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REDD in the news: 15-21 December 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 2014 Annual Report
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), December 2014
The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) has released its 2014 Annual Report, noting that there are now 47 FCPF Country Participants and highlighting the US$830 million raised by the Readiness Fund and Carbon Fund. The Annual Report mentions a number of large-scale programs funded through the Carbon Fund ranging from the expansion of community based forest management in Mexico to a cocoa-focused emissions reduction project implemented in Ghana. With regard to the disbursement of readiness funds, the report notes that six countries have fully committed their funds, while the total number of countries signing readiness grants reached 22 in 2014. The report also focuses on stakeholder engagement and the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.

UN-REDD Calls for REDD+ to Link Mitigation and Adaptation
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), December 2014
The UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) released an info brief exploring how REDD can achieve synergies between climate change mitigation and adaptation. The brief notes that such synergies are already called for in international processes including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The brief, titled ‘REDD and adaptation: Identifying complementary responses to climate change’ highlights examples of ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation (EBA) that can contribute to REDD such as the conservation of coastal mangroves, while pointing out that REDD activities can support the continued provision of ecosystem services even under changing climate conditions.

[Australia] Summary of ERF Carbon Abatement Contract
By Elisa de Wit, Norton Rose Fulbright, December 2014
An amended form of the Carbon Abatement Contract (Contract) which the Clean Energy Regulator (Regulator) will use under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) was released on 1 December 2014. The initial draft consultation version of the Contract (which was released on 27 June 2014) has been amended to provide flexibility for under delivery and less onerous make good requirements. In simple terms, under the Contract the Seller (who will be a successful bidder at an ERF auction) agrees to sell to the Regulator a specified number of Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) over a specified time period, with delivery of the ACCUs to take place on specified dates. Although the Contract will reference particular pre-approved emissions reduction or carbon sequestration projects, the Seller can source the ACCUs from anywhere.

15 December 2014

The UN climate talks just failed – now for the real battle
By Assaad W. Razzouk, The Ecologist, 15 December 2014
The annual UN Climate Talks ended on Sunday in Lima, Peru. In case you were wondering, nothing happened. In fact, possibly worse than nothing happened. Instead of being on track to sign, in December 2015 in Paris, a binding agreement to cut harmful emissions backed by all nations, we are forcefully sliding towards an agreement for each nation to do what it wants, including nothing. There is a new acronym at the UN jargon university for this: ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, or INDCs. It’s a code-word for everyone to do what they please, in two steps. First, key governments worldwide will maybe (or maybe not) outline, by March 2015, what actions (i.e., INDCs) they intend to take under a global agreement. Second, the INDCs are intended to be added up into an agreement in Paris and compared against what we need to do to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees, the accepted climate change speed limit.

Tropical rainforests not absorbing as much carbon as expected, scientists say
By Stuart Clark, The Guardian, 15 December 2014
The increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not making trees in tropical forests grow faster, say scientists who have analysed over 1,100 individual trees from forests in Bolivia, Thailand and Cameroon. Researchers had expected higher CO2 levels to act as a tree fertiliser so boosting growth. The finding could indicate that such forests are not helping mitigate the effects of climate change by removing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. The results contradict previous studies that made inventories of the total number of trees in particular regions of tropical forests and found the numbers increasing. So it may be that tropical forests are becoming more dense rather than individual trees growing faster.

New paper raises question of tropical forest carbon storage
By Robert McSweeney, Carbon Brief, 15 December 2014
The world’s forests provide a huge carbon sink, absorbing around a third of manmade carbon emissions, and helping to moderate global temperature rise. A new study argues that the speed of tree growth in tropical rainforests isn’t keeping pace with rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and so it may be “too optimistic” to expect this buffering effect to keep pace with rising emissions. But another scientist tells us the finding needs to be examined carefully, and it could be difficulties in taking measurements in tropical rainforests that are leading to the result… Dr Simon Lewis of University College London and the University of Leeds… It doesn’t help that there aren’t many other studies like this one, Lewis says. “There is an absence of this particular type of evidence,” he says, “because it’s really expensive and really quite difficult to do.”

Paris climate summit faces tougher job after modest Lima deal
By Alister Doyle and Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, 15 December 2014
Paris could mark a shift away from two decades of climate diplomacy toward a more technocratic system that would allow national pledges for action to limit warming to be compared and toughened in coming years. Yvo de Boer, a former U.N. climate chief, said one problem was that U.N. negotiators lacked authority. “If the leaders of the Group of 20 got together and said ‘let’s get this done’ the whole thing would be over in 30 minutes,” he told Reuters. De Boer, who heads the Global Green Growth Institute, which helps developing nations, noted that annual climate talks have ballooned since 1,000 delegates attended a first meeting in 1994. “Paris could be an opportunity to change that, if it identifies the cornerstones of the work that needs to be done. It could make it into a technical process and not a political process,” he said. So far, however, the signs even of that are not good.

Lima climate change talks avert a disaster
By Nitin Sethi, Business Standard, 15 December 2014
It is so decided,” said Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, his gavel hitting the table. And, the torturous 13 days of UN climate change negotiations ended with 196 countries adopting the ‘Lima call to climate action’ document at around 1 am on Sunday morning. Several hours of closed-door negotiations led by the hosts late on Saturday night brought about a compromise, rescuing the talks from the brink. The talks, then, did not end in a disaster but, eventually, nothing much was lost or gained. Neither for climate change or for countries. The low-on-ambition decision left each country’s ‘red lines’ (meaning, a limit which should not be crossed) intact in two ways. Some fundamental battles – such as those over differentiation between rich and poor countries — were largely postponed, to be fought next year when negotiations for the 2015 agreement are carried out over at least three rounds.

‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ Falls Short of What Science Urges and People Demand
By Keith Peterman, Huffington Post, 15 December 2014
The UN climate conference in Lima, Peru (COP 20) finally came to a close early Sunday morning. Negotiators haggled around the clock well past the formal Friday deadline, but still could only come up with a weak agreement called the “Lima Call for Climate Action.” The agreement falls short of actions needed to avoid the catastrophic consequences of a warmer world. Yes, government leaders reaffirmed their decision to put individual climate pledges on the table prior to the December 2015 COP 21 meeting in Paris. And, they achieved the $10 billion goal set for initial contributions to the Green Climate Fund. But, they shirked many big issues as has been the case for the past two decades.

The long road from Lima to a global climate deal
Financial Times, 15 December 2014
The communique inked in Lima may be more of a road map than a call to action. It puts off plenty of hard decisions and dodges some altogether. But the deal drives forward the preparations for the Paris summit, which will be the biggest opportunity the world has had for some years to reach a comprehensive deal on climate change. The biggest step taken in South America was that all the participating countries agreed to submit national plans for curbing carbon emissions by the end of March. These documents should set out figures for base emissions and annual targets. It may not sound like much.

New Climate Treaty Struggles to Reconcile Rich and Poor
By Lisa Friedman, Scientific American, 15 December 2014
They fought about money, categories and assessments. They skirmished over scopes and road maps and timetables. But the true battle consuming leaders from 198 governments at a U.N. global warming conference that concluded yesterday after two weeks of negotiations and 32 hours of overtime debating was really about just one thing: balancing responsibilities between poor, rich and richer nations. “This, in a way, begins the future of whatever will follow as a replacement of the Kyoto Protocol, so it is from one generation to another. So for that reason, it is difficult,” said France’s ambassador for climate change, Laurence Tubiana. Her country hopes to host the signing of a new global agreement next year in Paris.

Lima deal leaves ominous climate questions
Andrew Restuccia, POLITICO, 15 December 2014
The U.S. and other nations were applauding this weekend’s climate change agreement on Monday, but the deal’s difficult negotiations showed all too clearly the major hurdles that lie ahead as officials try to reach a much more sweeping pact next year in Paris… “The outcome says nothing about the drastic emissions reductions needed before 2020, without which we are at risk of an even greater temperature rise and climate breakdown,” Friends of the Earth International chairperson Jagoda Munic said in an email. “The outcome undermines historical responsibility putting pressure on developing countries to cut their emissions without adequate support in financing and technology transfer. The urgent obligation of developed countries to provide climate finance is glaringly missing.”

PwC post-Conference Of Parties (COP) report: UN Climate Summit – Lima
pwc, 15 December 2014
The climate talks almost ground to a halt here in Lima. Progress outside the process, such as the US-China climate deal and the $10bn pledged to the Green Climate Fund, did not translate into much progress inside the negotiating hall. Countries fired their opening salvos of the Paris negotiations here, and as a result, they agreed little of substance at the army headquarters where the climate summit was hosted. This was despite the best efforts of the host to create a positive atmosphere. There were two main objectives at COP20: to agree the information and review process for the national pledges (or INDCs*) in 2015, and to develop a first draft of the negotiating text. Many countries dug into long held positions and were accused of not negotiating at all. The talks ran on into the early hours of Sunday morning when countries finally adopted the bare bones of a decision on the pledges and agreed to keep talking in 2015.

Bolivia to host 2015 meeting of social movements to fight climate change
By Richard Fidler, Life on the Left, 15 December 2014
Meeting in Havana December 14, the 13th summit of ALBA leaders endorsed a Bolivian proposal to host an international assembly of social movements in 2015 to discuss and adopt a united strategy for fighting climate change. The decision by the Bolivarian Alliance for the peoples of Our America – Trade Treaty of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP) coincided with release of the final agreement adopted by the United Nations COP20 climate talks at Lima, Peru. The UN agreement, reached by representatives of 195 countries after two extra days of haggling, has been universally condemned by environmental activists for the failure, once again, to take meaningful actions to prevent catastrophic climate warming… “Either we change global capitalist society” said Morales, “or it will annihilate the world’s peoples and nature itself.”And he denounced the “more than 30 years of pretence, futile negotiations with no result” of the UN climate negotiations.

In national REDD+ policy networks, a bit of conflict is not a bad thing
By Angela Dewan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 December 2014
A balance between cooperation and conflict is one recipe for success in REDD moving forward, according to a global study of several countries designing or implementing REDD strategies. The Global Comparative Study of REDD is under way in 14 tropical forest countries around the world, with REDD policy networks being studied in nine of those. A series of comparative analyses in a subset of seven countries has recently been published in a special issue of the journal Ecology and Society. The need for some measure of conflict “was somewhat of a surprise—we thought that in countries where there is harmony between stakeholders, there would be easy REDD decision making,” said Maria Brockhaus, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who leads the institute’s research on countries’ REDD policy networks.

Who’s actually implementing landscape approaches? Study seeks to find out
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 December 2014
Although land managers and policy makers increasingly talk about the use of landscapes for conserving biodiversity, and for reducing poverty and deforestation while ensuring an adequate food supply, preliminary results from a new study have turned up little hard evidence about whether that approach is effective. “Despite the wealth of literature on landscape approaches, there are very few case-study examples in the peer-reviewed literature,” said Terry Sunderland, principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “That doesn’t mean they’re not out there,” he added, “but they’re not being reported.” He presented the results, which highlight the gap between research and practice, at the 2014 Global Landscapes Forum, organized by CIFOR, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the sidelines of the annual UN climate change conference.

Landscape approach could pave way to achieving SDGs: experts
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 December 2014
The design of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should use the principles of landscape approaches, said experts on a panel at the Global Landscapes Forum, on the sidelines of the UN climate change meeting in Lima. “We need to demonstrate the relevance of the landscape approach, demonstrate why it’s fundamental to the full delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals targets,” said Paula Caballero, Senior Director of Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice at the World Bank. The SDGs are in the process of being developed by a UN-appointed working group of representatives from 70 countries to replace the current Millennium Development Goals, which will expire in 2015.

Taking Culture into Account in Restoring China’s Loess Plateau
By Kathleen Buckingham, Lars Laestadius, Aurelio Padovezi (TNC) and Phil Covell (Forest Trends), World Resources Institute, 15 December 2014
The Loess Plateau in north-central China is a large, hilly, semi-arid region roughly the size of Afghanistan. Thousands of years of farming, which intensified during the Cultural Revolution, left the former grasslands degraded and eroded… Restoration began 40 years ago with significant Chinese government investments to safeguard water resources, ensure food security, and promote sustainable rural development… In the Loess Plateau, funding from the World Bank and the Chinese government helped restore 4 million hectares of land, more than doubling the incomes of local farmers, reducing erosion by 100 million tons of sediment annually, reducing flood risk, and dramatically increasing grain production. But not all of it worked. In some areas, three out of every four trees died.

Small farmers in Peru build climate resilience with innovation, ‘living lab’
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 December 2014
As a warming climate shrinks the land area suitable for growing potatoes, Quechua farmers high in the Peruvian Andes say the change is a sign that Mother Earth is angry, said Alejandro Argumedo, director of the non-profit ANDES Association. In the “Potato Park” near Cusco, Peru, farmers have teamed up with scientists to protect the potatoes so crucial to their families’ diet, Argumedo said at the 2014 Global Landscapes Forum organized by CIFOR, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the sidelines of the annual UN climate change conference in Lima, Peru. The event drew more than 1,700 people from 90 countries, including country climate negotiators, ministers, CEOs, indigenous leaders, civil society leaders and researchers.

[USA] LEAP Enters Voluntary Carbon Market
NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, 15 December 2014
A Charlottesville non-profit is offering businesses and homeowners a deal to off-set their carbon footprint, and reduce the amount of dangerous greenhouse gas that escapes into our air. The Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) is launching its Save a Ton Program, which allows companies and individuals to buy carbon credits to support energy upgrades in low-income communities. LEAP says the initial round of carbon credits is equal to taking 133 homes off the grid for a year, or 203 cars off the road. The credits were created as part of a weatherization program, where LEAP worked with owners of low-income multifamily properties to make their buildings more energy efficient. The result of that program led to big savings for low-income households in Virginia.

[USA] The new climate denialism: More carbon dioxide is a good thing
By Dana Milbank, The Washington Post, 15 December 2014
For years, the fossil-fuel industries have been telling us that global warming is a hoax based on junk science. But now these industries are floating an intriguing new argument: They’re admitting that human use of coal, oil and gas is causing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to rise — but they’re saying this is a good thing. We need more CO2 in our lives, not less. “CO2 is basically plant food, and the more CO2 in the environment the better plants do,” proclaimed Roger Bezdek, a consultant to energy companies, at an event hosted Monday by the United States Energy Association, an industry trade group. The session, at the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington, was devoted to demonstrating that “CO2 benefits clearly outweigh any hypothesized costs.”

16 December 2014

Murder in the Rainforest
By Alexander Zaitchik, Rolling Stone, 16 December 2014
On the morning of December 5th, a dark piece of news began circulating at the U.N. climate talks in Lima: The body of José Isidro Tendetza Antún, a leading Ecuadorian indigenous-rights and anti-mining campaigner, had been found in a riverside grave near his village, his remains bound in rope, showing signs of beating and torture. Antún had planned to be in the Peruvian capital last week, where hundreds of indigenous leaders from around the world gathered to demand recognition and rights, as both defenders of the world’s rainforests and underappreciated players in the effort to slow climate change. The outlines of Antún’s murder were grimly familiar to indigenous activists. The spread of logging, agriculture and extractive industry into once remote forests has sparked social conflict under the tropical canopies of Amazonia, Africa and Asia.

China climate negotiator says Lima deal ‘balanced’
By Jennifer Duggan, The Guardian, 16 December 2014
Chinese media coverage of the Lima climate change talks included comments by the country’s top climate negotiator who described the deal reached as “balanced”. Xie Zhenhua told the state news agency Xinhua that the outcome was “within” the Chinese delegation’s expectation. However he said: “we’re not very satisfied with the outcome, but we think it’s a balanced and nice document”. Xie added that the summit is an important step towards next year’s summit in Paris but that those “negotiations will be more challenging and require parties to show greater flexibility”. China’s role going into the talks was buoyed by its recent climate deal with the US. In the agreement announced in November, China committed for the first time to cap its output of carbon pollution by 2030 and to increase its use of zero emission energy sources to 20% by 2030.

From Copenhagen to Lima: An Observer’s Take on Why the Lima Call to Action Matters
By Gena Gammie (Forest Trends), Huffington Post, 16 December 2014
The deadline for two long weeks of climate negotiations in Peru had already passed when the man who had presided over the entire event Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s environment minister, announced the Lima Call to Climate Action. At five pages, the document is modest but significant: It represents the agreement of more than 190 countries to bring firm national commitments for action on climate change to next year’s meeting in Paris. As an observer of the negotiations who is active on climate issues, I was relieved to see the agreement and grateful for the leadership of Minister Pulgar-Vidal, as well as the efforts of thousands of people who worked through the painstaking process of achieving unanimous agreement of 191 countries and the European Union. While this document alone does not, of course, set us on an all-clear climate path, the name of the document — a “Call to Action” –encapsulates well its value.

Deal or no deal, experts upbeat on progress of REDD+ safeguards
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 December 2014
Despite no movement on the issue of REDD safeguards in discussions in Lima this month, experts on a panel at the Global Landscapes Forum on the sidelines of the UN climate conference (COP20) said progress on safeguards on the ground in some countries offers hope. “It is an exciting time for REDD and for safeguards with all this experience coming out,” said Joanna Durbin, Director of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA), which alongside CARE International serves as the secretariat of the REDD Social and Environmental Standards (SES) Initiative—and which organised the panel along with CIFOR. “We’re in an initiative of exchange and learning between countries that is leading to new emerging good practices—and it really helps to emphasize how REDD can be part of a broader sustainable development strategy,” she said.

Beyond dialogue: building trust to save the people’s forests and support development
By Emilia Pramova, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 December 2014
If there is one thing that everyone involved in forest governance can agree on, it is the need to build trust within and between groups, as voiced by experts and indigenous leaders during a panel discussion at the Global Landscapes Forum, on the sidelines of the UN climate change meeting in Lima. The discussion was organized by the Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force (GCF), Sustainable Tropics Alliance and the Forest Based Livelihoods Consortium. Much has been said about establishing platforms for multi-stakeholder dialogue, where government, civil society, indigenous groups and private sector actors can come together. And local governments are in a very good position to foster this dialogue, said moderator Rosa Maria Vida, the Executive Director of the GCF Fund. Dialogue is fundamental, she said, but it will not be enough to reduce deforestation.

How are trees good for us? ‘Sentinels’ may hold the answer
By Joan Baxter, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 16 December 2014
It’s a unique, massive—and massively ambitious—research initiative, spanning nine landscapes across 20 countries on three continents. It involves scores of scientists and practitioners from 60 organizations, and employs a panoply of research methods from household surveys to soil sampling, from vegetation inventories to satellite imagery. And it’s all to answer an unusual, perhaps counterintuitive question: Are trees “good” for landscapes—and “good” for us? (And if so, how much?) “What we hope to achieve is to find out when trees in landscapes lead to better livelihoods, better nutrition, better income, happier people,” said Anja Gassner, a researcher with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Gassner leads the Sentinel Landscape initiative, a component of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

[Brazil] Belo Monte, Brazil: The tribes living in the shadow of a megadam
By Jonanthan Watts, The Guardian, 16 December 2014
The biggest impact of Belo Monte is from the influx of tens of thousands of construction workers, suppliers, security guards, prostitutes and other migrants who have been drawn to the area by the megaproject. Since work started in 2011, the population of the nearest city of Altamira has surged from about 100,000 to more than 150,000. The newcomers require homes, food, water, electricity, oil, roads and boats – all of which add to the pressure on a local environment that is one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots. Forests are being felled in the Altamira region around the construction site at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country. There are conflicts over fishing catches. Endangered species are under increased pressure and indigenous groups are losing their land and traditions.

Palm oil plantation crime drives illegal logging in Indonesia
EIA International, 16 December 2014
The clear-cutting of forests to make way for oil palm plantations is driving a wave of illegal logging in Indonesia, fundamentally undermining efforts to bring much-needed reform to the nation’s forestry and timber sectors. A new report released today by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Permitting Crime: How palm oil expansion drives illegal logging in Indonesia, reveals how a widespread culture of corruption and poor law enforcement is generating a flood of illicit timber as plantations surge into frontier forests. In-depth case studies of blatant violations of licensing procedures and other laws in Central Kalimantan – a hotspot for forest crime – detailed in the report include: outright violations of plantation licensing, timber and environmental regulations by firms clear-cutting forests in some of Indonesia’s richest tracts of rainforest…

ASEAN Should Confront Laos On Rights Abuses: NGOs
By Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat, 16 December 2014
ASEAN member states should abandon their principle of not interfering in each other’s internal affairs and confront Laos on rights abuses in the country as responsible members of the international community, a group of leading regional and international non-governmental organizations said yesterday. “Instead of invoking the principle of non-interference into one another’s internal affairs, ASEAN member states must act as responsible members of the international community and uphold the…key tenets enshrined in the ASEAN charter, which recognizes the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms….,” a statement, signed by 82 regional and international NGOs, said.

[New Zealand] Groser threatens iwi over climate advocate
Waatea News, 16 December 2014
Mr Groser has written to the Iwi Leader’s Group suggesting it should think hard about sending forestry advisor Chris Karamea Insley to any future international climate change conferences. He criticised Mr Insley’s sustained criticism of the Government’s record, and warned future delegations will be told good faith, fair and respectful behaviour will be demanded. Mr Insley has calculated the Government has cost Maori foresters and post-settlement iwi hundreds of millions of dollars by allowing polluters to buy cheap eastern European carbon credits rather than New Zealand unites. Labour’s climate change spokesperson Megan Woods says it’s a blatant attempt to shut down differing opinions. She says low priced carbon credits are leading to massive deforestation in New Zealand, with 700 foresters leaving the Emission Trading Scheme last year.

Peruvian indigenous communities help to neutralise the carbon footprint of major sustainability event
Incentive Travel & Corporate Meetings, 16 December 2014
Indigenous communities located in Ucayali, Peru have agreed to compensate for the carbon footprint of an international event organised by the Forest Stewardship Council® International sustainability events, where all stakeholders can meet face-to-face, are a key part of the movement to ensure the world’s climate and environment. Yet, they often entail lots of travel and carry a significant carbon footprint. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has responded by ensuring its largest event – the FSC General Assembly 2014 – is carbon neutral. This tri-annual event brings together stakeholders of sustainable forest management and trade from around the world… Now, four indigenous communities in Ucayali, Peru and FSC International have signed an agreement to neutralise the carbon footprint of the FSC General Assembly 2014.

Khiri goes carbon neutral in Sri Lanka
Travel Daily India, 16 December 2014
Khiri Travel has unveiled a new tour in Sri Lanka that will have no impact on the environment. The 14-day carbon neutral trip will see guests stay in eco-lodges and tented camps, and be transported by hybrid cars. The itinerary will include trips to see elephants, leopards and blue whales, and talks with local villagers and forest tribesmen. Along the way, guests will plant trees. Khiri will make a calculation of the carbon emissions generated from the trip and then arrange for them to be completely offset. “Guests enjoy a very rich tropical wildlife experience as well as meaningful conversations with tribesmen and villagers who explain the land, nature and the people’s relationship with it,” said Khiri Sri Lanka’s general manager, Ruben Derksen. To offset the emissions from the trips, Khiri will purchase carbon credits from an accredited project, such as SNV Netherlands’ Biogas programme. Guests can also choose to offset their air transportation…

[USA] Experts Expect Gas Prices To Spike Come New Year’s Day
CBS Los Angeles, 16 December 2014
On Jan. 1, gas and diesel fuel will be subject to California’s cap and trade market because of a law passed in 2010. The program puts a price on the emissions coming out of drivers’ tailpipes. “The transportation sector is responsible for about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California. They’re also responsible for at least 90 percent of the air pollutions in the state,” said Dave Clegern, spokesman for the California Air Resources Board. The agency estimates the gas fee increase will be at most 10 cents a gallon – but the Western States Petroleum Association believes the spike could be as much as 76 cents a gallon. “All we know is that motorists will be paying more after Jan. 1. How much they pay is hard to say at this point,” Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring said.

[USA] Yurok tribe hopes California’s cap-and-trade can save a way of life
By Tony Barboza, LA Times, 16 December 2014
This winter, Yurok tribe forestry crews will be four-wheeling down muddy fire roads, hiking through steep, slippery brush and trekking across more than 20,000 acres of forest to count and measure trees. Instead of preparing to sell lumber, as it has in the past, the state’s largest Indian tribe is taking stock of its firs, redwoods and tanoaks to make money in California’s cap-and-trade program. By managing its forest near Redwood National Park for carbon storage instead of timber harvest, the tribe is generating credits to sell to oil companies and other businesses that must reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the state’s effort to slow climate change. When trees are allowed to grow, they absorb more carbon dioxide from the air and store it in their trunks, branches and roots. That sequestered carbon, which would otherwise be contributing to global warming, is now a valuable commodity for landowners like the Yurok.

17 December 2014

No More Faking It: Companies Ditch Green Credits, Clean Up Instead
By Ben Elgin, Bloomberg, 17 December 2014
It has been a near-magical tool allowing corporations to claim massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for very little cost. For years, thousands of companies have purchased renewable energy credits, known as RECs, to say they use green power and to shrink their carbon footprints. Now, as skepticism mounts about whether RECs achieve their claimed environmental benefits, the market for these credits is slowing—and a number of companies, from Whole Foods Market (WFM) to McDonald’s (MCD), are quietly scaling back their involvement. “These voluntary green power markets have no significant effect on how much renewable energy is generated,” says Michael Gillenwater, executive director of the nonprofit Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, which trains companies on how to accurately measure their emissions.

UN’s Clean Development Market Mechanism Future in Doubt, Largely Sidelined in Lima
By Eric J. Lyman, Bloomberg BNA, 17 December 2014
Delegates involved in the negotiation of the 2015 agreement have told Bloomberg BNA that while the value of market mechanisms has been debated, there seems to be only limited interest in having the CDM as a tool for the Paris treaty. “I would think it’s unlikely that the CDM would be included as is,” a senior EU negotiator who asked not to be further identified told Bloomberg BNA. “Elements of the CDM are still valuable and could be saved, but it’s very likely the CDM won’t be called the CDM by the time next year’s agreement goes into effect in 2020.” [IETA’s Jeff Swartz agreed, but stopped short of predicting the program’s demise. “We’re always going to need a project-based crediting mechanism,” he said. “Without it, how would countries like Norway, Sweden or Switzerland, which already have low-impact energy mixes, do more? Norway gets 80 percent of its energy from clean hydro power. If it wants to do more, it has to look abroad.”

Lima climate talks showcase another path to global climate action: through states, provinces and cities
EDF, 17 December 2014
California has long been a laboratory of climate change solutions and will be expanding its cap-and-trade program to cover transportation fuels in two short weeks. Meetings with the California contingent are always a sought-after ticket at the COPs, and California delegates are always eager to learn from and trade ideas with their counterparts around the world. California’s low-carbon leadership was amplified in Lima by Senate President Kevin de León, who regaled delegates with his always charismatic case for the connection between climate action, jobs, and economic growth, pointing to California’s cap-and-trade system as an example of how California can “lead the world and show other nations the way to de-carbonize their economies.” A very encouraging trend is the evolution of subnational cooperation from platitudes to concrete plans.

Exhaustion in Lima
By Nitin Desai, Business Standard, 17 December 2014
The latest round of the global negotiations on climate change ended last Sunday in the usual fashion, with the host country, Peru, brokering a decision by exhaustion nearly two days after the scheduled end of the conference. All those who came with a defensive agenda expressed their satisfaction with the outcome, those with a positive agenda tempered their disappointment with the hope that the outcome left room for improvement in the next round and non-governmental organisation activists registered their dissatisfaction in a variety of ways, including, this time, the desecration of a heritage site. This confused outcome reflects the complex fault lines that divide countries on this issue. Apart from the usual North-South divide, there are fault lines within each of these groupings.

Land tenure in forests a matter of food security, experts contend
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 December 2014
Forests are an important link in the food chain, especially for women and children and others at high risk of hunger and malnutrition, early results from ongoing research shows. But land rights are a crucial enabling factor in the food security of forest people, experts say. “Forests and trees alone will not achieve global food security, but they can play a major role,” Terry Sunderland, principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), said at a panel discussion session at the 2014 Global Landscapes Forum in Lima.

Along the Mekong, conservation-payment schemes are a study in contrasts
By Adinda Hasan, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 December 2014
One river, many ways to protect its forests—but are those ways effective? A recent workshop on incentive-based conservation in four Southeast Asian countries explored the diversity of approaches being employed—and highlighted worries about their long-term viability. In the Mekong River region, the concept of Payment for Environmental Services (PES) has gained attention as a cost-effective and innovative means of promoting sustainable environmental management while improving livelihoods. Yet, a comparison of schemes highlights emerging concerns over equity for participants, financial sustainability of initiatives, and the need to measure environmental and social outcomes. A series of studies by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) of PES schemes in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, found that far from being market-driven, most PES initiatives are primarily funded by government, donor and civil society…

With climate effects looming, land-use planners reach for their toolbox
By Barbara Fraser, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 December 2014
Imminent climatic changes challenge planners and policy makers to forecast likely impacts and launch adaptation plans a decade or more before the worst effects are felt. With more (and better) data and tools for exploring future scenarios, planners can make land-management decisions, justify investments and map strategies for climate-change adaptation and for meeting the proposed Sustainable Development Goals after 2015, researchers said in a discussion session at the 2014 Global Landscapes Forum in Lima… Using the Brazilian Land Use Model (BLUM), planners in that country combined hydro-meteorological, spatial and economic data to predict climate-driven changes in agricultural and livestock production. BLUM enabled them to explore baseline, pessimistic and optimistic future scenarios at the regional level, said Rodrigo Lima, general manager of AGROICONE, a Brazilian consulting firm…

[Brazil] FIFA, LOC get carbon emissions approval
FIFA, 17 December 2014
The portfolio of low-carbon projects in Brazil was carefully selected together with non-profit carbon management programme BP Target Neutral. Each project went through a rigorous tender process and adhered to the standards set by the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA), with the final selection being made by an independent panel of environmental NGOs. Beyond the positive environmental impacts of these projects, they also have social and economic benefits for many local Brazilian communities. Among the initiatives supported, for example, is The Purus Project, which contributes to the preservation of 36,000 hectares of pristine rain forest from deforestation. “The projects selected by FIFA and BP Target Neutral to offset the carbon emissions from the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil are all highly relevant to the country’s reality.

18 December 2014

At the Lima Climate Talks, It Was Groundhog Day All Over Again
By Oscar Reyes, FPIF, 18 December 2014 At 3 a.m., two days after the scheduled end of the UN Climate Change Conference in Peru, everything looked uncannily familiar. Exhausted negotiators applauded the Lima Call for Climate Action, a deal that demands little action but paves the way for another year of talking. “It always seems impossible until it is done,” said a South African negotiator, wheeling out a Mandela quote that gets cited every year. Climate activists, meanwhile, issued identikit statements condemning an agreement that fails people and the planet. International climate talks are predictably disappointing, and the 20th annual meeting (known as a Conference of the Parties, or COP) proved no exception. The main outcome from Lima was that countries should submit climate action plans, called “intended nationally determined contributions” — or INDCs, in the alphabet soup of UN climate jargon — by an informal deadline of March 31, 2015.

Global NGOs differ with political leadership over outcome of Lima climate talks
By Vishwa Mohan, The Times of India, 18 December 2014
Political leadership including from India, the COP presidency and the UNFCCC might have praised the Lima climate talks’ outcome, but the NGOs across the globe have differed and said the result fell short of expectation and public demand as it was guided more by political expediency than the scientific urgency and concerns of the most vulnerable countries. The views of NGOs and think-tanks seem significant if one goes through the fine-prints of the Lima climate talks outcome. The agreed text – Lima Call for Climate Action – shows that all the countries will by October 1 provide the UNFCCC secretariat their INDCs – ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (their mitigation targets and adaptation measures) – to achieve the goal of keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius by the end of the 21st century. But if one goes deeper into the text, it indicates how flimsy the agreement is.

Peru Environment minister: COP20 achieved to include health matters in conference
Andina, 18 December 2014
The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP20), included the topic “health” for the first time in the conference history, affirmed today Peru’s Environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal. The mega conference was held in Lima on December 1 – 14 this year. The gathering aimed at creating an agreement draft to engage member nations in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On its last day the text document was agreed. “The World Health Organization congratulated Peru because the topic health was included for the first time [in a such meeting],” the minister explained. “In the previous 19 COP editions, the topic had been not addressed, [but] now health and climate change are included in the same debate,” he stressed.

Food Without Forests? Don’t Count On It
By Allie Goldstein, Ecosystem Marketplace, 18 December 2014
While land-use negotiators at the United Nations climate talks tend to focus on the carbon released into the atmosphere when forests are felled – deforestation does, after all, account for as much as a fifth of global emissions – the climatic effects of land-use change go well beyond escaped carbon dioxide molecules. A new study released today in Nature Climate Change culls together the results of dozens of global and regional climate models to demonstrate the effects of deforestation on temperature and rainfall patterns, with implications for farmers around the world… “Tropical forests are often talked about as the ‘lungs of the earth,’ but they’re more like the sweat glands,” said Deborah Lawrence, the study’s lead author and a Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. “They give off a lot of moisture, which helps keep the planet cool.”

[Brazil] REDD and the Green Economy Continue to Undermine Rights
By Jeff Conant, Inter Press Service, 18 December 2014
Dercy Teles de Carvalho Cunha is a rubber-tapper and union organiser from the state of Acre in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, with a lifelong love of the forest from which she earns her livelihood – and she is deeply confounded by what her government and policymakers around the world call “the green economy.” “The primary impact of green economy projects is the loss of all rights that people have as citizens,” says Teles de Carvalho Cunha in a report released last week by a group of Brazilian NGOs. “They lose all control of their lands, they can no longer practice traditional agriculture, and they can no longer engage in their everyday activities.” … “Now people just receive small grants to watch the forest, unable to do anything. This essentially strips their lives of meaning.”

[Indonesia] BP REDD+ helps regions monitor forest fires
The Jakarta Post, 18 December 2014
The National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Agency (BP REDD ) and 12 regents and mayors in Riau have signed a memorandum of understanding to implement the REDD program to prevent and curb forest and land fires. The agreement is to be effective for the next five years. BP REDD head Heru Prasetyo said the MoU was part of a follow-up to various examples of teamwork carried out earlier in forest and land fire-fighting efforts and haze disasters in Riau. “This year, Riau recorded an extraordinary and important moment in history, in that two presidents from different terms visited Riau to express the same intent to combat forest and land fires. BP REDD has received the mandate and task to continue the so-called sustainable forest and land development,” Heru said on Wednesday. “One of the tasks is to reduce the risk of environmental damage. It is the definition of what we are working on together,” he added.

[Malaysia] Greed and Resistance in Sarawak’s Rainforest
By Peter Bosshard, Huffington Post, 18 December 2014
Sarawak, the Malaysian province on the island of Borneo, has long been one of the six world regions with the highest biodiversity. An average hectare of Sarawak rainforest contains more tree species than all of Europe. The local Penan communities have names for more than 1300 of the plants they live with. The forest is also home to orang utans and tree leopards, hundreds of bird species, and frogs that can glide up to 20 meters through the air. The greed and corruption of a small clique are now turning Sarawak’s rainforests into a monoculture of oil palms and hydropower reservoirs. In a gripping new book, Lukas Straumann, the Executive Director of the Bruno Manser Fund, documents the local politics, international complicity and desperate resistance in the struggle over one of the world’s last paradises.

[USA] Group challenges timber producer’s ‘green’ label
By Jeff Barnard, Associated Press, 18 December 2014
A watchdog group is challenging the environmentally friendly “green lumber” certification for Plum Creek Timberlands, one of the nation’s biggest landowners and timber producers. The Center for Sustainable Economy, based in Lake Oswego, Oregon, filed the complaint Thursday with a nonprofit group that verifies whether timber producers follow standards for environmentally responsible logging, including replanting after harvest, protecting water and biological diversity, and complying with environmental laws and regulations. The complaint covers Plum Creek logging in Oregon’s Coast Range, citing 11 civil citations over the past six years for violating state logging regulations, including four citations for exceeding the clear-cutting limit of 120 acres. The complaint includes Google Earth images showing landslides in areas stripped of trees by Plum Creek.

19 December 2014

Time to take the power away from the polluters
By Dorothy Grace Guerrero, Bangkok Post, 19 December 2014
After 11 full days of intense negotiations, the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP20) held in Lima, Peru, ended last week with proposals deemed too weak by climate campaigners. The results, which lock us to a disastrous global temperature rise of at least 3-4C, do not merely show a lack of progress in the talks, but also prove that the convention cannot offer the right solutions to the millions of people already affected by climate change, such as those in the Philippines and vulnerable small island states. The process, in its current state, does not and will not offer appropriate actions for those who will be affected in the future: the whole planet.

Is the UN’s climate change body still fit for purpose?
By Saleemul Huq, RTCC, 19 December 2014
Going into the Lima talks there was a great sense of optimism buoyed by the successful climate change summit held by the UN secretary general in September and with the many hundreds of thousands of marchers in New York and many other cities around the world. This was followed closely with the historic agreement by President Obama and President Xi that the United States of America and China, the two biggest polluting countries, will act together to tackle their respective emissions. This positive mood lasted well into the two weeks of negotiations in Lima, until it came to a crashing halt early on Saturday morning (well after the official ending time) with a text which was so bad that country after country started objecting to it… [The Lima Call for Climate Action] was essentially a watered down, lowest-common-denominator agreement that is much below the expectations going in.

UN boss: Lima was a reality check, and leaders need to step up for Paris
EurActiv, 19 December 2014
Achim Steiner: As has become a regular pattern, Lima ended again in a very intense attempt to try and craft a sufficient consensus to move forward. And I think we can agree that out of Lima, the climate negotiation process gained enough to be able to proceed towards Paris. The draft agreement that emerged from Lima clearly had issues that remained unresolved. This perhaps shouldn’t be too surprising, because in many respects, what the climate convention is working towards in Paris 2015 goes well beyond the climate change issue. It is in part also a reflection of a deeper geoeconomic and geopolitical change that is happening in the world, and because climate is in a sense so defined by the urgency to act, the international climate change negotiations have become almost an advanced platform from which the world is trying to renegotiate how it will cooperate on a multilateral level, but also in terms of the changing global economic circumstances.

Summary of TFD @ COP20 in Lima, Peru
The Forests Dialogue, 19 December 2014
On the 2nd and 3rd of December The Forests Dialogue presented at two side-events during the COP20 in Lima, Peru, on REDD Benefit Sharing. These events were complementary to the release of the latest TFD review on the topic and a more specific report on the country options for Peru. To enrich the conversation TFD in collaboration with IUCN invited panelists from all over the world to talk about REDD Benefit Sharing… During the first panel the broader implications of REDD Benefit Sharing were explored. Gary Dunning started off by giving a presentation explaining what TFD is, how it works and where in the context of REDD it was been working. Moderated by Patrick Wylie from IUCN, the participants each explained their take on the issue. Percy Summers from Conservation International Peru, who presented on the Alto Mayo Case Study, emphasized the need to match the REDD tools to the specific context.

Amazon Indigenous REDD+ launched at UNFCCC COP 20
WWF, 19 December 2014
A project to implement pilot cases of the ‘Amazon Indigenous REDD+’ in Madre de Dios (Peru) and Inirida (Colombia) and a test case in Ecuador was launched last December 9 at UNFCCC COP 20. ‘Including Key Elements of Amazon Indigenous REDD+ in Regional and National Climate Change Strategies’ is an alliance between the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon (COICA) and WWF (through its Living Amazon Initiative and Amazon and German national offices) and the German government (through the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety – BMUB). According to Edwin Vasquez, COICA general coordinator, the project will boost key elements of the REDD+ indigenous proposal in the Amazon region into national and regional strategies and climate change policies.

UN Carbon Credit Supply to Drop on Climate Vows: GDF Suez
By Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 19 December 2014
Emission-cutting projects overseen by the United Nations will probably reduce supply of credits into international markets as developing nations set up alternative programs at home, according to GDF Suez SA. China’s preliminary plan for a national greenhouse-gas market published last week means projects will now be more inclined to use programs within their own country, said Philipp Hauser, vice president, carbon markets at GDF Suez Energy Latin America, a unit of the world’s biggest utility. China’s move may be followed by others and credits changing hands this week for 50 euro cents ($0.61) a metric ton may rise to a “few euros” by 2020, he said yesterday from Rio de Janeiro. An increased tendency to hold rather than sell carbon credits is underpinned by developing nations joining richer countries in accepting emission limits from 2020, under the UN process of tabling climate contributions through July next year.

Weighing Trees – Now With Lasers
Science 20, 19 December 2014
A terrestrial laser scanning technique that allows the structure of vegetation to be 3D-mapped to the millimeter is more accurate in determining the biomass of trees and carbon stocks in forests than current methods, according to a paper in Methods in Ecology and Evolution. The study authors believe it could be used in monitoring carbon stocks for climate policy. Both above-ground biomass and carbon stocks are important details for UN-REDD, the United Nations initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation that is striving to keep the destruction of forests in check and thereby preserve the uptake of carbon by trees. Lead author Dr. Kim Calders of Wageningen University said, “Terrestrial laser scanning, also called terrestrial LiDAR, allows us to measure biomass with far less uncertainty than before. The current methods yield results that may be off by as much as 37%.

[Canada] Can we finally talk rationally about carbon pricing?
By Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun, 19 December 2014
First it was Preston Manning, the legendary Alberta conservative and the founder of the political movement that removed “progressive” from Canada’s old PC party, and now it’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is talking about putting a price on carbon emissions. What’s the world coming to? Well, the political landscape in this corner of the world might be evolving. You can even make the case that the main party of the right might be heading back to what used to be a mainstream conservative value. But whether you love or hate the idea of a policy that either is, or is close to, a carbon tax, don’t get too excited. So far we are seeing no more than a baby step in that direction… And the idea of carbon pricing — making people whose actions impose a cost on society pay their own freight — could be taken straight from a conservative thinker’s handbook. It is as close to a market mechanism as public policy can get.

[Indonesia] Lessons Learned from the Conflict, Negotiations and Agreement between Senyerang Village and PT Wira Karya Sakti
By Patrick Anderson, Harry Oktavian and Rudiansyah, Forest Peoples Programme, 19 December 2014
A new report reveals unresolved social conflicts over the pulpwood plantation of a major Indonesian company promising ‘No Deforestation’. The report, from Forest Peoples Programme and Indonesian NGO partners, details a flawed conflict resolution process for community lands grabbed for pulpwood plantations by the massive pulp and paper company Asia Pulp and Paper, in Sumatra. APP is owned by the enormous Sinar Mas conglomerate which is incorporated in Jakarta. “Our field investigation shows how weak APP’s pilot conflict resolution effort in Jambi has been to date. The deal imposed on Senyerang Village (Kelurahan) is a tough one, and is not in line with APP’s policy commitment,” said Patrick Anderson, Policy Advisor of Forest Peoples Programme.

Shrinking ship bubbles ‘could counteract climate change’
By Rebecca Morelle, BBC News, 19 December 2014
Getting ships to generate smaller bubbles as they sail across the oceans could counteract the impact of climate change, a study suggests. Scientists from University of Leeds, UK, say this would create a brighter wake behind a vessel and reflect more sunlight back into space. However, it could also increase rainfall in some areas. The findings were presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. This is the latest idea from the hotly debated field of geoengineering – manmade global fixes to climate change. Suggestions for reducing the amount of solar radiation absorbed by the Earth range from installing giant mirrors in space to injecting salt into clouds to make them more reflective. But Leeds’ Prof Piers Forster said the bubbles idea was a more plausible scheme.

20 December 2014

Notes for Understanding the Lima Outcome
By Pablo Solón, Focus on the Global South, 20 December 2014
The “Lima call for climate action” which came out of the recent UN climate talks, establishes a roadmap to a post-2020 agreement that will be weaker than the ongoing Cancun Agreement (for 2012-2020), and it lays a foundation for an even worse agreement in Paris in 2015. The Cancun Agreement opened the door to dismantling the Kyoto Protocol, pushing for voluntary “pledges” instead of increased mandatory “commitments” for emission cuts. The bottom-up approach of the Cancun Agreement has failed. Four years since its adoption in 2010, there is a big gap in emission cuts of around 12 gigatons of CO2e by 2020. The “business as usual” scenario for global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 is 57 gigatons of CO2e. The Cancun Agreement has reduced that figure only by one or two gigatons, and we need to be below 44 gigatons by 2020 in order to be on a pathway that limits the increase in global temperature to 2º C.

21 December 2014

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