REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
Multilevel governance and land use in Chiapas and Yucatan: Lessons for REDD+ in Mexico
CIFOR, August 2017
In Mexico, land-use policy is fraught with centralizing tendencies, and different sectors often have incompatible (rural) development agendas. This inhibits successful innovation and a ‘made to fit’ territorial approach to low emissions development.
Although formally REDD+ is advancing, in practice there exist doubts, tensions and competing visions regarding implementation. The designation of a forestry agency without the rank of ministry – CONAFOR – for the implementation of REDD+ has challenged the socialization of the REDD+ message throughout other sectors.
CONAFOR’s special programs in REDD+ early action areas revealed a forest-centered, conservationist approach rather than the sustainable management goals and low emissions development expressed in Mexico’s policy documents (including the National REDD+ Strategy).
Civil society has been active in supporting and strengthening environmental policy in the context of REDD+. However, there are concerns that many nongovernmental organizations do not actually represent rural inhabitants and forest owners, while grassroots productive organizations have largely been left out of the debate.
14 August 2017
Systemic Change Driven by Moral Awakening Is Our Only Hope
By Richard Heinberg, EcoWatch, 14 August 2017
Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity.
The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.
Allowing polluters to offset carbon emissions by paying forest owners effectively reduces greenhouse gases, Stanford study finds
By Rob Jordan, Stanford news, 14 August 2017
You can’t grow money on trees, but you can earn money for letting trees grow. Or at least you can through a pioneering California program that allows forest owners around the United States to sell carbon credits to companies required by the state to reduce emissions. Researchers at Stanford analyzed the program and found that the initiative has valuable environmental benefits beyond just offsetting greenhouse gases.
Landscape approaches have potential but can do better in reporting, practice
By Bill Hinchberger, CIFOR Forests News, 14 August 2017
In recent decades, growing numbers of policymakers have begun to embrace more holistic strategies to address the intertwined challenges of environmental sustainability and human development. Known as ‘landscape approaches’, these strategies have gained traction in governments and international organizations around the world.
But are they really being implemented as intended? And are they finding greater success than single focal initiatives?
These were the types of questions asked by a research team led by CIFOR scientists when they embarked on an analysis of nearly 17,000 documents — culled to a critical review of 24 peer-reviewed papers and 150 unpublished case studies (termed ‘gray literature’) — on experiences with landscape approaches in tropical countries.
Transforming forest killers into forest savers
By Clay Ogg, ALERT, 14 August 2017
Government farm subsidies in tropical countries have grown to where they dwarf forest preservation programs by about a hundred to one. These massive farm subsidies are now the biggest global driver of tropical deforestation.
Astonishingly, the explosive growth of tropical farm subsidies occurred during the past decade — at the same time that international climate agreements have called for eliminating deforestation drivers.
Farm subsidies in key countries, such as Brazil and Indonesia, now outspend forest-preservation programs, including REDD programs to reduce carbon emissions, by over 100 to 1.
El Nino aided in massive carbon dioxide release
By Subodh Varmal, Times of India, 14 August 2017
Even as carbon emissions from use of fossil fuels flattened out in the past few years, the monster El Nino of 2014-16 caused over 3 billion tonnes of carbon to get released into the atmosphere, pushing carbon dioxide concentration to record levels. This was announced by scientists after they analysed data collected by Nasa’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, which measures level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
[Indonesia] PT. Surya Panen Subur II failing to stop illegal fires and destruction of Tripa peatland
Rainforest Action Network, 14 August 2017
Clearance of the Leuser Ecosystem’s critically important Tripa peatland has continued inside the notorious PT. Surya Panen Subur II palm oil concession. In the month leading up to June 9, 2017, new peat drainage canals were built, illegal fires were lit to clear land, and a total of 24 hectares of forest were lost inside the concession. This area is considered of special importance for the needed habitat it provides to some of the highest densities of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans in the world–dubbed the “orangutan capital of the world”–as well as for its role as a global carbon sink. The destruction continues despite a governmental moratorium on forest clearance for palm oil development and new regulations that aim to protect globally important peatlands in Indonesia. Now a total of 174 hectares have been cleared inside PT. SPS II since the issuance of a June 2016 government circular letter to palm oil companies in Aceh demanding that clearance of forests stop.
Mozambique’s primeval forests are disappearing at an alarming rate
By Caxton Central, Alberton Record, 14 August 2017
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) China consumes more than 90 percent of Mozambique’s timber and in 2013 “a staggering 93 percent of logging in Mozambique was illegal”.
EIA conducted research and undercover investigations from 2013 to 2014.
EIA Forest Campaigner Jago Wadley said: “The staggering level of illegal logging and timber smuggling for the Chinese market has put harvesting volumes way beyond sustainable levels.”
“If the excessive focus on just a handful of commercial timber species continues, commercial stocks will be largely depleted during the next 15 years.”
[USA] ‘Father of Financial Futures’ Seeks Cryptocurrency Hardware Patent
By Stan Higgins, coindesk.com, 14 August 2017
A U.S. economist and businessman known for his work in spearheading the early development of futures contracts is seeking a cryptocurrency patent.
Richard Sandor, a former Chicago Board of Trade chief economist and vice president, advanced the utilization of financial futures back in the 1970s, earning him the moniker “the father of financial futures” and, later, “the father of carbon trading,” according to Time.
Notably, perhaps, Sandor is now listed as the first of three inventors for the “Secure Electronic Storage Devices for Physical Delivery of Digital Currencies When Trading” patent application, released on August 10 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
15 August 2017
Most countries are better off with intact forests
By Claudia Caruana, SciDev.net, 15 August 2017
Converting forests into farms is not economically viable except in selected regions, says a global study.
Published last month (July) in PLoS Biology, the study by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) examined deforestation in more than 50 countries in the tropics between 2000—2012, and identified regions where deforestation is most and least beneficial.
According to Luis Roman Carrasco, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the NUS faculty of science, the study was undertaken “to help policymakers realise whether their deforestation strategies made economic sense and how these could be modified to avoid inefficient loss of natural resources.”
Aviation: The Dirty, Not-So-Little Secret of Internet Governance
By Michael J. Oghia, CircleID, 15 August 2017
This article aims to provide an overview of carbon offsetting, a guide to investing in carbon offsetting programs, and concludes with a call to action by the Internet governance community to research and ultimately invest in suitable carbon offsetting programs.
Almost a year ago, I began writing about the relationship between the Internet/information and communications technologies (ICTs), the environment, and sustainability. One of the points I made in my first article on the subject is that there is much more we as a community can do to reduce our ecological footprint and enhance the sustainability of the Internet — which happens to be good for both the planet and business. This necessity combined with the ever-growing urgency to act hit hard when I recently read a New York Times article about how bad flying is for the environment.
Connecting Eco Heroes To Capital Using Exponential Technology
By Vaishali Dar, BWDisrupt, 15 August 2017
At Lykke Corporation, a Swiss Fintech Company, there is an ethical use of the power of blockchain with the Lykke wallet tokenizing investment in nature. “On the Lykke Exchange, we have issued TREE as a digital token that represents a mangrove tree planted on 1 sqm in Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park in Myanmar managed by Worldview International Foundation (WIF). It enables anyone to act on climate and restore a vital ecosystem with the press of a button,” says Simran Mulchandani, Business Head, Lykke, India.
Say yes to sustainable palm oil
China.org, 15 August 2017
A campaign based on the theme of “Say yes to sustainable palm oil” was launched by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in City Shop, Beijing, on August 10. The goal is to raise consumers’ awareness of purchasing green products and adopting a sustainable lifestyle.
This campaign is an important part of the 2017 Sustainable Consumption Week. The Sustainable Consumption Week is co-organized by the United Nations Environment, the UN-China Sustainable Consumption Partnership, the China Chain Store & Franchise Association (CCFA), the World Wildlife Fund China (WWF) and the China Sustainable Retailer Roundtable. It involves a broad range of stakeholders, and aims to raise awareness about sustainable consumption, promote conscious purchasing decisions and create enabling policies for responsible consumption.
‘Sustainable beef’ coming to a supermarket near you
By Reid Southwick, Canoe.com, 15 August 2017
Steaks sold at your local grocery store could be labelled “sustainable beef” as early as next year as the Canadian beef industry comes to grips with consumer demands to know where their food comes from and how it was grown.
The industry has also come under pressure by campaigns pressing consumers to eat less beef due to environmental and animal welfare concerns. But Alberta producers believe a new sustainable beef program can help them fend off these criticisms.
While “sustainability” is a buzzword that lacks meaning, a beef industry association backed by environmental groups, meat packers, producers and retailers has been defining the rules the industry must meet to source sustainable beef.
Bolivia approves controversial highway in Amazon biodiversity hotspot
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 15 August 2017
Bolivia has given the go ahead to a controversial highway which would cut through an Amazon biodiversity hotspot almost the size of Jamaica and home to 14,000 mostly indigenous people.
President Evo Morales enacted the new law opening the way for the 190-mile (300km) road through the Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Territory and National Park, known as Tipnis, its Spanish acronym. The road will divide the park in two and strip it of the protections won in 2011 when a national march by thousands of protesters ended in clashes with the police and forced the government to change its position.
Bolivia Announces Plan to Mitigate Climate Change
teleSUR, 15 August 2017
Bolivia has announced new programs to tackle the effects of climate change at the Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Conference for Drought Management and Preparedness.
During the conference, Crispim Moreira, representative of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Bolivia, outlined government initiatives to guarantee Bolivia’s natural resources — especially in times of drought.
These include My Water, My Irrigation and Water Harvesting programs.
[Ghana and Burkina Faso] Finding a way in for better landscape governance
By Suzanna Dayne, CIFOR Forests News, 15 August 2017
Landscape approaches provide a framework to find solutions to social, environmental and economic challenges. In the past, sectoral approaches were often used to manage land, but more and more experts agree that integrated approaches are needed to ensure that landscapes are managed sustainably.
With this kind of approach, a landscape would be managed in such a way that it provides environmental services for more than one group or sector. For example, a single landscape could be managed in an integrated way to become a source of water for local communities and agriculture, provide trees for timber, support local biodiversity and give shade for cocoa farming. In this way, integrated landscape approaches can also contribute to solving global environmental challenges such as biodiversity loss, food insecurity and climate change.
Pakistan’s ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ surpasses Bonn challenge commitment
By Sana Jamal, Gulf News, 15 August 2017
Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has reached a new milestone by planting one billion trees in two years, exceeding a global commitment of restoring 350,000 hectares of forests and degraded land.
This green initiative was launched by cricket star turned politician Imran Khan, who heads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, in an effort to restore forests lost to natural disasters and years of tree-cutting.
[USA] ‘Donald Trump forest’ climate change project gains momentum
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 15 August 2017
A campaign to plant trees to compensate for the impact of President Trump’s climate policies has 120,000 pledges.
The project was started by campaigners upset at what they call the president’s “ignorance” on climate science.
Trump Forest allows people either to plant locally or pay for trees in a number of poorer countries.
Mr Trump says staying in the climate pact will damage the US economy, cost jobs and give a competitive advantage to countries such as India and China.
The organisers say they need to plant an area the size of Kentucky to offset the Trump effect.
Based in New Zealand, the project began in March this year and so far has gained pledges from around 450 people based all around the world. In the first month, 15,000 trees were pledged – that’s now gone past 120,000.
16 August 2017
No El Nino, But July of 2017 was the Hottest on Record. So What the Hell is Going on?
robertscribbler.com, 16 August 2017
According to NASA’s GISS global temperature monitoring service, July of 2017 was 0.83 C hotter than the NASA 20th Century baseline (1.05 C hotter than 1880s). That’s the hottest July ever recorded in the 137 year global climate record.
In the Pacific, ENSO conditions remain neutral. And since 2014-2016 featured one of the strongest El Ninos on record, you’d expect global temperatures to back off a bit from what should have been a big spike in the larger warming trend. So what happened?
Intensifying Equatorial Rains: 3.3 Million Afflicted by Flooding in India and Bangladesh as Hundreds Lose Lives to Landslides from Sierra Leone to Nepal
robertscribbler.com, 16 August 2017
There’s something wrong with the rain these days. For many regions of the globe, when the rain does fall, it more and more often comes with an abnormally fierce intensity.
This increasing severity of heavy rainfall events is just one aspect of human-forced climate change through fossil fuel burning. For as the Earth warms, both the rate of evaporation and precipitation increases. And as atmospheric moisture loading and convection increase coordinate with rising temperatures, so do the potential peak intensities of the most powerful storms.
Can business save the world from climate change?
By Bianca Nogrady, Eco-Business, 16 August 2017
“We are still in.” On June 5, 2017, with these four words a group of US businesses and investors with a combined annual revenue of US$1.4 trillion sent a powerful message to the world: US president Donald Trump may have withdrawn from the Paris agreement on climate change four days earlier, but corporate America was not following suit.
“We Are Still In” launched with more than 20 Fortune 500 companies on board, including Google, Apple, Nike and Microsoft, as well as a host of smaller companies.
On the edge of forests, change comes in many forms
By Deanna Ramsay, CIFOR Forests News, 16 August 2017
Change is a fact of life. But for those living in landscapes of forests and farms, nowadays, that change can be rapid.
The ever-increasing demand for food, for products made from wood and for meat means previously stable mosaics of trees, homes, agricultural lands, grazing spaces and more are transforming.
New research is aiming to understand the impacts of those transformations on the people that live in those landscapes – people who till land, manage cattle, gather fruit and harvest wood.
China to launch carbon emissions market this year
By Zhu Lingqing, China Daily, 16 August 2017
China’s National Development and Reform Commission plans to establish a national carbon-trading system and launch a carbon emissions market this November, according to a report by Scientific American.
The NDRC said in its report a carbon emissions quota control system will be applied to manage the cap-and-trade program covering companies with an annual energy consumption of more than 10,000 tons of standard coal in the petrochemical, chemical, building materials, iron and steel, nonferrous metals, paper, electricity and aviation sectors.
In addition, a state and local two-level management system for the emissions market will be set up, the report stated.
[Ethiopia] Norway Extends 1.7bn Birr for REDD+ Project Implementation
Government of Ethiopia press release, 16 August 2017
Norway has extended a 1.74 billion Birr financial assistance on Wednesday to support the implementation of Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy through the REDD+ project.
This is the first financial assistance for Norway to the REDD+ project and is expected to make significant contribution to reduce emission from forests.
During the occasion, Admasu Nebebe, State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation stated that Norway and UK are the countries who officially pledged continued support to realize Ethiopia’s vision of building carbon neutral and climate resilient middle economy by 2025.
17 August 2017
Trump’s rejection of national climate report would do more damage than exiting the Paris Agreement
By Gary W. Yohe, The Conversation, 17 August 2017
A scientific report done every four years has been thrust into the spotlight because its findings directly contradict statements from the president and various Cabinet officials.
If the Trump administration chooses to reject the pending national Climate Science Special Report, it would be more damaging than pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Full stop. This is a bold claim, but as an economist and scientist who was a vice chair of the committee that shepherded the last national climate assessment report to its completion, I can explain why this is the case.
Maps reveal how Amazon development is closing in on isolated tribes
By Barbara Fraser, Science, 17 August 2017
Development projects in the Amazon Basin—including dams, roads, and oil and gas operations—are encroaching on forests that are the last refuges of thousands of indigenous people who continue to shun contact with the outside world, according to a study that estimates the tribes’ locations.
Antenor Vaz, formerly of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) in Brasília, the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs agency, combed a wide range of records to map confirmed or reported locations of isolated groups in seven South American countries—Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. Then he laid that map over maps of oil and gas leases, mining claims, deforestation, and hydroelectric dams planned or under construction. Although most sightings of isolated people are inside parks or territories set aside to protect them, the maps show how these areas are increasingly hemmed in by large projects.
Brazil court favours indigenous groups in land dispute
Al Jazeera, 17 August 2017
Brazilian indigenous activists celebrated on Wednesday after the Supreme Court ruled against a state seeking compensation for land that had been declared tribal reserves.
The ruling against Mato Grosso state in western Brazil was seen as a victory for indigenous rights in the face of constant pressure from the powerful agricultural lobby.
The state had argued that the tribal reserves were created out of its land, but the court rejected this 8-0, saying that the territory had long belonged to the native peoples.
[USA] Climate Lessons from California
By Noah S. Diffenbaugh, New York Times, 17 August 2017
California faces serious risks from climate change. Some are already being felt, like the severe heat this summer and recent episodes of extremely low snowpack in the mountains, which the state depends on for much of its water. Those are among the key messages in a new climate science report now under review in the White House. The good news is that California has been working hard to catch up with the climate change that has already happened, and to get ahead of what is still to come.
18 August 2017
Climatecoin new CO2 token to fight climate change
By Christopher Lewis, News BTC, 18 August 2017
CLIMATECOIN, is a new cryptocurrency created for Climate change action. Its Organization has announced the launch of its “CO2” Token Sale, that will allow users to perceive a percentage of the benefits of the Organization for its participation in companies that fight Climate Change. The Organization will become a Sectoral Investment fund focused in companies that fight Climate Change and generate Carbon Credits. The organization is being advised by United Nations to select the projects that meet the Carbon credits criteria.
[Zambia] Lower Zambezi claims to be world’s first carbon neutral national park
By Ben Ireland, Travel Weekly, 18 August 2017
The Lower Zambezi claims to be the world’s first carbon neutral national park.
After a project with BioCarbon and the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project, the Zambian national park says it is totally sustainable.
Two of the park’s camps, Chiawa and Old Mondoro Bush Camp bought carbon credits from the Lower Zambezi REDD+ project, using “internationally accepted values for fossil fuel use” in order to offset the carbon emissions both properties produce.
19 August 2017
Brazil’s agents of the Amazon fighting loggers, fires to stop deforestation
Reuters, 19 August 2017
The small town of Apui sits at the new frontline of Brazil’s fight against advancing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, where vast forest fires belch jet black smoke visible for miles and loggers denude the jungle.
The home of 21,000 people in southern Amazonas state was long protected by its remote location from illegal loggers, ranchers and farmers who clear the forest.
Now those who would destroy the jungle are moving in from bordering states, following the Transamazon Highway, which is little more than a red-dirt track in this part of the rainforest.
Norway embarks on mission improbable
By Jillian Ambrose, The Telegraph, 19 August 2017
The stench of tons of compressed waste is something you get used to. High above the warehouse floor, tightly packed bales of British rubbish are stacked and waiting to be burned, across the North Sea from the homes in Bristol and Birmingham that produced them.
In a modern plant wedged between pine and granite on the edge of Oslo, Nordic power company Fortum is using British rubbish to generate electricity and warmth for a nearby district-heating project. This energy- from-waste plant alone incinerates 45 tons of rubbish at 850 degrees Celsius every hour.
“It’s the smell of money,” laughs Pal Mikkelsen, the plant’s director.