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REDD in the news: 29 April – 5 May 2013

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.

GIZ National REDD+ system for the Philippines

GIZ, May 2013 | Title: Preparation of a national REDD+ mechanism for greenhouse gas reduction and conservation of biodiversity in the Philippines. Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Country: Philippines. Lead executing agency: Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) . Overall term: 2012 to 2017.

Event: Linking Local REDD+ Projects to National REDD+ Strategies

Asia-Pacific Regional Coverage (IISD), April 2013 | The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia and other partners is convening a workshop on the role of in-country action to address deforestation and forest degradation in national REDD+ strategies. The workshop will consider six case studies from Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya and Tanzania in order to discuss: how drivers of deforestation and forest degradation can be addressed through local level projects; ways and means to link projects to national REDD+ processes; and challenges and opportunities associated with nesting local REDD+ action within national REDD+ strategies. Dates: 29 April – 1 May 2013. Location: Ethiopia.

UN-REDD Newsletter 37

UN-REDD, April 2013 | In the April 2013 edition of the UN-REDD Programme newsletter, read more on REDD+ updates in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Zambia. Also get details the UN-REDD Programme’s work on Green Economy, Social and Environmental Safeguards and Stakeholder Engagement.

UN-REDD E-discussions Address REDD+ Corruption Risks

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), April 2013 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) has released a summary of the e-discussions on addressing REDD+ corruption at the local level. The e-discussion was held from 21 January-24 February 2013, with the objective of identifying local governance responses that address corruption risks associated with REDD+ activities through an increased demand for and expectation of transparency at the local level. The summary highlights the main messages from the e-discussions, including the realization that corruption issues in the forest sector could be transferred to REDD+. To address this risk, the e-discussions recommend the engagement of local civil society organizations, the adaptation of local governance systems as part of a broad-based approach, and the clarification of land tenure and use rights.

29 April 2013

Global carbon dioxide levels set to pass 400ppm milestone

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 29 April 2013 | The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days. Readings at the US government’s Earth Systems Research laboratory in Hawaii, are not expected to reach their 2013 peak until mid May, but were recorded at a daily average of 399.72ppm on 25 April. The weekly average stood at 398.5 on Monday. Hourly readings above 400ppm have been recorded six times in the last week, and on occasion, at observatories in the high Arctic. But the Mauna Loa station, sited at 3,400m and far away from major pollution sources in the Pacific Ocean, has been monitoring levels for more than 50 years and is considered the gold standard.

[Indonesia] APP answers questions on new forest conservation policy

By Rhett A. Butler,, 29 April 2013 | In February, Asia Pulp & Paper, one the world’s largest paper producers, announced a forest conservation policy that would effectively exclude fiber sourced through conversion of rainforests and peatlands… As a close observer of APP over the past several years, I’ve been keen to see what happens with the forest policy. Accordingly, I have sent a lot of questions to various stakeholders in Indonesia’s forestry sector, ranging from local activists, to international NGOs, to auditors, to officials within the Ministry of Forestry, to APP itself. Much of the research I’ve garnered through this process has ended up in my reporting on the policy, but information continues to come into my inbox. For example, over the weekend, Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability at APP, replied to some of my questions in a comprehensive response. Given the extent of her message, I’ve included the full text below.

30 April 2013

UN-REDD Highlights Key National Legal Issues for REDD+

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 30 April 2013 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) has released a publication, titled ‘Legal Analysis of Cross-cutting Issues for REDD+ Implementation: Lessons Learned from Mexico, Viet Nam and Zambia.’ The purpose of the report is to identify key legal issues impacting REDD+ and highlight lessons learned and messages from legal reform and development in the case study countries. The report is based on three country-level assessments of REDD+ legal preparedness as well as national stakeholder consultation workshops. Main conclusions include: the need to recognize customary rights; the importance of clear definitions of forests and REDD+; and the value of cross-sectoral approaches to addressing deforestation and forest degradation.

Africa’s logging permit crisis puts EU at risk of laundering illegal timber imports

Global Witness, 30 April 2013 | Systematic abuse of small, poorly regulated logging permits in Africa by companies, forest officials and politicians is undermining efforts to fight deforestation and keep illegal timber out of the EU, says a new report by Global Witness. The new report, Logging in the shadows, identifies a largely hidden pattern of abuse across Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana and Liberia, in which permits designed to promote small businesses and meet local needs are being allocated in their hundreds to industrial logging companies. These “shadow permits” open the door to highly lucrative, large-scale logging operations which bypass oversight by the authorities.

Indigenous tribes say effects of climate change already felt in Amazon rainforest, 30 April 2013 | Tribal groups in Earth’s largest rainforest are already being affected by shifts wrought by climate change, reports a paper published last week in the British journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. The paper, which is based on a collection of interviews conducted with indigenous leaders in the Brazilian Amazon, says that native populations are reporting shifts in precipitation patterns, humidity, river levels, temperature, and fire and agricultural cycles. These shifts, measured against celestial timing used by indigenous groups, are affecting traditional ways of life that date back thousands of years. “Indigenous groups who have lived in the Amazon for centuries, even millennia, are seeing signs that the climate is changing there," said Steve Schwartzman, lead author of the study and director of tropical forest policy at Environmental Defense Fund.

[Australia] Tasmania’s forest war now over, says Burke

Brisbane Times, 30 April 2013 | Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has declared an end to Tasmania’s forestry wars, after key environmental groups signed up to an amended agreement with the state’s logging industry. Tasmania’s lower house is later on Tuesday expected to pass the forestry peace deal legislation, bringing to an end years of protracted negotiation over the changes. Environmentalists and the timber industry were forced to recommit to the agreement after the state’s upper house made amendments that delayed the protection of more than half the forests originally earmarked. With agreement reached between signatories including The Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Environment Tasmania, and the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania, Mr Burke said the state’s forestry war was now over.

[Australia] Appeals from both sides to green forest backers

ABC News, 30 April 2013 | Forestry Tasmania has offered an olive branch to the forest peace deal’s environmental signatories, as they decide their position on major changes to the enacting legislation. Both the state-owned company and fringe environmental groups delivered their final pleas on the eve of the amended bill returning to Parliament for consideration by the Lower House, The forest peace deal, brokered by green groups, unionists and industry bodies in talks that lasted more than two years, involves protecting 500,000 hectares of forest from logging. Two weeks ago, the Legislative Council backed potentially deal-breaking changes to the agreement, meaning only a small amount of forest would be reserved upfront. Forestry Tasmania has promised it will not log in areas proposed for protection under the agreement and its Chairman, Bob Annells, says he wants to make it clear that the company is committed to observing the spirit of the deal, not just the legislation.

Microsoft Carbon Fee Funds Cambodian Community Forestry

Ecosystem Marketplace, 30 April 2013 | Microsoft is directing some of the money from its “game-changing” internal carbon fee to fund international carbon offset projects… “We are part of the problem, especially when we look at our customers and the proliferation of devices that are emerging and the energy they require, so we need to also be part of the solution,” said Tamara “T.J.” DiCaprio, senior director of carbon and energy, environmental sustainability for Microsoft… One project Microsoft is investing in is the Oddar Meanchey forest protection project in Cambodia, in which Terra Global Capital works with local communities to halt deforestation and protect an area of 56,000 hectares of tropical forest. Forest cover in the Oddar Meanchey province is being lost at an average annual rate of 2.1%, the highest in the country. The company has also chosen to partner with The CarbonNeutral Company to invest in carbon reduction projects…

[Guyana] Forbes Magazine LCDS accolade sends clear message: …put aside political pettiness, implement programmes-Rodrigues-Birkett

By Gary Eleazar, Guyana Chronicle, 30 April 2013 | Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett has said Guyanese should be proud, as a nation, over the recent recognition of its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and pact with Norway. She said, especially following the recent worldwide publication in renowned Forbes Magazine, the message should be clear to all and sundry inclusive of the local political opposition, who, during the recent budget deliberations, had voted negatively against programmes falling under the LCDS initiative for expenditure of $19 billion. The minister said Forbes Magazine would not have published such an article, particularly in light of the accolades “if it was not deemed worthwhile.”

[Indonesia] East Kalimantan’s Nature Reserves Under Threat From Villagers

By Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Jakarta Globe, 30 April 2013 | Forest rangers have revealed that up to two-fifths of the combined area of two nature reserves in East Kalimantan’s Paser district are degraded as a result of the increased human presence there. Darmanto, the chief ranger with the Balikpapan Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said on Monday that the 53,800-hectare Teluk Adang and the 46,900-hectare Teluk Apar reserves, both home to ecologically important mangrove swamps, were slowly being taken over by people building villages and fish and shrimp farms there. “They’ve even built schools and clinics inside the reserves, which is prohibited, and this has left up to 40 percent of the area badly degraded,” he said. Darmanto added that there were now 14 villages inside the reserves, with a total population of 24,000 and growing. He warned that if the trend continued, human activities would destroy all vestiges of the reserves within just five years.

[Indonesia] Aceh performs worst in forestry protection: UNDP

By Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta Post, 30 April 2013 | The latest study from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Indonesia found that the local administration in Aceh is the worst performer when it comes to protecting the country’s remaining forests. Of the country’s top 10 provinces with the largest forest area Aceh scored the lowest on the UNDP’s forest government index. The index measures the performance of each local administration in its spatial planning, forest regulation and protection, and its participation on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). Under the REDD+ scheme, Norway allocated up to US$1 billion over seven or eight years to finance Indonesia’s emission reduction programs.

[Pakistan] Forests workshop: Trees in south Punjab felled at ‘alarming rate’

By Sonia Malik, The Express Tribune, 30 April 2013 | The riverine forests in southern Punjab are being chopped down at an “alarmingly fast rate”, according to a recent survey by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P). “In Punjab, there are three forest types – the pine forests of Murree, the scrubs of the Salt Range and the riverine forests near Kot Addu, Vehari and Muzaffargarh,” said Ibrahim Khan, the WWF-P senior manager for conservation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, at a workshop here on Monday. The riverine forests, mainly along the River Indus in south Punjab, are being chopped down at an alarmingly fast rate compared to other natural forests in the Punjab, Khan said.

[Philippines] An answer to deforestation quandary, 30 April 2013 | Why should the government agencies and other organizations search for a reforestation program from other countries when there is already a system in the Philippines proven to be viable and sustainable? The Davao-based Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) Foundation, Inc. has developed a scheme that combines farming and reforestation together. “We have been doing the system since the late 1980s but it didn’t catch the attention of the government and funding agencies,” says Roy C. Alimoane, the first Filipino director of the center. Alimoane is referring to the Sustainable Agroforest Land Technology (SALT 3), a modification of the original Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT 1). There are two more types of the system: Simple Agro-Livestock Technology (SALT 2) and Small Agrofruit Livelihood Technology (SALT).

1 May 2013

Negotiators Made Only Incremental Progress in Climate Talks

Sudan Vision Daily, 1 May 2013 | Expectations were low for this year’s UNFCCC climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar (COP 18), which concluded on 8 December,2012.In the end, countries were successful in making progress, but only incrementally… Questions on the drivers of deforestation and the need for additional guidance on the REDD+ safeguards were also to be addressed. Parties managed to get through much of the first part of their SBSTA mandate, but ultimately got stuck on the question of verification. While some Parties agreed that the experts who will be verifying REDD+ emission reductions need more guidance than what is currently available, others did not. The topic will come up again in the spring at the SBSTA meetings in Germany. On finance for REDD+, topics raised included designing a new REDD+ institution, incentives for non-carbon benefits, a fund for joint adaptation/mitigation actions, and consideration of sub-national approaches for results-based payments.

A Paradigm Shift in EU Climate Policy

By Emil Dimantchev, TriplePundit, 1 May 2013 | The market is therefore likely to stay oversupplied for the rest of the decade. Thomson Reuters Point Carbon believes prices will not rise significantly above €3 per ton, where they are currently, before 2020. A long period of low carbon prices marks a paradigm shift for European climate policy. Before the Commission’s backloading proposal was shot down, businesses expected European carbon prices to remain significant in the long term. These expectations drove emission reductions – several studies showed that companies reduced 330 million tons of emissions because of the ETS between 2005 and 2010, despite an excess of supply and volatile prices. But expectations for low prices in the long term will most likely render the ETS insignificant for business decisions. In terms of its capacity to create incentives for low-carbon investments, the EU ETS is entering an ice age.

Learning from Europe’s carbon price crash: we need a carbon bank

By Katherine Lake, The Conversation, 1 May 2013 | The European “back-loading” experience shows decisions about the functioning of carbon markets need to be made outside the political process. The politics of climate change have become more divisive over the last few years, just as the threat to the planet grows… An independent bank, with the job of regulating the market, should be part of the architecture of any emissions trading scheme. Similarly to the Reserve Bank of Australia, a carbon bank needs the authority to act decisively when required in order for the market to function efficiently. A call for such a bank is not new: Professor Ross Garnaut and the Clean Energy Council have called for it in the past. A carbon bank is critical for two reasons. Unusually, carbon markets are government created; they are artificial markets. When over-supply occurs, it is not naturally addressed by market dynamics…

[Pakistan] Workshop on ‘REDD+, roadmap development process’ concludes

Business Recorder, 1 May 2013 | The Federal Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) in collaboration with the Punjab Forest Department, ICIMOD and World Wide Funds for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-F) organised a two-day provincial level consultation workshop on ‘REDD+ and roadmap development process’, which concluded here on Tuesday… The workshop included sessions on various topics on REDD+ and its implementation in Pakistan. The discussion sessions were very interactive and the participants came up with a set of recommendations towards initiation of REDD+ in Punjab. These include selection of potential forests, identification of gap areas for future research and capacities building of professionals.

2 May 2013

Pablo Solon: everyone must accept binding climate commitments

By Pablo Solon, RTCC – Climate change news, 2 May 2013 | The United Nations climate negotiations in Bonn are more of the same and we are running out of time. Everybody recognizes that there is a “gap”, but there are no concrete proposals to solve the “gap”. Most delegations prefer not to put a number on the “gap” to avoid the embarrassment of what all countries had agreed to in Doha last December 2012. According to UNEP reports, global emissions should be around 44 GT of CO2e by 2020 to be on track to a 2ºC scenario, that still in fact is dangerous. With the Doha, Durban and Cancun outcomes they will hit the level of 57 GT of CO2e by 2020. So the “gap” is 13 GT of CO2e. If this “gap” is not closed by 2020 the global average temperature of the planet will increase in more than 4 to 8ºC. The last time the Earth lived a global warming like this was millions of years ago.

Markets: China nears launch of large emissions trading pilot programs

By Coco Liu, E&E Publishing, 2 May 2013 | China will soon begin its grand experiment to rein in climate change, using the nation’s regionwide carbon markets as the building blocks for what could become the world’s second-largest emissions trading market. Four out of seven Chinese pilot regions — Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin and Hubei — have issued their versions of cap-and-trade plans for greenhouse gas emissions. While Beijing and Shenzhen have yet to unveil their final plans, major parts of them were drafted and discussed in news conferences last year. Chongqing has been the slowest mover in developing its carbon market, but it will still be able to start trading by the end of this year, local media have reported.

[India] An ecosystem to save, or squander

By Madhav Gadgil and Ligia Nornoha, The Hindu, 2 May 2013 | This is a challenging time in India’s development history where a number of tenets of environmental governance are being questioned by the imperative of growth. Environmental governance in India is under assault, and is thus in need of both fresh thinking, and a new focus, based on outcome and results. The Western Ghats are no ordinary ecosystem. They constitute the water tower of peninsular India, providing water to 245 million people and draining a large part of the land surface of India. They are also a treasure trove of biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity confers sovereign rights over these elements of biodiversity for which we are a country of origin. India can play an important role in research relating to such biodiversity elements and claim a share in the commercial profits flowing out of their use.

[Indonesia] Forest for the Trees

By Philip Jacobson, Tempo, 2 May 2013 | A new plan that would open up much of Aceh’s forests to commercial exploitation has been clouded by misinformation. Officials place the blame with irresponsible NGOs, said to have spread false figures in the media. However, civil society elements tell a different story. They claim it is the authorities who have been misleading the public, and that Aceh officials have designed the plan in secret, without a proper public consultation. Moreover, environmental experts, activists and academics say that despite their best efforts, they have been unable to obtain basic data and documents associated with the plan. They tell of state agencies sending them in circles, withholding crucial information about what is in store for the province.

Greater Mekong countries ‘lost one-third of forest cover in 40 years’

By John Vidal, The Guardian, 2 May 2013 | Five Asian countries have lost nearly one-third of their forests in the last 35 years and could be left with little more than 10-20% of their original cover by 2030 – with devastating effects on wildlife and humans, a new report suggests. Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam have lost nearly 40m hectares (ha) of forest cover since 1980 but have retained about 98m ha of natural forest, just over half of the region’s land area. Using satellite data, the WWF researchers calculated that since 1980, Cambodia has lost 22% of its 1973 forest cover, Laos and Burma 24%, and Thailand and Vietnam 43%. The report on ecosystems in the greater Mekong area warns that these countries risk losing more than one-third of their remaining forest cover within the next two decades if they fail to increase protection.

[USA] First REIT Project Registered for CA Offset Market

Finite Carbon press release, 2 May 2013 | Finite Carbon and Potlatch Corporation today announced the successful completion and registration of the Finite Carbon – Moro Big Pine CE Improved Forest Management Early Action Offset Project. Located on 15,809 acres in south-central Arkansas, this is the nation’s first improved forest management (IFM) project completed for a publicly-traded real estate investment trust. The Moro Big Pine forest carbon project was developed under the Climate Action Reserve forest project protocol for California’s greenhouse gas emissions trading program and received an initial issuance of 220,208 compliance-eligible carbon offsets. Finite Carbon provided all financing, development, and offset transaction support for the project which will now transition to the California Air Resources Board (ARB) forest offset protocol.

3 May 2013

Nations seek flexible climate approach, but no breakthrough in Bonn

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 3 May 2013 | New, more flexible ways to fight climate change were sketched out on Friday at the end of a week of talks between 160 nations, but there was no breakthrough in bridging a deep divide between China and the United States. The meeting of senior officials in Bonn, Germany, aired formulas to resolve disputes between rich and poor on sharing out the burden of curbing greenhouse gas emissions as part of a new U.N. deal, a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Attempts to reach agreement have foundered above all on a failure to agree on the contribution developing countries should make to curbing the industrial emissions responsible for global warming. The next ministerial conference to try to reach a deal is scheduled for Paris in 2015. The United States, recently overtaken by China as the world’s biggest carbon polluter, never ratified Kyoto because it set no binding emissions cuts for rapidly growing economies such as China and India.

[Australia] I don’t agree

By Richard Flanagan,, 3 May 2013 | So Julia Gillard has declared that she wants the parties who started the so-called Tasmanian forest peace process “to do everything they can to use their abilities to silence those who haven’t gone with the mainstream consensus”. To silence. I lived with the silence of Tasmania for too many years. And now the leaders of The Wilderness Society, Environment Tasmania, the ACF and the Tasmanian Greens have signed up to a deal that seeks to achieve what even Gunns failed in doing: silencing the rage Tasmanians felt with the destruction of their land and the corruption of public life that for a time became its necessary corollary. It is perhaps the greatest own goal in Australian political history.

Is China really a climate change leader?

By Jennifer Duggan, The Guardian, 3 May 2013 | China’s environmental woes have attracted a lot of attention internationally since the start of the new year. Air pollution was first up in January as levels in a number of cities, including the capital Beijing, hit lung clogging off the record levels. Dubbed the ‘air-pocalypse’, hazardous smog left air pollution left cities enveloped in a thick layer of smog. And just last month water pollution took an unusual form in Shanghai after thousands of dead pigs were found floating in the city’s main river which provides drinking water for up to 20 per cent of the city’s 23 million residents. Concerns have also been raised about dangerous levels of soil pollution after heavy metals were found in soil samples. China’s environment has suffered to help fuel its record-breaking economic growth. Its coal-powered factories and power stations pump out thick clouds of soot making it the world’s number one emittor of greenhouse gases.

4 May 2013

Successful week of talks in Bonn looks towards finalising ‘dynamic’ climate deal in 2015

By Frank McDonald, The Irish Times, 4 May 2013 | The global agreement to combat climate change due to be concluded in 2015 is now likely to include a “dynamic” element that would allow new scientific evidence to be taken on board as time passes. At the end of a week-long round of talks in Bonn, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said it was still unclear how this racheting mechanism would be achieved, but the process needed to “match the clarity” of science. “Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations will soon pass the 400 parts per million threshold – a dangerously high level – so little time remains to take concerted action in order to prevent global average temperatures rising over 2 degrees Celsius.” After what she described as a “very productive week, with a very positive and constructive tone”, she said there was “common ground that the agreement in 2015 cannot be cast in stone”, but rather needed to “bring on board the emerging science”.

US urges light-touch regulation of emissions as climate heats up

By Frank McDonald, The Irish Times, 4 May 2013 | The first round of climate talks in 2013 may have been quite relaxed, but this didn’t disguise significant differences between the parties on whether the architecture of a new global agreement in 2015 should be a Kyoto Protocol-style “top-down” structure or something much looser. Low-lying countries acutely aware of their vulnerability to sea-level rise, like the 44-strong Alliance of Small Island States, want a legally binding agreement with mandatory targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions – particularly for rich nations with “historic responsibilities”. But the US and its allies have been pushing for a light-touch “pledge and review” process, with every country making a “contribution” to global efforts to bridge the yawning gap between burgeoning emissions and the agreed target of limiting global warming at 2 degrees.

Hydropower in Guyana: Shrouded in secrecy

The Economist, 4 May 2013 | Now the government wants to move forward with an $840m project at Amaila Falls, deep in the forested interior. At full capacity of 165MW, it could supply more power than Guyana’s present needs… Plans to build Amaila date from 1997, though Sithe only got involved in 2009. The estimated cost has risen steadily. An access road is unfinished. There is as yet no economic feasibility study for the project; when completed, the study will remain confidential, as is GPL’s outline power-purchase agreement. Opposition parties complain that the government is being “secretive” about Amaila. On April 24th they blocked funds for a government equity-stake in the project. If Amaila is as beneficial as its backers claim, an open debate might generate broader support for the project, and cut its $56m bill for political risk insurance.

5 May 2013

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