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.
11 May 2020
Record global carbon dioxide concentrations despite COVID-19 crisis
UN environment programme, 11 May 2020
Over the past few weeks there have been many reports of localized air quality improvements as the world has locked down to combat the coronavirus pandemic. However, no one should think that the climate crisis is therefore over—far from it.
The most recent data from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) shows global carbon dioxide (CO2) levels rising sharply.
In April 2020 the average concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was416.21 parts per million (ppm), the highest since measurements began in Hawaii in 1958.
Coronavirus is a make-or-break moment for climate change, economists say
By Shannon Osaka, Grist, 11 May 2020
A decade ago, as world economies clawed their way back from the global financial crisis of 2008, climate experts pushed nations to adopt green spending plans that would boost renewable energy and cut fossil-fuel emissions. Now, as countries face crumbling financial markets and skyrocketing unemployment, a group of leading economists warns that the coronavirus pandemic could be our last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.
These garlicky supplements solve one of society’s major medical issues: Not coronavirus — cow burps
By Adele Peters, Fast Company, 11 May 2020
At Brades Farm, a dairy in Lancashire, England, farmers now market their milk as “climate-smart”: The dairy is one of the first to begin feeding its cattle a new supplement that shrinks the amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, that cows emit when they belch. Mootral, the Switzerland-based company making the new supplements, will soon be issued the world’s first carbon credits for methane reduction in cows.
Chevron vs. human rights — big consequences for the man who fought big oil
We Don’t Have Time, 11 May 2020
He is a human rights lawyer who helped indigenous peoples in Ecuador fight back — and win — against one big oil company’s deliberate and disastrous harm to them and the rainforest ecosystems that sustain them. Now he’s paying the price.
“I’m just a foil for Chevron, because they try to distract attention from their terrible, wrongful acts,” says Steven Donziger, on house arrest, during his Earth Day Week broadcast.
We Don’t Have Time followed up with him afterward to hear more about how Chevron has tried to evade its legal loss — and mute Steven as a part of that.
Global airline CO2 scheme will supplement, not replace EU carbon market: Commission
By Marine Strauss and Kate Abnett, Reuters, 11 May 2020
The U.N. aviation agency’s planned scheme for offsetting emissions from international flights will supplement, not replace, the European Union carbon market, the EU’s transport commissioner said on Monday.
With the United Nations planning a 2021 launch of CORSIA, its global scheme to help airlines offset their carbon emissions, some EU lawmakers and environmental groups want assurances that the European Commission will not remove aviation from the EU emissions trading system (ETS).
Indonesian environmental poet and Dayak leader Yohanes Terang, 1956-2020
By Erik Meijaard, Mongabay, 11 May 2020
Yohanes Terang, the well-known and respected Dayak poet who took up social and environmental activism long before it became a mainstream concern in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Pak (Mr) Yohanes, as he was generally known, was for decades a driving force for improved recognition of community land rights, sustainability in small-and industrial-scale agriculture, and environmental conservation in West Kalimantan. He was also an inspirational poet, writing in Indonesian about the relationship between people and nature, and the challenges currently faced by both humanity and nature.
[New Zealand] Fraudster who scammed Far North Māori trust suffers extreme shame, lawyer says
By John Weekes, Stuff, 11 May 2020
A jailed fraudster whose ill-gotten gains funded a gambling habit and Warriors corporate box seat should have his extreme shame acknowledged.
That’s what Stephen James Henare’s barrister told the Court of Appeal on Monday, as Henare appealed his five year, two month jail sentence.
Henare’s downfall brought so much shame to his whānau, he is unlikely to ever be buried on his marae, barrister Jeremy Bioletti told the court.
[Papua New Guinea] Hardwood logging on Manus Island has not delivered promised local benefits, report finds
By Kate Lyons, The Guardian, 11 May 2020
A Malaysian company that won a permit to clear tropical rainforest on Manus Island has been accused of failing to deliver on its promises to the local community, while reaping millions of dollars in profits from the logging of valuable hardwood timber.
According to licensing documents, the company, Maxland Ltd, secured a permit to clear land in the south of Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island in order to plant between three and five million rubber trees as part of the Pohowa Project. The project’s stated aim in documents was to “benefit smallholder rubber farmers [and] the surrounding communities”.
12 May 2020
Scientists point to the links between destruction of biodiversity and COVID-19 outbreak
Fern, 12 May 2020
At the European Parliament’s International Trade (INTA) committee’s 21 April 2020 meeting, Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan revealed that he was unaware of the link between loss of biodiversity and the coronavirus.
The question of such a link was raised twice by INTA members. First, Helmut Scholz (the European United Left – Nordic Green Left) asked what impacts trade has had on the emergence of COVID-19, expecting the Commission, and DG Trade in particular, to provide facts and figures on the relationship between trade and the loss of biodiversity, which has been identified by many economists and scientists as one of the main causes of the virus.
Brazil deploys thousands of troops to protect Amazon’s trees
Reuters, 12 May 2020
Brazil has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect the Amazon rainforest, taking precautions to avoid spreading the novel coronavirus, as the government mounts an early response to surging deforestation in the run-up to the high season for forest fires.
The armed forces, along with environmental officials, police and other government agencies, began with an operation in a national forest in Rondonia state, near the Bolivian border, Vice President Hamilton Mourao said at a news conference on Monday.
Deforestation for Agricultural Commodities a Driver of Fires in Brazil, Indonesia in 2019
Chain Reaction Research, 12 May 2020
Widespread fires in Brazilian tropical forests were at the center of media attention in 2019. NGOs, politicians and celebrities called for action to stop deforestation for soy and livestock, the main cause of the fires. Indonesia also endured extensive blazes in 2019, often linked to deforestation for palm oil. Forests in Brazil and Indonesia capture carbon, retaining vast amounts of carbon dioxide and regulating global temperatures. Fires release that stored CO2 back to the atmosphere, contributing to further climate change.
This report describes the main drivers of the fires in Brazil and Indonesia, the actors involved, the political context, and the risks for investors.
Planting for the future in Colombia’s tropical dry forests
Global Environment Facility, 12 May 2020
Particularly memorable meals and favorite dishes evoke happy moments, remind us of our childhood with their smells and flavors, or transport us to places we have never been before.
fThat happiness is the reason why Carmen Rodríguez gets up in the morning. A plate of colourful beans, cooked yellow yams, and a good coffee give her the energy to grow her crops in an isolated group of small mountains in the Caribbean region of Colombia known as Montes de María.
Over 3,000 battling forest fire in China’s Yunnan
Xinhua, 12 May 2020
More than 3,000 firefighters and other personnel were battling a fire that started Saturday in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, local authorities said Tuesday.
The fire broke out at around 3:33 p.m. Saturday in the city of Anning.
On early Tuesday morning, the fire spread to the neighboring Lufeng County under Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture.
13 May 2020
Land rights essential to protect biodiversity and indigenous cultures
University of East Anglia press release, 13 May 2020
New research argues that legally protected large territories in Brazil are crucial to protect biodiversity and provide essential conditions for indigenous populations to maintain their traditional livelihoods.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK show how several legislative alterations under deliberation in the Brazilian Congress — supported by well-funded and co-ordinated agriculture and mining lobbies, combined with an anti-indigenous policy of the top executive — would affect the long-term ethnocultural and environmental viability of Indigenous Lands. These include changes to the protection status of and/or opening up of territories to economic exploitation.
Australia’s logging ‘madness’ fuels more fires, hastens ecosystem collapse
By Elizabeth Claire Alberts, Mongabay, 13 May 2020
A thick, acrid scent of smoke marks the last summer season in Australia, which has become known as the “black summer.” Between June 2019 and March 2020, a series of bushfires ripped through more than 11 million hectares (27.2 million acres) of bushland, forest and parks in Australia, killing about a billion native animals, including scores of iconic species like koalas, kangaroos and wallabies. During the worst months, December 2019 and January 2020, a dense, billowy haze glided over the country, and even across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, coloring midday skies an eerie shade of red, and filling lungs with fine particles that made breathing difficult. The recovery process for the country’s flora and fauna will take decades, or even centuries, experts say.
Kenya’s mountain treasures
CIFOR Forests News, 13 May 2020
A growing number of people are turning to Kirinyaga’s precolonial past to save the mountain’s vital forests from an uncertain future. Kirinyaga – commonly known as Mount Kenya – was once considered the home of God: Ngai, as he was called. Kirinyaga’s original Kikuyu people lived below its snowcapped peaks, farming and herding on its slopes, but rarely venturing into the sacred upper realm. Then English colonialists brought Christianity and took land, leaving little space for a growing population. Old beliefs faded as the land became crowded. Wildlife was hunted. Trees were cut down for firewood, charcoal and timber, or to make way for farming homesteads. Now, more and more of the Kikuyu want to restore their ancient reverence for the mountain and stop using it merely as a source of wood and land.
[Republic of Congo] EU suspends funding to WWF’s flagship African project after persistent abuses
Survival International, 13 May 2020
The European Union has suspended its funding of a controversial WWF project that aimed to create a protected area in the Congo Basin, after several investigations confirmed a persistent pattern of abuses against the Baka “Pygmies” who live there.
The Baka have been subjected to beatings, torture, sexual abuse, wrongful arrests and killings, by rangers funded and supported by WWF.
14 May 2020
Societies need to take action to limit climate change – we can’t rely on future technology
By James Dyke, i, 14 May 2020
Telling the truth during a time of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. If that is the case, then I committed my own little rebellion recently by signing a letter, along with 11 other scientists.
Our letter argues that dangerous climate change is now unavoidable. Is that really revolutionary? It’s certainly something that some people would passionately dispute. Why?
The coronavirus is not good for nature
By Marco Lambertini (WWF), Al Jazeera, 14 May 2020
It has been all over the media for weeks now: Nature has “hit the reset button”. “Animals are taking over,” read countless upbeat posts on Twitter.
With billions of humans forced to stay home across the world, as the COVID-19 outbreak ravages lives and livelihoods, wildlife appears to be making a comeback. Every day sees fresh reports of nature taking this unprecedented time, when a third of the global population is on lockdown, to reclaim spaces long ago colonised by humans. In Thailand, tourist-free beaches have lured record numbers of rare turtles to breed; in South Africa, penguins are waddling through the abandoned streets; and in Italy, wolves, deer and bears have been spotted in big towns and cities.
World heading for ‘climate lockdown’ unless firms get prepared, top investment body warns
By Michael Holder, BusinessGreen, 14 May 2020
The world is heading for a “climate lockdown” unless businesses, investors, and governments rapidly act to address the mega-risks that will result from the inevitable escalation of climate policies in the coming years, the heads of leading global investor and climate groups have warned today.
In a joint article for BusinessGreen, Fiona Reynolds, CEO of $86tr UN-backed investor group Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and the Climate Works Foundation director Ilmi Granoff argue that while business leaders are inevitably focus on tackling the global pandemic further climate-driven disruption is inevitable in the future, and that it is therefore critical for business leaders and policymakers to better prepare for the net zero transition.
15 May 2020
Report: Fair CO2 pricing could boost economy and tackle deficit after Covid-19 crash
By Michael Holder, BusinessGreen, 15 May 2020
Fair and efficient carbon pricing that encourages a shift from fossil fuels to green investment can help deliver a more resilient Covid-19 recovery, as well as raising up to £15bn a year in crucial revenues for the Treasury over the next decade, an LSE research paper claims.
A policy briefing by LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment today sets out the case for placing carbon pricing and a reduction in fossil fuel subsidies at the centre of economic recovery packages, arguing such moves would help accelerate the net zero transition and make society less vulnerable to future climate, ecological, and public health risks.
[Brazil] Miners, loggers target uncontacted tribes’ lands under cover of Covid-19
Survival International, 15 May 2020
Several of the world’s most vulnerable uncontacted tribes are being targeted by miners and loggers using the Covid-19 pandemic as cover.
In Brazil’s Javari Valley, home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else on Earth, gold miners using a large dredge have invaded the Rio Jutaí region, territory of uncontacted Korubo Indians.
16 May 2020
17 May 2020
Mekong region under threat, report claims
By Ry Sochan, The Phnom Penh Post, 17 May 2020
A recent report by the Regional Community Forestry Training Centre (RECOFTC) said villagers living around Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary had recently reported illegal loggers in the forest and they took action by seizing some of the perpetrators’ chainsaws.
The area is protected by the government and the villagers have exclusive rights to its rattan, bamboo and other resources in exchange for their forest patrols.
In the May 5 report, RECOFTC describes threats facing the Mekong region and its people.