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.
10 December 2012
By Jeff Conant, Friends of the Earth, 10 December 2012 | Yesterday in Doha, the plurinational state of Bolivia put it most clearly: “We denounce to the whole world the pressure from some countries for the approval of new carbon market mechanisms, although these have shown to be ineffective in the fight against climate change, and that only represent business opportunities. This is a climate change conference, not a conference for carbon business.” Further, as Chris Lang, editor of Redd-Monitor, writes, while the world negotiates the future of forest carbon stocks, where’s the discussion of fossil fuels? (To read more about what’s happening in Doha, have a look at Third World’ Network’s current brief. REDD is a complicated and contentious issue, but this much is clear: any approach to reducing deforestation must be based in human rights, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, land tenure reform, and territorial sovereignty. And it must address first-world consumption…
WWF, 10 December 2012 | “While an agreement to continue to talk after the bewitched seventh year is nothing to write home about,” said Bruce Cabarle, Leader of WWF’s Forest and Climate Initiative, “the alternative was to have REDD+ die in the desert of Doha along with the mandate of the larger climate change negotiations. It all depends now on UNFCCC member countries to demonstrate in 2013 that they really want to make an effort to take REDD+ to the next level as a credible mechanism to combat emissions. This will be a very important milestone towards the establishment of a fully functioning REDD+ mechanism by 2015.” “REDD+ is at a crossroads,” added Cabarle, “this marks the first time in the history of UNFCCC negotiations that the Parties were not able to issue any guidance whatsoever on how to make REDD+ work, despite having produced several pages of good draft text on the critical building blocks needed to define national forest monitoring systems, MRV and reference levels.”
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 10 December 2012 | On the eve of the talks, REDD+ Facilitator Tony La Viña published a paper examining the possibilities of developing a more comprehensive landscape approach to finance. In actual talks, however, little took place on that front. Negotiations related to Land-Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) in the developed world, for example, focused on refining methods of accounting under the existing Kyoto Protocol. LULUCF currently applies only to land-use in developed countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol – essential, the EU. The draft decision on agriculture, meanwhile, simply calls for technical talks to pick up in Bonn in June. While the United States has been advocating national accounting of all emissions from land use, this remains a delicate issue – largely because food security and development will likely lead to increased emissions in the developing world, and no one wants to be seen advocating caps in this area.
By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 10 December 2012 | Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), the UN program to conserve tropical forests by paying developing nations to keep them standing, should go hand-in-hand with increased genetic studies of imperiled tropical biodiversity, according to a new opinion article in mongabay.com’s open access journal Tropical Conversation Science. Most importantly, REDD+ could benefit from the study of phylogeography, a new field that looks at a species’ genetic variations across a region, argues the study’s author Peggy MacQueen with the University of Adelaide. “REDD+ may offer one of the most well supported international frameworks to date for reducing forest habitat loss and protecting tropical diversity,” MacQueen writes.
11 December 2012
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 December 2012 | The UNFCCC COP-18 in Doha worked overtime to finally agree not to disagree. The Secretariat was quick to make a release that declares success and highlights four results: Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol; Timetable for negotiating a 2015 agreement; Decisions on new UNFCCC institutions, including the Green Climate Fund; Reiterating the ambition for $100 billion per year of climate finance by 2020, and acknowledging a total of $6 billion in pledges for the next years, exclusively from European countries. There is no lack of commentaries to the COP18 results, and most of them paint a very different picture. Perhaps most strikingly, some major media (here and here) highlight the principle on “losses and damages” as the most significant result, not mentioned in the process-oriented UNFCCC release.
By Michelle Kovacevic, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 December 2012 | While the U.N. climate talks in Doha saw no decision on verifying carbon emissions from deforestation, forests look set to be an integral part of the next international treaty on climate change in 2020, experts said. “Overall, it has been a disappointing set of outcomes for forests, in particular because there has been no decision on measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of emissions reductions. This is the final element required for REDD+ demonstration activities to get underway in earnest,” said Louis Verchot, Director of Forest and Environment research at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “However, it does look like forests and REDD+ are going to be considered as an integral part of the next international treaty on climate change in 2020.”
mongabay.com, 11 December 2012 | One of the major concerns about the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degrdatation (REDD+) program is that it could prioritize conservation of high carbon ecosystems like peatlands over high biodiversity landscapes, effectively shifting conservation funding away key wildlife-rich areas. A new paper, published in Tropical Conservation Science, analyzes the issue and suggests approaches that could reduce the potential detrimental impacts of REDD+ on biodiversity. Mark Harrison of the University of Leicester and Gary Paoli of Daemeter Consulting suggest three strategies for reducing “biodiversity threat leakage” under REDD, including “focusing non-REDD+ conservation funding and efforts on the most vulnerable high-biodiversity forests not scheduled for protection under REDD+”; reducing the costs of establishing REDD+ projects in low-carbon, high-biodiversity forests; and “developing more creative measures…”
Earth Peoples Blog, 11 December 2012 | When Juan Carlos Jintiach and a dozen indigenous individuals and members of COICA announced 30 December 2012 the Indigenous REDD+ proposal at the UN Climate Change negotiations in Doha, that could be implemented with or without the carbon market, Indigenous groups, nations, peoples, that live on the ground had no say, no information, no knowledge, no consultation, and therefore no clue about what COICA is saying on their behalf at the international level… “This is major contribution to the construction of the REDD+ mechanism, since it … promotes further cooperation of all parties…” continues WWF’s website article. Maybe good for them – but bad for the people and bad for the climate… Some individuals of national indigenous organizations that belong to the rainforest regions in South America that are members of COICA responded to Earth Peoples that there was no decision being made by the people, nor at COICA meetings such as in Manaus…
By Jessie Zimmerman, Grist, 11 December 2012 | The Carnegie Airborne Observatory’s Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System (AToMS) is just an array of smallish sensors packed into a plane, but when researchers fly it over the Amazon rainforest, it turns the landscape below into a dazzling psychedelic wonderland that wouldn’t have been out of place on a dorm wall in 1968. But the CAO scientists aren’t just looking for something to stare at while they pack their bongs. Data from AToMS’ spectrometer images could help them to save threatened rainforests… “It’s like taking an X-ray of an entire landscape, plant by plant, and each tiny hill,” said Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science. “We can see how just a 1- or 2-foot change in ground elevation can create a new habitat for rainforest species, with measurable effects on the rainforest biomass. AToMS consistently reveals something we didn’t know, and often many things we had never considered.”
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 December 2012 | Two groups of scientists who this year published widely differing estimates of global carbon emissions from deforestation have now come to a consensus, thanks to an innovative collaboration designed to speed up the process by which scientific consensus is reached. Presenting at Forest Day at a session facilitated by the Meridian Institute on the sidelines of the UN climate change talks in Doha, a group from the Woods Hole Research Center and one from Winrock International said they concurred that carbon emissions from tropical deforestation worldwide between 2000 and 2005 were 3 gigatons per year. That’s 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide, weighing more than 10 times the combined mass of all the humans on earth.
By Laurence Caramel and Harold Thibault, The Guardian, 11 December 2012 | China is at the centre of a vast global traffic in illegally logged timber that is destroying entire swaths of forest around the world. Academic research and NGOs such as WWF and Global Witness have already revealed the existence of illegal trading networks in central Africa, Burma and Russia leading directly to Chinese ports or cities. Now for the first time fingers are pointing directly to Beijing and holding public enterprises and local government officials responsible for this highly lucrative illegal trade. The British NGO, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), published a detailed report at the end of November called “China, appetite for destruction”. It reveals just how China’s appetite for wood has grown in the past decades as a result of consumption by the new middle classes, as well as an export-driven wood industry facing growing demand from major foreign furniture and construction companies.
By Sigurd Jorde, Norwatch, 11 December 2012 | The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global has shares in 90 of the world’s 100 largest oil companies listed on stock exchanges and in 67 of the 100 largest coal companies. Altogether NKR 241 billion are invested in companies that own more carbon than what we can use if the world is to fulfil the 2ºC goal. This is shown by a calculation made by The Future in Our Hands. The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global, known as the Pension Fund, is sitting on a carbon bubble that a may inflict large losses on the Fund and simultaneously inflict great damage on the climate. If the coal and oil companies in the Fund extract all their reserves, we will not be able to keep the climate changes within a 2ºC temperature increase. The world’s largest coal and oil companies own enormous amounts of carbon in the shape of coal, oil and gas, far more than the planet can tolerate that we use.
BusinessWorld, 11 December 2012 | The city government of Maasin in Southern Leyte has signed an agreement with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) on the establishment of coffee plantations in 12 upland barangays in the city. Marina Palen, community-based forest management officer and coordinator of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Plus of the Office of the City Agriculture Services, said about 7,000 robusta seedlings will be planted in the 12 mountain villages. Initial planting was held in the villages of Canjuom, Basak and Tigbawan, she said. “We hope to increase coffee production and help boost the country’s coffee industry,” Ms. Palen said… “The 12 upland villages were chosen by the GIZ. The area has been declared part of the REDD Plus territory that stretches across the remaining forests from Sogod Bay area to the town of Silago,” Ms. Palen said.
12 December 2012
Nature, 12 December 2012 | The past week saw a number of pronouncements on the subject of climate change. Not surprising given that, in Doha, the United Nations was wrapping up the latest round of its annual political negotiations on a global agreement to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. But the words, and the bundle of small practical actions, that emerged from the meeting had a familiar ring. “There has been, yet again, a very big mismatch between the scale and urgency of action required to effectively manage the huge risks of climate change, and the political will and ambition that has been displayed,” said Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.
IIED, 12 December 2012 | There are three main things to come out of the Gateway. The first good news is the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol. We now have a second commitment period from the European Union, Norway and Australia and others who have signed on. The bad news is the level ambition and the number of countries who have signed on has gone down quite a lot [the US, Japan, Canada, Russia and New Zealand have not signed on].But this keeps the show on the road and we can continue the negotiation towards a new treaty. The second major issue was finance. Developing countries were expecting rich countries to put forward a number on how much they would provide in the next few years between 2013 and 2020 – they’ve promised (US) $100 billion from 2020, but nothing in between. A few countries, like the UK and the European Union, stepped forward with some numbers, but the rest of the countries didn’t. So all we have is a vague promise…
Ecosystem Marketplace, 12 December 2012 | [W]e present a summary of what happened – or not – related to forest carbon decision-making at COP 18: While REDD remained ahead of the overall negotiations, it is safe to say that progress toward an international REDD framework was left wanting in Doha. One of the major hurdles that negotiators were not able to overcome was how emission reduction results will be verified, with Norway and Brazil standing on opposite ends of the ring. Norway proposed having third-party verifiers taken from a roster of experts from developed and developing countries, while Brazil preferred continuing to use the International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) process, which is substantially softer on developing countries. The two sides did not manage a compromise, and thus the issue will be tossed to the next Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) meeting taking place in Bonn, Germany in June.
Forest Carbon, 12 December 2012 | Forest Carbon, partnering with GIZ Laos through the CliPAD programme, has begun a groundbreaking jurisdictional forest carbon accounting and mapping project in the Khammouane Province of Laos this month. Forest Carbon will carry out a jurisdiction-wide, wall-to-wall REDD+ analysis, identifying potential investment opportunities for private companies interested in forest conservation and ecosystem restoration. High-resolution remote sensing data and extensive ground truthing will contribute to the forest classification and carbon stratification analyses, covering the entire province, and putting Khammouane in place to take advantage of potential private sector investment through the voluntary carbon market.
By Keith Kloor, Slate Magazine, 12 December 2012 | Leading the charge is a varied group of what I call modernist greens (others refer to them as eco-pragmatists). They are people with deep green bona fides, such as the award-winning U.K. environmental writer Mark Lynas, whose book The God Species champions nuclear power and genetically modified crops as essential for a sustainable planet. Another is Emma Marris, author of the critically acclaimed Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. She argues that “we must temper our romantic notion of untrammeled wilderness” and embrace the jumbled bits and pieces of nature that are all around us—in our backyards, in city parks, and farms.
13 December 2012
By Rachel Smolker, Huffington Post, 13 December 2012 | Last Saturday, the annual UN Climate Talks, held in Doha, concluded, once more without any meaningful achievements. The U.S. government was amongst those that ensured that there would be no new climate treaty until at least 2020 and that they would thus not be bound by any restrictions on carbon emissions. A major focus of the negotiations was on forests, specifically on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries (REDD+). Those talks also stalled as rich countries scaled back financial commitments which they had already made while trying to force Southern countries to divert vast sums of funds towards creating a new carbon market in forests. This would in future allow for example the U.S. or EU to class lower deforestation rates or even new monoculture tree plantations in the global South as Northern emissions reductions.
By Tierney Smith, RTCC – Responding to Climate Change, 13 December 2012 | Efforts to promote REDD+ as the main mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are still on track, according to experts RTCC has spoken to, despite negotiations collapsing at the recent UN climate talks. Brazil is understood to have objected to calls from international donors such as Norway for an international verification system of emissions reductions for REDD+, leading to the suspension of discussions in Doha. While this did not knock Kyoto off the headlines, it was a major blow as deforestation generates 15-20% of global emissions. Launched in 2008, the REDD+ scheme has always had the full backing of most parties, both developed and developing, and has less of the polarised positions that have plagued some of the more contentious negotiations. “What is different about REDD is that it was proposed by developing countries,” Emily Brickell, a research officer at the ODI…
Landscapes for People, Food, and Nature Blog, 13 December 2012 | While negotiations on the nuts and bolts of REDD+ at the UNFCCC COP18 may not have progressed as hoped, REDD+ itself remains one of the most concrete mechanisms through which to provide funding for land-based carbon. As an earlier post on the Landscapes Blog noted, REDD+ also represents an opportunity for promoting non-carbon benefits of forests and tying in agriculture. And while there are some hesitations to including agriculture as anything but a driver of deforestation in the REDD+ mechanism, many at this year’s climate change negotiations raised the profile of this intersection and the possibility of future inclusion of other land uses in REDD+. During a session on Forests in a Cultivated Planet at Forest Day 6, Andreas Tveteraas (Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative) argued that success with REDD+ is not possible without agriculture…
Ghana Business News, 13 December 2012 | The Cabinet of the Ghana government has approved a revised forest and wildlife policy to enable the country to consolidate and maximise benefits derived from products and services of the forest and wildlife sector. The revised 2011 Forest and Wildlife Policy highlights a radical paradigm shift in emphasis from a consumptive to a non-consumptive use of the nation’s forest resources in a manner that creates a balance between timber production and marketing to satisfy domestic wood demand. A statement issued by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources said the sector Minister, Mr Mike Allen Hammah, made this known when he interacted with some media personnel in Accra. It said the minister explained that the new policy would seek to consolidate and deepen good governance through improved transparency and accountability and enhance the participation of fringe communities and landowners in the management of the nation’s forest.
By Kwesi Isles, Demarara Waves, 13 December 2012 | Barama Company Limited (BCL) has secured what it on Thursday announced as the largest single block of tropical forest to be certified under the Verified Legal Origin (VLO) anywhere in the world. The VLO is an international scheme which verifies that timber comes from a source that the harvester has a documented legal right to harvest, pursuant to the laws and regulations of the government of the jurisdiction. Suppliers of VLO timber must follow and maintain documented chain-of-custody systems. “This is an accomplishment that has extremely positive implications for the forestry sector and the country as a whole. Guyana has once again placed itself on the world map for having internationally accepted forestry practices,” CEO Clement Ooi said at a media event. He added that at the company level the VLO compliance brings greater value their stakeholders and particularly to customers.
By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 December 2012 | Researchers working with forest communities in northern Papua have developed a series of maps pinpointing the location of natural resources, which are being used to bridge the information gap between local communities needs and government resource requirements. “Maps are powerful tools – rather than having to delve through reports, people can quickly understand what the resources are, where they are, and how people use particular areas – where they plant sago, where they hunt, where they fish and where the sacred places are,” said Michael Padmanaba, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and co-author of the research. The maps, developed on a scale of 1:50,000 (similar to the scale required for official spatial planning), will be used to assist land-use planning by the government of Mamberamo Raya Regency by incorporating the knowledge and needs of local people, said Padmanaba.
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 December 2012 | Peru has been a pioneer in programs aimed at protecting forests to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but those efforts have gone largely unnoticed in the media, according to a new study by the Center for International Forestry Research and Libelula – Comunicación, Ambiente y Desarrollo. The survey of national and regional newspapers over the past decade found relatively little coverage about climate change and even less reporting on programs for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) — a scheme that sees money channeled to developing countries to keep their trees standing — even in the Amazonian regions of Peru that have been at the forefront of the efforts. The findings (in Spanish) highlight the complexity of building public understanding of REDD+ programs, said Mary Menton, a research fellow in CIFOR’s forest and environment program in Lima, Peru.
VietNamNet Bridge, 13 December 2012 | The carbon market is seen as the major tool reducing CO2 emissions, one of the four kinds of gas that cause greenhouse effects. The market has been supported by the four main mechanisms stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol – the clean development mechanism (CDM), the joint implementation (JI) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). In principle, the carbon project would bring developing countries the opportunities to have budgets for their environment protection, and receive modern technology to be transferred through CDM projects. Especially, they would be able to earn money by selling carbon certificates to developed countries. Despite the heavy criticism, the carbon market has been growing day by day. In 2011, the carbon market value reached 176 billion dollars with the total carbon trading volume of 10.3 billion tons.
14 December 2012
By Connie Hedegaard, The Guardian, 14 December 2012 | The Doha climate conference was not a spectacular conference deciding on the 2015 global climate deal, which seems to have come as a surprise to some commentators and environmental groups. But nobody should be surprised. All countries agreed last year in Durban that the climate conferences between then and 2015 would set the stage for the big deal in 2015. Before Doha, the EU presented its checklist to secure progress towards the new climate deal. We can tick them off now. The EU wanted Doha to mark the transition away from the old climate regime, where only developed countries have the legal obligation to reduce emissions, to the new system where all countries, developed and developing alike, will for the first time make legal commitments under the new global agreement. Check.
By Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones, 14 December 2012 | It’s enough to give you whiplash. Last month, the World Bank put out a devastating new report on why 4 degrees Celsius of global warming “simply must not be allowed to occur.” This month, the Bank is considering whether to provide financing for a new coal-fired power plant in Mongolia. The World Bank Group’s private funding arm, International Finance Corporation, is considering support for the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine project in the South Gobi Desert, a project that also includes a 750 megawatt coal plant. Mining giant Rio Tinto is behind the venture, which is expected to cost $13.2 billion. The power plant would be used to run the mining and processing operations at what has been billed as the “world’s biggest new source of copper.” As NPR has reported, mining is booming in Mongolia. This plant would only intensify that trend.
By Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 14 December 2012 | Brazil recently announced its lowest rate of deforestation since recordings began roughly 25 years ago, and the rainforest nations of Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say they, too, have slowed deforestation rates recently. All three countries achieved their results with support from Norway – which is funding Brazil and Indonesia to the tune of $1 billion each and is scaling up support for deforestation efforts in the DRC. Such bilateral funding efforts are targeted both at large-scale conservation and REDD pilot projects, and they have so far proven to be the most effective international mechanisms for combating deforestation, according to preliminary findings from the REDD+ Expenditures Tracking Project. Donor-country largesse, however, has its limits, and all three countries hope that REDD can bring private-sector funding into the equation.
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 December 2012 | Chinese companies can now buy carbon offsets from local bamboo plantations, thanks to a new accounting method that can determine how much carbon is stored in these unique, rapidly-expanding ecosystems. The methodology – developed by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and its Chinese partners The China Green Carbon Foundation and the Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University was approved last month by the state forestry administration. “This is a really big breakthrough,” said Yannick Kuehl, a climate change expert at INBAR who helped develop the technique. “This means that now bamboo is recognised as carbon offset, and as a tool for climate change mitigation measures.”
By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 December 2012 | Researchers working in northern Papua are helping to incorporate local community perceptions into development activities, using interviews, group discussions, mapmaking, and a workshop to encourage discussion between all stakeholders in the region. “The prime objective of the project has been to provide input on land-use planning that is harmonious with the regional government’s planning, such as infrastructure development, but also that accommodates local priorities, and addresses sustainable development,” said Michael Padmanaba, a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who has been working on the project. The two-year-old government of Mamberamo Raya Regency in northern Papua (the first local election was held in 2010) has been looking at how it can manage its booming infrastructural development yet still provide health and education services to remote villages.
endoftheicons.wordpress.com, 14 December 2012 | In an unprecedented legal move, on Thursday 13th December in the Administration court of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Walhi Aceh (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) motioned to join the Governor of Aceh Province as a co-defendent in a lawsuit brought against him by palm oil company PT. Kallista Alam, whose controversial palm oil concession in the Tripa peat swamp forests of Aceh he recently cancelled after law courts found clear legal infractions in the issuance of its plantation permit. “WALHI’s move to intervene like this is the first ever of its kind in Indonesia, and serves to emphasise just how serious we are in our support for the Governor’s strong stance in upholding the law against illegal permits in the province”, stated Walhi Aceh Executive Director, TM Zulfiker. “In regard to the intervention”, he continued, “WALHI indeed have a serious interest in this case and wish to be represented in court.”
15 December 2012
Kaieteur News, 15 December 2012 | Guyana’s battle to eradicate illegal logging has been given a major boost with one major company recently received a key certification. Barama Company Limited, which controls 1.6 million hectares of natural forests, has undergone an international audit of its logging operations and has been issued with a Verified Legal Origin (VLO) certification. The certification states that its timber originates from an area where the harvesting is legal, according to the originating country’s regulations. With increasing pressure for countries with forests to protect their resources by harvesting in a verifiable, sustainable manner, Guyana would be more than glad for this development. On Thursday, Barama and Government spoke of the development which would effectively allow international markets to not view Guyana with suspicion as to whether the logs are being extracted in illegal manner.
Stabroek News, 15 December 2012 | Barama Company Limited (BCL) has been able keep profit levels constant for the last two to three years, despite man-made and natural challenges to the forestry sector and to the company itself, according to Mohindra Chand, Head of Corporate Affairs and Forest Planning for BCL. BCL, one of the longest foreign direct investment initiatives in Guyana and with approximately 1,000 employees, is arguably the largest forest resource and wood products producer in Guyana, whose core business includes the sale of hardwood logs and sawn timber and the manufacturing of plywood, decking and floor products. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
16 December 2012
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.