REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
13 August 2018
Tax havens shielding companies responsible for deforestation and overfishing
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 13 August 2018
Money channelled through secretive tax havens has been used to fuel deforestation in the Amazon and illegal fishing around the world, racking up a heavy environmental toll but leaving few ways for businesses to be held to account.
Billions of pounds worth of finance has travelled through countries internationally recognised as tax havens, and has been traced by researchers to activities that contribute to environmental destruction, such as growing soy and beef in deforested areas of the Amazon, and expanding a network of largely unregulated fishing vessels operating under “flags of convenience”.
Not a moment too soon… A foreword to the Trase Yearbook 2018
By Frances Seymour, Trase, 13 August 2018
The first Trase Yearbook arrives not a moment too soon. 2018 is a pivotal year for the nexus of deforestation, commodity supply chain commitments, and action at the level of sub-national jurisdictions:
– Global Forest Watch reports that 2017 was the second-worst year on record for global tree cover loss, down only slightly from 2016.
– Companies that have committed to get deforestation out of their supply chains are waking up to the fact their 2020 target date is just around the corner, and are scrambling to accelerate progress.
– An increasing number of leaders of sub-national jurisdictions have committed to low-carbon development paths, and are beginning to grapple with the challenges of implementation.
RSPO should ban deforestation, say investors representing $6.7t in assets
Mongabay, 13 August 2018
More than 90 institutional investors managing more than $6.7 trillion in assets have called on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to strengthen its standards, including by banning deforestation.
The investors outlined their demands in a letter to the RSPO, the world’s largest association for ethical production of palm oil, a ubiquitous commodity found in everything from chocolate to laundry detergent.
International Carbon Credits Purchasing Program Launched
AZOCleanTech, 13 August 2018
The market for international carbon credits is regulated by international agreements and can seem complex. In order to demonstrate how they function in practice, the Zero Carbon Project has launched its own purchasing program. Each week, it will purchase and cancel international carbon credits from a range of projects reducing carbon emissions.
Spotlight on palm oil — how well do major companies perform?
By Helen Bellfield, Global Canopy, 13 August 2018
The latest campaign from Greenpeace throws a welcome spotlight on how global demand for palm oil is still driving tropical deforestation — despite significant efforts to address this problem over the last 15 years.
As Greenpeace highlight forests are still being cut down to make way for palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia. And in Peru and Colombia, in Liberia and the Congo, where palm oil is expanding rapidly. Too often, this expansion comes at a cost, with communities and wildlife paying the price.
Why is it critical to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes? A glimpse of WWF’s efforts and vision
By Geofrey Mwanjela, WWF, 13 August 2018
Africa is currently losing around 3 million hectares of forest per year, threatening livelihoods of people as well as the habitat of vulnerable wildlife such as elephants. The Congo Basin and Eastern Africa regions have some of the highest deforestation rates in the world. If business as usual continues, the two regions combined are projected to lose around 24 million hectares of forest by 2030.
[India] Forest fires grew 158% in 6 yrs; increased warming key factor: experts
By Shreehari Paliath, IndiaSpend, 13 August 2018
Forest fires in India increased 1.5 times over six years to 35,888 incidents, according to government data submitted to Parliament on July 20, 2018.
Experts believe that long dry periods, especially during winter and the pre-monsoon period, caused by increased warming, is a significant factor for more fires.
The annual mean temperature in India has increased by 1.2o C since the beginning of the 20th century, according to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an environment research advocacy.
[UK] City watchdog received record reports of unauthorised activity but criminal cases are taking four times longer
By Callum Keown, City A.M., 13 August 2018
The Financial Conduct Authority received a record number of reports of unauthorised activity in the past year but it is taking almost four times as long to complete criminal cases.
Data from the FCA annual report analysed by law firm Linklaters showed the amount of time criminal cases were taking to conclude had almost quadrupled since 2015.
The FCA also said it had received 13,309 reports in 2017-18 from victims of pensions scams, investment and insurance fraud, boiler room schemes and unauthorised collective investment or deposit taking business – a record number.
The average length of all criminal cases was 16.3 months in 2015 but jumped to 58.2 months in 2017/18.
[USA] Trump reignited his war with California, but his tweet got burned
By Dana Nuccitelli, The Guardian, 13 August 2018
Last week, 18 wildfires were burning at once in California, including its largest in history, destroying over 1,100 homes and forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate. The smoke made the air in the state’s Central Valley unhealthy to breathe for a record 15 consecutive days, as I can personally attest.
Donald Trump decided to use the opportunity to renew his war with California by nonsensically blaming the wildfires on environmental laws.
14 August 2018
Indigenous people: The struggle for home
By Maizura Ismail, The Asean Post, 14 August 2018
When the then Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhyono, was presented with two maps of the country’s primary forests by different government agencies at a cabinet meeting in December 2010 on ongoing REDD+ work, it became clear that the spatial data presented was conflicting. REDD+ refers to efforts aimed at ‘reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries’. In the search for an explanation, it was found that the two ministries involved utilised different definitions of forests and different mapping methodologies. Consequently, the idea of One Map for Indonesia was mooted.
Trees and climate change: Faster growth, lighter wood
Technical University of Munich press release, 14 August 2018
Trees are growing more rapidly due to climate change. This sounds like good news. After all, this means that trees are storing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in their wood and hence taking away the key ingredient in global warming. But is it that simple? A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) analyzed wood samples from the oldest existing experimental areas spanning a period of 150 years — and reached a surprising conclusion.
Guest post: Why BECCS might not produce ‘negative’ emissions after all
By Dr Anna Harper, CarbonBrief, 14 August 2018
With the long-term goal of restricting global temperature rise to “well below 2C” or 1.5C above pre-industrial levels now enshrined in the Paris Agreement, attention has increasingly turned to how these limits could be met.
Model scenarios that limit warming to 1.5C or 2C typically rely on large amounts of “negative emissions” to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and store it on land, underground or in the oceans.
Summit Promotes Cooperation on Blue Carbon Initiatives
By Catherine Benson Wahlén, IISD, 14 August 2018
Participants at the Blue Carbon Summit called for including blue carbon on national agendas to improve livelihoods and mitigate climate change. Blue carbon is carbon that is sequestered and stored in coastal and marine ecosystems, including mangroves, intertidal marshes and seagrass.
The Blue Carbon Summit took place from 17-18 July 2018, in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Indonesian Academy of Sciences (AIPI) organized the event in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), CGIAR and the Global Landscape Forum (GLF). The Summit aimed to facilitate dialogues across sectors and stakeholders on blue carbon issues and to outline a roadmap for blue carbon development in Indonesia.
Brazil: Bolsonaro threatens to quit Paris climate deal
By Megan Darby, Climate Home News, 14 August 2018
Presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro is threatening to take Brazil out of the Paris Agreement if he wins the October election.
In an unpredictable race, the right-wing Bolsonaro is polling second behind Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the socialist former president. But “Lula” is in jail for corruption and likely to be disqualified by the courts, leaving a scattered field.
At his campaign launch last month and in subsequent interviews, Bolsonaro said he would join Donald Trump’s US and withdraw from the Paris pact.
In Central Africa, public procurement can boost demand for legal wood
By Ahtziri Gonzalez, CIFOR Forests News, 14 August 2018
Central African governments and their development partners account for a significant proportion of the region’s demand for domestic timber, mostly to meet infrastructure needs in sectors such as education, public works and healthcare. And this demand is growing, as more development projects are implemented in the region. However, experts say that not enough attention is currently given to the legality of the wood used for development projects, resulting in countries missing out on a crucial opportunity to promote a sustainable, legal supply chain of timber for national consumption.
Ethiopia Redd + Implementation Stage Gathers Pace
By Mengisteab Teshome, and Dr Yitebitu Moges, The Ethiopian Herald, 14 August 2018
Having accomplished preliminary sound tasks ,implementation stage of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) has gathered pace , Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced.
The Ministry REDD+ Project Manager Dr. Yitebitu Moges told The Ethiopia Herald that since the inception of the start up phase , the program had launched awareness creation among various pertinent stakeholders reaching out half million people in bid realize and promote REDD +concepts and actualize meaningful involvement.
15 August 2018
Earth has more trees now than 35 years ago
Mongabay, 15 August 2018
Despite ongoing deforestation, fires, drought-induced die-offs, and insect outbreaks, the world’s tree cover actually increased by 2.24 million square kilometers — an area the size of Texas and Alaska combined — over the past 35 years, finds a paper published in the journal Nature. But the research also confirms large-scale loss of the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystems, especially tropical forests.
Veridium offers carbon offsets
HedgeWeek, 15 August 2018
Veridium is a collaborative initiative between a coalition of industry leaders including IBM, Stellar, Brian Kelly Capital Management, EnVision Corporation, and IDEAcarbon (a division of IDEAglobal),
Some 10 years ago, InfiniteEARTH (also part of the EnVision group of companies), authored the first forest carbon accounting methodology, now known as REDD+ (reducing emissions from avoided deforestation and degradation), which is now embodied in the Paris agreement.
Conservation Entrepreneurs Are Ready to Get Down to Business. Watch Their Pitches Here
By Genevieve Bennett, Ecosystem Marketplace, 15 August 2018
Business is booming in the arena of “nature-based” companies, which includes ventures ranging from ecological restoration companies to ecotourism to sustainable commodity production. One study estimates that ecological restoration in the United States is a $25 billion-a-year industry that directly employs 126,000 people and supports 95,000 jobs indirectly — more jobs than logging, coal mining or iron and steel. Globally, a recent survey of businesses specializing in reforestation and tree-planting found that some companies are seeing revenues grow as much as tenfold each year.
Facing down witch doctors and Mother Nature to restore Asia’s forests
By Hannah Fernandez, Eco-Business, 15 August 2018
For every item it sells, wood products manufacturer Woodchuck plants a tree.
The maker of high-end custom wood products—including journals, smartphone cases and flasks—has planted 1.3 million trees around the world as a result of its ‘Buy One, Plant One’ programme.
Since 2016, Woodchuck has planted trees in countries including Madagascar, France, Peru, and New Zealand as part of its mission to plant 10 million trees by 2020.
[Brazil] Indigenous Environmental Defender killed as logging mafia targets tribe
Survival International, 15 August 2018
Warning: some people may find the details and image below disturbing
A leader of an Amazon tribe acclaimed for its environmental defenders has been killed, the latest in a series of deaths among the tribe.
The body of Jorginho Guajajara was found near a river in the Brazilian state of Maranhão. He was a leader of the Guajajara people, acclaimed internationally for their work as the ‘Guardians of the Amazon’ in the most threatened region in the entire Amazon.
Logging permit fraud threatens timber species in Brazilian Amazon
Oregon State University press release, 15 August 2018
Timber harvested illegally under fraudulent permits is undercutting conservation efforts in the Brazilian Amazon, new research by an international collaboration shows.
The findings represent a troublesome counterpunch to an overall decline in deforestation rates in the region and indicate high-value timber species such as ipê may be at risk of overexploitation.
The study appeared today in Science Advances.
[EU] Carbon retreats from 10-year high
By Laurence Walker, Montel, 15 August 2018
European carbon prices retreated from near 10-year highs in Wednesday trading amid widespread profit-taking but were likely to retain some support from lingering utility demand and limited August supply.
The EUA benchmark contract last changed hands down EUR 0.20 at EUR 17.96/t, though it earlier reached its highest level since November 2008 of EUR 18.28/t.
Redd+ commits to helping Togo boost its forest cover
Togo First, 15 August 2018
REDD+ stands for Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. This program rewards developing countries that adopt measures to increase their forest cover in order to help these nations increase their carbon-storing capacity and better fight global warming.
On August 13, 2018 in Lomé, under the supervision of the ministry of environment and forest resources, REDD+ coordination officially initiated two analyses that ultimately aim to boost forest cover in Togo.
16 August 2018
Canada, U.K. Plan the First Paris Climate Deal Carbon Trades
By Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 16 August 2018
Canada and the U.K. are among six countries preparing the first carbon trades under the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change, part of an effort to unlock as much as $4 billion for the fight against global warming.
The nations are assessing projects to cut greenhouse-gases in exchange for emission credits that can be used to comply with goals they set under the United Nations pact sealed in 2015, according to the World Bank Group, which is overseeing the program.
Voluntary Carbon Gets Lift From Paris, Planes, And Propriety
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 16 August 2018
Voluntary carbon markets are heating up as companies and consumers are taking action on climate change, according to Voluntary Carbon Market Insights: 2018 Outlook and First-Quarter Trends, published yesterday by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace.
The report finds that both supply and demand for voluntary carbon markets hit record-highs in 2017, at 62.7 million and 42.8 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), respectively.
Record-high supply and demand on voluntary carbon markets in 2017: report
Mongabay, 16 August 2018
As governments, companies, and individuals the world over are increasingly seeking to address their contributions to global warming, the use of voluntary carbon markets is starting to accelerate after several years of slow growth.
That’s the finding of a new report released yesterday by Ecosystem Marketplace, an initiative of the NGO Forest Trends. According to the report, the supply of carbon credits on voluntary markets hit an all-time-high in 2017 of 62.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), while 42.8-MtCO2e-worth of offsets were purchased and retired — also a record.
The great African regreening: millions of ‘magical’ new trees bring renewal
By Ruth Maclean, The Guardian, 16 August 2018
Rain had come to nearby villages, but not yet to Droum in south-east Niger. The sand under its stately trees looked completely barren, but Souley Cheibou, a farmer in his 60s, was not worried. He crooked a finger, fished in the sand, and brought out a millet seed. In a week or two, this seed would germinate and sprout, and soon the whole field would be green.
Cheibou’s peace of mind stemmed from the trees encircling him, which had been standing long before he was born. Despite appearances, these were not any old acacias. They were gao trees – known as winterthorns in English – with unique, seemingly magical powers.
Brazil: murder of indigenous leader highlights threat to way of life
By Flávia Milhorance, The Guardian, 16 August 2018
Indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon are mourning the murder of a community leader who campaigned to protect the forest from logging amid escalating violence in the region.
Jorginho Guajajara, a cacique, or leader, of the Guajajara people, was found dead near a river in the city of Arame, Maranhão state, at the weekend.
Members of the tribe say his death was the result of a fierce conflict provoked by the incursion of loggers into their land. Up to 80 Guajajaras have been killed in the area since 2000.
India Presents the First Bonn Challenge Country Progress Report
By Wangu Mwangi, IISD, 16 August 2018
India has published the first-ever country progress report under the Bonn Challenge on forest landscape restoration, which concludes that the country is on track to achieve its pledge of restoring 13 million hectares of degraded land by 2020 and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030.
The report titled, ‘Bonn Challenge and India: Progress on Restoration Efforts across States and Landscapes,’ is co-published by the India Country Office of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
How far has Indonesia come on peatland conservation and restoration?
By Hannah Maddison-Harris, CIFOR Forests News, 16 August 2018
The joint need to protect remaining peatlands while restoring degraded lands resounded throughout the Tropical Peatlands Exchange, held at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) headquarters on 8 August 2018.
Peatland ecosystems are critical for biodiversity, ecosystem services, water regulation and pollution control, in addition to their “disproportionate importance in terms of carbon storage,” said CIFOR Director General Robert Nasi. Because of this, peat swamps, along with mangroves, have the greatest potentials of any ecosystems to affect greenhouse gas emissions if they are degraded or destroyed.
Indonesia’s largest palm oil company, Golden Agri Resources on the ropes
Forest Peoples Programme, 16 August 2018
Indonesian, Liberian and International NGOs have just filed five new complaints (attached below) against Indonesia’s largest palm oil company, Golden Agri Resources (GAR). GAR which is part of the huge Sinar Mas (Golden Rays) conglomerate run by the Widjaja family with interests ranging from palm oil and pulpwood to real estate and banking, is failing to comply with the RSPO’s standards, claim the NGOs.
Both GAR and its subsidiary in Liberia – Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) – angered NGOs when they recently withdrew GVL’s membership of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), thus dodging a demand from RSPO that it halt development of its palm oil mill on contested lands.
17 August 2018
[New Zealand] Māori leaders pitch to Māori landowners – let us pay to plant trees and we will share the carbon credit profits
By David Fisher, New Zealand Herald, 17 August 2018
A carbon-trading business seeking to unlock millions of dollars from communal Māori land is launching today in a scheme which will provide the Government’s Billion Trees plan a massive boost.
High-profile Māori leaders have joined a board led by Ngāi Tahu’s Sir Mark Solomon, who said the Māori Carbon Foundation was looking to plant on “marginal” land – often the remnants of colonial land grabs.
[USA] Ryan Zinke’s claim that “environmental terrorists” are to blame for wildfires, explained
By Umair Irfan, Vox, 17 August 2018
Massive infernos continue to rage across much of the West. California’s Mendocino Complex Fire is now the largest in state history, covering more than 317,900 acres as of Thursday.
Fires are a natural occurrence in many woodlands and are essential to a healthy ecosystem. But the growing scale and destruction from these fires stems from human activity.
What kinds of human activity? According to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, environmental terrorists.
18 August 2018
Smoke from Indonesian forest fires affecting southern Thailand
Pattaya Mail, 18 August 2018
Smoke from forest fires in Indonesia has begun to affect areas of Thailand’s southern region, including Hat Yai district of Songkla, where particulate levels are now detrimental to health.
Smoke from the fires has shrouded much of Songkla province extending out to sea, impacting on visibility for boat operators. Songkla Fisheries Association Head, Suradech Nilubon has issued a warning to all commercial boats to proceed with caution at this time, emphasizing that boats returning to dock at night should use their spotlights to avoid accidents, while those at sea at night must keep warning lights on.
[Malaysia] Water bombing operations begin as forest fire rages in Kuala Baram
By Stephen Then, The Star, 18 August 2018
The Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department in Miri has started aerial water bombing operations to contain a raging forest fire in the Kuala Baram district.
The fire had already spread to 32 hectares of land and was nearing the Komplexs Hamidah orphanage, said Miri Fire chief Supt Law Poh Kiong.
Supt Law in his latest update to Sarawak Bomba said the Bomba Air Unit would be dropping water from nearby sources to try and contain the flames.
19 August 2018
Tonight’s Weather Forecast: Unseasonably Hot Till 2022
By Jeremy Hance, ALERT, 19 August 2018
When it comes to climate, things are officially veering out of control.
In the towering Swiss Alps, skyrocketing temperatures — above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celcius) — have revealed a World War II airplane that was buried for over 70 years in a glacier.
In England, rare Andean flamingos are laying eggs for the first time in 15 years, because the weather reminds them of their tropical home.
In Denmark, a drought is costing farmers nearly a billion dollars.
And an intercontinental heatwave is killing people across the Northern Hemisphere as it provokes devastating wildfires in Greece and California.
[UK] ‘Am I on a suckers’ list after investing £1,862 in carbon credits?’
By Jessica Gorst-Williams, The Telegraph, 19 August 2018
After reading a positive report on carbon credits in 2012 I foolishly responded to a call from a broker and paid £1,862 for 250 Voluntary Emission Reduction (VER) credits.
Later I was shocked to hear that the broker had gone into liquidation. The police are investigating but now I am receiving many calls offering to sell my carbon credits, requiring a fee of £500-plus upfront. Am I on a mug list of gullible people?