REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
30 July 2018
Forest carbon emissions are set to grow
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 30 July 2018
Accelerating climate change is likely to result in growing forest carbon emissions, with serious consequences both for the creatures that find shelter there, and for the global atmosphere.
The world’s great tropical forests – home to most of the world’s wild things, and immense stores of carbon from the atmosphere – could soon start to release more carbon than they absorb, scientists say.
If this happens, probably as a result of exploitation, drought and extremes of heat, then the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to rise, and with them, atmospheric and oceanic temperatures and the threat of catastrophic climate change, according to a new study.
Global carbon tax in isolation could ‘exacerbate food insecurity by 2050’
By Daisy Dunne, Carbon Brief, 30 July 2018
The implementation of a global tax on greenhouse gas emissions could – without other complementary policies – “have a greater negative impact on global hunger…than the direct impacts of climate change”, a new study says.
The research finds that using a blanket “carbon tax” to restrict global warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels – which is the limit set by the Paris Agreement – would put an additional 45 million people at risk of hunger by 2050.
How Did the End of the World Become Old News?
By David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, 30 July 2018
There has been a lot of burning lately. Last week, wildfires broke out in the Arctic Circle, where temperatures reached almost 90 degrees; they are still roiling northern Sweden, 21 of them. And this week, wildfires swept through the Greek seaside, outside Athens, killing at least 80 and hospitalizing almost 200. At one resort, dozens of guests tried to escape the flames by descending a narrow stone staircase into the Aegean, only to be engulfed along the way, dying literally in each other’s arms.
A Tale of Two Amazons
By Ruben Lubowski and Ram Seshan, Environmental Defense Fund, 30 July 2018
We are living through an explosion of data and innovations in data analytics. I love data and especially data on land-use changes, like tropical deforestation. And I have always wanted more and more of this type data. All the data I could get. But you need to be careful what you wish for. Last year my team and I were hit with a data tsunami and we were left completely underwater.
[Cameroon] Cocoa agroforests mean more than chocolate
By Gloria Pallares, CIFOR Forests News, 30 July 2018
Cocoa is the primary source of income in southern Cameroon, where it represents 48% of the total agricultural land use. In this and other tropical regions, the way cocoa agroforests are managed matters immensely to livelihoods – but also to the climate.
Cocoa agroforests vary widely in terms of tree composition and structure, but, until recently, few studies had been conducted to understand how these differences impact carbon stocks. Meanwhile, irresponsible land management practices were not only seeing cocoa plantations fail to contribute to countries’ emissions reductions goals, but also cause massive forest degradation in countries such as the Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana, which are alone responsible for two-thirds of the world’s cocoa production. The ‘cocoa belt’ was becoming increasingly prone to deforestation and droughts, and cocoa landscapes in other high-producing countries in Asia and Latin America were following suit.
Zero Carbon Project Partners With Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange
By Alistair Johnston, ICO Examiner, 30 July 2018
The Zero Carbon Project has announced that it will be listing the sale of its Energis token on the GBX GRID, the token sale platform of the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX). This means that post-ICO, Energis should be available for trading on the GBX Digital Asset Exchange, subject to it passing the necessary formalities.
Energis is only the fourth token to be listed on the GBX GRID platform, following traceto.io, Carbon Grid Protocol and CrowdVilla. Rather than having to run its own Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) procedures, being added to the platform will grant the Zero Carbon Project access to a pool of over 20,000 AMC- and KYC pre-cleared users.
Indonesia forest assessment casts an optimistic light on a complex issue
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 30 July 2018
Indonesia has released its inaugural report on the state of its forests, highlighting recent successes in conserving an ecological treasure trove that makes up the third-largest span of tropical rainforest in the world.
The report, titled “The State of Indonesia’s Forests 2018”, was published with support from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which puts out its own annual report on the state of the world’s forests, and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative. It was first presented by Indonesia’s environment minister in Jakarta on July 11, and then at an FAO forestry committee meeting in Rome on July 16, attended by representatives from 99 FAO member countries.
[Indonesia] Long, winding road for indigenous rights
By Dean Yulindra Affandi, Jakarta Post, 30 July 2018
Although they have the strongest historical and emotional ties to their land, indigenous groups in Indonesia are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to secured land tenure rights and legal access to natural resources. For the greater part of history, indigenous communities have been trying in vain to assert their traditional rights and redefine their role in Indonesian statehood. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
31 July 2018
Tracking the shift of tropical forests from carbon sink to source
Mongabay, 31 July 2018
Scientists seeking the tools necessary to tackle climate change need to better understand both the current interplay between carbon and tropical forests and how those forests will respond as temperatures warm.
That’s one of the conclusions of a recent review by University of Edinburgh-based scientist Edward Mitchard, published July 25 in the journal Nature.
WWF Event “Bends the Curve” on Forest Loss
By Adam Fishman, IISD, 31 July 2018
An event titled, ’30×30 Forests, Food, and Land Challenge: Bending the curve on forest loss,’ convened on the margins of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to discuss the intersection of land use, food systems and climate change. Organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and hosted at the World Economic Forum (WEF), the event highlighted actions that companies are taking to increase sustainability and halt deforestation in their supply chains.
WWF Report Considers Forests in Delivering the 2030 Agenda
By Adam Fishman, IISD, 31 July 2018
A paper launched by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on the margins of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) examines the role that forests play in delivering the SDGs. Emphasizing that the Goals and targets interlink with each other and can have synergies or trade-offs, the paper features case studies on how SDG 15 (life on land) can help achieve the other five Goals that were reviewed at the Forum and vice versa.
COFO 24 Focuses on SDGs, Launches Forest and Farm Facility Initiative Phase Two
By Catherine Benson Wahlén, IISD, 31 July 2018
The 24th session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) called for increased efforts in the forest sector to achieve the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The event focused on the theme, ‘Forests and the Sustainable Development Goals—from aspiration to action.’
COFO 24 convened from 16-20 July, at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. The event took place in conjunction with the World Forest Week, a series of meetings and events sponsored by FAO and its partners to share knowledge, accomplishments and achievements. Side events discussed policy and technical issues affecting the forest sector.
Climate Mitigation Finance Update: Celebrating Fossil Fuel Divestment, a Climate Finance Record and 10 Years of REDD+ Support
By Gillian Nelson, IISD, 31 July 2018
Climate mitigation finance news in July included announcements celebrating Ireland’s fossil fuel divestment bill, the World Bank Group’s record in climate finance and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility’s 10 year anniversary, as well as a new finance partnership for sustainable infrastructure in Asia and financing for renewable energy in Croatia, Uruguay, Tunisia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
[Indonesia] Film: The Bornean village chief dealing with the fallout from a corrupt plantation deal
Gecko Project, 31 July 2018
One afternoon in 2017, an indigenous Dayak man named Kardie tracked us down to a hotel in Kuala Kurun, a one-horse town in the interior of Indonesian Borneo. He had heard that our small team of reporters was investigating an oil palm plantation firm that was cutting into the forests surrounding his village, Tumbang Pajangei.
Kardie gave us the skeleton of his story: After being elected village headman, he discovered that his predecessor had signed a spate of documents allowing the company to annex a huge chunk of his community’s land. The revelation had come as a shock: Kardie and other village leaders had objected to the proposed plantation the few times they had been asked for their views. The permit had been issued by the head of Gunung Mas district, a man named Hambit Bintih, who had since been convicted for his role in a bribery scheme.
1 August 2018
Transforming Digital Currency: How Trading In Carbon Can Save The Planet
By Erika Clugston, Clean Technica, 1 August 2018
Carbon is a very real thing, but to many of us it seems to only exist as an abstract concept, disconnected and unrelated to the reality of our day-to-day lives. But what if it could be brought into our daily exchanges in a real and beneficial way?
Ultra Carbon, the latest digital currency launched by Hub Culture, is a way to make carbon a more tangible and integrated part of our lives. The currency is backed by real environmental assets, such as rainforests and other carbon offsets, thus making it possible to buy, sell, and trade in carbon. Stan Stalnaker, founder of Hub Culture, spoke with us about his vision for the new currency, and the ways that it can benefit the environment.
International trading of emissions reductions could greatly increase global climate ambition
By Gabriela Leslie, Pedro Piris-Cabezas, and Ruben Lubowski, Environmental Defense Fund, 1 August 2018
Carbon pricing is steadily growing worldwide and increasingly recognized as a way to achieve emissions reductions at lower cost than with standard regulations. A recent economic analysis from Environmental Defense Fund found that these cost savings from international trading of emissions could translate into direct gains for the atmosphere – and could produce nearly double the climate ambition at the same overall cost as countries’ complying with their Paris Agreement targets without international markets.
As temperatures rise, Earth’s soil is ‘breathing’ more heavily
DOE, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory press release, 1 August 2018
The vast reservoir of carbon stored beneath our feet is entering Earth’s atmosphere at an increasing rate, most likely as a result of warming temperatures, suggest observations collected from a variety of the Earth’s many ecosystems.
Blame microbes and how they react to warmer temperatures. Their food of choice – nature’s detritus like dead leaves and fallen trees – contains carbon. When bacteria chew on decaying leaves and fungi chow down on dead plants, they convert that storehouse of carbon into carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere.
[Indonesia] In China’s Belt and Road initiative, environmentalists see risky business
By Michael Holtz, Christian Science Monitor, 1 August 2018
Homles Hutabara grows solemn as he peers down at a large swath of clear-cut forest, the patch of exposed red-brown earth an ugly gash in the lush green landscape.
Gone are the rubber trees and oil palms that Mr. Hutabara’s family planted years ago to eke out a living in this remote corner of Indonesia. In their place stand a single-story prefab building and a small battalion of trucks and excavators. On most days, Hutabara says, the din of diesel engines drowns out the calls of gibbons and songbirds that once echoed through the trees.
[Indonesia] Back to the future: Sketching out oil palm scenarios to 2035
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 1 August 2018
We may not yet be able to time travel, but data modeling can help us to make more educated guesses about the future, and hopefully prompt better planning in the present, says Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) scientist and climate change mitigation expert Sunil Sharma.
Sharma is leading a new study that projects three potential future scenarios for oil palm cultivation in Indonesia’s West and Central Kalimantan provinces from 2017 to 2035, and, for each, maps the likely impacts on key ecosystem services (ES) therein.
Panama’s indigenous groups take land fight to the international stage
By Camilo Mejia Giraldo, Mongabay, 1 August 2018
Indigenous communities occupying four territories in eastern Panama are taking their nearly five-year land-titling battle with the government to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C. Their move comes despite recent gains in the Panamanian process.
Embera communities near Darién National Park and a Wounaan community on the country’s Pacific coast have been waiting since 2013 for the government’s environment ministry, MiAmbiente, to greenlight their “collective land title” applications. The ministry’s approval is needed before their applications can proceed because their respective territories overlap nationally designated protected areas.
2 August 2018
Unanswered Questions: How Civil Society’s Contributions to Sustainable Development are Undermined at the HLPF
By Lyndal Rowlands, IISD, 2 August 2018
As Colombia joined 45 other countries in New York last month to review progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, four grassroots activists were killed as they fought for sustainable development in Colombian communities. A question posed by an Indigenous representative to the government about such killings – of which there were more than 100 last year – went unanswered, illustrating the many layers at which civil society is obstructed from meaningful participation in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, from the local level to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
Hope, hype and heresy as blockchains enter the energy business
The Economist, 2 August 2018
TEPCO, Japan’s largest energy firm, is an unlikely advocate of techno-anarchy. The firm is best known for the meltdown at its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear-power plant in 2011, during which its buttoned-down executives showed corporate Japan at its most stultified. Yet it is trying to reinvent itself as a pioneer of one of the edgiest forms of energy. It is embracing blockchain technology with an aim, no less, of overthrowing the old order in the electricity business to make it more decentralised.
Connecting indigenous growers with buyers helps save forests and lift up communities
By Chris Meyer, EDF, 2 August 2018
Economic development while also conserving forests is not easy. Building infrastructure and increasing production often entails forest degradation or destruction. But at Environmental Defense Fund, our mantra “Finding the ways that work” challenges us to solve even the most intractable problems. And so over the last five years, one way we made economic development and forest conservation “work” is by partnering with indigenous organizations that sustainably grow coffee and cacao in some of the most remote parts of the world, and bringing to them buyers from the United States and Europe.
Green Climate Fund needs political push to solve woes – UN climate chief
By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 2 August 2018
The Green Climate Fund, set up to channel billions of dollars to help developing nations tackle climate change, must operate more efficiently, with greater political attention needed to make that happen, the United Nations’ climate chief said on Thursday.
The fund’s July board meeting at its South Korean base – which ended in disarray after its executive director resigned and the board failed to reach key decisions – was “a cause of concern”, Patricia Espinosa said in an interview.
Rights in the DRC: What’s getting in the way?
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forest News, 2 August 2018
At the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, the Forest Principles sent a clear message to governments: to preserve forests better, involve the people living in and around them in their management. Since then, numerous countries across the globe have put reforms in place that attempt to do just that.
But putting these changes into practice is often a different story.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Forest Code of 2002 clearly guarantees the rights of communities to their lands and livelihoods. But in a recent validation workshop for a Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) study on the topic, stakeholders said that these provisions are not consistently enforced, which limits forest-adjacent communities from exercising their rights, and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable.
Congo Ebola outbreak poses high regional risk, says WHO
By Tom Miles and Fiston Mahamba, Reuters, 2 August 2018
An Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is likely spread over tens of kilometres and poses a high regional risk given its proximity to borders, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Thursday.
[Indonesia] Belt and Road Initiative could doom the world’s rarest ape
By William F. Laurance, Mongabay, 2 August 2018
When Chinese President Xi Jinping extolls China’s Belt & Road Initiative, he uses words like “green”, “low carbon” and “sustainable”. Is this reality or just ‘greenwashing’—vague and flimsy promises that hide the truth about appalling environmental, social and economic risks?
[USA] A new Democratic cap-and-trade bill
AXIOS, 2 August 2018
Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko of New York is working on a cap-and-trade bill to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Axios has learned. Tonko’s measure is the third comprehensive climate-change measure to surface in the last couple of weeks in the House.
The bottom line: These bills are very unlikely to get broad support any time soon, and they offer competing ways to address climate change. But the mere introduction indicates a thawing of sorts after a decade of mostly dormant policy in this space on Capitol Hill.
3 August 2018
With time running out, negotiators inch forwards on Paris climate rulebook
By Megan Darby, Climate Home News, 3 August 2018
Climate negotiators need to “crank up the pace” on writing the rulebook for the Paris climate pact, a co-chair told Climate Home News as plans to streamline the process were published this week.
Jo Tyndall, the New Zealand diplomat leading talks alongside Saudi Arabia’s Sarah Baashan, said there had been “good progress” at the May meeting in Bonn.
However, she added, “there seems to be a disconnect between the amount of time we have available and the scale of the remaining work that needs to be done”.
REDD: A Vital Part of the International Effort to Address Climate Change
By Vibeka Mair, Triple Pundit, 3 August 2018
Many of the world’s mythologies and religions give trees a deep and sacred meaning. And for millennia, trees have been storing vast quantities of carbon, representing a vital asset to tackling the climate change crisis.
Recognising trees’ value in reducing carbon emissions, the United Nations has a cache of policies known collectively as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). Broadly, REDD+ provides a financial incentive to increase and protect forest cover.
Bhutan has more than 709 million MT in carbon stock
By Tshering Palden, Kuensel, 3 August 2018
Bhutan’s carbon stock, carbon that has been stored in the biomass, is 709 million MT. That is including 188 million MT of carbon stored in forests soils as organic matter.
The stock could be more as the study measured only up to 30cm depth of ground, not the entire soil profile, experts said.
The total biomass, the quantity of organisms in a given area of our forests is estimated to be about 1,109 million metric tonnes (MT), which translates to 521 million MT of carbon.
[Guinea] Chimp sanctuary created by World Bank threatened by World Bank-backed dam
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 3 August 2018
Less than a year after it helped to create one of the planet’s most important chimpanzee sanctuaries, the World Bank is accused of backing a dam project that could flood the newly protected habitat.
The 6,426 square-kilomet re Moyen-Bafing national park was established by the government of Guinea last November with the support of the International Finance Corporation , the private sector lending arm of the World Bank.
Guyana taps into women’s knowledge in forest management to combat climate change
By Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves, 3 August 2018
Women’s experiences in forest management are being harnessed to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that cause climate change events such as droughts, floods and storms.
The Ministry of Natural Resources Project Execution Unit (PEU) of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Project, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), on Friday began a series of workshops across the country aimed at “Readying Women for REDD+”. Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman remarked that his ministry hopes “to have far reaching consultations with the people of Guyana particularly those who use the forests and rely on it and need it for their sustenance”.
Nepal moves to ensure ‘untouchables’ among those to get forest protection cash
By Purple Romero, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 3 August 2018
When Krishna Maya Sunar received 10,000 rupees ($91) from a forest protection project in Gorkha in Nepal, it changed her life.
That was seven years ago. Until then, she got by selling home-brewed liquor. It did not earn much – about 5,000 rupees a month – and, being illegal, was risky.
4 August 2018
[Kenya] Sengwer living in fear as police comb Embobut Forest for bandits
By Stephen Rutto, The Star, 4 August 2018
The Sengwer community has expressed fears its members are being unfairly targeted in a state operation to smoke out bandits suspected to be hiding in Embobut forest.
At least 300 police officers have been deployed at the Marakwet-West Pokot border in a security operation flush out the armed bandits.
They included offers from the Anti-Stock Theft, Administration, Regular and General Service units.
5 August 2018