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REDD in the news: 3-9 December 2012

REDD in the news: 3-9 December 2012

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 is updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

REDD+ & Biodiversity e-Newsletter

CBD, November-December 2012 | The eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity met from 8 – 19 October 2012. At this meeting, Parties adopted decision XI/19 on advice on the application of relevant safeguards for biodiversity with regard to policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. See the advance unedited copy of COP-11 decisions.

Challenges and prospects for REDD+ in Africa: desk review of REDD+ implementation in Africa – a GOFC-ACRENET synthesis

Climate & Development Knowledge Network, December 2012 | This report reviews the status of REDD+ implementation in Africa, identifying forest degradation as one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The research lists current projects in Africa to build a database of REDD initiatives and their status of implementation. The main issues addressed are: the political and institutional challenges and prospects for REDD; the technical challenges and prospects for REDD; social and economic challenges; resource and funding issues; and performance monitoring/reporting metrics being developed. It highlights the risk in focusing only on the heavily forested Congo Basin area, instead of also addressing deforestation in non-forested ecosystems. Moreover, the magnitude and extent of forest cover change in Africa is less than in tropical America and south east Asia. Hence, the potential to reverse these trends may still be less challenging in Africa than in other parts of the world.

3 December 2012

REDD+ negotiations in Doha at impasse, potentailly delaying decisions on safeguards another year, 3 December 2012 | Negotiations over a program that would pay tropical countries for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation – or REDD+ – are stuck at an impasse over how emissions reductions would be verified, reports Ecosystem Marketplace. The disagreement, which has been characterized as a standoff between Brazil, which is potentially a beneficiary of REDD+, and Norway, which is the world’s largest funder of tropical forest conservation, could push any final decisions on REDD+ out another year. The impasse revolves around language governing the standards by which deforestation-related emissions would be verified. Norway is pushing for “an independent, international verification process, undertaken by experts drawn from the roster of experts”, whereas Brazil and other developing nations are not ready to commit to strong verification requirements, according to the Tropical Forest Group (TFG), a non-profit that is closely observing negotiations.

Landscapes in the Earth System: How policymakers should consider forests at next year’s U.N. climate talks

By Will Steffen, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 3 December 2012 | Forests have been front-and-centre at climate negotiations for several years. This year, at the COP18 meeting in Doha, Qatar, Forest Day 6 raised their profile even further, by focusing on the broader role of forests in landscapes as a whole and by connecting with the agriculture sector to deliver a more integrated approach to landscapes at COP19 next year. From a scientific perspective, Forest Day 6 thus offered an excellent opportunity to explore the role of landscapes in the functioning of the Earth System, and to discuss why resilient, well-functioning landscapes are so important, not just for the global environment, but also for livelihoods and a whole range of other benefits.

U.N. says forests to play a prominent role in global sustainable development agenda

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 3 December 2012 | Forests are going to feature very importantly in the future international sustainable development agenda, said the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo. Speaking at Forest Day on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Doha, Qatar, Ambassador Wu said paying attention to forests also contributes to environmental protection, economic growth and social development. At the Rio +20 summit in June 2012, U.N. member states agreed to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nations agreed that the process of developing these goals would be inclusive and transparent, and that the final goals will be voted on by the U.N. General Assembly. “This is an all-inclusive process, including developed, developing and emerging countries,” said Ambassador Wu.

Doha round unlikely to raise emission cuts target

By Nitin Sethi, The Times of India, 3 December 2012 | [E]ven midway in the week, it became clear that the US, EU and other developed economies had come to Doha with nothing to offer. Both the US and EU point-blank refused to increase their emission targets any further. The US gave no reason but was rather blunt that its voluntary target of 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels (which translates in to 0-4% reduction by the standard 1990 benchmark) was all the world would see for the next eight years. Then EU, which has always poised itself as the greenest of the lot, and built alliances with small island countries and least developed states, also announced it would not budge from its 20% reduction limit under the Kyoto Protocol, even though its already achieved 18% of it. As a result, it offered to reduce a further 2% under the global regime by 2020 when its been reducing emissions at the rate of 2.5% ever year on average, much to the chagrin of its own allies…

[Australia] Billion-dollar carbon credit trading estimate ‘plausible’

ABC News, 3 December 2012 | The CSIRO believes carbon credit trading in the country’s north could generate a billion dollars a year. The science body has released a study which has identified reducing emissions from fire and livestock, biosequestration in soils and growing sustainable feedstocks for aviation biofuel as the key areas of opportunity for northern communities and businesses. Tim Moore is the managing director of the company NorthWest Carbon. Dr Moore says the billion-dollar estimate is realistic but significant investment is needed for the industry to reach its full potential. “I think it’s really important for some focused and targeted research and commercialisation strategies,” he said. “I think the Government needs to better advertise the opportunities to landowners.” He told the Rural Report, the estimate is realistic but will depend on how the carbon price tracks over the next few years.

[EU] Rainforest destruction imported duty-free

Rainforest Rescue, 3 December 2012 | Conflicts between local residents and mining companies over land and water in Peru and Colombia have worsened steadily in recent years. In August 2012, 148 environmental conflicts that cost 16 human lives were listed in Peru. The situation is even worse in Colombia. Transnational corporations are destroying the environment while maintaining documented connections to paramilitary organizations that silence critical voices. 34 trade unionists were killed in 2012 alone. The situation threatens to escalate further with the adoption of a free trade agreement between the EU, Colombia and Peru. Binding environmental and human rights standards were removed from the agreement under pressure from the industry – despite the fact that the EU itself has noted in a report that without such standards, the free trade agreement would endanger water quality and biodiversity in both countries and promote the destruction of fragile ecosystems.

Report Explores Experiences and Lessons for Equitable Benefit Sharing and REDD+ in Tanzania

Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF), 3 December 2012 | The nine CSOs implementing REDD+ pilot projects in Tanzania – African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), CARE Tanzania, Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) , Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative (MCDI), Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and Community Forest Conservation Network of Tanzania (MJUMITA), Tanzania Traditional Energy Development and Environment Organization (TaTEDO), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST) – have joined together for a third straight year to share key messages on REDD+ to the Parties of the UNFCCC for COP 18. Their messages are not only directed to a global audience, but they are also intended to be heard by decision makers closer to home.

4 December 2012

Are ‘Landscapes’ the new ‘Forests’?

By Regan Suzuki, RECOFTC’s Blog for People and Forests, 4 December 2012 | We are witnessing a shift. Ever since 2007 when REDD+ first appeared on the table in Bali, forests have benefited from a profound image makeover. For five years now, forests have been the hero of the climate change discussions taking place everywhere from the gleaming convention halls of the UN Conference of Parties to local government offices fielding interest from the private sector and NGOs in establishing REDD+ projects. For the first time in a very long time forests have taken center stage. And yet, there are indications that the star of a stand-alone forest sector may be waning. CIFOR’s much appreciated Forest Day, held at the last five COPs following Bali, has been a critical meeting point for many working in forestry issues. A celebration of forests: replete with incisive debates, a festival-like atmosphere and a who’s who of the forestry field. However, Forest Day 6 in Doha this year will be the last.

Update from COP18 update REDD+ and drivers of deforestation

By Matt Leggett, The Global Canopy Programme, 4 December 2012 | Increasingly unafraid to exploit an opportunity, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) and Papua New Guinea declared support for Brazil’s position in an attempt to gather momentum behind their calls for the establishment of a ‘REDD+ Committee’ – a new body for REDD+ which would take responsibility for future discussions on the mechanism, as well as act as a coordinating body for future funding. Although details of the proposed remit of this committee remain unclear, there is widespread concern that further fragmentation of the REDD+ discussions at such a delicate stage could be divisive, not to mention an element of suspicion that this move represents the latest attempt of the CfRN to assert influence over the financial flows for REDD+. Meanwhile, as the discussions on REDD+ stalled over the weekend, attention has shifted to other areas of the negotiations. The word in the corridors this week at COP18 is ‘drivers’.

Saving or Selling the Planet? REDD, Climate Change and Indigenous Lands

National Radio Project, 4 December 2012 | Around the world communities are already facing the impacts of climate change. Now international organizations, like the World Bank, are pushing a policy that asks polluters to offset their pollution by paying governments to protect forests. But is it working? On this edition, we take a closer look at this policy and ask, is it a plan to save the planet, or just sell it off? We’ll hear from indigenous activists and extracts from “A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests” by Jeff Conant, narrated by Dania Cabello. A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests is a production of the Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition.

Lord Stern: developing countries must make deeper emissions cuts

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 4 December 2012 | Developing countries must take on the lion’s share of cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, because of the “brutal arithmetic” of climate change, one of the world’s leading authorities on global warming economics has said. Lord Nicholas Stern, former World Bank chief economist and author of the landmark Stern review of the economics of climate change, told the Guardian that poorer countries including China and India must step up to their responsibilities. “It’s a brutal arithmetic – the changing structure of the world’s economy has been dramatic. That is something developing countries will have to face up to,” he said. His new research shows that even if developed countries cut their emissions to zero, that would not be enough to halt runaway climate change – because emissions from rapidly industrialising economies are now so high.

“The honeymoon for REDD+ is over”: consensus not yet reached in Doha on MRV, finance

By Catriona Moss and Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 December 2012 | Negotiators at the U.N. climate talks in Doha this past week did not reach consensus to move the REDD+ mechanism forward, said Tony La Viña, environmental policy expert, adding this was the first time there has been no progress on the climate-forestry mitigation scheme. “The honeymoon period is over for REDD+, we are down to the nuts and bolts of the mechanism. The things that matter most on the ground: verification, how payments will be made, the inclusions of non-carbon benefits, the implementation of safeguards…continue to discussions,” said La Viña, who is also a lead negotiator for the Philippines, as he updated an audience of global leaders and forestry experts on the progress of the negotiations at Forest day 6, held yesterday in Doha.

Congo Basin Forest Fund Steps Up For REDD+ Piloting In DRC

By Christopher Pollon, Ecosystem Marketplace, 4 December 2012 | The Democratic Republic of Congo introduced its National REDD+ strategy at climate talks here today (see “DRC REDD Strategy”, right), just weeks after heavily-armed insurgents surrounded and stormed the capital of the country’s North Kivu province, sending thousands fleeing into the countryside and putting even more pressure on the fragile ecosystem of the Virunga National Park. It’s in the turbulent area around Goma that WWF Belgium is launching the Geographically Integrated EcoMakala REDD+ Pilot Project, which aims to protect forestland in part by providing clean cook stoves and planting a buffer of fast-growing trees so that locals can harvest them for charcoal (or “makala” in the local dialect) instead of chopping down the forest. “We know that 80 percent of the charcoal comes illegally from the park,” says Mone Van Geit, WWF Belgium’s Project Manager, African Program.

[Guyana] Former President Bharrat Jagdeo receives fourth honorary doctorate

GINA, 4 December 2012 | Former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, today received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Central Lancashire, in recognition of his global leadership on climate change, low carbon development and green growth. He was presented with the doctorate by the University’s Vice Chancellor, Malcolm Mc Arthur. During a citation read by the University’s Orator, the former President was described as “one of the first Heads of State in the world to grasp the seriousness and urgency of climate change”. The citation added “almost uniquely in the world, he also saw that developing countries could lead the way to the solutions that the world needs.”

REDD+ Indonesia a Catalyst for Change

REDD+ Task Force, 4 December 2012 | Indonesia plans to use Rawa Tripa in its westernmost province of Aceh, where the country had a recent victory in peatlands protection, as learning grounds to improve forest governance and legal enforcement through license review. This video gives description about the collaborative coordination between NGO’s, Local and Central Government efforts to reduce deforestation and forest which took swift actions.

5 December 2012

AP Interview: UN chief blames rich for warming

By Karl Ritter, AP, 5 December 2012 | Rich countries are to blame for climate change and should take the lead in forging a global climate pact by 2015, a deadline that “must be met,” the head of the United Nations said Wednesday. On the sidelines of international climate talks in Qatar, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was “only fair and reasonable that the developed world should bear most of the responsibility” in fighting the gradual warming of the planet. Ban’s comments echoed the concerns of China and other developing countries, which say rich nations have a historical responsibility for global warming because their factories released carbon emissions into the atmosphere long before the climate effects were known.

China demands timetable to $100 billion climate aid for developing world

By Alister Doyle and Barbara Lewis, Reuters, 5 December 2012 | China led developing nations on Wednesday in demanding rich countries give details of a promised surge in aid to $100 billion a year by 2020 to help the poor cope with global warming. But most rich nations, facing economic slowdown at home that cut overall development aid in 2011, said they were unable to stake out a timetable for rising aid at deadlocked global climate talks. “The core issue is finance,” Xie Zhenhua, head of China’s delegation, told a news conference of a main track of the November 26-December 7 talks among 200 nations in Doha, Qatar, that is a big block to a modest deal to keep U.N. climate efforts on track. He said a deal on finance would “create very good conditions for the settlement of other issues” in Doha, which is also seeking a symbolic extension of the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by rich nations beyond 2012.

Paul McCartney asks climate change talks to consider introducing ‘Meat Free Monday’

NME, 5 December 2012 | Paul McCartney has called upon those involved in the current climate change conference to consider introducing a ‘Meat Free Monday’ initiative. The Beatles legend has written two letters to figures involved in the Conference of the Parties’ discussions, which are taking place in Doha, Quatar, asking them to take account of livestock production and the impact it can have on climate change. McCartney, who sent a copy of the letter to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, wrote: “Although more and more evidence is coming to light showing how the growth of the global meat industry is having alarming environmental consequences, the impact of the livestock sector on global warming does not yet seem to have been acknowledged by the Conference of the Parties (COP).”

Forestry research needs to cross scientific boundaries to make REDD+ ‘work’

By Niki De Sy, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 December 2012 | A clear trend can be seen at the current U.N. climate change conference, involving agriculture and rural development in the REDD+ debate, crossing sector boundaries and move toward ‘living landscapes’. Likewise a lot of attention has been given to an integrated landscape approach to climate change mitigation during Forest Day 6. This implies the need for more holistic and interdisciplinary approaches, not only for REDD+ implementation and policies, but also for related research. Recently, a special issue of Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability was dedicated to interdisciplinary perspectives on REDD+. It reviewed state-of-the-art REDD+ research from both natural and social science perspectives.

China timber trade ‘fuels climate change’

By Jennifer Duggan, Al Jazeera, 5 December 2012 | China’s skyrocketing demand for timber to fuel its economic boom is driving illegal logging and contributing to the destruction of forests in Asia and Africa, needed now more than ever to halt climate change, a new enivironmental report says. China is now the biggest international consumer of illegal timber, according to the report from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which adds that the trade is causing the destruction of vast tracts of forest in developing countries. Globally, the trade in illegal timber is worth between $30 billion and $100 billion a year, according to an Interpol and United Nations Environment Programme report… “Illegal logging now accounts for between 15 and 30 per cent of the global legal trade and significantly hampers the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) initiative,” the Interpol-UNEP report said.

Helping micro- and small-enterprise development in Guyana

By Janetter Bulkan, letter to the editor Kaieteur News, 5 December 2012 | In other words, like another GRIF project to fund institutional strengthening of the President’s Office of Climate Change, this looks like another scam to access GRIF money from distracted Norwegians. Yes, it would be good to make more credit and more technical support available to SMEs in Guyana, but why not use the already-primed and interested commercial banks and experienced MFIs, as the LCDS document itself intended? President Ramotar has acknowledged the existence of corruption in his administration. Here is a blatant example which can be nipped in the bud, an easy win for him to demonstrate that he means what he says.

Indonesia approves landmark forest protection project

By David Fogarty, Reuters, 5 December 2012 | Indonesia on Wednesday approved a rainforest conservation project that sets aside an area roughly the size of Singapore and rewards investors with tradable carbon credits in the first of its kind to win formal backing in the country. Four years in the making, the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve will protect nearly 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres), much of it carbon-rich peat swamp forest at risk of being felled for palm oil plantations. Russian energy giant Gazprom and German insurance firm Allianz are backers of the project, the world’s first on deep peat. A senior Indonesian official announced the approval on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar. Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan signed a letter last week saying the project had passed all the key steps. Reuters has seen a copy.

Indonesia approves first REDD+ project in Borneo, 5 December 2012 | The Indonesian government has approved its first REDD+ project to reduce emissions from deforestation and peatlands degradation, reports President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s office. The Rimba Raya project is located in Central Kalimantan — Indonesian Borneo — near Tanjung Puting National Park, an area of rainforest and peatlands that is home to a large population of orangutans. It will protect nearly 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) as a buffer zone for the park. The land would otherwise be turned into oil palm plantations. “I am proud that Central Kalimantan is able to deliver the world’s flagship REDD+ project,” said Central Kalimantan Governor Teras Narang in a statement. “We look forward to working with the project developers in a cooperative ‘learning by doing’ environment.” The project’s approval comes after three years of delays. Rimba Raya had already met criteria set by two leading standards for REDD projects…

[Indonesia] Asia Pulp & Paper hires top U.S. lobbyist to help ‘green’ its image

By Rhett A. Butler,, 5 December 2012 | Indonesian forestry giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has hired a top U.S. official to help it work through trade and environmental issues. In November, APP announced it had retained Stuart Eizenstat of Covington & Burling, a U.S.-based law firm, to help “ensure APP’s trade and sustainability compliance in North America”. Eizentstat’s hiring is notable because he led the U.S. delegation that negotiated the Kyoto Protocol and has served in a number of high-level government positions, including U.S. Ambassador to the European Union; Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade; Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs; and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration. Eizentstat has also advocated for the adoption of forest carbon credits in a national plan to address climate change.

Norway enters into climate and forest collaboration with Vietnam

Ministry of the Environment Norway press release, 5 December 2012 | “Vietnam’s economic growth over the past few years has been impressive, and the country has become a significant political actor in Asia. Vietnam is also one of few developing countries with concrete plans to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, before a new climate agreement enters into force. I hope such signals from developing countries with fast-growing economies and emissions can contribute to inspire other countries, soften tensions between rich and poor countries, and create much needed movement in the climate negotiations”, said Norway’s Minister of the Environment, Bård Vegar Solhjell. Vietnam plans to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, by reducing emissions and increasing carbon sequestration in forestry and agriculture by the equivalent of 1.371 million tonnes of CO2e.

6 December 2012

Seeing REDD: Brazil, Norway in tiff over forest monitoring

Sydney Morning Herald, 6 December 2012 | Efforts to produce a global set of rules for protecting forests are being held up by a dispute between Brazil and Norway over who should be responsible for verifying the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by trees. Brazil’s envoy to the UN global warming talks in Doha said actions to prevent deforestation are national measures that should be governed locally and not by international bodies. Norway is seeking stricter oversight for the program from an international organization. The disagreement threatens to disrupt efforts to create rules on how to prevent deforestation and forest degradation, known as REDD. The forest talks underway at the United Nations conference are scheduled to finish today. At stake is whether independent experts should measure and verify the emissions prevented by safeguarding forests in exchange for finance.

Cash row threatens Doha climate talks

By Regan Doherty and Daniel Fineren, Reuters, 6 December 2012 | A row over who will pay for dealing with the accelerating impact of climate change soured U.N. debate in Doha, where a final day of haggling was expected to do nothing to curb greenhouse gas pollution. The two-week talks are meant to end on Friday, under the leadership of the Middle Eastern oil-and-gas power Qatar, which has the world’s highest per-capita emissions. U.N. climate conferences, bringing together nearly 200 nations, are notorious for missing deadlines – a lack of urgency in stark contrast to mounting scientific evidence that global warming is worsening.

Living Landscapes: Summary of Forest Day 6

By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 December 2012 | An integrated landscape approach for resource management has the potential to assist with global challenges such as food security and climate change, however cross-sector cooperation will be a requirement for its success, according to a newly released CIFOR report summarising the outcomes of Forest Day 6. Speakers at the event also discussed the need for strong social and biodiversity safeguards and private sector engagement in the UN-backed REDD+ scheme for sustainable development.

REDD+: What is needed to make it work for the poor?

By Maryanne Grieg-Gran, International Institute for Environment and Development, 6 December 2012 | While REDD+ is aimed at reducing emissions from forests, its effectiveness will depend on how much the benefits trickle down to those living closest to the forest. These same rural households are also best placed to provide local evidence of what works and what doesn’t, to influence decisions on REDD+ architecture at the national and international level… But without tackling the social issues, REDD+ will not go very far. As Prof. Dr. Niels Elers Koch highlighted at Cifor’s Forest Day, the inclusion of socioeconomic goals upfront will increase the likelihood of achieving carbon and biodiversity goals. A first step is to find out what has the potential to work and where – and this includes whether it will reflect what people want. Last Thursday, IIED held a workshop [PDF] at the 18th UNFCCC in Doha, to explore the challenges and potential of a pro-poor REDD+ approach.

Forest monitoring should integrate biodiversity and socioeconomic data, say experts

By Niki De Sy, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 December 2012 | Countries need to ensure that their forest monitoring activities under REDD+ move beyond just measuring carbon emissions and changes in forest area – they should be integrated with monitoring of other forest values like biodiversity and rural social conditions, said experts on the sidelines of the U.N. climate talks in Doha this week. “We’re not just talking about a [forest monitoring] system here, we’re talking about a tool for policy development…it’s also about transparent and effective communication between the government and people,” said Jim Penman, member of the Task Force Bureau for the IPCC Greenhouse Gas Inventory Programme, during Forest Day 6. REDD+ is a mechanism that sees money channelled to developing countries to create incentives for them to adopt practices that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation — estimated to account for 11-15 percent of global emissions.

Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)

By Autumn Spanne, North American Congress on Latin America, 6 December 2012 | For now, a formal UN framework for REDD is on hold but likely to be developed in the coming years. Delays in the UN process have not, however, prevented the emergence of hundreds of REDD pilot projects around the world, many in developing countries with funds provided by individual countries, the World Bank, private donors, and other sources. Nations with weak governance and limited resources often struggle to uphold the rights of forest peoples. But certification programs through groups such as the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Alliance and Verified Carbon Standard are encouraging pilot projects that adhere to higher environmental standards and community protections, creating a blueprint for future models that aim to be more equitable and inclusive.

Safe in Bank hands? World Bank safeguards review launched

Bretton Woods Project, 6 December 2012 | The World Bank finally launched the two-year review of its environmental and social safeguard policies in October. Whilst the Bank committed to a robust outcome, CSOs have highlighted concerns that the emerging framework will replace existing safeguards with “vague principles and non-mandatory ‘flexible’ implementation standards”. The review’s stated main objective is to “strengthen the effectiveness of the safeguard policies in order to enhance the development impact of World Bank-supported projects and programmes” with a view to creating an “integrated framework” to address future environmental and social risks. The Bank also aims to “renew [its] partnership with borrowers” to “leverage their capacity to “identify and manage” these risks.

Norway payments to Brazil for reducing deforestation reach $670 million, 6 December 2012 | Norway will deposit another $180 million into Brazil’s Amazon Fund after the Latin American giant reported a third straight annual drop in deforestation, reports Bloomberg. The payment comes despite a high-profile dispute over who verifies reductions in emissions from deforestation — Norway believes emissions reductions should be measured by an independent third party, but Brazil disagrees. The disagreement sidelined discussions over the REDD+ mechanism during climate talks in Doha, pushing negotiations over the program out another year. Norway’s deposit pushed its total payments into the Amazon Fund to $670 million, making it by far the largest contributor to the voluntary fund. Norway has committed up to $1 billion by 2015 to the fund if Brazil meets its deforestation reduction targets.

Powerful Forest Friends Deliver Indonesian Approval of Landmark REDD Project

By Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 6 December 2012 | It was a fitting end to a topsy-turvy year for Todd Lemons and Jim Procanik. As co-directors of carbon project developer InfiniteEARTH, they spearheaded the Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve REDD Project, a ground-breaking endeavor that will conserve 80,000 hectares of rainforest and generate 104 million credits over 30 years and was finally green-lighted last week. The announcement became official at climate talks here, a little more than a year after the Ministry of Forestry said it was giving half the project’s territory to a palm oil company. Reuters credits the Ministry of Forestry’s reversal to intervention by Singapore-based businessman Rusmin Widjaja, Central Kalimantan governor A. Teras Narang, and Triwatty Marciano, whose husband, Marciano Norma, heads Indonesia’s State Intelligence Agency.

Indonesia’s forests and REDD: Palming off

The Economist, 6 December 2012 | Climate-change talks in Doha this week opened in a mood of pessimism about the chances governments will agree to and implement policies that might limit the rise in global temperature to less than 2ºC. But on December 5th a cheering announcement punctured the gloom: that Indonesia’s government had formally approved the country’s first project under the “REDD” scheme (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). Indonesia is one of world’s big emitters of carbon, largely because of logging. REDD, to which Norway has committed $1 billion in Indonesia, in essence pays developing countries not to chop down trees. In this project, known as Rimba Raya (“infinite forest”), an area of forest in Indonesian Borneo the size of Singapore will be preserved. Against the odds, it will not be turned into one of the vast palm-oil plantations that are eating up so much of Borneo and other Indonesian islands.

[Indonesia] Stop Burning Rain Forests for Palm Oil

Scientific American, 6 December 2012 | In the Tripa forest in Indonesia’s Aceh province, the rare Sumatran orangutans were dying. Flames devoured the trees, smoke filled the air and the red apes had nowhere to go. The fires had been set intentionally, to clear the land for planting oil palms—trees whose fruit yields palm oil, a widely used component of biofuels, cosmetics and food. Although the land was supposed to be protected, the Aceh governor issued a permit in August 2011 for Indonesian palm oil firm PT Kallista Alam to develop some 1,600 hectares in Tripa. In September 2012, under pressure from environmental groups, the permit was revoked. It seemed like a significant win for conservation. Yet the controversial Tripa permit was just a small part of the country’s palm oil–driven deforestation crisis.

Indonesia’s forest moratorium: to extend or not to extend?

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 December 2012 | Experts on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Doha are weighing in on whether Indonesia should extend its two-year ban on the issuance of new forestry concessions in order to give the country a chance to meet its emissions reductions goals by 2020… “Extension is a lot better than creating a new one later, because you already have buy-in from stakeholders, as well as established cross-ministerial processes which were never exercised before this moratorium,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, senior CIFOR scientist. Murdiyarso said the government should consider expanding the ban on new forestry concessions to include Indonesia’s vast secondary forests, and carbon-rich mangroves.

Viet Nam, Norway and UN Announce US$30 Million for REDD+ in Viet Nam at UN-REDD COP18 Event

AlertNet, 6 December 2012 | During the UN-REDD Programme side event today at the Doha Climate Change Conference (COP18), Norway signed a US$30 million financing agreement with the United Nations to support a second phase of the UN-REDD National Programme in Viet Nam. This second phase (2012-2015) will significantly scale up the work Viet Nam has been doing, with support from Norway and the UN-REDD Programme since 2009, to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). As one of the original pilot countries of the UN-REDD Programme, Viet Nam has been a REDD+ leader over the past four years, trailblazing various areas of readiness work, such as developing fair and equitable benefit distribution systems for REDD+, and conducting robust stakeholder engagement to carry out activities such as participatory forest monitoring and ensuring the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and other forest dependent communities in REDD+ efforts.

7 December 2012

REDD Text Limps Out Of Doha – Heavy, Homeless, And Broke

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 7 December 2012 | High-level climate talks continue here and may run until Monday, but negotiations on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) appear to have wrapped up for the year. Some parts of the text are now complete, and these are embedded in the most recent outcome of the Advanced Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) – the negotiating track created at COP 13 in Bali, Indonesia and slated to end today. Other parts of the text remain unfinished, and these are now on the agenda for the next meetings of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), which take place in Bonn, Germany in June. The critical issue of results-based finance will be picked up at workshops headed by two co-chairs — one from the developed world and one from the developing world, both appointed by the President of the COP.

Doha climate talks stall over draft text wording

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 7 December 2012 | Talks aimed at a global agreement on climate change appeared stalled on Friday, with countries failing to agree on the wording of the draft texts that will form the outcome of the fortnight-long UN conference in Doha. Delegates reported “tough going” and “frustratingly slow progress”, as a key text that was supposed to be delivered overnight in its near-final draft form was delayed, and there has been little done so far to take an overview of all the four texts in circulation, which negotiators say is needed. Although the talks are not thought to be close to breakdown, they have been sluggish as delegates have appeared to feel little sense of urgency.

Mighty Old Trees Are Perishing Fast, Study Warns

By Jim Robbins, New York Times, 7 December 2012 | The death rate of many of the biggest and oldest trees around the world is increasing rapidly, scientists report in a new study in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. They warned that research to understand and stem the loss of the trees is urgently needed. “It’s a worldwide problem and appears to be happening in most types of forest,” said the study’s lead author, David Lindemayer, a professor at Australian National University and an expert in landscape ecology and forest management. The research team found that big, old trees are dying at an alarmingly fast clip around the world at all latitudes – Yosemite National Park in California, the African savanna, the Brazilian rain forest, Europe and the boreal forests around the world.

Bolivian delegation in Doha: “this is a COP of climate change not a COP of carbon trade”

Bolivian delegation in Doha, Bolivia Rising, 7 December 2012 | A dynamic debate took place in the event in order to bring solutions to the carbon crisis. This debate is turning to dominate the agenda of discussion in COP18, pushed by developed countries. Are we going to allow this COP about climate change to become a COP of carbon trade? That was a question raised by Juan Carlos Alurralde the Vice Chancellor of Bolivia, who was present in the conference. When he took the floor he expressed the following words: “… Carbon markets are not a solution to the climate change crisis… Instead of discussing one of the instruments for supporting mitigation actions, which is carbon markets.; I repeat: ONE of the instruments which effectiveness is still pending of analysis, but from our view is a complete mistake, instead of that, we should discuss the structural elements of a comprehensive response to Climate Change Crisis.

[Brazil] Widespread Devastation Found in 2010 Amazon Megadrought

By Eli Kintisch, ScienceNOW, 7 December 2012 | A megadrought that struck the Amazon in 2010 devastated millions of hectares of the rainforest, new data presented here suggest. The results shed new light on a scientific debate over the effects of such recent climatic events. Initial data released today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union indicate that as many as one in 25 trees died in areas with the most severe water scarcity. The findings also suggest that previous techniques using satellites to measure drought stress in rainforests may be missing dire impacts of a warming global climate, which many scientists believe will cause more droughts in those critical habitats. “To say the effects were severe is putting it lightly,” says forest ecologist Gregory Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Palo Alto, California, who led the research.

8 December 2012

UN talks nearing weak deal on climate

By Karl Ritter and Michael Casey, AP, 8 December 2012 | Bleary-eyed negotiators from nearly 200 countries haggled through the night over new draft agreements on emissions cuts by rich countries and aid for poor as United Nations climate talks spilled into Saturday. The two-week conference was set to finish Friday, but as so often in the annual U.N.-led talks, negotiators struggled to reach an agreement, especially on money matters. After all-night wrangling, the latest drafts Saturday lacked the strong commitments on climate action and financing by rich countries that poor countries had hoped for. But they did include a text on “loss and damage,” a relatively new concept which relates to damages from climate-related disasters. Island nations under threat from rising sea levels have been pushing for some mechanism to help them cope with such natural catastrophes, but the United States has pushed back over concerns it might be held liable for the cleanup bill…

Doha climate talks: US faces dilemma over final text

By Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 8 December 2012 | There has been a historic shift in the UN climate talks in Qatar, with the prospect of rich nations having to compensate poor nations for losses due to climate change. The US has fiercely opposed the measure – it says the cost could be unlimited. But after angry tussles throughout the night the principle of Loss and Damage is now in the final negotiating text. Small island states at risk from inundation say they will walk out if the US vetoes the proposed deal. The political stakes are high. The EU’s position is not yet well defined, but soundings suggest that it can live with the text. The US will be seeking support from other big polluters – like Canada – likely to face liability for climate damages.

Qatar seeks to extend Kyoto to break climate change deadlock

By Alister Doyle and Daniel Fineren, Reuters, 8 December 2012 | Qatar proposed keeping an existing U.N. plan for fighting climate change in place until 2020 on Saturday in an attempt to break a deadlock at talks over a new deal to curb world greenhouse gas emissions. The OPEC nation hosting the negotiations among almost 200 countries also suggested putting off until 2013 a dispute about demands from developing nations for more cash to help them cope with global warming. The U.N.’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol will expire by the end of the year if it is not extended and has already been weakened by withdrawals of Russia, Japan and Canada. Its backers, led by the European Union and Australia, account for just 15 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

Doha: Future climate agreement may merge agriculture, land use change and forestry

By Adinda Hasan and Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 December 2012 | A unified approach to managing landscapes to achieve food security while protecting the world’s natural resources could make it on to the U.N. climate change agenda by 2015, in time to be incorporated into the 2020 emissions reduction agreement, said Tony La Viña, a negotiator for the Philippines. “We are looking at the new Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP) process as the future framework that will merge REDD+, agriculture, land-use change and forestry,” he said at a recent event alongside the UN climate talks in Doha. “REDD+, as it stands, is limited in its vision on forests. For me, it’s obvious that a landscape approach that combines forests, agriculture and other land uses…is the way forward.”

Getting down with the ‘landscapes’ lingo at Doha: COP18 in quotes

By Catriona Moss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 December 2012 | As the world’s climate negotiators pack their bags and drag their weary bodies back to reality after another tense spectacle that is the U.N. Climate Change conference (COP18), spectators will once again be asking – did we really achieve anything on forests? Unfortunately not, according to one negotiator, with the ‘REDD honeymoon’ over and the stalemate set to continue well into next year. However, forests and agriculture, often pitted against each other, did team up to become what many saw as the best solution to tackling the world’s food security, sustainable development and climate change challenges. Here we compile the best, and worst, of what was said on forests during the two week talk-fest in Doha.

The limits of what Doha can reach

Deutsche Welle, 8 December 2012 | Disagreements in Doha have made it a struggle to wrap up the UN climate talks. There is little optimism for substantial agreements, even though an extension of the Kyoto Protocol to 2020 was agreed at the last minute. Christina Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told the delegates in Doha to make history by finishing with the talks on Friday night as scheduled. But that chance has already passed them by. Once again, observers don’t expect the negotiations to end in time as scheduled, and few expect to see results that will make progress on the issues at the heart of the talks: slowing down global warming and dealing with its consequences.

Chinese delegation to Doha talks presents climate documentary to UN official

Xinhua, 8 December 2012 | Head of Chinese delegation to the ongoing UN climate conference in Doha, Xie Zhenhua, presented China’s first climate documentary to top UN climate official Christiana Figueres. The documentary, named “Warm and Cold, We Share Together,” describes in 12 episodes the relationship between the change of ecological environment and human civilization from both historical and realistic perspectives. It calls on the mankind to take the responsibility to deal with the consequences of environment degradation and adopt a path of sustainable development. Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, hailed China’s climate actions in recent years and expressed confidence that China will meet and even exceed its anti- warming ambitions set in the new five-year-development plan (2011- 2016).

Doha climate deal: EU, USA, Brazil, Africa & Pacific island reaction

RTCC – Responding to Climate Change, 8 December 2012 | Oleg Shamanov, Deputy Russian negotiator (on objections to texts being overruled at last minute): It has to be clearly stated that this is an outrageous violation and absolutely unacceptable conduct of business. The way those decisions were adopted, extremely seriously undermines the legitimacy of the regime and trust between the participants. We are absolutely sure that, it would inevitably have very serious legal consequences for efforts of the countries and for ratification processes. UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres: The voice of Russia was heard today very clearly by all countries, before and after the adoption of the text. The objection was very clear to everyone, but it would have been a change to the text that would not have allowed for those texts to be adopted.

[Russia] Doha climate resolution ‘disappointing’ – Moscow

Voice of Russia, 8 December 2012 | The Russian delegation to the Doha climate conference has lodged a formal protest against the gathering’s refusal to consider a proposal by Russia, Belarus and Ukraine that national greenhouse emission quotas be linked to the current emission levels. Chief Russian delegate Oleg Shamanov described the resolutions adopted by the Doha conference as ‘disappointing’. The conference passed extensions to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse emissions, which expires this year. The Kyoto Protocol, which came into force in 2005, requires the commitment of developed countries to reduce emissions, and the implementation of related market mechanisms. The first period of commitment to the Protocol ends on the 31st of December 2012. Russia, Japan, New Zealand, and Canada have already announced their refusal to participate in the second period beginning in January 2013.

Qatar’s mangroves: why they matter to climate change

By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 December 2012 | Indonesian scientist Daniel Murdiyarso and Lebanese scientist Mohamad Khawlie are spending the morning hopping over muddy streams, tasting salty leaves, and examining aerial root systems. Just 60 kilometres from Doha but a world away from the air-conditioned unreality of the Qatar National Convention Centre where the UN climate talks are taking place, Murdiyarso and Khawlie are exploring Qatar’s northeastern coastline, indulging a shared passion – for mangroves. “Mangroves have been here in the Arab Gulf since ancient times,” says Khawlie, an environmental consultant with the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI). “They play a very important role, first in the ecosystem, and they are also important for both humans – their wood and fruits – and for animals, especially camel herds.”

9 December 2012

Doha Gateway: The reaction

By James Murray, BusinessGreen, 9 December 2012 | “The Doha gateway Package includes positive outcomes, such as a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, a continuation of financial support from rich countries to developing countries, and a decision to focus efforts on negotiating a new international agreement in 2015, to take effect in 2020. The UK Government can be proud of its role in Doha, where it has helped to forge agreement between other countries and has led by example in making firm commitments of financial support to assist developing countries with the transition to low-carbon economic development and growth and to adapt to those impacts of climate change that cannot now be avoided. Ed Davey and Greg Barker have shown what can be achieved when the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives work together within the Coalition Government. The European Union has again demonstrated strong leadership at the climate change summit…

[Guyana] US$5M low carbon jobs project approved for funding under Norway pact

Stabroek News, 9 December 2012 | The US$5 million Micro and Small Enterprise Development project, another project to be funded through the Guyana-Norway forests partnership, has been approved, clearing the way for implementation by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Steering Committee of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) approved the project on November 30 and last Tuesday… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

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