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REDD in the news: 5-11 August 2019

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

COP 25 and COP 26 must prove that implementation really works
German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, August 2019
Please give us your views on the current status of international climate protection negotiations. What do you expect from the COP 25 in Chile?
Norbert Gorißen: In 2015, we took a decisive step by adopting the Paris Agreement. It sets long-term targets for us and develops a mechanism through which we can move climate protection forward in the future. Last year in Katowice we adopted common rules for implementation. At the COP 25 and COP 26, we now have to prove that implementation really does work that way. It’s crucial that all the contracting parties must show every five years that they are increasing their level of ambition and are embarking on a path that is sustainable in the long term. It will become clear this year and next year whether enough countries will actually exceed their first climate protection contributions. I hope that a routine will now emerge, one that will really drive the decarbonisation of our economies every two years.

5 August 2019

Can we really restore or protect natural habitats to ‘offset’ those we destroy?
By Sophus zu Ermgassen and Joseph William Bull, The Conversation, 5 August 2019
In the forests of northern Sweden, a major train line cuts through land originally protected for migratory birds – so new seasonal wetlands have been established for the birds nearby. In southern Uganda, a huge hydropower dam has flooded swathes of tropical forest – so degraded forests nearby have been restored and the lands they sit on protected. On the remote, wild shores of the Caspian Sea, a strategic port runs the risk of disturbing threatened seals – so entire islands have been created to ensure the mammals have sufficient habitat.

Ecological land grab: food vs fuel vs forests
By Marlowe Hood, Phys.org, 5 August 2019
The overlapping crises of climate change, mass species extinction, and an unsustainable global food system are on a collision course towards what might best be called an ecological land grab.
Coping with each of these problems will require a different way of using of Earth’s lands, and as experts crunch the numbers it is becoming unnervingly clear that there may not be enough terra firma to go around.

Amazon carbon sink could be ‘much less’ due to lack of soil nutrients
By Josh Gabbatiss, CarbonBrief, 5 August 2019
A lack of nutrients in Amazonian soil could restrict the forest’s ability to soak up emissions and lead to climate change progressing faster than expected, according to a new study.
As the world’s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon is an important buffer against rising levels of CO2, much of which is absorbed by vegetation as it grows.

Who Will Save the Amazon (and How)?
By Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, 5 August 2019
Aug. 5, 2025: In a televised address to the nation, U.S. President Gavin Newsom announced that he had given Brazil a one-week ultimatum to cease destructive deforestation activities in the Amazon rainforest. If Brazil did not comply, the president warned, he would order a naval blockade of Brazilian ports and airstrikes against critical Brazilian infrastructure. The president’s decision came in the aftermath of a new United Nations report cataloging the catastrophic global effects of continued rainforest destruction, which warned of a critical “tipping point” that, if reached, would trigger a rapid acceleration of global warming. Although China has stated that it would veto any U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Brazil, the president said that a large “coalition of concerned states” was prepared to support U.S. action. At the same time, Newsom said the United States and other countries were willing to negotiate a compensation package to mitigate the costs to Brazil for protecting the rainforest, but only if it first ceased its current efforts to accelerate development.

[Australia] Carbon-neutral beef: Is it guilt-free steak for the environmentally-aware?
By Yasmin Noone, SBS, 5 August 2019
Diners who care about climate change and have a desire to eat their way to a more sustainable food world may be able to dive into a side of juicy steak without feeling so guilty. Recent studies suggest that, given the rising size of the global population in the face of climate change, our world and diets could be more sustainable if we all ate less meat.
A new product on the Australian red meat market, available at select restaurants and retailers across the country, is carbon-neutral beef.
As the term suggests, carbon-neutral beef is beef that has a zero carbon footprint.

[Brazil] Bolsonaro under fire for deforestation denial, after sacking space agency chief
By Chloé Farand, Climate Home News, 5 August 2019
The Brazilian government is under fire for denying scientific evidence, after president Jair Bolsonaro sacked the head of the country’s space energy over deforestation data.
Ricardo Galvao, the head of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) – the agency which provides official data on the country’s deforestation rate – was fired after Bolsonaro dismissed INPE’s latest report as “a lie”.

[India] Who is Afraid of the Forest Rights Act?
By Janhavi Mittal, Oakland Institute, 5 August 2019
“First the white colonizer ruled over our forests. But with independence, only the skin color of those colonizing our forests has changed,” says Nivada Rana, as she shows the injury sustained in 2012 at the hands of Uttar Pradesh (UP) state authorities while collecting firewood in her ancestral forests. Nivada’s observation summarizes well the long history of forestry governance in India—where both the British Raj and the postcolonial Indian state have controlled forests at the expense of the millions of traditional forest dwelling Adivasi and Dalit communities.

As fires burn, can Indonesia avoid repeat of 2015 haze crisis?
By Michael Taylor, Reuters, 5 August 2019
As another outbreak of forest fires in Indonesia sends harmful smoke drifting across parts of Southeast Asia, researchers and environmental activists have urged Jakarta to step up efforts to prevent a repeat of the last major haze crisis in 2015.
Emergencies were declared in six Indonesian provinces on Sumatra island and in Kalimantan last week as fires raged, while neighboring Singapore and Malaysia issued health warnings about the air pollution that is heading their way.

[New Zealand] Billion trees policy ‘spells end of farming’
By Steve Carle, New Zealand Herald, 5 August 2019
You can make almost double just by shutting up your farm and not worrying about production in forestry if sheep and beef farmers convert to carbon sink farming, says Makairo farmer Lincoln Grant.
“It spells the end of farming in the Tararua District at this stage but its all dependent upon Government policy,” he says. “You’re at the mercy of it. The disturbing thing about selling New Zealand farmland to foreign countries to plant trees to claim carbon credits is that they will take the profit from the carbon credits back offshore. They will leave us with absolutely nothing.

[USA] Alaska’s sea ice has completely melted away
By Mark Kaufman, Mashable, 5 August 2019
Alaska’s exceptional summer continues.
The most rapidly changing state in the U.S. has no sea ice within some 150 miles of its shores, according to high-resolution sea ice analysis from the National Weather Service. The big picture is clear: After an Arctic summer with well above-average temperatures, warmer seas, and a historic July heat wave, sea ice has vanished in Alaskan waters.
“Alaska waters are ice free,” said Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.

6 August 2019

Climate change is finally on the agenda for 2020. But is it too late for debating?
By Michael E. Mann, Newsweek, 6 August 2019
Climate change got a brief moment in the spotlight—25 minutes worth of long-overdue conversation on a national political stage at the Democratic debates last week in Detriot.
Yours truly was busy live-tweeting the affair for the better part of six hours.
For longtime climate watchers, this was a notable and welcome development: After all, climate change was all but ignored during the last few elections, and there wasn’t a single climate change-themed question during the 2016 general election debates.

Momentum for Change Report Showcases Practical, Replicable, Scalable Climate Solutions
By Catherine Benson Wahlén, IISD, 6 August 2019
The UNFCCC Secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative released a report featuring the 15 winners of the 2018 Global Climate Action Award. The winners represent examples of diverse climate solutions that the expert advisory panel recognizes as “practical, scalable and replicable” examples of what individuals, governments, industries and businesses are doing to address climate change.

Nuclear power somehow always makes a loss
By Paul Brown, Climate News Network, 6 August 2019
Two new studies together make an eloquent case against nuclear power: that its civilian uses are inseparable from nuclear warmaking, and that it is always uneconomic and has to be subsidised by taxpayers.
The first report, by the Berlin-based German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), says that private economic interests have never played a role in nuclear power; instead the military have always been the driving force behind their construction. The report’s title sums up its contents: High-Priced and Dangerous: Nuclear Power is not an option for the Climate-Friendly Energy Mix.

‘The forest is our life’: Hope for change in Guyana’s forests
By Gaulbert Sutherland, Mongabay, 6 August 2019
First, an American company came knocking. Then an Indian firm. A Chinese corporation soon followed.
“Ten years doing logging? The amount of machines they wanted to bring… I said no, don’t interfere with our jungle, that is our jungle, leave it there,” recalled Mark George of one encounter with a company that was seeking approval to log the forests surrounding Annai, an indigenous village in Guyana more than 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) from the capital, Georgetown.

Haze from fires, Indonesia’s national ‘embarrassment,’ are back
By Hans Nicholas Jonh, Mongabay, 6 August 2019
Three years after forest fires in Indonesia sent huge volumes of smoke billowing into Malaysia and Singapore, the Southeast Asian neighbors are dealing with a repeat of the “embarrassing” transboundary haze problem.
This year’s dry season is expected to be particularly harsh, after a relatively mild interlude since the 2015 fires and haze, due to an El Niño pattern. Indonesia has seen a surge in fires, with 42,740 hectares (105,600 acres) of land burned across the country — double the amount of land burned at this same point last year, and spanning an area two-thirds the size of Singapore.

Indonesia president threatens to sack fire fighters if forest blazes not tackled
By Agustinus Beo Da Costa, Reuters, 6 August 2019
Indonesian President Joko Widodo threatened on Tuesday to sack military and police officers fighting forest fires if they fail to extinguish the flames. He also promised government funds for high-tech equipment like drones to help tackle the blazes.

Malaysia calls on Asean to fight haze as Indonesia battles forest fires
Straits Times, 6 August 2019
Malaysia will call on Asean member countries to take proactive measures to avoid trans-boundary haze during a two-day meeting in Brunei beginning on Tuesday (Aug 6).
In a statement, the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry said Malaysia wanted concerted efforts taken in accordance with the Asean Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze ratified by member countries.

Congo Brazzaville’s ‘first son’ laundered $50 million through six European countries – report
By Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, 6 August 2019
A new investigation by anti-corruption NGO Global Witness has discovered the apparent theft of more than $50 million in public funds from the Republic of Congo by Denis Christel “Kiki” Sassou-Nguesso, son of the country’s president, Denis Sassou-Nguesso. The resulting report alleges the younger Sassou-Nguesso, 44, laundered the money through a “complex and opaque corporate structure” spanning six European countries, the British Virgin Islands, and the US state of Delaware.

7 August 2019

Decolonising the environment: race, rationalities and crises
By Adeniyi Asiyanbi, The Sheffield Institute for International Development, 7 August 2019
Colonialism was a thoroughly environmental project. And the environment remains dangerously colonial today at a time of significant environmental crises.
From the plundering of resources for imperial expansion to the constitution of the colonies as the playground of Western environmentalism; from imposition of the ideas of ‘wilderness’ on landscapes to the consequent removal of peoples across vast areas, the environment in the colonial era was the site of struggle over racialised representations, exploitation, exclusion and control. The legacies of this colonial history persist in the ways the environment is represented, lived in, researched, managed, and protected today.

How the world’s dirtiest industries have learned to pollute our politics
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 7 August 2019
The tragedy of our times is that the gathering collapse of our life support systems has coincided with the age of public disservice. Just as we need to rise above self-interest and short-termism, governments around the world now represent the meanest and dirtiest of special interests. In the United Kingdom, the US, Brazil, Australia and many other nations, pollutocrats rule.

What Indigenous Rights Have to Do With Fighting Climate Change
By Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, 7 August 2019
Long before he became president in January, Jair Bolsonaro argued that protections for Brazil’s indigenous peoples were onerous and economically restrictive. “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry hasn’t been as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated the Indians,” he said in 1998. So when heavily-armed miners took over an indigenous village in a remote region of the Amazon in late July and killed an elderly community leader, Senator Randolfe Rodrigues publicly blamed Bolsonaro. It’s one of several signs that the fate of the Amazon—and with it, a crucial factor in the global fight against climate change—is increasingly being fought in Brazil on the battleground of indigenous rights and bodies.

Companies alone cannot tackle deforestation
By Justin Adams, Financial Times, 7 August 2019
Deforestation around the world has spiralled out of control in the past decade.
We are a few months away from 2020, a milestone in the fight against deforestation, and it’s clear that averting disaster requires transformational, rather than incremental, action.
More than 40 per cent of forest loss is directly related to agricultural commodity production, particularly soyabeans, palm oil, rubber and cattle. It’s clear this is a catastrophe for the climate, and for the ecosystems and wildlife which are facing an existential threat.

Addressing academia’s carbon footprint
By Milena Buchs, Flight Free UK, 7 August 2019
I recently published a piece in The Conversation in which I argued that the academic sector needs to address its carbon footprint from air travel. Some of the following comments and interactions made me reflect further, so these thoughts are shared here.
Some people asked how relevant academic air travel is – surely it only makes up a small proportion of all global air travel, and only a very small proportion of total global emissions? In one way, these are fair points – after all, the proportion of academics in the population is small. However, it is equally true that, on average, academics have much higher carbon footprints from air travel than most other people because they fly much more often (currently the average UK person only has 0.5 leisure flights a year while most academics fly several times per year).

Wildfires lock away a ‘considerable amount of carbon’ for centuries, or even millennia
By Alexandru Micu, ZME Science, 7 August 2019
Wildfires could, surprisingly, act as net carbon traps.
The charcoal produced by wildfires can keep carbon out of the atmosphere for hundreds of years, new research from the Swansea University suggests.. The findings will help us better model changes in climate, especially as warmer mean temperatures in the arctic are leading to an unprecedented outbreak of wildfires and CO2 release in the area.

New Michael Moore-backed doc tackles alternative energy
By Lindsey Bahr, AP, 7 August 2019
What if alternative energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? That’s the provocative question explored in the documentary “Planet of the Humans,” which is backed and promoted by filmmaker Michael Moore and directed by one of his longtime collaborators. It premiered last week at his Traverse City Film Festival.

[Australia] Beef industry linked to 94% of land clearing in Great Barrier Reef catchments
By Lisa Cox, The Guardian, 7 August 2019
More than 90% of land clearing in Great Barrier Reef catchments over a five-year period was attributable to the beef industry, according to new analysis by The Wilderness Society.
The environment group has used spatial data analysis to examine which sectors are driving deforestation in the state with the highest levels of land clearing in Australia.

[Brazil] Bolsonaro rejects ‘Captain Chainsaw’ label as data shows deforestation ‘exploded’
By Tom Phillips, The Guardian, 7 August 2019
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon “exploded” in July it has emerged as Jair Bolsonaro scoffed at his portrayal as Brazil’s “Captain Chainsaw” and mocked Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel for challenging him over the devastation.
Speaking in São Paulo on Tuesday, Brazil’s president attacked the leaders of France and Germany – who have both voiced concern about the surge in destruction since Bolsonaro took office in January.

Trees and cows offer path to recovery in Colombia
Global Environment Facility, 7 August 2019
When Ana Hernandez Diaz was given a plot of land in the province of Atlántico, on the north coast of Colombia, it looked like a barren football field. But it was a first step toward stability for her broken family. Now in the shade of trees, surrounded by green pasture, butterflies and songbirds, it’s possible to imagine renewal and even growth.
Like many other Colombians, Ana was displaced by extreme violence. Two of her sons – ages 18 and 19 – were killed a few days apart in 1997 by unidentified gunmen. “I couldn’t eat anything whatsoever for eight days. I too, wanted to die,” she recalls. Her family was forced to leave Guacamayal, a village in a banana plantation area in Magdalena province, and moved to the large city of Barranquilla.

London trader charged in Germany for VAT fraud
By Ben Stockton, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 7 August 2019
A trader who worked at Deutsche Bank in London has been charged by German prosecutors for his suspected role in VAT fraud.
A 48-year-old Austrian is “accused of having participated as a member of a gang in a VAT carousel” connected to €145m of evaded tax, a statement from the Frankfurt Attorney General’s office said.
Prosecutors declined to identify the trader although the Bureau understands the man charged is Hector Freitas, a former employee at Deutsche Bank’s London office who was named in a Bureau investigation into VAT fraud earlier this year.

‘Part of German soul’ under threat as forests die
By Kate Connolly, The Guardian, 7 August 2019
A catastrophic combination of heat, drought, storms, forest fires, beetle plagues and a fungi blight have so far this year destroyed swathes of German forest equivalent to more than 200,000 football fields.
Forests are one of the most efficient ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and in Germany alone they are able to absorb 62 million tonnes of CO2 – about 7% of the country’s emissions – every year.

Sausage-loving Germans chew over meat tax plan
By Madeline Chambers, Reuters, 7 August 2019
German lawmakers on Wednesday proposed raising the sales tax on meat to help protect the climate and improve animal welfare, kindling a debate in a country renowned for its love of sausages.
Meat in Germany benefits from a reduced value added tax rate of 7%, and the idea is to raise that to the standard 19%.
“I favor abolishing the VAT reduction for meat and using it (the increased revenues) instead for more animal welfare,” Greens agriculture spokesman Friedrich Ostendorff told Die Welt newspaper.

[Indonesia] One size does not fit all
By Sandra Cordon, CIFOR Forests News, 7 August 2019
Efforts to help Indonesian oil palm smallholders comply with sustainability standards and “good agricultural practices” may not succeed if these do not better account for smallholder diversity, according to newly published research.
Independent oil palm smallholders are particularly struggling to comply with the increasingly strict rules in the sector, says the research article: Certification, good agricultural practice and smallholder heterogeneity: Differentiated pathways for resolving compliance gaps in the Indonesian oil palm sector.

[Liberia] CDI, REDD+ Train 25 Community Residents in Forest Management Benefits
By Hannah N. Geterminah, Daily Observer, 7 August 2019
The Community Development Initiative (CDI), a non-governmental organization (NGO) with support from the World Bank, and implemented by Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) will today complete a-three day training in forest management benefit in Grand Cape Mount County.

[Russia] Siberian fires continue to wreak havoc, Greenpeace calls it a ‘climate catastrophe’
DW, 7 August 2019
Authorities have suggested the wildfires were started intentionally in order to cover up illegal logging. Greenpeace has expressed outrage at the way the situation has been handled.
Helicopter crews continue to fight blazes in Siberia that authorities suspect were started deliberately.
The General Prosecutor said it had identified cases in which forest fires in the Irkutsk region of Siberia had been started on purpose so as to hide illegal wood felling, the RIA news agency reported.

[USA] California Legislature Climate Watchdog Committee Has Little Bite
By Steve Horn, The Real News, 7 August 2019
The California Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies met for the first time this session on July 9, just days before the California Legislature’s summer recess and two months before the close of session for the year.
The joint committee’s chair, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), did not hire its chief consultant, the committee’s only staff member, until late May. And at that first hearing, though the committee has eight members, only two even showed up—one of them the chairwoman. The other, Senator Ben Huseo (D-San Diego), came in late.

8 August 2019

IPCC Agrees with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change
Indigenous and Community Response To IPCC Report, 8 August 2019
Finally, the world’s top scientists recognize what we have always known.
We — Indigenous Peoples and local communities — play a critical role in stewarding and safeguarding the world’s lands and forests. For the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today recognizes that strengthening our rights is a critical solution to the climate crisis.

Planting Trees Is Good. Eliminating Deforestation Is Better.
By Jackie Flynn Mogensen, Mother Jones, 8 August 2019
Every year, an estimated 15 billion trees are chopped down across the planet to make room for agricultural and urban lands and other uses. We’ve cut down so many, in fact, that what’s left is about half of the number of trees that the Earth supported before the rise of human civilization, and scientists warn that it’s not helping our climate. Planting more trees is one way to offset deforestation. But now, a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that to have a shot at combatting the climate crisis, among other efforts, we’ll need to cut down fewer trees to begin with.

In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s special report on climate change and land
By Daisy Dunne, Josh Gabbatiss, and Robert McSweeney, CarbonBrief, 8 August 2019
This morning in Geneva, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its special report on climate change and land.
The land provides the “food, feed, fibre, fuel and freshwater” without which human society and its economy “could not exist”, the report says. This provision is under threat from rising global temperatures and “unprecedented” rates of land and freshwater exploitation in recent decades, the report warns.

Forests in the IPCC Special Report on Land Use: 7 Things to Know
By Frances Seymour and David Gibbs, World Resources Institute, 8 August 2019
The IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change, Desertification, Land Degradation, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security, and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Terrestrial Ecosystems has just been released. One thing you don’t see in the title is any reference to “forests” or “deforestation.” As in much of the summary of the report itself, forests are swept into the broader categories of land degradation and sustainable land management, thereby obscuring one of the most important strategies for both climate mitigation and adaptation: protecting forests—especially tropical forests.

7 Things to Know About the IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land
By Kelly Levin and Sarah Parsons, World Resources Institute, 8 August 2019
Most discussions of climate action focus on energy, industry and transport. A new special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states unequivocally that land is critically important as well—both as a source of greenhouse gas emissions and as a climate change solution.
In fact, the report found that while land sequesters almost a third of all human-caused carbon dioxide emissions, it will be impossible to limit temperature rise to safe levels without fundamentally altering the way the world produces food and manages land.

This Land Is the Only Land There Is
By Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 8 August 2019
There is no shortage of scary facts in the major new report on climate change and land, a summary of which was released today by a United Nations–led scientific panel. Chief among them: For everyone who lives on land, the planet’s dangerously warmed future is already here. Earth’s land has already warmed more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the industrial revolution, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That’s the same amount of warming that climate activists are hoping to prevent on a global scale.

Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns
By Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times, 8 August 2019
The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.
The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.

Climate crisis reducing land’s ability to sustain humanity, says IPCC
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 8 August 2019
The climate crisis is damaging the ability of the land to sustain humanity, with cascading risks becoming increasingly severe as global temperatures rise, according to a landmark UN report compiled by some of the world’s top scientists.
Global heating is increasing droughts, soil erosion and wildfires while diminishing crop yields in the tropics and thawing permafrost near the poles, says the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Eat less meat: UN climate change report calls for change to human diet
By Quirin Schiermeirer, Nature, 8 August 2019
Efforts to curb greenhouse gas-emissions and the impacts of global warming will fall significantly short without drastic changes in global land use, agriculture and human diets, leading researchers warn in a high-level report commissioned by the United Nations.
The special report on climate and land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change ― and includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.

Forests: A key piece of the land and climate puzzle
By Pablo Pacheco (WWF), Mongabay, 8 August 2019
The vital contribution of forests in protecting biodiversity, regulating the climate, and enhancing human well-being is being recognized as never before.
Forest-related responses to tackling the climate crisis are increasingly being seen as a cost-effective option among nature-based solutions. By protecting existing forests and halting deforestation, we can maintain some of our most important carbon sinks, and by restoring forests we can remove significant quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Understanding the IPCC’s New Compendium of Science on Climate, Forests, and Farms
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 August 2019
We eat to live, but the food we’re eating is killing us – not just because of what it does to our bodies, but because of what it does to our climate.
Beef, for example, comes from cows that burp out methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas that traps up to 80-times more heat than carbon dioxide does, and we often chop carbon-absorbing forests to graze those methane-emitting cows, only to throw away one-third of all the food we produce.

The planet is being consumed by humans
By Mark Lynas, CNN, 8 August 2019
Humanity is on a collision course with nature. Already 72% of the global ice-free land surface is dedicated to supporting our species, and between a quarter and a third of the entire ‘net primary production’ of the planet is consumed by humans.
Net primary production is a measure of the combined photosynthetic output of all the world’s plants. Because we grab so much for ourselves, smaller and smaller amounts are left in the food chain for the rest of life on Earth.

‘Worrying’ rise in deaths of environmental activists
By Lorena Guzmán Hormazábal, SciDev.net, 8 August 2019
The number of people killed defending the environment has doubled in the last 15 years, with four people killed each week trying to protect their land and resources, a report says.
Between 2002 and 2017, 1,558 ‘environmental defenders’ were killed across 50 countries, with 75 per cent (1,171) of those in Latin America, according to the study published in the journal Nature Sustainability.

It is high time to reboot our relationship with nature
By Susan Gardner and David Nabarro, Climate Home News, 8 August 2019
The steady stream of scientific reports on climate change can be likened to an alarm clock on the snooze setting. It disturbs our sleep but we put off responding for as long as we can.
Why? Because we know the climate emergency requires a real and dramatic response. We also know that it will not be easily achieved. It requires both system shifts and exceptional co-operation. So it’s tempting to avoid the issue and let someone else tackle it.

How climate’s impact on land threatens civilisation – and how to fix it
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 8 August 2019
Healthy land provides the food, timber and fresh water essential to humanity’s survival, but a UN report says the climate crisis is damaging this precious resource with potentially irreversible consequences.
The abuse of land by razing forests, intensive farming and loss of soils also produces a quarter of global emissions, further worsening the climate emergency, says the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

No Sustainable Development Without Indigenous Peoples
By Jeffrey Y. Campbell, IISD, 8 August 2019
For years, the importance of indigenous peoples in the fight against deforestation, land degradation and climate change was overlooked and even denied, to the detriment of the environment and the food systems on which we all depend. Thanks to the global advocacy of indigenous peoples and their organizations, this tendency is changing – though not fast enough.

Carbon Offsets Mask Aviation Industry’s Lack of Green Alternatives
By Patrick Whyte, Skift, 8 August 2019
The airline industry is facing an environmental reckoning. Manufacturers and carriers are still hooked on kerosene with alternative biofuels yet to make any real dent in the market and electric planes still decades away.
It’s put airlines and governments in a difficult position but at the moment they still seem determined to paper over the cracks.

Could carbon-offsetting be making a charitable comeback?
by Neil Briscoe, Irish Times, 8 August 2019
Carbon offsetting was big news once upon a time, and indeed seemed to be something of a panacea for all our climate change ills. Buy that V8-engined sports car, or take that round-the-world flight and as long as you buy some carbon credits, and someone, somewhere, promises to plant some trees for you, it’s all fine.
Except, of course, it’s not.

Tensions over Brazil’s rainforests grow, data reveal spike in deforestation
Global Landscapes Forum, 8 August 2019
The Brazilian government responded this week to a report from its space research agency which shows that deforestation has risen 67 percent in 2019 by saying it is misleading.
The National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said 4,699 square kilometers of forests were destroyed this year compared to 2,810 square kilometers in the previous period monitored, Reuters reported, citing data on the agency’s website.

Indonesia president makes moratorium on forest clearance permanent
Reuters, 8 August 2019
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has issued a permanent moratorium on new forest clearance for activities such as palm plantations or logging, the environment minister said on Thursday.
While likely to be welcomed by green groups, some do not think it goes far enough to protect remaining forests in the tropical archipelago.

[Indonesia] One million hectares burned inside Forest Moratorium area, Greenpeace analysis shows
Greenpeace Southeast Asia, 8 August 2019
As the Indonesian Government has announced that the moratorium in primary forests & peatlands has been made permanent, new Greenpeace mapping analysis reveals its failure in protecting forests and peatland. More than one million hectares inside the moratorium area have burned between 2015–2018 as a result of forest fires, and deforestation rates have actually increased in areas that were supposed to be protected after it was introduced in 2011. Millions of hectares of land have also been removed from moratorium areas that were originally protected.

[Indonesia] People affected by forest fires should stay indoors
Antara News, 8 August 2019
People living in land-fire and forest fire-affected areas should avoid outdoor activities so they are not exposed to smoke, Director of Environmental Health of the Health Ministry Imran Agus Nurali has appealed. “We ask the public not to carry out outdoor activities so frequently. They should try, as far as possible, to avoid being exposed to smoke,” he said here Thursday.
The pollution caused by land and forest fires may have an acute health impact in the short run, he said.

[New Zealand] Investors angry after finding out money doesn’t grow on their trees
By Rob Stock, Stuff, 8 August 2019
Arbor Forestry investors were told to expect big returns from growing trees, but the real value of their 30-year investments has barely moved.
Investor Cheryl Hampton has been told to expect $13,139 for each of her two units in the limited liability partnership (LLP) that owns Brockville Forest should Arbor get the go-ahead to sell the forest.
It’s a far cry from the $60,000-$80,000 projected returns on each unit Hampton recalls being shown in 1993 when the forestry investment boom was in full swing.

[Papua New Guinea] Carbon Trading Project to resume
EMTV, 8 August 2019
The Ministry of Conservation, Environment and Climate Change has signed an agreement with landowner representatives from the April Salumei project area in East Sepik’s Wasara Gawi and Ambunti Dreikikir districts, to resume operation of the carbon trading project. They will do so through resolution of landowner disputes which has hindered the progress of the project for some time.
Environment Minister, Geoffrey Kama, stated that this project is a pilot and the experiences learnt will need to be replicated in other areas.

[Russia] The World’s Largest Forest Has Been on Fire for Months
By Jake Rudnitsky, Stepan Kravchenko, Hayley Warren and Demetrios Pogkas, Bloomberg, 8 August 2019
In July, Alexander Uss, governor of the vast Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, said it was simply “pointless and maybe even harmful” to attempt to fight the wildfires that cloaked his capital city in a toxic cloud of smoke.
Days later, President Vladimir Putin sent in the army and even Donald Trump took notice, offering his Russian counterpart U.S. help to battle the blazes. Governor Uss has since reversed his position, and is joining the fight against what Greenpeace Russia says are on track to be the worst Siberian forest fires on record.

Why slashing red meat production is a win for British farmers, public health and the planet
By Adam Briggs, The Telegraph, 8 August 2019
We have a new Prime Minister, a new cabinet, and a planet that’s burning.
For all the current political distractions, the climate emergency is the one constant. It is the greatest threat to health and global stability, and a major driver of migration, disease and war.
What we eat is part of the problem, and it’s part of the solution.

9 August 2019

Consuming the “Planet of the Humans:” The Most Important Documentary of the Century
By Michael Donnelly, Counter Punch, 9 August 2019
Back in 2007, the environmental organization 350.org was founded by author/academic Bill McKibben. The name refers to the theory that 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere is the highest concentration that can occur before the Life Support system unravels for good.
It already was at 385 ppm when 350 formed. It is now at 410ppm! Clearly we are losing the battle against Climate Chaos.

Now the IPCC knows it too, climate change can’t be solved without rights
By Dominique Lyons, CIFOR Forests News, 9 August 2019
Yesterday, the day before Indigenous Day, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included indigenous rights in its Special Report on Climate Change and Land.
This is a landmark action. In doing this, the IPCC have recognized that Indigenous peoples are crucial in combatting global climate change, by preventing deforestation and preserving ecosystems.

Weatherwatch: when will the timber industry wake up to reality?
By Paul Brown, The Guardian, 9 August 2019
Wood should be the easiest of sustainable products to produce, use and monitor. In the battle against climate change trees take up carbon from the atmosphere; forests store water and then produce rain by releasing moisture to form clouds. Using wood for building or furniture stores the carbon for generations. Wood products are becoming ever more important, for example replacing plastic bags with paper ones.

[Papua New Guinea] A challenge to fight climate change
By Peter S Kinjap, The National, 9 August 2019
Today we will glance through the experiences on REDD+ implementation by few notable countries around the world.
In essence, experiences in other countries have demonstrated that where awareness raising is left to the initiative of individual partners, messages provided to stakeholders on REDD+ may be unclear, confusing or conflicting.

Gov’t takedown of illegal gold mining in Peru shows promise, but at a cost
By Justin Catanoso, Mongabay, 9 August 2019
Luis Hidalgo Okimura, the new governor of Peru’s Madre de Dios region, entered his conference room in the regional government building here carrying a half-empty bottle of Inca Cola and wearing a gold chain around his neck. The gold was merely jewelry, however, as Hidalgo signaled immediately that change has come to the international epicenter of illegal gold mining.

Russia’s Burning! Climate Change Is to Blame
By Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 9 August 2019
Summer wildfires devouring Siberian forests are hardly unusual, but this year’s are a bigger worry than normal because clouds of smoke have reached big cities in the Asian part of Russia and because the authorities have reacted clumsily. The extra attention from the Russian and global media is welcome, even if it’s tinged with unnecessary alarmism: Russia needs to start planning for the climate change that’s beginning to transform its enormous forests. More fires aren’t the only change.

10 August 2019

Greta Thunberg and ‘Flight Shame’ Are Fueling a Carbon Offset Boom
By Timothy Abington, Mathew Carr, and William Wilkes, Bloomberg, 10 August 2019
Campaigning by climate activist Greta Thunberg and filmmaker-naturalist David Attenborough is persuading pollution-conscious fliers to try and mitigate the environmental damage caused by their flights.
Sales of so-called carbon offsets are soaring: Myclimate, a Swiss nonprofit whose clients include Deutsche Lufthansa AG, reported a five-fold uptake in its credits in a year. At Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest discount carrier, the number of customers making voluntary offset payments has almost doubled in 18 months.

Germany to cut 35 million euros in funds to Brazil for Amazon preservation: newspapers
By Gabriela Mello, Reuters, 10 August 2019
Germany decided to suspend 35 million euros ($39 million) in funds sent to Brazil to finance projects aimed at preserving the Amazon forest due to increasing deforestation, Brazilian media outlets reported on Saturday.
The move reflects “great concerns with an increasing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon,” the German embassy in Brazil told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, adding that the cut does not affect the Amazon Fund, to which Germany is a key donor.

[Indonesia] Smog from forest fires shrouds Riau, West & Central Kalimantan
Antara News, 10 August 2019
Smog emanating from forest fires hung over the provinces of Riau, West Kalimantan, and Central Kalimantan though not descending over Singapore and Malaysia, Agus Wibowo, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman, stated.
“The haze blows toward southeast and north. The smog cover has increased in Riau or Central Kalimantan,” Wibowo noted here on Saturday.

[Russia] Over 1mn hectares burning in Krasnoyarsk region: mainland fire reaches Arctic
Crime Russia, 10 August 2019
The area of forest fires in the Krasnoyarsk region has grown to 1 million hectares. The information is given in the forest fire center report on August 10. This area is distributed between 131 sources of ignition; it is worth noting that there were only 118 of them yesterday. They are detected in Evenki, Boguchansky, North Yenisei, Abansky, Kezhemsky, Motyginsky, and Nizhneingashsky areas.
During the day, 65 hot spots were extinguished near settlements on an area of 35,640 ha.

11 August 2019

Once-Unpopular Carbon Credits Emerge as One of the World’s Best Investments
By David Hodari, Wall Street Journal, 11 August 2019
Carbon-emission credits, long shunned by traders, are now one of the world’s best-performing investments.
The price of the credits, doled out by governments in Europe to polluting power plants and steel mills to curtail the production of greenhouse gases, has soared more than fivefold over the past two years. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

‘No need’ for German Amazon aid: Brazil’s Bolsonaro
DW, 11 August 2019
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said his country has “no need” for German money aimed at supporting conservation projects in Brazil. “They can use this money as they see fit. Brazil doesn’t need it,” Bolsonaro told journalists in Brasilia on Sunday.
His comments come after German media reported that Berlin was considering withdrawing the funding.

Commentary: Three things Jokowi could do better to stop the haze and forest fires in Indonesia
By Rini Astuti, Helena Varkkey, and Zu Dienle Tan, CNA, 11 August 2019
Early in Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s first term, Indonesia experienced some of the worst forest fires and haze in decades.
Jokowi visited South Kalimantan in 2015, walking through charred peatlands to witness first-hand the fire damage. He then released a series of policies related to forests and peatland fires.

[Spain] Gran Canaria fire: Hundreds forced to flee as wildfires rage on holiday island
By Andy Gregory, The Independent, 11 August 2019
Mass evacuations are taking place on popular tourist island Gran Canaria after a blaze thpught to have been started by a soldering iron grew into a raging wildfire in the early hours of Sunday.
Firefighters said they were “overwhelmed” by the inferno estimated to have ravaged 900 hectares since 6pm on Saturday, forcing emergency services to evacuate hundreds of people in more than a dozen neighbourhoods.

Turkish firefighters battle large forest fire in western Çanakkale province
Ahval, 11 August 2019
Turkish firefighters have managed to keep large fires that broke out in Turkey’s western Çanakkale province under control, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli said on Sunday.
The fires swept across the large forested areas near Behramlı village on the Çanakkale peninsula on Saturday night, local media reports said.

 

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