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REDD in the news: 28 August – 3 September 2017

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

28 August 2017

It’s a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly
By Michael E Mann, The Guardian, 28 August 2017
What can we say about the role of climate change in the unprecedented disaster that is unfolding in Houston with Hurricane Harvey? There are certain climate change-related factors that we can, with great confidence, say worsened the flooding.
Sea level rise attributable to climate change – some of which is due to coastal subsidence caused by human disturbance such as oil drilling – is more than half a foot (15cm) over the past few decades (see here for a decent discussion). That means the storm surge was half a foot higher than it would have been just decades ago, meaning far more flooding and destruction.

Harvey Is What Climate Change Looks Like
By Eric Holthaus, Politico, 28 August 2017
In all of U.S. history, there’s never been a storm like Hurricane Harvey. That fact is increasingly clear, even though the rains are still falling and the water levels in Houston are still rising.
But there’s an uncomfortable point that, so far, everyone is skating around: We knew this would happen, decades ago. We knew this would happen, and we didn’t care. Now is the time to say it as loudly as possible: Harvey is what climate change looks like. More specifically, Harvey is what climate change looks like in a world that has decided, over and over, that it doesn’t want to take climate change seriously.

Advancing forest landscape restoration worldwide
By Gloria Pallares, CIFOR Forests News, 28 August 2017
Since 2010, national governments worldwide, alongside technical and financial partners, have stepped up ambitious commitments to implement forest landscape restoration at large scales. In this context, the seventh biennial World Conference on Ecological Restoration (SER2017), taking place from 27 August to 1 September 2017 in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil, is expected to further catalyze the restoration agenda across its many dimensions: biophysical, social, economic, cultural and legal, at the local, national and global scales.

“European climate protesters take on German coal”
Clean Energy Wire, 28 August 2017
Around 6,000 European climate change activists aiming to “block coal infrastructure, to call for an immediate phase-out” of lignite mining, have gathered in Germany’s coal districts, writes Chase Winter in an article for Deutsche Welle. The gathering is taking place from 18 to 29 August, he writes. Over the weekend, protesters blocked rail tracks and formed a human chain at a controversial open cast mine in western Germany. In addition to Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) and regular citizens, politicians from Germany’s Green Party also joined the chain, as did members of Greenpeace and the German Environmental Alliance (Umwelt-Allianz Deutschland), writes Winter.
In a separate article in the Neue Westfälische newspaper, Florian Pfitzner writes that the protests were peaceful. Ahead of the protests, police had voiced concerns that they could turn violent.

Hong Kong tech startup plans up to $150 million token sale for environmental credit market
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Reuters, 28 August 2017
Veridium Labs, an environmental technology startup headquartered in Hong Kong, said on Monday it hopes to raise $150 million in October by selling two types of tokens backed by forest carbon offset credits and other credits used to fund environmental mitigation efforts.
Proceeds will be used to build a platform to enable trading of assets backed by natural capital, Todd Lemons, Veridium’s chief executive officer, told Reuters in an interview last week. Natural capital, including air, water, forests, and minerals, is an untapped and undervalued asset class that academics from several U.S. universities have estimated is worth more than $120 trillion.

29 August 2017

Research in ancient forests show link between climate change and wildfires, 29 August 2017
Portland State researchers studying centuries-old trees in South America have found a tight correlation between wildfires and a warm weather fluctuation that has become more frequent in recent decades – and will continue to be more frequent as the climate warms.
PSU geography professor Andrés Holz and his research team first discovered the correlation in 2011. Since then, the team fine-tuned and expanded the geographic scope of their discovery by studying 1,767 fire-scarred trees from 97 South American sites, encompassing multiple ecosystems. It is the largest network of fire-scarred trees outside the United States. Some of the trees dated back to 990 A.D., which gave the researchers a year-by-year, decade-by-decade view of fire activity.

Gender must be at the heart of climate action
By Isabella Lövin and Howard Bamsey (Green Climate Fund), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 29 August 2017
Gender often remains the untold story behind climate change. After the television snapshots of devastation wrought by climate-induced disasters, our thoughts often remain with the local people forced to deal with the wreckage.
The destructive forces of nature, warped by rising global temperatures, manifest in cyclones, floods and other extreme weather conditions, which can act as negative force multipliers in societies already riven by inequality. The onset of droughts, accompanied by heightened food and water insecurity, also have a disproportionate effect on those least able to deal with the resulting increased social strains.

Carbon Pricing and Markets Update: CDM CERs listed on Carbon Trade eXchange
IISD, 29 August 2017
During July and August, several countries and federal states took steps towards enhancing their emissions trading systems (ETS), including through establishing a new ETS, and linking and increasing the ambition of existing systems. UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon credits were listed for trading through a voluntary electronic exchange platform. A study on CDM Certified Emission Reduction (CER) unit supply potential through 2020 found that the estimated potential supply is considerably lower than ex ante reduction estimates in project design documents for the same period.

Price of Peace: deforestation in Colombia
By Chris Fitch, Geographical, 29 August 2017
The historic end of civil war in Colombia has had unforeseen consequences for the country’s natural environment, particularly the Amazon rainforest.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has rarely ever been credited with positive environmental outcomes, intentional or otherwise. But the previously long-standing presence of the rebel guerrilla group in many rural parts of the country appears to have had one constructive ecological impact: significantly limiting deforestation, particularly in provinces in and around the delicate Amazon region, such as Caquetá and Meta.

Europe’s dramatic summer gives a foretaste of ‘super heatwaves’ to come
By Wendel Trio (Climate Action Network Europe), Euractiv, 29 August 2017
“Heatwave Lucifer is making Europe ‘hot as hell’.” “One of the worst droughts in decades devastates South Europe’s crops.” “Wildfires destroy homes, cause evacuations in Greece, Portugal.”
These are just a few examples of this summer’s numerous news headlines about the rise of extreme weather events across the continent. All over Europe the havoc caused by soaring temperatures has featured prominently both in the news and in our everyday conversations.
It has been a disastrous summer for Europe and its people. Many have sweltered in record-breaking temperatures, water sources have evaporated, wildfires have been raging, severe thunderstorms with hail and tornadoes have damaged homes and disrupted traffic, hospital admissions and heat-related deaths have spiked.

[Fiji] It’s no joke
By Nasik Swami, Fiji Times, 29 August 2017
When Vunidogoloa Village headman Sailosi Ramatu travels to Bonn, Germany, later this year to attend the COP23, he is going without any mixed messages.
As he told this newspaper, he is taking with him just one message for all world leaders, in particular American president Donald Trump that “climate change is no joke”.
Mr Ramatu is one of the 153 villagers of Vunidogoloa who were forced to relocate in 2014 when sea water began to seep into their village ground and plantations. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

In Indonesia, finding the right ways to fight fire and haze
By Deanna Ramsay, CIFOR Forests News, 29 August 2017
On the eve of talks in Pekanbaru, Riau, on best practices to prevent fire and haze, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) scientist Herry Purnomo discusses the fires currently burning in Indonesia, the efforts being made to prevent them and restore affected land, and the next steps as the country moves toward a haze-free future.

[Indonesia] Firms filmed exploiting peatland forest in West Kalimantan
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 29 August 2017
An Indonesian company and its Chinese partner have pushed ahead with an industrial wood plantation in a forest in Borneo, flouting a moratorium on the drainage and exploitation of Indonesia’s peatlands.
Photos and drone footage captured by activists in late July showed earth-moving machinery, a drainage canal full of water and the planting of seedlings in the Sungai Putri forest, despite an order in March from the Environment and Forestry Minister to cease operations.

Why Norway may leave $65bn worth of oil in the ground
The Economist, 29 August 2017
Earlier this month the fjords of Norway’s Lofoten islands rang out with the cries of activists. For an entire week, environmental groups and local fishermen rallied to oppose plans to drill for oil near the pristine archipelago. The demonstrations were timely: Norway is due to hold parliamentary elections in September, and the country’s two main parties—Labour and the Conservatives—are both in favour of lifting a ban on oil excavation around Lofoten. The areas surrounding the archipelago are estimated to hold 1.3bn barrels in resources, equivalent to more than $65bn at today’s prices, if all of that is found to be easily accessible oil. Norway’s oil production has nearly halved over the past 15 years, and is set to fall by another 11% by 2019. The government says Lofoten “must at some point come into play”. Yet many analysts expect the moratorium to remain. Why?

Floods In South Asia Have Killed More Than 1,000 People This Summer
By Camila Domonoske, NPR, 29 August 2017
Weeks of flooding across Nepal, Bangladesh and India have killed more than 1,000 people, according to news agencies keeping track of official death tolls.
And while waters are receding in some areas, the monsoon season isn’t over. A new round of flooding has brought life to a near standstill in Mumbai, India’s financial center and one of the world’s most populous cities.

[USA] Washington urged to heed Harvey climate warning
By Sophie Hares, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 29 August 2017
Unprecedented flooding unleashed by Hurricane Harvey in the southern United States underscores the need for even wealthy countries to ramp up their disaster plans to keep vulnerable people safe and help them deal with the knock-out blows climate change could bring, experts say.
Yet few expect the devastation wrought by Harvey to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to boost government funding to prevent disasters or reinstate regulations that would limit heat-trapping emissions and protect infrastructure from extreme weather, let alone reconsider his decision to quit the Paris Agreement on climate change.

[USA] California state senators want big bucks for cleaner trucks and buses
By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 29 August 2017
A cadre of Democratic state senators are pushing to spend nearly $1 billion over the next year to replace diesel trucks, buses and other vehicles with cleaner versions.
A chunk of the money would come from California’s cap-and-trade program, which lawmakers agreed to extend last month. The program requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases, and the state can use the revenue on initiatives that further reduce emissions.

30 August 2017

Climate finance or development finance?
By Nathan Rive, Eco-Business, 30 August 2017
What makes an investment a climate change adaptation project rather than a development project?
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is the flagship climate fund under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which has committed roughly $600 million to date to climate change adaptation projects. Recently, some GCF board members have expressed concern that these projects have not showed sufficient value toward climate adaptation above the usual development objectives.

Brazilian court blocks abolition of vast Amazon reserve
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 30 August 2017
A Brazilian court has blocked an attempt by the president, Michel Temer, to open up swaths of the Amazon forest to mining companies after an outcry by environmental campaigners and climate activists.
The federal judge Rolando Valcir Spanholo said the president went beyond his authority in issuing a decree to abolish Renca, an area of 46,000 sq km (17,760 sq miles) that has been protected since 1984.
Approving an injunction requested by public prosecutors, the judge said the dissolution of Renca (more formally known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates) could only be done by Congress.
But this may be only a temporary reprieve for the area, which is thought to contain deposits of gold, copper, tantalum, iron ore, nickel and manganese.

France to host int’l climate summit in December: Macron
Famagusta Gazette, 30 August 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday that France will host an international summit on Dec. 12 to ensure the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The summit is scheduled to take place two years to the date when the historic agreement was reached at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris.

[Indonesia] ‘Ecological disaster’: controversial bridge puts East Kalimantan’s green commitment to the test
By Basten Gokkon, Mongabay, 30 August 2017
Truck driver Bayu Santoso is one of thousands of people expected to take advantage of a planned bridge connecting the fast-growing city of Balikpapan to its rural outskirts.
Transporting goods from Sepaku — a remote area in East Kalimantan Province’s North Penajam Paser district — to Balikpapan, Santoso currently relies on a ferry service that takes around 90 minutes to cross Balikpapan Bay. The 800,000 rupiah (about $60) return ticket means he can only afford one trip per day.
“The ferry ticket is so expensive that it’s such a burden for us,” he told Mongabay. After gas and other expenses, he usually brings home around 100,000 rupiah per day.

[USA] Potential Carbon Capture Game Changer Nears Completion
By James Temple, MIT Technology Review, 30 August 2017
On a small lot between Houston and the Gulf Coast, in an industrial zone packed with petrochemical factories and gas pipelines, a little-known company is finalizing construction of a demonstration power plant that could represent a genuine energy breakthrough.
If it works as expected, Net Power’s $140 million, 50-megawatt natural gas plant will capture effectively all of the carbon dioxide it produces, without significantly higher costs, in part by relying on the greenhouse gas itself to crank the turbine that generates electricity. The technology could enable a new generation of plants that provide clean power, without the development risks of nuclear (see “Meltdown of Toshiba’s Nuclear Business Dooms New Construction in the U.S.”), the geographic restrictions of hydroelectric, or the intermittency issues of solar and wind. Crucially, future plants of this type could also rely on the nation’s abundant supply of cheap natural gas.

31 August 2017

New Amazonian species discovered every two days while the rainforest is trashed by ‘relentless deforestation’
By Ian Johnston, The Independent, 31 August 2017
A new species is being discovered in the Amazon every two days from fire-tailed titi monkeys and yellow-moustached lizards to pink river dolphins and honeycomb-patterned stingrays, according to a new report.
Conservation group World Wildlife Fund, who wrote the report along with Brazil’s Mamiraua Institute, said the astonishing rate of new finds showed scientists had still only scratched the surface of all the “incredible species” that live there.
But “relentless deforestation” of the Amazon means many of its undiscovered animals and plants will go extinct before they are found, WWF warned, urging governments in the region to take action.

[Brazil] Amazon Guardians travel to city for landmark protest
Survival International, 31 August 2017
A group of Brazilian Indians hailed as heroes for patrolling the Amazon and evicting illegal loggers have occupied government offices, to demand protection for their lands.
It is the first protest of its kind by the Indians, known as the Guajajara Guardians. Their people face an emergency, as much of their forest has been razed to the ground.
The Guardians work to protect their forest in the north-eastern Brazilian Amazon. They share the area, known as the Arariboia indigenous territory, with uncontacted Awá Indians.

India plans to establish voluntary carbon market
Governance Now, 31 August 2017
India is planning to establish a voluntary carbon market with World Bank assistance with focus on areas that are not covered, union minister for environment, forest and climate change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, said on Thursday.
Addressing the Business and Climate Summit (BCS) 2017 in Delhi, the minister said that world came together in 2015 and agreed upon the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It came into force in November 2016 and till date, 160 Parties have ratified the agreement. India as a party to the Paris Agreement is committed towards its successful implementation.

South Asia floods kill 1,200 and shut 1.8 million children out of school
By Haroon Siddique, The Guardian, 31 August 2017
Heavy monsoon rains have brought Mumbai to a halt for a second day as the worst floods to strike south Asia in years continued to exact a deadly toll.
More than 1,200 people have died across India, Bangladesh and Nepal as a result of flooding, with 40 million affected by the devastation. At least six people, including two toddlers, were among the victims in and around India’s financial capital.
The devastating floods have also destroyed or damaged 18,000 schools, meaning that about 1.8 million children cannot go to classes, Save the Children warned on Thursday.

UK supermarkets found stocking beef linked to illegal deforestation in Brazil
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 31 August 2017
A recent case study suggests the EU is failing in its promises to tackle its role in driving tropical forest destruction. British supermarket chains were found to be stocking corned beef from a firm fined millions of dollars for purchasing cattle reared on illegally deforested land in Brazil. Meanwhile, European imports of beef from the Latin American country are rising in lockstep with the deforestation rate.

[USA] The Climate Post: Harvey Shines Light on Issue of Climate Change
By Tim Profeta, Huffington Post, 31 August 2017
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas last week, dumping more than 50 inches of rain in parts of Houston, the fourth largest U.S. city. After drifting back out over the Gulf of Mexico as a tropical storm, Harvey made a second landfall near the Texas and Louisiana border Wednesday. By the time this extreme storm dissipates, damage is expected to be in the tens of billions of dollars.
As news coverage documents large swaths of destruction from flooding and high winds, many are asking whether climate change makes storms like Harvey more likely and more severe.

1 September 2017

[Norway] “I will not take this lying down”
Greenpeace, 1 September 2017
After a summer spent opposing Arctic oil sanctioned by the Norwegian government and carried out by Statoil, the crew of the Arctic Sunrise peacefully protested at the Korpfjell drilling site — the most northern oil drilling in Norway. This is Captain Mike’s account of what happened.
My son turned 5 this year. He will soon start school and I won’t be there for that. He loves toy trains and tractors but is too young to understand climate change. His life is just beginning, why should he be burdened with that so young?

Will European supermarkets act over Paraguay forest destruction?
By David Hill, The Guardian, 1 September 2017
No tropical forests anywhere in the world are being destroyed more rapidly than the Chaco stretching across Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. Not the Amazon in Brazil, nor in Indonesia, Malaysia or the Democratic Republic of Congo.
At least, that is according to a University of Maryland-led study published in 2013. And the carnage continues today. In July British NGO Earthsight released a report stating that “the latest available analysis [by Paraguayan NGO Guyra], covering January 2017, suggests that the rate of deforestation has kept pace since the Maryland paper. The Paraguayan Chaco is on course to lose more than 200,000 hectares of forest this year: an area the size of Manhattan every fortnight.”

2 September 2017

[PNG] Tackling climate change
Loop, 2 September 2017
Key representatives from forestry, land, agriculture and the environment sectors are coming together this month to take part in sector retreats around Papua New Guinea (PNG).
This is to help the nation secure increased international funding and support to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Supported by the Government of PNG’s Climate Change Development Authority and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the retreats will flesh out Finance and Investment Plans to put into operation PNG’s National REDD+ Strategy (NRS) 2017-2027, which was endorsed by the PNG Government in May 2017.

3 September 2017

Activists, travel industry square off over aviation’s climate-changing consequences
By Rachel Uranga, The Daily Breeze, 3 September 2017
When people debate air pollution in Southern California, images of the usual suspects arise — trucks belching diesel fumes, aging jalopies not yet snagged by the smog-testing authorities and smokestacks towering over refineries and other heavy industry.
But often overlooked is another contributor: jetliners and other aircraft.

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