REDD in the news

REDD-Monitor’s on-going round-up of the news on forests, climate change, natural climate solutions and REDD. For regular updates, follow @reddmonitor on Twitter. For weekly REDD in the news posts, click here.

$65 million deal to protect Congo’s forests raises concerns
By John C. Cannon, Mongabay, 14 October 2019
On Sept. 3, the Republic of Congo secured a stream of funding aimed at protecting forests and peatlands.
The signatures of French President Emmanuel Macron and Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso finalized a $65 million agreement outlining a set of strategies that the Central African Forest Initiative, or CAFI, which brokered the deal, says will keep ecosystems intact and lock away the carbon they contain.

Human-elephant conflicts spike in Riau following forest fires
Antara News, 14 October 2019
Forest fires blazing in the Tesso Nilo National Park fueled more frequent conflicts between human beings and Sumatran elephants (elephas maximus sumatranus) in Riau Province this year.
“(Due to wildfires), elephants emerged from their habitats. That is their path of movement to survive, find food, and stay away from the haze,” Hansen Siregar, head of the Riau Natural Resources Conservation Office (BBKSDA)’s Region I Unit, stated here on Monday.

Apocalyptic haze in Palembang as Indonesia forest fires return with vengeance
New Straits Times, 15 October 2019
The Indonesian province of South Sumatra is experiencing a catastrophic level of haze, as forest fires – which died down in the past few weeks – roared back to life in the region.
The provincial capital of Palembang has been severely hit by haze from the hotspots, as its air pollutant index (API) reading reached an all-time high of an alarming 921, Bernama reported.

Sorry Ryanair, there’s no such thing as a green airline
By Matt Reynolds, Wired, 12 October 2019
Of the European Union’s ten biggest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters, nine of them are coal-fired power plants. The tenth is Ryanair, the low-cost Irish airline which released 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018 – a 6.9 per cent increase from 2017.
But Ryanair has its own spin on the data that contradicts the EU Transport & Environment group’s report. According to a series of TV, print and radio adverts promoting the airline, Ryanair should be the airline of choice for carbon-conscious flyers.

Major airlines making moves on climate shift
Energy News 24, 14 October 2019
International airlines are relying on a global carbon offsetting plan to decrease CO2 emissions from air travel at 2020 levels, controlling the environmental impact of flying even as passenger traffic is forecast to grow.
The plan, known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, is one of its kind for a single industry in response to climate change. Aviation leaders will discuss the program at the International Civil Aviation Organization triennial assembly which begins on Tuesday in Montreal amid rising pressure from climate activists led by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg.CORSIA was established by ICAO, the U.N. body that decides parameters for international air travel, in 2016 and is due to start in 2021.

Tanzania’s hunters, gatherers strive to protect wildlife
Yenisafak, 14 October 2019
Huddled under a giant tree to shield themselves from the blazing sun, Msyani Kikwa and his children are boiling sap from shrubs to make poison for their arrows.
The bushmen profusely sweat of scorching heat as they prepare their weapons.
Like his father, Kikwa transfers his hunting skills to his children who must learn how to survive in the jungle without any help.

‘Eden bonds’: how rewilding could save the climate and your pension
By Henry Boucher, World Economic Forum, 14 October 2019
Just under a quarter of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from our use of the land for things such as farming and forestry.
Policymakers have a historic opportunity to initiate massive change to land use at a time when a set of other circumstances may help with implementing it; a new public environmental awareness, changing technology and record low bond yields. And there is a way to direct finance into projects that protect, rather than degrade, nature, and reduce emissions.

[UK] Swanline and McLaren invest £5m in sustainable energy site for corrugated
By Tony Corbin, Packaging News, 14 October 2019
CB Bio is a joint venture between packaging and display trade specialist Swanline Group and paper-based packaging producer McLaren Packaging.
The investment will facilitate the manufacture of carbon neutral corrugated material for use at Swanline and McLaren’s respective manufacturing plants in Staffordshire and Port Glasgow.

More travel companies offsetting carbon emissions
By Isabel Choat, The Guardian, 14 October 2019
A growing number of tour operators are offering to offset carbon emissions on behalf of holidaymakers. Trekking and adventure company World Expeditions says all of its trips will be carbon neutral as of 1 November – at no extra cost to its clients. The Australian company, which was established in 1975, sells 500 itineraries globally. For every holiday sold it will invest in forest protection projects in Zimbabwe and Tasmania, and renewable energy projects in China and Vietnam. Bamboo Travel has also announced plans to offset 1.5 tonnes of carbon for each client it sends on its holidays in Asia through a partnership with Gold Standard, a major player in the offsetting market.

The big polluters’ masterstroke was to blame the climate crisis on you and me
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 9 October 2019
Let’s stop calling this the Sixth Great Extinction. Let’s start calling it what it is: the “first great extermination”. A recent essay by the environmental historian Justin McBrien argues that describing the current eradication of living systems (including human societies) as an extinction event makes this catastrophe sound like a passive accident.

Revealed: Google made large contributions to climate change deniers
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian, 11 October 2019
Google has made “substantial” contributions to some of the most notorious climate deniers in Washington despite its insistence that it supports political action on the climate crisis.
Among hundreds of groups the company has listed on its website as beneficiaries of its political giving are more than a dozen organisations that have campaigned against climate legislation, questioned the need for action, or actively sought to roll back Obama-era environmental protections.

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National Governments Can’t Solve Climate Change Alone
By Angel Hsu, Scientific American, 13 October 2019
September saw the return of the dreaded haze in full force—the worst it has been since 2015. Millions of people here in Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia choked on toxic air and wondered if this would be a recurring event, a new normal to resign themselves to. On September 18, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) shot as high as 149 in the southern region of the island, with one-hour PM2.5 concentrations reaching up to 181 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3).

Deforestation Could Exacerbate Drought in the Amazon
By Kate Wheeling, Earth & Space Science News, 10 October 2019
In August, the skies over São Paulo turned black with the smoke of tens of thousands of fires burning through the Brazilian Amazon thousands of kilometers away. Experts quickly linked the fires to deforestation practices in which rain forest is razed and set ablaze to clear land for crops or livestock. Indeed, a September study showed significant overlap between the 125,000 hectares of forest that were cleared in early 2019 and where fire “hot spots” appeared in the summer.

Indigenous Knowledge Can Help Solve the Biodiversity Crisis
By Hannah Rundle, Scientific American, 12 October 2019
The United Nations recently released a preliminary report warning that global biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, with approximately one million species currently at risk of extinction. However, the report noted biodiversity is declining at a significantly slower rate on lands governed by indigenous peoples, demonstrating their success as stewards of their natural environment. Biodiversity describes genetic diversity within and between species and is integral to the health and resiliency of ecosystems.

Madagascar calls for assistance as fires imperil its protected areas
By Malavika Vyawahare, Mongabay, 11 October 2019
Fires razed more than 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) of forestland in Madagascar’s Ankarafantsika National Park in August and September — four times the size of New York City’s Central Park.
By now, the worst appears to be over, an official said. “Currently, there are some fire points around the park, and the field team works closely with the local force (armed forces, local population, firefighter, regional and municipal administration) to extinguish them,” Mamy Rakotoarijaona, director-general of park operator Madagascar National Parks (MNP), told Mongabay in an email on Oct. 8. “We can say that the fire is mastered; on the other hand, caution is in order.”

Can the UN meet its own climate targets?
By Catherine Cheney, Devex, 11 October 2019
The United Nations “is committed to walking the talk” on climate action, according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
Guterres outlined the U.N.’s own goals for the next decade in his closing remarks at the Climate Action Summit held during the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

The sea of pines that is going to be needed to balance the NZ carbon budget
By John McCrone, Stuff, 12 October 2019
With a frown, Canterbury University forestry professor Dr Euan Mason clicks away, looking for the graph he presented at the August conference of the Institute of Forestry.
Sure, the Government is promising its One Billion Trees programme is going to be all about “the right tree in the right place”.

Double counting threatens integrity of Paris agreement
AFP, 11 October 2019
Four years after the signing of the Paris climate accord, a major hitch remains: countries have not been able to reach an agreement on an accounting trick that would allow them to count greenhouse gas reductions twice.
To be sure, the biggest issue remains national targets that are not sufficient to meet the goals of the landmark 2015 agreement signed by almost 200 countries – namely, limiting long-term warming to 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels.

Hot, dry, and windy conditions in California have sparked big fires
By Umair Ifran, Vox, 12 October 2019
Wildfires are burning across California this week as risks for more blazes remain high throughout the state. Dry, warm weather and strong seasonal winds this week have created a “recipe for explosive fire growth,” according to the National Weather Service.
The state’s largest fire currently is the Saddleridge Fire burning near Los Angeles. As of Saturday, the blaze has spread over 7,500 acres and was 19 percent contained, shutting down highways and schools in the area. About 100,000 people in Southern California are under mandatory evacuation orders.

Sri Lanka carbon credits need reform to be globally traded
Economy Next, 12 October 2019
Sri Lanka’s Carbon Crediting Scheme (SLCCS) needs to be further strengthened to be recognized globally, two World Bank specialists said, while lauding efforts made by early adopters.
World Bank’s Climate and Energy Specialist Prajwal Baral and Carbon Finance specialist Keisuke Iyadomi in an official blog post said that Sri Lanka has only now managed to ‘catch the low carbon development train’.

Amazon fires: What’s the latest in Brazil?
By Roland Hughes, BBC News, 12 October 2019
Dark clouds of smoke smothered cities in Brazil as parts of the Amazon burned at a rate not seen in years, and the world responded with outrage.
For a few weeks in August, the world’s eyes were fixed on Brazil and its government’s response. But what is the latest with the fires now, almost two months on? And why might the problem be worse than it first appeared?

Going in search of the magic money tree
By Liam Geraghty, The Big Issue, 10 October 2019
In these uncertain times there is one thing you can bank on – we need to plant more trees.
One trillion of them, in fact. They play a huge role in absorbing the carbon emissions that threaten to destroy the planet as well as working wonders for biodiversity and preventing flooding.

Berenberg raises 2021 EUA forecast by 30% to EUR 65/t
By Julia Demirdag, Montel, 11 October 2019
European carbon prices could average EUR 65/t in 2021, though sink back to EUR 50/t from 2022-2025, as the market was likely to remain short over the next decade, Berenberg bank said on Friday.
The forecasts were up from previous expectations of EUR 50/t and EUR 30/t, respectively, for the timeframes, added the bank in a research note.
“The carbon market is in a structural deficit for the next decade – a recession will not cure that – and we believe the impact of Brexit will be fairly muted,” said Berenberg, noting the recent strong decline in prices was “perilously” ignoring the bigger picture.

Could the EU’s ban on palm oil in biofuels do more harm than good?
By Shareen Shariza Abdul Ghani (Sorga Ventures), World Economic Forum, 8 October 2019
In an era where trade wars and tariffs are commonplace, it is often the case that developing countries are held to double standards by Western nations. Commodities are among the pawns of political trade wars – and palm oil is no different. While palm oil is controversial from a sustainability perspective, the EU’s plans to ban its use in biofuels by 2030 is part of the problem.

Five Organizations Launch Partnership to Protect Intact Forests
By Catherine Benson Wahlén, IISD, 8 October 2019
In parallel to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, five organizations – Global Wildlife Conservation, Rainforest Foundation Norway, UN Development Programme (UNDP), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and World Resources Institute (WRI) – launched the ‘Forests for Life Partnership’ in recognition of forests as a nature-based solution to climate change and biodiversity protection.

Rainforest Norway Report Finds Aviation Emissions Reduction Targets Could Drive Deforestation
By Catherine Benson Wahlén, IISD, 8 October 2019
Rainforest Foundation Norway has released a report that analyzes the impacts of the aviation industry’s emissions reduction goals on deforestation. The report cautions that the production of alternative aviation fuels is likely to drive forest clearance and generate carbon dioxide emissions from land use change, underscoring how emissions reductions goals in one sector can have a negative impact on others.

How Brazil can develop its rural economy, increase agricultural production and protect forests
Environmental Defense Fund, 9 October 2019
The recent fires in the Amazon rainforest have raised the question: is it possible to have a new model of development in the region that reconciles forest protection with economic growth?
The pressing threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation along with a growing global demand for agricultural commodities, pose major challenges and opportunities for rural economies.

Why Blue Carbon needs to be on the climate agenda
By Alex Popescu, CIFOR Forests News, 8 October 2019
Carbon stored in mangroves and wetlands (known as blue carbon) is playing an increasingly prominent role in discussions about the world’s emissions budget. Yet many questions remain about how coastal environments store and release CO2 and behave under climate change. A new study published in Nature Communications looks at the future of blue carbon, stressing the need for a better understanding of how coastal ecosystems can contribute to climate adaptation and mitigation.

BA’s early dive into carbon offsetting gives it an edge in the climate PR battle
The Guardian, 13 October 2019
The pledge by International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways, to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is bold, in the context of a global aviation industry that has been accused of reacting slowly to the climate crisis. But someone needed to set an example.
The onus to act is clear: although aviation’s current share of total carbon emissions is less than 2.5%, its share is projected to grow rapidly. This is even before factoring in the more onerous effects of emissions at altitude, and the warming effect of aircraft contrails.

BA to offset domestic flight emissions from next year
By Gwyn Topham, The Guardian, 10 October 2019
British Airways will offset all domestic flight emissions from next year, after its owner IAG became the first airline group to commit to net-zero carbon flying by 2050.
IAG’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, said that the company would reach the net-zero target largely through offsetting but pledged its airlines, including Aer Lingus and Iberia, would also substantially reduce emissions through sustainable fuels and replacing older aircraft.

China oil refiner issues $140 mln green bond to fund new capacity
By David Stanway and Muyu Xu, Reuters, 10 October 2019
Oil refiner Jiangsu Eastern Shenghong Co. 000301.SZ has issued a green bond worth 1 billion yuan ($140.60 million) to fund a petrochemical complex, the latest Chinese company to use clean financing to develop polluting fossil fuels.

[UK] Drivers set to go carbon neutral with Shell
Shell press release, 10 October 2019
Shell will become the first retailer to offset the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from customers’ fuel purchases at its UK service stations at no extra cost from October 17, 2019. This will be available at more than 1,000 Shell-branded service stations.
According to a recent survey, 71% of people in the UK would like to reduce their CO2 footprints, but nearly half are not clear on the actions they can take.

[USA] Newsom to Endangered Species: Drop Dead
By Michael Brune, Medium, 7 October 2019
When he vetoed a bill to protect California’s air, water, and workers from the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks, Governor Gavin Newsom described it as “a problem in search of a solution.”
If the governor can’t see the problem, maybe he needs to get the prescription checked on his Google glasses. The problem has been in the White House for almost three years, and he’s determined to dismantle California’s environmental and labor safeguards.

German climate law draft assigns sectoral emissions budgets for 2020-2030
By Julian Wettengel, Clean Energy Wire, 7 October 2019
The German government has presented a draft of Germany’s first-ever major Climate Action Law, which assigns flexible annual greenhouse gas budgets to economic sectors for the years 2020-2030, but does not make long-term climate targets legally binding. The law is part of the climate package Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition decided on 20 September, alongside a programme of measures and a set of legislative reforms. Analysts and NGOs claim that the law is weaker than an earlier draft and that a lack of sanctions if targets are missed means the law will fail to ensure Germany lives up to its 2030 commitments.

Palm Oil Imports Surge Amid Global Trade Shifts, Potentially Challenging Zero-Deforestation Commitments
Chain Reaction Researcch, 8 October 2019
Significant shifts in soft commodity trade are continuing rapidly. China’s palm oil imports in August reached their highest level in six years at 590,000 tons. At current pace, China’s imports of palm oil are set to be the highest annual rate ever in 2019. This is likely another consequence of the U.S.-China trade war. As the trade war between Beijing and Washington has affected China’s soy volumes from the United States, China has looked for alternatives elsewhere, particularly soy from Brazil. Now, China is also including substituting palm oil for soy as a cheaper edible oil, while also increasing its use of palm oil for biofuels as a cheap alternative to crude oil. China said in August it will eliminate import tariff quotas on palm oil from Indonesia, paving the way for more imports.

Saving Aru: The epic battle to save the islands that inspired the theory of evolution
Gecko Project, 9 October 2019
Late one rainy night in August 2013, a college student named Collin Leppuy arrived at the doorstep of Father Jacky Manuputty, a church minister in the coastal city of Ambon, Indonesia. He had come to ask for help; his homeland was under threat.
Collin, then 23, had grown up in the Aru Islands, a heavily forested archipelago in the eastern margins of the world’s largest island nation. He was studying social welfare policy at a university in Ambon, the capital of Maluku province.

UN agency weighs options for long-term airplane emissions goal
Business Times, 7 October 2019
A UN agency agreed on Friday to prioritise studying options for a long-term goal to reduce aviation emissions aimed at combating climate change, but made no firm commitments and faced pushback from China and India.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which ended its 11-day assembly on Friday, said it would weigh long-term options for reducing emissions from international flights that would be presented at its next assembly in 2022.

Time to get serious about evaluating REDD+ impacts
By Marianne Gadeberg, CIFOR Forests News, 7 October 2019
In September, global experts, world leaders and top U.N. officials gathered in New York to double down on efforts to halt the ongoing climate crisis. Nature-based solutions, including forest conservation and reforestation, were high on the agenda, with activist duo Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot touting trees as “magical machines that suck carbon out of the air and cost very little.”

Green Rush: Foreign forestry companies NZ’s biggest landowners
By Kate Newton and Guyon Espiner, Radio New Zealand, 10 October 2019
The four largest private landowners in New Zealand are all foreign-owned forestry companies, an RNZ investigation has found.
Despite a clampdown on some overseas investment, including a ban on residential sales to offshore buyers, the Labour-led government has actively encouraged further foreign purchases of land for forestry through a stream-lined ‘special forestry test’.

EU emissions scheme excluded from UN aviation offsets
By Sam Morgan, Climate Home News, 7 October 2019
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao), a United Nations agency, decided on Friday to press ahead with plans to make its emissions offsetting scheme the only option available to its 193 member states, teeing up a dilemma regarding the EU’s own system.
EU delegates have been criticised for failing to raise meaningful objections to Corsia, an instrument designed to force airlines to limit their environmental impact but which could torpedo Europe’s own emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Brazil fights attempt to cancel its old carbon credits
By Jocelyn Timperley, Climate Home News, 11 October 2019
Brazil dug in its heels to oppose rules to safeguard global carbon markets from double counting and old credits, as UN climate negotiations wrapped up yesterday in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Delegates failed to overcome several major sticking points on setting up a new global market mechanism for carbon offsets.

The unrecognized cost of Indonesia’s fires
By Rhett A. Butler, Mongabay, 7 October 2019
Three decades ago, scientists surveying the forests of Malaysian Borneo discovered a plant extract that killed HIV in a test tube. When they returned to the field site to collect more samples, they were surprised to find the peat forest had been cleared. Subsequent surveys in the region proved fruitless, but the researchers caught a lucky break when they found a specimen in Singapore’s Botanic Garden.
Eventually scientists derived a drug from the tree that strongly inhibited HIV during clinical trials. The drug, Calanolide A, could become a novel addition to AIDS treatment regimes.
The near-miss with Calanolide A provides one vivid illustration of what is at risk of being lost as Indonesia’s forests are cleared and burned.

Pope urges bold action to protect the Amazon amid fires
TRT World, 7 October 2019
Pope Francis urged bishops on Sunday to boldly shake up the status quo as they chart ways to better care for the Amazon and its indigenous people amid threats from forest fires, development and what he called ideological “ashes of fear.”
Francis opened a three-week meeting on preserving the rainforest and ministering to its native people as he fended off attacks from conservatives who are opposed to his ecological agenda.

Carbon Offsetting: the Frequently Asked Questions
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 October 2019
So, Greta Thunberg got to you, and you’ve decided to reduce your carbon footprint by going vegan and riding your bike as much as possible. Good for you! But what about those emissions you can’t eliminate? Maybe you have to drive to work, or maybe you have to fly to meetings.
You can offset your emissions by purchasing carbon credits, which are generated by reducing emissions elsewhere – by, say, planting trees or saving endangered forest, or building giant wind farms in developing countries. All legitimate offsets conform to one carbon standard or another, and all follow the same basic rules of carbon accounting, which have evolved over decades of trial, error, and adjustment. Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions about carbon accounting.

[Ghana] Govt Signs REDD+ To Reduce Carbon Emission
Modern Ghana, 8 October 2019
Government has taken steps to help reduce the ever-increasing rate of carbon emission in the country dubbed: “Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP)”.
This was after government had signed the first Emission Reduction Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the World Bank, which is the trustee for the carbon fund for performance-based payments for up to $50 million under the GCFRP.

After two-month inferno, rains help douse Bolivian forest fires
Al Jazeera, 7 October 2019
Heavy rains over recent days in the Bolivian Amazon have helped put out forest fires that have raged for two months across the land-locked South American nation, charring more than four million hectares (9.8 million acres) of land, local authorities said on Monday.
The storms helped Bolivia’s military contain blazes in the region of Chiquitania, home to large areas of dry forests and indigenous communities that have lived in them for centuries.

Intense Forest Fires Threaten to Derail Indonesia’s Progress in Reducing Deforestation
By Sakinah Ummu Haniy Sakinah Ummu Haniy, Hidayah Hamzah, and Mirzha Hanifah, , 7 October 2019
Indonesia’s forest fires have made headlines globally over the past few weeks. This year’s forest fires have affected millions of people. Schools have closed in some areas due to unsafe levels of air pollution, while many people are suffering from respiratory illnesses. The haze has spread so far as to affect Singapore and Malaysia.

[USA] Study of past California wildfire activity suggest climate change will worsen future fires
Brown University press release, 8 October 2019
In the wake of recent wildfires that have ravaged northern and central California, a new study finds that the severity of fire activity in the Sierra Nevada region has been sensitive to changes in climate over the past 1,400 years. The findings, published in Environmental Research Letters, suggest that future climate change is likely to drive increased fire activity in the Sierras.

[USA] Power outages considered across California as fire danger rises
By Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times, 8 October 2019
In what could be the biggest implementation yet of California’s strategy of shutting off power to prevent wildfires, the state’s largest utility announced Monday that blackouts were possible later this week in a large swath of the Bay Area and Northern California.
Citing the potential for extremely dry air and steady winds of up to 30 mph, with gusts that experts said could be twice as strong, Pacific Gas & Electric announced it was considering a public safety power shut-off for 29 counties between Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon.

[Australia] Bushfires threaten communities in northern NSW and Queensland’s Lockyer Valley
By Ben Smee, The Guardian, 8 October 2019
Residents have been told it is too late to leave several bushfire-threatened communities in northern New South Wales and Queensland’s Lockyer Valley, as extreme high temperatures and dangerous conditions fuel a series of fast-moving blazes on Tuesday afternoon.
The ABC was reporting vision of a house destroyed by fire in the Queensland town of Laidley, between Ipswich and Toowoomba.

Tons of Endangered and Rare Species Live in This Bolivian Forest. A Sixth of It Just Burned Down.
By Alex Lubben, Vice, 8 October 2019
A few months ago, few people knew the Dendropsophus rozenmani existed. Scientists only just discovered the tiny, brown-striped tree frog — in a swath of forest that’s now largely been burnt to a crisp on the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest.
The frog’s habitat is a 57 million-acre tropical ecosystem in Bolivia known as the Chiquitano dry forest. It’s host to a number of endangered species, and, likely, many undiscovered ones.

Indonesian inaction forces EU’s hand with regard to palm oil forest fires
By Steven Lind, The Brussels Times, 8 October 2019
When Indonesia burns, ASEAN chokes – and palm oil and paper production appear to be the chief culprits. After two years of relative freedom from smog, this year’s fires – 80% of which were intentionally started by palm oil and pulpwood plantation owners to clear the way for new crops, according to officials – have reignited concerns.

Wildfires a massive threat to California’s progress in cutting greenhouse gases, report says
By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times, 8 October 2019
The wildfires that raged last year from Paradise to Malibu made for California’s deadliest, most destructive fire season on record.
But the eruption of blazes marked another distinction for California, as one of the worst for the climate. In 2018, fires released more than 45 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — the most in a decade and trailing only slightly behind 2008, when the state was also stricken by two of the largest wildfires in modern history.

Kenya’s Sengwer People Demand Recognition of ‘Ancestral Land’
By Rael Ombuor, Voice of America, 8 October 2019
The Sengwer, an indigenous hunter-gatherer community in western Kenya, presented a petition Monday morning to the government in Nairobi demanding the return and protection of what they call their ancestral lands. The community says it faces threats of eviction as Kenya’s government takes over conservation of the country’s forests and water supplies.

Conservation finance: It’s time to revisit carbon markets
By Helen Avery, Euromoney, 8 October 2019
“First you measure the diameter and height of the tree and, depending on the species and wood density, then apply an equation to convert the field measurements into a biomass figure. You can then begin to quantify how much carbon it has sequestered, is storing and how much it will sequester in the future.”
Alessandro Baccini, research professor at Boston University and senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Centre, is perhaps the world’s leading expert on measuring forest carbon.

Critics blast Norwegian budget for ‘small change’ measures on climate
The Local, 8 October 2019
Norway’s opposition has criticized the government’s proposed budget for “letting down young people” by not doing enough to reduce the country’s climate impact.
Climate organizations have also spoken out against the budget, which was presented on Monday.

Getting the right forestry message across
Rural Life, 9 October 2019
It took a few meanders past the tent of forestry management company PF Olsen last week at the Otago Field Days before there was a window of time to chat to the team.
Interest is high at the moment for new forest plantations within the farming sector, business development manager Julie Hayward says.

Conservation finance: Can banks embrace natural capital?
By Helen Avery, Euromoney, 8 October 2019
Tucked in a box that seemed almost an afterthought in the April inaugural report on climate change and financial risk from 42 central banks and observers, including the World Bank, OECD and the IFC, was a clear signal that measuring climate-related risk is only a starting point for the financial industry.
The report from the new Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) said there were “compelling reasons” to look beyond climate risk to broader environmental risks.

A Gen Zer’s Perspective on Climate Change Reform
By Neil Kapoor, Fair Observer, 8 October 2019
Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, American muckraker Upton Sinclair published “The Jungle,” a searing account of the savage working conditions in Chicago’s meatpacking industry. Such a mind-boggling exposé of exploited workers laboring amid rotten, contaminated and diseased meat, he thought, would shake America to its core.
It did. Public outcry was swift, and within a year, Congress passed two landmark measures creating federal food inspection standards in slaughterhouses and what became America’s chief food regulator, the FDA, among other consumer protections. Today, this textbook example of mass mobilization in response to a public health crisis may seem out of touch, but it reminds us of a persistent government habit: Until a tangible, imminent crisis looms — like the one illustrated by Sinclair — it is a safe bet that little action will be undertaken on even the most pressing problems, climate change included.

UK fast food ‘linked to Brazilian forest fires’
By Jim Reed and Joseph Lee, BBC News, 9 October 2019
Some of the UK’s largest fast-food chains have been selling meat from animals fed on soya beans linked to Brazil’s forest fires, campaigners say.
Some £240m of its soya was shipped to the UK in 2018, EU trade figures show.
Greenpeace said it wanted the companies to stop using soya from Brazil in their supply chains until the environment was better protected.
Brazil’s environment minister told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme any boycott could make the situation worse.

South America forest fires could disrupt rainfall in region’s farm belt: experts
By Monica Machicao, Reuters, 9 October 2019
Forest fires that swept across Bolivia and Brazil this year could disrupt rainfall distribution across South America’s grains-and-beef producing regions in unpredictable ways for years to come, a scientist and meteorologist said.

[USA] PG&E shutdown: 800,000 people to lose power to prevent California wildfires
The Guardian, 9 October 2019
A California utility has announced it will shut off power to more than 800,000 customers in an effort to prevent new wildfires, in the largest preventive outage in state history.
With windy, dry weather in the forecast and warnings of extreme fire danger, Pacific Gas & Electric utility said it will start turning off power to 34 counties in northern and central California after midnight Wednesday.

Conservation finance: Costa Rica costs its success
By Rob Dwyer, Euromoney, 10 October 2019
The news from Brazil, Colombia and Indonesia this year about widespread deforestation probably made a lot of Costa Ricans recall the 1980s. That was the decade when their country was slashing hectares of its own prime forests for ‘productive’ reasons – mainly to grow crops such as coffee.
By 1987 forests had shrunk to cover just 21% of Costa Rica’s total territory, from 85% in 1940. But starting in 1983 Costa Rica began to embrace its ecological problems in a way that has put the small country – it has a land area of just 51,100 square kilometres – at the forefront of conservation.

United Nations’ turbulent aviation assembly
By Alex Macheros, Aviation Analyst, 10 October 2019
“There will be challenges reaching agreements” ICAO’s 40th Assembly’s President Nari Williams-Singh cautioned moments after welcoming 193 member states, UN recognised countries from all corners of the globe to one large United Nations assembly hall in Montreal. The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO — a specialised United Nations agency for aviation) 40th general assembly is a global-policy making summit that occurs every three years, aimed at tackling the challenges facing the global aviation industry today on a worldwide, regional and national level.

With Amazon Forest Fires Still Underway, Now There’s a 100 Ton Oil Spill Across Beaches in Brazil
By Eliza Erskine, One Green Planet, 10 October 2019
An oil spill has been found on Brazil’s northeastern beaches. According to state-news agency Agencia Brazil, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro believes the oil may have been dumped illegally. Oil spills were first seen in September, the President said they were dumped “criminally.”

California Missed a Chance to Put Out Next Year’s Amazon Fires
By Jeff Conant, The Globe Post, 10 October 2019
The Amazon is still plagued with forest fires that have finally caught the attention – ever so briefly – of international audiences. The primary attribution for this year’s conflagrations points to the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
But next year’s round of fires in the Amazon rainforest will have an added culprit: politics as usual. California, of all places, deserves a share of this blame.

Greta Thunberg Going Radical Won’t Help the Planet
By Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg, 9 October 2019
Political leaders around the globe have celebrated the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg – but can they handle her as she and her supporters turn more radical? The protests launched in big cities worldwide by the environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion are a first test.

Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions
By Matthew Taylor and Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 9 October 2019
The Guardian today reveals the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.
New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how this cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet.

Notre-Dame: How an underwater forest in Ghana could help rebuild a Paris icon
By Aaron Akinyemi, BBC News, 6 October 2019
Wood from a vast underwater forest in Ghana could be used to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral after its spire and roof were consumed by a blaze in April.
Massive tropical trees have been submerged beneath Lake Volta since 1965, when the construction of Ghana’s Akosombo Dam flooded part of the Volta River Basin.
A Ghanaian company, which has government concessions to harvest this wood, believes that using it to rebuild Notre-Dame is more environmentally friendly than cutting down new trees.

Central Africa’s Rangers Are as Threatened as the Animals They Guard
By Jack Losh, Foreign Policy, 6 October 2019
Bamingui-Bangoran National Park, Central African Republic – The rebels entered the wildlife reserve by motorbike, brandishing assault rifles and demanding what was theirs.
“That’s when you decide whether you’re going to fight or not,” said Andrea Ghiurghi, who, until recently, was the coordinator of Bamingui-Bangoran National Park in the Central African Republic. “If you kill one of them, you know that 50 more are going to come back and destroy everything.”

UN Body to Vote on Cutting Aviation Greenhouse Gases
By James Munson, Bloomberg, 30 September 2019
A United Nations body inched closer to establishing a long-term goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation and expanding its response to climate change Sept. 29.
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s executive committee agreed on a handful of resolutions to send to the organization’s plenary for a vote this week as the global aviation industry undergoes increased scrutiny for its impact on global warming.

Brazilian experts warn of uncontacted tribes “genocide” after sacking of government coordinator
Survival International, 7 October 2019
Top Brazilian experts have released a damning statement warning “genocide is underway” against uncontacted tribes.
The warning follows the sacking of Bruno Pereira, the head of the government department charged with the protection of uncontacted tribes’ lands.