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REDD in the news: 7-13 August 2017

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

7 August 2017

Fossil fuel subsidies are a staggering $5 tn per year
By John Abraham, The Guardian, 7 August 2017
Fossil fuels have two major problems that paint a dim picture for their future energy dominance. These problems are inter-related but still should be discussed separately. First, they cause climate change. We know that, we’ve known it for decades, and we know that continued use of fossil fuels will cause enormous worldwide economic and social consequences.
Second, fossil fuels are expensive. Much of their costs are hidden, however, as subsidies. If people knew how large their subsidies were, there would be a backlash against them from so-called financial conservatives.

[Indonesia] Road projects threaten Sumatra’s last great rainforests
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 7 August 2017
One of the last and largest remnants of tropical rainforest in Asia is under threat from multiple road development plans.
This forest complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (TRHS), is located on the spine of the Bukit Barisan Mountain Range in Indonesia’s main western island, Sumatra.
Occupying 2.5 million hectares (9,652 square miles), the site comprises three national parks: Mount Leuser, Kerinci Seblat and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Parks.

[USA] Al Gore’s Carbon Footprint Doesn’t Matter
By Emily Atkin, New Republic, 7 August 2017
Al Gore is back in the spotlight with his new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel, making him a top target again of the right-wing counter-intel complex. On Thursday, the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research released a report, “Al Gore’s Inconvenient Reality,” that paints the former vice president as a hypocritical climate advocate. In near-creepy detail, NCPPR author Drew Johnson maps Gore’s home in Nashville, Tennessee, down to the number of windows, and concludes that “Gore’s own home electricity use has hypocritically increased to more than 21 times the national average this past year with no sign of slowing down.” Johnson also slams Gore’s numerous attempts to modernize his home through energy efficiency, solar panels, and geothermal heating, saying they have been inadequate in offsetting his energy use.

8 August 2017

Forest conservation approaches must recognise the rights of local people, 8 August 2017
Until the 1980s, biodiversity conservation in the tropics focused on the approach: creating protected areas from which local people were forcibly excluded. More recently, conservationists have embraced the notion of ‘: a dream world where people and nature thrive side by side.
But over and over, we have seen these illusions shattered and the need to navigate appears unavoidable.
To this day, protected areas established coercively. They exclude local communities without acknowledging their customary rights. Sadly, most conservation approaches are characterised by a model of ‘let’s conserve first, and then compensate later if we can find the funding’.

Development Finance Institutions – catalysing private sector investment in Africa
By Frances Okosi (Baker McKenzie), African law & Business, 8 August 2017
If the gap between the quality and quantity of Sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructure and the infrastructure in the rest of the developing world could be narrowed, the growth of GDP per capita for the region would be increased by around 1.7% per year. This is according to the latest edition of the World Bank report – Africa’s Pulse.
It has been estimated that development of Africa’s infrastructure will require investment of USD 93 billion per year for the next decade. As noted in the World Bank’s report, to date less than half that amount is being invested annually, with only 50% of the amount invested being provided by regional governments. This leaves a funding gap of USD 48 billion a year and an increasing need for the private sector to play a significant role.

‘Dodgy’ greenhouse gas data threatens Paris accord
By Matt McGrath, BBC, 8 August 2017
Potent, climate-warming gases are being emitted into the atmosphere but are not being recorded in official inventories, a BBC investigation has found.
Air monitors in Switzerland have detected large quantities of one gas coming from a location in Italy.
However, the Italian submission to the UN records just a tiny amount of the substance being emitted.
Levels of some emissions from India and China are so uncertain that experts say their records are plus or minus 100%.
These flaws posed a bigger threat to the Paris climate agreement than US President Donald Trump’s intention to withdraw, researchers told BBC Radio 4’s Counting Carbon programme.

In Colombia, deforestation gangs run rampant
By Antonio José Paz Cardona, Mongabay, 8 August 2017
In Colombia, there are eight major areas of deforestation. Chief among them is the department of Guaviare, where three of the eight deforested areas are located, according to Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies (IDEAM). All of Guaviare’s municipalities are affected.
Unlike the country’s other deforestation hotspots, which have been reduced by up to four percent, the problem in Guaviare continues and even increases in comparison to IDEAM’s measurements in 2016. The increase in deforestation is due to road construction, the growth of the agricultural frontier, the practice of clearing of the forest and sowing the pastures for land speculation, and the cultivation of crops for illicit use.

First real test for Jokowi on haze as annual fires return to Indonesia
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 8 August 2017
Fire season has returned to Indonesia, marking the first real test of President Joko Widodo’s efforts to prevent a repeat of the 2015 haze crisis.
Land and forest fires have broken out in pockets of the archipelago country since mid-July, with the majority of fire-linked hotspots detected in the provinces of West Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara and Aceh.
On Aug. 6, the number of hotspots reached 282 nationwide, compared to just 239 detected the previous week, according to Indonesia’s space agency.
Since late July, West Kalimantan has had the most hotspots, with 150 on Aug. 6, followed by South Sumatra (23) and South Sulawesi (18).

Indonesia’s environment minister proposes meeting to tackle forest fires
By Saifulbahri Ismail, Channel NewsAsia, 8 August 2017
Indonesia may soon hold a coordination meeting to tackle the forest fires in various parts of the country, according to Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.
Local news portal quoted Siti Nurbaya as saying she proposed the meeting to President Joko Widodo after meeting him at the Presidential Palace on Monday (Aug 7).
“I will follow this up with the Cabinet Secretary,” she said. “I will immediately send out the letters to ask for a coordination meeting with all the heads of districts, especially in the fire-prone areas.”

Restoring forests: Malawi’s 2030 climate plan
By Adrienne Day, Impact Alpha, 8 August 2017
In late 2016, southern Malawi saw temperatures hit 46 degrees celsius (115 degrees F.), and the rains never came. Research from the University of Malawi, backed by 50 years of rainfall and temperature data, established that drought, flooding, strong winds and high temperatures were all becoming more common in the region. Those who depend on rain-fed agriculture, notably maize, know this firsthand — a food crisis looms for many Malawians as well as for 50 millionpeople living in southern Africa. Drought, decreasing land productivity and poor water management can also lead to conflict; in usually peaceful Malawi, a land-defense movement has started fighting against foreign-owned tea plantations.

[Pakistan] Forests provide optimum shield against climate risks: Mushahidullah
DND, 8 August 2017
The Federal Climate Change Minister Mushahidullah Khan on Tuesday said that all-out efforts are being taken to boost Pakistan’s climate resilience by re-vitalising forestry sector.
“We cannot protect the country from devastating impacts of global warming-induced climate change, as long as our forests continue to remain chopped down”, the minister said while addressing a national consultative meeting on the World Bank-funded programme called REDD+(Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) held in Islamabad.

[Pakistan] Forests provide optimum shield against climate risks
By Parvez Jabri, Business Recorder, 8 August 2017
Federal Climate Change Minister on Tuesday said that all-out efforts are being taken to boost Pakistan’s climate resilience by re-vitalising forestry sector.
“We cannot protect the country from devastating impacts of global warming-induced climate change, as long as our forests continue to remain chopped down”, he added.
“Forests are the best way to achieve enhanced climate resilience against fallouts of the climate change impacts,” he told a national consultative meeting on the World Bank-funded programme called REDD+(Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) held here.

9 August 2017

The real fire and fury is in Greenland right now, and it’s super scary
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 9 August 2017
Thousands of acres of permafrost are burning in what appears to be Greenland’s biggest fire on record. And climate scientists are freaking out not just because the massive fires are unusual, but because they release large amounts of greenhouse gases and speed up the melt of the ice sheet and the carbon-rich permafrost.
Greenland is almost entirely covered in an enormous ice sheet, but grassy, carbon-rich peatlands along the coast are heating up and drying out. “These fires appear to be peatland fires,” wildfire expert Prof. Jessica L. McCarty told Wildfire Today. “They are likely occurring in areas of degraded permafrost, which are predicted to have high thaw rates between now and 2050.”

[Pakistan] Forests provide optimum shield against climate risks: Mushahidullah
Daily Times, 9 August 2017
Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan said on Tuesday that forests were precious natural resources of the country.
“It is our national duty to stop ruthless cutting of trees. The government needs to act now and take all the possible measures to ensure future safe environment for future generations,” he said.

[Pakistan] Meeting stresses need for effective mechanism to stop deforestation
Daily Times, 9 August 2017
Meeting stresses need for effective mechanism to stop deforestation
Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan said on Tuesday that forests were precious natural resources of the country.
“It is our national duty to stop ruthless cutting of trees. The government needs to act now and take all the possible measures to ensure future safe environment for future generations,” he said.

[Peru] For secure land rights, indigenous forest communities need more than just titles
By Yoly Gutierrez, CIFOR Forests News, 9 August 2017
Under Peruvian law, a title gives traditional forest communities rights over land, but resources on that land, such as forests, formally remain the property of the state. In order to use these resources, communities are required to follow additional procedures to obtain permits and authorizations.
This was the case faced by the indigenous community of Tres Islas in the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios – despite securing a land title more than 20 years ago, non-governmental organizations working in the region have reported that a large portion of the community’s territory is overlapped by mining permits.

Diplomatic cable: US has no plans to renegotiate Paris Agreement
By Megan Darby, Climate Home, 9 August 2017
Donald Trump’s administration is not trying to re-write the Paris climate deal, according to a US diplomatic cable published by Reuters on Tuesday.
The briefing note from secretary of state Rex Tillerson to embassies around the world, dated 4 August, clears up one of the lingering uncertainties around the US position.
Envoys have been instructed to quash speculation the US wants to re-open a hard-fought international consensus on tackling climate change.

10 August 2017

Massive El Niño sent greenhouse-gas emissions soaring
By Gabriel Popkin, Nature, 10 August 2017
The monster El Niño weather pattern of 2014–16 caused tropical forests to burp up 3 billion tonnes of carbon, according to a new analysis. That’s equivalent to nearly 20% of the emissions produced during the same period by burning fossil fuels and making cement.
Measurements taken by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, which measures the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, suggest that El Niño boosted emissions in three ways. A combination of high temperatures and drought increased the number and severity of wildfires in southeast Asia, while drought stunted plant growth in the Amazon rainforest, reducing the amount of carbon it absorbed. And in Africa, a combination of warming temperatures and near-normal rainfall increased the rate at which forests exhaled CO2.

Climate report: Hottest year, highest greenhouse gas marks, record sea levels
By Steve Almasy, CNN, 10 August 2017
The records highlighted in the “State of the Climate in 2016” report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sound ominous.
• Global land surface temperatures last year were highest in 137 years of record keeping.
• Sea surface temperatures were also at their highest.
• Sea levels were at record highs in the 24 years that satellite record keeping has been used.
• Greenhouse gas marks rose faster than any year and carbon dioxide readings were above a 400 parts per million average for the year for the first time.

Air Travel Could Account for 25% of Global Warming By 2050
By Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit, 10 August 2017
According to a recent United Nations report, the global aviation sector could consume as much as 27 percent of the world’s carbon budget by 2050. Even within the most optimistic scenario, airplanes will still be responsible for 12 percent of the world’s carbon emissions mid-century if the world will be able to limit climate change to 1.5°C.
The report comes as global aviation and travel organizations, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), have pledged to cap emissions from projected 2020 figures. The IATA says it has pushed its members to contribute to the organization’s goals of improving overall fuel efficiency 1.5 percent annually through the end of this decade; by 2050, IATA says it aims to lower carbon dioxide emissions 50 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels.

How carbon farming could halt climate change
By Laura Sayre, The New Food Economy, 10 August 2017
We can’t say we weren’t warned. For years, scientists have argued that human civilization must prevent the planet’s average annual temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius—or face certain catastrophe. Once we pass that critical threshold, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, life on planet earth is going to be a lot less fun. Think droughts, floods, superstorms, food shortages, and widespread extinctions.
Now, as forest fires rage and Delaware-sized chunks break off from Antarctica, scientists have more grim news: We’re going to hit the two-degree mark by the end of this century. Even if we manage to cut carbon emissions drastically, it’s simply too late—with one big caveat. If we can find some way to suck excess greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere, we may still avert the very worst catastrophes.

Guyana taps into GRIF to finance hinterland ICT connectivity
By Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves, 10 August 2017
Guyana has asked the Guyana REDD‐plus Investment Fund (GRIF) for US$17 million to fund a project to increase internet connectivity in hinterland communities, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes has said.
She is quoted by government’s Department of Public Information (DPI) as saying that the project-ICT Access and eServices for Hinterland, Poor and Remote Communities- is expected to bridge the Information Communications Technology (ICT) gap between the hinterland and the coast.
Hughes said the project, which would be funded under the Guyana-Norway Agreement for a US$250 million compensation package for preserving standing forests to absorb carbon emissions that cause climate change, would ensure equitable access to ICT services.

Germany seeks carbon credits to offset official travel
By Priyanka Shrestha, Energy Live News, 10 August 2017
Germany has launched a tender process to buy more than 235,000 credits to offset last year’s carbon emissions from business travel.
The government is compensating for the climate footprint of all its official travel through UN-certified carbon offsets, according to the UN Framework for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The tender process is open until 16th August.
The transport sector is responsible for around 23% of total energy-related global CO2 emissions and the German Government wants to play its part in tackling the problem by using credits obtained from projects that are certified according to UN rules under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

[Malaysia] Bomba battling two large fires in Selangor forest reserves
The Star, 10 August 2017
Two large fires in the Raja Musa Forest Reserve in Bestari Jaya and the Kuala Langat Utara Forest Reserve near here have been brought under control and efforts are ongoing to extinguish remaining flames.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (operations) Mohd Sani Harul said Wednesday that the fire in the forest reserve was spotted at about 6.30pm last Sunday and involved 120 hectares.
“The fire started on idle land and strong winds drove it to the forest reserve. The blaze on 110 hectares has been put out,” he said in a statement.

Norway’s push for Arctic oil and gas threatens Paris climate goals – study
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 10 August 2017
Norway’s plan to ramp up oil and gas production in the Arctic threatens global efforts to tackle climate change, according to a new study.
The research says 12 gigatonnes of carbon could be added by exploration sites in the Barents Sea and elsewhere over the next 50 years, which is 1.5 times more than the Norwegian fields currently being tapped or under construction.
The authors of the report from Oil Change International – an NGO backed by Friends of the Earth, WWF and Greenpeace – say this undermines the 2015 Paris agreement to cut worldwide emissions in order to keep the planet’s temperature rise to between 1.5C and 2C.

[Pakistan] Mushahid highlights danger of deforestation
The Express Tribune, 10 August 2017
Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan has said that the forests were our precious natural resources and hence, it was our national duty to stop ruthless cutting of trees.
He said that we need to act now and take all the possible measures to ensure our future safe environment for our future generations.
The Federal Minister expressed these views while speaking at the closing session of two- day’s consultative meeting of National Working Groups on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+).

11 August 2017

Indonesia Forest Fires Intractable Problem, Despite Efforts
By Krithika Varagur, Voice of America, 11 August 2017
Indonesia is bracing for more forest fires after hundreds of “hot spots” were detected last week, marking a new high point in this year’s record.
For Indonesia, this forest fires have become a predictable and intractable annual problem.
Five provinces (Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan) have declared states of emergency, and one Sumatra official called for people to be shot if they set fires. Major cities like Pontianak, West Kalimantan and Pekanbaru, Sumatra, have been intermittently choked with haze from 282 forest fires.

Meet the S. Korean Companies Destroying Indonesia’s Virgin Rainforest
By Ben Jackson, Korea Exposé, 11 August 2017
In the 1850s, travelling British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace described New Guinea as “a country which contained more strange and new and beautiful natural objects than any other part of the globe.”
Almost 150 years later, American ornithologist Bruce Beehler echoed Wallace’s sense of awe, calling part of the island “as close to the Garden of Eden as you’re going to find on Earth.” Tree kangaroos, birds of paradise, cassowaries and giant rats are merely the most flamboyant rock stars of a world brimming with unique flora and fauna, much of it still undiscovered.

Why Pollution Trading Will Never Be the Climate Solution for California—or Anywhere Else
By Dr. Michael Dorsey, Jane Williams, Alternet, 11 August 2017
The planet’s largest carbon trading, or cap-and-trade platform, the European Union Emissions Trading System (or EU ETS) was introduced 12 years ago. Initially, the average carbon price was low, on average 7-9 euros per ton ($8-10)) of traded carbon; after 2008 prices plummeted almost to zero following the global economic downturn. The system never recovered since.
The smart money, in the hands of the world’s largest banks, exited the planet’s largest cap-and-trade system by the boatload, and effectively carbon trading writ large.

12 August 2017

13 August 2017

[UK] I was cold called by a firm involved in expensive watches and then invested £6k – how can I tell if it’s a share scam?
By Tony Hetherington, Daily Mail, 13 August 2017
P. J. writes: I was cold called by Incrementum Funding about buying shares in Paragon Time Trading Ltd, a business involved in expensive watches that was to be listed on the AIM market according to salesman Spencer George.
An impressive email set out returns and other details, and I invested £6,000. Is this a share scam?

It might have been better to ask this before parting with your cash. This is a high risk investment, and there are huge question marks over the sales company.
There are innocent businesses with similar names, so let me make clear that you were contacted by IFRC Consultants Ltd, which uses Incrementum Funding as a trading name. It is based in Croydon, South London, and run by 29-year-old Timothy Sandhu.

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