REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, organised by date 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.
17 February 2014
Greenpeace International, 17 February 2014 | Belgium-based international retailer Delhaize Group has become the first supermarket chain in the world to commit to a No Deforestation Policy with full traceability. The move follows public pressure in Belgium and just three days after Greenpeace launched a global campaign demanding an end to forest destruction for palm oil. “This is a win for consumers in Belgium and around the world demanding products free from forest destruction. Delhaize joins a growing list of companies, such as L’Oréal, Ferrero and Unilever that are listening to the movement demanding forest-friendly products. Greenpeace demands other companies such as P&G and Colgate Palmolive follow their lead,” said Areeba Hamid, forest campaigner at Greenpeace International.
By Mary Robinson, The Guardian, 17 February 2014 | The divestment campaign – which originated in the United States and is now making its way across the Atlantic – is one shining example of what is needed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Transforming our economic system to one based on low-carbon production and consumption can create inclusive sustainable development and reduce inequality. To achieve a just transition to a low-carbon economy, it is crucial that we invest in social protection, enhance workers’ skills for redeployment in a low-carbon economy, and promote access to sustainable development for all.
By Barbara Fraser, Forests Climate Change, 17 February 2014 | The international climate conference to be held in December in Lima, Peru – the first time such a meeting will be held in an Amazonian country – will be a crucial opportunity to push forest issues higher up on the agenda, experts say. With many topics vying for attention, the Lima meeting (COP20) will be a critical stepping-stone toward reaching an international agreement at the 2015 UNFCCC climate conference in France. Negotiators must go to Paris “ready to make decisions,” said Carol Franco, an environmental economist and research associate at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. “We have only two years, and it goes really fast.” Here are 5 key topics and events addressing forests and climate change in Latin America that she and other experts will be watching this year.
By Deus Ngowi, Tanzania Daily News, 17 February 2014 | Global warming has not spared Kilimanjaro Region, home to the highest mountain in Africa and sadly, human activities play part in it. The once greenish region that had attracted a lot of holiday makers and had water streams flowing all over the place, has now become somehow semi arid. As a result, Moshi Municipal dwellers are forced to grapple with water rationing, something they have never experienced before. The climate change has not been taken lightly by regional authorities… Leaders, including executives and several stakeholders in the region held a meeting to discuss the environmental situation and how to address the challenges. Mr Gama says the proposals from the stakeholders were forwarded to Regional Consultative Committee (RCC). “The RCC decision was to stop forthwith issuing permits to loggers and halt transportation of wood products even from privately owned farms.”
By Jun Merrett, New Model Adviser, 17 February 2014 | The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has won a High Court battle against 16 parties involved in unregulated investment schemes which it alleged to be operating unlawfully. 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 unlawfully. Both schemes were promoted and sold by Capital Alternatives against which the regulator began its High Court battle in October 2013. The FCA’s case centred on whether the two schemes were collective investment schemes which would require them to be regulated by the FCA and authorised to operate in the UK.
By Tessa Norman, Money Marketing, 17 February 2014 | The FCA has won a High Court case against a number of firms for promoting and operating collective investment schemes without authorisation. The regulator launched legal action in July against two investment schemes: African Land (also known as Agri Capital), which offered investments in rice farm harvests in Sierra Leone as run by African Land Limited; and Reforestation Projects (also known as Capital Carbon Credits) which offered investments in carbon credits intended to be generated from land in Sierra Leone, Brazil and Australia and is run by Reforestation Projects Limited.
18 February 2014
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 18 February 2014 | The 2013 Annual Report of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), titled ‘Rooted in Learning, Growing with Results,’ discusses CIF projects and programmes, private sector engagement and measuring results. It also includes an in-depth analysis of, and lessons learned from, the Forest Investment Program (FIP). The report indicates that 48 pilot countries are moving from the investment and planning phase to implementation in the CIF areas of clean technology, renewable energy, sustainable forest management (SFM) and climate resilience, with 75 projects and programmes (about 32% of the CIF portfolio) approved thus far by multilateral development banks (MDBs). With additional contributions in 2013, the total amount pledged to the CIF, now in its fifth year, has reached US$8 billion, leveraging approximately US$55 billion, and thus providing further opportunities to “test the flexibility and reach of climate financing models.”
Reuters, 18 February 2014 | A panel overseeing the United Nations’ carbon market has elected a scientist from the Caribbean as its new chair with a German climate policy expert as deputy, the U.N.’s climate change secretariat said. Hugh Sealy, an environmental scientist and chemical engineer from Barbados, was elected to head the Clean Development Mechanism’s (CDM) executive board. He takes over at a time when the U.N. programme, which has transferred more than $315 billion in climate finance from rich nations to poor ones since its 2005 inception, has stalled. Supply of the tradeable credits it generates has ballooned while their prices plummeted after many rich nations declined to use the market to help meet emissions goals. Sealy, who teaches at St. George’s University in Grenada, was vice-chair of the board for the past 12 months. He takes over from Norway’s Peer Stiansen.
By Will Oremus, Slate, 18 February 2014 | Big oil companies believe in climate change. How could they not? Already, the melting Arctic is opening up new shipping lanes that could allow them to tap into vast deposits of oil and natural gas. Despite a string of setbacks, Royal Dutch Shell has poured $6 billion into Arctic drilling and still calls it the company’s “most attractive single opportunity for the future.” Coverage of climate change tends to focus on the losers, of whom there are likely to be very many. The world’s poor, especially, are apt to find themselves starved, swamped, or parched as seas inundate cities and droughts turn farmland into desert. But this is not the primary subject of McKenzie Funk’s fascinating and troubling new book, Windfall. Instead, Funk travels the world to meet the winners—the entrepreneurs, charlatans, and multinational corporations that are devising ingenious ways to make a buck amid the coming chaos.
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 18 February 2014 | Environmental finance has always been something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, mechanisms like species banking, forest-carbon crediting, and investments in watershed services draw finance away from environmental destruction and into conservation, and they do so based not on something as fickle as philanthropy, but on the fundamental recognition that our civilization depends on clean air, clean water, and resilient ecosystems. On the other hand, narrow payments explicitly focused on specific ecosystem values favor those that can be measured and verified, which means they run the risk of leaving a whole symphony of ecosystem services unaccounted for and unsupported. Scientifically, that never made sense. Forests feed rivers, which feed farms, which feed us. It all links together. But our economic and regulatory systems weren’t designed with nature in mind. “Landscapes Thinking” aims to fix this flaw…
By Kathy Chen and Stian Reklev, Reuters, 18 February 2014 | Qingdao has become the latest Chinese city to plan a market to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as a group of advisers backed by its mayor is hammering out rules for an emissions trading scheme that could start next year. Qingdao, a city of 3 million people in northeastern Shandong province with a GDP equal to that of Bangladesh, is a major energy consumer as the local economy relies on heavy industry and petrochemicals. In a bid to meet a target of cutting carbon emissions per unit of GDP to 19-20 percent below 2010 levels by 2015, the city now plans to impose binding CO2 caps on up to 300 of its biggest companies and launch a market for trading CO2 permits. “The political will is strong as the work is led by the mayor,” Wang Ke, the director of Renmin University’s energy and climate economics programme, told Reuters.
Wildlife Works press release, 18 February 2014 | Wildlife Works Carbon LLC, the carbon market’s leading REDD+ project development and management company, announced today that is has signed a $10M financing deal with the Althelia Climate Fund to launch the Taita Hills Conservation and Sustainable Land Use Project in south-eastern Kenya. The project aims to protect approximately 200,000 hectares of threatened natural forest and savannah grassland ecosystems and bring vital economic development benefits to local communities.
By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 18 February 2014 | Microsoft is helping to protect one of Madagascar’s most pristine rainforests, after buying a block of carbon credits from the government. The IT giant confirmed last week that it has invested an undisclosed sum in the Makira REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation ‘plus’) conservation project. Overall, the project aims to curb deforestation on 320,000 hectares of land, preventing the release of 32.5 million metric tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Deforestation in Madagascar is estimated to have averaged 500 hectares a year from 1995 to 2005, but the Makira project aims to reduce the deforestation rate in one area to less than 100 hectares annually, while teaching local communities about the benefits of sustainable farming.
By Barbara Fraser, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 18 February 2014 | “Fire is one of the most important hazards limiting development, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and to sustain food and environmental security,” said Miguel Pinedo-Vásquez, a senior scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who studies the causes and consequences of fires near Pucallpa, a Peruvian city of more than 200,000 people situated on the banks of the Ucayali River, a major tributary of the Amazon River. As climate change increases the likelihood of drought, farmers can reduce risk by transforming the landscape into mosaics made up of both fields and forests, Pinedo-Vásquez said. “The risks will increase as we face climate change, demographic shifts and changes in land use,” he said. “The shift to more large-scale industrial palm plantations is reducing highly diverse farming systems that incorporate forests as well as agriculture.”
19 February 2014
By Evan Oktavianus, The Jakarta Post, 19 February 2014 | This week, board members of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a new multilateral financing mechanism envisioned to be the primary channel for international climate finance within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), are meeting for three days starting today in Bali to negotiate on business model frameworks of the fund. The GCF was established during the 2010 UNFCCC meeting in Cancun, Mexico and is currently undergoing a transition from its design phase into its operational phase. Indonesia, as a developing country that will benefit from the flow of international climate finance, has shown great interest in the GCF and has continued to strive to ensure that its interests and those of other developing countries are properly represented.
By Michaela Whitbourn, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 2014 | He claimed to have helped a Sydney school to become the first in the world to go ”carbon neutral” by saving a Malaysian rainforest from logging, and to have generated more than $1 billion in carbon credits. But on Tuesday the NSW Supreme Court found businessman Brett Goldsworthy and his Westleigh-based carbon credits company, shift2neutral, had lied and that carbon credit certificates issued to Oakhill College at Castle Hill and others were ”fake” and ”valueless”. The decision of Acting Justice Henric Nicholas draws a line under a costly and drawn-out defamation battle between Mr Goldsworthy, his company and Fairfax Media.
Climate Spectator, 19 February 2014 | Alcoa has denied the carbon price was a factor in the closure of its Point Henry aluminium smelter in Victoria amid Coalition claims to the contrary, The Age reports. And analysis from The Australian Financial Review suggest the carbon tax may have actually made money for the company. According to The Age, an Alcoa spokeswoman said “the carbon tax was not factor in the decision”, with Alcoa exempt from 94.5 per cent of the tax under the Carbon Pricing Scheme due to its status as an emissions-intensive trade-exposed industry. But The AFR says excess carbon credits could have tipped that liability into a positive, with its US parent company declaring a $53 boost from “prepaid expenses and other assets, mostly caused by the sale of excess carbon credits in Australia”. With a carbon liability bill of $7.5 million, this would put the company $46 million ahead, the newspaper surmises…
By David Hill, The Guardian, 19 February 2014 | The Ecuadorian government was negotiating a secret $1bn deal with a Chinese bank to drill for oil under the Yasuni national park in the Amazon while pursuing a high-profile scheme to keep the oil under the ground in return for international donations, according to a government document seen by the Guardian. The proposed behind-the-scenes deal, which traded drilling access in exchange for Chinese lending for Ecuadorian government projects, will dismay green and human rights groups who had praised Ecuador for its pioneering Yasuni-ITT Initiative to protect the forest. Yasuni is one of the most biodiverse places in the world and home to indigenous peoples – some of whom are living in what Ecuador’s constitution calls “voluntary isolation”.
By David Robinson, The Guardian, 19 February 2014 | Since it controversially scrapped the Yasuni-ITT initiative last August – a plan that sought money from the international community to guarantee that oil beneath the park would remain unexploited – the Ecuadorian government has vowed that Yasuni will be left “99.9% intact” by oil extraction. But this pledge seems to ignore the fact that drilling platforms already litter the Unesco world heritage site. Now it has emerged that, according to a 2009 government document, the Ecuadorian government was quietly in talks with a Chinese oil company and bank about a scheme to allow drilling in Yasuni even while the government was soliciting donations in return for protecting the forest.
By Loren Bell, mongabay.com, 19 February 2014 | Hundreds of villagers and fishermen on Bangka Island in North Sulawesi attempted to stop a ship owned by PT Mikgro Metal Perdana (MMP) from offloading heavy machinery to be used in mining operations. The Indonesian Supreme Court ruled in November that the company’s mining permits, issued by the local government, should be invalidated. On Tuesday (02/18) Dozens of fishing boats surrounded the ship while more protesters attempted to block the beach. Armed police reportedly leveled their weapons at protesters in an attempted to quell uprising. At least one boat was destroyed when a water-taxi collided with it. All four occupants were rescued with minor injuries.
By Stian Reklev, Reuters, 19 February 2014 | Luxembourg-based Althelia Climate Fund has invested $10 million in a Kenyan project that is part of a United Nations scheme to take a market-based approach to curbing destruction of forests in developing nations. The move is the latest sign of growing private sector investment into projects underlying the U.N.’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) mechanism. The 30-year project will protect 200,000 hectares of forest in Kenya, generating 1 million carbon credits annually that can be sold to companies looking to voluntarily offset their greenhouse gas emissions.
Wildlife Works press release, 19 February 2014 | Wildlife Works Carbon LLC, the carbon market’s leading REDD+ project development and management company, announced today that is has signed a $10M financing deal with the Althelia Climate Fund to launch the Taita Hills Conservation and Sustainable Land Use Project in south-eastern Kenya. The project aims to protect approximately 200,000 hectares of threatened natural forest and savannah grassland ecosystems and bring vital economic development benefits to local communities. Wildlife Works will implement the project utilizing the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) mechanism, an essential climate change mitigation strategy originated by the United Nations, designed to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.
By Rory Carroll, Reuters, 19 February 2014 | Two California state senators released a bill on Wednesday that would give regulators the authority to design a plan to meet the state’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals and improve air quality in the state’s poorest communities. The bill is an effort by Democratic senators Fran Pavley and Ricardo Lara to get the legislature’s blessing for an extension of the state’s pioneering climate change efforts beyond the end of the decade. But it would leave details of how to achieve the state’s goals to the California Air Resources Board, which is already working on a post-2020 climate change plan. “This bill looks to the future, sending a clear signal that California intends to continue its climate leadership,” Pavley said.
20 February 2014
By Oliver Balch, The Guardian, 20 February 2014 | Everyone knows the philosophical puzzle about the tree falling down in a forest: if no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? It doesn’t – at least, not in the world of real forests and real deforestation. Lack of accurate, timely data means it can take months for word of large-scale felling to get out. By the time the authorities arrive to investigate, the damage is done. A new global mapping service promises to change all that. Launched today, Global Forest Watch is pitched as the world’s first monitoring tool providing ‘near real time’ data on changes in forest cover. The brainchild of the World Resources Institute (WRI), a US-based environment non-profit, the web-based service is free to access, global in scope and simple to use.
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 20 February 2014 | Global Forest Watch and developed over several years with more than 40 partners, draws from a rich array of “big data” related to the word’s forests and translates it into interactive maps and charts that reveal trends in deforestation, forest recovery, and industrial forestry expansion. Global Forest Watch is the first tool to monitors global forests on a monthly basis, allowing authorities and conservationists to potentially take action against deforestation as it is occurring. “Businesses, governments and communities desperately want better information about forests. Now, they have it,” said Andrew Steer, WRI President and CEO, in a statement. “Global Forest Watch is a near-real time monitoring platform that will fundamentally change the way people and businesses manage forests. From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship.”
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 20 February 2014 | A global coalition of partners, led by World Resources Institute (WRI), has launched an online forest monitoring and alert system meant to empower governments, local communities, the private sector, academics and civil society to track forest change. The system, Global Forest Watch, combines satellite data on a range of forest indicators with spatial information on land uses and crowd sourced information to create a platform for monitoring the world’s forests. The free platform aims to put decision-relevant information in the hands governments, companies, non-governmental organizations and the public. The online website allows users to identify particular geographic areas of interest and to receive updates when new information emerges. The tool has particular relevance to tracking deforestation associated with climate change.
By John Parrotta and Lawal Marafa, The International Union of Forest Research Organizations, 20 February 2014 | The outcomes of efforts now underway to prepare for and eventually implement REDD+ activities hinge on a number of important issues, and the resolution of the uncertainties surrounding these issues. These relate to: (1) the ecological impacts of climate change and their influence on REDD+ strategies; (2) policy approaches adopted towards REDD+; (2) forest governance, tenure rights, livelihoods and local communities; and (4) how REDD+ activities will integrate systems for measurement, reporting and verification (e.g., of carbon stock changes). These issues were the focus of the International Conference on Adopting REDD+ for Conservation, Sustainable Community Livelihood and Climate Change Mitigation held in Hong Kong on 13-15 December 2013.
By Ed King, RTCC, 20 February 2014 | The fate of a UN-backed climate fund that could generate billions of dollars of low carbon investments in the developing world hinges on negotiations that start in Bali on Wednesday. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is scheduled to be operational in late 2014, and is seen as a vital part of UN plans to curb rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries. The aim of this week’s three-day meeting [agenda] of the 24-strong GCF board is to agree the key principles that will allow the fund to start work, and reassure donors their money will be carefully allocated. This will allow a funding strategy to be released after a final meeting in May, with the aim of securing financial contributions from world leaders at UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s planned climate summit in September.
By Anuradha Raghu and Niluksi Koswanage, Reuters, 20 February 2014 | Commodity giant Wilmar International is using its buying clout to push suppliers to be greener, or else, setting up a battle with growers and governments that have profited from their environmentally damaging practices. Given Singapore-listed Wilmar’s muscle – its refineries process nearly half the world’s palm oil – it could also drive up prices of the oil, used in cooking oil to cosmetics and biofuels, especially in price-sensitive India and China. “That’s the unfortunate consequence of any steps taken to make agriculture more sustainable. It’s a cost we must learn to bear,” said Dorab Mistry, head of edible oil trading at Indian conglomerate Godrej Industries, a big Wilmar customer. Wilmar, valued at $16.5 billion, has given its growers across Southeast Asia two years to comply with its new environmental policy, which it says is “the right thing to do for the continual viability of the industry…”
By Andrew Penman, Mirror Online, 20 February 2014 | The court heard that more farmland has been sold to investors than is owned by the company, prompting the judge to remark: “This is not a comfortable situation.” He went on: “Purchasers of some 4,300 acres have so far received no return and most of them still have no land allocated to them.” Another alarming figure was that Capital Alternatives, which marketed the scheme for African Land, took a 50% cut from the money paid by each new recruit. That means that the half that was left to invest would have to double in value for investors to merely recover their costs, yet alone make a profit. When it came to the central legal issue the judge could not have been more clear. African Land is, and always has been, the sort of scheme that should be regulated and “cannot lawfully be carried on”.
By Rory Carroll, Reuters, 20 February 2014 | A carbon tax proposal outlined on Thursday by California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg would raise an estimated $3.6 billion in its first year, revenue he said would go into the pocketbooks of the state’s poorest residents as well as public transportation. The tax, which would apply to fuels like gasoline, would start at 15 cents a gallon in 2015 and rise to 24 cents a gallon in 2020, Steinberg said in a speech at the Sacramento Press Club. Poverty in the state is growing and money raised by the tax would be returned to low- and moderate-income working people via a federal tax credit, Steinberg said. It would also help plug funding shortfalls in public transit. The tax would halt plans to bring fuels under the state’s cap and trade program next year, a policy that since the beginning of 2013 has regulated the emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases from large stationary sources, such as power plants and cement factories.
21 February 2014
By Eskil Mattsson, Matilda Palm and Marion Davis (Stockholm Environment Institute), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 21 February 2014 | Of course agroforestry is not new: people have been growing food crops and trees together for millennia. But as the social and environmental costs of intensive farming and commercial forestry have become more evident, agroforestry has been widely embraced as a more sustainable alternative. The big challenge now is how to scale up and intensify agroforestry systems without losing their unique benefits – most notably, their contributions to food security and nutrition. One major strategy is to treat agroforestry as a business and improve farmers’ market access, working closely with the private sector. Two other widely discussed options are payments for environmental services, and carbon finance, which we have explored in our research.
Carbon News, 21 February 2014 | A loophole allowing heavy industrial emitters to coin it at the expense of taxpayers by selling free carbon credits is likely to be closed under a Labour-Greens government. Every year, trade-exposed industrial emitters such as BlueScope and Rio Tinto are given enough free carbon credits to meet 90 per cent of their carbon obligation. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
22 February 2014
23 February 2014
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.