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.
13 January 2020
Carbon Offsets Really Can Reduce Greenhouse Gases In The Atmosphere
By Devin Thorpe, Forbes, 13 January 2020
Recently, I conducted a survey to better understand why more small businesses and individuals don’t purchase carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality. One concern expressed by respondents is that carbon offsets don’t really work to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. Together, we’ll explore expert responses to that concern.
One pleasant surprise of the survey was how few (fewer that 6.8%) said they didn’t purchase carbon offsets because they believe climate change is not a threat and fewer still (just 4.3%) said climate change is threat but is not connected to human activity.
Amazon Fires Contribute to Andean Glacier Melting
By Michael Allen, Earth & Space Science News, 13 January 2020
Fires raged across the Amazon last summer, receiving worldwide media attention. In August 2019, there were 3 times as many active fires in the Brazilian Amazon as there were in August 2018—and more than in any August since 2010. This increase is largely attributed to land clearance for logging and farming, with almost 4 times more deforestation in July 2019 than the July average from 2016 to 2018.
[Kenya] Unlocking conservation funding for Chyulu Hills
By Michael O’Brien-Onyeka, Standard Digital, 13 January 2020
Chyulu Hills in South Eastern Kenya is one of the critical landscapes and water towers in the country. Unlocking innovative and sustainable conservation funding streams is key to enhancing its protection from heightening threats of destructive human activities.
The Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA) estimates Chyulu’s economic value to the country to be at least Sh40.92 billion ($409 million) annually. This value includes supporting tourism, providing fresh water, storing climate-altering carbon, protecting important biodiversity and other vital ecosystem goods and services.
14 January 2020
Flight shame won’t fix airline emissions. We need a smarter solution
By Duygu Yengin and Tracey Dodd, The Conversation, 14 January 2020
“Fake news”, the chief executive of Lufthansa has called it. But his counterpart at Air France calls it the airline industry’s “biggest challenge”. So does the president of Emirates: “It’s got to be dealt with.”
What they’re talking about is “flight shame” – the guilt caused by the environmental impacts of air travel. Specifically, the carbon emissions.
2020’s Buzzword is Nature
By Lauren Anderson, IISD, 14 January 2020
The ‘Super Year for Biodiversity’ is underway and Nature is trending. Relatable, universal, and cross-cutting, Nature will be a dominant and uniting theme for many of the milestone events leading up to the adoption of a new, post-2020 framework for biodiversity in October.
The carbon credit scheme: Greenhouse gas credits don’t help the environment, or consumers
By Merrill Matthews, Washington Times, 14 January 2020
General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler have a plan to survive a Democratic president.
According to news reports, the auto giants have spent millions of dollars buying carbon offset credits from electric carmaker Tesla. The government grants these credits to car manufacturers that over-comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse emissions targets, improving fuel efficiency or selling electric vehicles.
Do Carbon Offsets Really Work? It Depends on the Details
By Eric Niiler, Wired, 14 January 2020
Last week, JetBlue announced it will offset its 15 billion to 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits and pumping cleaner-burning aviation fuel into planes landing at San Francisco International Airport. Great! Or is it? American corporations across the economy are trying to build up their green credentials, and carbon offsets seem to be the hammer of choice.
Davos VIPs are worried about the climate crisis. They’re still using private jets
By Julia Horowitz, CNN Business, 14 January 2020
The World Economic Forum is preparing to perform a difficult dance: proclaim its growing concern for the climate crisis even as scores of private planes and luxury cars ferry attendees to its annual conference in Davos.
In an era of “flight shaming” and increased public awareness over climate change, the organizers of next week’s event are ratcheting up efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the conference, which draws politicians and CEOs to the Swiss Alps for panel discussions, closed-door meetings and parties. Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist known for calling out global leaders, is attending for a second year after she criticized guests at a star-studded luncheon in 2019.
Conservationists find new partners to bring back nature: businesses
By Sophie Yeo, The Hill, 14 January 2020
In Portugal’s Greater Côa Valley, a transformation is underway. Once degraded and overgrown, thousands of hectares of this remote ecosystem are being restored and rewilded. Plans are afoot to reintroduce wild horses, roe deer and Iberian ibex. This restoration will improve the connection between the Malcata mountain range and the Douro Valley. It is an all-round win for Portuguese wildlife.
Australia fires are harbinger of planet’s future, say scientists
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 14 January 2020
The bushfires ravaging Australia are a clear sign of what is to come around the world if temperatures are allowed to rise to dangerous levels, according to scientists.
“This is what you can expect to happen … at an average of 3C [above pre-industrial levels],” said Richard Betts, professor of geography at Exeter University. “We are seeing a sign of what would be normal conditions in a 3C world. It tells us what the future world might look like. This really brings home what climate change means.”
Australian Greens bogus posturing on bushfire crisis
By Oscar Grenfell, World Socialist Web Site, 14 January 2020
Over the past weeks, the Australian Greens have sought to capitalise on widespread anger over the failure of successive governments to put in place any measures to mitigate the impact of catastrophic bushfires that have hit broad swathes of the country.
The fires have claimed 28 lives, destroyed more than 2,100 houses and laid waste to millions of hectares of bush and pastoral land. They have exposed the immense gulf between the official political establishment and the corporate elite it represents, and millions of ordinary people who have been left to respond to the disaster on their own.
Smallholder farmers in Cameroon benefit from landscape restoration efforts
By Arnaud Ngoumtsa, Josephine Makueti and Sven Schuppener, CIFOR Forests News, 14 January 2020
Laf is located in the Mayo-Kani, a department in the Extreme-Nord Province of Cameroon. “Mayo” means dry riverbed. It refers to a vast empty trench during dry season, which turns into a torrential river as soon as the rains come. We visited in early October and by mere chance we did not get wet. Instead, we waded through the mud to visit a few fields. The land owners, a group of smallholder famers, toured us around and explained how they had restored the degraded soils. We were led to a previously abandoned plot of land that farmer Adaroung Tchamba told us is comprised of hard and unproductive soils.
A taste for soy: Significant carbon emissions associated with China’s imports from Brazil, analysis finds
Trase, 14 January 2020
New analysis by environmental non-profit CDP and the supply chain mapping initiative Trase highlights how China, as the largest market for Brazilian soy, is exposed to carbon dioxide emissions risk from deforestation linked to soy expansion. China’s influence in the market could be used to play a key role in driving deforestation-free agriculture.
Explore becomes first UK tour operator to carbon offset all parts of a holiday
By Isabel Choat, The Guardian, 14 January 2020
Adventure travel company Explore has become the first UK tour operator to offset all components of its trips, including flights. The cost of offsetting will be reflected in a slight increase in the cost of holidays.
The introduction of offsetting through Climate Care is part of a sustainability strategy that will see Explore “look at everything we do overseas”.
“Offsetting is a not a band-aid solution but there is a climate emergency and we wanted to look at what can we do in the short to medium term as the industry moves towards net-zero territory,” said deputy managing director, John Telfer.
[USA] World’s biggest fund manager vows to divest from thermal coal
By Joanna Partridge, The Guardian, 14 January 2020
BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, has announced it will put sustainability at the heart of its investment decisions.
In his annual letter to chief executives, the BlackRock boss, Larry Fink, writes that the climate emergency is altering how investors view the long-term prospects of companies. “Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”
15 January 2020
Management of intact forestlands by Indigenous Peoples key to protecting climate
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News, 15 January 2020
Indigenous Peoples have had a track record of managing landscapes sustainably for millennia.
However, incursions into their territories, often by settlers involved in natural resource extraction or agriculture, have fractured historic tenure rights, dismantling or putting livelihoods, wildlife and ecosystems at risk.
Big business is finally recognising that the climate crisis could destroy capitalism
By Paul Mason, New Statesman, 15 January 2020
We’re living through a historic moment of climate realism. Australians who grinned and voted for a right-wing government – in the knowledge that it would go on blocking global action on climate change – aren’t grinning anymore. Their country is on fire.
And now BlackRock, which manages $7trn of capital on behalf of global capital, has been forced into a “fundamental reshaping” of its investment strategy. It will pull billions of dollars out of companies which make money out of coal mining, change its risk-management calculations to factor in climate change, and – it says – start voting against boards of companies that don’t take climate change seriously.
[Australia] Alterra carbon investment provides solid income stream
By Matt Birney, BusinessNews, 15 January 2020
ASX-listed ag player Alterra, says that its investment in and association with carbon credit forestry business, Carbon Conscious, has been generating solid income streams that are set to continue into the future on the back of long term tree planting and management contracts with energy titans, BP and Origin. Alterra took over $1.1m off the table at Carbon Conscious last year by way of dividends, management fees, interest and a $400k early loan repayment.
Brazil Amazon deforestation jumped 85% in 2019 vs 2018: government data
By Eduardo Simões, Reuters, 15 January 2020
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rose 85% in 2019 compared to the previous year, according to a data-based warning system from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), in the latest piece of evidence to highlight rampant tree-felling.
According to data from INPE’s DETER database, which publishes alerts on fires and other types of developments affecting the rainforest, the area with deforestation warnings last year totaled 9,166 square kilometers (3539.01 square miles), compared to 4,946 square kilometers in 2018.
Colombia’s Amazon tribes tap into rainforest protection funds
By Anastasia Moloney, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 15 January 2020
Colombia is asking indigenous Amazon tribes to suggest ways to spend more than $7 million available to fight deforestation, the nation’s environment minister said on Wednesday, part of an international effort to protect the threatened rainforest.
Involving native tribal communities is critical to saving the Amazon, which in Colombia covers about 26 million hectares (100,387 square miles), said Environment Minister Ricardo Lozano at a news conference.
16 January 2020
Climate Crisis: We Need Radical Change Now, Not in the Future
By Nick Licata, CounterPunch, 16 January 2020
Reading Naomi Klein’s new book, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, is similar to watching a mega-disaster movie in a theater. Except, you can leave your fears behind when you exit the theater. Klein’s message is that our human induced climate change is devastating our livable earth, we are stuck here, it is not safe, the house is on fire.
Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030
Microsoft press release, 16 January 2020
The scientific consensus is clear. The world confronts an urgent carbon problem. The carbon in our atmosphere has created a blanket of gas that traps heat and is changing the world’s climate. Already, the planet’s temperature has risen by 1 degree centigrade. If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic.
The Carbon Emissions Of Your Small Business Matter More Than You Think
By Devin Thorpe, Forbes, 16 January 2020
In a recent survey about carbon offsets, I learned that about 11.1% of respondents said they didn’t buy carbon offsets in part because they believe that “carbon offsets at the scale of my home or business are insignificant and simply don’t matter.” I reached out to experts to test that idea.
“Offsetting the carbon emissions of your home or business actually is significant!” argues Marisa de Belloy, CEO of Cool Effect, a crowdfunding site for carbon offset projects. “If more people had that perspective, the impact would be incredible. Carbon credits are a great, verifiable way, to assist businesses in reaching corporate emission reduction goals while more substantive changes to operations are made.”
Ecuadorian firefighters seek to control forest fires on third day
Prensa Latina, 16 January 2020
Firefighting teams from several cities in Ecuador joined the efforts, on the third consecutive day, at Casitagua Hill (north of the capital), to extinguish a wildfire.
The efforts included personnel from Cotacachi, Ibarra, Latacunga, Saquisili, Pujili, Puerto Quito, Riobamba, Rumiñahui, Santo Domingo, Tulcan, Ambato and Lago Agrio.
According to official data, there are a total of 400 experts attempting to control the active sources of the fire, concentrated on the northern flank, once the flames on the southern side have been put out.
Indonesia aims to start carbon trading in 2020
By Bernadette Christina Munthe, Reuters, 16 January 2020
Indonesian government aims to start carbon trading this year, an environment ministry official told reporters on Thursday. The draft of the regulation governing the carbon trade is expected to be submitted to President Joko Widodo for approval in March.
[Scotland] Government officials worried that tree deal with Shell was “greenwashing”
By Rob Edwards, The Ferret, 16 January 2020
Senior Scottish Government forestry officials feared that a £5 million tree-planting deal with the oil giant, Shell, could be viewed as “greenwashing”, according to internal emails seen by The Ferret.
One executive at Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) was worried that the government agency could “get worked over by Shell’s formidable PR machinery”. Another said that the deal was about Shell “reducing the harm that they do, not about them doing good.”
[UK] Why the government’s plan to rescue Flybe is doomed to fail
By Will Bedingfield, Wired, 16 January 2020
After taking a nosedive towards financial ruin, British regional airline Flybe has narrowly avoided a disaster, thanks to the UK government, which has confirmed a plan to save it.
The government’s rescue package includes a potential loan of around £100 million and a pledge to review taxes on domestic flights, as well as a headline-grabbing measure – a possible short-term deferral of the £106 million air passenger duty (APD) bill due from the beleaguered airline, a tax introduced in 1994 to pay for and highlight the environmental costs of air travel.
17 January 2020
Why We Can Believe Microsoft and BlackRock On Climate Pledges
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 17 January 2020
Asset-management group BlackRock made headlines around the world on Tuesday when it said it would redirect its seven-trillion-dollar war chest away from climate-changing companies and into climate-saving ones. Two days later, software giant Microsoft said that by 2030 it will be sucking more greenhouse gas from the atmosphere than it emits, and that by 2050 it will have pulled more of the stuff out than it’s ever emitted over what will then be 75 years of manufacturing and energy use.
Bushfires: Fears Scott Morrison’s carbon credit projects gone to blazes
By Geoff Chambers, The Australian, 17 January 2020
The Clean Energy Regulator is reviewing the bushfire impact on its $4.55bn Emissions Reduction Fund — a key component of Scott Morrison’s climate change commitments — amid fears tree planting and other carbon credit projects were caught up in blazes across the nation.
Analysis of government data reveals more than 50 per cent of contracted ERF projects were for vegetation regeneration and planting projects, with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service a major contributor.
18 January 2020
[USA] Beetles and fire kill dozens of ‘indestructible’ giant sequoia trees
By Patrick Greenfield and Mette Lampcov, The Guardian, 18 January 2020
Giant sequoia trees, the largest living organisms on the planet – some more than three millennia old – have started dying from beetle attacks linked to the climate emergency, the preliminary findings of a new study have revealed.
The deaths of the trees, some of which lived through the rise and fall of hundreds of empires, caliphates and kingdoms – not to mention the inauguration of every US president – have shocked researchers in their speed and novelty.
19 January 2020
An intensifying climate crisis threatens more than half of the world’s GDP, research says
By Sam Meredith, CNBC, 19 January 2020
Over half of the world’s GDP (gross domestic product) is exposed to risks from lost parts of the natural world, according to a new report.
It comes following a 12-month period which reportedly saw the hottest year on record for the world’s oceans, the second-hottest year for global average temperatures and wildfires from the U.S., to the Amazon, to Australia.
Jonathan Safran Foer: ‘Why don’t Extinction Rebellion issue specific ideas? They are awfully vague’
By Tim Adams, The Guardian, 19 January 2020
There have been many proposed solutions to the climate crisis – from outright bans on fossil fuels to planting 2 billion trees – but Jonathan Safran Foer’s antidote to global devastation strikes me as the neatest and most achievable. It could sound like something written by a prophet in stone: Eat No Meat Before Sundown. But Safran Foer, in his brilliant book, We Are the Weather, insists on couching it in far more conversational terms: we need to make a “collective act to eat differently”, he says, and one straightforward way is to aim to eat no animal products before dinner.
The Amazon’s lost tribes are inspiring Colombia’s cocaine farmers to become conservationists
By Luke Taylor, ABC News, 19 January 2020
Flaviano Mahecha is using his trusty machete to carve a path through the grassy undergrowth and prickly bushes of a farm on the edge of the Amazon rainforest.
As he approaches a group of palm trees he stops: “This is moriche, and this is acai,” he says, pointing excitedly at their leafy crowns.