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REDD in the news: 30 June – 6 July 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.

A country-led safeguards approach: guidelines for national REDD programmes

SNV World, July 2014 | These guidelines, produced by the MB-REDD project, present a comprehensive country-led approach meeting UNFCCC and other REDD+ safeguard commitments. The country-led safeguards approach allows countries to respond to international and national safeguard commitments, by building upon the country’s existing governance system – existing legal, institutional and compliance frameworks – that, combined, can be used to operationalize safeguards and provide information as to how they are being addressed and respected.

30 June 2014

How Global Forest Watch is changing the way we fight deforestation

By Margaret Badore, TreeHugger, 30 June 2014 | The World Resource Institute built the partnership behind the site, which combines data from Google, NASA and other sources. “It’s something that any citizen in the world can use,” said Lalanabth de Sliva, of the World Resource Institute. Since its launch, the site has had 360,000 unique visitors and over a million page views, which includes users from almost every country on earth. Before the project was launched, there were significant challenges to accessing data about forests. The information was often only available in hard-copy reports, which could become outdated rapidly due to the pace of deforestation. The site offers a number of different ways to look at forests, including maps over time and analysis of countries or regions defined by the user. Users can also apply other map layers, which show protected areas, palm oil production, logging concessions and tree cover density.

[Canada] B.C. put a price on carbon. What happened next will surprise you

By Keleigh Annau, Grist, 30 June 2014 | Environmental benefits aren’t the only reasons why 64 percent of British Columbians support the levy, though. It’s because we benefit in a tangible and ongoing way from it. The revenues collected don’t get funneled into a government slush fund. Instead, the tax is “revenue neutral,” meaning that the money collected goes right back to the taxpayers in the form of lowered income taxes or checks. How much you get depends on your income. If you earn less than $29,300 annually, and wouldn’t benefit from a tax credit, you get a check four times a year. As a grad student and someone who falls into the low-income bracket, I look forward to the checks I receive, these days totaling $105 a year. (This number increased incrementally as the fee went up.)

Illegal Timber Trade: East African Countries To Partner UN

The Nigerian Observer, 30 June 2014 | Some African countries have expressed their commitment to partner UN agencies and the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to combat illegal timber trade in their countries. This is contained in a statement issued by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya, and made available to newsmen in Abuja. The statement said that the countries — Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda — made the commitment at the ongoing five-day UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi. “The high-level government representatives from three countries announced their intention to work together with INTERPOL and UN agencies at the UNEA. “They announced their commitment to curb the illegal timber trade that is stripping East Africa of one of its most valuable natural resources.”

Report on REDD interventions in Ghana

Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 30 June 2014 | This study was undertaken in a REDD+ pilot area with the purpose of eliciting information regarding people’s preferences for compensation for mitigation activities. It was evident that the communities in the study area depend heavily on cocoa farming for their household incomes. There is also a heavy dependence on forests for charcoal, fuelwood, hunting and other minor forest produce such as raw materials for basket-making and other income-generating activities. There are also auxiliary wage workers engaged in forest work. Introducing REDD+ would bring about radical changes in the lives and livelihoods of these communities. Therefore compensation packages need to be well thought through and devised in close discussion with the communities.

[India] Revive derivatives in carbon credit

By Nilanjan Ghosh, Business Line, 30 June 2014 | It is now pretty clear that why carbon credit futures did not work in the Indian derivatives markets. First is that foreign participation is not allowed in the Indian commodity futures market. Second is that the timing of the launch of the carbon derivative somehow did not fit well with the global growth scenario. The remedy lies essentially in the problem. If carbon derivatives are to be traded, then ideally it should either be traded after the passage of the Forward Contracts Act Amendment, which would help foreign participation in the Indian commodity exchanges, or they should be traded in dedicated climate exchanges that should allow genuine foreign hedgers to participate. The timing is also important here. A global de-growth situation is essentially associated with less of economic activity resulting in low carbon emissions, thereby constraining the carbon credit demand, limiting the growth of derivatives markets.

1 July 2014

Pricing Carbon: 21st Century Corporate Leadership

By Thomas Kerr, World Bank, 1 July 2014 | The call for a price on carbon is growing louder in the corridors of business and government. Last week, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson wrote in The New York Times that climate risks are perhaps the biggest “known unknown” that we face, and he asked “farseeing business leaders” to demand a price on carbon—it’s the quickest, most efficient way to manage these risks. Paulson was previewing the Risky Business report, which calculated the economic impact of climate change on U.S. businesses’ balance sheets. A few days later, CDP released a report on corporate use of internal carbon pricing.

Experts: Stable governance, trade frameworks needed to tip Asia toward green economy

By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 1 July 2014 | Despite preventive measures, complex laws and policies governing forest resources in Asia are often undermined by corrupt and illegal activities that hinder attempts to develop a “greener” economy in the region, experts said at a recent conference. Improved checks and balances would lead to greater transparency, enabling the development of a low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive “green” economic framework, said experts at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta. A green economy could also help in sustainably managing natural resources in the face of increasing demands for food, fuel and other commodities. “The forestry sector is especially vulnerable to illegality and corruption due to financial incentives related to illegal resource use,” said Andrew Wardell, former research director of the forests and governance portfolio at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Busted in the boiler room! Seychelles’ FIU catches European investment scammers red-handed

Seychelles News Agency, 1 July 2014 | Forensic financial investigators from the Seychelles have busted a syndicate of European investment fraudsters using an offshore bank account registered in the Indian Ocean archipelago through which they funneled their illegal proceeds… According to a press statement released by the Seychelles’ Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) this morning, the funds, worth R4.6 million (approximately $370,000) have now been frozen by the Supreme Court of Seychelles. The syndicate in this case operated a company called DCA Group Limited, a company registered in the small island nation of Dominica in the Caribbean, which had then opened its bank account in the Seychelles. According to experts at the FIU, the very fact that an offshore bank account is opened in a one country on behalf of a newly-created company registered in another offshore jurisdiction is a clear sign of illicit financial activities.

2 July 2014

Carbon emissions above 400 ppm for third straight month

By Ned Resnikoff, MSNBC, 2 July 2014 | Last May, the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in the history of the human species, a reflection of how much pollution continues to be pumped into the atmosphere. As of last month, industrial civilization has won another dubious achievement: A record-breaking concentration of 400 ppm for three months straight. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, April, May, and now June have all featured atmospheric CO2 concentrations in excess of 400 ppm. This makes the past three months the first period of such a duration where human activity has contributed to such a high atmospheric level of carbon dioxide.

UN green fund to seek cash in November; poor want $15 billion

By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 2 July 2014 | A U.N. fund to help developing nations fight global warming is on track to start raising cash in November, with poor nations seeking $15 billion, officials said on Wednesday. “Now it’s time to mobilise money,” Hela Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the Green Climate Fund, told Reuters after two days of talks in Oslo among more than 20 nations about the legal details of cash pledges. “What matters is that we raise as much as possible as early as possible with the least strings attached as possible.” The fund, agreed in 2010 but tied down by years of wrangling about its design, would hold a first pledging conference by donors in the second half of November, before an annual meeting of environment ministers in Peru in December, she said.

Oil palm, timber sectors must solve communication, tenure issues: panelists

By Greg Clough, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 2 July 2014 | Timber and oil palm: two of Southeast Asia’s most important exports, crucial to local livelihoods and national budgets. But if not managed properly, they can be damaging to forests and the environment. A recent conference laid bare the difficulties of achieving sustainability in the timber and oil palm sectors, with two key regional challenges emerging: stakeholder communication and land rights. The Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta illuminated on-the-ground examples of these challenges, while offering cause for optimism for timber and oil palm sectors that balance forests, people and profit. In the Southeast Asian oil palm sector, much of the challenge to improving sustainability lies in the relationship between large companies and the thousands of smallholders they rely on to provide oil palm fruit for processing, according to panelists at a discussion forum on the subject.

The Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News

Ecosystem Marketplace, 2 July 2014 | William Shakespeare famously wrote that all the world’s a stage. Well in the carbon world, that stage is shared by the public and private sectors, Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report observed. EM experts and carbon market participants pondered that interaction, along with other findings from the report, during a presentation in Washington, DC last week. Overall volume in the voluntary carbon market declined 26% as a large number of tonnes transitioned into California’s regulated market, but was boosted by a major public sector transaction in which German development Bank KfW agreed to pay the Brazilian state of Acre for its performance in mitigating forest carbon emissions, said Ecosystem Marketplace Director Molly Peters-Stanley.

[Australia] First carbon credits for reforestation announced

The Fifth Estate, 2 July 2014 | The Clean Energy Regulator has issued the first Australian carbon credit units for a reforestation project to Greenfleet, a not-for-profit carbon offsetting organisation. According to Greenfleet chief executive Wayne Wescott, the move is a significant sustainability milestone for Australia. “This is the first reforestation project to be issued carbon credits that can be on-sold to people and businesses wishing to offset their own emissions,” Mr Westcott said. “While Greenfleet’s focus has traditionally been on voluntary offsets, our investment in green infrastructure is generating carbon credits in the regulated market.” Greenfleet was the first organisation in Australia to register multiple reforestation projects with the Carbon Farming Initiative and holds an Australian financial services license to offer carbon related financial products to wholesale clients.

REDD can “green” Indonesia’s resource-dependent economy, U.N. expert says

By Julie Mollins, Forests Asia, 2 July 2014 | Indonesia must reduce its economic dependence on natural resources by increasing investment into research and development to boost sustainable industrial development and “green” its economy, according to a climate change expert. “Indonesia has seen significant growth over the last decade, but growth has been based on accelerating resource extraction and commodities — in particular palm oil — and not enough on improving labour productivity, said Johan Kieft, head of the Green Economy Unit at the U.N. Office for REDD+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNORCID).

Indonesia’s Presidential Hopefuls Face Up to Deforestation

By Sandra Siagian, IPS, 2 July 2014 | As the world’s third-largest democracy heads to the polls next week to elect a new president, environmental activists remain sceptical of the candidates’ commitment to tackle climate change. Over four televised debates, Indonesia’s presidential contenders – Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, Jakarta’s current governor, and Prabowo Subianto, a former general – have so far discussed their plans to shape the economy, boost international affairs, manage human capital and ensure clean governance. The environment is one of the last topics to be addressed in the final debate this Saturday ahead of the crucial Jul. 9 presidential election. “I think because they [the candidates] don’t see Indonesia as a developed country, reducing emissions [is] not a priority for them,” explained Yuyun Indradi, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Indonesia.

3 July 2014

World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme ‘complicit’ in genocidal land grabs – NGOs

By Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian, 3 July 2014 | In west Kenya, as the UK NGO Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) reported, over a thousand homes had been torched by the government’s Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to forcibly evict the 15,000 strong Sengwer indigenous people from their ancestral homes in the Embobut forest and the Cherangany Hills. Since 2007, successive Kenyan governments have threatened Sengwer communities in the Embobut forest with eviction. A deadline for residents to leave the forest expired in early January, prompting the most recent spate of violence. The pretext for the eviction is that the indigenous Sengwer – labelled wrongly as ‘squatters’ – are responsible for the accelerating degradation of the forest. Elsewhere in Kenya’s Mount Elgon forest, however, the KFS’ track record reveals a more complicated story. In 2010, the indigenous Ogiek were issued a deadline to relocate in the name of forest conservation and reforestation.

Glasgow University could be first to divest in UK

By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 3 July 2014 | Glasgow could become the first UK university to ditch its fossil fuel investments. Am advisory panel examining the university’s investment policies has recommended full divestment from its oil, gas and coal holdings to the university’s decision-making body. The panel, which includes Telegraph Media Group chief Murdoch MacLennan, said that the Scottish university should freeze new investments in fossil fuels, wind down existing holdings over ten years and reinvest in green industries where possible. Miriam Wilson, a divestment campaigner at the University of Glasgow said that the move was a “major step”, and that it would be unusual for a working group’s recommendation to be rejected when it came before the court.

4 July 2014

Partnership Strengthens Voice of Asia-Pacific Indigenous Peoples on REDD+

AIPP, 4 July 2014 | Raising awareness and building capacity of land right holders and their organizations for policy advocacy in the Asia-Pacific region continue to be important as countries move ahead with REDD+. In this context, the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), with the support of the UN-REDD Programme, has joined hands with local organizations to promote closer collaboration and cooperation between indigenous peoples (IP), ethnic minorities, the UN-REDD Programme and government agencies implementing REDD+ in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Viet Nam. Through partnerships with the Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together (POINT) in Myanmar and the Centre for Sustainable Development in the Mountainous Areas (CSDM) in Viet Nam, national dialogues were held between ethnic minorities and the Forest Department in Yangon, Myanmar on 2 May; and with the UN-REDD Programme Viet Nam Phase II Programme in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 9 May.

[Australia] Future of Carbon Farming Initiative unclear

By Lucy Barbour, ABC Rural, 4 July 2014 | The future of the Carbon Farming Initiative remains unclear, with the new batch of Senators to ultimately decide what shape climate policy will take. The Palmer United Party will support the repeal of the carbon tax, but Clive Palmer has said he doesn’t support the Coalition’s Direct Action Policy, of which carbon farming is a key part. While the money for Direct Action has been passed, the legislation hasn’t. And as the new Senators arrive in Canberra, it’s unclear what the consensus on the Carbon Farming Initiative Amendment Bill will be. Chief executive of the Carbon Market Institute, Peter Castellas, says if the carbon tax is abolished and Direction Action isn’t legislated, carbon farming investors will lose out.

In the Colombian rainforest, an experiment in community-driven climate protection

By Tanya Dimitrova, Grist, 4 July 2014 | Three years ago, the Tolo River community decided not to log its 32,000 acres of rainforest, and instead to protect it for its pristine habitat and the river that gives the community both its name and its only source of fresh water. In addition to these obvious benefits, the forest offers another valuable service: The trees and soil are a safe depository of carbon. When rainforests are burned or cleared, carbon escapes into the air in the form of carbon dioxide, a gas that warms Earth’s climate. Increasingly, companies and governments around the world are willing to pay communities like the Tolo River to preserve rainforests as a way of offsetting their own carbon emissions, and slowing climate change. In 2012, governments and corporations bought a half a billion dollars worth of carbon offset through a global, United Nations-lead initiative known as REDD — short for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

5 July 2014

World Bank email leaks reveal internal row over ‘light touch’ $50bn loans

By John Vidal, The Observer, 5 July 2014 | Environmentalists and human rights campaigners have sounded the alarm at radical plans to ease conditions for World Bank loans, enabling more than $50bn (£29bn) of public money a year to be made available for large power, mining, transport and farming projects. Leaked emails seen by the Observer reveal that senior figures at the bank feared that light-touch regulation would lead to an increase in “problem projects”. Critics are also worried that the door could be opened to large-scale environmental destruction and a lack of protection for communities affected by projects. Ana Revenga, the bank’s vice-president for poverty reduction, says in one of the emails: “It might appear that the bank is interested in lending more, hence lowering standards … [It] would likely entail an increase in the number of problem projects and cancellations.”

Carbon Credit Plan Aims to Save Kenyan Trees and Elephants – and Help Villagers

By Carmen Russell-Sluchansky, National Geographic, 5 July 2014 | The words on Sagwe’s uniform, Wildlife Works, are an abbreviation for Wildlife Works Carbon, Inc., a company based in the Kasigau area of southern Kenya, where hundreds of elephants still roam. Sagwe is one of the company’s 140 “wildlife rangers.” He hopes the ranger ranks will continue to grow, but that will depend on whether his employer can sell enough carbon credits on the international market to sustain the Kasigau Corridor Carbon Project, as it’s known… The Wildlife Works rangers monitor more than 500,000 acres of wooded land in the Kasigau Corridor—a stretch between Tsavo East and Tsavo West national parks containing more than 110,000 inhabitants—to prevent illegal tree-cutting and keep elephant poachers at bay.

Stop Tyrant and Abusive Actions against the Poor by the Royal Thai Army

Prachatai, 5 July 2014 | [O]n 28 June 2014, a fully armed force comprising of soldiers from the Royal Thai Army 2nd Regional Command, policemen and forest officers, approximately 50 persons, entered Kaobart Village, Nondindaeng District in Buriram province which is a member of Assembly of the Poor. This village has been in conflict on land and forest for a long time. The soldiers informed the villagers that the army wants to claim the land back after the harvest and wants them to dismantle their houses and leave the village. Otherwise the army will destroy their houses. On the same day the soldiers from the 2nd Regional Command took 10 leaders of the Siangsawan Village, Nondindaeng District in Buriram province, which is also a conflict area, under the detention.

6 July 2014

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