REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
4 February 2019
A third of Himalayan ice cap doomed, finds report
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 4 February 2019
At least a third of the huge ice fields in Asia’s towering mountain chain are doomed to melt due to climate change, according to a landmark report, with serious consequences for almost 2 billion people.
Even if carbon emissions are dramatically and rapidly cut and succeed in limiting global warming to 1.5C, 36% of the glaciers along in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya range will have gone by 2100. If emissions are not cut, the loss soars to two-thirds, the report found.
No single formula for all forms of deforestation
World Agroforestry, 4 February 2019
The world has been trying for decades to curb deforestation but continues to fail. Forests are still being cleared at high rates despite efforts by forested and supportive countries alike. A new study by researchers has found that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution: every agent of deforestation is different and requires specialized efforts to reduce their impact.
The researchers —from World Agroforestry, ASB Partnership for the Tropical Forest Margins, African Centre for Technology Studies, Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute, and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research — highlighted three main typologies of deforestation, and forest degradation: 1) smallholding farmers, usually very localized; 2) large-scale commercial agriculture involving legal or illegal allocation of forested areas to establish commercial farms; and 3) natural factors, such as fire, insect attack and landslides.
Corsia: The UN’s plan to ‘offset’ growth in aviation emissions after 2020
By Jocelyn Timperley, CarbonBrief, 4 February 2019
Airlines around the world have recently begun to monitor their CO2 emissions as part of a UN climate deal.
Last month marked the first step of the UN’s “Corsia” scheme, which aims to ensure any rise in international aviation emissions above 2020 levels are offset elsewhere.
The scheme was agreed by 192 countries in 2016 through the UN’s aviation agency. It is significant because of the aviation sector’s large and rapidly increasing CO2 emissions. If aviation were a country, it would be the sixth largest in the world, between Japan and Germany.
Will governments disappoint again on carbon accounting at upcoming aviation meetings?
By Kristin Qui, Environmental Defense Fund, 4 February 2019
Some major companies, including airlines, took the lead last December in Katowice, Poland in rejecting the use of dubious carbon credits toward their climate efforts. Despite this drumbeat against bad rules for cooperative approaches under Article 6 of the Paris agreement, experienced government negotiators fell short and did not finalize these guidelines in Katowice. This month in Montreal, governments could decide the fate of carbon credits for the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction System for International Aviation (CORSIA), but will they ignore business demand for good credits by allowing aviation emissions reductions to be double counted?
Study Shows Climate Change Is Fueling Conflict and Mass Migration
By Marlene Cimons, Nexus Media, 4 February 2019
The United Nations’ chief climate scientist recently said that planetary warming threatens “a multitude of security impacts.” For years, U.S. military officials have called climate change a “threat multiplier,” warning that rising temperatures would fuel political instability, conflict and mass migration in the decades ahead. But, until now, experts had not established a firm link between climate change, political violence and displacement.
New research has found strong evidence that climate change is spurring conflict, which is driving people to abandon their homelands and seek safety elsewhere. It should come as no surprise that rising temperatures are worsening droughts, heat waves and floods, leading to shortages of food, water and other resources, resulting in conflict in many regions of the world. In so doing, climate change is an indirect cause of migrant exodus, according to scientists.
Golden Agri-Resources: The Way Forward for Palm Oil is Sustainable Production, not a Phase Out
Golden Agri Resources press release, 4 February 2019
Ahead of the original deadline for the adoption of the European Union’s (EU) Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II delegated act on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), leading palm oil producer Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) hosted a workshop on the potential implications for the sustainability efforts of biofuel feedstock producers and buyers.
The Encouraging Sustainable Biofuel Production: Certifying Low-ILUC-Risk Feedstocks workshop, held on 29 January 2019, explored the concerns of palm oil producers who have adopted sustainable practices but find themselves at risk of being unfairly penalised by the proposed delegated act. The workshop also questioned the ILUC assumptions made about palm oil.
[Australia] Tasmania is burning. The climate disaster future has arrived while those in power laugh at us
By Richard Flanagan, The Guardian, 4 February 2019
As I write this, fire is 500 metres from the largest King Billy pine forest in the world on Mt Bobs, an ancient forest that dates back to the last Ice Age and has trees over 1,000 years old. Fire has broached the boundaries of Mt Field national park with its glorious alpine vegetation, unlike anything on the planet. Fire laps at the edges of Federation Peak, Australia’s grandest mountain, and around the base of Mt Anne with its exquisite rainforest and alpine gardens. Fire laps at the border of the Walls of Jerusalem national park with its labyrinthine landscapes of tarns and iconic stands of ancient pencil pine and its beautiful alpine landscape, ecosystems described by their most eminent scholar, the ecologist Prof Jamie Kirkpatrick, as “like the vision of a Japanese garden made more complex, and developed in paradise, in amongst this gothic scenery”.
EU set to tighten rules on palm oil for biofuels
By Sara Stefanini, Climate Home News, 4 February 2019
The European Commission will meet on controversial rules this week to limit the use of biofuel crops linked to deforestation – amid backlash from the world’s two largest palm producers.
The new rules will define which fuels can be counted toward EU renewable energy targets. Biofuels that indirectly lead to changes in land use and higher greenhouse gas emissions will be excluded by 2023.
[USA] Government Says Kids Have No Right to Sue Over Climate Change
By Karen Savage, Climate Liability News, 4 February 2019
The Trump administration said a group of 21 young people has no right to sue the federal government for endangering their future by exacerbating climate change, according to a Justice Department brief filed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The brief was the first to be filed in a rare interlocutory appeal granted last December in the constitutional climate lawsuit, Juliana v. United States. In it, the federal government maintains the young plaintiffs in the case, have “no fundamental constitutional right to a ‘stable climate system.’”
The government further contends that because “global climate change affects everyone in the world,” the plaintiffs’ are not suffering from a legally actionable injury, but from “generalized grievances.”
5 February 2019
It’s Time to Try Fossil-Fuel Executives for Crimes Against Humanity
By Aranoff, Jacobin, 5 February 2019
The fossil-fuel industry is lawyering up.
To date, nine cities have sued the fossil industry for climate damages. California fisherman are going after oil companies for their role in warming the Pacific Ocean, a process that soaks the Dungeness crabs they harvest with a dangerous neurotoxin. Former acting New York state attorney general Barbara Underwood has opened an investigation into whether ExxonMobil has misled its shareholders about the risks it faces from climate change, a push current Attorney General Leticia James has said she is eager to keep up. Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey opened an earlier investigation into whether Exxon defrauded the public by spreading disinformation about climate change, which various courts — including the Supreme Court — have refused to block despite the company’s pleas. And in Juliana vs. U.S., young people have filed suit against the government for violating their constitutional rights by pursuing policies that intensify global warming, hitting the dense ties between Big Oil and the state.
Asian banks give billions to firms linked to deforestation, study finds
By James Fair, Mongabay, 5 February 2019
Industries that cause the loss of rainforest and peatlands in Southeast Asia were bankrolled to the tune of $62 billion between 2013 and 2018, according to new data released by the Forests and Finance campaign of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN).
Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Malaysian banks were the biggest funders of so-called forest risk activities and were least likely to have internal policies that restricted damage to the environment from the activities they funded, RAN concludes.
Palm Oil Giant Golden Agri-Resources Removed from Dow Jones Sustainability Index after Bribery and Corruption Scandal
Friends of the Earth, 5 February 2019
The Dow Jones Sustainability Index has removed the world’s second largest palm oil company, Golden Agri-Resources, from its list of sustainable companies.
“Golden Agri-Resources’ removal from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is an important step in holding the company accountable for its consistent abuses,” said Gaurav Madan, senior forests and lands campaigner for Friends of the Earth U.S. “Companies that have caused widespread environmental destruction have no place being greenwashed as sustainable.”
Brutal Australian Summer Heat Spurs Climate Research
By Nathanial Gronewald, Scientific American, 5 February 2019
Australia’s summers are getting increasingly brutal—but they’re also inspiring new climate science that could lead to better predictions and carbon accounting.
Five years ago, a study in the Journal of Climate by Australian and U.K. scientists predicted climate change would deliver more intense summers to Australia. That study, led by Tim Cowan of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), forecast that by the end of this century, the northern tropical reaches of Australia will experience longer and more frequent heat waves, while the hottest parts of southern Australia will see increases in maximum temperature of around 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
That prediction is now proving prescient.
Germany announces support for Peatlands: A natural solution for climate action
UN environment, 5 February 2019
To spur global action to support the sustainable management and protection of some of the most vulnerable peatlands, Germany has announced its support for the Global Peatlands Initiative. While establishing their own peatlands unit in their Ministry, they also have committed just under two million euros in funding from the Federal Environment Ministry’s International Climate Initiative.
Peatlands are a unique form of wetlands and cover about 3% of our planet’s land, storing approximately 30% of all land-based carbon–twice the amount than all the world’s forests combined. Peatlands are the most effective carbon sinks on Earth.
UK Support For Overseas Fossil Fuels Inconsistent with 1.5C Limit, Academics Tell MPs
By Sophie Yeo, DesmogUK, 5 February 2019
The UK’s use of export finance to fund overseas fossil fuel projects is “flatly inconsistent” with both domestic climate policy and efforts to meet the 1.5C warming limit, according to academics at a hearing in Westminster today.
UK export finance (UKEF) provides guarantees, insurance and reinsurance to shore up British investments overseas. Yet instead of supporting much-needed renewables infrastructure, some 99 percent of all energy-related support went to fossil fuels. Between 2014 and 2016, the UK spent £551 million per year to support fossil fuel production.
In December 2018, the government’s Environmental Audit Committee launched an enquiry into the state of UKEF. The first hearing took place today.
6 February 2019
2018 was 4th hottest year on record for the globe
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 6 February 2019
Earth’s long-term warming trend continued in 2018 as persistent warmth across large swaths of land and ocean resulted in the globe’s fourth hottest year in NOAA’s 139-year climate record. The year ranks just behind 2016 (warmest), 2015 (second warmest) and 2017 (third warmest).
In separate analyses of global temperatures, scientists from NASA, the United Kingdom Met Office and the World Meteorological Organizationoffsite link also reached the same heat ranking.
Met Office: World has 10% chance of ‘overshooting’ 1.5C within five years
By Daisy Dunne, CarbonBrief, 6 February 2019
There is a one-in-10 chance that global average temperatures could “temporarily exceed” 1.5C above pre-industrial levels in at least one year over the next five years, according to new Met Office analysis.
Such a breach would not mean that the world has “missed” the Paris Agreement’s aspirational target of limiting human-caused global warming to 1.5C, scientists tell Carbon Brief.
2018 was world’s fourth hottest year on record, scientists confirm
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 6 February 2019
Global temperatures in 2018 were the fourth warmest on record, US government scientists have confirmed, adding to a stretch of five years that are now collectively the hottest period since modern measurements began.
The world in 2018 was 1.5F (0.83C) warmer than the average set between 1951 and 1980, said Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). This means 2018’s average global temperatures were the fourth warmest since 1880, placing it behind 2016, 2017 and 2015.
Transforming REDD+ book launch at COP24
Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, 6 February 2019
CIFOR’s book Transforming REDD+: Lessons and new directions was presented at COP24, Katowice, Poland, addressing the challenges and future opportunities on REDD+ after a decade of implementation.
2020 commodity sourcing goals? These tools can help with supply chain traceability
By Breanna Lujan, Environmental Defense Fund + Business, 6 February 2019
Amidst rising deforestation rates, many companies have committed to eliminating deforestation from key commodity supply chains. As of June 2018, 473 companies globally committed to curbing deforestation in supply chains linked to palm oil, soy, timber and pulp, and cattle.
Many of these companies have set 2020 goals, and are doubling down efforts to meet these goals as the deadline fast approaches. Companies now find themselves in a position in which they know where they want to go, but do not always know how to get there.
Tackling Climate Change and Environmental Pollution with Blockchain
ClimateCoin press release, 6 February 2019
Climate change is at the forefront of social consciousness and has elevated concerns over the future direction of human production by shedding a spotlight on everything from energy waste to harmful pollutants plaguing the environment. The consequences of human influence on the climate are widespread and touch on numerous sectors.
[Australia] Tasmania fire crisis has seen almost 200,000 hectares of land burnt out since it started, TFS estimates
ABC News, 6 February 2019
Hundreds of local, interstate and overseas firefighters are still battling blazes in Tasmania as the state’s bushfire crisis enters its sixth week.
At 10:54am on Wednesday, there were 9 watch and act alerts and 19 advice warnings across the state, with 24 fires burning.
The Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) said a total of 24 fires were still burning across the state, with an estimated 195,000 hectares burnt out since the first fire at Gell River was reported after Christmas.
Chile declares “state of catastrophe” in fire-ravaged regions
Xnhua, 6 February 2019
Chile on Tuesday declared a “state of catastrophe” in three regions ravaged by forest fires that have killed two people and razed 9,500 hectares of land.
Declaring catastrophe in parts of Biobio, La Araucania and Los Rios paves the way for the armed forces to take part in the efforts to battle the blazes, said acting Interior Minister Rodrigo Ubilla.
He told reporters that the fires have “increased significantly,” prompting officials to take more drastic measures.
Surfers ride the wave of ocean action in Myanmar blue forest
UN environment, 6 February 2019
Ocean lovers are often left out of the bigger environmental discussions and so struggle to see how they can do their part to stop climate change.
But one organization, Sustainable Surf, is committed to changing all that by directly engaging the global surfing community to save and restore threatened mangrove forest ecosystems. Mangroves are five times more effective at sequestering carbon emissions than land-based trees.
Nigeria’s REDD+ Programme receives fresh civil society boost
By Godwin Oritse, Vanguard, 6 February 2019
Civil society groups in Nigeria under the umbrella of Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet) have restated their commitment to collaborate more assiduously with the government in order to achieve Nigeria’s targets for the UN Programme on Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degraded Forests (REDD+).
[UK] More than £197m lost to investment scams in 2018, Financial Conduct Authority warns
By Jessica Clark, City A.M., 6 February 2019
More than £197m was lost to investment scams last year as more victims were targeted online, the City watchdog has warned.
The most common scams that were reported last year involved investments in shares and bonds, and forex and cryptocurrencies, which accounted for 85 per cent of all suspected scams, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said.
7 February 2019
Agents, Assumptions and Motivations Behind REDD+: Creating an International Forest Regime
Global Forest Coalition, 7 February 2019
It was hoped that by paying forest dependent peoples and countries for their “service” of conserving their forests, REDD+ would lead to a reduction in deforestation greenhouse gases. The complexities have, however, left some ambiguities. It was never agreed who would pay for the program, and it has been criticized as ignoring the root causes of forest loss. Considering the motivations of those who promoted REDD+ this book proposes remedies to its shortfalls and recommends more efficient, equitable and effective conservation policies.
Corruption — the elephant in the room, in the fight against environmental crime.
By Delfin Ganapin, WWF, 7 February 2019
Despite a huge proliferation in environmental legislation globally over the last four decades, we are failing to prevent widespread ecosystem destruction, pollution and climate change.
Last month’s first-ever global assessment of the environmental rule of law by UNEP told us why — our failure to fully implement and enforce our laws.
While we’ve delivered a 38-fold increase in environmental law and more than 1,100 environmental agreements since 1972, these measures often only exist on paper.
Empowering communities in forestry laws key to stopping global deforestation
ClientEarth, 7 February 2019
The right set of laws are crucial to ensure that ‘community forests’ are successful in halting deforestation, mitigating climate change and preserving biodiversity while also providing livelihoods for communities that depend on them, a new legal report shows.
Environmental lawyers from ClientEarth have released findings that demonstrate how important the right legal framework is for creating successful community forest systems, which grant formal management rights of forests by and for local communities and indigenous people.
What’s in a name? The role of defining ‘wilderness’ in conservation
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 7 February 2019
Ecosystems in their natural state are disappearing quickly around the globe. On that most scientists agree. But how to stem those losses through conservation is hotly debated. Many believe that the focus should be on identifying what local communities, often recognized as superior guardians of their environment, see as worth protecting. That local focus, they argue, should supersede the creation of new maps, international targets and definitions for terms like “wilderness” and “intactness.”
“Why do we need another definition?” said Douglas Sheil, a forest ecologist at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and a senior associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor, Indonesia.
Why the EU’s action plan on deforestation must be beefed up to be effective
By Sam Lawson, Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 7 February 2019
Through its insatiable consumption of agro-commodities like soy, palm oil and beef, the EU is contributing to a global deforestation crisis. After stalling for years while it carried out study after study, 2019 is crunch time. Over the coming months, a decision will finally be made on what the EU intends to do about the problem – a decision of huge importance to the world’s forests, those dependent on them and the global climate. The first signs are far from good. In marked contrast to the EU’s action on illegal timber, they suggest a toothless, pro-corporate, ‘more of the same’ approach, which the available evidence indicates is doomed to failure. To have any chance of having an impact, it must be strengthened to include plans for legally binding regulation.
[UK] ‘World-first’: Drax BECCS pilot begins capturing carbon emissions
By Michael Holder, BusinessGreen, 7 February 2019
Carbon dioxide is now being captured at Drax’s biomass power station in North Yorkshire as part of a “world-first” technological trial to prevent around a tonne of emissions from escaping into the atmosphere each day, the energy firm announced today.
First announced last summer, the bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) pilot was installed on one of the plant’s units in November, and Drax claims the system is now fully up and running, marking the first time in the world CO2 has been captured from the combustion of a 100 per cent biomass feedstock.
[USA] The Green New Deal is an opportunity for America to get right with the world
By Eric Holthaus, Grist, 7 February 2019
There’s an inescapable truth when it comes to climate change: Through its historical emissions and political role throughout history, the United States is responsible for this problem more than any other country on Earth.
The unveiling of a sweeping Green New Deal resolution by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, along with several leading presidential candidates and dozens of other co-sponsors, is a legitimate effort to right those wrongs and repair our standing in the world on the biggest problem in human history.
8 February 2019
Why Climate Change Messaging Must Evolve Beyond Noting Record-Breaking Temperatures
By Marsall Shepherd, Forbes, 8 February 2019
In my Forbes articles, I try to provide credible scientific information in a manner that a scientist, student, policymaker, or someone at the mall can understand. I often use the “So What?” litmus test to convey my thoughts because many scientists get “stuck in the mud” of their discipline thoughts and jargon. As a scientist and professor, I navigate the “academic treadmill” and the broader “gym” of media, policymakers, and public groups. I often make the point that there is a dangerous inertia in how climate science is discussed that does not resonate with the public.
Energy from greenhouse gases is possible
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 8 February 2019
Researchers have found ways to realise a modern version of the medieval alchemists’ dream – not turning base metals into gold, but conjuring energy from greenhouse gases, exploiting abundant pollutants to help to power the world.
Korean scientists have developed a sophisticated fuel cell that consumes carbon dioxide and produces electricity and hydrogen – potentially another fuel – at the same time.
Researchers based in the US and Spain have devised a nanoscale fabric that converts electromagnetic waves into electrical current.
[Australia] Producers on the job to make beef carbon neutral
By Shan Goodwin, North Queensland Register, 8 February 2019
From Adelaide game designers to Sydney micro algae experts, innovative minds around the country are on the job to reduce the carbon footprint of Australia’s red meat industry.
Producers, too, are doing their fair share of the heavy lifting on working out ways to reduce methane emissions from livestock and new methods of measuring carbon in soil.
The biggest threats to wildlife in India: Forest fires and an ‘unhealthy’ plantation model
By Peter Smetacek, Scroll.in, 8 February 2019
Reports published in the past year about the state of global biodiversity are grave: a 27-year study of the weight of insects collected at fixed-point light traps in 63 nature reserves in Germany found that the population of flying insects had reduced by around 75%. Another study on mammals by the Worldwide Fund for Nature suggests we have lost over 60% of wildlife since 1970. There is as yet no explanation for this alarming drop, but widespread use of pesticides, habitat destruction and urbanisation are suggested as potential causes.
Liberia: The Potentials of Wonegizi As a Protected Area
Daily Observer, 8 February 2019
The Potentials of Wonegizi as a Protected Area (PA) in the development of the communities, districts and Lofa County is in the process of gazettement. This is the process when all stakeholders cooperate and make joyous efforts to make the Protected Area in Law. As a citizen of Lofa and two times Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in two difference administration, it is a very good news for me and welcoming news for communities of Wonegizi. It will be a remised if I do not tell the story as it is.
9 February 2019
The truth about big oil and climate change
The Economist, 9 February 2019
In America, the world’s largest economy and its second biggest polluter, climate change is becoming hard to ignore. Extreme weather has grown more frequent. In November wildfires scorched California; last week Chicago was colder than parts of Mars. Scientists are sounding the alarm more urgently and people have noticed — 73% of Americans polled by Yale University late last year said that climate change is real. The left of the Democratic Party wants to put a “Green New Deal” at the heart of the election in 2020. As expectations shift, the private sector is showing signs of adapting. Last year around 20 coal mines shut. Fund managers are prodding firms to become greener. Warren Buffett, no sucker for fads, is staking $30bn on clean energy and Elon Musk plans to fill America’s highways with electric cars.
10 February 2019
A Guide to Climate Violence
By Daniel Voskoboynik, Medium, 10 February 2019
What is climate change doing to us? How is it rearranging our world and bearing on its life?
Before we attempt to unpack these questions, it’s worth turning to the topic of humility. Climate change’s petrifying power has a tendency to eclipse all else. Our terror of future possibilities and our desperation to provoke action can often lead us to see climate change in everything, ascribing a wide range of phenomena to it without clearly thinking through the links.
Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 10 February 2019
The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.
More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.