REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
11 March 2019
Forests are becoming less able to bounce back from wildfires
By Adam Vaughan, New Scientist, 11 March 2019
Forests around the world face being permanently wiped out because climate change is making them unable to recover from devastating wildfires.
Solomon Dobrowski at the University of Montana and his colleagues painstakingly dug up approximately 3000 small trees from 90 burn sites across the western US to look at the ability of forests to regenerate after a wild fire.
They found that before the 1990s, low-lying forests could grow back after being burned, but between the early 1990s and 2015 there was a sharp drop in the ability of seeds to regenerate a forest at most sites.
Corporate action takes root on deforestation
By Ucilia Wang, GreenBiz, 11 March 2019
The lungs of the Earth are under assault, and their well-being will worsen without bold recovery plans from businesses and governments. That’s the conclusion of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which paints a bleak picture of the health outlook of the world’s forests — and the plants and animals that depend on them — if global warming exceeds 1.5-degree Celsius from pre-industrial levels.
“Emissions would need to decline rapidly across all of society’s main sectors, including buildings, industry, transport, energy, and agriculture, forestry and other land use,” the report stated.
Ryanair to donate 1 million euros from its carbon offset programme to four climate and conservation projects
Green Air, 11 March 2019
Following a decision by Europe’s biggest low-cost airline Ryanair to launch a voluntary carbon offsetting option for customers in 2018, the airline has announced its first international environmental partnerships. Over €1 million ($1.1m) raised from passengers and the airline will be donated to projects in Uganda, Portugal and Ireland. These include a partnership with First Climate to support and disseminate energy-efficient cookstoves in Uganda, and an Irish group dedicated to the conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises. The other two projects involve tree replanting in an area of Portugal devastated by wildfires in 2018 and preserving and restoring native woodland in Ireland. Not previously noted for a commitment to environmentalism, Ryanair last year set emissions reduction targets and said it supported long-term industry climate goals.
12 March 2019
Resource extraction responsible for half world’s carbon emissions
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 12 March 2019
Extractive industries are responsible for half of the world’s carbon emissions and more than 80% of biodiversity loss, according to the most comprehensive environmental tally undertaken of mining and farming.
While this is crucial for food, fuel and minerals, the study by UN Environment warns the increasing material weight of the world’s economies is putting a more dangerous level of stress on the climate and natural life-support systems than previously thought.
The Very Optimistic New Argument for Dimming the Sky
By Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 12 March 2019
The year is 2055, and climate change has fully set in. Months-long heat waves regularly kill infants and the elderly, and food shortages are testing governments on every continent. While the world is finally reducing its carbon emissions, the cuts aren’t happening fast enough, and scientists say Earth will keep rapidly warming for at least another century.
[Australia] Enough scandalous time-wasting on climate change. Let’s get back to the facts
By Lenore Taylor, The Guardian, 12 March 2019
Over the past 30 years I have reported so many broken climate policy promises and quoted so much rhetoric that proved to be hollow, it is difficult to trace it back to the start. I think it’s a faded press release from 11 October, 1990 headed “government sets targets for reductions in greenhouse gases”.
“The government recognises the greenhouse effect as one of the major environmental concerns facing the world,” said Ros Kelly, Bob Hawke’s environment minister. “This decision puts Australia at the forefront of international action to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases.”
[USA] BP lobbied Trump administration to roll back key US climate rules
By Lawrence Carter, Unearthed, 12 March 2019
British oil major BP successfully lobbied the Trump administration to roll back key climate regulations preventing the release of methane into the atmosphere, despite claiming to support the Paris agreement to limit global warming to well below 2C.
An investigation by Unearthed has found that both directly and through its hands-on role in a network of powerful trade associations, BP first opposed and then helped reverse rules that would have prevented the release of millions of tons of methane from US oil and gas operations over the coming years.
13 March 2019
New research: Save the last tiny scraps of native vegetation
By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 13 March 2019
Scientific thinking changes as new evidence comes to light. One vital new insight is the importance of saving even tiny, isolated remnants of native vegetation.
Decades of research on fragmented habitats has shown that small, isolated patches of habitat are often ecologically depauperate — lacking top predators and large species, and suffering from a wide variety of ecological woes.
Largest carbon dioxide sink in renewable forests
Karlsruher Insitut Für Technologie press release, 13 March 2019
Forests are the filters of our Earth: They clean the air, remove dust particles, and produce oxygen. So far, the rain forest in particular has been considered the “green lung” of our planet. Yet, an international team, including researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), recently found that the world’s largest carbon sinks are located in young, regrowing forests. The results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
World Bank Doubles Pledge to Climate Efforts in Africa
By Adelaide Changole, Bloomberg, 13 March 2019
The World Bank will more than double its commitment to climate adaptation and mitigation in Africa over the next five years to $22.5 billion.
“This region is particularly vulnerable to increasing floods, droughts and destructive storms,” World Bank Group Interim President Kristalina Georgieva said in an emailed statement Wednesday. “We have to do more and do it faster, or millions of people could be plunged into poverty” due to the effects of climate change.
[Indonesia] NGOs raise serious concerns six years into Asia Pulp and Paper’s commitment to reforms
By Joshua Martin, Environmental Paper Network, 13 March 2019
Today, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) celebrates the sixth anniversary of APP’s Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). For six years NGOs have been monitoring the FCP implementation and providing suggestions for improvement of the policy as well as its implementation. With NGOs’ intervention, APP made an additional commitment, to conserve and restore 1 million hectares of ecosystems in Indonesia. Regrettably, little has been achieved on the ground to address the serious environmental and social damages caused by APP and its suppliers over three decades. Furthermore, NGOs are increasingly concerned that APP’s recent expansions risk its zero-deforestation promise, the core of the FCP.
[Indonesia] Palm oil’s complex land conflicts
By Nabiha Shahab and Dominique Lyons, CIFOR Forests News, 13 March 2019
In an ideal world, palm oil production would cause no deforestation, and have a transparent and fair supply chain. In reality, the impacts of the sector have been the cause of ethical concerns worldwide.
Palm oil is Indonesia’s most important commodity. In 2017 it produced 37.8 million tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO) and exported over 80 percent of it, with a value of $31.8 billion. Not only is Indonesia the world’s biggest palm oil producer, it is its biggest exporter too.
[USA] JPMorgan secures dismissal of lawsuit brought by victims of Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow
By Maria Nikolova, Finance Feeds, 13 March 2019
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and JPMorgan Chase Bank have managed to secure dismissal of a case launched against them by hundreds of victims of Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow. The banks have been accused of helping Haddow.
Earlier today, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the New York Southern District Court signed an order granting the defendant banks’ motion to dismiss.
14 March 2019
ICAO experts agree on global measures towards sustainable aviation
eTurboNews, 14 March 2019
Global measures to address aviation’s environmental impact were agreed at a meeting of the two hundred and fifty experts of ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), which concluded last week.
The meeting was opened by Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the Council of ICAO, recognizing that “In the 35 years since the CAEP was established, the scope of work and the technical areas which it covers have widened. Yet, despite the monumental challenges set before it, the CAEP remains a tremendous example of international cooperation.”
Nature: the one partner every company should work with
By RP Siegel, GreenBiz, 14 March 2019
One of the most powerful tools in the fight against climate change is a “secret technology” that has surrounded us for the past 3.5 billion years.
So says Peter Ellis, forest carbon scientist for The Nature Conservancy (TNC). He is, of course, talking about photosynthesis, the process that pulls carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and turns it into plant matter. This concept is well-known to anyone who has been following the climate story. What is less well-known is that the contribution of forests and other natural systems can be significantly enhanced through the use of smarter management practices. These practices are part of a portfolio of what TNC calls “natural climate solutions,” which involve the protection, management and restoration of various critical ecosystems — forests, grasslands, wetlands and croplands.
[Democratic Republic of Congo] Unlocking the secrets of tropical trees
By Ahtziri Gonzalez, CIFOR Forests News, 14 March 2019
Tropical forests are magical places. Inside the bustling canopy, huge buttress trees and evergreen plants make a bountiful home for birds, animals and insects, all together completing some of Earth’s most rich and diverse ecosystems. But they currently face unprecedented stress.
As well as battling land degradation and deforestation- rising temperatures, increasingly intense rainfall, and extended periods of drought caused by climate change are already altering how trees behave. While some species have shown capacity to keep up with changing conditions by growing and dispersing their seeds more quickly, others seemingly lack the pace required for their survival.
Buyers beware: EU companies could be importing illegal Congo timber
Global Witness, 14 March 2019
Ten European traders could be importing illegal Congo timber worth millions, breaking EU legislation and wreaking havoc on climate-critical rainforests.
Companies based in France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Poland have been importing timber from Industrie Forestière du Congo (IFCO) – a logging company which has flouted forest laws in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Together, the ten companies placed more than 1,400m3 of IFCO’s high-risk timber on the EU market, with a value of approximately €2 million, in the space of five months during 2018.
[USA] Susan Sarandon Is Demanding An “In-Depth” Investigation Into WWF Human Rights Allegations
By Tom Warren and Katie J.M. Baker, Buzzfeed News, 14 March 2019
Hollywood star Susan Sarandon has called on the World Wide Fund for Nature to carry out a thorough investigation into evidence of human rights abuses by anti-poaching guards it backs at wildlife parks around the world.
BuzzFeed News last week exposed how the beloved wildlife charity has for years funded and equipped paramilitary forces that have tortured and killed indigenous people.
“I would hope that there is an in-depth investigation of such serious allegations,” the actor and activist said in a statement Wednesday.
15 March 2019
The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change
By John Vidal, Huffington Post, 15 March 2019
Nature is in freefall and the planet’s support systems are so stretched that we face widespread species extinctions and mass human migration unless urgent action is taken. That’s the warning hundreds of scientists are preparing to give, and it’s stark.
The last year has seen a slew of brutal and terrifying warnings about the threat climate change poses to life. Far less talked about but just as dangerous, if not more so, is the rapid decline of the natural world. The felling of forests, the over-exploitation of seas and soils, and the pollution of air and water are together driving the living world to the brink, according to a huge three-year, U.N.-backed landmark study to be published in May.
How drones and satellite images are measuring the forests used for carbon offsets
By Adele Peters, Fast Company, 15 March 2019
For someone who owns forested land, carbon offsets give a financial incentive not to cut down trees. Other businesses that are struggling to reduce emissions can pay to keep the trees standing and sucking up carbon from the atmosphere. Offsets for planting trees are another significant way to fight climate change: Done at a massive scale, tree-planting could cancel out a decade of emissions.
Many companies are ready to pay for these offsets. The challenge, though, is tracking what’s happening in forests around the world. Right now, in order to estimate the carbon-storing value of a particular piece of forest, teams from a verification company have to hike into the forest and wrap a tape measure around each tree to calculate the width, use a laser to measure height, and manually count how many trees are in each plot. A new startup is developing tech to make these calculations automatically.
Africa’s Rapidly Declining Forests May Soon Get Some Respite
By Lorine Towett, WT, 15 March 2019
Approximately 58,000 square miles of forests are being lost to deforestation every year in Africa, contributing to climate change. The cutting of trees has also wreaked havoc on the region’s biodiversity. The slashing and burning of forests have destroyed huge tracks of trees and increased human-wildlife conflict.
In late 1990, Africa had an estimated 528 mn hectares, or 30 percent of the world’s tropical forests. Africa lost about 34 million hectares of its forests between 2000 and 2010. Nearly a decade later the situation is worsening. Unlike other regions of the world, deforestation in Africa is associated with human activity. 90 percent of the entire continent’s population uses firewood for cooking, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, firewood and brush supply approximately 52 percent of all energy sources.
The Age of Stupid revisited: what’s changed on climate change? – video
By Christopher Cherry, Franny Armstrong, Lizzie Gillett, Jacqueline Edenbrow and Charlie Phillips, The Guardian, 15 March 2019
Ten years after climate movie The Age of Stupid had its green-carpet, solar-powered premiere, we follow its director as she revisits people and places from the film and asks: are we still heading for the catastrophic future it depicted?
Thailand’s north continues to choke under record smoke levels
The Thaiger, 15 March 2019
For the fourth consecutive day Chiang Mai ranks as the world’s most air-polluted city, with an air quality index (AQI) score of 282 this morning on airvisual.com.
Mae Hong Son meanwhile continued to battle multiple forest fires, and Lampang saw it Thammasat University campus suspended classes and office work until March 18 due to the severe haze. Bangkok Airways has also suspended its daily flights into Mae Hong Son airport from Chiang Mai but will review the situation over the weekend.
UK charity knew of alleged abuse in Congo parks but did not act
By Karen McVeigh, The Guardian, 15 March 2019
A British charity set up to fund conservation parks in the Congo basin knew about allegations that tribal people were being abused by park guards but failed to alert the charities’ watchdog, the Guardian can reveal.
Last week, WWF launched an inquiry into claims that it has funded paramilitary guards accused of torturing, sexually assaulting and murdering people in Africa and Asia. In response to the claims, published by BuzzFeed News, the organisation said it has “stringent policies” to ensure the safeguarding of indigenous peoples’ rights and would take “swift action” should the review uncover any breaches.
[USA] NY Court grants another “final” continuance in case against Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow
By Maria Nikolova, Finance Feeds, 15 March 2019
There has been another continuance in the case taken by the US authorities against Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow, although when the previous such adjournment was requested, the delay was supposed to be final. And yet again, earlier this week, Martin S. Bell, an Assistant United States Attorney in the Office of Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, submitted affirmation in support of an application for an order of continuance of the time within which an indictment or information would otherwise have to be filed in the case.
16 March 2019
17 March 2019
[Australia] Questions raised over how $1bn of emissions funding have been allocated
By Adam Morton, The Guardian, 17 March 2019
Scott Morrison recently announced the Coalition would inject another $2bn into the emissions reduction fund – the Tony Abbott-era “direct action” policy that pays farmers and businesses from the budget to reduce greenhouse gas – but serious questions have emerged about $1bn already allocated.
Amendments to the fund rules, released for public consultation, indicate there have been problems with how emissions cuts from projects that involve managed regrowth of native forests and vegetation have been calculated.
[New Zealand] Climate of change: Big business sets up decarbonisation funds
By Rob Stock, Stuff, 17 March 2019
Big corporates are lining up to prove their carbon credentials, responding to a huge shift in public, and political opinion.
The Warehouse has gone carbon neutral by buying carbon credits and planting native trees to “offset” the carbon it emits selling us stuff.
Air New Zealand has signed up to the Dryland Carbon partnership with Genesis Energy and Z Energy to plant mainly “exotic” trees like radiata pine to offset emissions.