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REDD in the news: 8-14 June 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.

REDD+ for profit or for good? Review of private sector and NGO experience in REDD projects
By Isilda Nhantumbo and Marisa Camargo, IIED Publications Database, 2015
Despite slow progress to securing a robust international agreement on climate change, progress has been made on REDD+ during COP negotiations, notably in the Cancun Agreement and the more recent Warsaw REDD+ Framework. Bilateral and multilateral funding support has also generated and maintained momentum for both REDD+ readiness and testing at country and project levels. This testing is vital to help clarify responses to questions such as who contributes to reducing emissions, how will performance-based payments be made, who is eligible for them, and how will results be measured and monitored? Such initiatives are funded through public and private sources, and most are, in effect, also testing the functionality of carbon markets. The results shed much light on the challenges and opportunities in the roles of the private sector, NGOs and government.

The role of the legal framework in ensuring REDD+ activities are consistent with the UNFCCC REDD+ safeguards: Country experiences implementing a country safeguard approach
By Sebastien Korwin and Daniela Rey, Eldis, May 2015
This paper demonstrates how countries are working to achieve this through the application of a Country Safeguards Approach to REDD+ activities, drawing on examples from countries in Latin America. It highlights that we are yet to see a fully articulated Country Safeguard Approach, but that the exposition of the international requirements and major challenges faced by countries in relation to safeguards underscore the importance of the legal framework for developing such a country approach. Secondly, the paper concludes that this exposition has shown the importance of specifying the Cancun Safeguards to the domestic context and linking them with the implementation of REDD+ activities.

Tackling illegal logging in the tropics: From good intentions to smart policies
By P.O. Cerutti, L. Putzel, P. Pacheco, J. Baxter, Center for International Forestry Research, 2015
There is no doubt at all that the EU’s Action Plan on FLEGT, launched in 2003 to combat illegal logging and promote legally sourced timber from tropical countries, is based on the best of intentions. FLEGT is also an attempt to tackle broader problems, such as poverty, unsustainable harvesting, and corrupt practices in timber-producing countries. It aims to accomplish this by improving standards of practice in the forestry sector in key regions and ensuring that importers into the EU source their wood only from producers that adhere to those standards. The realisation of these good intentions depends on the success of two policy instruments through which FLEGT operates. The first is the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR)… The second is through bilateral trade agreements with the EU, known as a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPAs)…

8 June 2015

Plans to cut deforestation need to aim higher
WWF, 8 June 2015
In a year when targets on forest loss and restoration are likely to be set nationally and at the UN level, this study by WWF-UK and Climate Advisers quantifies the ambition of commitments currently stated by forest countries to slow and reverse their forest loss – individually and collectively. The commitments are assessed against two targets: first, the goal of Zero Net Deforestation and Degradation by 2020, as advocated by WWF; and, second, halving the rate of natural forest loss by 2020 and eliminating it by 2030. The latter is based on the timeline in New York Declaration on Forests made in September 2014.

G7 leaders Commit to 2°C, Emphasize Decarbonized Economy this Century
UNFCCC newsroom, 8 June 2015
The leaders of the G7 meeting in Schloss Elmau, Germany, have released a declaration in which they commit to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2°C. They also emphasize that, in line with the scientific assessment by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required with a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century. They commit to achieving a low-carbon global economy in the long-term including developing and deploying innovative technologies striving for a transformation of the energy sectors by 2050. To that end, G7 leaders also commit to develop long-term national low-carbon strategies. In terms of climate finance, the G7 commit to continue efforts to provide and mobilize increased finance, from public and private sources, and to demonstrate that efforts to reach the goal of USD 100 billion are well on their way.

Forest communities map their land using data loggers
By Emese Balog,, 8 June 2015
Simple data logging devices can help forest communities map their land and monitor environmental change, according to researchers running a trial. An ongoing project by NGO the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) encourages indigenous people in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, to use portable, satellite-linked data loggers to create maps of areas that have not been mapped in great detail, or where existing maps are out of date. These devices help communities visualise their rights of land use, says FPP policy advisor Marcus Colchester. “Based on the communities’ own knowledge — combined with the use of these devices — they can readily make maps, which demonstrate the areas they have claims to, areas they’re using and for what purposes they’re using them,” he says. Once data has been gathered, maps can be created in minutes by connecting the devices to a computer, and it is easy to revise maps with updated information.

Full Circle: REDD and Indigenous People – Past, Present, and Future
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 June 2015
By now, most of us know that REDD stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”, and that it generally uses carbon finance to save endangered forests. But how does it work, and where did it come from – and what is the new “Indigenous REDD” initiative being spearheaded by the Latin American indigenous federation COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica)? To answer these questions, we’re rolling out a series of easy-to-read articles focused on “Indigenous REDD”. Written in plain English for a general audience, these stories should bring you far enough into the weeds to understand the issues without getting in over your head – and they’ll provide a solid foundation for understanding our coverage as it unfolds between now and the year-end climate talks in Paris.

Exxon’s Gamble: 25 Years of Rejecting Shareholder Concerns on Climate Change
By Elizabeth Douglass, InsideClimate News, 8 June 2015
For a quarter-century, stockholders have asked Exxon to confront the threat of climate change in all sorts of ways: by investing in renewable energy, cutting harmful emissions, providing carbon risk assessments and adding a board member with climate expertise. Year after year, the oil giant has said no, rejecting shareholders’ requests and downplaying their concerns long after scientists concluded that unfettered burning of fossil fuels is leading to catastrophic climate change… On May 29, six European oil and gas companies wrote to the United Nations to declare their support for policies that would put a price on the use of carbon-based energy, such as oil, natural gas and coal. The well-publicized move was viewed by some as a bid to position coal as the primary culprit in the climate crisis. Putting a price on carbon would involve either a tax or a trading system for carbon credits.

[Guyana] Climate change office signed $50M PR contract for low carbon strategy
Stabroek News, 8 June 2015
Outreach Strategies, an American public relations firm is being paid US$250,000 ($50M) for four months to promote the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) inclusive of endorsements by “celebrities” within Guyana and external stakeholders of international standing. The contract was signed between the Office of Climate Change and the Washington D.C.-based firm on March 20. It runs until July 15. It is not clear how much work the firm, which has said that it would “create a drumbeat of news and information,” has done so far and questions are being raised about the work that the company is doing. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] That Sinking Feeling, Again
By Erik Meijaard, The Jakarta Globe, 8 June 2015
Peatland is not really ‘land’ in the common sense but an unstable mix of water (over 90 percent) and organic matter from partly decomposed plant material. As soon as these peatlands are drained, mostly for oil palm agriculture, these peats start to decompose, ultimately turning into carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases ultimately pushing up sea levels. Importantly, this decomposition inevitably leads to rapid land subsidence, and inundation and loss of agricultural production is common in such areas. Between 2000 and 2014, the 850,000 hectares study area saw an increase in the cover of industrial oil palm plantations from 6 percent to 47 percent, while the area of swamp forest decreased from 56 percent to less than 16 percent. The remaining area consisted of drained cropland, including smallholder oil palm plantations and degraded forest.

9 June 2015

Forest protection scheme sewn up at UN climate talks
By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 9 June 2015
Negotiators reached a surprise resolution to thorny issues relating to forest protection at U.N. climate talks on Tuesday, increasing the odds it will be included in a new global climate deal due to be agreed in Paris in December, experts said. Forest researchers said they had not expected progress in Bonn on tough questions surrounding the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme. One of the issues was how projects to protect forests can show they are respecting the rights of indigenous people and other forest communities, and producing benefits for them… But experts criticised the substance of the Bonn decisions as being “minimalist” on safeguards for rights, governance and the environment, and failing to guarantee the participation of forest peoples.

It’s Official! REDD+ Is Now Ready For Paris
By Steve Zwick, The AnthropoZine, 9 June 2015
[C]limate negotiators here celebrated the inauguration of their headquarters in the repurposed “World Conference Center Bonn” with a draft agreement on how to slow climate change by reducing deforestation in developing countries. The agreement, available for download here, resolves all of the outstanding technical issues on how to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests…, and it provides a clear set of standardized rules for developing REDD finance, but it also leaves the larger policy issues of how finance will flow to these activities open until year-end climate talks in Paris… On the issue of safeguards, donor countries had been demanding clear minimum mandatory requirements, which some rainforest nations derided as unnecessary and prohibitively expensive. In the compromise agreement, safeguards have to be clearly communicated, with higher financing tied to higher rates of protection.

Surprising Development at UN Climate Meetings: REDD+ Is Finished
Forest Trends, 9 June 2015
After 10 years of negotiations, countries today at the SBSTA meeting in Bonn unexpectedly agreed on the remaining three items that were on the agenda for REDD+. Together with previous COP decisions, all major REDD+ elements have now been agreed to and there is sufficient guidance for implementation. (You can find the draft decision text here.) The three items on the SBSTA agenda for REDD+– additional safeguard guidance, non-carbon benefits, and non-market approaches – were the last remaining issues to be agreed on, and there was widespread skepticism that they would be finalized here in Bonn (see our previous blog post for more info). Prior to the start of the meeting here in Bonn, most countries and NGOs had assumed that, because of prior difficulties of addressing these issues – including technical and policy reasons – they would be delayed until the COP 21 meetings in Paris.

Equity and REDD+: are we there yet?
By Rob Finlayson, Agroforestry World Blog, 9 June 2015
Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions—and hence limiting global warming—by slowing or stopping deforestation and degradation of forests, plus conserving them, seemed like a ‘quick fix’ when it was first mooted more than ten years ago, according to Dr Maria Brockhaus of the Center for International Forestry Research and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. Dr Brockhaus, who was speaking at the 6th ASEAN Social Forestry Network Conference, Inle Lake, Myanmar, held 1–3 June 2015, added that, ‘However, it soon became apparent that implementing such schemes in developing countries wasn’t as easy as first thought’… So, has equity through REDD+ really ‘turned the tables’? Hardly, according to Dr Brockhaus. ‘Rather, the “aid-ification” of REDD+—richer nations giving grants to poorer—is slightly worrying if it becomes a longer-term reality’, she said.

New EIA Report Details Trade Deal Failure to Support Environment
By Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club, 9 June 2015
On June 4, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) published a new briefing paper that demonstrates how free trade agreements fail to lift up environmental standards. Their report, focused on the failure to enforce environmental obligations in the U.S.-Peru trade pact, is particularly timely given that proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal have claimed that its still-secret environment chapter will lift up environmental safeguards in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia. As EIA’s report demonstrates, however, simply including environmental obligations in trade pacts provides no guarantee that environmental protections will improve in reality.

Climate peril stirring in permafrost, experts tell UN
By Mariette Le Roux, AFP, 9 June 2015
Scientists on Tuesday called for action to defuse a time bomb of Arctic greenhouse gas as negotiators at UN talks grappled over a climate rescue pact. About 1,500 billion tonnes of heat-trapping carbon gas are estimated to be locked in permafrost, which is thawing as the climate warms, according to new research. Releasing the carbon will create a vicious cycle in Earth’s global-warming problem, said Susan Natali of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts. The estimated amount of carbon in permafrost — perennially frozen ground covering about a quarter of exposed land in the northern hemisphere — represents about twice the volume currently in the atmosphere, she said.

Nature gives us everything free – let’s put it at the heart of everyday economic life
By Dieter Helm, The Guardian, 9 June 2015
Natural capital is everything nature provides us for free. It is what our economy is built upon. We add man-made capital in the shape of houses, factories, offices and physical infrastructure, and human capital with our skills, ideas and science. Natural capital should, therefore, be at the heart of economics and economic policy – but it isn’t. As a consequence we abuse nature, drive species to extinction, and destroy ecosystems and habitats without much thought to the consequences. The damage won’t go away; as we wipe out perhaps half the species on the planet this century and induce significant climate change, the economic growth we take for granted will be seriously impaired. Put simply, our disregard for natural capital is unsustainable – it will not be sustained.

[Indonesia] Palmed off: Women lose in West Kalimantan oil palm boom
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 June 2015
A new study from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) investigates the social impacts of oil palm in Meliau as part of a broader CIFOR initiative to understand the gender dimensions of oil palm expansion in Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. While industry promoters emphasize jobs and smallholder livelihoods, and NGOs warn of widespread environmental degradation, there is a missing perspective, says CIFOR scientist Bimbika Sijapati Basnett, who helped to oversee this work. “Understanding who wins and who loses, and how that shifts over time, helps governments look at interventions and policies in a much more nuanced way,” she says. The report’s author, anthropologist Tania Li, from the University of Toronto, says the study found that the social and economic benefits of the crop are real, but are restricted to particular social groups.

[Indonesia] Is oil palm the answer for rural poverty in Papua?
By Agustina YS Arobaya and Freddy Pattiselanno, The Jakarta Post, 9 June 2015
Indonesian oil palm plantations have now reached more than 10 million hectares, making the country the world’s largest palm oil producer with an annual output of around 23 million tons. In Papua, the oil palm industry started in the 1980s — when state-owned PTPN II started an oil palm business in Arso and Prafi. The oil palm plantation was firstly intended to facilitate the transmigration program from other parts of Indonesia. A large part of the plantation is designed for a smallholder scheme allowing transmigrant families, mostly from Java and West Timor, together with Papuan customary land owners, to be allocated 2 hectares of oil palm per family and to sell their produce to the company.

10 June 2015

The REDD+ Framework: Finally complete after almost 10 years
By Stephen Leonard, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 10 June 2015
The annual mid-year climate talks in Bonn commenced with a fast-start as countries were eager to commence REDD+ negotiations as soon as possible and resolve the three outstanding issues – further safeguards guidance, non carbon benefits (NCBs), and alternative policy approaches including joint mitigation adaptation (JMA)… On the proposed Safeguards text, disappointment was expressed by many in the NGO community that the draft decision did not include information on ‘how’ the summary was to be prepared, nor did it include guidance on a participatory approach. However, the proposed decision did provide for some additional guidance to parties on other matters when providing their summaries of information ‘as appropriate’…

Deal on forests at Bonn climate talks
Deutsche Welle, 10 June 2015
Delegates at Bonn’s preparatory UN talks surprised observers by agreeing on thorny aspects of the scheme called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, known by its acronym REDD+. One non-governmental group at the talks, the Washington-based Forest Trends, said negotiators in Bonn decided to agree instead of letting the issue drag on into the larger Paris talks. Forest Trends spokesman Gustavo Silva-Chavez said by putting value on intact ecosystems REDD+ would generate “significant amounts of finance” for developing countries to keep their forests rather than chopping them down. Rosalind Reeve of the Ateneo School of Government based in the Philippine capital, Manila, said … it would be up to civil society groups to make sure that governments involved in forest safeguards programs were fulfilling their obligations and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

UN resolves forest protection initiative at Bonn climate talks
By Ed King, RTCC, 10 June 2015
One of the key elements for a global climate deal was unexpectedly resolved in Bonn on Tuesday, with governments signing off on plans for a UN-backed forest protection scheme. Envoys told RTCC of their surprise at the agreement, which will see the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme form part of a Paris pact in December. “It was successful… we all got a little of what we wanted,” said Ghana negotiator Yaw Osafo, who represented the Africa group at the meeting.

Green groups urge ban on corporate polluters at UN climate talks
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 10 June 2015
Environmental groups urged governments on Wednesday to ban oil companies and other big corporate polluters from any involvement in U.N. talks on slowing climate change, saying any role was like letting an arsonist work as a fire fighter. They presented a petition to “kick big polluters out of climate policy” at 190-nation talks in Bonn on curbing global warming, signed by 224,000 people and backed by about 20 groups including Greenpeace USA and Rainforest Action Network. Bill McKibben, co-founder of green group that was part of the alliance, said firms that emitted fossil fuels were part of the problem, not the solution. “Why would you let the professional arsonist join the volunteer fire department?” he asked.

Sorry, “skeptics”: Global warming may not be so great for plant life after all
By Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post, 10 June 2015
Climate change is already a heavily charged issue, fraught with political tension. But complicating the mix are a slew of misconceptions about exactly how it will affect the planet and its inhabitants. One confusion involves plant growth. Some skeptics have argued that rising carbon dioxide levels could actually benefit agriculture, and in fact, research shows that rising temperatures and more carbon dioxide can be a boon to plants — up to a point. But that’s not the whole story, according to researcher Camilo Mora, a professor of geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. And in a new paper, published today in the journal PLOS Biology, he and his colleagues attempt to set the record straight… The results indicate that climate change may not be the net positive to plants that some prior research has suggested.

What countries have offered for Paris climate agreement
By Karl Ritter, AP, 10 June 2015
Ethiopia on Wednesday became the latest country to present a plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions for a global climate pact that’s supposed to be adopted in Paris later this year. Ethiopia’s emissions are just a tiny fraction of the world total, but the African country said that with support from developed nations it would bring them down slightly by 2030. The submission, which came during climate talks in Bonn, means that U.N. now has targets covering 39 countries well in advance of the Paris summit. However, early analyses by climate researchers and environmental groups show the combined impact falls short of the sharp cuts in emissions that scientists say are required to keep global warming in check. Here’s a look at what the biggest polluters have offered, each using their own timeframes and accounting methods…

Ross Garnaut: the next chapter in Australian climate change policy
By Ross Garnaut, The Mandarin, 10 June 2015
The cost of breaking old links between levels of economic activity and greenhouse gas emissions has fallen dramatically. People everywhere are finding that they can prosper with much lower energy use–absolutely for electricity in the developed countries including Australia, and as a ratio to economic output in rapidly growing developing countries led by China. The costs of all the alternative energy sources are falling more rapidly than anticipated in my modelling 7 years ago. Solar panel costs have fallen by 80%. Opportunities for sequestering carbon in soils, pastures, woodlands and forests are turning out to be closer to the upper than the lower end of the speculative range set out in my 2008 Review. In Australia, farmers are responding to the incentives providing by the combination of carbon pricing and the carbon farming initiative, now replaced by the Emissions Reduction Fund and the carbon farming initiative.

[Australia] Carbon farming must be ‘realistic’ in drought country: landholder
By Jacqueline Breen, ABC News, 10 June 2015
A far west landholder and environmental lawyer says the federal government’s current carbon farming program is too risky for arid zone producers. Landholders are gathering in Tilpa today and in Wanaaring tomorrow for information sessions on carbon farming and the government’s $2.5 billion Emissions Reduction Fund reverse auctions. The first auction, held in April, saw numerous landholders win contracts to store carbon in trees and soil at an average price of $13.50 per tonne. But landholder and professor, Simon Molesworth, said the prospect is risky for farms without reliable rainfall.

World Bank Urges Better Resource Management in Indonesia
By Vanesha Manuturi, The Jakarta Globe, 10 June 2015
The World Bank has pressed Indonesia to improve resource management and governance as the country works towards more sustainable and environmentally-friendly economic growth over the next five years. “Indonesia has enjoyed tremendous growth … but not all are benefiting from these achievements and they come with a high price of environmental degradation,” said Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director and chief operating officer at the World Bank, on the first day of the Indonesia Green Infrastructure Summit 2015 in Jakarta on Tuesday. She pointed to Indonesia’s forestry industry as an example of the country’s murky governance track record. “Every year, Indonesia loses some $4 billion through illegal logging. Meanwhile, revenue from forestry licensing amounts to only $300 million per year,” she said. “This is a problem of governance, manifested in poor performance that impacts the implementation of existing regulations…”

Morocco, Ethiopia Submit INDCs
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 10 June 2015
Since the month of May, the UNFCCC Secretariat has reported that Morocco and Ethiopia submitted their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) on 5 and 10 June 2015, respectively. These announcements bring the total number of parties that have submitted their INDCs to 40. Morocco intends to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 32% by 2030 compared to business-as-usual (BAU) projected emissions, contingent on access to new sources of finance and enhanced support. This target translates into a cumulative reduction of 401 megatonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2eq) over the period 2020-2030. According to the submission, meeting this target will require an investment of approximately US$45 billion, of which US$35 billion is conditional upon international support through new climate finance mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

[Zimbabwe] REDD+ projects fail to transform communities
By Tonderayi Matonho, NewsDay, 10 June 2015
Local conservationist and forester Gift Hare (56) from Nyatondo village — on the foothills of Mount Nyangani in the eastern Highlands — is considering giving up managing forests. He says he has been waiting for ages for promised returns by private sector players and non-governmental organisations from protecting forests and woodlands. Another farmer, Moses Mutale from Nyaminyami in Kariba, said: “Redd+ implementers need to be transparent in the signing of contracts with communities and assist them with responsive community-driven alternative livelihood projects, and save the remaining forests and woodlands.” While such communities continue to lament, especially those living in densely-forested zones conducive for Redd+ projects, investigations have revealed that some private companies and non-governmental organisations continue to reap millions of dollars from the “green gold” while communities are benefiting nothing.

11 June 2015

Climate deal likely at Paris 2015 conference after G7 decarbonization pledge says Sir David King
By Graham Lanktree, International Business Times, 11 June 2015
The UK’s top climate change diplomat has spent the past 18 months making 62 trips around the world to secure a climate deal in Paris this December. For him, Monday’s G7 agreement to “decarbonize the global economy” means a workable global climate deal is likely in Paris, he said late Wednesday 10 June. “That commitment from the G7, to me, was a critical turning point,” said Sir David King, the UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change, in a process where “progress has been painfully close to zero.” After failed talks in Copenhagen in 2009, “I think we’re coming to a very different point now,” he added. King is leading the UK’s efforts abroad to secure an ambitious deal at the crucial UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Major win for forests at climate meeting in Bonn
WWF, 11 June 2015
Today at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Bonn, Germany, the last few technical issues for a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD ) were officially finalized. This marks the conclusion of a ten year process of international negotiations around REDD , which seeks to channel resources to countries for keeping forests standing and combating emissions that contribute to climate change. In an unexpected achievement for REDD in Bonn, the negotiations on three remaining issues – further guidance for safeguards, non-carbon benefits, and non-market based approaches were concluded, meaning that REDD technical negotiations are now done. While the biggest policy victory came in 2013 with the adoption of the ‘Warsaw Framework for REDD ,’ which completed the rulebook for this mechanism, the success in Bonn marks an important step forward and a good model for other multilateral negotiation processes.

Forest deal expands climate change frontier
By Graham Lloyd, The Australian, 11 June 2015
After a decade of talks a plan to unlock billions of dollars to protect great rainforests, improve living conditions for indigenous communities and help fight climate change has been settled. Saving equatorial forests has been identified as the most effective way to achieve quick results on limiting global carbon dioxide emissions. The forest plan, known as REDD-plus, is a direct action-style scheme under which countries in Africa, the Amazon Basin and Southeast Asia are rewarded ­financially for protecting biodiversity. The financial benefits of REDD-plus (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) recognise more than carbon storage and ­include other environmental services provided by the forests and social benefits.

Delegates accused of ‘fiddling’ while the planet burns
By Paul Brown, Climate News Network, 11 June 2015
For a meeting on which the future of the planet depends, there were remarkably few headlines coming out of the UN climate change conference in Bonn as it ended yesterday. Critics believe that progress, after nearly two weeks of talks, was so slow that the chances of world leaders signing up to an agreement on tackling climate change in Paris later this year are receding − and that there is a lack of political will to do so… It was not all bad news. One of the surprising breakthroughs was an agreement that will enable poorer countries to receive money for keeping their forests standing. Trying to preserve the world’s forests in order to store carbon, and so protect the climate, has been a thorny issue since the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

Bonn talks herald breakthrough agreement on deforestation
By Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen, 11 June 2015
After 10 years of negotiations, world leaders reached a surprise agreement yesterday on the REDD+ policy that is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and natural forest degradation. The breakthrough came at the latest international climate meeting in Bonn, Germany, where diplomats from nearly 200 countries are working towards a global climate change deal that is expected to be signed in Paris at the end of this year. Negotiators agreed on the three remaining items on the agenda for REDD+ – additional safeguard guidance, non-carbon, benefits and non-market approaches – meaning all major elements of the text have now been finalised. The surprise decision move that the REDD+ element of a global deal on climate change is now likley to be formally agreed during the Paris Conference of the Parties 21 which is due to be held at the end of this year.

The U.N. surprises everyone with a breakthrough deal to slow deforestation
By John Light, Grist, 11 June 2015
A surprise deal emerged from U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany, this week: Diplomats managed to reach a key agreement to compensate developing nations that agree to preserve their forests. And environmental and civil society groups had generally nice things to say about the deal. Deforestation has a huge effect on climate change. Activities like slash-and-burn agriculture account for nearly 20 percent of greenhouse gases emissions, according to the U.N. Trees, of course, also play a key role in slowing climate change by pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere. Historically, deforestation has been an especially vexing probably for environmentalists, raising the concern of climate hawks and conservationists alike.

Keep big oil, coal and gas away from table, 224,000 urge UNFCCC
John Conroy, Climate Spectator, 11 June 2015
Today, at the Bonn Climate Change Conferenceof the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Corporate Accountability International has delivered a call to the parties of the UNFCCC on behalf of Rainforest Action Network, “hundreds” of other organisations and hundreds of thousands people to “protect the treaty and climate policymaking from the undue influence of the globe’s biggest polluters”. The call comes as some of the world’s biggest polluters attempt to engage the treaty process and influence negotiating outcomes. “From the World Coal Association hosting a summit on ‘clean coal’ around COP19 to Shell aggressively lobbying in the European Union for weak renewable energy goals while promoting gas – these big polluters are peddling false solutions to protect their profits while driving the climate crisis closer to the brink,” the petition, signed by 224,000, said.

UN climate talks inch forward, putting off tough decisions
By Karl Ritter, AP, 11 June 2015
Two weeks of U.N. climate talks ended Thursday with negotiators trimming a draft global climate pact but leaving core sticking points to be untangled later, before a December summit in Paris where the landmark agreement is to be adopted. Frustrated by the slow pace of the climate talks, some negotiators and observers called the Bonn meeting a squandered opportunity to capture the momentum of a declaration this week by seven world leaders including President Barack Obama endorsing a long-term goal of decarbonizing the global economy — moving away from a dependence on fossil fuels. “We must go faster,” said European Union delegate Ilze Pruse. Earlier, officials leading the Bonn talks called for patience, with co-chair Ahmed Djoghlaf telling reporters no one can craft a universal agreement with more than 190 countries overnight. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” he said.

Bonn meeting ends with last-minute compromise on Paris climate text
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 11 June 2015
Climate change negotiators meeting in Bonn on Thursday came up with a last-minute compromise that observers hope will put the talks on track for a new global agreement on greenhouse gases. Slow progress was made until the final hours, as nations wrangled over the wording of an 89-page draft text, intending to cut it down to a more manageable size. After two weeks, the text had been cut by just four pages to 85. But shortly before the talks were scheduled to finish, countries agreed that the co-chairs of the negotiations should be allowed to make their own alterations to the text, and present it to all countries for approval, probably in late July. This should be a quicker process, though there is no guarantee that countries will not try to re-draw the new draft when it becomes available.

Investors want to fund sustainable landscapes – now the work begins
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 June 2015
There was standing room only at several of the sessions of the Global Landscapes Forum: The Investment Case event held here on June 10. As investment bankers and fund managers rubbed shoulders with agriculture and forestry researchers, representatives from advocacy groups and government agencies, there was a sense that momentum is growing to connect the flows of available capital with the needs of local communities, businesses and governments to achieve sustainable land use in developing countries. Many participants linked the engaging mood to this year’s intersection between international efforts to set sustainable development goals for the next 15 years and to find a global agreement to fight climate change.

Investors could pour billions into farm, forest protection: bankers
By Laurie Goering, Reuters, 11 June 2015
Protecting the world’s dwindling forests and making small farms more productive will cost hundreds of billions of dollars annually – money governments and charities do not have to spend, experts said at a London conference. Private investors could fill the gap, they said – but only if environmentalists and finance experts work together to create investment products that are financially attractive and effective in creating the right kind of change on the ground. “There are trillions of dollars of money looking for a home,” said Mark Burrows, a longtime investment banker with Credit Suisse. Getting investors to put that money into protecting the world’s “landscapes” will be crucial as governments and philanthropists can provide “only a tiny, tiny portion” of what is needed, he said. “Without the private sector, you will all be terribly virtuous in what you’re doing. “But being virtuous doesn’t achieve the result you want.”

Tapajós and other Amazon dams not sustainable development say reports
By Mike Gaworecki,, 11 June 2015
Plans to build hydroelectric dams globally — especially in the Amazon and other tropical locales — are often touted as “sustainable development.” However, according to a trio of new reports, these large infrastructure projects will do enormous harm to rainforest ecosystems and indigenous peoples, while also emitting far more greenhouse gases than the U.N. and other organizations officially estimate, with potentially disastrous results. The first of the reports, published earlier this year in the journal Ambio, examines plans to build 43 large dams in the Brazilian Amazon’s Tapajós River Basin. The paper’s author, Research Professor Philip Fearnside of Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia in Manaus, Brazil, has amassed a large body of data showing how hydroelectric dams are not the sustainable solution to the world’s energy needs that proponents make them out to be.

Amazon Governors, NGOs Slam Brazil Feds And Demand More Active, Participatory Role In Developing REDD+
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 11 June 2015
Even before climate negotiators here signed off on the last stubborn bits of text needed to complete the REDD+ package under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), governors of the states comprising Brazil’s portion of the Amazon warned that economic pressures and poor governance were endangering the country’s stunning 70% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It’s an old argument, and one the governors have made before, but this time they have the backing of more than 30 environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The governors made their case on May 29, the Friday before the Bonn talks began, when the nine-member Forum of Governors of the Legal Amazon (Fórum dos Governadores dos Estados da Amazônia Legal) issued the “Cuiabá Letter,” which will be delivered to President Dilma Rousseff this month. The letter calls for direct state access to international funds for REDD+…

Palm oil companies exploit Indonesia’s people and its corrupt politics
By Tomasz Johnson, The Guardian, 11 June 2015
Throughout Indonesia, a vast archipelago draped across the equator, a human rights crisis simmers. Over the past two decades, indigenous communities have seen the government hand their land over to private companies. These companies are largely producing one of two commodities: fast-growing timber species to supply the pulp and paper industry or palm oil, a remarkably versatile edible oil. Despite President Joko Widodo’s promise to crack down on deforestation from palm oil expansion last year, the launch of the mandatory Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil certification scheme and a raft of voluntary commitments by palm oil companies, destruction and exploitation remain the norm.

[USA] The question is raised, What are carbon credits?
Tribal Tribune, 11 June 2015
In May, the Colville Business Council passed two resolutions related to a carbon credit offsets deal to be listed in the California Air Resource Board’s Cap-in-Trade in California market. In response to the Tribune publication online, Bobby Lynne Squeet-sitka Chase wrote: “question… what exactly is ‘Carbon Credits’? this article does not describe to us what that is.” A 2006 California law requires companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and to comply, carbon burning companies reduce emissions and purchase carbon credit offsets, or CCOs, from other sources, which is called carbon offsetting. Trading of CCOs created the California market. A CCO then is a financial unit that represents removal of one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere. Credits are created by approved projects that deliver measurable emissions.

12 June 2015

New UN climate text due in July as Bonn progress taken on trust
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 12 June 2015
Public funding has dominated REDD so far, with governments contributing around 90% of $9 billion pledged to date to halt tropical deforestation responsible for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Countries hoping to access those funds are expected to publish a national REDD strategy, create a monitoring system for projects and provide information such as how local communities are involved and biodiversity preserved. Many parties and observers recognise that government funding is insufficient but the outlook for the private sector is unclear. No industrialised nation has yet included provisions for REDD to help meet their INDC mitigation commitment, leaving developers to seek out alternative interim sources of funding for their REDD credits, such as a future round of the World Bank’s Pilot Auction Facility, the Green Climate Fund or demand from the aviation sector’s global offsetting scheme due from 2020.

Bonn climate talks: Nations ‘lock’ planet into catastrophe mode with no major agreements
By Jayalakshmi K, IBTimes, 12 June 2015
Bill McKibben, co-founder of, writes at Grist: “At the moment [world leaders] look set to ratify a global temperature increase of three or four degrees Celsius — that is, to lock us into a kind of slow-motion guaranteed catastrophe.” “Negotiators avoided a show-down over crunch issues like finance and increasing near term emissions cuts, but they are only delaying the inevitable,” said Jan Kowalzig, the climate change policy adviser for Oxfam International. The only successful takeaway from Bonn was the resolving of REDD mechanisms.

Bonn climate summit brings us slowly closer to a global deal
By Don Henry, The Conversation, 12 June 2015
The mid-year Bonn climate negotiations in Germany have unexpectedly agreed a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) after 10 years of effort. It lays the groundwork to get assistance to countries to help them save forests and reduce potential greenhouse gas emissions. The negotiations represent another step on the road to a potential global agreement at the major summit in Paris at the end of the year. What progress is being made? What are the challenging issues that may end up being a focus of negotiations in Paris? What does the roadmap from here look like? A draft agreement text has been developed that is still way too long and with far too many disagreements. The two co-chairs of the process, Ahmed Djoghlaf of Algeria and Daniel Reifsnyder of the US, have been authorised to refine this for further work by the parties.

How and why should equity be addressed within the REDD+ framework?
By Daisuke Naito, Grace Wong and Maria Brockhaus, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 12 June 2015
“Why should countries care about equity in REDD+? Donors are primarily concerned with the effectiveness of the instrument for reducing emissions, so what is the role for equity?” Dr. Michael Bucki, European Union REDD+ negotiator, provoked a discussion on trade-offs between effectiveness, efficiency and equity at a side event at the Bonn Climate Change Conference on 8 June. The event was hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Center for People and Forests (RECOFTC) and drew on comparative research and experiences across Asia, Africa and Latin America, and from other non-forest sectors. So, why should they care about equity? The speakers at the event provided some insights, which will become even more valid with the REDD+ framework being concluded in the 42nd session of the SBSTA and moving into countries’ implementation arenas.

Airline officials confident of emissions agreement
By Steve Creedy, The Australian, 12 June 2015
International airline officials are increasingly optimistic there will be an agreement on a global ­market-based measure to address carbon emissions when the International Civil Aviation Organisation assembly meets next year. Aviation emissions were back in the news this week after the US Environmental Protection Agency found greenhouse gases from aircraft posed a risk to human health. The finding paves the way for aviation emission in the US to be regulated under the Clean Air Act and allow the government to ­implement a global carbon ­emissions scheme. The 191 member states of ICAO agreed in 2013 to develop a proposal for a market-based carbon emissions scheme and bring it to the next meeting in September next year.

[China] Shanghai CO2 permits find new depths as sellers dump surplus
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 12 June 2015
Prices in Shanghai’s carbon market tanked Thursday, falling 30% on the day to 12.50 yuan ($2.01), as a combination of offset supply and over-allocated industry dumping their surplus permits overwhelmed the market, observers said. Shanghai emission allowances, SHEAs, had fallen to record lows of 17.90 yuan in Wednesday trading, but opened at 12.50 on Thursday morning and traded continuously at that level throughout the day. In total, 180,000 SHEAs traded, roughly equal to half the market’s annual monthly average volume. The price might have gone even lower, but Shanghai’s ETS regulations stipulate that the permit value can’t move more than 30% on any individual day. This was the third time in June that Shanghai prices fell to record lows. The value of SHEAs has plummeted 57% since early May, a process primarily driven by an increased offset supply.

Ethiopia: Climate Resilient Growth – Smart Economy Featured
The Ethiopian Herald, 12 June 2015
Ethiopia is experiencing the effects of climate change. Besides the direct effect such as an increase in average temperature or a change in rainfall patterns, climate change also presents the necessity and opportunity to switch to a new sustainable development model. The over exploitation of natural resources and the population pressure that placed huge impact on environmental sustainability also aggravated the situation affecting ecological processes with a huge impact on the economic development of the country. Speaking on the panel discussion recently held on the World Environment Day, Minister of Environment and Forest Belete Tafere said,”Tackling climate change is not a cost, but a fundamental part of maintaining strong social and economic performance…”

Ethiopia to reduce carbon emission by 64 percent, 12 June 2015
Ethiopia submitted a comprehensive climate deal that included a green house gas cut of 64 percent by 2030 and an intention to sell carbon credits over the 2020-2030 periods.Ethiopia became the third African country to unveil its plan to slash carbon emissions as part of a global pact. That makes Ethiopia the 40th country to post a so-called intended nationally determined contribution, in UN parlance, towards curbing global warming. The fast-growing African nation emitted 150 million tons of carbon in 2010 and aims to emit 145 million tons by 2030 compared to the 400 million tons it is expected emit without such action. Most reductions will come from improving farming practices and protecting or re-establishing forests, with other cuts coming by expanding power generation from renewable sources and using more efficient technologies in the transport, industry and building sectors including cleaner cook stoves.

Forest payment to Guyana on hold pending new government’s decision
By Ann Danaiya Usher, Development Today, 12 June 2015
Key elements in Norway’s forest deal with Guyana are being re-assessed following the recent change of government. Norway is holding back NOK 300 million. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

[Indonesia] Palm oil giant announces deforestation freeze amid NGO campaign
By Philip Jacobson,, 12 June 2015
Palm oil giant Astra Agro Lestari has announced an immediate moratorium on land clearing, less than a month after the launch of an environmental campaign targeting one of its sister companies, the Mandarin Oriental hotel chain. The prohibition applies to Astra Agro’s own plantations as well as to those of its suppliers, according to a statement posted yesterday to the company’s website. Astra Agro characterized the freeze as a “major step” toward bringing its operations into line with the standards of the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP), a high-profile, joint sustainability commitment signed by fellow industry titans Wilmar, Cargill, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), Asian Agri and Musim Mas as well as the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin). The IPOP bans clearing of forests and peatlands, which is still legal under Indonesian law.

Jamaica to promote carbon offsets in protection scheme for forest reserves
By Abia Collinder, Jamaica Gleaner, 12 June 2015
A green Paper on Jamaica’s forestry indicates that the state-run Forestry Department is considering offering the private sector carbon offsets in exchange for their support of a national initiative to improve forest reserves. The Forestry Department, an executive agency falling under the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, said it is ready to pursue programmes, projects and policies aimed at preserving and protecting forest cover, but needs buy-in from landowners who control the majority of forested lands. The Green Paper, which should lead to a refinement of the forest policy after public input, says an existing and emerging markets for carbon offsets can “help create incentives for landowners to engage in land management practices that increase forest carbon sequestration and storage capacity”.

[Pakistan] Credible move: Carbon credits to be traded soon
By Shahzad Anwar, The Express Tribune, 12 June 2015
The Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) is planning to establish a Pakistan Carbon Market under the carbon neutral Pakistan scheme for the promotion and enhancement of climate change mitigation projects. This would be done by optimising the energy generation mix between oil, gas, hydro, nuclear, solar wind and biomass with reference to indigenousness, economic feasibility, scalability, risk assessment and environmental impacts. In the budget for the fiscal year 2015-16, the finance ministry has allocated Rs33.88 million for carbon neutral Pakistan projects, while the total lifetime cost of the project is estimated at Rs313.96 million.

Peru a Shining Example for South America’s Climate Action Plans
By Chris Wright, Inter Press Service, 12 June 2015
This week, Peru became the first South American nation to publicly announce its Climate Action Plan, or INDC. In doing so, it may have set the scene for a new wave of highly transparent and ambitious INDC submissions from the continent. This most recent plan comes after 12 years of collective planning, as Peru developed a suite of regional and national strategies to address climate change. As a result, the government of Peru has come out with an ambitious proposal to cut business as usual emissions by 31 per cent. However, it is the carefully constructed road map towards this goal that displays what Tania Gullen from Climate Action Network Latin America describes as its true “leadership”. Gullen, who is also from SUSWATCH, has welcomed the new draft action plan “as an example for other Latin American countries who are still developing or haven’t started their national planning processes”.

13 June 2015

Explosive intervention by Pope Francis set to transform climate change debate
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 13 June 2014
Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality in a letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Thursday. In an unprecedented encyclical on the subject of the environment, the pontiff is expected to argue that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has crossed the Earth’s natural boundaries, and that the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds. The much-anticipated message, which will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops, will be published online in five languages on Thursday and is expected to be the most radical statement yet from the outspoken pontiff. However, it is certain to anger sections of Republican opinion in America by endorsing the warnings of climate scientists and admonishing rich elites, say cardinals and scientists who have advised the Vatican.

Forest governance index shows Indonesia has long way to go
By Philip Jacobson,, 13 June 2015
Weak spatial planning and law enforcement, land tenure problems and a lack of transparency in licensing are some of the issues highlighted in an annual report on forest governance the Indonesian Environment and Forestry Ministry presented to the president last week. The Forest Governance Index 2014, as it was packaged by the ministry and the UN agencies with which it assembled the study, gave Indonesia a “relatively weak” score of 35.97 on a scale of one to 100. The index also noted that Indonesia had made progress in recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and restructuring licensing procedures. “We are humbled by this recognition given by the government of Indonesia. We hope that the [index] can be used as an effective assessment and monitoring tool that will support the country’s transition to a green economy,” said Beate Trankmann, the United Nations Development Programme’s Indonesia country director.

[Indonesia] Forest moratorium fails to meet target
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 13 June 2015
After being heavily criticized for failing to improve on the moratorium on new concession permits for primary forests and peat lands, the government is set to remedy the weaknesses of the current moratorium, which was extended by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo last month. The Environment and Forestry Ministry acknowledged that the current moratorium still had many flaws that prevented it from slowing the ongoing deforestation in the country, “Because it is just an extension, [we] could not insert new articles. If we included new articles, then the name [of the moratorium] would change, it would not be an extension,” Ruandha Agung Sugardiman, the ministry’s director general of forestry planning and environmental governance, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

14 June 2015

[Indonesia] Resentment Lingers in Village ‘Tricked’ Out of Its Land
By Jenny Denton, The Jakarta Globe, 14 June 2015
Residents of the village of Maruwei in Central Kalimantan claim they were tricked and intimidated in relation to BHP Billiton’s acquisition of an area of their land for the first stage of the IndoMet coal project a decade ago. According to Maruwei village secretary Timor Banafi, villagers started clearing small trees and shrubs from an area of their customary forest which was to be compulsorily acquired for the mine because they believed they would be entitled to compensation for it if there was evidence the land was being cultivated. Then at a meeting in 2005 a BHP Billiton community relations officer gave them the impression the company would pay more for land that was also cleared of trees.

[Indonesia] Kalimantan Villagers Lodge Land Claim Against BHP Billiton Coal Project
By Jenny Denton, The Jakarta Globe, 14 June 2015
Villagers in remote Central Kalimantan have lodged a claim for legal title to 1,000 hectares of land within BHP Billiton’s vast IndoMet coal project area under a new land rights scheme in the province. The residents of Maruwei, one of the closest villages to IndoMet’s “first stage” Haju mine, have mapped the boundaries of the 1,000-hectare area in question using GPS and computerized mapping systems, and submitted detailed documentation of the claim to the Central Kalimantan government on Friday. With the Haju mine due to start operating in August, Maruwei’s headman described the process of preparing the claim as a “race” to preserve this section of the community’s customary land, which is used for cultivating rice, rubber and crops. “When BHP comes, it will be a restricted area,” headman Suwanto tells the Jakarta Globe, through an interpreter. “So we have to race against BHP to claim this land under the Dayak Misik scheme.”

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