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REDD in the news: 7-13 January 2019

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

7 January 2019

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim abruptly resigns
By James Politi and Sam Fleming, Financial Times, 7 January 2019
Jim Yong Kim has abruptly announced that he will resign as World Bank president on February 1, more than three years ahead of schedule, leaving one of world’s top multilateral economic institutions grappling with confusion and uncertainty over its leadership.
Mr Kim’s departure is likely to trigger a debate about whether the decades-long tradition of allowing the sitting US administration to pick the president of the World Bank should continue, given Donald Trump’s deep scepticism of multilateral institutions.

How COP24 rulebook will affect the future
By Kanan Purkayastha, Daily Star, 7 January 2019
The 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded on December 15, 2018 at Katowice, Poland. After a busy two weeks, the nearly 14,000 delegates from 195 countries managed to agree on a rulebook for achieving their Paris Agreement promises. It began with a stark warning by Sir David Attenborough who urged world leaders to tackle “our greatest threat in thousands of years.” He also warned that “the collapse of our civilisation” is “on the horizon” if we don’t take concrete action now.

Brazil’s environmental chief resigns after Bolsonaro criticism
Al Jazeera, 7 January 2019
The head of Brazil’s environmental protection agency has resigned following criticism from the country’s newly inaugurated far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
A spokesperson for the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) confirmed on Monday that Suely de Araujo stepped down after Bolsonaro suggested there were irregularities in Ibama’s budget, Reuters news agency reported. Araujo had led the agency since 2016.

“I’m proud to have brought the rain back”: reforestation revives Cambodian mountains
UN Environment, 7 January 2019
During the 12th century, people came to Cambodia’s Kulen mountain, a sacred place associated with fertility, to cut huge chunks of stone that would have to be hauled down by elephants.
In recent decades, despite Kulen becoming a protected area, people have come not just to pick the sweet lychee fruits from which the mountain derives its name, but to cut trees to sell for luxury hardwood or charcoal in towns further down.

A Rift Between Germany and Brazil Stalls Work on Carbon Market
By Mathew Carr and Brian Parkin, Bloomberg, 7 January 2019
A dispute pitting two groups of nations led respectively by Germany and Brazil is holding up work on creating a global market for trading carbon pollution, one of the pillars of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
After bruising talks at a United Nations climate conference last month, the two groups remain at odds on how to structure the system. New carbon markets could allow developing countries to sell emissions credits generated from programs that cut greenhouse gases. The theory is that richer nations could buy those securities, gaining a cheaper option for reaching their own targets.

UK hedge fund Northlander generates windfall return on carbon bet
By David Sheppard, Financial Times, 7 January 2019
London-based hedge fund Northlander Commodity Advisors returned 52.7 per cent to investors in 2018, after commission and fees, as its major bet on rising European carbon prices paid off.
Ulf Ek, founder and chief investment officer of the $484m fund, told his investors in an end of year note seen by the Financial Times that Northlander had benefited from “an unusually high conviction on the carbon trade” that saw carbon allowances under the EU Emissions Trading System increase by 230 per cent in the year.

8 January 2019

We try to save the forest, but does it really work?
By Thuận Sarzynski, Environmental Ideas, 8 January 2019
Deforestation and forest degradation contribute to a large volume of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in the atmosphere, therefore forests have an important role to play in reducing CO2 emission and mitigate climate change. A better management to prevent forest destruction may provide 37% of the climate change solutions to keep global warming below the 2 °C threshold by 2030.
In 2007, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) proposed a plan to reduce CO2 emissions caused by deforestation. This plan was called REDD+, a short acronym for reducing emission from deforestation, forest degradation and enhancing carbon stocks. The main goal of this plan is to give funding to developing countries and help them to conserve their forests. Most projects are focused on combining rural development and forest conservation in poor communities.

Improve forest governance faster, say experts
By Gloria Pallares, CIFOR Landscape News, 8 January 2019
There are encouraging examples of improved forest governance. These include steps forward in increasing transparency, enhancing law enforcement and establishing demand-side measures to curb illegal logging. However, progress is too slow to significantly reduce deforestation, as shown by the fact that the average annual rate of natural forest loss between 2014 and 2017 was 42 percent higher than in the previous decade.

In Climate Change Fight, Brazil Owes Nothing, Minister Says
By Simone Preissler Iglesias, Mario Sergio Lima, and Bruce Douglas, Bloomberg, 8 January 2019
Brazil owes nothing in the fight against global climate change and should be paid for its work so far, according to the country’s new environment minister.
For Ricardo Salles, the Paris Accord in itself is neither good nor bad, but it must bring economic benefits to Brazil. If the agreement limits production or the use of land, Brazil could withdraw.

Hazy figures cloud Indonesia’s peat restoration as fire season looms
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 8 January 2019
Indonesia has restored degraded peatlands the size of a million football fields in the three years since President Joko Widodo launched an ambitious program aimed at preventing a repeat of some of the worst forest fires in the country’s history.
But that success may have had more to do with luck than anything else, activists say, as anticipated tinderbox conditions mirroring the 2015 dry season that led to those earlier fires loom over the next few months.

9 January 2019

Departing World Bank chief leaves climate job unfinished
By Natalie Sauer, Climate Home News, 9 January 2019
By deciding to resign as head of the World Bank, Jim Kim is leaving the job of decarbonising development unfinished, experts told Climate Home News.
Jim Kim revealed his decision to quit his position on Monday, signing off more than three years before the end of his term in 2022. He will join private equity firm Global Investment Fund on 1 February, the firm announced on Tuesday.

The 3 principles of how to share your landscape story with the world
By Alexander Watson, Open Forests, 9 January 2019
Forest and landscape projects are responsible for communicating their project activities to their stakeholders, potential supporters, and the public.
As today, communication is mainly online, communicators of landscape projects are facing the challenges of:
How to differentiate from social media noise?
How to tell a story in a way that it builds trust and meaningful connections in the real world with people actively supporting the project?

[Kenya] Man seeks audience with president on minority rights
By Irissheel Shanzu, Standard Digital, 9 January 2019
A man has decided to travel from West Pokot to Nairobi to protest against the marginalisation of minority groups.
Dickson Kipkemoi Rotich from the Sengwer minority group has announced his intention to seek audience with President Uhuru Kenyatta and demand recognition for minority groups.
The 68-year-old yesterday said his mission had attracted the support of a large crowd.
He started walking from his Talau home and has reached Kapenguria.

[USA] California split over carbon trading plan for tropical forests
By Kimberley Brown, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 9 January 2019
Indigenous leaders from tropical forest nations have urged Californian regulators to reject a proposed international carbon trading scheme, arguing it would violate forest peoples’ rights. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is due to decide in April whether to adopt the California Tropical Forest Standard (TFS), a controversial plan focused on protecting large forested areas through the use of carbon credits. At a November meeting in Sacramento, the board heard hours of testimony from more than 80 climate scientists, indigenous representatives and activists, both for and against the proposal. A decision was postponed until this spring.

10 January 2019

New ways of thinking about climate change
By Mark A. Maslin and Simon L. Lewis, UN Development Programme, 10 January 2019
The scale of human impact on Earth’s workings is immense. Humans move more soil, rock and sediment each year than all natural processes combined. Factories and farming remove as much nitrogen from the atmosphere as all Earth’s natural processes, and the global climate is warming fast from fossil fuel use. These changes rival those in Earth’s geological history.

Scientists issue dire warning in new study finding last year was likely the hottest on record
By Joe Romm, Think Progress, 10 January 2019
Last year was very likely the hottest year on record, according to the authors of a new study in the journal Science.
The study examined “multiple lines of evidence from four independent groups” measuring ocean heat and concluded “ocean warming is accelerating.” Researchers found the rate of warming for the upper 2,000 meters of ocean has increased by more than 50 percent since 1991.

NAU scientists on NASA mission to revolutionize the way forest carbon and biodiversity habitat are measured from space
Northern Arizona University press release, 10 January 2019
On Dec. 5, the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission 16 successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a groundbreaking payload in the Dragon capsule of its Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS)—NASA’s $94 million Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) instrument. Scott Goetz, a professor in the School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems at Northern Arizona University and a member of the GEDI team, was there to watch the launch and cheer along with the crowd.
“The SpaceX launch of GEDI is something I am unlikely to ever forget,” Goetz said.

Blockchain Could Unlock Vital Funding to Tackle Climate Change
By Marianne Lehnis, Medium, 10 January 2019
In Malawi, dust hangs low over the towns, mingled with smoke from cooking fires. Above the dry earth, brilliant orange mangoes hang from the trees. In the very early morning, groups of women can be seen carrying buckets and jerry cans as they scour the capital, Blantyre, for water. It lies at an altitude of over 3,000 feet, and in periods of water shortage, some districts can go without water for days.

The Chinese industries importing Brazilian beef, leather — and deforestation risk
By Christina MacFarquhar, Global Canopy, 10 January 2019
A year ago this week, in January 2018, a shipment of leather arrived at the port of Shanghai, courtesy of Brazil’s biggest cattle processor, JBS. The 34 tonnes of processed cattle hides were destined for use as seat covers and other interior surfaces in China’s automotive industry.
That shipment brought total imports of Brazilian leather into Chinese ports in the first two weeks of 2018 to a total of ten thousand tonnes  —  an amount equivalent to the skins of hundreds of thousands of cattle.

Chinese Railway Project in Laos Leaves Farmers in the Lurch
Radio Free Asia, 10 January 2019
The railway project that would link landlocked Laos with China has been touted as a benefit to the Lao economy because it will lower the cost of exports and consumer goods while boosting socioeconomic development in the impoverished nation of nearly 7 million people.
But the railway project, expected to be completed in 2021, has displaced more than 4,400 families from their land. Under Lao Decree 84 issued in April 2016, Lao citizens losing land to development projects must be compensated for lost income, property, crops, and plants.
However, many of these families have still not been compensated.

Recheck forest cover data, UN body tells India; flags concern about definition
By Jayashree Nandi, Hindustan Times, 10 January 2019
A technical assessment by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of India’s submission on forest cover has raised concerns about the country’s definition of forests, which experts say exaggerates forest cover and inadvertently masks deforestation.
The global body has recommended that India delineate areas under orchards, and bamboo and palm cultivation for an accurate assessment of carbon stocks of forests. The exaggeration could fall at least in the range of 5-12% of the forest cover, going by the submissions made by India to the UN body and estimates by scientists at Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

[Indonesia] Land issues, government and civil society
By Wimar Witoelar, Jakarta Post, 10 January 2019
In the annual review of the Agrarian Reform Consortium, secretary-general Dewi Kartika displayed some interesting infographics. Presenting the government, the business sector and civil society organizations (CSO) as three circles, it was evident that over time, the business sector grew in size and edged closer to the government, while the CSOs shrunk in size and grew more isolated.
This is discouraging because the nature of government-to-business cooperation is more pragmatic than countervailing. There is nothing wrong with government-to-business cooperation. In fact, it is a positive thing — if it were held at arm’s length.

[UK] Basildon con artists facing jail after £800k ‘boiler room’ fraud
Basildon Echo, 10 January 2019
Paul Muldoon and Vikki King, from Basildon, were part of a gang which swindled £805,469.29 out of unsuspecting members of the public.
The pair were led by Darren Flood – who was married to former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham’s sister Louise Adams – and boasted to some investors of the link to the star family in a bid to give the scam legitimacy.
The group targeted vulnerable people, mainly the elderly, through cold-calling, persuading them to invest large sums of money in materials known as rare earth elements, falsely promising big returns.

[USA] A Green New Deal to Save People and the Planet
By Nicole Ghio, Friends of the Earth US, 10 January 2019
The U.S. Climate Report released in November and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in October confirmed what we already know based on the extreme fires, droughts and hurricanes that have wreaked devastation on our country this past year: the climate crisis is here. We need a Green New Deal to prevent climate catastrophe and fight rising social, racial, economic and gender inequities.

11 January 2019

REDD+: A lost decade for international forest conservation
By Jutta Kill, Heinrich Böll, 11 January 2019
With growing climate awareness, the contribution of deforestation to global greenhouse gas emissions has also moved into the public focus. This development is reflected in international forest policy, not least by REDD+, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, which has been the dominant international forest policy mechanism since 2005. As the name implies, the objective of REDD+ is to reduce emissions resulting from destruction of forests. The means to achieve this objective: financial incentives. In theory, payments under the mechanism are results-based: Financial support is only granted after the fact to those who can document how many tons of carbon emissions were avoided, and that the emission reduction would not have been realized without their measure.

Why Jim Yong Kim’s move has shaken up the World Bank
By James Politi, Sam Fleming, and Mark Vandevelde, Financial Times, 11 January 2019
The day after suddenly announcing that he was ditching the presidency of the World Bank for a Wall Street private equity firm, Jim Yong Kim made an appearance before staff to muster an explanation.
In the packed atrium of the bank’s headquarters, just two blocks away from the White House, Mr Kim said he was leaving three years earlier than expected to take a lucrative job that sounds similar to his World Bank role — helping the private sector finance infrastructure projects in emerging markets. “This opportunity came, and, you know, it is very hard to predict when these things come to you in your life,” he said.

[Democratic Republic of the Congo] Protecting Congo’s botanical treasures
By Ahtziri Gonzalez, CIFOR Forests News, 11 January 2019
Nestled within Africa’s biggest rainforest lies what was once the world’s largest tropical agriculture research center.
Situated along the banks of the Congo River, the Yangambi Research Station was in its heyday a booming scientific hub, revered for its invaluable work in the Congo Basin throughout the midcentury.
It wasn’t to last. War, political instability and budget cuts were to hamper the center’s survival after DRC gained independence from its colonial ruler, Belgium, in 1960. The following decades would see skilled staff numbers dwindle, the jungle reclaim its buildings, and the center’s science work come to a stop.

[USA] Climate change: Meet the Florida congresswoman leading the House charge
By Ledyard King, USA Today, 11 January 2019
The warnings about climate change are dire: bigger floods, larger fires, larger storms.
Most experts agree there’s little to prevent these catastrophes without swift action on climate change.
Enter Rep. Kathy Castor, the Florida Democrat that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has chosen to chair the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

[Vietnam] UN programme benefits over 6,000 locals in Lao Cai
Vietnam Plus, 11 January 2019
The second stage of the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) has benefited over 6,000 residents in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai.
Of the beneficiaries, 98 percent are of minority ethnic groups in 45 villages in seven communes of the districts of Muong Khuong, Bao Thang, Bao Ha, Si Ma Cai, Sa Pa, Bat Xat, Van Ban and Bao Yen.

12 January 2019

13 January 2019

The World Has Loads of Sustainable Palm Oil… But No One Wants It
By Anuradha Raghu, Bloomberg, 13 January 2019
The world’s biggest growers of palm oil say they’re stepping up efforts to produce the contentious commodity more sustainably, but consumers are unwilling to pay more for environmentally friendly supply.
Production of sustainable palm oil has jumped to a record 13.6 million metric tons a year, about 20 percent of global output, according to the industry body that certifies the commodity. But only half of that is sold as sustainable oil. That’s because it’s more expensive to produce and hardly anyone is willing to pay a premium, says Sime Darby Plantation Bhd., the top planter by acreage.

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