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REDD in the news: 11-17 November 2013

A round up of the week’s news on REDD, in chronological order with short extracts (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news page is updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

REDD-plus finance

By Alice Caravani, Smita Nakhooda, Charlene Watson, Will McFarland (Overseas Development Institute), and Liane Schalatek (Heinrich Böll Stiftung), November 2013 | REDD-plus finance has received a lot of attention over the last years. This Brief describes the funding initiatives in support of this major international mitigation strategy and raises some ongoing challenges for the equitable delivery of climate finance.

11 November 2013

Global Warming Since 1997 Underestimated by Half

RealClimate, 11 November 2013 | A new study by British and Canadian researchers shows that the global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. The reason is the data gaps in the weather station network, especially in the Arctic. If you fill these data gaps using satellite measurements, the warming trend is more than doubled in the widely used HadCRUT4 data, and the much-discussed “warming pause” has virtually disappeared. Obtaining the globally averaged temperature from weather station data has a well-known problem: there are some gaps in the data, especially in the polar regions and in parts of Africa. As long as the regions not covered warm up like the rest of the world, that does not change the global temperature curve. But errors in global temperature trends arise if these areas evolve differently from the global mean. That’s been the case over the last 15 years in the Arctic, which has warmed exceptionally fast…

UN climate chief urged to withdraw from Warsaw coal conference

By Frank McDonald, The Irish Times, 11 November 2013 | United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres has come under fire from young environmentalists for agreeing to speak at a major coal conference in Warsaw, organised to coincide with the climate change summit that opens today in the Polish capital. Calling on her to withdraw, Lucy Patterson of pressure group Push Europe said Ms Figueres should “pick the future over the past. Pick clean energy over dirty fossil fuels. Pick and stick with young people all over the world who are fighting for a better future”.

Warsaw and climate change: end of the beginning?

By Alistair McGlone, Channel 4 News, 11 November 2013 | On Monday delegates from all over the world will be meeting at the Warsaw climate change conference. There have been so many disappointments at climate change meetings in the past few years that unqualified optimism would be a mistake. Nevertheless, there is at least a chance that the global community might start negotiations leading to the adoption, in 2015, of the world’s most significant environmental treaty. More action is required to tackle climate change. This has been highlighted by a series of reports released ahead of the Warsaw meeting. In September, the fifth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued some abrupt warnings: there is greater certainty than ever that human beings are causing climate change, there are greater concentrations of greenhouse gasses than any time in the last 800,000 years, and a growing likelihood of extreme weather, flats, droughts, famine and mass migration.

“It’s time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks

By Yeb Sano, RTCC, 11 November 2013 | It is the 19th COP, but we might as well stop counting, because my country refuses to accept that a COP30 or a COP40 will be needed to solve climate change. And because it seems that despite the significant gains we have had since the UNFCCC was born, 20 years hence we continue to fail in fulfilling the ultimate objective of the Convention. Now, we find ourselves in a situation where we have to ask ourselves – can we ever attain the objective set out in Article 2 – which is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system? By failing to meet the objective the Convention, we may have ratified the doom of vulnerable countries.

Forest cover can guide effective REDD development policies – experts

By Imogen Badgery-Parker, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 November 2013 | The extent and rate of change to a country’s forest cover provides a useful guide for designing context-specific and effective REDD+ policies, according to researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)… Experience has shown that if REDD+ policies are to be effective, they must be tailored to the specific circumstances in a country, said Arild Angelsen, senior associate at CIFOR and professor of economics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. “Many ask what is an appropriate REDD+ policy for a country, and the response is often: ‘it depends on national and local circumstances’. That is, of course, correct, but it is not a very useful reply,” Angelsen said.

Redeeming REDD: a conversation with Michael Brown

By Nabiha Megateli-Das,, 11 November 2013 | In Redeeming REDD: Policies, Incentives and Social Feasibility for Avoided Deforestation, anthropologist Michael Brown relays a constructive critique of the contemporary aims, standards and modalities for mitigating climate change by reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). Brown advocates for REDD as a viable mechanism for the long-term pro-poor conservation and restoration of tropical forests as well—but only if local forest dwellers and Indigenous. Peoples can join the negotiating table and act as forest stewards. Local people must first be empowered to make ‘socially feasible’ decisions that are necessary for their livelihoods and well-being. In other words, there can be no environmentalism without credible local leadership, which requires investment in capacity building at the local level for sustainable institutions.

WWF calls on delegates at global climate meeting to finish the REDD puzzle

WWF, 11 November 2013 | Thousands of delegates and observers to the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC-COP19) will begin today to continue negotiations towards a global climate agreement. WWF is calling on negotiators to finalize the key elements of an international mechanism to reduce emissions from tropical deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and to demonstrate their political will by defining the architecture for REDD+ finance. While REDD+ did experience some significant steps forward at the last global climate meeting in Doha in December 2012, with the drafting of text that provided substantive guidance on reference levels (RLs) and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), disagreements over the emissions reduction verification process stalled any official agreements.

Natural capital must be the way forward, says IUCN director general

By Tim Smedley, The Guardian, 11 November 2013 | IUCN director general Julia Marton-Lefèvre is not one for despondency. “Nature is not just something that we should cry about”, she says, her accent an assertive mix of French and American. “We must talk in a positive way about nature providing solutions.” The number one positive message she has for conservation right now is “natural capital”. The World Forum on Natural Capital taking place in Edinburgh later this month (21-22 November) is arguably the culmination of that 1980 report. The “riches of nature”, once simply a turn of phrase, can now be calculated. “We have valued through TEEB [The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project] that the global timber industry today is worth about $0.4tn – you cut down forest, sell it, and that’s the money you make. The value of conserving those forests to cut GHG emissions however is $3.7tn…”

In Warsaw As In California, Forest Carbon Carrot Needs Compliance Stick

By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, 11 November 2013 | Farms and forests loom large as year-end climate talks kick off here today. Negotiators are expected to agree on methods for measuring existing rates of deforestation in developing countries, and that will set the stage for clarity on how hundreds of millions – and, eventually, billions – of dollars in performance-based funding will flow to halt deforestation and promote climate-smart agriculture under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). But while global talks have yet to agree on ground rules for how to handle carbon emissions from forestry, voluntary markets are already delivering hard results. Indeed, Ecosystem Marketplace’s most recent State of the Forest Carbon Markets report showed that voluntary carbon projects are supporting an area larger than all the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo combined…

Cutting Edge Climate Protection Through a Landscape Lens

The Gold Standard, 11 November 2013 | As climate negotiators meet at the intergovernmental climate talks in Poland, the role that forests play in relation to climate change is high on the agenda. As part of the NGO community’s response to this challenge, The Gold Standard Foundation has launched its new Land Use & Forests Framework and its Requirements for the certification of afforestation and reforestation projects. The Land Use & Forests Framework is the result of collaboration between more than 100 international NGOs, government bodies, policy and technical experts. It outlines, for the first time, The Gold Standard’s vision of a genuine landscape approach, in which multiple and different sustainable activities can be included for certification. Rather than just paying people to stop cutting forests, this approach recognises that for genuine and long-lasting success, governments and other buyers of carbon must consider and address the drivers of deforestation…

U.N. carbon panel slashes budget amid weak offset demand

By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 11 November 2013 | The U.N. panel overseeing the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) wants to cut the budget for administering the scheme by 14.2 percent next year amid fears its pipeline of carbon-cutting projects in the developing world will dry up. The CDM has helped to channel more than $315 billion in climate finance to help poor nations cut emissions of greenhouse gases but faces a slowdown next year, the CDM’s Executive Board said in its report of last week’s meeting published late on Friday. Board members urged the budget cut to avoid dipping into reserve funds of almost $200 million amassed from fees charged for approving projects and issuing carbon credits over the last seven years. The board called for a $5.5 million budget cut for 2014, pegging spending at $32.9 million.

[EU] Commission publishes first status tables on free allocation for 2013

European Commission, 11 November 2013 | The European Commission today starts publishing regular information on the status of free allocation of emission allowances by Member States for phase three of the EU ETS. The information is shown in two tables: Status table on the allocation of free allowances (16 kB) for 2013. From 15 November, this table will be updated weekly. The aim is to provide market participants with timely information on the likely allocation date in the Member States. Status table on the allocation of transitional free allowances (8 kB) to power generators for 2013. This table will be updated as information becomes available.

Mining Takes a Bite Out of Guyana’s Amazon

By Desmond Brown, IPS, 11 November 2013 | Guyana is engaged in a balancing act to save its rainforest, regarded as a living treasure, from the destructive activities of miners digging their way to another kind of treasure buried beneath this fragile ecosystem. Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud warns that the country stands to lose about 20 million dollars from the forest conservation fund because it has lost more of the Amazon, mainly to gold and diamond mining. In November 2010, Guyana and Norway established a partnership that is the second biggest Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) interim agreement in the world. Norway committed to giving Guyana up to 250 million dollars by 2015 for avoided deforestation and degradation. Guyana met the performance requirements for two consecutive years, earning approximately 70 million dollars which has been transferred by Norway into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF).

[Malaysia] Sabah Signs MoU On REDD Implementation

Bernama, 11 November 2013 | The Sabah state government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with three European organisations to explore the feasibility of the implementation of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). The (MoU) will see the state government and UK’s Permian Global Research Limited, the Royal Society as well as Dutch organisation Wetlands International, undertaking a six-month feasibility study on selected forest reserves such as Ulu Kalumpang and Kuamut, and the Klias Wetlands. The effort is in line with the state’s REDD+ Roadmap to explore and generate potential carbon money to support conservation efforts and Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).

12 November 2013

REDD Reference Levels Share Stage With Broader Land-Use Issues In Warsaw

Ecosystem Marketplace, 12 November 2013 | Developed countries have set aside billions of dollars to help rainforest nations save their forests by earning credits for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD). They won’t start spending it in a big way, however, until they see trustworthy reference levels that tell them both how much carbon is captured in the recipient countries’ forests, farms, and prairies and how that carbon content is changing. Developing countries, on the other hand, are reluctant to invest time and effort in creating reference levels until they know the money will flow. Some of them, most notably Brazil, are also adamantly against third-party verification, which they see as a violation of sovereignty.

The Basics Of Carbon Accounting Under The UN Framework Convention

By Steve Zwick, Forest Carbon Portal, 12 November 2013 | India has a Constitution; Germany has a Grundgesetz; and the Terrestrial Carbon Accounting world has its Good Practice Guidance – 5,000 pages of science-based rules for measuring, monitoring, and accounting for the carbon captured in forests, farms, and prairies. Every carbon standard harnessing markets to save endangered rainforest and Reduce greenhouse gas Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation is built on these Guidelines, and any agreement forged under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) must adhere to them.

Oslo ideas exchange sets stage for progress on REDD in Warsaw

By Christopher Martius, Maria Brockhaus and Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 12 November 2013 | Delegates are gathering at the cavernous National Stadium in Warsaw this week to whittle away at sticking points surrounding the U.N.-backed REDD+ program that ground international climate change negotiations to a halt last year in Doha, Qatar. Few expect a major breakthrough on a climate deal at COP19, but many anticipate that negotiators will make headway in working out details related to setting standards for such critical components as financing, and monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) greenhouse gas emissions. Since it began in 2008, REDD+ has evolved from the rather straightforward premise of giving financial remuneration to countries for maintaining forests — as providers of ecological services — by leaving trees standing, into a much more complex and mature framework.

No more excuses: WWF scorecard shows that palm oil buyers must do more to stimulate sustainable production

WWF, 12 November 2013 | Palm oil buyers are doing more than before but not nearly enough to encourage responsible growers to reduce the adverse impacts of producing the world’s most popular vegetable oil in some of the most vulnerable tropical habitats around the world. The 2013 edition of WWF’s Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard, released on the opening day of the annual conference of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), identified Belgian processor Ecover, confectionary company Ferrero Trading, homegoods giant IKEA, German retailer REWE, leading global palm oil user Unilever and the UK’s United Biscuits as the global leaders in uptake of sustainable palm oil and efforts to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

13 November 2013

Global carbon market ‘toolbox’ in sight at U.N. climate talks

By Michael Szabo, Reuters, 13 November 2013 | Governments want to launch a platform at United Nations climate talks to help set common standards and accounting rules and tie together national and regional emissions trading schemes, but developing countries and green groups warned that talk of a global carbon market is premature… “Markets are vital … and it’s not premature (to be discussing them). It’s more than timely to be thinking now, in advance of 2015, about how to manage their intersection,” said New Zealand’s climate change ambassador Jo Tyndall, adding there was a clear link between carbon markets and channeling climate finance to poor countries. Tyndall said the platform, a concept floated by Poland earlier this year, would be a “toolbox” that provides a variety of tools to help develop technical standards and best practice approaches to build trading rules that could underpin a global market.

New Report: REDD Does Not Address Underlying Causes of Forest Loss

Global Forest Coalition, 13 November 2013 | A new report released by the Global Forest Coalition today at the 19th UN Climate Conference concludes that projects and policies related to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation and enhancing forest carbon stocks) fail to address the underlying causes of forest loss and might contribute to further deforestation instead. The report, “REDD+ and the Underlying Causes of Deforestation and forest Degradation” is based on five case studies prepared by national organizations in Brazil, Colombia, India, Uganda and Tanzania. It was launched at the 19th Conference of the Parties of the Climate Convention in Warsaw.

REDD carbon market stabilizes, but risk of supply glut looms, 13 November 2013 | The market for carbon credits generated under projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) showed signs of stabilizing in 2012 after a sharp drop in 2011, finds Forest Trends’ new assessment of the global forest carbon market. The report, titled State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2013, shows that offsets representing 8.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were transacted in 2012, a 16 percent increase over 2011. But the average value of each credit dipped 8 percent from $8.50 to $7.80. Nonetheless the activity suggests the market of REDD+ credits may have stabilized after the volume fell 62 percent between 2010 and 2011 in the aftermath of largely failed climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

Burkina Faso Receives $11.5 Million to Increase Forest Carbon Sequestration and Reduce Rural Poverty

African Development Bank press release, 13 November 2013 | With African Development Bank (AfDB) support, Burkina Faso has received an $11.5 million grant from the Climate Investment Funds’ (CIF) Forest Investment Program (FIP) to undertake the Gazetted Forests Participatory Management Project for REDD+ to create critically needed transformation of 12 of its gazetted forests. With 48.8 per cent of its land mass covered by forest, Burkina Faso is a country heavily dependent on its forest sector for socio-economic development; but today, with growing deforestation, the country is suffering from increased biodiversity loss and degraded soil production. The FIP- and AfDB-supported project is designed to contribute to a triple-win transformation: building carbon sequestration capacity in the forests, improving local people’s resilience to climate change, and reducing their poverty by diversifying their income sources…

IEA sees global carbon pricing spreading with China scheme

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 13 November 2013 | The share of global emissions subject to carbon pricing policies is on course to rise to around 33 percent in 2035 from about 8 percent last year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its 2013 World Energy Outlook on Tuesday. Pricing carbon is aimed at encouraging energy producers and industry to switch to greener energy and away from burning fossil fuels. As well as the European Union’s current Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the IEA said it expected China to launch carbon pricing for all sectors of its economy starting in 2020. The world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, China is due to start seven regional pilot carbon markets by 2015 and is designing a nationwide scheme to be deployed later in the decade.

Norway proposes to cut US$65M from forest protection budget

Stabroek News, 13 November 2013 | The new Norwegian government has proposed a 400 million kroner (US$65 million) cut to the 2014 budget of its Forests and Climate Initiative under which Guyana and several other tropical rainforest countries receive money to protect their forests. The cuts were proposed by Minister of Finance Siv Jensen and laid in the Storting (Norway’s Parliament) on Friday. Under Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative, it was proposed that up to three billion kroner would be made available annually to prevent deforestation in developing countries. The government of former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg had proposed a budget of 2.9 billion kroner for 2014. However, the new Conservative government led by Prime Minister Erna Solberg, has moved to reduce this sum citing the sloth in developing concrete projects by recipient countries.

Polish official defends coal conference amid criticism

APA, 13 November 2013 | A high-level conference for the coal industry scheduled in parallel to the annual United Nations climate talks in Warsaw could be “potentially interesting for developing countries,” Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec said here on Tuesday amid rising criticism over the country’s “hijacking” global climate negotiations, APA reports quoting AP. On the second day of the two-week-long 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP19, Korolec hinted that the coal conference could be helpful for other coal-reliant countries in the developing world.

[USA] State approves wave of “offsets” to ease compliance with carbon rules

By Dale Kasler, The Sacramento Bee, 13 November 2013 | To the oil refiners, cement makers and hundreds of other California companies laboring under the state’s strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions, state regulators served up some relief Wednesday. The California Air Resources Board said it has approved a major batch of carbon “offset” credits that will make it easier for companies to comply with the emission rules. The agency approved credits generated by two forest projects on opposite coasts: Willits Woods, a 19,000-acre forest in Mendocino County, and a site in rural Maine. Although the agency already approved a group of offsets in September, those credits were all generated by projects in other states. The Mendocino County forest is the first California program approved by the agency, said Air Resources Board spokesman David Clegern.

[USA] California issues first forestry offset credits for CO2 market

By Rory Carroll, Reuters, 13 November 2013 | California businesses covered by the state’s cap-and-trade program will soon be able to use forest conservation projects to offset the carbon emissions from their plants and factories after the state issued the first batch of credits on Wednesday. The state issued 1.2 million offset credits to the 19,000-acre Willits Woods project, which was developed by Coastal Ridges LLC. The project is located in Mendocino County, about 150 miles north of San Francisco. The state also issued nearly 200,000 offsets for the Farm Cove Improved Forest Management Project in eastern Maine, which was developed by Finite Carbon and the Downeast Lakes Land Trust.

14 November 2013

New Interactive Tool Helps Track Earth’s Forests

By Louis Lucero II, New York Times, 14 November 2013 | As carbon emissions build and environmentalists grow more certain of the consequences, scientists have been searching for more precise ways to track the state of Earth’s vast expanses of forest. Researchers primarily from the University of Maryland, along with Google, have created a new tool to help scientists monitor forest disturbance. The researchers have synthesized 12 years’ worth of satellite imagery into a maplike interactive tool illustrating recent changes in the extent of forest cover around the world. Their findings were published Thursday in the journal Science. By providing a record of changes in forested areas across the globe, the tool can be used to help track threats to biodiversity, the effectiveness of policies that protect forest areas and the release of carbon long tied up in trees and other organic material, among other forest health issues.

Forest change mapped by Google Earth

By James Morgan, BBC News, 14 November 2013 | A new high-resolution global map of forest loss and gain has been created with the help of Google Earth. The interactive online tool is publicly available and zooms in to a remarkably high level of local detail – a resolution of 30m. It charts the story of the world’s tree canopies from 2000 to 2012, based on 650,000 satellite images by Landsat 7. In that time, the Earth lost a combined “forest” the size of Mongolia, enough trees to cover the UK six times. Brazil’s progress in reducing deforestation was more than offset by losses in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay and Angola, according to a study in the journal Science. “This is the first map of forest change that is globally consistent and locally relevant,” said Prof Matthew Hansen of the University of Maryland, who led the project team which developed the map.

REDD-y… Set… Finance!

By Sarah Marlay, F&ES Blog, 14 November 2013 | As international negotiations on REDD+ get underway this week at the UNFCCC’s 19th Conference of the Parties, it’s important to ask, what could COP-19 mean for the world’s forests and climate? What needs to come together over the next week or so in Warsaw to push REDD+ closer to becoming a reality? As the negative impacts of climate change become more and more palpable, REDD+ needs to take off and start its race against a warming world.

Adaptation leader: Bruno Locatelli on the importance of climate adaptation finance for forests

CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 November 2013 | Bruno Locatelli, environmental scientist at CIRAD and CIFOR, who speaks of the emerging understanding of the importance of climate change adaptation for forest ecosystems. Locatelli explains that the relationship between climate adaptation and forests is unusual as work is needed both to adapt forest ecosystems to climate change while at the same time recognising that forests themselves provide climate resilience benefits to the communities that rely on them. Here he calls for more funding for climate adaptation projects, and warns that without careful planning, forest projects aimed at cutting carbon emissions may adversely make communities less resilient to climate impacts.

The challenge of certifying forest ecosystem services

By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 November 2013 | As the challenges of certifying forest ecosystem services persist, delegates at the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw are anticipating new insights from a meeting of certification organizations this weekend. Building on their year-old alliance, The Gold Standard Foundation and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are joining forces with Fairtrade International to explore the challenges of certifying forest ecosystem services at the Global Landscapes Forum on November 16 and 17. The organizations will participate in “Certifying ecosystem services in forestry and agriculture: Ensuring genuine MRV and social and environmental integrity at a landscape level,” one of 17 technical and networking sessions offered at the Forum.

Indigenous Leaders Stand Up For Active Role In REDD

Ecosystem Marketplace, 14 November 2013 | Indigenous issues are a central focus of climate talks here this week and next, especially when it comes to programs that use carbon finance to save endangered rainforest (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or “REDD”). “It is important to understand how indigenous people are responding to climate change,” said Juan-Carlos Jintiach on Tuesday. “We have made much progress with holistic management pilot projects.” Jintiach is the economic coordinator for COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica, or “Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin”), which is an alliance of associations and peoples within the Amazon that aims to empower indigenous populations and defend them in human and property rights issues.

The Promise of REDD: Giving Tropical Countries a Choice in Whether to Decimate Their Forests

By Justin Catanoso, National Geographic, 14 November 2013 | A cruel irony of climate change is that countries that ring the equator – most of them poor and eager to develop – possess an incredibly valuable asset that they can only monetize if they destroy it: their tropical forests. These vast forests and their lung-like functions absorb carbon spewed in industrialized countries. They produce clouds that regulate global weather and temperatures. They slow the rate of global warming. They shelter much of the world’s biodiversity. And they provide these vital, irreplaceable services to the planet for free. Often, though, these forests sit atop lucrative troves of fossil fuels or minerals. Or they cover land that when cleared can be used for ranching and farming. What’s a developing country, eager to leverage its natural resources, to do?

Behind the locked cupboard: uncovering the truth about land grabs

By Fred Pearce, Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog, 14 November 2013 | A couple of years ago, Oxfam claimed that an area of agricultural land in developing countries almost the size of Western Europe had in recent years been taken over the foreign investors. But a new report says a majority of the biggest “land grabs” never got beyond the planning stage. So what’s going on? Has the bubble burst? Was the great land rush a myth all along? Don’t be so sure. The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems is hosting a month-long focus on restoring landscapes and soils. Land grabbing makes work on restoration of land and soil even more important as farmers are increasingly beaten out of the most fertile land and water due to land grabbers. I should declare an interest. I wrote a book, The Landgrabbers, charting real grabs happening across the world, from Paraguay to Papua New Guinea. I saw the fences, the ploughs and the dispossession first hand.

[USA] Court rejects challenge to California’s carbon auctions

By Dale Kasler, The Fresno Bee, 14 November 2013 | California’s year-old system of auctioning off the right to emit greenhouse gases has withstood a pair of lawsuits challenging the program’s constitutionality. A Sacramento Superior Court judge this week rejected lawsuits filed by the California Chamber of Commerce and the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation. In lawsuits filed five months apart, the two groups sought to derail the state’s quarterly auctions of carbon-emissions permits – a centerpiece of California’s landmark global warming law, AB 32. They argued that the auctions amount to an unconstitutional tax on California’s largest industries because AB 32 didn’t receive two-thirds supermajority votes when the Legislature enacted the law in 2006. The two groups also said AB 32 didn’t explicitly authorize the state to auction the carbon credits in the first place.

[Zambia] Climate change governance, mitigation

By Makweti Sishekanu, Zambia Daily Mail, 14 November 2013 | Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and reduction of emissions from forest degradation form the core of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) programme. Meanwhile, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable forest management and enhancement of carbon stocks are the auxiliaries of the REDD programme, making it the REDD+ programme. Where then is the emphasis? Is it the protection of environmental integrity; improving the social and environmental welfare of the people or both the protection and improvement of the social and environmental welfare of the people? If the REDD+ programme in Zambia has to succeed or fail, it will be because of its strategic response to such concerns on the ground! This is an issue of governance – currently standing out as one of our potential challenges in implementing the REDD+ strategy.

15 November 2013

Concerns Over Role of Corporates at Climate Talks

By Mantoe Phakathi, IPS, 15 November 2013 | As deliberations continue in earnest at the 19th United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Warsaw, negotiators from the Global South welcome a focus on financing adaptation – but reject a new emphasis on a role for the private sector. Climate negotiations have now dragged on for almost 20 years. Talk of “fair, ambitious and binding” agreements to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming appears to be fading, to be replaced by proposals to turn to the private sector for loans and investment to support adaptation to climate change at what has been dubbed the “Corporate COP (Conference of Parties)”. Tosi Mpamu-Mpamu, a negotiator for the Democratic Republic of Congo and a former chair of the African Group of negotiators, sees an alarming change emerging in the approach to funding the response to climate change.

Weak rules threaten UN climate plan for forests

By Stian Reklev, Reuters, 15 November 2013 | Investments in a U.N. plan to halt deforestation could suffer as U.N. climate talks in Warsaw have failed to agree rules to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples and to protect local biodiversity, observers said… “The lack of reporting rules creates a situation where a country might benefit from results-based payments without providing assurance that the results being paid for are sustainable,” said Kathleen Rutherford with Pivot Point, one of the green groups tracking the talks. The rules are needed to ensure that well meaning projects do not end up hurting indigenous people, for example by preventing them pursuing legitimate economic interests, or damaging the environment by things such as fast-growing tree plantations that do are not suitable for the local wildlife.

REDD, CDM Likely To Find A Place In New Climate Agreement: Figueres

By Gloria Gonzalez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 15 November 2013 | Despite the challenges in the Clean Development Mechanism and REDD+, both mechanisms are likely to find a place in the international climate agreement expected to be reached in 2015, said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. The future of REDD+ has been a major topic of discussion and debate at the international climate talks in Warsaw this week as developed and developing countries strive to reach enough common ground on issues such as reference levels and monitoring, reporting and verification to allow billions of dollars to be directed toward these projects… Figueres said she is optimistic that REDD+ can serve as a mechanism in the climate agreement being negotiated. “I think there’s a good chance of it being included and it’s moving in that direction,” she said. However, the challenge for REDD relates to funding. “That’s a much more difficult question.”

What the HECK is up with REDD ?!?!: A Summary Of My Struggles Up Until Now

By Lara Shirley, Earth in Brackets, 15 November 2013 | REDD+ is complex, illogical and confusing. I kind of dislike it a lot. After having spent what feels like far too much time on it – although compared to many here, it’s barely a millisecond – I thought I would spare you all from trudging through all the mundane sludge that I had to. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of annoying things that took me a long time to figure out.

When tenure reform for REDD needs a second wind

By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 November 2013 | Initially promising efforts to strengthen land tenure in tropical forest countries may need a fresh injection of resources and political will if they are to be sustained, cases from Tanzania, Brazil and Indonesia show. Secure land tenure is increasingly recognized as an essential prerequisite for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation), a scheme that involves making payments to reward reductions in deforestation and its associated emissions. Tanzania, for example, which began preparing for REDD+ in 2008, has emphasized Participatory Forest Management (PFM) as a basis for REDD+. “Tanzania has very good guidelines on participatory land use planning,” Rahima Njaidi of the Community Forest Conservation Network of Tanzania (MJUMITA) said at the recent REDD+ Exchange in Oslo.

COP 19: Christiana Figueres on coal and climate

RTCC, 15 November 2013 | Christiana Figueres, head of climate change at the UN, justifies her attendance at the Coal Association talks because she believes the fossil fuel industry could contribute a solution to climate change. Businesses have capital, technology and knowledge to align themselves with a low carbon economy that governments are working towards, says Figueres. Regarding loss and damage, she says they are an integral part of these discussions and Warsaw will be the place where a mechanism is established.

Developing World Pushes for Rescue of U.N. Carbon Credit Fund

By Wambi Michael, IPS, 15 November 2013 | Negotiators from Least Developed Countries are calling for the United Nations climate body to urgently establish a rescue fund to save Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism from collapse. Delegates, mostly from Africa and developing countries, fear that the CDM will fail if a special fund is not established to help it overcome the effects of the European economic meltdown. Fred Onduri Machulu, former chairperson of the LDC expert group with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC, told IPS: “There are genuine reasons for a CDM rescue plan. We need to cushion the CDM from current and future shocks instead of letting it die at a time when it is beginning to function.” He said the private sector was losing confidence in the CDM because of the low prices of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).

Global deforestation: 10 hot spots on Google Earth – in pictures

By Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, 15 November 2013 | Earth has lost more than half a million square miles of forest between 2000 and 2012. Analysis of 650,000 satellite images, published in the journal Science, reveal the extent of loss and recovery – Brazil’s success in the Amazon is offset by deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Zambia and Angola.

African delegates under pressure to leave UN climate talks

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 15 November 2013 | African delegates have been encouraged by non-governmental groups to withdraw from the UN climate negotiations, after the process has so far failed to yield any new pledges on climate finance. Augustine Banter Njamnshi of the Pan African Justice Alliance, that represents 500 NGOs across the Continent, said the group had asked governments to walk out of the talks. A similar move at a UN climate meeting in Barcelona in 2009 brought the talks to a standstill. The request reflects a growing frustration among developing countries that richer nations are not delivering on past pledges to raise the money that would help them to deal with climate change. “African civil society has suggested their governments to walk out of the talks,” he said, adding that the process as a whole is failing, with no progress on sourcing the US$ 100bn a year by 2020 promised by rich nations in 2009.

Amazon deforestation increased by one-third in past year

By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 15 November 2013 | Destruction of the Amazon rainforest has increased by almost one-third in the past year, reversing a decade-long trend of better protection for the world’s greatest rainforest. Environmentalists blamed a controversial weakening of legal protections passed by President Dilma Rousseff for the increase in deforestation by loggers and farmers. But the environment minister, Izabella Teixeira, rejected this, saying the overall trend was “positive” and that eliminating illegal deforestation remained the government’s goal. The set-back in the Amazon came as the first global, high-resolution, satellite analysis of global deforestation revealed that since 2000 an area equal to 50 football pitches has been destroyed every minute. The total loss is 10 times the area of the UK, with only a third being replaced by natural and planted reforestation, and the destruction is accelerating in the tropics.

[Pakistan] Reducing carbon emissions: Increasing forest cover may lead to monetary rewards

The Express Tribune, 15 November 2013 | Forests in Balochistan, Murree and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) might benefit from an international mechanism that would financially reward countries for using forests to reduce global warming. A national consultative meeting to discuss the mechanism — the United Nations Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) — was held in Islamabad this week. Secretaries from all the provinces, federal government officials and representatives of nongovernment environmental organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and International Union for the Conservation of Nature attended the meeting… It is estimated that Pakistan can earn $400 million to $4 billion each year for carbon stored in the country’s forests, figures that could potentially overshadow what the country earns from textile exports.

Philippines’ Tony La Viña on building a global coalition to end climate change

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 November 2013 | During the opening speeches at the climate summit in Warsaw at Poland’s National Stadium, Yeb Saño, Philippines’ climate change commissioner, announced a hunger strike, stating that he would not eat until a “meaningful outcome is in sight”. Tony La Viña, lead climate change negotiator for the Philippines since 1997, made reference to Saño’s strike during a Twitter chat hosted by the Guardian Global Development Professionals Network, which called on experts to share their views on how to build a global coalition to end climate change. La Viña is dean of the School of Government, Ateneo de Manila University in Metro Manila in the Philippines. He is a human rights and environmental lawyer and a member of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) board of directors.

16 November 2013

Putting land-use models to work amid efforts to slow climate change

By Julie Mollins (CIFOR), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 16 November 2013 | Models can be unreliable for predicting future outcomes of integrated land use, but can generate helpful scenarios and projections to identify potential links, synergies and trade-offs, according to a tropical deforestation expert. Land-use models can be used to understand how to protect forests from the environmental impact of agricultural land encroachment and help identify policies needed to ensure sustainable land use. They can be used to integrate different sectors, including forestry, crop production and grazing to introduce landscape-scale planning for agriculture, forest use, climate change mitigation and adaptation. “They’re useful as long as you don’t trust them too much,” said Arild Angelsen, a senior associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and a professor of economics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Q A: Emissions hotspots maps provide grist for climate change strategies

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 November 2013 | Maps pinpointing greenhouse gas emissions hotspots can help improve land management in countries preparing climate change mitigation strategies, a scientist has said. “We want to improve accuracy of the estimates and establish a global standard for hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mariana Rufino, a senior scientist with Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “Mitigation involves making decisions about how to slow or prevent climate change,” Rufino said, adding that hotspot maps will aid policymakers and contribute to international climate negotiations.

Small Cameroon farmers nearly ready for REDD — with a bit of help

By Thomas Hubert (CIFOR), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 16 November 2013 | A recent study of two villages in Cameroon indicates that small farmers there are not far from having the capacity to make REDD+ projects work in their communities. As the links between agriculture and climate change are discussed at the COP19 global climate conference and at the Global Landscapes Forum, the research shows how projects intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation could build upon farming communities’ existing skills to achieve results. The study of the villages of Awae and Akok in central and southern Cameroon concluded that “currently, the smallholder famers in the study region do not possess adequate capacity to implement a local REDD+ initiative.”

[Zambia] UN helps curb deforestation

By Buttyson Kandimba, Zambia Daily Mail, 16 November 2013 | United Nations on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) technical advisor Elsie Attafuah says the UN stands ready to support Government’s efforts in curbing deforestation in the country. Ms Attafuah said the UN will continue supplementing Government’s efforts in reducing the levels of deforestation, which has devastating effects on human life because of climate change. She was speaking in Solwezi on Thursday during a stakeholders’ awareness workshop on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation held at Solwezi Lodge. She said Zambia’s forests are depleting at a faster rate of between 250,000 to 300,000 trees annually. “Let us stand together to protect our forests because our lives and our future are in our forests,” Ms Attafuah said.

17 November 2013

[Guyana] Environment Ministry sends team to probe road being built in pristine area

Stabroek News, 17 November 2013 | Concerns are being ex-pressed over reports that a road is being built in one of Guyana’s most pristine and biodiversity rich areas in Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment has dispatched a team to investigate. The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) on Friday publicly expressed fear of the consequences of a road in that area of southern Guyana. “Guyana’s last frontier is being breached by Brazilian mining interests who are constructing a road intended to drive deep into the heart of South Rupununi, eventually reaching the New River Triangle.” [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Japan uses offsets to meet Kyoto emission goal: media

By Osamu Tsukimori, Reuters, 17 November 2013 | Japan met its Kyoto Protocol obligations to lower greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees and buying carbon credits as actual emissions rose, media reported on Sunday, days after the country watered down targets for cutting them further by 2020. Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara will release the preliminary figures on November 20 in Warsaw, where some 190 nations are meeting from November 11-22 to work on a global climate pact, the Nikkei and Asahi newspapers said. Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, was obliged under Kyoto to cut emissions by 6 percent from 1990/91 levels to 1.186 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent a year on average over the five years to March 2013.

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