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REDD in the news: 14-20 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.

Event: Forests Asia Conference: Sustainable Landscapes for Green Growth in ASEAN

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), October 2013 | This conference, organized by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) as part of global celebration on the International Day of Forests, will discuss sustainable forest landscapes within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) post-2015 sustainable development efforts. The conference will focus on governance, trade and investment in order to manage forests for green returns, climate change mitigation and adaptation, energy and low-carbon development, food security and nutrition. Dates: 20-21 March 2014. Venue: Shangri-La Hotel. Location: Jakarta, Indonesia.

Community Monitoring for REDD: International Promises and Field Realities

By Finn Danielsen, Teis Adrian, Søren Brofeldt, Meine van Noordwijk, Michael K. Poulsen, Subekti Rahayu, Ervan Rutishauser, Ida Theilade, Atiek Widayati, Ngo The An, Tran Nguyen Bang, Arif Budiman, Martin Enghoff, Arne E. Jensen, Yuyun Kurniawan, Qiaohong Li, Zhao Mingxu, Dietrich Schmidt-Vogt, Suoksompong Prixa, Vongvisouk Thoumtone, Zulfira Warta and Neil Burgess, Ecology and Society, 2013 | Will community monitoring assist in delivering just and equitable REDD+? We assessed whether local communities can effectively estimate carbon stocks in some of the world’s most carbon rich forests, using simple field protocols, and we reviewed whether community monitoring exists in current REDD+ pilots. We obtained similar results for forest carbon when measured by communities and professional foresters in 289 vegetation plots in Southeast Asia. Most REDD+ monitoring schemes, however, contain no community involvement.

How to Change Legal Land Use Classifications to Support More Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Indonesia

By Anne Rosenbarger, Beth Gingold, Rauf Prasodjo, Ariana Alisjahbana, Andika Putraditama and Dewi Tresya, World Resources Institute, October 2013 | Indonesia’s industry and government leaders have announced goals to expand palm oil production while avoiding forest loss and social conflict. Achieving those goals depends on establishing new plantations on suitable, non-forested land and respecting local rights. Land classification in Indonesia does not necessarily allow this, as many suitable areas are legally unavailable for development. This issue brief examines methods to change legal classification of land to support sustainable palm oil.

14 October 2013

[Australia] Carbon trading scheme is a logical policy shift

By Phillp Lawrence, ProPrint, 14 October 2013 | The most contentious issue in Australian politics over recent years has been the Labor government’s Carbon Tax. When Kevin Rudd returned to the ALP leadership, one of his first moves was to dump the tax and shift to an Emissions Trading Scheme. So what does this mean? The proposed shift shouldn’t be seen as a monumental change in Australia’s environmental policy. All that happened was a change from a Carbon Tax to an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) a year ahead of schedule. In the long term, this is hardly something to get excited about. Most people who work in the area of environmental policy and believe in putting a cost on carbon feel an ETS is the best long-term strategy. In effect, a trading scheme lets the market put a value on the price of carbon based on the agreed carbon reduction targets. Both the Labor and Liberal sides of politics have signed off on these targets. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Australia] Council moves to cut stink from tip, picks up $150k windfall

By Andy Parks, Clarence Valley Daily Examiner, 14 October 2013 | An initiative to reduce odour at the Myocum Landfill is now earning Byron Council carbon credits that could be worth $150,000 based on current carbon pricing. Landfill gas is created when organic waste such as food scraps and garden waste break down. The Myocum gas management system extracts the gas via a network of sumps and pipelines. The captured gas is then flared and converts the methane to carbon dioxide, which is more than 20 times less damaging to the environment. The system was recently recognised as a Registered Offsets Project under the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI). Byron is only the second council in Australia, and the first in NSW, to have a gas extraction and flaring project approved under the CFI scheme. Council’s environmental programs officer, Lloyd Isaacson said it was a good outcome and they have now got a State Government grant to expand the system.

CIFOR Reports on Forest Capacity Building in the DRC

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 14 October 2013 | The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and universities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), supported by the European Commission (EC), are building forest management capacity in the country. The capacity building projects are intended to address the lack of forest technical expertise in the DRC based on, amongst others, a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) that revealed, in 2005, there were only ten forest researchers in the DRC. Thus far 74 Master of Science (MSc) students and 33 Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students have been trained through projects and partnerships with universities, donors and research organizations. Further projects, including the Forest and Climate Change in the Congo (FCCC) project, will train an additional 40 MSc and 10 PhD students.

Six EU Member States keep doors open to banned carbon credits

Carbon Market Watch, 14 October 2013 | At today’s meeting of EU Environment Ministers, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Spain refused to extend the EU-ETS ban on industrial gas offset credits to their national greenhouse gas reduction targets, prompting concern that some EU Member States are not taking their environmental responsibilities seriously… Offset credits from industrial gas projects have been found to stimulate over-production of powerful greenhouse gases, divert finance away from domestic actions and sustainable projects and, in the case of HFC-23, directly undermine the goals of the Montreal Protocol.

Mozambique, China Take First Steps to Curb Illegal Logging

By Erin Berger, AlertNet, 14 October 2013 | Almost half the timber Chinese companies exported from Mozambique last year was not supposed to leave the southeast African country, nor even the forest in some cases. Now both countries are stepping up efforts to crack down on the illegal logging that costs Mozambique millions of dollars a year and put its forests at risk. Chinese companies already hold about 20 percent of forest concessions in Mozambique, the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) says. But they exported an additional 190,000 to 216,000 cubic meters of illegal timber in 2012 alone, according to estimates by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), an international NGO. The EIA calculated that Chinese companies avoided more than $29 million in direct taxes on these unlicensed exports and the exploration of certain species of timber. “It seems companies are doing business as usual,” said Julian Newman, campaigns director at the EIA.

Zimbabwe: Redd Key to Preserving Forests

By Jeffrey Gogo, The Herald, 14 October 2013 | With 40 percent (66 percent in 2000) of Zimbabwe’s total land area occupied by forests, the country has great potential to developing and implementing beneficial strategies under the REDD+ umbrella, which may stabilise emissions and climates at micro-level. Unfortunately, that has not happened yet, at least at the desirable national scale. Only a mature private sector-funded programme in Kariba covering four rural district councils stand prominent, as a REDD+ initiative in Zimbabwe. Other NGO-funded REDD+ programmes going on in other parts of the country are strictly small. The Kariba project is now expected to sell its credits on the Voluntary Carbon Markets, an international UN platform where companies or organisations can earn money by selling their carbon credits — essentially a payment for the green work they are doing back home that reduces carbon emissions.

15 October 2013

Australia carbon tax: Abbott prepares repeal bill

BBC News, 15 October 2013 | Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has published draft legislation to repeal the country’s carbon tax. The controversial tax, which was introduced under the previous Labor government, imposed a levy on the 300 biggest polluters. Mr Abbott, who said the tax cost jobs and forced energy prices up, said the repeal bill would be the first reviewed under the new parliament. Australia is the developed world’s worst polluter per head of population. Mr Abbott said that the draft bill was “designed to not only keep the government’s commitments, but to do the right thing by the people of Australia”. “We are giving the Labor Party the chance to repent of its support for the carbon tax,” he added. In place of the tax, Mr Abbott’s government intends to introduce a Direct Action plan, where farmers and industry will be paid to act to reduce emissions.

Why Ecuador’s president is misleading the world on Yasuni-ITT

By David Hill, The Guardian, 15 October 2013 | The decision by Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa to abandon a plan to permanently forgo exploiting hundreds of millions of barrels of oil in return for at least US$3.6bn in compensation – the “Yasuni-ITT Initiative” – has sparked severe non-state media criticism in Ecuador, calls for a referendum, protests in numerous cities and embassies around the world, and an international outcry. Here are just four ways in which Correa’s attempt to explain his decision are misleading… Critics say he discouraged potential financial contributors by confused aims and strategies, publicly attacking the UN and his own negotiating team, and refusing to abandon a ‘Plan B’ to exploit ITT and making increasingly frequent references to it… No wonder many potential donors were never convinced.

EU ministers agree plan for Warsaw UN climate talks

Platts News, 15 October 2013 | Ministers from the EU environment and finance councils have adopted conclusions setting out the EU’s position ahead of UN climate talks in November, urging ambitious action to cut emissions, and setting out key deliverables ahead of the negotiations. The environment council warned that current greenhouse gas emissions trends will have “devastating” consequences, and warned that global emissions need to peak by 2020. The council met in Luxembourg Monday and adopted conclusions on the preparations for COP19 — the 19th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, set to take place in Warsaw from November 11-22.

Germany delays EU limit on CO2 emissions from cars

BBC News, 15 October 2013 | The German government has persuaded its EU partners to delay introducing new limits on CO2 emissions from cars. Environment ministers agreed to revise a deal, reached in July, that set a limit of 95g per km for the average car. That target for CO2 emissions was to take effect in 2020. But Germany, famous for its high-performance cars, says the 95g limit should not take full effect until 2024. Green activists deplored the new delay as a “shameful sop” to polluters. A leading German Green Party MEP, Rebecca Harms, accused Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel of “riding roughshod” over the EU’s democratic process, because the 2020 agreement had already been reached between the European Parliament and the Council – the EU ministerial grouping.

[UK] A carbon comedy

By Paul Murphy, FT Alphaville, 15 October 2013 | Enviro Associates will tell you themselves that they are toxic… if you visit their website… But a hunch tells us that such warnings tend to get skimmed over when the Enviro sales force hit the phones, as they do every day, just like all the other “alternative investment” specialists up and down the UK. Is anyone regulating this crap? We’re genuinely not sure. If you follow that Enviro website link above you’ll learn that the firm is a “clearing member” of Gemmax Solutions, a payments and clearing service for what they cheerfully admit to being an “unregulated and relatively undeveloped” market. But then if you visit Gemmax directly you’ll learn that the company is indeed regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, being firm No.540545. It’s classified as a “small payment institution”, with offices on the cheap, eastern fringe of Mayfair. It’s this firm, which the FCA warned us about in the summer.

16 October 2013

‘REDD ’ Progress and Potential: More Financial Incentives Needed

By Lisa Palmer, The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media, 16 October 2013 | In addition to supporting the livelihoods of people and of animals relying on their bounty for food and shelter, forests can help reduce the contribution of deforestation to climate change… But five years after the launch of the program, REDD+ is now at a critical juncture. Conservation International recently warned that “the failure to increase the demand for REDD+ credits could result in the collapse of a number of high profile REDD+ projects while limiting the success of many others.” … Mike Korchinsky, founder and president of Wildlife Works, says he understands and accepts the long-term timeline for REDD+ projects. “Nobody said saving the world’s forests and delivering the most comprehensive and effective mechanism for climate change mitigation was going to be fast or easy.”

What’s the Amazon jungle worth? $36 a year per family, “oracles” tell the World Bank

By Howard Scheider, The Washington Post, 16 October 2013 | [R]esearchers Stale Navrud and Jon Strand of the World Bank’s energy and environment team did not have the funds available to conduct an opinion survey of actual Europeans with actual bank accounts. So they did the next best thing. They turned to a “Delphic panel” of 48 “European environmental valuation experts” who provided their best guesses at what families would pay to have the rain forest preserved in its current state — halting all environmentally degrading uses… The answer: about 36 bucks a year, though that average covered a range of more than $100 per family in Germany (these guys obviously haven’t followed recent German attitudes about anything involving Greece) to about $4 in Croatia.

Extreme weather can be the ‘most important cause of poverty’

By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 16 October 2013 | New research suggests that extreme weather events will keep people poor in many parts of the world. The authors argue that where disasters like drought are prevalent, they can be the most important cause of poverty. They say that up to 325 million people will be living in countries highly exposed to natural hazards by 2030. If aid is not used to reduce these risks, the progress made in fighting poverty could disappear. The report has been compiled by the Overseas Development Institute.

40% of Brazil’s rural area owned by 1.4% of landholders, 16 October 2013 | Forty percent of the 509 million hectares of land classified as “rural property” in Brazil is owned by 1.4 percent of rural households, finds a new analysis conducted by a group of Brazilian NGO’s. The study, published in a series of infographics and charts on, shows that a small class of rural property owners continue to control vast holdings despite efforts to more equitably distribute land. Three percent of rural property holders registered under the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) control 55 percent of the country’s rural land area. Meanwhile smallholders who make up 86 percent of registered properties control only 21 percent of rural land.

Cameroon: Congo Basin Examines Forest Management Monitoring Systems

By Godlove Bainkong, Cameroon Tribune, 16 October 2013 | The ten member countries of COMIFAC had a mid-term evaluation of a joint project on Friday October 11, 2013. Countries of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) have described as satisfactory strides recorded half way gone into an 18-month project, “National Forestry Monitoring System (NFMS)” drafted within the framework of the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) project for the Congo Basin forest zone. National experts, focal points and other stakeholders of the project meeting in Yaounde from October 7-11, 2013 to evaluate the path covered already in nine months, noted at term that most of the countries had effectively taken off and trained people to pilot the project to a successful end.

China’s short march to carbon pricing

By Frank Jotzo & Dimitri de Boer, Climate Spectator, 16 October 2013 | China’s expert community expects that the country will have a national emissions trading scheme and possibly a carbon tax by the end of the decade, and that the pilot schemes will all go ahead in the near future. Environment Minister Greg Hunt recently said “… the Chinese and the Americans who are the central part of any agreement both have a very strong view. The most heartening development in the past two years has been China’s growing commitment to action from its paramount leadership.” He is right. And the difference is that while the United States rely on direct regulatory intervention in gas markets and power generation, China is poised to introduce carbon pricing.

Netherlands shuns HFC carbon offsets

By Susanna Twidale, Point Carbon, 16 October 2013 | The Netherlands will meet its 2008-2012 emissions target under the U.N. Kyoto Protocol without using 14 million carbon offsets it bought from industrial gas projects, a government spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday. To help meet its Kyoto goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent under 1990 levels, the Netherlands purchased 45 million U.N.-backed carbon offsets, including 14 million credits from projects that destroy industrial gas HFC-23. However, steeper than expected domestic emission cuts mean the country will need 18 million fewer offsets than it initially planned. The Netherlands will “not use 14 million credits that have come from HFC-23 projects and keep 4 million credits as a buffer,” the spokeswoman said in an email. She added that the unused HFC credits would not be sold or retired but did not say whether the country would use them to meet future emission goals.

Photos reveal illegal clearings in ‘isolated’ indigenous peoples’ reserve in Peru’s Amazon

Forest Peoples Programme, 16 October 2013 | Photos in an internal report by a Peruvian government agency reveal illegal clearings in a reserve in the Amazon purportedly protecting indigenous peoples living in ‘voluntary isolation’ and ‘initial contact.’ The report is based on helicopter over-flights of the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve (KNNR) made by the National Institute for the Development of Andean, Amazonian and Afroperuvian Peoples (INDEPA) on 2 and 3 February 2012. Almost a quarter of the KNNR is superimposed by a gas concession, Lot 88, where a consortium led by Pluspetrol has exploited the Camisea gas fields since 2004. According to the report, the clearings, numbering seven in total, are all at the same locations where Pluspetrol is now hoping to drill up to 21 new wells as part of a massive expansion of its operations.

[UK] FCA kicks off High Court battle against unregulated schemes

By Michelle Abrego, New Model Adviser, 16 October 2013 | The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has kicked off its High Court battle against 16 parties involved in unregulated investment schemes it alleges to be operating illegally. The FCA issued proceedings against Capital Alternatives and 15 other parties in July 2013, alleging that two investment schemes African Land and Reforestation Projects, also known as Capital Carbon Credits, were operating illegally. Both schemes were promoted and sold by Capital Alternatives against which the regulator began its High Court battle yesterday. The FCA’s case centres on whether the two schemes are collective investment schemes which would require them to be regulated by the FCA and authorised to operate in the UK. The counsel for the defence argued that the schemes were not collectives and so were not operating illegally.

[USA] Carbon trading increasingly a factor in finance

By Loretta Sorensen, Midwest Producer, 16 October 2013 | Could the U.S. soon enact laws to enforce carbon emission limits? Bryan Mellage, who created C-Minus, a company that offers companies and individuals opportunity to purchase carbon credits, believes the carbon trading programs that have been adopted in California will spread across the country in the near future. “Canada has a carbon trading program now,” Mellage said. “China has begun a pilot carbon trading program as well. Businesses that produce carbon emissions purchase carbon credits to stay within carbon emission levels.” … “The cost of carbon credits varies from place to place,” Mellage said. “Pricing is also based on what and where the source of the credit is from. C-Minus is selling carbon credits for $15 per ton of carbon dioxide.”

17 October 2013

Three days in Bonn, Doing Not Much

By Gareth Phillips, Sindicatum, 17 October 2013 | Representatives of the countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Chains spent three days in Bonn last week, attending workshops to advance their understanding of three concepts known as the Non-Market-Based Approaches (NMA), the New Market Mechanisms (NMM) and the Framework for Various Approaches (FVA). These three concepts have evolved from one piece of text agreed in Bali in 2007 which opened the door to “various approaches, including opportunities for using markets, to enhance the cost effectiveness of, and to promote, mitigation actions, bearing in mind different circumstances of developed and developing countries”… So, in summary, it would seem that the NMA could progress, NMM is not looking good and the FVA is too close to call. How does that bode for the climate change talks in Warsaw in November? Brazil was the only BASIC Party present. The US were missing… Russia was also absent.

Biofuels and forests: Revisiting the debate

By Pablo Pacheco, Krystof Obidzinski and George Schoneveld, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 October 2013 | Within a highly polarized discourse of “for” and “against”, the debate has shown little nuance and has been rife with poorly qualified assumptions. With the biofuel sector still in its infancy, do these assumptions really hold up to further scrutiny or are biofuels being prematurely dismissed? Evidence to date seems to suggest that the interactions between the biofuel economy and forests, food production, and the rights of the rural poor are decidedly complex and should not be overgeneralized and oversimplified. Rather than dismissing biofuels outright, more attention should be placed on developing appropriate mechanisms for leveraging the sector’s developmental potential, while mitigating its potential costs.

[Canada] British Columbia forest project helps light up Berlin Film Festival

The Globe and Mail, 17 October 2013 | The bright lights and glittering stars of the Berlin International Film Festival don’t immediately call to mind energy efficiency. But since 2010, the event has become increasingly climate friendly, switching to green energy, reducing paper use and streamlining its merchandising and catering. However, by far the biggest environmental impact of such a spectacle are the carbon emissions coming from the air travel and other transportation that it requires. To compensate for this impact, the festival has turned to the carbon credit market. Facilitated by the Forest Carbon Group, the film festival supports internationally significant forest projects, earning the credits needed to offset its carbon footprint. One of these projects is found in the rugged mountains of southeastern British Columbia. The Darkwoods Forest Carbon project is a special initiative of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) that markets carbon credits generated…

European airspace carbon-fee plan set for bumpy ride

By Barbara Lewis, Planet Ark, 17 October 2013 | The European Union should exert its right to impose carbon charges on aviation within its own airspace, the European Commission said on Wednesday, a step likely to rile emerging powers China and India and revive trade tensions. A major retreat from previous legislation, which sought to levy charges on the full length of flights in and out of the EU, the proposal from the Commission, the EU executive, might fail to satisfy critics both inside and beyond the European Union. Following a United Nations deal struck in Montreal this month to set up a global scheme to curb aircraft emissions, the European Commission is reviewing its own law making all aviation buy into its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard welcomed the U.N. deal, saying it would never have happened without EU pressure. But it will only take effect from 2020.

[Germany] Angela Merkel signals hope for carbon market fix

BusinessGreen, 17 October 2013 | The European carbon price jumped to a three-month high yesterday, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed reforms to the bloc’s emissions trading scheme. According to Bloomberg, the price of emissions allowances for December reached €5.50 per tonne, up 10.9 per cent, following Merkel’s first post-election speech, in Hanover. The European Parliament approved “backloading” proposals for the bloc’s Emissions Trading System earlier this year, which would have seen the auction of 900 million carbon allowances delayed until towards the end of the current market phase, in a bid to tackle the glut of carbon credits that pushed the price of carbon to record lows. But the German government had been undecided over whether to support the plan, creating paralysis over the EU’s next steps.

[Guyana] WWF contributes $10M towards GFC’s REDD Readiness Planning

Caribseek News, 17 October 2013 | In this regard, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which is a staunch supporter of forest conservation today presented a cheque valued $10M to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC). At the handing over ceremony held at the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Brickdam, WWF Guyana’s REDD+ and Protected Areas Lead, Chuck Hutchinson noted that the grant will be put towards the advancement of the LCDS that fulfills the terms of Guyana’s bilateral agreement with Norway. The WWF grant will support an important aspect of the GFC’s REDD+ preparations which include research, stakeholder consultation, documentary and production of a report that will demonstrate Guyana’s progress toward REDD+ Readiness. Hutchinson emphasised that the WWF believes that Guyana’s biomass which covers 80% of land area, and its abundant water supply and rich biodiversity are assets that will become more valuable over time.

[Guyana] World Wildlife Fund gives $10M to forestry commission

Stabroek News, 17 October 2013 | The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Tuesday presented a cheque valued $10M to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) towards its REDD+ Readiness Planning initiative. WWF Guyana’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)+ and Protected Areas Lead, Chuck Hutchinson, said the grant will be used to advance the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) that fulfils the terms of Guyana’s bilateral agreement with Norway. The grant will support an important aspect of the GFC’s REDD+ preparations which include research, stakeholder consultation, documentary and production of a report that will demonstrate Guyana’s progress toward REDD+ Readiness, a report from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said. Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud expressed gratitude to the WWF for its continued support and engagement… [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Indonesia struggles to secure green credentials for palm oil industry

ABC Radio Australia, 17 October 2013 | While world leaders hailed the recent APEC summit in Indonesia a success, the host country suffered a setback in its bid to have its lucrative crude palm oil recognised as environmentally friendly. Among other criticisms, environmental groups say the habitats of endangered species have been destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. But others have praised the Indonesian president’s continued commitment to addressing environmental issues in his country. Presenter:Auskar Surbakti. Speaker: Fitrian Ardiansyah, Indonesian delegate to the United Nations framework convention on climate change.

[UK] FCA grilled over grounds for unregulated scheme battle

By Michelle Abrego, New Model Adviser, 17 October 2013 | The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) launched legal proceedings against two unregulated investment schemes based on a marketing video and without ever interviewing their directors, a court heard yesterday. During the second day of proceedings between the FCA and Capital Alternatives, the High Court heard that the regulator did not contact the schemes to discuss its concerns and declined the opportunity to visit the land on which one was based prior to launching legal action. The FCA issued proceedings against Capital Alternatives and 15 other parties in July 2013, alleging that two investment schemes African Land and Reforestation Projects, also known as Capital Carbon Credits, were operating illegally… Under cross-examination from the counsel for the defence, FCA lead investigator John Thorpe admitted that the regulator’s battle with African Land was based on an video about the scheme and analysis of its bank account.

[USA] Al Gore Draws Parallels Between Budget Crisis And Climate Change Denial

By Kate Sheppard, Huffington Post, 17 October 2013 | Former Vice President Al Gore sees parallels between the last two and a half weeks of budget chaos on Capitol Hill and the climate crisis: Many will deny there’s a problem — until they are ultimately compelled to take action by forces beyond their control. “The tendency by many members of Congress to deny the reality of the government shutdown and the cost that would have accompanied a default on U.S. debt obviously mirrors the denial of the climate crisis and a refusal to recognize the cost of continuing to spew all this carbon into the atmosphere,” Gore said Thursday. But, he said, “when the markets began to send powerful signals that that was lunacy, they had an encounter with reality and they had to obviously back down.”

[USA] Middleton Place using forest preservation to sell carbon credits

Charleston Regional Business Journal, 17 October 2013 | A plantation on the Ashley River is partnering with a carbon-offset company in Wilmington, N.C., to protect more than 3,700 acres from development and generate income for the historic property, the company said in a news release. Colby Hollifield, managing director of Middleton Place LLC, said the partnership with Green Assets is the first phase of a carbon-offset project for the 6,000-acre Middleton Place Plantation property. Green Assets, which develops forest carbon-offset projects for landowners, registered the Middleton Woodlands Avoided Conversion project through the Climate Action Reserve. The company said the “avoided conversion” designation prevents anyone from converting the forestland to nonforestland use.

18 October 2013

Growing Biodiverse Carbon Rich Forests

By Jean-Baptiste Pichancourt,, 18 October 2013 | Our new paper in GCB is out! Pichancourt, JB; Firn, J., Chades, I., Martin T.G. 2013. Growing Biodiverse Carbon-Rich Forests. Global Change Biology. (in press) DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12345. In this paper J-B developed a mechanistic forest ecosystem model to help building planting and thinning rules for managing forests for multiple services, like for carbon and biodiversity. This paper clearly demonstrates that the carbon and biodiversity objectives cannot always be co-maximized when growing forests. In fact, the relationship between carbon and biodiversity can be positive (synergy), negative (trade-off) or non-existent; and these different relationships depend on climate, landscape context, disturbances, and planting and thinning decisions.

Board game puts new spin on competitive land-use dynamics

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 18 October 2013 | Life. Risk. Monopoly. Board games such as these can reflect and diffuse frameworks for thinking about life, war, even land use. But frameworks change with the times, and a board game recently developed by a scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) seeks to provide an alternative by helping people to understand and manage contemporary problems related to land use and economics. The Landscape Game, invented by scientist Herry Purnomo, stands in stark contrast to a more familiar game that encompasses those same themes. Monopoly is one of the world’s most popular board games, with 275 million copies sold in 43 languages, according to its manufacturer. But the game’s objective — acquire as much land as you can, develop it, and drive your opponents to insolvency through rent-seeking — is by its nature unsustainable.

Costa Rica’s carbon market is open for business

By Zach Dyer, The Tico Times, 18 October 2013 | A new bank opened in Costa Rica Thursday afternoon. BANCO2, the first “environmental bank” of its kind in the world, doesn’t trade or lend money, but it could have big economic implications for improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions here and around the world. BANCO2 provides commercialization and brokerage services for carbon dioxide credits, as well as promotion, monitoring, reporting and verification of national CO2 mitigation and reduction projects. The bank is the latest in a series of programs and investments by the Costa Rican government to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2021. Only time will tell if businesses flock to the nascent voluntary carbon exchange as a way to mitigate their emissions footprint; but many have already been taking steps to reduce their CO2 and organizers remain bully on the market’s future.

[UK] Sandeep Singh Dosanjh, 31, of Singlewell Road, Gravesend has been ordered to pay back £13 million to HMRC

By Thom Morris, Kent Online, 18 October 2013 | A leader of an organised criminal gang who was jailed for 15 years has been ordered to pay back nearly £13 million or face 10 more years in jail. Sandeep Singh Dosanjh, 31, of Singlewell Road, Gravesend, has been ordered to pay back £3 million in hidden assets within three months and the remainder of the £12,887,685.47 within six months to HM Revenue and Customs. He was instrumental in setting up a complex chain of companies in order to trade fraudulently in EU emissions allowances – known as carbon credits. In the only case of its kind, Dosanjh and the rest of the gang stole around £38 million through a complex “missing trader” fraud in a six month period starting in January 2009.

19 October 2013

Not all mangroves are identical: new study reveals hotspots for mangrove biomass

Sierra Express Media, 19 October 2013 | Cambridge, UK. A new study maps out the amount of carbon stored by mangrove ecosystems in various parts of the world. The fact that mangroves are one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet was already well known. Now, a new map and model published in Conservation Letters actually pinpoint how much carbon is stored in different mangrove areas around the world. Understanding this variability is critical in developing policies and in prioritising efforts to secure and even expand these carbon stores. The new model used by the team of researchers allowed them to map out the variance among the different mangrove forests world-wide and to pinpoint which mangrove areas have the highest amount of carbon. While all mangroves are important in terms of carbon, some ranked particularly high – for instance, the mangroves in Sumatra, Borneo and New Guinea, as well as on the Pacific coast of Colombia and in Northern Ecuador.

Indonesian miners risk lives in modern-day gold rush

Agence France-Presse, 19 October 2013 | In a desolate area of central Indonesia where lush rainforest once stood, illegal miners on the frontline of a modern-day gold rush tear up the earth in the hunt for the precious metal. Thousands of men use high-pressure hoses to blast tonnes of sand out of the ground daily in open pits around Kereng Pangi on Borneo island, before running it through filters to find specks of gold. Aside from the environmental devastation, the workers there and at many similar sites across Indonesia are risking their health and poisoning communities by illegally using mercury to extract gold. Mercury can cause serious neurological damage and gold miners who work for years burning the metal develop symptoms such as tremors and persistent coughing. The situation has been described as a “health timebomb” by Professor Marcello Veiga, an expert in the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

[Ireland] Celestial Green Ventures posts pretax loss of €864,617

By Colm Keena, The Irish Times, 19 October 2013 | Celestial Green Ventures plc, a Dublin-based company that was listed for a time on an exchange in Germany, made a pretax loss of €864,617 in the 13 months to the end of 2011, according to accounts just filed. The company, which is involved in the development of carbon credits from projects in the Amazon basin, was set up in November 2010 to acquire Celestial Green Ltd on a share-for-share basis and was listed on the First Quotation Board of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in May 2011. The purpose of the flotation was to obtain investment to develop the business. The quotation board was closed in December 2012 and the directors of Celestial decided not to progress the listing up to entry-level standard, according to the accounts. The principal activity of the company is the development of reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) projects, thereby generating carbon benefits.

20 October 2013

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