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REDD in the news: 25-31 July 2016

REDD in the newsREDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, visit REDD-Monitor’s “REDD in the news” page, or follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.


25 July 2016

On eve of Olympics, Amazon deforestation surges in Brazil
By Rhett A. Butler,, 25 July 2016
Preliminary data suggests deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon may be on the rise after years of remaining at historic lows.
According to data released last week by Imazon, a group that tracks forest trends in Brazil, deforestation across the Brazilian Amazon amounted to 972 square kilometers or 240,000 acres during the month of June, the highest level recorded in a single month since November 2007 when 1,067 square kilometers were cleared. Relative to June 2015, forest destruction nearly doubled. Forest degradation — which typically precedes outright deforestation — also rose sharply.
The Brazilian government has not confirmed the increase in forest loss. Brazil’s national satellite agency INPE, which provides official deforestation data, stopped monthly deforestation reporting last year. INPE now reports monthly data quarterly, making it more difficult to discern short-term trends in rainforest cover.

Disney buys up carbon credits in Mondulkiri
By Phak Seangly and Kali Kotoski, Phnom Penh Post, 25 July 2016
The Walt Disney Company has purchased $2.6 million in carbon credits in the forests of Mondulkuri province – marking the largest carbon credit sale to date in Cambodia and breathing life into a carbon-trading program many had written off as all but dead.
In collaboration with the Cambodian government and brokered by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the US-based media giant will purchase 360,000 tonnes worth of carbon emissions in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in a bid to offset its global carbon footprint.
The funds from the sale will be earmarked to help the government protect the sanctuary from illegal logging and the encroachment of “large-scale plantation crops such as rubber”, a press release from WCS stated.

China’s coal peak hailed as turning point in climate change battle
By Damien Carrington, The Guardian, 25 July 2016
The global battle against climate change has passed a historic turning point with China’s huge coal burning finally having peaked, according to senior economists.
They say the moment may well be a significant milestone in the course of the Anthropocene, the current era in which human activity dominates the world’s environment.
China is the world’s biggest polluter and more than tripled its coal burning from 2000 to 2013, emitting billions of tonnes of climate-warming carbon dioxide. But its coal consumption peaked in 2014, much earlier than expected, and then began falling.
The economists argue in a new paper on Monday that this can now be seen as permanent trend, not a blip, due to major shifts in the Chinese economy and a crackdown on pollution.

[India] International community resents the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill
By Shruti Agarwal, Down to Earth, 25 July 2016
The Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill of 2015, which aims to unlock Rs 42,000 crore for forest management, has attracted the resentment of international organisations. The Bill has already been termed as a recipe for disaster by civil society organisations in India who have expressed concern over the implications of the Bill on the rights of forest dwelling communities in India.
In an appeal sent to the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, several international organisations, such as New Wind Association, Friends of Siberian Forests, Mangrove Action Project, have stated that the CAF Bill is in violation of the diverse international commitments made by India on climate change and forest biodiversity.

[USA] California fires rage, with dead man found
By Steph Solis, USA Today, 25 July 2016
Two wildfires continued to rage across California on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of homes and leaving at least one scorched body in the aftermath.
Firefighters have battled since Friday the so-called Sand Fire that burned 34 square miles near the city of Santa Clarita, which is north of Los Angeles, and the Angeles National Forest. Another 16 square miles burned in the Big Sur region about 300 miles to the north. Eighteen homes have been destroyed, authorities said.

[USA] EPA promises aircraft emissions standard ‘at least’ as strong as ICAO
By Aaron Karp, Air Transport World, 25 July 2016
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its determination that aircraft greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions “contribute to the pollution that causes climate change and endangers Americans’ health and the environment.”
EPA said it anticipates developing regulations for an aircraft emissions standard “at least as stringent as” the standard being developed by ICAO.

26 July 2016

The Promise and Perils of Linking Carbon Markets
By Meredith Fowlie, The Energy Collective, 26 July 2016
The theme of the week is “We’re stronger together“. This rallying cry applies in lots of places.. including climate change mitigation! So this week’s blog looks at how this theme is playing out in carbon markets. A good place to start is California’s recent proposal to extend its GHG cap and trade program beyond 2020. One of the many notable developments covered by this proposal is a new linkage between California’s carbon market and the rest of the world.

Africa: Environment Experts to Take Global Forest Restoration Pledges to 100m Hectares
By Michel Nkurunziza, Rwanda Focus, 26 July 2016
Environment leaders and experts are meeting in Kigali to boost pledges expected to take global Forest landscape restoration commitments to 100 million hectares.
This one of the ways to improve the quality and resilience of ecosystems, livelihoods, secure the country’s water, energy supply and support low carbon economic development.
The commitments make part of Bonn challenge global aspiration to restore 150 million hectares by 2020 that was extended to 350 million by 2030 during the New York Declaration in 2014.

Belgium’s FSMA Warns of Four Unauthorized Firms
By Aziz Abdel-Qader, Finance Magnates, 26 July 2016
Belgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has issued a warning against the unauthorized activities of multiple ‘boiler rooms’, a ‘recovery room’ and a ‘cloned firm’ that are unlawfully targeting Belgian investors, as per an official statement.
FSMA operates as a watchdog for financial trading, securities and markets in Belgium, overseeing a variety of assets and compliance issues for traders and consumers.
The latest additions include: ADEF, Daikyo Brokerage Limited, Jordan Group Financial, Nomura Bank.

[Cambodia] Disney Carbon Deal Follows Past Emissions Credit Failure
By Ben Paviour, Cambodia Daily, 26 July 2016
A $2.6 million deal by Walt Disney Company to preserve nearly 300,000 hectares of eastern Cambodian forest through the purchase of carbon credits will need to overcome past failures to succeed, critics said on Monday.
The carbon trade aims to counter 365,000 tons of emissions by the entertainment giant by preserving the 292,690-hectare Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary through 2019, according to a news release from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which facilitated the swap.

India witnessed 55% rise in forest fires in 2016: Anil Madhav Dave
By Mayank Aggarwal, Live Mint, 26 July 2016
India witnessed a near 55% increase in forest fires in 2016, compared to the previous year, with over 24,000 such fires reported from across the country.
Union environment minister Anil Madhav Dave, while replying to a query in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, revealed that a total of 24,817 forest fires were reported across India till June compared to 15,937 forest fires in all of 2015.
The number of forest fires in 2014 and 2013 were 19,054 and 18,451, respectively.

US investors ploughing billions into palm oil, claims report
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 26 July 2016
Some of the US’ leading institutional investors, including pension funds, are potentially fuelling environmental and social harm by ploughing billions of dollars into the palm oil industry through opaque financial arrangements, a new report claims.
Large investment firms are lagging behind commitments made by consumer brands such as Nestlé, Unilever and McDonald’s by failing to identify whether they are investing in palm oil, which palm oil companies they are involved with, or to hold them accountable over deforestation and land grabbing, the Friends of the Earth US (FoE) report states.
Burgeoning demand for the cheap vegetable oil, increasingly from China and India, is putting pressure on rainforests that are cleared to make way for the crop. According to the FoE report, BlackRock, the Vanguard Group, JPMorgan and Fidelity Investments have almost $13bn in holdings in palm oil between them.

27 July 2016

Land used for palm oil could double without damaging forests: researchers
By Chris Arsenault, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 27 July 2016
The area covered by palm oil plantations worldwide could double without damaging protected areas or sensitive forests, Austrian researchers said on Tuesday.
Researchers from the Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) studied satellite maps from Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America to determine where the crop used to make vegetable oils and other consumer products could be expanded sustainably.
The findings follow criticism from campaign groups who say the expansion of palm oil plantations has destroyed rainforests and displaced local people from their ancestral lands.

[Philippines] World’s largest carbon producers face landmark human rights case
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 27 July 2016
The world’s largest oil, coal, cement and mining companies have been given 45 days to respond to a complaint that their greenhouse gas emissions have violated the human rights of millions of people living in the Phillippines.
In a potential landmark legal case, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), a constitutional body with the power to investigate human rights violations, has sent 47 “carbon majors” including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people’s fundamental rights to “life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination”.

[UK] Director banned over £666k African stove investment
By Katie Marriner, Money Marketing, 27 July 2016
A company director that convinced investors to contribute funds to an African stove investment scheme has been disqualified for 14 years.
According to the Insolvency Service, Mark Ayres acted as a director of Global Eco Projects in breach of an earlier director disqualification.
Under his watch the company breached financial regulations by taking investor money and then failing to protect it.
Two other directors, John Childs and Mark Cooney, were disqualified for seven years each. The disqualifications stop the men from promoting, forming or managing a company.

[UK] Maximum disqualification for director involved in selling carbon credits
The Insolvency Service, 27 July 2016
Anthony Allen, aged 31, the director of Global Neutral Ltd (Global Neutral), has received the maximum disqualification preventing him acting as a director for 15 years. An Insolvency Service investigation found that under Mr Allen’s sole control, Global Neutral used misleading sales practices to take more than £1.1 million from members of the public between April and September 2012 to buy Voluntary Emission Reduction carbon credit units (VERs) as investments. There is no genuine market for VERs that is accessible to the public to resell their units. In the unlikely event they could have been sold, the units had been marked up so much over cost price by Global Neutral that customers would not be able to make a profit.

US partners with the Philippines on wildland fire preparedness
Philippine Information Agency, 27 July 2016
On 18-22 July 2016, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its partnership with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), trained 50 officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Bureau of Fire Protection in forest fire management.
The Basic Fire Training on forest fire prevention and management focused on wildland fire preparedness, including planning for forest fire management, responding to forest fires, and recovering of damaged areas. Training graduates will serve as lead focal persons in the event of forest fires and will help conduct future fire training around the Philippines.

28 July 2016

Forests won’t save us from climate change, says study with Arizona ties
By Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star, 28 July 2016
Don’t count on North American forests to bail the planet out of climate change, says a new study whose authors include four University of Arizona researchers.
For years, scientists and government agencies have said forests are carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning.
The Environmental Protection Agency says U.S. forests removed 11.5 percent of all C02 emissions in 2014. The Forest Service pegs the removal rate at 10 percent to 20 percent in a given year. Globally, a 2011 study published in Science magazine estimated that forests and other land-based ecosystems remove 25 percent to 30 percent of all greenhouse gases.
But the new study concludes that warmer weather nationwide and drier weather in regions such as the Southwest will reduce North American forests’ growth rate through the 21st century. Climate change probably will slowly reduce the rate at which forests absorb carbon, so forests may become sources of carbon, not sinks, the study finds.

Zombie Carbon Emissions Haunt the Planet
By Amrith Ramkumar, Bloomberg, 28 July 2016
Deforestation in the Amazon region dropped by 30 percent from 2005 to 2010, sparing trees that soak up carbon dioxide. A big win in the fight against climate change, right?
Maybe not big enough to save the planet, or the species on it.
After trees are cut down, they gradually decay, releasing carbon, degrading the habitat, and threatening species long after the cutting stops. These lagging emissions have an important impact on the battle against global warming, a study released today in the journal Current Biology finds. Even with the 30 percent reduction in Amazon deforestation, there was only a 10 percent decrease in carbon emissions, the researchers found.

How The Paris Climate Agreement Can Drive Colombia’s Fledgling Peace – And Keep Liberia’s Peace Alive
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 28 July 2016
For as long as Pablo Vieira Samper can remember, his native Colombia has been in a state of civil war – sometimes raging and sometimes simmering, but never completely abating. That may have changed last month, when the guerilla leadership of FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the government of President Juan Manuel Santos outlined a roadmap to peace that Samper says will extend the current cease-fire into a true, lasting peace.
Why so optimistic? Largely, he says, because the new roadmap recognizes an aspect of the terrain that many peace agreements ignore: namely, the role of land disputes in driving conflict. It’s something Samper, as the country’s Vice Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, has studied his entire adult life, and he can speak of it with both passion and academic precision.

Harvesting the Seeds of Sustainability in the Brazilian Amazon
By Alex Jensen, World.Mic, 28 July 2016
Take a deep breath.
Chances are, some of the oxygen molecules you just inhaled came from the Amazon rainforest. Actually, you can find traces of the Amazon everywhere in North America, Europe and elsewhere, from cloud cover and morning dew to rainfall and air temperature.
Amazing as that may be to contemplate, it shouldn’t be news to anyone. We’ve known for decades how critical the rainforest is to sustaining life on Earth. And yet, although the rate of deforestation in the Amazon has generally declined since it last peaked in 2004, it jumped up by 16% in 2015 and claimed some 5,831 square kilometers (roughly half the area of Los Angeles). The short-term financial rewards promised by deforestation, it seems, continue to challenge abstract notions of biodiversity and long-term sustainability.

EU Commission Proposes Emissions Cuts for Member States
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, 28 July 2016
The European Commission proposed country-specific emissions targets last week, clarifying the roles individual members could play in helping the bloc reach a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.
The proposal, known as the Effort Sharing Regulation, targets the sectors not included in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), namely transport, buildings, agriculture, and waste. Emissions from these sectors account for about 55 percent of the EU’s greenhouse gas output.

Indonesia to re-investigate 15 firms suspected of causing Riau forest fires
By Saifulbahri Ismail, Channel News Asia, 28 July 2016
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has instructed authorities to re-evaluate cases involving 15 companies who were let off after being identified as suspect for causing forest fires in Riau province last year.
Head of Presidential Staff Teten Masduki told reporters on Thursday (Jul 28) that he has informed the president about the cases, and that Mr Widodo has asked national police chief Tito Karnavian, and Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar to follow up on them.

[USA] Firefighters battle California wildfires, bulldozer operator dies
By Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters, 28 July 2016
Crews hoping to contain a deadly wildfire burning in rugged, drought-stricken terrain north of Los Angeles made steady progress on Wednesday, after a bulldozer operator fighting a smaller blaze in central California died when the tractor overturned.
Some 3,000 firefighters battling the so-called Sand Fire in the Angeles National Forest extended containment lines around 40 percent of the 38,350-acre (15,520 hectare) on Wednesday, according to fire information officer Sam Wu.

29 July 2016

[Canada] B.C. continues to punish schools, hospitals with carbon fines
By Nelson Bennett, Business Vancouver, 29 July 2016
The B.C. government says it has achieved carbon neutrality in the public sector for the sixth consecutive year.
But that neutrality continues to be accomplished by punishing schools, hospitals and other public institutions that are financially constrained from investing in energy efficiencies by fining them.
Every year, as part of its carbon neutral government policy, the B.C. government forces Crown corporations, school and hospital districts and municipal government that fail to become carbon neutral to pay carbon offsets. It’s a form of cap and trade that applies only to the public sector.
In 2015, it collected $15.6 million in carbon fines from the public sector. It then uses some of the money it collects to buy carbon credits in the private sector to help businesses reduce their own carbon footprint by investing in energy efficiency, fuel switching and other projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

30 July 2016

31 July 2016

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