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REDD in the news: 5-11 November 2018

REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.

5 November 2018

Forests Week: More than two decades pushing back against the theft of the world’s forests
Environmental Investigation Agency, 5 November 2018
Founded in 1984 with a focus on wildlife crime, we first began working to protect forests in the mid-1990s through advocating a global forests convention.
By the late 1990s it became clear that a more direct approach was needed to curb tropical deforestation, so we changed tack and began documenting illegal logging in a vital Indonesia orangutan habitat.

Here’s what it will take to get aviation biofuels off the ground
By Ucilia Wang, GreenBiz, 5 November 2018
Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions, accounting for 2 percent of the total global footprint. To put it another way, as the European Commission helpfully has described, “If global aviation was a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters.” What’s more, by 2020, estimates suggest that this type of fossil-fuel burning pollution will soar 70 percent higher than the 2005 levels.

MIT expert: Carbon-neutral biomass ‘accounting fraud’
By Aaron Beswick, The Chronicle Herald, 5 November 2018
It takes more than 30 tractor-trailer loads of wood a day to feed Nova Scotia Power’s Port Hawkesbury biomass plant when it’s running.
But according to the province’s new cap-and-trade carbon-pricing plan, nothing comes out of the facility’s stacks.
The plan classifies biomass as a carbon-neutral way to create electricity or heat.
The province is taking its cue from federal government policy, along with that of the United States and European Union.

World lacks enough plants for healthy diet
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 5 November 2018
Canadian scientists have confirmed once again that a healthy diet is the best way to help contain global warming and feed 9.8 billion people by 2050. And that involves, among other things, a global shift away from meat-eating and towards consuming plants instead.
But they have also done the sums and identified a problem: the world just does not produce enough of the fruits and vegetables that are at the heart of nutritional health guidelines almost everywhere.

Strict Amazon protections made Brazilian farmers more productive, new research shows
By Racheal Garrett, Conversation, 5 November 2018
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s new president, will make many decisions during his four-year term, from combating violence to stimulating a stagnant economy.
Those decisions will have large impacts on Brazilians, who remain deeply divided over the controversial election of this far-right populist.
But some of Bolsonaro’s decisions will affect the entire world, namely his promises to cut environmental protections in the Brazilian Amazon.

[Cameroon] Working toward a better wood fuel energy sector in Africa
By Ahtziri Gonzalez, CIFOR Forests News, 5 November 2018
Wood fuel, used either directly as firewood or transformed into charcoal, is the main source of energy for cooking for over 60 percent of households in sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to the food security and nutritional needs of millions of people. Yet, wood fuel production and trade remains an informal and understudied sector, and experts recognize that more research is needed to better understand the socio-economic dynamics across the value chain, from tree resource until final consumption.

[USA] California plans “own damn satellite” to fight warming
By Daisy Lawrence, News Decoder, 5 November 2018
What’s the size of two shoe boxes and costs $60 million?
California’s newest effort to combat climate change.
The U.S. state is teaming up with scientists and investors to build and launch a satellite that will pinpoint sources of greenhouse gases that are contributing to global warming.
“With science still under attack and the climate threat growing, we’re launching our own damn satellite,” a combative Governor Jerry Brown told several thousand delegates at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September.
“This groundbreaking initiative will help governments, businesses and landowners pinpoint — and stop — destructive emissions with unprecedented precision, on a scale that’s never been done before.”

6 November 2018

Stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction, warns UN
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 6 November 2018
The world must thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years or humanity could be the first species to document our own extinction, warns the United Nation’s biodiversity chief.
Ahead of a key international conference to discuss the collapse of ecosystems, Cristiana Pașca Palmer said people in all countries need to put pressure on their governments to draw up ambitious global targets by 2020 to protect the insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water and carbon sequestration.

Forest carbon storage puzzles scientists
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 6 November 2018
Two new studies have just made one of the puzzles confronting scientists even more perplexing: just how effective is forest carbon storage?
One research team thinks that their colleagues have been overestimating one of the big calculations of carbon storage: the estimates of atmospheric carbon locked into the timber of the world’s forests may have been systematically overestimated for at least 50 years.

Why forests are the best ‘technology’ to stop climate change
By Jennifer Morgan, Al Jazeera, 6 November 2018
The warning from the world’s top climate scientists that carbon dioxide (CO2) will need to be removed from the atmosphere to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is both a due and dire recognition of the great task in front of us. What must not be forgotten, however, is the hope that our forests provide.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said limiting global warming to 1.5C is not only achievable but also critical, given the previously underestimated accelerating risks for every degree of warming beyond that target.

Taxing red meat would save many lives, research shows
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 6 November 2018
Taxing red meat would save many lives and raise billions to pay for healthcare, according to new research. It found the cost of processed meat such as bacon and sausages would double if the harm they cause to people’s health was taken into account.
Governments already tax harmful products to reduce their consumption, such as sugar, alcohol and tobacco. With growing evidence of the health and environmental damage resulting from red meat, some experts now believe a “sin tax” on beef, lamb and pork is inevitable in the longer term.

BHP Billiton facing £5bn lawsuit from Brazilian victims of dam disaster
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 6 November 2018
The worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history has triggered one of the biggest legal claims ever filed in a British court.
The Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton is being sued for about £5bn by Brazilian victims of the Samarco dam collapse in Mariana three years ago.
The class action case was filed in the Liverpool high court on Monday by the UK-based SPG Law on behalf of 240,000 individuals, 24 municipal governments, 11,000 businesses, a Catholic archdiocese and about 200 members of the Krenak indigenous community.

Brazil, Amazon reforestation at risk with Jair Bolsonaro’s election
By Lorenzo Brenna, Lifegate, 6 November 2018
A great Amazon reforestation project has been agreed in Brazil, the largest in history. Will it endure the victory of Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right politics in the presidential election?
The conditions of the Amazon rainforest, one of the planet’s last remaining lungs, are getting worse as it is being stripped and violated. Recently deforestation reached an all-time high: research by the Brazilian Space Research Institute shows that 8,000 square kilometres were razed by loggers and farmers between August 2015 and July 2016. In order to save the vastest tropical rainforest in the world as well as ourselves, US-based NGO Conservation International announced a new project that involves planting 73 million trees in the next six years, the largest reforestation operation in history.

Green bond sales stutter after rapid growth
By Kate Allen, Financial Times, 6 November 2018
Sales of green bonds fell 18 per cent year on year in the third quarter of 2018, as the market for environmental finance plateaus after several years of eye-popping growth.
In the three months to end-September, issuers around the world sold $31.6bn of green-labelled debt according to research by credit rating agency Moody’s — 30 per cent lower than the amount sold in the second quarter, and also down on the $38.5bn sold in the same quarter of the previous year.

[Indonesia] South Sumatra plans restoration of hundreds of hectares of peat land
Antara News, 6 November 2018
Peat land restoration would cover around 594,231 hectares in South Sumatra this year to preserve the environment, a government official said.
The process of peat land restoration is to be completed in 2020, Head of the Regional Peat Land Restoration Team Najib Asmani said here on Tuesday.
Najib said the peat lands included in the restoration program are located in seven district areas such as Ogan Komering Ilir, Ogan Ilir, Banyuasin, Muaraenim, Penungkal Abab Lematang Ilir, Musi Banyuasin, and Musirawas.
The special staff of the Governor for Climate Change said the seven districts have wide peat lands.

Governing sustainable palm oil in Indonesia: An evolving policy regime
By Suzanna Dayne, CIFOR Forests News, 6 November 2018
Indonesian President Joko Widodo signed a recent moratorium on new palm oil concession permits. During the three-year freeze, the government will undertake a comprehensive nationwide review of oil palm licenses and develop efforts to enhance productivity – particularly for smallholders. This move is seen as a significant step forward to improving governance in this sector.

Indonesia’s Last Forest Frontier: 3 Facts to Know About Papua
By Muhamad Nafi Andriansyah, Rizky Firmansyah, Arief Wijaya, and Josefhine Chitra, World Resources Institute, 6 November 2018
With declining forest cover in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Papua is the last frontier of intact forest in Indonesia. Indonesian Papua—which occupies the western half of New Guinea, the world’s second-largest island, and includes the provinces of Papua and West Papua—held 38 percent of Indonesia’s remaining primary forest in 2012. Home to one of the most biodiverse forests on Earth, as many as 20,000 plant species, 602 birds, 125 mammals and 223 reptiles live in Indonesian Papua. The forest also supports local people who rely on it for traditional sources of livelihood.

7 November 2018

David Attenborough has betrayed the living world he loves
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 7 November 2018
Knowingly creating a false impression of the world: this is a serious matter. It is more serious still when the BBC does it, and yet worse when the presenter is “the most trusted man in Britain”. But, as his latest interview with the Observer reveals, David Attenborough sticks to his line that fully representing environmental issues is a “turn-off”.
His new series, Dynasties, will mention the pressures affecting wildlife, but Attenborough makes it clear that it will play them down. To do otherwise, he suggests, would be “proselytising” and “alarmist”. His series will be “a great relief from the political landscape which otherwise dominates our thoughts”. In light of the astonishing rate of collapse of the animal populations he features, alongside most of the rest of the world’s living systems – and when broadcasting as a whole has disgracefully failed to represent such truths – I don’t think such escapism is appropriate or justifiable.

Forests could be the most realistic defense against global warming
By Jack Durrell, CIFOR Landscape News, 7 November 2018
A statement signed by 40 prominent environmental scientists argues that the preservation, restoration and sustainable management of forests is the world’s best hope for limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The statement, released by the Climate and Land Use Alliance, a coalition that promotes the role of forests and landscapes in climate change mitigation, was published to coincide with the IPCC special report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Financial giants can have a pivotal role for climate stability
Stockholm Resilience Centre press release, 7 November 2018
Banks, pension funds and other institutional investors have a key role to play in efforts to avoid dangerous climate change. A limited number of these investors have considerable influence over the Amazon rainforest and boreal forests that are known ‘tipping elements’ in the climate system. Protecting these ‘tipping elements’ should be a priority for investors to help reduce both climate change and systemic financial risks created by it.

Ocean warming may be faster than thought
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 7 November 2018
The seas are getting hotter – and researchers have thought again about just how much faster ocean warming is happening. They believe that in the last 25 years the oceans have absorbed at least 60% more heat than previous global estimates by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had considered.
And they calculate this heat as the equivalent to 150 times the annual human electricity generation in any one year.

Congo Basin countries take a page out of Indonesia’s book on peatland management
By Nabiha Shahab, CIFOR Forests News, 7 November 2018
In July, hundreds of fire hotspots were detected in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, causing haze that disrupted flights in and out of the airport in the provincial capital.
The local forest fire brigade worked day and night to put out the fires, which occurred on the dry peatlands after they were drained for agricultural production during a period of drought.

[India] After Kurangani forest fire, TN govt bans treks between Feb adn April in state
The News Minute, 7 November 2018
In the aftermath of the Kurangani forest fire accident in Theni in March, the Tamil Nadu government has banned trekking in the state for two months every year. The rules were formulated based on an expert committee report submitted on the accident.
According to news reports, the state government has notified the Tamil Nadu Forest and Wildlife Areas (Regulation of Trekking) Rules, 2018, banning trekking in Tamil Nadu between February 15 and April 15, when the occurrence of forest fires is high. According to ‘Spatial and temporal analysis of decadal forest fire data (2006-2015)’ released by the TN Forest department, forest fires start in January, increase in February and reach its highest point during March. Nearly 48% of forest fires in Tamil Nadu were reported during March and February, which together saw about 72% of the total number of forest fires in the state. The number of incidents decreases during April and gradually phases out as southwest monsoon sets in.

Liberia: REDD+ Donates 14 Vehicles to FDA for Efficiency
Front Page Africa, 7 November 2018
On Monday, November 5, 14 vehicles were donated by Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) to augment the workings of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
The vehicles were procured consistent with component one of the Liberia Forest Sector Project, which calls for the capacity strengthening of the project implementing entities.
The project implementing entities include the FDA, Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Liberia Land Authority and the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-information Services (LISGIS).
Funding for the purchase of the vehicles was provided by Norway under the Letter of Intent signed between both governments.

[New Zealand] Farmers question carbon sink tree planting plans
By Heather Chalmers, Stuff, 7 November 2018
A proposal for large-scale tree planting on sheep and beef farms is an act of “mild desperation” by government officials looking for ways to achieve its carbon zero goal by 2050, says an industry spokesman.
Sheep and beef farmers say their industry is already a leader when it comes to meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets.
Despite this it is being targeted with providing land for the large-scale tree planting required as a carbon sink to offset greenhouse gas emissions.

Is there a market-based solution to Southeast Asia’s haze problem?
By Hannah Koh, Eco-Business, 7 November 2018
Acid rain was a major environmental problem in the 1970s and 1980s. The phenomenon was caused by the reaction of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide from power factories with moisture in the atmosphere to generate acid, which fell onto earth as rain, poisoning lakes and destroying forests.
The situation began to improve in 1990 when the United States government and economists introduced a cap-and-trade system for power producers, which put in place a cap on permitted emissions and enabled companies to trade leftover allowances, said Richard Sandor, chairman and chief executive officer of the American Financial Exchange, an electronic exchange for financial institutions.

8 November 2018

Swathes of Amazonian rainforest dying as trees fail to keep up with climate change
By Josh Gabbatiss, Independent, 8 November 2018
Increased temperatures and droughts are taking their toll on the Amazon as trees are unable to adapt to the changing climate, a study has found.
Researchers examining decades of growth in parts of the rainforest found that global warming was linked to a changing tree composition – but as some tree species died, not enough were springing up to replace them.
As global temperatures rise, there will inevitably some “losers” that are not suited to the new conditions, but there will also be “winners”.

Human horde leaves little room for nature
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 8 November 2018
Only 23% of the planet’s habitable terrestrial surface now remains as undisturbed wilderness, thanks to the spread of the human horde.
A century ago, as the human population explosion began, 85% of the world was undisturbed living space for all the other species. Yet between 1993 and 2009 – in the years that followed hard on the first global summit to consider the state of the planetary environment – an aggregation of areas of wilderness larger than India was delivered over to human exploitation, scientists warn in the journal Nature.
“These results are nothing short of a horror story for the planet’s last wild places,” said James Watson, a scientist at the University of Queensland and with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Don’t Miss Climate’s Big Day
Climate Reality, 8 November 2018
Fossil fuels are driving a climate crisis, and the climate crisis is threatening the health of our families and communities. Extreme weather is on the rise. Infectious diseases are spreading. Our food and our water are increasingly at risk. Pollution is choking the air we breathe.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Hosted by former Vice President Al Gore, the global broadcast event 24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves will sound the alarm on the clear and present danger that fossil fuels and climate change pose to the health of families and communities across the planet.

What the EU is doing to make our money more ethical and why you should care
By Rachel Owens, Global Witness, 8 November 2018
Global Witness has spent over 6 years exposing the role of EU-based investors in projects which have devastating consequences for communities and the environment. In a historic vote on Monday, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted for EU investors to be required to identify, and then take action to mitigate environmental, social and governance risks when making investments.

Blockchain Opens Green Capital Market to Countries and Enterprises
NewsBTC, 8 November 2018
Despite the futuristic forecasts, there are not so many real-world applications of the blockchain technology, especially at a global scale. But the green capital market, where the blockchain has already been tested and proven its applicability, is not a case. The technology opens ecological markets for enterprises, allowing emissions trading. In this publication, we explain how this happens.
Before turning to a specific case, let’s touch upon the above-mentioned emission trading and clarify the essence of this phenomenon.

RSPO: In with the new, out with the old!
WWF, 8 November 2018
WWF has just launched the latest edition of its Living Planet Report , and it makes for alarming and sobering reading. Underpinned by the Living Planet Index (LPI), produced in scientific collaboration with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), it reveals an astonishing 60% decline in the size of average populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians in just over 40 years. Along with overexploitation of our resources, agriculture is identified as the dominant cause. Just one way agriculture is driving the decline is that planting cash crops like oil palm, sugarcane and soybean has resulted in the clearing of 40% of the planet’s once forested land.

China increasingly involved in Brazil’s ambitious Amazon rail network
By Sue Branford and Maurício Torres, Mongabay, 8 November 2018
The environmental cost of agribusiness expansion into the Amazon basin and the Cerrado savanna isn’t limited to the felling of forests and destruction of native vegetation to make way for crops. Agribusiness growth there also requires major new transportation infrastructure corridors ­– railways, roads, industrial waterways, river ports, and other logistic support – to efficiently move soy and other crops from the Amazon and Cerrado interior to market in China, the European Union and elsewhere.
If precautions aren’t taken, this infrastructure could do great damage to the environment, and indigenous and traditional communities, particularly due to the population influx they inevitably trigger.

[China] Green Initiative Turns Carbon Footprints Into Currency
By Fu Danni, Sixth Tone, 8 November 2018
If you drive a BYD Qin Pro new-energy sedan, the next time you opt to take the subway to work instead of drive, you could be rewarded with a complimentary car wash or a free online course.
Under a project called the Blockchain Low-Carbon Ecosystem, showcased at this week’s China International Import Expo in Shanghai, owners of Chinese automaker BYD’s Qin Pro plug-in hybrid will have their daily driving habits automatically recorded on a blockchain ledger — an open digital database that chronologically records transactions without oversight from a central authority. Credits accumulated for leaving a low carbon footprint can then be used to buy goods and services from participating retailers. So far, six companies and institutions have banded together to incentivize China’s consumers to live a low-carbon lifestyle.

Smallholder clearing found to be dominant reason for forest loss in the Congo Basin
By Bob Yirka, Phys.org, 8 November 2018
A team of researchers from the University of Maryland and the State University of New York has found that smallholder clearing is the dominant driver of forest loss in the Congo Basin. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes the techniques they used to assess forest loss in the area over the period from 2000 to 2014 and what they found.
The Congo Basin includes forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea—it comprises the second largest rainforest in the world (the Amazon basin is the largest). And like the Amazon basin, it is being cut down. In this new effort, the researchers sought to learn more about the entities that are cutting down the forest as a means toward targeting efforts to reduce or eliminate such cutting.

Rainforest destruction from gold mining hits all-time high in Peru
By Katie Neal and Alicia Roberts, Wake Forest News, 8 November 2018
Small-scale gold mining has destroyed more than 170,000 acres of primary rainforest in the Peruvian Amazon in the past five years, according to a new analysis by scientists at Wake Forest University’s Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation (CINCIA).
That’s an area larger than San Francisco and 30 percent more than previously reported.

Two Journalists Are Free After Being Detained In Tanzania For No Clear Reason
By Hayes Brown, Buzzfeed.News, 8 November 2018
Two journalists were freed from detention in Tanzania on Thursday, with no indication given as to why they were taken from their hotel room in the first place.
Angela Quintal and Muthoki Mumo were in Dar es Salaam on a fact-finding mission with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) when officers who identified themselves as working with Tanzanian immigration entered their hotel room and confiscated their passports, according to a release from CPJ.

[UK] How one failed £24k investment set off alarms for Sipp providers
By Charles Walmsley and Taly Misiri, New Model Advisor, 8 November 2018
In 2011, gardener Wayne Charlton invested £24,000 of his pension in Sustainable AgroEnergy (SA). This scheme claimed to invest in plots of land in Cambodia that were being used to grow biofuel plantations.
Seven years later that investment has prompted a court ruling that has set alarm bells ringing across the Sipp marker.
When Charlton initially discovered SA had been shut down following a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation that would eventually see three individuals jailed in the UK and a further one in Cambodia, he turned to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to complain about his loss. As Charlton made the investment through an unregulated introducer, he had to direct his complaint to Sipp provider Berkeley Burke rather than the business that had introduced him to the scheme.

9 November 2018

2018 REDD+ International Symposium gathers in Seoul
UN Convention to Combat Desertification, 9 November 2018
The 2018 REDD+ International Symposium, organized by the Republic of Korea Forest Service (KFS), took place on 31 October 2018, bringing together participants from UN agencies and international organizations, national institutions, universities and government agencies.
The symposium focused on current status and major issues of REDD+, including Norway’s support of REDD implementation in developing countries, REDD projects in Cambodia in cooperation with the Republic of Korea, result-based payment and benefit-sharing mechanisms implemented in Brazil, the future work of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the joint crediting mechanism developed by Japan to facilitate diffusion of leading low carbon technologies while contributing to the sustainable development in partner countries.

New center begins ‘corrective era’ for peatlands
By Nabiha Shahab, CIFOR Landscape News, 9 November 2018
“Peatlands have been researched since the 1960s, but why is it that every time there is fire, it seems like [the government] is overwhelmed? Are research results not being implemented well?”
“The discourse goes only as far as mitigation. Prevention has not been discussed much, and only cultivation is discussed – not restoration.”
“Are there no fire prediction systems in place?”
Indonesian journalists and witnesses of the ongoing disasters from peatland burning echoed concerns about the vital ecosystems ahead of the launch of the International Tropical Peatland Center (ITPC) in Jakarta on 30 October 2018.

Have you been paying attention to the carbon markets lately?
By Neslihan Feradov, Veridium, 9 November 2018
Have you been paying attention to the carbon markets lately? It may be a good time to start or you may miss the train.
Chris Leeds, former head of emissions trading at Merrill Lynch was quoted “Carbon could become one of the fasting-growing markets ever, with volumes comparable to credit derivatives inside of a decade.”
So why aren’t more businesses and investors jumping on board? When we think of carbon, we often think of the harmful effects it has on our atmosphere or the hype around climate change. What we often don’t think about is an emerging asset class that constitutes a broad range of environmental assets, usually in the form of financial instruments called “environmental mitigation credits.”

[China] VeChain introduces its Digital Carbon Platform while competition orchestrated a FUD against FunFair
By Dobrica Blagojevic, Captainaltcoin.com, 9 November 2018
A couple of days ago we saw multiple reports come through claiming that China has lifted its infamous “Bitcoin ban”.
The reports came out after Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration recognized Bitcoin as “a legal asset to be owned, transferred and utilized as a medium of payment for goods and services in China”.
The issue itself was misunderstood by many people, as there was a general consensus that China outright banned every crypto related activity earlier this year when the ban was imposed.

The Congo’s Ancient Forest Could Be Gone in Our Lifetime
By Yessenia Funes, Earther, 9 November 2018
Stretching across the heart of the African continent, the Congo rainforest is a global treasure. There, you’ll find the forest giraffes and elephants, along with the critically-endangered mountain gorilla. There are also countless communities living across the six countries that the forest spans. To survive, many of those families have little option but to turn the forest into farmland.

[Indonesia] RSPO Sanctions Indofood Agri Subsidiary for Labour Violations
Chain Reaction Research, 9 November 2018
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has sanctioned Jakarta-based PT PP London Sumatra Indonesia Tbk (Lonsom), a subsidiary of Indofood Agri Resources (IndoAgri), for labour rights violations by revoking its sustainability certificate for selling palm oil and calling for audits at four of the company’s sites. This action comes a little over two years after the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the Indonesian Labour Rights Association (OPPUK), and the International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF) filed a complaint in October 2016 with the RSPO on the grounds that Indofood and PepsiCo, one of its customers, violated labour laws on palm oil plantations.

[Indonesia] End of funding dims hopes for a Sumatran forest targeted by palm oil growers
By Elviza Diana and Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 9 November 2018
Its name in Indonesian means “hope,” but there seems to be little of that remaining for the Harapan rainforest, a tropical woodland oasis in an ever-expanding desert of oil palm plantations in Sumatra.
The Harapan rainforest is one of the last remaining expanses of lowland forest left on the island and could disappear in five years, swallowed up by encroaching palm plantations, after losing the main source of funding still keeping it on the map.

Satellite technology unites Kenyans against bush fires
by David Njagi, Mongabay, 9 November 2018
It took nine hours for Margaret Wanjugu and neighbors to put out a fire that razed Gathorongai forest near her home in central Kenya, in 2016. She would not like to go through such an experience again, and for a good reason.
Not only did the mother of two nearly lose her herd of goats, which were grazing in the forest, but elephants escaping the fire raided her field of potato plants, leaving her without a harvest.
“No help came from forest officers working here,” Wanjugu said. “We improvised and used twigs to put out the fire.”

[New Zealand] NZ’s sharemarket welcomes its first carbon fund
By Duncan Bridgeman, New Zealand Herald, 9 November 2018
An overhaul of NZX listing rules has been credited as a key stepping stone for the first carbon fund in the world to list on the New Zealand share market.
NZX chief executive Mark Peterson yesterday welcomed Salt Funds’ Carbon Fund, which debuted under the ticker code Co2 at its listing price of $1 per unit.
“The simplification of listing rules, the broadening out of those rules to actually cater for products like this is exactly where we want to go and this is a fantastic example,” Peterson said before inviting Salt managing director Paul Harrison to ring the listing bell.

Peru cracks down after environmental defenders’ murders
By Matthew Weaver and Rajmonda Rexhi, Mongabay, 9 November 2018
Authorities in Peru late last month arrested a dozen alleged members of the notorious El Gran Chaparral criminal syndicate. The members were arrested on the charges of murder, land grabbing, and arson from setting forest fires in the Chaparrí Ecological Reserve. Chaparrí is the first recognized private nature reserve in Peru.
The arrests took place on Oct. 26 as part of a pre-dawn raid by more than 300 police and organized crime officers in Peru’s northwestern Lambayeque region. Among those taken into custody were the alleged gang leader, Hipólito Cruzado Rafael, 62, and his sons, authorities said. Officers also raided 18 properties in connection with the case, the culmination on a nearly year-long investigation.

[USA] ‘Pretty much destroyed’: California forest fires devastate towns
AP, 9 November 2018
Tens of thousands of people fled a fast-moving wildfire Thursday (US time) in Northern California, some clutching babies and pets as they abandoned vehicles and struck out on foot ahead of the flames that forced the evacuation of an entire town and destroyed hundreds of structures.
“Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it’s that kind of devastation,” said Cal Fire Capt. Scott McLean late Thursday. “The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out.”

10 November 2018

[USA] Fueling the Fire
By Stephen J. Pyne, Slate, 10 November 2018
On Saturday morning, Donald Trump tweeted about the wildfires currently burning in both Northern and Southern California:
“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
It’s not very clear what he’s talking about, but we can hazard a guess. His administration, through its secretaries of agriculture and the interior, seems to equate “forest management” with logging. If that is what Trump is saying—that California has fires because it hasn’t removed enough trees—the tweet is written either in ignorance or misdirection. Logging is more often a cause of fires than a cure. Besides, the current California fires are not even in forests.

[USA] Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid
By Rachel Withers, Vox, 10 November 2018
Over in Paris, President Donald Trump has California — and the fires ravaging the state, one of which is now the most destructive in California’s history — on his mind. But it’s not sympathy for the eleven people killed or the thousands of homes destroyed that he’s focusing on.
On Saturday morning, Trump tweeted about the fires, blaming California’s “gross mismanagement of the forests” for the extent of the damages, and threatening to withhold federal funding if California does not “remedy” the situation.
It’s not clear if “Fed payments” refer to federal firefighting assistance funds, via the US Forest Service, to which the federal government recently directed additional funds for the purpose of fighting fires, to disaster relief funds promised by the White House as part of Friday’s state of emergency declaration, or to both.

11 November 2018

New UK gas power station ‘would breach climate commitments’
By Adam Vaughan, The Guardian, 11 November 2018
Plans to build a huge new UK gas power station are facing a challenge from an environmental law group that argues the project would breach the government’s recommendations on climate change.
ClientEarth, which has repeatedly defeated the government in court over its air pollution strategy, has submitted an objection to the planning inspectorate over Drax Group’s proposed 3.6GW plant in North Yorkshire.

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