REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
28 May 2018
Are deforestation-free commodities too good to be true?
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 28 May 2018
Oil palm, cattle, timber and soy have all received global attention in recent years for their outsized ‘forest footprints’ – the risks that their demand and cultivation pose for tropical forests around the world.
Thanks to pressure and advocacy from civil society, governments, shareholders and consumers in the Global North, many companies using and selling these commodities have begun to clean up their acts. They’ve sought to become – or at least appear – more accountable for the environmental impacts of their supply chain activities. As a result, recent years have seen many make zero deforestation commitments (ZDCs) for the provenance of the commodities on which they rely.
New research finds tall and older Amazonian forests more resistant to droughts
Columbia University press release, 28 May 2018
Tropical rainforests play a critical role in regulating the global climate system—they represent the Earth’s largest terrestrial CO2 sink. Because of its broad geographical expanse and year-long productivity, the Amazon is key to the global carbon and hydrological cycles. Climate change could threaten the fate of rainforests, but there is great uncertainty about the future ability of rainforests to store carbon. While severe droughts have occurred in recent years in the Amazon watershed, causing widespread tree mortality and affecting the forests’ ability to store carbon, the drivers of tropical rainforests’ sensitivity to drought are poorly understood.
Beleaguered Amazon tribes remain staunch in defence of their land
By Jessica Moto, The Guardian, 28 May 2018
It was a letter of unity and solidarity. “Our forest, our rivers, our land are sacred to us,” wrote the Ka’apor tribe, from Maranhão in north-eastern Brazil, to the Munduruku, who live hundreds of miles away on the Tapajós river deep in the Amazon rainforest.
Both tribes are under threat from organised criminals who illegally grab land, log trees or prospect for gold. Now, tired of waiting for official protection that often fails to arrive, they are taking law enforcement into their own hands.
[Australia] Land-clearing wipes out $1bn taxpayer-funded emissions gains
By Adam Morton, The Guardian, 28 May 2018
More than $1bn of public money being spent on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees and restoring habitat under the Coalition’s Direct Action climate policy will have effectively been wiped out by little more than two years of forest-clearing elsewhere in the country, official government data suggests.
The $2.55bn emissions reduction fund pays landowners and companies to avoid emissions or store carbon dioxide using a reverse auction – the cheapest credible bids win. The government says it has signed contracts to prevent 124m tonnes of emissions through vegetation projects – mostly repairing degraded habitat, planting trees and ensuring existing forest on private land is not cleared.
29 May 2018
Ben & Jerry’s Bets On Blockchain To Cancel Out The Carbon In Every Scoop
By Oliver Smith, Forbes, 29 May 2018
A bowl of Phish Food ice cream might be a guilty pleasure, but Ben & Jerry’s is on a mission to ease your conscience.
At its Scoop Shop in London’s Soho, the environmental impact of every cone of Cookie Dough and Karamel Sutra has been calculated, and is being offset in a novel way.
When you pay at the checkout the ice cream brand will pay a penny to counterbalance the carbon in your cone, and the cashier will even ask if you’d like to donate another penny to double the impact.
It’s the first real-world example of trading carbon credits on the high street, powered by blockchain.
Progress on the process of managing landscapes
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 29 May 2018
It’s 2018, and the pressure to manage the world’s resources responsibly for people, biodiversity and the climate has perhaps never been so intense. In this context, the landscape approach, which has grown in popularity in land management circles in recent years, may hold critical importance.
So what’s it all about? According to a definitive research paper, the approach seeks to provide “tools and concepts for allocating and managing land to achieve social, economic, and environmental objectives in areas where agriculture, mining, and other productive land uses compete with environmental and biodiversity goals.”
7 Signs of Progress: A Year of National Climate Action
By Eliza Northrop, World Resources Institute, 29 May 2018
The Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 was lauded as a turning point in the global fight against climate change. The question today is: Are countries responding to it?
The short answer is yes. Based on our review of major national announcements over the last 12 months, it’s clear that countries are ramping up their climate efforts, from setting bolder emission-reduction targets and protecting forests to phasing out coal-fired power plants.
Air BP and Signature Flight Support Offset Carbon Emissions for Their EBACE Attendees
Aviation Pros, 29 May 2018
Signature Flight Support in collaboration with Air BP will be offsetting their travel to the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) this year in Geneva, Switzerland. Emissions will be offset by BP Target Neutral, BP’s voluntary carbon offsetting program. EBACE attendees who are interested in learning more about carbon emissions offset should visit Signature Flight Support’s booth #O104 from 29 – 31 May at Geneva Palexpo.
Amazon forests stabilise each other during drought
Wageningen University press release, 29 May 2018
The Amazon rainforest stabilises itself, especially during dry periods, reports a new study by Wageningen University & Research, and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, in collaboration with the University of Goettingen in Germany and the Open University in the Netherlands, today in Nature Climate Change.
It was already known that evaporation in Amazonian rainforests is among the highest on Earth and that part of this evaporation contributes to rainfall in the basin. “A novelty in this research is that we could analyse these moisture flows above the Amazon on an unprecedented level of detail. In this way we could map exactly where and when forests in the Amazon generate rainfall,” says Obbe Tuinenburg, Assistant Professor at Utrecht University and an expert in such atmospheric moisture flows.
Not For Sale: Congo’s forests must be protected from the fossil fuels industry
Global Witness, 29 May 2018
As we have previously revealed, the Democratic Republic of Congo government is attempting to reclassify swathes of two UNESCO protected World Heritage Sites – Salonga and Virunga National Parks – to allow oil exploration to take place. In our new investigation, we shine a light on the opaque ownership and secret deals of one company that potentially stands to gain from government attempts to open up the area to oil, COMICO, which was allocated an oil block that partially overlaps Salonga National Park.
[India] ICFRE hosts consultation workshop on REDD+
The Pioneer, 29 May 2018
The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) director general Suresh Gairola said that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) programmes, if implemented properly have a great potential for improving the livelihood of forest dwelling communities while at the same time also contributing towards climate change mitigation through protection and conservation of forests.
Incentivising and financing forest conservation in India
By Madhu Verma, Dhaval Negandhi, Swapan Mehra, and Rohit Singh, UN-REDD Programme, 29 May 2018
The positive effects arising from forest conservation directly impact both the revenue capacities and expenditure needs of various states in India. While benefits from forests have always been recognised, the lack of incentive-based mechanisms in the past meant that there was inadequate motivation for states to keep areas under forest cover and intact for the ‘greater good’ of society.
In the Philippines they are shooting the messengers
By Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Rights and Resources, 29 March 2018
When I learnt that the Philippine government had accused me of being a terrorist, my immediate reaction was to hug my grandkids, fearing for their safety.
Then, I started to speak out. Again.
I am the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. My mandate is to report when communities anywhere in the world are forced to relocate, their lands uprooted, their leaders either deemed criminals or killed. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the message needs to be spread. In the Philippines, they are shooting the messengers.
Benedictine monks see red over Vietnam forest fires
UCA News, 29 May 2018
Benedictine monks in a central Vietnam province have criticized authorities for ignoring forest fires that they claim were started deliberately.
Brother Stanislas Tran Minh Vong said two fires were found in pine forest around the Benedictine Monastery of Thien An just outside the ancient city of Hue in Thua Thien Hue province on the afternoons of May 22 and 23.
30 May 2018
A brief explainer of how REDD+ finance works
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 30 May 2018
In one of largest ongoing efforts to tackle climate change, projects happening the world under the framework of REDD+ – reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation – are shoring up invaluable benefits for the planet’s collective future. But, this doesn’t come cheap. Who’s paying for it? Where does the money go? What are the returns on investment? And, why aren’t answers to these questions already widely known?
Meat and fish multinationals ‘jeopardising Paris climate goals’
By Bibi can der Zee and Andrew Wasley, The Guardian, 30 May 2018
Meat and fish companies may be “putting the implementation of the Paris agreement in jeopardy” by failing to properly report their climate emissions, according to a groundbreaking index launched today.
Three out of four (72%) of the world’s biggest meat and fish companies provided little or no evidence to show that they were measuring or reporting their emissions, despite the fact that, as the report points out, livestock production represents 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
What is blue carbon and how could it save the planet?
By Chloe Hatzitolios, The Loop, 30 May 2018
There are a lot of ideas out there about what we can do to help out our dying planet. A lot of them involve doing your part as a citizen to be mindful about the things you buy and the way you dispose of them. While that’s all well and good, with tonnes of carbon spouting into the atmosphere from factories around the world, recycling your pop cans might not actually be enough.
African deforestation: ‘If nothing is done, we may lose everything’
DW, 30 May 2018
Africa’s tropical forests, which include the Congo Basin, are under constant threat. Deutsche Welle speaks to Proforest’s Abraham Baffoe on what stands to be lost and what needs to be done to tackle deforestation.
Colombia strengthened its capacities to better manage its forests with UN-REDD’s support
UNDP press release, 30 May 2018
Organizational strengthening and empowerment around environmental issues, climate change, deforestation and conservation, are some of the results delivered by the UN-REDD Programme in Colombia after three years of work with different stakeholders related to forest governance and reducing deforestation and forest degradation, allowing Colombia to fulfill national and international commitments.
31 May 2018
Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 31 May 2018
Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet, according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet.
The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.
To end deforestation, we must protect community land rights
By Bryson Ogden (Rights and Resources Initiative), World Economic Forum, 31 May 2018
Ending deforestation is crucial to achieving a host of global goals, including preventing a climate crisis, sustaining rural livelihoods and preserving natural biodiversity. To this end, companies, investors, governments, civil society and communities have made ambitious commitments to reduce deforestation by 2020. These include the New York Declaration on Forests’ goal to halve natural forest loss, the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of degraded forest, and the Consumer Goods Forum’s commitment to net zero deforestation in palm oil, soy, beef, and paper supply chains.
For Indigenous Peoples, Losing Land Can Mean Losing Lives
By Laura Notess, World Resources Institute, 31 May 2018
Ten years ago, the Cambodian government granted 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres) of land to a Thai company to plant sugarcane. But this land was not empty.
Six hundred families were already living on it, growing rice and vegetables and foraging food and other goods from the nearby community forest. Over the next few years, the company cut down more than half the forest. While conducting evictions, staff and security forces looted rice fields and demolished or burned more than 300 homes. Many people lost their land and all their belongings. Parents sent their children to work in Thailand, unable to farm and afford school fees.
The private ask: clear rules and incentives to green supply chains
By Gloria Pallares, CIFOR Landscape News, 31 May 2018
The private sector is increasingly urged to embrace green business models. As it happens, ventures have their own ideas on how public partners could support these investments in sustainable landscapes.
Clarifying land tenure rights, pushing for a global carbon price and helping bring externalities into the balance sheet are three asks that emerged during the third Global Landscape Forum (GLF) investment case in Washington on Wednesday.
Should Climate Scientists Fly?
By Sarah E Myhre, Scientific American, 31 May 2018
There is a great deal of public concern about when, and where to, climate scientists fly.
“Why do you fly?” they ask us.
“Where do you fly?”
“If you think climate change is a crisis, how can you ever fly?”
“Don’t you know,” they plead, “that the single most damaging choice to the climate system an individual can make is to fly in a commercial airplane?”
To survive in climate change, look past targets and focus on the long game
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 31 May 2018
Under the theme “Building the Investment Case for Sustainable Landscapes and Restoration,” the 2018 Global Landscapes Forum Investment Case Symposium took place at the World Bank in Washington D.C. on 30 May. Attracting more than 500,000 listeners and engagers, the Symposium brought together local communities, scientific experts, investors and politicians to discuss how public and private finance can better partner to address climate change.
Now, blockchain can turn carbon credits into tokens for trading
By Lucas Mearian, Computer World, 31 May 2018
Blockchain, the electronic ledger technology underpinning bitcoin, has been used to address pollution and energy consumption in the past; now it appears poised to attack global warming and deforestation.
Earlier this month, IBM announced it’s working with environmental fintech company Veridium Labs Ltd. to tokenize carbon credits, which are used to incentivize companies to pollute less. The tokens could be traded on a distributed, open-source blockchain exchange run by start-up Stellar.
A decade-old plan to curb carbon emissions through forest conservation in Africa is yet to pay off
By Shruti Agarwal, Down To Earth, 31 May 2018
One may call it a huge leap of faith. In December, when the world leaders meet in Poland to finalise the rulebook of the Paris Agreement, a document that governs global climate action starting 2020, they will enshrine in it a mechanism over which the dust is yet to settle. The mechanism of REDD+, short for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, where “+” stands for conservation and sustainable forest management, provides financial incentives to communities, regions and countries for keeping their forests intact. The rationale behind the mechanism is simple: forests lock up a lot of carbon. Going by The Economics of Climate Change, a 700-page report by economist Nicholas Stern in 2006, deforestation contributes more to global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) each year than the transport sector. So halting deforestation is an immediate and highly cost-effective way to curb GHG emissions.
Norwegian government report sharply critical of funding for tropical forest conservation
By Mike Gaworecki, Mongabay, 31 May 2018
A recent report by Norway’s Office of the Auditor General had some tough criticisms for the country’s International Forests and Climate Initiative (NICFI), one of the chief funders of REDD+ initiatives around the world.
Over the last 10 years, NICFI has granted a total of 23.5 billion Norwegian krone (about $2.9 billion) to projects aimed at conserving tropical forests and reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions in several developing countries. Norway even paid three countries directly to protect their forests and draw down emissions: Brazil, in particular, has been a major recipient of funds from Norway, receiving 7.4 billion krone (more than $900 million), while Indonesia and Guyana have each received 1.1 billion krone (about $134 million).
Romania breaks up alleged €25m illegal logging ring
By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 31 May 2018
Romania’s security forces have mounted a series of raids to break up an alleged €25m illegal logging ring, in what is believed to be the largest operation of its kind yet seen in Europe.
Officers from Romania’s Directorate for Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) swooped on 23 addresses – including factories owned by the Austrian timber group Schweighofer Holzindustrie, according to local press reports.
1 June 2018
2 June 2018
Food giants’ claims palm oil does not damage rainforests ‘problematic’, say researchers
By Jane Dalton, The Independent, 2 June 2018
Food firms cannot claim the palm oil in their products does not destroy rainforests because supply chains are so complex, scientists say.
“No-deforestation” promises printed on packaging could be failing despite the good intentions of manufacturers, according to a report by researchers at Imperial College London.
[India] After forest fires, Uttarakhand is now hit by cloudburst; Kumaon region badly affected
Down to Earth, 2 June 2018
After enduring a long spell of forest fires, Uttarkhand is now experiencing torrential rains with cloudbursts being reported from places Uttarkashi, Pauri, Tehri and Balakot. The cloudburst triggered flash floods in Pithoragarh and Betalghat, reportedly damaging dozen shops and houses.
Three children were swept away by flood waters after heavy rains in Uttarkashi’s Gangtadi. Another cloudburst occurred at Bamorth village in Pauri district, which destroyed six cowsheds.
Pakistan’s environmental challenges
By Zile Huma, Daily Times, 2 June 2018
Pakistan is facing many environmental challenges, which pose serious threats to human health and life. First of all, climate change is a non-traditional threat for Pakistan. Pakistan has been declared among top ten countries most affected by climate change. Climate change is negatively impacting health, agriculture and overall economy of the country. The main reasons are carbon emission, deforestation, population explosion and lack of finances to mitigate and adapt to climate change effects.
3 June 2018
Food waste is destroying the planet. Doing something about it starts at home
By Sharon Kunde, Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2018
On a recent Monday, my kitchen was full of breakfast options: apple-topped streusel, lemon poppyseed muffins, almond Danish. There were also ripe bananas, dented boxes of cereal and several cartons of eggs, each with one cracked and cemented in its cardboard divot, but 11 intact and gleaming.
The bounty came from the dumpster of a local grocery store. It’d been retrieved by my husband and two friends the night before. We’d keep what our family of four could eat — and there would be still be extra to take to a nearby food pantry.
[Australia] Up in smoke: what did taxpayers get for the $2bn emissions fund?
By Adam Morton, The Guardian, 3 June 2018
At some point in June, the Australian government will announce it has spent up to $2.3bn over three years on a scheme that the prime minister believes is a reckless waste of public money.
That is not how it will be expressed. If the past is a guide, the government is likely to quietly issue an understated press release saying the latest auction of the emissions reduction fund – the scheme better known as Direct Action, which the former environment minister Greg Hunt described as the centrepiece of Australia’s efforts to tackle climate change – has been a success.