REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, climate change, and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
12 August 2019
More Investors Exploring Nature-Based Growth Opportunities
By Sarah Peyok, Triple Pundit, 12 August 2019
Can capitalism drive environmental stewardship? That’s what Ethical Corporation is suggesting in its Restorative Climate Strategy Briefing.
In an industry driven by crunching numbers and making profits, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that investors at the top of their game are looking to the next decade—not the next quarter—and for smart, sensible narratives that resonate.
Earth on the Edge: ITV News travels to the frontlines of the global deforestation crisis
ITV News, 12 August 2019
ITV News has travelled to the frontlines of the global battle with deforestation – to the very points where the Earth stands on the edge of environmental catastrophe.
Starting a new series, Earth on the Edge, our correspondents report from Europe, South America and Africa, bearing witness to the troubles which are happening right now and impact us all.
Over the coming months, Earth on the Edge will examine the reality of climate change and the impact it is having on the planet right now.
Arctic wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 12 August 2019
A cloud of smoke and soot bigger than the European Union is billowing across Siberia as wildfires in the Arctic Circle rage into an unprecedented third month.
The normally frozen region, which is a crucial part of the planet’s cooling system, is spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and worsening the manmade climate disruption that created the tinderbox conditions.
Brazil: State of Amazonas declares state of emergency over rising number of forest fires
By Rafael cereceda and Cristina Abellan-Matamoros, EuroNews, 12 August 2019
The Brazilian state of Amazonas has declared a state of emergency over a rising number of fires in the region.
Graphics from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, obtained by Euronews, show how fires in the states of Rondônia and Amazonas have increased in their average activity than in the past 15 years.
Scientist Mark Parrington explained, that especially in Rondônia, the tendency is that fires increase towards the end of August.
Kenya must act fast to reverse deforestation
By Gabriel Rugalema and Susan Mugwe, Business Daily, 12 August 2019
According to the World Bank data, in 2015 Kenya’s forest area was 44,130 km2 or 4,413,000 hectares. Currently, we are losing 50,000 hectares of forest each year through deforestation primarily due to the emergence of an expanding affluent society that wants to dine on steak, drive cars, recline on comfortable seats, live in elegant houses and consume fresh fruits and vegetables. To meet this demand, commercial agriculture for products such as livestock, horticulture, timber and rubber are increasingly encroaching on forest lands.
[UK] Goldsmiths bans beef from university cafes to tackle climate crisis
By Amy Walker, The Guardian, 12 August 2019
A university has banned the sale of beef in campus food outlets in order to help tackle the climate emergency.
Goldsmiths, University of London, is also attempting to phase out single-use plastics and installing more panels to power its buildings in New Cross, as part of a move to become carbon neutral by 2025.
Tree-damaging pests pose ‘devastating’ threat to 40% of US forests
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 12 August 2019
About 40% of all forests across the US are at risk of being ravaged by an army of harmful pests, undermining a crucial resource in addressing the climate crisis, new research has found.
Tree-damaging pests have already destroyed swathes of US woodland, with the American chestnut virtually wiped out by a fungal disease and elms blighted by Dutch elm disease. About 450 overseas pests that damage or feed on trees have been introduced to US forests due to the growth in international trade and travel.
13 August 2019
Sustainable Land Management Critical to Combating Climate Change: IPCC Special Report
By Leila Mead, IISD, 13 August 2019
The 50th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-50) has released the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL), addressing land as a critical resource, desertification and land degradation, food security, and land and climate change responses. The report represents the first-ever comprehensive look at the whole land-climate system. It is also the first IPCC report to take a more systemic approach to a sector or area (the food system).
Why Global Witness is supporting the Global Climate Strike
Global Witness, 13 August 2019
Over the course of this year, an estimated 1.4 million students across 150 countries have taken part in a wave of youth climate marches.
Life on earth is under immense pressure. The climate crisis threatens the ability of the planet to remain habitable for humanity. Young people have been foregoing their schooling each Friday to teach the rest of us a lesson: our house is on fire.
Africa’s tropical land emitted more CO2 than the US in 2016, satellite data shows
By Daisy Dunne, CarbonBrief, 13 August 2019
Africa’s tropical land released close to 6bn tonnes of CO2 in 2016, according to data taken by satellites.
This means that, if Africa’s tropical regions were a country, it would be the second largest emitter of CO2 in the world – ahead of the US, which currently emits 5.3bn tonnes of CO2 a year.
[Indonesia] Hot spots spread, regions on alert
By Ivany Atina Arbi, Rizal Harahap, and N. Adri, Jakarta Post, 13 August 2019
Authorities have reported a sharp increase in hot spots in Kalimantan and Sumatra in the past few days, raising concerns about a possible repeat of the 2015 haze crisis that badly affected the islands, as well Singapore and Malaysia. “If we fail to address the forest fires soon, we are likely to see the 2015 haze crisis happening again,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Agus Wibowo said.
[Kenya] Sengwer community returns to Embobut forest
By Mathews Ndanyi, The Star, 13 August 2019
More than 5,000 members of the Sengwer community have vowed to go back to the Embobut forest in Elgeyo Marakwet from where they were evicted by the government in 2017.
Already some of them are streaming back into the forest. They gathered at Kaptirbai within the forest where they held special prayers and planted indigenous trees as part of activities to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
[UK] London climate change protesters daub Brazilian embassy blood red
Reuters, 13 August 2019
Climate-change protesters threw red paint at the Brazilian embassy in London on Tuesday to demonstrate against damage to the Amazon rainforest and what they described as violence against indigenous tribes living there.
Police arrested six activists from the Extinction Rebellion group after they glued themselves to the embassy windows and climbed onto a glass awning above the entrance.
[USA] How California can fight climate change by helping to save tropical forests
By Jonah Busch, CalMatters, 13 August 2019
California can expect longer fire seasons, more severe droughts and heatwaves, eroding coastlines, scarcer water, and hotter cities. These are among the grim findings of a new United Nations report on climate change and land.
Rather than merely brace for impact, Californians have the chance to act decisively to prevent the worst by embracing one of the biggest—and most overlooked—solutions: protecting tropical forests.
14 August 2019
The land beneath our feet is crucial to protecting our planet.
By Dr Stephen Cornelius, WWF, 14 August 2019
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report last week puts a spotlight on the unique part of the world that is crucial to combatting the climate crisis — the land. In a nutshell, the report tells us we need a complete transformation of our land and food systems, whilst drastically cutting fossil fuel emissions if we are to keep global warming to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
Deforestation: What’s wrong with planting new forests?
BBC News, 14 August 2019
Forest area has been increasing in some parts of the world, but deforestation is continuing at speed in others.
Can the trees we are planting make up for those that are being cut down?
Reality Check’s Jack Goodman takes a look.
Huge wildfires in the Arctic and far North send a planetary warning
By Nancy Fresco, The Conversation, 14 August 2019
The planet’s far North is burning. This summer, over 600 wildfires have consumed more than 2.4 million acres of forest across Alaska. Fires are also raging in northern Canada. In Siberia, choking smoke from 13 million acres – an area nearly the size of West Virginia – is blanketing towns and cities.
Fires in these places are normal. But, as studies here at the University of Alaska’s International Arctic Research Center show, they are also abnormal.
Australia’s Kyoto loophole eight times larger than entire Pacific emissions
By Adam Morton, The Guardian, 14 August 2019
Australia has been accused of using a loophole to back out of a promised emissions cut nearly eight times greater than the combined annual fossil fuel pollution released by the rest of the Pacific.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, arrived in Tuvalu for the Pacific Islands Forum on Wednesday, facing calls that he take steps to quickly reverse Australia’s rising greenhouse gas emissions, including moving away from coal.
The Other Brazilian Rainforest: Why Restoring the Atlantic Forest Can Help Tackle Climate Change
By Miguel Calmon, Mariana Oliveira, and Rachel Biderman, World Resources Institute, 14 August 2019
Everyone knows how important the Amazon rainforest is. The region is often in the international news, sometimes because of its diverse species, but most of the time because of deforestation and fires. However, the Amazon is not the only forest in Brazil, nor the only one worth protecting.
Maybe you have never heard about the Atlantic rainforest, but you have likely seen this forest in pictures or movies. It’s the landscape in Brazil’s most famous image, the one of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
[Germany] Merkel: emissions trading has edge over carbon tax in the long run
By Julian Wettengel, Clean Energy Wire, 14 August 2019
A system to trade CO₂ emission allowances, rather than a carbon tax, is the better way to steer Germany towards climate neutrality in the long run, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a town hall meeting in the northern city of Stralsund organised by regional newspaper Ostsee-Zeitung. “In the beginning, the effect is similar, but the precision in reaching the target is better with allowances”, as the exact amount available could be stipulated at any given moment, Merkel said.
Greece wildfires leave blackened forests in their wake
BBC News, 14 August 2019
Fires have been raging through a “unique, untouched pine forest” on the Greek island of Evia as authorities fight to keep the flames under control.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from nearby villages as the fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday and ravaged the dense forest.
“It’s a huge ecological disaster,” acting regional governor Kostas Bakoyannis told AFP.
Indonesia forest-clearing ban is made permanent, but labeled ‘propaganda’
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 14 August 2019
Indonesia’s president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It’s a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere “propaganda.”
Indonesia’s raging forest fires, explained
By Kharishar Kahfi, The Jakarta Post, 14 August 2019
Indonesia is currently on the brink of another haze crisis as the archipelago is seeing an increase in the number of forest and land fires. According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the number of hot spots increased to 2,002 on Aug. 9 from 1,586 on Aug. 7 and 1,025 on Aug. 3. The hot spots were largely detected in the provinces of Riau, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan. Apart from the hot spots, wildfires also burned more land area. The Environment and Forestry Ministry recorded wildfires had burned 42,740 hectares of land across the country between January and May — nearly twice the area burned in the corresponding period last year, which was 23,745 ha.
[Indonesia] Forest fires déjà vu for Jokowi’s administration
The Straits Times, 14 August 2019
It has been a cause for concern in the region that fires razing Indonesian forests have led to a haze crisis in Malaysia.
Although Indonesia has denied that the fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan have caused haze in the neighbouring country, it is indisputable that fires are on the rise again this year.
Wildfires burned through 42,740 hectares of land from January to May, nearly double the figure in the same period last year of 23,745 ha.
[USA] Judge scolds US Govt over failure to update on case against Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow
By Maria Nikolova, FinanceFeeds, 14 August 2019
For the numerous victims of Bitcoin Store Inc. and Bar Works Inc., two of the fraudulent schemes operated by Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow, the wait is far from over. The actions taken by the US authorities against the scammer have been protracted for several years already, with only scarce information about what’s really going on being provided to the public.
The US Government has been delaying its reports about the developments in the criminal case targeting Haddow. This has sparked the reaction of Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the New York Southern District Court who is assigned to the case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against the fraudster.
15 August 2019
Don’t burn trees to fight climate change – Let them grow
Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, 15 August 2019
Of all the solutions to climate change, ones that involve trees make people the happiest. Earlier this year, when a Swiss study announced that planting 1.2 trillion trees might cancel out a decade’s worth of carbon emissions, people swooned (at least on Twitter). And last month, when Ethiopian officials announced that twenty-three million of their citizens had planted three hundred and fifty million trees in a single day, the swooning intensified. Someone tweeted, “This should be like the ice bucket challenge thing.”
How timber markets can help save tropical forests
By Gerhard Dieterle (ITTO), CIFOR Forests News, 15 August 2019
Some of the world’s biggest companies and markets are demanding proof that any imports of wood or wood products from their suppliers, are from legal and sustainable sources. Retail giants such as IKEA, Kingfisher and Carrefour have promised to only use certified and legally compliant timber. While The Lacey Act in the United States of America, the European Union Timber Regulation, Australia’s Illegal Logging Prohibition Act and the Japan Clean Wood Act all require evidence of legality.
World Bank’s climate fund initiatives deliver scalable environmental action
World Bank, 15 August 2019
The World Bank’s Climate Change Fund Management Unit is home to climate finance initiatives that deliver innovative and scalable climate and environmental action. With more than $6 billion in the capital these initiatives:
Create partnerships to develop new financial instruments for low-carbon, climate-resilient development,
Build supportive policy and regulatory environments to help lower the cost of capital and dismantle barriers to projects,
Catalyze private sector capital to finance and scale-up climate action.
UNFCCC Report Spotlights Trends in Climate Action
By Leila Mead, IISD, 15 August 2019
The UNFCCC has published a report providing insights into government action to address climate change, as well as knowledge and experience that governments can deploy to increase ambition.
The report titled, ‘Climate Action and Support Trends,’ is based on national reports submitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat under the current reporting framework. It provides an overview of actions taken in response to UNFCCC mandates, and highlights status of support provided and received. The report comes ahead and will serve as input to the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September in New York, US.
The world needs carbon-neutral flying. Here’s how to bring it one step closer
By Lauren Uppink and Nikolai Khlystov, World Economic Forum, 15 August 2019
In the year when the Swedish word “flygskam” (flight-shaming) hit the news in Europe, public concern about carbon emissions from aviation is endangering the sector’s social license to operate. Aviation is a critical sector that connects travelers and businesses across the globe, fosters economic growth and supports humanitarian missions. It is therefore important for the sector, in collaboration with all those who depend on it, to continue to do all it can to lead the way towards sustainable operations. With demand for flights projected to double over the next 15-20 years, 2019 could be the year that the industry, or at least the most progressive actors within it, define a pathway towards net-zero flying.
Deforestation in the Amazon may soon begin to feed on itself
The Economist, 15 August 2019
Since the 1970s nearly 800,000km² of Brazil’s original 4m km² (1.5m square miles) of Amazon forest has been lost to logging, farming, mining, roads, dams and other forms of development—an area equivalent to that of Turkey and bigger than that of Texas. Scientists worry this is uncomfortably close to the threshold for tree loss, of between 20 and 25%, beyond which deforestation begins to feed on itself, turning much of the Amazon basin into drier savannah known as cerrado. Under Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing president of Brazil who was inaugurated in January, the Amazon appears to be rushing towards that tipping point.
There have been three times more wildfires in the EU so far this year
By Alice Tidey, EuroNews, 15 August 2019
More than 1,600 wildfires have been recorded in the European Union so far this year — more than three times the average over the past decade.
According to Copernicus’ European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), an average of 464 wildfires hit the bloc by mid-August between 2008 and 2018. Latest data shows there have been 1,626 wildfires between January 1 and August 15 this year.
Indonesia seals palm, timber concessions amid forest fires: ministry
By Bernadette Christina Munthe and Tabita Diela, Retuers, 15 August 2019
Indonesia has sealed parts of palm oil and timber concessions owned by 10 companies on Borneo island after a spate of forest fires, authorities said on Thursday, warning those involved in forest burning would be severely punished.
Indonesia is under pressure to end slash-and-burn clearance of land, often on plant palm and pulp plantations. The practice caused devastating fires in 2015 that spread a choking haze across most of Southeast Asia.
Norway stops Amazon fund contribution in dispute with Brazil
By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos, Reuters, 15 August 2019
Norway has suspended donations supporting projects to curb deforestation in Brazil after the country’s right-wing government blocked operations of a fund receiving the aid, the Norwegian ministry of climate and environment said on Thursday.
Norway has worked closely with Brazil to protect the Amazon rainforest for more than a decade and has paid some $1.2 billion into the Amazon Fund, to which it is by far the biggest donor.
[UK] Criminals hired to take calls from victims
By Paul Morgan-Bentley, The Times, 15 August 2019
The national fraud reporting centre hires staff with criminal histories to take calls from victims, The Times can reveal.
One young woman with a criminal past was employed by Action Fraud as a call handler and used tactics she learnt during training to try to commit fraud, an undercover reporter was told by two managers at the service.
16 August 2019
Carbon Pricing Is Not a Fix for Climate Change
By Scott Tinker, Scientific American, 16 August 2019
There is much talk today about carbon pricing to reduce CO2 emissions and address climate change. Unlike many environmental pollutants that have a local or regional impact, carbon dioxide (CO2) is global—there is only one atmosphere. If actions taken to reduce atmospheric emissions in one region result in increased emissions elsewhere, then the one atmosphere suffers.
Some form of carbon pricing — a carbon tax, carbon trading, carbon credits — is favored by many politicians, NGOs, academics and even some in industry. But the reality is that a price on carbon will not be adopted by developing and emerging economies because it makes their energy more expensive, and they are too busy trying to build their economies and lift themselves from poverty.
Forest study shows how plants adapt to rising carbon dioxide
Swinburne University of Technology press release, 16 August 2019
Studies of the world’s tropical forests have pinpointed how much water plants put back into the atmosphere compared to how much carbon they take up, with lower rainfall linked to increased efficiency.
By studying how efficiently plants use water, researchers from Swinburne and the University of California have determined how well forests are acclimating to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
[Côte d’Ivoire] Forest-friendly chocolate
UN environment, 16 August 2019
Sougue Kadjatou is a 45-year-old farmer who lives with her husband and two children in Agboville, a village in Côte d’Ivoire. Her cocoa plantation, where she works every day from morning until early afternoon, is a 40-minute walk from the village. “I’m glad they told me to plant banana and timber trees in my cocoa plantation,” she says. “It’s good to plant various trees. The bananas give me something to eat and sell, whereas the timber is a friend of the cocoa—it gives it shade. Later on, I’ll be able to sell the timber for home building and furniture which will hopefully give me enough money to build my own house for my family.”
Greenland’s ice sheet just lost 11 billion tons of ice — in one day
By Mark Tutton, CNN, 16 August 2019
After months of record temperatures, scientists say Greenland’s ice sheet experienced its biggest melt of the summer on Thursday, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean — equivalent to 4.4 million Olympic swimming pools.
Greenland’s ice sheet usually melts during the summer, but the melt season typically begins around the end of May; this year it began at the start. It has been melting “persistently” over the past four months, which have recorded all time temperature highs, according to Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with Danish Meteorological Institute.
[Kenya] Sengwer Community Hold Prayers And Plant Indigenous Trees To Honour Their Ancestors
By Uasin Gishu, Kenya News Agency, 16 August 2019
“Evicting us from the forest will make us lose our culture; if we move from the forest we will have betrayed our forefathers; killing our people during forceful evictions is not a solution. The government must respect our rights as a community. As a community we don’t know any other home apart from this forest where we were born.”
The foregoing is an unequivocal affirmation of the convictions of the Sengwer community currently living in Embobut Forest in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
[Peru] Last stand for the Garden of Eden
By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 16 August 2019
The riot of roads exploding across our planet—bringing with it tsunamis of habitat destruction and biodiversity loss—at times seems almost unstoppable.
But there are some places so special, such as Manu National Park in Peru, that should remain free of the Pandora’s box of disruption that roads bring.
[UK] 11 million new trees to be planted in England by water companies
By Emily Beament, Independent, 16 August 2019
Water companies have announced plans to plant 11 million new trees in England by 2030 to help the industry’s effort to become carbon neutral.
The firms will be planting trees on around 15,000 acres of land across England, as well as supporting work to restore original woodland and improving habitats that store carbon.
Animal Rebellion activists to blockade UK’s biggest meat market
By Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, 16 August 2019
Thousands of animal rights and environment activists are planning to blockade Smithfield Market – the largest wholesale meat market in the UK – in the next wave of Extinction Rebellion climate protests.
A new group calling itself Animal Rebellion says it has almost 2,000 volunteers signed up to take part in a two-week blockade of the central London market from 7 October.
Dan Kidby, a spokesman for the group, said it hoped to have 10,000 people taking part in the blockade.
17 August 2019
[UK] Number of flights taken by officials from department tackling climate crisis soars
By Jillian Ambrose, The Guardian, 17 August 2019
The Whitehall officials responsible for tackling the climate crisis dramatically increased their domestic flights last year despite the huge carbon footprint associated with aviation.
Officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) took more than 4,500 domestic business flights in the last financial year, according to its annual report. The number of flights taken the year before was fewer than 2,700.
18 August 2019