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REDD in the news: 6-12 March 2017

REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.

6 March 2017

Ethiopia looks to carbon trading as it gears up to be net carbon neutral by 2025
By Elias Gebreselassie, Mongabay, 6 March 2017
Ethiopia’s work to keep its environmental programs sustainable while local communities benefit from forest preservation is set to get a boost. The country’s most prominent program to mobilize resources toward its net carbon neutral by 2025 goal, the Oromia Forested Landscape Program (OFLP), is scheduled to start this year.
Ethiopia’s massive Oromia region constitutes 34.3 percent of the country’s landmass, largely in the southwest, and holds more than a third of the country’s 100 million residents. It also harbors Ethiopia’s largest concentration of biodiversity.
The $68 million OFLP project was established through two World Bank funds. One fund is for $18 million and is aimed at the restoration of forests on degraded land. The other is a $50 million fund for a program targeting carbon sequestration assessment and performance enhancement. Under the umbrella of the OFLP, environmentally-friendly businesses and industries in local communities, along with forest tourism, are also slated for development.

[India] Showers bring relief from forest fires to Tamil Nadu’s Annamalai, Mudumalai reserves
New Indian Express, 6 March 2017
Summer showers for the second consecutive day on Sunday in Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) and Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) have brought temporary relief from forest fires, which have destroyed much forest in these sanctuaries.
In the severe drought facing the State even before peak summer, reserve forests in Coimbatore and The Nilgiris districts have also been troubled by fires. Officials expect the showers to prevent forest fires for the next few weeks. Though there has not been enough rain, chances of fresh vegetation, including grass growing are high in the coming days, which will benefit herbivores like elephants, deer and gaur. Though the 321-sq km MTR has over 600 km of fire prevention lines, two recent fires destroyed 50 hectares of forest in Kargudi and five hectares in Masinagudi.

[Thailand] Lampang at risk from forest fire haze
Bangkok Post, 6 March 2017
Residents of Muang district in Lampang have been urged to wear face masks to protect themselves against haze pollution as authorities step up efforts to stop forest fires near Doi Phra Bath.
Healthcare workers are advising people on how to deal with air pollution to reduce health impacts as levels of harmful air particles exceeds the safety limit due to a forest fire.
They urged them to avoid outdoor activities and to wear face masks.

UK carbon emissions drop to lowest level since 19th century, study finds
The Guardian, 6 March 2017
The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen to their lowest level since the 19th century as coal use continues to plummet, analysis suggests.
Emissions of the major greenhouse gas fell almost 6% year-on-year in 2016, after the use of coal for electricity more than halved to record lows, according to the Carbon Brief website, which reports on climate science and energy policy.
The assessment suggests carbon emissions in 2016 were about 381m tonnes, putting the UK’s carbon pollution at its lowest level – apart from during coal mining disputes in the 1920s – since 1894.

7 March 2017

Here’s the proof REDD+ is advancing
By Chris Meyer, EDF, 7 March 2017
The director general of a leading tropical forest research center recently told a Yale conference of international forest experts that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (known as REDD+) was a “good idea [that] didn’t work,” and has now “disappeared” (video clip at 1hr 9min). But far from having vanished, REDD+ is steadily advancing in countries and states around the world.
For much of the past decade, REDD+ was a hot topic of global conferences, and a standout success at the UN climate negotiations, where it received explicit recognition in 2015’s international Paris climate agreement.

Deforestation: Seeing the forest for the trees
By Todd Post, Bread for the World, 7 March 2017
Halting tropical deforestation is a low-cost and effective way to slow climate change. It also has the potential to deliver big benefits to those most at risk of hunger: rural poor people.
When forests are cleared, carbon dioxide stored in the soil and vegetation is released into the atmosphere, accounting for as much as 10 percent of total carbon emissions. That may sound small relative to overall emissions, but forests also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, storing it in the soil and vegetation. Deforestation destroys the world’s safest and most natural form of carbon capture. Ending tropical deforestation and allowing forests to grow back could capture between 25 and 35 percent of carbon emissions from all other sources.

[India] Forest fires to be blown away
By Siba Mohanty, New Indian Express, 7 March 2017
As wild fires across the State’s jungles threaten to extract a huge ecological and economic cost, the Forest Department has decided to make extensive use of blowers this year to tackle the menace. It has directed forest divisions to procure at least 494 blowers which will be deployed across eight circles of the State.
Blowers were first put to use on a pilot basis at Similipal Tiger Reserve during 2015-2016. Its success has prompted the department to provide the equipment to both wildlife and territorial divisions.
Sources in Forest Department said the PCCF (General) office has issued directions and released funds to divisions for procurement of blowers by forming purchase committees. Each blower costs about `50,000 while a one-time maintenance cost of `11,000 is also provided.

Kenyan community project restores mangroves while selling carbon credits
Free Speech Radio News, 7 March 2017
Two villages living adjacent to the Indian Ocean in the southern coast of Kenya are improving their livelihoods after earning money from selling carbon credit from mangrove trees to international environmental organizations. Diana Wanyonyi reports from Mombasa.
In the swampy, soft mud of the mangrove forest on Kenya’s south coast, farmer Idi BomaniI is with a local community group surveying and planting some of the seedlings that have fallen from the trees in the estuary.
Idi is a member of the Mikoko Pamoja community project, a conservation and restoration program in which locals farm mangrove trees on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

Norway’s Coal Divestment Far From Complete
Urgewald, Framtiden i våre hender, and Greenpeace press release, 7 March 2017
In response to the Norwegian Government Pension Fund’s new “Responsible Investment” Report, NGOs warn that the divestment of many coal companies is still overdue. In 2015, the Norwegian Parliament directed the Pension Fund’s manager, Norges Bank, to divest companies that “base 30% or more of their activities on coal” by the end of 2016.
In August 2015, Norges Bank had estimated that the coal divestment action would cover around 120 companies with an investment value of approximately NOK 55 billion. “But the job is only half done,” comments Christoffer Klyve from Framtiden i våre hender (The Future in our Hands), Norway’s largest environmental organization.

[Norway] Third tranche of coal exclusions from the Government Pension Fund Global
Norges Bank, 7 March 2017
Norges Bank has decided to exclude 10 companies from the Government Pension Fund Global based on the product-based coal criterion in the guidelines for observation and exclusion.
The exclusions follow Norges Bank Investment Management’s third round of analysis of companies that may be affected by this criterion. The exclusions comprise all companies’ unlisted subsidiaries that issue bonds. The exception is green bonds, or subsidiaries that are deemed to have significant renewable energy activity.

UK Consumers Report 32 Financial Scams Every Day
By Lisa Smith, iExpats, 7 March 2017
One in eight calls to financial watchdogs are concerns about pension and investment scams, the latest official figures reveal.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the guardian of standards in the UK and responsible for making sure financial firms and advisers play by the rules.
Customer service staff dealt with 11,650 calls about suspected scammers in the year ending November 30, 2016.

8 March 2017

Can We Save the World’s Remaining Forests? A Look at ‘Why REDD Will Fail’
By Bethany N. Bella, New Security Beat, 8 March 2017
As climate change threatens the stability of ecosystems around the world, the preservation of forests is seen as a “win-win” solution to curbing planet-warming emissions while producing value for developing country economies.
But all is not as it seems with the world’s largest forest preservation effort, the United Nations-led Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries program, otherwise known as REDD, according to a new book.
In the somewhat-dramatically titled, Why REDD Will Fail, Jessica L. DeShazo, Chandra Lal Pandey, and Zachary A. Smith examine the roots of the program, explore its internal processes, and ultimately predict its demise unless significant changes are made. At the core of their critique is what they see as a disconnect between the underlying causes of climate change and what REDD actually addresses. “Unless our consumption patterns are changed,” they write, “REDD can achieve very little.”

Investors With $600 Billion Assets Under Management Launch Latin America Forest Protection Initiative
By Gabriel Thoumi, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 March 2017
Green Century Capital Management announced it has organized 38 investors in the U.S. and globally, representing $617.5 billion in assets under management, to ask that companies reaffirm and extend zero deforestation commitments specifically to Latin America.
These investors have requested that ADM, Bunge, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Stores and others consider the material financial risks that they face from deforestation – including the risk posed “stranded land” that cannot be developed due to zero-deforestation supply chain agreements and government policies. For example, there are 6.1 million ha of stranded land in Indonesia. The coalition wants these firms to drop suppliers that cause deforestation.

[India] As villagers clash with forest dept, fires rage in tiger reserve
Times of India, 8 March 2017
Move over man-animal conflict. A battle between humans is in play at the Bandipur tiger reserve, which had destroyed swathes of forestland and killing and displacing wildlife.
While the state government has ordered a CID probe into the forest fires in three ranges of Bandipur from mid-February, Bandipur reserve director T Heeralal said multiple cases of wildfire are sabotage aimed at hitting at the department.

9 March 2017

Forests key to mitigating climate change
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 9 March 2017
Researchers have reminded the world’s governments that forests will play a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change – provided policies are robustly pursued and reported with transparency.
But even as European researchers set out the conditions for achieving this, other studies suggest that any pledges may be difficult to keep.
A team from the UK, the European Commission, Italy and the Netherlands report in the Nature Climate Change journal that land management plans submitted by nations that pledged in Paris in 2015 to contain global warming to 2°C or less could contribute 25% of the total promised reductions in the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

China floats split with EU over carbon trading
By Arthur Neslen, Climate Home, 9 March 2017
China is moving closer to a carbon tax for cutting emissions and away from the EU’s emissions trading model, a senior Chinese official has said.
For two years now, China has been piloting a carbon market modelled on the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS), which tries to bridge free market economics with climate action.
But the project is behind schedule and speaking in Brussels last week, Yi Wang, a member of China’s national people’s congress and vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said Beijing would not “take the lead” in linking the two carbon markets.

EU sees ‘strategic advantage’ of biofuels in aviation
By Hannah Black and Sarantis Michalopoulos, Euractiv, 9 March 2017
In sectors like aviation where decarbonisation options are limited, there is a strategic advantage in encouraging the use of biofuels, a European Commission official has said.
The aviation sector is dependent on liquid fuels and has few options other than biofuels when it comes to using renewable energies.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has set a target of ramping up biofuels use to 10% of all consumption by 2017, saying they have the potential to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint by up to 80%.
The big issue now for the industry is whether they can be deployed on a sufficiently large scale to make a difference to the airline sector’s carbon emissions – without wrecking the environment.

[India] K’taka loses 715 sq km of green cover to fires, Bandipore National Park affected
By Vikram Gopal, Hindustan Times, 9 March 2017
The onset of summer in Karnataka has spelt disaster for forests across the state, with about 715 square kilometres of green cover reported to have burnt down in fires since February.
Bandipur National Park, home to nearly 120 tigers, is one of the worst affected. Forest minister Ramnath Rai said the park accounted for about 40 hectares of forest land affected by the fire.
The prevailing drought condition, due to deficient rainfall for the third consecutive year in the state, has worsened the situation. “There has been a 65% deficient rainfall in this area,” said T Heeralal, director of the Bandipur National Park.

Working together against deforestation in Tanzania
By Siri Elise Dybdal, NIBIO, 9 March 2017
The World’s forests continue to disappear as more and more forestland is converted to agriculture and trees are being cut for various purposes. Approximately 130.000 km2 of forest is lost every year due to deforestation – mainly in tropical forests in the Amazon, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia. This equals 60.000 football fields each day. If the total carbon in these cut forests is converted to CO2, it is equivalent of 10-15 per cent of the global emissions of greenhouse gases. Tropical forest loss is therefore a global problem.
The REDD+ (Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) scheme was set up to save and protect tropical forests. The goal is to combat climate change and protect biological diversity. REDD+ officially became part of the international climate agenda in 2007. It offers economic incentives for reduced deforestation and forest degradation and compensation to conserve or sustainably manage tropical forests.

[UK] One crook, two investment frauds, 190 victims, £6million stolen.
By Andrew Penman, The Mirror, 9 March 2017
Two of the worst investment scams I come across involve landbanking and carbon credits – and Aaron Petrou was up to his neck in both.
He has just been jailed for three years and eight months after admitting conspiracy to defraud, as the Mirror reported earlier this week.
The charlatan used the fake name Giles Beaumont to flog carbon credits – worthless so-called green investments – to unsuspecting members of the public, while working for a firm called Taylor & Mills Ltd.
Officers from the Complex Fraud Unit of the Metropolitan Police nailed him after finding his fingerprints on documents sent to victims.
The fraud netted £1.7million from at least 70 people.

10 March 2017

A Failure of Imagination for Global Development
By Joe Brewer, Medium, 10 March 2017
A diversity of people from the world of international development have spent the last few years creating their vision for the future in the framework for Sustainable Development Goals. Sadly, by ignoring history, they are unable to envision anything outside of the current economic paradigm. This “failure of imagination” caused them to leave out the key elements for a successful transition to sustainability.
Read through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and you will note a complete absence of any reference to history prior to 1990 — the date chosen for comparisons of global poverty and hunger rates. What this means is that they are not characterizing how things came to be the way they are. More importantly, they are not showing us that a different kind of economic development is not only necessary but is possible to achieve.

Can business use carbon finance to deliver on the SDGs?
By Ben Massie, Eco-Business, 10 March 2017
Business has been identified by the UN as key to the successful realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Whether a small company or a large multinational, the products, services, and values of businesses can help address many of the global issues the Goals set to address.
A recent survey by PwC found that SDG awareness is on the rise in the business community and is at a much higher level (92 per cent) compared to the general population (33 per cent). Additionally, the survey noted that 71 per cent of businesses are already planning how they will respond to the SDGs.

Why Is Big Oil Backing The Paris Climate Agreement?
By Tsvetana Paraskova Oil Price, 10 March 2017
Joining the ranks of former Exxon CEO, and now Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of another big U.S. energy company, ConocoPhillips, is saying that the U.S. should stay in the Paris Climate Agreement.
“It would be good for the U.S. to stay in the climate agreement,” ConocoPhillips chairman and CEO Ryan Lance told reporters on the sidelines of the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Axios reports.
While on the campaign trail, President Trump repeatedly criticized the Paris Agreement which enlisted almost every country in the world to make efforts to curb global warming. In his ‘An America First Energy Plan’ from May 2016, one of the actions he had vowed to take during the first 100 days in office was to “cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.”
“This agreement gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use right here in America,” Trump’s campaign pledges said.

Oil giant Shell warns public faith in fossil fuel industry is ‘disappearing’ and calls for carbon taxes
By Ian Johnston, The Independent, 10 March 2017
Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is to increase its spending on renewable energy to $1bn (£800m) a year, its chief executive announced as he warned the public’s faith in the industry was “just disappearing”.
Ben van Beurden suggested the public backlash against fossil fuel firms could threaten the industry’s future.
He also said it was essential that countries imposed a price on carbon emissions to help phase out the use of coal and oil, sources of large amounts of greenhouse gases that are driving climate change.
This perhaps surprising message – a request from a business for governments to make their costs higher – was delivered at an energy conference in Texas, Reuters reported.

[Nepal] Govt braces for forest fires as dry season begins
The Himalayan Times, 10 March 2017
It has been six years since the Forest Fire Management 2010, an action plan to mitigate the risks related to forest fires, was endorsed by the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, but the future of the plan remains bleak.
With no policy-level nudge for the plan, the compiled list of strategy to involve local communities and stakeholders in forest fire management seems to be only on paper.
With the dry season, a peak period for forest fires, fast approaching, the forest ministry said it had placed top priority on measures to overcome and minimise forest fires.

[New Zealand] New party would ban fossil fuel subsidies
By Vaughan Eder, Otago Daily Times, 10 March 2017
The Opportunities Party (Top) could stand a chance in the general election if the size of its audience at an event in Dunedin last night is anything to go by.
About 300 people packed Otago Museum’s Hutton Theatre to hear party founder Gareth Morgan and the party’s chief of staff Geoff Simmons talk about its ”bold” policies.
The party took the chance to announce it would ban subsidies on fossil fuels, increase the price of carbon and overhaul energy efficiency efforts under its climate change policy.
Mr Simmons received warm applause when he went over the policy.
Mr Morgan also shared some of the party’s other policies, which included tax reform and limiting immigration.

Why the Paris Agreement Is in the U.S.’s Best Interest
By Mark Tercek, The Nature Conservancy, 10 March 2017
Recent news reports indicate the Trump Administration is considering either leaving the Paris Agreement on climate change or weakening the U.S.’s emissions reduction pledge.
Either course of action would be an enormous mistake.
The Paris Agreement isn’t about UN bureaucrats telling the U.S. what to do. It’s about the U.S. and each country deciding what is best for itself to drive growth and innovation, and having the tools to make sure others are contributing as well.

11 March 2017

[Malawi] Surviving in conflict with the law
By Tikondane Vega, Malawi 24, 11 March 2017
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, or REDD+, has been the international community’s first real attempt to create a global forest governance system which would impact countries on national, regional and even local scales.
Malawi has been working in earnest on a national REDD+ programme – the Malawi REDD+ Program (MRP) – since 2012.
Currently, the key planning document for the MRP is the Government of Malawi REDD+ Action Plan 2014-2019.

The top 10 threats to the most biodiverse place on planet Earth
By David Hill, The Guardian, 11 March 2017
Just under half of Unesco’s World Heritage sites are under threat, the WWF asserts. Sites deemed threatened include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Pantanal in Brazil and the Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo – and 111 others.
But what about the Manu national park in Peru’s Amazon, which Unesco calls the most biodiverse place on Earth and was declared part of a biosphere reserve in the 1970s?
In south-east Peru and stretching for 1.7 million hectares from the tropical Andes to the lowland forest, Manu is home to extraordinary biodiversity and Harakbut, Matsigenka, “Matsigenka-Nanti”, “Mashco-Piro”, Nahua, Quechua and Yine indigenous peoples.

12 March 2017

Successful forest protection in DRC hinges on community participation
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 12 March 2017
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s extensive forests seem like a bright spot in an otherwise-troubled country. With forests covering an area larger than Colombia, DRC has managed to sidestep the surge in losses that forest-rich countries in South America, Southeast Asia and elsewhere in Africa have suffered.
It has become an important country partner in the UN’s REDD+ program. Short for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries,” REDD+ promises DRC hundreds of millions of dollars for environmental and development work, coming from the governments of Norway, Germany, France, the U.K., and the EU. In exchange, the country’s leadership has agreed to preserve the country’s stockpile of carbon tucked away in the vegetation of its forests, estimated to be around 22 billion metric tons (48.5 trillion pounds).

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