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REDD in the news: 7-13 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.

Confronting climate colonialism ahead of the Paris summit
By Luisa Abbott Galvao, Friends of the Earth summer 2015 newsmagazine
Taken collectively, the voluntary country commitments already announced make it clear that total pledges will not be rigorous enough to satisfy the goal of the climate convention: to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius… As greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere with every passing day, rich country delegates have justified this shortfall by promising to return to the negotiating table to “ratchet up” commitments. This is immoral and scientifically unsound. As the world’s largest historic polluter, the United States’ commitment must be significantly improved by the time of the Paris negotiations, not years from now. This commitment must be binding, and premised on science and justice. It must show leadership and signal to other countries that we are serious about doing our fair share. As it stands, it is based on only on political inertia.

UN-REDD Brief Examines Fiscal Incentives for Agricultural Commodities as Part of REDD+ Readiness
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), September 2015
Noting that fiscal policies and incentives are often key underlying drivers of forest change and influence land use behavior in sectors that encroach on forests, a brief produced by the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD) suggests that REDD+ provides an entry point to rethinking fiscal incentives for agricultural commodities as part of National REDD+ Strategies and Action Plans. Titled ‘Fiscal Incentives for Agricultural Commodity Production: Options to Forge Compatibility with REDD+,’ the brief notes an urgent need to identify how policy changes can increase the efficiency of agricultural production and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Building Capacity for REDD+: Lessons from the Forest Investment Program
Climate Investment Funds, 2015
One-quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the agriculture, forest and other land use sector (AFOLU). So if we are going to turn down the heat, we need to bring down emissions from these sources. One of the ways to ensure that reducing forest-based GHG emissions also generates development and biodiversity co-benefits is through capacity building. The Forest Investment Program (FIP) actively contributes to developing countries’ abilities to fully implement actions to reduce their emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) in a sustainable and fair manner through principles such as country ownership and coordination with other REDD+ mechanisms. What is capacity building and why does it matter? Capacity boils down to whether a country has the necessary financial, human, technological, legal and institutional resources to perform a function.

7 September 2015

Failure to act on climate change means an even bigger refugee crisis
By Craig Bennett, The Guardian, 7 September 2015
[I]t would seem that one of the key triggers for the 2011 Syrian uprising was the 2006 to 2010 drought, the most severe on record in this fertile region, itself probably caused or exacerbated by climate change. As the abstract of an academic paper published this March in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences puts it: “There is evidence that the 2007−2010 drought contributed to the conflict in Syria. It was the worst drought in the instrumental record, causing widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to urban centres. “Century-long observed trends … strongly suggest that anthropogenic forcing has increased the probability of severe and persistent droughts in this region. We conclude that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict”.

Paris climate talks could fail, warns Francois Hollande
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 7 September 2015
The president of France, Francois Hollande, has warned that the global climate change talks scheduled for Paris this December will fail unless nations make a much greater effort to reach agreement – and that the result could be millions of new refugees fleeing climate disaster. “There is a risk of failure,” he told journalists, after a meeting on the issue of providing financial assistance to poor countries affected by climate change. “If we don’t conclude [with a successful agreement], and there are no substantial measures to ensure the transition [to a climate-affected world], it won’t be hundreds of thousands of refugees in the next 20 years, it will be millions.” His warning comes after an inconclusive week of UN negotiations in Bonn, and ahead of a crucial meeting of world leaders later this month in New York.

The new global assessments and the forest
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 September 2015
Interestingly, the FRA 2015 report shows a continued sharp decrease of net forest area losses, now standing at -3.3 Mha/yr, with an indicated gross loss (deforestation) of -7.6 Mha/yr, mainly in the tropics. The graph below illustrates how subsequent FRA’s have reported a decreasing net forest loss over the past 35 years, indicating that we may soon have an area-wise balanced forest estate in the world… Contrary to FRA 2015, however, the GFW update comes with quite different and alarming messages. Their press release reports that “tree cover loss is rapidly accelerating in the tropics”, and their release blog states “the increasing pace of tree cover loss in the tropics is of great concern”. It is not obvious to me that these statements are founded in the results of the GFW update.

Bonn climate talks ask for draft Paris text
By Simon Evans, The Carbon Brief, 7 September 2015
A draft international climate agreement package will be published within weeks, setting the scene for crunch UN talks in Paris in December. During negotiations in Bonn last week, countries made progress on some key sticking points and started to lay out the skeleton of the planned agreement. Yet with just five more days of formal negotiations before Paris, disagreement over many details remains profound. The co-chairs of the process will now attempt to cement progress and bridge those divides. They have been given a mandate to prepare a draft agreement by the first week of October. Parties will then start line-by-line negotiations on the draft text when they return to Bonn on 19 October.

Colombia aims to cut emissions to 20% below BAU by 2030
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 7 September 2015
Colombia has submitted its INDC to the UN, promising to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below BAU levels in 2030 and will explore the use of market instruments as a means to meet the target. The economy-wide target would keep Colombia’s 2030 emissions at 268 million tonnes of CO2e, compared to a BAU scenario of 335 million tonnes, the INDC said. In 2010, the country emitted 224 mt. The target could be increased to 30% if the nation receives international support. Colombia did not set a goal for 2025, but said it would consider doing so depending on the outcome of the December climate talks in Paris. The government has developed mitigation plans for eight sectors of the economy – including agriculture and forests, its biggest-emitting sector – which mainly focus on maximising carbon efficiency, but the INDC did not go into details on how Colombia intends to achieve the target.

LafargeHolcim to appeal Romanian court’s dismissal of stolen EUA lawsuit
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 7 September 2015
LafargeHolcim will file an appeal in its lawsuit against Romania’s Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) over the theft of 1.6 million EU Allowances after a Romanian court in July rejected the cement maker’s claim, a company spokesman told Carbon Pulse. The appeal follows another launched with Europe’s top court earlier this year by cement producer Swiss-headquartered Holcim, which merged with France’s Larfarge this summer. LafargeHolcim is appealing the European Court of Justice’s Sep. 2014 decision to dismiss the Holcim’s case against the European Commission over the theft. The company spokesman said there was no update in that case. In Nov. 2010, Holcim’s emissions trading account at Romania’s online EU ETS registry was hacked and the EUAs were transferred to accounts in Italy and Liechtenstein.

Get Your Facts Right on Indonesia’s Haze Problem
By Erik Meijaard, Jakarta Globe, 7 September 2015
I find it remarkable that after several decades of forest and peatland fires and associated haze problems, governmental and non-governmental organizations are still barking up the wrong tree in the fire and haze blaming game. In a recent Jakarta Globe article, President Joko Widodo talks tough on fires and haze, blaming “disobedient plantation companies for setting the fires to clear land for planting.” Similarly, the article quotes environmental activists who point to plantation companies for being the biggest cause of fires and haze. Dear oh dear, does anyone ever read the studies about causes of forest fire and haze in Indonesia? Apparently not. Or maybe people do, but they prefer to ignore the facts and reiterate the more convenient fictions.

Aerial pictures reveal rampant illegal logging in Peru’s Amazon forest
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 7 September 2015
Only from the air is it possible to make out the scale of three illegal logging roads which have been carved into Peru’s eastern Amazon, while local authorities in the jungle Ucayali region seemingly turn a blind eye. Huddled in a twin-engine Cessna 402, the Guardian saw as many as 20 lorries carrying tree trunks plying their way up and down three dirt roads, each estimated to measure up to 32 miles. Dotted by stockpiles of logs and workers’ camps, the roads led to barges on a dock on the Ucayali river, a major tributary of the Amazon, a few dozen miles from the regional capital Pucallpa… “These images show us what we knew was happening, but could not see. This is the real illegal logging that feeds the laundered timber that Peru is still exporting,” Julia Urrunaga, Peru director for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) told the Guardian.

[UK] Capital Bordeaux Investments director banned
By Jim Budd, Decanter, 7 September 2015
Scott Andrews, director of Capital Bordeaux Investments Limited, has been banned from acting as a UK director for 11 years after running a wine investment scam. 25 year-old Andrews was the sole director of Capital Bordeaux Investments Limited that took at least £60,000 from investors but bought no wine. Andrews failed to keep proper records so more money may have been stolen from investors. Clients were told that their wines were stored at London City Bond’s warehouse in Tilbury, but Capital Bordeaux Investments had no account with LCB. Furthermore, fine wine is stored at LCB’s Vinothèque warehouse in Burton-on-Trent. Clients were also told that Capital Bordeaux Investments Limited could sell wine bought from other wine investment companies but were persuaded to buy wine to start an account… Capital Bordeaux Investments Ltd ‘traded’ from 68 Lombard Street, London, EC3V 9LJ – a serviced office address.

8 September 2015

Greenhouse gas emission promises don’t even come close
Climate and Capitalism, 8 September 2015
The climate targets so far submitted to the UN by governments collectively lead to global emissions far above the levels needed to hold warming to below 2°C, according to analysis by Climate Action Tracker (CAT), a consortium of four research organisations. Around 65% of global emissions are covered by the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) submitted by 29 Governments as of 1 September 2015. The CAT has assessed 15 of these INDCs, covering 64.5% of global emissions… “It is clear that if the Paris meeting locks in present climate commitments for 2030, holding warming below 2°C could essentially become infeasible, and 1.5°C beyond reach. Given the present level of pledged climate action, commitments should only be made until 2025,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics. “The INDCs therefore need to be considerably strengthened for the period 2020-2025.”

[Indonesia] Stern law enforcement needed to tackle forest fires
ANTARA News, 8 September 2015
The problem of haze has been getting worse on Sumatra Island, forcing flight delays and temporary school shutdowns, and affecting the publics overall health. As of Monday morning, a total of 413 hotspots were detected across Sumatra Island… Feeling concerned with the environmental disaster and its impact on the publics health, hundreds of students from Riau University in Pekanbaru staged a rally on Monday to express five demands from the government regarding the haze disasters. Firstly, the government should declare a haze emergency since the haze disaster has affected public health, the field coordinator of the rally, Siti Lestari, noted. The students also urged the authorities to take legal action against plantation companies found guilty of setting fires that have razed thousands of hectares of forest and plantation areas in Riau Province. The haze problem has repeatedly occurred due to weak legal enforcement, she pointed out.

Homegrown Expertise Could Be the Missing Link to Saving Mexico’s Largest Intact Rainforest
By Felicia Line, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 September 2015
The three young mestizos had come to the old Mayan district of Calakmul to help marginalized communities learn how to measure the carbon stored in their forest – a task that requires identifying the forest’s trees by species, measuring their circumference, estimating their height, and then applying formulas to determine their biomass, half of which is carbon. If they get the species wrong, the carbon inventory will be off even if the measurements are right. And the same thing will happen if they get the species right but are sloppy about their measurements. Such errors could accumulate to add more uncertainty to the already difficult science of measuring carbon in forests, which is critical in efforts to slow climate change and earn international funding for REDD+, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.

Urgent call from Pacific nations for dialogue on coal and climate change
Greenpeace press release, 8 September 2015
Unprecedented support from Pacific Island leaders for a global moratorium on new coal mines is a stark reminder that much more must be achieved at the Paris climate talks, said Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s CEO, David Ritter, today. Sixteen Pacific leaders yesterday published the Suva Declaration, which included a call for international discussions on a moratorium on the development and expansion of fossil fuel industries, particularly the construction of new coal mines. According to media reports, seven nations demanded an immediate moratorium — building on an announcement last month by the President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, with the Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, calling on world leaders to commit to a halt to all new coal mines and coal mine expansions.

Brit jailed for part in 2011 EUA thefts ordered to repay £1
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 8 September 2015
A British man found guilty of helping steal hundreds of thousands of EU Allowances in 2011, which led to the temporary suspension of the market, has been ordered to repay just £1 for his crimes. Ruman Patel was in Sep. 2014 sentenced to 32 months in jail for his role in the theft of at least 500,000 EUAs from the Czech emissions registry. During a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing held at Preston Crown Court last month, Patel was ordered to pay the minimum £1 amount, a source at the court said. Despite having no assets, Patel can be targeted by authorities in the future should he acquire anything of value. Along with Patel, three other British men charged in the case – Hanif Patel, Ayyub Ibrahim, and Mohammed Hanif Patel – were imprisoned for between 42 months and seven years for encouraging and assisting in the handling of stolen goods, money laundering and fraud.

9 September 2015

Investment in small-scale farmers ‘could have big payoff’ in the fight against climate change, poverty
By John C. Cannon,, 9 September 2015
New research released at the World Forestry Congress finds small-scale farmers and producers of forest products can help rural economies grow, as well as help defend against global problems such as deforestation and climate change. Smallholder agriculture and agroforestry practices tend to keep more carbon sequestered, provide better habitat for wildlife, and produce a wider range of resources and commodities than do big plantations. The authors recommend increased investment in the world’s 1.3 billion smallholders.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon News
Ecosystem Marketplace, 9 September 2015
Forests and wetlands are nature’s first defense against climate change, but they’re also fragile ecosystems subject to a changing climate. Two stories this week shine a light on the importance of buffer pools when using nature to regulate climate – even as climate undermines nature. In Washington, the Colville Tribes’ forest carbon project was threatened by a fire that burned at least 170,000 acres last month amidst a record-breaking year for wildfires in the state. In May, the Colville Business Council agreed on resolutions that would allow them to sell carbon offsets from their carbon project to petroleum giant BP, which is regulated under California’s cap-and-trade market. But the recent fire may cut into the emissions reductions they are able to achieve, and therefore the offsets they will be able to sell.

[Ghana] Illegal logging cuts down birds by 50%
By Subodh Varma, The Economic Times, 9 September 2015
Cutting trees for timber has a devastating impact on birds, with a decline of more than 50 per cent recorded in Ghana’s forests, a new study finds. Researchers found that the level of legal and illegal logging increased more than 600 per cent between 1995 and 2010 — six times greater than the maximum sustainable rate. Species richness, or the number of different understory bird species represented, also showed declining trends. The bird communities showed no evidence of post-logging recovery… The new study is co-authored by scientists at Drexel University and published in the most recent issue of Biological Conservation. The researchers studied bird communities in the understory layer of Ghana’s Upper Guinea rain forests, one of the world’s 25 “biodiversity hotspots”.

[Indonesia] Regulatory reform: Just do it
The Jakarta Post, 9 September 2015
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo pledged last week to revise 154 regulations pinpointed by the chief economics minister as major barriers to economic activity. Yet in an even more astounding revelation, National Development Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil said on Monday that a study by his office had discovered more than 2,700 regulations, presidential and ministerial decrees that hindered economic development. Like a good deal of policymaking processes in the country that are fragmented across many ministries and government agencies, there is simply no formal, independent evaluation process to assess regulations from an economy-wide perspective, or to ensure public consultation involving a broad base of stakeholders takes place.

10 September 2015

[Brazil] The Amazon tribe protecting the forest with bows, arrows, GPS and camera traps
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 10 September 2015
With bows, arrows, GPS trackers and camera traps, an indigenous community in northern Brazil is fighting to achieve what the government has long failed to do: halt illegal logging in their corner of the Amazon. The Ka’apor – a tribe of about 2,200 people in Maranhão state – have organised a militia of “forest guardians” who follow a strategy of nature conservation through aggressive confrontation. Logging trucks and tractors that encroach upon their territory – the 530,000-hectare Alto Turiaçu Indigenous Land – are intercepted and burned. Drivers and chainsaw operators are warned never to return. Those that fail to heed the advice are stripped and beaten. It is dangerous work. Since the tribe decided to manage their own protection in 2011, they say the theft of timber has been reduced, but four Ka’apor have been murdered and more than a dozen others have received death threats.

[Malaysia] Sabah to become key timber producer again in five years
By Ruben Sario, The Star Online, 10 September 2015
Sabah is set to become a key timber producer again in about five years but much of it will no longer come from the natural forests here. The state is expected to produce about five million cubic metres of timber annually. Almost all of it would come from tree plantations currently maturing, said Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan. “We are aiming for an income of as much as RM500mil (RM2.16bil) per year once the harvesting from the tree plantations is in full swing.” He said the tree plantations mostly belonged to the state-owned Yayasan Sabah, producing quality timber of local tree species. Mannan said the tree plantations were part of a massive sustainable forest management (SFM) initiative which the Sabah government had undertaken since 1997. Other key sources of revenue will include the collection of fees for entry into recreational areas such as certain forest reserves and parks.

[New Zealand] Forestry group backs Greens plan
By Mike Barrington, The Northern Advocate, 10 September 2015
Green Party plans to dump the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and replace it with a revenue neutral carbon tax have been praised by the NZ Farm Forestry Association (NZFFA) in a reversal of support for the scheme. Association president Dean Satchell, of Kerikeri, said government meddling in the scheme had reversed any positive environmental outcomes such as controlling emissions and encouraging sustainable land use. “By sheltering farming from the ETS, the taxpayer artificially props up agricultural land values, leading to unrealistic expectations for profitable land use because farmers are not facing the real cost of emissions they produce,” he said.

11 September 2015

Rich countries ‘set bar low’ on cutting land use emissions
By James Phillips, BusinessGreen, 11 September 2015
Some of the world’s poorest nations are providing the strongest and most detailed commitments to slash emissions from land use, a new report claims, while richer countries are lagging behind with vague or even non-existent proposals. A new report by the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) yesterday examined the emissions reduction pledges, known as INDCs that China, Canada, Morocco and Ethiopia have submitted ahead of December’s pivotal Climate Summit in Paris. Research focused on countries’ transparency, ambition, accounting standards and proposed actions related to agriculture, forest and other land use (AFOLU) sector emissions.

Cameroon: Climate Change – IUCN Redoubles Combat Strategies
By Victorine Biy Nfor, Cameroon Tribune, 11 September 2015
A book on the experiences and lessons learnt by Cameroon in drawing up the readiness proposal of the REDD initiatiev has been launched. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has published a book on the “Experiences and Lessons Learnt by Cameroon in the Drawing Up of the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) with regard to the REDD Innitiative.” The publication was presented at a ceremony in Yaounde on September 10, 2015, during which it was revealed that it was high time stakeholders capitalise on the strides the country has made in the implementation of the REDD concept. The editorial team of the book counts Professor Roger Ngoufo of the Cameroon Environmental Watch, Professor Joseph Armathé Amougou, Focal Point of the REDD in the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development, MINEPDED and Remi Jiagho, Chargé de Programme at IUCN, with MINEPDED, Hele Pierre prefacing.

Madagascar’s carbon credits plan
By Jason Boswell, BBC News, 11 September 2015
At the World Forestry Congress 2015 – held in Durban, South Africa – it was said that the rate of deforestation across Africa is four times the world average. One of the most vulnerable countries is Madagascar, which has lost thousands of hectares of its unique forest to illegal logging and urbanisation over the past 50 years. But things there are changing because of several ongoing projects, which could not only slow the rate of deforestation, but potentially bring in millions of dollars for the country and its people.

[New Zealand] Carbon cuts just an illusion
By Brian Fallow, NZ Herald News, 11 September 2015
New Zealand greenhouse gas emitters have been meeting their obligations under the emissions trading scheme with thoroughly debased coin. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 74 per cent of the emission reduction units (ERUs) surrendered to the Government to balance last year’s emissions were imported carbon credits generated by the “joint implementation” provisions of the Kyoto Protocol. In 2013 they formed 91 per centof units surrendered; in 2012 it was 70 per cent. The integrity of these units has long been questioned. A new and painstaking study by the Stockholm Environment Institute, commissioned by the Austrian, Finnish and Swiss governments, confirms those doubts. It found that for 73 per cent of the ERUs issued, it was “implausible” to claim that a key condition required for them to be authorised was met, while for another 12 per cent it was “questionable”.

British man disqualified for running £2.5m carbon credit sale scam
Carbon Pulse, 11 September 2015
A British man has been disqualified from acting as a company director until 2029 for selling illiquid carbon credits to unwitting investors at inflated prices, the UK Insolvency Service said on Friday. Charles Denbigh, director of London-based New Frontier Advisory Ltd. (NFA), was disqualified effective Sep. 15, 2015 by a high court, after his firm recorded profits of at least £1.7 million from sales of carbon credits and rare earth metals totalling £2.5 million between 2011 and 2012. “Mr Denbigh should have known that the carbon credits and rare earth metals his company was selling, and the price his company charged for those products, meant that they were wholly unsuitable as an investment,” said Paul Titherington, official receiver in the Public Interest Unit of the Insolvency Service. “Anyone showing such blatant disregard for commercial morality should expect to be banned from running any limited company for a lengthy period time.”

12 September 2015

EU ministers scramble for climate finance consensus
By Zeke Turner and Sara Stefanini, POLITICO, 12 September 2015
Europe is under mounting pressure to find a unified solution to the question of financing measures to prevent climate change, as critical worldwide United Nations negotiations in Paris swiftly approach later this year. Climate finance is one element with potential to make or break a deal at the COP21 climate change summit, according to a note circulated ahead of a meeting of finance ministers from all 28 EU members on Friday here. The EU is already calling on other developed countries to make sure their commitment in the summit’s global agreement includes clear plans for providing both public and private financing to developing countries to help mitigate climate change. However, the bloc still does not have a firm plan of its own. The pressure to find a unified voice came from the COP21 host, the French government, which put the issue on Friday’s agenda.

Sri Lanka joins UN climate change mitigation efforts
By Deepal Warnakulasuriya, The Nation, 12 September 2015
The global effort to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change by reducing emissions due to deforestation and forest degradation through the auspices of the UNFCC, which was identified as REDD , became UN REDD when the United Nations engagement in the initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in developing countries. The program which operates within the purview of the Forest Department plans to support the Government to develop a national REDD strategy. The REDD vision for Sri Lanka is ‘Beyond forests, sustaining life and livelihood in a greener Sri Lanka.’ It is a vision to improve land management, enhance environmental services, conserve biodiversity, maintain economic growth, and minimize the risk of natural disasters through a stepwise, decentralized and nested approach.

13 September 2015

[Guyana] “BK” sold 100-acre Providence housing plot months after purchase
Kaieteur News, 13 September 2015
Months after officially purchasing a prime piece of housing land on the East Bank of Demerara, a private developer last year turned around and sold it to a Chinese logging company. The Chinese company in turn, shortly after, unveiled an ambitious gated community behind the National Stadium in Providence. But that development along the East Bank Demerara corridor is in deep trouble with works stalled in recent months. The particulars of the sale of the 100-acre plot by Sunset Lakes Inc. to BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. is not only raising eyebrows but has fallen under the radar of the new administration. A review of the Sale and Purchase agreement is underway.

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