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REDD in the news: 5-11 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.

5 May 2014

CIFOR Director General: ‘Our world is at a turning point’

By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 May 2014 | The next 18 months represent a critical opportunity to inform global policy processes regarding climate change, sustainable development and green economy, said Dr. Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Delivering the opening address at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta, Dr. Holmgren discussed the importance of forest landscapes to each of those three processes. One of the chief goals of the Summit, he told the nearly 2,000 people in attendance, was to initiate a dialogue between forestry and agriculture, between public and private, and between urban and rural. “We must succeed — not only for the hundreds of millions who live in this region, but for the entire planet,” he said.

EU proposes giving most heavy industries free carbon permits

By Ben Garside, Reuters, 5 May 2014 | Most of Europe’s heavy industry should keep receiving free carbon permits to help them compete in global markets, the European Commission said on Monday. The Commission, the EU’s executive, proposed that 175 industry sectors out of the 245 in total that it assessed should be entitled to get most of their allowances for free over 2015-2019 to help meet obligations under the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS). The ETS is the bloc’s main policy aimed at cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases and forces over 13,000 power plants, factories and airlines to surrender a permit for every tonne of gas emitted. The so-called carbon leakage list proposal included major emitters such as steel plants and cement producers as well as dozens of smaller lighter industries including makers of toilets and frozen potato chips. The proposal must be agreed by a majority of EU member states to become law and is expected to be voted on by July.

World Bank Issues Draft Statement Carbon Pricing

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 5 May 2014 | The World Bank is calling on countries and companies to back a proposed statement on carbon pricing that is expected to be launched at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit on 23 September 2014. Speaking at a session on carbon pricing during the Abu Dhabi Ascent, a preparatory meeting for the Climate Summit, Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice-President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, stated that “a carbon price provides a necessary signal for investment in low-carbon and resilient growth.” She stressed the need to include carbon pricing in “any package of policies to scale up mitigation,” adding that the Bank’s draft statement “reflects a sense of urgency and inevitably for carbon pricing.”

Brazil’s ‘chainsaw queen’ takes on environmentalists

By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 5 May 2014 | Outside the political hothouse of Brasilia, there are probably few who can name the head of Brazil’s powerful agricultural lobby, yet the woman in question, Kátia Abreu, is rapidly becoming the country’s most interesting, important – and dangerous – politician. The senator and rancher from Tocantins was an influential force in the weakening of Brazil’s forest code blamed by many for the recent rise in Amazon deforestation. Her support – in parliament and in an acerbic newspaper column – for more roads through the Amazon, congressional control over demarcation of indigenous reserves, more efficient monocultures and genetically modified “terminator seeds” has earned her the wrath of environmentalists who have called her “Miss Deforestation”, “chainsaw queen” and the “face of evil”.

Western companies gave China power projects a boost

By Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, 5 May 2014 | By 2008, more than half of China’s wind-power projects found international buyers for carbon credits. The projects are supposed to be wind farms that wouldn’t have been developed without the additional financial support. In turn, the international investors get to keep spewing emissions from their own plants without paying any penalties. Critics say many of the wind projects would have been built regardless of international investment, because China’s government ordered state-owned corporations to ramp up wind power. The debate escalated in 2009 as the United Nations rejected carbon-credit certification for 10 Chinese wind projects. U.N. reviewers were concerned that the Chinese government was manipulating the tariffs used to assess the profitability of wind projects so they could qualify for international money. The Chinese government, in an angry response, contested the decision.

Indonesian president calls on successor to continue moratorium on forest concessions

By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 5 May 2014 | The outgoing President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, called upon his successor to continue the country’s moratorium on forest concessions. Speaking to nearly 2,000 people at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta, President Yudhoyono spoke about the actions taken under his administration to protect his country’s forests. Indonesia has the third-largest area of tropical forest in the world. In 2011, President Yudhoyono issued a nationwide moratorium on the issuance of new licenses for logging and other land uses in primary natural forests and peat lands. He extended the moratorium in 2013.

[UK] Briton arrested in Las Vegas in carbon trading probe

By Thomas Atkins, Reuters, 5 May 2014 | U.S. officials have arrested a 56-year-old Briton in Las Vegas in connection with suspected tax fraud worth 136 million euros ($189 million), deepening a European carbon trading probe that has also drawn in Deutsche Bank. A German prosecutor on Monday said the man was under investigation for participating in a scheme to evade taxes through trading European Union carbon emission certificates using a business based in Dubai. German authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest on May 2 and the man was arrested on May 4. The suspect’s identity was not revealed. He is now being held in custody in Las Vegas awaiting extradition, the Frankfurt prosecutor said in a statement. “The accused had flown from Dubai to a boxing event in Las Vegas where he was sponsoring one of the boxers in a fight,” the prosecutor said. “He was arrested on the sidelines of the event.”

[USA] For President Obama, a renewed focus on climate

By Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post, 5 May 2014 | The satellite images viewed by President Obama before a meeting with eight Western governors were stark, showing how snowpack in California’s mountains had shrunk by 86 percent in a single year. “It was a ‘Houston, we have a problem’ moment,” recalled White House counselor John D. Podesta, one of two aides who briefed the president that February day. Obama mentioned the images several times as he warned the governors that political leaders had no choice but to cope with global warming’s impact. After years of putting other policy priorities first — and dismaying many liberal allies in the process — Obama is now getting into the weeds on climate change and considers it one of the key components of his legacy, according to aides and advisers.

6 May 2014

CIFOR’s Forest Asia Conference Discusses Landscape Approach to Forestry

Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 6 May 2014 | Participants at the Forests Asia Summit 2014 committed to promote a landscape approach in forestry management, research and education. Summit participants also supported strategies to promote green growth policies, strengthen law enforcement in relation to land tenure, land use and trade, develop a low-carbon economy and reaffirm the potential for REDD+. The summit addressed themes related to the landscape approach, which integrates the land-based sectors of forestry, agriculture, fisheries, livestock, mining and urban land use as elements of an overall sustainable development agenda. The meeting addressed five main themes: governance and legal frameworks to promote sustainable landscapes; investing in landscapes to promote green returns; climate change and low-emissions development on the ground; forest landscapes for food and biodiversity; and changing communities, sustainable landscapes and equitable development.

Green Bonds and REDD … the pathway to a green economy?

The UN-REDD Programme blog, 6 May 2014 | Green Bonds have been mentioned a number of times at the Forests Asia Summit taking place this week in Jakarta as a mechanism to finance sustainable land use and were described in excited terms at the Abu Dhabi UN Ascent in advance of this year’s UN Climate Summit. What is all the excitement about? Finance experts Iain Henderson and Johan Kieft, in Jakarta for the Forests Asia Summit; and Sean Kidney, at the Abu Dhabi UN Ascent, have not only asked a few questions, but tried to answer them too! … High quality or “investment grade” bonds are also the single largest pool of private sector capital. This is relevant as it is increasingly clear that we need to tap into the vast pools of private sector resources to plug the well-documented finance gap. Creating a financing mechanism that looks, smells and feels like something private investors buy and sell in large volumes every day makes a lot of sense.

Support builds for global carbon price at Abu Dhabi Ascent

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 6 May 2014 | Calls for a global price on carbon intensified at a high level meeting in Abu Dhabi this week, with former US vice president Al Gore pinpointing it as his top priority in tackling climate change. Asked what the one action he would like to see governments take in the fight to limit global warming, he said, “Put a price on carbon in markets and put a price on denial in politics,” to loud applause from the audience. Gore was speaking at the Abu Dhabi Ascent, which took place on Sunday and Monday, where over 1,000 people, including 100 government ministers, had gathered for their first and only chance to prepare for the Climate to be hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in September. His call for a carbon market was given substance by the World Bank, which issued a draft statement inviting governments and companies to “pledge to work together towards the long-term objective of a carbon price applied throughout the global economy”.

Hard-hit CDM Carbon Market seeks new buyers

By Jewel Fraser, Caribbean Life, 6 May 2014 | Since they first emerged as a result of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, carbon offset markets have been a key part of international emissions reductions agreements, allowing rich countries in the North to invest in “emissions-saving projects” in the South while they continue to emit CO2. The biggest is the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) for verifying carbon emissions reduction projects in developing countries. According to Dr. Hugh Sealy, chairman of the Executive Board of the CDM, it has generated 396 billion dollars in financial flows from developed to developing countries. “We are fairly proud of that. Very few development banks can say they have had that kind of investment,” Dr. Sealy told IPS. The CDM, which operates under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), validates and subsequently certifies the effectiveness of projects in reducing carbon emissions.

Brazil sets final rules for forest use, allows tradable credits

By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters, 6 May 2014 | The Brazilian government published a final set of regulations on the use of its forests on Tuesday that could push farmers to restore a huge amount of illegally cleared native vegetation and encourage the use of “tradeable forest credits” to help protect the environment. The new rules come two years after the approval of a law, known as the Forest Code, that was designed to safeguard the country’s forests, although some environmentalists still think it is too timid to do the job. Under the regulations, owners of almost 6 million rural properties in Brazil will have a year to register with an online information database called CAR, giving details of land use. The government will use the database to enforce legislation on how much native forest should be left untouched.

In Brazil, Millions Now Flowing To Indigenous Ecosystem Service Programs

By Steve Zwick and Kelley Hamrick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 6 May 2014 | Launched in 2010, SISA creates a framework within which indigenous people, rubber tappers, and small farmers can earn Payments for Environmental Services (PES) by practicing sustainable agriculture and protecting endangered rainforest. For indigenous people, SISA explicitly aims to support traditional methods of farming and forest management that have proven to be more suitable for the rainforest than are the western methods brought by the newcomers. So far this year, the indigenous component has received R$6.5 million ($2.9 million) in jump-start funding, and current Arara chief José Maria Arara says that’s critical to moving his people forward. “No one today lives without money,” he said at a SISA workshop in November. “Anyone who tells you differently is lying. It even cost money for me to come here.”

China to launch first carbon-linked financial product on Thursday

By Kathy Chen and Stian Reklev, Reuters, 6 May 2014 | China will launch its first carbon-linked financial product on Thursday, a debt note linked to the performance of carbon offsets on the Shenzhen Emissions Exchange, issued by a unit of China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN). The launch will be a first test of financial market confidence in China’s emerging emissions markets, as trading houses generally consider outright trade in carbon permits unattractive, since it is limited to spot deals. CGN will invite investments of up to 1 billion yuan ($160 mln) in the medium term note, the company said. The note will mature after five years. “We see a market potential for companies to finance mitigation activities with these new products,” said Cui Xuelai, a broker at Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, which will sell the product. “We are looking at carbon futures and other financing tools like green bonds, but it depends on how the carbon market performs,” she told Reuters.

Guyana, Norway still discussing 2012 payment

Stabroek News, 6 May 2014 | In the face of deforestation levels that rose above a benchmark set under its forests protection partnership with Norway, Guyana is yet to receive payments for 2012, with discussions continuing on the figure which is expected to be cut. “Discussions are currently ongoing on the payment for Year 3 (2012). These discussions should be finalized soon,” Minis-ter of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Persaud told Stabroek News in a brief comment recently. Guy-ana’s deforestation figure for 2012 has been confirmed at 0.079%, a figure at which cuts in payments to Guyana under the forests protection partnership with Norway are expected to kick in.

Singaporean Minister: Economic interests causing ‘environmental vandalism’

By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 May 2014 | Short-term economic interests in Southeast Asia are driving “environmental vandalism,” Singapore’s top environmental official said Monday. Vivian Balakrishnan, the Singaporean Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, spoke in direct terms about the causes and effects of deforestation in the region, urging greater transparency, stronger law enforcement and stricter penalties for activities related to deforestation. “We have a problem,” he said. “The root of this problem is misaligned commercial interests.”

[USA] California Climate Tax is Reducing Electricity Bills

By Bill Roth, Triple Pundit, 6 May 2014 | Have you ever broken out into a smile from opening your electricity bill? I just did when I opened this month’s bill and saw I owed $4.91. At first I thought there must have been a mistake. But after much searching on my four-page bill I found a one-line item called the California Climate Credit that cut my bill down to less than $5. This credit is the latest of California’s outside-the-box public policy ideas for addressing climate change: California is taxing climate changing pollution to fund credits on residential electric bills. The California Climate Credit is an idea enabled through California’s AB32 legislation that mandates a 29 percent cut in emissions below the levels the state is currently projected to produce in 2020. To achieve this scale of emissions reduction, California has adopted a free-market approach of taxing pollution called cap and trade.

[USA] Climate change wreaking havoc in America’s backyard, scientists warn

By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 6 May 2014 | Climate change has moved from the corners of the earth into the American backyard, the country’s leading scientists warned on Tuesday, releasing a landmark report they hoped would spur action on climate change. The 840-page National Climate Assessment was seen as the definitive account of the effects of climate change on America, and of the country’s efforts to deal with climate change. The findings were immediately embraced by the White House as “actionable science” which would guide Barack Obama as he moves to cut carbon emissions from power plants next month and for the remaining two years of his presidency. “I think this National Climate Assessment is the loudest and clearest alarm bell to date signalling the need to take urgent action to combat the threats to Americans from climate change,” John Holdren, the White House science advisor, told a conference call with reporters.

7 May 2014

Funds plentiful, but will is weak to fuel low-carbon economy: experts

By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 May 2014 | The world’s top climate scientist told an international conference today that tackling climate change is an opportunity, not a burden, and a leading financier said there is plenty of money to fund sustainable development. “The path we need to follow is very clear if the world wants to limit the temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius,” Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told delegates on the final day of the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta. “And that … should be seen as an opportunity, rather than something that will add a burden to different societies across the globe.” “The cost of this pathway of mitigation is really very low,” said Pachauri, adding that the “loss in consumption per year globally would be no more than 0.06 percent of the global GDP.”

Green growth capital locked down by lackluster governments: Credit Suisse

By Angela Dewan, Forests Climate Change, 7 May 2014 | More than enough private capital is available for green growth initiatives, including forest projects, but a lack of political will has blocked investors from unleashing much-needed finances, Credit Suisse Managing Director and Vice Chairman Mark Burrows said at an international conference Tuesday. Lack of financing has been cited as a major setback in the Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme, aimed at conserving forests and preventing vast amounts of carbon from entering the atmosphere. But according to Burrows, there is not a lack of finance for forests and, more broadly, green growth. What’s lacking is the action from governments, standards and certainty needed to greenlight investment.

‘Great opportunities’ in agriculture, forestry to mitigate climate change: IPCC Chairman

By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 May 2014 | The agriculture and forestry sectors play a crucial role in climate change mitigation, the world’s top climate change expert said Tuesday, calling for action ahead of the next round of negotiations on a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. “The path we have to follow is very clear if the world wants to limit the temperature increase to two degrees Celsius,” said Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), speaking on the last day of the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta. “And that, in a sense, should be seen as an opportunity rather than something that will add a burden to different societies across the globe.” The IPCC’s fifth and most recent report emphasized the importance of transforming the energy sector in keeping the Earth’s temperature from rising beyond two degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 7 May 2014 | The Brazilian state of Acre is “the best in the world when it comes to subnational jurisdictions working on REDD, (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation or Degradation of forests),” Brian McFarland of the Carbon Fund told Ecosystem Marketplace. The state’s 2010 payment for ecosystem services (PES) law, known as SISA from the Portuguese acronym, aims to place economic value on forests, biodiversity, water, soil, climate – and even traditional knowledge – to create mechanisms to invest in ecosystem and cultural survival. The forest carbon aspect of the law is the furthest along, and in 2012 Acre partnered with the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) to pilot their Jurisdictional Nesting REDD+ framework.

Brazilian Landowners Can Now Offset Past Deforestation With Future Protection

By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 7 May 2014 | Two years ago, the Brazilian government infamously amended its Código Florestal (Forest Code), granting amnesty to “small” farms up to 440 hectares in size that had illegally chopped down more than their fair share of forest before 2008. The amendment also promised to create a mechanism that would let farmers who were still over their limit after the amnesty make good on their “forest debt”. Two days ago, the Ministry of Environment officially unveiled that mechanism, giving the owners of roughly six million properties one year to register them on a database called the Rural Environmental Registry System (Cadastro Ambiental Rural / “CAR”), which is linked to a satellite monitoring system that tracks land use. The program also makes it possible for farmers who are still above their legal limit to either purchase Forest Reserve Credits from landonwers [sic] who are below their limits…

[Canada] Offsetters Announces 2013 Year End Results

Offsetters Climate Solutions, 7 May 2014 | Offsetters Climate Solutions Inc. is pleased to announce its financial results for the financial year end December 31, 2013. 2013 Financial Highlights: Sales Revenue for the twelve months ended December 31, 2013 was $7,095,306, compared to sales of $3,322,345 for the same period in 2012. Gross profit was $4,521,503 for the twelve months ended December 31, 2013 compared to $1,841,133 for 2012. Operating income before finance and other items of $177,982 vs. 2012 operating loss of $562,585. Net comprehensive loss for the Company was $3,296,606, driven by non-cash items including goodwill impairment of $2,844,511, accretion expense related to the net present value estimate of future cash flows of $311,055 and the revision of the estimate for provisions related to the acquisition of Offsetters Clean Technology Inc. and Carbon Credit Corp of $212,415.

[Canada] Environmental organizations reject proposed B.C. forest giveaway, call for coherent action plan

Sierra Club BC, 7 May 2014 | Leading environmental organizations are rejecting the British Columbia government proposal for forest tenure change that would increase the amount of land under the control of logging companies in the form of Tree Farm Licences. The Ancient Forest Alliance, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society BC, Canopy, ForestEthics Solutions, Greenpeace, Sierra Club BC, Wildsight and West Coast Environmental Law Association are calling on British Columbians to visit the government’s consultation website to reject the tenure rollover proposal and instead demand a coherent action plan to restore B.C.’s badly damaged forests. “The tenure rollover proposal is an example of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” said Jens Wieting of Sierra Club BC. “It’s short sighted to lock in corporate control of our forests by a few large companies while we are running out of forest to harvest.”

Indonesia – crucial orangutan corridor saved

The Ecologist, 7 May 2014 | The Keruak Corridor in Indonesian Borneo – a critical area of rainforest which links protected areas sheltering increasingly endangered orangutans – has been secured, with £1 million raised to buy the land. World Land Trust (WLT), the international conservation charity, has raised £1 million to save the rainforest home of Orang-utans and other endangered wildlife in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain of Sabah, Borneo. John Burton, CEO and Founder of World Land Trust, commented: “We have been overwhelmed by the response to our Borneo Rainforest Appeal. It was an ambitious target and we hoped our supporters would respond generously, as indeed they have done.

[Indonesia] Creating Incentives to Stop Deforestation

By Josua Gantan, The Jakarta Globe, 7 May 2014 | There is one characteristic that sets REDD Indonesia, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, apart from other green initiatives set up to address the issues of deforestation in the archipelago: positive incentives. REDD acknowledges that most people only cooperate when their own self-interest is at stake. In other words, REDD aims to win people’s cooperation by giving something valuable in return. “We are creating positive incentives,” Iwan Wibisono of REDD Indonesia said at the 2014 Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta on Monday. The idea is that with the promised financial rewards, those inclined to deforest will reconsider cutting down trees. Thereby they may reduce greenhouse gas and carbon emissions — the organization’s main goal. Iwan refers to this as “benefit-sharing.”

Caring for forests to be the axis of Peru’s UN Climate Change Summit

Andina, 7 May 2014 | Long term care of forests should be at the center of the next United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), set to be held in Peru this year, the Andean nation’s Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal has said. Speaking at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta, the Peruvian senior government official lauded the complementary position of Latin American and Southeast Asian countries in the lead-up to the next climate agreement. Likewise, he urged the region’s leaders to put their weight behind an agreement that is more inclusive of a broader range of stakeholders and perspectives. “It should be clear that we are not going to repeat Kyoto,” said Pulgar. “Kyoto had their time, and now we are going to have a bottom up agreement, in which everybody can recognize their own responsibilities”.

[USA] Two Dentons clients win awards for their carbon-reduction activities

The Lawyer, 7 May 2014 | Terra Global Capital, based in San Francisco, wrote the protocol for reduction in methane emissions from rice farming. Terra has crafted a formula that accounts for multiple variables in the California Central Valley region and the mid-south region of the US. Terra is now recruiting rice growers to follow the protocol to earn carbon offset credits. The California Air Resources Board recently proposed to list the protocol as eligible to create compliance offset credits for use in the AB 32 cap and trade programme. The Delta Institute, based in Chicago, has a long history of working with farmers and foresters, principally in the Midwest, to earn carbon credits from conservation activities. Delta is working with the Climate Trust and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to demonstrate a new protocol developed by EPRI and Michigan State University. Delta was recognised for its design and work in recruiting farmers to use the new protocol for fertilisers…

8 May 2014

Joining the dots to make a business case for REDD in Indonesia

By Will McFarland, The UN-REDD Programme blog, 8 May 2014 | The headline news in the Jakarta Globe earlier this week was that Indonesia’s economy has risen to 10th in the ranking of global economies. BUT, the analysis and commentary went on to say, the country’s growth is unequal, doesn’t benefit the poorest and is vulnerable. The next president faces the task of improving the quality of growth. On Tuesday the same paper was filled with headlines from the Forests Asia Summit, which was one of the reasons I was in Jakarta for the week. In his keynote speech, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) made a plea for his predecessor to continue his commitments to reduce deforestation in the country and ensure that Indonesia finds a way to reduce its rapid deforestation rates. So, what’s the link? Indonesia’s economy and forests are inseparable.

A country in transition, Myanmar ‘committed’ to sustainable path: minister

By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 May 2014 | Myanmar is “fully committed” to green growth as it navigates a transition to a more open country, its top environmental official said this week. Speaking at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta, U Win Tun, the country’s Union Minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry, said his government “was fully committed to climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management” as it seeks to transform itself politically, economically and socially after years of isolation. All eyes are on Myanmar to see whether it can maintain growth in its newly liberalized economy without that growth coming at the expense of its forested landscapes — a path that many of its more-developed neighbors have taken in recent decades.

[USA] Stanford University divests $18.7bn endowment of fossil fuel interests

By Julie Hare, The Australian, 8 May 2014 | In a decision that will resonate loudly among Group of Eight institutions, Stanford University yesterday announced it will not make direct investments in coal mining companies. The decision means Stanford will divest its massive $18.7 billion endowment of coal mining interests. “Stanford has a responsibility as a global citizen to promote sustainability for our planet, and we work intensively to do so through our research, our educational programs and our campus operations,” said Stanford president John Hennessy told the Stanford News.

9 May 2014

Financier: Private money to invest in ‘green economy’ waiting to be unlocked

By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 May 2014 | More than enough private capital is available for green growth initiatives, including forest projects, but a lack of political will has blocked investors from unleashing much-needed finances, Credit Suisse Managing Director and Vice Chairman Mark Burrows said at an international conference Tuesday. Lack of financing has been cited as a major setback in the Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme, aimed at conserving forests and preventing vast amounts of carbon from entering the atmosphere. But according to Burrows, there is not a lack of finance for forests and, more broadly, green growth. What’s lacking is the action from governments, standards and certainty needed to green-light investment. “There are signs that one of greatest social innovations, and that is the financial market, can be realigned to channel capital into the green economy,” Burrows said at the Forests Asia Summit…

Brunei commits to cap agricultural land use at 1 percent

By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 May 2014 | Brunei Darussalam will limit its agricultural land use to one percent, a government minister pledged this week, saying that the tiny country on the island of Borneo has “strong political will” to conserve its forests. Brunei is about the size of Bangkok, but three-quarters of its land area is covered in forest, most of which sits within the Heart of Borneo, a 22-million-hectare landscape with vast tracts of high-conservation-value forest. Brunei is committed to “sustainable and responsible agricultural practices,” said Pehin Dato Yahya Bakar, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, in his address on the last day of the Forests Asia Summit this week.

[Canada] Endangered trees application dismissed by B.C. Supreme Court

CBC News, 9 May 2014 | A B.C. Supreme Court judge has dismissed an application by environmental groups claiming the province fails to adhere to its own laws in protecting endangered coastal Douglas fir trees. Justice Gordon Weatherill sided with the government in ruling that the application for judicial review filed by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and ForestEthics Solutions Society was premature. Weatherill said in a decision released Friday that the groups should have first applied to the Forest Practices Board, which conducts independent audits and investigations to determine if the province is complying with laws to protect endangered forests. “Although the recommendations are not binding on the government, such a process is still an adequate remedy that should be sought before seeking judicial review,” Weatherill said in his written ruling.

Indonesian cop jailed for eight years for timber smuggling

EIA International, 9 May 2014 | Timber-smuggling Indonesian police officer Labora Sitorus has been jailed for eight years after a legal appeal overturned the shockingly lenient verdict handed down earlier this year by a court in West Papua. Low-ranking Sitorus was originally charged with illegal logging, fuel smuggling and money laundering but the Sorong-based officer was in February found guilty of just one charge – illegal logging – and was sentenced to just two years in prison with a US$4,000 fine. He was acquitted of money laundering, despite evidence showing US$127 million passed through his accounts. An appeal filed by the Prosecutors trying the case has now led to Sitorus being convicted of money laundering and jailed for eight years by the High Court of Jayapura, Papua, on May 2. In May 2013, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released video footage of illegal loggers harvesting merbau and other species for Sitorus’ timber company, PT Rotua…

[Nepal] To get ready for REDD+

By Dev Kumar Sunuwar,, 9 May 2014 | “We doubt the World Bank and its promoters are concerned about the rights of indigenous people who rely on the forests. Many also still live in the forests,” says Dinesh Kumar Ghale, advocate and Vice Chairperson at Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP). “We’ve been saying that the REDD Scheme should ensure meaningful participation of indigenous people in the decision-making process and the management level of the REDD mechanism.” He also says that the Government of Nepal, the World Bank as well as the promoters of the REDD activities should guarantee the rights of indigenous people, as stated in the ILO Convention No. 169 and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and other international legal instruments to which the Nepal Government is a signatory.

10 May 2014

11 May 2014

[Thailand] Rooting out the rosewood robbers

By Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai, Bangkok Post, 11 May 2014 | A botched deal and a routine inspection at a police checkpoint of a white four-wheel drive vehicle led to the country’s biggest bust of an alleged Siamese rosewood smuggling kingpin. The arrest of Kampanart “Sia Tang” Chaiyamart on April 19 in Nakhon Ratchasima has also given forestry officials, police and environment agencies hope that progress is finally being made in the battle to stop the illegal cross-border trade of rosewood, or phayung. But it has also shed light on the difficulties of stopping illegal logging, particularly at the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, which has seen rampant rosewood theft that threatens its World Heritage status if left unchecked.

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