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REDD in the news: 24-30 November 2014

REDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, forests and climate. The links are organised by date (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.

FCPF Releases Chair’s Summary of CF11
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), November 2014 | The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) has published the ‘Chair’s Summary’ of the eleventh meeting of the Carbon Fund (CF11). A key agenda item for CF11 was the review of Emission Reductions Program Idea Notes (ER-PINs) for potential selection into the Carbon Fund pipeline. The Chair notes that the review concluded by welcoming Guatemala and Peru into the FCPF pipeline. The Summary, prepared by Duncan Marsh, CF11 Chair, notes that Indonesia has also been provisionally accepted into the pipeline subject to the submission of a revised project document clarifying institutional relationships for REDD+ implementation and elaborating emission factors and potential emission reductions, among other points. In addition to consideration of the REDD+ portfolio, CF11 contemplated the future of the FCPF beyond 2020.

24 November 2014

“Beyond Carbon” Benefits The Talk Of The Forest Carbon Markets
By Gloria Gonzalez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 24 November 2014 | Much of the discussion during next month’s international climate negotiations in Lima, Peru will revolve around halting tropical forest loss to reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But Ecosystem Marketplace’s latest report on the voluntary and compliance markets shows forest carbon projects already having an impact – an impact that could multiply if the right policy signals are sent. The global markets for offsets from agriculture, forestry, and other land-use projects transacted 32.7 million tonnes (MtCO2e) in 2013, a 17% increase from 2012 and tying with 2010 for the highest demand tracked by Ecosystem Marketplace as part of its State of the Forest Carbon Markets report series. The forest carbon market surpassed a critical milestone last year by topping $1 billion in cumulative value.

Is the landscape approach good for forests?
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 November 2014 | I am often asked if forests will benefit from a landscape approach. Sometimes I hear concerns that taking a landscape approach could lead to more forest losses—not less—as other land-use priorities, such as agricultural intensification, kick in. In other words, can the landscape approach be a threat to forests? To begin with, I argue that it is the values of forests (and forestry) that count, not the expanse or existence of forests as such. That is, we should focus on ensuring the continuation and enhancement of the many benefits that forests and forestry offer humanity in aspiring to a sustainable and equitable future. The question then becomes whether the landscape approach can help in enhancing and supporting these benefits of forests and forestry.

Experts: Landscapes restoration a delicate balance of people, policy, purpose
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 November 2014 | Human activities taken their toll on the world’s forests: As much as two-thirds of the ecosystems on Earth could be considered degraded, according to calculations by the Center for Biological Diversity. In 2010, countries that are parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity committed to restoring 15 percent of the world’s degraded ecosystems by 2020, which could make those systems more resilient in the face of climate change and increase the amount of carbon they store. It’s as complicated as it sounds.

Should the role of afforestation in climate change mitigation policy be re-evaluated?, 24 November 2014 | Afforestation (planting trees) to mitigate climate change could cause warming rather than cooling globally due to non-carbon effects of land use change, according to new research from the University of Bristol. Global land use change and its interaction with the climate system is recognised as an important component of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s future climate scenarios. New research led by T Davies-Barnard of Bristol’s Cabot Institute investigated the full effects of carbon and non-carbon impacts of land use change in the representative concentration pathways (RCPs), a range of socioeconomic scenarios for future climate. The research team used an earth system model to investigate global temperature sensitivity to land use change in the RCP scenarios. Their study, published in Environmental Research Letters, is the first to assess the effect of land use in both afforestation and deforestation scenarios for the RCPs.

Forest Carbon Markets Value Surpasses US$1 Billion
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 24 November 2014 | A recently released report, titled ‘Turning over a New Leaf: State of Forest Carbon Markets 2014’ and published by the Ecosystem Marketplace, reveals that the cumulative value of the forest carbon market has now exceeded US$1 billion thanks to a 17% increase in carbon transactions between 2012 and 2013. Despite the increase in carbon traded, however, the report notes that the total value of forest carbon transactions has decreased due to a drop in average carbon prices. Individual forest carbon prices vary drastically according to the report, ranging from US$1 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) on the Chicago Climate Exchange, to US$100/tCO2e on the domestic carbon offset market in Japan. With regard to purchasers of forest carbon, the report lists voluntary buyers as the most significant group, including energy utilities and food and beverage companies, a majority of which are based in Europe.

UNFCCC Assesses Options for Market and Non-Market Mechanisms
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 24 November 2014 | The UNFCCC Secretariat has published three technical papers on market and non-market mechanisms under the Convention, for consideration by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) at its 41st session taking place in Lima, Peru, in December 2014. The first technical paper is on the framework for various approaches (FCCC/TP/2014/9). The paper assesses: approaches that have been or are being developed by parties, whether individually or jointly; the three existing mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol (the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), International Emissions Trading (IET) and Joint Implementation (JI)); and other relevant approaches, such as those that have been or are being developed by subnational authorities or non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

[Australia] Climate Change: Back to the Market, Or…?
By Gareth Bryant, Progress in Political Economy, 24 November 2014 | I recently spoke at the Greens.Reboot.Future conference at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on a climate change panel with Leslie Hughes from the Climate Council and Nikola Casule from Greenpeace. The conference brought together Greens members, community activists and speakers from progressive organisations to discuss a range of issues including Indigenous rights, global inequality and government surveillance. The question posed to my climate change session was ‘Back to the Market, Or…?’ This post is an edited version of my contribution. I draw on my PhD research into the political economy of carbon markets to make three main points: (1) we shouldn’t mourn the death of the Australian carbon price, (2) we can rethink the climate change problem by focusing on the biggest polluting corporations, and (3) we must look beyond the market to create a credible pathway to a clean energy economy.

Indonesia finalizes forest reference emission levels
ANTARA News, 24 November 2014 | The Managing Body for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (BP REDD+) is familiarizing all stakeholders with the Forest Reference Emission Levels (FREL) as the final step before it is passed as a state document. The government is set to subject the state document for discussion at the 20th United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCC), which will be held in Lima, Peru, on December 8… Through calculations, the government arrived at the 2000-2012 historical deforestation rate of 671,420 hectares per year, comprising 525,516 hectares of mineral land and 145,904 hectares of peatlands. Furthermore, the forest degradation rate was recorded at 425,296 hectares per year, which included 409,073 hectares of mineral land and 16,223 hectares of peatlands.

JPIK Calls the Government Of Indonesia to Improve the Timber Legality Assurance System (SVLK)
EIA International, 24 November 2014 | The Indonesian Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK) is calling on the Government of Indonesia to improve the timber legality assurance system (SVLK) agreed to by both the European Union and Government Of Indonesia. A new report “ SVLK in the Eyes of the Monitor” launched today reveals results from civil society independent monitoring of the system from 2011- 2013. Civil Society Independent Monitoring is part of the formal agreement between the Government of Indonesia and the EU through the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). “We strongly support the Government’s plan for the full implementation of the SVLK expected on January 1, 2015. However improvements to the regulation and strengthening of implementation are key to ensure credibility of the system.” said Zainuri Hasyim, the National Coordinator of JPIK.

Deforestation, “Development” Connected to Spread of Ebola in West Africa
By Jeff Conant, Truthout, 24 November 2014 | It is clear that the spread of Ebola in West Africa is directly linked to the region’s deep poverty: Out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone rank 175th, 179th and 183rd, respectively. But, while it is easy to recognize the links between poverty and the spread of the virus, there has been little focus on the root causes of the region’s impoverishment itself. Along with the world’s deepest poverty, West Africa is in the running for the region with the highest deforestation rate in the world. Some researchers have drawn clear links between the outbreak of the disease and the resource exploitation that plagues the region… I recently spoke with Silas Siakor, director of Sustainable Development Institute/Friends of the Earth Liberia, on the link between the Ebola epidemic and the ruthless exploitation of forest resources in the region.

25 November 2014

Rich Countries Pony Up (Some) for Climate Justice
By Oscar Reyes, The Nation, 25 November 2014 | It’s one of the oldest tricks in politics: talk down expectations to the point that you can meet them. And it played out again in Berlin as twenty-one countries—including the United States—pledged nearly $9.5 billion to the Green Climate Fund, a UN body tasked with helping developing countries cope with climate change and transition to clean-energy systems. The total—which will cover a four-year period before new pledges are made—included $3 billion from the United States, $1.5 billion from Japan and around $1 billion each from the United Kingdom, France and Germany. That’s a big step in the right direction. But put into context, $9.5 billion quickly sounds less impressive.

Carbon offsetters look beyond climate change
By Mark Nicholls, Environmental Finance, 25 November 2014 | But another element of REDD+ projects that makes them attractive to offset buyers is that, to function effectively, they need to provide the communities that depend upon the forests with alternative livelihoods – livelihoods where the forest is worth more to them standing than felled. The result is a range of social and economic co-benefits to local communities. The Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project, developed and managed by California-based Wildlife Works, protects 500,000 acres of dryland forest in Kenya and is widely considered to be a leading example of the type. It safeguards a critical wildlife migration corridor between the country’s Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, protecting highly threatened elephants along with more than 300 other animals and birds.

Policy Briefing Paper on Safeguards Information System (SIS) in REDD+: What Should It Deliver for Indigenous Peoples?
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, 25 November 2014 | This policy paper on SIS presents indigenous peoples’ perspectives and understandings of the Cancun Safeguards. The paper specifically highlights the types of information that SIS should contain; the mechanisms and processes to gather information; and process to validate the collected information. This paper has been prepared based on the submission made by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) in Sep. 24 2014. Indigenous peoples of Asia will use this policy paper as the advocacy paper in the upcoming 41st session of SBSTA in the COP20 in Peru, Lima.

State of sustainability: For three forest-based commodities, ‘a long way to go’
By Chris McCall, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 November 2014 | With climate changing and populations growing, the demand for forest-based commodities has never been greater. Ensuring the sustainability of products from palm oil to timber and everything in between looms as one of humanity’s biggest challenges. All policy makers need to do is navigate global markets and a constellation of policy instruments while curbing deforestation and protecting the rights and livelihoods of small-scale producers—all in the face of climate change. Piece of cake. New research from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) is helping to show the path to solutions for sustainable sourcing of commodities from tropical forest landscapes. CIFOR’s Forests News recently asked three experts for their thoughts on the present, and future, of three tropical forest-based commodities: palm oil, shea nut oil and timber. An edited transcript of those interviews follows.

[Australia] ‘Plan a trading scheme in disguise’: Hinkler MP
Northern Star, 25 November 2014 | A coalition backbencher has hit out at Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s climate policy deal with Clive Palmer, saying it has created “in essence, an emissions trading scheme”. The criticism from Hinkler MP and former electrical engineer, Nationals MP Keith Pitt, followed the deal being officially approved by the lower house on Monday. Under the deal the government will create an emissions reduction fund, limited safeguard mechanisms to ensure polluters limit their pollution and the carbon farming initiative. Mr Hunt has repeatedly denied the legislation is a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. Legislation for the deal was rushed through the Senate before it was returned for brief debate and approval by the House on Monday.

Indonesia’s palm revolution runs off track for smallholders
By Michael Taylor, Reuters, 25 November 2014 | A prolonged fall in the price of palm oil is hitting Indonesia’s legions of smallholder farmers, forcing cutbacks that will reduce output in coming years and raising the prospect of a bout of sell-outs to major producers. Smallholder farmers account for about 40 percent of output from Indonesia’s vast plantations that cover an area the size of South Korea. A drop in smallholder output could shave total production by around 5 percent from next year, say analysts. Up to 1 million smallholders in the world’s top palm oil producer have enjoyed a near uninterrupted decade of boom years, fuelling a rural consumer binge on new motorbikes and mobile phones. But with prices near five-year lows some cash-strapped farmers are being forced to cut back on fertilizers, pesticides and replanting. They are calling on the government to give a sector vilified by green groups for forest destruction the type of price floor support enjoyed by rice and sugar.

[Indonesia] Finding the best path toward sustainable palm oil
By Vincent Lingga, The Jakarta Post, 25 November 2014 | But international environmental NGOs and consumer organizations cannot simply tell Indonesia to stop expanding its oil-palm estates because this crop turns out to be the most productive among all vegetable oils, with yields more than nine times as high as soybean, rapeseed oil, peanut oil and sunflower oil, which are cultivated mostly in developed countries. Indonesia’s palm-oil industry, according to the industry’s association, now directly employs more than 4.5 million workers and earns about US$20 billion in export earnings a year. Yet more significant to the economy is that 40 percent of the oil-palm plantations are owned by smallholders with acreages ranging from two to 20 ha.

Liberia, Norway and the World Bank Partner for Sustainable Forest Management
By Paola Agostini, World Bank, 25 November 2014 | Liberia plans to conserve 30 percent or more of its forests as protected areas with the remainder to be used for sustainable forest management and community forestry. The agreement arrives at a pivotal moment for the country, particularly as it grapples with the largest Ebola epidemic in history. Liberia is one of the world’s poorest countries, and has also been one of the hardest hit. The timeliness of this new partnership with Norway may help stem, in the long-term, the part of the economic impact the epidemic has had on the country. The World Bank has been providing technical assistance to Liberia’s forest sector since 2004, assisting the country in meeting conditions required to lift sanctions under the Liberia Forestry Initiative. During that period, it contributed to the Forest Concession Review, forest inventory, protected areas management and supported the legal reforms for sustainable forests management and community forestry.

[New Zealand] Carbon farmer sues MRP over $34.7 million in ETS credits row
By Fiona Rotherham, The National Business Review, 25 November 2014 | New Zealand Carbon Farming, the country’s largest supplier of post-1989 bulk carbon credits, is suing Mighty River Power for $34.7 million over liability for carbon credits the listed energy company was contracted to buy as part of its efforts to offset carbon emissions from electricity generation. The case, currently underway in the High Court at Auckland, centres on a change to the methodology for working out the amount of carbon credits produced by forests under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). “They are a very significant national organisation, but we have every intention of standing up for our contractual rights,” said NZ Carbon Farming managing director Matt Walsh in a statement issued to BusinessDesk. “It is not appropriate to debate the issues in public, but are very confident about doing so before the Court,” said Walsh.

[USA] Rescheduled California-Quebec carbon auction called “a success”
By Dale Kasler, The Sacramento Bee, 25 November 2014 | California’s latest auction of carbon emissions allowances proceeded smoothly Tuesday, about a week later than originally scheduled. The rescheduled auction went off as planned, said David Clegern, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board. The auction was supposed to take place last Wednesday but was postponed because of technical problems in the electronic auction platform. The ARB auctions carbon credits every three months as part of its “cap and trade” program, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gases. Several hundred major industrial firms are required to participate in the program.

[USA] Obama’s climate change envoy: fossil fuels will have to stay in the ground
By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 25 November 2014 | The world’s fossil fuels will “obviously” have to stay in the ground in order to solve global warming, Barack Obama’s climate change envoy said on Monday. In the clearest sign to date the administration sees no long-range future for fossil fuel, the state department climate change envoy, Todd Stern, said the world would have no choice but to forgo developing reserves of oil, coal and gas. The assertion, a week ahead of United Nations climate negotiations in Lima, will be seen as a further indication of Obama’s commitment to climate action, following an historic US-Chinese deal to curb emissions earlier this month. A global deal to fight climate change would necessarily require countries to abandon known reserves of oil, coal and gas, Stern told a forum at the Center for American Progress in Washington.

26 November 2014

Expectations for forests, REDD+ and land use issues at the Lima climate negotiations
By Chris Meyer, EDF, 26 November 2014 | During the first week of the negotiations, we expect the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technologic Advice (SBSTA) to discuss two topics: 1) guidance, if any, on Safeguard Information Systems (SIS), and 2) Bolivia’s Joint Mitigation and Adaptation Mechanism… During the first and second week at the general UNFCCC negotiations, there will be two areas of discussion that impact REDD . Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) … Land-use issues … Perhaps more interesting than REDD discussions within the UN negotiations is what’s happening in Peru on land use and REDD issues outside of the conference center. Peru has engaged in REDD for years, and its national REDD strategy has grown from a more “bottom-up” REDD projects-based approach to a national system. The country also recently signed a Letter of Intent with the Norwegian and German governments that could reward it with at least $300 million…

Safeguards, finance loom large at UN climate talks in Lima
By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 November 2014 | Last week, Lou Verchot, Director of the Environment Program at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), sat down with Steve Leonard, Senior Policy Analyst at CIFOR, to preview the talks. Among the topics they highlighted: There is disagreement over whether further guidance is needed on safeguarding the rights and benefits of local and indigenous people in the REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) initiative. Factoring in the contributions of non-carbon emissions to climate change—and measuring their effects—is fraught with complexity and uncertainty, with ramifications for who pays for emissions, and how much. The Green Climate Fund is gaining speed, with major pledges in recent weeks from the U.S., Japan and other countries. The next step: Spending the money.

Mainstreaming emission reductions across the landscape
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 November 2014 | As REDD+ has evolved and expanded, numerous opportunities, synergies and challenges have emerged, particularly with respect to tenure and financing. CIFOR’s ongoing Global Comparative Study on REDD+ offers lessons for achieving the transformational change necessary to make the framework succeed. These are issues that transcend the forestry sector and resolving them demands coordination across multiple sectors and policy integration across multiple scales. Since its inception, REDD+, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, has evolved from a tool for climate change mitigation based on carbon storage into a complex, multifaceted framework operating across multiple governance levels.

Imports of illegal timber fall in five major countries, says report
The Guardian, 26 November 2014 | Five major timber importers have made progress in cutting contraband wood from their markets since 2010, argues a series of reports published by Chatham House. The analysis — which covers Britain, France, Japan, the Netherlands, and the US — is based on point-of-origin data for timber imports. For example, countries and states with a high risk of illegal logging and timber laundering would hurt an importer’s rating. Overall, the reports estimate that 4% of timber imports by volume are still at “high risk of illegality”, at an estimated value of $7bn (£4.5bn). Of the five countries assessed, Japan has the highest proportion of high-risk imports (estimated at 10%), chiefly because of large volumes of trade with China, Russia, and Malaysia — all of which have problems with illegally sourced wood.

Call for UN climate deal to support carbon market links
By Megan Darby, RTCC, 26 November 2014 | Countries around the world are developing an array of different carbon taxes and trading systems to control greenhouse gas emissions. The more these can be joined up, experts say, the cheaper it will be to tackle climate change. This argument is gaining ground among businesses and developed economies, but advocates fear anti-capitalist Latin American states could use UN climate negotiations to block it. Dirk Forrister, CEO of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), says there will need to be “a heroic amount of investment” to limit global warming to 2C – the politically agreed “safe” threshold. “We are going to need more linkages so businesses can optimise their investment worldwide.”

Deforestation dropped 18% in Brazil’s Amazon over past 12 months
Associated Press, 26 November 2014 | Deforestation in the Amazon rain forest dropped 18% over the past 12 months, falling to the second-lowest level in a quarter century, Brazil’s environment minister said on Wednesday. Izabella Teixeira told participants at a news conference that 4,848 square kilometers (1,870 square miles) of rain forest were destroyed between August 2013 and July 2014. That’s a bit larger than the US state of Rhode Island. The figures were down from 5,891 square kilometers (2,275 square miles) razed during the same period a year earlier, in the wake of the adoption of a controversial bill revising the Forest Code. The measure, which passed in 2012 after more than a decade-long effort by Brazil’s powerful agricultural lobby, mostly eased restrictions for landowners with smaller properties, allowing them to clear land closer to riverbanks.

[Cambodia] Carbon credits a tough sell
By Eddie Morton, Phnom Penh Post, 26 November 2014 | Securing buyers of carbon credits for Cambodian projects is a well-known difficulty. In 2009, environmental sustainability NGO Pact Cambodia ventured into the UN-backed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation program, better known as REDD+. The program, which earned a “Triple Gold” rating from the Community, Climate and Biodiversity Alliance, aimed to sell carbon credits in exchange for reduced logging in Oddar Meanchey province. Pact, however, left the project in July 2013 when the sale of up to $1.2 million worth of generated carbon credit sales, which were intended to fuel the continuation of the REDD+ project, failed to materialise. Despite the REDD+ program’s complications, Kim Sour, research associate at the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, said work continues in Oddar Meanchey to earn carbon credit sales.

[China] Goal to cut emissions can be met, official says
China Daily, 26 November 2014 | The recent landmark climate agreement with the United States is a win for both sides and will inject positive energy into the upcoming global climate change negotiations in Lima, Peru, early next month, a top climate official said. Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China is confident of meeting its 2030 goals for a peak in carbon dioxide emissions and lifting the share of non-fossil fuel to around 20 percent of energy use. China will make the goals legally binding by incorporating them into the next three Five-Year Plans, Xie said at a news conference on Tuesday. He said China aims to cut its 2020 carbon intensity – the amount of carbon dioxide produced per unit of GDP – by 45 percent from the 2005 level. “No matter what difficulties we are going to encounter, those commitments must be honored,” Xie said.

[Indonesia] Can Jokowi Tame Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry?
Asia Sentinel, 26 November 2014 | Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry, arguably the country’s most powerful state institution – and often named one of its most corrupt – is facing unprecedented questioning over its broken land rights system. The ministry, which oversees more than 70 percent of the country’s land area, also represents a major test of how serious Joko Widodo, the new president, is about cleaning it up, and in the final analysis will test how much clout Jokowi, as he is known, will have in a country where natural resources including timber have created vast fortunes, not all of them legal. The ministry is the target of an initiative led by the fearsome Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). In addition, a five-month national inquiry is underway pushed by native groups under the umbrella of the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago, an NGO.

[Indonesia] 80% of forests in C. Kalimantan converted for plantations and mining: REDD+
The Jakarta Post, 26 November 2014 | The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Management Agency (REDD+) says around 80 percent of forests in Central Kalimantan have been converted for mining and industrial plantation use. “Forests in Central Kalimantan are disappearing at an alarming rate. Many of the forests have been converted for oil palm plantations and mining areas,” the agency’s joint secretariat officer, Teguh Priyatmono, said Wednesday in Sampit, Central Kalimantan, as quoted by Antara news agency. He said Central Kalimantan had been struck by a number of major disasters caused by excessive forest conversion, including floods and drought. During the dry season, he said, many springs dried out. During the rainy season, he added, the loss of trees that used to absorb rainfall triggered floods. Teguh said restoring forests in Central Kalimantan to their original condition would require greater awareness and commitment from all related stakeholders.

[New Zealand] MRP rejects carbon farmer’s carbon unit top-up claim, court hears
By Fiona Rotherham, The National Business Review, 26 November 2014 | MightyRiverPower [NZX: MRP] has claimed in the High Court it shouldn’t have to pay for carbon units issued for years prior to the start of its contract with New Zealand Carbon Farming in 2013, which it entered as part of its effort to offset emissions from electricity generation. New Zealand Carbon Farming, the country’s largest supplier of post-1989 bulk carbon credits, began a case in the High Court in Auckland on Monday, suing MRP for $34.7 million over liability for carbon credits the listed energy company was contracted to buy. The 15-year contract for carbon units from NZCF’s Hawarden forest in North Canterbury ran from 2013 to 2027 and is one of 10 long-term agreements in which MRP has to meet its surrender obligations under the emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Tanzania: Rufiji Paddy Farmers Live With Eviction Fear
By Finnigan Wa Simbeye, Tanzania Daily News, 26 November 2014 | Although a presidential reprieve has allowed them to continue farming, skeptical villagers remain insecure because they don’t have the necessary documentation to back their claim legally. Many of these residents are accusing World Wildlife Fund for nature and MMP of colluding to evict them to accommodate their ambitious Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project. Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is a climate change mitigation initiative that seeks to integrate tropical forests into market-based carbon sequestration schemes to counter the effects of global climate change. “When the Mangrove Management people first introduced their project to us, they made many promises of involving us in benefits sharing but today things have turned against us,” said Mwegio who only hopes that President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete’s intervention will last.

New Carbon Market Most Important in Climate Deal, U.K. Says
By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 26 November 2014 | A new carbon market that will spur emerging nations to cut emissions is the key element of next year’s planned global climate accord, a U.K. official said. Winning UN support for a market that would give credits for emission reductions “would be the most important part of any international agreement,” Amber Rudd, parliamentary under secretary of state for climate change, said yesterday at a hearing at the U.K. Parliament in London. Rather than specify what nations must do, the meeting needs to agree on a framework, or “toolbox that countries can take down and operate” themselves, she said. Certified Emission Reduction credits for December 2015 have more than doubled in value since June 4, when they matched a record low on ICE Futures Europe… Prices gained as the US and China agreed to limit emissions and the UN climate secretariat published a report stating the market that creates those credits and others could be extended beyond 2020.

27 November 2014

Backsliding, straitjackets and finance: A pre-Lima primer on the climate negotiations
By Stephen Leonard and Niranjali Amerasinghe, Forests Climate Change, 27 November 2014 | A combination of the Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs) held as a part of the ADP Workstream 2 negotiations, the New York Declaration on Forests, the emerging focus on finance for forests in the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) decision to adopt a results-based payments (RPBs) Framework for REDD+ has provided a new opportunity to see an increased emphasis on finance flows to land use and forests in the period 2015–2020. A number of factors play a role in this increased emphasis, including the near-term high mitigation potential from the sector(s), the near completed REDD+ Warsaw Framework and the urgency to take immediate measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Indonesia cracks down on deforestation in symbolic u-turn
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 27 November 2014 | Indonesia’s reforming new president is to crack down on the rampant deforestation and peatland destruction that has made the nation the world’s third largest emitter of climate-warming carbon dioxide. Joko Widodo signalled the significant change of direction for Indonesia when he joined a local community in Sumatra in damming a canal designed to drain a peat forest. Halting the draining and burning of peatland will also tackle the forest fires which have trebled since 2011 and can pump smoke across the entire region. Indonesia suffers more deforestation than any other country, including Congo and Brazil where new data shows deforestation is dropping. One study estimated 80% of the deforestation in Indonesia was illegal, with most of it being cleared for palm oil and timber plantations. During his visit to Sungai Tohor village, in Riau province, Widodo announced a review of plantation company operations…

[Indonesia] Business as usual to protect forests
By Lim Mei Ming, The Jakarta Post, 27 November 2014 | Being a country endowed with rich biodiversity in the form of the second-largest tropical forest in the world after Brazil, Indonesia has unfortunately shown irresponsibility given its fast deforestation rate. Between 1990 and 2005, Indonesian forest degradation reached 28 million hectares (mha), including 21.7 mha of virgin forest. Worse, the country emits the third-highest level of greenhouse gases after the US and China, which is attributed to deforestation. Based on the facts, then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised at a G8 meeting in Pittsburgh, the US in 2009 to reduce Indonesian greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 percent from business-as-usual levels by 2020 through reformation of land and forest use as well as land-use change.

[Indonesia] Jokowi’s Green Pledge Protects Our Future
The Jakarta Globe, 27 November 2014 | President Joko Widodo has demonstrated that he understands the core problems of Indonesia’s environment and forestry, and sent warning that he will be tough against those destroying the country’s forests. During his visit on Thursday to several areas that were hit hard by forest fires and haze year after year in Riau, he showed adept understanding about the importance of leaving the country’s peatland alone while expressing his trust on the way people do their farming — a traditional way of making most out of nature without having to destroy it. Instead, he blasted companies granted concessions as the likely perpetrators of the forest fires, ordering Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya to review concessions of plantation companies in Riau and elsewhere in Indonesia. “If they are indeed destroying the ecosystem, disturbing the ecosystem because of their mono-culture plantations, they will have to be terminated,” Joko said.

Kenya Launches National Task Force on Anti-corruption for REDD+
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 27 November 2014 | As part of its REDD readiness process, the Government of Kenya and partners have launched a National Task Force on Anti-corruption for REDD . The Task Force aims to identify how REDD can be more transparent and accountable and to support the implementation of social safeguards. In its first year, the Task Force will convene a multi-stakeholder dialogue to discuss corruption risks and solutions. It will also provide guidance on stakeholder engagement, the application of national guidelines on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), and review of existing grievance mechanisms. The Task Force will provide input into the “draft benefit-sharing Bill,” a regulatory step to ensure equity in the distribution of REDD financial benefits. It will also conduct capacity development for governmental, private and non-governmental stakeholders.

[New Zealand] MRP faced scaling up risk on several carbon credit contracts, court hears
By Fiona Rotherham, The National Business Review, 27 November 2014 | A contractual dispute over carbon credits that MightyRiverPower [NZX: MRP] is contesting in court is not the first time it’s faced a scaling up of the carbon credits it was required to take as part of its plan to offset carbon emissions from electricity generation. New Zealand Carbon Farming, the country’s largest supplier of post-1989 bulk carbon credits, began a case in the High Court at Auckland on Monday, suing MRP for $34.7 million over liability for carbon credits the listed energy company was contracted to buy. NZCF is claiming that new methodology for assessing forestry carbon credits near doubled the cost of the 15-year contract it had with MRP over the Hawarden Forest in north Canterbury from $36.6 million to $71.27 million – a difference of $34.67 million.

[Philippines] Pygmy forest, waterfalls, sunrise, and a lighthouse in Davao Oriental
By Carmelito Q. Francisco, Business World, 27 November 2014 | On Nov. 7, The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Forest Management Bureau and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the local governments of Davao Oriental and the municipalities of Caraga, Manay and Tarragona for the implementation of the REDD+ program (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries). Davao Oriental, the second site identified by the DENR for REDD+ activities, was chosen specifically because of the presence of indigenous peoples (IPs), who are considered guardians of the forests.

[USA] California motorists to begin shouldering costs of carbon auction
By Dale Kasler, The Sacramento Bee, 27 November 2014 | Motorists are about to get drafted into California’s war on climate change. Starting Jan. 1, gas and diesel fuel will be subject to California’s cap-and-trade market, a 2-year-old regulatory mechanism that puts a price on carbon spewed into the atmosphere. The result will be higher gasoline and diesel prices, and probably more controversy for a state program that’s already been attacked in the courts by the business community. With fuel the cheapest it’s been in years, state officials say the price increase won’t clobber consumers. The increase is likely to be less than 10 cents a gallon, said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, which runs the carbon program. Given the typical volatility of gas prices, Nichols said most consumers will probably barely notice the difference.

28 November 2014

Consolidated Guide to the REDD+ Rules Under the UNFCCC
Baker & McKenzie, 28 November 2014 | The Consolidated Guide to the REDD+ Rules under the UNFCCC, written by the Baker & McKenzie Law for Development Initiative and opened by a Foreword from the Minister of State for Environment in Peru Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, simplifies and brings together international law on REDD+. REDD+ is a mechanism developed under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), through which developing countries could receive financial benefits by introducing policies and taking steps to reduce carbon emissions from the use of forests.

Climate rhetoric faces devil in the detail at Lima talks
AFP, 28 November 2014 | Politically sidelined since a 2009 UN summit almost ended in a bust-up, climate change has resurfaced as a priority but faces a brutal test at talks opening in Lima on Monday. The 12-day haggle will show what happens when high-minded global vows enter an arena where national interest rules the roost. “Things are still fragile, but there’s been good news,” said French climate negotiator Laurence Tubiana — pointing to recent political noises, and pledges of money, to protect Earth’s climate system. The meeting in the Peruvian capital is tasked with steering 196 parties toward the most ambitious climate pact in history — “the matrix for managing climate issues for the next 30 years,” according to Tubiana.

UNDP to assist Africa in reforestation for reducing emissions
Xinhua, 28 November 2014 | The UN Development Program (UNDP) will assist African countries in implementing projects on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). UNDP Kenya Deputy Country Director Fernando Edjang said on Thursday that African states will benefit from financial and technical support to scale up REDD projects and propel low-carbon development. “Climate change has worsened human suffering in Africa and the international community will support reforestation projects to boost communities’ resilience,” Edjang told journalists in Nairobi. Loss of forest cover in Africa due to urbanization, population pressure and changing land use practices is to blame for rapid carbon emission. Multilateral agencies have channeled funds to governments and communities to help restore degraded forest ecosystems.

[Australia] The Emissions Reduction Fund: An Opportunity for Solar
By Fiona O’Hehir,, 28 November 2014 | The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) is now in the process of drafting the regulations in preparation of the ERF becoming operational during the first quarter of 2015. The ERF is the Coalition Government’s core climate change policy, which is part of its Direct Action Program, which is designed to deliver Australia’s international climate change reduction obligations of five per cent below 2000 levels of GHG Emissions by 2020. The ERF is a taxpayer-funded subsidy paid to parties that develop projects that either eliminate, or avoid the release of, GHG emissions across the whole Australian economy. It is a voluntary scheme and does not impose any penalty for not participating.

[Brazil] Amazon deforestation hits record low
Associated Press, 28 November 2014 | “Over the past several years Brazil has made a huge effort to contain deforestation and the latest figures testify to its success,” said Adalberto Veríssimo, a senior researcher at Imazon, an environmental watchdog agency. “The deforestation figures are extremely positive, for they point to a consistent downward trend.” “The numbers disprove the argument that deforestation is necessary for the country’s economy to grow,” he said. “Deforestation has been dropping steadily for the past four years while the economy has grown.” “But the war is far from over. We still have a lot of battles to fight and win.” For Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace coordinator in the Amazon region, the lower figures show that reducing deforestation is possible, but he added that “the numbers are still too high for a country that does not have to destroy one single hectare in order to develop.”

China’s commercial banks inch towards carbon financing
Reuters, 28 November 2014 | Chinese commercial banks are moving into the country’s fledgling carbon markets, competing to deliver new financial products in order to help industrial clients hedge carbon trading risks and finance new investment in cutting carbon emissions. China’s Industrial Bank Co. Ltd announced the launch of a yield enhancement product in Shenzhen on Thursday, the first of its kind in China to link interest rates to revenues generated from trading carbon. The bank has received a 10 million yuan ($1.63 million) deposit from the Shenzhen Huike Electronics Co. Ltd, which participates in the Shenzhen emissions exchange. The deposit will generate guaranteed interest payments of 1.9 percent and could earn further yields of up to 2.2 percent, depending on the firm’s carbon trading revenues, China Business News reported.

[DRC] Outside a national park, agroforestry helping to save forests inside the park
By Joan Baxter, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 November 2014 | Virunga National Park—790,000-hectares of jagged montane and lowland landscapes in DRC—is under severe pressure from illegal encroachment and exploitation of natural resources including oil and gas, aggravated by conflicts that have plagued the area for decades. Not only is there a need to restore degraded lands and forests in the park, experts say, but there is also a need to ease pressure on the forests inside the park by focusing research and development efforts on agroforestry and other solutions that increase tree cover and diversity outside the park’s borders. A project now under way seeks to do just that. “Forests and Climate Change in the Congo” (FCCC), funded by the European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), and led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), works with a host of national and international partners to strengthen forestry research to protect the park.

[Guyana] US$2.5M in sawn timber heading to UK
Guyana Times, 28 November 2014 | The first shipment of local value-added timber destined for the United Kingdom (UK) is currently being loaded for shipping, signalling Guyana’s entry into the European timber market. Over one million Board Measure (BM) of processed greenheart worth some US$2.5 million is being exported in this shipment. Five suppliers had to combine in order to achieve the desired quantity and quality in a timely manner. At the John Fernandes Wharf in Stabroek on Thursday, workers were busily loading the timber off trucks and onto a vessel under the watchful eyes of officials from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC). Speaking to the media during the loading process, Managing Director of the timber buying company, Howard and Aitken Limited (UK), Roderick Aitken emphasised that indeed it should be a great deal for local timber producers, given the quantity of wood being shipped on the first shipment to the UK.

[Indonesia] From concept to reality: UN-REDD Programme’s REDD+ Academy explained in new video
UN-REDD, 28 November 2014 | Decision-makers from developing countries can now access capacity development for REDD readiness and implementation through the UN-REDD Programme’s REDD Academy.This short video illustrates how knowledge received by REDD Academy participants strengthens their capacity to push the REDD agenda in their countries and become “champions of change,” and features testimonials from H.E. Mr. Heru Prasetyo, Head of Indonesia’s REDD Agency; Mr. Pavan Sukhdev, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador; as well as those of some of the 91 participants from 14 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. The content of the REDD Academy is based on verified knowledge aligned with the UNFCCC Warsaw Framework for REDD and distills the knowledge and experience gained by the UN-REDD Programme and its partner countries over the last six years.

Kenya promotes transparent spending in forestry, 28 November 2014 | The Kenyan government and donor partners on Thursday launched a taskforce to enhance optimal utilization of climate mitigation and adaptation fund in the forestry sector. Principal Secretary for environment, Richard Lesiyampe, said the launch of a national taskforce to promote transparency in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) financing will accelerate green growth in Kenya. “We are focusing on joint initiatives to reduce corruption risks in REDD projects and enable the country to access international carbon finance,” Lesiyampe told journalists in Nairobi… “The REDD process in Kenya is still in its preparatory phase, but we are strengthening institutions and systems to scale it up in all counties,” Lesiyampe said… Alfred Gichu, National coordinator for REDD, said forest degradation is to blame for 10.5 million tonnes of carbon emission in Kenya.

[New Zealand] Maori Party congratulates Commissioner on rising sea level report, 28 November 2014 | The Mâori Party has congratulated the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on her very readable report on the impact of the rising level of the sea. “The science of climate change is often intimidating to every-day New Zealanders” said Marama Fox, Mâori Party Co-leader… “The Mâori Party wants to see change within the climate arena as it has social, economic and cultural issues as well environmental but we also do not want to see iwi disadvantaged. There has been negligible investment in low emission technologies resulting in foresters leaving the climate change scheme and planting is virtually zero. This has a huge impact on Aotearoa and also on those hâpu and iwi who have received large forests as part of their Treaty Settlement and so have large carbon credits that are now virtually worthless,” said Mrs Fox.

29 November 2014

[Australia] Why Direct Action won’t make the cuts we need
By Mel Barnes, Green Left Weekly, 29 November 2014 | The Coalition government’s Direct Action policy has become law after passing the lower house on November 23. The centrepiece of Direct Action is the Emissions Reduction Fund. Under this scheme, the government will pay for projects that will reduce CO2 emissions “at least cost”. Businesses, farmers, community organisations, local councils and individuals will be able to compete for $2.55 billion in government funding for projects to reduce their emissions. Participants will take part in a “reverse-auction” in which they will bid to implement projects to reduce emissions at the lowest price. If they are successful, they will be issued with Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs), which the government will buy from them on completion of the project. The government is still in the process of creating methodology that it says will ensure emissions cuts will meet the criteria of being “both real and additional to business as usual”.

Accord with China helps US cut 2025 emission-reduction target
By Nitin Sethi, Business Standard, 29 November 2014 | Instead of setting higher targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emission compared to its previous commitments, the US has reduced the target for 2025 by two-four per cent, under a joint declaration with China. The latter, too, has kept the language of the declaration loose. Under the joint declaration, the US announced by 2025 it would cut emissions 26-28 per cent compared to 2005 levels. China announced its emissions would peak “around 2030”. But in 2010, under the Copenhagen Accord and Cancun Agreements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the US had said by 2025, it would reduce its emissions 30 per cent compared to 2005 levels.

[Indonesia] New database key to fighting deforestation
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 29 November 2014 | Indonesia is seen by many to have unreliable forestry data because of poor data management, poor data access and conflicting data sets. Although the government has fought against deforestation for years, it lacks a clear and cohesive benchmark on which a masterplan could be based. But this is all about to change as Indonesia is poised to for the first time submit data to the global benchmark known as the forest reference emissions level (FREL). FREL is a benchmark required for a country to measure its achievement in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). “In order to reduce deforestation, we have to know first the projection of our business-as-usual deforestation rate in upcoming years,” Arief Darmawan of the REDD+ Agency (BP REDD+) technology, system and monitoring division told The Jakarta Post.

30 November 2014

To reject REDD+ and extractive industries, 30 November 2014 | To confront capitalism and defend life and territories – On the occasion of the UN climate change negotiations in Lima, Peru – known as COP20 – we warn that rejecting REDD+ and ‘environmental services’, under the ‘green economy’ umbrella, is a central part of our struggle against capitalism and extractive industries and in the defense of territories, life and Mother Earth.

Testing the Limits of European Ambitions on Emissions
By Beth Gardiner, New York Times, 30 November 2014 | The European Union has long been a world leader on climate change, and its new agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 keeps it at the forefront of that effort. But experts question whether the plans European leaders have sketched out are strong enough to meet their ambitious goal, and even whether a 40 percent cut is enough to keep the Continent on track toward its longer-term target, an emissions cut of between 80 percent and 95 percent by mid-century. Even as it presses ahead, Europe knows that it is only one piece of the climate puzzle, its emissions accounting for 13 percent of the world’s total. Like the U.S.-China deal announced in Beijing last month, the October agreement among Europe’s 28 national leaders was intended to give a push to global climate negotiations, which resume this week in Lima, Peru, and are to culminate in a major summit meeting in Paris next year.

[New Zealand] There’s no business like farm business
By Patrick O’Sullivan, Hawkes Bay Today, 30 November 2014 | Farm managers rubbed shoulders with knights, merchant bankers and individual investors at the Rural Equities Limited (REL) AGM on Wednesday. Held in the Oruawharo Homestead chapel in Takapau, executive chairman David Cushing said REL was one of the most successful farming businesses in the country… There is one other property the company was “mulling over options with”. It sold carbon credits for a gain of $250,000 from a “horrible” Ngaruawahia forest sold in 2012 with “horrendous” harvest costs. “We were very fortunate to divest. We only had the one buyer, no one else was interested. We pocketed the carbon credit units which we thought would be part of the deal, but the Chinese didn’t pick up on it.”

[Tanzania] Ten per cent of land lost to bush fires annually
By Masembe Tambwe, DailyNews, 30 November 2014 | Forest conservationists in the country are calling for more efficient planning to save 10 per cent of the country’s total land area that is lost to wild fires annually. Speaking exclusively to the ‘Sunday News,’ Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources official, a member of the Integrated Fire Management Technical Committee, Mr Charles Ng’atigwa, said an average of 900,000ha succumbs to bush fires annually in the country. “One of the interventions to control and prevent wild fires is early burning of bush land. Most fires take place in mid to late part of the dry season (July onwards), therefore with proper planning, this can be offset early,” he said. Mr Ng’atigwa said that the impact of fire damage suppresses regeneration, tree mortality is increased and shrinks coastal forest fragments.

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