27 June 2016
Beyond Development: The Commons as a New/Old Paradigm of Human Flourishing
By David Bollier, resilience.org, 27 June 2016
History has shown that development discourse is a shape-shifting trickster, constantly adapting its linguistic face to accommodate shifting political winds. We’ve seen the rise and disappearance of participatory development… integrated development… endogenous development… redevelopment… and now, sustainable development. (I’m sure I’ve missed some!) How much longer can this go on? As our climate and social crises intensify, we cannot merely look for another re-branding strategy for “development” to disguise hyper-marketization strategies such as REDD [Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation], patents for genes and lifeforms, and financial instruments to securitize flows of nature.
“Paris Climate Agreement requires huge economic turnaround in Europe”
Energy Post, 27 June 2016
he targets agreed to at the Paris climate summit in late 2015 imply a radical change to our economies, a new report by consultancy CE Delft shows. CO2-prices will need to rise to €250/ton in 2050 (compared to some €6 per ton now) and most of the existing industrial installations and infrastructure will need to be replaced. CE Delft compares the scale and impact of the transformation to the one that occurred in Eastern Europe post-1989.
The envisaged 80-95% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 implies that “investments must accelerate by a factor 5 compared to present efforts for every year up to 2050”, notes the new study by CE Delft, ‘Investment challenges of a transition to a low-carbon economy in Europe – What sets the pace?’, which was commissioned by the European Climate Foundation. This means “annual investments of up to 2% of EU-GDP” are needed..
[India] Maharashtra: Government to give ‘tree credits’ as an incentive for planting trees
By Dhaval Kulkarni, DNA India, 27 June 2016
The state government may soon make money grow on trees. For, it is planning to establish a system on lines of carbon credits, where “tree credits” can be given as an incentive to those planting trees.
The credits will be purchased by polluting industries, making Maharashtra the first in India to implement this system. In the concept, which is being worked out, the state is eventually planning to establish a corporation where these credits, which will be geo-tagged with the tree’s latitude and longitude, can be traded and sold like on the stock market or commodity exchange.
[UK] What Brexit Means for Climate
By Emilie Mazzacurati, Huffington Post, 27 July 2016
In the short run, Brexit means, at the very least, delays and complications in the process towards the ratification of the Paris Accord.
The financial volatility caused by the referendum’s outcome could distract the worlds’ financial regulators and have a negative impact on current efforts to better regulate climate-related financial disclosures.
Looking ahead, the incoming Eurosceptic government in the UK is unlikely to make climate change its priority, depriving global climate negotiations from a leader and political engine towards more ambitious greenhouse gas cuts.
In a worst case scenario, a full-blown global economic crisis would set back investments in clean energy, cut budget for both mitigation and adaptation efforts, and fuel further discontent from the middle-class and the unemployed.
Over the long run, a possible “contagion” effect enabling populist victories in upcoming elections in the U.S., Spain, France or Germany over the next 12 months could further hamper the enactment of effective global climate policy.
28 June 2016
On land and in space, understanding the impacts of fires
By Deanna Ramsay, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 28 June 2016
As flames swelled over a swath of peatland outside Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia in October 2015, a group of scientists was downwind, measuring what was being released into the air.
And while that group worked amid smoldering land, satellites orbiting the Earth were recording detailed information at a distance – of the power of the fires and the carbon in the atmosphere.
The combination of those unique measurements and subsequent calculations has resulted in a pioneering study recently published in Scientific Reports – the first to determine the greenhouse gas emissions from the fires of 2015 in maritime Southeast Asia. The study’s authors determined that the carbon emissions released by the fires in September and October 2015 of 11.3 million tons per day were higher than those of the entire European Union, which daily released 8.9 million tons over the same period.
The fires are huge, hidden and harmful? What can we do?
By XiaoZhi Lim, Ensia, 28 June 2016
As forest fires devastated Fort McMurray, Alberta, last month, a different sort of fire may have started beneath the ground. Peat, a carbon-rich soil created from partially decomposed, waterlogged vegetation accumulated over several millennia and the stuff that fueled Indonesia’s megafires last fall, also appears in the boreal forests that span Canada, Alaska and Siberia. With the intense heat from the Fort McMurray fires, “there’s a good chance the soil in the area could have been ignited,” says Adam Watts, a fire ecologist at Desert Research Institute in Nevada.
Govt blamed for deaths in former coal mining sites
The Jakarta Post, 28 June 2016
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has decried the government’s “protracted inaction” in dealing with 25 deaths at depleted coal mine pits in East Kalimantan that took place between 2011 and 2016.
Komnas HAM commissioner Roichatul Aswidah said Monday the government had neglected its foremost obligation to monitor mining activities in three regions in the province, including Kutai Kartanegara, North Penajam Paser and Samarinda.
Roichatul said both the central government and local administrations had turned a blind eye to those cases involving negligence by companies in restoring unused sites after 30 days without any mining activities, as stipulated in a 2010 governmental decree on reclamation and post-mining activity.
Will Brexit really mean a UK climate policy bonfire?
By Ed King, Climate Home, 28 June 2016
Five days into a post-Brexit world and there are plenty of questions, few answers.
Three stand out amid the vitriolic op-eds in some newspapers and twitterstorms sweeping social media.
-Who’s in charge?
-What’s their philosophy?
-How will they collaborate with Europe?
Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), an influential Paris-based think tank, spoke for many investors at the launch of a new report in London on Monday.
“Whoever becomes prime minister will have to indicate what their plans are… otherwise companies won’t feel like making an investment in energy,” he said.
UN climate chief urges Britain to remain a global warming leader
By Adam Vaughan and Anna Menin, The Guardian, 28 June 2016
Britain must continue to be a world leader when it comes to acting on global warming despite the EU referendum result last week, the UN’s climate chief has urged.
Christiana Figueres warned that should article 50 be triggered it would bring uncertainty for two years but cooperation on climate change could be one area of continuity between the UK and EU.
“Should that be the case [article 50 being triggered], there is going be quite a lot of uncertainty, transition, volatility for at least two years,” she told an audience of business leaders in London on Tuesday.
29 June 2016
The Window for Avoiding a Dangerous Climate Change Has Closed
By Maddie Stone, Gizmodo, 29 June 2016
Barring some incredible new carbon capture technology, the window for limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius appears to have closed. That’s the stark conclusion of a report out in Nature today, which finds that the carbon reductions pledges penned into the Paris Agreement are ridiculously inadequate for keeping our climate within a safe and stable boundary.
World Bank’s new Forest Action Plan questioned
Bretton Woods Project, 29 June 2009
After several years’ delay and with few opportunities for public input, the World Bank released its new Forest Action Plan (FAP) in April (see Observer Winter 2016, Autumn 2015). The five-year plan builds on the Bank’s 2002 forest strategy, and was proposed by the Bank following a highly critical 2013 evaluation by the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (see Observer Winter 2014, Update 84). The FAP identifies two focus areas for the Bank: sustainable forest management and forest-smart interventions in other areas. These are supported by three themes to strengthen forest-related outcomes: climate change and resilience; rights and participation; and institutions and governance.
In an April blog, Frances Seymour of US-based think tank Center for Global Development welcomed the plan, but called on the Bank to dedicate adequate funding to it: “Allocating regular budgets toward implementation of the FAP will signal that forests are central to the Bank’s core agenda rather than an optional add-on.” Ane Schjolden, from NGO Rainforest Foundation Norway, questioned the plan’s impact: “It’s hard to see how the Forest Action Plan will actually change how the World Bank relates to both forests and deforestation. Moreover, it is lagging behind commitments countries and business have made to halt deforestation, for example in the Sustainable Development Goals.”
El Niño Could Drive Intense Season for Amazon Fires
NASA press release, 29 June 2016
The long-lasting effects of El Niño are projected to cause an intense fire season in the Amazon, according to the 2016 seasonal fire forecast from scientists at NASA and the University of California, Irvine.
El Niño conditions in 2015 and early 2016 altered rainfall patterns around the world. In the Amazon, El Niño reduced rainfall during the wet season, leaving the region drier at the start of the 2016 dry season than any year since 2002, according to NASA satellite data.
Wildfire risk for the dry season months of July, August and September this year now exceeds fire risk in 2005 and 2010, drought years when wildfires burned large areas of Amazon rainforest, said Doug Morton, an Earth scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who helped create the fire forecast.
Dry Amazon could see record fire season
By Jeff Tollefson, Nature, 29 June 2016
The Amazon is ready to burn. After an unusually dry rainy season, the southern section of the rainforest is heading into winter with the largest moisture deficit since 1998. This has set the stage for an unusually intense fire season, according to a forecast issued on 29 June that is based on sea-surface temperature trends in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
“The region is primed to have record fire activity,” says forecast co-author Douglas Morton, a remote-sensing expert at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. More broadly, a team led by Morton and James Randerson, a biologist at the University of California, Irvine, says that it can predict fire risk across much of the globe — based in part on the influence of the weather pattern El Niño and its counterpart, La Niña.
Amazon fires: Humans make rainforest more flammable
By Victoria Gill, BBC, 29 June 2016
Human disturbances are making the Amazon rainforest more flammable, according to researchers.
This is one of the conclusions of a two-year study of the Brazilian Amazon, which revealed that even protected forest is degraded by human activity.
This activity includes selective logging and forest fragmentation, which increase the likelihood of wildfires.
The findings are published in the journal Nature.
EU commits 10 million euros to ramp up emissions trading
Ecns.com, 29 June 2016
The European Commission is to step up its collaboration with China on emissions trading, with a new 10 million EUR (more than 70 million yuan) cooperation project, according to the Delegation of the European Union to China announced on Wednesday.
EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete made the announcement during a visit to China, where he is meeting Chinese officials as well as EU industries and businesses.
The three-year project, which starts in 2017, will enhance EU-China cooperation on emissions trading and coincide with the launch of a nationwide carbon market in China. It will build on the existing cooperation project, which started in 2014 and has supported the roll-out of seven pilot schemes across the country.
Indonesia faces environmental time bomb after coal bust
By Fergus Jensen, Reuters, 29 June 2016
Thousands of mines are closing in Indonesia’s tropical coal belt as prices languish and seams run dry. But almost none of the companies have paid their share of billions of dollars owed to repair the badly scarred landscape they have left behind.
Abandoned mine pits dot the bare, treeless hillsides in Samarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan province on Indonesia’s part of Borneo island. It is ground zero for a coal boom that made Indonesia the world’s biggest exporter of the mineral that fuels power plants. Abandoned mining pits have now become death traps for children who swim in them, and their acidic water is killing nearby rice paddies.
Indonesia has tried, mostly in vain, to get mining companies to keep their promises to clean up the ravaged landscape. But it doesn’t even have basic data on who holds the many thousands of mining licenses that were handed out during the boom days, officials say.
Indonesia forest fires in 2015 released most carbon since 1997: Scientists
Thomson Reuters Foundation, 29 June 2016
Forest fires that blanketed South-east Asia in thick haze last year released the greatest amount of climate-changing carbon since record blazes in 1997, producing emissions higher than in the whole of the European Union, scientists said.
Singapore, Malaysia and northern Indonesia choked under a layer of toxic smog in September and October last year, caused by thousands of fires started in Indonesia to cheaply clear land for palm oil crops and for pulp and paper plantations.
The fires and resulting haze, an annual occurrence, pushed up pollution levels, caused schools to close, flights to be disrupted and people to fall sick across the region.
30 June 2016
Scientists warn of ‘global climate emergency’ over shifting jet stream
By Gabriel Samuels, The Independent, 30 June 2016
Two environmentalists have declared a “global climate emergency” after the Northern hemisphere jet stream was found to have crossed the equator, bringing “unprecedented” changes to the world’s weather patterns.
Robert Scribbler and University of Ottawa researcher Paul Beckwith warned of the “weather-destabilising and extreme weather-generating” consequences of the jet stream shift.
However other scientists dismissed their claims, with one describing their concern over wind crossing the equator as “total nonsense”.
Scribbler and Beckwith said the anomalies were most likely precipitated by man-made climate change, which caused the jet stream to slow down and create larger waves.
Airports consider the cause and effect equation
By Inês Rebelo, Airport Business, 30 June 2016
As the negotiations for a global market-based measure for airline emissions intensify, with all to play for at ICAO in September, we take stock of where airports are in relation to climate change. Seven years on from the launch of the Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, initially in Europe, we look at how far things have come and consider what is in store for the future.
El Niño And Climate Change Are Making The Amazon Dry And Flammable
By Alejandro Davila Fragoso, Climate Progress, 30 June 2016
The Amazon could be facing fire risks in the coming dry months greater than those experienced in the last 14 years due to the long lasting effects of El Niño, according to the Amazon fire forecast unveiled by NASA and the University of California, Irvine, Wednesday.
Drought in the world’s largest rainforest seems like a contradiction in terms, but what were once considered once-in-a-century events are increasing as global warming takes hold. Just in the past decade, the Amazon suffered from two record drought years in 2005 and 2010, as well as massive fires thought to have been mostly caused by humans.
Can Oil Palm Plantations and Orangutans Coexist?
By Melati Kaye, Scientific American, 30 June 2016
I have been hiking through an oil palm plantation in Borneo for hours but have yet to see a single oil palm. Instead, mahogany and other native tree species tower overhead. Mushrooms, flowers and huge pitcher plants line my trail, uniquely adapted to the island’s peat swamp forests. This lush portion of the plantation should be ideal habitat for orangutans. I have not spotted any, but according to Hendriyanto, my guide from the plantation’s conservation team, an estimated 14 of the red apes do indeed live here.
Rwanda: Bank of Kigali to Plant One Million Trees in Climate Change Mitigation Effort
The New Times, 30 June 2016
Bank of Kigali says it will invest part of its annual operations budget in supporting efforts by a local non-profit environmental conservation organisation to plant one million trees in Nyagatare District as part of activities to mark 50 years, this December, since it was incorporated in 1966.
“Our Board, Management and staff understand that climate change is real and as a socially responsible organisation, we are taking a position at the frontline in the battle to conserve the environment,” Dr Diane Karusisi Bank of Kigali’s Chief Executive Officer told the media at the Bank’s headquarters in Kigali, yesterday.
UK sets ambitious new 2030s carbon target
By Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, 30 June 2016
allaying fears that the climate goal would be a casualty of the EU referendum.
Amber Rudd accepted the advice of the government’s statutory climate advisers, setting a target on Thursday of reducing carbon emissions 57% by 2030 on 1990 levels.
The legally binding “fifth carbon budget” laid in parliament today is tougher than the carbon emissions target the UK is signed up to as part of the European Union, which requires a 40% cut by 2030 on 1990 levels.
UK lacks policies to meet more than half its carbon emissions cuts – report
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 30 June 2016
The UK has no policies in place to meet more than half of the carbon emission cuts required by law by 2030, the government’s official advisers warned on Thursday, the same day ministers committed to the target.
The advisers also warned that the UK’s Brexit vote had thrown some EU-linked climate policies into doubt.
The Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) annual progress report said emissions from electricity generation were falling fast, but that pollution from transport was rising and that action on cutting carbon emissions from homes had gone backwards.
1 July 2016
This Decade’s Most Important Climate Solution
By Justin Adams, The Nature Conservancy, 1 July 2016
“A geo-engineering solution, but without any of the risk.” That’s how Jeff Seabright, Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer, described nature’s role in carbon mitigation at the Business & Climate Summit 2016 in London.
We all know meeting the world’s new commitment to limit global warming below 2 degrees C is going to be an uphill climb. And we all know we won’t get there without shifting global energy use to near zero emissions levels by mid-century. But, what many still don’t understand is that even with the needed energy shift, we still won’t get there without also maximizing nature’s carbon storage capability. Indeed, as we sit here today, nature is the sleeping giant in solving climate change.
Africa Needs Over $3 Trillion to Mitigate Climate Change
By Emmanuel Ntirenganya, The New Times, 1 July 2016
African countries need at least $2.7 trillion for mitigation measures and another $488 billion for adaptation to climatic change to be met in 2030, according to the estimates from Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for adaptation to climate change.
Speaking during the Africa Carbon Forum in Kigali, yesterday, Yasser El-Gammal, the World Bank country manager, said the amount is based on countries that have already declared their INDCs, adding that there are few others yet to submit.
According to the World Bank, under current estimates, Africa requires $5 to $10 billion per year to adapt to global warming.
Palm oil companies ditch landmark Indonesian ‘zero deforestation’ pact
By Arlina Arshad and David Fogarty, The Straits Times, 1 July 2016
Major palm oil companies that backed a landmark Indonesian “zero deforestation” pact on green practices have now ditched it in favour of less strict standards, triggering criticism the companies have caved into Indonesian government pressure.
The companies signed the 2014 Indonesia Palm Oil Pledge, or Ipop, in an agreement hailed as boosting efforts to fight rampant deforestation and annual forest fires and the haze. As part of the pledge, the firms, which include top palm oil producers and traders, pledged no development of peatlands of any depth. Peatland fires are a major source of the haze.
But on Friday (July 1), the companies said Ipop had run its course and was no longer needed. They supported the Indonesian government’s efforts to “transform the palm oil sector” and to strengthen the country’s own certification standards called the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil, or Ispo.
What do locals think of large-scale tree plantations?
By Romain Pirard, CIFOR Forest News Blog, 1 July 2016
Large-scale tree plantations are expanding worldwide, and so are the controversies they trigger.
Tree plantations in the tropics are frequently denounced for their devastating social and environmental impacts, while at the same time praised for their capacity to boost local development and provide environmental services such as carbon sequestration — an important advantage in an era hungry to find ways to mitigate climate change.
A new study by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) aims to cut through the controversies and report on the impacts on local populations of large-scale tree plantations, as locally perceived. Venturing into this controversial realm, special attention was paid to gathering data from sites that do not lean too much on either the positive or negative side, for instance avoiding areas with model villages or reported conflicts.
Norway bids to capture business by capturing carbon
By Anca Gurzu, Politico, 1 July 2016
A Norwegian prime minister once compared the difficulty of capturing carbon and storing it underground to a “moon landing.” But just as the lunar program transformed the U.S. economy, this technology could do the same for Norway.
Carbon capture and storage projects face long odds, struggling to show the technology can both work and be affordable. But the potential benefits of success could be huge, allowing the world to burn oil, coal and gas without unleashing runaway climate change. Greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels would then be pumped back underground, preventing them from warming the planet.
[Pakistan] ‘Country can earn up to $2 billion per annum by selling carbon credits’
By Aamir Saeed, Business Recorder, 1 July 2016
Pakistan can earn from $400 million to $2 billion annually by selling carbon credits in the international market and the federal government is committed to completing a viable plan under Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) by 2018.
Talking to Business Recorder, Inspector General of Forests Syed Mahmood Nasir said that Ministry of Climate Change and his department have been working on setting up a comprehensive system to trade carbon credits in the international market. He said that a National Monitoring System and Grievances Redressal Mechanism for forests and relevant communities are being set up with the help of civil society and all four provincial forest departments. “The role of forest communities is very important in protecting the forests; therefore we have arranged over 250 training workshops for them in different areas,” he said, adding the technical training will help the forest communities become an effective part of the REDD+.
2 July 2016
3 July 2016
We have saved the planet once, now let’s do it again
Financial Times, 3 July 2016
Campaigners for global action on climate change can point to one previous treaty that was drawn up to save the planet from serious environmental damage. The 1987 Montreal Protocol committed the world to a rapid phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons. Overwhelming scientific evidence showed that CFCs — industrial chemicals used in refrigeration, aerosols and a wide range of consumer products — were destroying the “ozone layer”, a natural screen in the upper atmosphere that protects life on Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Singapore to pursue firms over forest fires, despite Indonesian ire
AFP, 3 July 2016
Singapore is refusing to back down in its pursuit of those responsible for haze-belching forest fires in Southeast Asia last year, despite struggling to bring the perpetrators before the courts and drawing a sharp rebuke from neighbouring Indonesia.
Forest fires are part of an annual dry-season problem in Indonesia, started illegally to quickly and cheaply clear land for cultivation — particularly for palm oil and pulpwood.
But last year’s haze outbreak was among the worst in memory, shrouding Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of Thailand in acrid smoke and forcing school closures as pollution reached hazardous levels and thousands fell sick across the region.