REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
3 September 2018
Governments ‘not on track’ to meet greenhouse gas targets, says top UN official ahead of major climate talks
By Josh Gabbatiss, 3 September 2018
A top UN official has warned that urgent action is required to avoid the “catastrophic effects” of climate change ahead of important negotiations taking place in Bangkok.
After heatwaves and extreme weather swept the world this summer, there is hope among climate experts that leaders will be galvanised to act.
Patricia Espinosa, head of the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said governments are not doing enough to meet their climate targets.
Nuclear Has to Use Climate Crisis to Justify High Cost, MIT Says
By Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg, 3 September 2018
Nuclear energy can’t compete on cost with cheap natural gas or renewables and therefore needs the help of policy makers who are willing to promote its low-emission power generation as a way to fight climate change, according to a landmark new study.
To stave off runaway global warming by mid-century, the world’s current crop of leaders need to institute policies that dial down greenhouse gases emitted by power producers more than 90 percent, according to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The clearest way to get there may be by putting a price on carbon emissions and supporting clean technologies.
Environmental rights under spotlight in Brazil with launch of major new rights initiative
UN Environment, 3 September 2018
UN Environment and its partners today underscored their commitment to take on environmental rights issues and reiterated their efforts to protect environmental defenders from ongoing intimidation, threats and murder, with the launch of the Environmental Rights Initiative in Brazil.
Among the hundreds who turned out for the event, hosted by Rio De Janeiro’s futuristic ‘Museum of Tomorrow’, were environmental defenders, Brazil’s Attorney General, Raquel Dodge, Brazil’s Minister of State for Human Rights, Gustavo do Vale Rocha, Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, celebrities, and TV Globo. Global Witness, an international anti-corruption organization devoted to exposing human rights abuses, took the opportunity to discuss the unsettling findings of its recent report which sees Brazil top the list as the most dangerous place for land defenders to live.
EU CO2 price to hit Eur30/mt by end 2019: Bank of America
By Frank Watson, S&P Global, 3 September 2018
EU carbon dioxide allowance prices are likely to hit Eur30/mt ($34.85/mt) before the end of 2019, according to a forecast Monday by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
If borne out, this would likely mean the power sector fails to deliver CO2 emissions cuts through coal-to gas fuel switching in the short-term, meaning carbon emissions abatement would need to be achieved through other means including growth in renewable energy generation.
How Guyana Must Prepare to Cope With the ‘Jeopardies and Perils’ of Oil Discovery
By Desmond Brown, IPS, 3 September 2018
Recent huge offshore oil discoveries are believed to have set Guyana– one of the poorest countries in South America–on a path to riches. But they have also highlighted the country’s development challenges and the potential impact of an oil boom.
Oil giant ExxonMobil has, over the last three years, drilled eight gushing discovery wells offshore with the potential to generate nearly USD20 billion in oil revenue annually by the end of the next decade.
Peruvian villagers face murder and intimidation from land traffickers
By Rajmonda Rexhi and Matthew Weaver, The Guardian, 3 September 2018
Shortly after sunset, along an isolated stretch of highway leading out of a dusty hamlet in northern Peru, a band of five weary farmers clad in reflective neon vests and armed with traditional whips made of bull penises set out on a solemn march.
The Ronderos – self-governing peasant patrols – are resuming their nightly rounds five months after the brutal killing of their lieutenant governor, Napoléon Tarrillo Astonitas.
4 September 2018
Indigenous lands crucial for conservation
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 4 September 2018
The world’s remaining ‘wild places’ are often envisaged to be packed full of biodiversity, and bereft of one troublesome species: Homo sapiens. But a new global study shows that about 40% of protected and ecologically-intact landscapes are actually under indigenous peoples’ custodianship.
“And that’s very exciting,” says John Fa, Senior Associate at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and one of the lead researchers on the project. He says the work highlights the need to give indigenous peoples the tenure recognition and resources they require to continue to manage these areas effectively.
UNFCCC Updates and Relaunches E-Commerce Web Platform
By Leila Mead, IISD, 4 September 2018
The UNFCCC has relaunched its Online Platform for Voluntary Cancellation of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), where organizations, governments, businesses and citizens can purchase UN-vetted carbon offsets to compensate for their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The revamped website is more user friendly, and is accessible in English and French, with a Spanish version to follow. The main improvements consist of a new climate footprint calculator to estimate household emissions, and clearer visual explanations and multimedia materials on the benefits of offsetting. The platform has evolved as a result of an efficient background data processing system, and displays projects by region and by environmental, social and economic impact.
Once is enough: how climate negotiators meeting in Bangkok can protect the environmental integrity of the Paris Agreement by avoiding double counting
By Alex Hanafi, EDF, 4 September 2018
Climate ambition is often thought of in terms of the stringency of emission reduction commitments, expressed by countries under the landmark Paris Agreement as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). While the NDCs that have been pledged by countries are important, they are only the first step.
To truly assess progress in reducing global climate pollution, it is necessary to look behind country pledges to understand exactly how their emissions are counted and reported. We need consistent accounting rules and transparent reporting to ensure the world is on track.
Climate chaos: capitalism to blame
By Ben Curry, Marxist.com, 4 September 2018
This summer has been one of freakish weather events the world over. No longer is climate change a thing of the future. From California to the Arctic Circle, exceptional temperatures are creating tinder box conditions. In Greece, 91 people were killed in a horrific blaze. In Japan at least 77 people have died and more than 30,000 have been admitted to hospital with heat stroke. 54 people have been killed by the heat in Quebec, Canada.
One swallow might not make a summer and one hot summer is not a sign of climate change. But today these conditions are so widespread and their recurrence so frequent, that they have become the new norm.
World Bank Bond Series to Raise US$3 Billion to Support SDGs 6, 14
By Catherine Benson Wahlén, IISD, 4 September 2018
The World Bank has launched a Sustainable Development Bond series to raise awareness on opportunities to support the SDGs on water, sanitation and marine protection. The bond series is part of the World Bank’s strategy to engage investors on SDG implementation.
The bond series aims to raise at least US$3 billion in support of conservation and sustainable use of fresh and salt water resources, in line with SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 14 (life below water). The World Bank’s work on conservation and sustainable use of water focuses on two lenses: sustainable water management to ensure access to safe water and water security; and sustainable use of marine resources and the ocean.
GLF Africa 2018 Calls for Increased Global Ambition on Ecosystem Restoration
By Wangu Mwangi, IISD, 4 September 2018
The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Nairobi 2018 discussed strategies to scale up ambition to achieve global forest and landscape restoration targets. Among other proposals, the Forum considered a call by El Salvador, backed by UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) Executive Director Erik Solheim, for the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to declare 2021-2030 as the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.
[Indonesia] Wildfires raze hectares of land in Sukabumi nature reserves
Jakarta Post, 4 September 2018
Wildfires engulfed hectares of land in the Cikepuh and Cibanteng nature reserves in Sukabumi, West Java, between July and August.
The West Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) recorded that at least 27 hotspots, which were located on the savannah, had scorched about 232 ha of the two nature reserves’ total area, kompas.com reported.
Kusmara of the BKSDA said the savannah was prone to fires during the dry season.
Endorsing Land Use Policy Reforms to Reduce Deforestation and Degradation in Peru
By Francesca Felicani-Robles, UN-REDD Programme, 4 September 2018
It is widely acknowledged that the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector plays a central role in food security and sustainable development in every country. At the same time, the sector is responsible for almost one-quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Paris Agreement requires individual countries to reduce emissions through climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The fact that more than 85 percent of developing countries refer to AFOLU measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation in their NDCs clearly reflects the importance of this sector in national efforts to tackle climate change.
[UK] Five sentenced in FCA prosecution of £2.8m investment fraud
Financial Conduct Authority press release, 4 September 2018
Operation Tidworth was the FCA’s second largest ever criminal prosecution. The instigator and main beneficiary of the fraud, Michael Nascimento, will be sentenced separately on 14 September 2018.
In a case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), 5 individuals have been sentenced to a total of 17.5 years’ imprisonment for their roles in a share fraud carried out through a series of boiler room companies which led to the loss of more than £2.8m of investors’ money.
Viet Nam: A Pioneer in the REDD+ Journey
By Celina Yong, UN-REDD Programme, 4 September 2018
When Viet Nam joined the global UN-REDD initiative in 2009, it was one of the nine original national programmes. Phase I, which ran from 2009 to 2012, focused not only on getting “REDD+ ready,” but also on contributing to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation nationally and regionally. Phase II, from 2013 to 2018, focused on enhancing Viet Nam’s ability to benefit from future results-based payments for REDD+ and undertaking transformational changes in the forestry sector.
5 September 2018
Rich countries cannot be allowed to buy their way out of climate change
By Asad Rehman, Meena Raman, Tom Goldtooth, and Nnimmo Bassey, Climate Home, 5 September 2018
This week’s UN climate negotiations in Bangkok begin four months of climate summits that could make 2018 the year that world governments chart a path toward tackling climate change.
But if polluting countries and corporations are successful, ineffectual interventions – like carbon markets and geo-engineering – will become central to the global response to climate change. The result: soaring emissions, lives lost, hundreds of millions of people displaced and species extinction.
Aligning Ambitions: The Case for Including Restoration Targets in Climate Goals
By Andrew Wu and Caroline Gagné, World Resources Institute, 5 September 2018
As countries consider ways to increase the ambition of their current national climate plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they appear to be leaving one of their best players on the bench: forests.
Forests are the lungs of the planet. They clean the air and sequester carbon. In fact, forest restoration— improving the ecological state of deforested or degraded landscapes through tree-planting and other means – and other natural climate solutions have the potential to take in roughly a third of global emissions necessary to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. That makes restoration an MVP candidate for climate mitigation, and a key strategy for countries to include in their pledges under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Amazon mangroves ‘twice as carbon rich’ as its rainforests
By Daisy Dunne, CarbonBrief, 5 September 2018
The vast mangroves of the Amazon store twice as much carbon per hectare as the region’s tropical forests, new research shows.
The relatively understudied ecosystem also stores 10 times more carbon than Amazon savannahs – a type of grassy plain with sparsely populated trees, according to the study.
[China] BYD releases blockchain-based Carbon Credit App co-developed with VeChain
By Runhua Zhao, Technode, 5 September 2018
BYD, China’s well-known car manufacturer and new energy solution provider, released a Carbon Credit App which the company co-developed with DNV GL, an international risk management company, and VeChain, a Shanghai-based blockchain application company.
BYD has been the world’s top manufacturer of plug-in electric cars for the last three years. The new app was created to encourage travel by new energy vehicles to reduce carbon emission with smart collection and management of data. It was presented during BYD’s Worldwide Developer Conference on September 5th and is part of the carbon banking solution devised by the three partners.
6 September 2018
Forests – root of climate problem or solution?
By Simon Pollock (Green Climate Fund), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 6 September 2018
Evidence of a continuing decline in global forest cover and a yawning gap in the action needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions may appear to offer scant hope for efforts to halt planetary warming.
But efforts are gathering pace to turn two negatives into a positive – reversing these trends by connecting them.
UN Environment’s most recent stocktake of global climate action finds national pledges under the Paris Agreement reach only a third of required emission reductions to keep temperature rises to well under 2°C by 2030.
Why the drone buzz is getting louder
By Gabrielle Lipton, CIFOR Forests News, 6 September 2018
In 2012, peer-reviewed journal Tropical Conservation Science ran an article announcing the ‘dawn of drone ecology,’ hailing the aerial technology as an alternative to satellite remote sensing mapping, with competitive cost and photographic advantages. Since then, the drone has been flying in a fast-moving cloud of enterprise, both on the part of developers and of researchers in all fields figuring out how to put these devices to best use in their sector – forestry and landscape management notwithstanding.
ICAO carbon offset scheme falters; airline biofuel use grows
CAPA, 6 September 2018
On 27-Aug-2018 the Indian LCC SpiceJet became the country’s first airline to operate a flight using biofuel. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) were first used by an airline in Feb-2008, when Virgin Atlantic flew a Boeing 747 on a test flight from London to Amsterdam.
Since then, a number of other airlines have conducted test flights demonstrating that a variety of source products, including algae, jatropha plants and municipal waste, can be converted into aviation fuel. IATA hopes that one million flights will use biofuels in 2020.
It’s the Politics, Stupid! How to Make Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform Happen
by Jakob Skovgaard and Harro van Asselt, IISD, 6 September 2018
Fossil fuel subsidies strain public budgets and contribute to climate change and local air pollution. But despite widespread agreement about the benefits of reforming fossil fuel subsidies, repeated international commitments to eliminate them, and valiant reform efforts by some countries, they persist.
The scale of global subsidies is vast. For 2015, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) puts them at US$5.3 trillion. The International Energy Agency (IEA), following a more conservative definition of subsidies, estimates them at US$325 billion, still a substantial amount. Their sheer size means that reforming subsidies can lead to significant savings for the public purse.
Cattle-Driven Deforestation: A Major Risk to Brazilian Retailers
Chain Reaction Research, 6 September 2018
Cattle ranching in Brazil, home to the world’s second largest herd, remains a major cause of deforestation. This trend continues despite meatpackers and retailers having made commitments to deforestation-free supply chains in the last ten years. This report describes the economic role of the cattle sector in Brazil, key supply chain actors, their role in deforestation, and potential solutions to improve sustainability performance. The supply chain relationships of the top five retailers and meatpackers with Amazon plants expose the Brazilian retail sector to material risk from sourcing unsustainable beef.
Guyana to Face Several New Challenges With the Discovery of Oil Wells
By Desmond Brown, The Wire, 6 September 2018
Recent huge offshore oil discoveries are believed to have set Guyana – one of the poorest countries in South America – on a path to riches. But they have also highlighted the country’s development challenges and the potential impact of an oil boom.
Oil giant ExxonMobil has, over the last three years, drilled eight gushing discovery wells offshore with the potential to generate nearly $20 billion in oil revenue annually by the end of the next decade.
[Kenya] Q&A: How to work with indigenous communities and conserve the environment
By Malia Politzer, Devex, 6 September 2018
A recent report to the United Nations General Assembly has revealed a radical increase of violent attacks, human rights abuses, criminalization, and threats against indigenous people around the world. According to the report, written by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, these attacks have drastically accelerated over the past five years, and are associated with large-scale private sector and development projects — extractive industries, agribusiness, infrastructures, hydroelectric dams, and logging — in territories where indigenous people typically reside.
[USA] Oil giant met with greens for years on climate policy
By Kelsey Brugger and Benjamin Hulac, Climatewire, 6 September 2018
Shell Oil Co. has convened regular meetings since early 2016 with key environmental groups and think tanks to build support for a nationwide carbon tax, according to sources.
The company initiated meetings during the heart of the presidential race, in part because it was believed that greenhouse gas regulations would be strengthened if Democrat Hillary Clinton won the election. The meetings continued after President Trump’s victory, and company officials have hosted talks in Shell’s offices in Washington, D.C.; at restaurants; on conference calls; and over email.
7 September 2018
Huge vegetation change could affect Earth
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 7 September 2018
The planet’s greenery – prairie grasslands, riverine swamps, Sahel drylands, European woodlands, tropical rainforest and Alpine meadows – could be about to be overtaken by a huge vegetation change as the world warms at a dangerous rate.
The warning comes not from computer simulations of what could happen under the notorious “business-as-usual” scenario, in which humans go on burning ever greater quantities of fossil fuel, to raise the levels of greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere, but from a simple natural experiment while humans were still Neolithic nomads.
BBC admits ‘we get climate change coverage wrong too often’
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 7 September 2018
The BBC has accepted it gets coverage of climate change “wrong too often” and told staff: “You do not need a ‘denier’ to balance the debate.”
In a briefing note sent to all staff warning them to be aware of false balance, the corporation has offered a training course on how to report on global warming. The move follows a series of apologies and censures for failing to challenge climate sceptics during interviews, including Nigel Lawson.
Meet the Poseidon Foundation boss whose blockchain platform is helping likes of Ben & Jerry’s become ‘climate-positive’
By Dan Robinson, Compelo, 7 September 2018
Poseidon Foundation hit the headlines recently when it partnered with Ben & Jerry’s to help the global ice cream brand offset its carbon footprint using blockchain technology. Founder Laszlo Giricz explains to Dan Robinson how it works and why his mission to help the planet is so critical.
Large-scale wind and solar power ‘could green the Sahara’
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 7 September 2018
Installing huge numbers of solar panels and wind turbines in the Sahara desert would have a major impact on rainfall, vegetation and temperatures, researchers say.
They found that the actions of wind turbines would double the amount of rain that would fall in the region.
Solar panels have a similar impact although they act in a different way.
The authors say their work reinforces the view that large-scale renewables could transform the Sahara region.
Profits v planet: can big business and the environment get along?
By Yossi Sheffi, The Guardian, 7 September 2018
Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” It has been more than two decades now since a 1996 issue of Life magazine depicted a Pakistani boy sewing a Nike soccer ball, reportedly for six cents per hour. After the story, the company lost more than half its market capitalisation in just one year – it took Nike six years of demonstrated social responsibility to recuperate. Even today Nike is – fairly or unfairly – ranked low on lists of ethical companies. It has survived financially, but the reputation of the brand may never recover.
U.S. Forest Service Shares Disaster-Preparedness Know-How with Bolivia
By Anthony Miranda, U.S. Department of State, 7 September 2018
Think Smokey the Bear only helps Americans prevent forest fires? Think again! The U.S. Forest Service cooperates with governments and publics around the world—and has a global impact. Take firefighting expert Daniel Montoya, who just returned from Bolivia last month.
In just one week, he shared his 30 years of experience in forest-fire management with over 190 representatives from Bolivia’s public and private sector.
Hedge funds and Wall St banks cash in on carbon market’s revival
By David Sheppard, Financial Times, 7 September 2018
A select group of specialist traders at hedge funds and investment banks, including Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, are churning bumper profits from a once niche commodity that has risen phoenix-like from a decade-long slump.
Carbon credits, introduced by the EU to curb pollution by companies in the trading bloc, have soared almost fourfold in the past year to above €20 per tonne of CO2, following legislative changes designed to get the scheme working.
[India] Assam: REDD + Working Group secretariat established in RFRI, Jorhat
By Smita Bhattachargyya, Northeast Now, 7 September 2018
A secretariat of the REDD +Working Group was established at the Rain Forest Research Institute (RFRI) Jorhat (Assam) on Thursday for sharing of knowledge and information relevant for REDD+ Himalayas project being implemented in the northeastern States, a press communiqué issued by RFRI said.
Norway Seeks to Offset Its Pollution 12 Years Before Needed
By Mathew Carr, Jesper Starn, and Jeremy Hodges, Bloomberg, 7 September 2018
Norway is seeking to buy credits to offset its fossil-fuel emissions more than a decade before it needs them to meet pollution goals for 2030, according to government officials overseeing the program.
The move is an early indication of support from a major industrial country for an effort by the United Nations to revive a global carbon market that once turned over $33 billion in a year. Norway is one of the first countries to set out how it will use post-2020 carbon markets to meet its emission targets.
Climate leadership means keeping fossil fuels in the ground in tropical forests and beyond
By Leila Salazar-López, Mongabay, 7 September 2018
Protecting tropical forests is key to mitigating climate change. When California Governor Jerry Brown convenes the Global Climate Action Summit next week, he should seize the opportunity to make an announcement that will help address one of the root causes of both deforestation and climate change: a phase out of oil and gas production in California.
Scientific consensus unequivocally demonstrates the need to accelerate a transition to a low-carbon economy – both in California and globally – in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change. To ensure this transition is both effective and doesn’t further afflict vulnerable communities, we need to stop expanding fossil fuel infrastructure around the world. As is, fossil fuel extraction is already harming people from California to the Amazon.
8 September 2018
[USA] Aligning forces for tropical forests as a climate change solution
By Daniel Nepstad, Mongabay, 8 September 2018
As governors of tropical forest states and provinces descend upon San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit and the annual meeting of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, I’m writing to share some opportunities to improve the effectiveness of strategies for solving tropical deforestation.
Tropical forests could be critical to avoiding extremely dangerous impacts of climate change. New strategies and commitments have inspired hope and driven important progress and innovations to slow tropical deforestation and speed its recovery following clearing, fire or logging. But forests—broadly defined—are still falling fast.
9 September 2018
A Global Baseline of Carbon Storage in Collective Lands
Rights and Resources Initiative, Woods Hole Research Center, Environmental Defense Fund, World Resources Institute, 9 September 2018
Forests and other lands are essential for achieving climate and development ambitions. If appropriately leveraged, natural climate solutions can contribute upwards of 37 percent of cost-effective CO2 mitigation by 2030, and evidence shows Indigenous Peoples and local communities are key to achieving such outcomes. This report presents the most comprehensive assessment to date of carbon storage in documented community lands worldwide.
Bangkok Bulletin: Countdown to Katowice begins
By Karl Mathiesen and Megan Darby, Climate Home, 9 September 2018
Clearly, that could have gone better.
As we say goodbye to Bangkok, some of the rules for the Paris Agreement are nearer to reality. But there are major areas in which a week of talks made no progress at all.
My final dispatch from the talks looks at a key fight leaving everybody frustrated, in the words of the EU’s lead negotiator.