REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
21 January 2019
Paper – the forgotten forest commodity
By Sini Eräjää, FERN, 21 January 2019
As the world awakes to the threat posed by palm oil and soy to our forests, it’s in danger of overlooking how paper and packaging drives industrial logging, mis-shapes millions of hectares of forest landscapes and creates monoculture plantations. New solutions are urgently needed to address this, says Environmental Paper Network (EPN) International coordinator Sini Eräjää.
World’s 26 richest people own as much as poorest 50%, says Oxfam
By Larry Elliott, The Guardian, 21 January 2019
The growing concentration of the world’s wealth has been highlighted by a report showing that the 26 richest billionaires own as many assets as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet’s population.
In an annual wealth check released to mark the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the development charity Oxfam said 2018 had been a year in which the rich had grown richer and the poor poorer.
Can we halt runaway climate change? Forests hold the key
By Alistair Monument, WWF, 21 January 2019
Climate change continues to dominate the headlines as we start the new year. As world leaders gather in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting, we need to remember that the next few years are going to be critical to put the world on the path to a more sustainable future that safeguards people and the natural resources we rely upon.
For the sixth year in a row, “Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation” holds a spot in the top five global risks in terms of impact, in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019.
Greenland’s Melting Ice Nears a ‘Tipping Point,’ Scientists Say
By John Schwartz, New York Times, 21 January 2019
Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is melting at such an accelerated rate that it may have reached a “tipping point,” and could become a major factor in sea-level rise around the world within two decades, scientists said in a study published on Monday.
The Arctic is warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet, and the new research adds to the evidence that the ice loss in Greenland, which lies mainly above the Arctic Circle, is speeding up as the warming increases. The authors found that ice loss in 2012, more than 400 billion tons per year, was nearly four times the rate in 2003. After a lull in 2013-14, losses have resumed.
IATA Rebukes India on CORSIA Snub
By Neelam Mathews, AINonline, 21 January 2019
India’s refusal to join the International Air Transport Association-led Carbon Offsetting and Reporting Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) has led to surprise and consternation within the global trade group, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac told AIN. “I would like India to join CORSIA, but frankly for the moment, I do not see things moving and do not expect it to during the election period,” he lamented.
De Juniac’s comments referred to India’s federal elections scheduled from April to May this year, followed by state elections set to continue until the end of the year.
Solomon Islands province bans logging in bid to protect environment
Mongabay, 21 January 2019
Central Island province in the Solomon Islands has blocked new logging and mining operations in an apparent attempt to halt the degradation of the archipelago’s sensitive ecosystems.
“With timber on the islands harvested at a hugely unsustainable rate, this is an important first step,” the London-based watchdog organization Global Witness tweeted on Jan. 14.
22 January 2019
Forest soils need many decades to recover from fires and logging
Australian National University press release, 22 January 2019
A landmark study from The Australian National University (ANU) has found that forest soils need several decades to recover from bushfires and logging — much longer than previously thought.
Lead researcher Elle Bowd from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society said the team found forest soils recovered very slowly over many years from these events – up to 80 years following a bushfire and at least 30 years after logging.
David Attenborough and Prince William take world leaders to task on environment
By Kalyeena Makortoff, The Guardian, 22 January 2019
Sir David Attenborough has warned that humankind has the power to exterminate whole ecosystems “without even noticing”, and urged world leaders to treat the natural world with respect, during an interview with Prince William in Davos.
Prince William also took world leaders to task at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, asking Attenborough why those in key positions have “taken so long” to address climate change.
Record private jet flights into Davos as leaders arrive for climate talk
By Rebecca Ratcliffe, The Guardian, 22 January 2019
David Attenborough might have urged world leaders at Davos to take urgent action on climate change, but it appears no one was listening. As he spoke, experts predicted up to 1,500 individual private jets will fly to and from airfields serving the Swiss ski resort this week.
Political and business leaders and lobbyists are opting for bigger, more expensive aircrafts, according to analysis by the Air Charter Service, which found the number of private jet flights grew by 11% last year.
Major producers building carbon pricing into future plans
By Elwood Brehmer, Alska Journal of Commerce, 22 January 2019
The list of oil and gas companies with global influence that support some form of carbon pricing continues to grow.
Alaska’s “big three” producers — BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil — are all now a part of that group.
ExxonMobil announced in October that it would be donating $1 million to Americans for Carbon Dividends, a campaign led by former U.S. Sens. John Breaux, a Democrat, and Trent Lott, a Republican. ConocoPhillips doubled down on that donation in December with a $2 million pledge to Americans for Carbon Dividends over the next two years.
Brazil’s natural resources open for business, says Bolsonaro
By Natalie Sauer, Climate Home News, 22 January 2019
Brazil is a land of forests, minerals and business opportunities, president Jair Bolsonaro said in his first international speech on Tuesday.
“I want to introduce to all of you the new Brazil we are building,” Bolsonaro told the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. “We are committed to changing our history.”
[USA] Federal Court Dismisses Racketeering Counts Against Greenpeace
Greenpeace, 22 January 2019
Today, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a landmark decision dismissing all claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in the case brought by Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace Inc., Greenpeace Fund, Greenpeace International, Stand.earth, and five individual defendants.
23 January 2019
As Climate Warms, Plants Will Absorb Less CO₂, Study Finds
By Kendra Pierre-Louis, New York Times, 23 January 2019
The last time the atmosphere contained as much carbon dioxide as it does now, dinosaurs roamed what was then a verdant landscape. The earth’s lushness was at least partly caused by the abundance of CO₂, which plants use for photosynthesis. That has led to the idea that more CO₂ in the atmosphere could create a literally greener planet.
Today, plants and soil around the world absorb roughly a quarter of the greenhouse gases that humans release into the atmosphere, helping the Earth avoid some of the worst effects of climate change. In an ideal situation, as levels of carbon dioxide increased, plants would soak up more of these emissions, helping to fuel their growth.
Climate change’s impact on soil moisture could push land past ‘tipping point’
By Daisy Dunne, CarbonBrief, 23 January 2019
The impact of climate change on soil moisture could push the land past a “tipping point” – turning it from a net carbon “sink” to a source of CO2, a study finds.
The research, published in Nature, shows that levels of soil moisture – which are impacted by rising temperatures and extreme events such as droughts – can have a “large negative influence” on the land’s ability to store carbon.
What do trees do when we are not looking?
By Douglas Sheil, CIFOR Forests News, 23 January 2019
Getting to the root of the dos, whys and workings of trees can be an obsession for forest researchers. And for my fellow obsessed- pinpoint accuracy is our common ambition. So why is this so hard to do?
Accuracy is essential if we are to correctly understand the many details governing how forests, and their vast stores of carbon, behave in a wide range of circumstances. Such accuracy is also vital outside of research where, for example, payments to forest owners and others are based on how much carbon is stored over time.
Time to invest in a new deal for nature and people.
By Margaret Kulhow, WWF, 23 January 2019
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified six key questions it says we must address to make Globalization 4.0 work for all. The first of these asks how we might save the planet without killing the economic growth that lifts billions out of poverty.
The question we should be asking is how we deliver economic growth and prosperity by saving the planet. Nature is the foundation that sustains us and our economies.
Brazil reveals plans to privatize key stretches of Amazon highways
Reuters, 23 January 2019
Brazil’s new government has unveiled plans to privatize the Trans-Amazonian Highway, in a fresh attempt to complete – and fully pave – the dictatorship-era road which has already been blamed for extensive deforestation.
The government also plans to sell to investors a concession to run BR-163, a key northern route for shipping Brazilian grains, adding it along with the Trans-Amazonian to a priority list for privatization at a meeting next month, the infrastructure minister Tarcisio Freitas told Reuters in an interview.
Religious leaders in Colombia and Peru urge protection of rainforests
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Landscape News, 23 January 2019
An appeal made by Pope Francis almost four years ago to prevent the destruction of tropical rainforests is gaining traction through the international Interfaith Rainforest Initiative (IRI).
The pontiff shared his fears about the impact of human activities on the environment, climate and rainforests in a major document entitled Laudato Si’ (Praise Be) in 2015.
In response, two years later in 2017, IRI was launched. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist religious leaders made a pact with indigenous peoples to make rainforest protection a priority.
German coal exit timetable to be settled in last minute talks
By Sören Amelang, Clean Energy Wire, 23 January 2019
Germany’s detailed coal exit path and the end-date to coal-fired power generation remain unknown only days before a highly anticipated phase-out proposal is due to be published. A leaked draft of the final report of the country’s coal commission seen by the Clean Energy Wire suggests agreements on compensation for coal plant operators, support for affected mining regions, and measures to shield consumers from rising power prices. The draft also refers to Germany’s 2030 emission reduction targets for the energy sector as a guideline for the exit in accordance with its mandate. But the most pressing details from a climate perspective still need to be thrashed out during a marathon session scheduled for Friday 25 January: How many coal-fired power plants will go offline in the near future, and when will the last one be switched off?
[Indonesia] In West Papua, a development plan that doesn’t require clearing forest
By Een Irawan Putra, Mongabay, 23 January 2019
Mince and Atafia Momo make light work of the rocky terrain as they press toward higher ground deep in the Tambrauw forest. The pair move with a practiced agility, hauling gear in wicker baskets tied to a stretch of colorful fabric suspended around their foreheads.
For Mince, who is 40, and Atafia, 22, these green valleys in the west of the island of New Guinea are a second home, a place to hunt, to fish, to find medicines and to forage for sago, a crucial source of carbohydrates in the diet of the Momo Kaa indigenous community. For them, and for Atafia’s two toddlers, conservation of these Tambrauw hillsides carries a sense of immediacy.
Loophole Lets Norway’s $1 Trillion Fund Boost Its Coal Exposure
By Mikael Holter, Bloomberg, 23 January 2019
Norway’s massive sovereign wealth fund has increased its exposure to coal reserves even after imposing restrictions on investing in the fossil fuel that’s seen as one of the main catalysts for global warming, according to a report.
The findings are another illustration of how the ban, which restricts investments in companies that get more than 30 percent of their activity or revenue from coal, still allows investments in giants such as trader Glencore Plc and miner BHP Group Ltd. Opposition politicians and environmental groups have called on Norway to close “loopholes” as the government prepares to present a review of the rules this year.
[UK] From truffle trees to sunken treasure, beware of unregulated investments in your pension
By Katherine Denham, City A.M., 23 January 2019
Self-invested personal pensions, or Sipps, give us the freedom to invest in what we want.
But while this DIY approach to pensions appeals to many investors, there are mounting concerns that some Sipp providers are doing customers a disservice by allowing inexperienced investors to allocate their savings to unsuitable schemes.
24 January 2019
Eco crypto’s dirty secret
By Robert Stevens, Decrypt, 24 January 2019
Climate change, the giant political hot potato that will probably kill us all, will be solved by blockchain–if the various promises from the industry are to be believed. Energy-efficient cryptocurrencies; coins that reward users for using solar panels by planting trees; decentralized systems that let customers trade excess energy or track carbon emissions are all waiting to help make the world greener, everyone in it richer, and the polar bears happier.
Does Money Grow on Trees? Restoration Financing in Southeast Asia
By Prajwal, Mikkel Larsen, and Matthew Archer, Atlantic Council, 24 January 2019
In global discussions over climate change and the policy interventions needed to address it, the role of land use – including forests – is often overlooked. Given its unique role as both a potential source of emissions – as well as storage – for carbon, the land use sector may play a crucial role in the world’s success or failure in avoiding dangerous levels of climate change over this century. Nowhere is the pivotal role of land use more apparent than in tropical forests, which have gone from serving as sinks for global carbon emissions to being a source of them amid rampant deforestation. Southeast Asia has witnessed some of the world’s most significant tropical deforestation over the past several decades, and is currently a significant contributor to the roughly eight percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions that tropical deforestation represents.
Aviation emissions and noise impact continue to climb
By Sam Morgan, EURACTIV.com, 24 January 2019
Emissions and noise pollution are both increasing because more and more aircraft are taking to the skies, a new report by Europe’s premier aviation and environmental agencies revealed on Thursday (24 January). Forecasts show that the trend is only set to continue.
Between 2005 and 2017, carbon dioxide emissions increased by 16% and nitrogen oxide emissions went up 25%, according to the second European Aviation Environmental Report (EAER).
That is because the number of passenger kilometres has skyrocketed in the same period, increasing by a massive 60%.
Junk fossil fuel plants and stay below 1.5°C
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 24 January 2019
British scientists have worked out how to make sure of a better-than-even chance that 195 nations can fulfill a promise made in Paris in 2015 to stop global warming at 1.5°C by the end of the century: junk fossil fuel plants.
The answer is simple: phase out fossil fuel hardware as soon as it reaches the end of its effective life. Scrap the old petrol-powered car and buy electric. Shut down the coal-burning power generator and get electricity from the wind or the sunlight. Find some renewable fuel for jet planes. Deliver transoceanic cargoes with a marine fuel that isn’t derived from oil or coal.
Teenage activist takes School Strikes 4 Climate Action to Davos
By Graeme Wearden and Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 24 January 2019
The 16-year-old activist behind the fast-growing School Strikes 4 Climate Action has taken her campaign to the streets of Davos, to confront world leaders and business chiefs about the global emissions crisis.
Greta Thunberg, whose solo protest outside Sweden’s parliament has snowballed across the globe, will join a strike by Swiss schoolchildren in the ski resort on Friday – the final day of the World Economic Forum.
Thunberg travelled by train for 32 hours to reach Davos, and spent Wednesday night camped with climate scientists on the mountain slopes – where temperatures plunged to -18C.
25 January 2019
‘Worrying’ rise in global CO2 forecast for 2019
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 25 January 2019
The level of climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is forecast to rise by a near-record amount in 2019, according to the Met Office.
The increase is being fuelled by the continued burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests, and will be particularly high in 2019 due to an expected return towards El Niño-like conditions. This natural climate variation causes warm and dry conditions in the tropics, meaning the plant growth that removes CO2 from the air is restricted.
Time to shift focus to existing environmental laws, says new UN report
By Kimberley Brown, Mongabay, 25 January 2019
The most important thing we can do to address climate change isn’t to create new regulations, but ensure that countries comply with the regulations that already exist.
That’s according to the first ever report on environmental policies worldwide, released by the UN on Jan. 24. The report concludes that environmental concerns have reached every corner of the world, such that all countries have at least one environmental law or regulation in place – yet very few nations comply with them.
Carbon dioxide levels will soar past the 410 ppm milestone in 2019
By Michael Le Page, New Scientist, 25 January 2019
We will pass yet another unwelcome milestone this year. The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to rise by 2.8 parts per million to 411 ppm in 2019 – passing 410 ppm just a few years after first passing the 400 ppm mark.
That’s the forecast of Richard Betts of the Met Office Hadley Centre in the UK, who began making annual CO2 forecasts a few years ago to test our understanding of the factors involved. The Met Office began publicly releasing the forecasts last year.
WEF defends jet-setting elites amid climate change agenda
By Chloe Taylor, CNBC, 25 January 2019
Around 270 private jets were flown into Switzerland by Davos participants between Sunday and Tuesday, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The total number could be higher given that a number of delegates will remain in Davos – where the threats posed by climate change have been high on the agenda – until later in the week.
Releasing the official data on Wednesday, the WEF estimated a 14% reduction in the number of private jets flown into and out of Zurich and St Gallen airports year-on-year.
Wild about wilderness: The dreadful dangers of the definition deluge
By Douglas Sheil, Paolo Cerutti, and Christopher Martius, CIFOR Forests News, 25 January 2019
Five countries hold 70 percent of the world’s natural ecosystems, according to an article published in the journal Nature by researcher James Watson and colleagues.
In “Protect the last of the wild,” the authors urge an increase in conservation activities in a number of locations to safeguard the planet from biodiversity loss and the projected dire consequences of climate change. They raise important arguments for conservation.
Funds tripled and target slashed, but Indonesia still off pace for reforestation
By Hans Nicholas Jog, Mongabay, 25 January 2019
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono began his first term as president of Indonesia in 2004 with a pledge to plant a million trees a year, in an effort to make up for the massive deforestation the country had experienced over decades.
Five years later, following his re-election, he upped the ante to a billion trees a year. The idea was that this flourishing of foliage would help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and thus go some way toward mitigating climate change.
Increase in carbon pricing could revive SE Asia’s tropical forests: study
By Alok Gupta, CGTN, 25 January 2019
An increase in carbon pricing by nearly five-fold can combat climate change effects in Southeast Asia, along with massively boosting the profitability of tropical forest reforestation, according to findings released today by international think tank Atlantic Council.
At present, sustainable timber production in the region yields a profit of 4,450 U.S dollars per hectare. Monoculture plantations like palm oil or rubber – known for causing severe environmental damage – generates a much higher profit of 11,400 U.S. dollars per hectare, researchers calculated.
[USA] Reducing forest fire risks requires market incentives, free enterprise
By Jonathan Wood, The Hill, 25 January 2019
In a rare example of bipartisanship, last week the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed two Republican-sponsored bills to increase funding for fire-reduction projects in federal, state and private forests. Although there is heated disagreement over the causes of the recent increase in catastrophic wildfires — is it climate change, federal mismanagement or both? — there is clear consensus on the need to reduce fire risks now, even as we continue to debate long-term solutions.
26 January 2019
Aviation emissions set to grow sevenfold over 30 years, experts warn
By Kevin O’Sullivan, The Irish Times, 26 January 2019
International aviation carbon emission could grow seven-fold over the next 30 years despite climate change concerns, according to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) figures.
Aviation, particularly the role played by frequent fliers, is rarely mentioned in the climate debate, yet air travellers, particularly those flying business class, are among the world’s worst carbon polluters.
Corporate action is essential to deliver a new deal for nature and people
By Kavita Prakash-Mani, WWF, 26 January 2019
“We believe business will be stronger if the ecosystems they depend on are healthy and strong.”
This quote best summarises the essence of the discussion at our breakfast meeting at the WEF Annual Meeting at Davos today. We came together with companies, business associations and NGOs to discuss the role of business in supporting and delivering a New Deal for Nature and People. In the context of increasing loss of nature — with a 60% species decline in 40 years, 15.8 million hectares of forest lost last year, and severe bleaching of coral reefs — the New Deal calls for stronger commitment and action to protect nature and fight climate change. And it is encouraging to note that leaders from government, business, NGOs, and more are supporting the concept and speaking up for nature with the appropriate sense of urgency that this crisis demands.
The idealism at Davos is real. So is the class divide
By Hadas Gold, CNN, 26 January 2019
Davos, Switzerland — The crisp white snow sparkles off stunningly high mountain peaks, a gorgeous backdrop for the thousands of the world’s elite gathered here every year for the World Economic Forum.
Inside the world’s issues from inequality to climate change are being tackled.
I have to cover my face as I walk up to the main conference center – not for the freezing cold temperatures, but because of the exhaust from the traffic and idling private cars. They’re waiting for their VIPs, some of whom arrived via the 270 private jets the forum estimates were used to travel to the event.
[Australia] Residents told it’s too late to flee East Gippsland bushfire
By Brianna Travers, news.com.au, 26 January 2019
An out-of-control bushfire in Victoria’s East Gippsland region has been downgraded to ‘advice’, after a ‘Watch and Act’ order was in place overnight.
The blaze, 10km north of Timbarra, is burning in an easterly direction and is this morning being labelled as a “still active, slow moving bushfire” which is not yet under control.
A change at 8pm last night brought weaker winds than expected which has helped fire crews manage the blaze.
Germany Lays Out a Path to Quit Coal by 2038
By Melissa Eddy, New York Times, 26 January 2019
Germany will spend tens of billions of dollars to end its use of coal power within two decades, if a plan agreed to early Saturday by representatives of the power industry, environmental movement, miners and local interest groups becomes official policy.
The deal, hammered out after more than 20 hours of intense, often fractious negotiating among a 28-member commission appointed last year by Chancellor Angela Merkel, would be one of the most significant energy transformations a nation has yet attempted in the face of climate change.
27 January 2019
The New Language of Climate Change
Politico, 27 January 2019
Leading climate scientists and meteorologists are banking on a new strategy for talking about climate change: Take the politics out of it.
That means avoiding the phrase “climate change,” so loaded with partisan connotations as it is. Stop talking about who or what is most responsible. And focus instead on what is happening and how unusual it is — and what it is costing communities.
That was a main takeaway at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting this month, where top meteorologists and environmental scientists from around the country gathered to hear the latest research on record rainfall and drought, debate new weather prediction models and digest all manner of analysis on climatic mutations.
[Australia] World heritage forests burn as global tragedy unfolds in Tasmania
By Karl Mathiesen, The Guardian, 27 January 2019
A global tragedy is unfolding in Tasmania. World heritage forests are burning; 1,000-year-old trees and the hoary peat beneath are reduced to char.
Fires have already taken stands of king billy and pencil pine – the last remaining fragments of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana. Pockets of Australia’s only winter deciduous tree, the beloved nothofagus – whose direct kin shade the sides of the South American Andes – are now just a wind change away from eternity.
Borneo Road-Building Spree Among ‘World’s Scariest’ Environmental Threats
By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 27 January 2019
The Southeast Asian island of Borneo sustains some of the world’s most important surviving rainforests — among the oldest and biologically richest forests on Earth.
But an ambitious road-building spree by the Indonesian government will fragment and destroy vast areas of the island’s rainforests, according to an authoritative study (available here and also see this compelling video). Its authors include several members of ALERT.
[Fiji] Forest Management Contributes To Economic Growth
By Wisea Naskokia, Nadi, Fiji Sun, 27 January 2019
Fiji can promote to the rest of the world the effort to address climate change.
But also to be able to look at sustainable forest management and contribute to economic growth that will bring change to the livelihood of the communities.
Those were the comments made by the Ministry of Forestry Permanent Secretary, Pene Baleinabuli during the visit to Tokaimalo in Ra with a team from the World Bank and the independent Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) review team.
[USA] White House Close to Announcing New World Bank Chief, Global Energy Policy To Pivot
By Dipka Bhambhani, Forbes, 27 January 2019
The White House is expected to announce a new World Bank president soon.
A source close to the Trump administration said the president and his search team, led by Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, are considering three candidates close to the administration, all of them vastly different in perspective on energy expansion than their soon-to-be predecessor, Dr. Jim Yong Kim.
Energy expansion is central to the mission of the World Bank’s effort to reduce global poverty.