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REDD in the news: 29 July – 4 August 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.

REDD+ for the poor or the poor for REDD+? About the limitations of environmental policies in the Amazon and the potential of achieving environmental goals through pro-poor policies

B. Pokorny, I. Scholz, and W. de Jong, Ecology and Society, 2013 | Once again, the international community focuses on the preservation of Amazonian forests, in particular through a bundle of initiatives grouped under the term of REDD+. Initially focusing on reducing carbon emissions, the REDD+ process became increasingly linked with developmental goals that represent the primary interest of all Amazon countries. In consequence, REDD+ can be seen as another attempt to achieve the twin goals of environmental protection and rural development, and consequently, relies on the strategies and tools of past efforts.

UN-REDD Newsletter 39

UN-REDD, June/July 2013 | In the June/July 2013 edition of the UN-REDD Programme newsletter, get highlights from the tenth meeting of the UN-REDD Programme Policy Board and the Global Symposium on REDD+ and the Green Economy. Read more on REDD+ progress in Bhutan, the DRC, Ecuador and Indonesia.

29 July 2013

CIFOR Reviews Experiences in REDD+

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 29 July 2013 | The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) released the third book in a series on REDD+. The book, titled ‘Analyzing REDD+: Challenges and Choices,’ examines the result of early REDD+ activities based on the Global Comparative Study on REDD+ undertaken by CIFOR and partners. The book features articles aimed to build an understanding of REDD+ and its evolution. It also includes information on implementing REDD+, such as financing REDD+, land tenure issues, REDD+ benefit sharing and local concerns around REDD+. Other articles address measuring REDD+ performance, such as baselines and monitoring, REDD+ safeguards, and applying emission factors.

Tracing carbon in forests: how degradation could speed up the carbon cycle

By Kristi Foster, World Agroforestry Centre, 29 July 2013 | Scientists from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and partners have performed an experiment called ‘pulse-labeling,’ the first of its kind in a tropical ecosystem. They sealed entire individual trees in a plastic cover into which they injected carbon-13 – heavy carbon atoms which act as tracers to follow the path of carbon all the way from photosynthesis through to incorporation by wood tissues. By analyzing tree rings for this trackable ‘carbon signature,’ the scientists discovered a big difference between the two tree types: the deciduous tree, Croton macrostachyus, stored new carbon for only six months, while the zigba, Podocarpus falcatus, retained carbon for three full years in wood storage tissues.

UN to open carbon market offices in Bogota and Manila

RTCC, 29 July 2013 | The UN plans to open two new offices aimed at boosting the world’s flagging carbon markets by promoting trading in Latin America and South East Asia. The move is part of a new strategy targeted at stimulating interest in the UN-run Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in developing countries. The CDM allows developed nations to offset their emissions by investing in low-carbon projects in poorer parts of the world. Prices of CDM certified emission reductions (CERs) collapsed by 80% in 2013 to around 55 Euro cents due to an over-supply of credits, weak economic growth and unambitious climate policies. “The choice was to drop anchor or stay the course. We ultimately decided to take this time to maintain and improve the CDM and seek opportunities where they might be found,” said Executive Board Chair Peer Stiansen.

UN rejects call to slash CDM fees, opens regional centres

By Susanna Twidale, Reuters Point Carbon, 29 July 2013 | The U.N. last week rejected pleas from project developers to slash fees for emission reduction projects registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and instead vowed to plough cash into regional centres to boost the number of schemes in some of the world’s poorest countries. At a meeting held in Bonn, Germany last week the CDM’s Executive Board opted not to recommend waiving administration fees for project developers while market prices for carbon credits remain below their generation costs… The price of the credits has plummeted to around 50 cents from over 20 euros five years ago, nearly bankrupting companies that invested in projects, after countries failed in 2009 to agree a global climate pact that would have triggered demand for credits.

[China] Carbon market helps cut emissions

By Jiang Xueqing and Chen Hong, China Daily, 29 July 2013 | On July 18, one month after China launched its first pilot carbon-trading program in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, the city began consulting local businesses and government departments about its draft regulations for the project. The regulations emphasize that carbon credits are corporate assets. The launch ceremony of the Shenzhen Emissions Trading Scheme saw Shenzhen Energy Group sell 10,000 metric tons of carbon credits to PetroChina International Guangdong at 28 yuan ($4.60) per ton. Hanergy Holding Group also bought 10,000 tons at 30 yuan per ton. Both businesses purchased the credits for investment purposes. "The launch of the carbon-trading market in Shenzhen demonstrates that China has taken a substantial step in reducing carbon emissions. Following Shenzhen, other carbon-trading pilots at provincial and city levels are making big strides," said Wu Delin, deputy secretary-general of the Shenzhen municipal government.

30 July 2013

Free trade pacts target illegal timber exports

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 July 2013 | A free trade agreement signed by Peru and the United States shows that the same treaties that open global markets to tropical timber can provide tools to stem illegal logging, according to a study under way in Peru. With provisions for stiffer sanctions, stronger law enforcement and cooperation to improve forest management, the pact reflects exporting and importing countries’ shared responsibility in fighting illegal logging, Julia Urrunaga, a researcher with the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency, said at the Third Latin American Congress of the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO) in San José, Costa Rica.

Report: Carbon markets offer ‘cheap’ aviation emissions cuts

By Will Nichols, BusinessGreen, 30 July 2013 | Controlling CO2 emissions using market mechanisms could cost airlines less than the revenue they make from checked bags, extra legroom, and in-flight snacks, new analysis has found. The industry could be paying as little as $4 a tonne of CO2 in 2015 by purchasing high-integrity carbon credits already available in the world’s carbon trading systems, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and NGO the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that urges the industry to adopt tougher emissions targets. The findings will heap further pressure on international leaders and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to reach a decision on implementing a global market-based mechanism to control aviation emissions when it meets in September.

Will California And Australia Trade Carbon Credits?

By Chris Clarke, KCET, 30 July 2013 | California’s greenhouse gas cap and trade program will basically merge with a similar program in Quebec in January. If a Tuesday announcement by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is any indication, Australia may be next. The announcement comes in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CARB, which manages the state’s greenhouse gas emissions credit auction and trading program, and the Australian Government Clean Energy Regulator. The MOU doesn’t come right out and say that California and Australia would like to combine their greenhouse gas cap and trade markets, but its focus on "information-sharing" about how to "harmonize" and coordinate "market-based programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" makes it clear that a joint Cal-Oz greenhouse gas market is at least next to the table, if not actually on it.

[Canada] Can a carbon tax work without hurting the economy? Ask British Columbia

By Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, 30 July 2013 | There are several options for pricing carbon emissions, but the alternative with the most support among political conservatives is a revenue-neutral carbon tax. In this system, a fee is attached to fossil fuel products based on their associated carbon emissions, and 100 percent of the revenue is returned to the citizens. People thus have an incentive to reduce emissions such that the revenue they receive is larger than the taxes they pay, allowing them to make money on the system by reducing their impact on the climate. In 2008, British Columbia implemented a carbon tax, with the revenue returned to citizens through lowered income taxes. A new peer-reviewed study examines the data through 2012 to see how British Columbia’s emissions and economy have fared, and the results are impressive. Consumption of taxed fuels per capita has fallen 19 percent in British Columbia relative to the rest of Canada.

Research: Nearly a quarter of June fires in Indonesia occurred in industrial plantations

By David Gaveau and Mohammad Agus Salim, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 July 2013 | Last month’s fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra made news headlines worldwide as they generated record-breaking air-pollution levels over neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. Singapore’s Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) rose to an all-time high of 371 on 21 June 2013, surpassing the official “hazardous designation” of 301 or higher. Analyses by the World Resources Institute (WRI), Eyes on the Forest, and the World Agroforestry Centre of available concession maps from official national and provincial government offices, superimposed on daily fire alerts from NASA, showed that the bulk of fire alerts occurred on lands leased out to plantation companies for the development of large industrial oil palm and acacia plantations.

[Vietnam] Norway, Japan to fund forestry projects

VietNam News, 30 July 2013 | Viet Nam will receive US$30 million from the Government of Norway to conduct the second phase of the National UN-REDD Programme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. The support was marked by an agreement signed yesterday between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Viet Nam has becomed the first of the 47 UN-REDD partner countries to move into the second phase of greenhouse gas reduction through improved forest and land-use management.

31 July 2013

Pilot Projects versus National Policy in the REDD+ Arena

By Josep A. Garí (UNDP), UN-REDD blog, 31 July 2013 | In summary, national policy and local activities on REDD+ are advancing simultaneously, but often in a disconnected manner, somehow unevenly. This can create disruptions, maybe contradictions, in climate-change mitigation efforts. However, both trends are necessary and can actually strengthen each other, creating valuable synergies. The deployment of specific measures is required to bridge national policy with pilot projects, ensuring that both strata are compatible and mutually reinforcing: these measures range from routine dialogue to establishing registration systems, and from defining national standards for projects to allowing project lessons to inform national REDD+ strategies. This interaction, which may also become a healthy contest of ideas and methods, has started and should intensify.

Cheap carbon offsets could strengthen aviation emissions goals

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 31 July 2013 | According to new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the cost of adopting a market based system of carbon offsetting could add as little as $2 to a typical one way fare… The new report, called Carbon Neutral Growth for Aviation: At What Price?, examines what this program might cost. The analysis shows that surplus offset credits already available in the world’s carbon trading systems (4.4bn tonnes of CO2 in 2020) could meet just under 50% of the airlines’ potential need between 2020 and 2050. If governments adopt tough criteria to ensure offsets represent real emissions reductions, the cost of these credits to aviation would be about $4 to $6 per tonne in 2015.

[Australia] Carbon price down, international ambition up?

By Erwin Jackson, Business Spectator, 31 July 2013 | Kevin Rudd’s decision to move to trading a year early, in a way, makes it easier for Australia – one of the world’s worst polluters per capita – to achieve significant emissions abatement at a lower cost. It would also largely determine how much Australia contributes to ongoing international efforts to reduce emissions. The changes won’t affect the setting of the emission limit under the ETS. An independent process is already underway into Australia’s national targets through the Climate Change Authority. By moving early to place a limit on emissions, an opportunity arises to align Australia’s domestic policies with the stated national climate interest of avoiding a 2oC increase global temperature ahead of important international events, like the UN Secretary General world leaders’ summit on climate ambition next year and the development of a new global agreement in 2015.

[Australia] Carbon credits market is neither free nor worth anything

By Joanne Nova, The Australian, 31 July 2013 | The paradox du jour: people who like free markets don’t want a carbon market, and the people who don’t trust capitalism want emissions trading. So why are socialists fighting for a carbon market? Because this “market” is a bureaucrat’s wet dream. A free market is the voluntary exchange of goods and services. “Free” means being free to choose to buy or to not buy the product. At the end of a free trade, both parties have something they prefer. [Those who know what real free markets are know that an emissions trading scheme is not and never can be a free market. The "Carbon-Market" is a market with no commodity, no demand, and no supply. Who needs a "carbon credit"? The government entirely determines both supply and demand.] A carbon market is a forced market. There is little intrinsic incentive to buy a certificate for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

[Tanzania] Lecturer Calls for Close Attention in Climate Change

By Anne Robi, Tanzania Daily News, 31 July 2013 | There is need for close attention in the adaptation of climate change and approaches that go beyond words into action with potential to informing and guiding policy makers. A Senior Lecturer in Forest Products Utilization at Sokoine University of Agriculture, Dr Suzan Augustino, made the call in Dar es Salaam on Monday during a five-day workshop organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The workshop aims at training and building capacity of the stakeholders on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation issues (REDD+) "Climate change impacts are likely to affect various sectors such as agriculture, health, forestry, energy, coastal and marine resources," she said… Dr Augustino also said REDD+ is a tool vital for conservation of forest biodiversity, water regulation, soil conservation, timber, forest and other non-timber forest products towards climate change adaptation.

1 August 2013

Climate Changing 10 Times Faster than in Past 65 Million Years

By James A. Foley, Nature World News, 1 August 2013 | Stanford University climate researchers warn that the likely rate of climate change over the next century will be 10 times faster than the rate of any climate shift in the past 65 million years, meaning the planet will undergo one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. Noah Diffenbaugh, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science, and Chris Field, a professor of biology and of environmental Earth system science at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, report in the journal Science that if the climate change trend continues at the current pace, it will place stress on terrestrial ecosystems around the world and that adaptation to a world with a new climate will be necessary many species to survive.

REDD+: What You See Isn’t Always What You Get

By Alice Harrison, Ecosystem Marketplace, 1 August 2013 | A colleague recently likened his experience tracking climate and REDD+ money in Mexico to an archaeological dig. Little by little, fragments of your object begin to reveal themselves, but not without a significant amount of time, resources and tenacity. At Transparency International (TI) we have been monitoring climate finance flows in six countries – of which four are REDD+- recipients. Gaining clarity over what money is going where is a first step to ensuring that the money does what it should, where it should, and doesn’t surreptitiously slip into the wrong bank account, or get lost among the myriad of climate finance projects currently proposed or underway. Transparency is like a prophylactic against negligent or corrupt spending. The trouble with REDD+ is that – in experience – transparency has been fairly poor.

Interactive web app lets users map forest carbon emissions activities

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 1 August 2013 | A new online portal for monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) carbon emissions allows researchers and practitioners to better manage forest inventories, its creators say. The Forest Carbon Database (FCDB) can be used to share measurements of carbon pools — reservoirs with the capacity to store and release carbon, the chemical basis of all known life and climate warming gases. Originally designed as part of the Sustainable Wetlands Adaptation and Mitigation Program (SWAMP), a collaborative effort between the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The interactive tool has been updated to include the capacity to help develop national and sub-national activities. “We’ve revamped the design by adding a map that shows some of the specific sites being monitored,” said Sigit Sasmito, a researcher at CIFOR.

Figueres: China setting pace in climate change challenge

RTCC, 1 August 2013 | UN climate chief Christiana Figueres says the low carbon leadership of China’s government should be used an example worldwide. Speaking ahead of the China Summit on Caring for Climate, she said the recent five year plan and carbon market pilots were evidence the planet’s largest economy is committed to change. “This progress shows domestic manufacturing and investment practices dovetailing into a local need for clean air and the global need for increased ambition in climate,” she said. Stressing the importance of ecologically sound economic growth, Figueres said the private sector, national policy and international process were the three key drivers towards cutting pollution amd achieveing a 2015 global emissions agreement.

[UK] FCA in court proceedings against firms promoting CIS

By Simoney Girard, FTAdviser, 1 August 2013 | According to a notice from the regulator, the high court in London has ordered a preliminary trial for Capital Alternatives and other firms and individuals for schemes that invest in African land and reforestation projects across the globe. In the notice, published on the regulator’s website, it said the court action focused on two particular schemes. The first one is African Land, also known as Agri Capita, which offers investments in rice farm harvests in Sierra Leone, and is operated by African Land Ltd. The second scheme is Reforestation Projects, operated by Reforestation Projects Ltd. The scheme is also known as Capital Carbon Credits and offers investments in carbon credits generated from land in Sierra Leone, Brazil and Australia.

2 August 2013

This gamble on carbon and the climate could trigger a new financial crisis

By Kevin Watkins, The Guardian, 2 August 2013 | If you want to see market irrationality in action, look no further than current stock market valuations for the world’s major oil, gas and coal companies. At a time when governments are supposedly preparing for a global climate change deal that will cut carbon emissions, energy multinationals are investing in carbon assets like there’s no tomorrow. Put bluntly, either we’re heading for a climate catastrophe, or the carbon asset bubble will go the way of sub-prime mortgage stock.

3 August 2013

4 August 2013

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