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). For past REDD in the news posts, click here. (Apologies for the late REDD in the news post this week – delicious.com has been down for a couple of days.)
18 April 2016
ADB pushes low carbon development plan for Asia
By Czeriza Valencia, The Philippine Star, 18 April 2016
The Asian Development Bank urged countries in the Asia-Pacific region to start the transition to a low carbon energy future to combat climate change and achieve sustainable green growth.
The multilateral lending institution said without a proactive action to reduce carbon emissions, the region would easily account for more than 40 percent of global emissions in the next decade.
“With high rates of economic growth, the region must pursue a low carbon development path and make its contribution in cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to keep global warming well below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels,” said Carmela Locsin, director general of ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change department.
The Philippines was among the countries that adopted the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change that covered a 1.5 degree Celsius warming cap for countries.
NGOs clash over eligibility of REDD+ forestry credits under ICAO’s proposed aviation carbon offsetting scheme
GreenAir Online, 18 April 2016
The world’s forests currently store more carbon than is in the world’s atmosphere and tropical forests alone absorb almost a fifth of all carbon dioxide released each year from the burning of fossil fuels. However, the destruction of these same tropical forests contributes 10 to 15 per cent of global annual carbon emissions. To address the problem, the UNFCCC launched in 2008 a programme called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD, later enhanced to REDD+) in developing countries through which a financial value could be created on the value for the carbon stored in forests and then offered through offset credits as mitigation options. REDD+ credits are now under consideration by ICAO as to whether they should be eligible in the carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation currently under development. Environmental and conservation NGOs are divided though on their suitability.
[Cambodia]’Even though I know my life is at risk, I still try to save the forest’
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 18 April 2016
You could not see the logging camp from the narrow track on the edge of the once vast Prey Lang forest in central Cambodia. But human rights lawyer and forest defender Leng Ouch had recced the location on motorbike, identified its owners, studied aerial pictures from a drone and within minutes of arriving was crawling through the dense undergrowth and tree stumps towards it.
Twenty minutes later Leng was inside the secret timber yard which stretched over several acres and was stacked with hundreds of logs and planks waiting to be taken to China or Vietnam. Some were precious species worth tens of thousands of dollars each. Others were unidentifiable. All, he said, came from protected forest.
EU must scrap carbon compensation scheme
By Peter Eriksson, euobserver.com, 18 April 2016
At one point, one of the characters in the Star Wars saga says: “What if the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?”
We in the EU are now asking ourselves: Could it be that the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), a mechanism created for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is in fact incentivising the polluters? As the ETS is currently under revision, the question is highly relevant and the window is wide open for repairing the system’s flaws.
While the idea of an emissions trading system was innovative and clever, the ETS has not been allowed to spread its wings and show its full potential. The market is flooded with emission allocations, which has led to a too low cost for polluting. Moreover, the industry is making a considerable windfall profit from selling unused emission allowances.
These problems are well known. However, one important aspect relating to the ETS has largely escaped public scrutiny: the existence of national schemes for compensation for indirect carbon costs.
[Guyana] Interference with GRA
Stabroek News, 18 April 2016
It is hard to imagine that one official of an 11-month-old government could have gotten himself into so much trouble on so many fronts. That is exactly what the Minister of State Mr Joe Harmon has done and from all that has been made public and the information that is still to be provided it is difficult to see how there can be any restoration of his credibility. Mr Harmon’s predicament puts President Granger on the spot as he must now salvage the credibility of his government and governance. It must serve as a salutary warning to this administration. The citizens of this country are in no mood for deceit and duplicity. They have had many years of it. Too many. The May 11 elections was meant to transform the political culture and bring with it unwavering probity in the discharge of government functions. It clearly hasn’t.
[Honduras] An interview with Gustavo Castro, sold witness to assassination of Berta Cáceres
By Danielle Marie Mackey, The Intercept, 18 April 2016
Gustavo Castro was the sole witness to the murder on March 3 of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, the co-founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Movements of Honduras (COPINH). Castro, the director of Otros Mundos, an environmental organization in Chiapas, Mexico, was also shot in the attack. After being barred from leaving Honduras, Castro was released on March 30 and has since settled in an undisclosed location. Last week he spoke by phone to The Intercept about the night of the murder and the reasons why environmental activism in Latin America is so dangerous.
Castro’s experience over the past month provides a remarkable glimpse into the Honduran justice system, which is notorious for its culture of impunity.
[Indonesia] Taking the hot seat in war on haze
By David Fogarty, New Straits Times, 18 April 2016
Conservation veteran Nazir Foead is Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s frontman in the fight against the haze.
He is literally a man in the hot seat, and he knows he has to deliver where others failed.
As head of the newly created presidential Peatland Restoration Agency, he is tasked with leading a national effort to restore fire-prone peatlands to curb the annual fire risk.
To succeed, his agency will have to change the way bureaucrats, companies and farmers think about how they exploit the land – moving from development with little heed for the damage caused, to agricultural development that protects the land while benefiting communities and companies. It’s a monumental challenge for a nation that has become synonymous with massive deforestation and rampant, poorly governed agricultural expansion.
Dodgy deals with climate fraudsters – NZ’s role in the junk carbon scam
By Geoff Simmons, The Spinoff, 18 April 2016
New Zealand has been a willing participant in a wholesale climate fraud. The trail to prove this allegation is long and winding, and the detail can all be read in a new report here. But it may be simplest to start with an analogy.
Imagine your local primary school is planning a working bee. You sign up to “do your bit”, but another parent phones up to say they can’t make it. Good news, though – they say that they have paid a worker to come in their stead. All sounds OK so far.
The day of the working bee rolls around and the worker doesn’t show up. You think the parent will probably want to know that their plan didn’t come off, so you give them a call to let them know. They get defensive and respond that it doesn’t matter the worker didn’t show up, because they have an invoice for the payment they made to the worker to show they have done their bit.
They post you the invoice as proof. You can see from the invoice that they paid the worker next to nothing, and the worker they hired is known locally as a cowboy. No wonder then they didn’t show.
‘Hot air’ carbon credits not Govt’s fault – trader
By Chris Bramwell, Radio New Zealand, 18 April 2016
Although there were some dubious carbon credits traded in the past, it is an over-generalisation to say they were all fraudulent, a carbon trader says.
A report from the Morgan Foundation says carbon credits bought from other countries to offset rising New Zealand emissions since 1990 were often fictitious.
It argued that one type of credit (the Emission Reduction Unit) was overcome by fraud and corruption in Ukraine and Russia – these were labelled ‘hot air’ credits.
Another type of credit which had problems were the Certified Emissions Reductions (CER), the unit issued under the Clean Development Mechanism from the Kyoto Protocol.
Some CERs were banned in New Zealand in December 2011, and the rest of the CERs and all ERUs were banned in 2012.
Dodgy carbon credits will hurt New Zealand’s wildlife
Forest and Bird press release, 18 April 2016
The Emissions Trading Scheme should be overhauled in light of a new report that reveals New Zealand is meeting its climate change obligations by relying on carbon credits described as fraudulent and linked to organised crime.
“Our Government is undercutting New Zealand’s future by allowing use of carbon credits that the Morgan Report identifies as fraudulent and linked to organised crime. Our future and our wildlife are being short-changed by this arrangement, and few New Zealanders will think that’s fair,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson Geoff Keey.
“The recent appointment of Climate Change Issues Minister, Paula Bennett, is an opportunity to review the Emissions Trading Scheme and give New Zealand’s climate change programme a much needed overhaul,” Mr Keey says.
“Getting rid of dodgy, possibly corrupt, carbon credits should be the first step. New Zealand needs a strong mechanism for pricing carbon that is independently overseen and linked to a national carbon budget,” Mr Keey says.
[New Zealand] ‘We are, without doubt, cheats’
By Isaac Davison, New Zealand Herald, 18 April 2016
New Zealand is being accused of cheating to fulfil its international climate change obligations.
A new report by the Morgan Foundation, released today, says foreign carbon credits which New Zealand bought to reach its climate targets were fraudulent.
It says that New Zealand was the world’s biggest buyer of Russian and Ukrainian credits which did not represent any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
That meant New Zealand, despite achieving its target on paper, had done little in reality to reduce global emissions.
“We are, without doubt, cheats”, the organisation’s founder Gareth Morgan said.
New Zealand’s main tool for reducing atmosphere-warming emissions is the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
Tanzanian land rights victory earns Masaai leader Goldman prize
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 18 April 2016
The Tarangire national park in Tanzania is known for its vast concentrations of wildlife in the dry season, the spectacular annual migrations of its elephants, wildebeest and zebra, and its majestic old baobab trees.
But few people who visit it realise that the 1,100 sq mile park was, until colonial times, widely used by pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, or that many of the new tourist lodges built around it are situated on ancestral lands “grabbed” by government or companies, without compensation, to stimulate money-spinning tourism.
For Maasai leader Edward Loure, the loss of his family land from what is now Tarangire park was a catalyst to get all ancestral land in the Tanzanian Rift Valley legally protected from land-hungry companies, tour operators and others. Working with the Ujamaa community resource team (UCRT) – one of the first tribal-led NGOs in Tanzania – more than 200,000 acres now has full protection; a further 800,000 acres will follow in the next year.
19 April 2016
There’s a cheap, proven fix to the world’s biggest problem
By John D. Sutter, CNN, 19 April 2016
Yoram Bauman learned about the idea that would change his life, and the course of the world, as a nerdy undergraduate at Reed College.
The economics professor’s pitch was so simple he couldn’t shake it.
We should make bad stuff more expensive.
And, by doing that, make good stuff cheaper.
“I remember thinking that it was such an intellectually beautiful idea,” he told me.
It is beautiful. And, as it turns out, this old theory, which dates back at least to the 1920s and an economist named Arthur Pigou, is essential to fixing one of the world’s biggest problems.
Bauman, who now is a PhD economist and stand-up comedian (more on that later; and, yes, he does jokes on the Laffer curve), is the force behind a proposal on the ballot this fall in Washington state that would turn this old, elegant concept into what could be the country’s smartest climate change policy.
It’s thought to be the first time a proposal like this has gone before U.S. voters.
Washington’s Initiative-732 would make a bad thing — pollution — more expensive by putting a tax on each ton of carbon dioxide created by cars, power plants and the like.
Burying Pollution Tested With $1.5 Billion Project in Australia
By James Paton, Bloomberg, 19 April 2016
The idea that significant amounts of greenhouse gases can be buried underground will be tested soon at a remote island off northwest Australia, where oil companies led by Chevron Corp. are poised to inject pollutants 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) into the Earth’s crust.
The A$2 billion ($1.5 billion) carbon capture and storage project at Barrow Island about 37 miles off the coast will be the biggest of its kind when it starts by next year. It’s part of the gigantic Gorgon liquefied natural gas development, which began production last month after $54 billion of investment and will run for four decades.
So-called CCS plants are crucial to holding back climate change, accounting for a seventh of the emissions reductions the International Energy Agency says are needed to keep the planet from overheating. While the Barrow CCS project will be a milestone for the effort to sequester greenhouse gases, it also highlights the difficulties of the technology. It wouldn’t have happened without the government pushing it, stepping in with A$60 million in funds and vowing to assume long-term liability should any of the gas escape.
To protect Philippine forests, may the “tribal force” be with you
By Purple Romero, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 19 April 2016
Indigenous people in the Philippines are calling on the government to authorise a force of tribal rangers to help preserve the country’s forests and curb climate change.
Forest management and protection are an important part of the Philippines’ strategy to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030, a commitment made for the new global agreement on climate change reached in Paris last December.
The Southeast Asian country aims to reduce its emissions from deforestation and slash-and-burn farming largely through a scheme called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), in which developing countries are compensated for protecting their forests.
Martin Donato and his indigenous Mandaya tribe in the southern province of Davao Oriental want to be at the heart of REDD+ efforts – and are hoping to reap some of the financial rewards.
20 April 2016
Voluntarily cancelled CERs cross 10-million mark, as CDM project deregistrations begin
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 20 April 2016
More than 10 million CERs have been voluntarily cancelled to date through the UNFCCC, hitting the milestone after the second biggest batch ever was voided but coming following the CDM’s first ever project deregistrations.
According to UN data, Samsung Display, a subsidiary of the Korean electronics giant, requested that 705,300 CERs from an SF6 abatement project be cancelled so they could be used as Korean Offset Credits (KOCs), which fetch exponentially more in that country’s ETS.
KOCs trade in the South Korean OTC market at around 18,500 won ($16.36, €14.38) each, compared to around €0.40 per CER in Europe, the most liquid market for the credits issued under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
The latest annulment brought the total number of South Korean CERs cancelled by the UNFCCC to 7.1 million.
[Guyana] BaiShanLin never did any Environmental Impact Assessment
By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell, Kaieteur News, 20 April 2016
If one wants to open and operate a small sawmill, that person is required to carry out an Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) within the intended area of operation.
However, BaiShanLin, the largest logging company in Guyana which has shipped out way over US$8M worth of logs is yet to conduct such a study.
Despite all the logging and exportation, BaiShanLin does not have an actual licence to export logs. What the company had was a State Forest Exploration Permit (SFEP) which expired last year and is pending renewal.
As part of its agreement for the grant of the SFEP, BaiShanLin was required to do a number of things including to carry out an ESIA before any extraction could begin. It was also to prepare a business plan and do a forest inventory.
However, the forensic audit report into the operations of Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) highlighted the fact that BaiShanLin is yet to honor any of those obligations.
[Indonesia] The sugar or the trees
By Harry Pearl, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 20 April 2016
While global attention is fixed on palm oil and logging as major drivers of deforestation in Indonesia, researchers have issued a dire warning about a new threat—sugarcane.
The sugarcane sector is on the brink of a “government-engineered boom,” according to a new study—a boom that, if fully developed, could result in huge forest loss and undermine Indonesia’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
As part of its national food security program, the Indonesian government is seeking to convert more than 1 million hectares of tropical forests to sugarcane plantations.
“The sheer number of hectares that they are making available is quite shocking,” said Sophia Gnych, a research consultant at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), who worked on the study.
“It leaves things open for a lot of potential conflicts with local communities, vast impacts on biodiversity, and carbon emissions.”
Carbon Conscious NZ penalised for breaching investment act
By Stian Reklev, Carbon Pulse, 20 April 2016
Project developer Carbon Conscious New Zealand has been made to pay NZ$40,000 ($28,000) for breaching the country’s Overseas Investment Act when buying land for a carbon forestry project.
In a ruling last week, the High Court found that the Australia-headquartered company had acted on poor legal advice rather than knowingly breaking the law, but still ruled it should pay the penalty as well as NZ$6,000 in fees.
Following a deal to sell forestry-based carbon credits to electricity generator Origin Energy, Carbon Conscious in Aug. 2012 bought a 112-hectare forest property via NZ firm Katey LR Investment.
The purchase was made based on the understanding that Carbon Conscious New Zealand – a subsidiary of an Australian entity and hence considered an overseas company – would avoid having to seek consent from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).
[UK] Real-life Wolf of Wall Street must pay £10m from ill-gotten gains or spend another 10 years behind bars
By Ciaran Steward, The Mirror, 20 April 2016
A real-life ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ who fleeced investors of their life savings must repay more than £10m of the £60m he made – or face another 10 years in jail.
Australian Jeffrey Revell-Reade, 51, blew a fortune on yachts, private jet hire and now worthless Rolf Harris artwork after masterminding a high level boiler room scam.
Together with Anthony May, 60, he treated himself to vintage wine collections, top of the range cars, luxury travel and mansions around the world and after duping dozens of British investors into buying worthless shares from a base in Madrid.
May only has to find £250,000 to avoid extra jail time after making an eye watering £69m.
Revell-Reade made £43,864,353 but is expected to clear his dues by selling off just one property he owns in Wimbledon.
21 April 2016
Who owns the Earth: Why the world needs women on Earth Day and beyond
By Lorena Aguitar (IUCN), Huffington Post, 21 April 2016
In Cameroon, Ghana and Uganda, we have developed and been working to implement roadmaps that identify context-specific gender and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) concerns, stakeholders and concrete actions to integrate and enhance gender in REDD+ processes and initiatives. Each country is in a different stage of implementation, but the results thus far have been incredible, with women’s representation augmented at the national level in stakeholder meetings and gender-responsive recommendations being provided to REDD+ processes and planning. For example in Cameroon, thanks in large part to the Gender and REDD+ Roadmap, as well as the support from the REDD+ civil society platform, both women and men have become engaged at all levels of the REDD+ decision-making process—with women now holding 30-40 percent of decision-making positions at most levels—as well as reforming national land tenure laws through the lens of gender and REDD+.
To Meet Global Climate Change Targets, Experts Say Greater Focus Needed on Forests and their Guardians
UNDP, 21 April 2016
Expanding land rights for indigenous peoples can play a key role in protecting tropical forests and slowing global climate change and must be included in international efforts to do so, leading scientists, environmental researchers and celebrity advocates said today.
With evidence growing that protecting and restoring the immense forests of Africa, Asia and Latin America can provide desperately needed time to develop new technologies to replace fossil fuels – and that indigenous communities play a critical role in keeping those forests viable – the researchers and advocates called for the implementation of the historic climate change accords to be signed in New York tomorrow (April 22) to emphasize conserving forests and strengthening the land rights of the communities who live in them.
The Global Community Is Missing Out on a Major Climate Crisis Solution
Rights and Resources Initiative, 21 April 2016
In advance of the negotiations that resulted in the Paris Agreement, national governments were asked to submit Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UN outlining their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These INDCs provide an important tool for countries to hold one another accountable to meeting the Agreement’s ambitious goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
As world leaders sign the Paris Agreement on April 22, Earth Day, key considerations for Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IP/LCs) are notably absent from the final agreement. The country-specific INDCs also lack strong commitments to secure community land rights — despite the fact that these rights are critical to protecting and restoring forests.
We’re Cutting Down One Of Our Best Defenses Against Global Warming
By Katie Valentine, Climate Progress, 21 April 2016
Forests, it’s long been known, are key players in the fight against climate change, pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in their roots, branches, and surrounding soil. But it’s also long been known that forests around the world aren’t receiving the protection they need to ensure that they keep up this crucial service.
Now, a new report has quantified just how much time protecting forests will buy us in our efforts to mitigate climate change. The report, published Thursday by the Woods Hole Research Center, found that “aggressive management” of tropical forests in particular would give the planet 10 to 15 more years in which to reduce emissions enough to keep the world at 2 degrees Celsius — the point under which climate scientists agree warming should be kept to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Global leaders agree to set price on carbon pollution
AFP, 21 April 2016
Six world leaders and the heads of powerful multilateral organizations agreed Thursday to push for broader implementation of carbon pricing schemes to accelerate the fight against global warming.
The leaders of Canada, Germany, France, Mexico, Ethiopia and Chile, along with the IMF, World Bank, and OECD, pressed for the use of carbon pricing to cover 25 percent of global emissions within four years, double the current level.
And they want pricing to cover 50 percent of all emissions within one decade. They said faster and wider implementation is needed to achieve the goal of limiting the rise in the average global temperature to below 2.0C above pre-industrial levels.
Victory! Survival campaign to save uncontacted Indians triumphs!
Survival International, 21 April 2016
After months of pressure from Survival supporters worldwide, the Brazilian Minister of Justice has finally moved to save the uncontacted Kawahiva tribe from genocide.
The campaign was launched in October 2015, fronted by Oscar-winning actor Mark Rylance and aimed at pressuring the Brazilian Minister to demarcate and protect the uncontacted tribe’s territory in the Amazon.
After more than 14,000 emails were sent to the ministry by Survival supporters, the recently-appointed Justice Minister Eugênio Aragão signed the decree creating the protected territory for the tribe into law on April 19.
Indonesia`s planned moratorium on oil palm concessions lauded
ANTARA news, 21 April 2016
President Joko Widodos announcement last week about a plan to impose a moratorium on new permits for oil palm plantations has been lauded by some parties, particularly NGOs.
The moratorium policy is aimed at preserving Indonesias tropical rain forest, the worlds third largest after forests in Amazon and Congo.
The deforestation rate in the country, however, is very fast since land is being converted, particularly for plantation, and also due to forest fires.
“There will be a moratorium on oil palm and mining,” the head of state, popularly known as Jokowi, stated at the launch of a National Movement for Plants and Wild Animals protection in conjunction with the World Forest Day, in Karya Island of Thousand Islands, Jakarta, on April 14.
The president said entrepreneurs and small business holders will not be allowed to expand land for oil palm concessions.
[Indonesia] Mining moratorium contravenes govt’s own policies: Activists
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 21 April 2016
Environmental activists are skeptical about the government’s recent pledges to halt new mining permit issuances as its commitment might contradict with reality.
Mining Advocacy Network ( Jatam ) coordinator Hendrik Siregar said the planned moratorium contradicted the government’s ambitious plan to increase the nation’s electricity generating capacity until 2019.
“With the plan to produce 20 GW of electricity from coal, it will need at least 70 million tons of coal. This amount of coal will need lots of land and thus the moratorium will not be effective,” he said.
How a $4 million UN climate programme impoverished Nigerian communities
By Ini Ekott, Premium Times, 21 April 2016
Things were looking up for William Obio when he decided to invest more in his logging business. For the first time in years, his nine children and three brothers were eating well, and he could support his over half-a-dozen team of machine operators, saw men, scouts, and wood carriers.
Such success, rare in Owai, a heavily forested and impoverished community less than 20 kilometres from Nigeria’s southern border with Cameroon, emboldened Mr. Obio. He took a chance and purchased a small cassava crushing machine and got more saws.
“God answered our prayers; things really changed,” said the part-time pastor.
Everything indeed changed in 2008, Mr. Obio said, when the Cross River government imposed a sweeping ban on forest use in the state’s 18 local government areas, including Mr. Obio’s Akamkpa – where Owai is located.
22 April 2016
Leonardo DiCaprio and Fred Krupp: five ways to deliver on the Paris climate talks
By Leonardo DiCaprio and Fred Krupp, The Guardian, 22 April 2016
Last December, world leaders convened in Paris in an extraordinary effort to find a global solution for reducing destructive carbon emissions – the indisputable driver of climate change – and to prevent our planet from a destructive 2C increase in global temperatures. Today, leaders gather again – this time at the United Nations in New York – to sign the landmark agreement.
Two degrees may not sound like a major threat, or even a difficult goal. But limiting average temperature increase could be the difference in assuring our future. A future that includes breathable air, dependable weather patterns, drinkable water, secure food sources and the survival of the ecosystems on which our climate – and human life – depends.
We lose 50 soccer fields worth of forests a day, worldwide
By Jason Maclean, cantechletter.com, 22 April 2016
One of the premiere issues for discussion on this Earth Day 2016 concerns the world’s forests, which have witnessed massive deterioration and deforestation over the past two decades (at an estimated rate of 50 soccer fields of forest lost every minute, every day, over the last 20 years).
As 1.3 billion people around the world rely on forests for their livelihood, there is growing recognition of the role that forests play in supporting sustainable development and in helping humanity meet the challenges posed by climate change.
“Forests are critically important to the stability of our planet’s vital systems. They help regulate our water supplies, sustain agricultural production and protect infrastructure,” says Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director at the World Bank Group, the development bank charged with providing loans and assistance to developing and transitioning countries and their peoples.
REDD+ project struggles to find feet as Cambodian national park burns
By Rod Harbinson, mongabay.com, 22 April 2016
Botum Sakor National Park lies along the southwestern coast of Cambodia below the Cardamom Mountains in Koh Kong Province. From Highway 48 its green expanse of lowland tropical forest can be seen rolling away into the distance, eventually bounded by mangroves and beaches on the coast.
Long recognized as rich in biodiversity, in 1993 an area of 171,250 hectares was established as a national park through royal decree. The most thorough inventory of Botum Sakor’s wildlife yet conducted was a four-year study completed in 2009 by conservation NGO Frontier Cambodia. It recorded 49 mammal species, including endangered dholes (Cuon alpinus), Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), and pileated gibbons (Hylobates pileatus). It also documented 69 reptile, 147 butterfly and 196 bird species, confirming it as a global biodiversity hotspot.
US and EU conservation funds failing to protect trees or people, claims report
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 22 April 2016
Up to $500m (£346m) spent by the US, EU and other donors to protect the world’s second largest swath of rainforest has failed – for the trees, the animals and the people who live among them – a major study has found.
Analysis of five equatorial African countries in the Congo basin has found that destructive developments including illegal logging, oil and gas exploration, and palm oil plantations are taking place in 34 large protected areas, and that conservation has displaced villages and led to conflict and human rights abuses.
According to the Rainforest Foundation – whose researchers spent 18 months interviewing people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo – elephants, bongos, gorillas and chimpanzees are declining at alarming rates while communities report abuse by people paid to protect the environment.
CAFI, DRC agree on best practices to prevent tree loss
By Njenga Hakeenah, Kiambu County News, 22 April 2016
The Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) and the DR Congo Finance Minister have signed a letter of intent (LOI) for 200 million US dollars.
This is to address deforestation and forest degradation in the country and to promote sustainable development.
The LOI addresses factors contributing to the loss of forests in DRC, including agricultural expansion, the use of fuelwood, illegal logging, land-use planning, unsecure tenure, demographic pressure and oil and mining activities. The governance issues that often underpin these drivers are largely integrated.
The signing coincides with today’s world leaders’ signing ceremony in New York for the historic climate agreement reached in Paris in December. The LOI exemplifies the partnerships needed to reach the ambitious climate change mitigation goals set out by the Paris Agreement, and is a further step in recognition of the 2014 NY Declaration on Forests. Today also marks International Mother Earth Day on the global theme trees for the Earth.
Congo signs landmark $200 million deal to protect forests
Thomson Reuters Foundation, 22 April 2016
The Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday signed a landmark $200 million deal with donors to tackle deforestation and reduce carbon emissions as part of a wider plan to protect the tropical forests of the Congo Basin.
Congo, home to the world’s second-largest rainforest after the Amazon, is the first country to sign an agreement with the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), launched in September 2015 by six African nations and European donor countries.
The initiative, which also covers Central African Republic, Cameroon, Congo Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, aims to restart protection efforts in the Congo Basin, which has become a target for the expansion of palm oil plantations as available land in Indonesia dwindles.
Protecting forests is widely seen as one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reduce the emissions driving global warming. Loss and degradation of forests account for about 15 percent of emissions each year, conservation groups say.
Palm Oil Industry Fumes as Indonesia Gets Tough on Forest Fires
By Bernadette Christina Munthe and Fergus Jensen, Jakarta Globe, 22 April 2016
Palm oil firms have slammed Indonesia’s move to prohibit the use of new land to boost production, saying President Joko Widodo’s latest effort to tackle forest fires could slash jobs and cripple output in the world’s top producer of the commodity.
Palm oil is a major growth driver for Indonesia, but the industry is facing criticism for deforestation and its slash-and-burn forest-clearing techniques that send vast plumes of smoke across Southeast Asia every year, described by climate officials as a “crime against humanity”.
Joko has pledged to tackle these fires and last week said palm oil firms must raise yields of existing plantations instead of clearing forests to increase acreage and output. The land already given to growers could be more than twice as productive “provided they use the right seeds”, he said.
While green groups welcomed the moratorium, palm firms have questioned its effectiveness and cautioned it could hurt Indonesia’s top-producer position.
[Indonesia] Review moratorium on oil palm plantations
By Edi Suhardi (Vice President RSPO), The Jakarta Post, 22 April 2016
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo plans to issue a decree on the suspension of issuances of new oil palm plantation development in the country. His decision is a commitment to protect the country’s remaining tropical forests and demonstrate his determination for the country’s environmental stewardship.
The President believes that palm oil production can be doubled on existing land through improved agronomy and plantation management.
Although the decision is well justifiable, the President fails to understand that his decision falls short in looking at broader and more comprehensive aspects.
The rate of palm oil expansion in Indonesia has fallen sharply from more than half a million hectares per annum in the period of 2007-2013. Currently, there are more than 11 million hectares of oil palm plantations. Under current trends it shows that palm oil plantations will only reach a maximum of 12 million hectares by 2020.
[Nigeria] Cross River plans to ban use of wood for roofing – Governor Ayade
Daily Post, 22 April 2016
Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River has expressed his administration’s resolve to legislate against the use of wood for roofing to check deforestation and boost forest regeneration.
Ayade spoke when Ms Elsie Attafuah, the Senior Regional Technical Adviser, United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) programme, visited him at Government House, Calabar.
He said: “We are in a process of enacting a new law that will prohibit the use of woods for roofing and encourage the use of steel instead.
“So, very soon when the house passes the law, we will stop roofing with woods and when this happens, the demand for timber will drop drastically.
“As we speak, a company is already on ground to start production of these roofing materials to meet the needs in the industry and reduce the dependence on wood as deliberate plans to save and protect the forest.”
Is the COP21 Racist? U.S. Civil Society Speaks Out
teleSUR, 22 April 2016
In order to properly combat climate change, marginal voices must be heard and policies must reflect the demands of those communities.
States will sign the Paris Agreement in New York City Friday — which just so happens to be Earth Day — but not all New Yorkers are happy about it.
The voluntary, non-binding agreement sets the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius, but many scientists have criticized this as not being low enough. Civil society is not too impressed, either.
“We got what was politically possible at the time, but what we need to achieve climate justice is more than what we’ve got,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, deputy director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, to teleSUR.
[USA] The Senate says burning trees is carbon neutral. Oh really now?
By Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, 22 April 2016
Killing trees is bad for the environment, and so is burning stuff for energy. So why would combining the two be anything other a flaming middle finger pointed at our planet? Here’s the thinking: Unlike fossil fuels, trees are already part of Earth’s carbon cycle. So when you burn a tree, you’re only releasing the carbon that the tree had stored up, carbon that would have been released anyway when the tree died and decomposed. That’s why the new energy bill that just passed in the Senate—with bipartisan support, no less—includes an amendment saying that biomass should be classified as a carbon neutral energy source.
So does this mean that the Senate has actually made a positive environmental policy decision? No, you crazy optimist. The Senate is just buying into the carbon-accounting loophole that the European Union has been exploiting: Burning wood pellets doesn’t actually give you a carbon footprint of zero, it’s just a sneaky way to have your cake and eat it too.
23 April 2016
Paris Agreement signed. Now what?
By Stephen Leonard, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 23 April 2016
A record number of more than 170 nations attended the signing ceremony of the Paris Climate Agreement (PA) at the United Nations headquarters in New York on April 22.
The event was a significant one, because despite the fact that countries adopted the text of the Paris Agreement during the COP21 back in December 2015, the Agreement is not yet fully implemented. The PA was a necessary step forward because a country’s signature on the agreement initiates the critical domestic process, on which depends its final entry into force.
[New Zealand] Greenpeace: Government not addressing dodgy carbon credit dealings
By Michael Sergel, NewstalkZB, 23 April 2016
The Government is facing allegations of covering up dodgy dealings as it prepares to ratify the Paris climate accord.
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett is in New York and has signed the global agreement which was finalised in December.
The signing comes days after a Morgan Foundation report, accusing the Government of buying fraudulent foreign carbon credits from Russia and Ukraine to meet climate targets.
Greenpeace campaigner Simon Boxer said the Government has signed today’s agreement while failing to address the serious allegations that have been made.
“Their idea is let’s increase emissions and let’s try and buy some really bad credits to offset that.”
Boxer said the Government should close the Huntly power station and reduce oil exploration if it’s serious about reducing emissions.
24 April 2016
[New Zealand] Greens support move to cancel fraudulent carbon credits
Green Party press release, 24 April 2016
Climate Minister Paula Bennett acknowledged this morning on TVNZ’s Q&A that the National Government had knowingly allowed business to buy carbon credits in the Ukraine and Russia that did not result in actual cuts in emissions, the Green Party said today.
This acknowledgement comes in the wake of a report by the Morgan Foundation which showed these false cuts in pollution equated to a quarter of the emissions the Government claimed to have reduced between 2008 and 2012.
“Minister Bennett cannot just say we should all just move on,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.
“If the Minister cancels New Zealand’s fraudulent units, a move she says she is considering, she would have the Green Party’s full support. The Greens have been calling attention to these dodgy credits for several years and last week called upon the Minister to cancel them.”
PHOTO credit: Image created using wordle.net.