2012 was a good year for REDD-Monitor with 231 new posts. On the busiest day, in November just before COP18 started, the site had 1,930 views. Here’s a list of the top ten posts in terms of the number of views received.
For me, the highlight of the year was the series of interviews that I did with REDD actors in Indonesia, so I was pleased to see that three of the interviews made it to the top ten list. (I’ve actually massaged the data slightly to exclude posts with headlines that include name of a large conservation NGO and the word “scandal”.)
Most visitors came from the US, with the UK, Indonesia, Australia and Germany following close behind. Incidentally, there were five times as many visits from Burma as from China.
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- The Story of REDD: A real solution to deforestation? (May 2012)
An animated film about REDD, launched at the annual meeting of the Forest Movement Europe in May 2012. Seven NGOs were involved in producing the film: Amis de la Terre, ARA, Euronatura, FERN, Forest Peoples Programme, Iroko, Pro-Regenwald, Rainforest Foundation UK and Terra! “This film attempts to explain the key issues in a simple to understand way,” says Wolfgang Kuhlmann of ARA, one of the seven NGOs that produced the film. “Global deforestation cannot be solved without addressing the over-consumption that drives deforestation,” Kuhlmann adds.
- Celestial Green Ventures: 20 million hectares of REDD carbon offset projects in Brazil (March 2012)
Celestial Green Ventures is a carbon trading company based in Dublin, Ireland. In November 2011, the company claimed to have “the carbon credit rights to an area of land in excess of 20 million hectares of vulnerable rainforest in the Amazon region of Brazil.” In March 2012, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, FUNAI, announced that Celestial Green Venture’s contracts were not valid.
- Interview with Teguh Surya, WALHI: “We are against REDD. We are against carbon trading” (February 2012)
Teguh Surya explains why WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) is opposes REDD. He gives four reasons: 1, the problems with the UN definition of forests, which fails to differentiate between forests and industrial plantations; 2, REDD does not address over-consumption in the North; 3, leakage – without reducing demand, deforestation will simply move from one country to another; 4, the fact that carbon rights are unclear increases the danger that REDD could lead to land grabs.
- “This project has been a total failure,” says Australian Senator Christine Milne about the Kalimantan Forests and Climate Partnership (June 2012)
When it was launched in 2007, Australia’s Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership was supposed to be “practical climate change action that could deliver immediate and tangible benefits”. But five years later, the project has little more to show for the A$30 million spent than 50,000 tree seedlings planted a tiny fraction of the target. In March 2012, Erik Olbrei and Stephen Howes, two academics at the Australian National University, put out a discussion paper discussing how the project has failed to meet its initial targets. There have also been questions in the Australian parliament about the project.
- Only 10% of global carbon emissions come from tropical deforestation (June 2012)
“How much carbon is emitted from tropical deforestation?” asks Daniel J. Zarin of the Climate and Land Use Alliance in the most recent issue of Science magazine. The answer may be considerably less than previously thought. A study, also in Science, based on satellite data finds that emissions from deforestation account for 10% of global carbon emissions.
- Interview with Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of Indonesia’s REDD+ Task Force: “We are starting a new programme, a new paradigm, a new concept, a new way of seeing things” (September 2012)
A detailed interview with Kuntoro Mangkusubroto and Heru Prasetyo, from Indonesia’s REDD+ Task Force and the UKP4 (Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development), explain the progress so far on REDD in Indonesia. Particularly interesting are Kuntoro’s views on carbon trading (“I don’t know anything about that, because it’s too far away”) and Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia (“We don’t accept the word indigenous. Indigenous applies in Brazil, where Indians are the indigenous people. Here, everybody is indigenous”).
- Deforestation in Indonesia continues, despite the moratorium (May 2012)
Half-way through the two-year moratorium on new forestry concessions, the Jakarta Globe reported that Indonesia “may have lost a staggering five million hectares of forest”, in the past year according to Greenpeace. In fact, the area was just excluded from the moratorium maps. Meanwhile, the Jakarta Post reported that 115 companies have carried out illegal mining operations on an area of almost 500,000 hectares and Greenomics reported on illegal activities in the palm oil sector, including by companies in which the Norwegian Pension Fund holds shares.
- Carvier Limited: “3 million units available!!” from Brazil – the ethical alternative to carbon credits? (June 2012)
A company called Carvier Limited is advertising 3 million “Sustainability Credit Units” from an area of forest in Brazil. Predictably enough, REDD-Monitor had a few questions for Carvier Limited. And, perhaps just as predictably, Carvier Limited has so far not responded. The company’s website is “currently unavailable”, but the company is still active, according to Companies House.
- Worldwide Commodity Partners Limited – another carbon credit boiler room? (July 2012)
Worldwide Commodity Partners Limited is a London-based commodity trading firm that is currently focussing on the carbon markets. Its website explains that “With carbon offsetting emerging as a rapidly growing market, an opportunity was clear.” The company’s office is a forwarding service. The company uses high pressure phone calls to sell carbon credits. World Finance rescinded an award for fastest growing broker to the company following a “reevaluation of the firm’s presence in carbon market trading”.
- Interview with Scott Poynton, TFT: “We help companies clean up their supply chains – that is the way we need to go to protect the world’s forests” (August 2012)
Scott Poynton explains the history of his company TFT and how it works with companies to reduce deforestation. This is by far the longest interview on REDD-Monitor (just short of 15,000 words). It’s also one of the most controversial (which is hardly surprising as TFT is working with one of Indonesia’s most controversial companies, Sinar Mas). The interview got more comments than any other post in 2012.