REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
Dossier: New Economy of Nature
Heinrich Böll Stiftung, November 2016
The economic valuation of nature is reaching a new dimension: elemental functions – such as carbon storage in forests – become ‘ecosystem services‘ and nature itself – the forest – is viewed as ‘natural capital‘. Proponents of new markets and payments for ecosystem services did not lose time to set up web portals bundling their information. A collection of critical perspectives and analyses, however, was missing so far. That’s what we want to change.
Our web dossier illustrates what the concept of the “New Economy of Nature” stands for, explains nature’s role in the Green Economy and why this approach has been of increased interest to economy and politics recently. We name key actors and institutions that are shaping the discourse and highlight contradictions as well as disputable assumptions.
31 October 2016
Climate change enters dangerous new territory
By Dick Ahlstrom, The Irish Times, 31 October 2016
It was the target that should not have been reached, the target that must not be reached, yet it has been reached.
The relentless advance of climate change has entered dangerous new territory with news that the Earth’s atmosphere now carries more than 400 parts per million of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
Some will say the sky did not fall in, that a cataclysm has not struck as we reach this exceptional level, but it is, nevertheless, a significant milestone. Driven largely by human’s voracious consumption of the Earth’s resources, quite a lot of change has already happened. And changes to normal patterns continue to happen as average temperatures rise in tune with the levels of carbon dioxide, a gas humans helped to put there.
Interview: BP Marine says 2017 bunker fuel demand may grow 25% if economy recovers
Hellenic Shipping News, 31 October 2016
Global demand for marine fuels could grow by as much as 25% to touch 300 million mt next year, if economic growth improves, helping to revive key shipping segments, such as box ships, tankers and dry bulk carriers, Carlos G Torres, Global Head of BP Marine Fuels told S&P Global Platts this week.
“The assumption here is that with a healthier economy the need to move cargoes fast will require vessels to speed up and bunker consumption will increase as a result,” Torres said.
Global demand for marine fuels has been trending down in recent years because of weak macroeconomics that created a financially challenging environment. This had made it increasingly difficult for shipping companies to manage their operating costs.
Turning cropland into forest
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forest News, 31 October 2016
First the land was baked dry, then the torrential rains came – sweeping away homes, crops, forests and human lives.
In 1997, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate event (among other factors) brought a 267-day drought to China’s Yellow River Basin, and the following year floods poured across vast swathes of the country as the Yangtze, Songhua and Pearl rivers broke their banks. As many as 3,600 people were killed, and 13.2 million were left homeless.
The impacts didn’t stop there – the floodwaters swept a new way of thinking into Chinese policy, the effects of which are still being felt today.
Cleaner, healthier cookstoves may – at long last – be catching on
By Marc Gunther, ensia.com, 31 October 2016
For about 3 billion of the world’s poorest people, the simple act of cooking dinner is fraught with risk. They burn wood, charcoal, dung or crop waste, often on open fires, fouling the air they breathe. It’s no small matter: Household air pollution from cooking fires is thought to be the world’s leading environmental cause of death and disability. And cooking over open fires also contributes to climate change and to deforestation when poor people chop down trees for fuel.
It’s no wonder that governments, nonprofits and businesses have tried for decades to get clean and efficient cookstoves into the homes of the poor. The trouble is, they’ve made very little headway for many reasons. Chief among them is the fact that designing a truly clean, efficient and user-friendly cookstove for a price poor people can afford is devilishly hard.
EU Reaction to ICAO ’s Agreement on Aviation Emissions
The National Law Review, 31 October 2016
The European Commission calculated years ago that someone flying from London to New York and return generates roughly the same level of CO2 emissions as the average person in the EU does by heating their home for a whole year. And air traffic is supposed to double by 2035…
This is why the European Union decided as early as 2008 that, as part of its effort to address climate change, it would extend its so called EU emissions trading system (“ETS”) to the aviation sector. By 2012, in principle, emissions from all flights from, to and within the European Economic Area (EEA) – the 28 EU Member States, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – should have been included in the EU ETS system.
[Indonesia] APP Sinar Mas new smart map to fight forest fire risk
Eco-Business, 31 October 2016
Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) Sinar Mas is using smart mapping technology to enhance their capabilities in responding to and pre-empting forest fires.
The smart map uses a location-based analytics platform called ArcGIS to integrate real-time data from Esri’s Living Atlas database with APP Sinar Mas’ map of concession areas.
This enables them to more effectively identify the location of all forest fire hotspots within the last 24 hours, verify if they are from its properties, and evaluate what needs to be done to address these fires.
[New Zealand] Mackenzie District Council’s $1.6m accounting error
By Daisy Hudson, The Timaru Herald, 31 October 2016
An accounting error has wiped $1.6 million from the Mackenzie District Council’s books.
Councillors met on Monday to discuss and approve the council’s annual report, which outlines its financial position.
The draft report had previously stated the council had a net comprehensive revenue of $6.554 million.
However, the discovery of an accounting error has reduced that revenue to $4.923 million.
The error was in relation to an inventory value for the revaluation of development land.
An amount of $1.631million had been included as an expense in the Statement of Comprehensive Revenue and Expense, rather than being introduced in the Statement of Changes in Equity.
Mayor Graham Smith said the amount was a non-cash entry, and had not had an effect on the council’s bottom line.
Councillors adopted the annual report after the alteration, he said.
[USA] Fighting in the Trenches Doesn’t Excuse Ignorance on Carbon Taxes
Carbon Tax Center, 31 October 2016
A charitable way to view Food and Water Watch’s intemperate and misguided attacks this week on carbon taxing is that these energetic activists are so consumed with fighting fracking, pipelines and mines that they haven’t had time to absorb how carbon taxes can help dry up the “need” for new fossil fuel infrastructure.
An alternative take on their screeds in Yes Magazine and AlterNet is that FWW inhabits an ideological blind corner that sees carbon taxing as a neoliberal plot to undermine the climate movement rather than as a policy tool that can play a decisive part in keeping fossil fuels in the ground, forever.
[USA] Murdoch’s NatGeo goes all in on climate ahead of election
By Jean Chemnick and Brittany Patterson, ClimateWire, 31 October 2016
The National Geographic Channel, which is majority-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, launched two star-studded pro-climate-action documentaries yesterday in hopes of swaying next week’s presidential election.
“Years of Living Dangerously,” an Emmy Award-winning television series that deploys stars from entertainment and popular culture around the world to do magazine stories on climate change, aired the first episode of its second season last night. NatGeo also released “Before the Flood,” a Fisher Stevens-directed documentary starring Leonardo DiCaprio that will be streamed for free for what the channel is calling Earth Week, which runs through Nov. 6, two days before the election.
1 November 2016
Forests bonds: a step but not a solution
By Lewis McLellan, GlobalCapital, 1 November 2016
The IFC’s new ‘forests bond’ has much to recommend it, but like so many other green investments, its main value lies in publicity, not purely in financing.
The IFC has sold $152m of five year bonds that come with the option of receiving the coupon payments in carbon offsetting credits originated from a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project in Kenya.
Investors who take the carbon coupons can opt to retire the credits, offsetting their emissions, or to trade them, presumably hoping to do so at a profit (and at no additional benefit to the environment), although the secondary market for carbon credits is, by most accounts, sparse and illiquid.
BHP Billiton is supporting the bond, guaranteeing the Kenyan project that it will sell its $12m quota, even if investors opt to take the coupon in cash.
Nearly $1 billion in forest carbon finance committed in 2015
By Mike Gaworecki, mongabay.com, 1 November 2016
The inclusion of the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation program, known as REDD+, as a standalone article in the Paris Climate Agreement was widely hailed as an encouraging political signal that protecting forests and other valuable carbon sinks would henceforth be a key strategy for combating global warming.
For REDD+ to truly work, however, countries and companies would need to supply adequate financing to the program, which was a major issue left unanswered by negotiators in Paris. After more than a decade of REDD initiatives, large-scale financing hadn’t yet materialized. But there are signs that could be starting to change.
Last year, governments and companies around the world committed a record $888 million in new funding to projects aimed at keeping forests and other carbon-absorbing landscapes intact, according to a new report released by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace initiative. Those funds will remove the equivalent of 87.9 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, roughly equal to the annual emissions of Chile, the Washington, D.C.-based NGO said in a statement accompanying the release of the report.
Air BP Achieves Carbon Neutral Status Across 250 Airport Operations
scandoil.com, 1 November 2016
Air BP has become the first aviation fuel supplier to achieve carbon neutrality for its into-plane fuelling services across an international network of over 250 Air BP operated facilities. The achievement follows a two-year journey, and was assured by the independent sustainability specialist company, ERM CVS Ltd.
Air BP carbon neutrality supports Air BP’s Environmental Solutions offer, which involves quantifying greenhouse gas emissions at Air BP operated locations from the point at which fuel is delivered to onsite airport storage facilities, to the sale of fuel “at the aircraft wing tip”. Carbon credits were purchased, with the support of BP Target Neutral, which invests in low carbon development projects around the world, to offset the emissions.
[Indonesia] Living in a toxic haze
By Rachel Carmenta and Bjorn Vaughn, CIFOR Forest News, 1 November 2016
Peatland fires in Indonesia push scale-topping figures. Kalimantan alone produced greater levels of carbon emissions than the entire European Union over the most intense burning months of September and October last year. Besides the cost of emissions and hectares burned, research is ongoing into the political economy of the fire and haze, as well as the health impacts and the economic burden the fires present.
The word ‘haze’ is misleadingly benign — in reality, peatland fires produce toxic smoke, containing noxious components such as carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia and formaldehyde, in concentrations far beyond safe limits. People breathing this toxic smoke on a prolonged and daily basis during the burning months face serious hazards to their health, food security and well-being.
[USA] The most dramatic climate fight of the election is in Washington state
By Rebecca Leber, Grist, 1 November 2016
Voters in a progressive Pacific Northwestern state could approve the nation’s first carbon tax next week, providing a much-sought victory to proponents of legislative climate action — and possibly a model for the rest of the country.
And yet the ballot measure is at equal risk of failing spectacularly. Not because of the usual oil and coal industry foes, or even because it includes the dreaded t-word. No, the biggest obstacle in its way: other environmentalists.
[USA] The Ripple Effect Of California Cap And Trade
By Dick Kempka (The Climate Trust), Ecosystem Marketplace, 1 November 2016
The Climate Trust is one of the oldest carbon market actors in the country, and has been working in this space for almost two decades. The land-based project types that we finance today can take several years to establish and begin delivering credits. Because of this lengthy commitment for project partners,one of the most frequently asked questions by our counterparties is, what will the carbon market look like in ten years? Of course, the honest answer is that we don’t know. We do however have a very bullish outlook on carbon.
2 November 2016
When money does grow on trees
By Nina Siegel, Business Line, 2 November 2016
For years, it was accepted that protecting forests was the job of charitable organizations, funded by foundations or private individuals. A German environmentalist named Harry Assenmacher came to feel that this was a faulty assumption.
In the 1980s, Assenmacher was working for NGOs and organizations such as Friends of the Earth Germany. “I found that the NGO work was very important, but to do good things for the environment you have to change the economic system,” he said.
When ecologists turned their focus to reforestation as a tool to reverse climate change, he decided that any meaningful large-scale reforestation project would need to be financed by a company, not charities.
That was the seed of ForestFinance, the firm he founded in Bonn. It sells “sustainable forest products” as an investment class, akin to stocks and bonds.
The firm invites investors to buy shares (i.e. trees) in forests that are ethically and sustainably managed.
In Panama, Colombia, Peru and Vietnam, the company’s partners plant new forests on fallow grasslands that were once tropical rainforests. These are not mono-culture tree plantations, which deplete the soil and may accelerate climate change, but rather mixed-species forests, designed to provide habitats for wildlife and offset CO2 emissions. ForestFinance also adds a mix of tree species to existing monoculture forests for more biodiversity.
3 Carbon Footprint Calculators That Don’t Completely Suck. First thing: Accept the fact that carbon footprint estimates are bullshit
By Jacqueline Ronson, Inverse, 2 November 2016
Try to imagine, if you will, the carbon footprint of a single steak — all the resources that went into growing the feed for the cow, all that methane from its farts, the processing and transportation, the cooking. Now imagine repeating that process for not just one steak, but every resource you consume in a year — your food, home energy, transportation, goods, services, even Snapchat. It’s impossible.
And yet, carbon footprint calculators are everywhere. Fill out a 15-minute online questionnaire and a website will confidently tell you something like how your consumption resulted in exactly 10,681 pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere last year.
That, of course, is pure bullshit. There are just too many variables that go both into the design of the calculator and your ability to give accurate responses quickly to assume that any supposed estimate would be real.
The Shipping Industry Will Finally Regulate Carbon Emissions — in 2023
By Kate Wheeling, 2 November 2016
The environmental committee of the United Nation’s International Maritime Organization met in London last week to discuss how to ensure that the industry is taking on its fair share of climate change action. The IMO called the agreement that came out of the meeting an “important milestone on the road to controlling greenhouse gas emissions,” while critics called it a “lackluster outcome” and even an “abject failure.” Any agreement between the IMO’s 170 member states is a political achievement worth celebrating, but it’s also a reminder that, in order to get everyone to sign, you sometimes have to settle for painfully slow progress.
[Australia] Direct Action paying polluters to avoid clearing land they would never have cleared – report
By Michael Slezak, The Guardian, 2 November 2016
Australia’s “Direct Action” policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions is paying polluters millions of dollars to avoid pollution they probably would not have emitted anyway, according to in-depth analysis.
The centrepiece of the government’s Direct Action scheme, introduced by the former prime minister Tony Abbott, is the emissions reduction fund (ERF). Through a reverse auction, it pays polluters to pollute less – mostly paying farmers not to clear their land. So far about $1.7bn has been spent through the ERF.
[Canada] Personal Investor: How to spot a boiler room investment scam
By Dale Jackson, BNN, 2 November 2016
“Psst… If you want in on an investment that is guaranteed to take off – no risk – you better act now.”
That’s the general pitch from boiler room scammers looking to take your money and disappear.
To mark Financial Literacy Month, Canada’s security regulators are highlighting all the research tools available to the average investors, and warning of scams that could put your retirement savings in jeopardy.
The basic boiler room scam operates in two parts. First, a team fans out through phones and the Internet, and makes contact with potential victims through methods like phony surveys to gauge investment experience or free research to get your contacts.
Next comes the boiler room part: High-pressure tactics saying you’ve been selected to invest in a high-return, low-risk venture that seems too good to be true. The pitch usually includes a time limit and an easy way to transfer money.
In almost every case, it is too good to be true.
[Indonesia] The $100bn gold mine and the West Papuans who say they are counting the cost
By Susan Schulman, The Guardian, 2 November 2016
In 1936, Dutch geologist Jean Jacques Dozy climbed the world’s highest island peak: the forbidding Mount Carstensz, a snow-covered silver crag on what was then known as Dutch New Guinea. During the 4,800-metre ascent, Dozy noticed an unusual rock outcrop veined with green streaks. Samples he brought back confirmed exceptionally rich gold and copper deposits.
Today, these remote, sharp-edged mountains are part of West Papua, Indonesia, and home to the Grasberg mine, one of the biggest gold mines – and third largest copper mine – in the world. Majority-owned by the American mining firm Freeport McMoRan, Grasberg is now Indonesia’s biggest taxpayer, with reserves worth an estimated $100bn (£80bn).
But a recent fact-finding mission (by the Brisbane Archdiocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission) described a “slow-motion genocide” (pdf) taking place in West Papua, warning that its indigenous population is at risk of becoming “an anthropological museum exhibit of a bygone culture”.
[New Zealand] 80,000ha of new forests needed to meet gas emissions commitment
NZFarmer.co.nz, 2 November 2016
In late 2015, the New Zealand Government made a commitment at the Paris climate negotiations that by 2030 New Zealand would have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent compared to the 2005 levels. This includes methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture. These agricultural emissions are converted for carbon-accounting purposes to the equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide. The daunting and unique challenge for New Zealand is that agriculture emissions comprise some 50 per cent of total emissions.
Given the fundamental biology of ruminant animals, there are limits as to what can be done to reduce livestock emissions without drastic destocking. And destocking would have a major impact on the whole economy. Also, in a global context, and unless everyone goes to a vegan diet, eliminating New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture would not make a great deal of sense. This is because New Zealand is one of the more efficient producers of milk and meat on a relative greenhouse gas intensity basis.
[New Zealand] Morgan Foundation accuses Government of cooking the books on carbon credits
By Geraden Cann, stuff.co.nz, 2 November 2016
The Government has been accused of “playing accounting games” to achieve future carbon targets.
In the most recent Morgan Foundation report, general manager Geoff Simmons said the Government planned to alter the carbon-accounting rules around forestry just as the country prepared to harvest the lion’s share of its forestry stock.
By doing so, the Government would effectively wipe a year’s worth of emissions off its books without reducing any carbon outputs, Simmons said.
[USA] Obama Fossil Fuel Auction Adds 29 Million Tons of Climate Pollution, Threatens Imperiled Species in WyomingCenter for Biological Diversity press release, 2 November 2016
The Obama administration on Tuesday leased more than 30,000 acres of public land in Wyoming to the fossil fuel industry that, if fully developed, will release about 29 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution. The 21 parcels that were part of the Bureau of Land Management auction also include habitat for imperiled Canada lynx and greater sage grouse.
The estimated 29 million tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution is equivalent to about eight years’ worth of pollution from a coal-fired power plant. The BLM, however, refused to analyze the sale’s climate-pollution impact. It continues a national program of new federal fossil fuel leasing that is incompatible with U.S. climate goals; recent analyses show that meeting Paris Agreement targets requires limiting fossil fuel development to that which is already under production.
3 November 2016
World on track for 3C of warming under current global climate pledges, warns UN
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 3 November 2016
The commitments made by governments on climate change will lead to dangerous levels of global warming because they are incommensurate with the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report.
The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said that pledges put forward to cut emissions would see temperatures rise by 3C above pre-industrial levels, far above the the 2C of the Paris climate agreement, which comes into force on Friday.
At least a quarter must be cut from emissions by the end of the next decade, compared with current trends, the UN said.
The World Is on Track to Fall Short of Paris Agreement Goals
By Kate Wheeling, Pacific Standard, 3 November 2016
The day before the Paris Agreement enters into force, the United Nations Environment Program has released its annual Emissions Gap Report, which measures the discrepancies between likely emissions (based on climate policies and plans) versus the emissions levels necessary to limit warming. The outlook is bleak. To meet the goal of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit warming below two degrees Celsius (and ideally below 1.5 degrees), we need to reduce global emissions to roughly 42 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.
The latest UNEP report suggests that, even in a best-case scenario, we could miss the mark by at least 12 gigatons.
Lessons Learned and Recommendations from Early UNFCCC REDD+ Reference Levels Submissions
WWF, 3 November 2016
Produced in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, and Union of Concerned Scientists, this paper presents lessons learned and best practice recommendations from an unprecedented workshop convening of two groups of experts:
1. those from REDD+ countries who were involved in creating FRLs/FRELs, and
2. those who had served as members of the Technical Team of Experts performing technical analysis of REDD+ results.
Forest Reference Levels/Forest Reference Emissions Levels (FRLs/FRELs) are critical to the policy framework for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+), and provide the benchmark against which countries measure their results from REDD+ implementation. FRLs/FRELs are still incipient, and REDD+ countries and technical assessors are still in a learning-by-doing process, generating valuable lessons that are worth sharing.
Thinking Bigger to Save the World’s Forests
By Kerry Cesareo (WWF US), WWF, 3 November 2016
Over the last 20 years, credible certification has resulted in hundreds of millions of acres of forests being protected, either through responsible management or avoided deforestation.
Today, over 470 million acres of forestland are certified as responsibly managed under the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC’s) rigorous standards. When consumers see the FSC label on the paper, wood, and other forest products they buy, they can feel confident that their purchase is not contributing to deforestation or forest degradation. The same is true for credible labels related to responsible agriculture, such as the Rainforest Alliance and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil ‘Next’ labels, as the expansion of farms and ranches severely threaten the world’s forests.
Indigenous people in carbon-rich tropical forests can help contain emissions: Study
By Mayank Aggarwal, Live Mint, 3 November 2016
At least one-fourth of carbon stored above ground in the world’s tropical forests is found in the collectively-managed territories of indigenous people and local communities, according to a new research released on Wednesday morning.
The study further stated that global communities need to recognize that keeping tropical forests intact will prevent carbon emissions.
The analysis, done by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), US-based Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and global research organisations like World Resources Institute (WRI), comes days before countries from across the world meet in Marrakech (Morocco) for the UN’s annual global climate conference where issues like deforestation will be discussed. RRI is a global coalition of organisations including over 150 international, regional, and community organizations advancing forest tenure.
Climate finance in 2016: 4 reports you need to read
By Ed King, Climate Home, 3 November 2016
On Monday I wrote about 12 reports you should read before the UN climate talks kick-off in Marrakech, Morocco next week.
Today I’ve got a shorter list: 4 studies on the state of climate finance. It promises to be a lively issue at the negotiations, with developing countries keen to press home their demands for support.
But it’s also complex. There’s still no agreed definition on what climate funding is, and much is mixed up with development and wider infrastructure finance flows.
Allocation of resources is a major concern: even if there are green billions swilling around, are they going to the countries, communities and sectors most in need? The studies below address these questions.
‘Pacific Standard’ Heads to Marrakech for COP22
By Ted Scheinman, Pacific Standard, 3 November 2016
At last year’s United Nations climate talks in Paris, the world agreed on some simple objectives to avert the most catastrophic effects of global warming. Next week, world leaders will meet again to agree on the dirty business of implementation.
Things have moved fast since COP21; in terms of climate action, 2016 has been a year of historic diplomacy. In June, France became the first major industrialized nation to ratify the Paris Agreement. In October, 170 countries met in Kigali, Rwanda, and signed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will eliminate 90 percent of global hydrofluorocarbons. And tomorrow, the Paris Agreement will enter into legal force well ahead of schedule. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed surprise at the swift ratification process, heralding it as a sign of “remarkable” momentum: “It can sometimes take years or even decades for a treaty to enter into force,” he said. “It is just nine months since the Paris climate conference. This is testament to the urgency of the crisis we all face.”
Beyond Paris: COP22, a critical nuts-and-bolts carbon-cutting summit
By Justin Catanoso, mongabay.com, 3 November 2016
The first question I ask officials heading to Marrakesh, Morocco for this November’s United Nations Climate Summit known as COP22: How do you top Paris?
“There is a lot of political momentum coming from Paris,” answers Dan Bodansky, a climate adviser to the White House and a law professor at Arizona State University. “But will it actually lead to a dynamic where there are changes on the ground in terms of what countries are actually doing?”
That is exactly the sort of nuts-and-bolts pragmatic role negotiators hope COP22 will play après Paris.
The Paris Agreement is without question an historic achievement. World leaders authored the first-ever blueprint to broadly tackle climate change. The agreement was ratified globally with unprecedented haste and achieves the force of law this week, on November 4th, four years earlier than anticipated.
Ensuring Environmental Outcomes from a Carbon Tax
By Susanne Brooks, EDF, 3 November 2016
How can we ensure that a carbon tax delivers on its pollution reduction potential? An innovative, new idea could provide greater certainty over the environmental outcome.
As momentum intensifies around the world for action to fight climate change, the United States is emerging as a leader in the new low-carbon economy. But if we are going to reduce climate pollution at the pace and scale required — cutting emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 and at least 83% by 2050, on a path to zero net emissions —we need to roll up our sleeves on a new generation of ambitious climate policies that harness the power of the economy and American innovation. An emerging idea could be a game-changer for the prospects of a carbon tax to help tackle climate pollution.
New Emissions Gap Report Highlights Need for Continued Public and Private Emissions Reduction Ambition
The Nature Conservancy press release, 3 November 2016
The Nature Conservancy’s Global Managing Director for Climate Change Lynn Scarlett said, “today’s release of the Emissions Gap Report continues to show the recent global political momentum for addressing climate change has continued to accelerate. Over the past year alone since the Paris Agreement was adopted, governments have come together to address the emissions from the aviation industry, amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, and ratify the Paris Agreement, leading it to enter into force tomorrow. Each of these actions represents a small step on the pathway to a stronger, low-carbon future for the world.
What to expect for forests and REDD+ at COP22 in Marrakesh?
By Chris Meyer, EDF, 3 November 2016
With the Paris Agreement entering into force on November 4th, climate negotiators at this years’ climate talks (COP22) in Marrakesh will have to roll up their sleeves and get to work on the rules and guidance that will translate Paris climate commitments into action.
As the only sector with its own article in the Paris Agreement, the land sector will be discussed this year in the context of implementation and progress – especially REDD+. There are no agenda items directly addressing forests at COP22, so REDD+ negotiators will need to focus on how REDD+ fits into other items on mitigation, accounting, transparency, and markets. Forests will also be highlighted during a series of COP events in the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA).
Pollution Accord Is Set for Global Flights, but Tasks Remain
By Mark Scott, New York Times, 3 November 2016
The great and the good of world aviation gathered in Montreal last month to do something that seemed impossible even a couple of years ago. They agreed to cap greenhouse gas emissions from international flights.
The pact — the first climate change agreement to apply worldwide to a specific sector, one that produces the equivalent annual carbon dioxide output as that of Germany — was greeted with almost universal support.
John Kerry, secretary of state of the United States, called the aviation deal “unprecedented.”
Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, council president of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body that will oversee the agreement, acknowledged negotiations had been tough, but added that almost all nations now had a “practical agreement and consensus on this issue.”
Is Brazil starting to lose the battle against deforestation?
By Maria Fernanda Gebara, Forestless, 3 November 2016
In the past 10 years Brazil has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions levels more than any other country through a historic effort to decrease deforestation. The deforestation rate dropped by 78% between 2004 and 2015. But, while Brazil’s downward trend in deforestation has been impressive, this is now threatened by the weakening of conservation policies and by a recent increase in deforestation. Moreover, the social impacts of deforestation reduction in the past years are still uncertain.
Greece set to win €1.75bn from EU climate scheme to build two coal plants
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 3 November 2016
Greece appears on track to win access to a controversial EU programme that could earmark up to €1.75bn (£1.56bn) in free carbon allowances for the building of two massive coal-fired power plants.
The 1100MW coal stations will cost an estimated €2.4bn, and emit around 7m tonnes of CO2 a year, casting doubt on their viability without a cash injection from an exemption under Europe’s carbon trading market.
The European parliament’s industry committee last month approved a rule change allowing Greece to join the scheme, the ‘10c derogation’ of the emissions trading system (ETS). Now, positive votes in the environment committee next month and at a plenary in February could set wheels in motion for the coal plants.
Lead-up to COP22: Re-examining Indonesia’s land and forest fires
by Suzanna Dayne, CIFOR Forests News, 3 November 2016
As world leaders gather next week for COP22 Marrakesh to discuss priorities for action on the Paris Agreement, Indonesia marks a year since its environmental crisis that had severe implications for global climate change.
In 2015, land conversion fires raged across carbon-dense peatlands in several provinces in the country, sparking a region-wide air pollution crisis. CIFOR researchers concluded that 884 million tons of carbon dioxide was released in the region last year – 97% originating from burning in Indonesia. The corresponding carbon emissions were 289 million tons, and associated carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions 1.2 billion tons.
African Wetlands Project: A Win For the Climate and the People?
By Winifred Bird, Yale Environment 360, 3 November 2016
Standing calf-deep in the warm, brackish water of Senegal’s Saloum Delta, Saly Sarr points to a mass of ripples colored silver by the setting sun.
“You see that movement?” she says. “The fish are coming out.”
All around her, the spindly trunks of young mangrove trees poke through the water. Seven years ago, this area on the edge of the island of Niodior was a sandy wasteland ravaged by drought. Today, thanks to reforestation work done by Sarr and other women, it is covered in mangroves that shelter young fish from the midday sun and hold the soil in place as the tides wash in and out.
4 November 2016
Zero is the essential number for climate action
By Hoda Baraka, Eco-Business, 4 November 2016
The most important number in the world of climate action is ZERO: that is how many new fossil fuel projects world leaders can approve and still keep the promises they made under the Paris Climate Agreement, which comes into force today.
The encouraging news is that the Agreement was ratified faster than almost any other treaty ever, proving that the political momentum for climate action continues. Renewable energies continue their irresistible rise, and so far over 600 institutions have divested from coal, gas and oil companies.
However, the treaty falls seriously short from embodying the climate action the world needs to lessen the climate crisis. The fossil fuel industry’s recklessness continues to push the planet to the brink of catastrophe. A recent study from Oil Change International shows that the coal, oil and gas currently under exploitation will push the planet past the point of climate safety. Their potential carbon emissions will take us beyond 2°C of warming.
We’ll Always Have Paris
By Michael Tobis, Planet 3, 4 November 2016
Today is a red letter date in the history of the world, as the Paris Accord comes into effect. Or maybe it isn’t.
The political and activist side of the climate community is portraying the accord as a breakthrough and the beginning of a turnaround in the world’s self-destructive path. Chris Mooney, one of the best reporters on the beat, has a fairly upbeat summary, coauthored with Brady Dennis, at the Washington Post.
But many of us who are scientific and technical professionals have a far less sanguine view of the whole thing. I’ll try to explain why many of us think we remain very far from a sane trajectory. This article is intended for nonspecialists, and it will show a few related graphs showing future carbon emission scenarios.
Breathing life into Asia’s forests
UNDP, 4 November 2016
Meet Celina (Kin Yii) Yong, Stakeholder Engagement Specialist for Asia-Pacific, UN-REDD Programme.
In one sentence, what do you do at UNDP?
I provide policy and technical advice to governments, organizations, and communities — including indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities — on how to work together to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as reduce the barriers to enhancing forest carbon stocks (known as REDD+.)
Attractions of Marrakesh: The Medina, souks and the ‘COP of Action’
By Stephen Leonard and Sazanna Dayne, CIFOR Forests News, 4 November 2016
At the COP21 in Paris last year, 195 countries reached an historic agreement – the first ever universal, legally binding global climate deal.
Yet while each country made emission-cutting pledges, the pledges remain on the whole inadequate to date, potentially putting the world on a dangerous path towards global warming by 3 degrees Celsius.
Currently, 89 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November. Only three days later, the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakesh, Morocco will begin on 7 November.
It’s time to roll up our collective sleeves and get to work on the implementation of the Agreement.
Why the Marrakech climate talks matter
By Sophie Bertazzo (Conservation International), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 4 November 2016
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) kicks off in Marrakech, Morocco, on November 7. For two weeks, delegations of international leaders, organizations and advisers will work out the “how” following three recent climate milestones: the Paris Agreement entered into forceyears ahead of schedule; a historic plan was agreed upon to offset emissions from international air travel; and a global deal was reached to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a type of greenhouse gas.
Given the momentous outcomes of last year’s Paris climate talks, what will be achieved in Marrakech? In this interview, Maggie Comstock, director of climate policy at Conservation International, talks about the significance of COP22 in a busy year for climate advancements.
The Path Forward On Climate — It’s About Us Now
By Mark Tercek (The Nature Conservation), Huffington Post, 4 November 2016
Last month, enough world leaders ratified the Paris climate agreement to officially lock it into place.
With the Agreement set to take effect on November 4, now is the time to talk about action—specifically, actions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the fastest and biggest way.
To meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius, humankind needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80% by 2050 and to net zero by 2080.
That’s a tall order. But I think it’s doable if we get to work right away in four key areas.
Stanford-led study finds flaw in global effort to mitigate carbon emissions
By Rob Jordan, Stanford News, 4 November 2016
A mechanism used as part of international efforts to reduce emissions has a potentially fatal flaw, according to a new study. A recent review of the way carbon offset credits have been used internationally to reduce carbon emissions suggests that the program needs independent monitoring. The issue is particularly timely given that the Paris Agreement, a historic international climate change pact that includes provisions relating to carbon markets, goes into effect Nov. 4.
The research, led by Amy Pickering, an engineering research associate at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment’s Program on Water, Health and Development, examined a carbon offset program involving distribution of water filters in Kenya and found inaccuracies in self-reported data. Pickering and her colleagues recommend third-party monitoring to ensure the effectiveness of such schemes, in which governments, industry and individuals offset their emissions by purchasing credits representing carbon dioxide removed or reduced from the atmosphere.
“Our message to recommend independent monitoring of greenhouse gas emission projects is especially timely considering global ratification of the Paris Agreement has reached the threshold needed for the agreement to go into force,” said Pickering.
‘Coal doesn’t benefit the poor’: Dan Kammen on energy access and poverty
By Simon Evans, CarbonBrief, 4 November 2016
The role of coal in poverty reduction is contentious. The Overseas Development Institute’s recent Beyond Coal report argues that better options are available, namely, that coal has been given too much credit for past progress and that more coal will entrench poverty, not relieve it.
Carbon Brief spoke to Daniel Kammen, one of the contributors to the report, about the findings. Kammen is professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley, and science envoy for the US state department.
Amazonians call on leaders to heed link between land rights and climate change
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 4 November 2016
The land rights of indigenous people in the Amazon must be recognised if their countries’ commitments on reducing deforestation and lowering or capping carbon emissions are to be realised, according to native leaders from the nine South American countries across which the rainforest spreads.
Nearly 300 representatives of the forest’s several million inhabitants gathered in Lima last week to demand that their governments heed evidence of their ability to conserve the forest and thus protect their way of life.
[Indonesia] RI wants money for meeting carbon reduction targets
By Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, 4 November 2016
Last month, Indonesia officially ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
And at next week’s climate change meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, the government will challenge devoloped countries to act on their own pledge to provide financial incentives for countries that achieve substantial progress in reducing massive deforestation.
Indonesia, one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emmitters, has done its part, but developed countries have given little in return.
For instance, in 2010, Norway agreed to provide up to US$1 billion to Indonesia to fund forestry-related emissions reduction programs throughout the country.
A large portion of the fund will only be disbursed once Indonesia demonstrates tangible success in slowing its deforestation rate.
[UK] Investment scams peddled by rogue law firms double
By Maisha Frost, The Express, 4 November 2016
Legal watchdog the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is warning savers about the growing danger of investment scams which boost their credibility by operating under the cover of law firms.
It says the huge losses it has come across have led to people losing at least £100 million in cons that offer big returns to people putting their money into schemes involving the likes of rare earth minerals, carbon credits, agricultural rights, leases on hotel rooms, holiday homes not yet built, films or precious gems.
The investments frequently turn out to be bogus but lure savers in by appearing more legitimate as they use regulated law firms as middlemen. This is often highlighted in promotional materials to make the projects seem trustworthy and safe.
5 November 2016
[New Zealand] The Morgan Foundation accuses the Government of choosing a process that will violate both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement for how we meet our climate change commitments
By Paul Young and Geoff Simmons (Morgan Foundation), interest.co.nz, 5 November 2016
New Zealand has so far managed to meet its international climate change commitments despite national greenhouse gas emissions rising significantly since 1990.
In our previous report, Climate Cheats, we showed that one part of New Zealand’s strategy involves huge quantities of carbon credits from Ukraine and Russia which were essentially fraudulent.
The biggest contributor towards New Zealand meeting its targets is, in fact, forestry. Specifically, the huge swathe of pine plantations established in the 1990s. As these pine forests have grown, current rules have allowed New Zealand to gain credits for all the carbon stored, covering most of the gap between our emissions and our targets.
However, when those forests begin to be harvested from around 2020, New Zealand will have to pay many of those credits back.
[UK] So-called investment manager SW1 Options Limited promised me returns of 3 to 4% a week, but only over the phone
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 5 November 2016
I wish I had room to print all the lies told by this so-called investment company. Any promises you were given about fantastic returns on your money using complex binary options would just make the list even longer.
SW1 Options, which uses addresses in London and also claims links to Israel and to Dubai and Sharjah in the Gulf, has told investors: ‘SW1 Options was founded by a group of established hedge fund managers, traders and analysts with a proven track record of success within the financial arena.’
6 November 2016
Marrakech climate talks: giving the fossil fuel lobby a seat at the table
By Michael Slezak, The Guardian, 6 November 2016
As the world gathers in Morocco for the historic first meeting under the Paris agreement – called “COP22” but now also “CMA1” – it does so with the unprecedented involvement of corporate interests who have fought climate action around the world, funded climate change denial and whose fundamental interest is in extracting and burning as much fossil fuel as possible.
Earlier this year, desperate moves from countries representing the majority of the world’s population to examine how the UN might identify and minimise conflicts of interest were swept under the carpet by rich countries – especially the US, EU and Australia – who argued they wanted to be as “inclusive” as possible and that the concept of “conflict of interest” was too hard to define.
Study calls for independent monitoring of carbon offset programs
Xinhua, 6 November 2016
A review of the way carbon offset credits have been used internationally to reduce carbon emissions suggests that the program needs independent monitoring, as it is now subject to inaccurate self-reporting.
The research, led by Amy Pickering, an engineering research associate at the Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment’s Program on Water, Health and Development, examined a carbon offset program involving distribution of water filters in Kenya and found inaccuracies in self-reported data.
“Our message to recommend independent monitoring of greenhouse gas emission projects is especially timely considering global ratification of the Paris Agreement has reached the threshold needed for the agreement to go into force,” said Pickering, who co-authored the study submitted to Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed open access journal published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
How Will COP22 in Marrakech Be Different From Paris?
By Ted Scheinman, Pacific Standard, 6 November 2016
Right next to the Marrakech Royal Palace sits the COP22 Village, a flat expanse of hangar tents organized around a broad avenue lined with palm trees and vaguely Dada sculptures. It’s pretty peaceful — most of the people aren’t here yet — but organizers expect more than 30,000 attendees over the two weeks of the conference.
The setting could hardly feel more different from COP21 (Paris in December had its gray and bitter moments), and the organizers of this year’s COP seem eager to emphasize that Marrakech will not be Paris. Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, appeared with Salaheddine Mezouar, Morocco’s minister of foreign affairs and president of this year’s COP, to welcome reporters to the talks, and to establish some rhetorical motifs for the conference.
The Aviation Industry Flies Ahead of Shipping on Carbon Regulations
By Kate Wheeling, Pacific Standard, 6 November 2016
The aviation industry—which, like shipping, was left out of the Paris Agreement—is inching toward reining in its global emissions, and has already received a shout-out from Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, at a press conference ahead of COP22.
In October, the International Civil Aviation Organization reached an agreement to limit global carbon emissions for passenger and cargo flights that produce at least 10,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases every year. Rather than capping the industry’s emissions — which account for 1.6 percent of global emissions — the U.N. agency agreed to a carbon offsetting scheme, the first global climate change agreement by a single industry. Espinosa characterized this as a major victory, though environmental non-governmental organizations have been skeptical of the arrangement. “Taking a plane is the fastest and cheapest way to fry the planet and this deal won’t reduce demand for jet fuel one drop,” Bill Hemmings, of the NGO Transport & Environment, told the Guardian in October, noting that the benefits (if any) would be largely be seen outside aviation. “Instead, [carbon] offsetting aims to cut emissions in other industries.”
[UK] Five minute guide to putting paid to the pension scammers
By Harvey Jones, Sunday Express, 6 November 2016
Repeatedly picking up the phone to hear either an automated voice or a foreign-based fraudster can be more than just an annoyance, as thousands have lost their savings and pensions as a result.
Now a new campaign is calling on the Government to ban cold calling and dramatically cut the number of Britons falling victim.
Will this finally put fraudsters out in the cold?