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REDD in the news: 24-30 March 2014

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 links on delicious.com are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

Submission on Non-Carbon Benefits

Tebtebba, March 2014 | Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent local communities have strongly emphasized the integrated and holistic framework on sustainable development, including the recognition and respect of our rights and traditional knowledge and customary governance systems in the sustainable management of forest ecosystems and natural resources within our territories. Within this context and with the recognition of Parties that NCBs is a crucial part of REDD+ implementation, we take this opportunity to contribute our collective views on how to define which are also referred to as multiple benefits or co-benefits as a result from the implementation of REDD+ activities. NCBs encompass a whole wide range of positive outcomes resulting from REDD+ activities beyond carbon storage and sequestration, and beyond mitigation efforts.

24 March 2014

Delivering Health, Economic and Biodiversity Benefits to Communities through Offset Projects

The CarbonNeutral Company (YouTube), 24 March 2014 | Delivering Health, Economic and Biodiversity Benefits to Communities through Offset Projects, Climate Leadership Conference, San Diego, 2014 – 10 minute highlights of panel discussion.

Trading Emissions plc posts 19.2 mln pound H2 liquidation loss

By Michael Szabo, Reuters, 24 March 2014 | Clean energy fund Trading Emissions plc (TEP) said asset disposals and writedowns related to the winding up of its business had helped push it into a 19.2 million pound ($31.7 million) loss for the second half of 2013. Shares in London-listed TEP fell 8 percent to 14.62 pence on Monday after the firm said its net asset value had fallen by 26 percent to 22.38 pence per share in the six months ended Dec. 31, 2013. “It will be no surprise to shareholders that the private equity and carbon investments are becoming progressively more difficult to sell,” the company said in its results on Monday. TEP, a fund that invests in renewable energy projects and United Nations-backed carbon credits, has been badly hurt by tumbling carbon prices and ongoing issues at several of its facilities. The struggling firm began selling assets and paying out investors after shareholders voted in December 2012 to wind up the fund.

General Mills, Colgate-Palmolive announce deforestation-free policies for palm oil sourcing

mongabay.com, 24 March 2014 | Two consumer products giants have joined the wave of companies committing to deforestation-free palm oil. On Monday General Mills and Colgate-Palmolive both announced palm oil policies that go beyond standards set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the industry’s main certification body. The policies include provisions to protect wildlife-rich rainforests and carbon-dense peatlands, while respecting the rights of local communities.

[Ecuador] Together, we save forests

By Niyanta Spelman (Rainforest Partnership), Eco-Business, 24 March 2014 | The United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, or REDD, and REDD+ programs are more recent versions of these top-down strategies based on creating a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, as are private-sector carbon offset schemes that make trees worth more alive than dead. None of these strategies has been fully effective. Buy-and-fence is expensive, putting environment-minded governments and non-governmental organizations in a bidding war against global corporations with some of the deepest pockets on the planet. Restrictions are hard to enforce in an area with low population densities, minimum or no enforcement funding or infrastructure, heavy tree cover, and no roads — plus they condemn the people who live in the forest to lives of global irrelevance. And programs such as REDD are rife with bureaucratic complications.

Research leads to certification, more trade for Indonesian furniture-makers

By Katherine Johnson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 March 2014 | Furniture makers in the district of Jepara in Central Java, Indonesia, have joined forces to create an association that has boosted incomes and helped secure the country’s first legal timber certification, opening an export corridor into Europe. The outcome is the result of research aimed at strengthening the bargaining power and improving the livelihoods of small-scale furniture makers whose industry has been in decline since the 2008 global financial crisis and the impact of free trade in Asia. “By joining an association, individual craftspeople discovered they were able to work more effectively with government and the private sector,” said Herry Purnomo, head of the Furniture Value Chain research project at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

25 March 2014

Giving people land title and passing new land laws fall short in addressing poverty

By Jason A. Baguia, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 25 March 2014 | Land reform programmes and giving people land title are not proving sufficient to reduce poverty, policymakers and experts said on Monday in recommending that governments address land issues as part of a broader economic development plan. Governments and development agencies have embraced land reform as an important way to strengthen people’s economic stake in their communities and encourage them to invest in their land and increase its productivity. The United Nations estimates that 70 percent of land in developing countries has no documented tenure, while over 3 billion people live in poverty.

Study explores role of smallholder farmers in tree conservation

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 March 2014 | When deforestation or the effects of climate change threaten natural forests, the best hope for the survival of certain tropical tree species may be to include them in agroforestry plots managed by smallholder farmers, according to a recent review. Tree species can be conserved in three ways: They can continue to grow in their native, natural habitat, which is known as conservation in situ; they may be transplanted by farmers to nearby agroforestry plots — a technique known as conservation circa situm — if they are valued for their timber, fruit or for other uses; or they may be conserved in seed banks or gene banks, known as conservation ex situ, or outside their original habitat.

Climate change also means opportunities, scientists say at Yokohama meeting

The Japan Times, 25 March 2014 | Along with the enormous risks global warming poses for humanity are opportunities to improve public health and build a better world, scientists at a climate change conference in Yokohama said Tuesday. About 500 scientists and government representatives from 100 countries meeting in the port city are putting the finishing touches on a massive report emphasizing the gravity of the threat that climate change poses for communities from the polar regions to the tropics. “Although it focuses on a whole analytical and sometimes depressing view of the challenges we face, it also looks at the opportunities we face,” said Christopher B. Field, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “This can not only help us to deal with climate change, but ultimately build a better world.”

EU emissions cuts could herald climate turning point

By Catherine Brahic, New Scientist, 25 March 2014 | The European Union is considering steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The EU only accounts for a fraction of total global emissions, but its actions could nevertheless have a big impact on future warming. Last week, the European Council met to discuss a proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent, relative to 1990 levels, by 2030. A new study suggests such a strong signal from Europe could help avoid dangerous climate change – if other countries follow suit. The European Union is on track to meet its existing target, a 20 per cent emissions cut by 2020. The final decision on the 40 per cent target will not be made until October. But for now the person in charge – the EU’s commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard – is maintaining a determinedly positive face.

Solar energy now same price as conventional power in Germany, Italy, Spain – report

RT.com, 25 March 2014 | Solar energy now costs the same as conventionally generated electricity in Germany, Italy and Spain, a report has revealed. The research has warned, however, that high installation costs are impeding other countries from achieving grid parity. An analysis by consulting firm Eclareon, carried out on behalf of an international group of sustainable energy interests has revealed the extent to which solar energy has integrated into the energy market. Gone are the days when electricity produced through solar panels cost significantly more that conventionally-generated power, as Italy, Spain and Germany have reached energy parity. However, the study’s analysts said that poor regulation in Spain could hinder further progress. Madrid recently introduced regulations that make it illegal for people to consume the electricity they produce through their own solar panels.

[USA] Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘linked to destructive logging companies’

By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 25 March 2014 | Arnold Schwarzenegger, the one-time action hero fronting a blockbuster TV special on climate change next month, has financial ties to some of the world’s most destructive logging companies, an investigation group found on Tuesday. The former governor and climate champion is a part owner of an investment company, Dimensional Fund Advisers, with significant holdings in tropical forestry companies. A number of those forestry companies were implicated in highly destructive and illegal logging which has destroyed rainforest and critical orangutan habitat in Borneo, and fuelled conflict and arms trafficking in Liberia, the investigators from Global Witness said. The group, whose founder won this year’s $1 million TED prize for its campaigns, said the holdings were at odds with Schwarzenegger’s public image as a climate champion. Tropical forests are an important store of carbon that would otherwise accelerate climate change.

26 March 2014

Forests can help make war or peace

By Janpeter Schilling and Janani Vivekananda (International Alert), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 26 March 2014 | In conflict-affected areas, availability and access to forest resources can either make conflict worse or contribute to peace. If you accept the case, as many do, that the impacts of climate change make it harder to build peace, there is also a compelling argument that mitigating climate change by reducing deforestation could offer a significant peace dividend, depending on how it is done. Yet despite the importance of forests to both climate change mitigation and peace, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate. Every year about 13 million hectares (roughly the size of Portugal) are being destroyed. To combat deforestation and preserve forests as carbon sinks, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2005 introduced a mechanism called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD).

Felix Dodds: Rio 20 to a New Development Agenda

By Terry Waghorn, Forbes, 26 March 2014 | What was fascinating over the last 5 years has been the strange rebirth of sustainable development as THE guiding development framework for the new development goals that will be agreed in 2015 at the UN. What was missed by nearly all the media was the agreement at Rio+20 to develop sustainable development goals. In 2000, Heads of State had agreed at the Millennium Development Summit to eight Millennium Development Goals with targets that covered: poverty, gender equality and empowerment of women, child mortality, maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and a global partnership for development.

Extracting carbon from nature can aid climate but will be costly-UN

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 26 March 2014 | A little-known technology that may be able to take the equivalent of China’s greenhouse gas emissions out of the carbon cycle could be the radical policy shift needed to slow climate change this century, a draft U.N. report shows. Using the technology, power plants would burn biomass – wood, wood pellets, or plant waste like from sugar cane – to generate electricity while the carbon dioxide in the biomass is extracted, piped away and buried deep underground. Among techniques, a chemical process can strip carbon dioxide from the flue gases from combustion. The process – called bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – would make the power plants not only carbon-neutral but actively a part of extracting carbon dioxide from a natural cycle of plant growth and decay. The technology could be twinned in coming decades with planting forests that absorb carbon as they grow, according to the study obtained by Reuters.

David Beckham meets ‘Dalai Lama of the Rainforest’

Survival International, 26 March 2014 | David Beckham has visited the Yanomami tribe in Brazil in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, and met their most prominent spokesperson Davi Kopenawa, known as the ‘Dalai Lama of the Rainforest’. While filming a TV program in Brazil, Beckham visited the Yanomami territory and asked Davi Kopenawa for permission to enter the reserve. Beckham and Davi talked about the problems that the Yanomami face, especially the illegal gold-mining on their land. Dario Yawarioma Yanomami, son of Davi and a coordinator of the Yanomami association, Hutukara told Globo news that, ‘We liked David’s visit a lot because he was very interested in the problems in the Yanomami reserve. He saw that there are many threats to the environment and to our culture. He showed he was concerned about the Yanomami people.’

[Indonesia] Is APP’s zero deforestation pledge a green villain’s dramatic turnaround?

By Damian Carrignton, The Guardian, 26 March 2014 | It is, according to environmentalist and MP Zac Goldsmith, the most dramatic turnaround of any global green villain ever seen and an encouraging sign that huge environmental challenges can be tackled. “This is one of the big issues: if you are interested in climate change, biodiversity, deforestation, then Indonesia is probably the most important country in the world,” says Goldsmith, who has seen the destruction on the ground. But he said APP’s new pledge, which followed many years of greenwashing, places as much pressure on the green campaign groups that have endorsed the move as on the company itself. “APP haven’t got any more chances: if it screws up, that is it for them, no-one will ever believe them again,” he said. “But the pressure on Greenpeace is also immense: they have spent years building up extraordinary credibility and it is on the line.”

Loss of forests accelerates as Myanmar opens for business

By Amantha Perera, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 26 March 2014 | It is still home to some of the most pristine forests in Southeast Asia. But forest experts warn that Myanmar is fast losing its woodlands due to a combination of commercial logging, agricultural expansion and firewood harvesting. According to the UN-REDD Programme, at least half of Myammar’s land of 667,000 square kilometres is still covered in forest. But the country also has suffered an alarmingly high rate of deforestation. The UN–REDD Programme estimates that in the 15 years between 1990 and 2005, the country lost 18 percent of its forests, and the deforestation rate may have since increased. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), looking at a somewhat longer period, estimates that Myanmar lost more than half of its dense forest cover between 1990 and 2010, with the area covered by forest falling from 45 percent to around 20 percent. What the leading cause of the deforestation is depends on who you ask.

Just how bad is the logging crisis in Myanmar? 72 percent of exports illegal

By Jeremy Hance, mongabay.com, 26 March 2014 | Just days before Myanmar, also known as Burma, implements a ban on exporting raw logs, the Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA) has released a new report that captures the sheer scale of the country’s illegal logging crisis. According to the EIA, new data shows that 72 percent of logs exported from Myanmar between 2000-2013 were illegally harvested. “The forestry sector is in crisis [in Myanmar]. Logging is rampant, transparency non-existent. Drivers include consumers’ need for cheap raw materials in the form of logs and in particular Myanmar’s precious hardwoods,” EIA Forest Campaign Leader, Faith Doherty, told mongabay.com, adding “this situation is acknowledged by the government and we hope that support for reform in the forestry sector from the international community becomes a reality.”

Nigeria: Another Look At the Great Green Wall Project

By Alex Abutu and Chidimma C. Okeke, Daily Trust, 26 March 2014 | It was former President Olusegun Obasanjo who proposed the Great Green Wall project to the African Union as a way of checking the effects of desert encroachment and desertification affecting countries bordering the Sahara desert. Following the approval of the project, Senegal has today become a reference point for others because it has not only successfully executed the project as designed, but it has also started reaping the advantages as envisaged in the programme. In the last few years, Nigeria has sponsored officials to travel to Senegal to learn how the project in that country became successful. But how we have put the lesson of their visit to Senegal to use is a question that experts are asking. The African Union programme as a model to help in the fight against desertification entails eco-system restoration of dry lands, and it is envisaged to create a green belt of 15 km wide and 7,775km long…

27 March 2014

Next big idea in forest conservation? Quantifying the cost of forest degradation

By Liz Kimbrough, mongabay.com, 27 March 2014 | How much is a forest really worth? And what is the cost of forest degradation? These values are difficult to estimate, but according to Dr. Phillip Fearnside, we need to do a better job. For nearly forty years, Fearnside has lived in Amazonia doing ecological research, looking at the value of forests in terms of environmental or ecosystem services such as carbon storage, water cycling, and biodiversity preservation. Fearnside then works to convert these services into a basis for sustainable development for rural populations. “The idea of ‘environmental services’ was certainly radical and innovative when this started out, but now it is a household word. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go before this substitutes for forest destruction here,” Fearnside told mongabay.com.

Industry party to open with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talking ‘clean capitalism’

By Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, 27 March 2014 | At a moment of converging tensions between industry and the environment, pipeline development versus issues of climate change, noted environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will have a forum in Vancouver to argue in favour of “clean capitalism” at the Globe 2014 conference. Kennedy’s armchair discussion with Wal van Lierop, co-founder and CEO of Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, on the promise of technology to drive a less carbon-intensive economy will be a centrepiece of Globe’s opening day on Wednesday. Kennedy, a well-known environmentalist, puts his money where his passions are as a 20-year investor in so-called clean technology start-ups and as a venture partner and senior adviser with Vantage Point Capital. He will talk with van Lierop about why he believes public policy that enhances clean-tech investment is good business.

The dark side of Brazil: Oil giant Petrobras moves into ‘deepest Amazon’

Survival International, 27 March 2014 | Brazilian state oil company Petrobras has started exploring for oil and gas in one of the most isolated parts of the Amazon, endangering several isolated Indian tribes. Local sources report that Petrobras has installed 15 barges with high-capacity generators, pipelines and mining machinery on the Tapauá River in Amazonas state. The exploration is taking place close to seven indigenous territories including the lands of the Suruwaha, Banawa, Deni and Paumari Indians. Although Brazil’s constitution stipulates that indigenous people must be consulted about all projects that will affect their land, Petrobras has failed to consult the indigenous peoples in the area. FUNAI, the government’s Indian affairs department, was not informed about the exploration either, despite the fact some tribes in the area are very isolated and contacted relatively recently.

China approves first offset projects

Reuters, 27 March 2014 | China has approved two wind farms to be the first clean energy projects to supply offset credits to its fledgling carbon markets, providing low-cost emission reduction options to big polluters. The two projects, which are expected collectively to generate around 1 million offsets annually, were approved by carbon market regulator the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said an official with the body who asked not to be named. China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, is launching seven regional emissions trading schemes in a bid to meet a national target of cutting emissions per unit of GDP to 40-45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. Hundreds of companies regulated by the markets are able to use offsets generated by carbon-cutting projects to cover for 5 to 10 per cent of their emissions as a way of limiting abatement costs.

[UK] High Court winds up £660k boiler room scheme

By Tom Selby, Money Marketing, 27 March 2014 | The High Court has issued a winding-up order against First Capital Wealth Limited following an intervention by the FCA. The regulator says FCW had been promoting the sale of membership shares in a company called Berkeley Brookes LLC without the required FCA authorisation. The FCA says FCW adopted aggressive and persistent sales practices, making unsolicited calls to investors claiming Berkeley Brookes was intending to construct a luxury development of 20 villas on a plot of land next to a golf course on the island of Madeira. The firm told investors they would receive guaranteed returns of between 25 per cent and 128 per cent following investments of between one to three years… Informed Choice managing director Martin Bamford says: “Investors need to be incredibly wary when someone calls offering guaranteed returns at this level when interest rates are 0.5 per cent, especially when the firm involved is not authorised.”

28 March 2014

UN author says draft climate report alarmist, pulls out of team

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 28 March 2014 | One of the 70 authors of a draft U.N. report on climate change said he had pulled out of the writing team because it was “alarmist” about the threat. Richard Tol told Reuters he disagreed with some findings of the summary to be issued in Japan on March 31. “The drafts became too alarmist,” the Dutch professor of economics at Sussex University in England said by telephone from Yokohama, Japan, where governments and scientists are meeting to edit and approve the report. But he acknowledged some other authors “strongly disagree with me”. The final draft says warming will disrupt food supplies, slow economic growth, and may already be causing irreversible damage to coral reefs and the Arctic. “The report is a product of the scientific community and not of any individual author,” the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a statement. “The report does not comprehensively represent the views of any individual.”

Conservation incentive program shows economic, environmental payoffs in Brazil

By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 March 2014 | A Brazilian program that compensates families for conserving forests shows promise for reducing deforestation and helping small farmers improve their livelihoods, a new study co-sponsored by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) shows. Launched in the Brazilian state of Amazonas in 2007, the Bolsa Floresta — “forest allowance” — program provides direct payments to families in exchange for conservation, community development, public services, and support for local associations. The program targets families living in Brazil’s Sustainable Development Reserves, which were established to enable residents to combine sustainable land and forest uses based on a management plan. By 2012, Bolsa Floresta benefited more than 30,000 people in and around 15 forest reserves covering more than 10 million hectares.

29 March 2014

[Fiji] Plant a tree, save the world

By Losalini Vuki, Fiji Times Online, 29 March 2014 | The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the March 21st of every year as the International Day of Forests that began last year. The event was carried out last week at Suva’s Thurston Gardens in order to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and trees. Delivering his message at the event, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu said the celebration marked a significant occasion. “It was a great pleasure to mark the significant international occasion on raising awareness and celebrating the important role that forests play in supporting life on Earth and providing for the needs of all humanity,” said Mr Seruiratu.

[Fiji] Trees of life

SPC/GIZ, Fiji Times Online, 29 March 2014 | Curbing the clearing of forests is a major and necessary tactic in the fight against climate change. This has led to the development of a framework called REDD . REDD is an effort led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, along with conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (planting forests). As most of our rural communities depend on forests for food, water, shelter, energy and their livelihood, REDD would ensure that these substantial benefits, in addition to reducing emissions, continue. In addition, REDD reforestation and forest restoration activities would usher in the ecological, social and economical benefits provided by forests, in addition to increasing carbon pools.

30 March 2014


PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.

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