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.
3 February 2020
‘Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’: EY to go ‘carbon neutral’ by end of 2020
By Michael Holder, BusinessGreen, 3 February 2020
Global accounting giant Ernst & Young (EY) is aiming to be ‘carbon neutral’ by the end of 2020 by both reducing and offsetting its carbon emissions, the company announced on Friday.
In a bid to improve environmental performance and drive “long-term, sustainable growth”, EY said it planned to cut carbon emissions through a focus on reducing travel, enhancing sustainable procurement practices, and procuring more renewable electricity to power its offices worldwide.
World’s first liquid hydrogen fuel cell cruise ship planned for Norway’s fjords
By Bernd Radowitz, Recharge, 3 February 2020
A group of Norwegian companies is developing systems to achieve zero-emission shipping by combining liquid hydrogen fuel cells with battery storage by 2023, as decarbonisation penetrates further into the transport sector.
Bergen-based system integrator Norwegian Electrical Systems (NES) intends to plant a 3.2MW hydrogen fuel cell onto a large vessel currently being designed by Havyard Design for the shipowner Havila.
Signed Away: How Exxon’s exploitative deal deprived Guyana of up to US$55 billion
Global Witness, 3 February 2020
Our investigation reveals how, under Exxon’s lucrative oil deal, Guyana will lose out on up to US$55 billion, according to a new OpenOil analysis. This is money that Guyanese people have said could be used to build much-needed roads, hospitals, schools, and sea defenses to protect the 90% of the population at risk from rising sea levels.
Ahead of Guyana presidential election, group revives debate over Exxon’s deal
By Luc Cohen and Neil Marks, Reuters, 3 February 2020
A report by a nonprofit watchdog group critical of Exxon Mobil Corp’s oil contract with Guyana has rekindled a debate over whether the deal is too generous to the company, just a month before a crucial presidential election.
In a report here published Monday, London-based anti-corruption group Global Witness said the U.S. oil major’s 40-year deal to produce crude in the offshore Stabroek block would deprive the government of up to $55 billion in revenue over the life of the contract, compared with deals in other countries.
Transparency gaps in Indonesian palm oil supply chains
By Romain Pirard, Nils Schulz and Jason Benedict, Trase, 3 February 2020
Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, exporting close to 28 million tons of crude and refined palm oil in 2018, according to Trase data. The industry has long faced calls to improve its sustainability, but new analysis exposes the extent of this challenge.
Working in partnership with researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Auriga, the Trase team has produced the first map of Indonesian palm oil supply chains that links individual producing districts to global markets for the entirety of Indonesia´s exports for 2015.
Liberia: EPA, FDA Conduct REDD+ Safeguards Information System Training for Service Providers in Bomi County
Front Page Africa, 3 February 2020
The Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) over the weekend concluded a two-day REDD+ Safeguards Information System (SIS) training organized for representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and line government ministries and agencies in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
Second monarch butterfly sanctuary worker found dead in Mexico
By David Agren, The Guardian, 3 February 2020
A second worker at Mexico’s famed monarch butterfly sanctuary has been found murdered, sparking concerns that the defenders of one of Mexico’s most emblematic species are being slain with impunity.
The body of Raúl Hernández Romero, a part-time tour guide, was found on Saturday, showing injuries possibly inflicted by a sharp object, according to prosecutors in the western state of Michoacán.
[UK] Climate change: Sacked climate chief ‘may sue government’
By Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 3 February 2020
The former head of this year’s vital climate summit may sue the UK government for sacking her, the BBC has learned.
Claire O’Neill, an ex-minister, was told by Downing Street that she couldn’t chair the Glasgow meeting because she was no longer a minister.
But sources close to Mrs O’Neill say they think she was fired for criticising government failings.
Host UK ‘does not have clear vision’ for last-ditch climate talks
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 3 February 2020
Developing countries and climate campaigners are growing increasingly concerned that the UK lacks a clear strategy for hosting vital UN talks on the climate crisis, amid fears of a conflict of interest in government between seeking post-Brexit trade deals and a global climate settlement.
Boris Johnson will lead prominent British figures from climate science, business and economics to launch the UK’s strategy for the conference, known as COP26, on Tuesday. The talks, to take place in Glasgow this November, are widely seen as the last realistic chance for countries to pledge the stiff cuts needed in greenhouse gases to stave off climate breakdown.
[USA] Success of Microsoft’s ‘moonshot’ climate pledge hinges on forest conservation
By Justin Cartanoso, Mongabay, 3 February 2020
Microsoft made global headlines in January when it announced that it will become “carbon negative” by 2030, erasing all the company’s greenhouse gas emissions since its founding in 1975 — a move, the tech firm deemed “a bold bet and moonshot” for climate mitigation that in part requires the conservation and restoration of vast swaths of carbon-storing forests.
[USA] SEC updates on action targeting co-conspirator of Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow
By Maria Nikolova, FinanceFeeds, 3 February 2020
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has earlier today filed a letter with the New York Southern District Court, providing an update on the action targeting Savraj Gata-Aura, a co-conspirator of Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow, and Core Agents Ltd.
In the letter, seen by FinanceFeeds, the Commission says it takes no position as to whether the stay of the civil case should be lifted, whereas the defendants seek to have the stay continued. In any event, the Commission and the defendants have agreed in principle to bifurcated settlements, and the parties do not anticipate that discovery will be necessary.
4 February 2020
Airlines want you to think they’re serious about the climate crisis. They’re not
By Max Wakefield, The Guardian, 4 February 2020
As environmentally conscious holidaymakers, inspired by Greta Thunberg’s Atlantic boat crossing, begin to book their no-fly Easter breaks, there are already signs that the aviation industry is feeling the pinch. In Sweden – home of the “flight shame” concept – there was an unprecedented 9% fall in domestic flights and a 4% drop overall in 2019.
Portal on Global Forests Tracks Forest Monitoring Support
By Lauren Anderson, IISD, 4 February 2020
The Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI), which supports the coordination of international support to developing countries on forest monitoring and greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting, has announced the launch of a new portal. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) refers to the portal as a “one-stop shop” for information on more than 400 forest monitoring activities in 70 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.
This is what we can really do about climate change, says new report
By Johnny Wood, World Economic Forum, 4 February 2020
It’s not too late to stop climate change. According to new research, decarbonizing fast enough to stabilize the climate and fast-track the planet to net-zero rests on all of us changing how we think and act – and doing it fast.
The report, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS), identifies six “tipping dynamics”, or interventions, that could act as catalysts to bring about rapid societal and technological change towards a sustainable future.
EU urged to adopt meat tax to tackle climate emergency
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 4 February 2020
A “sustainability charge” on meat to cover its environmental damage could raise billions to help farmers and consumers produce and eat better food, according to a report.
The levy, which would increase the price of a steak by about 25%, would be phased in over the next decade. The report focuses on EU countries and was produced for the Tapp Coalition of health, environment and animal welfare organisations. It says “fair pricing” for meat should be included in the forthcoming European “green new deal” and so-called farm to fork strategy.
Carbon emissions from Peruvian gold mining ‘alarming,’ experts say
By Ashoka Mukpo, Mongabay, 4 February 2020
Gold mining in just 23,613 hectares (58,349 acres) of the Peruvian Amazon forest — an area about twice the size of the city of Paris — emitted as much carbon as nearly 250,000 cars between 2017 and 2018, according to a new study. The research covered the Madre de Dios region of southern Peru, a heavily forested high-biodiversity area that’s become the site of a gold rush.
[South Africa] How shrubs can help solve climate change
By Alexander Matthews, BBC, 4 February 2020
In South Africa, there used to be a thicket the size of Cyprus that could suck up the equivalent of three times the US’s annual carbon emissions. These people are trying to grow it back.
Trees in South Africa are under attack. Why it’s proving hard to manage
By Trudy Paap, The Conversation, 4 February 2020
More than two years have passed since the detection of what is arguably the most damaging tree pest ever to arrive in South Africa: the polyphagous shot hole borer (Euwallacea fornicatus). The beetle kills trees and there are no proven remedies.
The beetle is now present in nearly all parts of the country and in more than 100 tree species.
[UK] Johnson sets out his climate crisis vision as Cameron turns down talks role
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 4 February 2020
Boris Johnson has set out his vision for forging a new global consensus on the climate crisis promising “we will crack it”, amid news that he approached former prime minister David Cameron to lead the UK’s preparations for a crucial summit.
Johnson has brought forward the UK’s phaseout of diesel and petrol vehicles by five years to 2035, and hastened the phaseout of coal-fired power by a year to 2024. He reaffirmed the UK’s pledge to switch to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, and urged other nations – without naming any – to do the same.
UK air industry sets zero carbon target despite 70% more flights
By Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 4 February 2020
The UK aviation industry has pledged to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 – despite still planning for 70% more flights over the next three decades.
Members of the Sustainable Aviation coalition, which includes most major airlines and airports, as well as aerospace manufacturers, will sign a commitment to reach net zero by mid-century. More than a third of the proposed net reduction will be achieved through offsetting.
[USA] JetBlue Goes Carbon Neutral As Social Responsibility Encourages Brand Loyalty
By Sarah Cavill, Digital Media Solutions, 4 February 2020
Despite being in the midst of winter, JetBlue is already preparing for this summer’s travel rush with an environmentally impactful announcement that the airline will be going carbon neutral on all domestic flights beginning in July. JetBlue is the latest major company to announce a move toward a lighter eco-footprint, appealing to consumers with increasing knowledge about the dangers of climate change.
[USA] Nori and Locus Ag Partner to Expand Carbon Removal Marketplace
By Margy Eckelkamp, Farm Journal’s AgPro, 4 February 2020
Two agtech startups have announced a partnership to provide farmers more access to their products.
Nori is an agtech startup building an independent, voluntary marketplace for carbon removal. Locus AG is a microbial “probiotics” startup, and its Rhizolizer biological technology has been shown to increase crop yields and soils’ ability to sequester up to 8.6 additional metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents per acre annually over standard growing practices.
5 February 2020
Carbon uptake slower than expected in Amazon secondary forest: Study
By Liz Kimbrough, Mongabay, 5 February 2020
Forests capture carbon from the air and store it as they grow, providing an essential service to a world where humanity is rapidly increasing atmospheric CO2 levels and escalating the climate crisis. Secondary forests — forests that are growing back after clearing — are known to have a high potential for carbon capture, with some studies suggesting that the carbon uptake of these regenerating forests can be up to 11 times that of primary forests.
However, that isn’t always true — which could be bad news for humanity. In a study recently published in the journal Ecology, researchers found that secondary forests in the Bragantina region of Pará state in the Brazilian Amazon possessed carbon accumulation rates only around twice that recorded in primary forests — much lower than expected.
[Cambodia] Forest rangers praised for hard work
By Voun Dara, The Phnom Penh Post, 5 February 2020
Minister of Environment Say Sam Al thanked and praised forest rangers on Tuesday for protecting natural resources and in turn aiding the sale of carbon credits.
Sam Al was visiting rangers atop Mrech Kangkeb Mountain in Koh Kong province’s Thma Bang district when he made the remarks during a speech.
How Europe Turned Into a Perfect Landscape for Wildfires
By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times, 5 February 2020
Forests are getting some high-profile attention lately.
President Trump expressed his support on Tuesday night for a global effort to plant one trillion trees, which itself was announced at a gathering of business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland, in January. A trillion trees, it was said at that meeting of the World Economic Forum, would go a long way in addressing climate change.
Scientists and communities in Indonesia team up for peatland restoration and fire prevention efforts
By Nabiha Shahab, CIFOR Forests News, 5 February 2020
The women of Dompas Village in the Indonesian province of Riau worked hard to plant 10,000 pineapple seedlings in only five days to restore a degraded peatland area as part of an agroforestry and fire prevention initiative.
The effort, led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), encouraged community engagement in field research and allowed local people to experience direct results from their efforts.
6 February 2020
“The source of the danger is black people” — Why is racism normalized in conservation?
Survival International, 6 February 2020
Imagine if a white American student, gone exploring on their gap year, was shot and killed for entering a National Park. There would be international outcry: most people are in favor of protecting nature and preserving areas of important biodiversity, but innocent people should not be getting shot.
But lots of innocent people are being shot. Like 17-year-old Mbone Christian Nakulire, who was shot and killed while he was picking medicinal plants in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The perpetrators had received funding and training from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a conservation body and parent organization of New York’s Bronx zoo.
Why I Quit Being a Climate Activist
By Karin Louise Hermes, Vice, 6 February 2020
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan battered Southeast Asia, killing 6,300 people in the Philippines alone. The three-storey surge rolled over parts of the city of Tacloban, hitting my family’s neighbourhood the hardest. Schools that were designated storm shelters entombed those taking refuge from the rising waters. My aunt, like many women in the Philippines—a country made up of 7,000 islands—can’t swim. She, my uncle, and cousin were missing or presumed dead.
Climate crisis: January 2020 was warmest since records began
By Harry Cockburn, Independent, 6 February 2020
It is unseasonably warm. In Europe, winter sports enthusiasts and reindeer herders are among the humans missing the snow and ice, while further north, animals such as polar bears, seals and walruses are seeing their habitats melt away.
Last month the global temperature was warmer than any previous January on record, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service.
Framing the Climate Crisis as a Terrorism Issue Could Galvanize Action
By Jennifer Zhang, Columbia University, 6 February 2020
In many vulnerable regions of the world, the climate crisis has exacerbated loss of farmable land and increased water scarcity, fueling rural-urban migration, civil unrest, and violence. As a result, worsening geopolitical instability has aided the rise of terrorism and violence in the Middle East, Guatemala, and the Lake Chad Basin of Africa. Yet when people hear the words, “global warming,” they typically don’t think of terrorism. If they did, politicians would be far more likely to undertake drastic action to address the climate crisis.
Revolutionize food production system or face mass deforestation, scientists warn
By Julie Mollins, CIFOR Forests News, 6 February 2020
Unless land management strategies are overhauled to reduce the gap between forestry and agriculture, it will be impossible to feed and nourish the human population without further damaging the environment and forests, according to scientists.
Worldwide, 80 percent of forest loss is caused by agricultural expansion, more than a quarter of it from commodity production, mostly related to cattle, soy and oil palm. Heavily forested countries with lower production costs and fewer environmental regulations are being used to meet the continually growing demand for agricultural land.
[Brazil] Secondary forests provide deforestation buffer for old-growth primary forests
University of Leeds press release, 6 February 2020
Currently, re-growing forests comprise roughly 21% of previously deforested areas in the Brazilian Amazon. However, these forests, referred to as secondary vegetation, have been little studied, despite occupying a total area similar to that of the United Kingdom.
Now, researchers led by the University of Leeds, the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE), and Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) have examined 14 years of data on secondary vegetation formation and cutting in the Brazilian Amazon based on the TerraClass Amazon mapping project.
Air pollution triggering health alerts in New York City traced back to Canada
By Adrian Humphreys, National Post, 6 February 2020
Dangerous air pollution that triggered days of air-quality health alerts in New York City has been traced back to Canada.
The source of the dirty air that set off air pollution warnings and health advisories over the United States’ largest city in the summer of 2018 was not a belching factory in southern Ontario, however. It traveled much further.
Researchers at Yale University traced the air pollution to wildfires in British Columbia.
Climate crisis is turning Chile’s livestock ranchers against wild herbivores
By Niki Rust and Solange Vargas, The Conversation, 6 February 2020
When you think of the effects of climate change on wildlife, what’s the first image that pops into your mind? Perhaps it’s a lonely, starving polar bear desperately searching for food on a melting ice sheet, or a burnt koala struggling across the Australian bush as fires devastate its habitat. What you’re probably not picturing is a herd of wild camel relatives atop Chile’s warming mountain ranges.
Indonesian president orders permanent solution to forest fires
By Maikel Jefriando, Reuters, 6 February 2020
Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday ordered government officials to find a permanent solution to prevent devastating annual forest fires that he understood had been almost entirely started by humans but made worst by climate change.
Indonesia last year suffered the worst forest blazes in four years when 1.6 million hectares of its forests and peat lands were burned. The World Bank estimated total damage and economic losses from the fires amounted to $5.2 billion.
In aid of who? The obscure investment fund using UK aid money to finance climate change around the world
Global Witness, 6 February 2020
We are at the beginning of a year of climate spin by the British Government. This year, the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
While the Government claims to be a ‘climate leader,’ we reveal how a little-known investment group funded by the UK taxpayer has committed over $750 million to fossil fuel projects in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The London-based Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), which funds infrastructure for development in poor and fragile countries – has received over $1 billion in UK aid money, officially classified as Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), since 2002. It has also received ODA money from the governments of the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Switzerland and Sweden.
7 February 2020
MAAP Synthesis: 2019 Amazon deforestation trends and hotspots
Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project, 7 February 2020
MAAP, an initiative of Amazon Conservation, specializes in satellite-based, real-time deforestation monitoring of the Amazon. Our geographic focus covers five countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru (see Base Map).
We found that, since 2001, this vast area lost 65.8 million acres (26.6 million hectares) of primary forest, an area equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom (or the U.S. state of Colorado).
‘Heaviest rain in years’ strikes Australia after months of catastrophic wildfires
By Samuel Osborne, Independent, 7 February 2020
Heavy rain is pouring on parts of Australia which have been ravaged by wildfires over the last few months, offering a brief respite from the fire season.
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued flood alerts for more than 20 areas in New South Wales (NSW), with rainfall expected to last several days.
Brazil sees week of ‘attacks’ on indigenous rights – congresswoman
By Fabio Teixeira, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 7 February 2020
Brazil’s indigenous people have endured a week of “attacks” as a former missionary was appointed to manage the country’s uncontacted forest tribes and a push to open protected land for development moved ahead, indigenous campaigners said.
This week, Brazil’s government appointed Ricardo Lopes Dias, who worked for a decade as a missionary in an indigenous reservation in Amazonas state, to run the office of Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency that manages the country’s as-yet-uncontacted forest communities.
Armed ecoguards funded by WWF ‘beat up Congo tribespeople’
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 7 February 2020
Armed ecoguards partly funded by the conservation group WWF to protect wildlife in the Republic of the Congo beat up and intimidated hundreds of Baka pygmies living deep in the rainforests, an investigation into a landmark global conservation project has heard.
Damning UN investigation condemns WWF flagship project in Congo, reveals massive scale of abuses
Survival International, 7 February 2020
A WWF project in central Africa has been responsible for abuses and rights violations on a shocking scale, according to a devastating new investigation by the UN.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) launched an investigation into the controversial scheme to turn the Messok Dja area of Congo into a national park after Survival International submitted a formal complaint in 2018. The Guardian newspaper has obtained a copy of the investigation’s preliminary findings.
Indonesia softens stance on WWF termination as programs fall into limbo
By Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay, 7 February 2020
Indonesia’s environment ministry says it’s willing to revive a partnership with WWF after abruptly terminating its long-running cooperation with the conservation NGO over a perceived social media slight.
But a top ministry official conditioned such a move on WWF’s local office addressing the ministry’s concerns about its work, improving communications, and not trying to score social media points.
[Indonesia] Film: How a quiet civil servant came to lead a powerful grassroots environmental movement
Mongabay and The Gecko Project, 7 February 2020
When the politician in charge of Indonesia’s Aru Islands signed permits for a vast sugar plantation, many civil servants were afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.
Not Mika Ganobal.
“If our forest is denuded, it won’t come back,” he said. “Indigenous peoples become marginalised when their land is taken over by corporations.”
The Chain: End of Pertamina-Eni Deal Highlights Leakage Risks in Indonesian Biofuels Market
Chain Reaction Research, 7 February 2020
Indonesia’s state-owned energy company Pertamina has ended an agreement with Italian Eni to build a refinery to turn palm oil into biodiesel. The end of the partnership, which was agreed last year, is a consequence of Eni’s stricter sustainability standards. The standards were stronger than Pertamina was willing to accept.
[Ireland] Ryanair: ‘We’re reviewing everything around environmental sustainability’
edie, 7 February 2020
Aviation was firmly in the spotlight in 2019 – and for all the wrong reasons. Greta Thunberg’s insistence on not flying over environmental concerns took the so-called ‘flight-shaming’ movement global. Add that to calls to action by Sir David Attenborough, national governments, international bodies and some of the world’s largest investors, and you have a perfect storm – which, the Air Transport Association (Iata) is warning, could limit industry growth.
These trends, coupled with the growing global prevalence of net-zero legislation, have hit companies across the global aviation sector. But for Irish budget airline Ryanair, the hit has been particularly hard. A report by Transport & Environment (T&E) last year concluded that the company was the EU’s ninth-highest corporate carbon emitter in 2018, making it the first corporate without holdings in coal-fired power plants to ever rank within the bloc’s top 10. It made headlines in many of Europe’s major tabloids.
SA’s wonder-plants underestimated in their potential to slow climate collapse
By Leonie Joubert, Daily Maverick, 7 February 2020
Back in the 1990s, something peculiar was happening in places like Hluhluwe-iMfolozi and other parks in KwaZulu-Natal. The savannah landscapes known for their Big Five and other charismatic wildlife were changing. The veld – mostly roomy, grassy areas with the occasional tree – was beginning to get crowded in by something that could only be described as woody thickets. Photographs taken near Hluhluwe in the mid-50s, compared with others taken in the same place four decades later, confirmed it.
UK unprepared for COP 26 conference, warn climate leaders
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 7 February 2020
The UK is showing a “lack of coherence” in its leadership of vital UN climate crisis talks this year and giving the damaging impression that the talks are not a high priority, one of the world’s leading voices on the climate crisis has said.
Mary Robinson, a former UN climate envoy and Ireland’s first female president, also said the perception that major British politicians, including the ex-prime minister David Cameron and former foreign secretary William Hague, were unwilling to take on the role of leading the COP 26 summit was damaging.
[UK] Can the aviation industry really go carbon neutral by 2050?
By Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 7 February 2020
Like all great pledges, it is just the right side of implausible. The UK aviation sector this week committed to making flying “net zero” by 2050, wiping out its carbon emissions despite taking more than 100 million extra passengers into the air each year.
At a celebratory event in London, the bosses of airports, airlines and aircraft manufacturers queued to scrawl their signatures on a giant Net Zero pledge card from the Sustainable Aviation [SA] campaign.
8 February 2020
9 February 2020