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REDD in the news: 18-24 January 2016

REDD in the newsREDD-Monitor’s weekly round up of the news on REDD, forests and climate. The links are organised by date (click on the title for the full article). REDD-Monitor’s news links on are updated regularly. For past REDD in the news posts, click here.

The Paris climate agreement and forests
By Rod Keenan, Policy Forum, January 2016
Forests are still seen by some as a relatively cheap and easy way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The reality is much more challenging. There have been relatively limited results from nearly half a century of international efforts to reduce tropical forest loss. Addressing poverty, resolving land tenure and forest ownership, increased demand for land for agricultural production, poor coordination between different levels of government and infighting and differing objectives between government agencies are major impediments to reducing deforestation and restoring forests. Effective forest-based measures to meet the Paris objectives will need strongly supported and coordinated policy frameworks and solutions that mobilise and meet the needs of local actors across multiple-use landscapes. Hopefully, the Paris Agreement can provide the platform for large-scale, long-term investment in sustainably managed forests.

18 January 2016

The world’s richest 1 per cent emits 175 times as much carbon as the poorest, study finds
Bu Jon Stone, The Independent, 18 January 2016
Someone from the richest 1 per cent of the global population contributes 175 times as much to climate change as someone in the poorest 10 per cent of the population, according to a new report. The study, “Extreme Carbon Inequality”, drawn up by Oxfam, says the idea that developing countries emit more carbon is a “myth” and rich countries should be leading the way on climate change. The research, which has been endorsed by “rock-star” economist Thomas Piketty and other academics, in particular points the finger at Americans as the biggest emitters of carbon.

Five trends that will define the world’s forests in 2016
By Bill Laurence, The Conversation, 18 January 2016
Here I hightlight five factors that could have a big impact on forests this year… 1. Collapsing commodity prices 2. The El Niño drought 3. Brazil’s imploding economy 4. Zero-deforestation agreements 5. The Paris Climate Accord Firstly, a formal agreement for advancing REDD — which stands for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” — was finally approved. In theory, this means that more international funding should start flowing for forest conservation — to slow deforestation, encourage forest regeneration and promote more-sustainable logging — all in the interest of reducing carbon emissions and thereby limiting global warming… Secondly, the world’s nations agreed in principle to limit global warming to 2℃ — and to strive for an increase of just 1.5℃. It’s wonderful that nations have made this broad commitment, but actually achieving it is going to be a tremendous challenge.

Outlook for forest landscape restoration in low emissions future
By Lera Miles (UNEP-WCMC), The UN-REDD Programme blog, 18 January 2016
Each year, UNEP releases its Emissions Gap Report comparing the overall scale of countries’ intended actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the total reductions needed to hold global warming below 2°C by the end of the century. The 2015 report includes a special chapter on forest-based mitigation. UN-REDD Programme authors have taken the lead on this chapter, collaborating with CIFOR and others. It covers opportunities to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and to enhance forest carbon stocks by restoring degraded forests and re-establishing those that have been lost. As well as contributing to climate change mitigation, all these activities are called for under Sustainable Development Goal 15 (“15.2: By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation…)

Thoughts on the recent slide in EUA prices
Climate Trader, 18 January 2016
Besides one trader – who I’d rather not mention – the EUA market no longer has any whales. Since the backloading debacle of 2012-13, big funds such as Mercuria, Gunvor and Vitol have all but exited the market. Almost all utility and bank traders have either left their institutions or shifted desks. The oil majors have become more interested in repurchase trades and feel good offset projects for their websites. The concentration of genuinely big speculators has implications for price and volatility. If a whale with hegemonic status wants the price to go up or down – it probably will. And if your book conflicts with their view of the world, your chances of losing money just increased exponentially. A smart whale (they’re usually big for a reason) will carefully time their activity. This is one of the reasons why there are periods of extreme volatility during the summer months and the festive season.

HFC-23 CDM projects may not be that bad after all, study suggests
By Ben Garside, Carbon Pulse, 18 January 2016
Controversial HFC-23 CDM projects might have maintained their environmental integrity on average because regulators under-credited some installations almost as much as they over-credited others, a study found. The paper, authored by US-based think-tank Resources for the Future (RFF) and published on Friday, may help to salvage the reputation of the much-maligned HFC-23 CDM projects and their issued credits. These CERs were banned from being used in a number of emissions trading schemes, for example the EU’s and New Zealand’s, due to claims that some factories had ramped up production of the gas solely to generate more credits, thereby pocketing more profits. RFF examined the relationship between the emissions reduced at 12 HFC-23 projects in China and Mexico between 2006 and 2013 and the amount of credits subsequently issued by the UN.

[Guyana] Concessions granted under PPP must be renegotiated – Govt. Official
Kaieteur News, 18 January 2016
The A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) had promised that once it assumes office, it would release many of the concession agreements which were signed between the PPP regime and certain foreign investors. This campaign promise is yet to be fulfilled. Kaieteur News had asked the Minister with some responsibility for the Natural Resources Sector, Raphael Trotman when government will release these concession agreements, specifically those signed with Chinese logging company, Bai Shan Lin Forest Development Inc. Trotman said that the possibility does exist for this to happen but he would have to speak with the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan for guidance on that matter, since the subject of concessions falls under his portfolio.

[UK] Two veteran London-based carbon traders on the move
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 18 January 2016
Two London-based carbon trading veterans are on the move after parting ways with their respective employers, they told Carbon Pulse. Mark Owen-Lloyd has left Curzon Securities to focus on his own firm – Owen-Lloyd Futures – which he is trading out of the London offices of brokers Marex Spectron. He said he is trading his own book and looking mainly at Brent crude and FTSE futures for the moment, but he plans to add EU carbon back to his portfolio soon… Meanwhile, Benedikt von Butler left Swiss-based trading house Mercuria late last year and is currently on gardening leave, pondering his next move, he told Carbon Pulse. Von Butler, who has previously worked for Citigroup and brokers CantorCO2e and Evolution Markets, had handled trading and structuring in carbon and biomass markets from Mercuria’s London offices before he parted ways with the firm.

19 January 2016

Speculative EUA sell-off overdone, but bullish narrative “no longer convincing” -analyst
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 19 January 2016
The recent sell-off in EU carbon prices seems overdone considering the market’s underlying fundamentals have hardly changed since the end of 2015, but longer-term prospects for EUA prices don’t seem as rosy as they once did, according to an analyst. Front-year EUAs plummeted by as much as 21% between Dec. 31 and the 10-month low of €6.56 hit on Monday, but the speed of the drop suggests it was predominantly led by speculators, said Trevor Sikorski, head of carbon, coal and gas analysis at London-based Energy Aspects. He attributed the price collapse, which has pushed the benchmark Dec-16 futures into a bear market from their 2015 peak of €8.78 to around €6.90 currently, to traders taking outright short positions, closing long ones, and potentially some industrials deciding to monetise some of their surplus allowances now rather than later.

[Guyana] Dr. Bulkan asking questions about Bai Shan Lin
By Janette Bulkan, letter to the editor Kaieteur News, 19 January 2016
If there is no FDI document for Bai Shan Lin, how could there be fiscal concessions for more than ten years? Minister with some responsibility for the Natural Resources Sector, Raphael Trotman, and Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, allegedly said that they could not find the documents covering the foreign direct incentive (FDI) tax concessions awarded by the PPP/C regime a decade ago to the Chinese transnational logger Bai Shan Lin (‘Concessions granted under PPP must be renegotiated – Govt. Official’, Kaieteur News 18 January 2016). The Ministry of Finance has been awarding tax concessions to BSL annually during this decade, and publishing the amounts from time to time in the Guyana Chronicle. So some person or unit in the Ministry of Finance must be aware of the legal authority for such dispensation.

Peru sacks top anti-logging official
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 19 January 2016
Peru has sacked its top anti-logging official, leading to claims he was dismissed after pressure from the timber trade and drawing criticism from a leading US congressman and environmentalists. The presidential decision to dismiss Rolando Navarro , the former head of Peru’s forestry and wildlife inspection service OSINFOR was announced in El Peruano, the state-owned gazette. It makes no mention of why Navarro was dismissed. “Clearly, illegal logging in Peru continues,” Earl Blumenauer , the US Congressman for Oregon who has campaigned to toughen the US’s stance on illegal rainforest logging, told the Guardian. “I am appalled that the removal of Rolando Navarro comes in the wake of protests by industry groups following the intervention by authorities in Peru to stop shipments of illegally harvested timber,” said Blumenauer, who helped amend the US’s 2008 Lacey Act to outlaw the import of illegally sourced wood.

[Zambia] Investing in African Communities & Forests
BioCarbon Partners, 19 January 2016
BioCarbon Partners is proud to announce that Norman Carr Safaris are the first tour operator in both South Luangwa and Liuwa Plain National Parks to attain carbon neutral status from operations for the 2015 calendar year. This accomplishment follows upon Lower Zambezi National Park becoming the world’s first carbon neutral park from operations in 2015, through participation of eight tourism companies. NCS is working in partnership with the Lower Zambezi camps to make Zambia one of the first countries in the world with carbon neutral national parks. The ultimate goal is to establish a carbon neutral corridor between the two premiere national parks in Zambia (South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi).

20 January 2016

Will Countries Follow Through on the Climate Pledges Made in Paris?
By Hilal Elver and Richard Falk, Truthout, 20 January 2016
It is time to move on from the aura of good feelings of accomplishment created by the Paris Climate Change Conference of last December, and begin asking some hard questions. Above all we need to assess whether an agreement that consists of voluntary pledges that gained the participation of every country on the planet is workable, and whether its contribution to slowing global warming should be celebrated or lamented at this stage.

Getting 196 Countries To Agree On Climate Change Was ‘The Easy Part’
By Jo Confino, Huffington Post, 20 January 2016
For all those who thought settling the Paris climate agreement was enough to lead to a low-carbon economy, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. This message comes from none other than Christiana Figueres, who was instrumental in bringing 196 countries together to agree on the framework to limit runaway global warming. Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that while the talks were a success, “frankly, after 20 years of working towards that goal, that was the easy part.” Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, she said it was now imperative to move from good words to action. “We need to understand the clear signal from Paris and the clear risks and work out what are we all going to do,” Figueres said, adding that global carbon emissions need to peak within the next five to 10 years.

Stop Demonizing Fossil Fuel Companies, Warns Global Bank Chief
By Jo Confino, Huffington Post, 20 January 2016
Stuart Gulliver, the boss of global bank HBSC, has made an impassioned plea to activists to stop demonizing the fossil fuel companies. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, Gulliver said it was “dangerous” to think that society should abandon the oil, gas and coal industry. He warned of disastrous unintended consequences, in particular for developing countries, if the sector were ostracized, given that it is responsible for a huge numbers of jobs, money for pensions and tax revenues that fund education and health care. He also said that the “massive engineering skills in oil and gas” were of great importance to developing countries.

China’s CO2 emissions fell 3% in 2015 -Greenpeace
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 20 January 2016
China’s latest economic data for 2015 imply that China’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption fell around 3% last year, an amount equal to Poland’s total GHG output, according to a Greenpeace analysis. The drop in emissions, a result of decreased thermal power generation and a slump in manufacturing, is likely to continue this year and puts China on track to peak its GHG emissions well ahead of the 2030 target deadline, according to the green group. “The key drivers of the fall in China’s CO2 emissions will only intensify this year – 2015 was just the beginning,” Lauri Myllyvirta, a senior campaigner and coal expert with Greenpeace told Carbon Pulse. “A lot of heavy industry companies have continued to operate despite lack of market demand and despite their production being clearly loss-making. Allowing these ‘zombie’ operations to wind down … is the number one economic policy goal for 2016…”

EU Market: Rout continues as EUAs hit 15-mth low amid global market weakness
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 20 January 2016
The EU carbon rout continued on Wednesday as prices fell by more than 8% to a 15-month low, wiping out the small gains posted over the last two sessions as selling by speculators and industrials picked up amid ongoing concerns over the global economy and weakness in energy and equity markets worldwide. The Dec-16 EUA futures settled on ICE down 50 cents at €6.36 after sliding to as low as €6.29, the lowest level seen since Oct. 20, 2014 and a clear €2 below end-2015 prices. The benchmark contract sold off at the opening bell, shedding as much as 15 cents in the first five minutes before drifting lower throughout the morning. “Someone smashed up the market first thing this morning when liquidity was thin,” one trader said. Selling then precipitated in the afternoon after US markets opened, with the front-year contract bursting below the €6.50 and €6.36 technical support levels identified by some analysts.

[USA] Cap and Clear-Cut
By Will Parrish, East Bay Express, 20 January 2016
California’s cap-and-trade program is the first of its kind in the nation. And the state’s leaders are pushing to become the only jurisdiction in the world that also offsets its climate pollution through investments in tropical forest regions in the Southern Hemisphere. The common name for such efforts is REDD. Several industrialized countries, as well as the World Bank and the United Nations, have already invested money in REDD pilot projects… But critics warn that California’s adoption of REDD would have far-reaching human rights and environmental consequences. Initial investments by the World Bank and United Nations in REDD have already precipitated violent evictions of indigenous people from their forested homelands in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya — to make way for carbon-saving projects. In fact, countless activists and grassroots organizations regard REDD as a recipe for a global land grab…

[USA] CTX books first spot RGGI trade as prices soar by 10%
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 20 January 2016
Emissions bourse operator Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX) saw the first activity on its new spot market for RGGI allowances (RGAs), it said on Wednesday, as prices soared by nearly 10% in the first two weeks of the year. The bourse reported that 1,000 short tons (907.2 metric tonnes) changed hands at a price of $8.13 on Friday, which was in line with the Jan-16 futures on ICE – the main exchange for RGA trading… The market is heavily over-supplied but over 80% of the allowance surplus is held by speculators, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon said late last year, a situation that has created an artificial scarcity and lifted prices significantly. That, in turn, will probably trigger the Cost Containment Reserve – the market’s supply safety valve in case prices get too high – for the third year running, observers said, with most expecting the event to occur during the first 2016 auction to be held in March.

21 January 2016

Climate change: The hottest year on record: 2015
The Economist, 21 January 2016
Kevin Trenberth of America’s National Centre for Atmospheric Research says El Niño could account for “most of the difference” in warmth between 2014 and 2015. And as the water-holding capacity of air increases by about 7% per 1ºC of warming, many of El Niño’s impacts will be more brutal as a consequence. But the world is getting hotter, even without El Niño’s handiwork. A new study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that the oceans have absorbed as much heat in the past 18 years as in the previous 130 years. And carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has hit 400 parts per million, a level not seen for 4m years, helping to roast the planet.

Launching REDD+ against a ticking clock
By Michaela Lo, Global Landscapes Forum, 21 January 2016
Progress made during the UNFCCC COP 21 climate talks is evidence of a clear consensus on the international scale, which is promising for the future of landscapes and forests. However, the ability to implement these frameworks remains limited by the lack of funding; the last hurdle before REDD+ is ready to make some real changes before the ticking clock runs out. The time for tangible progress is now.

Blue future
Nature News & Comment, 21 January 2016
Just as occurred with remedying tropical deforestation, science and policy can move forward in parallel… Meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement — to contain global warming over the course of the twenty-first century — will require urgent action on all fronts. Countries must work to reduce industrial carbon emissions, but ensuring that natural ecosystems continue to function is equally vital — and relatively simple. The planet that humanity calls home already knows how to sequester carbon. Let’s make our forests and coastal wetlands work for us.

Carbon Markets Firmly Back on the Agenda
By Ash Sharma, Special Adviser for Climate Change to the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO), Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), 21 January 2016
As expected, there is a framework for the use of market mechanisms or cooperative approaches as they are referred to. The nine paragraphs of Article 6 of the Agreement describe, albeit in the broadest possible terms, the use of “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” (ITMOs to add to the UNFCCC alphabet soup) or loosely speaking, tradeable carbon credits. In particular, Article 6.4 establishes a mechanism. The new instrument is likely to share many characteristics with the successful Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) schemes established under the Kyoto Protocol, which led to a huge international (although primarily EU-centred) trade in project-based credits to meet compliance needs.

EU Market: Prices plummet below €6 as participants posit selling sources
By Ben Garside and Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 21 January 2016
EU carbon prices fell to a fresh 15-month low below €6 on Thursday before climbing back to end 2.4% lower, as the 2016 EUA price rout approached its fourth week. While some traders nervously await a rebound to what they see as a speculator-led overselling, others suspect carbon could fall further as European industry continues to reel, utilities shy away from bulk buying, and the next major supply-curbing measure remains years away. The Dec-16 EUA futures fell to an intraday bottom of €5.87 on ICE in volatile afternoon trade, a decline of 7.7% from Wednesday’s settlement, before they clawed back most of their losses to end down 15 cents at €6.21. The late gains were attributed to bearish speculators taking some profits off the table following carbon’s deep losses.

[Indonesia] Challenges await peatland agency head
By Wimar Witoelar, The Jakarta Post, 21 January 2016
The appointment of Nazir Foead as BRG [Peatland Restoration Agency] head is a clear signal that we intend to defend our forests and our air by drastically limiting the risks of forest fires and haze occurring. This in effect is a clear follow-up to the Paris Agreement that commits the nations of the world to the curtailment of climate change. In his address to open the COP21 Paris Climate Conference, President Jokowi stated that Indonesia was able to reduce emissions by 29 percent in 2030, or even 41 percent if Indonesia received international aid. One clear commitment from Indonesia is to restore peatlands that were damaged by forest fires. He hopes to achieve this by actions such as the establishment of the BRG.

[New Zealand] TPP trade pact might hinder effective NZ ETS reform, report finds
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 21 January 2016
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement might represent a serious hindrance for attempts to reform New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme as it could leave the government open to lawsuits by foreign investors, a report found. The free trade agreement spans 12 nations in the Pacific region, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and the US, and is expected to be signed by all participants at a ceremony in New Zealand on Feb. 4. But the latest in a series of peer-reviewed studies on the impacts of the agreement, funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation and the NZ Public Service Association, found that the agreement adds significant risk for governments wanting to implement new environmental regulations, including tightening up domestic carbon markets.

22 January 2016

[Australia] Tasmanian bushfires ‘worst crisis in decades’ for world heritage forests
By Michael Slezak, The Guardian, 22 January 2016
Fires burning across Tasmania are producing the worst crisis the world heritage forests there have faced in decades, says a long-term conservationist from the area. Geoff Law, formerly a conservationist at the Wilderness Society, told Guardian Australia: “In my opinion – and I’ve been working on these issues since 1981 – it’s the gravest crisis the world heritage area has faced in that time.” “As we speak there are areas burning inside the world heritage area, on the central plateau, where there are ancient species of native pine, which are very slow-growing and up to 1,000 years old,” Law said. “Some of those are being killed as we speak.” For many Australian forests, fire was a natural part of the ecology. But that was not the case for all of the areas now being threatened in Tasmania, Law said.

[Indonesia] Neglected conflict
The Jakarta Post, 22 January 2016
For indigenous people, hopes emerged following a 2013 Constitutional Court ruling that their customary forests should not be classed as state forest. Statistics in 2012 showed some 32,000 villages overlapping with what the government called state forest. Unsurprisingly, reports have surfaced of locals being persecuted for farming on land they claim as their own. Following the court’s ruling, last year the Environment and Forestry Ministry issued a regulation to reallocate up to 30 percent of industrial forests and forest concession areas to indigenous owners. Residents however still report difficulties in the regulation’s implementation, some relating to the significant role of local authorities in “reallocating” the land. Conflicts get increasingly ugly when disputes involve local people against migrants, where contests over the precious resource of land are overshadowed and blown up into issues of race, ethnicity and differences in beliefs.

[Indonesia] Calculating Uncertainty in the Forest Carbon Equation
By Justine E. Hauser, Cool Green Science, 22 January 2016
Calculating forest carbon emissions just got easier — Nature Conservancy scientists have devised a new way to bring together global, regional, and local carbon emissions datasests on deforestation and degradation, including a way to account for the uncertainty behind this tricky data mash-up… Berau’s 1.6 million hectares of forests are among the world’s highest in biodiversity, carbon density, and sequestration potential, but only 17 percent are under formal protection ⎯ the rest are allocated to commercial logging, timber plantations, palm oil plantations, coal mines and settlements. “Indonesia is the next big story in tropical deforestation,” says Bronson Griscom, the Conservancy’s director of forest carbon science and lead author on the research. The Conservancy has supported the government of Berau to establish the Berau Forest Carbon Program, a REDD+ demonstration project…

[Philippines] World Bank buys carbon credits from Landbank
By Ted Torres, The Philippine Star, 22 January 2016
The World Bank will purchase carbon credits from the Land Bank of the Philippines as part of efforts to help the country achieve its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and contribute to the global efforts to address climate change. Carbon credits are certificates of emission reductions (CER) from the operations of public or private entities that can be sold for extra income. Landbank has committed to deliver 1.7 million carbon credits until 2020. Through its carbon finance support facility, Landbank provides funding and technical assistance for installing methane recovery systems in sanitary landfills. Local government units (LGUs) and operators of sanitary landfills availing of this program can earn carbon credits, providing them incentives to upgrade their facilities.

Thai junta scraps regulations on industries, power plants
Prachatai English, 22 January 2016
Thai junta leader has used his absolute power to scrap regulations on the construction of power plants and factories in a bid to secure energy needs and woo investors. Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, on Wednesday, 20 January 2015, issued National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Orders No. 3/2016 and 4/2016, using his authority under Section 44 of the Interim Constitution, which gives him and security officers absolute power to maintain national security. NCPO Order No. 3/2016 exempts the construction of buildings in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) from the regulatory framework of the 1975 Town and City Planning Act and other regulations on buildings. The order also takes away from local government the authority to impose regulations on construction in SEZs.

[UK] Companies liquidated over investment promises
By Damian Fantato, FTAdviser, 22 January 2016
Six companies which promised to recover investment losses for people have been ordered into liquidation by the High Court. An investigation by The Insolvency Service found that five of the companies were connected. Between them, they left members of the public with losses of more than £350,000. The connected companies involved all had registered offices in London and were Claremont Partnerships Ltd, Brookepoint Ltd, Brookcourt Trading Ltd, Cotexx Trading Ltd, and Manor Trade Ltd. David Hill, chief investigator with The Insolvency Service, said: “These companies operated what were effectively scam boiler room operations that had no prospect of retrieving lost investments. “The Insolvency Service will not allow such companies to fleece vulnerable and honest people. “We will investigate these abuses and close down companies if they are found to be operating against the public interest.”

[UK] Investors Lose Twice As Recovery Room Scams Shut Down
By Kirsten Hastings, International Adviser, 22 January 2016
A number of investors in the UK have lost out twice after six companies were shut down by the High Court for scamming more than £350,000 ($496,000, €456,000) after promising to help them recover investment losses. Investigations by the UK government’s Insolvency Service have led to the so-called ‘recovery room’ companies being ordered into liquidation in the public interest. The companies, five of which were connected, targeted individuals who previously purchased investments, such as carbon credits and rare earth metals, from other companies that had since been wound up… The companies, of which the first five were found to have some connection, were: Claremont Partnerships, Brookepoint, Brookcourt Trading, Cotexx Trading, Manor Trade, Etonstanley. The five connected companies were in operation between March 2014 and approximately January 2015. They scammed at least £300,000 from investors.

23 January 2016

Slavery in your pocket: Consumer goods fuel forced labor and ecocide, scholar says
By Robert McClendon,, 23 January 2016
Free the Slaves, the group [Kevin] Bales cofounded to study and fight modern slavery, estimates there are about 35.8 million people living in bondage today… Slavery is already illegal in every country, but where the rule of law is weak and corruption rife, it remains stubbornly intrenched, Bales said. If countries had the resources to enforce the law properly, a huge contributor to global climate change would be eliminated, he said. Carbon credits, purchased through a cap-and-trade scheme, could be used to fund enforcement and pay for environmental programs that employ former slaves, Bales said. There would be a cost, no doubt, but everybody should have an interest in ending slavery, because everyone has an interest in protecting the environment, Bales said.

[Indonesia] Aceh citizens take legal action to protect Sumatran jungle
By Michael Neilson, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 January 2016
Activists are suing the Indonesian government in a bid to stop development they say will devastate the last remaining area on earth where Sumatran tigers, rhinoceroses, orangutans and elephants live together in the wild. The world-renowned Leuser Ecosystem in the heart of the Sumatran jungle in Aceh is at risk of being destroyed by a government plan to allow roads in the area and by potential concessions for mining and plantations, campaigners say. In the latest stage of a nearly two-year bid to have the plan retracted, nine representatives of the group Gerakan Rakyat Aceh Menggugat launched a civil lawsuit at the Central Jakarta District Court. “[The plan] effectively dissolves protection of much of Aceh’s remaining tropical rainforests, whitewashing crimes of the past, and paving the way for a new wave of catastrophic ecological destruction,” GeRAM representative Farwiza Farhan said.

[UK] The cockroaches of finance
The Economist, 23 January 2016
Crime-busters worry that scams are evolving. While stock fraud has waned, says a regulator, there has been a “significant rise” in boiler-room tactics being used to sell things like carbon credits, fine wine, rare earth metals and even bogus Ebola treatments. America remains the world’s investment-fraud capital, but police in Britain—where investors lost an estimated £1.7 billion ($2.8 billion) to such scams in the 12 months to September 2014—fret that the City of London could become infested with financial cockroaches. They are leading a multi-agency crackdown. Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority runs a website, ScamSmart, that lists more than 1,000 dodgy operators.

24 January 2016


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