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.
[Finland] Carbon-neutral in 15 years?
By Gabriel Gatehouse, BBC News, January 2020
When a small village in Finland took the country’s biggest peat producer to court over a polluted river, it didn’t expect to win.
But it had a secret weapon – a local fisherman-turned-scientist whose work on climate change would help push his country’s government to adopt one of the toughest targets for reducing carbon emissions anywhere in the world.
Finland has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035 – that’s twice as fast as the UK government target. But to achieve this, it will have to make big changes, particularly in the peat industry, which currently provides energy, heating and jobs.
20 January 2020
People urgently fleeing climate crisis cannot be sent home, UN rules
BBC, 20 January 2020
People fleeing immediate danger due to the climate crisis cannot be forced to return home, the UN has said.
The landmark ruling centres on the case of Ioane Teitiota, whose home – the Pacific Island of Kiribati – is threatened by rising sea levels.
Mr Teitiota applied for protection in New Zealand in 2013.
Donald Trump v Greta Thunberg: US President and teenage climate change campaigner set to dominate Davos
By David Parsley, i, 20 January 2020
The 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) welcomed 3,000 of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people to the Swiss Alps town of Davos, but observers are already claiming just two people – one in her teens – will dominate this year’s gathering of the global elite.
With climate change set to dominate proceedings, this Davos is being billed as Trump v Thunberg, and both the US president and the teenage environmental campaigner are set to address delegates on Tuesday.
BNP Paribas launches World Climate Carbon Offset Plan fund as European version hits €300m AUM
By Ellie Duncan, Investment Week, 20 January 2020
BNP Paribas has launched the THEAM Quant World Climate Carbon Offset Plan fund following the launch of its European strategy in March 2019.
The fund, managed using a team-based quant approach, provides exposure to equities selected for demonstrating high environmental, social and governance standards and which have robust energy transition… [R-M: Subscription needed.]
Luxembourg’s fund sector faces risk of abuse
By Julie Edde, Luxembourg Times, 20 January 2020
Drug trafficking, fraud, forgery, tax crimes, corruption and bribery are “very high threats” to the Luxembourg funds industry, according to a study by the country’s financial regulator.
The risk for abuse is high in the Grand Duchy, according to the CSSF’s first national risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing. These are linked to Luxembourg’s success in the fund industry: the size and diversity of sector, the abundance of service providers and third parties, the volume of transactions and the international nature of the business.[R-M: Subscription needed.]
21 January 2020
Trump hails 1tn trees plan but ignores roots of problem
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 21 January 2020
Trees are great. They give us oxygen, take away CO2, provide nests for birds and habitats for wildlife, protect against flooding and even help to clean up lung-shredding air pollutants from traffic.
As the world’s forests come under increasing threat from fires, agriculture and logging, the World Economic Forum-led initiative to ensure 1tn trees are restored, saved from loss or better protected by 2050 has gathered international support. Now Donald Trump is onboard too, he told Davos.
UNEP, IUCN to launch new €20m programme on ecosystem-based adaptation
UN environment programme, 21 January 2020
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are jointly launching the Global Fund for Ecosystem-based Adaptation [2020-2024], which aims to provide targeted and rapid support mechanisms through seed capital for innovative approaches to ecosystem-based adaptation. At the recently concluded UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25) in Madrid, the Federal Environment Ministry of Germany (BMU) announced that it would provide €20m for the new UNEP-IUCN programme, officially titled “Support for the Implementation and Upscaling of Ecosystem-based Adaptation.”
Davos Gets Creative to ‘Offset’ Carbon Emissions By Persistent Private Jet Flyers
By Sissi Cao, Observer, 21 January 2020
At last year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, the choice of transportation for the conference’s VIPs became the laughingstock of the world after reports surfaced about more than 1,000 attendees traveling to the Swiss town in private jets, while lecturing the world about the dire consequences of global warming and carbon emissions.
Buying Carbon Offsets Isn’t Cheating
By Devin Thorpe, Forbes, 21 January 2020
In a recent survey I conducted for this series on carbon offsets, I learned that 10.3% of respondents felt that buying carbon credits for a home or small business would be a form of cheating, that they should instead directly reduce their carbon footprint. Some experts help explain why this thinking is wrongheaded.
[Brazil] Amazon Council Is Bolsonaro’s Answer to Global Outcry
By Flavia Said and Simone Preissler Iglesias, Bloomberg, 21 January 2020
Brazil set up a council to monitor the country’s Amazon region following global outcry over President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies and his government’s handling of forest fires last year.
The body will be headed by Vice President Hamilton Mourao and will centralize efforts across ministries to protect the region and ensure its sustainable development, Bolsonaro wrote Tuesday on his Twitter account.
Liberia: EPA Conducts Training for NGOs, Civil Society Actors On REDD+ Safeguards Information System
Front Page Africe, 21 January 2020
The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) over the weekend concluded a two-day training for members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs,) and the Government of Liberia on the REDD+ Safeguards Information System (SIS).
22 January 2020
Climate crisis spawns high tide of greenwashing
AFP, 22 January 2020
From big tech to Big Oil, global corporations in all sectors are churning out climate action plans to reduce carbon footprints and adapt to tomorrow’s low-carbon economy.
At Davos’ annual conclave of the rich and powerful, “it is all that anyone is talking about,” Alain Roumilhac, CEO of ManPowerGroup France, told AFP Wednesday.
But many of these seemingly ambitious pledges are more greenwashing than green, experts caution.
World’s carbon markets grow 34% in value to $215 billion in 2019 -report
By Mike Szabo, Carbon Pulse, 22 January 2020
Global carbon markets grew by 34% in 2019 to hit €194 billion ($215.1 bln) in value, according to analysts at Refinitiv, marking a third straight year of growth and a nearly fivefold increase in two years.
In a report published Wednesday, the company said the value of almost every major carbon market worldwide had increased markedly year-on-year, in spite of overall trading volumes dipping by some 370 million tonnes or 4% to 8.73 billion tonnes.
Reshape economy to fight climate crisis, says Prince Charles
By Graeme Wearden, The Guardian, 22 January 2020
The Prince of Wales has urged business and political leaders at Davos to embrace a radical reshaping of economies and markets in order to tackle the climate crisis.
In a special address at the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, Charles outlined a 10-point plan to help the global economy become more sustainable including the imposition of green taxes and investing in environmentally friendly technologies.
Carbon Credit Trading
By Andrew Gillick, Brave New Coin, 22 January 2020
BNC Research’s latest proprietary report on carbon credit trading demonstrates the digitizing of real-world value in the new economy. This report showcases a world-first use case of digitizing carbon credits, aimed at both investors and policymakers.
Greta Thunberg blasts Trump over climate change stance: ‘Your inaction is fuelling the flames’
By Andrew Buncombe, Independent, 22 January 2020
Activist Greta Thunberg has launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump’s stance over the climate crisis, claiming his “inaction is fuelling the flames”.
Speaking to world leaders and industrialists on the same day the president bragged about the US economy and attacked climate activists as “perennial prophets of doom”, the 17-year-old Swede said Mr Trump’s vow to plant more trees was sorely inadequate to address the situation.
Ten impacts of the Australian bushfires
UN environment programme, 22 January 2020
Over 18 million hectares have burned in the Australian bushfire season 2019–2020 as of mid-January according to media reports, destroying over 5,900 buildings including over 2,800 homes. In addition to human fatalities, many millions of animals are reported to have been killed.
[Cambodia] Increase in carbon credit sales sought
By Voun Dara, The Phnom Penh Post, 22 January 2020
Minister of Environment Say Sam Al has urged everyone to participate in the sustainable preservation and conservation of natural resources so the Kingdom could earn carbon credits which it could later sell in the voluntary carbon market.
Sam Al made the remarks on Tuesday at a meeting with communities in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, Sen Monorom commune, in O’Raing district.
China, India Emissions Pledges May Not Be Reducing Potent Pollutants, Study Shows
By Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News, 22 January 2020
Atmospheric concentrations of a greenhouse gas nearly 13,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide rose faster than ever before over a three-year period starting in 2015, a new study has found. The findings suggest that China and India may not be living up to recent pledges to dramatically reduce emissions of the pollutant.
[Indonesia] Police chief in Riau fired for lackluster performance in handling forest fires
By Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post, 22 January 2020
The Riau Police have fired a local police chief for his lackluster performance in handling land and forest fires in the province’s Pelalawan regency.
Second Insp. Hindro Renhard Panjaitan was dismissed from his position as Teluk Meranti Police chief after failing to address raging forest fires in Teluk Meranti district in Pelalawan, where fires and haze have been repeatedly experienced during the dry season.
23 January 2020
WEF and PwC Report Makes the Business Case for Nature
By Lauren Anderson, IISD, 23 January 2020
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released the first in a series of three New Nature Economy (NNE) reports to be published this year. The series will make the case for why the nature crisis is crucial to business and the economy; identify a set of priority socioeconomic systems for transformation; and scope the market and investment opportunities for nature-based solutions to environmental challenges.
Climate crisis: we are not individuals fighting a faceless system – we are the system that needs to change
By Tom Oliver, The Conversation, 23 January 2020
Climate change no longer seems just a future threat. In 2019, major fires in Australia, Russia and California burned over 13.5 million hectares of land – an area four times greater than the size of Belgium. Major floods and cyclones displaced over four million people in Bangladesh, India and Iran, while entire townships were laid to waste by storms such as hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.
SDG Implementation Will Affect Forests and People
By Dr. Pai Katila, IISD, 23 January 2020
Forests cover about one-third of the world’s land area and provide ecosystem services that are crucial to human well-being and for reaching the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. For example, forests are critical for climate change mitigation and for sustaining global biodiversity; they provide timber and non-timber forest products as well as pollination services that are critical for sustaining agricultural production. Forests can be directly or indirectly linked to each of the SDGs and the future of the world’s forests is critical for sustainable development at all scales, from global to local.
As Financial Institutions Grow Concerned About Economic Impacts of Climate Crisis, Activists Target Funders of Fossil Fuel Industry
By Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams, 23 January 2020
n response to a New York Times report Thursday about mounting concerns from investors and market experts that the climate crisis could cause the next economic meltdown, environmentalists reiterated calls for financial institutions to cut ties with the fossil fuel companies that pollute the planet and drive global heating.
Bill McKibben, co-founder of the advocacy group 350.org, took to Twitter to rewrite the Times headline, “Climate Change Could Cause the Next Financial Meltdown.” Instead, he proposed, “Financial Systems Could Cause the Next Financial Meltdown,” given that major world banks pour billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry.
No holiday is ever ‘carbon neutral’ – it’s dangerous to pretend otherwise
By Greg Dickinson, The Telegraph, 23 January 2020
This week, the leading travel publisher Lonely Planet launched Lonely Planet Experiences, a collection of sustainable “carbon neutral” tours in association with Intrepid Travel.
This comes just days after Cookson Adventures launched a range of “carbon neutral” trips to places as far afield as Kenya, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands.
Indigo AG Partners with Verra and Climate Action Reserve to Measure Soil Carbon
Successful Farming, 23 January 2020
Agriculture can play a huge role in sequestering carbon and decreasing the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Up to now, though, there has been little financial incentive for farmers to do so, due to the inability to measure carbon in the soil. That’s changing, though. Last June, Indigo Ag announced its Terraton Initiative that aims to pay farmers for carbon sequestration. In the following article, Ed Smith, vice president of Indigo Carbon and Terraton, and Dan Harburg, senior director of systems innovation for Indigo, discuss Indigo Ag’s partnerships with the carbon registries developed by Verra and the Climate Action Reserve.
The effect of wildfires on sustainable development
UN environment programme, 23 January 2020
With only 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders in September 2019 called for accelerated action in the next decade to deliver at the scale and speed required. Climate change and global heating however, are increasing the likelihood and intensity of wildfires, which could have a growing impact on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Intense 2019 Amazon Fire Season May Become Dangerous Template for 2020
By Benjamin Dills, NewSecurityBeat, 23 January 2020
The Amazon endured the most intense fire season in almost a decade in August 2019. On August 19, smoke from the faraway fires blackened the skies over Sao Paulo. By the next day, the hashtag “#PrayforAmazonia” was sweeping across Twitter. The social media outcry brought world attention to the already dire scientific warnings, and world leaders offered aid and pressured Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to take action.
Australian Wildfires Reinforce The Need To Protect Forests. Here’s How.
By Justin Adams (Tropical Forest Alliance), Forbes, 23 January 2020
Forests don’t make headlines; forest fires do. Unfortunately, in the past year, forests have been in the news for the wrong reasons.
Wildfires are common during dry seasons in many forests around the world and contribute to the health of the forest by making way for new life. But the frequency and ferocity of fires is increasing. Major fires have burned across all continents except Antarctica in the past year. These fires are a harbinger of a new normal in a changing climate as scientists have longed warned.
Subsistence farming topples forests near commercial operations in Congo
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 23 January 2020
The effects of commercial logging, mining and farming can ripple beyond the boundaries of the operations, leading to the substantial loss and degradation of nearby forest for subsistence agriculture, a new study on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has found.
[UK] Make big polluters pay for mass tree planting, officials say
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 23 January 2020
The planting of 100m trees a year in the UK to tackle the climate emergency could be paid for by new carbon levies on oil companies and airlines, the government’s official climate adviser has proposed.
The Committee on Climate Change also recommends banning the burning of grouse moors and the sale of peat compost to protect the nation’s bogs, which can store huge amounts of carbon. Voluntary measures have failed, it said.
[USA] Microsoft’s climate goals don’t include cutting off Mitch McConnell
By Emily Atkin, Heated, 23 January 2020
Microsoft has been getting a lot of praise for its climate commitments lately. It’s not hard to see why.
Last week, the tech giant announced that it plans to make its operations not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative by 2030—meaning that in the next 10 years, the company will take more carbon out of the atmosphere than it emits. According to CNBC, Microsoft said it will “move rapidly to mop up the equivalent of every bit of carbon it has put into the atmosphere since its founding in 1975.”
24 January 2020
So long tumultuous teens: High hopes for forests in the 2020s
By Robert Nasi, CIFOR Forests News, 24 January 2020
Throughout the last decade (2010-2019), tropical deforestation escalated at an alarming rate despite a raft of international commitments, including the New York Declaration on Forests, the U.N. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) agreement, the inclusion of forests in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Aichi targets under the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity.
Global Elite Upbeat While Climate Activists Rage: Davos Update
By Chris Reiter and Iain Rogers, Bloomberg Green, 24 January 2020
The rich and powerful are in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting, and the gathering is being closely watched to see how the global elite aims to tackle problems they helped create, above all climate change.
The economy was in focus on the final day, and many delegates signaled optimism on the outlook for this year. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told Bloomberg TV that investors shouldn’t assume current monetary policy is locked in just because officials are reviewing their strategy.
Climate Crisis May Cause the Next Financial Crisis
By Jordan Davidson, EcoWatch, 24 January 2020
The mounting climate emergency may spur the next global financial crisis and the world’s central banks are woefully ill equipped to handle the consequences, according to a new book-length report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), as S&P Global reported. Located in Basel, Switzerland, the BIS is an umbrella organization for the world’s central banks.
The report, titled The Green Swan, which plays on the idea of a “black swan” even warned that the climate crisis could have a potentially seismic effect on the world’s financial system and that central banks do not have the tools to handle it, as Reuters reported.
Globalizing the War on Indigenous People: Bolsonaro and Modi
By Jess Franklin, CounterPunch, 24 January 2020
A man who has repeatedly romanticized dictatorship and advocated the use of torture seems like an odd choice for guest of honor at the annual celebration of the constitution in the biggest democracy in the world. However, it makes perfect sense that Brazil’s notorious President, Jair Bolsonaro, has been invited to India’s Republic Day parade by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This French startup will use blockchain to fight air pollution
By Robert Stevens, Decrypt, 24 January 2020
Air quality is the biggest environmental cause of disease and early death, according to the World Bank. Monitoring air quality can provide governments and scientists with the information they need to combat pollution.
Seven hot spots detected near location of Indonesia’s future capital
The Jakarta Post, 24 January 2020
Land and forest fires have hit at least seven areas in North Penajam Paser regency in East Kalimantan — the region that is to host part of Indonesia’s new capital — over the past two days, according to local authorities.
“There is a high chance that the fires will keep on burning because we still can’t expect rain to pour down in [the regency] in the near future,” said Nurlaila, the head of the emergency and logistics unit at the North Penajam Paser Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) as quoted by Antara on Thursday.
Indonesia forest fires push orangutans into starvation mode, study finds
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 24 January 2020
The fires that raze vast swaths of Indonesian Borneo every year are having a lasting health impact on the region’s critically endangered orangutans that threatens them with extinction, a preliminary study has found.
The fires, which in nearly all cases are started to clear land for plantations, such as oil palm, reduce the availability of food for the orangutans, pushing them into what researchers say is starvation mode. Meanwhile, the smoke from the fires weakens their immune system and damages their DNA.
[Malaysia] Jordan Belfort: Real Wolf of Wall Street sues film studio for $300m
BBC News, 24 January 2020
Jordan Belfort, the former stock broker whose story inspired the hit movie The Wolf of Wall Street, is suing the filmmakers for $300m (£229m).
Belfort was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film, which was Oscar-nominated and a box office success.
He claims Red Granite Productions lied about being “legitimately funded” when he sold the rights to his story.
US and Europe clash over climate crisis threat on last Davos day
By Larry Elliott, The Guardian, 24 January 2020
The US and Europe have clashed over the threat posed by global heating as Donald Trump’s finance minister downplayed the risks of a climate crisis during the final session of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Steve Mnuchin, the US Treasury secretary, said the debate should be about “environmental issues” rather than climate change, that the costs were being over-estimated and that climate was only one of several concerns that needed to be discussed.
[Zambia] Kalomo District diary: Resolving competing claims through integrated landscape approaches
By Freddie Siangulube and Malaika Yanou, CIFOR Forests News, 24 January 2020
It quickly becomes very clear to visitors that agriculture is the backbone of the economy in the Kalomo District of southern Zambia. Arrivals are greeted with the simple but bold billboard announcement: “Welcome to Kalomo District. Our wealth is in maize and cattle.”
That declaration is supported by stories from long-time residents of the many villages dotting the district, who reminisce about its glory days when farmers thrived with good maize harvests from the fertile soil and large herds of cattle.
25 January 2020
Doubts about tree-planting programs
By Debra Jopson, The Saturday Paper, 25 January 2020
Australia’s bushfire catastrophe has burned a giant hole in the government’s strategy to use stored carbon and shown the folly of claiming that tree-planting programs can offset rises in fossil fuel emissions.
So says Australian National University climate scientist Professor Will Steffen. Using CSIRO figures, he estimates the 350 million tonnes of carbon the bushfires belched into the atmosphere by early this month will have blown our CO2 emissions out to possibly more than 800 million tonnes this year, up from 532 million tonnes last year.
Cropping out a Black climate activist from a press photo was no accident
By Afroze Fatima Zaidi, The Canary, 25 January 2020
The Associated Press (AP) has come under fire for cropping a Black activist out of a group photo taken at the Davos 2020 climate summit.
Vanessa Nakate, a 23-year-old climate activist from Uganda, was heartbroken by the incident, as she told Buzzfeed: “I cried because it was so sad not just that it was racist, I was sad because of the people from Africa.”
The future of sustainable air travel: How airlines (and you) can fly more efficiently
By Danielle Bernabe, Fortune, 25 January 2020
When Greta Thunberg expressed her refusal to fly, owing to the environmental impact it imposes, she sparked widespread “flight shaming,” making travelers think twice about their means of transportation and prompting them to take a more thoughtful approach to travel.
“Something we are often asked about is how ‘flight shame’ has impacted SAS,” says Lars Andersen Resare, head of environment for Scandinavian Airlines. “We believe it’s important that people can continue to meet and that the world can continue to travel. But we can’t continue to just travel without adjusting to a more sustainable way.”
Carbon offsetting: Does it work?
By EmmaLouise Pritchard, CountryLiving, 25 January 2020
Carbon offsetting: is it a legitimate way to counteract the damaging environmental impact of air travel or is it a flimsy idea used to make us feel less guilty about boarding a plane in the first place?
Before we explore the issue, it’s interesting to note that air travel makes up about 6% of the UK’s emissions, but most of the country don’t fly at all. In fact, 70% of flights are taken by just 15% of the population. So, if that 15% could make positive, eco-forward changes to their travel behaviour, it could make a real difference overall.
BP looks to charismatic oil man to lead response to climate crisis
By Jillian Ambrose, The Guardian, 25 January 2020
It has been almost 10 years since BP was mired in the largest marine oil spill in history, following the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2010 Bob Dudley was the man tasked with steering the group back from the brink of collapse as compensation payouts threatened to suffocate the business.
A decade on, Dudley’s successor will now have to navigate an environmental crisis on a global scale.
CMB’s CO2 Pledge: Net Zero As From 2020 – Zero In 2050
Hellenic Shipping News, 25 January 2020
CMB is pleased to announce its long-term CO2 reduction strategy: 1. All carbon emissions from CMB operations will be completely offset as from 2020; 2. CMB will invest in new technologies to operate a zero carbon fleet by 2050.
26 January 2020
Inequality makes climate crisis much harder to tackle
By Larry Elliott, The Guardian, 26 January 2020
For those perched at the top of the mountain, the view is perfectly clear. Climate change is the issue of the moment and has to be tackled without delay. Governments, companies and individuals are all going to have to adjust to the new reality.
Anybody who is not with the agenda – for example, Donald Trump – is either mad or bad. There was a big US delegation to Davos last week but it found itself isolated – in public, at least – on the climate emergency. The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum found Greta Thunberg’s call to arms much more compelling.
Chile issues red alert over forest fire
xinhua, 26 January 2020
Local authorities of Chile’s southern region of Biobio issued a red alert on Saturday, after a forest fire burned 2.1 square km of vegetation.
The fire zone also includes 0.05 square km of the Nonguen National Reserve in Concepcion province, a habitat for some endangered species.
Noting that the fire broke out on Friday in Chiguayante area, Concepcion Governor Robert Contreras said “the work is continuous; from the first hours of the morning, aircraft are working carrying water. We are also monitoring the situation and evaluating it so we can determine the damage that is being produced.”