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 delicious.com are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.
19 October 2015
Leaders Unite in Calling for a Price on Carbon Ahead of Paris Climate Talks
IMF press release, 19 October 2015
For the first time, an unprecedented alliance of Heads of State, city and state leaders, with the support of heads of leading companies, have joined forces to urge countries and companies around the globe to put a price on carbon. The call to price carbon comes from the Carbon Pricing Panel – a group convened by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde – to spur further, faster action ahead of the Paris climate talks. They are joined in this effort by OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria.
Paris And The Amazing Technicolor Charm-Quilt: Why This Year’s Climate Talks Really Are Different
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 19 October 2015
The Coalition for Rainforest Nations has led a charge for explicit inclusion of REDD+, and today they submitted explicit definitions it would like to see in the framework agreement, but many environmental NGOs that had previously advocated for such language aren’t pushing the agenda this year. Josefina Braña-Varela, who is in charge of policy for WWF International’s Global Forest & Climate Programme, said she’d also prefer a more explicit reference to REDD+, but that the current text was probably good enough. “In the section of finance, there is an explicit mention of forests, which we received quite well but with some reservations,” she said. “I think that keeps the door open for finance for forests, and we are happy with this.” Gustavo A. Silva-Chávez, who runs the finance-tracking initiative REDDX for Ecosystem Marketplace publisher Forest Trends, said he’d also like to see REDD+ more explicitly mentioned…
Sense of deja vu as slimline climate deal expands again
By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 19 October 2015
Anger among developing countries that key proposals had been slashed from the latest draft version of a new global deal to tackle climate change drove the first fractious day of talks Monday in the last round of negotiations before the key Paris talks that begin next month. At the opening of talks in Bonn, South Africa’s delegate Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko – speaking on behalf of a group of 134 developing nations – called the text “extremely unbalanced and lopsided” to the extent it “jeopardised the interests and positions” of poorer states. But dissatisfaction with the recently issued proposed draft package for Paris, distilled to 20 pages by the talks’ co-chairs from a much longer text, was not confined to the G77 and China group of developing nations.
Common land: the fightback starts here
By Fred Pearce, CGIAR Water, Land and Ecosystems, 19 October 2015
For most Westerners, the idea of common lands conjures up images of English village greens or abandoned wasteland. But in much of the developing world, they are the lifeblood of hundreds of millions of people, sources of sustenance and spirituality, of wealth and welfare. The commons have been under threat for decades from state control and privatization. Land grabbing by agribusiness and mining has escalated in the past decade. From the pastures of sub-Saharan Africa to the forests of Latin America and the mountains of southeast Asia, it is the unfenced commons that have most often been at risk from a growing tide of international investment in land.
[Australia] The Ayers Rock Resort purchase shines a light on failures of accountability
By Dawn Casey, The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), 19 October 2015
I am about to complete four years as chair of the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC), a Commonwealth statutory corporation. The experiences of the board I have led have shown how difficult good policy making has become in Australia, and demonstrated the fragility of our institutional commitment to transparency and accountability. Indigenous Affairs has always provided a window into the darker corners of our political system. Over 20 years, the ILC has been a key player in providing some land justice for Indigenous people across Australia. Its revenues are derived from a capital fund, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account, established as part of the negotiated national response to the recognition of native title in the Mabo judgment. The ILC Board allocates funds from the compensatory Land Account for the benefit of Australia’s most disadvantaged citizens.
[Cambodia] Carbon credit schemes, concessions slashed
By Pech Sotheary, Phnom Penh Post, 19 October 2015
The Ministry of Environment has cancelled seven carbon credit schemes and reduced the leases of six economic land concessions (ELCs) as part of an ongoing reform effort, according to an announcement released on Friday. Carbon credits are created when companies invest in projects, usually abroad, to offset their emissions, while Cambodia’s ELC system has come under scrutiny over its effect on the environment and forced evictions. Srun Darith, the ministry’s chief of cabinet, said that seven unnamed companies had their carbon credit projects cancelled due to inactivity. “They were passive and did not fully conduct their studies,” he said. As for the ELCs, the ministry announced in July that it was implementing a move to reduce their leases to 50 years across the board. The latest six companies to have their terms reduced cover 45,468 hectares of land in Koh Kong, Kampot, and Pursat provinces.
[Cambodia] Gov’t Cancels 7 Carbon Credit Contracts
By Aun Pheap, The Cambodia Daily, 19 October 2015
The Environment Ministry has canceled contracts for seven out of eight carbon credit projects that it approved between 2011 and 2013, dealing another blow to efforts to turn protected forests into a potential revenue stream for locals. A statement issued by the ministry on Friday said one company would be allowed to continue its feasibility study, while contracts with seven other firms had been scrapped. Srun Darith, deputy cabinet chief at the Environment Ministry, said the projects—which were all in the study stage—had been canceled because the companies were not making enough effort to start trading carbon. “We decided to cancel seven projects because they applied with the Ministry of Environment asking to invest in the projects, but we have seen they have no real desire to do it,” he said.
[Indonesia] Where’s the resource governance
By Emanuel Bria and Max George-Wagner, The Jakarta Post, 19 October 2015
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently outlined new economic policies that aim to produce greater certainty and efficiency in business through deregulation, debureaucratization and improved law enforcement. His overall objective is to revive foreign investment in Indonesia in the context of the global economic slowdown. Economic theories about so-called “rent seeking” hold that heavy regulation and bureaucracy are channels through which corrupt public officials can extract money for themselves at the expense of the general public. In Indonesia, many such regulations concern natural resources. While changing them is a good step toward reform, the government could further advance these efforts by introducing a more transparent and accountable system in natural-resource management.
[Indonesia] Mining and piling national wounds
By Mohamad Burhanuddin, The Jakarta Post, 19 October 2015
There was a sad paradox when reading the news related to mining issues in a number of national mass media outlets over the past week. One national newspaper bore the headline “Simplified mining sector”. For the sake of accelerating economic growth, the government will facilitate the entry of investment in the mining sector. In another part, shocking news came from Lumajang regency, East Java. Because of his active campaigning against sand mining on the beach in his village, Salim Kancil, a farmer in Selok Awar Awar village was killed by about 40 people in the village on Sept. 26. As portrayed in the media, Salim was allegedly killed in a very brutal way. He was dragged from his house into the village hall. Then, dozens of people (described as thugs) allegedly sent by the village head, beat the body and head of Salim, even hacking him with sickles.
REDD+ Project Developers in Brazil and Indonesia Team Up to Conserve Peat Forests Threatened by Fire
Carbonfund.org press release, 19 October 2015
Carbonfund.org Foundation, a US-based non-profit, and its subsidiary CarbonCo, a company that has successfully developed four large scale REDD+ projects that protect 300,000 hectares of rainforest in Brazil, has partnered with Indonesian-based, PT Forest Carbon, to develop REDD+ projects in Indonesia that protect peat forests threatened by forest clearing and fire. Forest Carbon (http://www.forestcarbon.com/), a climate and forestry consulting firm that has been working on REDD+ implementation since 2007, will work with Carbonfund.org Foundation on the development of feasibility studies with Indonesian companies looking to restore degraded peat forest ecosystems, particularly those which serve as habitats for endangered species, such as the orangutan.
South Africa likens draft climate deal to apartheid
By Alister Doyle, Reuters, 19 October 2015
South Africa on Monday criticised a draft United Nations accord on fighting climate change as a form of “apartheid” against developing nations. A summit in Paris is supposed to agree a global accord for tackling climate change in December, but a last week of negotiations on the draft text, which began in Germany on Monday, got off to a stormy start with developing nations saying their demands had been omitted from the pared down 20-page draft. “It is just like apartheid,” Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, South Africa’s delegate who speaks on behalf of the main grouping of more than 130 developing nations and China, told the meeting.
[UK] Jailed investment fraudsters in court clash over missing £3m
By Jun Merrett, Citywire, 19 October 2015
Two former accountants who were jailed for a total of 15 years over orchestrating a $200 million (£129 million) investment fraud could face a further 10 years in prison for failing to pay around £3 million in confiscation orders. Shinder Gangar and Alan White, who ran Midlands-based accountancy firm Dobb White & Co, amassed the funds through a Ponzi-style investment scheme which recruited new victims to finance ‘interest’ payments to existing clients. Gangar and White promised returns of up to 160% and duped clients into investing by claiming celebrities such as composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and journalist David Frost were part of the scheme, when in reality they were not.
[UK] Blind OAP duped into investing £94,000 in ‘worthless’ Dumbarton ground in landbanking scam
Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter, 19 October 2015
Police have seized more than £2 million from crooks who ran landbanking scams ripping off elderly investors — including duping a 89-year-old blind man into investing £94,000 into ‘worthless’ land in Dumbarton. Matthew Noad, 32, Clive Griston, 54, Harry Neal, 31, Kerry Golesworthy, 50, Linda Noad, 59, and Roger Noad, 62, were told last week they must repay £2.37m to the scams’ victims or face more time behind bars. All, except Linda Noad who was given a two-year suspended sentence, are currently behind bars after being jailed following a court case last year. Between 2005 and 2010 Matthew Noad and Griston ran a London-based boiler room, assisted by Neal, which took in more than £10 million from victims conned into believing they would make returns of several hundred percent from sites across the UK that were ripe for housing development.
20 October 2015
The Return of REDD+ Signals Good News from Bonn
By Gusavo A. Silva-Chavez, Forest Trends, 20 October 2015
REDD is back! After much fireworks, REDD countries led by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations succeeded in putting forest protection back into the negotiating text for the Paris climate talks. To the consternation of many countries and conservation groups, REDD was no longer explicitly mentioned in the most recent version of the draft agreement to be reviewed at the upcoming COP in Paris… One major concern with the first draft released a few weeks ago was that it did not explicitly mention REDD and the land use sector. I wrote about this in a previous blog. Others evidently also took issue with the omission of land use and REDD , especially given the sectors’ importance in climate change mitigation and adaptation. REDD countries led by the Coalition for Rainforest Nations clearly indicated that the first draft could not serve as the basis for negotiations unless significant changes were made to the text…
UN expands climate text in bid to placate developing nations
By Madeleine Cuff, BusinessGreen, 20 October 2015
UN officials in Bonn have unveiled a fresh 34-page negotiating text for an international climate change deal, in a bid to ease growing anger over the radically slimmed-down text that developing nations argued was tilted in favour of developed countries. Negotiators gathering for the last round of preliminary talks in Bonn, Germany were forced to postpone the official schedule yesterday to allow a number of “surgical insertions” of key commitments from developing nations, notably the G77 plus China and the Africa bloc of nations.
Indigenous peoples must benefit from science
By Dyna Rochmyaningsih, Nature News & Comment, 20 October 2015
The sun has been pale for months here in Sumatra and the skies are grey all day — choked with pollution from the massive fires that rage across the Indonesian island. Since the late 1990s, the haze caused by these annual fires has posed a significant threat to the health of Sumatra’s rural communities. This year’s haze is especially bad and has affected major cities, both here and abroad; consequently, the fires have again made headlines around the world. Many of these news stories blame the big palm-oil companies for the fires. Slash-and-burn techniques remain the cheapest way to clear forest for new plantations. But scientific evidence suggests that this simple narrative is not absolutely true. A number of surveys have found that the bulk of these fires are started outside the official oil-palm concessions. Small-scale farmers seem to be more to blame.
Poor producers to tackle global climate change from their communities with new ‘Fairtrade Climate Standard’
By Darwin Malicdem, International Business Times, 20 October 2015
Businesses and individuals can now make a direct impact on reducing carbon emissions from their communities through the new Fairtrade Climate Standard. The standard will allow producers to use innovative ways to improve their resilience to climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. The Fairtrade Climate Standard indicates that the final step in the development of the Fairtrade Carbon Credits is set to launch at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris later in 2015. The standard is part of the Gold Standard certification of cutting carbon emissions and providing benefits from sustainable development. Those eligible for the carbon credits include Fairtrade producers and vulnerable rural communities running projects focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry.
[Canada] Why Justin Trudeau’s Election Is Good News for the Fight Against Climate Change
By Justin Worland, TIME, 20 October 2015
Trudeau’s predecessor Stephen Harper was a climate change skeptic. But the new prime minister brings a different attitude For years, climate change activists have criticized the Canadian government as a global warming laggard. The Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been in power since 2006, has never taken climate change seriously. When Canada failed to meet carbon cuts set in the Kyoto Protocol—a treaty Canada signed and ratified under a previous government—Harper simply withdrew his country. But the surprise election of Justin Trudeau yesterday promises to change that perception. The Liberal Party leader emphasized the very real danger of climate change and pledged his support for what he called a “pan-Canadian” approach to the issue. “In 2015, pretending that we have to choose between the economy and the environment is as harmful as it is wrong,” he said in a speech earlier this year.
Canadian climate policy overhaul on the way as Liberals sweep to power
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 20 October 2015
Canada’s Liberals won a majority government in Monday’s federal election, meaning the left-leaning party will face few obstacles in implementing a new, more ambitious climate change policy that could mirror its southern neighbour’s. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, had previously said he will reconsider the country’s existing emissions reduction target announced earlier this year by outgoing Conservative PM Stephen Harper, but stopped short of committing to deepen it. The Conservatives, who in their 10-year reign pulled Canada out of the Kyoto Protocol and focussed on developing the country’s CO2-intensive tarsands and wider energy sector, including the funding of aggressive lobbying for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, in May pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Veolia chief calls for European carbon tax
By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 20 October 2015
Europe should abandon its failing emission trading system and impose an economy-wide carbon tax of 30-40 euros ($34-45) a tonne to spur investment in low-carbon technology, the CEO of French water company Veolia said on Tuesday. Antoine Frerot’s comments came as negotiators from almost 200 nations are meeting in Bonn this week to thrash out the details of a draft climate pact to be agreed at the end of the year in Paris. As CEO of a major water and waste management company, Frerot takes a keen interest in environmental policies and attended the high level U.N. climate summit in New York last year.
Pulp Fiction: The European Accounting Error That’s Warming the Planet
By John Upton, Climate Central, 20 October 2015
As the world tries to shift away from fossil fuels, the energy industry is turning to what seems to be an endless supply of renewable energy: wood. In England and across Europe, wood has become the renewable of choice, with forests — many of them in the U.S. — being razed to help feed surging demand. But as this five-month Climate Central investigation reveals, renewable energy doesn’t necessarily mean clean energy. Burning trees as fuel in power plants is heating the atmosphere more quickly than coal. Climate Central reporter John Upton traveled to England and through the U.S. Southeast to investigate both ends of the global trade in wood pellets, interviewing scientists, politicians, policy makers, activists, workers and industry leaders. Europe has long been viewed as the wellspring of climate action.
[India] Vanguards of Odisha forests
By Shilpa Raina, Deccan Herald, 20 October 2015
The alarming rate at which our forest reserves are being rapidly depleted can’t be sidelined. The constant debate on deforestation and its direct effect on climate change is heard every now and then. Amid this chaotic din, comes a refreshingly positive take on “community partnership” where villagers got together and took ownership of the forest land. Documenting how natives of Angul village in Odisha decided to conserve forest land, without government intervention, is the theme of documentary “The Vanguards of Angul” that was screened at the recently concluded CMS Vatavaran Environment and Wildlife Film Festival. A few years back, filmmaker Ahona Datta Gupta was associated with The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) and the organisation was closely following United Nations collaborative initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) in developing countries.
Pakistan’s climate change ‘time bomb’ is already ticking
AFP, 20 October 2015
The sprawling megacity lies crumbling, desiccated by another deadly heatwave, its millions of inhabitants suffering life-threatening water shortages and unable to buy bread that has become too expensive to eat. It sounds like the stuff of dystopian fiction but it could be the reality Pakistan is facing. With its northern glaciers melting and its population surging — the country’s climate change time bomb is already ticking. In a nation facing violence and an unprecedented energy shortage slowing economic growth, the environment is a subject little discussed.
21 October 2015
INDCs to slow energy sector emission growth to crawl by 2030 -IEA
Carbon Pulse, 21 October 2015
If INDC pledges are met, global energy-related emissions will all but halt by 2030, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Wednesday. Its World Energy Outlook (WEO) special briefing found that all of the INDC submissions take into account energy sector emissions – which account for two-thirds of total GHGs – and many include specific targets or actions to address them. If these pledges are met, then countries currently accounting for more than half of global economic activity will see their energy-related emissions either plateau or be in decline by 2030, said the IEA, which advises industrialised nations on energy policy. Global energy intensity, a measure of energy use per unit of economic output, would improve to 2030 at a rate almost three times faster than the rate seen since 2000. In the power sector, 70% of additional electricity generation to 2030 would be low-carbon.
PEM Finds Forest Carbon Value In the Heart of Africa
Planetary Emissions Management Inc. press release, 21 October 2015
“Typically, forest carbon is a minor component of carbon trading but that is about to change,” remarked Bruno D.V. Marino, CEO and Founder of Planetary Emissions Management Inc. PEM is seeking partnerships with African landowners to create new carbon products based on direct measurement of forest carbon flux over large land areas. The Global African Investment Summit will host Presidents and leadership from a number of African nations. “Verified forest carbon linked to actual net carbon sequestration and carbon products should be a strong incentive to encourage tree growth in Africa where deforestation is ongoing,” said Marino. CEO Marino will be presenting PEM’s technologies and forest applications at the conference to identify landowners and investors to join PEM in structuring programs addressing solutions to diverse causes of deforestation.
GEF approves $795 mln project to protect 80% of Amazon, fight climate change
Carbon Pulse, 21 October 2015
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved a $795 million project to help protect over 80% of the Amazon and boost efforts to combat climate change. The GEF’s Council committed $113 million for the Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program, a regional program spanning Brazil, Colombia and Peru that is expected to leverage $682 million in additional financing and span over five years. The program aims to maintain 73,000,000 hectares of forest land, promote sustainable land management in 52,700 hectares, and support actions that will help reduce CO2 emissions by 300 million tons by 2030, the GEF said. “Together, Brazil, Peru and Colombia are responsible for about 83% of the Amazon basin within their territories…,” said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson It will be implemented by the World Bank as lead agency, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
[Australia] Gold Coast homes hit in boiler room raids
Brisbane Times, 21 October 2015
Four Gold Coast properties have been raided by the police fraud squad as part of a crackdown on boiler room investment scams in the region. Several people have been charged with operating fraudulent schemes on the glitter strip in the past two months, including four men, dubbed the Irish Boys, who allegedly scammed $4 million from more than 150 investors over 18-months. Queensland Police are expected to hold a media conference on the Gold Coast later on Wednesday.
[Australia] Boiler room raids a warning for investors
9news.com.au, 21 October 2015
Raids on two more “boiler room” scams on the Gold Coast should serve as a warning to investors, police say. Two men have been charged following the Wednesday morning raids, which targeted two cold call investment businesses which police allege fleece victims of money by offering fraudulent or non-existent products. The 53-year-old and 22-year-old men, believed to be father and son, were both charged with multiple fraud offences following a raid at a Broadbeach Waters home. Both are expected to face Southport Magistrates Court on Thursday. A $200,000 Bentley, an Audi R8, a jetski and motorcycle were among items seized at the address. Police allege the items are tainted and the proceeds of crime.
Major Austrian timber firm accused of illegal logging in Romania
By Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, 21 October 2015
A major Austrian timber company that supplies DIY stores across Europe has been accused of destroying Europe’s last remaining virgin forests in Romania by sourcing illegally logged timber. A two-year investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency US (EIA), an NGO, says it recorded officials from Holzindustrie Schweighofer offering to buy illegal timber from investigators posing as buyers and filmed unmarked logs dumped at the company’s depots in apparent violation of Romanian law. Schweighofer is Romania’s biggest producer of softwood, processing around 40% of the country’s annual production. Romania’s vast and largely intact forests, which are home to bison, lynx and bears, have lost 280,000 hectares of forest during the last decade, according to satellite analyses, much of it to illegal logging.
China’s panda sanctuaries at risk from illegal logging, says Greenpeace
By Fergus Ryan, The Guardian, 21 October 2015
Illegal loggers are ransacking sanctuaries in southwest China that are home to more than 30% of the world’s pandas, according to a Greenpeace investigation. The two-year study found that more than 1,800 football pitches of natural forest in a Unesco world natural heritage site had been illegally razed. According to the environmental group, nearly 1,280 hectares (3,200 acres) of natural forest in the Sichuan giant panda sanctuaries have been illegally felled, putting endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda, at risk.
Indonesia lacks credibility in climate plan -analysts
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 21 October 2015
Indonesia’s INDC lacks both credibility and transparency and is an inadequate contribution to the world’s effort to keep global warming below 2C, analysts Climate Action Tracker said Wednesday. The South East Asian nation, whose rapid deforestation rate and annual forest and peatland fires make it one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, last month pledged to keep its 2030 emissions 29% below business-as-usual levels – a target that could be increased to 41% with international support. The target equals a 440% increase in emissions between 1990 and 2030, and Indonesia’s INDC included plans to bring online 20 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity generation capacity by 2020, a move Bill Hare of Climate Analytics called “the antithesis to the kind of decarbonised world we need to hold warming below 2 degrees”.
[Indonesia] Haze reduces visibility to 20 meters in Central Kalimantan
ANTARA News, 21 October 2015
Haze arising from forest, peatland, and plantation fires has reduced visibility to 20 meters in Muara Teweh, North Barito District, Central Kalimantan, on Wednesday. “The haze has thickened and drastically reduced visibility. It causes respiratory problems and eye irritation,” Arief Hidayat, a local inhabitant, stated. According to the Muara Teweh meteorology office, the surface visibility on Wednesday morning was 20 meters, and the vertical visibility was 50 feet. Based on the monitoring by Terra and Aqua satellites, no hotspots were detected in North Barito on Wednesday at 5 am local time. “Although zero hotspots were recorded, the haze is very thick here,” Sunardri, the head of the Muara Teweh meteorology office, reported. Head of the North Barito environmental office Suriawan Prihandi remarked that the air quality in the district had reached a hazardous level.
[Indonesia] Where there’s smoke, there’s toxic gas
By Suzanna Anderson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 October 2015
In mid-October, scientists from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Indonesian and international universities traveled to the peat and forest fires in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, as part of a training workshop. There, they used specialized equipment to measure the physical impact of the fires and the smoke. What they found shocked them – but the data they gather can be used for understanding the extent of the problem, and for supporting efforts to find solutions.
Don’t inhale: Scientists look at what the Indonesian haze is made of
By Suzanna Anderson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 October 2015
The fires raging across Indonesia, and the hazardous smoke they create, are causing even greater damage to the environment, wildlife and communities than first imagined. While much of the recent focus has been on Sumatra—and the spillover into Singapore and Malaysia—the province of Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, faces a greater crisis. Once called the “lungs of the world”, the rainforests and peatlands of Borneo are struggling to breathe, as they spew vast quantities of smoke into the air, amid some of the worst fires in almost 20 years. Despite major efforts to douse the flames, in this dry El Niño year, there is no telling when the fires will subside and the air will clear. The causes of the fires are many and complex. Researchers analyzing socioeconomic and political causes and biophysical impacts say that long-term solutions and prevention require a clear strategy, with buy-in from all those involved.
Wetlands International calls for National Peatland Strategy in Indonesia to curb haze diaster
Wetlands International press release, 21 October 2015
Indonesia can only curb the annual fires and haze disasters if it develops a National Peatland Conservation and Restoration Strategy, according to Wetlands International, which presented its recommendations to press today. In its position statement, Wetlands International emphasizes that Indonesia must address the root cause of the problems and therefore the only long-term answer is sustainable peatland management and restoration. Though Indonesia has various peatland regulations, an overarching strategy is lacking, which is vital for the necessary coordination between ministries and local and regional governments.
[UK] Celtic issue fresh warning over fears that scammers have been targeting the club’s shareholders
By Stephen Stewart, Daily Record, 21 October 2015
Celtic have issued a fresh warning over fears that scammers have been targeting the club’s shareholders. Hoops chiefs claim the “boiler room” fraudsters have been active in the run-up to the AGM on November 20, making suspicious calls about investments in the club. Parkhead officials have urged shareholders not to reveal personal details. In a statement, below, the club said: “A number of shareholders have again received unsolicited phone calls concerning their investment in Celtic plc. “Phone numbers are usually taken from publicly available resources such as shareholder lists and investors will often be told they need to make a quick decision or miss out on the deal. “Shareholders should be extremely wary of any unsolicited advice, offers, approaches or other communications regarding their shares and/or personal information.”
Paris climate deal unlikely to need Senate approval, says US envoy
By Ed King, Climate Home, 21 October 2015
Republicans will be fuming. The rest of the world may breathe a little easier. The US Senate is unlikely to have a veto over a proposed global climate deal. That is the view of Todd Stern, climate envoy to President Barack Obama, who says the pact under discussion will not require a new treaty or new US laws. Stern was speaking during an interrogation by Senators on Capitol Hill, a venue with distinctly mixed views on the UN and efforts to crack down on greenhouse gas emissions. Quizzed on whether the US would find itself locked into international emission cuts, Stern insisted that was not the case. “We are looking for something that is not binding,” he said. The US position ahead of Paris – where a summit involving nearly 200 countries will be held to thrash out the deal – was entirely consistent with the Senate’s wishes, said Stern.
[USA] California regulators back REDD offsets in cap-and-trade scheme from 2018
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 21 October 2015
California emitters may use offsets from REDD projects in countries like Brazil and Mexico to comply with the state’s cap-and-trade scheme from 2018 if a new proposal from the Air Resources Board (ARB) is approved. The Board on Tuesday released a White Paper in which it recommended the state allow for limited use of carbon credits from projects seeking to rein in deforestation from the beginning of the scheme’s third trading period. “The inclusion of REDD sector-based offset credits within the already existing quantitative usage limit for offset credits within California’s Cap-and-Trade Program would contribute to cost-containment benefits under the program, demonstrate California’s climate leadership, and yield benefits to biodiversity, forest dependent community livelihoods, and other areas integral to low emissions rural development in tropical jurisdictions,” the White Paper said.
22 October 2015
Bill Gates calls for rethink on climate change cash
By Pilita Gates, Financial Times, 22 October 2015
Bill Gates has weighed into one of the most fraught climate change debates by calling for a rethink of how rich countries can help poorer nations deal with the effects of global warming. The billionaire philanthropist — ranked the world’s richest man — says a new $10bn Green Climate Fund about to start handing out millions of dollars must focus on the 1.5bn people in poor farming families who face some of the biggest risks from a changing climate. He has urged the South Korea-based fund to adopt the “super clear metrics” his Gates Foundation uses to assess aid requests and look hard at funding agricultural crop research. He has also questioned the long-term impact of some of the first projects the fund is looking to support with the money that 37 countries have pledged for it since it was founded at UN talks five years ago.
BP Fuel Card launches offset programme to help fleets hit carbon targets
By Natalie Middleton, Fleet World, 22 October 2015
BP Fuel Card customers can now automatically offset all or part of their fleet emissions under a new programme. The partnership with BP Target Neutral, BP’s not-for-profit carbon reduction and offset team, has been designed to fleet managers a simple, flexible and cost effective way to compensate for every tonne of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) their fleet produces by contributing to carbon mitigation projects throughout the world via the purchase of carbon credits. Projects covered include: Deforestation mitigation and development project in Africa, which preserves forests resources; Treadle pumps for irrigation in India, which replace diesel power; Wind farm in Turkey which also protects grazing land for farmers.
NGOs criticise closed-door UN climate negotiating sessions
By Alex Pashley, Climate Home, 22 October 2015
Green and development groups have condemned a decision to bar observers from negotiating sessions at a preparatory meeting in Bonn. Japan proposed on Tuesday to exclude civil society from overseeing discussions, in a bid to spur progress on a revised negotiating text. That text stood at 34 pages on Tuesday morning, up from a 20-page document by UN officials, after countries reinserted elements they complained had been left out. Delegates were dispatched into closed spin-off groups to work at slimming down different contentious sections, from climate compensation to a long term zero-carbon goal. “It leaves us truly in the dark,” Anabella Rosemberg, an advisor at the International Trade Union Congress, said at press conference. “It’s a bad step in the run-up to Paris. I hope the decision is reversed.”
Fight climate change for global stability, say US defence and diplomacy elite
By Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, 22 October 2015
Nearly 50 leaders of America’s defence and foreign policy establishment are calling on political and business leaders to “think past tomorrow” and lead the fight on climate change. In a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal the experts – 48 former secretaries of state and defense, national security advisers, diplomats and members of Congress from both parties – say it is time for America to claim global leadership on climate change. The appeal is intended to apply pressure to Republicans in Congress who are trying to defeat Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution at home and seeking to limit US involvement in negotiations to reach a global deal on fighting climate change in Paris in December.
Europe failing to clamp down on illegal logging, report warns
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 22 October 2015
A European bid to clamp down on the $100bn-a-year global trade in illegal timber has been poorly designed, badly managed and largely ineffective, according to a damning report by the EU’s court of auditors. Illegal logging is thought to be responsible for around one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions – more than from all the world’s ships, planes, trains and cars combined. It is also an existential threat to forest-dependent indigenous people, and to biodiversity. But 12 years after launching an action plan to end the trade, results from the EU’s €300m aid programme to 35 partner countries have been “meagre” according to the auditors’ report, with problems at the demand and supply ends of the trade chain. Four EU countries – Greece, Spain, Hungary and Romania – have still not implemented an EU timber regulation proposed five years ago, allowing an easy passage to market for the fruits of deforestation.
Indonesia’s massive haze problem is Jokowi’s big opportunity
By Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com, 22 October 2015
This week data from Guido van der Werf of the Global Fire Emissions Database showed that carbon emissions from fires raging across Indonesia’s peatlands have surpassed 1.4 billion tons of CO2-equivalent, or more than the annual emissions of Japan. More conspicuously, the fires have triggered a spasm of air pollution that has mushroomed into a domestic health emergency and regional political crisis for Indonesia, with Indonesian companies seeing their products pulled from store shelves and facing multimillion dollar fines from the Singaporean government. That reaction comes on top of a steep dive in the Indonesian rupiah and a commodity market rout that has hit some of the country’s biggest exports, including oil, coal, palm oil, and rubber. These are dark days – literally and figuratively – for Indonesia.
It’s Time to Put Local Communities in Charge of Liberia’s Forests
By Matthias Yeanay and Roland Harris, Inter Press Service, 22 October 2015
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently affirmed her commitment to the land rights of Liberia’s local communities, who rely on the forests for their livelihoods and have cared for them for generations. “Any successful paradigm shift for forest management in Liberia must have local communities at its centre,” Edward McClain, Minster of State for Presidential Affairs, said in a speech delivered on the President’s behalf. A draft Land Rights Act would make this possible, but the current session of Parliament ended without the Act’s adoption. We are eager to see the President’s vision implemented, and hopeful that the Land Rights Act will be adopted in the next Parliamentary session, as Liberia’s local communities are still contending with violent conflicts caused by palm oil plantations and illegal logging on their lands.
[UK] Pension savers targeted to invest in unregulated car parking spaces
By Kyle Caldwell, Telegraph, 22 October 2015
Cold callers are using high pressure sales tactics in a bid to convince pension savers to put their life savings into car parking spaces. According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) the rhetoric used by salesman is similar to other high-risk investment schemes, such as those that sell diamonds, wine and carbon credits. Investing in car parks, typically close to airports, is being promoted as a “sound investment”, despite being unregulated, the NFIB warned. High returns are offered, both verbally and in writing, as well as guarantees of dividend payments. The NFIB suspects that in some cases the initial dividends are paid out from the investments of subsequent investors, similar to a Ponzi scheme. It added cold callers may be acting as estate agents and seeking to sell parking spaces that are already owned by somebody else.
[USA] San Diegans Offset Air Travel With Carbon Credits
By Deb Welsh, KPBS, 22 October 2015
Carbon emissions and greenhouse gases are two phrases we hear a lot about these days – and mostly in a negative way. Now, comes something that hopes to have a positive impact on both those climate changers. It’s been launched by the San Diego International Airport, and it’s called the Good Traveler program. The goal of the nonprofit pilot project is to encourage sustainable travel by allowing passengers to curb the environmental impact of their journeys. Paul Manasjan is with the San Diego County Airport Authority. He said the program is designed to offset the carbon footprint created by air travel. “For one dollar you can purchase a Good Traveler tag, which will offset 500 air miles or 200 road miles of emissions from your travel,” he said.
[USA] Permafrost warming in parts of Alaska ‘is accelerating’
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 22 October 2015
One of the world’s leading experts on permafrost has told BBC News that the recent rate of warming of this frozen layer of earth is “unbelievable”. Prof Vladimir Romanovsky said that he expected permafrost in parts of Alaska would start to thaw by 2070. Researchers worry that methane frozen within the permafrost will be released, exacerbating climate change The professor said a rise in permafrost temperatures in the past four years convinced him warming was real. Permafrost is perennially frozen soil that has been below zero degrees C for at least two years. It’s found underneath about 25% of the northern hemisphere, mainly around the Arctic – but also in the Antarctic and Alpine regions. It can range in depth from one metre under the ground all the way down to 1,500m.
23 October 2015
Bonn Talks End With New Text, Old Schism On Finance
By Gustavo Silva-Chávez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 23 October 2015
The final pre-COP21 negotiations in Bonn are scheduled to wrap up this evening. The co-chairs have been busy inserting changes to the draft text and have presented it to countries, many of whom welcomed it and said it was party-driven and can serve as the basis of negotiations in Paris. This week’s negotiations have brought progress on some fronts: as reported earlier this week, REDD+ – which previously had been omitted from the draft agreement text – is now again included in several places including the preamble, mitigation and finance sections.
Forests Look Set To Play Big Role In Paris Patchwork Climate Accord
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 23 October 2015
Indonesia surprised the climate community last month when it shifted the focus of its climate action plan from saving forests to generating clean energy. It was a shift that made perfect sense on paper, but not on the ground, where the country’s forest fires have been pumping more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere than do all the planes, trains, and factories of the United States, as the World Resources Institute (WRI) pointed out in a blog post called Indonesia’s Fire Outbreaks Producing More Daily Emissions than Entire US Economy. “We keep hearing that deforestation is responsible for 10 or 15 percent of global emissions,” says WRI’s Fred Stolle, who co-authored the piece. “But in developing countries, the figure is more like 60 or 70 percent.” For that reason, he says, it’s great that the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN) managed to insert provisional definitions of REDD+ into the negotiating text…
Forested developing nations back carbon pricing call to help drive REDD+
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 23 October 2015
The Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN), a group of over 50 developing countries committed to advancing REDD+, on Friday backed a public-private sector alliance to deploy carbon pricing. On Monday the Carbon Pricing Panel – a group of heads of state, city and state leaders from rich and poor nations – urged faster, more ambitious carbon pricing action ahead of the Paris climate talks. “The results-based mechanism of REDD+, as defined by CfRN, is directly complementary to carbon pricing systems,” the group said in a statement posted on the Climate-l mailing list, run by the International Institute for Sustainable Development. “CfRN participants are also looking forward to engaging with the private sector and other institutions to decouple emissions from growth and direct the world economy to a low carbon and competitive future,” they added.
Swollen UN climate text ups workload for Paris summit
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 23 October 2015
UN-led negotiations took a step backwards during this week’s UN climate talks in Bonn as draft text for a global pact grew longer during the penultimate formal session before the crunch December Paris summit. The UNFCCC secretariat on Friday published the new text, with the main agreement portion swelling to a heavily-bracketed 34 pages, primarily to reflect complaints from developing nations that the previous nine-page version had ignored many of their proposals… Market provisions in a Paris deal were given backing this week from 31 national and sub-national governments working on their own emissions pricing mechanisms, as well as from 20 business groups that urged negotiators to include wording to support international cooperation through market-based measures. One of those 20 groups was carbon trading lobby IETA, which said the additional text included much of what it had been seeking.
Outline of UN climate deal reached after fractious talks
DW.com, 23 October 2015
A 20-page document put forward by developed countries on Monday had morphed into 55-pages at the close of negotiations on Friday night, after developing countries insisted their demands were cut and should be reinserted. The five day meeting that was supposed to create a clear and concise outline for global leaders to negotiate a climate pact in early December partially met its goal, but revealed deep divisions between developed and developing countries that have hampered previous attempts to reach an international consensus. “The bad news is that it is no longer a concise text,” UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said at the conclusion of talks. Todd Stern, the US climate chief said the large text was expected and envoys would continue to focus it down in Paris. “It’s what we have and we’ll go to work,” Stern said, adding he believed negotiators could reach a final deal.
UN calls for ministers as climate talks head for Paris
By Ed King, Climate Home, 23 October 2015
Enter the politicians. Officials working on plans for a global climate change deal say it’s time for ministers and world leaders to get stuck into the meat of UN negotiations. After a rotten start, five days of talks between nearly 200 countries in Bonn this week concluded on Friday with the publication of a new draft text for a deal, to be finalised at a Paris summit this December. At 55 pages it’s heavier than the 22 which made up an October 5 version, but contains “everything we need to get a good deal”, according to lead Greenpeace climate policy advisor Martin Kaiser.
What next? Human rights credits?
By Sudeep Chakravarti, Livemint, 23 October 2015
A reminder has just arrived in my mailbox from the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, flagging a United Nations annual forum that will run in Geneva over 16-18 November this year. The hard-driving, UK-based organization mentions a “rich array of urgent and cutting-edge issues of relevance to companies in diverse industry sectors”. The smörgåsbord of to-dos will include human rights related to small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, that often slip through the cracks as large businesses receive flak; human rights due diligence; worker protection; “land, corruption and human rights”; and “enhanced due diligence in conflict-affected areas”.
Amazon rising: Adaptation begins at home
By Harry Pearl, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 October 2015
For hundreds of thousands of rural families eking out a living in Brazil’s Amazon estuary, living with flooding is a daily reality. But with climate change tipped to hasten sea-level rise, tidal inundation is set to worsen. How can local government help smallholders—known locally as cabolcos—to adapt? According to Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez, a scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), part of the answer could be right under policymakers’ noses. “Adaptation is already happening on the ground,” said Pinedo-Vasquez, one of the authors of a new study on land-use change in the Amazon estuary. The study was conducted under the direction of scientists from the Núcleo de Altos Estudos Amazônicos (Center for Amazonian Studies) at Universidad Federal do Pará with the financial support of Canada’s International Development Research Centre.
Australian Government Withdraws $4 Million Grant For Climate Contrarian Bjorn Lomborg’s Consensus Project
By Grahma Readfearn, DeSmogBlog, 23 October 2015
The Australian taxpayers’ short, fractious, “on again, off again” relationship with climate science contrarian Bjorn Lomborg has come to an end. Lomborg’s think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, was once courted by the prior Australian government with an offer of $4 million of taxpayer funding to set up shop at a university. But this week it was revealed during parliamentary hearings that the government had quietly withdrawn the offer of funding. Lomborg is the president and founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) think tank, registered in the United States with no actual discernible connection to Copenhagen. The Danish political scientist is known for his attacks on renewable energy and claims that the world’s poorest nations need fossil fuels to solve energy poverty issues.
Indonesia prepares warships to evacuate refugees of ‘haze’ emergency
By Fergus Jensen, The Canberra Times, 23 October 2015
Indonesia is preparing warships as a last resort to evacuate children and others suffering from smoke inhalation from slash-and-burn fires, a minister said on Friday, as the country struggles to contain fires expected to continue for weeks. South-east Asia has suffered for years from annual “haze” caused by forest and peat clearing across Indonesia, which has come under increasing political pressure to stop the problem, but so far to no avail. Fires this year have been helped by drier weather brought by the El Nino weather phenomenon and have pushed air pollution to hazardous levels across Southeast Asia, forcing schools to close and disrupting flights. “We are looking for a place for babies to be evacuated to if necessary,” co-ordinating security minister Luhut Pandjaitan told reporters referring to plans to prepare six warships and two state-owned ferries.
Indonesia’s Fire Crisis — The Biggest Environmental Crime of the 21st Century
By Erik Meijaard, Jakarta Globe, 23 October 2015
While the haze problem from fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra is still worsening, the news seems to be slowly slipping from the headlines. Apart from the approximate 40 million people breathing in noxious smoke day in day out, not many media outlets here or overseas really seem to care about the issue. I find this astonishing. Not only is there appalling human suffering, with hundreds of thousands of people ill and many dead, the fires are a massive economic cost to the Indonesian economy. Checking the list of the worst man-made environmental disasters ever, Indonesia’s fires are probably the biggest global environmental disaster of the 21st century. Why has the Indonesian government not taken serious steps to stop and control the fire and haze problem?
Broken Promises: Communities on Philippine island take on palm oil companies
By Rod Harbinson, mongabay.com, 23 October 2015
Residents of Palawan Island in the Philippines have united to take on the companies that they say have grabbed their land. Seventeen indigenous communities on this island province are campaigning for justice from the companies that have grown palm oil on their farms. Palawan is a large island-province of the Philippines that lies midway between the rest of the archipelago and Borneo. The great beauty and biological value of the island was validated in 1990 when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conferred the status of “Man and Biosphere Reserve” on this tropical paradise. In recent years, however, there has been an onslaught from mining and agribusiness keen to exploit its natural resources.
[UK] Investment scam emerges involving parking spaces
By Ruth Gillbe, FTAdviser, 23 October 2015
A trend in consumers being targeted for investment opportunities in parking spaces at locations close to major airports has been identified by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The NFIB said that the method used by those selling the parking spaces is very similar to that used by businesses selling unregulated investments including diamonds, wine and carbon credits. Common features include members of the public receiving unsolicited calls from forceful sales people offering an opportunity to invest in parking spaces or promoting it as a “sound pension investment”. Additionally, there are verbal and written promises of a guaranteed and questionable high rate of return. A buy-back scheme is also offered, but there is absolutely no guarantee of an onward sale.
[UK] Warning over car parking pension scam
By Judith Evans, Financial Times, 23 October 2015
Police have warned that pension savers are increasingly being targeted by a scam involving “investment” in parking spaces close to major airports. The emerging trend involves forceful sales calls offering opportunities to invest in parking spaces or promoting them as a “sound pension investment”, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, a police unit, said. The alert follows warnings from MPs that pensioners could be more vulnerable to scams and risky investments following reforms that have given over-55s far more choice over how they deploy their pension savings. “The method used by those selling the parking spaces is very similar to that used by businesses selling unregulated investments including diamonds, wine and carbon credits,” police added.
[UK] Pensioners warned over airport car park investment ‘scam’
By Marc Shoffman, Daily Mail, 23 October 2015
Pensioners and investors are being warned to watch out for sales people offering investment opportunities in parking spaces in car parks close to British airports. Action Fraud said it has identified a trend where members of the public receive unsolicited calls from forceful sales people offering an opportunity to invest or promoting the parking spaces as a ‘sound pension investment’. Sales people offer verbal and written promises of a guaranteed and questionable high rate of return on the investment. They also offer a buy-back scheme when investors want to sell their parking spot on; however there is no guarantee of an onward sale or that there will be any potential buyers when they come to sell.
24 October 2015
Civic groups concerned over gov’t posture on future of Norway-Guyana forests pact
Stabroek News, 24 October 2015
A group of civil society organisations is concerned at indications that government is walking away from renewing the Norway-Guyana forests protection agreement and has also expressed dissatisfaction that the administration is dismissive of its views on the upcoming climate change meeting in Paris. In a statement issued by the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), the Guyana Policy Forum informed that 23 organisations, representative of youth, business, faith-based, disabilities, human rights, trade union, indigenous, welfare and environmental concerns, met on Wednesday… [R-M: Subscription needed.]
[Indonesia] Immediate evacuation ordered
By Hans Nicholas John and Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post, 24 October 2015
The government is gearing up for a massive evacuation of haze victims in Sumatra and Kalimantan following an order from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who said to prioritize the evacuation of babies, children and people vulnerable to worsening air quality. During a Cabinet meeting on Friday, Jokowi ordered ministers to immediately evacuate haze victims. “Add more evacuation areas equipped with air purifiers, especially for children and babies,” Jokowi said on Friday. Following the instruction, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Panjaitan convened another meeting on Friday to discuss details about the evacuation operation, which is expected to start on Saturday.
[Indonesia] Turnaround in palm oil industry?
By Wimar Witoelar, The Jakarta Post, 24 October 2015
But in a reversal of direction, the government announced that a new palm oil producer council was being set up by Indonesia and Malaysia. It would replace “no deforestation” pledges made by major palm companies in favor of a joint set of standards proposed by the two countries. Indonesia wants big palm oil companies to cancel the historic pledges of IPOP. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of palm oil producer. Malaysia is the second. “Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to harmonize and combine our two standards,” Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli said. “This is an example of how to fight for our sovereignty. We are the biggest palm oil producer. Why should consumers from developed countries set the standard for us as they want?” Rizal asserted. This is a misleading statement. The insistence on maintaining sustainability standards comes from educated consumers.
[UK] New pension investment fraud
By Jess Bown, AOL Money UK, 24 October 2015
Fraudsters have found a new way to scam pension savers out of their retirement pots, according to a warning issued by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). It is warning consumers to be on their guard against the scam, which involves the unregulated sale of parking spaces near airports. “A new commodity is being offered as an investment to members of the public,” it said. “This new commodity is parking spaces.” The criminals behind the schemes, which present the parking spaces as a “sound pension investment”, appear to be using similar methods to the dodgy salesmen targeting pension savers with offers of commodities such as diamonds, wine and carbon credits. These include cold calling their victims and using hard-sell techniques to persuade them to invest.
25 October 2015
Major problems in Guyana’s programme for emissions reduction from deforestation, degradation
By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor Stabroek News, 25 October 2015
You reported that civil society groups are not happy with the state of relations between Guy-ana and Norway in relation to the MoU signed in late 2009 and expiring this year (Stabroek News ‘Civic groups concerned over gov’t posture on future of Norway-Guyana forests pact’, 24 October 2015). There are a number of misunderstandings in the civil society protest. 1. Norwegian money for Guyana comes from its international aid budget. If it had been a commercial contract to buy forest-based carbon emission reduction credits, then we could have expected a much more rigorous deal, more thorough and transparent assessments and audits, and less inflated perceptions.
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.