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.
3 March 2014
By Tiffany Stecker, E&E Publishing, 3 March 2014 | Poynton, 49, has built a reputation as the go-to man for large corporations to take deforestation out of their portfolio of issues. Whether it’s a concession to pressure from environmental groups, a recognition of consumer demand for sustainable products or the threat of divestment, companies have been lining up to work with TFT. “We come with a health warning: It is unpleasant and difficult to work with TFT, because we will change you, and change is fundamentally difficult and stressful and full of tension,” said Poynton, 49. “But if you’re ready to go on the journey, the destination will be a good one.”
By John McGarrity, RTCC, 3 March 2014 | A surplus of offset credits in EU’s emissions trading scheme and proposals by Brussels policymakers to do without the credits means has raised fears that the CDM is in terminal decline, but Sealy said the $300 billion UN scheme could make a comeback later in the decade. “The CDM remains the only viable international currency in offset credits that we have, and raised ambition in any post-2020 agreement means prices are bound to rise, rekindling interest from investors,” said Sealy, a longtime negotiator for Grenada, in an interview with RTCC… “For the CDM it’s crucial to seek out new markets, a lot more countries will be required to cut emissions in a post-2020 treaty and there’s a whole framework in place that can measure emissions cuts and verify them,” Sealy said, pointing to the growth of emissions trading schemes in both developed and developing countries.
Jamaica Observer, 3 March 2014 | Because of the importance of trees in carbon sequestration and storage, they are fast becoming a prized commodity. We can now earn hard currency from trading the carbon stored by trees to developed countries or corporations to offset their carbon emissions in other parts of the world. This is known as carbon trading and is where that estimated value of US$45 million for the mangroves of the PBPA comes from. There are programmes such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation) and REDD+, implemented by the United Nations, that facilitate accreditation and trading of carbon. Guyana was offered US$200 million in 2009, and has so far received US$115 million, to use their forests to offset carbon produced by Norway, and there are a myriad tropical developing countries that have benefited from or are now applying for money through REDD.
Survival International, 3 March 2014 | A speech by two Papuan activists which was being broadcast live on the internet mysteriously went silent when they started to denounce Indonesian human rights atrocities. The two were special guests at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Oregon, the world’s most important environmental law conference. The Papuans are members of the Amungme tribe, whose land is home to Grasberg, the world’s biggest copper and gold mine. They were highlighting the problems facing the tribe in the face of massive environmental damage and human rights violations. Indonesia has occupied Papua (the western half of the island of New Guinea) since 1963, and more than 100,000 Papuans are believed to have been killed since then.
Phys.org, 3 March 2014 | Spanish forest ecosystems will quite probably emit high quantities of carbon dioxide in the second half of the 21st century. This is the conclusion of a report that reviews the results obtained from the implementation of the forest simulation model GOTILWA+, a tool to simulate forest growth processes under several environmental conditions and to optimize Mediterranean forests management strategies in the context of climate change. The report was published on the latest issue of the ecology and environment journal Ecosistemas, edited by the Spanish Association of Terrestrial Ecology. Peer review was led by professors Santiago Sabaté and Carlos Gracia, of the Department of Ecology at the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), and the expert Daniel Nadal, of UB’s former Department.
EurActiv, 3 March 2014 | Four Fortune 500 companies have written to the UK’s energy minister, Ed Davey, calling for the rapid cancellation of two billion carbon allowances as EU energy and environment ministers begin two days of high-stakes policy talks in Brussels. The CEOs of four companies – Alstom UK, Shell UK, Doosan and SSE – all warn that the six-year wait for light reform of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) proposed in the EU’s 2030 climate and energy package, neglects an “immediate problem” of carbon credit over-supply. “Two billion allowances are suppressing cost efficient carbon abatement and delaying investments in energy efficiency and lower carbon processes, products and services for the medium and long term,” says the letter, which EurActiv has seen. “We would strongly support the UK driving action on additional measures to deal with the surplus on the system before 2021, including permanent set aside of EU ETS allowances,” the captains of industry continue.
GreenBiz.com, 3 March 2014 | A group of 140 California firms have reiterated calls for legislators to deliver ambitious action on climate change with the release of a new declaration signaling their support for policies that serve to cut emissions and drive investment in clean tech. The group last week issued an updated version of the Climate Declaration, orchestrated last year by the Ceres group of sustainable investors and Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP) group and backed by 750 U.S. companies. The declaration asserted that the U.S. must undertake a “coordinated effort to combat climate change” if it is to “maintain our way of life and remain a true superpower in a competitive world.” Now the Californian version highlights the commitment of many of the state’s leading businesses to action on climate change and argues that it can play a key role in building a low-carbon economy.
4 March 2014
By Alan S. Hale, Kenora Daily Miner and News, 4 March 2014 | A youth group in Grassy Narrows First Nation has issued a statement saying it will oppose the Whiskey Jack Forestry Plan which is set to take effect this April. The language of the group’s statement seems to suggest the youth may be willing to disrupt any logging operations inside Grassy’s traditional territory, but is not clear on what lengths they would go to in order to do so. “If the logging begins in our territory, I am certain there will already be planned strategies on our part to bring it to a complete halt,” reads a quote from the statement attributed to Taina Da Silva, a Grassy Narrows Youth organizer. Some of the members of the youth group are the sons and daughters of the women who originally erected the blockade which has scuttled any notion of logging inside the community’s traditional territory since 2002.
Code REDD press release, 4 March 2014 | The REDD+ Talks series has facilitated unparalleled insight, partnership, and action on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. By communicating the value of REDD+, this unique series demonstrates multi-stakeholder engagement and commitment to conserving vital tropical forest ecosystems. REDD+ Talks: Colombia will bring together leading REDD+ practitioners, policy makers, and private sector stakeholders to articulate and advance the role of REDD+ as a global climate change mitigation strategy as well as a means for sustainable economic development, public and private collaboration, and resilient value chains.
By Caity Peterson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 March 2014 | A misty green landscape tucked away in the countryside near Chimaltenango, Guatemala, is home to Mayan ruins — and an ancient truth. Iximché, as the ruins are called, means “Tree of Corn” in the indigenous Kaqchikel language, which makes me think the ancients knew something about the relationship between trees and food. Things have changed since Iximché’s glory days, however, and the spread of agriculture has meant the demise of forests. Swidden rotational crop farming is common in Guatemala, and Central American forests suffer even greater deforestation rates than the Amazon.
By Tony Ng, Jakarta Globe, 4 March 2014 | A green entrepreneur and his forest conservation company are leading the way with a business model that is not just green and sustainable but has the backing and involvement of the community. Dharsono Hartono, president director of Rimba Makmur Utama, has invested in a restoration project consisting of 217,000 hectares of forest inside the Katingan peatlands in Central Kalimantan, where the company engages in regular talks with residents of the area on an equal footing. The company’s aim is not only to preserve and restore the forest area from deforestation for oil palm projects, but to help local business thrive as well. Rimba Makmur Utama is following the United Nations climate change mitigation strategy called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation).
By Gloria Gonzalez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 4 March 2014 | Mike Korchinsky goes way back with Christian del Valle and Sylvain Goupille, now the heads of the Althelia Climate Fund, back to their days on the carbon desk at BNP Paribas. Wildlife Works, a developer of reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) projects that operates the Kasigua Corridor REDD+ projects, had an agreement with the French bank to provide development services for up to $50 million worth of projects. When the two left BNP Paribas and launched the Althelia Climate Fund in 2011, Korchinsky continued to engage with del Valle and Goupille in the hopes of becoming the first developer to receive financing for a sustainable land use and conservation project from the new fund. Those conversations culminated in last month’s announcement that Althelia will make a $10 million investment in the Taita Hills project…
5 March 2014
By Adam Vaughan and John Vidal, The Guardian, 5 March 2014 | Devastating extreme weather including recent flooding in England, Australia’s hottest year on record and the US being hit by a polar vortex have a “silver lining” of boosting climate change to the highest level of politics and reminding politicians that climate change is not a partisan issue, according to the UN’s climate chief. Christiana Figueres said that it was amoral for people to look at climate change from a politically partisan perspective, because of its impact on future generations. The “very strange” weather experienced across the world over the last two years was a sign “we are [already] experiencing climate change,” the executive secretary of the UN climate secretariat told the Guardian.
The World Bank, 5 March 2014 | Some 30 countries — representing about 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions — met this week in Mexico to discuss domestic approaches to greenhouse gas mitigation, including initiatives that put a price on carbon such as domestic emissions trading schemes and carbon taxes. The World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) — which brings together developing and developed nations — is an important platform for countries to share information on their respective low emissions development actions. It supports a larger climate strategy to put a price on carbon. Hosted by the government of Mexico, the PMR held its 8th Partnership Assembly meeting this week followed by a high-level conference today on domestic action and carbon pricing instruments where PMR participants including Mexico, China, South Africa, Brazil, the United States, and the European Commission presented their domestic strategies on climate action.
By Alessandro Vitelli, Bloomberg, 5 March 2014 | Statkraft AS won a tender to sell United Nations carbon credits to Belgium’s region of Flanders, according to a spokeswoman for Norway’s biggest utility. “We have been awarded three lots in the tender,” Ursula John, a communications adviser at Statkraft Markets GmbH, said by phone today from Dusseldorf, Germany without commenting on the amount or price of the deal. Bart Naessens, an official at the Flemish department of environment, declined to comment on the award. Flanders invited companies in September to offer as many as 20 million metric tons of UN Certified Emission Reductions and Emission Reduction Units in four lots, according to documents published by the Flemish environment department at the time. The region sought to buy the credits in tranches of 4 million to 5 million tons over a period of 12 months after the seller is selected, according to the tender documents.
By Stuart Bernstein, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 March 2014 | Diana Beresford-Kroeger is a botanist, medical biochemist, author, lecturer and advocate for trees and forests, best known for her rare ability to bring an understanding and appreciation of their complexities to the general public. Through her books, lectures, radio and television appearances, and her work for such organizations as The Woodland League in Ireland, Ecology Ottawa in Canada and Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in the United States, she has applied her scientific background to advocate for reforestation. In addition to her educational qualifications, Diana uses the experience gained working in her forest-garden laboratory in Canada to inform her efforts to draw attention to the role of trees in mitigating the effects of climate change, disease and the degradation of nature.
Business Recorder, 5 March 2014 | Germany has launched a second call for projects that cut carbon emissions in poor countries to get finance from its 10 million euro ($13.77 million) fund to help them start generating carbon credits. The German environment ministry’s Foundation Future of the Carbon Market scheme will buy and cancel credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) from the world’s poorest nations in a bid to support emission reduction projects struggling to gain investment from the private sector. “The Foundation believes that market mechanisms are an important pillar of current and future international emission mitigation efforts,” said Nils Medenbach, Senior Project Manager at state-owned bank KFW and consultant to the Foundation, by email on Tuesday.
Waatea News, 5 March 2014 | A Maori forestry consultant is accusing the government of fudging the figures on climate change at a huge cost to iwi. Chris Karamea Insley says iwi are exposed to climate change policy because of their stakes in forestry, farming and fishing. He says National’s 2012 decision to allow the use of cheap European carbon credits benefited polluters, like energy companies, and cost iwi $600 million in lower asset values. Mr Insley says iwi leaders have asked the Government to fix the carbon price at around $15 a tonne. “It would attract $800 million of foreign direct investment to plant 100,000 hectares of new forest per year for 10 years on Maori land targeting the 1.2 million hectares of under-utilised land we keep getting told about. It would create 50,000 new permanent jobs. It would restore $400 million of the lost $600 million that would be reinvested by iwi,” he says.
By Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog, 5 March 2014 | The U.S. Department of Defense released the 2014 version of its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) yesterday, declaring the threat of climate change impacts a very serious national security vulnerability that, among other things, could enable further terrorist activity. Released every four years, the QDR is a broad outline of U.S. military strategy discussing how to maintain global U.S. military hegemony. Like the 2010 document, the 64-page 2014 QDR again highlights the threats posed to national security by ever-worsening global climate disruption. “The impacts of climate change may increase the frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, including defense support to civil authorities, while at the same time undermining the capacity of our domestic installations to support training activities,” the report details.
6 March 2014
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 6 March 2013 | The world’s financial markets could be creating a “carbon bubble” by over valuing the fossil fuel assets of large companies say MPs. Much of this coal and oil may have to be left in the ground to combat climate change, according to the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC). The Committee also hits out at the lack of green finance. Less than half the £200bn needed to deliver emissions cuts by 2020 is in place they say. A number of studies in recent years have warned that stock markets around the world have overvalued companies with large holdings of coal, oil and gas. The problem stems from the fact that countries including the UK agreed at a UN meeting in Mexico in 2010 to limit global temperature rises to 2C. To achieve this, economists including Sir Nicholas Stern have calculated that between 60 and 80% of existing reserves of fossil fuels will need to remain in the ground, unburned.
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 March 2014 | Comprehensive U.N. anti-poverty targets established in 2000 have done much to advance and empower rural women by making gender parity an integral part of international discussions on development. However, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) appear to have fallen short in addressing the plight of rural women in an often-overlooked area: energy access. The reliance on burning biomass such as fuelwood, animal dung and crop waste for household energy creates risks and hardships that fall inordinately on women — from collection to use in the home. As these hardships become more evident, one researcher is urging for this issue to be addressed in ongoing negotiations over the next global development framework, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs will succeed the MDGs, which are set to expire in 2015.
By Cath McAloon, ABC Rural, 6 March 2014 | The National Farmers Federation is calling on the Federal Government to fund more research into how agriculture can store carbon and reduce emissions. The NFF has made a submission to a green paper on the Emissions Reduction Fund, which is slated to begin in July. The fund, a key part of the government’s Direct Action Plan replacing Labor’s carbon tax, will purchase carbon credits through a reverse auction system, with farmers bidding against industry. The NFF’s Gerald Leach says while methodologies have been devised for calculating carbon abated through timber plantations and reducing methane in dairies and piggeries, more research is needed on carbon from cropping and grazing farms.
By Brian Parkin and Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 6 March 2014 | Germany said an overhaul of the European Union’s carbon market to automatically tighten supply should begin at the latest in 2016, five years earlier than proposed by the bloc’s regulatory arm. The 28 EU nations began talks last month on the plan to introduce a stability reserve mechanism for the $72 billion emissions trading system. The draft measure, designed to introduce automatic supply curbs or injections from 2021 to avoid imbalances, requires qualified-majority support from member states and majority backing from the European Parliament to be amended and take effect. An earlier start of the supply controls would ensure the revitalized cap-and-trade program is “synchronized” with tightening of the EU’s overall carbon-reduction target to 40 percent by 2030, Michael Schroeren, spokesman for Germany’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, said by telephone from Berlin today.
By Sohpie Yeo, RTCC, 6 March 2014 | Fires in Indonesia are destroying large areas of forest on land owned by lumber and palm oil companies, casting further attention on western companies that buy commodities from the affected regions. The fires, which have been burning since late February, have emitted a blanket of smog, which has triggered respiratory problems in more than 30,000 people, according to local reports. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesperson at Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency, said that causes of pneumonia, asthma, and eye and skin irritation had also increased, with air quality reaching dangerous levels in the northern regions of the country.
Development Today, 6 March 2014 | Having monitored global REDD initiatives since 2008, writer and environmental activist Chris Lang questions whether Norway’s aid-financed climate forest initiative – the largest in the world – has contributed to reducing rates of deforestation. In an opinion article in this issue of Development Today, Lang cites new research from the University of Maryland, showing that deforestation in Indonesia is on the rise. There are a number of tentative signs of progress, but with the exception of a new REDD+ agency, Lang argues, none of them is part of the Indonesia-Norway REDD deal. He writes further that in Brazil, the other key country in Norway’s REDD effort, where deforestation has been dramatically reduced, it is impossible to say that the positive developments are linked to REDD. “More than seven years on, REDD is neither cheap nor quick,” he writes.
By Catharine Watson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 March 2014 | In 1990, Uganda’s natural forests and woodlands covered an estimated 4.9 million hectares (ha), representing 24 percent of total land area, according to the country’s National Forest Plan. By 2005, this area had been reduced to just over 3.6 million ha or 18 percent of the land area — a loss of 27 percent in just 15 years. In the face of this worrying trend, Uganda got much-needed help from passionate people like Catharine Watson, head of program development at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), to help stem the tide of forest loss in the country. To raise awareness of the problem among Ugandans, and in 2005, through Straight Talk Foundation, a local non-governmental organization, she helped found Tree Talk, a social forestry effort.
By Matthew Daly, Associated Press, 6 March 2014 | Aiming at the heart of President Barack Obama’s strategy for fighting climate change, the Republican-controlled House voted Thursday to block the administration’s plan to limit carbon pollution from new power plants. The bill targets Obama’s proposal for the Environmental Protection Agency to set the first national limits on heat-trapping carbon pollution from future power plants. It’s part of the GOP’s election-year strategy to fight back against what Republicans call a ‘‘war on coal’’ by the Obama administration. The bill passed by a 229-183 vote. Ten Democrats, mostly from coal-producing states or the South, joined Republicans in support of it. Three Republicans opposed the bill. A similar measure is pending in the Senate but faces a more difficult path.
7 March 2014
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 7 March 2014 | Efforts to tackle climate change must urgently focus on implementing low carbon technologies such as wind and solar power rather than discussions of the science and quarrels over policy, the former United Nations climate chief has said. Yvo de Boer headed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2006 to 2010, and was the chief mover behind the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. Since then, he has acted as global chairman for climate change and sustainability services at the consultancy KPMG, but he is now leaving to take up a new post as director-general of the Global Green Growth Institute. De Boer told the Guardian: “It’s about implementation now. We need to focus on helping countries to formulate programmes they can take to the bank, working with countries to tap into finance mechanisms that are out there [for their low-carbon projects].”
By Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 7 March 2014 | Greenhouse emissions from Australian companies paying the carbon tax have fallen by 7% over the past year “in large part” due to the carbon price impost, the Investor Group on Climate Change has said. Calculations by the group of official data from the Clean Energy Regulator shows carbon emissions from Australia’s 350 largest corporate emitters – who are directly liable to pay the tax – fell from 342m tonnes in 2011-12 to 321m tonnes in 2012-13. The group’s chief executive, Nathan Fabian, said he believed the carbon tax was “the major contributor” to the decrease in emissions, although other factors did play a role, including the shutdown of some large electricity generators because of weather events and the closure of some major manufacturing operations.
By Helga Gruberg, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 March 2014 | In Bolivia, yunta is a pair of oxen or mules working together to work the land. Such work is strenuous and difficult for one mule without the other. Sofia Vexina is my yunta, my work partner. Together we prepare the land for planting hundreds of native trees in the city of Cochabamba. Moreover, she is my yunta in the challenging task of preparing people for these plantations as the pro-tree culture of our city is becoming a pro-concrete culture in which trees are seen as more of a problem than a benefit. Sofia is a 31-year-old Cochabambina, and she is not discouraged by anything. For her, there are no major obstacles. She understands the harmonious fusion of philosophical, esoteric and practical aspects of urban forestry. She is a dreamer, but one with her feet firmly on the ground.
By Bhawana Upadhyay, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 March 2014 | Phakee Wannasak is the leader of a women’s group established in 1977 by Thailand’s Community Development Department in Ban Thung Yao village, in the province of Lamphun. About 10 years after its formation, the women’s group was approached by the Thai NGO Committee on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, which encouraged the women’s group to raise awareness of self-development possibilities. This led Phakee and other group members to take on new roles and responsibilities by participating in meetings and decision-making processes. Now the group includes more than 90 percent of the women living in the community, and through Phakee’s leadership, they have the confidence to influence forestry committee decisions, rule-making and governance.
8 March 2014
By Theun Karelse, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 March 2014 | Suprabha Seshan is director of the Gurukula Botanical Sanctuary (GBS) in the Western Ghat Mountains in India, where a small team of rural women employ skills that place them among the world’s most advanced plant researchers and conservationists. Through a combination of scientific and traditional knowledge, Suprabha and colleagues Laly Joseph, Suma Keloth and Purvi Jain have achieved successful plant conservation results for the deforested region, where many species face extinction. The 25-hectare sanctuary area has been restored to a higher level of biodiversity. All this involves nurturing thousands of plant species and animals, spurring collaborative action with groups in other parts of the Western Ghats that undertake restoration work.
9 March 2014
The Costa Rican Times, 9 March 2014 | Costa Rica’s leading opposition group, PAC, expected to win a four-year presidential term next month, will drop the country’s commitment to carbon neutrality by 2021, an official said. The leftist group’s candidate, Luis Guillermo Solis, should be elected president in an April 6 runoff vote after ruling party candidate Johnny Araya announced on Wednesday that he was abandoning the campaign. “We don’t think it would be possible to reach carbon neutrality by 2021, because the most important tasks to reduce emissions in the country are yet to be done,” Patricia Madrigal, the Citizens’ Action Party environmental adviser, told Reuters this week.
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.