REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
19 November 2018
Climate change: Report raises new optimism over industry
By Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 19 November 2018
A new report on the potential of heavy industry to combat climate change offers a rare slice of optimism.
Sectors like steel, chemicals, cement, aviation and aluminium face a huge challenge in cutting carbon emissions.
But a group including representatives from business concludes it is both practical and affordable to get their emissions down to virtually zero by the middle of the next century.
The report’s been described as wishful thinking by some environmentalists.
Deforested, degraded land restoration a top priority for African leaders
Mongabay, 19 November 2018
African leaders came together on Nov. 13 to back the restoration of hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of degraded ecosystems ahead of the start of the U.N. Biodiversity Conference.
The day-long summit in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, which included some 100 government ministers, ambassadors and partner staff from across Africa, culminated in support for the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience, which the summit’s leaders say will aid in both achieving international targets and improving the resiliency of African countries for the people who call them home.
Tougher FSC certification guidelines would make forest oversight more transparent in Brazil
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News, 19 November 2018
An internationally recognized product labelling system designed to assure consumers that they are buying sustainably-sourced forest products is falling short of some of its intended objectives, according to new research.
Since 1994, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification framework of agreed indicators has encouraged companies to adhere to sustainable forest management practices, which are also aimed at simultaneously increasing financial profitability.
Could Brazil be on verge of one of world’s biggest conservation agreements?
By David Cleary Mongabay, 19 November 2018
An agreement on the future of the soy industry in Brazil’s Cerrado would be a very, very big deal. Here’s why. The Cerrado is huge, almost three times the size of Texas. It is a mixture of savanna, woodlands and forest with very high biodiversity. It is also the center of the largest agribusiness boom on Earth in recent decades. It now supplies much of China and the European Union (EU) with soy imports – even more so as President Trump’s tariffs increasingly restrict the flow of US soy into Asian markets.
[UK] Government spending foreign aid money to promote fracking in China
By Josh Gabbatiss, Independent, 19 November 2018
Taxpayers’ money earmarked to support overseas development has been spent on supporting China’s fracking industry, The Independent can reveal.
The government is required to spend 0.7 per cent of its national income each year on foreign aid.
But even with climate change threatening the developing world with droughts, flooding and heatwaves, millions have been spent on fossil fuel investment abroad over the past two years.
This includes two schemes aiming to “export the UK’s expertise in shale gas regulation” to China, as controversy about new drilling sites rages back in Britain.
[USA] The catastrophic Camp Fire isn’t even halfway done burning, officials predict
By Holly Yan, CNN, 19 November 2018
While hundreds of families wait in agony to learn the fate of missing loved ones, officials gave a gut-wrenching forecast on the fate of California’s Camp Fire:
It’s not even halfway done burning yet.
Since the Camp Fire erupted November 8 in Butte County, it has killed 77 people, destroyed more than 10,500 homes and torched an area the size of Chicago. Across California, at least 80 people have died in wildfires this month.
20 November 2018
UN environment chief resigns after frequent flying revelations
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 20 November 2018
The UN’s environment chief, Erik Solheim, has resigned following severe criticism of his global travels and internal rule-breaking which led some nations to withhold their funding.
The Guardian understands Solheim was asked to resign by the UN secretary general, António Guterres. Sources at the UN Environment Programme (Unep) said that countries unhappy with Solheim’s conduct were holding back tens of millions of dollars, threatening a financial crisis at the body.
Blue Carbon: an effective climate mitigation and drawdown tool?
By Alla Armistead, Climate Code Red, 20 November 2018
Blue carbon is increasingly being championed by organisations and governments as a tool for climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as addressing multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What is blue carbon, how much potential does it actually have, and how could we use it?
Stop worrying about buying carbon offsets for your flights
By Jack Stewart, Wired, 20 November 2018
You recycle. You keep your showers short. Maybe you even drive an electric car, powered by the solar panels on your roof. In other words, you do what you can to reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment for everyone. But you’re hopping a flight this week to chow down in Turkey Town, and your math says that one action could undo all your other good deeds.
Jetting from Los Angeles to Chicago and back? That’s adding 1,000 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere per passenger, more than the average gas-pumping driver emits in a month. San Francisco to Portland, Oregon is about 470 pounds; DC to Miami is around 650 pounds.
Feeling guilty yet?
High costs when environmental protection is neglected
Umwelt Bendesant, 20 November 2018
Excessive amounts of greenhouse gases, air pollutants and other environmental pollutants harm human health, destroy ecosystems and foster the extinction of animals and plants. Another result: economic losses including loss of production, crop losses or damage to buildings and infrastructure. There are established scientific methods which express this damage in monetary terms. The German Environment Agency (UBA) has updated its recommendations for the estimation of such damage and readjusted the costs of environmental impacts in the newly published Methodological Convention 3.0. The cost readjustments claim that one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, for example, incurs environmental costs of about 180 euros. When annualized for Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, total costs amount to about 164 billion euros. President Maria Krautzberger of the German Environment Agency said: “Measures to protect the environment and climate can save us and future generations billions of euros due to lower environmental and health costs. This must not be forgotten in the debate about air pollution control or the phase-out of coal.”
Palm Oil Was Supposed to Help Save the Planet. Instead It Unleashed a Catastrophe
By Abraham Lustgarten, New York Times Magazine, 20 November 2018
The fields outside Kotawaringin village in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, looked as if they had just been cleared by armies. None of the old growth remained — only charred stumps poking up from murky, dark pools of water. In places, smoke still curled from land that days ago had been covered with lush jungle. Villagers had burned it all down, clearing the way for a lucrative crop whose cultivation now dominates the entire island: the oil-palm tree.
Oil Palm, The Prodigal Plant, Is Coming Home To Africa. What Does That Mean For Forests?
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 20 November 2018
Samuel Avaala shakes his head as he dips his fork into a bowl of red-red, a traditional Ghanaian stew that gets its color – and name – in part from red palm oil.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he says. “Oil palm evolved here. It’s in our food; it’s in our medicine; but we built an economy on cocoa with little attention to oil palm.”
Oil palm is the tree that gives us palm oil, and the people of Western and Central Africa have been cultivating it for millennia – harvesting and processing the fruit for oil for vitamins, food and soap, tapping the trunks for palm wine that is distilled into medicinal alcohol, and using the biomass for green power generation. Over the past half-century, the rest of the world has discovered palm oil, too, and today it’s a $60 billion-per-year market that provides material for everything from fuels to food to face paint.
But that money isn’t flowing into Western and Central Africa.
Roger Waters Calls Out Chevron for Destroying Ecuadorean Amazon
teleSUR, 20 November 2018
British musician and former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters showed solidarity to the Indigenous people in Ecuador’s Amazon who have been affected by Chevron’s decades-long oil extraction, just a day after the country’s Civil Aviation initially refused to grant permission for his plane to land in the Amazonian town of Lago Agrio.
In a press conference in Quito Tuesday, Waters stressed that the Chevron legal battle “is a fundamental case for the whole world,” because “the world must decide at some point whether the law is there to serve the people or to serve the insatiable appetite of oligarchs and corporations.”
[Indonesia] Finding a recipe to reduce conflict in state forest areas
By Lukas R. Wibowo, Ismatul Hakim, Heru Komarudin, and Dewi Ratna, CIFOR Forests News, 20 November 2018
As the global market for biofuels and edible oils grows, investment into oil palm plantations in Indonesia follows suit. The financial benefits for the country are significant, but so is the risk of community conflict, both within the communities themselves and between communities and corporations. Oil palm is reported to contribute 49 percent of total plantation areas affected by agrarian conflict issues. In 2017, this area amounted to 194,000 hectares.
Norway’s wealth fund should divest from RWE: green groups
By Gwladys Fouche, Reuters, 20 November 2018
Green groups have urged Norway’s $1 trillion wealth fund to sell its small stake in German power firm RWE, saying the company is a heavy polluter due to its coal-fired plants.
Greenpeace said in a report published on Tuesday that it was “disgraceful” that the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund was still invested in RWE.
[USA] Fighting fires with “forest resilience” bonds
By Ed Leefeldt, CBC News, 20 November 2018
The rocky Yuba River meanders in a remote corner of California. It’s here that insurers, environmentalists and venture capital firms are joining forces to create a “Forest Resilience Bond” aimed at solving a multibillion-dollar problem plaguing the wildfire-ravaged state.
Nearly 100 people have died and 1,000 are unaccounted for from the two most recent mega-fires, both of which remain active. And in what the Association of International Fire Chiefs now calls “a year-round fire season” for this and other tinderbox states, more destructive blazes are all but a certainty.
21 November 2018
Biofuel land grab will slash nature’s space
By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 21 November 2018
Replacing fossil fuels with alternatives derived from some natural sources may be prohibitively high: the biofuel land grab needed could require at least 10% more land than the world uses now to grow green crops, conservationists say.
But that’s the good news. They believe the total increase in green energy-related land use could be much higher, closer to 30%, meaning “crushing” pressure on habitats for plants and animals, and undermining the essential diversity of species on Earth.
What is the COP24 all about?
UN Development Programme, 21 November 2018
In a couple of weeks representatives of governments, climate change experts, activists and private sector actors will meet in the Polish city of Katowice at the UN climate change conference — COP24. Behind the acronyms, there is a real opportunity to advance the battle against climate change.
Sir David Attenborough to speak for the people at UN climate summit
The Guardian, 21 November 2018
Sir David Attenborough is to address the UN’s climate change summit in Poland in December, taking up a newly established “people’s seat” at the negotiations.
The people’s seat initiative, which launched on Wednesday, will give citizens around the world the opportunity to send their messages to leaders via social media, using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat. These views and information from opinion polling will then form the basis of Attenborough’s speech to leaders.
3 Reasons Why VeChain Thor VET Price Could Rebound
By Basil Kimathi, Use The Bitcoin, 21 November 2018
VeChain, after rebranding to VeChain Thor early this year, is positioning itself as the platform of choice to champion IoT, Cloud computing, and Artificial Intelligence technologies.
Even with such a clear roadmap, the price of VET has experienced tremendous fluctuations.
However, its current price has the chance to gain more traction considering the developments that are happening in the background.
Below we are going to look at three reasons why the price of VET will rise soon.
[Indonesia] Britain has the chance to bring a brutal colonial occupation to an end
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 21 November 2018
Every colonial enterprise pretends to be inspired by something other than theft. The General Act of the Berlin Conference in 1885, under which the European powers carved Africa into formal colonial possessions, claimed that their purpose was “furthering the moral and material wellbeing of the native populations … and bringing home to them the blessings of civilisation”.
Ireland’s inability to meet 2020 carbon targets an ‘extraordinary story of failure’
By Colm Gorey, Silicon Republic, 21 November 2018
Leo Varadkar’s admission that Ireland won’t make its 2020 carbon emission targets has been strongly criticised by Government opposition.
Even the most optimistic of reports on Ireland’s efforts to curb its carbon emissions enough to meet EU 2020 targets knew the day would come when the Government would have to admit we have no chance of meeting them.
Now, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, has confirmed this to the Dáil, with expectations that Ireland will have to shell out as much as €500m in fines.
[USA] Full compliance, declining emissions, robust auction: It’s November in California’s cap-and-trade program
By Katelyn Roedner Sutter and Maureen Lackner, EDF, 21 November 2018
Today’s strong California-Quebec November 2018 carbon market auction results are the continuation of a month of good news about California’s landmark climate program. Cap-and-trade compliance is at 100% and emissions are falling, demonstrating that addressing climate change is an integral part of doing business in the Golden State.
[USA] Ryan Zinke blamed environmentalists for California’s massive wildfires. Again.
By Umair Irfan, Vox, 21 November 2018
The deadly Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, California, has killed at least 81 people, left almost 700 missing, and burned more than 152,000 acres since igniting on November 8. This is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, and it’s still burning.
The Trump administration’s response to this and other recent massive, deadly fires across California has become almost routine: blame environmentalists.
During a call with reporters on Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the forest fires stemmed in part from “lawsuit after lawsuit, by yes, the radical environmental groups, that would rather burn down the entire forest than cut a single tree or thin the forest.” Over the weekend, he criticized “environmental radicals” for California’s fires.
22 November 2018
Climate-heating greenhouse gases at record levels, says UN
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 22 November 2018
The main greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change have all reached record levels, the UN’s meteorology experts have reported.
Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are now far above pre-industrial levels, with no sign of a reversal of the upward trend, a World Meteorological Organization report says.
Tropical forests flee uphill to escape heat
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 22 November 2018
Tropical forests are racing uphill to escape global warming. Some of them may lose the race.
A meticulous and sustained study of nearly 200 plots of forest in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and northern Argentina has found that where they can, tropical species are moving uphill as the thermometer rises. But there is a problem: can a species that flourished in one ecosystem in the Andes and Amazon migrate and colonise another at higher altitude?
We’d be as mad as hatters not to tackle the mercury poisoning the Amazon.
By Dean Muruven, WWF, 22 November 2018
Almost every civilization has myths about mercury. from talismans to the promise of longevity and good health, humans have always had some connection to this silvery wonder that is the only metal to be liquid at room temperature — a unique quality that saw it being used to measure sick children’s temperatures across the globe.
Will other countries follow France’s lead on national anti-deforestation strategy?
By André Vasconcelos and Helen Burley, Trase, 22 November 2018
The French government has signalled a major step forward in the transition to deforestation-free supply chains with the announcement of an ambitious new strategy to combat imports that have been linked to deforestation.
The strategy, which was promised in 2017 as part of the country’s Climate Plan under the Paris Agreement, aims to bring an end to deforestation caused by importing unsustainable forest and agricultural products by 2030.
Poland calls for planting more forests worldwide to improve carbon capture
By Agnieszka Barteczko, Reuters, 22 November 2018
Poland called on Wednesday for more forests to be planted worldwide to capture carbon emissions and so curb global warming, speaking ahead of annual U.N. climate talks to be held in Warsaw next month.
Poland’s hosting of the talks has been contentious given its dependence on high-polluting coal for energy and various environmental disputes Poland’s conservative nationalist government has had with the European Union, including increased logging of the ancient Bialowieza Forest.
[Thailand] New forest monitoring system to help fight climate change
By Piyaporn Wongruang, The National, 22 November 2018
Thailand is developing forest monitoring systems to measure its success at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and carbon stocks preservation (REDD+).
The programme is part of Thailand’s commitment to help fight climate change. The attempt is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation yesterday to provide technical support.
[USA] Industrial Forest Science: Industry’s Bitch
By Bill Willers, Counter Punch, 22 November 2018
Back in the late 1980s, the good people of Minnesota, alarmed by heavy logging, asked that an impact analysis be done. Jaakko Poyry, an international forestry consulting firm, was hired to produce a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS), and in 1992, the draft of the million dollar analysis was released for public scrutiny. In essence, it read “There will be ecological damage, we’re not sure how much, but industry rules.”
23 November 2018
Seaweed could make cows burp less methane and cut their carbon hoofprint
By James Temple, MIT Technology Review, 23 November 2018
In a wooden barn on the edge of campus at the University of California, Davis, cattle line up at their assigned feed slots to snatch mouthfuls of alfalfa hay.
This past spring, several of these Holstein dairy cows participated in a study to test a promising path to reducing methane emissions from livestock, a huge source of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. By adding a small amount of seaweed to the animals’ feed, researchers found, they could cut the cows’ methane production by nearly 60%.
The Trouble with Environmental Impact Assessments
By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 23 November 2018
A tsunami of development projects is sweeping across the planet. It’s in the form of new roads, dams, mines, housing estates, and assorted other infrastructure projects.
The governments enabling these developments are all telling us not to worry; that each project undergoes a rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to ensure the environment is safe; that we can have economic development and a healthy environment too.
But the sad fact is, those assessments are increasingly not worth the paper they’re printed on.
New technology, transparency will soon tie air pollution back to brands
By Aileen Nowlan, EDF, 23 November 2018
Most businesses contribute to air pollution in some way through their operations and supply chains. They use fossil fuels to heat and cool buildings, to keep restaurant stoves lit and machines operating. Their delivery vehicles and airplane transports release harmful gases that pollute communities and the atmosphere.
Until recently, such impacts could be easily dismissed as someone else’s problem, but sensor and satellite technology that is making pollution sources more visible — and actionable — is changing the landscape.
Children speak out about the climate crisis
UNEP, 23 November 2018
Germany-based international campaign group Plant-for the-Planet aims to plant a trillion trees by 2030.
Jana steps onto the stage. She’s a bit nervous, as she scans her audience of about 100 chief executive officers and high-level company executives to which she is expected to give her speech. And she is only 12.
Jana tells the story of a young boy who had an idea that sounded both unrealistic and childish—to plant one trillion trees all around the world.
MAAP Synthesis #3: Deforestation in the Andean Amazon (Trends, Hotspots, Drivers)
Monitoring of the Andean Amazon, 23 November 2018
MAAP, an initiative of the organization Amazon Conservation, uses cutting-edge satellite technology to monitor deforestation in near real-time in the megadiverse Andean Amazon (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia).
The monitoring is based on 5 satellite systems: Landsat (NASA/USGS), Sentinel (European Space Agency), PeruSAT-1, and the companies Planet and DigitalGlobe. For more information about our innovative methodology, see this recent paper in Science Magazine.
[USA] A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Black Friday
By Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 23 November 2018
On Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, the federal government published a massive and dire new report on climate change. The report warns, repeatedly and directly, that climate change could soon imperil the American way of life, transforming every region of the country, imposing frustrating costs on the economy, and harming the health of virtually every citizen.
[USA] Heavy rains douse California’s deadliest wildfire and pose new dangers
By Madeline Holcombe and Joe Sutton, CNN, 23 November 2018
The deadliest blaze in California history is nearly contained after firefighters got a little help from the rain. While more rain Friday could mean an end to the two-week fire, it also brings the risks of flooding and mudslides.
Northern California’s Camp Fire, which has killed 84 people, was 95% contained as of Friday, according to Cal Fire, the state’s forestry and fire protection agency.
An inch and a half of rain Wednesday all but extinguished the blaze, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Rasch said.
The rainfall hit the “sweet spot,” Rasch said. “We needed it to come in and rain, and rain not too heavy.”
24 November 2018
Brazil records worst annual deforestation for a decade
By Dom Phillips, The Guardian, 24 November 2018
Brazil has released its worst annual deforestation figures in a decade amid fears that the situation might worsen when the avowedly anti-environmentalist president-elect Jair Bolsonaro takes power.
Between August 2017 and July 2018, 7,900sq kms were deforested, according to preliminary figures from the environment ministry based on satellite monitoring – a 13.7% rise on the previous year and the biggest area of forest cleared since 2008. The area is equivalent to 987,000 football pitches.
The news was met by dismay from environmentalists who warned deforestation was likely to become more acute when Bolsonaro becomes president on 1 January.
Bamboo: a sustainable alternative for bioenergy production in Indonesia?
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 24 November 2018
For thousands of years, people in Indonesia have used bamboo for a huge range of purposes. It is a ready source of food, fibre, firewood and construction material, and its abundance and availability has earned it the moniker of “timber of the poor.”
Now, scientists are exploring its potential in another critical realm: energy production and restoration of degraded land.
[USA] Mass deaths and mayhem: National Climate Assessment’s most shocking warnings
By Jason Silverstein, CBC News, 24 November 2018
Billions of hours in productivity will be lost. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be wiped from the economy. Tens of thousands of people will die each year.
These are just some of the most grim predictions in the latest National Climate Assessment, a nearly 1,700-page report released Friday that warns about a world heading into complete chaos by the end of the 21st century.
25 November 2018
DR Congo’s risky bet on digital democracy
By Tom Wilson, Financial Times, 25 November 2018
Democratic Republic of Congo is preparing for Africa’s biggest experiment in digital democracy: an election in which millions of people who have never used computers will be asked to vote on electronic tablets in polling stations hundreds of miles from the nearest plug socket.
The country’s electoral commission says the machines will improve the speed of the vote count and cut costs. Diplomats, opposition leaders and analysts warn the new system — untested in Congo — could derail one of the most important presidential elections in the nation’s history.
[USA] 3 more bodies found as Camp Fire declared 100% contained
By Eliott C. McLaughlin and Madeline Holcombe, CNN, 25 November 2018
After two and a half weeks of historic destruction, the Camp Fire in Northern California is 100% contained, but the search for remains threatens to push the death toll over 88, where it stood late Monday.
It’s already the state’s deadliest fire.
The Butte County Coroner’s office reported what they believed to be the remains of two people, but Coroner Kory Honea said Monday night the office determined it was actually the remains of three people.