REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
11 September 2017
‘They lied’: Bolivia’s untouchable Amazon lands at risk once more
By Myles McCormick, The Guardian (supported by Gates Foundation), 11 September 2017
When Ovidio Teco’s Amazon homeland was declared “untouchable” by the Bolivian government in 2011, his war had been won.
The concerns of people like him had been listened to: their beautiful and ancient land would not be carved in two by a 190-mile highway.
That year, a demonstration half a decade in the making saw thousands of indigenous people march for nearly two months to the Bolivian capital, La Paz, protesting over the route that would have cut through the heart of the park.
To Save Peru’s Forests, Support Its Small Farmers
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 11 September 2017
The Amazon forest mops up carbon dioxide by the gigaton and acts as a bulwark against climate change, which is why Brazil won accolades for slowing deforestation in the first 15 years of this century.
But 16 percent of the Amazon lies in neighboring Peru, where farmers, miners, and loggers slashed and burned their way through 84,000 hectares of forest per year from 2001 through 2015. That’s more than a million hectares of forest, and it generated half of the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions.
Under the Paris Agreement, the country has vowed to end deforestation within five years, in part by helping farmers big and small become more efficient – but how?
[UK] Model Bekka Batchelor on trial accused of profiting from boyfriend’s fraud
By Richard Duggan, Essex Live, 11 September 2017
A model is on trial accused of benefiting from her ex-boyfriend’s conspiracy to defraud a large number of elderly people.
Rebecca Batchelor, 21, is alleged to have known that huge sums of cash transferred into her bank account as part of her former lover, Anis Ben-Sghaier’s, dodgy dealings, were the proceeds of crime.
Known as Bekka, Batchelor rose to fame as she was one of a number of cheerleaders at Billericay Town who were sacked for being too distracting to players.
[USA] Stop talking right now about the threat of climate change. It’s here; it’s happening
By Bill McKibben, The Guardian, 11 September 2017
For the sake of keeping things manageable, let’s confine the discussion to a single continent and a single week: North America over the last seven days.
In Houston they got down to the hard and unromantic work of recovery from what economists announced was probably the most expensive storm in US history, and which weather analysts confirmed was certainly the greatest rainfall event ever measured in the country – across much of its spread it was a once-in-25,000-years storm, meaning 12 times past the birth of Christ; in isolated spots it was a once-in-500,000-years storm, which means back when we lived in trees. Meanwhile, San Francisco not only beat its all-time high temperature record, it crushed it by 3F, which should be pretty much statistically impossible in a place with 150 years (that’s 55,000 days) of record-keeping.
[USA] Irma won’t “wake up” climate change-denying republicans. Their whole ideology is on the line
By Naomi Klein, The Intercept, 11 September 2017
As one of the most powerful storms ever recorded bore down on the continental United States, with much of Florida under evacuation order, President Donald Trump was focused on a matter of grave urgency.
He gathered his cabinet at Camp David and said there was no time to waste. With Hurricane Irma set to potentially devastate huge swaths of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, now was the time, he said, to rush through massive … tax cuts.
[USA] Big money for clean vehicles in California cap-and-trade spending deal
By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 11 September 2017
California will use cap-and-trade revenue for a massive investment in clean trucks, buses, cars and other vehicles, according to details of an agreement obtained by The Times on Monday evening.
The $1.5-billion spending plan comes less than two months after lawmakers extended the state’s cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to emit greenhouse gases, until 2030.
[USA] The West Is on Fire. Get Used to It.
by Joe Eaton, Citylab, 11 September 2017
The West is burning, and there’s no relief in sight. More than 80 large wildfires are raging in an area covering more than 1.4 million acres, primarily in California, Montana, and Oregon, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Taken together, that’s a wildfire larger than the state of Delaware.
California has declared a state of emergency as wildfires burn outside Los Angeles and threaten giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park. In Oregon, the Eagle Creek fire is tearing through the scenic Columbia River Gorge. Seattle, Boise, and Denver are socked in under a haze of smoky air and ash that experts predict could linger until the first snowfall in the mountains.
[USA] Carbon credit program ain’t what it used to be
By Jeff Melchior, Alberta Farmer, 11 September 2017
Greenhouse gases were on the minds of many Alberta farmers a decade ago when no till offered good cash from selling carbon offset credits.
Fast-forward to 2017 and things have changed.
Although there is still a lot of participation in the province’s carbon credit trading and sequestration program, many believe it has become too demanding, too restrictive, and less beneficial to producers. At the same time, the regulations guiding carbon trading could take away one of the program’s most popular protocols: conservation cropping.
So what happened?
[USA] California: America’s Climate Leader
By Rhea Suh, Natural Resources Defense Council, 11 September 2017
California is about to make history by leading the way to the future.
State lawmakers are poised to vote this week on a bill calling for all of California’s electricity — 100 percent of it — to come from wind, solar, and other renewable sources by 2045. In our lifetime, in other words, our country’s largest statewide economy would be powered without fossil fuels and the dangerous pollution they emit.
That’s setting the standard — and setting the pace.
12 September 2017
Third of Earth’s soil is acutely degraded due to agriculture
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 12 September 2017
A third of the planet’s land is severely degraded and fertile soil is being lost at the rate of 24bn tonnes a year, according to a new United Nations-backed study that calls for a shift away from destructively intensive agriculture.
The alarming decline, which is forecast to continue as demand for food and productive land increases, will add to the risks of conflicts such as those seen in Sudan and Chad unless remedial actions are implemented, warns the institution behind the report.
Landscape Green Bonds: An emerging new asset class?
By Andrew Mitchell, Global Canopy Programme, 12 September 2017
The green bond market is growing fast but remains a small component of the bonds universe. According to the Climate Bonds Initiative 2016 Report, ‘labelled’ green bonds accounted for US$118 Bn of the market, in turn a subset of the ‘climate — aligned’ green bond market of US$694 Bn. Most issuances are linked to energy, but an emerging new opportunity is in ‘Landscape Green Bonds’. Today these are rare and make up just 3% of green bonds issued. In the next decade, this market could expand, offering exposure to a US$200bn a year business opportunity in climate-smart tropical agriculture, which is essential for meeting targets on emission reductions; two thirds of tropical deforestation is driven by the production of agricultural commodities.
Brazil investigates alleged slaughter of Amazonian tribespeople by gold miners
By Dom Phillips, The Guardian (supported by Gates Foundation), 12 September 2017
Brazilian authorities are investigating reports of a massacre of up to 10 people from an isolated tribe in the Amazon by illegal gold miners.
The killings, alleged to have taken place in Javari Valley, are claimed to have been carried out by men working for gold prospectors who dredge illegally in the region’s rivers.
If proven, the murders would confirm that severe budget cuts to Brazil’s indigenous agency are having deadly effects. The agency was forced to close two bases in the same region earlier this year. Investigators face a 12-day boat trip just to reach the area.
Bunge, partners launch Brazil database to combat deforestation
By Ana Mano, Reuters, 12 September 2017
Bunge Inc and partners on Tuesday launched an online database aimed at helping companies make investment and purchasing decisions that discourage farmers from cutting down trees for arable land.
The Portuguese-language database at www.agroideal.org currently has data on Brazil’s Cerrado and will later include the Amazon region. The information can be used to assess the social and environmental risks of contributing to deforestation through soybean planting expansion in Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of the oilseeds.
[Canada] Preserve Old-Growth Forests to Keep Carbon Where It Belongs
By Jens Wieting, The Tyee, 12 September 2017
Hardly a day passes without news of unprecedented wildfires, hurricanes, and other climate related-disasters. In British Columbia alone, more than one million hectares of forests have burned so far this year — the highest number since records started. The carbon emissions from this year’s fires are so massive that the total annual greenhouse gas emissions of the province will be several times higher than in previous average years.
[India] Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurates Conference on Sustainable Landscapes & Forest Ecosystems: Theory to Practice” Environment Minister launches Wood is Good” Campaign
Business Standard, 12 September 2017
Emphasising the need to create an enabling environment through small steps such as planting more trees, Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has said that new and innovative ways must be thought of, to bring more areas under forest and tree cover. Inaugurating a two-day conference on Sustainable landscapes and forest ecosystems: Theory to Practice” here today, the Environment Minister urged the gathering to deliberate and come out with out-of-the-box ideas and solutions on increasing the forest cover much beyond the stipulated 33 per cent. Innovation is the need of the hour. Innovation co-efficient now is more important than any other co-efficient”, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said.
[India] Forest fire and its impact on wildlife
By Gowhar Naz, Kashmir Images, 12 September 2017
Forests, since time immemorial have been a vital part of human ecosystem. They are nature’s ultimate bounty to humankind and play a significant role in its life. They serve as a major source of food and shelter to a huge number of living beings including wildlife. Moreover, they offer a great variety of other products like wood, medicine etcetera. The benefits are numerous. They are more than just trees. They keep us and earth cool. They make it rain, block wind and fight flooding as well. “Mushrooms grew under the shady roof of the forest and berries lay ripening under the leafy dome of the forest.” As ‘living filters’ they play an important part in eradicating pollution from the air we breathe and the water we drink. They clean up dirty soil and keep dirt in its place. They beautify our homes and neighbourhood with comforting shade in the summer, provide shelter and protection in the winter and form buffer for the earth to protect life forms.
Norway PM Wins Second Term as Insurgency Against Oil Fizzles
By Sveinung Sleire and Mikael Holter, Bloomberg, 12 September 2017
Prime Minister Erna Solberg became Norway’s first Conservative Party leader in over three decades to be re-elected as a movement to stop further oil exploration in western Europe’s biggest petroleum producer fizzled.
“We won support for four more years because we have delivered on what we have promised and also because we have met tough challenges,” Solberg said at an election rally in Oslo shortly after midnight. “Our steady leadership has won the respect of the voters.”
Singapore’s carbon tax – too small a step in the right direction?
By Sanjay C Kuttan, Eco-Business, 12 September 2017
The carbon tax announced at the recent Budget presentation in parliament will push up costs for power generators and translate into higher electricity prices for consumers should the power generation companies pass through this additional cost to the market.
Alternatively, this additional cost burden may incentivise the generation companies to adopt cleaner and more energy efficient technologies to limit impact of or eliminate emissions should carbon capture technologies become economically viable or the carbon tax high enough to balance the economic-environmental equation.
evian® Achieves Carbon Neutrality in the U.S. and Canada
evian® press release, 12 September 2017
evian®, the number one premium global natural spring water brand, announced today that it has been audited and certified by the Carbon Trust as a carbon neutral brand in the U.S. and Canada. The Carbon Trust is an international non-profit that helps organizations and companies reduce their carbon emissions and become more resource efficient. This certification marks a major milestone in evian®’s journey to reach worldwide carbon neutrality by 2020, a commitment made by its corporate parent, Danone, at COP 21 where the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. evian® is on course to become Danone’s first global carbon neutral brand. Bottles with the Carbon Trust certification seal will be available starting in January 2018.
[USA] General Motors, Disney, Shell and 1,200 other companies are taking steps to fight climate change, report says
By Sophie Yeo, Washington Post, 12 September 2017
More than 1,200 global businesses, including U.S. companies such as Disney, Shell and General Motors, are moving to embrace a carbon price — even if President Trump isn’t, according to a new report by a Washington climate think tank.
While the president has suggested that tackling climate change will undermine the economy and hamstring businesses, and announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, chief executives have been busy voluntarily putting a price on their own carbon dioxide emissions.
13 September 2017
A lesson from Hurricane Irma: capitalism can’t save the planet – it can only destroy it
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 13 September 2017
There was “a flaw” in the theory: this is the famous admission by Alan Greenspan, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, to a congressional inquiry into the 2008 financial crisis. His belief that the self-interest of the lending institutions would lead automatically to the correction of financial markets had proved wrong. Now, in the midst of the environmental crisis, we await a similar admission. We may be waiting some time.
The great nutrient collapse
By Helena Bottemiller Evich, Politico 13 September 2017
Irakli Loladze is a mathematician by training, but he was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton.
European Parliament moves to safeguard carbon market from Brexit
Reuters, 13 September 2017
The European Parliament adopted a plan on Wednesday to guard the carbon market in case of a breakdown in Brexit talks, which some lawmakers fear would pummel the price of tradeable emissions permits.
Lawmakers voted 601 to 69 in favour of the bill, part of a move to extend the exemption of international flights from the EU’s cap-and-trade system pending the adoption of last year’s United Nations deal on tackling aircraft emissions.
MEPs give international flights respite from EU carbon fees until 2021
By Zoran Radosavljevic, Euractiv, 13 September 2017
The European Parliament approved on Wednesday (13 September) a plan to keep commercial flights in and out of Europe exempt from the EU’s carbon emission controls until 2021, in a move likely to be welcomed by the aviation industry.
MEPs signed off on a report by Tory MEP Julie Girling, environment coordinator for the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which extends the exemption until 2021, when the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) is due to introduce a global carbon offsetting scheme for the sector, CORSIA, capping emissions at 2020 levels.
12 jailed for huge French carbon-trading fraud
RFI, 13 September 2017
A Paris court jailed 12 people for terms of up to nine years on Wednesday for their part in a gigantic carbon tax credit fraud that cost the French state 146 million euros. Another 36 people are to face trial in a related case in a series of scams worth an estimated 1.6 billion euros in total.
Millions of euros were swindled between 2006 and 2009 through a scam on the carbon quota market carried out largely by French-Israeli citizens in what has been dubbed the “fraud of the century”.
Chocolate industry drives rainforest disaster in Ivory Coast
By Ruth Maclean, The Guardian, 13 September 2017
The world’s chocolate industry is driving deforestation on a devastating scale in West Africa, the Guardian can reveal.
Cocoa traders who sell to Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez and other big brands buy beans grown illegally inside protected areas in the Ivory Coast, where rainforest cover has been reduced by more than 80% since 1960.
Illegal product is mixed in with “clean” beans in the supply chain, meaning that Mars bars, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Milka bars could all be tainted with “dirty” cocoa. As much as 40% of the world’s cocoa comes from Ivory Coast.
‘Once this was all trees, but they burned them to plant cocoa’: the ruin of West Africa’s rainforest
By Ruth Maclean, The Guardian, 13 September 2017
Sinewy, silvery trees rise from the green landscape of Marahoué national park, their smooth trunks supporting branches only at the very top. Marahoué is one of eight national parks in Ivory Coast and 20 years ago it was covered by forest and home to chimpanzees and elephant herds.
Now it is more common to see the skeleton of a tree, slowly burnt by fire to get rid of the shadow it casts over cocoa fields, or just a sawn-off stump.
Henri, a traditional leader from the nearby town of Diafla, grew up with the forest, and speaks lovingly of its towering iroko trees – but he had a hand in destroying it. Like many others, he has cocoa plantations inside the park and employs people from Burkina Faso to work on them.
14 September 2017
Some good news about global warming for once — plants are speeding up their use of carbon
By Chelsea Harvey, Washington Post, 14 September 2017
As carbon dioxide continues to build in the atmosphere — thanks to the burning of fossil fuels — scientists are busy figuring out how life on earth is adapting to its effects. And now, new research reinforces the idea that the world’s plant life is adjusting in a subtle, but deeply significant, way.
A study, just out Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports a long-standing theory that some plants become more efficient at using water under higher carbon dioxide concentrations. This is a boon for the plant, allowing for more efficient photosynthesis, the chemical process by which plants make food for themselves, which requires both carbon dioxide and water.
Financing sustainable landscapes: a billion dollar opportunity
Global Canopy Programme, 14 September 2017
The production of a handful of agricultural commodities like soy, beef and timber drives two thirds of tropical deforestation worldwide. If targets like the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement are to be met, then companies and governments involved in the supply chains of these commodities must ensure that this production becomes sustainable, and that deforestation for agriculture is ended.
Efforts to rein in aviation emissions continue to spur disagreement
Runway Girl Network, 14 September 2017
If you thought last year’s agreement at ICAO to adopt the world’s first market-based measure to control international aviation emissions had put an end to the disputes that have characterized this controversial issue, think again.
The European Parliament voted yesterday to place a firm time limit on the continued exemption of intercontinental aircraft emissions from participating in the European emissions trading system (ETS), putting it at odds with the more flexible approach backed by the European Commission.
[India] Eco-friendly initiative
The Pioneer, 14 September 2017
Emphasise the need to create an enabling environment by planting more trees, the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan, yesterday, inaugurated a two-day conference on Sustainable landscapes and forest ecosystems: Theory to Practice. He stressed on the need to provide new and innovative ways to bring more areas under forest and tree cover. He also launched the Wood is Good campaign, stressing the importance of wood as an environment friendly and a renewable resource having zero carbon footprint.
Samsung won’t partner with Korindo following outrage over forest destruction in Indonesia
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 14 September 2017
Samsung will stay away from any joint venture with a Korean-Indonesian conglomerate, Korindo, amid an NGO campaign highlighting Korindo’s rainforest destruction for palm oil in Indonesia’s Tanah Papua region.
Samsung’s announcement that it would partner with Korindo in the logistics sector had been widely reported in the Korean media. The joint venture was not directly related to Korindo’s palm oil operation, for which it has burned and cleared vast tracts of forestland in Papua and elsewhere to make way for its plantations, NGO Mighty Earth has exposed.
15 September 2017
[Brazil] Amazon mining unleashed
By Philip Fearnside, Mongabay, 15 September 2017
On August 23, 2017, Brazil’s president Michel Temer issued a decree revoking the RENCA (National Reserve of Copper and Associated Minerals), an area the size of Switzerland on the northern side of the Amazon River straddling the states of Pará and Amapá. The Ministry of Environment had not been consulted and Brazil’s environmentalists and public were caught by surprise. Actually, in March the Temer administration had announced its intention of revoking the RENCA at a convention of mining companies in Canada. The choice of venue is telling.
World’s Largest Tropical Reforestation Project to Take Place in the Amazon Rainforest
Conservation International, 15 September 2017
Conservation International (CI) is taking part in a massive reforestation effort in the Brazilian region of the Amazon. The official announcement happens today at the “Rock in Rio 2017” global music festival held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The project is the result of a partnership between CI, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank, the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (Funbio) and Rock in Rio’s environmental arm, “Amazonia Live.”
The multimillion dollar, 6-year project will restore 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazonia region by 2023. Spanning 30,000 hectares of land, the equivalent of the size of 30,000 soccer fields and nearly 70,000 acres, the project is the largest tropical forest restoration in the world. The endeavor will also help Brazil move towards its Paris Agreement target of reforesting 12 million hectares of land by 2030.
Deforestation in Cambodia: The ignored costs in cutting down forests
By Abu SMG Kibria and Alison Behie, APPS Policy Forum, 15 September 2017
Cambodia stands to lose US$130 million per year in economic benefit unless deforestation in the Veun Sai-Siem Pang National Park (VSSPNP) is halted.
This was the major finding in ANU-led research recently published in Ecosystem Services. In collaboration with Conservation International, researchers found that this forest provides three major economic benefits — air purification (US$56 million a year), water storage (US$32 million), and soil erosion reduction (US$22 million).
[Costa Rica] Climate change: Ahead of the curve and at the back of the line
By Rob Dwyer, Euromoney 15 September 2017
Euromoney’s meeting is in Puriscal, the eponymous town of the fourth-largest canton in the province of San José, close to a large, crumbling cathedral that is being reclaimed by nature. The building is still an imposing sight, but trees now take advantage by growing in (and widening) the cracks in the walls that were opened by a series of earthquakes in the 1990s. In 2009, a health notice ordered its demolition, but there has been no movement to either its destruction or rehabilitation in the following years.
[USA] California will spend big on clean vehicles under plan approved by lawmakers
By Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, 15 September 2017
State lawmakers on Friday approved a $1.5-billion plan for spending cap-and-trade revenue, with most of the money going toward financial incentives to get dirty cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles off the road.
The plan, which was included in Assembly Bills 109 and 134, was negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders. Lawmakers extended the cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to emit greenhouse gases, earlier this year.
16 September 2017
[Pakistan] REDD+ weapon to fight against climate change
By Sadaf Liaquat, The Express Tribune, 16 September 2017
The Global Climate Risk Index 2017 published by German Watch revealed some astounding facts about the occurrence of climate change and its global impacts. The report analyses the extent to which countries have been affected by the impacts of weather-related event losses in different parts of the world from 1996–2015.
[USA] Tribes might push their own carbon tax initiative in 2018. “We are running out of time”
By Melissa Santos, The News Tribune, 16 September 2017
Tribal leaders might forge ahead with their own plan to tax carbon emissions in Washington state, breaking away from another group that’s working on a statewide carbon-tax initiative for the November 2018 ballot.
A top tribal leader said the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy didn’t seek feedback from Native American tribes when it began developing the carbon-tax plan it hopes to send to voters next fall.
[USA] Landmark California bill for 100% clean energy unexpectedly put on hold until next year
By Sammy Roth, The Desert Sun, 16 September 2017
California lawmakers will go home for the year without voting on a landmark renewable energy bill, in an unexpected setback for the state’s efforts to lead the world in fighting climate change.
The bill would have required California to get 60 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030, up from the current legal mandate of 50 percent. It also would have tasked state regulators with charting a path to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045, which could have included energy sources not considered “renewable,” like nuclear power, large hydropower plants and gas-fired power plants that capture their carbon emissions.