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REDD in the news: 23-29 November 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.

REDD+ in Paris – what could be in it for people and forests?
International Institute for Environment and Development, November 2015
A key problem is the lack of demand in carbon markets. At the end of 2014, 51.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in credits remained unsold. If carbon markets are unable to absorb this relatively small supply of emission credits, can this mechanism provide incentives for scaling up efforts to reduce emissions to the extent required? What initiatives will actually be undertaken in all those countries that UNREDD and FCPF are supporting? How will the world account for all the expenditure on the readiness process, strategy development and testing or renewing old approaches that could work if galvanized by REDD+? Finance is also important to enable people to access the means and the know-how to implement sustainable land use management practices.

23 November 2015

COP 21: Tribal people on front line in battle against climate change
Survival International, 23 November 2015
The COP 21 summit to be held in Paris from the end of the month has so far declined to give a voice to the indigenous peoples most directly threatened by ecological catastrophe. This omission comes despite clear evidence that tribal peoples are the best conservationists of the environments in which they live. The global environmental summit will focus on energy policy in industrialised nations rather than the destruction of natural environments such as the Amazon. Despite the extensive efforts of indigenous peoples in Brazil and elsewhere in South America to resist logging, mining and ranching activities that continue to destroy vast swathes of the rainforest, there appears to be no impetus to lend them any support at COP 21. A recent report from the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) found that very few of the governments attending the Paris summit have even mentioned indigenous rights in their conservation or climate policies.

Migration: What happens to the people (and forests) left behind?
By Harry Pearl, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 23 November 2015
By leaving their rural communities and sending money back home, migrants in tropical forest countries are changing not only the lives of the people they leave behind, but the future of forests too, a new study has found. But this link, which could shape the future of forest landscapes and communities, is complex and poorly understood—and the little information that is available tends to be outdated and simplistic, the authors argue. “Without understanding this, we really don’t understand who these forest communities are anymore,” said Christine Padoch, one of the study’s authors and a research director at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). “Migration is a central part of almost every place that we deal with, and so far we haven’t devoted nearly enough attention to the complexity and variation within this trend,” she said.

Brazil can help lead world to climate deal, France says
AFP, 23 November 2015
France is counting on Brazil to convince world leaders to strike a deal to limit annual temperature rise at an upcoming Paris summit, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday… Fabius met Sunday in Brasilia with President Dilma Rousseff, his counterpart Mauro Vieira and Brazil’s Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira on a three-day world tour… “Brazil has made very ambitious and exemplary commitments, and that lends to its credibility as a historic partner in the negotiations on climate (change) since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro,” Fabius said. “I am really counting on Brazil’s drive to succeed in this area — and on its strong reputation (on climate change) — to help convince others. That was really the main reason for my visit.” Brazil has pledged to reduce GHG emissions by 37 percent by 2025, and 43 percent by 2030, compared to its 2005 levels.

EU industry’s free carbon allocation faces new threat as France sees bigger picture
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 23 November 2015
European industries face a new risk to their share of free carbon allowances as France seeks to ensure that after 2020 the handouts are made conditional on carbon pricing outside the bloc. The European Commission’s post-2020 EU ETS review proposes to keep free EUA allocations for industry up to 2030, albeit with the amount decreasing annually. But France wants the proposal to take into account the development of carbon pricing in the rest of the world, which could cut the subsidies to reflect the lower risk of carbon leakage as more countries put a price on their emissions. France’s idea, heard at a seminar hosted by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) last week, could pile billions of euros of additional costs on big emitting EU industries as they are forced to pay for their allowances.

Ghana Loses $520m Annually To Degradation Of Agric Soils, 23 November 2015
Ghana loses at least $520 million annually due to the degradation of agricultural soils, forests and Savannah woodlands, coastal fisheries, wildlife resources and Lake Volta’s environment. The deforestation rate in the country also stands at 135,000 hectares annually, culminating in the country’s forest reduction to 1.6 million hectares from 8.2 million at the turn of the century. These were made public at a consultative meeting to engage ambassadors appointed by the National REDD+ Secretariat of the Forestry Commission of Ghana to advocate for Ghana’s Emission Reduction Programme. The Ambassadors are expected to “Sell” the REDD+ mechanism to their peers, emphasising on the need to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices in their bid to combat climate change while enhancing their farming activities.

[Guyana] Govt. disappointed with returns from Forestry sector after giving millions in concessions
Kaieteur News, 23 November 2015
Despite granting it millions in concessions, Government is receiving ‘extremely disappointing’ returns from the forestry sector, says Finance Minister, Winston Jordan. In an exclusive interview, Jordan added, “There has been a level of disappointment in the forestry sector, particularly from foreign investors.” “Huge concessions have been given out and this refers to both natural and fiscal concessions and the returns have not been great at all. It is extremely, just extremely disappointing and when you challenge some of these investors, you get all kinds of excuses like ‘I can’t do it now and I will put it in two years from now.’ The Finance Minister said that the only “rock-solid” factory involved in value added production which government has seen from any foreign investor is the one that has been established by Barama Company Limited.

How to save Indonesia’s life-supporting forests
By Edi Purwanto and Soren Moestrup, The Jakarta Post, 23 November 2015
Once again, catastrophic forest and land fires in Indonesia have become a hot issue in the national and international press. Haze from Sumatra to Papua has been creating massive problems in Indonesia and in its neighboring countries. While billions of US dollars have been spent to mitigate the calamity, it was proven that the only effective way of curbing these disasters was natural rainfall. Rainfall has once again acted as the solution to the haze problem. However, during other seasons of the year, rainfall creates massive problems. The consistently predictable disasters that occur during the dry and wet seasons have exhausted the Indonesian government. It is becoming more difficult for the government to develop the nation and make its people prosperous.

[USA] Stopping Illegal Logging Will Protect Endangered Species While Saving American Jobs
By Eric Parfait Essomba, (EIA), LinkedIn, 23 November 2015
Driven by widespread corruption, weak and contradicting laws, and a lack of enforcement, illegal logging has thrived in Congo Basin countries. Throughout the region logging companies and illegal loggers systematically violate local laws by felling and exporting trees outside their allotted concessions, cutting greater wood volumes than authorized, then use falsified documents to launder to export the timber. This has considerable detrimental impacts not only on the local economy but also on forest-dependent communities as they are deprived from their main source of livelihood and income.

24 November 2015

Can eating less meat help reduce climate change?
By Laura Wellesley (Chatham House), BBC News, 24 November 2015
As the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP21) draws near, the international spotlight is more focused on climate change than at any time since the Copenhagen talks of 2009. But amid all the talk of decarbonising energy and transport systems, one crucial area remains in the shadows. The livestock sector produces about 15% of global greenhouse gases, roughly equivalent to all the exhaust emissions of every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet. A new report from the think tank Chatham House, Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption, argues that without concerted action to address over-consumption of meat, it will be near impossible to prevent global warming from passing the danger level of 2C.

10 views on the future of REDD+
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 November 2015
It’s been a long and rocky road for the climate change mitigation scheme known as REDD+, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, since the idea was first accepted at the UNFCCC COP13 in Bali in 2007. The original concept was for a market-based mechanism by which developing tropical countries could earn more money for keeping their forests standing than by cutting them down. But efforts to put the idea into practice have turned up a range of challenges associated with making the scheme function. Nevertheless, a framework is in place, new rules are expected at the climate change conference in Paris, and 39 countries say they’ll include reducing deforestation in their carbon emission reduction efforts. So what’s next for REDD+? Ten experts from across the globe give their take.

REDD+ in Paris: Follow the money
By Chris Meyer, EDF, 24 November 2015
The biggest tip-off as to how REDD will fare in Paris will come early on in the conference. Heads of state and ministers are expected to announce new financial support for REDD countries on the Dec. 1, the second day of the climate talks, at the Lima Paris Action Agenda event on forests. This financial support will target readiness—how prepared a country is to implement REDD programs—and results—the financial rewards a country will receive for verified emissions reductions. At the same time, we expect to hear from REDD countries themselves about their progress in completing key milestones in the Warsaw Framework for REDD . They’ll be addressing reference emission levels, REDD national strategies, and status reports on the implementation of safeguard information systems.

Five Dead-Ends on the Road to the Paris Climate Talks – FPIF
By Oscar Reyes, Foreign Policy in Focus, 24 November 2015
UN climate change conferences have gabbled and gaveled through dozens of accords, instruments, platforms, protocols and mechanisms over the last few years. But unfortunately, they’ve sidestepped the real business of keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Here are just five of the many dead ends on the road to Paris, where talks toward a final accord — COP21 — are set for the first half of December.

[Indonesia] Jokowi faces question time in Paris
By Warief Djajanto Basorie, The Jakarta Post, 24 November 2015
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said Indonesia plans a 29 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. How can he meet that target when, in October alone, daily emissions from the peat and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan equaled the daily average carbon output of the entire US economy? Further, these annual slash-and-burn peat fires have been carried out deliberately since 1997 when concessions for land use change began to be granted on a large scale. Mr. President, you have ruled that there are to be no new permits and that there is to be no more opening of new land for peat conversion to oil palm and timber plantations. Your environment and forestry minister has stated that the state will restore over burned land. However, in Tangkiling, Central Kalimantan, on soil where the peat fire has been doused, oil palm seedlings have been planted. Can you explain the law enforcement mechanism here?

[Guyana] Why are taxpayers continuing to subsidize Asian loggers?
By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor Kaieteur News, 24 November 2015
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan paints a rosy picture of Malaysian transnational logger known locally as the Barama Company Limited. Having written its own foreign direct investment agreement in 1991, Barama has continued to draw maximum tax and other concessions from Guyana every year while promising much and invariably failing to deliver on its promises. The installed capacity of its second-hand plywood mill is 108 thousand cubic metres but since 2001 it has never exceeded 69 per cent of that capacity and for the last seven years it has been operating at 1/5 capacity or less while drawing 5/5 of tax concessions. Meanwhile, Barama and Bai Shan Lin have been the leading Asian log exporters of our high-value timbers.

[Indonesia] Haze, a test of palm oil dominance
By Adisti Sukma Sawitri, The Jakarta Post, 24 November 2015
The forest fire predicament has receded as rain started to fall in many regions in recent weeks. Will the government’s sense of urgency in tackling the annual problem also recede? One may fear so. Despite months of serious efforts to address the fires, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration hasn’t established concrete measures to stop the expansion of oil palm plantations through slash-and-burn practices, the main cause of the problem. It is not rocket science to understand why that is. Indonesia is home to the world’s greatest extent of oil palm plantations, covering 11 million hectares of land and producing more than 33 million tons of palm oil last year, and generating jobs for millions of people.

[USA] Microsoft backing forest project near Mount Rainier to help offset carbon emissions
By Molly Brown, GeekWire, 24 November 2015
About 520 acres of forest near Mount Rainier will be the first in Washington state to meet California carbon standards, thanks to a major investment by Microsoft. In ongoing efforts to become carbon neutral, Microsoft, working with Natural Capital Partners, purchased the majority of credits — 35,000 of the 37,000 needed — to help the Nisqually Carbon Project. The Nisqually Carbon Project is a partnership between the Washington Environmental Council and the Nisqually Land Trust. The credits will help restore the forest and create habitats for endangered species throughout 520 acres adjacent to Mount Rainier National Park. It’s the first forest carbon project in the Pacific Northwest to achieve the carbon offset protocol set in California. Per Microsoft, 37,000 credits is the “equivalent to taking 6,000 cars off the road.”

25 November 2015

Global emissions nearly stall after a decade of rapid growth, report shows
By Adam Vaughan and Arthur Nelson, The Guardian 25 November 2015
The growth of global carbon emissions virtually stalled last year after a decade of rising rapidly, figures published on Wednesday show, just days before world leaders meet in Paris for international talks on climate change. The slowdown in the growth of the emissions that have caused record-breaking heat in recent years was largely down to China, which bucked its trend of ever-increasing coal use, the Netherlands environment agency said. Chinese emissions went up 0.9% in 2014, the same amount as the US, as it used more gas for heating. India’s emissions jumped by 7.8% while the European Union’s emissions dropped by an “unprecedented” 5.4%, but the Indian increase was the largest contributor to global emissions growth in 2014 and effectively cancelled out the EU fall. Together, the four are the world’s biggest emitters, covering 61% of global emissions.

How carbon markets are driving deeper, faster pollution cuts in Paris climate pledges
By Alex Hanafi, EDF, 25 November 2015
With only a few days before nations meet in Paris to negotiate an inclusive post-2020 structure for global climate cooperation under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), we already know that the world will be entering a new paradigm of climate action, in which all nations play a role in the collective fight against climate change. We also know that while the emissions reductions pledged for 2025 or 2030 by over 170 countries over the course of this year are significant, aggressive additional action well beyond 2030 will be necessary to meet the internationally agreed goal of limiting global average atmospheric warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. That goal is the upper limit agreed by the international community, at a level that scientists believe would likely avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Paris climate summit: Do UN climate change treaties ever work?
By Michael Le Page, New Scientist, 25 November 2015
The optimistic view The Paris Protocol will build on the success of Kyoto International efforts to tackle climate change began at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, leading to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Earlier this year, the branch of the United Nations that oversees climate negotiations, the UNFCCC, declared the protocol had proved that climate agreements work… The realistic view Any Paris deal will have same weaknesses as the failed Kyoto Protocol Developing countries were not required to make cuts under the Kyoto Protocol. A number of industrialised countries – including the US, then the biggest polluter – didn’t sign up and Canada withdrew in 2011. The fall in emissions in the 36 industrialised countries that stuck with it has been far outweighed by increased emissions in China and elsewhere. Global emissions have soared, and the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere … is increasing faster than ever.

Lobby Planet Paris
Transnational Institute, 25 November 2015
A guide including info on key climate criminals, maps of lobbying hotspots and a section on COP21 sponsors. The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the now famous ‘COP21’, will be held from 29 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris. This Climate Summit should, theoretically, perfect the new global agreement for after 2020. We know that at least 80 per cent of fossil fuels must remain in the ground in order for the increase in the overall global temperature to remain below two degrees. To achieve this, governments should commit to massive reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and societies must undergo a profound energy transition by radically changing their patterns of production and consumption.

A ‘perfect’ agreement in Paris is not essential
By Johan Rockström, Nature News & Comment, 25 November 2015
How ambitious must the Paris agreement be to decisively support such a trajectory? To meet the 2 °C limit, the world must cut carbon emissions at about 6% per year. National pledges on the table at Paris will not get us close. From experience, we know that emissions cuts in the range of 0–2% per year are within the realm of incremental policy measures. A range of 2–3% requires ambitious adaptation. Once levels exceeding 3–4% are reached, experience indicates that radical measures are needed, such as carbon taxes and the phasing out of coal power. These are the kinds of changes needed to decarbonize the world economy, and above all, to send clear signals of a shift from incremental to transformative change. Success in Paris should thus be viewed as an agreement that corresponds to a pace of emissions cuts of greater than 3–4% per year, starting in the 2015–20 window.

New Tools for Training Champions of Fight Against Deforestation
UN-REDD press release, 25 November 2015
The UN-REDD Programme unveiled two new tools today that will help to build the capacity of policymakers, practitioners and communities on the frontlines of the battle against deforestation, providing them with knowledge and skills to promote the implementation of national REDD activities. The REDD Academy e-course and the Learning Journals are the latest additions to the toolset of the REDD Academy, which was launched last year to enable systematic, focused capacity development to implement REDD on the ground. Since then, the Academy has trained over 500 people from 49 UN-REDD partner countries through three regional events in Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa, as well as successive national training sessions.

Sustainable investment in Africa starts with the law
By John Cannon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 November 2015
Diamonds, gold, oil, natural gas, extensive forest and farm land: Africa has such abundant resources that it is little wonder that, each year, billions of dollars in investments flow into the continent from abroad. Yet such investments tend to enrich mainly elites and outside investors, to the detriment of the poor and the environment—and so don’t necessarily contribute to sustainable development. And that may be because existing legal frameworks tend to favor the powerful and vested interests, a new study of laws governing land use in three African countries suggests. “There are several factors at play in legal systems in these countries that thwart sustainable landscapes governance and investments,” said one of the study’s authors, Andrew Wardell, a senior manager at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

[Australia] Murdoch strikes again: The sad demise of Climate Spectator
By Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy, 25 November 2015
The Murdoch media strikes again on climate change. And this one hurts. In late 2009, then Business Spectator boss Alan Kohler was so rapt by the response to a daily column I wrote from the Copenhagen climate summit that he finally agreed to a suggestion I had been pushing for nearly two years – the creation of a specialised site that became Climate Spectator. It became a powerful and influential voice about the emerging role of renewable energy technologies and the business impact of climate change, a role that was expanded, improved and enhanced when Tristan Edis took over as editor in early 2012. Six years later, and just days before the world looks to repair the disastrous outcome of Copenhagen by trying to forge a new global deal in Paris, Climate Spectator has been shut down – an apparent victim of budget cuts and editorial indifference from its new owners, Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd.

New carbon limits vis-à-vis Ghana’s coal project
Ghana Web, 25 November 2015
Just a few weeks after Ghana’s Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor announced that the country has started exploring the option of using clean coal technology to augment power production in the energy-deficient country, a new report released this week ahead of a global climate summit in Paris has warned that up to $2trillion in petroleum and coal projects will not be needed if the world takes action to limit warming of the planet to 2ºC. Ghana’s $1.5-billion coal-fired power plant project is being undertaken by Chinese-owned company Shenzhen Energy Group, parent company of local Independent Power Producer Sunon-Asogli Power… Energy expert Dr Charles Wereko-Brobbey recently warned that Ghana’s plan to go into coal power production is not only “premature,” but also “cannot be justified.” “You cannot be promoting carbon credits and at the same time contributing to huge emissions of carbon,” the former CEO of state power producer Volta River Authority said…

[Indonesia] Jokowi to sign peat land decree before COP21
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 25 November 2015
[T]he government will also push the issue of REDD in the agenda as some countries want to drop the topic from the Paris agreement draft, which is already on the table. “Many countries, especially developed ones, think that REDD is redundant because it has been mentioned in several articles related to land use issues. We object to that. REDD is beyond trees, forests and foliage,” Rachmat [Witoelar, Presidential special envoy for climate change] said. Therefore, Indonesia will form a group with other countries, such as Congo, Panama and Costa Rica, to lobby for the inclusion of REDD in the agreement. “Our goal is to keep the discussion going during the conference. It won’t harm anyone, we will only include a few words. If REDD exists, it involves the whole atmosphere and paradigm of sustainable forest management with indigenous people.”

[USA] Counsel: Now it’s work for conservation group that bought mines
By Anna Aguillard, West Virginia Record, 25 November 2015
The nonprofit land conservation fund Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund recently purchased a group of bankrupt coalmines from Patriot Coal Corporation. The acquisition was managed by a team of Pillsbury lawyers, and although the deal between VCLF and Patriot has closed, according to the Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman lawyers, the work is far from over. “The deal is closed, the permits are transferred, and our client has assumed the liabilities,” Andrew Troop, one of the Pillsbury partners leading the acquisition, told The West Virginia Record. “Now, the real work begins.” According to Troop, VCLF must now work with the state of West Virginia to reclaim mining permits, and get money from sureties to cover costs associated with the deal.

26 November 2015

WRM Statement: The climate and forest crises cannot be solved with number games and false solutions
World Rainforest Movement, 26 November 2015
After more than twenty UN climate conferences, the negotiations are still focused on figures and numbers, as if the climate crisis is only about that. Instead of spending time on real solutions like leaving fossil fuels underground, the climate talks have deliberately come up with mechanisms that enable corporations to continue doing business as usual. Deforestation has been apparently placed at the center of the discussions, as one of the main causes of climate change. But forests are seen as mere carbon stores that need to be conserved for the carbon they contain, as if this would halt climate change. And in turn, the problem of deforestation has also been reduced to a debate of figures and numbers only.

Emissions Trading System revision crucial for a climate deal
By Anja Kollmuss (Climate Action Network), EurActiv, 26 November 2015
The EU portrays itself as a leader at the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris. But can the EU really be a model for the rest of the world given its limited ambition and the failure of its flagship policy instrument, the Emissions Trading System, to drive decarbonsation? The EU is pushing for a five year review cycle in the upcoming Paris agreement. Such a ratcheting-up mechanism is absolutely vital, since the current pledges from countries are woefully insufficient and will still lead to three degrees of global warming or more. The EU’s leadership on this issue is therefore very welcome. But for it to be credible Europe’s promises have to be translated into real action at home. If the EU wants to successfully push for a five year review cycle in Paris, it cannot accept a ten year period for its own Emissions Trading System without such a review.

COP Blog: Parlez-vous Californien? Lessons from California’s Forest Carbon Programme
By MaryKate Bullen, Environmental Finance, 26 November 2015
Forests have a significant role to play in addressing climate change. A global climate agreement in Paris can harness this role by encouraging emissions reductions from forests as well as increased carbon storage and sequestration. While substantial funding and climate pledges over the past half-decade have helped address critical needs for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) readiness in forest governance, private capital is required at scale in order to halt and reverse global forest loss. As we head into COP21, negotiators can look to California’s cap-and-trade programme as an example of how carbon markets can drive investment to support positive forest management. Forests are the largest source of offsets to the California market, with more than 60% of the system’s offsets originating from US forests.

Paris climate talks won’t beat dangerous global warming but they will try to build a vehicle that can
By Graham Readfearn, The Guardian, 26 November 2015
UN climate meetings are curious events where the future of the world’s climate and everything that’s part of it can come down to the removal of square brackets on documents and the strike of a gavel. About 40,000 delegates from more than 190 countries will be in Paris for the next major talks starting on Monday, including more than 130 heads of state and governments. If previous talks are any indication, then by the end of the second week the venue corridors will resemble a scene from an airport where all flights have been cancelled; most people are not really sure what’s going on, bodies are collapsed on the floor from sleep deprivation and every now and then an important person stands up in the middle to give an update. At least in Paris, there should be no shortage of caffeine and sugary goodness to keep the world from falling into a crevasse of it’s own unexploited fossil fuel reserves.

Avoiding extinction: Who needs a carbon market?
By Graciela Chichilnisky, Blouin News, 26 November 2015
The carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol is now trading carbon credits at the E.U. Emissions Trading System EU ETS, and as already stated it is international law since 2005. The World Bank reports on its progress in its report “Status and Trends of the Carbon Market” which is published annually since the carbon market became international law in 2005. The report documents that by 2010 the EU ETS is trading $200 billion/year, and has decreased the equivalent of 20% of E.U.’s emissions of carbon. Through the carbon market, those nations that over-emit compensate those who under emit, and throughout the entire KP process the world emissions’ remains always under a fixed emissions limit that are documented in Annex 1. A ‘carbon price’ emerges from trading the ‘carbon credits’ or rights to emit, which represents the monetary value of the damage caused by each ton of CO2.

Destruction of Brazil’s Amazon forest jumps 16 pct in 2015
By Marcelo Teixeira, Reuters, 26 November 2015
The destruction of Brazil’s Amazon forest, the world’s largest intact rainforest, increased by 16 percent in 2015 from a year ago as the government struggles to enforce legislation and stop illegal clearings. Satellite data for the 12 months through the end of July released on Thursday showed that 5,831 square km (2,251 square miles) of forests were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon, an area half the size of Puerto Rico. The data released by the environment ministry on Thursday confirmed preliminary information released by environmental institutions recently that were showing an increase in deforestation after a fall seen in 2014. It comes at a sensitive moment for the Brazilian government as countries around the world gather in Paris to discuss a new global climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation makes up to around 15 percent of world’s heat-trapping gases, more than the entire transport sector.

Changing Climate Has Major Impacts for Under-Prepared Cambodia
By Phorn Bopha, Voice of America, 26 November 2015
Tek Vannara, director of the NGO Forum in Phnom Penh, who will attend the climate talks in Paris, told VOA Khmer that such countries need to help developing nations with technology and financial support. “We will make a request to the industrialized, developed countries to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “We also ask that they increase their country budgets and development budgets related to adaptation to climate change, for $100 billion per year. “This would allow civil society organizations in developing countries to be able to propose packages on adaptation to climate change.” He also wants to see a market for carbon credits, to help preserve what remains of Cambodia’s forests, which can act as a carbon sink, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to curb warming.

[Ghana] National REDD+ Secretariat launches ‘REDD Eye’ campaign
Ghana Web, 26 November 2015
The National REDD+ Secretariat of the Forestry Commission has launched the first ever “REDD Eye” campaign to create awareness among the youth on the need to plant and nurture trees. The campaign would also open the eyes of the youth to the importance of the REDD+ as a mechanism to reduce the devastating effects of climate change. Climate change has become a worldwide phenomenon, affecting all forms of human lives. REDD+ stands for the countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The Mekong river: stories from the heart of the climate crisis
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 26 November 2015
The fate of 70 million people rests on what happens to the Mekong river. With world leaders meeting in Paris next week for crucial UN climate talks, John Vidal journeys down south-east Asia’s vast waterway – a place that encapsulates some of the dilemmas they must solve. He meets people struggling to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as the ecological havoc created by giant dams, deforestation, coastal erosion and fast-growing cities.

[UK] How an elderly couple lost £2m to investment fraudster who posed as their granddaughter
By Andrew Penman, The Mirror, 26 November 2015
In a new low, an investment charlatan posed as the granddaughter of an elderly couple to plunder their life savings. This tale of global greed and deception starts in Papua New Guinea in the Pacific with what, in theory, was an admirable project to protect forests and the native people who live in them. Western companies could fund the project by buying “carbon credits” to offset their pollution. These are a favourite of conmen who sell them as investments – with disastrous consequences. Eight linked firms in this snake pit have just been put into compulsory liquidation in the High Court in the public interest, including London Carbon Neutral Limited.

27 November 2015

Paris Catches Breath Just as Mega Climate Meeting Comes to Town
By Angeline Benoit and Gregory Viscusi, Bloomberg, 27 November 2015
Just as Paris begins to return to a semblance of normal life after the Nov. 13 terror attacks, more than 140 world leaders are set to descend on the French capital Monday for climate talks that will bring a massive police presence and extensive traffic restrictions. From Sunday afternoon through late Monday, the highways leading north and south out of Paris will be shut to normal traffic, as will a northern stretch of the “peripherique,” the ring road that circles the city. Major boulevards will be closed, while truck traffic in the Paris region will be banned. The police have asked Parisians not to use their cars and to avoid public transport Sunday and Monday, even though it will be free. Organizers say 147 heads of government and state, including U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s Xi Jinping, will attend the Nov. 30 opening of the UN’s COP 21 climate talks, which will take place at Le Bourget…

Paris climate activists put under house arrest using emergency laws
By Arthus Neslen, The Guardian, 27 November 2015
At least 24 climate activists have been put under house arrest by French police, accused of flouting a ban on organising protests during next week’s Paris climate summit, the Guardian has learned. One legal adviser to the activists said many officers raided his Paris apartment and occupied three floors and a staircase in his block. French authorities did not respond to requests for comment but lawyers said that the warrants were issued under state of emergency laws, imposed after the terror attacks that killed 130 people earlier this month. The author and climate change campaigner, Naomi Klein, accused French authorities of “a gross abuse of power that risks turning the summit into a farce”. “Climate summits are not photo opportunities to boost the popularity of politicians,” she told the Guardian.

Climate change and the Paris Conference: is the UNFCCC process flawed?
By Mark Maslin,OUPblog, 27 November 2015
Is the UNFCCC process flawed?… The first major flaw in the UNFCCC procedure is that it has failed to deliver any lasting agreement and it has been criticized for not going far enough with the suggested targets. This is based on the scientific view that a global cut of up to 60 per cent on a 1990 baseline is required to prevent major climatic change by 2050. If room is to be left for development, it would mean that the developed world would have to cut emissions by at least 80 per cent. The fundamental problem with international agreements and treaties is there there are no real means of enforcement. This was one of the arguments that the USA used when proposing the Copenhagen Accord, suggesting that even binding targets must in effect be voluntary as countries decide whether or not to comply. This is why policies and laws are required at a regional level…

UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
By Simon Bowring, CounterPunch, 27 November 2015
In this context, the space given to interpretation and circumstance in the REDD text is startling for the display of utmost indifference towards the global impacts of deforestation. It is also worrying because, as it stands, REDD explicitly lays out a largely rich-world conception of environmental protection as an activity to be mediated through ‘market-based mechanisms’. This is an approach that the G77 and China made clear should not dominate mitigation financing, which should instead, they said, rely on funding.

Botswana: Diamond mining continues to cause suffering for Bushmen
Survival International, 27 November 2015
Despite ever increasing profits from multinational diamond mining operations in the country, Botswana’s Bushman communities continue to suffer. Last week the second-largest diamond in history was discovered close to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the recognized ancestral homeland of the Bushman people. Botswana has been keen to publicize its considerable diamond-derived wealth to the world’s media, but coverage has so far ignored the ongoing violations of the Bushmen’s human rights. The Bushmen were evicted from their land just over a decade ago. In a landmark 2006 court case they officially won the right to return to their homes in the reserve. Despite the ruling, the majority of the tribespeople have been prevented from living there. For those who are there, life has been made nearly impossible.

Amazon deforestation report is major setback for Brazil ahead of climate talks
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 27 November 2015
Trees covering an area more than seven times the territory of New York City have been cleared in the Brazilian Amazon over the past year, in a major setback for government efforts to combat deforestation. The grim statistics from Brazil’s environment ministry, which were released on Thursday, underscore the growing climate threat posed by deforestation ahead of a United Nations conference in Paris that aims to reduce global carbon emissions. Satellite data revealed that 5,831 square kilometers of land was cut down or burned in the Brazilian Amazon in year to 1 August: a 16% increase on the destruction of the previous 12 months.

Indonesian Civil Society presents a Roadmap towards sustainable peatland management for pulpwood plantations
Wetlands International, 27 November 2015
Civil society in Indonesia today presents a Roadmap towards sustainable peatland management for the Indonesian pulpwood plantation industry. The roadmap aims to stop further expansion and new developments of plantations in peatlands and promote alternative sustainable peatland management practices. This is to ensure long-term productivity in peatland landscapes that assures economic, ecological and social sustainability. The roadmap shows the pulp-and-paper industry in Indonesia the way towards sustainable peatland management by preventing future peatland fires and flooding, reducing CO2 emissions and conserving biodiversity in peatlands Current practice on peatlands (business as usual) will lead to the large scale loss of productivity for pulp-and-paper industries Government must close loopholes in the existing regulations and endorse laws to enable sustainable peatland management

[New Zealand] Breathing life into carbon fight
By Brian Fallow, NZ Herald, 27 November 2015
Households and most businesses face higher power and fuel bills under proposed changes to the emissions trading scheme. The Government this week released a discussion document to start its review of the ETS. For “review”, read “resurrect”. The ETS is New Zealand’s primary policy response to the challenge of climate change but it has been utterly subverted and rendered ineffectual by two things. One is that the great majority of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions escape a carbon price through various carve-outs and a buy one, get one free provision. The other is that the price incurred by the remaining emissions has been almost zero because the Government decided to allow emitters untrammelled use of imported carbon credits that cost a few cents a tonne – in the process crowding out the New Zealand units (NZUs) it issues mainly to forest owners.

[Papua New Guinea] El Niño Meets the Rain Forest
By Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 27 November 2015
Forests are in the news. Deforestation accounts for somewhere between eleven and twenty per cent of worldwide carbon-dioxide emissions, and any deal that is reached at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, which begins on November 30th, in Paris, is expected to formally recognize its contribution to global warming for the first time. The draft text for the summit also proposes ways to encourage developing countries not to cut down their trees. One such instrument is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD, a program that seeks to assign a financial value to standing forests and to pay local communities, via the sale of carbon credits, for their contribution to the world’s ecological well-being.

[UK] Investments that crash: how to be wise before the event
By Laura Miller, The Independent, 27 November 2015
Russ Mould at the pension and investment platform AJ Bell said investors should be wary of unusual assets promising high returns, like Keydata and Arch cru. “A lot of the past failures seem to be invested in the same types of underlying assets – property, overseas hotels and real estate, life insurance investments and unlisted securities. So any investment promising headline returns from those types of assets should raise a red flag.” Other investments that should be treated with caution at the moment, he added, are car parking spaces, carbon credits, storage pods and renewable energy.

[USA] Isolation of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Part I
By Dr. James Hansen, Huffington Post, 27 November 2015
My thesis is that Obama actually means well, has some gumption, and wants effective actions to be taken, but he is being very poorly advised. As a result, people at the working level have been given no effective direction and are producing little. Mostly they are working on spin. Get ready for the great deceit and hypocrisy planned for December in Paris. Negotiators do not want the global leaders to look like fools again, as they did in Copenhagen. They are determined to have leaders clap each other on the back and declare the Paris climate negotiations a success. A prelude of Paris deceit is shown by … a press conference with John Podesta, once czar of Obama’s climate policy, and Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz. They express optimism on the Paris summit, citing an agreement of the U.S. and China to work together to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS). That spin is … unadulterated 100 percent pure bullshit.

[USA] Time to Choose
By Michael Brune (Sierra Club), Medium, 27 November 2015
Does the world need another film about climate change? Absolutely, and the reason why is embedded in the question itself. Everything’s changing, fast. That’s obvious when you watch Time to Choose, a new film by Academy Award–winning documentary director Charles Ferguson. But although Ferguson’s film acknowledges the enormity of the challenges the world is facing, it’s even stronger on the rapid rise of available solutions. The film also shows how the same activities that cause climate change also cause many more immediate problems, ranging from air and water pollution to loss of natural beauty and the extinction of species. As the COP21 climate talks begin next week in Paris, Time to Choose will stream on The Huffington Post for free on Monday, November 30. Anyone who cares about the future should set aside 99 minutes to watch.

28 November 2015

Paris Climate Talks Avoid Scientists’ Idea of ‘Carbon Budget’
By Justin Gillis, The New York Times, 28 November 2015
After two decades of talks that failed to slow the relentless pace of global warming, negotiators from almost 200 countries are widely expected to sign a deal in the next two weeks to take concrete steps to cut emissions. The prospect of progress, any progress, has elicited cheers in many quarters. The pledges that have already been announced “represent a clear and determined down payment on a new era of climate ambition from the global community of nations,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in a statement a month ago. Yet the negotiators gathering in Paris will not be discussing any plan that comes close to meeting their own stated goal of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level.

COP21: Will it make any difference to climate change?
By Frank McDonald, The Irish Times, 28 November 2015
Twenty years ago a little-known woman politician with a mophead haircut from the former East Germany presided over the first UN climate conference, in Berlin. We – the delegates and the press – came to know her as Angela Merkel, and we thought she was brilliant, someone you could bring anywhere and she’d never put a foot wrong. Helmut Kohl had made her Germany’s environment minister a year earlier, and he had clearly made the right choice. Not only was Merkel a physics graduate (from the University of Leipzig), which gave her a clear understanding of climate change, but she was also determined to do the business in Berlin. It was, after all, the first Conference of the Parties – or COP1 – to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which had been adopted by acclamation at the 1992 Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, which aimed to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic” – or human-induced – “interference with the climate”.

Paris COP21 climate talks: Millions urge world leaders to adopt 100% clean energy by 2050
By Priyanka Mogul, International Business Times, 28 November 2015
A ‘mega climate petition’ calling on countries to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2050 has gathered more than 3 million supporters ahead of COP21. The UN climate conference begins on 30 November (Monday) in Paris, bringing together more than 120 world leaders in an attempt to reach a universal agreement on global warming. Ahead of the climate summit, a petition organised by campaign group has gathered 3,174,764 signatures. Calling on global leaders to phase out carbon pollution to zero by 2050, Avaaz has described the campaign as “the most important petition we’ve ever done”. Avaaz campaign director, Iain Keith, told IBTimes UK: “Paris can deliver in a meaningful deal, with national commitments from all countries, a credible plan that includes financial help for developing countries and a long-term goal that can send an immediate signal that the world is getting off fossil fuels.”

Germany’s Merkel urges strict, binding goals to tackle climate change
By John O’Donnell, Reuters, 28 November 2015
Germany’s chancellor gave a qualified welcome on Saturday to China’s pledge to tackle rising temperatures ahead of a global climate conference but she called for more ambitious goals to cut greenhouse emissions. In her weekly internet podcast on Saturday, Angela Merkel also underscored the long-term importance of coal-fired power for Germany, a country that remains one of the globe’s biggest economies and exporters. “It is remarkable that China … has given a timeframe for reduction of 2030,” said Merkel. “But the proposed targets for reduction will not allow us to reach the (United Nations) 2 degree goal. That means we need a follow up process and that, in my view, must be binding.” Merkel’s comments come as world leaders prepare to meet for a summit that seeks to steer the global economy away from reliance on fossil fuels.

29 November 2015

Emission impossible as EU fails to police main anti-pollution scheme
By Andrew Gilligan, The Telegraph, 29 November 2015
The EU’s main scheme for reducing CO2 emissions is almost never enforced, according to an official report by Brussels’ own spending watchdog. Only one EU country inspected – Britain – makes on-the-spot visits to factories to check whether they are staying within their carbon limits under the scheme, the EU Court of Auditors found. Even the UK only checks 1 per cent of sites, down from 5 per cent before. The auditors also said that attempts to stamp out endemic fraud in the EU’s flagship Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), from which billions of pounds of “carbon credits” have been stolen by criminals, are “not adequate” and continue to leave “significant security weaknesses.”


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