REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
17 April 2017
Global Economic Drivers Of Deforestation: Country-By-Country Baseline Analysis
By Gabriel Thoumi, ValueWalk, 17 April 2017
As reported by Chain Reaction Research, written by Gabriel Thoumi, CFA, FRM, Tim Steinweg, and Barbara Kuepper, the economic links between deforestation and climate change are increasingly recognized in, for example, the 2015 Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Paris Agreement and elsewhere. This recognition is particularly important, as the planet has lost about 129 million hectares of forest since 1990. As deforestation is largely driven by specific economic activities and is thus a sector-specific risk, investors and banks must now pay far greater attention. Legend: Orange sectors are drivers of deforestation, red sectors are key drivers per country.
18 April 2017
Blockchain’s Weak Spots Pose a Hidden Danger to Users
By Will Knight, MIT Technology Review, 18 April 2017
Technologists, entrepreneurs, and some big companies are busy dreaming up new ways of using the core of Bitcoin—a distributed cryptographic ledger, or blockchain—to reinvent everything from business contracts and health records to carbon credits and new trading platforms (see “Why Bitcoin Could Be Much More Than a Currency”).
However, one expert warns that they may be building their dreams on top of a precarious foundation. Emin Gün Sirer, an associate professor at Cornell University, has been researching ways in which Bitcoin and blockchains can fail.
Business as Usual: A Resurgence of Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon
By Philip Fearnside, YaleEnvironment360, 18 April 2017
The Brazilian Amazon is the size of Western Europe, and in the 41 years I have lived in the region and worked on problems of deforestation, an area larger than France has been cleared. Over the decades, I have watched as economic cycles, swings in commodity prices, and land speculation have led to peaks and valleys in the clearing of the Amazon, with 1995 setting a record for destruction: 11,200 square miles — an area the size of Belgium — fell to loggers, cattle ranchers, and farmers.
East Africa: An urgent need to monitor the forests
By Esther Mwangi and Laura Vanessa Mukhwana, CIFOR Forests News, 18 April 2017
East Africa is home to some of the world’s most diverse forests: Montane forests, which include some of the highest and oldest mountains in Africa; coastal forests; Miombo woodlands; tropical rain forests; and mangrove forests.
Like many forested areas across the globe, they are increasingly threatened by agricultural expansion and deforestation for fuelwood and timber purposes.
Although regional authorities, governments, NGOs and international organizations are working hard to protect these forests, without an accurate data set, there is no effective way to monitor the ecological, environmental, and social aspects of these forests.
Myanmar Builds Ground for REDD+
ICIMOD, 18 April 2017
Having inaugurated the REDD+ Himalaya Initiative in an official ceremony in August 2015, Myanmar is making progress on its national roadmap for REDD+ readiness. In this first preparatory phase, countries design their national REDD+ strategies and build capacity for the following stages.
Since the inception of the Initiative in Myanmar, partners have participated in a range of REDD+ Himalaya activities including a training on “financial procedures and disbursement mechanism” giving them insight into how to manage and administer the Initiative’s financial resources. In order to contribute to the establishment of a national forest monitoring system, a remote sensing workshop was conducted to build the capacities of relevant national officials and stakeholders in relation to REDD+ monitoring, and reporting and verification (MRV) in July 2016. In the framework of the South-South learning platform of REDD+ Himalaya, Myanmar also hosted a regional workshop on REDD+ MRV for the Initiative’s partner countries in October 2016.
[Pakistan] Govt takes steps to grow forest cover
Pakistan Today, 18 April 2017
The Climate Change Ministry has initiated a project at a cost of Rs 3.652 billion in all four provinces through which plantation of 100 million new trees will be ensured until 2021.
The project called ‘Revival of Forestry Resources in Pakistan’ is initiated under the prime minister’s `Green Pakistan Programme.
Listing steps taken by the current government to coordinate and provide guidelines to provincial governments to increase forest cover in the country, official sources on Tuesday said biannual inter-ministerial and inter-provincial meetings are arranged for spring and monsoon tree planting campaigns and coordinated at a national level.
[UK] Estranged husband of Victoria Beckham’s sister appears in court beside six others accused of ‘boiler room scam targeting pensioners with green energy investments’
By Scott Campbell, Daily Mail, 18 April 2017
A man who married Victoria Beckham’s sister has appeared in court accused of a ‘boiler room’ fraud targeting elderly people.
Darren Flood was accused with six others of trying to get unsuspecting OAPs to invest in ‘green energy bundles.’
Flood married Victoria Beckham’s younger sister Louise but reports suggest they separated in 2014.
He was a founding partner and non-executive director of a company which allegedly sold investments in rare metals to elderly people.
It allegedly promised them returns for metal compounds like yttrium – which is used in LEDs, lasers, and phosphors.
[USA] Carbon Tax Next Target for California’s Disadvantaged Communities
By Carolyn Whetzel, Bloomberg BNA, 18 April 2017
Advocates for California’s disadvantaged communities are flexing their newly honed political muscle with a new goal in mind: replacing the state’s landmark greenhouse gas trading program with a carbon tax.
It’s a call that puts environmental justice advocates on a collision course with state regulators, powerful industry groups and even the governor, who all favor extending the state’s existing cap and trade program. However, poor and minority communities say California’s greenhouse gas trading program—which has been hailed as a national model—should be scrapped because it is not aggressive enough and allows industries to continue spewing toxic pollutants that harm their neighborhoods. In its place, environmental groups are calling for a carbon tax combined with a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
‘Carbon credits shouldn’t affect Welsh emissions targets’
By Jonny Bairstow, Energy Live News, 18 April 2017
Wales’ green targets should be based on the country’s actual emissions, rather than being open to adjustment using carbon credits.
That’s according to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which was asked by the Welsh Government to provide independent advice on how best to account and budget for the use of carbon.
Wales plans to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions by 80% from 1990 levels before 2050.
Before the end of 2018, its Ministers must set interim emissions targets for 2020, 2030 and 2040, together with five-year carbon budgets for the periods 2016-2020 and 2021-2025.
19 April 2017
Climate change projects aren’t working because communities are left out
By Olushola Fadairo, The Conversation, 19 April 2017
Nigeria recently began a fresh effort to ascertain its climate change obligations under the Paris Agreement – a global action plan to put the world on track by limiting global warming to below 2°C. However, for its programmes to succeed transparency is crucial.
This means the programmes must manage and publish information on actions and processes so that it’s accessible, timely and accurate. This in turn builds trust and ownership between those that control the finances and with the communities who are directly affected by climate change initiatives.
Climate change will fuel terrorism recruitment, report for German foreign office says
By Ben Doherty, The Guardian, 19 April 2017
Climate change will fuel acts of terrorism and strengthen recruiting efforts by terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram, a report commissioned by the German foreign office has found.
Terrorist groups will exploit the natural disasters and water and food shortages expected to result from climate change and allow them to recruit more easily, operate more freely and control civilian populations, argues the report by Berlin thinktank Adelphi.
“Terrorist groups are increasingly using natural resources – such as water – as a weapon of war, controlling access to it, and further compounding, and exacerbating resource scarcities,” Lukas Rüttinger writes in the report, titled Insurgency, Terrorism and Organised Crime in a Warming World.
Carbon Credits Likely Worthless in Reducing Emissions, Study Says
By Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, 19 April 2017
As nations grapple with how they can slash their emissions as part of the Paris climate agreement, some may use international credit schemes that were approved in the treaty process. A new report from the European Commission casts serious doubts about such credits, however, concluding that the vast majority of them likely fail to actually reduce emissions.
The report, which was written last year but not published until this April, concludes that buying and selling emissions credits for overseas projects should be limited to a select list that meet rigorous standards, and used only as part of a transition to more effective policies for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
March set a remarkable new record for global warming, NOAA reports
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 19 April 2017
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that last month set an unusual and unexpected new record for global warming.
No month before March 2017 had ever exceeded the “normal” temperature (the 1981–2010 average) by a full 1.8°F (1.0°C) — “in the absence of an El Niño episode in the tropical Pacific Ocean.”
Wildfires Lead to State of Emergency in Guatemala
Prensa Latina, 19 April 2017
The state of emergency, from today on, is in force in Guatemala to facilitate the control and extinction of forest fires, protect communities threatened by them and channel the budget necessary to face the emergency.
The measure, announced yesterday after a meeting of the Cabinet of Government, will be in force for the next 30 days to address the emergencies arising from the more than 500 fire hazards spread on wooden surfaces in 20 of the 22 departments of the country.
According to the decree, the Ministry of Finance will distribute a fund of 200 million quetzales (27 million dollars) for purchases related to the maintenance of helicopters, vehicles, equipment and contracting firefighters for the work of extinction, among others.
[Guyana] Govt unveils guide for ‘green state’
Stabroek News, 19 April 2017
The government has crafted a framework document for its Guyana Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), which will utilise funding from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF).
Finalized and released yesterday by the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Environment (DoE), the “Framework of the Guyana Green State Development Strategy and Financing Mechanisms” is intended to provide guidance on the prioritized areas to be developed in the GSDS. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
[Mexico] Crime gangs block access to forest fires
Mexico News Daily, 19 April 2017
It’s been a bad year so far for forest fires in Guerrero: 132 fires — three times the number registered during the same period last year — have damaged 13,600 hectares of woodlands.
And there are reports that organized crime, whose tentacles reach far in the state, has made matters worse.
The Chilpancingo Civil Protection office has reported that in that municipality alone, in which the state’s capital is located, 47 wildfires have devastated almost 6,300 hectares.
Two of those wildfires remained active as of yesterday. Located between the capital and the port of Acapulco, both have consumed over 1,000 hectares of what state authorities described as “the main lung” of Guerrero’s central region.
The losses caused by these fires are considered serious given the large trees prevalent in the area.
20 April 2017
10 Things You’ve Always Wanted to Ask an Environmental Scientist
Greenpeace, 20 April 2017
These are difficult times to be an environmental scientist. One of the world’s most powerful leaders is working to dismantle significant research institutions, and the spread of “fake news” has made authentic science more important than ever.
We talked to Dr Paul Johnston, who’s worked in Greenpeace’s Science Unit for over 30 years and founded our Research Lab, about how to deal with climate deniers and what the future holds for our planet.
Climate Change as Genocide Inaction Equals Annihilation
By Michael T. Klare, TomDispatch, 20 April 2017
Not since World War II have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than at this very moment. On March 10th, Stephen O’Brien, under secretary-general of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries — Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan — as well as in Yemen were likely to die if not provided with emergency food and medical aid. “We are at a critical point in history,” he declared. “Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N.” Without coordinated international action, he added, “people will simply starve to death [or] suffer and die from disease.”
[USA] California, Quebec and Ontario push forward with cap-and-trade program
By Tamsin McMahon, The Globe and Mail, 20 April 2017
Canadian and U.S. political leaders vowed to press ahead with a joint cap-and-trade program involving California, Quebec and Ontario despite what some fear are mounting legal and political hurdles to establishing North American carbon market.
California and Quebec already hold joint auctions for carbon allowances as part of the Western Climate Initiative. Ontario, which launched a cap-and-trade program earlier this year and held its first auction in March, has pledged to link up with California and Quebec next year. The cross-border program is also seen as a critical plank in the Canadian government’s push for a national carbon-pricing plan to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gases by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
But the program has been beset by political and financial uncertainty.
21 April 2017
Could a tax on meat help us save the planet?
By Simon Fairlie, The Guardian, 21 April 2017
A day would come, Percy Shelley predicted in 1813, when “the monopolising eater of animal flesh would no longer destroy his constitution by eating an acre at a meal”. He explained: “The quantity of nutritious vegetable matter consumed in fattening the carcass of an ox would afford 10 times the sustenance if gathered immediately from the bosom of the earth.”
Two hundred years later, mainstream agronomists and dietitians have caught up with the poet. A growing scientific consensus agrees that feeding cereals and beans to animals is an inefficient and extravagant way to produce human food, that there is a limited amount of grazing land, that the world will be hard-pressed to supply a predicted population of 9 billion people with a diet as rich in meat as the industrialised world currently enjoys, and that it’s not a very healthy diet anyway. On top of this, livestock contribute significantly towards global warming, generating 14.5% of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions, according to one much-quoted estimate from the United Nations.
Living trees are unlikely source of methane
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 21 April 2017
In the great climate change challenge, forests play a key role in absorbing atmospheric carbon. But trees – at least in some cases – are also a source of greenhouse gases, in particular, methane.
Methane is one of the lesser greenhouse gases that drive global warming, but it is also one of the most potent, at least 25 times stronger that carbon dioxide. And a new study by US scientists shows that tree trunks in at least one sample of an upland forest actually emit methane into the atmosphere.
The scientists report in Ecosystems journal that they measured the traffic of carbon dioxide and methane in a stretch of woodland in the state of Maryland in the growing season, between April and December. They were looking for the precise “sink or source” roles of the growing trees, the soil between the trees and the coarse woody debris in various stages of decay on the forest floor.
Brazil’s Indigenous Leaders Convene To Shore Up Eroding Rights
By Ciro Calderon, Ecosystem Marketplace, 21 April 2017
Few governmental institutions anywhere are as storied as FUNAI, Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (Fundação Nacional do Índiothe in Portuguese).
It was founded in 1910 as the Indian Protection Service (Serviço de Proteção ao Índio) by naturalist and explorer Candido Rondon – a man some have called the Teddy Roosevelt of Brazil because of his later drive to develop national parks (and who was, in fact, Roosevelt’s guide in his 1912 journey into the Amazon). Rondon had witnessed firsthand the atrocities against the country’s indigenous population, and he founded the agency under the motto “Die if you must, but never kill,” to both “civilize” isolated indigenous peoples and protect them from outsiders. At times enlightened and at other times corrupt, FUNAI is the only government agency explicitly charged with demarcating indigenous territories and enforcing indigenous rights,but its ability to do so has been dramatically curtailed under President Michel Temer and his agribusiness allies in the National Congress.
22 April 2017
British fraudster who ripped off thousands of investors in a ‘boiler room’ scam is gunned down in an assassination attempt in Panama City
By Brian Ellery and Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 22 April 2017
A British fraudster who ripped off thousands of investors in a so-called ‘boiler room’ scam has been seriously wounded in a dramatic assassination attempt in Panama City.
Extraordinary footage shows Christopher Burton staggering to hospital after being shot three times as he sat in his car at traffic lights.
A motorbike drew up and the rider or passenger stood in front of his car and riddled his grey Ford Explorer with 11 bullets before speeding off.
Burton, who was hit in the arm and stomach, spent days fighting for his life.