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REDD in the news: 28 April – 4 May 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 are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

28 April 2014

Developing world exploitation being funded by Australian banks, says Oxfam

By Paul Farrell, The Guardian, 28 April 2014 | Australia’s biggest banking institutions have provided financial support to companies involved in illegal logging, forced evictions and child labour, according to a new report from Oxfam Australia. A new report released on Monday says ANZ, Westpac, National Australia Bank and the Commonwealth Bank have invested in a range of countries across the Asia Pacific that had been involved in land grabs that left locals homeless. “From PNG and Cambodia to Indonesia and Brazil, our banks have backed companies accused of forcing people from their land,” said Oxfam Australia’s chief executive, Dr Helen Szoke. “This involvement has also resulted in billions of dollars of exposure for everyday Australians who have their money in accounts with these banks, or who own bank shares directly or through their superannuation funds.”

Giant rainforest buffer zone planned to protect Indonesian wildlife

By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 28 April 2014 | Asian Pulp and Paper, one of the world’s biggest paper companies, is to support the conservation of 1m hectares of rainforest in Indonesia, as a way of reducing its impact on the habitats of endangered species such as orangutan, elephants and tigers. However, green experts said the plans would be difficult to make work and would not solve the problem of loggers depleting the animals’ natural habitat. APP’s project will involve creating and protecting “wildlife corridors” for species, allowing them to move between areas without having their habitats cut off by logging activities, and “buffer zones” so that habitats are less encroached on by loggers, in at least nine areas across Indonesia. The 1m hectare figure represents an area roughly equivalent to the area of land the company exploited for sourcing pulp last year alone.

Spike in wildlife attacks flags up loss of Zimbabwe’s forests

By Madalitso Mwando, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 28 April 2014 | According to Carbon Green Africa, an organisation working on projects for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) in Zimbabwe, up to 330,000 hectares (815,000 acres) of forest are lost annually. Most of the trees are felled indiscriminately to provide fuel wood, especially for curing tobacco leaves, it says. The demand for new farmland must be dealt with if deforestation is to be properly addressed, says Lindsay Stringer, director of the School of Earth and Environment at Leeds University in Britain. “The main cause of deforestation in Zimbabwe is both small-scale and subsistence expansion of farmland, and then tobacco plantations which (are) a growing industry,” Stringer said in an interview. In order for Zimbabwe to pursue its commitments to the U.N.-backed REDD+ scheme, “the benefits from REDD+ would have to outweigh the economic benefits currently gained from the tobacco industry”…

29 April 2014

What’s next for REDD+?

By Isilda Nhantumbo, International Institute for Environment and Development, 29 April 2014 | Most people think REDD+ is about forests. That’s just wrong. Forestry-related drivers of deforestation and forest degradation are just part of the picture. Many speakers at the IIED meeting on 9-10 April spoke of the need to address the drivers of deforestation in the broader context of local development, which means tackling both the forest sector management challenges as well as addressing the need to produce more from less. Ways to do this include reclaiming already cleared land, improve efficiency in production and consumption of biomass energy, and integrated land use planning for more sustainable mining and infrastructure development. The solution for the current emissions from land use and land use change will not come from the forest sector alone.

How to better manage forests and farms? Start talking

By Peter Kanowski, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 April 2014 | The persistent, high-impact and high-profile haze problem in Riau, Sumatra, has been a salutary reminder of how difficult it can be to manage landscapes once some “tipping points” have been passed. The adage about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted comes to mind. But recent issues in Riau are only one example of many worldwide — think of the history of conflicts over land use in the Amazon, or the so-called “land grabbing” for agricultural expansion in Africa. Landscapes have been transformed by people since our ancestors began practicing [sic] agriculture. The scale and rate of change have accelerated over the past 100 years, and especially the past 50. And economic and social forces, such as rising demand for food and biofuels, and demographic changes, will continue to transform landscapes globally.

Fossil fuel subsidies costing global economy $2 trillion: IMF

By Sophie Vorrath, Renew Economy, 29 April 2014 | As has been noted here before, the combined value of global fossil fuel subsidies can be difficult to calculate, with recent estimates ranging from $500 billion to $1.9 trillion. But according to the International Monetary Fund, when you factor in implicit subsidies from the failure to charge for pollution, climate change and other externalities, the post-tax cost comes in at closer to $2 trillion – equivalent to about 2.9 per cent of global GDP, or 8.5 per cent of government revenues. This eyebrow-raising figure was quoted ahead of this week’s two-day conference in Kenya, co-hosted by UNEP, IMF, GIZ and the Global Subsidies Initiative of IISD. The theme of landmark meeting – “Reforming Fossil Fuel Subsidies for an Inclusive Green Economy” – will focus on how fiscal policies can address the perverse effects of fossil fuel subsidies and strengthen government spending for sustainable development.

[Indonesia] Papua oil palm plans may benefit migrants more than local poor — report

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 April 2014 | Indonesia may miss out on a chance to boost socio-economic benefits for the poor in the eastern province of Papua unless it creates a development plan to address disparities caused by the rapid increase in oil palm plantation investments, according to a new report. Oil palm production is considered a means to stimulate the economy, reduce poverty and improve livelihoods through related job creation and wage hikes — but without well-planned integration policies, key industry players will remain the biggest beneficiaries, the report said. “Frontier oil palm expansion should be undertaken in stages to ensure the needs of the poor are considered,” said Krystof Obidzinski, a senior scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

UN-REDD Highlights Agreement with Indigenous Peoples in Panama

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 29 April 2014 | The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (UN-REDD) released the first issue of its 2014 newsletter, which highlights an agreement between the National Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples in Panama (COONAPIP) and the Government of Panama’s National Environment Authority (ANAM). The agreement allows for the development of an Environmental Agenda between indigenous peoples and ANAM, which includes a revised result framework for the UN-REDD National Programme of Panama. The UN-REDD progamme had been suspended since March 2013 due to COONAPIP assertions that the rights of indigenous peoples were not respected. The agreement was presented at the eleventh meeting of the UN-REDD Policy Board.

[South Africa] Carbon Offsets Paper published for public comment

By Leandi Kolver, Engineering News, 29 April 2014 | The National Treasury on Tuesday published the ‘Carbon Offsets Paper’ for public comment, outlining proposals for a carbon offset scheme that would enable businesses to lower their carbon tax liability and make investments that would reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. The carbon offsets scheme was meant to complement the carbon tax that South Africa planned to introduce from 2016 onwards and formed part of the measures the country planned to implement to address climate change… “Such projects can also generate considerable sustainable development benefits in South Africa, including channelling capital to rural development projects, creating employment, restoring landscapes, reducing land degradation, protecting biodiversity and encouraging energy efficiency and low carbon growth,” National Treasury said… Written comments on the paper had to be submitted by June 30.

[USA] Forest carbon offset buyers to bear California’s invalidation risk

By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, 29 April 2014 | Since the launch of California’s cap-and-trade program, the buyers of forest carbon offsets have so far dodged a bullet faced by purchasers of other types of compliance offsets: the invalidation risk that could force them to replace problematic offsets. But the invalidation risk is one they will soon have to bear – or mitigate – as California regulators approved a change shifting the risk of invalidation for forestry offsets away from forest owners to the buyers. The so-called buyers’ liability provisions of California’s cap-and-trade program allow the Air Resources Board (ARB) – the agency charged with overseeing the state’s regulated carbon market – to invalidate offsets found to be faulty or fraudulent and force regulated entities to surrender replacement offsets for compliance.

30 April 2014

Hollywood Fails on Climate Change With ‘Rio 2’

Forest Trends, 30 April 2014 | Amid the film’s colorful cast of cute birds and growling villains, there is no room for real people like Almir Surui, chief of the Paiter-Surui indigenous people, whose territory straddles the Mato Grosso-Rondônia border of Brazil. Almir connected his people to Google Earth in 2007 to better enable them to police their territories against loggers. And with the support of several groups including the Katoomba Incubator, a project of Forest Trends that is designed to support new initiatives that can then be replicated around the world, the Surui also implemented a forest-carbon financing project. Through the program (called REDD, for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), the community earns money for protecting 240,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest in hopes of earning 8 million carbon offsets. The Surui have set up a fund to administer the income and coordinate future development, supporting other elements of the Surui’s 50-year plan…

[PNG] Swordfish Financial, Inc. Purchases 1.5m Carbon Credits

Swordfish Financial press release, 30 April 2014 | Swordfish Financial, Inc. entered into an agreement to purchase 1,500,000 carbon credits from Green Giant Venture Fund’s Papa New Guinea Project (PNG). Sellers are the owners of the outstanding Carbon Credits of PNG project. The Carbon Credits will be placed for sale through a broker dealer and sold to those of interest. Many reports disclosed the sale of Carbon Credits could sell as high as $11 for each credit. “This agreement was developed through much communication and research of the best assets and commodities to acquire which will help grow and expand the goals of Swordfish” said Mr. Clark Ortiz – CEO, Swordfish Financial, Inc.

1 May 2014

[UK] Inside a US$36b boiler room gold bust

The Malay Mail Online, 1 May 2014 | Ever wanted to fight crime? For the first time in almost 200 years, the UK police are looking for experienced managers from other industries, including business and finance to join their ranks. Bloomberg joined police on a raid in London’s financial district to find out more. Nejra Cehic reports.

[UK] FCA land bank battle halted over legal aid cuts

By Michelle Abrego, New Model Adviser, 1 May 2014 | The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has had its legal battle against five land bankers halted due to cuts to legal aid. In April 2013 the FCA brought charges against Scott Crawley, Dale Walker, Daniel Forsyth, Brendan Daley and Aaron Petrou with conspiracy to defraud in relation to three land banking companies. However the case has been halted due to government cuts to legal aid by up to 30%, which left the defendants unable to be legally represented. The investigation, dubbed ‘Operation Cotton’, concerned three land banking companies: Plott UK, European Property Investments (EPI) and Stirling Alexander. The FCA said it believed the companies had taken over £5 million from UK investors between 2008 and 2011. Alex Cameron, barrister at Three Raymond Buildings, who represented some of the defendants free of charge, called for the case to be formally halted on the grounds that the men could not receive a fair trial if it went ahead.

2 May 2014

Carbon dioxide in atmosphere at record level

By Doyle Rice, USA Today, 2 May 2014 | For the first time in human history and likely for the first time in at least 800,000 years, the average level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in Earth’s atmosphere topped 400 parts per million for an entire month. Carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas considered to be most responsible for global warming, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Earth System Research Lab. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego reported that April’s average CO2 value was 401.33 parts per million (ppm). Each day in April had a reading above 400 ppm.

EU Carbon Drops Most in a Week as Offset Swap Misses Estimates

By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 2 May 2014 | European Union carbon permits fell the most in a week as data showed emitters exchanged fewer United Nations offsets than estimated for the EU contracts, signaling lower future demand. Emitters swapped 133 million metric tons of Certified Emission Reductions and Emission Reduction Units through the end of April under a system begun about March 18, the European Commission said today in a statement on its website. That was less than half of the 300 million tons projected by Bloomberg New Energy Finance… December EU carbon permits dropped 4.4 percent to 5.22 euros ($7.23) a ton at 4:59 p.m. on ICE Futures Europe in London. The contract earlier slumped as much as 6 percent, the most since April 25. December CERs were unchanged at 15 euro cents a ton, while no ERUs were traded…

India drafts policy to cut carbon emissions from deforestation

By Nita Bhalla, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 2 May 2014 | India, one of the world’s largest polluters, has drafted a national policy aimed at reducing its carbon emissions from deforestation as part of a global scheme which financially rewards developing nations for carbon stored through forest preservation. But some environmentalists are sceptical, saying the move is unlikely to yield results as previous compensation schemes have not led to serious cuts in emissions. India has the tenth largest forest coverage in the world. It is also the world’s fifth largest carbon emitter, accounting for 5 percent of global greenhouse gases, according to the Indian government. Deforestation and forest degradation – through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, logging and fires – account for nearly 20 percent of emissions, says the United Nations. This is more than transportation sector and second only to the energy sector.

Speculators attempt to defraud people’s forest program in Indonesia, 2 May 2014 | An initiative that aims to recognize and incentivize traditional community management of forests in Indonesia has been plagued with attempts to “hijack” the program, reports the Jakarta Post. According to Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry, most of the applications received for the hutan rakyat program came from brokers aiming to capture government incentives. “Many of the proposals were written by individual brokers, the majority of which coming from the Lampung and Bengkulu provinces where forest regulations are rarely enforced,” reported the newspaper. As a result, only about 10 percent of proposals have been approved for loans under the program. That amounts to $3.3 million for projects that encourage community forestry and management.

With Loss of Indonesia’s Forests, a Litany of Problems

By Josua Gantan, The Jakarta Globe, 2 May 2014 | The issue of deforestation in Indonesia has grown more serious than ever before. The environmental damage that deforestation has caused and continues to cause in Indonesia has given rise to more frequent floods, permanent land subsidence and the demise of endangered animals. Increased deforestation also contributes to rising temperatures in the archipelago. “The argument is always … we need economic development. But the damage, the costs, are generally ignored. Indonesia stands to lose,” Erik Meijaard, a researcher with the organization People and Nature Consulting International, said in Jakarta on Wednesday. Deforestation in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, has given rise to the higher frequency of flooding in the region, which impacts the people who live there. “The floods are getting more severe. Every year 500,000 people in Kalimantan are displaced by floods,” Meijaard said.

Myanmar, Norway initiate cooperation in environmental conservation

By Feng Yingqiu, Shanghai Daily, 2 May 2014 | Myanmar and Norway have sought cooperation in environmental conservation sector as part of their bilateral cooperation, initiating a letter of intent on the move in its latest development. The Letter of Intent between Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry of Myanmar and Ministry of Climate and Environment of Norway covers undertakings on preservation of biodiversity and forests in Myanmar, water resources preservation and water resources administration in Sittoung and Bago river basins, development of world-famous tourist site of Inlay Lake in Shan state and betterment of social economy of ethnic minorities residing around the lake. Besides, cooperation for putting Inlay Lake into world heritage list, implementation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), promoting cooperation with NGOs in environmental conservation tasks, development and poverty alleviation schemes were also covered…

3 May 2014

4 May 2014

UN climate veteran confident 2015 summit won’t echo Copenhagen

By Ed King, RTCC, 4 May 2014 | So it comes as a surprise to find the UN’s number two climate change official, a Canadian called Richard Kinley, surprisingly chipper in his new office, a former German Parliament building in Bonn, now coated with solar panels. “In the signals we get from governments I really do feel we want to have an agreement in Paris in 2015,” he says. “It’s not going to be easy because the differences of conception and interest are significant, but I think what’s different is they really want to make a go of this one.”

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