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.
Forests Policy & Practice (IISD), September 2013 | The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) released a report titled ‘Integrating Adaptation into REDD+ – Potential Impacts and Social Return on Investment in Setulang, Malinau District, Indonesia,’ which is based on a bottom-up, stakeholder-focused process involving community members from Setulang Village, and aimed to design community-based adaptation interventions and assess their potential outcomes. The study was conducted by CIFOR in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH with a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
By Hannah Hoag, Discover Magazine, November 2013 | Two hours south of Georgetown, Guyana, a paved highway recedes, giving way to a rutted red road gushing through thick rainforest. In its muddiest spots, the road swallows trucks and spits them out at dangerous angles. Many hours later, it leads to an area of protected land called Iwokrama, a Rhode Island-size forest in the heart of Guyana, crowded with ancient buttress-trunked trees draped in liana vines. Since 2003, Jake Bicknell has been a fixture within this forest. Now a doctoral student in biodiversity management at the U.K.’s University of Kent, he is cataloging Iwokrama’s iconic and bizarre species, including jaguars, giant anteaters, anacondas, and scads of birds and bats. (Guyana boasts more than 700 bird and 120 bat species.) [R-M: Subscription needed.]
Galaxy Stocks, September 2013 | There has been a growing international concern about a modern-day Carbon Credit Ponzi scheme that’s been showing up in the carbon credit emissions market. Both types of carbon credits, voluntary and compliance, when real, represent the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide and can be traded like a commodity. It’s a huge industry that was created by the cap and trade policies that emerged after the acid rain era in the 1970′s. It is a real and valid industry with national and international government and regulatory boards that oversea the protocols. However, there is a growing trend of companies, usually hiding behind the veil of “green investments” that twist and convolute the carbon credit industry so they can target vulnerable consumers. Enter EQCO2, Inc. CLNO with CEO Billy Barnwell at the helm followed by CFO Arnold F. Sock Esq (non practicing).
23 September 2013
By Amanda Bradley, Ecosystem Marketplace, 23 September 2013 | The revision of the Climate Community Biodiversity (CCB) standards, the launch of the Women’s Carbon Standard (WCS), and the release of the Action Steps booklet by Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) and REDD+ Social and Environmental Standard (REDD+ SES) – all mark important advances in this long-overdue effort. These tools have come about as a result of a growing recognition that mainstreaming gender throughout REDD+ processes and activities had been neglected in earlier discussions and that a great deal could be gained by better integration. In a turning point, the 2010 Cancun Agreement noted the commitment "to address, inter alia, drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, land tenure issues, forest governance issues, gender considerations and the safeguards."
By Anna Rignstrom, Reuters, 23 September 2013 | A United Nations panel of experts met on Monday to review a draft report that raises the probability that climate change is man-made to 95 percent and warns of ever more extreme weather unless governments take strong action. Scientists and officials from more than 110 governments began a four-day meeting in Stockholm to edit and approve the 31-page draft that also tries to explain a “hiatus” in the pace of global warming this century despite rising greenhouse gas emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will go through the document line by line and present it on Friday as a main guide for governments, which have agreed to work out a United Nations deal by the end of 2015 to fight global warming. “I expect the world will understand the simplicity and the gravity of the message that we provide,” Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said after the opening session.
By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 23 September 2013 | More than ever, scientists say they’re convinced the Earth’s climate is warming. Yet lawmakers are struggling to do anything about it because the pace of change has unexpectedly slowed. The data has caused a United Nations panel to lower predictions of the pace of global temperature increases by 2100, according to draft documents obtained by Bloomberg ahead of publication due on Sept. 27. Still, the most complete assessment of climate science in six years also is likely to conclude that melting ice will make sea levels rise faster than previously projected. The findings muddy the picture about how much carbon dioxide output is affecting the climate, giving ammunition to those who doubt the issue needs urgent action. Skeptics have succeeded in “confusing the public,” said Michael Jacobs, who advised the U.K. government on climate policy until 2010.
By Matthew Denholm, The Australian, 23 September 2013 | Conservation groups seeking boycotts of products linked to alleged poor environmental practices may soon be liable for prosecution under consumer law. The move, which could severely hamper market-based campaigns by groups such as Markets for Change and GetUp!, is to be pursued by the Abbott government. Parliamentary secretary for agriculture Richard Colbeck told The Australian the move would prevent green groups from holding companies to ransom in their markets. "We’ll be looking at the way some of the environmental groups work because we are very concerned about some of the activities they conduct in the markets," Senator Colbeck said. "They have exemptions for secondary boycott activities under the Consumer and Competition Act. We are going to have a complete review of the act.
By David Leyonhjelm, North Queensland Register, 23 September 2013 | It is difficult to imagine a more wretched waste of a colossal amount of money than paying farmers to plant trees that cannot be harvested for a century. The new Abbott government is sticking with its plan to spend $1.55 billion on the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI), part of its policy of direct action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The CFI was introduced by the Gillard government with the support of the Coalition. Most of the money will be spent on growing trees, with the farms on which they are grown accumulating carbon credits. The original plan was for these to be bought by businesses needing to offset their emissions under the carbon tax scheme, but with the imminent repeal of the tax that market will not exist. And hopes of selling them overseas have evaporated with the rest of the world backing away from similar schemes and the virtual collapse of the EU’s carbon credits market.
BusinessGreen, 23 September 2013 | France is set to introduce a carbon tax from next year that should generate €4bn from 2016 to fund investments in renewable power and energy efficiency. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault made the announcement over the weekend outlining the details of the tax confirmed by President Francois Hollande on Friday, and also revealed plans for a levy on nuclear power plants without saying how much that would raise.
By Chris Hedges, Truthdig, 23 September 2013 | Indonesia’s military, with U.S. support, launched in 1965 a yearlong campaign to ostensibly exterminate communist leaders, functionaries, party members and sympathizers in that country. By its end, the bloodbath—much of it carried out by rogue death squads and paramilitary gangs—had decimated the labor union movement along with the intellectual and artistic class, opposition parties, university student leaders, journalists, ethnic Chinese and many who just happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. By some estimates, more than a million people were slaughtered. Many of the bodies were dumped into rivers, hastily buried or left on roadsides. This campaign of mass murder is still mythologized in Indonesia as an epic battle against the forces of evil and barbarity…
By Michael Trudeau, FTAdviser.com, 23 September 2013 | Six men have been arrested by detectives from the City of London Police as part of an investigation into a suspected boiler room selling carbon credits in the City. Police believe the boiler room has already raked in about £1m from cold-calls across the UK using high pressure sales tactics to sell carbon credits, that are unable to produce the promised returns, for bloated prices. The arrests were made following a raid by fraud squad detectives on a City office, and searches carried out across the south east. Detective inspector Teresa Russell, who is leading the investigation, said: “In 2013 the City of London Police has targeted a number of City offices housing what we believe are criminal operations intent on defrauding elderly and vulnerable people out of large sums of money, some of whom have parted with their life savings."
24 September 2013
ScienceDaily, 24 September 2013 | Developed countries have been particularly efficient at removing forests from fertile, flat areas of land. The process has been going on throughout the last centuries, for example in Europe. And there is a clear correlation. The better the economy, the better the political organisation, and the more orderly societal conditions a country has, the more efficient the population has been at restricting forests to steep areas, reflecting their lower utility and value. Researchers at Aarhus University have reached this conclusion by making use of the rapidly increasing amount of data from satellites that monitor the global environment with a high level of detail. The researchers analysed high-resolution global satellite data describing the distribution of tree cover in the period 2000-2005, linking this to global data for terrain (slope), climate, human activity, and a number of political and socio-economic factors.
Collective Action & Property Rights News, 24 September 2013 | The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, Rainforest Alliance, and the World Wildlife Fund have released three new, self-paced and web-based courses on climate change and REDD+. The curriculum, Introductory Curriculum on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and Conserving and Enhancing Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+), provides an introductory level of understanding on climate change, deforestation, forest degradation, and REDD+. This new version contains up-to-date information on policy and implementation as well as a cool new facelift and improved interactivity.
Ecosystem Marketplace, 24 September 2013 | Latin America is trending local in recent forest carbon news out of Peru, Costa Rica, and Brazil. “We believe it’s impossible to target a problem as large as deforestation in Peru with a standard that was not made specifically for the Peruvian reality,” says Executive Director Alessandro Riva of the Peru Carbon Fund (PCF). The Fund developed a Peru-specific forest carbon standard this past year to create a homegrown alternative to what Riva calls “the extremely high costs of implementing international standards in the Peruvian jungle.” Likewise in support of domestic reforestation and conservation efforts, Costa Rica officially launched its nation-wide voluntary domestic carbon market earlier this September. Its carbon units are only available to domestic players for the time being.
Terra Global Capital press release, 24 September 2013 | The Oddar Meanchey REDD+ (Reduced Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation) project in Cambodia is the first in the world to complete verification of emission reductions under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) with a triple gold Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) accreditation for emission reductions. The CCB triple gold verification combined with the use of a VCS methodology that is recognized for its integrity, sets this project apart from others as delivering the highest community, biodiversity, and adaptation impact benefits along with robust accounting for emission reductions.
menafn.com, 24 September 2013 | The Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO) will next month introduce a standard to regulate carbon credit trading under the Thailand Voluntary Emission Reduction (T-VER) scheme. Credits under T-VER will be open to trading locally next year. The TGO will introduce a measurement, reporting and verification system to standardise carbon credit transactions for targeted buyers, the government and private companies. Normally, carbon-trading schemes follow guidelines set by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) mandated by the Kyoto protocol. The TGO has so far approved 221 CDM projects. Prasertsuk Chamornmarn, deputy executive director of the TGO, said T-VER has been developed as a local carbon offset programme using the internationally recognised methodology of measuring carbon emissions based on CDM sets from the Kyoto Protocol, US carbon market and Gold Standard Foundation.
By Nilima Choudhury, RTCC, 24 September 2013 | An ambitious cap and trade scheme is celebrating its fifth birthday in nine north-eastern and mid-Atlantic US states. Critics wrote the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) off when it started trading in 2008, but the USA’s first market-based regulatory programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions shows little sign of collapse. Its 21st auction of CO2 allowances earlier this month generated $102.5 million for reinvestment towards energy efficiency, renewable energy, direct bill assistance, and greenhouse gas abatement programmes. Bids for the CO2 allowances ranged from $1.98 to $12.85 and 100% were sold. Cumulative proceeds from all RGGI CO2 allowance auctions currently total $1.4 billion dollars.
25 September 2013
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 25 September 2013 | Donald Kanak and Iain Henderson believe a similar mechanism can be used to fill the short-term funding gap for carbon projects that save endangered rainforest and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+). That funding gap came into sharp relief with the publication of Ecosystem Marketplace’s 2012 report “Leveraging the Landscape: State of the Forest Carbon Market”. Conservation International (CI) highlighted it more recently in a white paper called “REDD+ Market: Sending Out an SOS”, which came out last week and is built on our report and other sources – key among them a discussion paper from Kanak and Henderson called “Closing the REDD+ Gap: The Global Forest Finance Facility”.
By Valerie Volcovici, Planet Ark, 25 September 2013 | United Nations aviation chiefs said Tuesday that thorny issues still loom heading into two weeks of negotiations aimed at finalizing a deal to address greenhouse gas emissions from the global aviation sector. The U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets standards for air travel, is attempting to iron out one of the worst aviation disputes in years, which has pitted the European Union against its trade rivals. Issues facing negotiators range from whether to exempt some developing countries from carbon fees to proposals for countries to charge international carriers for part of their flight’s emissions. The full ICAO membership meets once every three years. The current meeting will run through October 4. Delegates got a prod on Tuesday from U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, who delivered a recorded address to delegates in the opening plenary.
By David Ritter, The Guardian, 25 September 2013 | I have never met anyone who personally wants to kill an orangutan. Nor have I ever met anybody who prefers a complimentary side of dead dolphin with their tuna sandwich. The truth is, we want to be able to go about our ordinary business as consumers without inadvertently slaughtering wild animals or destroying their habitat. But it seems that Tasmanian Liberal senator and parliamentary secretary to the minister for agriculture Richard Colbeck wants to deny us that choice. As has been widely reported this week, the Coalition government is considering changes to Australian law to prevent "secondary boycotts" of companies by environmental and consumer groups. This would significantly impede such groups trying to highlight bad business practice. In other words, senator Colbeck seems to want to keep Australian consumers in the dark.
By Mark Siebentritt, Stock Journal, 25 September 2013 | Many pitched the recent federal election as a referendum on the carbon tax. While the fate of the carbon tax may be unknown for some time, and ultimately be in the hands of several minor party Senators, the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan is worth opening the lid on. The first thing to note is that just as the previous Labour Government committed, the Coalition is aiming to reduce Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020. So there is agreement about the need to address global warming but a key difference is how this will be achieved. The Coalition will repeal the carbon pricing scheme which means the nation’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases will no longer be required to pay a carbon price on their emissions or buy carbon credits to offset these emissions.
By Andrea Booth, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 September 2013 | Despite recent measures to encourage Ethiopia’s farmers to plant trees on their land, the country’s complex feudal past still lingers to discourage tree planting in the country, says a study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “Tree planting on farms is influenced by the sense of security farmers have about their land tenure. Since the expansion of the Ethiopian kingdom in the 13th century, when kings would degrade the landscapes wherever they went, many farmers have stopped planting trees,” said CIFOR scientist Habtemariam Kassa, lead author of Reading the landscape past: Explaining the lack of on-farm tree planting in Ethiopia. Unless tree planting activities are intensified, Kassa said, Ethiopians not only risk further degradation of their land — they’re also missing out on an opportunity to tap into potentially lucrative commercial forestry business opportunities.
pina.com.fj, 25 September 2013 | The theme of the week-long meeting is ‘Sustainable Forest Management for a Resilient Future in the Pacific Region’… Acknowledging that forests and trees play a vital role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods, the Deputy Director-General reminded the meeting that these valuable resources must be conserved, managed and utilised in a sustainable manner. ‘Better managed, healthy forests are able to adapt better to climate change and therefore contribute to the improved resilience of the communities that rely on them. We are all aware of these facts, but we also fully recognise that achieving or even moving closer to this ideal state is easier said than done due to challenges such as unsustainable logging practices, inadequately planned development and unregulated conversion of forested areas into agricultural land.’
UPI, 25 September 2013 | The results of this week’s German federal elections could pave the way for a fix of the European Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme, analysts say. The European Commission is seeking emergency measures to “backload” carbon allowances from the market in a bid to bolster their low prices, which is hamstringing their ability to persuade polluters to invest in green technologies. The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been undecided on whether to support the backloading proposal, under which up to 900 million EU allowances would be withheld from auctions in the 2013-15 period and returned later — a proposal that has been vehemently opposed by pro-business groups. Carbon prices crashed to as low as $3.33 per metric ton in April due to an oversupply brought on by the economic slowdown. They have since rallied to nearly $8 per metric ton on hopes that a backloading deal can be struck.
By Erik Olbrei, The Conversation, 25 September 2013 | One of the world’s major terrestrial carbon pools is rapidly deteriorating as large parts of Indonesia’s peatlands are deforested and converted to oil palm and paper plantations. No longer a carbon sink, Indonesia’s peatlands are now a globally significant source of emissions. The June fires in Sumatra once again drew international attention to Indonesia’s forests. At the fires’ peak, 140,000 hectares were burnt in just one week. Most fires were in peatland, much of it on land destined to become oil palm, or Acacia plantations for the paper industry. Fire remains the instrument of choice for low-cost land-clearing. The fires were a reminder of the unsolved problem of peatland protection in Indonesia, and of the need for urgent action against the toxic combination of plantations, fire and poor governance that is destroying one of the world’s major carbon pools.
By Beverly Bell and Tory Field, Upside Down World, 25 September 2013 | In October 2011, the US-based Wildlife Works Carbon presented a REDD proposal to the Kuna Yala. The fifty-one communities spent a year and a half in consultation. In June 2013, the Kuna Yala general congress voted to reject the corporate proposal. They declared, further, their complete withdrawal “from all discussions at the national and international level on the REDD issue” and a prohibition on “organizing events, conferences, workshops and other activities on the issue.” We interviewed the hip-hop artist Inatoy Sidsagi from a liberated territory of the Lenca indigenous people of Honduras, in a building plastered with stickers reading, “REDD: No capitalism in our forests.”
Society for Conservation Biology press release, 25 September 2013 | Scientists specializing in forest ecosystems and climate change called on President Obama today to protect public forests from logging and development in efforts to forestall global warming and compliment the president’s recent proposal for tighter restrictions on coal-fired power plants… Part of the solution to global warming must come from reducing emissions from forest losses, as recognized by the United Nations REDD+ (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Programme in developing countries. The U.S. can provide these countries with a leadership example by conserving its own older forests.
26 September 2013
By Ben Garside and Susanna Twidale, Reuters Point Carbon, 26 September 2013 | A handful of European governments have thrown the U.N.’s main market to cut greenhouse gas emissions a lifeline by pledging to finance emission reduction projects that are viewed by the private sector as unprofitable. Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Belgium plan to pay more than current market prices for carbon credits known as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) from emission reductions projects registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in the world’s least developed countries… The aim is to keep the scheme alive until credit prices that have crashed to 70 cents from over 20 euros in four years recover enough to attract private sector investment. Government officials and observers say the cash is not enough to dent the current surplus of over 1 billion U.N. carbon credits that caused the price collapse…
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 September 2013 | Strategies used by indigenous rural people to help predict disasters and mitigate the effects of climate change could be deployed to design large-scale global adaptation efforts, the authors of a study of rural communities in Ghana’s Offin River Basin have said. The basin — a semi-humid tropical region populated mainly by subsistence farmers — has been hit hard by crop failures since 2000 due to warming air temperatures, increasing sunshine intensity and a change in seasonal rainfall patterns, according to the study titled, “Using traditional knowledge to cope with climate change in Ghana”. “There’s much we can learn from indigenous, traditional and community-based approaches to natural disaster preparedness,” said scientist Benjamin Apraku Gyampoh, lead author of the paper.
Jamaica Observer, 26 September 2013 | Environment and climate change minister Robert Pickersgill yesterday challenged engineers to take advantage of the economic opportunities presented by climate change even as they seek to manage the risks associated with the phenomenon. Addressing the second day of the Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE) Engineer’s Week Conference, billed ‘Engineers Embracing Change’, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, the minister said that adaptation to climate change was awash with opportunities to develop new, innovative infrastructure systems and services as part of the ‘Green Economy’.
By Wendy Koch and Doyle Rice, USA Today, 26 September 2013 | On the eve of the release of a landmark climate change report Friday, U.S. officials said Thursday that the nation is making progress in cutting its heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions but still has “more work to do.” Average U.S. emissions were lower from 2009 through 2011 than in any three-year period since 1994-1996 and are on the way to meeting President Obama’s pledge to cut them 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, according to a State Department report to the United Nations. “The United States has already made significant progress, including doubling generation of electricity from wind and solar power and establishing historic new fuel efficiency standards,” the report says. Still, it makes the case for additional steps such as cutting emissions from U.S. power plants, saying total U.S. emissions — based on measures in place as of September 2012 — will be 4.6% below 2005 levels in 2020.”
27 September 2013
By Ed King, RTCC, 27 September 2013 | After the hype in Stockholm comes the sober reality. The world’s leaders now have a wealth of information on the causes and likely consequences of climate change from the latest IPCC analysis – but what will they do about it? Governments will meet in Warsaw from 11-22 November to develop a framework for a global emissions reduction deal. This is scheduled to be signed off in Paris in 2015, but few seem confident it will be enough. The UK’s former climate change envoy John Ashton identified a major issue just before the IPCC report was launched in Stockholm. “Why is it that as the science is getting stronger and stronger the politics has got weaker and weaker?” he asked. Ashton’s perspective is useful. He ran the Foreign Office’s climate department for six years until 2012, a period that encompassed the last IPCC report in 2007 and the catastrophic 2009 UN climate summit in Copenhagen.
By Ben Scheider, EDF, 27 September 2013 | Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued their latest report, and the picture they paint is grim… It’s time to recognize that the billions of tons of carbon pollution we put in our atmosphere every year are causing dangerous changes to our climate — and then work together to find the best solutions.
By Ellie Winninghoff, Barron’s, 27 September 2013 | Most investment funds that own Woodlands make their money when the trees are cut down and carted off. Ecotrust Forest Management, based in Portland, Ore., also profits from the natural habitat left untouched in the forest. The small fund harvests trees far more selectively than in traditional forestry and then picks up additional income by selling everything from carbon credits to brush undergrowth for floral arrangements. Ecotrust’s CEO, Bettina von Hagen, believes the approach renders woods more resilient—both ecologically and financially. Since inception in late 2004 through the end of 2012, her Ecotrust Forest Fund I, with $30 million under management, notched average gross returns of 10.6% per year through December 2012, according to third-party appraisals. The fund’s fee is 1.25%.
28 September 2013
29 September 2013
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.