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REDD in the news: 27 April – 3 May 2015

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.

UNFF and Partners Discuss SFM and Climate Finance in Southeast Asia
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD) April 2015
In preparation for upcoming discussions on financing for sustainable forest management (SFM) at the eleventh session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF11), the UNFF Facilitative Process and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) organized a workshop on forest and climate financing in Southeast Asia. The workshop focused on gaps and areas for collaboration among financing mechanisms for climate change and forests. In particular, the workshop noted that while significant progress has been made in financing for both sectors, coordination at the international level has been limited leading to overlap and redundancy. Financing mechanisms considered during the workshop included the Global Environment Facility (GEF), REDD+ funds, the UNFF Facilitative Process, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Standing Committee on Finance, as well as a variety of public and private sector investments.

27 April 2015

That tricky gender thing: lessons from Amazonia
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 April 2015
There are enormous gaps in our knowledge about how gender relations shape the lives of people living in the forests of the Amazon, a new study has found – but on the ground, remarkable changes are happening across the region as women begin to organise and empower themselves. In the Brazilian state of Pará women have dramatically increased their participation in rural workers unions over the past 30 years, from just three percent membership in the 1970s to more than half in 2006. In Ecuador, Huaorani women formed their own indigenous women’s association to promote their interests. And women from nine states in Brazil created a network of collective microenterprises to sell, and fight for access to, non-timber forest products like babassu nuts. These stories are highlighted in the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) study that analyses the literature on gender and forests in Amazonia.

[Australia] Farms could be shut out of next Emission Reduction Fund auction given big corporates will be competing
By Sarina Locke, ABC Rural, 27 April 2015
Landowners who have sold carbon credits are warning farmers it will be harder to compete against big emitters in the next Emission Reduction Fund (ERF) auction. The Clean Energy Regulator held the first auction on 15-16 April, with over half the proposed emission reductions (28 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents) coming from farm projects, like not clearing trees or sequestering carbon in soil. The average price was better than expected, at $14 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. But Louisa Kiely, from the Carbon Farmers of Australia, said the next auction results would likely be cheaper and not as viable for farmers. “The actual biggest challenge now for farmers is that we are competing with very big business,” said Ms Kiely.

East Australia one of 11 areas to account for 80% of world forest loss by 2030
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 27 April 2015
Eastern Australia is one of the world’s 11 deforestation hotspots that together will account for 80% of global forest loss by 2030, a new report has warned. Between 3m hectares and 6m hectares of rainforest and temperate forest, mainly stretching across New South Wales and Queensland, could be lost between 2010 and 2030 on current trends, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Forests report. This deforestation is part of a wider loss that could reach 170m hectares of forest worldwide by 2030 in 11 key areas, including the Amazon, Borneo, Sumatra, the Congo Basin and East Africa. Ten of the 11 areas are found in the tropics and contain some of the greatest biodiversity in the world, including animals such as tigers, orangutans and gorillas, as well as Indigenous communities.

[Canada] We need a price on carbon
By Dante Ryel, Hamilton Spectator, 27 April 2015
I didn’t want cap-and-trade as much as I wanted a carbon fee and dividend carbon pricing system. Carbon pricing involves collecting a fee for polluting carbon emissions. What the government does with the revenue collected is what defines the type of carbon pricing system it is implementing. Cap and trade allows corporations to earn carbon credits that represent greenhouse gas reductions and gives them the ability to sell those credits to other corporations that pollute more than their allowed limits. Alternatively, carbon fee and dividend would put a standard fee on every ton of carbon emissions, no matter who is responsible for them, and redistribute the revenue to all Ontario citizens equally. I didn’t get exactly what I wanted, but as a climate change activist who has been encouraging the Ontario government to curb our greenhouse gas emissions for the past decade, I got what I needed.

[Guyana] Super-profits by Asian transnationals generated partly from excessively favourable investment arrangements provided by gov’t
By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor Stabroek News, 27 April 2015
The super-profits being made by the Asian transnationals in Guyana are generated partly because of the excessively favourable investment arrangements provided to Bai Shan Lin and other companies by the Government of Guyana. As these tax benefits for the Asian transnationals are provided from the taxes of Guyanese, Article 146 of the National Constitution 1980/2003 provides for us to be able to read the full text of these tax and other concessions. President Ramotar’s PPP/C’s recently-issued election manifesto refers to ‘the rights and freedoms of the individual’ so I look forward to the immediate and full disclosure of the Bai Shan Lin and all other foreign direct investment (FDI) arrangements.

[Indonesia] Forest moratorium to be improved
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 27 April 2015
With deforestation and forest fires still prevalent in the country, calls are mounting for the government to not only extend but also strengthen a current moratorium on new concession permits for primary forests and peatlands, due to expire on May 13. The Environment and Forestry Ministry has said that the moratorium would not only be extended but also improved by reviewing the permits that were issued before the moratorium was first enacted in 2011 by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “There would be additional content,” the ministry’s secretary-general, Hadi Daryanto, told The Jakarta Post recently. One of the improvements is that the new moratorium will be more inclusive by targeting specific institutions, according to him. “It will be specific on the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Public Works [and Public Housing] Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry and the National Land Agency [BPN],” said Hadi.

[UK] Beware of pension scams
The Telegraph, 27 April 2015
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is warning customers to be alert to being targeted by fraudsters, posing as investment professionals. They could attempt to persuade you to access your pension savings and transfer your money into fake schemes, promising high returns, such as carbon credits, gemstones or teak. Speaking last month, Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA, highlighted his concerns that the new reforms could especially make people vulnerable. “Scams and fraud, we know, tend to proliferate at the moment of maximum uncertainty.”

[USA] Pope Francis Steps Up Campaign on Climate Change, to Conservatives’ Alarm
By Coral Davenport and Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, 27 April 2015
Since his first homily in 2013, Pope Francis has preached about the need to protect the earth and all of creation as part of a broad message on the environment. It has caused little controversy so far. But now, as Francis prepares to deliver what is likely to be a highly influential encyclical this summer on environmental degradation and the effects of human-caused climate change on the poor, he is alarming some conservatives in the United States who are loath to see the Catholic Church reposition itself as a mighty voice in a cause they do not believe in.

28 April 2015

Over 80% of future deforestation confined to just 11 places
WWF 28 April 2015
Eleven places in the world – 10 of which are in the tropics – will account for over 80 per cent of forest loss globally by 2030, according to research released today by WWF. Up to 170 million hectares of forest could be lost between 2010 and 2030 in these “deforestation fronts” if current trends continue, according to findings in the latest chapter of WWF’s Living Forests Report series. The fronts are located in the Amazon, the Atlantic Forest and Gran Chaco, Borneo, the Cerrado, Choco-Darien, the Congo Basin, East Africa, Eastern Australia, Greater Mekong, New Guinea and Sumatra. These places contain some of the richest wildlife in the world, including endangered species such as orangutans and tigers. All are home to indigenous communities.

Hundreds of millions of acres of world’s forest could be lost by 2030, say WWF
The Guardian, 28 April 2015
Hundreds of millions of acres of forest could be lost in the next two decades in less than a dozen global hotspots for deforestation, conservationists have warned. Research by wildlife charity WWF has identified 11 “deforestation fronts” where 80% of projected global forest losses by 2030 could occur. Up to 170m hectares (420m acres) could be lost between 2010 and 2030 in these areas if current trends continued – equivalent to the disappearance of a forest stretching across Germany, France, Spain and Portugal. The areas are the Amazon, the Atlantic Forest and Gran Chaco, and the Cerrado in South America, the Choco-Darien in Central America, the Congo Basin, East Africa, eastern Australia, the Greater Mekong in South East Asia, Borneo, New Guinea and Sumatra.

Scientists: Base payments for ecosystem services on scientific evidence
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 April 2015
In an opinion article in Science magazine more than 45 scientists asked policymakers and environmental agencies to “get the science right when paying for nature’s services”. As payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes become increasingly popular, the authors argue that weak science is often the foundation of many projects, and that rigor is often lacking during evaluation periods. Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) economist Sven Wunder, one of the editorial’s signatories, tells Forest News how those schemes could benefit from more evidence that is scientific.

How will Paris approach carbon pricing?
By David Hone (Shell), Climate Spectator, 28 April 2015
As the World Bank and others ramp up the discussion on carbon pricing, heads are turning towards Paris with thoughts on how the issue will be incorporated into the expected COP21 global climate deal. I have said many times in the past that unless a carbon price makes its way into the whole global energy system, then its success in bringing down emissions is far from assured. While local carbon pricing wins will appear, the global effort could be undermined by a lack of global coverage. This is true of other policy approaches as well, but in the case of carbon pricing there is the significant benefit of economic efficiency. For me, the signs so far aren’t great, with the text that came out of the Geneva ADP meeting showing few signs of tackling this important issue.

Nearly half of top pension funds gambling on climate change
By Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian, 28 April 2015
Almost half the world’s top pension funds are taking an ill-advised gamble on climate change, according to a financial thinktank. The Asset Owners Disclosure Project’s (AODP) annual index of 500 of the largest global asset owners found that 232 of them had done little or nothing to protect their investments from the financial upheavals predicted due to climate change. Financial experts, including the president of the World Bank and the governor of the Bank of England, have warned that fossil fuel assets are risky investments because their reserves of coal, oil and gas cannot be burned if the world is to avoid the most extreme impacts of climate change.

Financiers with commitment needed, Landscapes Summit told
By Jack Hewson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 28 April 2015
Establishing finance mechanisms by which the private sector can invest in sustainable development was a prominent theme on the first day of the two day Tropical Landscapes Summit 2015 – with the rapid growth of green bonds mooted as a possible solution. Speaking at the plenary session “Understanding the Strategic Value of Forest Assets”, Ben Ridley, director of sustainability at Credit Suisse, told the panel that currently only $10bn of the $52bn that is spent on conservation globally every year comes from the private sector — mostly from certified sustainable commodities. “So the private sector needs to pull its weight,” Ridley said. According to research conducted by Credit Suisse, McKinsey and the World Wildlife Fund, presented by Ridley, investment in conservation suffers from a $250-300bn spending shortfall. Ridley pointed to green bonds as a key solution to meeting the financing gap.

Amazon: 1% of tree species store 50% of region’s carbon
By Mark Kinver, BBC News, 28 April 2015
About 1% of all the tree species in the Amazon account for half of the carbon locked in the vast South American rainforest, a study has estimated. Although the region is home to an estimated 16,000 tree species, researchers found that just 182 species dominated the carbon storage process. Amazonia is vital to the Earth’s carbon cycle, storing more of the element than any other terrestrial ecosystem. The findings appear in the journal Nature Communications. “Considering that the Amazon is massively important for the global carbon cycle and stores so much of the planet’s biomass, finding out just how that carbon is stored and produced is very important if we want to understand what might happen in the future in different environmental conditions,” explained co-author Sophie Fauset from the University of Leeds, UK. The tropical forest covers an estimated 5.3 million sq km and holds 17% of the global terrestrial vegetation carbon stock.

[Australia] Christine Milne on how to go net-zero by 2040
The Fifth Estate, 28 April 2015
The Greens have set a new post-2020 emissions target of 40-50 per cent by 2025 and net-zero by 2040, leader Christine Milne announced at the University of Sydney’s Sydney Environment Institute last night (Monday). “The big polluters are polluting for free, and the rest of us are paying the price. It doesn’t have to be that way,” Ms Milne said. “The Greens’ targets are ambitious – 40-50 per cent by 2025, 60-80 per cent by 2030, and net-zero pollution by 2040 – but they are achievable and more importantly, they are essential. We spend billions on foreign wars allegedly to keep Australia safe when the greatest challenge to our security and wellbeing is runaway global warming.” Getting to zero-emissions would be a challenge, she said, but one with pay-offs.

[Australia] Did Greg Hunt fail mathematics?
By Tristan Edis, Business Spectator, 28 April 2015
Now if we were to take Greg Hunt seriously, the government remains committed to seeking an international agreement to contain global warming to 2 degrees. According to most climate change modelling this requires complete elimination of emissions from fossil fuels by the period 2040 to 2050. So putting two and two together Hunt’s Emission Reduction Fund needs to be paying someone to have either eliminated or offset the 556 million tonnes of emissions that were expected to come from fossil fuels. And he has to pay them to do this every single year. At the last auction price of $13.95 per tonne this works out to government expenditure of $7.7 billion per annum. However, given it will be rather more difficult to cut fossil fuel emissions to zero than buy out the land-clearing rights from a few marginal farms in western NSW and pay someone to continue to burn the methane from landfills, let’s also consider a more realistic price of $50…

[Australia] Direct Action auction: bringing farmers to market on carbon
By Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 28 April 2015
The business of selling the benefits of growing carbon to farmers has finally hit paydirt. The first Direct Action auction, which last week purchased 50 million tonnes of carbon abatement at $13.95 a tonne, has given the first hint of long-term security to an ­industry used to fickle markets. “We have got a long-term contract with the commonwealth,” said Carbon Friendly Australian project manager Josh Harris. “Around the world there is nowhere you can get a 10-year contract.” Better still, the price paid was about double that offered on oversupplied global markets for voluntary schemes. One in seven of the contracts awarded were developed by Climate Friendly and its partners.

[Cambodia] Mapping tech holds promise
By Charles Parkinson, Phnom Penh Post, 28 April 2015
Aerial mapping techniques used to produce two new studies into forest canopies around the Angkor temple complex could provide a major boost to future conservation efforts in Cambodia and other tropical countries. The first of the studies combined very high resolution (VHR) imagery with plant field data, while the second combined VHR imagery with images taken from Google Earth to produce detailed maps of the tree species in the Angkor Thom complex. According to the studies’ authors, the methods could be used to monitor the presence of endangered or protected tree species, as well as to produce accurate estimations of the quantity of timber present in forests – data essential to implementing incentive-based conservation schemes such as the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program.

Canada’s provinces try to exert climate change pressure on Harper government
By Anne Pélouas, The Guardian, 28 April 2015
In the buildup to the Paris climate conference towards the end of this year, Canada has promised to announce post-2020 emissions targets by early June. Meanwhile the country’s provinces and territories – with the exception of Alberta – have formed a common front to exert pressure on the federal government. At a meeting in Quebec City in April, Quebec’s premier Philippe Couillard said that, with the Paris conference, 2015 would be a “pivotal year”, but to make it a success capitals all over the world, and federal states and regions, must start work now. Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change, acknowledged their role, announcing at the Quebec gathering that the Paris conference would hold a special one-day meeting for subnational bodies. It was, she said, important to encourage a range of efforts and approaches by governments to end use of fossil fuels.

China is defending against global climate change with a ‘Great Wall of Trees’
Shanghaiist, 28 April 2015
As the world’s number one cause for man-made global warming, China faces a wealth of criticism and questions for environmental problems like airpocalypses, but when facing a crisis, Chinese leaders know that they can always go to China’s bread-and-butter, building Great Walls. This one is made out of trees and is helping to save the whole world from environmental disaster (The Mongols of the 21st century). Beginning in 1978, the Three-North Shelter Forest Program, or the “Green Great Wall”, is directed at staving off the spread of the Gobi Desert that threatens northern China. The plan is to plant a belt of trees that will stretch from Xinjiang to Heilongjiang by 2050. They are already well on their way, just since 2008, China has planted 13 million hectares in its arid north.

[Fiji] Implementing Polices Biggest Challenge: Seruiratu
By Litia Cava, Fiji Sun, 28 April 2015
The risks of development can be mitigated, says Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Inia Seruiratu. Speaking at the opening of the REDD+ Seminar, Mr Seruiratu emphasized the advantages and disadvantages of development. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) stands for countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. “The main challenge is the ability to apply, implement and monitor the policies that we put in place after we have workshops and I believe we can work together in ensuring that we act responsibly,” Mr Seruiratu said. The Ministry of Fisheries and Forests is the lead agency for the National REDD+ Programme and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation is the national climate change lead agency and political focal point.

[Fiji] REDD+ seminar in mitigating climate change
FBC News, 28 April 2015
The Ministry of Agriculture and National Disaster Management along with key stakeholders has held a seminar to look at ways of mitigating the risk from climate change and natural disasters. Minister Natural Disaster Management, Inia Seruiratu says climate change and natural hazards are major issues concerning Fiji. However, there are ways to mitigate climate change and natural disasters. The Conservator of Forests, Samuela Lagataki says REDD+ is a perfect way to mitigate and adapt to such changes. “REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, it’s REDD and the plus means everything else that comes with it, when you are conserving forest, you are also concerning biodiversity, your also mitigating flooding risks and your also contributing to food security but the main thing is to reduce emissions”. The meeting also looked at a number of others way to alleviate climate change.

[Guyana] Govt. facilitates Chinese takeover in mining, logging and commerce – Businessman
Kaieteur News, 28 April 2015
As he outlined the reasons for endorsing A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition, local businessman, Jacob Rambarran, said, recently, that too many incentives are being granted to foreign investors while Guyanese are left to fend for -+themselves on an unleveled playing field. Rambarran was recently interviewed by communications officer, Royston King, on a programme aired on RBS channel 13. During the interview, Rambarran touched on many issues which are negatively impacting Guyana’s economy and by extension the quality of life being enjoyed by citizens. One of the many things he pointed to is that while Guyana has lots to offer, locals are being denied the opportunity to make a decent living. According to him, more than or equally disturbing is the fact that the government looks out for friends and families of those in ruling positions.

Japan’s JCM sees slow progress, facing scrutiny at home and abroad
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 28 April 2015
Japan wants to cut GHG emissions and export clean technology through its Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), but so far approved projects have a combined capacity to reduce emissions by just 500 tonnes of CO2e per year as the scheme faces lukewarm interest at home and controversy abroad. Last week, officials gave final approval for an energy efficiency project in Palau, the fourth project to win registration under the JCM – a programme that consists of bilateral agreements between Japan and 12 developing nations. Japan began planning the JCM in 2010 when it lost patience with cumbersome registration processes under the CDM, seeking to replace its dependence on the Kyoto mechanism with a bilateral tool that would offer speedier approvals and more predictable offset volumes.

[UK] Prince Charles on brink of ending all fossil fuel investments
By Damien Carrington, The Guardian, 28 April 2015
The Prince of Wales is on the brink of eradicating all fossil fuel investments from his financial holdings, becoming the latest high-profile addition to a fast-growing and UN-backed divestment campaign. It is calling on investors to sell their stakes in coal, oil and gas because world reserves are already several times greater than can be burned while keeping climate change in check. Prince Charles has frequently voiced the need for rapid action on global warming, referring recently to the Earth as a “sick patient”. He does not comment publicly on his personal financial dealings, but sources at Buckingham Palace told the Financial Times that “his private investments and his charitable foundation do not have any fossil fuel holdings”.

[UK] Pension release scheme could see conmen call Plymouth people to grab savings, police warn
By Carl Eve, Plymouth Herald, 28 April 2015
The Government’s new “pension release” plans could mean a new swathe of conmen calling Plymouth people to trick them out of their savings, warn police. The pension release scheme, also known as pension unlocking, means people can take money out of their pension scheme before they retire. In the past it was difficult to get access to your pension pot before retirement, but new legislation means that if you are 55 or over you can legally access your pension schemes and invest it in anything you see fit. This has left police concerned that the cold-call scam artists are now gearing up to fleece unsuspecting folk. Det Sgt Mark Newnham of Plymouth police’s Financial Investigation Unit said investment or “boiler room” scams were on the rise. He said: “Victims are scammed into parting with large sums of money to invest in the ‘alternative’ investment market.

[UK] How a landmark fraud case left illegality issues unanswered
By Fiona Simpson, Economia, 28 April 2015
The recent Supreme Court judgment in the case of Jetivia SA and another v Bilta (UK) Ltd and others [2015] UKSC23 will be welcomed by liquidators and creditors seeking to bring claims against fraudulent directors The judgment considered three topics: attribution, the illegality defence and the (extra) territorial effect of Section 213 Insolvency Act 1986. The case saw a company in liquidation bring proceedings against its two directors (one of whom was also the sole shareholder) together with its co-conspirators, for conspiracy and dishonest assistance. The company’s liquidators also brought proceedings against the same defendants for fraudulent trading under Section 213 Insolvency Act 1986. The claims sought to recover approximately £38m of VAT liabilities incurred due to the trading of European Emissions Trading Scheme Allowances, which are commonly known as carbon credits, by the company.

Zambia’s Forest Ecosystems Contribute $1.3 Billion to the National Economy Higher Than Previously Thought
UN-REDD press release, 28 April 2015
Zambia’s forest ecosystems contribute $1.3 billion, roughly 6.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), to the national economy, further highlighting the crucial role forests can play in the global transition to a green economy, according to a new UNEP study. Commissioned by the Government of Zambia, produced in partnership with the UN-REDD Programme, and released ahead of the High-Level Dialogue on Zambia’s Draft National REDD+ Strategy, Benefits of Forest Ecosystems in Zambia and the Role of REDD+ in a Green Economy Transformation takes a wider look at the value of forest ecosystems. The report goes beyond elements already counted as value added in Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)-for example, wood products – to consider regulating, supporting and cultural services services such as eco-tourism, erosion control and sediment retention, pollination and carbon storage.

29 April 2015

Snakes & Ladders & Tantalising Figs
By Mike Shanahan, Medium, 29 April 2015
The year was 1998 and I was falling headlong into a fascinating story. Its stars are the fig trees — the 750 or so Ficus species. Over millions of years they have shaped our world, driven our evolution, nourished our bodies and fed our imaginations. The best could be yet to come. These plants could help us restore ravaged rainforests, limit climate change and stem the loss of wild species. They could build vital bridges between religions, and between scientific and faith-based worldviews. Their story reminds us of what we all share and warns us of what we could lose. But these plants are under threat. We risk running out of time to learn the many lessons they have to teach us.

Landscapes Summit: Encouraging the dollar flow into the green
By Virginia M. Moncrieff, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 29 April 2015
A sustainable green business model with long-term profitability: how to marry these two concerns was the subject of a wide-ranging discussion during day two of the Tropical Landscapes Summit 2015. The conference heard how commitment towards sustainable approaches must involve investment from the private sector. As panelist Mark Burrows, Managing Director & Vice Chairman of the financial corporation, Credit Suisse said, “The money is plentiful; it’s a matter of understanding that climate is not risk, that sustainability is not risk – it’s opportunity.” Despite Burrows’ belief, investment in green businesses – whether agriculture, technology, or tourism – is often regarded with hesitancy and concern about risk and revenue. Felipe Calderon, Chair of the Global Commission of the Economy and the Climate, and former President of Mexico said he has little patience for this viewpoint.

[Canada] Cap-and-trade plan just another Liberal cash grab
By Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, 29 April 2015
The more we learn about Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cap-and-trade plan, the more apparent it becomes it’s just another multi-billion-dollar Liberal cash grab. Here’s why: The purpose of carbon pricing, or so we’re told, is not to raise more money for governments, but to change human behaviour by getting us to consume less. That’s why any credible carbon pricing system raises taxes on consumption (in effect, a broadly based sales tax) and then returns every dollar raised to the public in income tax cuts. The purpose is to encourage people to consume less, since consumption leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions because fossil fuel energy is required to produce virtually all goods and services today. At the same time, dollar-for-dollar income tax cuts are meant to encourage increased productivity and savings.

EU nations agree to 2019 MSR start date after Czechs defect
Carbon Pulse, 29 April 2015
EU nations have agreed to back an early-2019 start date for the MSR after the Czech Republic defected from a blocking minority of mainly eastern member states during talking in Brussels on Wednesday. A group led by Poland had pushed for the MSR to start in 2021, but the Czechs’ decision to side with western governments broke the blocking minority. The decision, which aligns the position of the EU Council of member states with that of the EU Parliament on the start date, also calls for backloaded and unallocated allowances to go directly into the reserve, one EU source said. It was, however, unclear as to how many, if any, allowances had been earmarked for an innovation fund for industrial manufacturers. A draft negotiating text seen by Carbon Pulse before the meeting called for 75 million units to be put in the fund, but one source said that may not have survived the negotiations.

Bai Shan Lin uses Guyanese to acquire large concession
Kaieteur News, 29 April 2015
There is evidence that months before becoming a naturalized Guyanese, Chu Hongbo, the principal in Bai Shan Lin Forest Development Inc., had a Guyanese holding almost 700,000 hectares of state lands for him. The forested lands were immediately transferred to Chu and Bai Shan Lin’s control after the Chinese investor received his Guyanese citizenship last year. The transaction has raised several questions, one of which is why concerns were not triggered by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) that a Guyanese who is not a known logger, could be given control of such a large swath of forest as well as the legality of it being transferred later to Chu. After Barama Company Limited, a Malaysian operation which has 1.6 million hectares, Bai Shan Lin is the third largest holder of state land that has been allocated for forestry activities.

[Indonesia] Deforestation continues for palm oil, says WWF
The Jakarta Post, 29 April 2015
Millions of more hectares of forest across the country are likely to be destroyed in the near future despite a decline in the deforestation rate over the past decade, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The WWF on Tuesday released its 2015 Living Forests Report, projecting that between 2010 and 2030 around 35 million hectares of forests in Kalimantan, Sumatra and Papua would gradually disappear mainly because of rapid agricultural development. “These three fronts are where the bulk of global deforestation is expected to take place in the next two decades under business-as-usual scenarios and without interventions to prevent losses,” WWF International Forest Program director Rodney Taylor said on Tuesday in Central Jakarta. Kalimantan is predicted to see the biggest forest losses, amounting to 22 million hectares, because of the past decade’s significant expansion of large-scale oil palm plantations…

[Indonesia] Protestors demand end to isolation of West Papua
Survival International, 29 April 2015
Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Indonesian embassies in London, Paris and other cities today to call for an end to West Papua’s 50 years of isolation. Supporters of Tapol, Amnesty International, Free West Papua Campaign and Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, wore black to protest the media black-out in Papua, and carried placards brandishing slogans such as “Stop the killings, open Papua”. Further protests were held around the world, including in West Papua, Australia, the U.S., Spain and Italy. Papuan tribal people have suffered killings, arrest and torture by the Indonesian military, who act with impunity. In December 2014, four Papuan teenagers were shot dead by security forces during a protest, but no-one has yet been held accountable.

[USA] California governor orders country’s most aggressive emission cut goals
By Reid Wilson, The Washington Post, 29 April 2015
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is ordering his state to cut harmful carbon emission levels more aggressively than any other government in North America, as an historic drought grips the Western United States. In an executive order issued Wednesday morning, Brown set a goal of cutting carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, matching a target set by the European Union in October. Those targets are stricter than ones implemented under Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who aimed to reach 1990 emission levels by 2020 and then cut emissions a further 20 percent by 2050. Brown said the state is already on track to meet or exceed Schwarzenegger’s goals. The new targets are far more ambitious. “With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached — for this generation and generations to come,” Brown said in a statement announcing the new goals.

Zambia Losing 300,000 Hectares
Times of Zambia, 29 April 2015
Zambia is losing about 300,000 hectares of forests every year due to unsustainable agriculture and timber production, Vice-President Inonge Wina has said. Ms Wina said other factors contributing to the problem were unsustainable land use practices, infrastructure development and mining. Ms Wina was speaking in Lusaka yesterday at the high level dialogue meeting on the national strategy to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. The meeting was attended by representatives from the World Bank, United Nations (UN) agencies, Finnish and Swedish embassies, and the ministries of Lands, Agriculture and Mines. Government participated in the pilot project of the UN collaborative nprogramme on Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). Ms Wina said the programme enabled Zambia come up with the national nstrategy to reduce deforestation.

30 April 2015

Banks and pension funds continue to bankroll deforestation and land grabs
By Andrew Simms, The Guardian, 30 April 2015
Whether its food you’re putting in your mouth, or products you’re putting on your body, the probability is that half of them contain palm oil. That’s no accident, nor the result of some natural evolution in our eating habits and predilection for cosmetics. It’s because palm oil makes big profits for corporations. But it takes money to make money, and large scale investment is pushing the expansion of plantations. Take the recent example of Credit Suisse, Mitsubishi UFJ Securities and the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, which has engineered a $400m (£260m) bond issue on behalf of Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), part of the giant Sinar Mas Group. Reeling under the relentless encroachment of palm oil plantations are falling rainforests, the people whose livelihoods depend on them and the climate we all depend on.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 30 April 2015
What if offsetting your carbon footprint was as automatic as swiping a credit card? Arthur Newman, CEO of Sustain:Green, thinks it should be. In a move combining American finance, Brazilian forestry and individual consumers everywhere, Newman is trying to jump start a so far latent aspect of the offset market. Individuals made up less than 1% of voluntary demand for carbon offsets in 2013, according to Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2014 report. Newman, who previously worked on Wall Street, hopes to create a ‘micro-market’ for voluntary carbon offsets by removing some of the barriers to entry for individuals, including high transaction costs and a lack of small-scale buyer-seller linking mechanisms. Newman’s Sustain:Green business model plans to make carbon offsetting accessible to individual consumers so long as they have or want to open up a line of credit.

Has Greg Hunt’s direct action scheme fixed climate change policy in Australia?
By Adam Morton, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April 2015
With the barest hint of triumphalism, Greg Hunt announced there had been strong interest in what is known as the emissions reduction fund – a scheme that allows companies to bid for cash to cut their greenhouse pollution. Most of the interest was from people who want to plant or protect native trees that soak up carbon dioxide, and companies running landfill sites promising to cut emissions from decomposing rubbish. Money will also go to piggery owners and projects to store carbon in soil.​ Coal-fired power plants and other industrial big polluters have not bid, at least not at this stage. They don’t have to – they can keep emitting without penalty. All up, contracts were signed for 144 projects that Mr Hunt says will cut Australia’s emissions by 47 million tonnes. The projects in this first round will cost taxpayers $660 million.

[Canada] Grass versus trees – the encroaching debate continues
By Jim Hilton, Williams Lake Tribune, 30 April 2015
The debate over what is the best use of land has been going on for some time. When I started with the provincial government in the 1970s there was a healthy debate about the pros and cons of encroachment of trees onto the grasslands around Riske Creek and the conversion of forests into hay or pasture lands. A new dimension was added with the recent debate over the production of compressed hay for sale to China versus planting of the same land with trees by a foreign company for carbon credits. An article written by Mike Greig and Gary Bull in 2009 Carbon Management in BC Forests is a good place to start to understand how governments, big business, global markets and environmental concerns all interact in this increasingly complex topic. The article gives ample illustrations, definitions of terms and history of government agreements and regulations about the concern over global climate change.

German ministry considers change to climate levy plan
ICIS, 30 April 2015
The German ministry of economics is now minded to place a levy on inefficient coal-fired power plants from 2017 based on wholesale power prices, rather than the initially proposed fixed rate, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday. According to the original proposal the ministry published in March, fossil fuel-fired power plants more than 20 years of age would have to buy additional carbon certificates on top of EU compliance needs above a certain threshold of emitted CO2 per gigawatt of produced electricity. The proposal was to help Germany reach 2020 climate targets. The amount of carbon credits a firm would have to buy would grow until the plant reached 41 years of age. At the end of the 2017-2020 phase-in period, the amount of additional certificates required would correspond to a cost of €18-20 per tonne of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e), the ministry proposed.

Guyana’s prime timbers – over-harvested, under-priced and minimally taxed
By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor Kaieteur News, 30 April 2015
The author of the Peeping Tom column in Kaieteur News on Sunday 26 April 2015 (‘The Chinese are not the problem’) complained about the high domestic price of greenheart sawnwood, which he/she thought was the cause of the shift from traditional wooden to concrete houses in the coastland. The author attributed the price of US$638/m3 (G$300 per Board Measure, 1/12th of a cubic foot) to the inefficiency of the family-sized Guyanese-owned timber processors and their inability to form consortia to compete with modern companies exemplified by the tax-assisted Chinese transnational loggers. US$636/m3 as a domestic price is the same as the lowest grade of rough-sawn export lumber (‘merchantable’) declared by the Guyana Forestry Commission to the fortnightly Tropical Timber Market report of the International Tropical Timber Organization for the last fortnight of March 2015…

Indonesian government must halt road through orangutan reserve, says green prize winner
By Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian, 30 April 2015
The winner of a major conservation prize has called on the Indonesian government to halt a road-building plan that threatens the last place on Earth where elephants, rhinoceros, tigers and orangutans live together. The plan for the Ladia Galaska road network has been approved by the Aceh government, but requires consent from the central minister for home affairs to go ahead. Panut Hadisiswoyo, who won a £35,000 Whitley Award on Wednesday for engaging north Sumatran communities on orangutan conservation, said the development would be a disaster for the densest remaining population of Sumatran orangutans. “The spatial plan must be cancelled and must be revised to include the Leuser ecosystem so that development is in line with the conservation goals in Sumatra,” said Hadisiswoyo. The plan currently makes no mention of the precious ecosystem it threatens.

[Indonesia] Just one map to a better future: Landscapes Summit
By Virginia M. Moncrieff, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 April 2015
Less than a year after 250 companies signed a commitment to zero deforestation, it may be easy to think that progress in the area of curbing deforestation is being made. But a session at the Tropical Landscapes Summit 2015 has heard that we are only beginning to see the impact of policies, and that more infrastructure is needed to keep processes transparent and accountable. A panel from government, industry, and NGO sectors headed the session called “Sustaining Tropical Landscapes: A Long-Term View”. Daniel Nepstad, Executive Director of the Earth Innovation Institute, said that he had lived in Brazil for 30 years while it was torn apart by land disputes. It wasn’t until 2004, he said, that the country reached a turning point. “There was a major cross-ministerial effort to enforce the law, existing laws,” he told the audience. “Since then, deforestation across Brazil has fallen by 76 percent…”

[UK] Conman sang Jessie J hit Price Tag with wads of cash after scamming Thalidomide victims out of £10 million
By Paul Cheston, London Evening Standard, 30 April 2015
Merciless conman Clive Griston sings and dances along to Jessie J’s Price Tag to celebrate conning pensioners and Thalidomide victims out of £10 million. Griston waves £50 notes as he smirks and gyrates with girlfriend Kerry Golesworthy taunting his victims. The video footage will be shown for the first time tonight in ITV’s Fraud Squad programme, which also features the first film to be shown on television of a broker carrying out a “boiler room fraud” on a client. Griston, 53, was jailed for four years and eight months last year after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud… The TV programme focuses on the City of London police investigation and also shows how Noad and Griston were able to con another £1 million out of unsuspecting victims by selling them worthless carbon credits. This scam was actually carried out while they were on bail after being charged for the £10 million fraud.

Nearly all US states considering CO2 trading to meet emission goals
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 30 April 2015
Nearly all US states are considering allowing their utilities to deploy carbon trading to help meet nationally-set emission curbs, power sector experts said on Wednesday. State officials are examining so-called minimum compatibility trading as one way to comply with the federal government’s Clean Power Plan to cut CO2 emissions from existing power plants, the experts told delegates at the Navigating the American Carbon World conference in Los Angeles. The work is ongoing despite legal challenges in more than a dozen states and calls by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ignore the EPA plan, which sets emission goals for each state but offers flexibility in how to reach them.

1 May 2015

Limiting global warming to 2 degrees ‘inadequate’, scientists say
By Laurie Goering, Reuters, 1 May 2015
Holding global warming to a 2-degree Celsius temperature rise – the cornerstone of an expected new global climate agreement in December – will fail to prevent many of climate change’s worst impacts, a group of scientists and other experts warned Friday. With a 2-degree temperature hike, small islands in the Pacific may become uninhabitable, weather-related disasters will become more frequent, workers in many parts of the world will face sweltering conditions and large numbers of people will be displaced, particularly in coastal cities, the experts warned. The 2-degree goal is “inadequate, posing serious threats for fundamental human rights, labor and migration and displacement” the experts said in a series of reports commissioned by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 20 countries chaired by the Philippines.

An experiment in ‘net zero deforestation’ in Guatemala
By Mike Hower, GreenBiz, 1 May 2015
In 2014, deforestation finally appeared to become a priority for businesses, with everyone seeming to want to jump on the tree-hugging bandwagon. “Zero deforestation” became a buzzword for a newfound corporate commitment to eliminating the systematic destruction of forests from global supply chains. In September, more than 30 companies — including Asia Pulp and Paper, Cargill and Unilever — joined hundreds of governments, businesses, NGOs and indigenous peoples’ groups to sign the New York Declaration on Forests, which aims to halve deforestation by 2020 and end it altogether by 2030. With deforestation driving 17 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, halting it would be a major blow to global warming.

2 May 2015

[Indonesia] Balikpapan protected forest illegally logged
By N. Adri, The Jakarta Post, 2 May 2015
The East Kalimantan Police have discovered that two locations in the Manggar River Protected Forest (HLSM) in eastern Balikpapan have been illegally logged and cleared. “Both areas have been cleared up to 40 hectares and 25 hectares,” said the East Kalimantan Police’s environmental crime division investigator Comr. Tohari Kuswitanto on Wednesday. Tohari added that based on investigations, several parties had been found responsible for felling trees and clearing forest in the restricted area, including the presence of tracks from heavy machinery. “We are currently gathering evidence and tracing those involved,” said Tohari. Conversion of a protected forest without a permit violates Law No. 32/2009 on the environment, Law No. 26/2007 on spatial planning, Law No. 18/2013 on forestry and Law No. 5/1990 on conservation.

3 May 2015

Wynne’s green scheme could deal massive blow to Ontario and Canada
By Gwyn Morgan, The Globe and Mail, 3 May 2015
Last month’s announcement by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne that her province would link up with the existing Quebec and California carbon dioxide cap-and-trade systems prompted an editorial in this newspaper headlined, “Is this Green Energy Act Round Two?” Ontario’s Green Energy Act offered so-called “feed-in rates” almost four times existing electricity rates for wind and more than 10 times for solar power. Like bees to honey, wind and solar companies rushed in. By the time the government realized that these subsidies were driving Ontario from one of the lowest to one of the highest power cost jurisdictions in North America, the province had signed myriad 20-year-locked-in-rate-guaranteed contracts that will drive power rates up a further 40 per cent to 50 per cent in coming years. Adding salt to this self-inflicted wound is the reality that much of the green power comes on stream when it isn’t needed.


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