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REDD in the news: 31 August – 6 September 2015

REDD in the newsREDD-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.

31 August 2015

India: No country for wild tigers?
By Janaki Lenin, The Guardian, 31 August 2015
If the tigers of Panna are under threat of being displaced by a dam, the tigers of nearby Kanha, Pench, and Navegaon Nagzira tiger reserves in the two central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are in danger from a highway. The National Highways Authority of India proposes to widen a 50-km (31-mile) stretch of road to a four-lane divided highway connecting Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, with Nagpur, Maharashtra. While allowing humans to hurtle between these two cities, the road slices two tiger corridors: Pench-Nagzira corridor in Maharashtra and the Pench-Kanha corridor in Madhya Pradesh. Although National Highway 7 (NH7) exists already, widening it will aggravate the problem it poses to wildlife. Central Indian forests hold about 33% of India’s tigers, 688 of them.

Indonesia looks to increase emissions cut pledge ahead of Paris meet
By Michael Taylor, Reuters, 31 August 2015
Indonesia is looking to increase its current pledges on cutting emissions growth, a senior government adviser said on Monday, with a final decision likely by mid-September. Home to the world’s third-largest tropical forests, and the biggest palm oil producer, Indonesia will have a key role at the United Nation’s Paris climate conference late this year, which is designed to reach a plan to reduce global warming. “We intend to increase the contribution and we will do so,” Rachmat Witoelar, President Joko Widodo’s special envoy for climate change, told Reuters. “But we have to figure out the timeline.” Indonesia is among the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters because of deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires. Southeast Asia’s largest economy is under international pressure to curb deforestation and the destruction of carbon-rich peatlands and forests that many palm oil and mining companies say they need for expansion.

Nigeria: Cross River Secures New Funds to Reduce Carbon Emission
By Tunde Alao, The Guardian, 31 August 2015
Cross River Government has secured $65,000 from the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force’s Funds for the strengthening of forest carbon assessment and monitoring system in the State. The Cross River State Forestry Commission (CRSFC) in collaboration with Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) facilitated the funds. The project seeks to, among others, develop forest monitoring plan and establishment of a sufficient number of sample plots to estimate carbon stocks to an uncertainty level of 10percen of the mean at a 90percent confidence interval. Through the funds, the state will install and assess supplementary Permanent Sample Plots (PSPs) in Cross River State; Carry out research of wood density data and production of database for Nigerian species and identify the most appropriate biomass equations, including validation of existing regional “Allometric Equations” (AEs) and conversion of existing volume of AEs to biomass functions.

[Peru] “This is a country where the US private sector has a demonstrated record of great success”
The WorldFolio, 31 August 2015
Brian A. Nichols, US Ambassador to Peru, discusses how economic and commercial ties have deepened with the 2009 entry into force of the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement… In terms of some of the other things that we are doing, we talked a lot about the environment and the connection with illegal logging and mining. But one other thing that I was very proud to be able to inaugurate is a program that allowed us to sell 8,000,000 carbon credits from the Cordillera Azul National Park that raised $11,000,000 that will be used to fund conservation in the park for the next 20 years. Our US Agency for International Development (USAID) brought together private sector partners with the Peruvian government to be able to commoditize and sell these carbon credits.

1 September 2015

FAO, UNDP Raise Profile of Agriculture in Climate Change Adaptation Planning
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 1 September 2015
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a four-year ‘Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans’ (NAPs) programme, which aims to incorporate eight developing countries’ agricultural sectors into NAPs in order to safeguard livelihoods, raise agricultural production and boost food security. Funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the initiative targets Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Uruguay, Viet Nam and Zambia.

Meet the ‘babassu breakers’ on Brazil’s ‘new agricultural frontier’
By David Hill, The Guardian, 1 September 2015
What, you might ask, is a “babassu breaker”? That’s my translation of “quebradeira de coco babaçu”, a term used by an estimated several hundred thousand women in Brazil who gather and break open the fruit – no easy task – from a species of palm called babassu. Many quebradeiras’ aim is to use the entire fruit: the seed kernels for oil or milk, the mesocarp – the middle layer – for flour, and the husk for charcoal. The income generated from babassu-derived products is crucial to thousands of families’ survival, while other parts of the palm find their way into roofs, fences and compost.

REDD+ alert as deforestation hurts Tanzania’s economy
SciDev.Net, 1 September 2015
If authorities in Tanzania do not invest in forest conservation to prevent long-term losses resulting from deforestation, the country’s economy could suffer in the future, according to a report. The report says that the forestry sector contributes to three per cent of Tanzania’s gross domestic product (GDP). But it adds that the country had deforestation rate of 372,816 hectares a year between 1995 and 2010 through agricultural activities such as shifting cultivation, wildfires, illegal logging, livestock grazing and unsustainable charcoal production. The report is on a study by researchers from South Africa-based Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa. The study assessed the economic costs and benefits of deforestation in Tanzania, taking into account how deforestation could affect the country’s GDP and general economy for the period 2013-2033.

[UK] At least charge us or let us go, Britons say
By Janice Ponce de Leon,, 1 September 2015
Two British nationals, who have been unable to leave the UAE for the past six years due to a pending international investigation, have asked authorities to either charge them and bring them to court, extradite them, or release them to their families. Naveed Amir Ahmad, 39, a businessman, told Gulf News he was arrested by Dubai authorities in April 2010 after he complained that his bank account in the UAE had been frozen. A day before his flight back to the UK that month, he was arrested allegedly based on an Interpol warrant issued by Germany for a suspected tax evasion case in carbon credit trading. The fraud case in Germany involved billions of dollars of carbon credits allowances that were illegally traded by an organised crime group operating in at least 11 countries in the European Union.

[USA] Coal play: Virginia environmentalist follows Soros, buys into beleaguered fossil fuel
By Malia Zimmerman, Fox News, 1 September 2015
A millionaire environmentalist is buying into coal with a twist he believes can turn the beleaguered black fossil fuel at least partially green. Tom Clarke, who made a fortune in health care, recently announced a plan to buy bankrupt St. Louis-based Patriot Coal for $400 million, following a major investment in coal by the billionaire liberal activist George Soros. But Clarke said he is not simply bargain-shopping in an industry wounded by federal policies and the emergence of American oil and gas. He said he is looking to transform the industry, and intends to sell his coal at a 10 percent premium — which he will then spend on planting trees. “My No. 1 priority is not to stop burning coal because that’s not going to happen for 30 to 50 years,” Clarke told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We really see this as an opportunity — not to expand coal, it’s going to shrink anyway. But let’s make sure we can at least keep people employed…”

2 September 2015

Words Matter in the Paris Climate Agreement
Huffington Post, 2 September 2015
Words matter. This is especially true for the Paris Agreement on climate change to be concluded this December. Businesses and investors have a clear stake in the words in the agreement and in the political commitment behind them, which will underpin the policy certainty they need to build the low-carbon economy. Getting the right words in the right place is essential to success. Businesses and governments alike recognize that the low-carbon economy is inevitable, irreversible and irresistible. Businesses and investors are already stepping up to the plate. Through the We Mean Business coalition, 154 companies with revenues totaling $3.5 trillion, and 111 investors with $8.1 trillion in assets under management, have now made 430 ambitious commitments to climate action.

Trees covering an area twice the size of Portugal lost in 2014, study finds
By Emma Howard, The Guardian, 2 September 2015
Trees covering an area twice the size of Portugal were lost worldwide in 2014, according to an analysis which shows west Africa is becoming a new hotspot for tree cover loss. Demand for palm oil, used in everything from margarine to shampoo, is blamed for four west African states featuring in a list of 10 countries where the rate of tree loss has accelerated fastest since the millennium. Globally, 18m hectares were lost last year due to both manmade and natural causes, satellite data published by Global Forests Watch shows. Researchers at the US-based World Resources Institute (WRI) who analysed the data said they were surprised by the west Africa finding. Among the 10 countries are Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Madagascar, which last year lost 2% of its total forest area to agriculture, mining and the timber industry.

[Australia] Big business wins ways to increase emissions under Abbott government climate plan
By Tom Arup, Sydney Morning Herald, 2 September 2015
Big business will be afforded several ways to increase their greenhouse gas emissions without penalty under the second plank of the Abbott government’s Direct Action climate change plan. Environment Minister Greg Hunt released on Wednesday draft rules for the government’s promised “safeguard mechanism”, which will set emissions limits, called “baselines”, on big industrial plants and power generators. The government says the baselines will apply to about 330 plants from 140 businesses from mid-next year, and will ensure their emissions do not rise significantly above business as usual levels. But within the draft rules industry has been given a number of ways to apply for an increase over their initial baseline without penalty. In response to the draft rules, some analysts warned the way the baselines will be set will allow industrial emissions to continue to rise significantly…

Brazil: Guarani man assassinated by gunmen as tensions rise
Survival International, 2 September 2015
A Guarani Indian leader has been shot dead in west-central Brazil, one week after his community reoccupied part of their ancestral land. The community had warned that they could be killed, after being surrounded by gunmen. Semião Vilhalva was killed on Saturday during an attack on Nanderu Marangatu community, by gunmen hired by ranchers – and reportedly in the presence of government agents. A one-year-old baby was struck in the head by a baton round, and others are reported to be injured. The community’s ancestral land is now occupied by a ranch owned by Roseli Silva, leader of a ranchers’ union which encourages violence to keep the Indians off their land. The Guarani alleged that Saturday’s attack was coordinated by Silva, following a meeting in which ranchers and politicians discussed how to tackle the Guarani reoccupation.

Indonesia INDC proposes 29% cut in GHG growth by 2030 -draft
By Ben Garside and Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 2 September 2015
Indonesia has pledged to curb its emission growth to 29% below business-as-usual levels by 2030, adding that this goal could be deepened to a 41% cut if it gets international support, according to the country’s final draft of its INDC seen by Carbon Pulse on Wednesday. Indonesia, the world’s 10th biggest emitter and fourth most populous country, is one of the few significant emitters yet to submit its climate pledge to the UN, ahead of a global deal due in Paris in December. Its proposed new goal barely extends the coal exporting nation’s current voluntary emission goal of a 26% cut by 2020, which it offered to increase to 41% with international support. “Beyond 2020, Indonesia envisions an even bolder commitment to emission reductions,” the document said. The INDC is due to be circulated among stakeholders ahead of a final decision by mid-September, news agencies Antara and Reuters reported this week.

[New Zealand] Cutting emissions would cost too much, NZ tells UN
Radio New Zealand News, 2 September 2015
New Zealand and Australia have told the United Nations they cannot do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions because it would be too costly. Both countries are being criticised by scientists involved in the Climate Action Tracker group for not doing enough to tackle climate change. New Zealand’s climate ambassador, Jo Tyndall, told a meeting in Germany the country is dependent on dairy and sheep farming – a major source of the greenhouse gas methane. The New Zealand target submitted in July, of cutting emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, “would represent quite a significantly higher cost to our economy” than action by many other countries, she said. The Australian Government said that country’s dependence on coal for two thirds of its electricity generation made it costly to rein in emissions.

3 September 2015

Rich countries to unveil climate finance package at World Bank summit
By Ed King, RTCC, 3 September 2015
A long-awaited plan detailing how developed countries will meet a 2009 promise to deliver US$100 billion a year of climate funds to poor countries will be presented on 9 October, the UN’s top climate official has told RTCC. In an exclusive interview, Christiana Figueres said she expected top donors to outline their proposals at the start of the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund meeting in Lima next month. Top finance ministers including US Treasury secretary Jacob Lew, Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble and the UK’s George Osborne will be in Peru for the summit, one of the most important economic meetings of the year. “Developing countries cannot transform their economies towards low carbon unless they have financial support – you don’t even have to argue it. It is absolutely clear,” Figueres said.

Australia’s new cap on emissions is a trading scheme in all but name
By Gujji Muthuswamy, The Conversation, 3 September 2015
The Australian government has released its final draft for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The “safeguard mechanism” will form part of the government’s central climate policy, and will fine large businesses for exceeding emissions baselines. Businesses that produce over 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year will have their emissions capped. The scheme makes some allowances for power generators and landfill (which produces greenhouse gases as rubbish breaks down), as well as those that expand production while improving their emissions efficiency. The annual cap for the future will be based on the annual greenhouse gases emitted between 2010 and 2014. A final decision on the scheme will be made in late 2015 before starting in July 2016. In effect, Australia’s climate policy armoury will include aspects of a “baseline and credit” emissions trading scheme.

Korea boosts presence in Indonesian forest industry
Korea Herald, 3 September 2015
The Korea Forest Service is elevating Korea’s presence in the global forestation scene with the Korean forest welfare model, chipping in large-scale investments in the production of sustainable energy in Indonesia. In 2009 Korea and Indonesia signed a cooperative agreement on fostering the production of wood pellets on 200,000 hectares of Indonesian soil… The forest-welfare business is also part of Korea’s contribution to “REDD+,” an environmental initiative of the international society for sustainable forestation. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, about 17.4 percent of the world’s greenhouse emissions come from the devastation of rain forests in the developing economies.

[UK] Noble Group parts ways with London-based emissions head
Carbon Pulse, 3 September 2015
Beleaguered commodity dealer Noble Group has parted ways with its London-based head of emissions and cross-commodity options, sources told Carbon Pulse. Dougal Corden, who had been at Noble since early 2014 after departing US investment bank Morgan Stanley, left the Singapore-headquartered firm earlier this summer. Corden could not be reached for comment, nor could a media contact for Noble in London. One source with knowledge of the matter said it was not clear whether the vacant role would be filled or whether Noble would continue to be active in the EU carbon market. Noble is one of Asia’s largest commodity traders, but the firm has been slated by analysts and shareholders and has seen its shares drop this summer over concerns relating to the company’s accounting methods.

[UK] High Court bans carbon credit investment scam director
By Jun Merrett, Citywire, 3 September 2015
A man has been disqualified from acting as a director for 15 years after running a scheme that sold non-existent carbon credits which took £200,000 from investors. Jason Pistolas was the director of London-based Earnshaw Equities, which claimed to invest in carbon credits for individuals. Although the company advertised its membership of two carbon credit trading registries, Earnshaw had no account and therefore no access to the carbon credits markets, said the Insolvency Service which investigated the firm. Pistolas has been disqualified from acting as a director for the maximum period under the law of 15 years for making sales by false representation and for failing to maintain or preserve accounting records.

4 September 2015

Forestry for a sustainable future – Making a difference beyond agreements
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 September 2015
Next week, more than 2,600 forestry experts will travel to the 14th World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa. The WFC is considered the world’s most significant forestry event, organized by FAO every six years together with a host country. At 89 years old, it is also a long-standing tradition within the international community. The first congress was held in Rome in 1926, and Jakarta hosted the 1978 edition. This year, the WFC will be held in Africa for the first time. Readers of this blog may wonder what my views might be about a congress so defined by the forestry sector. Would it potentially focus on sector-internal considerations at the expense of broader development priorities? Is it reinforcing the institutional forest silo? The earlier congresses certainly revolved around the specific subjects of the forestry profession.

Contours of UN climate pact starting to take shape 3 month before Paris global warming summit
By Karl Ritter, The Associated Press, 4 September 2015
U.N. climate talks are plodding ahead toward a worldwide deal to fight global warming, with negotiators agreeing to start work on a draft agreement. A weeklong session in Bonn finished Friday with the two officials leading the talks getting the green light to turn a sprawling negotiating text into a coherent draft by the next round of talks in October. The deal is expected to be signed in Paris in December. Crunch issues that remain include resolving how to share the burden of slashing climate-warming carbon emissions and helping poor countries adapt to rising sea levels and other effects of global warming. The U.S., European Union and other developed nations want the new deal to reflect evolving national circumstances so countries take on more responsibilities as their economies and their carbon emissions grow.

Diplomats tasked to return with shortened UN climate text
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 4 September 2015
The co-chairs of negotiations on a new UN climate accord have been tasked by countries to prepare a shorter draft text by October after a week of slow-paced talks in Bonn. The idea will be for Algeria’s Ahmed Djoghlaf and the USA’s Daniel Reifsnyder to reduce the current 83-page working document from three to two sections: a core Paris agreement and a wider “decision” text aiming to thrash out further details before the agreement enters into force from 2020. The aim is to eliminate the third section of as-yet unallocated items, where most of the references to carbon markets are currently listed. “We will not be landing in Paris with unallocated text,” said UN climate chief Christiana Figueres in a joint web-streamed press conference as the talks wound down on Friday. “We should have by October a clear, concise, precise text…by October we will have the clear global picture,” said Laurence Tubiana, special climate envoy for France…

‘Snail’s pace’ row over progress at UN climate talks
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 4 September 2015
UN officials have reacted sharply to criticism from their Secretary General that climate talks are going at a “snail’s pace”. Ban Ki-moon has been concerned that the negotiations are moving too slowly to deliver a new global deal in December. His views were echoed by many delegates at this latest meeting in Germany. But one of the men tasked with drafting a new text said that even going at the pace of a mollusc, a draft agreement would be ready for Paris. And referring to Mr Ban’s lofty New York office, Ahmed Djoghlaf said that it was difficult for someone living up on the 38th floor to know what was going on in the basement.

[Australia] Boiler room scam: Two more charged amid Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission probe
By Mark Solomons and Mark Willacy, ABC News, 4 September 2015
A Gold Coast accountant and a company owner are to face charges of money laundering in connection with an alleged “boiler-room” investment fraud operation exposed by the ABC. The Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) has issued Anthony John Restaino, 43, of Broadbeach Waters, and Graeme Dwyer, 67, of Southport, with notices to appear in court later this month to face one count each of money laundering under the Commonwealth criminal code. Such offences attract penalties of between four and 20 years’ jail. The charges relate to Lay Trading Solutions, one of three Gold Coast companies being investigated in a major operation by the CCC and anti-bikie police over allegations that they sold fraudulent investment software for tens of thousands of dollars to people across Australia. A source close to the operation told the ABC that more arrests could be expected in coming weeks.

[UK] Blog: So That’s A “Collective Investment Scheme” – The Court Of Appeal Sorts It Out (Part II); And The FCA Issues A Warning
By Chris Finney, Cooley LLP, 4 September 2015
The Supreme Court has refused to give the 16 defendants (*) in the FCA -v- Capital Alternatives Limited case permission to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal that an African Land Scheme and a Carbon Credit Scheme, (a) were collective investment schemes; and (b) had been established, and were being operated, unlawfully. The result is that the Court of Appeal’s decision, which explains what a “collective investment scheme” is, is now final. This is: Good news for the people who invested in the African Land and Carbon Credit Schemes, because it seems to bring them a step closer to the partial recovery of their investments…

5 September 2015

6 September 2015

[Guyana] Norway urges gov’t to consider pros of Amaila hydro project
Stabroek News, 6 September 2015
Norway has urged the APNU+AFC administration to consider the merits of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) since Guyana stands to lose over $16 billion previously earmarked for the project if it fails to come up with a plan for “transformational” renewable energy sources that can be realised in the next few years. “The merits of the Amaila Falls project should be considered by the Government of Guyana. Norway is a strong supporter of transforming Guyana’s energy sector and significantly reducing energy-related emissions. We see this as a fundamental part of the Guyana-Norway partnership,” Director of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative Per Fedrik Pharo told Stabroek News last week. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

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