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REDD in the news: 2-8 September 2019

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

2 September 2019

Political Fires in the Amazon: Land Rights and Sovereignty for the Forest Peoples That Could Save Us All
By Meleiza Figueroa, Capitalism Nature Socialism, 2 September 2019
The international outcry against the dramatic and coordinated wave of fires burning across the Amazon Basin over the last two weeks has compelled me to put my Amazon researcher hat back on after a few years away from academia. Below, I use what I’ve learned over nearly a decade of research in the Brazilian Amazon to share some thoughts about the region’s often misunderstood political-economic and socioecological dynamics. I take a longer historical view of the current situation in the Brazilian Amazon to allow the region in its particular historical and political context to be better understood. This can also allow us to have more clarity in our political orientation, deconstruct opposition arguments, and truly appreciate what is at stake for the world in this pivotal moment.

Amazon in flames: Brazil’s Huni Kuin indigenous people count the social costs of fire and conflict
By Brian Garvey, Jose Alves, and Maria de Jesus Morais, The Conservation, 2 September 2019
The cultural centre of Huwã Karu Yuxibu was the educational and spiritual centre of Brazil’s indigenous Huni Kuin people. Located 50km from Rio Branco, the capital city of Acre, a state within the Amazon rainforest, it was constructed in 2015 and provided a focus for agroecological knowledge, traditional medicine cultivation and cultural ceremonies for the community. But on the afternoon of August 22, Huwã Karu Yuxibu was burned along with trees, the well, and the medicinal and food gardens of the Huni Kuin people.

As fires ravage the Amazon, indigenous tribes pray for protection
By Leonardo Benassatto and Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters, 2 September 2019
As thousands of fires ravage the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, some indigenous tribes are turning to prayer in a bid to halt the destruction and protect their environment for future generations.

We, the peoples of the Amazon, are full of fear. Soon you will be too
By Raoni Metuktire, The Guardian, 2 September 2019
For many years we, the indigenous leaders and peoples of the Amazon, have been warning you, our brothers who have brought so much damage to our forests. What you are doing will change the whole world and will destroy our home – and it will destroy your home too.

2,000 New Fires Have Started in The Amazon, 48h After Government Burning Ban
By Dan Defrancesco, Business Insider, 2 September 2019
New fires continue to crop up in the Amazon forest despite the Brazilian government’s most recent efforts to stop the deforestation of the region.
The Brazilian National Space Research Institute (INPE) published satellite data showing that in the 48 hours after the Brazilian government’s ban on burning, issued Thursday, there have been 3,859 new fire outbreaks, roughly 2,000 of which were in the Amazon, according to a story in the Daily Mail.

Forest loss in Brazil contributing to rising temperatures
University of Western Australia press release, 2 September 2019
A global team of scientists including researchers from The University of Western Australia and the United States has found deforestation in the Brazilian Amazaon-Cerrado region is causing temperatures to rise in areas as far as 50km away from deforestation sites.

From the frontlines: Fighting Bolivia’s forest fires
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 2 September 2019
When firefighter Daniela Azero and her team first saw the extent of the uncontrolled forest fires in eastern Bolivia near the Amazonian border with Brazil, it made a big impression. “There were just so many hotspots – huge columns of smoke and big, powerful flames,” she says.
The Chiquitano dry forest where Bolivia’s blazes are concentrated has never burned like this before, and the disaster has taken the country by surprise. “Unfortunately, it’s because people have been deforesting and burning in order to open up land for agriculture.”

‘Murderer of nature’: Evo Morales blamed as Bolivia battles devastating fires
By Dan Collyns, The Guardian, 2 September 2019
Runy Callaú can’t remember how many nights he has been fighting the blaze which has engulfed huge swathes of forest. Nor can he stop thinking about his encounter with a fleeing jaguar a few nights before.
“It was running for its life,” said the firefighter captain, peering out from under his yellow hard hat. “It was in a state of sheer terror.”

Chinese Belt and Road plan ‘may result in 2.7C warming’
Reuters, 2 September 2019
China’s multi-trillion dollar global investment plans could blow the 2C warming limit set by the Paris Agreement without curbs on pollution, a new study said on Monday.
The 126 countries in the Belt and Road region now account for 28% of global emissions, but on their current trajectory, that could rise to 66% by 2050, researchers, led by Ma Jun, a special advisor to China’s central bank, said.

Brazil meat packers cleared to export beef to Indonesia
Business World, 2 September 2019
Indonesia has authorized beef exports from 10 Brazilian meat-packing plants, Brazil’s agriculture minister said in a statement late on Wednesday.
The plants have the potential to export at least 25,000 tonnes of beef products, Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said in the statement, without elaborating.

[Indonesia] New tool shows decline in oil-palm related deforestation in Borneo
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 2 September 2019
In a welcome “good news” story for the world’s carbon stocks and biodiversity, the felling of old-growth forest for oil palm plantations on the island of Borneo has tracked a steady decline since its 2012 peak.
That is according to the revamped Borneo Atlas, a new tool which combines annual satellite data from the past 18 years with information on land ownership. It creates the clearest picture yet of the relationship between deforestation and the development of industrial oil palm and pulp-and-paper plantations on Borneo, which is shared between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

3 September 2019

Greta ahead of the wave at UN Climate Action Summit
UN environment, 3 September 2019
It is the final countdown to the Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September 2019.
As the impacts of climate change define our time, now is the moment to do something about it. It will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.
One person stepping up to the challenge is 16-year-old Greta Thunberg. When she set sail from Plymouth to New York City in a zero-emissions, solar-powered yacht, she drew both criticism and praise for her actions.

ICAO advisory body to evaluate 14 programmes for eligibility under CORSIA carbon offset scheme
GreenAir Online, 3 September 2019
Tue 3 Sept 2019 – Fourteen carbon offset programmes have applied to ICAO for their units to be made available to airlines under the UN agency’s CORSIA scheme for international aviation. A public comment period finishes on September 5 and ICAO’s Technical Advisory Body (TAB) will then evaluate whether the submissions comply with the CORSIA emissions unit criteria before making recommendations to the governing ICAO Council for its consideration in March 2020. Unsuccessful applicants and new programmes are invited to apply again during a next round that is expected to begin around the same time. The applications range from the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to forestry programmes administered by the World Bank and Poland’s State Forests. The 19-member TAB has chosen representatives from the US and Singapore as Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson respectively.

Startups sell Spotify-like apps to offset your carbon footprint
By Timothy Abington, Bloomberg, 3 September 2019
Sally Rogers took public transport, bought locally-grown food and looked for sustainable products out of concern for the environment in San Francisco. Then she realized all that was being undone by her need to travel.
Her solution was to subscribe to Project Wren, one of a new breed of climate-centric startups offering consumers a way to offset greenhouse-gas pollution. In a nod to the music and video streaming providers Spotify and Netflix, they offer a web-based tool to quantify individual carbon emissions and then make regular payments into projects that will absorb those emissions.

How The Amazon’s Deforestation Compares To Other Tropical Forests Across The Globe
By Jeremy Hobon, WBUR, 3 September 2019
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is facing criticism for his relaxed enforcement of rules protecting the Amazon rainforest, where fires are growing at an alarming rate.
There has been an 80% increase in fires in the Amazon so far this year. Many of those fires are intentionally set to clear land for cattle grazing and other uses.

Pressure builds on big economies to address agri-commodity import risks in wake of Amazon fires
Illegal Deforestation Monitor, 3 September 2019
G7 and UK Amazon aid pledges are meagre compared to their Brazilian beef purchases, while supermarkets still stocking high-risk Brazilian beef products as government responses are found wanting.
When news filtered out of Brazil in August that forest fires were ravaging the Amazon at record levels, international reaction was quick and damning.
Images of the world’s most biodiverse landmass up in smoke and the revelation that more than 70,000 fires had been chronicled in 2019 (an 85% increase from 2018) triggered global outrage.

Amazon fires: Solutions lie beyond nationalist politics, a new green vision must be global in scope
By Samrat, First Post, 3 September 2019
The world’s greatest forest is on fire. The Amazon rainforest is burning away at record rates, in thousands of forest fires spread over an area bigger than India. The massive fires are visible across South America in satellite images taken from space. Old growth forests that grew over centuries are disappearing in minutes. The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, a Right-winger who is keen on “development”, has belatedly called out the army and air force to try and control the blaze, while stressing on his country’s sovereignty and cursing French president Emmanuel Macron for his “colonial” mindset for suggesting that a major trade deal between the European Union and a grouping of South American countries including Brazil should be kept on hold over environmental issues.

Brazil’s Bolsonaro to skip Amazon fires summit he convened
DW, 3 September 2019
President Jair Bolsonaro will not attend a regional summit to address the devastating fires that have affected large swaths of the Amazon Rainforest, a government spokesman said Monday.
The far-right president cited medical reasons for the absence, saying that doctors barred him from traveling on the eve of a surgery scheduled for next week. Doctors have also said Bolsonaro would need 10 days of rest following the operation.

[Australia] Cattle farmer receives Emissions Reduction Fund carbon credits for soil project
By Zoe Ristrom, The Weekly Times, 3 September 2019
South Gippsland beef farmer and inventor Niels Olsen and his wife, Marja, are the first farmers in Australia to receive carbon credits for a soil carbon project through the Emissions Reduction Fund.
Their patented cultivator, the Soilkee Renovator, has achieved huge dry matter yield and available nutrient increases as well as massive carbon sequestration on their land.

Côte d’Ivoire and Costa Rica Partner on Forest Conservation
By Ela Ionsecu, UN-REDD Programme, 3 September 2019
Côte d’Ivoire participated in a South-South Knowledge Exchange that took place from July 27 to August 1, 2019 in Costa Rica. The event focused on sharing experiences around capacity building for REDD+ implementation and financing approaches for the forest sector.

[Indonesia] Dirty tricks behind conservation U-turn for world’s rarest ape
By Bill Laurance, ALERT, 3 September 2019
Scientists and conservation organizations are deeply concerned after an ally in an ongoing campaign to halt a destructive hydropower project in Sumatra, Indonesia, has flipped their position and announced a partnership with the company behind the dam.
Swiss-based PanEco Foundation, which manages the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, has for several years been a fierce opponent of the hydro-dam project, which is under construction in the core habitat of the Tapanuli orangutan—the world’s rarest species of Great Ape.

How Indigenous youth are fighting the Indonesian fires
By Monica Evans, CIFOR Landscape News, 3 September 2019
For the past two months in Sumarni Laman’s homeland of Central Kalimantan, a province in Indonesian Borneo, forest and peatland fires have been raging, in large part due to people and private companies burning deforested land to clear it for agriculture. For a recipe of reasons including weather patterns and draining of the dirt-like peat soil, the fires are getting out of control.

[Liberia] US$150M Earmarked for Forest Sector
By Ishmael F. Menkor, Daily Observer, 3 September 2019
About US$150 million has been earmarked by the Norwegian Government as funds to Liberia to REDD+ for the implementation of the Liberian Forest Sector.
According to REDD+ convener Dominic T. Johns in 2014, the prospects for REDD+ and sustainable forest management in the country were greatly improved by the signing of an agreement between Liberia and Norway to cooperate on REDD+ and develop Liberia’s agricultural sector, where Norway has contributed US$150 million to fund Liberia’s REDD+ effort.

Giant Norway pension fund weighs Brazil divestment over Amazon deforestation
By Zoe Sullivan, Mongabay, 3 September 2019
In mid-August, the governments of Norway and Germany suspended payments to the Amazon Fund, which finances conservation efforts in the Amazon Rainforest aimed at limiting deforestation. Not long after, Norway’s largest pension funds began publicly discussing their concerns about investing in companies that may be complicit in deforestation in the Amazon region. With approximately US$170 billion in combined assets, these funds carry significant clout and leverage, say asset managers.

4 September 2019

‘Flight shaming’ threatens air travel demand beyond Europe – IATA chief
By Tracy Rucinski, Reuters, 4 September 2019
This summer, U.S. airlines have enjoyed booming flight demand, immune to a Swedish-born “flight shaming” movement that has hit air travel in Europe, where environmentally conscious travellers are choosing trains over planes.
But the head of global lobby International Air Transport Association (IATA) says the environmental challenge, which he called the biggest threat to the airline industry in Europe, “will probably come to other parts of the world, especially North America.”

Flight shaming movement offers people a ‘false choice’, says airline regulator
By Cathy Adams, The Independent, 4 September 2019
The flight shaming campaign is giving passengers a “false choice”, according to the director general of the international aviation regulator.
Alexandre de Juniac of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) made the comments in a wide-ranging speech about aviation and issues including sustainability, regulation and infrastructure in Chicago.

Global food producers ‘failing to face up to role’ in climate crisis
By Harriet Grant, The Guardian, 4 September 2019
The world’s biggest producers of meat, dairy and seafood are failing to tackle the enormous impact they are having on the planet through deforestation, the routine use of antibiotics and greenhouse gas emissions, a report warns.
The Coller Fairr index ranks 50 of the largest global meat, dairy and fish producers by looking at risk factors from use of antibiotics to deforestation and labour abuses. The producers are the “hidden” supply chain, providing meat and dairy to global brands including McDonald’s, Tesco, Nestlé and Walmart.

Shades of REDD+: A Marshall Plan for Tropical Forests?
By Charlotte Streck, Ecosystem Marketplace, 4 September 2019
ropical deforestation generates about five gigatonnes, or 5 billion tons, of greenhouse gas emissions every year – more than all the industries of either France or the United Kingdom.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tells us that we must end deforestation if we’re to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and avoid catastrophic climate change, but it’s getting worse. From 2014 to 2017, average annual emissions from gross tree cover loss increased in more than 70 tropical countries compared with a 2001-13 baseline. In June of this year, deforestation rates in the Brazilian Amazon increased by 88 percent compared to the same month in 2018.

Amazon forest fires: Missing the forest for the trees
The Economic Times, 4 September 2019
Brazil is drawing the world’s, especially Europe’s, flak over Amazon forest fires. But history shows forest cover declined in Europe on a far larger scale as organised farming, manufacturing and urbanisation took off in the continent. This fact mirrors the larger argument on global warming — emerging economies resist steeply reduced emissions norms on the grounds that the West didn’t have to contend with an environmental constraint when it rapidly industrialised.

Amazon fires: deforestation has a devastating heating impact on the local climate – new study
By Jess Baker, The Conversation, 4 September 2019
The Amazon is under threat from all sides. Over recent weeks, unprecedented blazes have spread through an ecosystem not adapted to fire. Much has been made of the consequences of these fires for global heating – but at a local level, the effects could be even more severe.
While it’s too soon to establish the cause of the Amazon fires with certainty, levels of burning and deforestation are closely linked. Cut vegetation is routinely set alight to create cattle ranches and support land claims, in some cases sparking uncontrolled wildfires.

Amazon fires: Bolsonaro’s poll rating plummets as Brazil turns against far-right leader
By Jake Spring, The Independent, 4 September 2019
Brazilians saying that President Jair Bolsonaro is doing a “bad or terrible” job rose to 38 per cent from 33 per cent previously, following global outcry over the government’s handling of record fires in the Amazon rainforest.
The Datafolha polling institute found that 29 per cent say that Mr Bolsonaro is doing a “great or good” job, down from 33 per cent in July, according to the poll published on Monday.

Will Deforestation and Warming Push the Amazon to a Tipping Point?
By Fen Montaigne, YaleEnvironment360, 4 September 2019
For more than 40 years, Carlos A. Nobre has studied his nation’s most magnificent natural asset — the Amazon rainforest — and its vital role in the global climate system. And for the better part of a year, Nobre has watched with alarm as his country’s nationalist president, Jair Bolsonaro, has issued full-throated calls for the further development of the Amazon, leading in recent weeks to a huge outbreak of fires from the illegal clearing and burning of the forest.

Follow the Money to the Amazon
By Anna Lappé, The Atlantic, 4 September 2019
The scale of the crisis is unfathomable: the skies of Sao Paulo darkened with smoke from the Amazon aflame thousands of miles away. A terrifying climate double whammy is upon us: As the forest burns, the trees release stored carbon in the form of greenhouse-gas-inducing carbon dioxide; and as these forests vanish, we lose the carbon-storing potential of the trees. It may seem there’s nothing we in the United States can do, but the drivers of this destruction, including agribusiness and their financiers, are more closely connected to us than we may realize—heightening our responsibility to act.

How Amazon deforestation could push the climate to a ‘tipping point’
By Amna Nawaz and Mike Fritz, PBS, 4 September 2019
The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and a critical line of defense against climate change. But it’s been steadily deforested since the 1970s, with nearly 20 percent of its land area wiped out. This year, pervasive forest fires destroyed vast expanses of rainforest, and Brazil’s growing agribusiness is poised to transform more into farmland. Amna Nawaz reports from Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Carbon-Emissions Credits Slide Over Brexit Fears
By David Hodari, Wall Street Journal, 4 September 2019
The price of carbon-emissions credits has fallen sharply in recent weeks as traders worry that a deluge of U.K. credits could flood the market in anticipation of a disruptive Brexit.
The price of carbon-emissions credits—which European Union countries hand out to large industrial polluters to curtail the production of greenhouse gases—has plunged 13% since late July to around €25 ($27) a ton of carbon dioxide emitted, ending Tuesday more than 4% down for the week so far.

European Central Bank should ‘gradually eliminate’ carbon assets: Lagarde
By Chloé Farand, Climate Home News, 4 September 2019
The European Central Bank should phase out climate-warming investments by preferring green bonds, Christine Lagarde said as she pitched to become the bank’s first female president.
Lagarde, a veteran French conservative politician and former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is seeking approval from the EU parliament to head the ECB – the most powerful economic institution in Europe.

[UK] History will be kind to Heathrow climate protesters who stop us flying
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 4 September 2019
Obedience is dangerous: it has facilitated every form of institutional oppression and violence. Every advance in justice, peace and democracy has been made possible by disobedience. Ethical progress is unlikely when we do only what we are told.

[USA] The market for carmaker carbon credits is in the fast lane… for now
By Conor Grant, The Hustle, 4 September 2019
Inside the US auto industry, the trading of carbon emissions credits has become a big business where carmakers with extra credits — like Tesla and Honda — sell millions in credits to carmakers without enough — like Fiat Chrysler and General Motors.
But with emissions law now under review, a regulatory rollback could destroy the sustainability stockpiles amassed by these carbon-credit kingpins — and reward their choking competitors.

5 September 2019

The Rollercoaster Ride of International Carbon Markets
Advanced Science News, 5 September 2019
International carbon markets have existed for over 20 years but have gone through highly differing phases. Each of the four phases described in this WIREs Climate Change review had its specific challenges.
International market mechanisms for greenhouse gas emission reductions tend to generate two extreme reactions – strong opposition or fervent support. This review provides food for thought to develop a more nuanced understanding, looking at the lessons from 20 years of history of such mechanisms.

The Dramatic Rise Of Carbon Credits
By Nick Cunningham, OilPrice, 5 September 2019
The price of carbon in Europe has fallen in recent weeks due to the political turmoil in the UK as the country weighs a no-deal Brexit, but carbon prices are still dramatically higher than they were last year.
Major industrial polluters in the European Union need to purchase carbon credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions, and for years the market for carbon was oversupplied, resulting in rather painless compliance for polluters.

Airline Chiefs Have No Easy Answers for Flight-Shaming Critics
By Siddharth Vikram Philip and Christopher Jasper, Bloomberg, 5 September 2019
Airline bosses sought to defend their business against a rising tide of criticism over aircraft emissions as an upswell of activism threatens to overwhelm the industry before it can mount an effective response.
The heads of carriers including Emirates, JetBlue Airways Corp. and EasyJet Plc, speaking at the World Aviation Festival in London, warned that reducing carbon emissions would take years, if not decades, given the limitations of current technology and expansion of air travel to an ever-wider slice of the global population.

Deforestation affects the forest, the rivers and “the entire biosphere”, experts warn
The Brussels Times, 5 September 2019
The deforestation of the Amazon region harms its rivers and vice versa, then goes on to affect “the entire biosphere”.
This is the message from an international colloquium on monitoring the Amazon being held this week in Toulouse, France.
Where the fires that have been raging for weeks in the Amazon are concerned, “the consequences are not yet measurable,” but in the longer term, “what we see is a gradual destabilisation of the water cycle,” Jean-Michel Martinez, director of the Hybam National Observation Service, explained to the French news agency, AFP.

The Amazon is burning, and your tiny human efforts against the climate crisis have never seemed so meagre
By Slavoj Zizek, The Independent, 5 September 2019
Just when the burning of the Amazon forests drifted from our headlines, we learned that almost 4,000 new forest fires were started in Brazil in the two days after the government banned deliberate burning of the Amazon.
These figures trigger alarm: are we really heading towards a collective suicide? By destroying the Amazon rainforests, Brazilians are killing “the lungs of our Earth”. However, if we want to confront seriously threats to our environment, what we should avoid are precisely such quick extrapolations which fascinate our imagination.

Amazon fires are ‘true apocalypse’, says Brazilian archbishop
By Jonathan Watts and Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, 5 September 2019
The fires in the Amazon are a “true apocalypse”, according to a Brazilian archbishop who expects next month’s papal synod at the Vatican to strongly denounce the destruction of the rainforest.
The comments by Erwin Kräutler will put fresh pressure on the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, following criticism from G7 leaders last month over the surge of deforestation in the world’s biggest terrestrial carbon sink.

The Amazon is burning, and your tiny human efforts against the climate crisis have never seemed so meagre
By Slavoj Zizek, The Independent, 5 September 2019
Just when the burning of the Amazon forests drifted from our headlines, we learned that almost 4,000 new forest fires were started in Brazil in the two days after the government banned deliberate burning of the Amazon.
These figures trigger alarm: are we really heading towards a collective suicide? By destroying the Amazon rainforests, Brazilians are killing “the lungs of our Earth”. However, if we want to confront seriously threats to our environment, what we should avoid are precisely such quick extrapolations which fascinate our imagination.

As Bolsonaro incinerates the Amazon, urgent action is needed for climate justice
By Mary Galin and Patrick Bond, Mail & Guardian, 5 September 2019
Did South Africa need another high-profile reminder of climate chaos, after the Cape Town drought in 2015 to 2018; the two cyclones in March to April that ravaged Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and killed more than 1 000 of our neighbours; and Easter Monday’s “Durban Rain Bomb”, which dropped 170mm that day, leaving 71 people dead?

Ancient farmers burned the Amazon, but today’s fires are very different
By Kate Evans, National Geographic, 5 September 2019
Across the burning Amazon, smoke is rising and fine particles of charcoal are falling softly to the ground. At last count, more than 93,000 fires were alight in the Brazilian Amazon, up more than 60 percent from the same time last year, and the highest number since 2010. According to NASA, this year’s fires are more intense than in previous years, too.
But Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research (INPE) has only been keeping fire records since 1998, and two decades isn’t long in the life of a forest where trees live for centuries and humans have been setting fires for millennia.

We’re thinking about the Amazon fires all wrong. These maps show why.
By Sergio Peçanha and Tim Wallace, Washington Post, 5 September 2019
For weeks, we’ve seen headlines saying the Amazon rainforest is burning. But something unexpected happens when you map satellite data showing both the fires this year and those that have burned in the previous four years: The bulk of the forest remains almost entirely intact.

The myths and the truth about the fires in the Amazon
By Daniel Nepstad, CNN, 5 September 2019
As fires have blazed across the Amazon in recent weeks, they’ve captivated the world. Politicians, celebrities and citizens — from French President Emmanuel Macron to Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo — have expressed concern about the damage being done in the region.
But something else has also been spreading: misconceptions.

Bolivia has lost 1.7 million hectares to fire: government
Phys.org, 5 September 2019
Wildfires raging in Bolivia’s forests and grasslands since May have destroyed 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres), officials said Wednesday, amid an $11 million effort by the government to contain them.
Environmentalists blame laws enacted under leftist President Evo Morales, who has encouraged the burning of forest and pasture land to expand agricultural production, while the government attributes the blazes to dry weather and winds.

Brazil’s Next Tropical Hot Spot Is Getting Hotter
By Mac Margolis, Bloomberg, Bloomberg, 5 September 2019
With peak burning season in the Amazon basin still to come, the commotion over destruction of the storied rainforest will grow. Yet even as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro prepares to lecture the United Nations General Assembly on who’s boss in the jungle and enjoins Brazilians to don the national colors to show that “Amazonia is ours,” the next tropical hot spot is already under duress. And given the economic stakes, expect the outrage to spread.

NASA image shows how well Costa Rica has prevented forest fires
By Alejandro Zúñiga, Tico Times, 5 September 2019
The National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) shared a NASA image Thursday that demonstrates the relatively low number of forest fires in Costa Rica compared to other countries in the region.
The image appears to come from NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System, or FIRMS, which you can explore here.
Although El Niño’s drought effect caused the largest number of forest fires in Costa Rica since 2000, SINAC says “rapid and efficient attention allowed that the impact be controlled.”

It’s Not Just the Amazon: We Must Also Protect Congo Basin Peatlands From Fire
By Robert Nasi, Truthout, 5 September 2019
Fires in the Amazon have sparked debate around the world, amplifying fears of climate change and the dire threat they pose for local Indigenous communities and the future sustainability of the planet.
These concerns are valid and real. Policies introduced by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro are widely recognized to have put the future of the Amazon rainforest in jeopardy.

Outcry as Indonesia seeks to arrest renowned West Papua rights lawyer
By Kate Lamb, The Guardian, 5 September 2019
Indonesian police have named human rights lawyer and well-known West Papua advocate Veronica Koman as a suspect in the spreading of “fake news”, accusing her of provoking widespread unrest in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces.
In a move slammed by Amnesty International Indonesia, the human rights lawyer faces charges under the country’s controversial electronic information and transactions law, and faces up to six years in jail if found guilty.

Kenya evicts forest dwellers to save country’s ‘water tower’
By Nita Bhalla, Reuters, 5 September 2019
Thousands of people are being removed from Kenya’s largest forest, a senior official said on Thursday, in a controversial move aimed at saving the country’s most important “water tower”, which has been decimated by decades of corruption.
Authorities say thousands of illegal settlers have invaded the Mau forest in Kenya’s southwestern Rift Valley over the years, cutting down trees to create farmland. But settlers say they have valid title deeds.

Norway’s CCS project gets boost from European industry
Reuters, 5 September 2019
Norway’s Equinor (EQNR.OL) and its partners in the Northern Lights underground carbon dioxide (CO2) storage project offshore Norway have signed preliminary agreements with seven potential industrial customers for the venture.
The agreements are a crucial step towards securing investment form the Norwegian government for the project, which is led by Equinor in partnership with Shell (RDSa.L) and France’s Total (TOTF.PA).

[UK] FCA chair: Gov’t rushed through pension freedoms reforms
By James Fitzgerald, Citywire, 5 September 2019
The government rushed through its pensions freedom reforms and the policy needed a greater period of ‘planning and testing’ before launch, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chairman Charles Randell said in a speech today.

[USA] What is the Tropical Forest Standard? An expert explains
By Kiley Price, Conservation International, 5 September 2019
As fires rage across the Amazon, a vote thousands of miles away could generate a powerful financial incentive to keep those forests standing.
Later this month in California, a state regulatory board will vote on whether to endorse the Tropical Forest Standard, a blueprint for allowing tropical forest protection initiatives to be included in the state’s programs to cut climate-warming carbon emissions — and one that could serve as a model for other states or countries looking to do the same.

[USA] 6 winners and 3 losers from CNN’s climate town hall
By Umair Irfan, David Roberts, Eliza Barclay, Ella Nilsen, and Tara Golshan, Vox, 5 September 2019
CNN’s climate crisis town hall on Wednesday night was an unprecedented seven hours of discussion on climate change with 10 of the Democratic 2020 presidential contenders. It was also the most substantive discussion of climate change policies ever broadcast on primetime television.

6 September 2019

Oil and gas companies undermining climate goals, says report
By Jillian Ambrose, The Guardian, 6 September 2019
Major oil and gas companies have invested $50bn (£40.6bn) in fossil fuel projects that undermine global efforts to avert a runaway climate crisis, according to a report.
Since the start of last year, fossil fuel companies have spent billions on high-cost plans to extract oil and gas from tar sands, deepwater fields and the Arctic despite the risks to the climate and shareholder returns.

To deliver real impact, responsible investors must up their game.
By Margaret L. Kuhlow, WWF, 6 September 2019
Next week, Paris will welcome international investors at PRI in Person, an annual gathering focused on sustainability and hosted by the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI). In the dizzying alphabet soup of sustainability-focused platforms, UN PRI represents the single largest collection of investors, now boasting almost 2,400 signatories with nearly $90 trillion in assets under management.

Are forest fires as bad as they seem?
By Jack Goodman and Olga Robinson, BBC News, 6 September 2019
As South American countries meet in Colombia to discuss the fires in the Amazon basin, other parts of the world have also been ablaze.
Vast tracts of forest in Russia, Asia and Africa have been burning.
The extent of the fires has sparked outrage around the world.

Amazon fires are a shameful indictment of our lust for excess
By Rowan Williams, The Guardian, 6 September 2019
The scale of the devastation caused by the wildfires still raging in the Amazon is hard to comprehend. This is a rainforest that provides one-fifth of the world’s oxygen; it is hard not to feel powerless and despairing in the face of the disaster overtaking the region.
But however strong – and bitter – the feeling about this as an environmental catastrophe, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is also a human tragedy.

Amazon fires: Seven countries sign forest protection pact
BBC News, 6 September 2019
Seven South American countries have agreed measures to protect the Amazon river basin, amid global concern over massive fires in the world’s largest tropical forest.
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname signed a pact, setting up a disaster response network and satellite monitoring.
At a summit in Colombia, they also agreed to work on reforestation.

Indonesia faces gigantic task of restoring peatland
The Jakarta Post, 6 September 2019
Indonesia must restore nearly 2.7 million hectares of peatland, two thirds of which are concessions held by plantation companies, which have been destroyed by fire in the last four years, but the way it is going about it, according to an expert, may literally backfire.According to the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG), which has been tasked with carrying out restoration projects in peatland areas across the country since 2015, seven provinces are particularly critical for restoration: Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and Papua.Indonesia’s total peatland covers approximately 22.5 million ha, second in the world after Brazil with 31.5 million ha, according to Global Wetlands data. Aside from preventing drought, peatland also promotes biodiversity.Failure to restore the burned peatland would pose threats to humans and the environment.

Malaysia complains of smog from Indonesian forest fires
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 6 September 2019
An increase in Indonesian forest fires – the sharpest rise since 2015 – has infuriated neighbouring Malaysia, where residents are inhaling smoke from peat and trees burned hundreds of miles away.
More than 14 megatonnes of carbon dioxide were discharged from the blazes on 5 September, more than triple the average on this day over the previous 15 years, according to satellite data from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

Indonesia’s forest fires causing air pollution in southern Thailand
The Thaiger, 6 September 2019
Residents in Thailand’s southern provinces of Songkhla and Satun are being warned to protect their health by wearing face masks or staying indoors as the two provinces are blanketed with smoke from forest fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.
The 16th regional environment office reports that dust particles of less than 2.5 microns, were measured at 55 microns/cubic metre during the past 24 hours in Hat Yai district of Songkhla. This may cause health problems such as coughing, breathing difficulties and eye irritation.

[UK] Carbon Could Be the New Cash Crop After Brexit
By Timothy Abington and Mathew Carr, Bloomberg, 6 September 2019
Subsidies paid to U.K. farmers could be replaced after Brexit by cash from selling carbon credits, inducing more landowners to plant trees and protect marshlands that sequester greenhouse gases.
Carbon farming has gained traction alongside markets that put a price on pollution. It’s an agricultural technique that stores carbon dioxide emissions by regenerating soil and vegetation. Farmers can potentially get paid by switching to more Earth-friendly activities from destructive ones like cattle raising, which compound and accelerate climate change.

7 September 2019

8 September 2019

What if we stopped pretending?
By Jonathan Franzen, The New Yorker, 8 September 2019
“There is infinite hope,” Kafka tells us, “only not for us.” This is a fittingly mystical epigram from a writer whose characters strive for ostensibly reachable goals and, tragically or amusingly, never manage to get any closer to them. But it seems to me, in our rapidly darkening world, that the converse of Kafka’s quip is equally true: There is no hope, except for us.

Developing countries trapped in collapsing carbon market
The Hindu, 8 September 2019
All the talk about reversing climate change is far from reality. Developed countries are not doing as much as they had promised to help Africa and Asia tackle climate change.
A Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study presented at United Nation’s Conference of Parties 14, currently assembled to discuss desertification of land, has revealed that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) — an initiative which helps developing countries sell carbon credits and lets developed countries invest in helping communities conserve their forests — is not working well.

More than 100 Australian bushfires omen of severe summer fire season: Authorities
CNA, 8 September 2019
Australian firefighters battled more than 100 bushfires across two eastern states on Sunday (Sep 8) as authorities warned that parts of the country could expected a severe bushfire season this summer.
“We’ve never seen this before in recorded history, fire weather has never been as severe this early in spring,” said Andrew Sturgess, an inspector with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES).

Opinion: The Amazon rainforest is still burning and we’re all in danger
By Peter W. Ellis and Joseph J Ellis, Los Angeles Times, 8 September 2019
“On the seventh day, “ so says the Old Testament, “God rested.” A major reason the Almighty could afford to relax is that he created plants on the third day, approximately 3 billion years ago, designed to sustain Earth’s protective atmosphere forevermore. Until quite recently, these plants — trees in particular — have been doing God’s work to near perfection, inhaling carbon dioxide in silent service to nature and mankind, playing their providential role as “the lungs of the planet.”

Indonesia deploys personnel, planes to extinguish forest fires
Xinhua, 8 September 2019
The Indonesian government has deployed almost 10,000 disaster agency personnel and 37 planes to extinguish forest fires in the country, a disaster official said on Sunday.
Agus Wibowo, a spokesman of the national disaster management agency, said there are many satellite-detected hotspots in West Kalimantan province.

[Nigeria] UN picks Ogun for afforestation programme
By Laide Raheem, The Sun, 8 September 2019
The United Nations has selected Ogun State in the southwest to be assessed for participation in the global Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and foster conservation (REDD+) programme.
The National Coordinator of the programme, Dr. Moses Ama, disclosed this in Abeokuta when he led a delegation of the programme to the Office of the Head of Service, Lanre Bisiriyu.

[USA] The Amazon forest isn’t the only one in peril. Trump has his eye on Alaska
By Mike Dombeck and Chris Wood, Los Angeles Times, 8 September 2019
In the faraway Amazon, politics and commercial exploitation are fueling fires that threaten the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Closer to home, in Alaska, the Tongass National Forest, which represents the largest intact temperate rainforest, is facing a serious threat of its own: President Trump’s determined rollback of environmental protections. In both cases, land belonging to all citizens is at risk because of the financial ambitions of a few.
 

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