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REDD in the news: 30 September – 6 October 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.

UNDP Launches Portal on Anti-Corruption for Development

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), October 2013 | The UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance Group has launched the Global Portal on Anti-Corruption for Development, a web platform on anti-corruption for sustainable development. The platform provides knowledge on efforts to address corruption alongside development challenges such as climate change, gender equality and empowerment, human rights, illicit financial flows and natural resource management (NRM). The portal also supports the process to formulate the post-2015 development agenda and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

30 September 2013

Cambodia’s Carbon Credit Scheme Still Not Making Gains

By Kuch Naren and Matt Blomberg, The Cambodia Daily, 30 September 2013 | Cambodia’s only U.N.-backed carbon trading scheme is still nowhere near making any money for communities and logging in the area continues to threaten the very forests supposed to generate tens of millions of dollars over the next 30 years, community representatives and officials in charge of the scheme say. The NGO Pact has been working with the government to turn 68,000 hectares of forest in Oddar Meanchey province into a money-making venture since 2007 by selling the forest’s carbon credits to environmentally conscious firms in the West. But the program has thus far been unable to secure any carbon credit buyers and Pact ceased funding for the scheme in July, leaving the communities low on funding to fight against illegal loggers. No deal has yet been made because the May 20 deadline that had been set for the government to sign off on it inexplicably came and went without a signature.

Norway and Germany Agree to Reduce Forest Emissions in Ecuador

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 30 September 2013 | The Governments of Norway and Germany have signed an agreement to cooperate with Ecuador to purchase Ecuador’s emission reductions and contribute $2.6 million to strengthening national capacities in Ecuador. The payments are anticipated to be used to: finance REDD+ projects; strengthen forest governance; develop measurement, reporting and verification information; and support other national processes to reduce emissions. The four-year agreement will be developed, in part, through the UN-REDD Programme, which is coordinated between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Europe’s Greens Are a Victim of Their Own Success

By Paul Taylor, Reuters, 30 September 2013 | Europe’s Greens have got the blues. The antinuclear environmentalist movement that burst into politics in the 1980s as a youthful third force has suffered a string of setbacks in Germany and France, raising questions about its future. Germany’s Greens, trailblazers of political ecology, lost ground in a Sept. 22 general election, finishing in fourth place at 8.4 percent. The result put the Greens behind the radical Left party and kept the party from securing the coalition they hoped to form with the center-left Social Democrats. The party’s senior leaders resigned in response.

EU-Indonesia timber pact aims to fight illegal logging

BBC News, 30 September 2013 | The EU is introducing new checks on imports of Indonesian timber products to curb illegal logging. Indonesia, rich in tropical forests, is by far Asia’s biggest exporter of timber to the EU. The trade is worth about 15% of Indonesia’s total exports. The EU will provide technical support to help Indonesia ensure that only legally harvested timber is exported. Environmentalists welcomed the new agreement, but said Jakarta must do much more to fight illegal loggers. The scale of deforestation in Indonesia has triggered global concern, as it reduces biodiversity, threatens rare species and creates harmful smog through the burning of vegetation. The EU is Indonesia’s biggest export market for timber, with Germany, the UK, France and Italy among the major importers.

Kenya grapples with governance of climate change projects

By Justus Bahati Wanzala, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 30 September 2013 | Kenya’s Ogiek tribe, hunters and gatherers who live in the Rift Valley’s Mau Forest, say they are being excluded from forest restoration initiatives, which are focused on planting exotic trees rather than the indigenous species they rely on to survive. “We have suffered a lot,” said Joseph Lesingo, a member of the Ogiek council of elders. “When the Mau Forest was destroyed, we lost a habitat and were also deprived of forest resources such as honey, wild fruits and medicine,” he told Thomson Reuters Foundation.Western Kenya’s Mau Forest Complex, the largest indigenous mountain forest in East Africa and an important water catchment, has experienced high levels of deforestation since the late 1980s, due to forest land being hived off for agriculture and human settlement. Around 100,000 hectares – a quarter of the forest’s total area – has been lost since 2000, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

1 October 2013

The IPCC report: What does it mean for the world’s forests? (Part 1)

By Louis Verchot, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 1 October 2013 | The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its fifth climate assessment report last week, confirming speculation that human activities are the main cause of climate change since the mid-20th century. But what does this mean for the world’s forests? … Taken together, forestry and agriculture (the leading driver of deforestation) currently make up around 30% of global emissions, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. At previous U.N. meetings there has been a big effort to put in place an international mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation (REDD+) but while this has been on the table since 2005, issues of verification of emissions and lack of finance means it is still not yet fully functional.

Carbon price vital for success of UN 2015 climate summit – de Boer

By Ed King, RTCC, 1 October 2013 | Carbon needs to be priced at US$ 150 per tonne if governments are serious about avoiding dangerous levels of climate change, the UN’s former chief climate envoy has warned. Yvo de Boer says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment is a “wake-up call” that should underpin political efforts to cut global greenhouse gas emissions. “If you put the climate agenda in a big pot and boil it for four days, what you’re left with is the need to put a price on carbon,” he told RTCC. “And the only way governments can justify pricing carbon is by looking at the broader cost to society of action and inaction.”

Responsible Forestry: Can Certification Save Our Forests?

By Mike Hower, Triple Pundit, 1 October 2013 | What if forests could be sustainably managed to be utilized for economic needs without wiping them out? This question lies at the heart of responsible forestry. Responsible forestry could be anything from tree planting programs, to nurseries that can quickly replant harvested areas to applying different sustainable harvesting methods to specific forest types. To truly be responsible, these operations take into account environmental factors including tree species and age and special environmental needs including leaving some areas uncut. Responsible forestry can also mean locating roads and landings to reduce the disruption to streams and wetlands and maintaining “wildlife” trees and buffers around streams and wetlands to provide habitat and to protect water quality. To help consumers know which products come from sustainably-managed forests, several certification schemes have emerged…

EU Carbon Market Is Main Hurdle to Aviation Deal, India Says

By Ewa Krukowska , Bloomberg, 1 October 2013 | The European Union’s plan to keep its curbs on pollution from airlines is the main hindrance to an international agreement on a carbon market for the industry, according to a senior Indian official. An accord discussed by the International Civil Aviation Organization shouldn’t authorize EU measures prior to the global deal unless they are mutually agreed with other states, said Prashant Sukul, India’s representative to the United Nations agency. Envoys from more than 190 countries meeting in Montreal are trying to iron out differences over the first-ever commitment to a carbon tool for the $708 billion industry.

New EU Forest Strategy: good intentions but few teeth

BirdLife Community, 1 October 2013 | In September, the European Commission finally published its long-awaited Forest Strategy. The text, which will replace the existing from 2008, presents some good elements. It includes recognition of the multi-functions of forests. That is to say a recognition that forests serve economic, social and environmental purposes, as well as of the numerous ecosystem services they deliver. The strategy fails however to address the conflicts arising from the increasing demands on forests from different sectors, notably the growing demand in biomass from the energy sector.

Ghana set to increase community engagement to transform its forestry sector with project awarded nearly million, 1 October 2013 | With African Development Bank (AfDB) support, Ghana has received $9.75 million approval from the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Forest Investment Program (FIP) to undertake the Engaging Local Communities in REDD+/Enhancement of Carbon Stocks (ELCIR+) project. The ELCIR+ project will help reduce deforestation and forest degradation, increase carbon stocks and reduce poverty by engaging communities in land management approaches that generate financial and environmental benefits for them. The project will pilot a jurisdictional approach to REDD+ at the regional level focusing on the Western and Brong Ahafo regions. Twelve thousand people, half of them women, will receive capacity-building support, seeds and equipment, and financial incentives through benefit-sharing agreements to develop forestry, agroforestry and alternative livelihoods activities. An additional 175,000 people will indirectly benefit.

[New Zealand] Iwi carbon credit stash has effect on market

Radio New Zealand, 1 October 2013 | A broker says iwi are hanging on to their carbon credits, meaning their supply is not circulating in the market. The units are sold and bought under the emissions trading scheme, which was set up to encourage the planting of trees to absorb carbon dioxide. Carbon units were issued to many tribes as part of their Treaty of Waitangi settlements. Nigel Brunel, head of carbon at the futures company OMF, says the stashing of credits has implications for the wider market as there is less supply available for people to buy. Mr Brunel says there’s a view that the Government might auction carbon credits into the market but that Cabinet would rather the forestry sector provided the units. Buyers are starting to look at the market and wonder where their supply is going to come from. However, Maori organisations are under no pressure or obligation to shift their credits, he says. Iwi are unlikely to let go of them, because they’re a tax free investment…

UK charges 6 with multimillion dollar carbon fraud, 1 October 2013 | British prosecutors say six men have been charged over a massive pollution credit fraud scheme that cost the British government many millions of pounds (dollars.) The Crown Prosecution Service says that four of the men created a string of dummy companies that traded in carbon credits, typically certificates which give polluters the right to emit a set amount of carbon dioxide in return for money paid to companies that fight climate change by taking steps such as planting trees or switching to renewable energy sources. Prosecutors said Tuesday the four men improperly claimed refunds for taxes never paid on the credits, racking up 11 million pounds (nearly $18 million) during a seven-month period in 2009. The other two men are charged with money laundering. None of them have entered pleas.

2 October 2013

Why isolated attempts at tenure securitization through REDD+ pilot projects are insufficient

By Esther Mwangi, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 October 2013 | Tenure security is a prerequisite for sustainable use and management of forests and trees (which need longer-term investments) and an important element in the path towards poverty reduction and sustainable livelihoods. Security of tenure is thus at the heart of REDD+… Yet, a recent study by William Sunderlin et al. in World Development argues that despite the broad consensus on the urgency of securing tenure and rights, many organizations (public and private alike) are long on rhetoric and thin on action. In the REDD+ arena in particular, proponents appreciate the importance of securing local tenures but are confronted with longstanding legacies of weak local tenure; options for advancing tenure security are few and untested.

Worldwide protests demand stop to Brazil’s assault on indigenous rights

Survival International, 2 October 2013 | Supporters of human rights organization Survival International held a vocal protest outside the Brazilian embassy in London today in support of thousands of indigenous demonstrators in Brazil rallying against the onslaught of their hard-won land rights. Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an Amazon Indian from Brazil, led the London protest wearing his tribe’s headdress and facial decorations. He was joined by dozens of supporters wearing tribal face paint and carrying placards. Nixiwaka said, ’We’re here to support our indigenous brothers and sisters in Brazil who are facing the worst assault on their rights in decades. We, Brazil’s indigenous peoples, have lived on our lands for as long as we can remember, and we cannot live without them. These new laws would mean the end of our rights to our lands and must not be passed!’

[Canada] City’s landfill gas-electric project pared back

By Michele Young, Kamloops Daily News, 2 October 2013 | The carbon credit revenue started at $25 per tonne when the City started looking at the project, said City environmental services manager Jen Fretz. But the Pacific Carbon Trust is now paying $11 per tonne. On the other side, the project was originally planned in December 2011 with a network of pipes for gas collection and a system to convert it to electricity for sale back to B.C. Hydro. The cost was estimated at $2.62 million, but it’s now climbed to $3.3 million, she said. However, if the City went as far as collecting and flaring off the gas, it would still meet that $2.62 million original estimate. “We suggest we don’t go with the electricity generation side at this time. We feel having a flaring system is the best course at this time. The cost of that is close to original cost of the project, so not requesting additional money at this time.”

Cambodia: Chut Wutty’s legacy creates an opportunity for land justice

By Kate Hodal, The Guardian, 2 October 2013 | In Cambodia, there is talk of change. Not just from Hun Sen, the prime minister, who has promised reforms after his party suffered a significant blow in recent elections, but from environmental activists and campaigners, who say there has never before been such an opportunity to lobby a government that has long ruled with an iron fist. Despite alleged illegal logging, land grabs, harassment and threats by police and government thugs, activists claim the ruling party’s win in July of just 68 seats to the opposition’s 55 means that Hun Sen, who has governed Cambodia for the past 28 years, may be softening, out of necessity, to the will of the people, in turn allowing environmental groups to gain strategic ground.

Carbon Map and Model Project launched in support of REDD+ initiatives in DRC

WWF, 2 October 2013 | The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has officially launched its Carbon Map and Model Project, a €6-million programme designed to support forest monitoring initiatives and the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in ways that benefit local livelihoods. The project was launched at a two-day workshop hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation of Nature, and Tourism (MECNT) and the international conservation organization WWF; and is funded by the International Climate Initiative of the German Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Nuclear Security, through the KfW Development Bank.

[Indonesia] Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park Beset with Deforestation, 2 October 2013 | Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park (TNGGP) chief Herri Subagidi said the national park had been grappling with environmental degradation for 35 years. He added many farmlands in the area had transformed into housing settlements since 2001. “In 1972, the green areas totaled 187 hectares and there were only few settlements and industrial areas. Exploitation activities were also few, but things have changed now,” he said at the Biosphere Conservation Administrator Dialog Forum recently. During the dialog, which was titled Environmental Protection from Religious and Cultural Perspectives, Herri explained the sources of clean water from the national park would continue to shrink following rampant deforestation. “Those living in downstream areas will be affected,” he said. Herri said the TNGGP was one of the largest water sources in West Java catering to the needs in several regencies, including Cianjur, Sukabumi, Bogor, and also parts of Greater Jakarta.

[Indonesia] New REDD agency accepts gender concerns

By Warief Djajanto Basorie, The Jakarta Post, 2 October 2013 | Harrison Ford fired harsh questions at Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan. The verbal barrage managed to upset the chief steward of Indonesia’s vast tract of tropical rainforests. The Hollywood icon famed for his starring role as Indiana Jones was winding up a 10-day trip in Central Kalimantan and Sumatra to film a documentary on climate change… Coincidentally, Ford’s interview occurred only three days after the Cabinet secretary’s office announced the establishment of the REDD+ Management Agency (RMA), which would answer to the President directly on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The new agency, long overdue, is the permanent successor of the ad hoc REDD+ Task Force that was disbanded on June 30. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a presidential regulation on Aug.31 that formed the new agency, whose head has equal status to a Cabinet minister.

Poland pits itself against EU climate promises

By Barbara Lewis, Planet Ark, 2 October 2013 | European ministers are sharply divided over proposed promises on carbon cuts as part of U.N. negotiations, a draft document shows, with Poland at the forefront of opposition. A meeting of environment ministers in Luxembourg on October 14 is meant to agree a joint EU stance ahead of U.N. climate talks in Warsaw in November and December. The EU and U.N. meetings will be litmus tests of whether the latest U.N. report on climate change is spurring or slowing the appetite for international action. The draft seen by Reuters says the main outstanding issues for the European Union related to “mitigation commitments”, or efforts to make fresh promises before 2020 within the U.N. context. “Enhancing pre-2020 mitigation ambition will pave the way for an ambitious 2015 international agreement,” it says. Annotations to the draft say this is especially a problem for one delegation, which EU sources said is Poland.

3 October 2013

Trees Might Store More Carbon Than Thought

redOrbit, 3 October 2013 | Examining a long-lived forest, researchers have found that Black Spruce trees, which dominate the northern forests of North America, succumb about five years after being weakened by environmental stresses. Without rejuvenating fire, the dead trees aren’t being replaced by new ones. The result will help researchers better understand how climate change affects the health of forests, and how forests affect the severity of climate change. The study also suggests trees might be storing more carbon than currently estimated. “The take away from this is that a combination of short and long term processes shape forests,” said lead author Ben Bond-Lamberty of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Scientists have paid a lot of attention to potential climate change signals in forests — like them growing faster than expected due to an overabundance of carbon dioxide, or slower due to climate change-induced extreme temperatures.”

Ensuring that Forest Communities Own REDD+ Projects — Not the Other Way Around

By Keith Forbes, Developments (DAI Global), 3 October 2013 | Forests and climate change have never been more closely entwined in global climate policy discussions, and for good reason: the more forest, the less climate disruption. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation + Conservation (REDD+) initiatives aim to reward communities in and around forests for not converting forests to other land uses, and millions of dollars have been invested to this end. Done well, REDD+ projects can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the clearing or burning of forests, promote development in communities around forests, strengthen land tenure, conserve carbon-storing forests, and safeguard biodiversity. Done poorly, these projects can increase emissions through meaningless offsets, boost deforestation in adjacent areas, and displace indigenous people.

REDD+ Learning Session 14: A Framework for Defining and Monitoring Forest Degradation

WWF, 3 October 2013 | This is an archive of the session that took place on Tuesday, September 24, 2013. In this learning session, Dr. Ian Thompson, a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service, discusses his recent co-authored publication, An Operational Framework for Defining and Monitoring Forest Degradation. The work was conducted with an international group as requested by the Collaborative Partnership in Forests, which includes several United Nations organizations, such as FAO, CBD, and UNFF. In this paper, the co-authors suggest that degradation must be measured against multiple criteria that represent the various ways by which a forest can be considered as degraded.

Cookstove carbon credit sales quadruple in 2012: report

By Susanna Twidale, Reuters Point Carbon, 3 October 2013 | Developers of low-carbon cookstove projects sold four times more carbon offsets in 2012 compared to the year prior, with the credits continuing to yield a hefty premium over the bulk of U.N.-backed offsets, a report showed. Developers of projects that distribute energy efficient cookstoves sold 16.9 million carbon credits last year, said the Sept. 25 report commissioned by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. “Anecdotal evidence suggests that 2012’s quadrupling in cookstove offsets contracted stems from project developers’ growing awareness of how the carbon market can support such projects,” the report added.

Australia Has its Hottest September as Fire Threat Grows

By Brian Kahn, Climate Central, 3 October 2013 | Winter may just be ending in Australia, but temperatures are already summerlike. September was one for the record books, with hot temperatures that baked the country from the outback to the coasts and made this the hottest September in the country’s 104 years of record-keeping. The warm start to Australia’s spring keeps the country on a path to having its warmest year on record. Following a wet winter, warmer-than-average conditions have also put parts of the country on watch for yet another intense wildfire season.

Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement launches new campaign featuring giant boreal map, 3 October 2013 | The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) Secretariat launched its On the Move campaign with the unveiling of a giant map of the boreal forest that will tour Canada to showcase the unprecedented Agreement between the forest industry and environmental organizations. “The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement is the largest conservation initiative of its kind in the world. It’s only fitting you should have a large canvas to illustrate it,” said CBFA Executive Director Aran O’Carroll. “The map really helps illustrate what the Agreement is about, which is the challenge of ensuring the conservation of Canada’s boreal forest for future generations, as well as ensuring forest industries and the communities that rely upon them for their livelihoods have a sustainable future.”

Mangrove carbon credits to help Kenyan communities

By Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online, 3 October 2013 | A new initiative launched today will raise money for community projects in Kenya by protecting and restoring the country’s dwindling mangrove forests. The plan is to sell carbon credits earned by preserving the mangrove swamps to companies and individuals aiming to offset their carbon emissions and improve their green credentials. The scientists behind the scheme hope it will bring in some $12,000 a year, around a third of which will fund projects in areas like education and clean water. The rest will cover the cost of protecting the mangroves, as well as planting new seedlings to replace lost trees.

NEFCO to purchase carbon credits for Norway

Ministry of Finance of the Kingdom of Norway press release, 3 October 2013 | The Ministry of Finance has signed an agreement with the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation, NEFCO, to purchase carbon credits in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020). Through this agreement Norway will purchase up to 30 million credits from stranded UN-approved projects facing a risk of discontinuation due to the low CER prices. As outlined in the Revised National Budget, the Government emphasized that the credit procurement will support the development and legitimacy of the international market for carbon offsets. Due to the situation in the market, with a huge oversupply of credits and low prices, this implies that the program will only procure credits from existing projects facing a risk of discontinuation and from new projects. The program will rely on the UN-approval of carbon credits and on the guidelines for the program in the first Kyoto period.

E2B launches The Carbon Pledge campaign

E2B press release, 3 October 2013 | The Carbon Pledge, a national campaign to help UK businesses offset 1 million tonnes of carbon was recently launched at RWM 2013. It offers businesses access to competitively priced, high-quality UN-backed carbon credits and a free online carbon calculator to allow them to quickly calculate their carbon footprint, removing the need for an often costly carbon audit. To put the scale of the campaign into perspective, 1 million tonnes of CO2 is equivalent to removing 250,000 cars from UK roads for a year – a point which The Carbon Pledge emphasised at its recent launch with the world’s only life-size wooden Ferrari Testarossa. The launch generated significant interest, with the stand being visited by around 160 companies.

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Down 11 Percent

By Emily E. Adams, EocWatch, 3 October 2013 | Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels in the U.S. peaked at more than 1.6 billion tons of carbon in 2007. Since then they have fallen 11 percent, dropping to over 1.4 billion tons in 2013, according to estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Emissions shrank rapidly during the recession, then bounced back slightly as the economy recovered. But shifting market conditions, pollution regulations and changing behaviors are also behind the decline.

4 October 2013

A Sustainable Development Goal on Landscapes: Setting the agenda at COP19 in Warsaw

By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 October 2013 | The year 2015 is key for the future our growing population on this planet. With the Kyoto-protocol coming to an end by 2020, world leaders will be meeting next month in Warsaw to continue work on a new climate change agreement that applies to both developed and developing countries. In parallel, there is another process that puts environmental, economic and social concerns center stage: the design of a 2015 development framework, with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the current Millennium Development Goals. As I have said before, I believe that “Sustainable Landscapes” would make an excellent SDG for the future we want. But more on that in a moment.

First Global Emissions Market for Airlines Wins Support

By Ewa Krukowska, Bloomberg, 4 October 2013 | China, India and the U.S. joined other nations in approving a road map for building the first global market to reduce emissions from the $708 billion airlines industry. The executive committee of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s assembly backed a draft measure that would set final details in 2016 for a market starting in 2020. The restrictions for airlines, which need approval at a plenary meeting tomorrow, is unprecedented for a single global industry. In a blow to the European Union, envoys gathered in Montreal declined to validate its plan to include aviation in the EU emissions trading system prior to the start of the international program. Russia, Argentina and others rejected the 28-nation EU’s offer to scale back the geographic scope of its carbon curbs on airlines in exchange for a global commitment to reduce pollution from the industry, which emits 2 percent of greenhouse gases globally.

Abandoned Russian farmland soaks up 50 million tons of carbon every year

By John Upton, Grist, 4 October 2013 | When the USSR collapsed, the communal farming systems that helped feed the union’s citizens collapsed with it. Farmers abandoned 1 million acres of farmland and headed into the cities in search of work. New research by European scientists has revealed the staggering climate benefits of that sweeping change in land use. According to the study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, wild vegetation growing on former USSR farming lands has sucked up approximately 50 million tons of carbon every year since 1990. New Scientist reports that’s equivalent to 10 percent of Russia’s yearly fossil fuel carbon emissions…

5 October 2013

6 October 2013

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