REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
1 January 2018
[USA] Forest fire surge may be blamed more by human touch than changing climates
By Stephen Schmidt, PRI, 1 January 2018
These days it is hard not hear about the latest massive wildfires that have ravaged Southern California. The Thomas fire, in particular, has now become the largest of its kind in the state’s history after destroying more than 280,000 acres and thousands of homes and buildings.
While a warming climate and the record drought that the state suffered from 2012 to 2015 certainly appear to be major culprits for the rash of monstrous blazes, the human/urban component may shoulder the biggest blame, according to new research.
“Humans can alter fire patterns in a whole range of ways, but the clear signal is that when there are a lot of humans present, it can scramble the relationships between fire and climate,” says Alexandra Syphard, a senior research scientist at the Conservation Biology Institute in Corvallis, Oregon.
2 January 2018
The Climate Trust rings in 2018 with a forecast of the top 10 carbon market trends
Carbon Pulse, 2 January 2018
The Climate Trust, a mission-driven non-profit that specialises in mobilising finance for conservation projects, announced its fifth annual prediction list of carbon market trends.
The trends, which range from the maritime industry following aviation’s lead in carbon reduction commitments to increased dismantling of federal agencies addressing climate change, were identified by The Climate Trust based on interactions with their diverse group of working partners—government, investors, project developers, corporates, and the philanthropic community.
[UK] Ombudsman rejects claim adviser should have prevented scam
By Simoney Kyriakou, FT Adviser, 2 January 2018
The Pensions Ombudsman has rejected a claim, made by a victim of a carbon credit scam, that his original financial adviser did not carry out sufficient due diligence to protect his pension assets.
In the determination, the defendant, cited as Mr D, complained that Pension Practitioner.com had not prevented the loss of his pension fund assets.
This came after he set up a small, self-administered scheme (Ssas) on the instigation of an unauthorised financial adviser, and subsequently invested in a worthless carbon credits scheme.
3 January 2018
This $118 million mutual fund pays companies in carbon credits
By Anya Khalamayzer, GreenBiz, 3 January 2018
What does the growth of a smallholder milk farm in Kenya have to do with the success of institutional investor SAP?
The Livelihoods Carbon Fund, a newly launched impact investment fund, ties global sustainable economic development to emissions reduction from Danone, SAP, Schneider Electric and five other corporations. Launched Dec. 11 — just before the International Climate Summit in Paris — the fund aims to reach about an $118 million investment in ecosystem restoration, agroforestry and renewable energy projects next year in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which will avoid or sequester up to 25 million tons of CO2 over 20 years.
[Australia] Abbott’s stance on international carbon credits makes ‘no sense’, business says
By Paul Karp, The Guardian, 3 January 2018
The Australian Industry Group has warned that Tony Abbott’s call to rule out the use of international carbon credits will push up the cost of meeting emissions targets.
The Turnbull government’s review of its climate policies, released before Christmas, flagged the Coalition’s intention to allow use of international permits to help Australia meet its international emissions reductions commitments.
Carbon credit schemes would allow Australian energy companies to buy credits for abatement projects, such as tree-planting in developing countries, to meet restrictions on emissions in the proposed national energy guarantee.
Bangladesh: Hold a full investigation into the murder of indigenous human rights defender Mithun Chakma
Amnesty International, 3 January 2018
Amnesty International calls on the Bangladesh authorities to hold a rigorous investigation, without delay, into the murder of Indigenous human rights defender, Mithun Chakma, and ensure that any persons against whom credible evidence exists are prosecuted in accordance with international standards of due process.
Brazil announces end to Amazon mega-dam building policy
By Sue Branford, Mongabay, 3 January 2018
In a surprise move, the Brazilian government has announced that the era of building big hydroelectric dams in the Amazon basin, long criticized by environmentalists and indigenous groups, is ending. “We are not prejudiced against big [hydroelectric] projects, but we have to respect the views of society, which views them with restrictions,” Paulo Pedrosa, the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, told O Globo newspaper.
Will China’s carbon trading scheme work without an emissions cap?
By Nectar Gan, South China Morning Post, 3 January 2018
When China gave the go-ahead late last year for its much-awaited national carbon trading scheme there were few details but high hopes.
China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter and even though the scheme will be limited to the power industry, it will still be the biggest on the planet – several times bigger than California’s and 1½ times the size of the European Union’s scheme.
It was seen as a major step in the climate fight, especially with the retreat of the United States under the presidency of Donald Trump.
However, two big questions went unanswered: just how would China’s carbon credits be allocated and what would the upper limit on emissions be?
State forest department in India to use GIS to prevent fires
Geospatial World, 3 January 2018
To prevent forest fires during the January-March season in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, the forest department has announced to use GIS. With the geographical forest area extending to 1.60 lakh sq. km., 23.03% of the area in the State, the department is sparing no effort to preserve it and increase the green cover.
The department has chalked out a detailed action plan considering the large part of the forest land is fire prone.
Indonesia Has a Carrot to End Illegal Logging; Now It Needs a Stick
By Josefhine Chitra and Kenny Cetera, WRI, 3 January 2018
Indonesia’s illegal logging problem has deep roots. The heavily forested nation supplied 219 million cubic meters of unreported or illegally sourced timber from 1991 to 2014. This is equal to more than 2.3 million hectares of deforestation, an area 32 times the size of Singapore. It also cost the country $6.5-9 billion in uncollected non-tax revenues between 2003-2014, more than a quarter of the country’s infrastructure budget for 2018!
Liberia’s new president plans agriculture push, Sime major investor
The Star, 3 January 2018
Liberian President-elect George Weah on Tuesday set modest goals for his six-year term, calling for Liberia to start exporting crops and repairing decrepit infrastructure, in his first interview since winning election last week.
More than 60 percent of Liberians depend on agriculture for their livelihood and multinationals like Malaysia-based Sime Darby have invested heavily in palm oil plantations. But the sector has languished due to low productivity, forcing Liberia to import more than 80 percent of its staple foods.
4 January 2018
Our best stories of 2017
By Catriona Croft-Cusworth, CIFOR Forests News, 4 January 2018
In 2017, Forests News traveled from the peatlands of Indonesia to the bounteous forests of the Amazon and the biodiverse Congo Basin to uncover the top issues facing forests and people around the world.
We followed global processes addressing the urgent concerns of climate change and sustainable development, turned the spotlight on gender inequalities and indigenous rights in land use, and asked the people of Burkina Faso what they had for lunch.
In this eventful year for research and action on forests and the people who depend on them, many new discoveries were made and partnerships formed that will set the path ahead for work in 2018 and beyond.
Rainforests: the year in review 2017
By Rhett A. Butler, Mongabay, 4 January 2018
Between America’s abandonment of leadership on conservation and environmental policy, Brazil’s backtracking on forest conservation, massive forest fires worldwide, and the revelation of a sharp increase in global forest loss in 2016, 2017 was a rough year for tropical rainforests. Still, there were bright spots, including the establishment of new protected areas, better forest monitoring and research, and continued progress in recognizing the critical role local and indigenous communities play in forest conservation.
The Year Climate Change Began to Spin Out of Control
By James Temple, MIT Technology Review, 4 January 2018
For decades, scientists have warned that climate change would make extreme events like droughts, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires more frequent, more devastating, or both. In 2017, we got an up-close look at the raw ferocity of such an altered world as high-category hurricanes battered the East and Gulf coasts, and wind-whipped fires scorched the West (see “Did Climate Change Fuel California’s Devastating Fires? Probably”).
Brazil raises hopes of a retreat from new mega-dam construction
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 4 January 2018
After swathes of forest clearance, millions of tonnes of concrete and decades of hydro-expansion, Brazil has raised hopes that it may finally step back from the construction of new mega-dams.
In a surprise statement, a senior government official said hydropower policy needed to be rethought in the face of environmental concerns, indigenous sensitivities and public unease.
[Kenya] Call to respond to the threats to the Sengwer
Forest Peoples Programme, 4 January 2018
A powerful press conference was held this morning, 4 January 2018, in Nairobi.
Attended by over 20 press representatives and 26 Sengwer community members, Milka Chepkorir and Yator Kiptum spoke powerfully about the suffering their Sengwer community are experiencing at the hands of the Kenya Forest Service.
Naomi Barasa of Amnesty gave a sharp human rights analysis, and international land tenure expert, Liz Alden Wily, spoke strongly on the crucial role of forest dwellers as forest protectors.
Indonesia in 2017: A fighting chance for peat protection, but an infrastructure beatdown for indigenous communities
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 4 January 2018
2017 saw Indonesia once again fulfilling its economic development potential.
The Southeast Asian nation started out the year with mixed superlatives: home to the third-largest stretch of tropical forest in the world, after the Amazon and the Congo Basin, but also plagued by some of the highest rates of deforestation and carbon emissions of any country on Earth.
Double standards in Indonesia’s climate policy
By Randi Julian Miranda, Jakarta Post, 4 January 2018
The nexus between climate change and economic development is complex. Indonesia heavily relies on forestry, agriculture and the mining industry as the backbone of its economy, accounting for nearly 40 percent of its gross domestic product and making up nearly half of the national export value. However, these sectors also contribute to approximately 80 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions. Deforestation in particular makes up 62 percent of its national emissions.
5 January 2018
Integrating sustainable supply chain initiatives and REDD+ finance
By Kimberly Todd and Danea Maniatis, UN-REDD Programme, 5 January 2018
Assuming full implementation of the current round of NDCs, land-use and forests are clearly a key component of the Paris Agreement, providing approximately a quarter of total emission reductions planned by countries. In order to achieve those intended emission reductions, agriculture commodity production will need to be a focus, as the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation worldwide. Sustainable forests and land-use management and a green agriculture economy offer tremendous opportunities which we can take advantage of by working closely with stakeholders in key commodity supply chains, from the producers to government and market actors.
Mexico launches world’s first operational REDD+ Safeguards Information System
By Elspeth Halverson, UN-REDD, 5 January 2018
Since 2014, led by the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) and with the Mexico REDD+ Project and the UN-REDD Programme’s support, Mexico has worked to design and establish its REDD+ National Safeguards System. In December 2017, CONAFOR launched a REDD+ Safeguards Information System.
Through a participatory process, Mexico launched an initial conceptual approach in 2014 and outlined the objectives and elements of Mexico’s National Safeguards System (NSS). Mexico’s NSS defines how the REDD+ safeguards will be applied, and to which activities. It identifies the relevant legal, institutional, and compliance frameworks for the NSS and the design of the Safeguards Information System (SIS). Last month, CONAFOR lauched the Safeguards Information System, developed to collect, analyze, validate and disseminate information on how REDD+ safeguards are addressed and respected in Mexico at national and sub-national levels.
[USA] Washington state readies carbon tax push
By Amy Hardos, Axios, 5 January 2018
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, will unveil a carbon tax proposal in his address to the state Tuesday, local media reported Thursday.
Why it matters outside of that Washington: The debate, while unique to the Evergreen State, is also emblematic of the struggles any effort to push a federal carbon would face. Washington state voters opposed a ballot measure that would have created a carbon tax in 2016. That effort failed partly due to disagreements among environmental groups and others about what to do with the revenue raised from a tax: return it to taxpayers or use it to fund specific policy priorities. That’s a question sure to drive any national carbon tax debate.
6 January 2018
With its Environmental Crisis, Is Laos Missing the Forest for the Trees?
By Erin Cook, The Diplomat, 6 January 2018
Laos’ reputation as having some of the most lush and diverse forests in the Mekong remains under serious threat after a December investigation by government officials found evidence of large-scale illegal logging operations in the southern Attapeu province, despite recent efforts to end the practice. Laos, which is left with just 40 percent of the country covered by closed canopy forests, is facing an environmental crisis with much of the remaining forests unhealthy and degraded.
7 January 2018
[Pakistan] Shady trees
By Usman Ashraf, The News on Sunday, 7 January 2018
Launched in 2014, the Billion Tree Tsunami Project (BTTAP) seeks to improve deteriorating forest condition in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), as well as the rest of Pakistan. The BTTAP is part of bigger project called ‘Green Growth Initiative’ aimed at greening the economy of KPK.
The PTI government pledged afforestation of one billion trees in the province. BTTAP is the fourth biggest afforestation project globally. This afforestation drive has increased the area under forest in KPK from 20 to 22 per cent. In total, 350,000 hectares of forest and land have been restored. Once matured, these forests will help Pakistan fight against effects of climate change and environmental degradation.