REDD-Monitor’s round-up of the week’s news on forests, the climate crisis, REDD, and natural climate solutions. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter.
16 December 2019
Finally saying the F-words at UN climate talks
By Catherine Abreu and Jamie Henn, Climate Home News, 16 December 2019
While the Cop25 climate talks ended last weekend in what’s widely being called a failure, there were some crucial political developments during the meetings that will help shape international climate politics for years to come.
One of the most important is that for the first time in the United Nations space you can say the f-words in polite company. We’re of course talking about “fossil fuels.”
Wildfires are getting worse, and so is the deadly smoke they bring with them
By Yvette Cabrera, Grist, 16 December 2019
Last month, as a wildfire roared through the foothills above Santa Barbara, California, disaster-weary residents knew the drill and prepared for the worst. Some evacuated, while others sheltered in place, tracking news reports on wind patterns and the progress of firefighters battling the blaze known as the Cave Fire.
By the second day, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the county’s Air Pollution Control District had issued an air-quality warning, and local libraries and nonprofits urged residents to protect themselves from the harmful smoke and ash, offering free N95 respirator masks. Yet most residents rushing through crammed grocery store parking lots and streets during the pre-Thanksgiving rush weren’t heeding the warnings to wear the masks.
Smart management of wildfires can help curb global heating
UN environment programme, 16 December 2019
Extensive wildfire disasters, such as recently reported in Australia, Indonesia and the United States, adversely affect communities, economies and ecosystems. More generally, they contribute to air pollution and global warming, and indicate that existing mechanisms to deal with wildfire, centered around disaster risk management, are insufficient.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions from peatland and forest wildfires contribute substantially to the global greenhouse effect, thus making floods and droughts more likely to occur. They also produce health-damaging smoke particles and black carbon.
Goldman Sachs Pledges $750Bln to Combat Climate Crisis
By Alex Graf, The Global Post, 16 December 2019
Goldman Sachs, the investment banking company known for its extensive campaign finance and lobbying efforts, pledged Monday to invest $750 billion within the next decade to combat the climate crisis in an update to the company’s environmental policy framework.
The company pledged in a press release to help its clients accelerate climate transition and said it would invest in five key areas of sustainable development, including clean energy, sustainable transport, food and agriculture, waste and materials, and ecosystem services.
How the beef industry is driving the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon
By Mariana Abreu, Global Witness, 16 December 2019
Horrifying footage of the burning Amazon rainforest this summer shocked us all. It’s become clearer than ever that as the climate emergency deepens, protecting our forests is critical.
Yet, so often, the coffee we drink and the food we consume is born from this reckless destruction of forests.
Between 2001 and 2015, nearly 75 million hectares of tree cover was destroyed. The main driver? The production of commodities such as soy and palm oil.
Under fire over climate summit, Chile blames big polluters
By Aislinn Laing, Matthew Green, and Isla Binnie, Reuters, 16 December 2019
Chile defended itself on Monday against criticism it was too weak in presiding over international climate change negotiations, saying it did all it could but that four big polluting countries got in the way.
COP25: EU officials say biomass burning policy to come under critical review
By Justin Catanoso, Mongabay, 16 December 2019
Two high-level members of the European Union delegation announced that the carbon neutrality designation given to biomass energy — replacing coal with wood pellets — will come under critical review by the EU as a result of current science showing that biomass burning produces significant amounts of carbon emissions.
LIBERIA: FDA, VOSIEDA Groan Over Forestry Info -As Trapenbos, Others Get NRG Award
By Moses R. Quollin, GNN Liberia, 16 December 2019
The Forest Development Authority in an apparent respond to series of critical issues raised on the Forest Hour, a weekly radio forest advocacy platform, is complaining about what she terms as misinformation characterized with national discussions about the forestry sector.
FDA deputy managing director for operation Joseph J. Tally, speaking at a local ceremony, Natural Resource Governance Award, made a sweeping statement against media personals covering the forestry sector as means of venting out his dismay against those critically spotlighting the sector amidst social and administrative wrongdoings, bad governance.
Madagascar: Is NGO-led conservation too conservative to conserve much?
By Edward Carver, Mongabay, 16 December 2019
Madagascar’s natural resources are under threat. Local people use some for food, fuel and shelter, but foreign capital drives the most intense exploitation. Gem dealers oversee the destruction of wide swaths of brush in the south and forests in the east. Multinational mining companies target nickel, ilmenite and oil. Industrial trawlers vacuum up much of the fish and shrimp that villagers along the west coast rely on for food and income. And the local activists who challenge all this are frequently imprisoned.
[UK] Fraudsters who stole millions from wealthy investors in a fake ‘green’ investment scheme must pay £20 million
Crown Prosecution Service, 16 December 2019
Five fraudsters who offered a ‘green’ tax efficient investment scheme to wealthy investors in order to steal millions from them have been ordered to pay £20,611,738.
The Oxbridge alumni used their former positions as a conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, a solicitor and merchant banker to persuade wealthy investors to put money into their ‘green’ investment scheme.
[Zimbabwe] Carbon credits boon for Mbire community
By Fungai Lupande, The Herald, 16 December 2019
People often say “money doesn’t grow on trees” but, people in Mbire District, Mashonaland Central Province, will tell you the opposite.
To them, money indeed does grow on trees! Having managed to protect and maintain 267 000 hectares of forest, people in Mbire are reaping monetary benefits and earned US$255 000 in five years.
The forests are clearing carbon dioxide from the air, creating carbon credits which are sold on the international market, generating income for the Mbire community.
17 December 2019
Calls for Action on Forests Made at COP 25
By Catherine Benson Wahlén, IISD, 17 December 2019
The heads of UN agencies committed to help countries improve forest management and reduce deforestation. The agencies announced their intentions at a high-level Leadership Dialogue on the sidelines of the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC.
Russia hopes to sign Congo oil pipeline deal soon -dep energy minister
By Vladimir Soldatkin, Reuters, 17 December 2019
Russia is hopeful of Russia’s TMK and the Republic of the Congo’s national oil company, SNPC, signing a deal soon to build an oil pipeline in the West African nation, Russian deputy energy minister Pavel Sorokin said on Tuesday.
Sorokin also said state-owned arms company Almaz Antey is ready to supply weapons to Congo and that plans were in place over a nuclear centre.
Liberia: FDA, NGO in First-Ever Partnership over Forest Community
Front Page Africa, 17 December 2019
The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI)—one of the most civil society organizations on forest matters in the country—are collaborating for the first time on a project to build communities’ capacity to manage their own forest.
18 December 2019
A tale of two COPs
By Mette Kahlin McVeigh, We Don’t Have Time, 18 December 2019
COP25, also known as the UN climate negotiations, officially closed on 15 December in Madrid. This COP was always going to be a difficult one. The agenda items for the meeting were never going to be able to live up to the expectations of the youth and others who have demanded climate action. In that sense, this COP has been a dichotomy.
How to survive when rain and forests are dwindling?
UN environment programme, 18 December 2019
“This year, we’ve seen the worst drought ever,” says Julliette Machona. “Usually the rivers run dry here in this southern part of Zambia by July, but this year, they were empty already in May. The little water we have left is just enough for us, the people and the cattle. We have no water left to raise any crops.”
World Bank Warns Forest Fires Will Cut Indonesian GDP By $5.2 Billion
By Palash Ghosh, International Business Times, 18 December 2019
The World Bank has warned that damages incurred from massive forest fires in Indonesia this year will result in economic losses of at least $5.2 billion, or about 0.5% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Fires raged through eight provinces, including Sumatra and Borneo, from June to November, leading to more than 900,000 people reporting respiratory illnesses, 12 national airports halting operations, and the temporary closure of hundreds of schools in Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia and Singapore. The conflagration destroyed more than 2.3 million acres, the largest such wave of fires since 2015 when 6.4 million acres burned.
19 December 2019
Madrid’s fight over carbon markets moves to Montreal aviation talks
By Valerie Volcovici and Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 19 December 2019
The failure of global climate talks in Madrid last week to decide the fate of billions of old carbon credits raises the stakes for the U.N aviation body in Montreal, which must choose in March which offsets can be used for its carbon market.
The aviation industry accounts for over 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and if left unchecked emissions are expected to rise as passenger and flight numbers increase.
How blockchain could help put the Paris Agreement on course, from the bottom up
By Ben Soltoff, GreenBiz, 19 December 2019
Last week was a downer for global climate policy. At the United Nations climate conference in Madrid, countries failed to commit to more ambitious goals that could limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Some of the most polluting countries (including the United States) didn’t even recognize that such ambition was necessary.
20 December 2019
Talks on carbon markets put climate future in a fix
By Kartik Chandramouli, Mongabay, 20 December 2019
The United Nations climate conference in Madrid, Spain, closed last week without resolving one of the most significant objectives it set out to achieve – setting rules for carbon markets under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
Article 6 deals with ways in which emission reduction measures to be implemented in a country and the resulting emission reductions can be transferred to another country; mechanisms to mitigate greenhouse gases by supporting sustainable development; and also includes a third type, which involves anything that is not market-based.
Madrid Climate Conference Failed, But Silver Lining Exists
By Andy Stone, Forbes, 20 December 2019
The Madrid climate change conference that ended last Sunday has been widely panned as a failure, and it’s true that the nearly 200 countries that participated did not succeed in endorsing critical rules that would govern implementation of the Paris Climate Accord. There is very real cause for concern that the Paris goal of limiting global warming to 2 degree Celsius is increasingly unattainable. Yet, it’s worth taking a closer look at what negotiators did, and didn’t, accomplish in Madrid to understand where the global effort to slow global warming in fact stands.
Innovative peatland restoration efforts key to mitigating climate change
By Nabiha Shahab, CIFOR Forests News, 20 December 2019
Indonesia is home to an extensive area of tropical peatlands, which are carbon-rich ecosystems that are critical for supporting biodiversity and the livelihoods of local forest-dependent communities. Between 30 and 40 percent of global carbon is locked in peatlands, although they cover only around 3 percent of the world’s surface area.
A US Lawmaker Wants To Ban Funding For Conservation Groups That Support Human Rights Abuses
By Katie J.M. Baker and Tom Warren, BuzzFeed News, 20 December 2019
A bill proposed this week in the US House of Representatives — spurred by a BuzzFeed News investigation — would prohibit the government from awarding money to international conservation groups that fund or support human rights violations.
Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop introduced the legislation following an ongoing bipartisan probe by the House Committee on Natural Resources, which has spent nearly eight months reviewing whether taxpayer money has funded human rights abuses through conservation grants.
21 December 2019
22 December 2019
Can you own a private jet if you care about climate change?
By Siobhan Wagner, Bloomberg, 22 December 2019
For many people, private jets seem like an extravagance. But for busy executives and celebrities, the time savings, convenience, and extra security they offer make them more of a necessity.