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REDD in the news: 19-25 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.

The Norwegian Fast-Start Finance Contribution

By Smita Nakhooda, Taryn Fransen, Thorvald Moe, Steffen Kallbekken, Alice Caravani, World Resources Institute, August 2013 | Norway has made a substantial effort to mobilize climate finance. Norway’s bilateral climate finance contribution was USD 676 million in 2010, and USD 734 million in 2011. Norway’s contribution is one of the largest amongst developed countries, even though it is one of the smaller economies. The majority of Norwegian bilateral climate finance has supported mitigation measures under a program to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+). While at the time of publication official reporting on 2012 spending was not yet available, budget numbers for 2012 indicate climate finance was maintained at a similar high level. Meanwhile, the budget for 2013 entails a very large increase in grants to renewable energy.

The United Nations Presents REDD+ Talks: NYC, 09.18.13

CSR Wire, August 2013 | The United Nations Programme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) and Code REDD present REDD+ Talks: NYC, an official side event to the sixty-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly to mark UN-REDD’s fifth anniversary. REDD+ Talks: NYC is an invite-only, half-day event that will bring together representatives from the public, private, and civil sectors to demonstrate multi-stakeholder support for and engagement with REDD+. This event will highlight the advances that REDD+ has made at the national, subnational, and regional levels while also sparking dialogue on the role of the private sector in REDD+.

19 August 2013

New forest conservation manifesto calls for more power to the people, 19 August 2013 | More power needs to be put in the hands of local communities and decision makers if we are to avoid continued loss and degradation of the world’s forests, scientists say. Gathering at INTECOL, the world’s largest international ecology meeting, in London this week, 50 leading forest ecologists from around the world said a radical rethink is required of the way we approach forest conservation. Crucial to the new approach, the group says, is taking advantage of new technologies and new ways of doing science. According to Dr Julia Jones from Bangor University: "People in a position to make decisions about forest conservation often lack the information they need to inform those decisions. Open access, open science and new communication technologies allow us to share huge amounts of data and we need to ensure it is in the hands of those who can use it; whether local communities, NGOs or regional authorities."

Clarifying the Role of Non-Carbon Benefits in REDD+

By Chris Meyer, EDF, 19 August 2013 | In the face of the growing threat of climate change, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has been a hot topic in international climate negotiations for nearly a decade. Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are currently in the process of deciding on many important elements of the REDD+ policy framework. The ‘non-carbon benefits’ of REDD+ activities is one such issue that is just now being discussed in two different forums under the UNFCCC. In June, countries at the UNFCCC’s 38th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) proposed a draft text to be considered at the Conference of the Parties’ (COP) 19th session this coming November. The draft text acknowledged the need for clarity on the types of non-carbon benefits and related methodological issues and for the discussion to take place in 2014.

The surveillance state spying on bark, leaf, ape

By Eric Rosenbaum,, 19 August 2013 | Today’s version of the cooperation and conflict between business and environmental interests is a little different. Take computer scientist Rebecca Moore, engineering manager for Google Earth Engine, a global-scale data-mining initiative that crunches information from satellite imagery so the technology can be applied to social issues. Moore also heads Google Earth Outreach, which supports nonprofits and global communities. When Google Earth was first launched, most people didn’t know what to do with it, other than look at their neighbor’s backyard. Moore said. She had other ideas, though—using the satellite imagery from Google Earth to prove that a logging plan was illegal in her own "backyard." "I used it myself to stop logging of a thousand acres of Redwoods in my community. That was seen as the first environmental grass roots use of it, and then NGOs started contacting me," Moore said.

[Australia] Coalition’s carbon budget shortfall will be $4 billion, unless …

By Katherine Lake, Climate Spectator, 19 August 2013 | By now you’ll know the Coalition has dramatically under-budgeted its Direct Action plan on climate change by A$4 billion. On the Coalition’s current budget the plan will fail to meet Australia’s emissions target of 5% by 2020; and, instead, emissions are projected to grow by at least 9% above 2000 levels by 2020. So what’s gone wrong? And what mechanisms might the Coalition employ to reduce this dramatic shortfall? The findings were released in a report from The Climate Institute yesterday, using modelling from Monash University and consultants SKM. The projections are worse for 2050, with emissions projected to increase by 45% above 2000 levels, even with extra funding. Part of the problem here is the Coalition’s unwillingness to use what are known as international carbon units – one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent generated from mitigation overseas – to make up emissions shortfalls.

[Canada] BC Forest Carbon Partnership signs first contract

By Jeff Sargeant,, 19 August 2013 | The newly created BC Forest Carbon Partnership has secured its first contract to re-plant damaged forest. The collaboration between the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative and the province aims to re-seed areas of forest damaged by fire or the mountain pine beetle. Cooperative CEO MaryAnne Arcand calls it a watershed moment. "We’re very excited, we just reached an agreement with Tree Canada, with up to 20 hectares in the Vanderhoof region starting next year over a two year period." This particular area of land has been hit hard twice in recent years. "Beetle first and then a fire and the ground is devastated, no one has an obligation to replant it right now so that meets the criteria for our program."

Ethiopia and Norway Signed a REDD+ Partnership Agreement

By Meraf Leykun, Ethiopian Business News, 19 August 2013 | Ethiopia and Norway signed a REDD+ Partnership agreement to support Ethiopia’s forest sector and Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Strategy. Agriculture State Minister, Sileshi Getahun and Norwegian Ambassador to Ethiopia Oddlnge Kvalheim signed the agreement on Friday 16 August, 2013. Sileshi on the occasion said the agreement will contribute to Ethiopia’s efforts to build climate resilient green economy. Ambassador Kvalheim on his part said the partnership is to contribute to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation, thereby supporting the development and implementation of Ethiopia’s REDD+ Strategy.

European forests head towards carbon saturation point: Study

Reuters, 19 August 2013 | The ability of Europe’s aging forests to absorb carbon dioxide is heading towards saturation point, threatening one of the continent’s main defences against global warming, a study showed on Sunday. Forests from Spain to Sweden are getting older, packed with trees less good at soaking up the emissions blamed for rising world temperatures, mounting sea levels and increasing numbers of heatwaves and floods, experts said. Trees are being threatened by more fires, storms and insect attacks, said the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Some parts of the continent have also started cutting down some forests, it added. That all meant Europe should no longer assume its forests would be able to continue absorbing carbon emissions from factories, power plants and cars, at the same rate, it added. Forests currently soak up about 10 percent of Europe’s emissions.

[UK] Investment boss banned from being a company director for 13 years

Echo, 19 August 2013 | The boss of a “green” investment scheme investigated by the Echo has been banned from being a company director for 13 years. Matthew Ames, 38, of Goldfinch Lane, Thundersley, ran the Investor Club and Forestry for Life from a converted farm barn in Dunton Road, Laindon, and attracted a total of around £1.6 million from investors. Both firms offered investment in carbon credits which are generated by conservation projects and then bought and sold like shares by companies keen to offset their carbon emissions. The probe was launched following Echo news reports in August 2010… Following a separate criminal investigation by the City of London Police, Mr Ames was charged with two counts of fraudulent trading. He pleaded not guilty to both charges at the Old Bailey in February and was bailed ahead of a trial next month.

[USA] An Effective Carbon Market for a Stronger California

By Emily Reyna and Katherine Hsia-Kiung, EDF, 19 August 2013 | Last Friday, California companies participated in the fourth cap-and-trade auction since the program’s historic opening in November 2012. The results of this auction will be made public on Wednesday, but even without the exact numbers, the program’s previous success is proving the carbon market won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Just look at the scoreboard so far and you’ll see California’s economy is rebounding. And, despite efforts by the program’s opponents to shut down the program, every auction to date has seen strong and diverse bidder participation, complete sale of current allowances, and steady demand for future allowances. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given California’s successful, albeit brief, history of cap-and-trade.

20 August 2013

The Climate May Be Changing, but the IPCC Remains the Same

By David Biello, Scientific American, 20 August 2013 | By 2021, climate scientists should be 99 percent certain that climate change is our fault–up from 95 percent certain presently and a mere 90 percent certain all the way back in 2007. This conclusion of the leaked draft of the forthcoming assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) begs the question: Is any of that certainty changing anything? … Too bad scientists are more worried than they can usefully admit in an IPCC document, and society (meaning governments) just don’t seem to give a damn. I can’t wait to see how Saudi Arabia, Canada, the U.S. and China, among other nation-states, attempt to tweak this leaked draft at the end of September in Stockholm. In case you missed it, progress toward a global deal to combat climate change is presently on hiatus, working ever so slowly to arrive at a deal that can be sealed in 2015 and that would take effect in 2020–just in time for the next IPCC report.

FAO and South Africa Prepare for WFC

Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), 20 August 2013 | The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Government of South Africa have announced the Associate Secretary General for the fourteenth World Forestry Congress (WFC). Ms. Tiina Vähänen from Finland will support the Congress, to be held from 7-11 September 2015, in Durban, South Africa. Vähänen has worked on REDD+, forestry and climate change with the Government of Finland and the UN. The WFC aims to provide guidance on the development and implementation of forest policy, discuss further needs with regard to future research and areas of work, and support the elaboration and adoption of international technical standards on forest-related standards, terminology and research.

Congo forest villages repair damage from charcoal business

By Nene Mainzana Mapoko, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 20 August 2013 | The Congolese village of Madimba is struggling with the ravages of decades of rampant deforestation and the capital Kinshasa’s insatiable appetite for cooking with charcoal. It is not alone. As in many other villages across this huge central African country’s Bas-Congo province, residents have to cope with a mix of climatic and environmental changes that threaten their traditional way of life. “With Kinshasa’s electricity supply problems, the village of Madimba is one of those places supplying (the city) with tonnes of charcoal every day,” said engineer Espérant Kivua. “As a result, there is now grassland (instead of forest), the caterpillars that are a staple food for the community are in short supply, farm yields are poor, and rain is lacking.”

Allianz Mulls Carbon Credit Expansion After Indonesia Investment

By Mathew Carr and Chua Baizhen, Bloomberg, 20 August 2013 | The insurer bought credits created by the Rimba Raya project in Borneo, a tract of land set aside to prevent deforestation on the Indonesian part of the island, the company said today in a statement. The reserve will prevent 90 million metric tons of emissions over 30 years, Tewes said without providing details of the deal, including the volume of credits… Allianz could invest in emission-reduction projects on behalf of its clients, he said. Voluntary credits similar to those issued by Rimba Raya trade for about 6 euros ($8) to 8 euros a metric ton, Tewes said. That’s about a 38 percent premium to the cost of European Union carbon permits on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London, where prices have slumped 82 percent since 2008 due to a glut.

[USA] Washington View: Is carbon dioxide really the target?

By Don Brunell, The Columbian, 20 August 2013 | Environmental activists claim they want to reduce production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. If so, they’re going about it in a very strange way. Take forest management, for example. Anti-forestry activists oppose salvaging dead and diseased trees, saying the forests should be left in their natural state. But that debris is volatile tinder for raging wildfires that pump an average of 67 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, according to a 2013 report by the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee. Salvage logging actually enhances forest health while producing building materials and jobs in the process. For example, when the May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens destroyed nearly 68,000 acres of the Weyerhaeuser Tree Farm, the company set about restoring the area. They salvaged useable downed trees, removing 600 truckloads of logs each day.

21 August 2013

Forests: A Rising Global Climate Superpower?

By Bronsom Griscom (TNC), Cool Green Science, 21 August 2013 | Recently, however, there seems to be a growing sense of concern that REDD+ is a fading star as a solution to climate change. This may be due to both (i) the absence of a global climate deal has that was anticipated to create global financing for REDD+, and (ii) a declining contribution of net emissions from tropical deforestation to climate change, now down to about 10% (average of Pan et. al. 2011, Baccini et. al. 2012, and Harris et. al. 2012). I believe both of these concerns are unfounded. It should come as no surprise that a global climate deal has been hard to reach – it requires an unprecedented level of voluntary financial and legal commitment in concert by most countries on earth to address a slow moving (albeit massive) environmental threat.

Brazil Amazon town takes a stand against deforestation

AFP, 21 August 2013 | When farmer Luiz Martins Neto first moved to Sao Felix do Xingu a quarter of a century ago, the area had virgin forest, gold and a reservation for the local indigenous people. "They used to say it was the best place to live," he said. But like many others, he created his first fazenda — coffee plantation — with slash and burn techniques, helping to destroy his pristine surroundings. "In those days, the more you cleared the forest, the better your life was and the more land you acquired," the 54-year-old said. This was long the prevailing view in Brazil’s vast Amazon region, particularly during the 1964-85 military dictatorship. But, decades later, the town in the northern state of Para is turning its back on the destructive ways of the past and trying to save what it has left. Today, Neto’s farm is part of a model agribusiness project that makes use of deforested land and does not encroach on the remaining forest.

Carbon Permits Rise on China’s First Market to Exceed EU Price

By Mike Anderson, Bloomberg, 21 August 2013 | Carbon permits rose on the Shenzhen Emissions Exchange, the first of seven trial markets in China, to a price exceeding those in Europe, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Shenzhen carbon allowances for 2013 increased to 43 yuan ($7) a metric ton yesterday, up from 28 to 32 yuan a ton on June 18, the first day of trading, said Charlie Cao, a Beijing-based analyst for New Energy Finance. “Those trades show that at least some companies are increasingly serious about carbon trading,” he said. Shenzhen’s new cap and trade market includes about 635 companies. It traded 21,112 tons of carbon in eight transactions valued at 613,236 yuan on June 18, according to a video presentation at the opening ceremony. China’s seven CO2 markets … are set to regulate 800 million to 1 billion tons of emissions by 2015 in the world’s biggest cap- and-trade program after Europe’s, New Energy Finance Forecasts.

Logging, Palm Oil Plantations, and Indonesia’s Summer Of Smoke

By Brihannala Morgan, Earth Island Journal, 21 August 2013 | Over the last few weeks and months, I have followed the spread of the haze from the fires in Sumatra, which have inundated Singapore and peninsular Malaysia, with a mixture of both sadness and deja vu. I lived in Indonesian Borneo during the infamous fires of the late 1990s, when the sky was not visible for months, flights were canceled, and people stayed inside if at all possible. The air — even in the middle of the city — smelled like a bonfire. Then, like now, the fires were primarily caused by the burning of forests and peat swamps for palm oil plantations. In order to grow palm oil on the often infertile and acidic soil in the tropics, palm oil growers must drain and burn the soil. When the weather is dry, and when the forest is degraded, it is easy for the fires to spread past the intended burn area and consume otherwise intact forests. This is the reason that Indonesia is the third largest emitter of greenhouses gases.

We will not ditch oil and gas, says Norway finance ministry after criticism of $750bn fund

By Alex Blackburne, Blue and Green Tomorrow, 21 August 2013 | The $750 billion Government Pension Fund of Norway (GPF) has responded to a review of its investment strategy, which described its ethical footprint as “severely limited” and its attitude to climate change as “schizophrenic”. The report, by the thinktank Re-Define and commissioned by Norwegian Church Aid, found what it calls “serious deficiencies” within the fund’s investments. Sony Kapoor, the author of the report, said, “The GPF sharply underperforms many of its peers directly as a result of its refusal to be strategic, buy in illiquid assets or invest much in developing countries.”

22 August 2013

REDD+ Learning Session 13: Implementing REDD+ at a National Scale

WWF, 22 August 2013 | This is an archive of the session that took place on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. In this learning session, Peter Iversen discusses complications of and potential solutions for implementing REDD+ at a national scale. His presentation covers some of the issues countries and project developers should be aware of in order to avoid REDD+ projects becoming barriers for moving to national level REDD+ implementation. This is based on his 10 years of experience in the UNFCCC process as a negotiator and his work in Cambodia for the UN-REDD programme. A Q+A session follows the presentation.

REDD+ Finance: Private Lessons For The Public Sphere

By Molly Peters-Stanley, Ecosystem Marketplace, 22 August 2013 | Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor Project that Reduces Deforestation and forest Degradation (“REDD”) protects 200,000 hectares of endangered forest between the Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks. The Surui Forest Carbon Project protects 32,000 hectares of endangered forest in the Brazilian Amazon. Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey REDD+ Project protects 64,000 hectares of endangered forest in the northwest province of the same name. The world’s largest REDD project – the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – will protect almost 250,000 hectares and dispatch with approximately 175 million tonnes of carbon over its lifetime. Beyond the fact that each of these endeavors harness carbon markets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by saving endangered rainforest, each of them has been spearheaded by private initiatives working closely with national, state, and local governments…

The carbon market & tax considerations in the trading of carbon credits

Simon Labrecque and Michael Garellek (Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP), Lexology, 22 August 2013 | The concepts of carbon risk and carbon value may still not be well understood in North America. This will certainly change as provincial, state and federal governments begin to regulate the emissions of green house gases (“GHG”), as has recently been done in Québec and California with the creation of Cap-and-trade schemes/systems (“Cap-and-trade”). There is also a growing interest from businesses to reduce their carbon footprint in efforts to demonstrate they are good corporate citizens.

Tackling climate change may lessen Central African Republic conflict risks – scientists

By Katherine Johnson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 22 August 2013 | Strengthening the capacity of the Central African Republic to adapt to climate change could help build peace in the landlocked country, which has been hampered by political instability and civil conflict since it achieved independence from France in 1960, research suggests. Projected estimates indicate that temperatures in Central African Republic could increase by 1.5 to 2.75 degrees Celsius (2.7 to 4.95 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2080, according to a report published in “Climate and Development” by scientists working with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Between 1978 and 2009, temperatures increased in the sub-Saharan African country on average by 0.3 degrees C per decade, while rainfall decreased on average by about 1.9 cm (three-quarters of an inch) per year from 1978 to 2009, the report said, citing statistics from the World Bank.

[Colombia] UN opens carbon trading office in Bogota

RTCC, 22 August 2013 | The UN has opened a carbon markets office in the Colombian capital Bogota, its latest regional initiative to boost interest in emissions trading. The UN climate convention and partners at the development bank of Latin America (CAF) aim to use the regional collaboration centre to drive interest in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Bogota is the fourth such office to open in the past year. The first centre opened in Togo, followed by Kampala and Grenada in July. One of two emissions trading schemes under the Kyoto Protocol, the CDM is aimed at driving low carbon investment in developing countries. The past 12 months have seen CDM credit prices drop by 80% to around the €0.50 cent mark. An oversupply of credits, sluggish economic growth and lacklustre climate policies have been blamed for this drop, forcing the UN to explore other initiatives to drive demand.

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global continues its investment in the fossil fuel sector

Facing Finance, 22 August 2013 | Despite criticism on investment decision of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global (GPF), the pension fund will stay with its investment strategy. GPF is worth $760 billion and one off the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. In its investment decision, GPF has listed tackling climate change as a priority area of focus. Nevertheless, 3 of its 10 largest equity investments are in the oil and gas sector. Furthermore, GPF is invested in 147 of the 200 largest companies which are holding reserves in coal, oil and gas. In total, GPF is investing 15% of its fund in mining, oil and gas industries. In spite of the own priorities, GPF refuses to sell its investments in these controversial areas.

UN REDD program failing to build capacity for indigenous people in Panama

By Rhett A. Butler,, 22 August 2013 | The U.N.’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (UN-REDD) program may be faltering in Panama due to its failure to build capacity for indigenous people who should play a central role in the initiative, argue researchers writing in the journal Nature… UN-REDD in Panama has recently experienced some setbacks, especially in regard to the participation of indigenous peoples, who represent about 5 percent of the Central American country’s population but occupy about 31 percent of its land area. In March, Panama’s National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples (COONAPIP), an association that includes 7 indigenous groups, announced it was pulling out of UN-REDD following a series of disagreements. In June, the Guna General Congress, a major indigenous authority, blocked a REDD+ project and forbade NGOs from engaging in REDD+ activities in territories amounting to 7 percent of Panama’s old-growth forests.

23 August 2013

Japan launches new domestic carbon offset scheme

Point Carbon, 23 August 2013 | Japan has launched a new domestic scheme that will issue carbon credits to projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions, the government announced this week, hoping to drive investments to reduce energy consumption in the power-starved country. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[South Africa] Green tax needs red alert amid carbon footprint maze

Business Day, 23 August 2013 | The South African government plans to implement new fiscal measures to curb greenhouse gases, and a new carbon tax is on the horizon. What does this mean for business? The mines are already facing financial pressure and yet mining and smelting are likely to be hard hit by a new carbon tax. As is Eskom. Businesses had until the beginning of this month to comment on new, draft carbon tax proposals, but will still need to keep a close eye on the process as it goes through the system and need to be on red alert in case the new green taxes lead to ruin. So what should corporate South Africa be worried about? In May, the Treasury released a carbon tax policy paper outlining the framework for a carbon tax, which it intends implementing from January 2015 — less than 17 months from now.

24 August 2013

[USA] Plan would offer carbon offsets to timber owners

Seattle Times, 24 August 2013 | Older mid-Willamette Valley landowners who have to sell timber from their forest lands to pay for health care could get an alternative soon. An Oregon conservation group has proposed a health initiative linking landowners with carbon-offset buyers, getting money to the older owners for health-care costs while more effectively managing their timber. The initiative can work for woodlots as small as 20 acres, The Corvallis Gazette Times reported. Catherine Mater of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation says the initiative will conserve forests, reduce the threat of climate change and provide rural landowners with access to health care. “Fir trees are excellent oxygen producers,” Mater said. “Trees are carbon-eating machines.” The Forest Health Human Health program would allow family tree farmers to sell carbon credits based on the amount of carbon estimated to be digested by their trees each year.

25 August 2013

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