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REDD in the news: 13-19 July 2015

2015-07-20-123655_1045x992_scrotREDD-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.


13 July 2015

What could a legally binding UN climate deal look like?
By Ed King, RTCC, 13 July 2015
A mooted UN climate pact could end up working like a credit ratings agency, say influential figures involved in crafting a Paris pact. Countries that default or break their pollution cutting promises will lose credibility and trust amongst their peers, which will impact them in other venues and on other issues. Rogue climate states (Canada) could miss out on benefits such as protection from trade sanctions, or “in club” transfer of low carbon technologies. The suggestion was one of a series set out during a session hosted by the London-based E3G think tank last week. Close observers of UN talks say little time has been spent exploring how binding certain elements of a Paris pact will be. As a result think tanks are working overtime to test out options on negotiators, NGOs and journalists.

How development banks can help restore faith in a Paris climate deal
By Clayton Aldern, Grist, 13 July 2015
To truly tackle climate change, we’ll need to mobilize Scrooge McDuck-level rivers of cash — and most of it will need to flow to developing countries. But most wealthy countries have committed only paltry sums to this end so far, despite signing a 2010 pledge to raise $100 billion annually by 2020. It may not be 2020 yet, but if you’re India or Vanuatu, the current trend doesn’t make for a lot of faith in Uncle Scrooge. Last week, a group of the world’s largest development banks took a step that might help build a little more confidence. The group of 28 banks, which includes heavy hitters like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, announced that they would streamline their approaches to tracking climate change adaptation finance by adopting uniform and transparent formulas for their projects. It’s a simple agreement but an important step toward building trust in climate finance…

ECA, BMZ and World Bank to Launch Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa
Natural Resources Policy & Practice (IISD), 13 July 2015
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the World Bank have signed a Declaration of Intent to establish a Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa (NELGA). NELGA aims to bring together leading African academic and research institutions and liaise with civil society, private sector, land sector practitioners, and decision makers to address gaps in training, statistics and research on land governance. It will include a scholarship program implemented by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) that aims to create new training and research opportunities for African land practitioners and researchers.

[Canada] Ultimate cost of cap-and-trade a mystery
By Lorrie Goldstein, Toronto Sun, 13 July 2015
According to what government bureaucrats have told the media, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s looming cap-and-trade plan will cost Ontario businesses and the public up to $2 billion annually once fully operational. That’s because all Ontarians will be charged a new cost they have never had to pay before — for emitting industrial greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Since these man-made emissions come primarily from burning fossil fuels and we use fossil fuel energy to power our modern, industrialized society, putting a price on these emissions will impact the price of virtually all goods and services. Ironically, in Ontario, cap-and-trade will add relatively little to the cost of electricity — usually one of the most visible and immediate impacts of carbon pricing — because the Liberals eliminated the use of coal-fired plants to generate it. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel, meaning when burned it emits the most greenhouse gases.

EU carbon jumps to 5-mth high on Greek deal, technicals, with 2015 peak in sights
Carbon Pulse,Carbon Pulse, 13 July 2015
European carbon jumped to a five-month high on Monday after eurozone leaders clinched a deal on a third bailout for debt-riddled Greece, with the benchmark EU Allowance finally breaking through a key technical resistance level that had dogged bulls over the past five weeks. The front-month EUA contract settled up 18 cents at €7.80 after busting through €7.64 – a level the futures had bumped up against a number of times since the start of June. The allowances then peaked at €7.82 in late afternoon trade, the highest price seen since Feb. 24, before slipping back slightly before the close. Volume was heavy at more than 15 million units changing hands on the Dec-15 futures. “The Greek deal, technicals and stronger German power helped us reach these levels. They were the perfect conditions for a rally,” one trader said.

[Indonesia] Tackling inequality, land conflict
The Jakarta Post, 13 July 2015
The business community should not be surprised, nor inordinately worried, about the March regulation of the Environment and Forestry Ministry regarding the reallocation of up to 30 percent of industrial forests and forest concession areas to indigenous people. Rather, business players should have anticipated the regulation after the Constitutional Court’s ruling in May 2013 that the customary forests of indigenous peoples should not be classed as State Forest Areas. The civil society organization for indigenous people’s rights (AMAN) that asked for the juidicial review of the 1999 Forestry Law quoted the government’s own statistics in 2012 that revealed that there were some 32,000 villages whose lands overlapped areas classed as State Forest Areas, as defined in the 1999 Forestry Law.

Having it All: Indonesia Can Produce Palm Oil, Protect Forests and Reap Profits
By Fred Stolle, Kemen Austin and Octavia Aris Payne, World Resources Institute, 13 July 2015
Indonesia has two big goals for 2020 that might seem contradictory: Reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 26 percent, and boost production of several major agricultural commodities, including doubling palm oil production. With agriculture being the single biggest driver of deforestation globally and in Indonesia, many are asking the question: How can the country pull this off? A new study from Duke University and WRI addresses this very question. It finds that in Indonesia’s largest palm oil producing region, it’s possible to fully protect the most valuable forests and reduce emissions by 35 percent while only modestly reducing profits.

Catching the ‘big fish’: How banks can stop environmental crime in Indonesia
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 13 July 2015
It was the US$100 million in his bank account that gave him away. There was no legitimate reason why Labora Sitorus, a low ranking police officer in Sorong in Indonesia’s West Papua province, should be quite so wealthy. As it turned out, Sitorus had a nice little earner on the side – illegal logging. In 2013, police seized 115 containers of the protected, rare tropical hardwood merbau – logged illegally, shipped from Sorong, and bound for China – where it’s estimated it would have sold for $US20 million. They also found 400,000 litres of smuggled gasoline in a boat registered in his name. And then, investigations by Indonesia’s Financial Investigation Unit (PPTAK) revealed Labora had paid up to US$1 million in bribes to various local, regional and national police officials in just three months – and that more than US$127 million in suspicious transactions had passed through his bank accounts in the previous five years.

[New Zealand] New NZ climate change target ‘inadequate’, relies on ‘creative accounting’, says global watchdog, 13 March 2015
New Zealand’s proposal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 is “inadequate” and can be achieved without the country taking any action to contain a growing level of emissions over the next 15 years, says the Carbon Action Tracker initiative, a Berlin based initiative involving four non-government climate change research agencies. “New Zealand’s climate target shows it’s far from doing its ‘fair share,’ and is anything but ambitious,” said Bill Hare, chief executive and senior scientist at Climate Analytics, one of the CAT contributor organisations. “While most other governments intend cutting emissions, New Zealand appears to be increasing emissions, and hiding this through creative accounting. It may not have to take any action at all to meet either its 2020 or 2030 targets.”

[Panama] German development bank involved in contested dam project
By Helle Jeppesen and Lewis Gropp, Deutsche Welle, 13 July 2015
Environmental organizations are also critical of the impact the dam will have on the flora and fauna in the region’s biodiverse tropical rainforest. “The Barro Blanco dam will transform the Tabasara River from a vibrant source of food and water into a stagnant lake ecosystem,” Earthjustice maintains. The legal environmental organization supported a petition to United Nations rapporteurs in 2014. And in 2012, in the early stages of construction, Oscar Sogandares of the Asociación Ambientalista de Chiriqui said several endemic species would “face extinction” if the dam were built. Germany, too, is now discussing the fate of the Central American community and its endangered environment. The dam project is partially financed by German Investment Corporation or DEG, a subsidiary of the state-owned development bank KfW.

[UK] Watford man jailed for 21 months after ‘boiler room fraud’
Watford Observer, 13 July 2015
Blood might be thicker than water, but helping out a member of his family has proved costly for Watford man Christopher Vauls. Allowing his nephew to pay to pay thousands into his bank account has landed him with a 21 month prison sentence. For the money, St Albans crown court was told on Friday, July 10, was from a “boiler room fraud and tax avoidance scheme”. Vauls, 50, of The Phillipiers in Watford, had been told by his nephew he was helping with a payroll system. But by allowing the money to be paid in and then withdrawing it and transferring £249,000 to the bank of a Spanish company, Vauls had been helping to “launder” the money.

14 July 2015

The eco-Pope: In which the Jesuit lawyer builds a straw man
By Ivo Vegter, Daily Maverick, 14 July 2015
Last week, Grant Tungay, a lawyer working at the Jesuit Institute South Africa, argued that free markets couldn’t ensure the health of the environment in our ongoing debate about Pope Francis’ eco-encyclical, Laudato Si’… With his most recent piece, Tungay set up a straw man to attack. My argument was not that the free market was some sort of panacea for all the world’s problems, or that all environmental impacts could easily be priced into the market. My points were (a) that Pope Francis had adopted false and exaggerated rhetoric from the old-school, apocalyptic environmental movement, (b) that he made a basic error in his economic argument, (c) that it is unwise to base policy on such a flawed view of the world, (d) that a religious leader is welcome to speak to his flock, but not to insinuate himself into government policy-making, and (e) that the green movement resembles the Catholic religion in all but name…

[Indonesia] A hopeful commitment to people of the forest
By Wimar Witoelar, The Jakarta Post, 14 July 2015
In recent weeks, President Joko “Jokowi’ Widodo has begun to show the qualities that made him so attractive in the presidential election. We are now witnessing confirmation of his solid commitment to indigenous peoples. A meeting between the President and the Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) has generated momentum in addressing the injustice borne by indigenous peoples over decades. Numerous initiatives are being taken by the government in forest governance. One scheme announced in early July plans to allocate at least 20 percent of current concession areas operated by private companies for management by local people. Forestry companies have raised concerns over this regulation. Yet despite the decision to increase the proportion of land allocated for local communities from 5 to 20 percent, AMAN said that it still fell short of restoring the rights of indigenous people to manage their customary forests…

Shades of green: Balancing Indonesia’s conservation and development
By Mark Foss, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 July 2015
It’s the familiar story of Indonesian environmental issues: the battle between economic development reliant on natural resource extraction and fears about sustainable use of those resources. This decades long tussle is full of contradictions and tensions. “Indonesia is between a rock and a hard place,” says Krystof Obidzinski, senior scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “On the one hand, it is trying to improve sustainability through a moratorium on the clearing of primary forest and peatland, the development of a timber legality verification system and other measures. On the other, it is promoting economic growth and job creation, largely through the extraction and export of natural resources.”

15 July 2015

Ditch meat to fight climate change?
By Yascha Mounk, CNN, 15 July 2015
In a report published earlier this year by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the authors point out that global food consumption is a substantial driver of greenhouse gas emissions… Over the coming months, Barack Obama will need to decide whether to water down the panel’s recommendations or to incorporate them into federal nutritional guidelines. As Slate’s Josh Voorhees explains, “if Obama does decide to press forward, it will open up yet another front in Washington’s climate wars.” But is this a battle worth fighting in the first place? It isn’t. The government’s advisory committee is right on the facts. But it is dead-wrong on the politics. Americans won’t ditch beef to save the environment. On the contrary, linking healthy eating habits to the fight against climate change may actually wind up hurting both causes at the same time.

Global Green Growth Institute appoints Mahua Acharya as Head of Knowledge Solutions
The Economic Times, 15 July 2015
The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) has appointed Mahua Acharya as Assistant Director-General and Head of the Knowledge Solutions Division. Acharya will be based in the organisation’s Seoul headquarters and assume her duties on September 1, 2015, it said in a release. GGGI is an intergovernmental organisation founded to support and promote green growth.

‘Forgotten guardians’: Local communities in natural resource management
By Douglas Sheil, Manuel Boissiere and Guillaume Baudoin, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 15 July 2015
Late last year, there was publicity about the plight of the San (bushmen) of the Kalahari in Botswana – part of a growing number of ‘conservation refugees’ from across the world who have been forcibly evicted from large areas of land set aside for national parks and protected areas. As was the case with the San, the decision to relocate communities is generally poorly informed. It is based on the assumption that indigenous communities invariably overuse, damage and threaten natural resources. It also ignores a growing body of research, including our recent study, which shows that the protection and management of natural resources by local communities, although often unrecognized, can often be more cost efficient and effective than government-sanctioned protected areas.

Green campaigners condemn review of Europe’s emissions trading
By Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 15 July 2015
Some of Europe’s heaviest polluters are in line for €160bn (£112bn) of free carbon permits under a planned restructuring of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), a key weapon in the fight against climate change. The European commission is proposing to reduce the number of free allowances and the companies eligible for them in a move condemned as too harsh by the British steel industry but too weak by green campaigners. Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union commissioner for climate action and energy, said the balanced initiative would clean up the planet while safeguarding the interests of businesses most at risk from foreign competition.

[Kashmir] The flood fear
By Ajaz Shah, Greater Kashmir, 15 July 2015
The looming threat of floods in Kashmir has been generating a lot of discussion. Previously it would be during the months of September and October that floods were perceived a threat, but nowadays floods have become a mercurial occurrence. There is concern, and the scramble is on to find answers. It is not the first time that the outcry has prompted need for preventive and protective measures and rewriting of policy issues. Changes in the climate patterns aside, it has been known and well documented that problems to a great extent lie in the diminishing vegetative cover of the landscape. The unabated removal of the forest cover and conversion of forest lands into agricultural fields has reduced the water absorption/retention capacity of the soil thereby increasing soil runoff. Besides encroachments on drainage and waterways, the excessive soil runoff has significantly reduced their water carrying capacity, thus resulting in a spillover.

Nigeria: UN to Help Cross River Set Up REDD+ Framework
By Eyo Charles, Daily Trust, 15 July 2015
The United Nations chief technical adviser on REDD+ programme, Mr. Allen Turner, has disclosed that the world body will soon be in a position to assist Cross River State design a globally accepted standard. Speaking in Calabar, he said: “We are to help Cross River set up a framework, a strategy in a way that will meet the standard and expectation of the international community of over 194 nations that signed the UN Climate Change convention and REDD+.” He commended the state for her leading efforts at developing her vast forests, an action that has accorded her global recognition. Governor Ben Ayade signed the partnership agreement with the UN agency for the development of the framework. The agreement will also cover forest guards, otherwise called Green Police, who the governor has just inaugurated.

[UK] Big charities to reveal how many complaints they receive after being caught using ‘boiler room’ tactics to take money from dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers
By Jack Doylea and Katherine Faulkner, Daily Mail, 15 July 2015
Big charities will be forced to reveal publicly the number of complaints they receive about aggressive fundraising, ministers said yesterday. As part of moves to rein in the outrageous tactics of charity fundraisers, large charities will have to document in full the number of complaints about fundraising carried out by them or on their behalf. Currently the charities’ own regulator publishes only the total number of complaints across all big charities, but doesn’t reveal who the worst offenders are. Details of the new transparency arrangements were contained within detailed laws published in Parliament yesterday by minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson. Last night he told the Mail: ‘These amendments will make the whole system much more transparent. Big charities will have no excuse not to comply and bad practices won’t be tolerated.’

16 July 2015

Climate change is making wildfires worse and wildfires are making climate change worse
By John Light, Grist, 16 July 2015
It’s the season when wildfires rage, and this year they’re raging particularly hard: In June alone, Alaska saw 1.1 million acres go up in flames. In California, firefighters had responded to 3,381 wildfires by July 11, “1,000 more than the average over the previous five years,” The New York Times reports in a big feature on wildfires in the state. And that’s likely not a coincidence. A study published this week in Nature Communications connects worsening wildfire seasons to climate change, and suggests the trend will continue in the years ahead as climate change rolls forward. “Wildfires occur at the intersection of dry weather, available fuel and ignition sources,” the study’s authors write. Of those factors, “weather is the most variable.” The study also suggests that wildfires will themselves play a role in driving climate change, creating a nasty feedback loop.

Geo-Engineering ain’t no fix for climate change related issues
By Kaustubh Katdare, CrazyEngineers, 16 July 2015
A team of scientists and researchers from about 14 leading academic institutions across Europe has published report on project EuTRACE (European Transdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Engineering). It warns that geo-engineering isn’t advanced enough that we can rely on it to address all the climate change related issues. Capturing the CO2 in atmosphere and developing mechanisms to reflect solar radiations won’t help us fight the climate change in the shorter term, the research found.

EU industry flags cost fears as carbon handouts trimmed, prices soar
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 16 July 2015
European industries expect to face escalating costs from the bloc’s ETS as regulators plan to cut back their free carbon allowances while enacting reforms to make the rest they need far more expensive. The European Commission’s ETS review plan, which was published on Wednesday, proposes to accelerate the annual cap decrease after 2020 and to hold the share of auctionable allowances at 57%, resulting in an ever dwindling share of free allowances available to give to industry. According to Carbon Pulse calculations, big-emitting manufacturers will receive an average 630 million allowances for free a year over Phase 4 (2021-2020), down 24% on the 825 million a year they get on average in Phase 3 (2013-2020).

Wildlife Works Announced as Africa’s First Carbon Neutral, Fair Trade Factory
Fair Trade USA press release, 16 July 2015
Wildlife Works has officially earned Fair Trade Factory certification from Fair Trade USA (FTUSA). This certification enables many different producers of a range of commodities to participate and compete in international markets in ways that are fair and equitable. In addition to meeting the rigorous Fair Trade standards–which cover social, environmental and economic criteria– factory workers earn additional money with every Fair Trade purchase in the form of a Community Development Premium. They vote democratically on how to use these funds. Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. Every dollar spent on Wildlife Works products goes directly to job creation and community development in rural communities around the world.

How Women Are Effecting Change in Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor
By Geoff Livingston, Huffington Post, 16 July 2015
As part of my work documenting Audi’s carbon offset program, I flew to the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in the southeastern part of Kenya. Like in many parts of Africa, women are generally considered second class citizens. But in the Kasigau Corridor, they are creating systemic change that, in turn, is protecting the land… Audi paid me to visit Africa and capture content as part of a larger documentary project that will be released this Fall. Audi supports Wildlife Works as part of a carbon offset program that compensates for the manufacturing and the first 50,000 gas driving miles of the new A3 e-tron.

[USA] Al Gore criticizes Obama on climate change and ‘insane’ Arctic drilling
By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 16 July 2015
The former US vice-president and climate champion Al Gore has made a rare criticism of Barack Obama as Royal Dutch Shell prepares to drill an exploratory well in the Arctic Ocean, denouncing the venture as “insane” and calling for a ban on all oil and gas activity in the polar region. With Shell planning to begin drilling in the oil-rich Chukchi Sea within days, Gore said in an interview with the Guardian that Obama was wrong to ever allow drilling in the Arctic. It was the only real point of criticism from Gore of Obama’s efforts to fight climate change, at home and through a global deal to be negotiated in Paris at the end of the year. “I think Arctic drilling is insane. I think that countries around the world would be very well advised to put restrictions on drilling for oil in the Arctic ocean,” Gore told the Guardian in Toronto…

17 July 2015

The ‘stars are aligning’ ahead of ‘most important environmental summit in history’, says UN climate change chief
By Tom Bawden, The Independent, 17 July 2015
The most important environmental meeting in history is on course to decisively tackle climate change as an “unstoppable and irreversible” momentum builds to “green the planet”, the United Nations climate change chief has told The Independent. Christiana Figueres says she is confident that December’s UN summit in Paris – regarded as the most important so far – will deliver its ambitious target to agree on action drastic enough to limit global warming to 2C. Beyond this level, the consequences of climate change become increasingly devastating. “The stars are aligning towards a Paris agreement that will establish a pathway that keeps us within the limit of 2C,” Ms Figueres said. “What is unique here is that everyone is realising that this truly is a very, very urgent moment in the history of addressing climate change. That this is a moment we cannot afford to miss…”

The pope, climate change and the cultural dimensions of the Anthropocene
By Andrew J Hoffman, The Conversation, 17 July 2015
The ink is still drying on the Pope’s Encyclical Letter “Laudato Si’” or “On Care for Our Common Home,” and scholars, critics and pundits will analyze and assess it for years to come. But one aspect of the letter becomes clear to anyone who reads it: it is impressively expansive, covering environmental science, economics, international politics, carbon credits, social equity, technology, consumerism, social media, theology, and much more. Getting to the root of our “ecological crisis,” Pope Francis calls for us to “promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature.” It’s a bold appeal to reevaluate our worldviews, values and spiritual beliefs.

[Australia] The twin carbon tax – brought to you by the Abbott Government
By Tristan Eldis, Business Spectator, 17 July 2015
[W]ithin the next few weeks the Abbott Government will release its emission reduction target for the period between 2025 and 2030. As explained in Matching US climate targets means the hard work begins now, and illustrated in the chart below, the Abbott Government will have to roll out an array of additional policies in order to bring emissions down to levels that appear reasonable compared with the targets of the US and Canada.

18 July 2015

[Australia] What’s wrong with emissions trading
By Andrea Bunting, Green Left Weekly, 18 July 2015
We need climate change policies that rapidly phase out fossil fuel usage (starting with the dirtiest – brown coal), massively improve energy efficiency and rapidly increase renewable energy usage. Policies must also produce permanent structural changes in our energy systems. Effective climate change policies require strong regulations, including laws, performance standards and targets. Until recently it was generally accepted that governments should use regulations to tackle the big problems. But neoliberal ideology has become so pervasive that governments favour “market mechanisms”. Today’s dominant mantra is to put a price on carbon. One method is carbon taxes, where the price is fixed. Certainly polluters should pay for damage they cause – this implies a high carbon tax. Governments can use the revenue to assist poorer residents and foster green jobs. But a carbon price won’t be the main driver of change…

[Canada] Boiler room kingpin pleads guilty
Bangkok Post, 18 July 2015
A Canadian boiler-room operator arrested in Bangkok in 2013 faces up to 20 years in jail after pleading guilty in the United States to duping investors out of more than US$5 million. US authorities described Sandy Winick, 57, of Ontario, as “a penny-stock fraud kingpin” who operated boiler rooms around the world. Prosecutors said in court documents that Winick and his associates inflated the value of stocks through a “pump and dump” scheme, left victims with worthless shares and victimised them a second time through an “advance fee” scam. Winick pleaded guilty on Friday in Brooklyn to a conspiracy charge connected to the advance-fee accusation. Investors were asked to pay to make sure their stocks could be resold at a profit — a promise that was not kept. He admitted fraudulently taking the fees from investors from 2008 to 2013, prosecutors said.

19 July 2015

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