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REDD in the news: 16-22 September 2019

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

Setting the Record Straight on Green Resources’ Project in Uganda
Oakland Institute, September 2019
With the recent publication of Evicted for Carbon Credits: Norway, Sweden, and Finland Displace Ugandan Farmers for Carbon Trading, the Oakland Institute has brought forward irrefutable evidence that villagers were forcibly evicted to make way for the Norwegian company, Green Resources’ tree plantation in Kachung, Uganda. The establishment of the plantation on land previously used by subsistence farmers has precipitated an on-going food security crisis that the company, its financers, and the Ugandan government have failed to address.

Nature-based solutions in nationally determined contributions
IUCN, September 2019
Nature-based solutions (NbS) — centred on the protection, restoration and sustainable management of the world’s ecosystems — have a vitally important role to play in addressing both the causes and consequences of climate change. As countries revise or prepare new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in support of the Paris Agreement in the run-up to 2020, there is a major opportunity to increase global ambition on climate change through strengthening the role of these natural solutions. To support the increased uptake of NbS in future NDCs, this report presents an overview of the current level of ambition for nature within them, and highlights what can be done further to fully harness the potential of NbS in global climate action going forward.

16 September 2019

The Blood-Dimmed Tide
By Emily Atkin, The New Repbulic, 16 September 2019
It’s the year 2100. The nationalist ideology popularized by Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and Boris Johnson has not only retained its hold on industrialized nations, but also expanded amid conditions of climate upheaval. Many of the world’s major powers have spent the last several decades focusing on themselves. Borders have closed. International investments in education and technology have declined. The divide between the developed and undeveloped world has widened.

Faster pace of climate change is ‘scary’, former chief scientist says
By Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 16 September 2019
Extreme events linked to climate change, such as the heatwave in Europe this year, are occurring sooner than expected, an ex-chief scientist says.
Prof Sir David King says he’s been scared by the number of extreme events, and he called for the UK to advance its climate targets by 10 years.
But the UN’s weather chief said using words like “scared” could make young people depressed and anxious.

Why Next Monday’s UN Climate Action Summit Matters
By Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation, 16 September 2019
As world leaders converge on New York City for the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23, they enter what may be the most consequential week in climate politics since Donald Trump’s surprise election as president of the United States in 2016. Trump, of course, announced soon after taking office that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, the landmark treaty signed at the last big UN climate summit in 2015.

6 Greenwashing Schemes That Show Corporations Will Never Lead on Climate
By Christin MacDonald, In These Times, 16 September 2019
Forget the youth activists capturing the country’s imagination with calls for a Green New Deal and the progressive politicians pushing for it: The clearest signal that climate change demands action comes from the planet’s corporations.
Corporations worldwide are announcing new plans to eliminate climate impact from their operations, and would have you believe they are well on their way to building the green economy voluntarily, no need for major economic reform. It would seem the dirtier the industry, the bigger the ambition. HeidelbergCement, for example, the world’s second-largest cement producer, pledged to produce carbon-neutral concrete by 2050, a goal in line with the Paris Agreement.

The oil industry vs. the electric car
By Gavin Bade, Politico, 16 September 2019
The oil industry is trying to crush the booming electric car movement.
Groups backed by industry giants like Exxon Mobil and the Koch empire are waging a state-by-state, multimillion-dollar battle to squelch utilities’ plans to build charging stations across the country. Environmentalists call the fight a reprise of the “Who Killed the Electric Car?” battles that doomed an earlier generation of battery-driven vehicles in the 1990s.

$1m a minute: the farming subsidies destroying the world – report
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 16 September 2019
The public is providing more than $1m per minute in global farm subsidies, much of which is driving the climate crisis and destruction of wildlife, according to a new report.
Just 1% of the $700bn (£560bn) a year given to farmers is used to benefit the environment, the analysis found. Much of the total instead promotes high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from the overuse of fertiliser.

Please Don’t Shut up Mr Franzen – breaking the taboo on our climate tragedy
By Jem Bendell, jembendell.com, 16 September 2019
The New Yorker missed out on publishing one of the biggest stories of the year in 2017, when their neighbourhood competitor, the New York Magazine, published David Wallace-Wells’ article on whether the world would become too hot for humans. Not to be outdone, they published a piece on a similar topic two years later, by the author Jonathan Franzen. He goes a bit further than Wallace-Wells by asking readers to reflect on what we might start considering if it might be too late to avert the disruption of our civilisation due to climate chaos. In doing that, he was breaking a taboo in mainstream culture, and the environmental field, that we do not talk about it being too late to avert a breakdown in the way of life of people living in the richer world. I broke that taboo last year in my own field of corporate sustainability and academia, with the publication of Deep Adaptation. It is why I found the Franzen article interesting – and the reaction to it much more so.

Indigenous Communities Descend On London To Discuss Urgent Environmental Action
By James Ellsmoor, Forbes, 16 September 2019
As devastating fires rage in the Amazon rainforest and the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report warns of environmental degradation, indigenous communities from around the world met in London to call for urgent action on the climate crisis. The Flourishing Diversity Series (FDS) took place in order to promote the vital role that indigenous communities have in tackling environmental damage and to give them a platform on which to express their experiences.

What is the UN climate action summit?
By Chloé Farand, Climate Home News, 16 September 2019
UN secretary general António Guterres is hosting a climate summit in New York on 23 September to ramp up global efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
The high-level meeting at the UN headquarters is a critical moment for political leaders to show their willingness to increase their climate plans and deepen the decarbonisation of their economies.

Can Fire Destroy the Amazon?
By James MacDonald, JSTOR Daily, 16 September 2019
For the past few weeks, the world has watched in horror as massive fires engulf large sections of the Amazon. If forest ecologists are correct, the fires may set off a feedback loop that threatens the very existence of the Amazon rainforest itself.
The risks start far from the Amazon. As Daniel Nepstad et al. outline in a 2008 paper, demand for agricultural products keeps growing in places like the United States, Europe, and China. The Amazon has the potential to provide a lot of space for agriculture, once the trees are removed. Through the decades the forest has been cleared for corn, soybeans, cattle, and sugar, not to mention timber and mining.

Fires devastating Australia’s east coast have arrived unusually early
By Ruby Prosser Scully, New Scientist, 16 September 2019
Fires devastating Australia’s east coast have arrived uncharacteristically early this year. It is only just spring and so this may be an ominous sign of more trouble to come.
At the height of the recent fires, around 140 were burning across eastern Queensland and northeast New South Wales, destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands to evacuate. Some of the fires stretched hundreds of kilometres.

Forest fires destroy 2.4 mln hectares in Bolivia
Xinhua, 16 September 2019
Fires have destroyed at least 2.4 million hectares of forest and pastureland in east Bolivia in the past month, Environment Secretary for eastern Santa Cruz department Cinthia Asin said on Sunday.
The fires also destroyed 40 million trees and more than a thousand vertebrae animal species, Asin told reporters at a press conference, adding that 1.15 million hectares of burnt land were protected areas.

[Ghana] Civil Society Independent Forest Monitoring Platform launched
GhanaWeb, 16 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.

Indonesia reboots effort to end corporate secrecy as anonymous firms destroy Papuan rainforest
Gecko Project, 16 September 2019
When a string of palm oil companies arrived in the village of Anggai, in a heavily forested corner of Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province, Robertus Meyanggi hoped they would help his community prosper.
Before long, his optimism faded to despair. The promises to build schools and health clinics and provide electricity never materialised, years after the firms, said to be owned by the same conglomerate, set about clearing rainforest to make way for an oil palm plantation.

[Indonesia] Haze crisis: Kalimantan API hits hazardous 500; schools close
Reuters, 16 September 2019
Schools in two cities in the Indonesian part of Borneo island will be closed for a week after smoke from forest fires caused air quality to hit “dangerous” levels, a local government official said on Sunday.
Indonesia and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia are regularly hit by smoke from slash-and-burn clearances of forests for farms and palm oil plantations, but conditions this year have been the worst since 2015 due to an El Nino weather pattern causing an extended dry spell.

Indonesian forest fires disrupt hundreds of flights
By Erwida Maulia, Nikkei Asian Review, 16 September 2019
Forest and land fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Kalimantan provinces are spreading, disrupting hundreds of flights and sparking a blame game with officials from neighboring Malaysia.
Indonesia’s largest carrier, privately-owned Lion Air Group, canceled at least 81 flights, delayed 63 and diverted nine other on Sunday alone. State-owned Garuda Indonesia and its budget subsidiary Citilink reported at least 18 cancellations. As of Monday noon, the poor visibility stemming from smog disrupted operations of 11 airports in Kalimantan and Sumatra, as well as 65 flights, according to Indonesian state-owned air traffic controller company AirNav.

Southeast Asia Haze: Mass Arrest in Indonesia Amid Raging Forest Fires
AP, 16 September 2019
Indonesian authorities have arrested 185 people suspected of starting forest fires that are spreading a thick, noxious haze around Southeast Asia, police said Monday.
Nearly every year, Indonesian forest fires spread health-damaging haze across the country and into neighboring Malaysia and Singapore. The fires are often started by smallholders and plantation owners to clear land for planting.

Indonesia shuts schools as smoke from forest fires takes health toll
Reuters, 16 September 2019
Indonesia closed more schools on Monday in parts of the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, as well as providing oxygen at health centres to help treat some of the thousands suffering respiratory infections due to choking smoke from forest fires.
Indonesia and neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia are regularly hit by smoky haze from slash-and-burn clearances of forests for timber and palm oil plantations, but conditions this year have been the worst since 2015 due to an El Nino weather pattern causing an extended dry spell.

[Indonesia] NGOs send open letter to President Jokowi over forest fires
Antara News, 16 September 2019
Several NGOs have sent an open letter to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), urging the government to act concretely in fighting the smog emanating from forest fires on Kalimantan and Sumatra Islands.

[USA] Open Forum: Can California save the Amazon?
By Libby Blanchard and Kathleen McAfee, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 September 2019
As the Amazon burns and the United Nations prepares for a climate change summit in New York, the week’s most consequential policy on the fate of tropical forests could be made in Sacramento. The California Air Resources Board will decide Thursday whether to endorse a new climate strategy that could allow California’s oil refineries and other top polluters to offset a portion of their greenhouse-gas emissions by paying to conserve tropical rain forests in the Amazon and beyond.

[USA] Why I support the California Tropical Forest Standard
By Adam Gardner, Mongabay, 16 September 2019
The Amazon is a rich, beautiful, and magical place. I’ve visited this vast region on several occasions to learn about the indigenous communities who live there and protect it, and to raise awareness of their struggle, as part of the organization I co-founded, REVERB. The indigenous leaders I met told me how deeply they depend on a healthy rainforest for their livelihoods and well-being.

[USA] California must not fall for marketing scheme that falsely claims to protect tropical forests
By Katie Valenzuela and Leila Salazar-Lopez, CalMatters, 16 September 2019
Imagine we were presenting you with an investment opportunity. It would cost a lot, and similar programs have failed miserably.
Human rights violations would very likely occur. There are more viable alternatives available with similar (or lower) costs, but we’re asking you to invest anyway because we are certain we could figure out a way to make a failed program work this time.
Would you give us your money?

17 September 2019

Shades of REDD+: Can Oil and Aviation Fuel a Marshall Plan for Forests?
By Donna Lee, Ecosystem Marketplace, 17 September 2019
Over the past year, energy giants Shell, BP, Total and Eni have announced climate mitigation goals that include offsetting emissions through financing forests. Shell and Total together have pledged 200 million US dollars per year on forest protection or restoration. Only five donor governments—Germany, Japan, Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom—provide annual contributions to international forest finance around or exceeding this amount.

Money is the oxygen on which the fire of global warming burns
By Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, 17 September 2019
I’m skilled at eluding the fetal crouch of despair — because I’ve been working on climate change for thirty years, I’ve learned to parcel out my angst, to keep my distress under control. But, in the past few months, I’ve more often found myself awake at night with true fear-for-your-kids anguish. This spring, we set another high mark for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere: four hundred and fifteen parts per million, higher than it has been in many millions of years. The summer began with the hottest June ever recorded, and then July became the hottest month ever recorded.

Meat Is Murder. But You Know That Already.
By Mark Bittman, The New York Times, 17 September 2019
Jonathan Safran Foer’s second book of nonfiction is an eye-opening collection of mostly short essays expressing both despair and hope over the climate crisis, especially around individual choice. It’s a wide-ranging book — there are tributes to grandparents and sons, as well as musings on suicide, family, effort, sense and much more — but it has a point, and that is to persuade us to eat fewer animal products.

Less meat for rich can cut heat and hunger
By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 17 September 2019
Eating less meat is not the way everyone should aim to tackle the climate crisis, a new study says. It is an essential step for many of us, the researchers argue, but in a world racked by malnutrition and hunger it can be only part of the answer to rising temperatures.
But many people in high-income countries will need to make more ambitious cuts in the amount of meat, eggs and dairy products they consume. The reason? People who are under-nourished will need to eat more of these foods to have a hope of healthy lives.

UN hosts drive to suck back carbon and reverse climate change
By Oliver Milman, The Guardian, 17 September 2019
A new effort to rally governments and corporations behind technologies that suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to help stave off disastrous global heating will be launched at the United Nations on Tuesday.
The first annual Global Climate Restoration Forum, held in New York, aims to spur international support for emerging and sometimes controversial methods to claw back planet-warming gases after they have been emitted from power plants, cars, trucks and aircraft.

Gucci leads the fashion pack in conservation efforts
By Lester Tan, Augustman, 17 September 2019
In the wake of forest fires across Brazil, Indonesia and Europe – echoing Greta Thunberg’s words that our house [home planet] is on fire – the news about Italian luxury brand Gucci’s latest environmental initiatives offers some solace. Every year, Mother Earth is looking at losing an area of forests equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom. This is a terrifying statistic, prompting Gucci to commit itself to going 100 per cent carbon neutral in all of its operations and supply chains with immediate effect.

Researchers see need for action on forest fire risk
By Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Phys.org, 17 September 2019
How do humans affect forest fires? And what can we learn from forest fires in the past for the future of forestry? An international team of researchers led by Elisabeth Dietze, formerly at the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ in Potsdam and now at the Alfred Wegener Institute—Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, now provides new answers to these questions. The research team has shown for a region in north-eastern Poland that forest fires increasingly occurred there after the end of the 18th century with the change to organised forestry. Among other things, the conversion of forests into pine monocultures played a role. The increased number of fires subsequently made it necessary to manage and maintain the forests differently.

Should you choose to offset your emissions, and where does the money go?
By Mirjam Guesgen, The Spinoff, 17 September 2019
New Zealanders travel overseas a lot, with trips totalling close to 3 million a year. And every time a Kiwi takes flight, tonnes of earth-heating gases spew into the atmosphere.
One option to ease the climate blow is to offset the emissions from flying. But it’s proved difficult to keep track of where the money goes and how effective the projects are, leading to offset programmes being labelled everything from dodgy to downright fraudulent.

Leading burger supplier sourced from Amazon farmer using deforested land
By Andrew Wasley and Alexandra Heal, The Guardian, 17 September 2019
The world’s biggest supplier of burgers sourced meat from a farmer in the Amazon who had been found guilty of using deforested land, say reports, even as new figures reveal the beef industry’s deforestation risks.
Marfrig, a Brazilian meat company that has supplied McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food chains around the world, bought cattle from a farm that had been using deforested land earlier this year, according to a joint investigation by Repórter Brasil and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Tracking cattle deforestation risk in the Amazon and the Cerrado — a breakthrough in transparency
Trase, 17 September 2019
While it is widely recognised that cattle ranching is the biggest driver of deforestation in the Amazon, can that deforestation be linked to particular buyers or consumer markets?
One of the problems is that cows can change hands several times both before they are sent to slaughter and after they have been killed. Calves may be sold for fattening, pre-slaughter, and meat can be sold on for processing before reaching its destination. Which makes tracking the supply chain complex.

Brazil: Criminal Networks Target Rainforest Defenders
Human Rights Watch, 17 September 2019
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is driven largely by criminal networks that use violence and intimidation against those who try to stop them, and the government is failing to protect both the defenders and the rainforest itself, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

Criminal Gangs Are Behind the Destruction of the Brazilian Amazon
By Yessenia Funes, Gizmodo, 17 September 2019
Criminals, violence, and illegal activity drive deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, according to a new report. This is a brutal reminder that the people setting the Amazon rainforest on fire will do so at any cost—even human life.
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday published the 165-page report “Rainforest Mafias: How Violence and Impunity Fuel Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon,” outlining the ways gangs exhibiting this illegal, criminal behavior not only threatens the world’s largest rainforest but also the people who live in and around it.

Deforestation increase dovetails with armed conflict in Colombia, study finds
By Antonio José Paz Cardona, Mongabay, 18 September 2019
Many of the world’s armed conflicts occur in areas with high biodiversity, according to a 2009 study published in Biological Conservation. The study found that more than 80 percent of such conflicts occurred in biodiversity hotspots, yet their impact on flora and fauna have rarely been studied since.

Indonesian environmentalists blast govt over forest fires
New Straits Times, 17 September 2019
Indonesian environmental activists have criticised the government for its apparent lack of seriousness in tackling forest fires, resulting in the bad haze and affecting public safety.
According to press reports, the haze has not only affected locals, but has also crossed the borders and affected neighbouring countries.
According to Khalisah Khalid, head of WALHI, the Indonesian Forum for Environmental Resources, no action has been taken to date against individuals or companies which were responsible for the forest fires. The ten companies found guilty of these fires between 2012 and 2015 have also not faced any penalty, she added.

As Amazon Smolders, Indonesia Fires Choke the Other Side of the World
By Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono, The New York Times, 17 September 2019
Brazil has captured global attention over deliberately set fires that are burning the Amazon rainforest, often called the earth’s lungs. Now Indonesia is compounding the concern with blazes to clear forest on the other side of the world.
Hundreds of wildfires burned across Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra on Tuesday, producing thick clouds of smoke that disrupted air travel, forced schools to close and sickened many thousands of people. Poorly equipped firefighters were unable to bring them under control.

‘We’ve been negligent,’ Indonesia’s president says as fire crisis deepens
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 17 September 2019
Indonesia’s president has admitted negligence on the part of the government, as top officials engage in a blame game amid the worst spate of forest fires since 2015 that’s sending clouds of toxic haze across large swaths of the country and abroad.
This year’s fires, most of them set deliberately to clear land for planting, have burned nearly 340,000 hectares (840,000 acres) as of Aug. 31 — an area a third the size of Jamaica — according to data from the environment ministry.

Climate neutrality the Norwegian way: Carbon trading?
By Erlend Andre Tveiten Hermansen, Glen Peters, and Bård Lahn, Cicero, 17 September 2019
In the net zero debate Norway is often pointed to as a frontrunner. But contrary to common perception, Norway’s target of climate neutrality by 2030 is not enshrined in law, impossible to reach without massive use of flexible mechanisms, and currently lacks a clear governmental strategy.

[USA] California’s Market-Based Plan to Protect Tropical Forests
By Judith Lewis Mernit, Capital & Main, 17 September 2019
This past June 17, four members of the California Assembly sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board, granting cautious blessing to the air board’s proposal for saving the world’s tropical forests. That proposal, the California Tropical Forest Standard, was crafted over the last decade by air board staff and would set guidelines to improve the integrity of tropical forest-based carbon credits.

[USA] Expanding Carbon Offsets Will Not Solve the Climate Crisis or Protect Tropical Forests
By Alberto Saldamando and Jim Walsh, Common Dreams, 17 September 2019
Wildfires raging across Brazil, Northern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa have focused attention on the importance of forests in capturing carbon emissions and preserving biodiversity. However, a flawed plan set for consideration later this month by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), would only increase the threat to these precious forests.

18 September 2019

We’re losing species at shocking rates – so why is conservation failing?
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 18 September 2019
The number of mammals, insects, amphibians, fish and birds is in steep decline, the world’s forests are on fire and the abundance of life is diminishing at rates unprecedented in human history. The TV screens are full of images of gorgeous wildlife but one million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction and governments appear paralysed.

Investors With $16 Trillion Demand Action on Deforestation
By Mikael Holter, Bloomberg, 18 September 2019
Institutional investors with more than $16 trillion in assets under management, including Europe’s biggest asset manager Amundi SA, called on companies to implement anti-deforestation policies for their supply chains and report extensively on how they tackle the issue. The 230 investors, which also include BNP Paribas SA and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, signed a common statement in reaction to the fires that are raging in the Amazon. The initiative, coordinated by non-profit groups PRI and Ceres, is part of growing international pressure on Brazil to deal with the increase in blazes in the Amazon rainforest.

Tree-planting to offset carbon emissions: no cure-all
By Pierre Donadieu, Phys.org, 18 September 2019
A few euros, a couple of mouse clicks and a tree is planted—as air travel is increasingly becoming a source of guilt, consumers and companies are looking for other ways to ease their conscience and reduce their carbon footprint.
But as more polluting industries join efforts to offset their carbon emissions, the effectiveness of the approach is open to debate, with some critics suggesting that tree-planting schemes are nothing more than a fig leaf.

Just Days Ahead of Employee Climate Strike, Microsoft Announces Partnership with Chevron to Accelerate Oil Extraction
By Brian Merchant, Gizmodo, 18 September 2019
Mere days before Microsoft workers are set to walk out of their jobs and publicly call on their employer to reduce carbon emissions and sever its ties with fossil fuel companies, the tech giant has announced a major partnership with two of the biggest corporations in the oil industry. Microsoft employees have responded with a fiery statement condemning the partnership and calling on fellow employees to join them in walking out on September 20th.

Pension funds call for corporate action on Amazon forest fires
By Susanna Rust, IP&E, 18 September 2019
Nearly 70 asset owners have backed a statement calling on companies to reinforce their efforts to make sure their operations and supply chains do not contribute to deforestation.
The statement is a response to the forest fires in Brazil and Bolivia and has been signed by 230 institutional investors with $12.6trn (€11.3trn) in assets under management.

Bolivia Is Fighting Major Forest Fires Nearly As Large As In Brazil
By John Otis, NPR, 18 September 2019
Six volunteer firefighters use machetes to cut a path through the vines and underbrush of the Chiquitano forest in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands. They’re approaching the leading edge of a fire that’s been burning for hours.
They attempt to smother it with shovelfuls of dirt and water they carry on their backs in tanks normally used to fumigate crops. But the smoke is getting thicker, the heat stronger and swirling winds push the flames forward. Realizing they are overmatched, José Zapata, the only trained firefighter among the group, orders his men to pull out.

Pan Borneo Highway development endangers the Heart of Borneo
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 18 September 2019
A planned highway network in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo threatens the forests protected as part of the Heart of Borneo agreement made with Indonesia and Brunei, a new study has found.
The goal of the agreement was to ensure the survival of continuous rainforest in central Borneo that houses wildlife populations, helps to mitigate climate change and fosters the island’s unique biology. But the construction and expansion of roads for the Pan Borneo Highway project could carve up the core of this ecosystem, the researchers who wrote the paper say.

Deliberate drowning of Brazil’s rainforest is worsening climate change
By Daniel Grossman, New Scientist, 18 September 2019
In Balbina, a small town in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, the shoreline of a vast reservoir sparkles blue and a mild wind ruffles the water, lifting small whitecaps. Within a few months, fire will devastate vaste swathes of the forest, some not far from here, but the story I’ve come to investigate lies just below the water’s surface, where millions of trees have been drowned by a hydroelectric dam blocking the Uatumã river. The submerged jungle is no longer sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Instead, the rotting corpses of once-magnificent trees are belching out yet more greenhouse gases. [R-M: Subscription needed.]

Here’s how CAFI’s $65 million can help save Congo’s forests
By Nina Cynthia Kiyindou Yombo, Christian Mounzeo, and Marie-Ange Kalenga FERN, 18 September 2019
On 3 September 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron (on behalf of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI), as France holds this year’s presidency) and President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo signed a ground-breaking US$65 million deal intended to implement a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) investment plan and deliver sustainable land use through national and local land-use plans. These commitments aim to combat deforestation and improve Congo’s forest governance.

Indonesia’s ‘Good Palm’ drive enflames anger as smoke clouds skies
By Gayatri Suroyo and Bernadette Christina, Reuters, 18 September 2019
Indonesia is facing a backlash over an online campaign backing palm oil at a time when forest fires, often linked to slash-and-burn land clearance, have spread choking smoke across the region, raising growing concern about damage to health.
The Southeast Asian country is the world’s biggest producer of the edible oil and is often vilified abroad for the destruction of forests to make way for plantations, and for the fires that are often started to clear the land.

[Indonesia] Residents flee Riau amid unbearable smog from forest fires
By Apriadi Gunawan, Jon Afrizal, and Ivany Atina Arbi, The Jakarta Post, 18 September 2019
Fatimahtuzzuhra El-Karim and her family have abandoned their house in a residential area of Kampar regency, Riau, and fled to the city of Binjai in North Sumatra over concerns for their health, as hazardous smog from widespread forest fires is spreading uncontrollably.
The 26-year-old said she had been staying at her parents’ house in Binjai for the past three weeks together with her husband and their 1.5-year-old son.
“We have taken shelter at my parents’ house, because the smog was unbearable. We will only go back home once the air is clear,” she said on Tuesday.

Indonesia ‘doing everything’ to put out forest fires: President
Al Jazeera, 18 September 2019
Indonesia is battling forest fires causing toxic haze across Southeast Asia with aircraft, artificial rain and even prayer, President Joko Widodo said during a visit to one of the worst-affected areas.
Forest fires are raging on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, sending a choking smog across the region -including towards neighbours Malaysia and Singapore.

Can Contested Carbon Offsets Save Southeast Asia’s Forests?
By Preeti Jha, The Diplomat, 18 September 2019
Fires are once again raging through forests in Indonesia, shrouding cities as far as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in a thick smog. Across the globe, the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, is also ablaze. The flames have raised fresh alarm over the loss of vital frontiers in the battle against the climate crisis. In the search for solutions, the fires have also reignited a controversial debate: Are the schemes aiming to compensate tropical countries for preserving their forests, in a bid to combat the climate emergency, actually working?

[Tanzania] Hadza wins global prize for developing solution on climate change
By Felister Peter, IPP Media, 18 September 2019
The Hadza indigenous communities in northern Tanzania have won the 2019 Equator Prize awarded by the UNDP Equator Initiative after advancing nature-based solutions for climate change and promoting local sustainable development.
The Hadza are an ancient hunter-gatherer ethnic group relying on natural environment to sustain their traditional lifestyle of gathering wild fruits and tubers.

19 September 2019

Greta Thunberg: ‘We are ignoring natural climate solutions’
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 19 September 2019
The protection and restoration of living ecosystems such as forests, mangroves and seagrass meadows can repair the planet’s broken climate but are being overlooked, Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot have warned in a new short film.
Natural climate solutions could remove huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as plants grow. But these methods receive only 2% of the funding spent on cutting emissions, say the climate activists.

‘Nature Now’: In new film, climate heavyweights make plea for the planet
By Kiley Price, Conservation International, 19 September 2019
In the fight to stop climate breakdown, one of humanity’s greatest allies is all around us.
Protecting and restoring tropical forests can provide more than a third of the emissions reductions needed to stop the climate breakdown. The problem? Natural solutions like this are largely ignored — and grossly underfunded.

The Nature Conservancy and Amazon Partner to Bring Natural Climate Solutions to Scale
The Nature Conservancy, 19 September 2019
Today, The Nature Conservancy is announcing a $100 million commitment from Amazon to restore and protect forests, wetlands, grasslands, and peatlands around the world. Amazon is partnering with The Nature Conservancy – an organization with a proven track record of using the best-available science for conservation – to identify, design, and implement natural climate solutions initiatives.

More than 100 countries applied for UN climate summit, half were rejected
By Chloé Farand Climate Home News, 19 September 2019
More than 100 countries applied to address Monday’s UN climate action summit but only half were deemed ambitious enough to take to the stage on Monday, Climate Home News has learned.
The summit is a moment for political leaders to show their willingness to increase their climate plans and deepen the decarbonisation of their economies. Countries are competing for the limelight, with only the boldest and most transformative action being presented on stage on Monday.

Turning the New York Declaration on Forests to New York Action on Forests
By Will Baldwin-Cantello (WWF), IISD, 19 September 2019
We are in a planetary emergency: forests hold the key to preventing a climate breakdown, but decisive action is needed from governments and companies.
More than ever before, we now know how important forests are to stabilizing our climate and providing us with essential services such as clean water and medicines. We have more business commitments to protect forests than ever before. We have more public finance invested in halting deforestation and restoring forests than ever before. Yet, we are losing forests, like never before.

Global aviation CO2 emissions are rising 70 per cent faster than ICAO projections, finds ICCT
GreenAir Online, 19 September 2019
Analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) shows global CO2 emissions from commercial aviation are currently rising 70% faster than long-term projections by ICAO that already point to a tripling of emissions by mid-century. ICCT has carried out what it claims is the first detailed global CO2 inventory for aviation in 15 years and finds that total emissions from all commercial operations, including freight, totalled 918 million tonnes (Mt) in 2018, around 2.4% of the global total. This is close to the industry’s own estimates of 905 Mt reported in June, which was a 5.2% increase over the previous year. The ICCT data shows 40% of global passenger transport-related CO2 emissions came from domestic flights, which are outside the scope of ICAO’s global CORSIA scheme. ICCT has also released its latest US domestic airline fuel efficiency rankings that found Frontier Airlines to be the most efficient in the 2017-18 period.

Scientists set out how to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 19 September 2019
Greenhouse gas emissions could be halved in the next decade if a small number of current technologies and behavioural trends are ramped up and adopted more widely, researchers have found, saying strong civil society movements are needed to drive such change.

The Chain: Investor Pressure Mounts on Companies Connected to Amazon Fires, Deforestation in Brazil
Chain Reaction Research, 19 September 2019
Since the Amazon fires became worldwide news in August, companies operating in Brazil and the country itself have come under increased scrutiny and greater pressure from investors to address their roles in deforestation. Evidence shows that the fires in the Amazon overlap with human-driven deforestation. The likely response by the international community, consumers, and investors will be to continue to call for even greater accountability of the Brazilian government and companies operating in Brazil.

Report: The critical role of policies for deforestation and conversion-free supply chains
WWF, 19 September 2019
We call on world leaders to declare a planetary emergency and secure a New Deal for Nature and People by 2020.
Since the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) was adopted in 2014, progress on ending deforestation and restoring forest lands has not lived up to the level of ambition enshrined in its ten goals. Meanwhile, we continue to lose forests, savannas, grasslands and the wildlife that depend on them at a rapid rate. Forest-dwelling wildlife populations have shrunk on average by more than half since 1970, and habitat loss and degradation, caused primarily by human activity, is responsible for 60 percent of all threats to forests and forest species.

Looking Ahead at UN Climate Action Summit: Policy is Vital for Igniting a Virtuous Circle and Driving Forward Climate Action
By Pietro Bertazzi (CDP), IISD, 19 September 2019
Almost five years ago, governments signed the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, providing a roadmap for sustainable development and environmental stability. This week, all eyes are on world leaders as they gather in New York, US, for the UN Climate Action Summit, a major stepping stone for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Equator Prize Ceremony to Highlight Local Nature-based Solutions at UN Climate Summit
By Martin Sommerschuh (UNDP), IISD, 19 September 2019
This year’s Equator Prize Award Ceremony will honor 22 outstanding indigenous and local groups from 16 countries, each showcasing innovative, nature-based solutions for tackling climate change, development, and poverty challenges. The event highlights concrete responses and practical solutions to the climate crisis by indigenous peoples and local communities all over the world, featuring actors Oona Chaplin and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Indonesia forest fires choke Southeast Asia
Al Jazeera, 19 September 2019
Toxic haze from Indonesian forest fires closed thousands of schools across the country and in neighbouring Malaysia on Wednesday, while air quality worsened in Singapore just days before the city’s Formula One motor race.
Forest fires are blazing on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, with Jakarta deploying thousands of security forces and water-bombing aircraft to tackle them.

Indonesia struggles to put out forest fires
By Rizki Nugraha and Maulana Rizki Djafar, DW, 19 September 2019
The recurring outbreaks of smog-belching forest fires in Indonesia have caused air quality to plummet in the region. Experts say the fires will only be extinguished once the rainy season starts in October.

Malaysia, choked by smog of forest fires in Indonesia, issues 2 million face masks to students
By Scottle Andrewm CNN, 19 September 2019
As smog from Indonesia’s sprawling forest fires chokes neighboring Malaysia, authorities there have distributed 2 million face masks to students in affected areas, state news agency Bernama reported Thursday.
More than 500,000 masks were sent to students in Sarawak in East Malaysia, where air quality on Thursday peaked at 273 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic meter of air, deemed “very unhealthy,” according to the Air Pollutant Index of Malaysia.

Equinor praises Bolsonaro’s management, outrage in Norway
By Mikael Holter, Bloomberg, 19 September 2019
Politicians and environmental activists in Norway criticized state oil giant Equinor ASA after a key executive praised the reforms of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his management of the country’s Amazon rainforest.
Bolsonaro faces international pressure for his handling of the Amazon and an increase in fires in the rainforest that has been linked to increased deforestation. Norway is one of the countries that has frozen millions of dollars for a rainforest preservation fund, on the grounds that Brazil has breached an agreement on money management.

[USA] California approves controversial plan to save Amazon and other tropical forests using corporate cash
By Joshua Emerson Smith, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 September 2019
California has put its stamp of approval on a hotly contested blueprint for funneling corporate dollars into developing nations to slow the destruction of the Amazon and other tropical rainforests around the world.
The state’s top air-quality regulators approved the so-called Tropical Forest Standard on Thursday, which outlines minimum requirements for developing a carbon-offset program aimed at slowing deforestation in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

20 September 2019

Inspired by Greta Thunberg, worldwide protest demands climate action
By Gabriella Borter, Katharine Houreld, and Jake Spring, Reuters, 20 September 2019
Millions of young people flooded the streets of cities around the world on Friday to demand political leaders take urgent steps to stop climate change, uniting in a worldwide protest inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Finding solutions to deforestation at New York Climate Week
Trase, 20 September 2019
As leaders gather in New York for a special UN Summit on climate change, and five years after the New York Declaration on Forests set out 2020 targets for curbing deforestation, Global Canopy and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) will join activities at the Nature Now Hub in New York to explore solutions to the climate crisis, which must include addressing deforestation.

Fashion’s uphill quest for 100% carbon neutrality
By Rachel Cernansky, Vogue Business, 20 September 2019
The latest trend in luxury fashion is to go carbon neutral. Gabriela Hearst (pictured above) hosted a carbon-neutral runway show in New York earlier this month, and Gucci announced shortly after that it had achieved 100 per cent carbon neutrality in its supply chain and operations, largely from offsetting its greenhouse gas emissions. To ensure its Milan show on Sunday will be carbon neutral, the Italian fashion house will offset the impacts of the show’s 2,000 guests and workers. Burberry did the same with its Spring/Summer 2020 show in London.

Scientists back global climate strike
By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 20 September 2019
Leading scientists have declared their support for the global climate strike which starts today.
In a statement published by the Earth League, headed Humanity is Tipping the Scales of the World, 20 respected scientists throw their weight into the argument. Among a stellar company, they number Lord Nicholas Stern, Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, its founder.

U.N. urged by own staff to look at its climate footprint
By Emma Farge, Reuters, 20 September 2019
Close to 2,000 United Nations employees have called for the global body to reduce its carbon footprint, including through curbs on their own diplomatic perks like business-class flights and travel handouts, a letter obtained by Reuters showed.

NYK Trials Carbon Offsets for its Flagship PCTC
The Maritime Exective, 20 September 2019
On Wednesday, NYK Line announced that it has conducted the first carbon-neutral voyage for a Japanese company, offsetting 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions for the car carrier Aries Leader.
NYK says that Aries Leader is equipped with energy-saving technologies that reduce its CO2 emissions per unit by 30 percent compared with existing large PCTCs (on a per-car basis). In this initiative, the car carrier’s remaining emissions have been offset by carbon credits to allow NYK to realize carbon-neutral transportation that theoretically reduces CO2 emissions to zero.

From space, you can clearly see the human impact on the Amazon
By Michael Slezak and Mark Doman, ABC News, 20 September 2019
As thick plumes of smoke blanketed Brazil’s most populous city Sao Paulo, global attention turned to the cause.
The Amazon, the world’s most biodiverse rainforest, was burning at a rate not seen in almost a decade.
It was decried as a global tragedy. Lit by farmers, the fires raged through villages, destroyed ecosystems and pumped climate-warming pollution into the atmosphere.

[Indonesia] Land Destroyed by Forest Fires Marked for Plantations: Disaster Mitigation Agency
Jakarta Globe, 20 September 2019
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said eighty percent of the land destroyed by forest fires in Indonesia this year will be converted into plantations, pointing the blame for the fires to unsustainable practices in the country’s agriculture industry.
“Having observed the fires flying from Banjarmasin to Palangkaraya [in Kalimantan], I’ve concluded that 80 percent of the burned off land will be reused as plantations,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head Doni Monardo said in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, on Friday.

Scientists on Indonesia’s polluting haze
By David Charles, CIFOR Forests News, 20 September 2019
While the eyes of the world have been fixed in horror on the Amazonian forest fires, the rainforests of Indonesia on the other side of the planet are now also in flames.
In the first eight months of 2019, over 300,000 hectares of land were burned by fire, and the past week has seen a surge in fire alerts across the entire Indonesian archipelago. According to Global Forest Watch, the 8,903 fire alerts is more than twice the average number for this time of year.

21 September 2019

Greta Thunberg and the UN Climate Summit should reject monoculture tree plantations as a false solution
By Gary Graham Hughes and Souparna Lahiri, Global Forest Coalition, 21 September 2019
We are heading towards a week of intense climate actions starting with the Global Climate Strike and followed by the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Week as well as a host of civil society events in and around New York City. Today (September 21) is also International Day of Struggle Against Monoculture Tree Plantations.

The matter of forest fires is urgent, even in Africa
By Gita Mwaura, The New Times, 21 September 2019
My people where I come from have a saying that when the house is on fire, even the owner enjoys the warmth. This is to say that, despite the calamity, all is not lost.
The proverb is, however, often used in happier occasions. When, say, a bull is being feasted upon, its owner may summon the proverb in that artfully indirect manner of many an African idiom to self-deprecatingly welcome his amused guests. It adds to the cheer.

22 September 2019

The Nature Conservancy and Amazon partner to find ‘Natural Climate Solutions’ – but who will benefit?
By Katie Hill, MyGreenPod, 22 September 2019
The Nature Conservancy has announced a $100 million commitment from Amazon to restore and protect forests, wetlands, grasslands and peatlands around the world.
Amazon is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to assess carbon reduction programmes and to identify, design and implement natural climate solutions initiatives, which will be supported by the Right Now Climate Fund.

Airline emissions to soar if EU ditches regional action for UN offsetting scheme – analysis
By Eoin Bannon, Transport and Environment, 22 September 2019
Airline emissions in Europe will increase by 683 million tonnes of CO2 over 10 years – the annual carbon pollution of France and Poland combined – if the EU drops its own measures to tackle aviation CO2 and uses only a new UN carbon offsetting scheme instead. The independent research [1] for Transport & Environment (T&E) finds that relying on the controversial scheme, known as Corsia, alone will prevent the EU meeting its commitments under the Paris climate agreement. The bloc is this week under pressure from the UN’s aviation agency ICAO to make Corsia the only measure covering aviation emissions.

Landmark United in Science report informs Climate Action Summit
World Meteorological Organization, 22 September 2019
The world’s leading climate science organizations have joined forces to produce a landmark new report for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, underlining the glaring – and growing – gap between agreed targets to tackle global warming and the actual reality.

As global leaders meet, the Amazon rainforest burns
CNA, 22 September 2019
The fires that burned through the Amazon rainforest last month sparked international outcry and offers of help, but as world leaders meet in New York, the planet’s largest rainforest remains engulfed in flames.
The latest satellite data from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) shows 131,600 fires burning since January within the country, where 60 per cent of the Amazon lies.

Bolivia: Firefighters Start To Lose Hope To Control Forest Fires
By Kunal Gaurav, Republic, 22 September 2019
Bolivian volunteer firefighters have started to retreat from the front lines of some infernos of Bolivian forest fires which has already consumed more than 3.1 million hectares of forests and grasslands in just over a month in Bolivia. The retreat is caused by the loss of hope to control the fire. According to the Friends of Nature Foundation, based on the estimates of satellite images, the burned area of the Bolivian region is already the size of Switzerland. It is supposed to be the worst fire in at least two decades.

A spotlight can help save the Cameroon Forest
Jean Luc Stalon (UNDP), Journal du Cameroun, 22 September 2019
Today, as the United Nations is preparing for the UN Climate Action Summit that will take place on 23 September 2019, leaders of the world are expected to bring updated plans to boost climate action.
Forests are critical to stabilize climate and regulate ecosystems, protect biodiversity, play an integral part in the carbon cycle, support livelihoods, and can help drive sustainable growth. UNDP Cameroon spotlightsthe Congo Basin Forest that needs urgent attention. The health of the Congo Basin Forest is deteriorating more rapidly than ever, with the loss of an area as big as Bangladesh over the past 15 years.

Gabon: First in Africa to receive payments for preserved rainforests
CAFI, 22 September 2019
The 150 million US dollars agreement announced today between Gabon and Norway via the Central African forest initiative (CAFI) is historic in many ways. For the first time, an African country will be rewarded in a 10-year deal for both reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation, and absorptions of carbon dioxide by natural forests. The partnership provides Gabon with a major incentive for cutting greenhouse gases by setting a carbon price floor at 10 US dollars per certified ton.

[UK] Boris Johnson unveils £1.2bn for climate and endangered species
By Peter Walker, The Guardian, 22 September 2019
Boris Johnson has unveiled a combined £1.2bn in funding for new efforts to tackle the climate emergency and protect endangered species as he prepares to attend the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York.
While at the UN general assembly, the prime minister will use a speech to announce £1bn in aid money for UK inventors to seek funding for high-tech initiatives connected to areas such as renewable energy and lower levels of pollutants.

 

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