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REDD in the news: 9-15 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.

9 September 2019

Climate crisis is greatest ever threat to human rights, UN warns
AFP, 9 September 2019
Climate change is not only having a devastating impact on the environments we live in, but also on respect for human rights globally, the UN has warned.
The UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, cited the civil wars sparked by a warming planet and the plight of indigenous people in an Amazon ravaged by wildfires and rampant deforestation.

Bird man cries wolf
By Emily Atkin, Heated, 9 September 2019
Jonathan Franzen is a famous novelist. He is also famous for loving birds. He loves birds so much that in 2015 he wrote an essay for The New Yorker arguing that environmentalists should focus less on solving climate change, and more on saving birds. His reasoning was that the climate was probably doomed either way; at least we could save some birds in the meantime.
Franzen got roasted pretty hard for this take, but not hard enough, because yesterday The New Yorker published what amounts to Jonathan Franzen’s Fatalist Fact-Free Climate Manifesto Part Two. No birds this time, but also no science either. Hooray!

Halt tropical forest loss…our survival depends on it
By Dominique Lyons, CIFOR Forests News, 9 September 2019
Never before, it seems, have forests received as much public attention as at present. Sadly, the reasons for this are most distressing: forest fires of unprecedented dimensions all over the globe; a growing lack of resistance of trees to stressors such as drought, pests and diseases; and the uncontrolled exploitation of forests in environmentally sensitive areas.
In this context, it is crucial to emphasize the particular importance of tropical forests for global well-being and, consequently, the urgency to effectively curb deforestation and forest degradation.

How companies are trying to de-rain-forest their supply chains as the Amazon burns
By Adele Peters, Fast Company, 9 September 2019
As the Amazon continues to burn—more than 2.3 million acres in Brazil alone have burned so far this year—some companies are beginning to reconsider buying from suppliers in the area.
On Friday, H&M announced that it would stop buying leather from Brazil “until there are credible assurances . . . that the leather does not contribute to environmental harm in the Amazon.” The week before, VF Corporation, the parent company of Timberland, Vans, and the North Face, made a similar decision.

The Amazon Rainforest Was Once a Human Success Story. It Could Be Again
By Becky Ferreira Vice, 9 September 2019
A season of intense, human-caused wildfires in the Amazon rainforest has scorched thousands of square miles of forest, blackened the skies over São Paulo, and sparked international concern about the fate of the most biodiverse landscape on the planet.

To stop the Amazon fires, rethink the development model
By Sylvia Coutinho, Financial Times, 9 September 2019
The recent fires in the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest, have sparked uproar. The fires, mostly generated by illegal activity, pose a threat to the most biodiverse area on earth, as do illegal gold mining, logging and wildlife trafficking.

Australia cleared 7.7m hectares of threatened species habitat since introduction of environment act
By Lisa Cox, The Guardian, 9 September 2019
More than 7.7m hectares of habitat have been cleared since the introduction of Australia’s national environment act, according to new research that finds 93% of land cleared was not referred to the federal government for assessment.
The study, led by researchers from the University of Queensland and three environment organisations – the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF Australia and the Wilderness Society – warns that Australia’s high extinction rate will increase “without a fundamental change” in how environment laws are enforced.

Bolivia: Government must suspend presidential decree and investigate causes of forest fires
Amnesty International 9 September 2019
In an open letter published today, Amnesty International called on the government of President Evo Morales to suspend the July decree that authorized “controlled burns” to extend the agricultural frontier, until it is certain that the decree has not contributed to the forest fires that are causing an environmental and human rights crisis in Chiquitanía, a region close to the Amazon and the Brazilian border.

As Bolivian forests burn, Evo’s bet on Big Farming comes under fire
By Monica Machicao and Daniel Ramos, Reuters, 9 September 2019
In the tropical Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, a wealthy farming hub on the edge on the Amazon rainforest, President Evo Morales gathered with ranchers late last month to celebrate a maiden shipment of beef to China.

‘Chaos, chaos, chaos’: a journey through Bolsonaro’s Amazon inferno
By Tom Phillips, The Guardian, 9 September 2019
From afar, it resembles a tornado: an immense grey column shooting thousands of feet upwards from the forest canopy into the Amazonian skies.
Up close it is an inferno: a raging conflagration obliterating yet another stretch of the world’s greatest rainforest as a herd of Nelore cattle looks on in bewilderment.
“It started this morning,” said Valdir Urumon, the chief of an indigenous village in this isolated corner of Rondônia state, as the vast pillar of smoke loomed over his settlement’s palm-thatched homes.

[India] Carbon credits have not helped curb emissions
The Hindu, 9 September 2019
In a welcome move, India has committed to restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, in the process creating “a carbon sink of close to three billion metric tonnes through additional tree cover”, in the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His commitment at the UN Convention to Combat Climate Change reflects a growing realisation that climate-change-induced extreme weather events have become alarmingly commonplace.

Dalit and Adivasi Women at the Forefront of the Forest Rights Movement in India
By Janhavi Mittal, Oakland Institute, 9 September 2019
An Interview with Roma Malik and Ashok Chowdhury of the All India Union of Forest Working People.
The Supreme Court of India is set to rule on a case, Wildlife Trust Vs the Union of India, which could result in the eviction of 1.9 million forest dwellers from the country’s Indigenous and traditionally marginalized communities. At the crux of the case is a petition filed with the Supreme Court by elitist conservation organizations and retired forest bureaucrats to contravene the Forest Rights Act, a progressive forestry law that has attempted to rectify the “historic injustice” meted out to these communities.

Haze threat looms over Singapore as Indonesia forest fires rage
Bloomberg, 9 September 2019
Air quality in Singapore and parts of Malaysia may worsen in the coming days, with Indonesian authorities warning of more forest fires in the region already in the grip of an unusually long dry weather spell.
More than 2,500 hotspots scattered throughout South-east Asia were detected in the past week, Indonesia’s weather agency said on Sunday (Sept 8), citing satellite data.

The Chain: Sime Darby Aims to Responsibly Divest from Liberia by the End of 2019
Chain Reaction Research, 9 September 2019
Sime Darby aims to sell its assets in Liberia by the end of 2019. The company has been considering a possible sale since early 2019. In February 2019, Chain Reaction Research (CRR) reported that a sale of its Liberian plantation was complicated as a result of high operational costs, a limited planted area, and expenses related to corporate social responsibility (CSR). At the time, Sime Darby said it was reviewing its assets in Liberia to examine various options, including a sale or developing a smallholder programme with NGOs.

Making It Rain: Malaysia Seeds Clouds To Combat Smog From Forest Fires
By Linh Anh Cat, Forbes, 9 September 2019
Ever year during the dry season in Southeast Asia, Malaysia is covered with smog. The smoky haze is so irritating residents are forced to wear face masks. The smog blows in from Indonesia, where fires are used to clear land for palm oil and paper plantations.

[New Zealand] The unpopular tree sucking carbon from our air
By Eloise Gibson, Newsroom, 9 September 2019
Pinus Radiata grows like a weed, which is why it’s so fast at sequestering carbon. But since many people prefer native trees, forestry scientists are proposing an unconventional solution to get the best of both worlds.

10 September 2019

Forests, Tenure, and Climate: Some key recent findings with respect to REDD+ and beyond REDD+
By William D. Sunderlin, Anne M. Larson, and Juan Pablo Sarmiento Barletti, Rights and Resources, 10 September 2019
In spite of widely-recognized challenges, REDD+ continues to be one of the primary approaches for forest-based climate change mitigation. We have recently published a book chapter titled “Land and carbon tenure: Some—but insufficient—progress.” It examines the extent to which REDD+ has addressed the critical issue of land tenure, and also summarizes some key research findings on forests, tenure, and climate—not only those related to REDD+ but also those going beyond it.

Logging study reveals huge hidden emissions of the forestry industry
By Michael Le Page, New Scientist, 10 September 2019
The wood industry is a massive source of uncounted carbon emissions, according to a pioneering study in North Carolina. The same is probably true globally.
In places where trees are replanted after being cut down, the wood industry is often promoted as being sustainable. But no one is counting all the carbon emissions associated with logging because international rules on how this should be done are wildly inadequate, says economist John Talberth at the Center for Sustainable Economy, an environmental think-tank based in Oregon, US.

Africa’s blue economy: five nations poised for growth
By Jon Axworthy, Raconteur, 10 September 2019
1. Madagascar
With a 5,500-kilometre coastline, Madagascar’s potential to benefit from a blue economy is huge. This was identified by the Malagasy government in 2015 when it determined that a clearly defined set of blue-economy principles could be the way to jumpstart economic development in the country.

The Amazon Has Seen More Than 100,000 Fires This Year, Causing Spike in Air Pollution
By Yessenia Funes, Gizmodo, 10 September 2019
The fires burning throughout the Amazon rainforest and the rest of Brazil are billowing all types of air pollutants into the atmosphere, new satellite images from the European Space Agency (ESA)show.
The agency released the images Monday, reminding the world that the Amazon fires aren’t just an environmental issue—but a public health issue, as well. The images come as the number of Brazil’s forest fires soar past 100,000, a 45 percent increase from this same time last year, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.

Fire-setting Amazon farmers not ‘villains’, just poor, politicians say
By Fabio Teixeira, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 10 September 2019
Farmers living along the Trans-Amazonian Highway, near Humaita, a rural town deep in the Amazon, would rather not use fire to clear forest land so they can grow crops and raise cattle, their local representatives say.
But without the heavy equipment they would need to remove vegetation, the mainly poor farmers have little choice other than burning it, in order to feed their families – one reason this year’s fires have been so numerous, local officials say.

I never thought I’d see the Australian rainforest burning. What will it take for us to wake up to the climate crisis?
By Joëlle Gergis, The Guardian, 10 September 2019
These days as a climate scientist, the line of separation between the research I do in my professional life and the events unfolding in the world at large is growing ever thinner.
The extreme events that our community has been talking about for decades are now becoming part of our lived experience, season after season, year after year across the entire planet. What we are seeing play out now is much faster than many of us ever imagined.

Australian natural disasters minister David Littleproud: ‘I don’t know if climate change is manmade’
By Paul Karp, The Guardian, 10 September 2019
Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”.
Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to intensifying bushfires, he told Guardian Australia he was unsure about the causes of the climate crisis but wanted to give the country the tools to adapt.

Bolivian wildfires destroy two million hectares of forest
BBC News, 10 September 2019
Bolivian wildfires have destroyed two million hectares (almost five million acres) of forest and grassland since August, according to officials.
Almost half of the losses are in “protected” areas, known for high biodiversity.
Scientists at the College of Biologists in La Paz estimate that regeneration of the local ecosystem will take about 300 years.
The government is under pressure to declare a national emergency.

Minister Says Brazil Preserved 84 Percent of the Amazon by its Own Efforts
By Lachian Williams, The Rio Times, 10 September 2019
Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said on Monday, September 9th, that Brazil has preserved the Amazon through its own efforts. “Brazil is a country that has preserved 84 percent of its Amazon rainforest, and has done so on its own merits, with its own efforts, and continues to preserve and defend the forest.”

[India] Govt to unveil ‘bamboonomics’ for carbon credit and income income boost
Times of India, 10 September 2019
The government plans to present at the ongoing United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) its plans to set up 100 ‘Can Dhan’ centres involving tribals to make products from bamboo and build a market for bamboo charcoal. These centres will come up in northeastern states, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

[Indonesia] Why we’ve had enough of broken promises to protect forests
By Annisa Rahmawati, Greenpeace, 10 September 2019
My home, Indonesia, has the world’s third-largest tropical forest with the most biodiversity on earth, but we are also one of the five largest carbon emitters in the world, mostly due to the cutting and burning of our forests and peatlands. Today, while the Amazon fires capture international headlines, fires have also been raging here in Indonesia as well that harming the life of so many people.

[Nigeria] Why Oyo govt. revoked 26,000 hectares of land-Commisioner
Vanguard, 10 September 2019
The Oyo State Government says its decision to revoke the 26,000 hectares of forest reserve land allocated by the immediate past administration was in the interest of the state.
Briefing newsmen on Tuesday over the revocation, Mr Kehinde Ayoola, the state Commissioner for Environment and Natural Resources, said the allocation was illegal and not for agricultural purpose as claimed by the past administration.

11 September 2019

‘Forestry is not fulfilling its promise to the rural poor’
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News, 11 September 2019
According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 250 million people living in and around tropical forests or savannahs subsist on less than $US 1.25 per day – with millions more worldwide living in poverty in rural forest landscapes. Helping to lift those people out of poverty should be a ‘paramount cause’ of forestry, says Nambiar – who believes that increasing and supporting sustainable wood production is one important way to do just that.

Leak suggests UN agency self-censors on climate crisis after US pressure
By Emanuel Stoakes, The Guardian, 11 September 2019
Leaked communications suggest that the UN’s migration agency is censoring itself on the climate crisis and the global compact on migration, following pressure from the US government.
An email sent by a US-based official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on 28 August to colleagues around the world relayed that the US state department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) told the agency documents related to programme activities it funds “must not be in conflict with current [US government] political sensitivities”.

Shut Up, Franzen
By Kate Marvel, Scientific American, 11 September 2019
We are, I promise you, not doomed, no matter what Jonathan Franzen says. We could be, of course, if we decided we really wanted to. We have had the potential for total annihilation since 1945, and the capacity for localized mayhem for as long as societies have existed. Climate change offers the easy choice of a slow destruction through inaction like the proverbial frog in the slowly boiling pot. And there are times when the certainty of inevitability seems comforting. Fighting is exhausting; fighting when victory seems uncertain or unlikely even more so. It’s tempting to retreat to a special place—a cozy nook, a mountaintop, a summer garden—wait for the apocalypse to run its course, and hope it will be gentle.

‘Vote the Environment’: Edward Norton on How to Be an Effective Climate Activist
By Pat Saperstein, Variety, 11 September 2019
Edward Norton found activism at an early age. He also directs and stars in detective story “Motherless Brooklyn,” opening Nov. 1. Variety caught up with him as he prepared to hit the festival circuit with the adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem novel.

Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet
By Stan Stalnaker, Earth911, 11 September 2019
Cryptocurrency is a hot buzzword in our financial landscape today. Even most of us who don’t use digital currencies have a basic understanding of what they are. Every year, the spotlight of crypto grows bigger.
Yet, one of the major issues surrounding cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is the high carbon footprint it carries. The fact is, Bitcoin’s energy consumption is massive. When a bitcoin transaction takes place, computers all around the world are tasked with its verification.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Emissions: Pay Farmers to Bury Them
By Gregg Ip, The Wall Street Journal, 11 September 2019
What if there was a way to combat climate change that didn’t require technological breakthroughs, carbon taxes or eliminating all fossil fuels?
Such a solution might lie here in an Iowa cornfield beneath the feet of Mitchell Hora, a seventh-generation farmer. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Businesses fight back over Amazon forest fires
By Paulo Cabral, CGTN, 11 September 2019
As the Amazon rain forest continues to burn the full impact of the devastation is still unclear.
Experts said some areas could take centuries to fully recover.
And then’s there’s the economic impact.

Brazil fires official after comments on illegal Amazon mining fight
By Pedro Fonseca, Reuters, 11 September 2019
A regional head of Brazil’s environmental authority was fired on Wednesday, a week after being named, after he made public comments saying he would no longer burn machinery, some of it seized from illegal miners, in an area heavily affected by forest fires.

‘Day of Fire’: Blazes ignite suspicion in Amazon town
By Stephen Eisenhammer, Reuters, 11 September 2019
A maverick journalist in this isolated Brazilian ranching town warned his readers last month that the surrounding Amazon was about to go up in flames.
Queimadas, or burnings, are nothing new in Novo Progresso, located on the frontier where Brazil’s farmland edges the Amazon rainforest in the northern state of Para. Locals say farmers annually use fire to illegally clear pastures or newly deforested areas.

BMO GAM urges focus on forests as Amazon burns
By Alex Rolandi, Funds Europe, 11 September 2019
With Amazon fires burning at an unprecedented rate, investors should analyse their holding companies for deforestation risk policies, says BMO Global Asset Management (BMO GAM).
According to Nina Roth, director of responsible investment at the firm, investors need to ensure companies have no-deforestation policies and procedures that are independently monitored.

Thousands pray for rain in Indonesia as forests go up in smoke
By Gayatri Suroyo, Jessica Damiana, and Rozanna Latiff, Reuters, 11 September 2019
Thousands of Indonesians prayed for rain in haze-hit towns on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo on Wednesday, as forest fires raged at the height of the dry season, the state Antara news agency reported.
Fires have burnt through parts of Sumatra and Borneo island for more than a month and the government has sent 9,000 military, police and disaster agency personnel to fight the flames.

Indonesian Province Shuts Schools Due to Forest Fire Haze
Associated Press, 11 September 2019
Authorities shut most schools in parts of Indonesia’s Sumatra island to protect children from a thick, noxious haze as deliberately set fires burned through peatland forests, officials said Wednesday.
Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency said more than 3,600 fires have been detected on Sumatra and Borneo islands by weather satellites, leading to very poor air quality in six provinces with a combined population of more than 23 million.

[Myanmar] Officials want to enlist ethnic armed groups in deforestation fight
By Htoo Thant, Myanmar Times, 11 September 2019
The government needs the cooperation of ethnic armed groups across the country if it is to effectively address deforestation, which has become a major problem, officials said.
U Ye Myint Swe, deputy minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, said the government needed all the help it could get in its fight against the scourge of forest destruction.
“It is impossible to do by the ministry or Myanmar government alone. It will be successful only if there is the cooperation of all concerned,” he said at a workshop on forest protection on Tuesday.

12 September 2019

World losing area of forest the size of the UK each year, report finds
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 12 September 2019
An area of forest the size of the UK is being lost every year around the world, the vast majority of it tropical rainforest, with dire effects on the climate emergency and wildlife.
The rate of loss has reached 26m hectares (64m acres) a year, a report has found, having grown rapidly in the past five years despite pledges made by governments in 2014 to reverse deforestation and restore trees.

Aviation’s black box: Non-disclosure agreements, closed doors and rising CO2
By Chloé Farand, Climate Home News, 12 September 2019
One of the world’s most important institutions in the fight against climate change is also one of the UN’s most opaque.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao), headquartered in downtown Montreal, has been charged with reducing the rising carbon emissions from international flight – an enormous commercial, technical and public relations challenge for the industry.

REDD+ more competitive than critics believe, study finds
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 12 September 2019
A global strategy aimed at stemming climate change-inducing carbon emissions from tropical forest loss would better accomplish its goals if implemented in the manner intended, according to recent research.
The strategy known as REDD+, or reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, could also help to end the “business-as-usual” interests that have been blamed for holding it back, the study’s authors say.

Gucci goes carbon neutral
By Armine Gulyan, Flaunt, 12 September 2019
With a global phenomenon such as climate change at our doorstep, it is no longer a option to simply ignore the harmful effects we humans are having on our planet. In order to help reduce the threat of climate change, humanity as a whole will have to achieve carbon neutrality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by anywhere between 2050-2070. Among the corporations who are contributing to this phenomenon in high numbers is the fashion industry, as it is responsible for around 5% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the world. If we want to achieve any sort of success in the fight against climate change, these corporations have to take action soon rather than later.

The world needs carbon-neutral flying. Here’s how to bring it one step closer.
By Lauren Uppink and Nikolai Khlystov, Big Think, 12 September 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.

Sweet! Nestlé commits to net zero emissions by 2050
By Priyanka Shrestha, Energy Live News, 12 September 2019
The owner of brands such as KitKat, Milkybar and Smarties is aiming to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Nestlé announced its ambition as part of its efforts to help tackle climate change and will sign the ‘Business Ambition for 1.5°C’ pledge at the UN Climate Action Summit later this month.
Some of its commitments include launching more products that have a better environmental footprint and contribute a balanced diet, looking at more plant-based food and beverage options, as well as reformulating its products using more climate-friendly ingredients.

Amazon forest turns into ‘gates of Hell’ as fires continue to rip through Brazil
By Christopher Bucktin, The Mirror, 12 September 2019
The Mirror’s Christopher Bucktin has revealed the devastating destruction wildfires have caused to the Amazon rainforest, as he reports from Porto Velho in Brazil.
As I trudged through the fires raging in the Amazon, the intense heat not only wrenched every last drop of perspiration from me, it also scorched my skin, melted my shoes and burnt my clothes.
After a week in the rainforest – alongside the firefighters desperately trying to save this precious resource from destruction – I feel like I have been led to the gates of Hell.

Deforestation damage goes far beyond the Amazon
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 12 September 2019
The burning of the Amazon has caused alarm around the world, from the Vatican to the G7, and there are fears that unless the fires are stopped swiftly the forests could reach a point of no return in the loss of wildlife and biodiversity.
Forest loss has also been happening in other areas of the world but has received a lower level of global attention.

Australian natural disasters minister’s complete about face: ‘I believe in climate science’
By Katharine Murphy and Paul Karp, The Guardian, 12 September 2019
Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, now says he accepts the science on manmade climate change, and “[I] always have”.
Littleproud’s comments to the House of Representatives on Thursday were entirely at odds with a written statement he made to Guardian Australia on Tuesday. In response to questions, Littleproud said: “I don’t know if climate change is man-made.”

Forests and wellbeing – Guyanese forests’ future is vital to our own
Stabroek News, 12 September 2019
GlobalCAD is a Spain-based firm that generates knowledge and innovative solutions through partnership development, applied research, capacity building and strategic advice in Green economy & climate change and Cross-sector partnerships for development, among other areas. The firm has been contracted by the Ministry of Natural Resources under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Project in Guyana to perform the Consultation and Stakeholder Engagement on REDD+ & Readi-ness Activities in Guyana.

Indonesia forest fires spark blame game as smoke closes hundreds of Malaysia schools
By Kate Lamb, The Guardian, 12 September 2019
Indonesia has shot back at claims the country is solely responsible for the fires that have created a thick haze across parts of Malaysia this week and forced the closure of hundreds of schools.
“The Indonesian government has been systematically trying to resolve this to the best of its ability. Not all smog is from Indonesia,” said Indonesia’s environment minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, in a statement on Wednesday, in a rebuke of its neighbour.

[Liberia] FDA to Construct US$300K Regional Office
By Edwin M. Fayia, III, Daily Observer, 12 September 2019
The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the World Bank on August 22, 2019 broke grounds for the construction of a regional office for region one (Bomi, Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Montserrado counties). According to an FDA press release, the complex valued at an estimated cost of US$330,000 when completed, will co-host FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The complex is funded through the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP) funding being provided by the government of Norway and managed by the World Bank.

13 September 2019

Carbon offsetting: a solution to flying emissions, or just passing the buck?
By Dr Roger Tyers, Science Focus, 13 September 2019
Flying has been in the news a lot lately. Not because of the usual stories like delays, staff strikes or excess luggage fees, but because of a more fundamental problem: aviation’s huge carbon footprint.
We’ve recently learned of Prince Harry and Meghan’s penchant for private jet travel, and Sir Elton John has raised the idea of buying offsets as a way to fly ‘carbon neutral’. Elsewhere, environmentalists like Greta Thunberg and thousands of her followers are giving up flying completely. But is air travel really such a big problem?

The Environmental Movement Needs to Reckon with Its Racist History
By Julian Brave NoiseCat, Vice, 13 September 2019
When I was a student at Columbia in New York City there were two major divestment campaigns on campus: one for private prisons and another for fossil fuel corporations. Though they shared similar tactics and aims, their constituents looked very different from each other. The former was led by Black students. The latter was predominantly white.

Deforestation Is Getting Worse, 5 Years After Countries and Companies Vowed to Stop It
By Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News, 13 September 2019
Five years after joining in a historic commitment to stop cutting the world’s forests, governments and companies are not only failing to slow deforestation, they are rapidly driving the disappearance of more trees.
As fires consume Amazonian forests, stoking global concern about the loss of a vital ecosystem and climate regulator, a new report published Thursday finds that forests continue to be cleared at an alarming rate, driven mostly by agricultural expansion and demand for beef, palm oil and soy.

Global tree-cover loss has increased by 43 percent over past five years, report says
Global Landscapes Forum, 13 September 2019
A pact to halve deforestation by 2020 and end it by 2030 is unlikely to be met without reliable financing, according to a new report, which states that an area of tree-cover the size of the United Kingdom was lost on average worldwide every year between 2014 and 2018.

Moderate forest damage raises local temperature
By Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 13 September 2019
Destruction of the Amazon rainforest is bad news for the planet. It isn’t good news for the people, plants and animals of the region either. And even moderate forest damage raises local temperatures faster than it can affect the average global temperature.
British researchers used comprehensive and systematic sets of satellite data to test the local temperatures of both surviving tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin, and of the surfaces cleared of canopy by fire, axe, drought and grazing.
They report that even if two-thirds of the tree cover survived, the local ground temperature increased. The more canopy that was lost, the more pronounced the effect.

Rising to the challenge
Environmental Finance, 13 September 2019
Ten years ago, when Environmental Finance first conducted its voluntary carbon market rankings, the market was in many ways still in its infancy: the Kyoto Protocol’s first compliance period was only two years old and negotiations about its successor were underway (before collapsing in Copenhagen in December 2009). Over the next six years, while the international process reset and budgets were squeezed, the voluntary market saw a dip in activity.
Now, on the cusp of a new era of international climate change policy responses – including the aviation sector’s CORSIA market – the voluntary market is poised for its third successive record-breaking year. Already, as of 21 August, standards body Verra had issued 67 million verified carbon units (VCUs) – up 35% on last year’s entire issuance.

Carbon taxes + cap and trade = Tackling climate change like an economist
By Clark Merrefield, Journalist’s Resource, 13 September 2019
To paraphrase toothpaste advertising, it might be said that 9 out of 10 economists agree: putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions can help bring those emissions down. Using economics to curb climate change is an idea that’s been kicking around for a while.
“The central question for economists, climatologists and other scientists remains: How costly are the projected changes in — or uncertainties about — the climate likely to be, and, therefore, to what level of control should we aspire?” Yale University economist and 2018 Nobel laureate William Nordhaus wrote in 1976.

Why Amazon Trees Are Especially Vulnerable to This Year’s Fires
By Meghie Rodriques, Scientific American, 13 September 2019
This summer’s fires in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil grabbed the world’s attention. In August, the country’s National Institute for Space Research detected 30,901 fires in the region, almost three times the number seen a year ago. Photographs showed enormous destruction in an ecosystem that is vitally important locally and globally. Now researchers say the problems could be even worse: many trees that are still alive will die during the coming years, and the forest could take thousands of years to regain its current capacity to store carbon.

Indigenous Brazilians Come Together To Defend Amazon Forest Against Fires
By Catherin Osborn, NPR, 13 September 2019
Indigenous Brazilians are joining forces to defend the Amazon forest from fires set by invaders on their land. More than a dozen indigenous groups met recently to strategize.

Amazon Watch Statement on Brazil-U.S. Amazon Plan
Amazon Watch, 13 September 2019
On Friday, the United States and Brazil announced plans to move forward with a $100M plan for “development” in the Amazon, originally announced in March. At today’s press conference, Brazil’s foreign minister Ernesto Araújo said opening the rainforest to economic development was “the only way to really protect the forest,” and U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo did not reference the current fires raging in the Amazon that have drawn worldwide outrage.

[Democratic Republic of Congo] Rooting sustainability in the logging industry
By Ahtziri Gonzalez, CIFOR Forests News, 13 September 2019
Located on the bumpy road connecting run-down Bangoka International Airport to the city of Kisangani in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Compagnie Forestière et de Transformation’s (CFT) sawmill stands as an oasis of change.
A visit inside the streamlined structure reveals a timber company taking positive steps towards sustainability. In a context where poor governance is the norm, a responsible private sector could be the much-needed game-changer for forest management in this central African country.

EU Must Build ‘Unanimity’ on CORSIA Climate Change Scheme to Tackle Aviation Sector – Official
By Demond Cureton, Sputnik News, 13 September 2019
Amid further discussions over how nation-states could commit to goals outlined in the Paris agreement and numerous meetings with the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), European Parliament lawmakers are in talks to learn how to implement new legislation set for a pilot phase from 2021 to 2023.
An EU official discussed concerns and implications on the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) signed at the Bratislava Declaration on 3 September 2016.

[Indonesia] Hazy mitigation efforts
The Jakarta Post, 13 September 2019
The specter of a deadly haze that engulfed parts of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in 2015 hangs heavily over the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, especially after recent reports put the blame squarely on Indonesia.
Hundreds of schools in Malaysia have been shuttered due to concerns over increasingly poor air quality, and people from the region have expressed their grievances about the adverse effects that transboundary haze has had on their health and daily activities.

[Indonesia] Forest fires destroying vital buffer against climate change
AFP, 13 September 2019
With fierce blazes raging in jungles from the Amazon to Indonesia, concerns are mounting about the impact as rainforests play a vital role in protecting the planet against global warming.
The latest serious outbreak is in Indonesia, where fires started to clear land for agriculture are burning out of control, blanketing the region in haze.

Indonesia says some forest fires started on Malaysian-controlled land
By Bernadette Christina Munthe, Gayatri Suroyo, Rozanna Latiff, and A. Ananthalakshmi, Reuters, 13 September 2019
Indonesia’s environment minister said on Friday some forest fires in its territory had started on land used by subsidiaries of Malaysian companies, as the neighbors traded blame for blazes that have spread haze across the region.
Malaysia has said smoke from fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra and Borneo islands over the past month has drifted over the border, forcing it to close schools and issue public health alerts.

[Nepal] Tourism, aviation and carbon
By Sanghamitra Subba, Nepali Times, 13 September 2019
Last month, young climate change activist Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic Ocean for 15 days on a zero-carbon yacht. After the UN Climate Action Summit, she will sail on to Chile for another climate meeting. Thunberg is trying to show people around the world that reducing one’s carbon footprint may be difficult, but it is possible.
But for the 2 million tourists expected to arrive in Nepal next year, sailing is not an option. Road travel is not feasible. Their only mode of entry into Nepal? Flying.

[Nigeria] Ogun gets FG’s commendation on afforestation
By Samuel Awoyinfa, Punch, 13 September 2019
Ogun State Government has been commended for sustaining afforestation values in its forest reserves with a view to reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation of the environment.
The National Coordinator, Reducing Emissions Deforestation and Degradation, Dr Moses Ama, gave the commendation on the occasion of REDD+’s visit to the state.

[USA] The world is watching as California weighs controversial plan to save tropical forests
By Julia Rosen, Los Angeles Times, 13 September 2019
Smoke is still rising from the Amazon as fires smolder in the world’s largest rain forest. The blazes triggered a wave of global outrage over the loss of precious trees. But California says it has a plan to keep tropical forests standing.

[USA] Controversial Tropical Forest Standard Program Divides Scientists, Environmental Groups
KPCC, 13 September 2019
California is weighing a controversial plan to help protect tropical forests, but some argue the move has too many pitfalls and shouldn’t be implemented.
According to the L.A. Times, the Tropical Forest Standard proposal, TFS, would divert billions of dollars to other countries, like Brazil, as an effort to fight deforestation. The money, sourced from companies that offset their own emissions through carbon credits, would be directed towards funding sustainable industries. Some say it’s the best way to preserve tropical forests and combat climate change. TFS programs aren’t new and proponents have said they’ve attempted to learn from past mistakes.

14 September 2019

Naomi Klein: ‘We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism’
By Natalie Hanman, The Guardian, 14 September 2019
Why are you publishing this book now?
I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

Is carbon credit offsetting your flights a waste of money – or a good way to help save the planet?
By Toby Walne, Mail on Sunday, 14 September 2019
The idea of buying ‘carbon credits’ to save the planet is becoming highly fashionable.
Just ask the Duchess of Sussex, who apparently purchased some to offset her flight across the Atlantic on her mission to watch Serena Williams in the US Open tennis earlier this month.

10 Things You Need to Know about the Fires in the Amazon
By Ana Rivera, Left Voice, 14 September 2019
The world is watching in horror as pictures circulate of huge stretches of the Amazon rainforest in flames, but these are no ordinary wildfires. They were set on purpose to generate immense profit for a few multinational companies and the bourgeois governments that support them. Urgent action and mobilization of working people and activists around the world is necessary to put an end to the capitalist exploitation that is destroying one of the Earth’s most important ecological regions. Here’s what you need you need to know about the fires and those responsible for them.

Brazil’s Amazon chief Raoni tapped for 2020 Nobel Peace Prize nomination
Reuters, 14 September 2019
A group of Brazilian anthropologists and environmentalists has put foward Chief Raoni Metuktire of the Kayapó tribe as a candidate for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for a lifetime of work protecting the Amazon rainforest.
Raoni, an unmistakable Amazon icon with his large lip plate, yellow macaw-feather headdress and ear rings, became known internationally as an environmental campaigner in the 1980s with musician Sting at his side.

Indonesia seals off 30 companies over forest fires
By Niniek Karmini and Eileen Ng, Associated Press, 14 September 2019
Indonesia has sealed off 30 companies amid a row with Malaysia over forest fires that are spreading a thick, noxious haze around Southeast Asia, officials said Saturday.
The plantation companies, including a Singapore-based company and four firms affiliated with Malaysian corporate groups, are under scrutiny and waiting for decisions on possible punishment, said Sugeng Riyanto, the law enforcement director at Indonesia’s Forestry and Environment Ministry.

[Indonesia] Environment Ministry seals 42 company lands to fight forest fires
Antara News, 14 September 2019
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry sealed 42 lands belonging to a corporation and one of an individual under its efforts to prevent and manage forest fires in several areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
“The ministry’s investigators have sealed 42 company locations and one belonging to an individual in a bid to thwart the possibility of forest fires,” Director General of Law Enforcement from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Rasio Ridho Sani remarked in Jakarta, Saturday.

[Indonesia] Government prepares to deal with forest fires
Antara News, 14 September 2019
The Indonesian government is planning several measures to address land and forest fires in several parts of the country, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said Friday. “The first step is to strengthen the Manggala Agni fire brigade,” he said after attending a ministerial special meeting on controlling forest and land fires in Jakarta.
With that in mind, the number of fire brigade personnel equipped with fire extinguishers will be increased, he said.

Forest fires 16,000km away affect Singapore
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 14 September 2019
Halfway across the globe, the world’s largest tropical rainforest is in flames. Closer to home, swathes of green in Sumatra and Kalimantan are feeling the heat.
In the tale of two burning rainforests, there is a common thread: As the flames roar through the Amazon and South-east Asia, hopes of limiting greenhouse gases are going up in smoke.
Assistant Professor Kelly Andersen, from the Asian School of the Environment at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), explained that tropical rainforests help to take up planet-warming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, locking the carbon in tree biomass such as trunks and roots.

[UK] Watch out for cold-calling racketeers flogging carbon credits, regulator warns
By Toby Walne, Mail on Sunday, 14 September 2019
The idea of buying carbon credits as an investment for a future where they have become the norm and are traded regularly may sound exciting – but for most people they should be avoided.
The industry is not regulated by City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority, so you cannot seek any redress from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if your investment goes wrong.

US and Brazil agree to Amazon development
BBC News, 14 September 2019
The US and Brazil have agreed to promote private-sector development in the Amazon, during a meeting in Washington on Friday.
They also pledged a $100m (£80m) biodiversity conservation fund for the Amazon led by the private sector.
Brazil’s foreign minister said opening the rainforest to economic development was the only way to protect it.

15 September 2019

Facing a possible Climate Apocalypse: How should we live?
By Glenn Scherer, Mongabay, 15 September 2019
We live in Apocalyptic times. That’s not news; we’ve done so – successfully thwarting doom – for more than a hundred years; dancing above the abyss. Now mostly forgotten, 1919 a mere century ago, saw 50 million souls carried off by the global flu pandemic. That nightmare punctuated a self-inflicted human tragedy: The war years 1914-1918 saw 40 million civilian and military casualties, with soldiers machine-gunned, blown up, gassed, many as they “walked eye-deep in Hell believing in old men’s lies,” as poet Ezra Pound put it.

Global warming hot spots pass safe limit
By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, Alex Kirby, 15 September 2019
By land and sea, some of the planet’s hot spots are already above the temperature agreed by scientists and politicians as the maximum allowable to prevent a disastrous climate crisis.
The limit was accepted by 195 governments in the Paris Agreement, reached in 2015: it committed them to preventing the global average temperature rising by more than 2°C (3.6°F) above its pre-industrial level, and doing all they could to keep it below 1.5°C. It is making slow progress.

‘Flight shaming’ could help unleash billions in airline cash to protect the Amazon and other tropical forests
By Joshua Emerson Smith, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 September 2019
Concerns about the carbon footprint of air travel have taken off around the globe with “flight shaming” the latest cultural battleground set up by the escalating climate crisis.
Under public pressure, the international aviation industry is poised to inject hundreds of millions and eventually billions of dollars into environmental projects under a United Nations’ deal to counteract the increasing amount of greenhouse-gas emissions expected from airplane travel in coming decades.

[Ghana] Civil Society Independent Forest Monitoring Platform launched
By Morkporkpor Anku, Ghana News Agency, 15 September 2019
As part of measures to protect the forest, seven civil society organisations have launched the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitoring (CSIFM) platform in Accra.
The technologically-led tool will complement the efforts of the Forestry Commission’s enforcement by providing them with information on infractions happening on the blind side of the authority for the necessary corrective actions to be taken.

Shocking photographs show devastation from forest fires in Indonesia as pollution pushes Singapore’s air quality to unhealthy levels one week before F1 race
By Pheobe Eckersley and Emer Scully, Mail Online, 15 September 2019
Singapore’s air quality has ‘deteriorated’ for the first time in three years after forest fires have swept up Indonesia and set the country ablaze – just one week before the Formula 1 race is set to take place.
Fires blew from Sumatra towards Singapore and sparked wild fires, with pollutant readings of 87-106, exceeding ‘unhealthy’ levels and worsening to 112 in parts on Saturday night, according to the Pollution Standards Index.
This is the first time it has reached the 100 reading for 24 hours and the country saw 42 helicopters delivering 240 million liters of water.

 

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