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.
21 March 2016
Emissions-cutting aviation deal must be enforceable: NGOs
By Allison Lampert, Reuters, 21 March 2016
A deal this fall to cap carbon emissions from global aviation at 2020 levels must be enforceable and set long-term goals in line with the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, a coalition of environmental groups said on Monday.
Aviation was excluded from the landmark climate accord in Paris in December. But carbon emissions from the sector could triple by 2050 if left unchecked, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation, which represents a half dozen non-profit groups, warned in a statement.
In Paris, countries agreed to limit the rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
“Now, countries need to fulfill their Paris promises by ensuring that the aviation industry does its fair share,” Brad Schallert, a senior program officer at the World Wildlife Fund, said in the statement.
International Day of Forests 2016: What’s the state of the world’s forests?
CIFOR Forests News Blog, 21 March 2016
To mark the Day’s fourth anniversary, Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), sit down together in a special three-part video interview series to discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for forests and for our planet.
In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests. The Day provides an annual platform to raise awareness on the importance of forests and trees and the myriad ways in which they sustain our livelihoods.
Interview with Mario Boccucci, Head of the UN-REDD Programme
By Mario Boccucci, Natural Resources Policy & Practice (IISD), 21 March 2016
REDD+ is a long acronym that goes something like: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and the enhancement of carbon stocks. How would you describe REDD+ in a nutshell?
Recognizing that emission reductions and removals from forest systems are critical to mitigating climate change, Parties to the UNFCCC agreed on an approach that would incentivize developing countries to maintain their forest cover, decrease their level of deforestation and forest degradation, and rehabilitate degraded forestland – this approach is REDD+. Through REDD+, developing countries are financially rewarded for achieving emissions reductions results. The design of REDD+ also takes into account the important upfront investment needed to support these countries to develop the policies and measures necessary to change the way they are managing their forests.
[Australia] Plans to log Tasmania’s world heritage forests dropped after UN criticism
By Michael Slezak, The Guardian, 21 March 2016
Plans to allow logging inside Tasmanian world heritage forests have been abandoned after a United Nations report recommended against it.
The UN also expressed concern about plans for expanded tourism in the area and called for a master plan that would detail what sorts of tourism would and wouldn’t be allowed.
The recommendations were immediately accepted by the state and federal governments, although the Tasmanian state forestry minister said it was “very disappointing” that logging would not occur.
Coalition governments at the state and federal levels have been trying to expand logging in and around the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which covers about a fifth of the state.
In 2014 the state government ripped up a deal brokered in 2011, which banned logging in 400,000 hectares of forest and strengthened laws that would prosecute people protesting against logging.
The rights of Baka communities in the REDD+ Ngoyla-Mintom project in Cameroon
By Jake Willis, Messe Venant, and Olinga Noel, Forest Peoples Programme, 21 March, 2016
Of the indigenous hunter gatherer peoples of Cameroon (the peoples who self-identify as ‘autochthonous’), the Baka are the largest group, numbering about 40,000 and living in an area of 75,000 km2 in the south-west of the country; the Bagyeli/Bokola are the second-largest group with approximately 3,700 people living near the coast in an area of about 12,000 km2; and the third-largest group are the Bedzang who live in the forests north-west of Mbam (Ngambe-Tikar), in the Central Region.
Cameroon is signatory to a number of international declarations which give explicit emphasis to the rights of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, one fundamental precondition to any REDD+ intervention is the inclusion of communities’ customary rights. Whether it be a REDD+ project, a conservation project, sales of standing volume or concessions, the project promoters and/or investors have to comply with the relevant international legal instruments applicable to Cameroon.
[EU] Briton charged in Germany for conspiracy over emissions certificates
By Arno Schuetze, Reuters, 21 March 2016
German prosecutors have charged a British national with conspiring to evade taxes worth 136 million euros (£106.5 million) while buying and selling carbon emissions certificates, they said on Monday.
The case stems from an investigation into so-called carousel trades in the European Union’s carbon market in 2009 and 2010, in which some buyers imported emissions permits in one EU country without paying value-added tax (VAT). The buyers then sold them to each other, adding VAT to the price and generating tax refunds when no tax had been paid.
The 58-year old Briton, who was not named for legal reasons, was a mastermind of the scheme via a Dubai-based firm he controlled as well as through four companies based in Germany, the Frankfurt prosecutor said on Monday, adding he was helped by accomplices.
The man was arrested in Las Vegas in May 2014 and extradited to Germany in September 2015, where he has since been held in custody awaiting trial.
‘Multi-door approach’ to address forest-related crimes in Indonesia
By Christophe Bahuet, The Jakarta Post, 21 March 2016
Every adversity is an opportunity in disguise. Today marks the International Day of Forests, a moment of global celebration to raise awareness of the importance of forests to the ecosystem and to humanity.
This day is of particular significance to Indonesia, home to the world’s third largest tropical forested area, and offers a great opportunity to highlight existing solutions to address one of the country’s most challenging issues: annual forest fires and forest-related crimes.
As part of its commitment to protect national natural resources, UNDP and UN-REDD Program, with support from Norway, have worked with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the National Police Forces and the Attorney General Office to pursue a new effective approach to tackle environment-related crimes in forest areas and peatlands, including forest fires.
This approach is called the “multi-door approach” and attempts to both prevent offenders from violating Indonesia’s environmental laws and to ensure that corporate accountability, recovery of state losses and restoration of the environment are incorporated into every investigation for forest-related crimes.
[Indonesia] Can CSOs stave off community involvement in oil palm?
By Wolfram Dressler and Edi Purwanto, The Jakarta Post, 21 March 2016
Global forest conservation has changed a lot in the last century: It has shifted from top-down state policy to devolved “people first” initiatives. Millions of dollars have been spent on policy design, agency support and programs that try to work with local people to stop deforestation.
Indonesia in particular, has experienced many different types of devolved forest conservation programs including social forestry, integrated forest management and community-based forest management (CBFM).
Various REDD+ Readiness schemes aiming to “incentivize” farmers to save forests and forest carbon have also been funded by bilaterals such as the Norwegian government.
But why after so many decades and so much money does forest clearing and burning continue in areas long-targeted by CBFM? What aren’t we getting right?
Report: Improved forestry sector could earn Kenya $188 million, cut greenhouse gas emissions
By Njenga Hakeenah, Hivisasa.com, 21 March 2016
Increasing efficiency in Kenya’s forestry sector could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 27 per cent over 2010 levels.
This could help the country meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement, and bring economic benefits of $188 million per year. This is according to a new joint United Nations and Kenyan government report released on the International Day of Forests.
The report, “Improving Efficiency in Forestry Operations and Forest Product Processing in Kenya: A Viable REDD+ Policy and Measure?” finds that investing in efficiency measures in forest product processing and operations could contribute to reducing deforestation and forest degradation while delivering a reduction of 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per year. Kenya’s 2010 emissions were 73 tCO2e, the majority of which came from land-use, agriculture and forestry.
Liberia launches public-private cooperation to improve livelihoods and protect forests
Government of Norway press release, 21 March 2016
Today the Liberian government has announced the first steps in an ambitious plan to work with leading international companies to improve smallholder productivity and livelihoods, while conserving the country’s forests and growing its economy. Today’s launch of a public-private cooperation will turn commitments made by commodity companies to improve their social and environmental track record into action.
To protect Liberia’s natural forests and improve agricultural productivity, Liberia and Norway signed a partnership agreement during the New York climate summit in September 2014. In support of this partnership, IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative, is bringing together the Liberian authorities, leading international mining and palm oil companies and civil society, to develop new approaches for green inclusive economic development.
[Pakistan] Imran starts Green Ribbon Movement with slogan ‘One Tree One Life’
The Nation, 21 March 2016
Chairman of Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan today started Green Ribbon Movement with slogan of “One Tree One Life”. He was joined by hundreds of students in Peshawar to mark the International Day of Forests by planting 100,000 trees under the umbrella of the billion tree tsunami.
Addressing the occasion, Imran Khan congratulated the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for its perseverance in carrying out the billion tree campaign and turning the vision into a reality.
“These efforts are being recognized by the global community including international forestry organizations; it was all the result of government and citizens cooperation that even in remote mountain areas locals are being engaged to nurture tree nurseries, and in return providing a boost to the local economy as well,” he said.
[USA] California’s Climate Leadership Can Help Save Tropical Forests
By Steve Schwartzman, EDF, 21 March 2016
Back in 2006, when California was passing the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32), some in industry pushed back hard, claiming that California couldn’t stop climate change by itself and that all AB32 would do was compromise the competitiveness of the state’s economy. California has proved the naysayers wrong – its economy is booming, and emissions are falling. Far from going at it alone, the Golden State is increasingly leading a global trend.
Now, California has an opportunity to build on its international leadership. By setting the gold standard for carbon market credit for international sectoral offsets – the subject of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) upcoming workshops – it can send a powerful signal to communities and governments that are fighting to stop tropical deforestation: carbon markets will help support their struggle.
22 March 2016
FlightPath 1.5 Launches 100 Days after COP21
Blue and Green Tomorrow, 22 March 2016
Leading environmental organizations today launched FlightPath 1.5, an international campaign aimed at solving the defining global climate change issue of 2016: reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the airline industry.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations (UN) decision-making body charged with regulating aviation emissions, takes up the issue in September. If it fails to take bold steps, aviation emissions are projected to triple by 2050. Aviation, a top-ten global polluter, was not directly addressed in the landmark COP21 Paris climate agreement agreed to 100 days ago today.
Ecosystem Marketplace’s Carbon Newsletter
Ecosystem Marketplace, 22 March 2016
8,000 jobs. 141 protected species. 2.2 million hectares of land ownership secured. These are a few of the impacts that forest carbon initiatives collectively had in 2014, as tracked in our new report, Not So Niche: Co-benefits at the Intersection of Forest Carbon and Sustainable Development.
The report is based on responses to Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace’s 2015 survey of forest carbon project developers from around the world, 81 of whom provided details on the multiple benefits of their groundwork. These impacts go beyond the 34.4 million tonnes of forest-based emissions reductions transacted on the carbon markets last year. Project developers often say they could not deliver climate results without also addressing issues such as local economic development, poverty alleviation, and land tenure reform.
[Bangladesh] World Bank advises govt to introduce carbon tax
By Asif Showkat Kallol, Dhaka Tribune, 22 March 2016
World Bank has advised the government to impose carbon tax. It said the tax would be a “fiscally prudent measure” by protecting the country’s revenue.
World Bank’s new country director for Bangladesh Qimiao Fan made the advice in a letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith on March 17.
A carbon tax is usually defined as a tax based on greenhouse gas emissions generated from burning fuels.
“A carbon tax will be a fiscally prudent measure by protecting revenues when domestic prices are linked with the currently low international prices, given a stable nominal exchange rate against the US dollar,” Qimiao Fan’s letter read.
Referring to a note on petroleum products pricing, he said: “Essentially the note argues that the best approach is to let domestic prices follow international prices while using a tax instrument to account for carbon pricing.”
[Indonesia] Remaining Habitats Under Threat
By Irma Tambunan, Kompas, 22 March 2016
A policy of transforming natural forests into a variety of other functions over the last 30 years has eliminated 70 percent of the Sumatran elephants’ (Elephas maximus sumatranus) living spaces. The remaining habitats are now under great threat. In no more than 10 years’ time, without an efficient rescue effort, the Sumatran elephant will be extinct.
Sumatran elephants have lost 15 million hectares, or 70 percent of their habitat, from that recorded in 1985. Habitat within forest areas, according to data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, has reached 4.1 million hectares in the form of production forests (HP), limited production forests (HPT), conservation forests and protected forests. Of this area, some has been transformed into acacia and rubber monocultures, minefields, wild palm oil plantations, settlements and roads.
Around 1.3 million hectares of the remaining habitat in forest areas is also under threat. In Riau, for example, the Balai Raja Wildlife Reserve boasts an area of 18,000 hectares, but only 200 hectares is suitable for elephants. The rest has been wildly encroached upon and has transformed into oil palm plantations.
Meet Jonathan Pershing, the new US climate envoy
By Ed King, Climate Home, 22 March 2016
Negotiating with Jonathan Pershing is akin to being at the wrong end of a Formula 1 wind tunnel.
In an attempt to secure an interview in late 2014, I tried to convince the then ex-US deputy climate envoy to speak on the record about the climate talks.
For 15 minutes Pershing was charming but blunt. There was no room for negotiation. It was a chat on background or the call was dead. He won. He usually does.
“If we can’t take it home and sell it at home, in whatever political economy we are living in, we won’t do it,” he told Indian NGOs at the 2012 UN talks in Doha, an exchange subsequently leaked to the media.
With Todd Stern to step down as top US climate envoy on 1 April, Pershing returns to a beat he knows well, as secretary of state John Kerry alluded to on Monday.
“Jonathan’s new role is a homecoming of sorts for him,” he said in a statement. Pershing is the “perfect person to pick up the baton” added Kerry.
23 March 2016
Belgium’s FSMA warns against firms engaged in “recovery room” fraud
By Maria Nikolova, LeapRate, 23 March 2016
The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) of Belgium today published a warning against two firms engaged in the so-called “recovery room” fraud.
The warning from the Belgian watchdog targets supposed law firms Cole & Rushton LLC and Ernst & Taylor LLP, which are offering to help victims of investment fraud recover the money they had invested (and lost).
The alleged law firms Cole & Rushton LLC and Ernst & Taylor LLP approached the victims of ‘boiler room’ type fraud, misleading them to believe that there are criminal proceedings under way against certain boiler rooms and offering to represent them for the purposes of these proceedings.
The victims were then invited to pay a series of different fees: advances on legal fees, court costs, payment of taxes on the amounts recovered as a result of the proceedings, etc. In the face of the promises made by the law firms, the victims have not recovered the amounts invested.
[Republic of Congo] Massive wildfire rips through Congo rainforest – is logging to blame?
By Morgan Erickson-Davis, mongabay.com, 23 March 2016
In late January and early March, a huge fire ripped through the forests of the Republic of Congo. Satellite data show it totaled more than 15,000 hectares (150 square kilometers), making the fire one of the largest ever observed in Central Africa’s rainforests. A research organization says El Niño is largely to blame, but that human activities in the region may also have exacerbated the situation.
The Congo Basin occupies much of the middle of the African continent, straddling the equator from Gabon to Uganda, Cameroon to Angola. At 200 million hectares, the Congo Basin rainforest is second only to the Amazon in size, and provides habitat for endangered animals found nowhere else such as bonobos, gorillas, and okapi.
24 March 2016
How deforestation is tangled up in the law
By Ashwin Ravikumar and Anne Larson, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 March 2016
When it comes to deforestation – either stopping it or encouraging it – a country’s laws and policies can make a great difference. But no country has just one policy that shapes all outcomes, nor one single authority that controls all sectors. Rather, the laws influencing how land and forests are used (or abused), and the lines of authority that govern them, form a complex, tortuous web where the threads themselves are often unclear, let alone how they all interact.
This certainly describes the legal context in tropical forest countries around the world, where people are trying to make a living from the land, or trying to conserve natural ecosystems, or trying to implement REDD+ or another low-emissions development strategy.
Is a global aviation emissions deal being quietly prepared for take-off?
By James Murray, Business Green, 24 March 2016
Could September see the delivery of the second historic international climate change deal in less than 12 months? That is the hope shared by a growing band of businesses and NGOs who are increasingly optimistic the Paris Agreement could be followed later this year by a long-awaited deal to tackle aviation emissions.
The UN-backed International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is to meet in September to discuss a series of proposals for tackling emissions from the global industry, including a recently published Draft Resolution on a Market-Based Measure which could usher in a global carbon market for aviation. Previous attempts to deliver a credible international deal for curbing aviation emissions – which under business-as-usual scenarios are expected to treble by 2050 – have faltered as the same divisions between industrialised and developing nations that for so long undermined international climate change negotiations again blocked any hopes of an agreement.
NSW native forests worth more if left standing: Australia Institute report
By Bill Brown, ABC News, 24 March 2016
An economic analysis by The Australia Institute claims that native forest logging in NSW lost $79 million over the last seven years, but could be making a $40 million profit if left standing and allowed access to the Federal Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).
The Nature Conservation Council (NCC) and the National Parks Association of NSW, which jointly commissioned the report, has called upon the NSW government to cease “loss-making native forest logging” and to support a transition of wood supply from native forests to plantations.
The CEO of NCC Kate Smolski said there was little prospect that Forestry Corporation could turn around sustained losses of their native forest harvesting operations.
She said that the NSW government was “propping up” Forestry Corporation’s native forest logging operations by providing $136m of Community Service Obligation funds over the last ten years, but it was still running at a loss.
[UK] Man wanted in connection with carbon credit fraud in Grays
Your Thurrock, 24 March 2016
Detectives in Grays are appealing for the public’s help to identify this man who they would like to speak to in connection with a fraud investigation.
Essex Police are investigating in a case where a company calling itself Hamilton Carter Limited, is alleged to have cold called members of the public and tried to dupe them into making investments in gold or carbon credits. Once the victims had agreed to make the investments, they were directed to make payments to a number of bank accounts. The victims then discovered they had been tricked.
Essex Police have been contacted so far by seven people who have all lost thousands of pounds.
Investigating Officer Dc Andrew Marr said: “The suspects have conned the victims into investing large amounts of money into worthless carbon credits. I am currently dealing with seven victims who live all over the country and are all aged between 63 and 85. They invested thousands of pounds, some of them losing their life savings. I urgently want to try and trace this man and would urge anyone who recognises him to contact me.”
Anybody that can help is asked to contact Dc Marr at Grays CID on Essex Police 101. People can also give information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
25 March 2016
[Australia] Conservation can pay for itself when trading in carbon market
By Jane Hutchinson, The Mercury, 25 March 2016
In a place like Tasmania we cannot escape nature because we are surrounded by it.
Tasmanians have a strong connection with nature. Many of us have memories from our childhoods that illustrate our connection with nature.
I remember playing pooh sticks in a river, catching flathead out of a tinny with my brother, learning how to ride my bike at the park, camping with family and roasting marshmallows on a campfire.
But people value nature in many different ways.
Nature is a great provider. It gives us clean air, clean water and productive soils. It pollinates our crops, and gives us places to recreate and places for inspiration. People value nature for cultural connection to place, for the value it brings the community, for the value it brings our economy and for itself.
The Tasmanian Land Conservancy has been working to make explicit some of those connections.
Thousands in Bangladesh march across 155 miles against threatening coal projects
By Jenny Bock, Friends of the Earth, 25 March 2016
Thousands of Bangladeshis participated in a “Long March” from the capital city of Dhaka to the Sundarbans forest March 10 to March 13 to protest the construction of various coal projects proposed for Bangladesh. They sent a strong message of opposition to local industry and government officials as well as international decision-makers. During this four-day, 155-mile-long demonstration, protesters had one demand: “Save the Sundarbans!” The Sundarbans forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located on the border of Bangladesh and India, is the world’s largest mangrove forest and is under threat of being harmed by two massive coal projects, one of which the U.S. Export-Import Bank is rumored to be considering financing.
[Guyana] Forensic audit finds… Baishanlin got $1.8b concessions in four years
Stabroek News, 25 March 2016
During 2012-2015, the PPP/C government granted logging company Baishanlin concessions amounting to $1.8 billion despite its failure to fulfill obligations under its investment agreements and this figure is likely to be significantly higher as the firm has been here since 2006.
Forensic auditor Anand Goolsarran who made the finding recommended that the Government of Guyana consider terminating the investment agreements with the company and recover the value of the fiscal concessions granted to it.
Many of the items for which tax waivers were granted were either unrelated to, or significantly more than the requirements for the company’s project, the report on the forensic audit and review of the operations of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) said. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
26 March 2016
Our Forests are Being Decimated but they can be Reborn
By Richard Matthews, The Green Market Oracle, 26 March 2016
Forest are a critical part of our efforts to protect biodiversity and manage global warming. In fact we cannot talk about addressing climate change without also talking about protecting forests.
On March 21st 2016 we celebrated the sixth International Day of Forests. On this day efforts are made to make people aware of the immense importance of forests.
A New York Times article titled, “With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Key Climate Protectors,” makes this point emphatically. Some scientists have said that the extent to which our planet is habitable is related to the number of trees on Earth.
[Australia] Sophie Monk’s brother Ben accused of $750k boiler room scandal
By Martha Azzi, Daily Mail, 26 March 2016
The brother of singer and model Sophie Monk has allegedly been linked to a multimillion-dollar scam that cons retirees and investors into handing over thousands to buy worthless shares in fictitious companies.
Ben Monk has not been charged but is alleged to have worked as a telemarketing salesman inside one of the three syndicates believed to be part of the ‘boiler room’ operations on the Gold Coast, reportedThe Courier Mail.
Private investigator Ken Gamble allegedly came across Mr Monk in surveillance footage as he investigated a cold-scam that saw his client, a NSW farmer, lose $750,000.
[UK] The ‘Wolf of Westcliff’ who raked in at least £608,000 through his dodgy gems
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 26 March 2016
Good To Be Green was part of a shady network of companies that sold carbon credits, advising investors that prices were ‘soaring’.
It claimed to have ‘a team of highly qualified diamond experts’, offering ‘superior rare jewels’ as investments. It was all lies.
This was just a boiler room scam using false claims and high pressure sales calls to cheat people.
The business was run by Ricky Burgess from Westcliff, a suburb of Southend, Essex, who was 21 when he set it up.
Since it ceased trading in 2013, Insolvency Service investigators have found it raked in at least £608,000 by selling carbon credits at a 370 per cent mark-up over their true value.
Three weeks ago, Burgess, now 25, was banned from acting as the director of any company for 15 years.
27 March 2016
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.