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REDD in the news: 28 September – 4 October 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.


28 September 2015

Shell abandons Alaska Arctic drilling
By Terry Macalister, The Guardian, 28 September 2015
Shell has abandoned its controversial drilling operations in the Alaskan Arctic in the face of mounting opposition in what jubilant environmentalists described as “an unmitigated defeat” for big oil. The Anglo-Dutch company had repeatedly stressed the enormous hydrocarbon potential of the far north region in public, but in private began to admit it had been surprised by the popular opposition it faced. Shell said today it had made a marginal discovery of oil and gas with its summer exploration in the Chukchi Sea but not enough to continue to the search for the “foreseeable” future.

Conflicting views on direction of World Bank’s safeguards review
Bretton Woods Project, 28 September 2015
In early August the World Bank launched the third consultation phase of its proposed new environmental and social framework (ESF, see Observer Summer 2015), following the release of the second draft by the Bank board’s Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE). According to CODE, “the focus of the consultations should be on gathering feedback on the implementability of the ESF in borrowing countries”. Nonetheless, 52 issue areas such as human rights, indigenous peoples, labour and working conditions, and land acquisitions, have been highlighted for discussion. The consultation format includes discussion on a dedicated online forum, implementation workshops and meetings with shareholders and stakeholders. The consultation will visit government departments and stakeholders in 30 countries. No end date has been provided. The outcomes will inform the third and potentially final draft of the framework.

Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group call for an end to fossil fuel subsidies
Blue and Green Tomorrow, 28 September 2015
The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) has announced its support for the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform Communiqué, calling for reform, and ultimately, elimination, of fossil fuel subsidies. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that fossil fuel subsidies amounted to US$510 billion in 2014. This is based on the gap between what consumers pay and the actual cost of supply, but doesn’t consider the environmental and health costs. It is six times more than that allocated to renewable energy and hinders investments in efficiency and renewables.

[Canada] Keep Alberta’s carbon levy programme but raise CO2 price to $50, leaked report recommends
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 28 September 2015
A leaked government-funded analysis recommends increasing Alberta’s carbon levy to C$50 per tonne as the best way to cut the Canadian province’s power sector emissions, The Canadian Press reported on Sunday. That’s more than three times the current C$15 price, which is to be increased to C$20 next year and C$30 in 2017 under reforms announced this summer by the province’s New Democratic Party (NDP) government after it was elected in May. The study, conducted by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Brattle Group, weighed nine ways of reducing coal-fired energy generation in Alberta including shuttering power plants and imposing emissions caps and renewable energy targets. Alberta is the top GHG-emitting province in Canada, and coal power is Alberta’s second largest source of climate-warming emissions after the oil and gas sector and its activities in the province’s tar sands.

EU watchdog raises thresholds for exempting CO2 trading firms from MiFID regulations
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 28 September 2015
EU finance authority ESMA on Monday raised the thresholds for exempting carbon trading firms from MiFID regulations due from 2017, potentially making it easier for non-financial companies to avoid costly compliance and reducing the possibility that market liquidity could be hampered. ESMA published its final technical standards for MiFID II, which updates rules designed to overhaul financial trading to curb the influence of speculation in commodities markets in response to the 2008 financial crisis. The rules include all EU ETS and UN carbon derivatives, including physically-settled futures that make up the bulk of EU carbon trading, though they don’t regulate trade deemed to be purely for hedging purposes, spot and auction trading, or when firms trade using regulated third parties.

Indonesia’s Rimba Raya REDD+ Project Retains Triple Gold Status for Climate, Community and Biodiversity Benefits
InfiniteEARTH press release, 28 September 2015
Indonesia’s Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve, the world´s largest REDD+ forest preservation project, in terms of total verified emissions to date, has retained the coveted Triple Gold ranking under the global Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) standards. Rimba Raya is one of only four projects globally to be verified to meet the CCB’s Triple Gold level. The ranking means Rimba Raya meets exceptional targets in providing benefits for adapting to climate change, significant benefits for supporting communities around the project and protecting and nurturing the project’s rich and endangered plant and animal species, including Orangutans.

Climate Change Is So Bad That the US and China Agree on It
By Nick Stockton, WIRED, 28 September 2015
President Xi Jinping announced his country’s commitment to cutting emissions from the White House on September 24, the same day Pope Francis lectured Congress on how climate change is affecting the world’s poor. None of this is accidental. These two superpowers likely hope their combined barking will herd the rest of the world into a global emissions agreement at the upcoming United Nations climate talks, to be held in Paris starting at the end of November. It’s been a long time coming. Past attempts at global emissions agreements have failed because neither the US or China (or any other emitters) wants to be left holding a bag full of economy-wilting regulations. But the effects of climate change are beginning to overshadow the benefits of ignoring it, so last year the pair bilaterally announced that they would curb emissions.

[USA] Activists Arrested at Genetic Engineering World Headquarters of ArborGen
Global Justice Ecology Project, 28 September 2015
A plan by activists to inform Andrew Baum, President and CEO of ArborGen that over 250,000 people signed letters and petitions [1] rejecting Genetically Engineered (GE) Trees was interrupted when police arrested the two people who intended to deliver that message. Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the international Campaign to Stop Genetically Engineered Trees, Anne Petermann, and Global Justice Ecology Project’s GE Tree Campaign organizer, Ruddy Turnstone were stopped by police and arrested. The letters and petitions rejecting GE Trees and international protests mark a growing concern about the dangers of GE Trees and the threats they pose to the environment. ArborGen is developing genetically engineered loblolly pine trees with no public input, no risk assessments and no method for the public to receive information about ArborGen’s activities.

29 September 2015

World falls well short on climate pledges, but buys some time
By Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy, 29 September 2015
Here’s the bad news: The sum total of the climate pledges made by countries in the lead-up to the Paris climate change summit fall well short of the 2°C target. In fact, they are only likely to reduce global warming from the “do nothing” trajectory of 4.5°C by 2100 to the “doing something” trajectory of 3.5°C. The world will need to at least double its efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Here’s the good news: That result is pretty much as expected. There was no real hope that Paris would “save the planet” and deliver the 2°C outcome everyone knows is the bare minimum to contain the runaway impacts of climate change. But it should provide a framework to achieve that goal, and these pledges will buy the world some time – about 7 years. That is the estimate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Business and research group Climate Interactive, who have tallied up the pledges…

Fund-Raising as the World Burns: Shell Drills the Arctic, Takes a Timeout and Big Green Declares “Victory”
By Michael Donnelly, CounterPunch, 29 September 2015
Royal Dutch Shell had announced it was suspending Arctic drilling operations after having found insufficient oil to recoup a profitable Return on Investment given today’s low oil prices. Green Central, in a slew of fund-raising missives capitalizing on Shell’s announcement, would have one believe that Shell saw the light due to the courageous actions of the “kayaktavists” who staged showy, excellent protests, yet failed to stop the deployment of the rigs that conducted the very drilling that has come up so empty. As with George W. declaring Mission Accomplished in Iraq, the claims of victory emanating from Green Central are beyond premature, they are groundless. Neither Shell, nor the consortiums of other oil companies and governments that have their eye on the Arctic have withdrawn. The Obama Administration has not rescinded any drilling Leases and there is deafening silence from the “victors” on that.

Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration on the 21st Session of the UNFCCC-Conference of Parties (COP21)
AIPP, 29 September 2015
We challenge States to abandon false solutions to climate change that negatively impact on indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands, air, oceans, forests and territories. These include nuclear energy, large-scale dams, geo-engineering techniques, “clean coal,” agro-fuels, and market-based mechanisms such as carbon trading, the Clean Development Mechanism, and forest offsets… Finally, we call on the States to have the political will to commit to identified targets that will keep the temperature increase below 1.5 C degrees. The common but differentiated responsibilities must be upheld with clear commitments and actions by all parties. This is the time for action! The protection of indigenous peoples and sustainability of the planet are not up for further negotiations.

[Australia] Two more charged over Irish Boys $4 million boiler room scams
By Jorge Branco, Brisbane Times, 29 September 2015
Authorities have charged another two men over a boiler room scam thought to have defrauded more than 150 Australians out of more than $4 million. A 33-year-old Robina man was charged on Tuesday, accused of acting as the general manager for a scheme that sold fraudulent investment products through several companies. His aggravated fraud charge stemmed from the same joint Crime and Corruption Commission-Queensland Police Service raids which led to the arrests of four alleged “key players” of the so-called Irish Boys crime syndicate. Several more staff allegedly involved in the scams were charged in the following days. CCC acting executive director crime Michael Scott told media at the time the fraud involved selling bogus investment schemes and sports betting software.

Brazil’s Climate Plan Focuses On Healthy Forests, With Role Of Markets Uncertain
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 29 September 2015
Brazil has already slashed its greenhouse-gas emissions more than the entire European Union has, mostly by clamping down on deforestation. This week, it unveiled its new climate plan, which promises the country’s emissions will be 37 percent lower in 2025 than they were in 2005, with a further decrease of 6 percent by 2030. To achieve that, it aims to preserve the progress it’s made on deforestation while ramping up its use of renewable energy and expanding its sustainable agriculture programs. The role for market mechanisms, however, is unclear. Wording in the document leaves room for international emission-reduction “units”, but it explicitly prevents other countries from using those units to offset their own emissions.

Brazil flags INDC of 2025 goal to cut GHGs 37% below 2005 levels
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 29 September 2015
Brazil’s will cut its greenhouse gas emissions 37% on 2005 by 2025, President Dilma Rousseff said on Sunday, flagging the country’s INDC at the UN General Assembly in New York. The unconditional goal is among the most ambitious in percentage terms so far, and it makes Brazil one of the few developing nations to announce an absolute emission reduction goal in its contribution to a UN climate pact, rather than merely limiting growth from unchecked levels. The 2025 target would require Brazil’s emissions to reach 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, compared to its 2005 level of 2.1 billion tonnes. Brazil’s have fallen sharply since 2005 to around 1.5 billion tonnes by 2012 as government efforts to curb deforestation took hold. The 2025 goal would still represent an absolute reduction of around 12% on the estimated 2012 levels.

Brazil’s Climate Plan: A positive and surprising signal for a successful outcome in Paris
By Ana Toni and Alice Amorim, Nivela, 29 September 2015
Based on President Dilma’s announcement, the forest-related targets are neither ambitious nor new. The 12 million hectares target for reforestation was already announced and extensively criticized by Brazilian environmentalists after Dilma and Obama’s recent Joint Statement on Climate Change since the commitment to eliminate “illegal” deforestation fell short in sustaining the leadership role Brazil has had in successfully curbing deforestation. Brazilians demand an overall target of zero deforestation and not only of “zero illegal deforestation”. This target suggests tolerance with some level of ‘legal’ deforestation and acceptance of the continuity of the crime of “illegal” deforestation until 2030. Hopefully, this target will be improved over time.

[Cambodia] Environmental Group Says ‘Inactive’ Government Has Failed Its Forests
By Aun Chhengpor, Voice of America, 29 September 2015
Editor’s note: The Prey Lang Community Network, which works to protect Cambodian forests, has been selected by UNDP for an Equator Prize, for outstanding community organizing. In an interview with VOA Khmer, the group’s spokesman, Seng Sok Heng, says the government is “inactive” in protecting Cambodian forests, some of the last rainforest in Southeast Asia. How was the Prey Lang Community Network selected for the prize? This prize aims to award any community that works for the cause of society and the world in the field of protecting the forest and preserving the environment, which our community is doing. What does getting this prize mean to the work of the group? We believe that the prize will boost the value and status of environmentalist communities. It motivates the activists and environmentalists who are working to protect Prey Lang.

Six African Countries Launch CAFI Initiative on Forests
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 29 September 2015
Representatives of six African nations and development partners launched the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) at a high-level event in New York, the US. CAFI aims to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in Central Africa through mitigating climate change, reducing poverty and contributing to sustainable development. Through the Initiative, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo, will develop national investment plans to address the factors leading to deforestation. The DRC Minister of Finance Henri Yav Mulang explained that his country aims to achieve “emissions reductions and co-benefits in terms of sustainable development and poverty reduction” through its participation in CAFI.

African nations and donors agree plan to protect Congo forests
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 29 September 2015
Six African nations have agreed with donors on a plan to protect the tropical forests of the Congo basin, the second biggest in the world after the Amazon’s, to help ease poverty and combat climate change. Norway, the first donor to announce a pledge for the project, said it would give up to 400 million crowns ($47 million) annually from 2016-20, from funds it had previously earmarked for tropical forests. “Addressing issues concerning unsustainable agriculture, wood energy use, forestry and infrastructure development will be the main challenges,” the U.N. Development Programme said in a statement on Wednesday. The project aims to slow illegal logging and burning of forests that are vital to millions of people and home to endangered animals such as gorillas and bonobos. It is part of preparations for a U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December.

[EU] British man extradited to Germany from US in EU ETS tax evasion probe
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 29 September 2015
A British man arrested in Las Vegas in May 2014 was extradited to Germany last Friday from the US over his suspected role in tax evasion worth €136 million and linked to the EU carbon market, Frankfurt prosecutors said Tuesday. The 57-year old man is “strongly suspected” of masterminding a VAT carousel fraud ring linked to the EU ETS through his Dubai-headquartered company between Aug. 2009 and May 2010, and of providing capital for the purchase of EU Allowances, the prosecutors said, adding that he was now in custody. “The suspect fed certificates into the trading process via a company based in Dubai, and as the person factually responsible for four companies based in Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin he controlled the VAT carousel through members of (a) gang,” they added.

[Malaysia] World’s largest ecological study aims to make palm oil wildlife-friendly
By Tom Levitt, The Guardian (Sponsored by RSPO), 29 September 2015
“The thing about deforestation is that it doesn’t kill animals, it kills trees. Therefore the animals that are mobile will go somewhere,” explains Rob Ewers, an ecologist at Imperial College London… On average, just 15% of the species recorded in primary forest are found in oil palm plantations. But what if these forest fragments were expanded or redesigned to encourage more species to survive and migrate through palm oil landscapes? For the past five years, Ewers has been leading a study called the Safe project to answer this question. With a team of researchers on the island of Borneo, Malaysia – one of the most biodiverse regions in the world – he is studying the impact of different types and sizes of forest fragments on wildlife populations. With the support of a major palm oil company, Malaysia-based Sime Darby, which Ewers says has no involvement in the study…

Peru: Police Open Fire on Mining Protesters Killing Three
By Jennifer Baker, Revolution News, 29 September 2015
Police opened fire on the Peruvian highlands farmers protesting a $7.4bn Chinese-owned copper mining project, when they entered part of the Las Bambas mine where the plant that separates copper ore from rock is being built. While the first three days of the protests passed without incident, violence broke out yesterday afternoon after police tried to disperse a crowd of 2,000 demonstrators. The indefinite strike against the mining project Las Bambas started on Friday 25th September. By the end of the day, three were dead and 23 injured – 15 civilians and 8 police officers. Police arrested 30 protesters. Percy Jeronimo, the oral surgeon running the emergency room, said three of the wounded were critically ill. All three of the deceased were protesters killed by bullet wounds. The bodies were identified as Exaltation Huamani, who died in the health center of the area; Huilca Chahuallo Beto (34) and Alberto Cardenas Chalco (23).

[UK] Greedy traders being duped into working cold-call bogus investment scams by fraudsters
By Holly Black, Daily Mail, 29 September 2015
Aspiring stockmarket traders are being lured into selling bogus investments by fraudsters. Newly trained traders are promised high salaries and huge incentives by headhunters who want them to work in boiler rooms. They are then trained to cold-call victims and pressure them into buying shares that are either worthless or non-existent. Often the shares relate to alternative investments such as wine, land, carbon credits, metals and diamonds. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau says recent ploys have also involved crowdfunding and computer server leasing. While many new recruits don’t realise what they have been lured into, they could still face prison or a fine. Action Fraud says anyone approached about a job should always check the firm’s details and make sure they are registered in the UK.

30 September 2015

‘Exxons of Agriculture’ Wielding Power to Block Real Climate Solutions: Report
By Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams, 30 September 2015
Fertilizer companies are the “Exxons of agriculture” and are blocking beneficial climate climate policies with their massive lobbying power, a new report charges. The publication by GRAIN, an international nonprofit organization that advocates for locally-controlled, biodiversity-based food systems, describes how the fertilizer industry, whose products the group says are responsible for up to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, has joined forces with major corporations like Walmart in order to cast itself as a purveyor of “climate smart” policies while protecting its interests. Yet these so-called “climate smart” polices that rely on the industry’s products are anything but, GRAIN states. Take nitrogen fertilizers—they take a lot of energy to produce, and they are increasingly relying on fracked wells for that production. The damage continues once they’re applied to fields…

Can we trust country-level data from global forest assessments?
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 30 September 2015
We are all encouraged by current political commitments that aim to “end deforestation” or “halt natural forest loss” in the next decade. These commitments have been made within the Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 15, target 2), the New York Declaration on Forests and decisions by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. But, against what reference should we monitor progress towards targets expressed in these commitments? And do we have the processes in place to deliver accurate findings? In an earlier article I compared attempts to assess changes in the global forest with the story about blind men and the elephant. Differences in methods, definitions, completeness and field verifications inevitably led to entirely incomparable results between Global Forest Watch and the FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment.

The $100 Billion Question on Climate Starts to Find an Answer
By Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg, 30 September 2015
Industrial nations are starting to answer the question of how they will scale up aid for projects that curb global warming, unleashing development banks to help catalyze investment. The board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said it will increase investment for climate projects to 18 billion euros ($20 billion) by 2020, a boost of about 1 billion euros a year according to a statement from the bank in London. The announcement followed similar decisions over the past week by the European Investment Bank and Asian Development Bank. The funds involved are only a fraction of the $100 billion commitment that rich countries have repeated every year since 2009 to inject life into the international effort on climate change. Even so, support from the development banks is crucial for drawing in more capital because it makes commercial lenders confident in untested projects.

Airlines commit to climate action ahead of Paris
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 30 September 2015
Aviation industry leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to curbing the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, ahead of a Paris climate deal. Chiefs of Boeing, Airbus and Rolls-Royce were among 28 signatories to an open letter published on Wednesday, pledging to stabilise emissions from 2020 and halve them by 2050 from a 2005 baseline. To hit those targets, they emphasised the need to agree a carbon market at the 2016 summit of UN aviation authority, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). They wrote: “It’s a challenging task. But it is one to which the aviation industry is fully committed.”

Brazil’s climate pledge is significant, but falls short on curbing deforestation
By Paulo Moutinho (IPAM) and Steve Schwartzman, EDF, 30 September 2015
Brazil is taking credit for reductions it has already made. It certainly deserves credit for those. But a 37% reduction compared with emissions from 2005 doesn’t sound quite as ambitious when you consider that Brazil already reduced its national, economy-wide emissions by 35% from 2005–2013, all from reducing Amazon deforestation. In other words, the projected emissions to 2025 compared to 2012 emissions shows a reduction around 2%… econd, President Rousseff reiterated her pledge to achieve zero illegal deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon by 2030. But a recent study by Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) concludes that full implementation of the Forest Code (including restoration of degraded lands) would itself result in zero deforestation by 2030. That target also ignores other major forested, high-deforestation biomes, in particular the savanna (Cerrado).

China’s Xi Jinping Announces Cap-and-Trade Carbon Program: Will it Work?
By Mark L. Clifford, Forbes, 30 September 2015
The flaws in cap-and-trade systems often start from the beginning. Initial allocations typically are too large, as regulators attempt to mollify industry interests, who are concerned about being forced to pay higher costs. Carbon trading in Europe to date has been a failure; overly large initial allocations coupled with weak economic growth have seen prices of the trading credits drop to almost nothing. Thus the trading scheme to date has been largely ineffective in cutting carbon emissions. Most economists agree that a carbon tax is far simpler and more efficient. China could simply put a price on each ton of coal, as this MIT-Tsinghua study shows, and fairly quickly see emissions peak with virtually no cost to the economy. But that would take away bureaucratic discretion.

[Indonesia] Debottlenecking businesses
The Jakarta Post, 30 September 2015
The government delivered on its promise made early this month by announcing on Tuesday a second package of reform measures designed to further streamline the regulatory pipeline and clean up the rusty bureaucratic chains to smoothen economic development. The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) pledged to grant permits in principle, certificates of incorporation and taxpayer registration numbers within three hours to investors as long as they plan to set up factories in industrial estates with planned investments of a minimum of Rp 100 billion (US$6.84 million) or generating at least 1,000 jobs. The new reform measures also require the Forestry and Environment Ministry to accelerate the issuance of all licenses for exploration and production operations in forested areas from more than four years currently to only between 12 and 15 days.

NASA photo reveals Asia’s choking haze, 30 September 2015
A satellite image released this week by NASA shows the extent of haze currently blanketing much of Southeast Asia. The photo captures plumes of smoke emerging from fires burning in the peatlands of Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo. The smoke blows west into what looks like thick clouds over both islands as well as neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. The fires are the source of much concern in the region. Choking haze is causing widespread hospitalizations, interfering with transportation, and inflaming political tensions between Indonesia and Singapore. At the same time, the fires are releasing millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere — 600 million tons according to the Global Fire Emissions Database. While fires occur on an annual basis in Indonesia, they are especially bad this year due to dry El Nino conditions, which turn drained and deforested peatlands into a tinderbox.

[Indonesia] Farmers demand govt protect land ownership rights
The Jakarta Post, 30 September 2015
Farmers from West Java, Bali and Sumatra staged a rally in Jakarta on Tuesday to demand the government grant them the ownership of lands that they have worked on for years. The rally was also part of the celebration of National Farmers Day, which fell on Sept. 24. Anwar Sastro Ma’ruf, the president of the Indonesian People’s Movement Confederation (KPRI), the umbrella organization for the Indonesian Farmers Union (PPPI), said limited access to land had contributed to the decline in the number of farmers in the country. He said the government’s decision to give land to business had contributed to the reduction in the number of farmers by 500,000 per year. “The biggest problem for our farmers today is the land issue. One farmer now has an average of only 0.4 hectares of farmland and the legal status is not clear because the government has yet to recognize their ownership so they are vulnerable to sudden take-overs,” …

SE Asia seeks new strategy to fight ‘slash and burn’ haze problem
By Astrid Zweynert, Reuters, 30 September 2015
As a blanket of haze, caused by thick smoke from forest fires in Indonesia, covers parts of Southeast Asia, the region is struggling to find an effective response to the problem, experts said. The haze has caused health problems, flight delays and school closures across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in what has become an annual ordeal that has defied attempts by governments, businesses and green groups to tackle it. At the heart of the problem are palm oil plantation owners, who use cheap and easy slash-and-burn techniques to clear forests and meet rising global demand for the oil used for cooking and in household products from shampoo to ice cream. Experts stress that Indonesia, home to the world’s third-largest tropical forest acreage, holds the key to the problem and needs to put into practise a long-term plan to enforce laws, tackle the fires and spend more on prevention.

1 October 2015

′Not ideal′: climate change experts criticize emissions pledges ahead of Paris summit
Deutsche Welle, 1 October 2015
On Thursday, the international environmental organization Climate Action Tracker applauded the emissions pledges made by 140 countries to limit their impact on global warming. According to CAT, the concerted effort could prevent global average temperatures from rising by 3 degrees Celsius (5.4F) compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels before the year 2100… However, climate researcher Kornelis Blok of Ecofys, which forms part of CAT, said the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – countries’ proposed emissions cutbacks – were “not ideal.” “All big emitters should seriously reconsider improving their INDCs between now and Paris, or soon after. That only two governments have climate commitments rated sufficient is not ideal, only two months before Paris,” Blok said, referring to China and India.

Paris Summit: The ‘End of the Beginning’ for the Climate Fight?
By Tony Juniper, Huffington Post, 1 October 2015
Even without the UN process, technology, pubic opinion, patterns of investment, commercial planning and political consensus are turning more and more toward meaningful action. A good Paris outcome will accelerate the transition already in train; and that is ultimately how Paris should and will be judged. There is little doubt that opponents of the low-carbon transition know they are on the wrong side of history. But they have fought long and hard to delay the progress we need, and will continue doing so in the road through Paris. It is incumbent on all of us in the environment movement to make sure that we do not inadvertently hand them any ammunition. As Churchill also remarked: “Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein, we never had a defeat”. Paris could be our pivot point, and despite not being a total win, history might see it as the moment the tables turned.

Death of UN Market Looms as Climate Draft Downplays Trading
By Matthew Carr, Bloomberg, 1 October 2015
The United Nations’ 18-year-old greenhouse-gas market will probably be killed off unless carbon trading forms a key part of the global climate pact in Paris in December, according to the International Emissions Trading Association. A deal that doesn’t specifically allow nations to transfer credits for emissions cuts will probably confine trading to a smaller club of countries, reducing the efficiency of climate protection, according to Jeff Swartz, the director of international policy at the trade group. Markets weren’t prominent in a draft text published in September, he said. An amended version is planned early this month, the UN has said. Brazil said Sunday it’s willing to participate in a global carbon market through a UN emissions credit program, while China said last week it plans a national market in 2017 and will “intensify efforts” with the U.S. to promote global low-carbon solutions.

[UK] The carbon credit conman who sold investors hot air
By Andrew Penman, Mirror Online, 1 October 2015
Not the slightest flicker of remorse crossed the face of investment conman Young Erumuse when I confronted him. It was a short walk from the financial heart of Britain in the City of London, and he stood glowering down at me in his blue three-piece suit. At first he denied he was Erumuse, the director of London Carbon Credit Company Ltd. Then, when he admitted to it, he refused to answer questions about customers who had put their savings into his company and lost the lot. Now he has been banned from being a director for the maximum period of 15 years. His company made £1.7million with claims that you could “Profit in an ethically-sound fashion” by buying carbon credits, which are used by businesses to offset carbon emissions.

[UK] Police issue advice to stamp out boiler room fraud in Derbyshire
By Lucy Grosvenor, Buxton Advertiser, 1 October 2015
Derbyshire detectives are issuing advice to try and end stock and shares fraud across the county. The fraud, also known as bond fraud or share sale, involves bogus stockbrokers cold calling members of the public to offer non-existent or worthless shares by promising a high return. The professionally sounding scammers promise free research reports, special discounts or secret stock tips if people invest. Once a rapport is established, the caller will then continue to pressure the victim into handing over further funds. Over recent years, Derbyshire officers have investigated many boiler room frauds, with one case involving victims investing their savings into shares for oil, gas, petrol and gold, along with big company names such as Disney and Apple.

2 October 2015

Hall of shame: Who hasn’t pledged yet to UN climate pact?
By Alex Pashley, Climate Home, 2 October 2015
In the world of climate diplomacy there are no penalties, just reproachful gazes. As it stands, 49 countries covering about 10% of global greenhouse gases according to EU 2012 data, might get the silent treatment at a Paris summit in December. At the close of UN talks in Poland in 2013, countries who were “ready to do so” were invited to produce an “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC) by the first quarter of 2015. Just 33 managed that. But another 113 since got on board in time to meet a 1 October UN deadline for a stock-take of pledges.

Poorer nations face let-down as INDCs lack carbon market buyers
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 2 October 2015
Dozens of poorer nations seeking to sell emission reductions to help decarbonise their economies are likely to face disappointment because barely any rich countries are willing to outsource their abatement efforts through buying carbon credits. Some 146 countries covering 87% of global emissions, including some of the world’s poorest nations, had submitted their INDCs by the UN’s soft Oct. 1 deadline for national contributions to a post-2020 global climate pact due to be signed in Paris in December. There are at least 70 countries that are seeking to use, or considering using, market-based mechanisms, according to INDC data compiled by Carbon Pulse. But the vast majority of those are developing nations looking to sell emission reductions to richer governments, with barely a handful of willing buyer countries and no interest from the major economies of China, the EU and US.

When planting trees does more harm than good
By Mary Hoff, Ensia, 2 October 2015
In a paper published in the October 2015 issue of the journal BioScience, the researchers point out that the current emphasis on trees as tools for sequestering atmospheric carbon has led to a number of initiatives that encourage planting trees on grasslands or allowing forests to expand into grasslands. The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Clean Development Mechanism, for example, offers carbon credits for foresting grasslands, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations does not distinguish for policy purposes between closed-canopy forests and grassy biomes with trees, and carbon valuation systems such as CDM and REDD+ favor forests over other types of land cover. “Despite overwhelming evidence of their antiquity and richness, the misperception persists that grassy biomes are degraded ecosystems formed as a result of human-caused deforestation,” the researchers write.

[Australia] Government to receive international carbon credit free kick
By Tristan Edis, Climate Spectator, 2 October 2015
Back in July Climate Spectator highlighted the potential for the Government to receive a large free kick towards achieving its 2020 emission reduction target as a result of a minor administrative decision (Hunt’s climate change ‘get out of jail free’ card). This involved landfill operators using left-over monies collected to meet future carbon price liabilities which no longer applied, to purchase carbon abatement. This carbon abatement would then be gifted to the government which they could use to count towards the 2020 emission reduction target. At the time of our report it was unclear precisely how much money the landfill operators would allocate to purchasing abatement. In addition the Government refused to confirm whether it would allow them to use the money to purchase very cheap international carbon credits known as CERs or undertake abatement actions of their own.

India unveils climate action plan for 2021-30, to reduce emissions intensity by 33%
NetIndian, 2 October 2015
India today unveiled an ambitious climate action plan for 2021-30, called the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), which seeks to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from the 2005 levels and create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover. Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said the country’s INDC was balanced and comprehensive.

[Indonesia] World’s oldest rainforests burn as Jokowi scales back promises
Bangkok Post, 2 October 2015
Having promised to extinguish forest fires in Riau in western Indonesia by early October, President Joko Widodo jetted into Sumatra island last week for a progress check. The smoke was so thick his plane couldn’t land, forcing him back to the capital. Exacerbated by dry conditions from El Nino, the haze has blown across Southeast Asia, blanketing Singapore, parts of Indonesia and Malaysia and felt in Thailand in a smog that has closed schools and forced some people to flee their homes. In what has become an annual “haze season” ritual, governments are bickering about who is to blame and how to fix things, fearing a hit to tourism and economic activity. So far Mr Widodo, known as Jokowi, is following a similar track to his predecessors: Threaten to punish the palm oil and other plantation companies whose land is ablaze and send soldiers in to help fight the fires.

Indonesia forest fires could become worst on record: NASA
The Jakarta Post, 2 October 2015
The forest fires blanketing Southeast Asia in choking haze are on track to become among the worst on record, NASA has warned, with a prolonged dry season hampering efforts to curb a crisis that has persisted for nearly two decades. Malaysia, Singapore and large expanses of Indonesia have suffered for weeks from acrid smoke billowing from fires on plantations and peatlands that are being illegally cleared by burning. Though the crisis grips the region nearly every year during the dry season, scientists predict the current outbreak could surpass 1997 levels, when out-of-control forest fires sent pollution soaring to record highs in an environmental disaster that cost an estimated US$9 billion. If the forecasted dry conditions extend, the region could be enveloped in even denser smog, exacerbating a crisis that has seen flights grounded, schools closed and tens of thousands of people seek medical treatment for respiratory problems.

Edward Norton in Kenya: a safari camp ‘unlike anywhere else’
By Lisa Grainger, The Telegraph, 2 October 2015
Enthused by the couple’s vision for expanding their conservation and community plans across Africa, he agreed to help them. Today, he heads up the affiliated Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust which, alongside Campi Ya Kanzi, helps the Maasai to make a living from their 400 square miles of land through innovative means. Here, Norton explains, unlike other Maasai areas where they eke out a living from their cattle and perhaps a small fee from tourism, the villagers have been helped to realise the value of their environment: the water that comes from their cloud-forested hills and is piped to Mombasa; the forests, from which they can reap carbon credits; the wildlife, protected by their own anti-poaching teams, that lures tourists to visit and contribute financially towards the trust.

3 October 2015

[Guyana] Granger welcomes Jagdeo’s interventions overseas on Climate Change
Kaieteur News, 3 October 2015
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, is currently in the USA holding talks with world leaders on climate change, a topic which is high on the agenda of the APNU+AFC government. But President David Granger is not the least bit threatened by this. In fact, he welcomes the interventions by the former President. Yesterday he told media operatives that Jagdeo “has seen the light.” During a press conference at the Ministry of the Presidency, the President said, “We are happy he (Jagdeo) has come over to our side…Guyana is one state, one leadership and we welcome Jagdeo’s support for our climate change agenda.” The Head of State added, “It is known that during his tenure in office, he did advance certain initiatives in terms of climate change and where useful we will embrace those initiatives.”

[Guyana] Granger vindicated for scrapping Amaila after meeting IDB President
Kaieteur News, 3 October 2015 The 165MW Hydro Electric Power Plant that was being pursued, as conceived by the previous administration at Amaila Falls, was not viable. The new administration has since been vindicated in its decision not to proceed with it. This is according to Head of State, President David Granger, who yesterday provided an update following a meeting with Luis Alberto Moreno, the President of one of the key partners in the project, the Inter American Development Bank’s (IDB). The project which saw an escalating price tag that almost reached US$1B was sidelined by the coalition A Partnership for National Unity, Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) government, a decision President Granger said, is now being vindicated. “The IDB spent millions of dollars investigating the possibility of having a hydro power project based on the Amaila Falls … generally speaking, the Amaila Falls Project as conceived by the previous administration was not viable, it is not viable…”

4 October 2015

The Guardian view on the Paris climate change summit: reasons to be cheerful
The Guardian, 4 October 2015
Agreement is not a done deal, but countries responsible for 75% of the world’s carbon emissions have now set targets for cuts in carbon emissions. On Friday, India, which is now the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, became the last of the major economies to file its pledge. It has promised to source 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. When the targets put forward by all the major polluters are assessed, it is reckoned that as long as they are honoured, these levels of emissions would hold global warming at 2.7C above the pre-industrial era. That is still too far above the 2C considered the limit to prevent dangerous climate change; but it is much lower than feared.

[Canada] Nothing worse than cap-and-trade
Toronto Sun, 4 October 2015
Leave it to Tom Mulcair and the New Democrats, in advocating a national carbon pricing scheme, to pick the worst one. That’s cap-and-trade, which the European experience has shown is ineffective at lowering greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change and particularly vulnerable to political corruption and fraud. Cap-and-trade requires the creation of a massive new government bureaucracy to conduct auctions of carbon credits, so you can see why the NDP like it. It’s even worse than a carbon tax. The only reason politicians seem to prefer cap-and-trade to a carbon tax — literally — is that they don’t have to say the word “tax”. The distinction is irrelevant. Cap-and-trade raises prices. A carbon tax raises taxes.

[UK] Police issue warning over savings scams
Buxton Advertiser, 4 October 2015
Derbyshire police are warning people to beware of fraudulent scams where they could lose savings. Detectives said they were trying to stamp out “boiler room fraud” which is also known as bond fraud or share sale. They said it involves bogus stockbrokers cold calling members of the public to offer non-existent or worthless shares, by promising a high return. A police spokesman said: “The fraudsters sound professional and highly convincing, promising free research reports, special discounts or secret stock tips if they invest. “Once a rapport is established, the caller will then continue to call and pressure the victim into handing over further funds. “Over recent years, Derbyshire officers have investigated many boiler room frauds, with once case involving victims investing their savings into shares for oil, gas, petrol and gold – along with big company names such as Disney and Apple…”


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