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REDD in the news: 17-23 June 2019

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

Accelerating REDD+ implementation
Green Climate Fund, June 2019
REDD+ is vital for global efforts to combat climate change. The Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015 and entering into force in 2020, treats forests as an integral part of the climate solution, and highlights REDD+ as key intervention to achieve the new ambitious global target.
The UNFCCC specifically recognized the GCF as a key funding avenue for channeling REDD+ RBPs.1 The GCF began offering such payments in 2017, and funding activities that are necessary to achieve REDD+ results since it started to approve funding proposals in 2015.

Looking back; looking forward: REDD+
Nature4Climate, June 2019
REDD+, which seeks to create financial incentives for forest conservation, has attracted criticism for failing to deliver expected results, and for giving polluters an excuse to avoid reducing their own emissions when forest-based emission reductions are used for offsets. On the other hand, proponents argue that REDD+ is an important way to supplement emission reductions from fossil fuels, and to incentivize emission reductions from land-use change. Further, they argue, without it, we will not be able to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
So, what’s the real story? Nature4climate spoke with Frances Seymour, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute and one of the world’s experts on forests.

17 June 2019

Can you trust the numbers?
By Astrid Box, CIFOR Forests News, 17 June 2019
Millions of dollars are being invested in efforts to reduce the contribution of tropical deforestation to climate change. To find out whether that money is being well-spent, decision-makers choose from a variety of ways to measure avoided deforestation. But which one can be trusted? New research has found that different methods are more accurate in different sites, depending on the local deforestation drivers and the circumstances of the country.

World’s top 500 companies set to miss Paris climate goals
By Leslie Hook, Financial Times, 17 June 2019
It has been a big week for climate change — and the companies trying to tackle it.
The UK announced it would adopt a net zero emissions target for 2050, becoming the first major economy in the world to do so. At the same time, BP’s annual energy report revealed that global energy demand surged last year — helping push carbon dioxide emissions to a record high.

UN climate chief says 3C hotter world ‘just not possible’
By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 17 June 2019
Climate change is an “existential issue” for humankind, and stepping up efforts to keep warming to globally agreed limits is urgent, the U.N. climate chief said on Monday, calling on governments to make progress at talks in Bonn.
The mid-year climate negotiations are tasked with resolving outstanding issues in setting rules for the 2015 Paris climate accord, ahead of an annual conference in Chile in December.

Carbon markets: Can countries fill in the missing chapter of the Paris rulebook in Bonn?
By Alex Hanafi, Environmental Defense Fund, 17 June 2019
Negotiators are meeting in Bonn, Germany this week and next on the back of the successful negotiations in Katowice, Poland where the Paris climate agreement “rulebook” was mostly agreed, on time. A feat nearly unprecedented in the often glacial UN climate talks provides hope that countries can continue to work together in light of the urgency to address climate change.

As Cambodia swelters, climate-change suspicion falls on deforestation
By Michael Tatarski, Mongabay, 17 June 2019
As the impacts of climate change become more apparent worldwide, members of the public are connecting more weather events to the phenomenon.
In March and April, for example, extreme heat baked mainland Southeast Asia. On April 20, Vietnam set an all-time observed record high temperature, 43 degrees Celsius (110 degrees Fahrenheit), and neighboring Cambodia suffered as well. This led to public criticism there that deforestation in the country has contributed to elevated temperatures.
The Cambodian government, however, has rejected these critiques.

Ghana set to sacrifice irreplaceable forest and water sources for bauxite mine
WWF, 17 June 2019
Despite vehement opposition from local communities and international conservation organisations, the Ghanaian government seems determined to proceed with a destructive bauxite mine in the Atewa Forest – a globally important ecosystem that harbours extraordinary wildlife and provides water for 5 million people.

Indian government prepares all-out assault on tribal rights
Survival International, 17 June 2019
A meeting taking place in Delhi tomorrow could determine the fate of eight million tribal people and other forest dwellers in India.
The talks between states and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs follows February’s hugely controversial Supreme Court order to evict millions of people whose land rights claims have been rejected.
The next Supreme Court hearing in the case will be on 24 July, when the court may once again order the eviction of millions of people. This comes at a time when India’s tribal peoples are facing an unprecedented assault on their rights.
India’s new Minister of Environment and Forests, who has spoken in support of shoot on sight policies, will also try to push through a draft amendment to the British-era Indian Forest Act. The proposed changes have been described as even more draconian than the original.

[Malaysia] Havoc And Destruction – Sarawak’s Logging Industry Is Globally Everybody’s Loss
Sarawak Report, 17 June 2019
Sarawak is home to some of the world’s biggest timber companies, all of them family businesses and closely entwined with the ruling figure in the state, Governor Taib Mahmud.
Given the apparently unrewarding nature of their activities, according to the notoriously low profits and even losses so consistently recorded in official returns, one wonders why these companies bother to continue to ply their trade?

[Nigeria] REDD+, others move to salvage Cross River forest
By Anietie Akpan, The Guardian (Nigeria), 17 June 2019
A non-governmental organization, Wise Administration of Terrestrial Environment (WATER) has organised an “institutional capacity building workshop to check the massive degrading of rainforest in Cross River state.
The event funded by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) through the Kenyan based Mainyoito Pastoralist Integrated Development Organisation (MPIDO), was meant to x-ray the participation of communities in REDD+ and to seek ways of improve the processes leading to meaningful participation in forest preservation.

Opposition Says Norway Is Buying Itself Out Of Climate Goals
By Tsvetana paraskova, Oil Price, 17 June 2019
Norway will be increasingly tempted to fund carbon emission cuts abroad instead of reining in its own greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach its ambitious 2030 climate goals, a member of the opposition Socialist Left party, SV, said on Monday.
Norway has one of the world’s most ambitious net zero carbon goals—to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, which was enshrined into law in 2016, but which comes with the caveat that Norway can use the so-called carbon credits—financing greenhouse gas reductions in other countries—to offset its own emissions.

[Papua New Guinea] CCDA is the national authority for ‘carbon trade’
By Peter S. Kinjap, Papua New Guinea Today, 17 June 2019
PNG’s Masalai Blog in July 2009, posted a somewhat controversial article “Carbon Trading under more scrutiny in PNG” with a PNG-Government document showing evidence of pre-selling of carbon credits from PNG for almost four (4) prior to 2009 without proper legal policy framework in place.

South Africa’s First Carbon Farm
By Tim Christophersen, Inter Press Services, 17 June 2019
Land restoration could attract large private investments in the fight against climate change over the coming decades, if Governments and the United Nations put the right incentives and conditions in place.
When the goats on his farm had nothing more to eat, because the soil was eroded and most of the vegetation destroyed, South African farmer Pieter Kruger had to make one of the toughest decisions of his life. “I have always been a farmer,” he says, “but that moment in 2007, I knew that I could not go on. There was no more water. Zandvlakte is the last farm in our valley in the Bavianskloof, and our river had run dry before it reached my farm.” Pieter reluctantly gave up goat farming, and embarked on the Working for Water programme, a government pilot effort to restore degraded watersheds.

18 June 2019

Five things to watch at UN climate talks in Bonn
By Chloé Farand, Climate Home News, 18 June 2019
Climate talks resume this week in Bonn, Germany, with negotiators working to finalise the last contentious points of the rulebook for the Paris Agreement.
Governments are also under pressure to set out long term strategies and strengthen carbon-cutting policies ahead of a UN climate action summit convened by the UN chief Antonio Guterres in September.

A new study finds that cutting down one forest can make neighboring forests hotter
By Malavika Vyawahare, Pacific Standard, 18 June 2019
Areas cleared of forests bleed heat to neighboring forests, and this fuels increases in temperatures there, new research has found. Average temperatures in forests around the world are already rising because of climate change; this leaked heat exacerbates the problem and accelerates local extinctions of forest-dwelling species.
“The warming is happening from global climate change but deforestation is generating additional warming, which is making climate change’s impact even worse in the tropics for biodiversity and the forest itself,” says Barry Sinervo, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of California–Santa Cruz, and a co-author of the recent paper in PLoS One that described the phenomenon.

Can REDD+ bring more women into forest conservation?
By Jennifer Rigby, Mongabay, 18 June 2019
Slowly but surely, thinking and talking about gender equality has become normal in much of modern life, from the actor Benedict Cumberbatch demanding equal pay for his female co-stars, to the raised eyebrows that now greet all-male panels at conferences.
It’s a similar story in the world of forest conservation. Since the 1990s, researchers have been looking at gender and trying to establish what it means to empower women in protecting forests.

Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted
Reuters, 18 June 2019
Permafrost at outposts in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted, an expedition has discovered, in the latest sign that the global climate crisis is accelerating even faster than scientists had feared.
A team from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly a succession of unusually hot summers had destabilised the upper layers of giant subterranean ice blocks that had been frozen solid for millennia.

Danone, Nestlé and Tetra Pak Say Plastic Credits Could Clean Up the Ocean
By Sophia Cai, Barron’s, 18 June 2019
You’ve probably heard of carbon credits, but soon you may be hearing about recycling credit, a new mechanism meant to give companies market incentive to pay attention to their plastic flow.
The world’s biggest yogurt maker, Danone, and food-packaging company Tetra Pak are backing a new recycling credit system, to be co-managed by Verra, the world’s largest greenhouse-gas program, and by the Rio de Janeiro-based nonprofit BVRio. Also backed by the Swiss food giant Nestlé, the system is designed to help companies leverage market-based solutions to reduce, recover, and recycle their plastic waste.

Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialization of Food
By Vandan Shiva, Independent Science News, 18 June 2019
Food is not a commodity, it is not “stuff” put together mechanically and artificially in labs and factories. Food is life. Food holds the contributions of all beings that make the food web, and it holds the potential of maintaining and regenerating the web of life. Food also holds the potential for health and disease, depending on how it was grown and processed. Food is therefore the living currency of the web of life.
As an ancient Upanishad reminds us “Everything is food, everything is something else’s food.“

Clean Energy at Forefront of Fight Against Climate Change in Asia and Pacific
Modern Diplomacy, 18 June 2019
The advancement of affordable and reliable clean energy is not only at the forefront of Asia and the Pacific’s development progress, it is also at the heart of the region’s development of resilient infrastructure and fight against climate change, participants at the Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) 2019 heard today.
Co-hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United States Agency for International Development, and the Korea Energy Agency, with the support of the International Energy Agency as the Knowledge Partner, ACEF 2019 is being held from 18–21 June under the theme “Partnering for Impact.”

[Canada] New evacuation orders issued as ‘aggressive’ northern Alberta wildfires grow
By Wallis Snowdon, CBC News, 18 June 2019
Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes as gusting winds stoke wildfires burning across northern Alberta.
A swath of new evacuation orders were issued Monday, with residents across northern Alberta being told to gas up their vehicles and be ready to leave in a hurry.
New evacuation orders were issued at around 11 p.m. for communities in and near Mackenzie County.

Can Sweden cope with another summer heatwave?
The Local, 18 June 2019
Sweden’s summer of 2018 caused an unprecedented spate of wildfires, destroyed forests and forced farmers to send animals to emergency slaughter. What happens if the country gets another summer like that?
How big is the risk that Sweden will get another summer like last year’s extreme weather?
“May last year was very dry and in some places almost 6C warmer than normal. Many areas had a similar story in June, and by July it was warmer than normal and extremely dry throughout the country. That’s also when the forest fires started,” says Max Lindberg Stoltz, meteorologist at Sweden’s national weather agency SMHI.

[Sweden] Helicopters water bomb wildfire outside Stockholm
The Local, 18 June 2019
A fire that broke out at a former shooting range in northwest Stockholm on Monday has not yet been extinguished despite water-bombing, as experts warn that several parts of the country are at high risk of forest fires.
Emergency services had four units at the scene at Järvafältet and two helicopters had been working to water bomb the flames since early in the morning.
Although it was not extinguished, firefighters had managed to tame the blaze.

UAE victim of Bar Works scam doubts he will ever get his Dh550,000 back
By Patrick Ryan, The National, 18 June 2019
An Abu Dhabi resident who fell victim to an international property scam said he will be lucky if he sees any of the $150,000 (Dh550,875) he invested in the fraudulent scheme.
Kamal Singh, an Indian engineer, was one of more than 100 UAE investors to have lost millions of dirhams in total after being sold investments in Bar Works, an office rental company, by brokers in Dubai and London.

[USA] Wildfire forecaster sees late start for Idaho forest fires
By Keith Ridler, Associated Press, 18 June 2019
Idaho’s wet spring and below-average temperatures the last three months will likely mean a later start for forest fires, but rangeland fires could be a problem as grasses dry out, a federal wildfire forecaster said Tuesday.
Bryan Henry of the National Interagency Fire Center in a presentation before the Idaho Land Board said the state is mostly looking good at the moment.

19 June 2019

A new gold standard – for people and planet
By Joan Carling, CIFOR Landscape News, 19 June 2019
The climate crisis is worsening, and report after report warns that we are running out of time to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. We also know that the world cannot replace fossil fuels fast enough to keep warming to 2 degrees, much less 1.5 degrees. Our only hope is protecting the forests and wetlands that sequester vast amounts of carbon and regulate the world’s ecosystems. And we cannot protect forests if we ignore the rights of forest guardians.

Can planting billions of trees save the planet?
By Patrick Barkham, The Guardian, 19 June 2019
When Clare Dubois’s car skidded on an icy road in Stroud, Gloucestershire, a tree prevented her vehicle tumbling into a ravine. It was, she says, a sign. Humanity is nearing a precipice. Trees can stop us going over the edge.
This calling was so strong that Dubois, a business life coach, founded TreeSisters with a friend, Bernadette Ryder, to take on a daunting mission: to reforest the tropics within a decade.

Ideas to tackle the existential threat of global warming
Eco-Business, 19 June 2019
Support developing countries in their efforts to conserve the forests. Launch more incubators for climate-friendly solutions. Find ways to make saving energy fun.
Delegates at the recent Innovate4Climate event by the World Bank Group had no shortage of ideas to tackle the threat of global warming.

ADB not yet ready to quit coal
By Hannah Alcoseba Fernandez and Ping Manongdo, Eco-Business, 19 June 2019
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has plans to stop funding coal-fired power plants—except in selected countries where the bank considers the alternatives to be limited.
“I don’t know whether we will totally dismiss the possibility of coal projects, because in some countries there’s no access to other options,” the development bank’s president Takehiko Nakao said at ADB’s week-long Asia Clean Energy Forum in Manila yesterday.

China Focus: China steps forward with low-carbon actions
Xinhua, 19 June 2019
China published its first-ever guide to implementing carbon neutrality during big events, among other actions to cope with climate change.
Prior to the National Low-carbon Day on Wednesday, the guide was issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), offering event organizers specific measures to reduce carbon emissions, such as providing attendees with reusable daily supplies, double-sided printed materials and vegetarian options.

[China] Over 700 sent to fight forest fires in Inner Mongolia
Xinhua, 19 June 2019
More than 700 firefighters have been dispatched to put out forest fires that started Wednesday in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The fires broke out in two areas under the jurisdiction of the Alongshan Forestry Bureau and Jinhe Forestry Bureau in Greater Hinggan Mountain.

[India] Uttarakhand forest fires: SC agrees to hear petitions requesting prompt action to curb blazes, asks petitioners to ‘pray for rain’
First Post, 19 June 2019
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear on 24 June, a plea seeking urgent steps to protect forests, wildlife and birds from wildfires in Uttarakhand, saying “it is an serious issue and in the meantime, pray for rain”.
A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant listed the matter for 24 June after the petitioner, advocate Rituparn Uniyal, sought urgent listing of the matter. “We are listing the petition for 24 June. It’s a serious issue and in the meantime, you pray for rain,” the bench observed.

[New Zealand] Possible changes to ETS and overseas investment law to prevent rural land boom
By Richard Harman, Politik, 19 June 2019
The Government may have to now look at putting limits on the Emissions Trading Scheme to prevent the unintended consequences of a rural land boom because of the “Billion Trees’ programme.
The move comes as the Government and the Forestry Minister, Shane Jones, in particular, are feeling the pressure from the “50 Shades of Green” lobby group of farmers who oppose the tree planting scheme.

[Spain] Massive forest fires rage near Benidorm’s giant water park as planes drop water bombs to stop blaze spreading to holiday homes
By Hana Carter, The Sun, 19 June 2019
Firefighters have been tackling forest blazes raging close to a giant water park in Benidorm popular with British families.
Helicopters were spotted circling the inferno in the Sierra Gelada Mountain, with crews desperately trying to extinguish the blaze behind the Aqualandia attraction.

[UK] HMRC cracks down on gangs over renewable energy VAT fraud
By Jillian Ambrose, The Guardian, 19 June 2019
Criminal gangs are targeting the renewable energy industry in the latest wave of VAT fraud that has been blamed for draining billions of euros from the EU every year.
HM Revenue & Customs said it had cracked down on the trading of renewable energy certificates “with immediate effect” to counter “a serious and credible threat to the VAT system”.
The emergency action came into force last week, without notice, to avoid tipping off the criminal gangs and prevent substantial VAT losses for the UK, it added.

20 June 2019

‘Gentlemen’s agreement’ could leave 1.5C science report out of formal UN talks
By Chloé Farand, Climate Home News, 20 June 2019
After pressure from Saudi Arabia, a major report on 1.5C faces being dropped from formal negotiations in the science stream of UN climate talks.
Discussions came to an impasse in December last year when Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia – four big oil producers – refused to endorse the findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Shamed from flying? Some climate change-conscious people staying grounded
By Frank Jordans and David Keyton, Associated Press, 20 June 2019
School’s out for summer and Swedish lawyer Pia Bjorstrand, her husband and their two sons are shouldering backpacks, ready to board the first of many trains on a whistle-stop vacation around northern Europe.
The family is part of a small but growing movement in Europe and North America that’s shunning air travel because it produces high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. While experts say fighting climate change will require bigger and bolder actions by governments around the world, some people are doing what they can to help, including changing long-held travel habits.

Brazil and EU face off over future of carbon trading
By Natalie Sauer, Climate Home News, 20 June 2019
This year’s UN climate talks could make or break the Paris Agreement, negotiators say, as they get down to the business of regulating carbon trading.
Emerging economies, notably Brazil, are at loggerheads with the EU and vulnerable countries over the role for old UN carbon market schemes in the Paris regime.

[USA] Oregon’s Republican senators flee capitol to delay vote on emissions reduction plan
By Susie Cagle, The Guardian, 20 June 2019
Oregon is poised to become the second US state after California to impose a cap and trade program aimed at reducing industrial carbon emissions.
But ahead of a vote on the legislation Thursday, all 11 Republican state senators fled the capitol in a bid to delay the process. Several claimed to have left the state, beyond the reach of state troopers dispatched by the governor in order to get the legislative session back on track.

[USA] California Assembly Gives CARB Green Light on Tropical Forest Standard
Environmental Defense Fund, 20 June 2019
Members of the California State Assembly this week called on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to endorse the proposed Tropical Forest Standard (TFS), which sets out stringent requirements for states and countries seeking to have their large-scale forest protection programs recognized in carbon markets such as California’s. In their letter to CARB, Assembly Members Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) and Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) cited proposed changes to the Tropical Forest Standard to strengthen some provisions and respond to concerns raised by opponents during a November 2018 CARB board hearing, while expressing support for the Standard to be approved by the Board.

21 June 2019

The Chain: Deforestation as a Climate Risk for Investors
Chain Reaction Research, 21 June 2019
Institutional investors, asset managers, and other financial actors are increasingly considering certain climate-related risks and opportunities in their investment decisions. They have particularly focused on energy, fossil fuels, and pollution, but the significance of deforestation to climate change is becoming more relevant to the sector. Currently, and in the coming decades, investors have to grapple with the full range of risks that companies in the agricultural sector face from climate change, including deforestation. Deforestation is an all-encompassing Environmental (climate and biodiversity), Social (land grab), Governance (supply chain management) risk.

Carbon farming is the hot (and overhyped) tool to fight climate change
By James Temple, MIT TEchnology Review, 21 June 2019
A growing number of farmers are exploring the potential of capturing and storing greater amounts of carbon dioxide in soil as a way to combat climate change.
Soil naturally stores some amount of carbon, much of it from decaying plants and animal matter. The National Academy of Sciences estimated in a study last year that global farmland could capture and store as much as 3 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide if farmers adopted a number of improved practices, including adding organic matter like manure or compost, shifting cultivation to favor crops that contribute more of their carbon to the soil, or using off seasons to plant cover crops that will then break down. (See “One man’s two-decade quest to suck greenhouse gas out of the sky.”)

Large Exxon Shareholder Starts Divesting Over Climate Change
By Kelly Gilblom and Will Mathis, Bloomberg, 21 June 2019
One of Britain’s biggest fund managers started selling shares in Exxon Mobil Corp., saying America’s largest oil company isn’t doing enough to address climate change.
Legal & General Investment Management, which oversees about $1.3 trillion and is one of Exxon’s top 20 shareholders, said some of its funds have already divested from the company and will ask its clients if it can withdraw more money.

Why You Should Care About Carbon Pricing
By Crystal Kim, Barron’s, 21 June 2019
Momentum is building to put a price on carbon, and it’s coming from an unlikely source—corporations. Including Big Oil.
It has long been accepted—and codified by about 40 nations—that the producers of pollution should pay for the damage they do to the health of people and the environment. To reduce carbon gas, a greenhouse gas that traps heat close to the Earth, it needs a “price.” And it may be about to get one: A surprising new coalition of environmentalists and companies, including Shell Oil, BP, and Dominion Energy , is calling for a market-based price on carbon. Meanwhile, the Climate Leadership Council, which counts Conoco Phillips and Exxon Mobil among its members, is advocating for a carbon tax paired with a “carbon dividend,” so that the money is returned to taxpayers.

Discerning Offsetting: The Right Projects Can Take You from Carbon-Neutral to Climate+
By Sarah Leugers (Gold Standard), Sustainable Brands, 21 June 2019
By making informed decisions on carbon credit selection, sustainability-minded companies can go beyond simply being carbon neutral — to inspire customers and employees alike with life-changing impacts.
What difference can carbon offsetting make for the planet, its people and your organization’s sustainability objectives? The answer is — a lot. But choice matters: Depending on which carbon credits you select, you may simply be compensating for your carbon footprint or — on the other end of the spectrum — helping drive development in vulnerable communities around the world.

‘Forget tree planting, start tree growing’
By Dominique Lyons, CIFOR Forests News, 21 June 2019
Q & A with Lalisa Duguma
Forests News caught up with climate change mitigation and adaptation scientist from World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Lalisa Duguma, at 2019’s World Agroforestry Congress in Montpellier. Here’s what he had to say.

Why not scrap GDP and replace it with trees?
By Mark Rice-Oxley, The Guardian, 21 June 2019
In May we asked you: what are the alternatives to endless economic growth? Dozens of you got in touch with tips and suggestions.
And so we persuaded the Guardian economics correspondent Richard Partington to try to make sense of it all by taking a good hard look at GDP and the alternatives.
His conclusion: GDP is an anachronism, but it’ll take a major systemic upheaval to shift over to a more nuanced measure of progress. Coincidentally, the alternatives to GDP were also the subject of the latest Reasons to be Cheerful podcast by Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd.

Argentina’s blackout and the storm-battered future of the grid
By Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, 21 June 2019
Early Sunday monring, all of mainland Argentina lost power in an “unprecedented” blackout event that left most of the country’s 44 million citizens in the dark until the evening. The blackout also extended to Uruguay, which is connected to Argentina’s power grid, and to limited parts of Chile. Although the exact cause of the blackout is still being investigated, Argentina experienced heavy rains over the weekend and there is reason to believe that the inclement weather played a key role in the largest blackout in recent history.

Fire, cattle, cocaine: Deforestation spikes in Guatemalan national park
By Max Radwin, Mongabay, 21 June 2019
A patrol of eleven men is hiking along a rough jungle trail spotted with the blackened foliage of several small brush fires. Nearby trees, smoke-stained at their bottoms but still alive, are painted with a messy green “M” for La Mestiza, the peasant community staking a claim on the area.
Authorities consider La Mestiza residents to be intruders, as their village falls within Laguna del Tigre National Park, the largest such park in Guatemala. But community members have defended what they say is their right to live on the land and to use its resources, in some cases even resorting to violence.

Liberia: Has REDD+ Dashed Hopes Of Rural Dwellers?
By Lennart Dodoo, Front Page Africa, 21 June 2019
Residents of this remote village near the Lake Piso Multiple Use Reserve in the Commonwealth District of Cape Mount County, were hopeful when a forest regulatory body promised them sustainable livelihood if they would protect the natural forest and water life. Villagers say the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, through a local partner, assured them that if they stopped hunting and fishing in the protected area, they would be provided with a legal, alternate means of making a living. But nine months after those promises were made, they say REDD+ disappeared, dashing their hopes.

[Madagascar] The mine that promised to protect the environment: A cautionary tale
By Malavika Vyawahare, Mongabay, 21 June 2019
Did one of the largest mining companies in the world make good on its promise to protect the environment as it extracted precious minerals from one of the poorest countries in the world? If you’re looking for the answer, the title of an article in the July issue of Scientific American should give it away: “Broken Promises.”
In it, Rowan Moore Gerety tells of how the London-headquartered mining giant Rio Tinto, a Fortune 500 company, came to make that promise in seeking ilmenite in Madagascar, and then to renege on it. The story, born out of Moore’s reporting for Mongabay in Madagascar, tries to answer a more essential question: Can a company really do good, in this case, environmental good, even at a cost? And the equally vexing question of whether conservationists and company representatives can ever see eye to eye — at least long enough for such an initiative to make headway?

[Russia] Scientists identify fire hazard areas in forests near Lake Baikal
Tomsk Polytechnic University press release, 21 June 2019
Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University are developing a system for predicting the likelihood of forest fires. Using Gilbirinsky Forestry in the basin of Lake Baikal, they created a map of the territory and identified forest areas where the likelihood of fire emergency is the highest due to the vegetative conditions of the territory itself. This data will underpin a geographic information system (GIS) for predicting wildfires.

[UK] Brother fraudsters left 350 innocent people £6,200,000 out of pocket
By Jane Wharton, Metro, 21 June 2019
Two half-brothers have been jailed for running an investment scam that saw victims lose a total of £6.2 million. Craig and Marvin Brooks conned over 350 people by cold-calling them and mis-selling worthless investments.
The pair even used a script they called The Bible to rebut victim reluctance and manipulate them into handing over money.
The pair have now each been jailed for one year.

[USA] California Legislators Urge Caution, but Greenlight a Plan That Could Lead to the Widespread Use of Forestry Offsets
By Lisa Song, ProPublica, 21 June 2019
California legislators gave regulators at the state’s Air Resources Board approval to endorse a plan that could lead to the widespread use of forest preservation offsets, but not without committing to “vigorous and proactive monitoring,” a note of caution inspired, in part, by a recent ProPublica investigation that showed how these carbon credits have not provided the emissions cuts they promised.

[USA] Philadelphia’s Oil Refinery Explosion Is America’s Third Major Dirty Fuel Facility Fire in 6 Months
By Caroline Haskins, Motherboard, 21 June 2019
The largest oil refining complex on the East Coast caught fire Friday morning after a butane tank caught fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions facility in South Philadelphia and set of a chain of explosions culminating in a massive boom.
This explosion is one of several major incidents to occur at facilities that operate on dirty fuel in major American cities in the past six months. An explosion at a Con Ed electrical facility turned the New York City sky aqua in December. In March, the Intercontinental Terminals Company petrochemical facility in Houston suburb La Porte, Texas experienced a massive fire and burned for four days. Residents were asked to shelter in place.

[USA] Co-conspirator of Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow wants new trial
By Maria Nikolova, Finance Feeds, 21 June 2019
James Moore, a co-conspirator of Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow, is seeking a new trial. Earlier this month, Moore was convicted at trial of wire fraud and conspiracy for engaging in a scheme to defraud investors by making misrepresentations about the management and operations of Bar Works Inc.
As per documents filed on June 20, 2019, Moore moves the New York Southern District Court, pursuant to Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, for a new trial. Rule 33(a) provides that upon the defendant’s motion, the court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice requires.

22 June 2019

German forest fires leap from 400 to 1,700 in a year
DW, 22 June 2019
There were 1,708 forest fires in Germany in 2018 — more than four times as many as the previous year, the Rheinische Post newspaper reported Saturday.
It was the highest number of blazes recorded in the country since 2003.
The fires last year burned through more than 2,300 hectares of forest, compared to the 400 hectares destroyed in 2017.
The figures are based on a government response to a request from the Free Democrats (FDP).

[USA] Americans deserve better coverage of carbon finance
By Steve Zwick and Tim Whitley, The Hill, 22 June 2019
Australian researchers recently warned that without “immediate drastic action,” climate change will degrade our forests, farms, and ecosystems to such a degree that civilization as we know it could collapse as soon as 2050. Such dire climate projections are increasingly common, as is unwarranted cynicism about climate solutions.

23 June 2019

 

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