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.
Forests in spotlight as COP21 climate talks approach endgame
FERN, EU Forest Watch Issue 210, December 2015
As the 21st UN Climate Conference reaches its final days in Paris, how is the outcome shaping up for forests? On Wednesday 9 December, the first text of the Draft Paris Outcome was released and parties met to give their views on the text. With negotiators working through the night, a new version is expected on Thursday afternoon. Forests are a potential sticking point on the agenda, with the EU playing a crucial role in shaping what happens. Hours before the draft text came out, the EU and Brazil opened the door for land and forest carbon offsets by proposing to set up a new Clean Development Mechanism (which they are calling the Sustainable Development Mechanism) and by stating that offsets would not need to be permanent, but only ‘long-term’. Since the sequestration of carbon in land and forests is not permanent, this suggests land and forests could be used to offset continued fossil fuel emissions.
7 December 2015
Indigenous activists take to Seine river to protest axing of rights from Paris climate pact
By Martin Lukacs, The Guardian, 7 December 2015
Indigenous groups from across the world staged a paddle down the Seine river in Paris on Sunday, calling on governments to ensure Indigenous rights are included in the United Nations climate pact currently being negotiated in France. The United States, the EU, Australia and other states have pushed for Indigenous rights to be dropped from the binding parts of the agreement out of fear that it could create legal liabilities. Indigenous representatives from North and South America, Indonesia and Congo played instruments and led others in prayer amid the smell of burning sage after activists completed the paddle, demanding the protection of water and the environment. Recognition of Indigenous rights initially appeared in the text of the Paris Accord, where it would have been legally binding and enforceable – but under pressure from Norway and other countries, it was moved to a preamble that is only aspirational and non-binding.
Climate accord needs local support
By Regan Suzuki Pairojmahkij, Bangkok Post, 7 December 2015
What does this mean for forests and climate change? It means that in countries where equity is strong, we can anticipate less need to degrade environmental resources because poverty and livelihood options are improved, and increased and more equitable rights for land tenure and resource access strengthen sustainable land management. In countries where equity is strong there is also increased visibility and voice in consultation and decision-making processes, leading to more realistic and fair planning and management processes.
COP21: A Rallying Cry – No Climate Justice Without Full Indigenous Rights
By Sarah van Gelder, Truthout, 7 December 2015
Then there’s the question of the climate policies themselves – whether they will be structured in ways that allow corporations and wealthy nations to game the system, using offsets and trading schemes to avoid real emissions reductions. These are the sorts of policies Tom Goldtooth and other members of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) have been fighting for years. The IEN, other indigenous peoples and their allies have been calling for policies that result in real emissions reductions by those who are creating the pollution, and rejecting approaches that undermine the livelihoods of the people who live in the world’s most biologically diverse places. Goldtooth, the executive director of IEN, a member of the Dine/Dakota tribes, and a prominent figure in the people’s movements for climate justice, speaks frequently around the world, and especially at global climate gatherings.
Clock Ticking As Questions Remain Over REDD+ Semantics
By Gustavo A. Silva-Chávez, Forest Trends, 7 December 2015
It shouldn’t be surprising that an issue that’s been at the forefront of international climate policy discussions for the past decade is turning out to be a key one in Paris. As with most components of the negotiating text, the big issues around forests have already been resolved, and now the questions center on politics over seemingly subtle semantics. Negotiators are trying to operationalize – or flip the “on” switch – on finance for forest protection, a tool known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). Although there’s widespread agreement that REDD+ needs to be part of the Paris agreement (60 heads of state mentioned forests last Monday in their opening speeches), negotiators are fighting over whether it should take the form of a “mechanism,” a “framework,” or something else that achieves the same goal.
This new initiative out of Paris will help fight climate change with trees
By Wanjira Mathai, Grist, 7 December 2015
A new movement called AFR100 — the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative — is poised to take advantage of this opportune moment. This new pan-African, country-led effort aims to restore 100 million hectares (386,000 square miles) of degraded and deforested landscapes in Africa by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal, but within reach — at the initiative’s launch in Paris during COP21, African countries committed to restore more than 30 million hectares (116,000 square miles), an area larger than the nation of Gabon or the United Kingdom. And AFR100 partners are earmarking more than $1 billion in development finance and $600 million in private sector investment to support restoration activities.
Forests: Big Player In the Fight Against Climate Change
By Michael Jenkins, Huffington Post, 7 December 2015
Investing in the carbon-absorbing capabilities of forests is one of most cost-effective ways to combat climate change, and, unlike some other approaches, keeping forests standing doesn’t require additional technological development. Policy alone, however, is not enough. Strong political signals must be accompanied by the sufficient finance — particularly to developing countries — to ensure that nations can reach the targets they’ve set. One reason REDD+ is such an attractive option is that it’s ready to go – fully formed after a decade’s worth of UN negotiations to design a system for delivering payments to tropical forest countries that keep their forests standing.
Big business: are deforestation goals at risk of failing?
By Katie McCoy, The Guardian, 7 December 2015
But with the world still losing millions of hectares of forests each year, the real test is not how many businesses are recognising risks and promising to act, it is how these pledges are being enacted. CDP’s data suggests that supply chain implementation could be a real stumbling block. Take one of the early steps of the procurement process: setting standards. On average over three-quarters of manufacturers and retailers say they have procurement standards for their sourcing of forest-risk commodities. But dig deeper and you’ll see there is often scant detail about what these standards look like.
‘It is complex but our future is worth the effort’
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 December 2015
Following is a transcript of Peter Holmgren’s address in the opening plenary of the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris on 5 December: Excellencies, colleagues, friends, family – thanks to all the partners again for all your excellent and hard work to make this happen. And special thanks to the French Government for hosting us. We’re all here because we share an important insight. That is that many of the solutions to a better and more equitable world are found in the world’s landscapes. Why do we believe that? Let’s first take a look at the economics of landscapes.
The Carbon Chronicle
Ecosystem Marketplace, 7 December 2015
On Monday November 30, Norway, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK) entered into a joint agreement pledging $5 billion to REDD+, an extension of the commitment they made last year through the New York Declaration on Forests. The deal includes new pledges to the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s Carbon Fund (FCPF) to the tune of $339 million, the REDD Early Movers program (REM) for more than $100 million, and Brazil’s Amazon Fund for continued support “at around current levels,” which have been more than $100 million annually for the last three years. “This is the most important signal that this COP can send for forests,” said Steve Schwartzman, the Senior Director of Tropical Forest Policy at the Environmental Defense Fund. “What forests needed here was a real signal that donor countries were going to come up with adequate funding to support countries that are really putting serious programs in place…”
Forest Reference Level Submissions under REDD+
WWF, 7 December 2015
For REDD+ to work in practice, a country needs to define a forest reference level (FRL). This is the baseline against which future reductions in emissions, or increases in carbon sinks, can be measured. Countries will need to verify actual emissions reductions against their FRL in order to receive performance-based payments for REDD+. FRLs can also help a country to quantify its contribution to international mitigation efforts, and to evaluate the success of its forest, land use and climate policies. WWF’s report Forest Reference Level Submissions under REDD+: An Analysis of Submission Trends, Leading Practices, and Areas for Improvement examines the first six FRLs to be submitted to the UN – by Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Malaysia and Mexico.
Landscapes’ ‘complexity’ offers a way forward for climate policy
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 December 2015
A holistic approach to sustainable land use adds an extra and important dimension to the global climate policy being shaped at COP21, speakers said at Sunday’s closing ceremony of the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum, held in Paris. The Forum brought together more than 3000 people from across the forestry, agriculture, finance and other sectors, in both developed and emerging countries, to discuss the role of sustainable land use in achieving climate and development goals. Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary-General, drew the connections between the two events with his reference to the global climate change conference underway outside Paris. “The transitions that are being discussed a few kilometers down the road in Le Bourget are as yet very much focused on issues that relate to decarbonization, clean technologies,” he said.
‘Forest Credit’, India’s answer to climate change
By Dr Sunil Gupta, merinews.com, 7 December 2015
While in early 2014 there were talks about probable losses to companies which had acquired carbon credits by investing in Clean Development Mechanism due to fall in prices below one euro, the other side of the coin came into being in mid this year when the government of Himachal Pradesh earned a handsome amount of money by selling carbon credits to the government of Spain under bio-carbon project. This raised hope for the farmers of the state, who used degraded public land for raising forest under a World Bank-funded watershed project, by making them entitled to a share in this sum. PM Narendra Modi and his counterparts from across the globe deliberated the menace of rising greenhouse gases, their impact on climate, humans and non-humans in Paris with a conflict over contributing to the uphill task of reducing emissions.
[Indonesia] A UN award in Paris, but fighting for survival in Borneo
By Philip Jacobson, mongabay.com, 7 December 2015
Indonesia’s shambolic internal borders are a national emergency. No single map of land-use claims exists; contradictory references persist across the different levels of government. The problem impedes efforts to zone the country for sustainable development and underlies thousands of conflicts that pit communities against companies, the state or each other. Amid the chaos, oil palm plantations have sprung up at breakneck speed across Indonesia’s ravaged hinterlands, eating away at the forests and propelling this country of 250 million to become the world’s sixth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. At the start of last century more than four-fifths of the archipelago was covered by jungle; today it is fighting to stem forest losses even in its national parks as species like the Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) fall away into extinction. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil and largest exporter of coal…
[Indonesia] Harapan vows to protect indigenous groups, rights
By Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post, 7 December 2015
The management of Harapan rainforest in Sumatra has pledged to protect human rights and empower local communities while carrying out its operations. PT Restorasi Ekosistem Indonesia (Reki) president director Effendy A. Sumardja, whose company is charged with the restoration of Harapan rainforest, said such a commitment would guide the company’s future operations. “This commitment will ensure that the restoration of the forest’s ecosystem will improve of the life of local people,” Effendy said recently. Harapan rainforest, spanning 101,000 hectares (ha) and located in the provinces of Jambi and South Sumatra, is part of the remaining low-plain forests in Sumatra.
[Nigeria] Restoration: Developing countries are doing it for themselves
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 7 December 2015
Developing countries are already financing the bulk of domestic land restoration efforts and cannot rely on international donors to fill the finance gaps, according to Nigerian economist and former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. “If we look at where the money for landscape restoration comes from now, according to a study by the New Climate Economic Group, we need $US250 billion a year to restore degraded landscapes for developing countries,” she said. “We are getting $US25 billion now, about one tenth. But 60 percent of what we get are from the domestic resources of countries themselves.” In an interview during the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris, Okonjo-Iweala said that the conversation the international community is having needs to shift from international donors and finance, to how countries can be supported to finance their own restoration.
[UK] Police recover £6 million netted by fraudster pair in carbon credits scam
By Martin Bentham, London Evening Standard, 7 December 2015
Two fraudsters arrested and led away in handcuffs after landing at Heathrow have been stripped of nearly £6 million in crime profits after an international operation to recover their illicit gains from a huge “cold-calling” scam. Conmen Ian Macdonald and David Downes cheated thousands of people, most elderly, by selling carbon credits and shares — which they knew to be worthless — as high-value investments… Announcing recovery of their money today, Nick Price, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said the cash had originally been sent to Panama then moved to Canada, from which it had now been retrieved and returned to victims. Mr Price added: “These men preyed on the vulnerability of their victims, some of whom lost many thousands of pounds they had been saving for their retirement or for their children. As is so often the case, they thought they were too clever to be caught. They were wrong.”
Citibank, UK taxman in legal spat over £10m bill linked to EU carbon market fraud
By Mike Szabo and Rebecca Hampson, Carbon Pulse, 7 December 2015
Britain’s tax authority will on Tuesday set out its case against investment bank Citibank over a £10 million ($15.1 million) tax bill it served the bank in 2013, which resulted from EU carbon allowance trades that HMRC alleges were connected with fraud. Legal representatives for HMRC and US-headquartered Citibank will appear at an Upper Tribunal tax hearing in London, where HMRC is appealing a decision rendered by Judge Barbara Mosedale in a First-Tier Tribunal in Nov. 2014, which found that the HMRC’s statement of case (SOC) was “seriously flawed”. In Aug. 2013, HMRC sent Citi’s UK office a bill for VAT that the bank had reclaimed on EUA trades made in July 2009, because HMRC alleged Citibank “knew or ought to have known that … its transactions in these carbon credits were connected with fraud”, according to the 2014 ruling.
US and EU want Loss and Damage as a toothless tiger in Paris agreement
By Nitin Sethi, Business Standard, 7 December 2015
The US, the EU and some other developed countries have demanded that poor and vulnerable countries commit at Paris that they shall never ask for compensation or hold rich nations liable for the inevitable loss and damage in coming years. Business Standard accessed the proposal that the US put forth informally before other countries demanding that poor and vulnerable countries give up any future rights to demand compensation or create any form of legal liability upon developed countries.
8 December 2015
Brazil and EU propose new carbon market text for Paris deal
By Ben Garside, Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 8 December 2015
Brazil and the EU have jointly proposed new text on international carbon trade in a move observers and negotiators say drastically improves the chances of market provisions being retained in the final UN climate pact. The proposal may diminish fears that provisions for international carbon trade risk being squeezed out of the UN climate pact altogether because major economies were giving it a low priority. It sets out in more detail than the latest UN proposal ways in which willing nations can use “cooperative approaches” to cut emissions using “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes”, according to the text that was circulated among negotiators and seen by Carbon Pulse, before it was published on the European Commission website.
Carbon Markets Are Making a Slow, But Steady, Comeback
By Alex Nussbaum, Ewa Krukowska and Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 8 December 2015
Two decades ago, Richard Sandor had a grand plan to reduce the pollution that causes global warming — and maybe get rich in the process. The rich part worked. For the rest, reality intervened. Today, Sandor’s vision of thriving global carbon markets — capitalist arenas that would turn the right to pollute into a commodity like gold or oil and, over time, reduce emissions — has fallen well short of the mark. In its first attempts, prices collapsed, trading waned and early enthusiasts withdrew. The invisible hand of the market has yet to establish a firm grip.
‘Global village’ might not be such a cliché
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 December 2015
Another challenge when establishing commons institutions is how they will cope in a modern market economy. “Anecdotally, often not that very well,” said Steven Lawry, CIFOR’s Director of Forests and Governance Research, although, he added, there is not enough research to be certain. Lawry studied the successful conversion of degraded Namibian landscapes into wildlife conservancies, but he warned that they remained fragile because of the fluctuations in the tourism market they rely on. As for Joan Carling, she opposed the commoditization of commons in principle. “Is it the way to save the commons?” she asked. “We know that the market is not in the hands of communities. It is in the hands of corporations. “We now need to think out of the box and really reflect on what is the best way for us to ensure that the commons are still shared, that it’s the people that benefit from it and that it is sustainable,” she added.
We have the technology to monitor deforestation for REDD+, and it’s only going to get better, say researchers
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 8 December 2015
Right now in Paris there are discussions taking place about how to protect tropical forests as part of efforts to stop climate change. The main vehicle by which any climate accord reached at COP21 will likely seek to do that is REDD+, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, a program administered by the UN that is intended to provide funds to tropical forest countries as incentive for developing their economies in ways that don’t cause massive amounts of deforestation. Much of the funds channeled via REDD+ to developing countries will be in exchange for verified emissions reductions. Because it is a payment-for-performance scheme, the success of REDD+ will depend on the ability to continuously measure and monitor forests and the carbon stocks they represent — an ability that has been questioned in the run-up to the Paris talks.
Paris talks: indigenous people and small farmers say rich are setting the agenda
By John Vidal and Terry Slavin, The Guardian, 8 December 2015
In the climate talks “blue zone”, in the Parisian district of Le Bourget, are the governments, their advisers and lawyers, big business and the financiers. Facebook has a stall, along with UN agencies and scientific bodies. But the world’s 4 billion small farmers, fishermen and women, indigenous peoples, hunters and gatherers, rural workers, pastoralists, and young people on the frontline of climate change, inhabit the “green zone”, beyond the fence where the decision-makers do not go. Many of those in the green zone say they are excluded, and feel hurt that they have no seat at the table. The more powerful, richer voices are able to drown out their ideas and even set back their causes at the Paris talks.
Sharing the planet means sharing the problems
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 8 December 2015
Those who caused the global “carbon problem” should take a greater share of the responsibility for resolving it, an indigenous activist has said. “It’s a shared responsibility, but those who caused it will have to get a bigger burden,” Joan Carling, Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, said in an interview on the sidelines of the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris. “And all of us will have to be guided by a sustainability framework of thinking that we all have responsibilities of protecting Mother Earth.” For that sustainability framework, Carling referred back to indigenous practices of managing common areas, as a model for land-use management more broadly. “You don’t look at the elements as separate from each other,” she said. “You have to look at the ecosystem as it relates to the human being.”
Climate coalition breaks cover in Paris to push for binding and ambitious deal
By Karl Mathiesen and Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 8 December 2015
A coalition representing more than 100 countries, formed in secrecy six months ago, has emerged at key UN talks in Paris to push for a legally binding global and ambitious deal on climate change. The “high ambition coalition” speaks for the majority of the 195 countries at the crunch conference and consists of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the US and all of EU member states. But notable exceptions include major developing countries such as China and India.
Africa’s transport blueprint may be road to ruin for flora and fauna, study says
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 8 December 2015
Many new road and rail ‘‘development corridors’’ planned to crisscross Africa in the name of economic development could destroy the continent’s equatorial forests and savannahs, lead to many people invading protected areas and have only limited chances of increasing agricultural production, say scientists in a new study. If built, the 33 giant transport routes, some of which will be 3,000km-long, will open up the African interior to farming and trade and are likely to attract large-scale immigration, including legal and illegal miners, commercial agricultural interests, and people seeking newly accessible farming or grazing areas, according to the report, published in the journal Current Biology.
The radical idea that’s gaining momentum at the Paris climate talks
By Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, 8 December 2015
Even as some experts are questioning the extent to which it’s even possible, more and more voices at the U.N. climate change conference here are standing up for at least trying to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, rather than the more commonly cited 2 degrees C.
Lobbyists at COP21 – foxes guarding the henhouse?
By Isatis Cintron, DW.com, 8 December 2015
As the world convenes in Paris to agree to a binding agreement to avoid dangerous global warming, industry associations represent one of the biggest NGO constituencies admitted to the climate summit. Through the Business and Industry Non-Governmental Organizations (BINGOs), industry associations receive direct and privileged access to United Nations structures and partially closed meetings with state actors. Yet the goal of such associations to employ political leverage – in particular, by groups that cater to the fossil fuel industry – can act to slow climate action. Corporate Europe Observatory along with Corporate Accountability, Friends of the Earth International and Avaaz are among the groups working to expose big business and the fossil fuel industry’s lobbying at the European Union and UNFCCC level.
Amazonas Florestal Ltd. Announces Signing of $15 Million Equity Line
Amazonas Florestal press release, 8 December 2015
Amazonas Florestal, Ltd. (www.amazonasf.com), a natural resources company dedicated to innovative, sustainable forest management, the certification and sales of carbon credits, and Industrial Hemp, today announced the execution of an Equity Line Agreement with Premier Venture Partners LLC of up to $ 15 Million. The Equity Line will be used to fund the three Company business lines beginning the first quarter of 2016. Funding is contingent upon the Company becoming fully reporting. Presently the Company estimates filing its S1 Registration Statement by the end of 2015 as it recently completed the audit of its Financial Statements to date and new Business Plans that form intricate parts of the filing now being completed by the company attornies.. Ricardo Cortez, Chairman of the Board of Amazonas Florestal Ltd., stated: “The Company has finally achieved the availability of funding…”
[Indonesia] Govt backtracks on unrealistic peatland restoration
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 8 December 2015
Provided with a limited allocation from the state budget, the government may only have the capacity to restore less than 5 percent of the total peatland area burned this year, allegedly by both small and large holders of plantation concessions. The Environment and Forestry Ministry has estimated that this year’s forest fires, the worst since 1998, has destroyed around 2.6 million hectares of land, with 53 percent of it located in peatland areas. If disturbed, peatland can become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. “We have to be realistic in proposing something. If we are provided with more funds, we could restore more than 5 percent of the destroyed peatlands,” the ministry’s environmental pollution and damage control director general, Karliansyah, told The Jakarta Post.
[Kenya] ‘Recognizing our rights to live in our forests is part of the solution to climate change’
By Justin Kenrick, New Internationalist, 8 December 2015
The Sengwer community has been repeatedly evicted by the government’s forest guards from their forests and glades at Embobut, high in the Cherangany Hills in Western Kenya. Despite these evictions, and the torching of their round thatched homes by the government’s Kenya Forest Service (KFS), most have returned to tend their cattle and bee hives, hiding from the forest guards’ harassment. Their (now makeshift and temporary) homes are continually burnt and basic household property including schoolbooks and uniforms destroyed, and they are continually threatened with arrest despite the existence of a High Court injunction forbidding such harassment and evictions.
[Vanuatu] Payment system for Pacific ecosystems protection ready
SciDev.Net, 8 December 2015
The Pacific region’s first payment for ecosystems services, dubbed the Nakau Programme, is now ready, according to representatives from Vanuatu and the non-profit Plan Vivo Foundation and Live and Learn which officially launched the programme during the COP21 summit in Paris. The Nakau Programme is part of the REDD+ scheme — Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation — a mechanism created under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change whose member countries are meeting in Paris this month. The programme, which took five years to develop, meets international standards set by the Vivo Foundation and received funding from the European Union and the Asian Development Bank.
9 December 2015
The Insanity of the COP: We Must Adopt a Different Vision
By John Foran, Resilience.org, 9 December 2015
Ivonne Yanez of Acción Ecológica led several expert witnesses through the problems with the UNFCCC REDD reforestation program, which like other new market mechanisms is based on calculating the monetary value of “ecosystem services.” German biologist Jutta Kill explained how one aspect of an ecosystem can be isolated and made equivalent with another ecosystem service somewhere else, all the while pretending that no harm has been done to the biosystem, the climate, or Earth as an organic whole. French economist and member of ATTAC Genevieve Azam called the neoliberal financialization of nature a “veritable pollution.” The concept of “natural capital” is “nature for economists.” Now, instead of being concerned with the actual environmental impact of a project, it becomes simply a question of compensation, of finding some “equivalent” to “offset” the harm.
Climate outlook may be worse than feared, global study suggests
Phys.org, 9 December 2015
As world leaders hold climate talks in Paris, research shows that land surface temperatures may rise by an average of almost 8C by 2100, if significant efforts are not made to counteract climate change. Such a rise would have a devastating impact on life on Earth. It would place billions of people at risk from extreme temperatures, flooding, regional drought, and food shortages. The study calculated the likely effect of increasing atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases above pre-industrialisation amounts. It finds that if emissions continue to grow at current rates, with no significant action taken by society, then by 2100 global land temperatures will have increased by 7.9C, compared with 1750.
Scientists just discovered a surprising new factor that could make global warming worse
By Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post, 9 December 2015
In a surprising new study, scientists say they’ve pinned down the climate factor most strongly tied to variations in terrestrial carbon storage — that is, the ability of plants and other features of the Earth’s surface to take up carbon, thus preventing it from going into the atmosphere. They’re arguing that the biggest driver is tropical nighttime temperatures, which are expected to warm at a faster rate than average temperatures otherwise will. As these temperatures rise, the researchers say, they could begin to seriously interfere with forests’ ability to store carbon, even helping tip the scales one day in the future so that our global forests turn into a net source of greenhouse gas emissions — leaking carbon into the atmosphere rather than sucking it out, and thus exacerbating global climate change.
How the Earth itself could undermine a Paris climate agreement
By Chris Mooney, The Washington Post, 9 December 2015
As the planet warms, this frozen northern soil is going to continue to thaw — and as it thaws, it’s going to release carbon dioxide and methane into the air. A lot of it, it turns out. Potentially enough to really throw off the carbon budgets that have been calculated in order to determine the maximum emissions that we can release and still have a good chance of keeping warming to 2 C or below it. In particular, Susan Natali of the Woods Hole Research Center explained Wednesday that with a very high level of warming, permafrost emissions this century could be quite large indeed. Natali used numbers from the 2013 report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which found that humans can only emit about 275 more gigatons, or billion tons, of carbon (about 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide, which has a greater molecular weight) to have a greater than 66 percent chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees C.
A New Draft of the Paris Climate Agreement, and What Remains
New York Times, 9 December 2015
It all comes down to the nitty-gritty. The latest draft of the international climate agreement that 195 nations have been haggling over was released midafternoon Wednesday, just after Secretary of State John Kerry gave an impassioned speech urging consensus. The remaining points of disagreement will seem fairly abstruse to anyone who doesn’t follow climate politics closely, but they have important implications. Here are some of the major unresolved questions.
The Chicken and Egg Conundrum on Forests and Climate
By Amy Moas (Greenpeace), Huffington Post, 9 December 2015
When forests burn, or are otherwise destroyed, a double whammy is delivered to our climate. Not only are huge amounts of carbon that were once locked up, now emitted into the atmosphere, but at the same time, the ability of forests to soak up greenhouse gases in the future is also undermined. The moral of the story is that this double whammy fuels climate change, which in turn fuels forest destruction, which again fuels climate change. This is a feedback loop of critical proportion.
Latest Paris Text Shows REDD+ Is in the Final Stretch
By Gustavo A. Silva-Chávez, Forest Trends, 9 December 2015
The REDD section (Article 3bis) contains completely new text, and we are beginning to see the clear emergence of a REDD package. The first sentence clearly calls for all countries to “conserve and enhance…sinks and reservoirs of GHG” — this is UN speak for forests — and makes a clear reference to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Making such an unequivocal reference to the Convention clearly signals its importance in the overall text… Although the acronym REDD does not appear, the official title (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) is clearly in here. At the end of the paragraph there are explicit references to previous COP REDD decisions, including the Warsaw Framework. It looks short and simple on paper, but this paragraph is the ‘on’ switch for REDD.
New Paris text keeps markets in view but flags raised, changes expected
By Ben Garside, Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 9 December 2015
The draft Paris Agreement text released Wednesday afternoon potentially paves the way for a new international carbon market, but remained heavily bracketed and included wording that experts say may be problematic for some parties. Published amid intensifying negotiations, the text included provisions for the “international transfer of mitigation outcomes”, UNFCCC language for carbon markets, but the whole paragraph on ‘cooperative approaches’ was bracketed, meaning it had not been agreed.
REDD+ offers powerful lessons for green growth
By Christopher Martius, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 December 2015
Climate-smart economic development doesn’t have to start from scratch. With a decade of experience and a wealth of research to draw on, REDD+ offers very useful lessons—knowledge that should help green-growth strategies leapfrog many stumbling blocks. Low-emission development strategies (LEDS) aim to grow economies without growing a country’s carbon footprint—and might even shrink it—while freeing people from poverty and setting up economies that are resilient to a more hostile climate. LEDS projects—in energy, agriculture, forestry and finance—are already underway in several countries, and this past week, stakeholders have been gathering at COP21 in Paris also to review progress. Like so many good sustainability endeavors, however, making LEDS a reality is easier said than done. For about a decade now, REDD+ schemes have been run in a variety of countries around the tropics.
Evening Talks Underway In Paris As Historic Accord Takes Shape
By Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 9 December 2015
The Paris Patchwork Climate Accord is taking shape in evening plenaries here as negotiators continue to work on a streamlined negotiating text that emerged shortly after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that that the United States would double adaptation finance, from $400 million to $800 million, by 2020. The current text explicitly recognizes the need to save forests and Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), a once contentious set of processes that have now gained almost universal acceptance. “The REDD+ section (Article 3bis) contains completely new text, and we are beginning to see the clear emergence of a REDD+ package,” wrote Gustavo Silva-Chávez, Program Manager of the REDDX climate-finance tracking iniative, on the Forest Trends blog (Forest Trends is Ecosystem Marketplace’s publisher).
Carbon markets grow, but global price is out of reach
By Gerard Wynn, Climate Home, 9 December 2015
Governments are gathered in Paris to reach a new global climate agreement, expected on Friday. One way they can take action is by giving a nudge to carbon pricing initiatives around the world. Carbon pricing forces polluters to bear the cost of burning fossil fuels, through a price per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions. Such pricing can be applied through a carbon tax or emissions trading scheme. In theory, carbon pricing is a transparent, technology-neutral tool, which incentivises polluters to cut emissions more cheaply. In practice, it has seen hard times, since the global financial crisis drove a European carbon market to the edge of irrelevance, by creating a glut of emissions allowances, and Australia reversed its plans for a national market.
Indigenous rights taking back seat to trade investment at COP21
By Brandi Morin, APTN National News, 9 December 2015
Indigenous delegates at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) conference are left waiting outside negotiating rooms in Paris to learn the fate of their rights currently on the cutting board… “Should human rights for Indigenous Peoples be struck from the final agreement, negotiators will have destroyed any pretense of their intention to mitigate climate change,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz in a statement. “Failure to protect Indigenous Peoples rights in a final agreement will fuel destruction of the forests and other ecosystems managed since time immemorial by Indigenous Peoples.” The dispute arose last Friday following the first week of negotiations when the text at issue was removed from the draft document of the proposed worldwide legally binding treaty on climate change.
Message from Paris: REDD+ Keeps Calm and Carries on
By Chris Meyer, EDF, 9 December 2015
The REDD negotiators in Paris still have plenty of explicit and implicit references to REDD in the text that have a better-than-good chance of surviving this week. While we would like to see an explicit reference to REDD in the Paris Agreement or its decisions that guide its implementation, what is most important for REDD is a good final Paris Agreement. That will provide the impetus for quicker implementation of REDD and the big, big signal some say it needs. This second week is when the ministers need to focus on delivering it. The REDD negotiators have spent most of their time trying to unlock language around what some countries want to call the new “REDD Mechanism” (currently paragraph 3bis).
Norway’s paradox: spending billions in oil profits to preserve forests
By Justin Catanoso, mongabay.com, 9 December 2015
“I am hopeful about REDD,” says Pharo, whose fund invests heavily in preserving Brazil’s forests. “The opportunities are huge.” … “It is hypocritical for Norway to be drilling [so extensively] while at the same time saying it is deeply concerned about climate change,” said Samantha Smith, who lives in Norway and works now for WWF International, an environmental NGO. “We don’t live in that world anymore where you can do both of those things. This country has to choose.” … Unlike some countries and many companies, Norway isn’t seeking carbon credits for its forest protection initiatives — it has also pledged to curb its industrial and transport emissions, noting that protecting forests is not enough in isolation to stop global warming.
Restoration as a local solution with global benefits
By John Cannon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 December 2015
Landscape restoration has long been overshadowed by forest conservation when it comes to ecosystem-based strategies for tackling climate change. But now scientists and climate strategists are calling for greater recognition of the contribution of landscape restoration to climate change mitigation and adaptation. “Let’s stop calling them ‘co-benefits’,” said Stewart Maginnis, the Global Director of Nature-based Solutions with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). “They are real, tangible benefits.” Maginnis was speaking at a panel of government representatives, advocates and scientists at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris on 5 December. Landscape restoration was one of the core themes at the Forum, which brought together 3,200 people from across sectors and regions to discuss the role of sustainable land use in achieving climate and development goals.
Australia signs up for clear carbon trading rules, hinting at policy change
By Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 9 December 2015
Australia has signed a Paris declaration calling for new clear rules for international carbon trading in a signal the Coalition’s six-year carbon pricing policy veto could be softening as it prepares to review its climate policy in 2017. Foreign minister Julie Bishop, who signed the declaration in Paris, said it was in Australia’s interests to recognise the role an international carbon market might play in reducing emissions after 2020. “It’s just a declaration, it’s not legally binding,” she said after a speech to an event organised by Australia’s Carbon Market Institute. “It’s signalling our commitment to working with others about rules for a carbon market post 2020. The detail is for each country to include in their domestic policies, and this is something Australia will consider in due course. “It is a declaration that recognises the role a carbon market might play after 2020 and we thought it would be in our national interest…”
[Fiji] Forest plan
By Elenoa Baselala, Fiji Times Online, 9 December 2015
A program that will protect 4011 hectares of Fiji’s inland tropical rainforest, reducing 22,796 tonnes CO2 emissions annually, has been launched in Paris. The Nakau program, designed to fight climate change in the Pacific by supporting indigenous groups, was launched this week at the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) by Vanuatu’s Minister for Climate Change Jerome Ludvaune. The GLF is a major event focused on forests, farming and other land uses on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. Supported by the EU, the program engages indigenous people to protect rainforests under their stewardship thus reducing rainforest destruction, which is a significant contributor of global greenhouse gas emissions.
[India] Revealed: Tiger numbers INCREASE when tribe stays in tiger reserve
Survival International, 9 December 2015
Startling new data reveals tiger numbers have increased rapidly in the first reserve in India where local tribes have won the right to stay. The information, which the Indian National Tiger Conservation authority originally tried to suppress, discredits government policy to remove the many tribes whose lands have been turned into tiger reserves. Between 2010 and 2014 the tiger population in the BRT Tiger Reserve in Karnataka state almost doubled, from 35 to 68. Unlike elsewhere in India, local Soliga tribespeople have been allowed to continue living alongside tigers, even in the core of the reserve. This increase is far higher than the national rate at which the tiger population is growing. The Soliga have a highly developed relationship with their natural environment, and venerate the tiger. Madegowda, a Soliga man, said, “We worship tigers as gods. There hasn’t been a single incident of conflict with tigers and Soligas or hunting here.”
Smallholders at the heart of Indonesia’s zero-deforestation dispute
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 December 2015
Helping smallholder oil palm farmers become more sustainable will be crucial in resolving differences between the Indonesian government and palm oil exporters over zero-deforestation pledges, participants at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris heard on Saturday. A total of 188 companies in Indonesia’s palm oil sector—the world’s largest—have made some form of sustainability commitment, including 61 pledging to source supplies only from plantations not linked to deforestation, according to Pablo Pacheco, Senior Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). This includes the five multinational palm oil trading companies that have taken the Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP). Yet last August, government officials publicly opposed such industry pledges.
[Uruguay] When Planting Trees Hurts the Environment
By Eilís O’Neill, The Nation, 9 December 2015
Today, the Uruguayan Forestry Law that spurred the Ferbers to plant trees on their land holds a new, international interest, as environmental policy-makers at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris consider a similar plan: Initiative 20×20, a plan to plant new forests and tree farms on 50 million acres (20 million hectares) of South American land by 2020. So far, the initiative’s organizers have secured commitments from governments and investors to cover 28 million hectares, or 70 million acres, of land with trees. That’s a land area one and a half times that of the entire country of Uruguay.
[USA] New Pilot Project Helps Almond Growers Gain Greater Access To Greenhouse Gas Markets
Growing Produce, 9 December 2015
Thanks to a new pilot project, Almond growers could soon be selling carbon credits. The Almond Board of California recently teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund and other partners to carry out a new USDA-funded project designed to give almond growers greater access to greenhouse gas markets like those under California’s cap-and-trade program. The $960,000 project is part of a $20.5 million allocation from the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant Program to help farmers and ranchers implement practices that will make their operations more resilient to climate change. This will be the first large-scale pilot project generating greenhouse gas credits from nutrient management practices among almond growers. The ultimate goal is for growers to enter the cap-and-trade market and sell carbon credits to companies and industries seeking to meet their emission targets.
[USA] Exporting Denial
By Michael Brune and Bill McKibben, Medium, 9 December 2015
Talk about irony. As the world struggles this week in Paris to finally do something meaningful about climate change, American environmentalists around the convention hall are suddenly having to divert their energy to deal with a threat from politicians back home. Behind closed doors in Washington, Republican leaders are trying once again to commandeer the federal budget to the benefit of their fossil fuel benefactors — and they are getting an assist from some leading Democrats as well. They are apparently negotiating with the GOP to end the long-standing ban on crude oil exports, a move that would dramatically undercut America’s negotiation position, and demonstrate that the oil industry maintains a firm grip on both our political parties. A vote on lifting the ban could come as early as Friday — the very day that the world is supposed to be reaching its final climate pact.
10 December 2015
How 1.5 became the most important number at the Paris climate talks
By Kate Dooley and Doreen Stabinsky, The Conversation, 10 December 2015
In the end, the 1.5℃ conversation is not the real debate. The real challenge in Paris is to agree on language for emissions reductions that is even remotely compatible with achieving whatever temperature goal is set. This is referred to as the “collective global goal”. Options for a global goal include peaking emissions, zero emissions, or decarbonisation or climate neutrality. But without a differentiated long-term goal – one that puts increased ambition in the context of more support for developing countries – whether the goal is for peaking or zero, 2050 or 2100, all becomes meaningless. Ultimately, the call for 1.5℃ must not become a distraction from the real challenge: agreeing a collective goal that includes both ambition and equity.
Delegates at Climate Talks Focus on Saving the World’s Forests
By Justin Gillis, The New York Times, 10 December 2015
The climate deal being negotiated here is meant to begin a transformation of the world’s energy systems, but it has another goal that has received far less attention: a sweeping effort to save the world’s forests. Dozens of countries put forests at the center of the plans they submitted ahead of the conference, near Paris. As the talks began, more than 60 heads of state emphasized their commitment to forest conservation. If a deal is reached this week and the plans go into effect in 2020, these nations — particularly tropical countries that are home to the richest diversity of plant and animal life — will have committed themselves to sharp reductions in deforestation, and in some cases to ending it entirely.
Rainforest: Up to Half the Global Warming Solution
By Brett Byers, Huffington Post, 10 December 2015
As climate negotiators in Paris struggle to agree on how to avoid the catastrophic consequences of global warming, a big part of the solution is hiding in plain sight: trees, specifically the trees of the rainforest. Conserving tropical rainforest isn’t just about protecting spectacular wildlife and unparalleled biodiversity, though that’s reason enough. Saving the rainforest is also the key to fighting global warming because of the trees’ immense capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it within their trunks, branches, and underlying soil. While mankind has yet to devise an economical technology to capture and store carbon, millions of years of evolution have perfected trees to do just that. And the trees of the tropical rainforest, because of ideal, year-round growing conditions, are nature’s gigantic carbon collectors.
REDD+ as INDC strategy
Dentons, 10 December 2015
Dentons hosted a side event with IETA in the Blue Zone on REDD as INDC strategy, which addressed the use of REDD policy and project types in Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. INDCs are a significant requirement for developing economies—but they also present a key opportunity. By incorporating REDD strategies, INDCs can provide a system for capacity-building and revenue generation for conserving and managing valuable natural resources. For countries that hold significant mitigation opportunity through land use and forest conservation, the most valuable steps to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions are to implement REDD strategies. REDD can provide a cost-effective climate action tool as well as generating important social and infrastructure development, including advancing the rule of law and international markets.
New satellite imaging tracks REDD+ deforestation tree-by-tree
By Justin Catanoso, mongabay.com, 10 December 2015
Critics of REDD+, the carbon offset policy designed to preserve tropical forests, argue that the notion that tropical countries will accept huge sums from developed countries to not clear their rain forests — if offered more lucrative deforestation opportunities — is not just a fallacy, it’s unverifiable. But that’s changing. Rapidly. Dramatically. With greater precision than ever. In the past, deforestation verification was inexact: relying on static, blurry satellite images with poor resolution — imaging systems couldn’t see anything smaller than 500 meters across. Over the course of a year, scientists would compare fuzzy images of a specific tropical sector and estimate — guess, really — how much forest had gone missing. Then they would estimate again how much carbon storage capacity was removed. Another guess. Now, Alessandro Baccini, a remote sensing scientist and his team at Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth…
Key to Success of Climate Pact Will Be Its Signals to Global Markets
By Coral Davenport, The New York Times, 10 December 2015
As diplomats here work through the final points of a sweeping new climate change accord, experts said the ultimate measure of success of the agreement will be whether it sends a clear signal to global financial investors that they should move money away from fossil fuels and toward clean-energy sources such as wind and solar power. Without that signal, there is little chance that emissions will be reduced enough to stave off the most catastrophic impacts of global warming. The appeal to investors remained a question mark early Friday morning after Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister who is presiding over the United Nations conference on climate change, released a near-final draft text.
How Carbon Markets Will Act As Climate Cops
By Jeff McMahon, Forbes, 10 December 2015
Governments that want to form clubs post-Paris will agree to common standards for the integrity of the market, said Nat Keohane, vice president for global climate of the Environmental Defense Fund. Those standards will bring the secondary benefit of transparency to the primary function of carbon clubs—to drive ambition. “As an environmental organization that’s why we are interested in markets,” Keohane said, “because we think they’re critical to driving long-run ambition.” No matter what climate clubs do, individual nations will likely be obligated under a Paris agreement to verify their actions, and that obligation will extend to those who participate in the market.
Rich countries set to benefit from proposed carbon offsetting mechanism in Paris
Carbon Market Watch, 10 December 2015
At yesterday’s third meeting of the so called Paris Committee, the assembly of Parties working to conclude the Paris climate treaty, discussed a new version of the negotiating text. A heavily contested provision includes the establishment of the so called “mechanism to support sustainable development”, a proposal made by Brazil and understood as a future version of the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon offsetting mechanisms, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI). “There is no future for carbon offsetting in the post-2020 world: there is just no space in the remaining global carbon budget to not be acting to reduce emissions.” said Femke de Jong, Carbon Market Watch’s EU Policy Advisor.
African projects win Norwegian CO2 credit tender
Reuters, 10 December 2015
The Norwegian government has selected four African projects in its latest tender to buy carbon credits to meet its emission targets, it said, paying several times the current market rate. The deal comes as negotiators from more than 190 countries are working towards a global climate deal to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Norway chose water purification initiatives in Nigeria and Malawi, a landfill project in Sudan and a project to deliver low emission cooking stoves to villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a statement from The Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), which manages the tenders, said. The four projects are expected to deliver a total of 4.9 million United Nations (U.N.).-based carbon credits called Certified Emission Reduction (CERs).
New Zealand attempts to rally support for carbon markets at Paris talks
Carbon Pulse, 10 December 2015
New Zealand is drumming up support for a declaration on international carbon trading at the Paris climate talks, a move it hopes will bolster certainty that emissions markets have a future regardless of the outcome in the French capital. New Zealand is the only developed country that has made its INDC emissions target entirely conditional on access to the international carbon market and accounting rules. In Paris, it has approached most of the nearly 100 countries that have made mentions of markets in their post-2020 plans, developed and developing nations alike, hoping to win support for its plan. The declaration has not been released yet and the exact wording will depend on the outcome of the talks, but the proverbial cat was inadvertently let out of the bag on Wednesday – much to the dismay of the NZ delegation – when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a speech that “Australia supports the New Zealand Paris declaration on carbon markets”.
11 December 2015
Climate deal could bar poor from seeking compensation for losses
By Laurie Goering, Reuters, 11 December 2015
Poor countries could be barred from seeking compensation for losses and damages from rising seas, worsening storms and other climate impacts under a proposal in the latest draft of a new global climate change deal expected to be agreed this weekend. The “loss and damage” proposal, backed by the United States and other countries, could help vulnerable nations gain access to insurance and other support to cut their financial risks from climate stresses, experts said. But the proposal, one of two, would explicitly rule out the prospect of poor countries that suffer devastating losses from climate change seeking compensation under the agreement from rich nations, whose emissions have been largely responsible for causing the problems, they said. “This pretty clearly throws poor and vulnerable people under the bus, and it has really troubling legal implications,” said Brandon Wu, a senior policy analyst for ActionAid USA…
Coalition led by EU and US a sham?
By Nithin Sethi, Business Standard, 11 December 2015
One of the founding members of the so-called Coalition of High Ambition, Marshall Islands confirmed on record to Business Standard that the coalition actually has only 15 countries on board at the moment. Then, revealing how the coalition was more a public posturing than a real new collective negotiating as one, past midnight, in closed door meeting called the Indaba, before the French hosts, both the EU and US argued against the two highest priorities of the vulnerable and poor countries in the Paris talks – a global temperature goal of 1.5 degree and a full-fledged Loss and Damage mechanism, which provides compensation for permanent debilitating impacts on vulnerable countries. Publicly the developed countries, EU and the US have claimed are working with the vulnerable countries to secure these goals from the unwilling by achieving an ambitious deal.
When are satellite images most useful? When someone explains them
By John Cannon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 11 December 2015
Satellite and other data for monitoring the health of forests and other landscapes are getting better all the time – but transmitting that information clearly and effectively to decision-makers remains a challenge, according to experts from both science and policy. “That’s something which we are trying to understand,” Christopher Martius, Principal Scientist for climate change at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), said during a panel of scientists and policymakers at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris on 6 December. It’s a question of both communication and scientific rigor, he added: “How [do we] increase the transparency and reliability of data?” On the other side of the science–policy divide, decision makers say they need guidance about the messages hidden within those data.
Four Ways Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand can Help Seal Climate Deal
By Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 11 December 2015
As the United Nations climate negotiations in Paris enter its final day, the call for carbon markets to help limit fossil-fuel pollution has been the loudest of any previous summit. Since Nov. 30 when the talks began, countries from China to Brazil and Australia have advocated establishing pollution-curbing systems inspired by market economics rather than taxes and subsidies. Almost 90 of the 195 countries whose envoys have been discussing a global climate pact have said they will consider the use of markets to achieve their emission-reduction targets.
Climate Pact Sees the Forest for the Trees
By John Upton, Climate Central, 11 December 2015
Even as climate negotiators labored Friday to finalize a pact to slow global warming, it was becoming clear that any new agreement would also help protect forests. A 27-page draft of a planned United Nations climate deal released late Thursday contained a subsection dedicated to the strategic role that forests and jungles could play as countries seek to reduce their impacts on the climate… “There is clear language in both the agreement and decision text that recognizes REDD,” said Gustavo Silva-Chávez, a project manager at Forest Trends, an American nonprofit. “We’ve got everything here that we need.” … In a win for environmentalists whose work focuses on protecting biodiversity, the draft agreement also noted the “importance of non-carbon benefits” of forests. That referred to the value of preserving forests for reasons other than directly slowing global warming.
The Prospective Paris Deal Ignores Two Major Polluters: Shipping and Aviation
By Julian Spector, The Atlantic, 11 December 2015
With the Paris climate talks coming to a close, participating nations are hashing out the details of how to hold each other to their carbon-reduction goals and finance the whole transition to a cleaner world. Non-state actors are present, too; 400 cities signed a Compact of Mayors to set and track climate goals. And financial institutions have made big commitments to shift investment away from fossil fuels and better disclose climate-related business risks. But there are two particular industries that must factor into any plan to cut carbon and yet aren’t directly represented in the current COP21 talks: international shipping and aviation.
COP21 Q&A: What Is GHG Emissions Neutrality in the Context of the Paris Agreement?
By Kelly Levin, Jiawei Song and Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute, 11 December 2015
Negotiators have wrestled with the language for the long-term goal. In the climate conference’s last days, a new proposal surfaced for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions neutrality in the second half of the century, on the basis of equity and guided by science in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication… Fossil-based electricity generation without CCS would be phased out by the end of the century. Transformation of other sectors and enhanced carbon storage like that achieved by increased landscape restoration would also be required.
INTERVIEW: Ian Duncan MEP talks EU ETS, bunfights and the 1.5C effect
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 11 December 2015
UK centre-right MEP Ian Duncan is steering the EU ETS post-2020 reform bill through the EU Parliament’s environment committee, though he currently has a wider outlook and is attending the UN climate talks in Paris. Carbon Pulse speaks to him on the sidelines of the negotiations. Appointed as the committee rapporteur in September, Duncan intends to convene a series of interviews on the post-2020 reforms with key experts and his seven shadow rapporteurs from the other political groups. “We will be holding a series of informal negotiations, one a month, on the key issues,” he said. The first two of these sessions will be on carbon leakage issues, which have already emerged as the bill’s hot topics, followed by activity level thresholds and reduction factors. The final dialogue will be on the bill’s two cash pools – the Innovation and Modernisation funds.
Brazil: Forest Carbon Demonstration Project in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve
WRM Bulletin 220, 11 December 2015
On August 13th, the indigenous movement occupied ICMBio’s headquarters in Santarém with several demands, the principal one being cancellation of the carbon project. As an immediate result of this movement and after much negotiation, ICMBio National temporarily suspended discussions until further clarification took place. The movements continue being alert and oppose implementation of the project. They argue that this kind of project is not really aimed at solving the global environmental crisis, as it threatens the autonomy and territorial security of traditional communities who live and coexist in harmony with the best preserved places on the planet. They also assert that another kind of human development is possible, outside of the financial perspective and market logic.
[Indonesia] MK allows indigenous people to cultivate forests
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 11 December 2015
The Constitutional Court (MK) has granted a petition to allow indigenous people to cultivate forests for their living in the 1999 Forestry Law, while it rejected requests to strengthen measures against deforestation. Constitutional Court deputy chief justice Anwar Usman said the panel of judges maintained articles in the law that generally prohibit people from cutting down trees or herding in forests without special permits, but ordered the exclusion of indigenous people. “The propositions on Article 50 Paragraph 3e and 3i of Law No. 41/1999 on forestry are partly reasonable,” he said while reading the verdict at the court in Central Jakarta on Thursday. Article 50 Paragraph 3e forbids the cutting down of trees or cultivating of forestry produces inside forest areas without permits from the authorities, while Paragraph 3f bans herding inside forest areas that are not designated specifically for that purpose by the authorities.
[New Zealand] Carbon markets key in Paris talks
By Chris Bramwell, Radio New Zealand News, 11 December 2015
Climate Change Minister Tim Groser is reasonably optimistic New Zealand can get the access it needs to international carbon markets as part of the Paris agreement. The climate change talks in Paris have reached crunch time as negotiators work around the clock try to finalise a deal to tackle global warming. New Zealand submitted a pledge to the United Nations in July that it would reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 11 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. That target is provisional on what comes out of the Paris deal on access to carbon markets and the approach taken to accounting in the land sector.
[PNG] Here’s why market-based initiatives alone won’t save the world’s forests and climate
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 11 December 2015
In a new paper published in the journal Conservation and Society, Bridget Henning, a researcher at the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois, details her findings after studying the relationship between conservationists and villagers in the Wanang Conservation Area, established by 11 village clans a decade ago to protect 10,000 hectares (about 24,700 acres) of pristine lowland rainforest in Papua New Guinea… Wanang villagers work with conservationists in exchange for financial rewards, in exactly the type of market-based project that is the focus of the UN’s program for REDD+, the topic of much debate in Paris right now as countries try to agree on how the program should work. But Henning says her research shows that financial benefits alone aren’t enough to sustain the type of relationship conservationists need to build with villagers like those of Wanang.
12 December 2015
The Paris Climate Deal Shafts Poor Countries
By Melissa Cronin, Motherboard, 12 December 2015
It’s easy to congratulate ourselves on a job well done in Paris, but it’s much more difficult to face the reality that we’ve come up short yet again. On Saturday, leaders from 196 countries approved an agreement after 13 days of negotiations, based on a plan to prevent temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above historical averages. First off, the agreements screw poor countries over on a critical concession that they were hoping to receive. Early on, negotiators had proposed a “loss and damage” clause, one that would help poor and vulnerable nations get access to insurance and aid to help mitigate the harmful effects of climate change like rising seas and worsening storms.
US pressure tactics work, clause excluding compensation option retained
By Nitin Sethi, Business Standard, 12 December 2015
With the US refusing to budge, the French presidency has been forced to retain the clause in the Paris package that would block any prospects of the vulnerable to file a claim for compensation or liability in the future for loss and damage arising out of climate change. To make it seem as if it’s disappeared, the clause has been removed from the core Paris agreement and added to what is called the decision text that 196 countries would also be required to accept in Paris. Business Standard reviewed the revised text doing away with compensation and liability as it appears in the draft decision that the French are expected to put in public in a few hours. It reads, countries “agree that Article 5 of the agreement does not provide a basis for any compensation or liability.” Article 5 of the Paris agreement carries the decision on having a loss and damage mechanism for future.
Indigenous Peoples Take Lead at D12 Day of Action in Paris – Official response to COP21 agreement
Indigenous Rising, 12 December 2015
“The Paris accord is a trade agreement, nothing more. It promises to privatize, commodify and sell forested lands as carbon offsets in fraudulent schemes such as REDD+ projects. These offset schemes provide a financial laundering mechanism for developed countries to launder their carbon pollution on the backs of the global south. Case-in-point, the United States’ climate change plan includes 250 million megatons to be absorbed by oceans and forest offset markets. Essentially, those responsible for the climate crisis not only get to buy their way out of compliance but they also get to profit from it as well.” – Alberto Saldamando, Human Rights Expert & Attorney.
Paris Agreement rings in new era of international carbon trading
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 12 December 2015
Provisions supporting international carbon trading were agreed by countries under a new Paris Agreement on Saturday, which also established a new market-based mechanism that is expected to move beyond traditional offsetting while building on the lessons of the Kyoto Protocol’s schemes. The mechanism’s rules now need to be drawn up, in a process that could take several years, and while few countries are expected to use the mechanism initially when it’s launched after 2020, parties including the EU and Brazil pushed hard at the COP-21 summit for certain items to be included in the text. “[The Paris Agreement] has provisions to support robust accounting and avoid double counting. We didn’t get everything we wanted but we have what we need,” Jos Delbeke, the European Commission’s top climate official, told Carbon Pulse on the sidelines of the conference.
Nations strike UN deal in Paris to bind all to emission curbs
By Ben Garside, Stian Reklev and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 12 December 2015
The section on markets opened for the use of “long-term” emission reductions, instead of “permanent”, which could see forestry-related credits used by developed nations to meet their future carbon targets. The specific rules of the post-2020 market will be hammered out over the next two or three COPs, and some NGOs and rainforest nations are likely to work hard to keep REDD+ out of that market. “Combined with the long-term instead of permanent language, this text could be interpreted to lead to a flooding of markets with land use and forest credits, not to mention lack of environmental integrity,” said Kate Dooley, a doctoral researcher with the University of Melbourne.
It’s Official! Paris Accord Adopted! REDD+ Enshrined In Text, International Offsets Permitted, 1.5 To Stay Alive!
By Steve Zwick and Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 12 December 2015
Groups such as the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group (RSWG) had several issues with the last draft text regarding its mention, or lack thereof, of ecosystem integrity. But this group is at least relatively satisfied with new language within the final version. “The Paris Agreement embraces forests for the first time in the history of climate negotiations,” RSWG said in a statement. The language on sinks and reservoirs in the text’s preamble highlights the active role that ecosystems play in climate change mitigation activities, said Lisa Schindler Murray, a Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy (TNC). This type of language refers back to the Convention, Schindler explained, which had originally noted the importance of ecosystems in mitigating climate change.
COP21 agreement prominently addresses protection of earth’s forests
By Justin Catanoso, mongabay.com, 12 December 2015
At last, forests! — The final draft of the binding Paris Agreement on climate change directly and boldly addresses the necessary role of the world’s forests, working in concert with carbon emission cuts, to slow the march of rising global temperatures. The importance of forests is emphasized again and again throughout the 31-page agreement which mandates that all countries “conserve and enhance… sinks and reservoirs” — code words for forests and other ecosystems, including oceans and wetlands, that draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it.
Nations Approve Historic Climate Treaty, but Road Ahead Not Easy
By John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News, 12 December 2015
Nations of the world gathering in Paris on Saturday approved what may be the most historic global treaty since Versailles, pledging themselves to contain the warming of the planet by backing rapidly away from the uncontrolled combustion of fossil fuels. But even as the agreement roused cheering and backslapping, its supporters said the road ahead would be a difficult one. After 25 years of mostly fruitless talks, many of those who have traveled together to this point said their work must continue with renewed vigor. The turning point came at the end of what has been the warmest year in human history. And scientists predict more of the same as long as carbon dioxide continues to accumulate in the atmosphere.
Naomi Klein and Jeremy Corbyn: COP21 – Climate Emergency (Dispatch 5)
VICE News, 12 December 2015
As the COP21 climate talks reach their final crucial stages, outside of the negotiation halls in Paris environmental NGOs, grassroots organizations, climate justice activists and trade unions from all over the world have been uniting to form a new global green movement. One of its driving forces is Canadian social activist Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs The Climate. She has been speaking at activist meetings and talking to UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who before being elected committed to a 100 percent sustainable energy transition in the UK by 2030.
COP-21: Reactions to the Paris climate agreement
Carbon Pulse, 12 December 2015
State leaders, business groups and environmentalists on Saturday welcomed the Paris Agreement, but some also said the deal did not go far enough to stave off dangerous climate change. We have gathered a selection of reactions to the new climate deal from a variety of observers.
Let’s hail the Paris agreement and get to work
By Jeffrey Sachs, Financial Times, 12 December 2015
The Paris agreement and the supporting decisions are a diplomatic triumph. They are an act of true global co-operation of historic significance. Yet it is crucial to distinguish between diplomacy and implementation. The diplomats have done their job: the Paris agreement points the world in the right direction with sophistication and clarity. It does not, however, ensure implementation, which remains the domain of politicians, businessmen, scientists, engineers and civil society.
To invest in data is to invest in our forests
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 12 December 2015
Having accurate data is crucial if carbon credits and other forest conservation payment schemes are going to take off, according to a research director from Australia’s James Cook University. “If we’re talking about carbon payments for conserving forests, we need to know what a country’s baseline rate of forest destruction or degradation was and then how much that’s declined in the future,” Bill Laurance, Director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, said in an interview during the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum in Paris. And, Laurance noted, being able to show success is what will attract investment.
World leaders adopt 1.5 C goal — and we’re damn well going to hold them to it
By Bill McKibben, Grist, 12 December 2015
Here’s the crucial plaintive paragraph from the preamble to the Paris climate agreement released today, written in the almost indecipherable bureaucratese that attends this international circus: Emphasizing with serious concern the urgent need to address the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C … What it says is: The world is a doughy fellow who has promised to drop three suit sizes in time for his wedding, which is now only a month away. The world is an anxious student who has to ace the next morning’s test to pass the course but hasn’t yet started to study.
Final COP 21 text a disaster for the world’s most vulnerable and future generations
Global Justice Now, 12 December 2015
Environment and development groups have condemned the final text released on what is supposed to be the final day of negotiations at the UN climate talks in Paris. Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now said: “It’s outrageous that the deal that’s on the table is being spun as a success when it undermines the rights of the world’s most vulnerable communities and has almost nothing binding to ensure a safe and liveable climate for future generations. In fact the deal as it stands in the context of INDCs that have been submitted sets us firmly on the path to a devastating three degrees of global warming.”
13 December 2015
Paris Deal “Inhumane, deceitful and schizophrenic”
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 13 December 2015
The UN climate summit in Paris did indeed agree on a deal. But in light of what needs to be done in order to prevent runaway climate chaos, it is far too weak. Within the tortuous logic of UN climate diplomacy, the deal may seem like a big step forward. But in light of the millions of people who are already victims of climate change, it would be cynical to use that as a measure by which to judge the outcome of the negotiations in Paris. If we use a yardstick like the drastic emissions reductions that would actually be necessary, the deal is in fact inhumane, deceitful and schizophrenic. It is inhumane, because it simply accepts the fact that the livelihoods of millions and millions of people will be destroyed for the sake of profits and in order to maintain the living standards of the rich. The fact that the 1.5 degrees-limit appears in the text is at best a hollow victory…
COP21: The curtain falls on a masquerade
La Via Campesina, 13 December 2015
After two weeks of heads of states taking centre stage to salve their consciences, COP21 has come up with an agreement that many worried in advance would offer nothing good for the peoples of the world. There is nothing binding for states, national contributions lead us towards a global warming of over 3°C—and multinationals are the main beneficiaries. It was essentially a media circus. However states know how to make binding commitments when it comes to signing free trade agreements. Those agreements threaten the democratic functioning of countries by merely serving the interests of multinationals. Once more, it is clear that money dictates the law, even taking precedence over the future of humanity. “Despite multiple attempts to silence us these past few weeks, the social movements have made their voices heard today,” said Antolin Huascar, a peasant leader from Peru. “The future of the planet is in the hands of the people,” he added.
Avaaz greenwashes Paris climate agreement
By Marienna Pope-Weidemann and Samir Dathi, New Internationalist, 13 December 2015
This shameful agreement fell below even our expectations. But you wouldn’t know it listening to the corporations and politicians – or to Avaaz, which is singing the same tune. World leaders, they write, have set a ‘landmark goal that can save everything we love.’ They call the accord ‘a brilliant and massive turning point in human history… This is what we marched for.’ Well it’s not what we marched for. As New Internationalist explains, it fails on every front: on emissions reduction, on reparations for the global South, on the rights indigenous communities and working people the world over. Under this deal, we’re looking at 3-4 degrees of warming, and that is catastrophic.
Why we should feel positive about Paris
By Jess Worth and Danny Chivers, New Internationalist, 13 December 2015
As the final text of the Paris deal was being wrestled into shape, we were standing near the Arc de Triomphe, underneath a huge red line. This stretch of scarlet fabric was one of many held aloft by chanting and singing members of a 15,000-strong crowd. They – we – were there to demand climate justice; to condemn an international deal that we already knew would cross crucial red lines for the climate. At the front of the #redlines demonstration, representatives from Indigenous and frontline communities gave powerful speeches, explaining how the Paris deal contained nothing to prevent the pollution and destruction of their lands and cultures. At the same time, mainstream media outlets – and supposedly ‘progressive’ NGOs like Avaaz – were preparing to announce a ‘historic deal’ that would signal the end of the fossil fuel age and catapult us into a bright, clean energy future.
Five things you need to know about the Paris climate deal
By Simon Lewis, The Conversation, 13 December 2015
The UN climate talks in Paris have ended with an agreement between 195 countries to tackle global warming. The climate deal is at once both historic, important – and inadequate. From whether it is enough to avoid dangerous climate change to unexpected wins for vulnerable nations, here are five things to help understand what was just agreed at COP21.
[USA] The President Delivers a Statement on the Paris Climate Agreement
The White House, 13 December 2015
PRESIDENT OBAMA: In my first inaugural address, I committed this country to the tireless task of combating climate change and protecting this planet for future generations. Two weeks ago, in Paris, I said before the world that we needed a strong global agreement to accomplish this goal — an enduring agreement that reduces global carbon pollution and sets the world on a course to a low-carbon future. A few hours ago, we succeeded. We came together around the strong agreement the world needed. We met the moment.
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.