forestry world is currently witnessing the birth of a new coalition for change, where companies, environmental groups and governments from both the developed and developing world are all agreeing on the need to eliminate illegally logged timber from markets – and this coalition of widely diverging interests is essential for building the future of forest certification, say experts. “Never before has the world of forest governance seen this kind of coalition,” Yale University Professor of Environmental Governance and Political Science Ben Cashore said at an event organised by the Forest Stewardship Council on the sidelines of Rio +20 in Brazil. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent body that oversees the certification of forest products so that consumers can be sure they are responsibly managed. Since it began in 1993 (inspired by the original Rio Earth Summit) it has gradually won support from forest companies…
Survival International, 13 July 2012 | Human rights organizations, including Survival and Human Rights Watch, have fiercely criticized a decision by the World Bank to fund power lines in Ethiopia linked to the controversial Gibe III dam. The newly-approved project will help transport power generated by a notorious hydroelectric dam in southern Ethiopia, to Kenya’s power grid. Ethiopia’s controversial Gibe III dam is expected to be complete by 2014, but the devastating social and environmental consequences of its construction are generating widespread opposition. The decision to help back such a controversial project violates World Bank guidelines on safeguarding indigenous peoples’ rights and involuntary resettlement. More than 200,000 indigenous people in the Lower Omo Valley stand to have their livelihoods and food security destroyed by the dam.
By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 13 July 2012 | The most ambitious market-based effort to control carbon emissions is being undermined by a glut of permits, amid allegations that European Union ideas to tackle the surplus are being leaked prematurely. The European Commission plans to propose measures this month to temporarily reduce the excess, after the recession sent prices to a more than four-year low of 5.99 euros ($7.31) a metric ton April 4 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. Prices jumped 30 percent last month and opened today at 7.72 euros. Details of the plans, contained in a draft report being drawn up by EU officials, may be ending up in the hands of everyone from national governments and non-government organizations to researchers and traders, said Brett Stacey, the founder of CarbonDesk Group Plc (CO2P), a renewable-energy financier in London that suspended its emissions-options brokerage in January. That’s sapping trust in the seven-year-old cap-and- trade market…
Climate Spectator, 13 July 2012 | Up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.83 billion) could be available by the end of this year to fund renewable energy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects across the European Union bloc, the European Commission said on Thursday. The funding will be allocated to two to three CCS projects and 16 renewable energy projects on a shortlist of proposals submitted by EU member states to the Commission, it said. The Don Valley Power Project in the United Kingdom, the Belchatow CCS Project in Poland and the Green Hydrogen project in the Netherlands top the shortlist of eight CCS projects. Investments in CCS and renewable energy are needed to help the bloc achieve its legally-binding target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, as well as any of its longer-term emissions goals.
By Sandeep Ashar, Times Of India, 13 July 2012 | The government, within three months, would decide on a proposal of offering “credits” to residents for planting trees, forest minister Bhaskar Jadhav said on Thursday. Modelled on the carbon credit concept, the social forestry department has proposed to offer incentives, called “tree credits”, to individuals, corporates, institutions and industries that grow as well as protect trees on plots owned by them or in their possession. An increase in green cover will generate more carbon credits and according to the proposal, the government would offer “tree planters” a share of the carbon credits it earns; these credits are proposed to be offered till the tree attains silvicultural maturity and certificates given to the private partners could subsequently be encashed.
ABC Radio Australia, 13 July 2012 | Laos has confirmed that work has been suspended on a controversial $3.5 billion hydropower dam on the Mekong River after requests from neighbouring countries and environmental groups, the first time the government has publicly declared the project halted. “The Lao government decided to postpone it. We have to do further studies,” Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told reporters on the sidelines of a regional meeting in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. Thongloun Sisoulith said a seminar on the matter would be held on Saturday in Luang Prabang in Laos and that concerned parties would be able to visit the site of the dam.
mongabay.com, 13 July 2012 | Former Secretary of State George Shultz is calling for a carbon tax to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, according to an interview released today by Stanford University. Shultz, who served as secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan as well as a number of other roles under previous Republican administrations, is heading up the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on Energy Policy will calls for boosting energy efficiency, reducing dependence on oil exports to improve national security, and putting a price on carbon. While the last of those objectives has been an anathema to many Republicans of late, Shultz said his party could eventually support a carbon tax.
14 July 2012
15 July 2012
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 15 July 2012 | Indonesia and Malaysia lost more than 11 million hectares (42,470 square miles) of forest between 2000 and 2010, according to a study published last year in the journal Global Change Biology. The area is roughly the size of Denmark or the state of Virginia. The bulk of forest loss occurred in lowland forests, which declined by 7.8 million hectares or 11 percent on 2000 cover. Peat swamp forests lost the highest percentage of cover, declining 19.7 percent. Lowland forests have historically been first targeted by loggers before being converted for agriculture. Peatlands are increasingly converted for industrial oil palm estates and pulp and paper plantations. The study also broke down changes in forest cover by island. Borneo, which is shared by Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia, topped the list in terms of total area lost at 5 million hectares during the period, accounting for 12 percent of its 2000 cover.
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.