Environment, Carbon and Forests
By Jonah Busch and Nancy Birdsall, Center For Global Development, 7 April 2014 | We found some noteworthy successes. The performance-based payment system has functioned as designed: Guyana has built an excellent national system for monitoring deforestation, and Guyana’s continued low rates of deforestation are being assessed relative to a reference level that is appropriate for a country with high forest cover and low deforestation rates. Three tranches of performance-based payments of about $115M have been approved, of which about $65M has been delivered. Payments have been lower in years when deforestation emissions are higher, consistent with a credible contingent payment system. Furthermore, buy-in for the principles of the Low Carbon Development Strategy is broadly shared, and some notable strengthening of institutions of forest governance has taken place. However, we found some worrisome developments as well.
By Susanna Twidale, Reuters, 7 April 2014 | Dutch utility Eneco has agreed to pay above market rates for hundreds of thousands of carbon credits to back an environmental project in Nepal under the U.N. scheme to fund emission reduction projects in poor countries. The project, which was registered last week, aims to provide poor households with new wood-burning stoves that require 60 percent less fuel, which helps reduce family fuel bills, air pollution and deforestation as well as improving household health conditions. Eneco, owned by 55 Dutch municipalities, said it was willing to pay more than the market rate to ensure the project goes ahead.
By Angela Dewan, Landscapes, 11 April 2014 | The world is transitioning to a green economy, but the many synergies between greater sustainability and the forest-focused REDD+ mechanism are underutilized, according to a recent United Nations report. Countries with tropical forests have for years been preparing for a full-scale implementation of REDD+, and can offer a wealth of knowledge and lessons learned for the broad shift towards a green economy, according to the report. “If designed well, REDD+ can thereby contribute to the key elements of a green economy: low-carbon development, social inclusiveness, increased human well-being and respect for natural capital,” says the report, “Building Natural Capital: How REDD+ Can Support a Green Economy” by the UN Environment Program’s International Resource Panel.
Code REDD press release, 11 April 2014 | On April 9th, 2014, Code REDD and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) presented an historic, first ever event - REDD+ Talks: Colombia in Cartagena. The packed event brought together leaders from the private, public, and civil society sectors to advance the role of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) in sustainable business and development. The event provided a platform for Latin American and global REDD+ stakeholders – including project practitioners, indigenous peoples, business leaders, multilateral institutions, and policy makers – to explore the contributions the private sector can make to REDD+ through finance, sustainable operations, project investment, and public-private partnership.
By Eliza Rogers, ABC Rural, 11 April 2014 | The change of Federal Government is expected to make it easier and quicker for farmers to take part in the Carbon Farming Initiative. The CFI allows farmers to earn and sell carbon credits by storing carbon or reducing greenhouse gas emissions through activities like capturing methane from piggeries and landfills, and reducing cattle burping. It also helps farmers increase their efficiency and productivity. Since its inception three years ago, the Carbon Farming Initiative has rolled out a number of projects. But managing director of Australian Carbon Traders, Ben Keogh, says new government policy could kick it up a gear. "The Coalition is moving to a direct action plan where the government will purchase (carbon) credits from farmers and other industries. Hopefully the government will honour its commitment to make it much quicker, simpler and easier for farmers to participate."
By Kim Lewis, Voice of America, 10 April 2014 | Research conducted by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) reveals that there are no laws to guarantee that indigenous peoples and local communities will benefit from the global trade of carbon credits as nations cope with carbon emissions that impact global climate change. As deforestation threatens the livelihoods of remote forested regions, governments and investors may profit while rural communities suffer. “Carbon grab is sort of an offset of land grabbing,” says Alexandre Corriveau-Bourque, the lead researcher for the RRI study. He explained that any sort of grab of a resource is based on the idea that the rights of local communities are not necessarily respected.
environmentalresearchweb.org, 10 April 2014 | The UN’s programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) has seen considerable attention paid to deforestation but “the second ‘D’ is poorly understood and accounted”, according to a team from Winrock International, US. With that in mind, the researchers have come up with a simple method for emissions accounting of selective timber harvesting, based on the volume of wood extracted. “Timber harvesting in tropical forests is often confused with deforestation – we wanted to show unequivocally that the impact of logging is vastly different from deforestation in terms of carbon emissions,” Tim Pearson of Winrock International told environmentalresearchweb. “We also wanted to develop a method that readily correlates emissions with an easily captured metric of logging. We designed an approach that would work equally across forests throughout the world with relatively low fieldwork costs.”
mongabay.com, 8 April 2014 | Carbon emissions from selective logging operations in tropical rainforests are roughly a sixth of those from outright forest clearing, finds a new study that evaluated 13 forestry concessions in six countries. The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters by scientists from Winrock International, analyzed carbon losses from different aspects of logging operations, including timber extraction, collateral damage to surrounding vegetation, and logging infrastructure like roads and skid trails. The approach, which offers a more complete estimate than prior methodologies, shows that emissions are highly variable depending on the type of logging, the extraction rate, and the forest itself. Emissions in the study areas ranged from less than seven tons of carbon per hectare in Brazil to more than 50 tons per hectare in Indonesia.
By Simon Milledge (IIED), Thomson Reuters Foundation, 9 April 2014 | The recently released IPCC report only serves to remind us that our duty to humankind demands a greater sense of urgency. But any policy response can bring risks to people or the environment, and the costs of dealing with the consequences can be far greater than avoiding them. Forest nations should take note as they prepare to engage with REDD+, a scheme being negotiated at the UN climate change talks to financially reward countries for reducing greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. Take Nepal. Its forests provide livelihoods for rural people and habitats for wild species. They help regulate river flow, and offer options to communities as they adapt to the changing climate. So engaging with REDD+ could offer multiple benefits to communities, landscapes and economies aside from financial reward. But sceptics in Nepal are increasingly asking critical questions about how REDD+ will unfold.
By Claudia Cahalane, The Guardian, 14 April 2014 | Chief Almir Surui, of the PaiterSurui people, has fought against illegal logging in his area since the mid-eighties, when he was just 10. Van Roosmalen told how the chief had been on a long journey to develop income sources that are both independent of charities and don't require destruction of trees. The group is now expected to bring in millions of dollars through selling carbon offsetting credits to natural toiletries company Natura, the second largest cosmetics company in Brazil. The money gained is for protecting land from logging and replanting trees under a new initiative created by Almir called the REDD+. It will be used for education and to continue protecting the forests. The initiative is an advance on the REDD that adds in a "plus sustainable forest management" clause into the "Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation" requirements.
By Imogen Badgery-Parker, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 14 April 2014 | Actions must be taken to clarify land tenure in forest-rich developing countries, and to improve the economic viability of REDD+ or risk jeopardizing efforts to reduce deforestation and mitigate climate change, a new study based on 23 forest carbon initiatives suggests. Hundreds of pilot initiatives designed to test the feasibility of REDD+, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, have got under way in recent years. But with obstacles mounting and a climate agreement still elusive, some initiative proponents are losing their enthusiasm for REDD+, according to the study, led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
The Guardian, 8 April 2014 | Hundreds of thousands of hectares of Tasmanian forest have been earmarked for logging after the newly elected state government pushed ahead with the repeal of a historic forestry deal. The state government has unveiled its plans for undoing the Tasmanian Forestry Agreement - a deal reached in 2011 by industry groups and conservationists. About 400,000 hectares of forest set aside in the agreement as potential reserves will be reclassified as "future potential production forest". However, there will be no logging in these zones for at least six years as the timber industry is rebuilt. Paul Harriss, resources minister in Will Hodgman’s Liberal cabinet, said the government was acting on the overwhelming mandate it had received at last month's election. "We opposed the forest deal because it was based on politics not science, which destroyed jobs and regional communities, and which locked away forever future productive forest," he said on Tuesday.
By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, April 2014 | No other term in the forest carbon market generates both excitement and controversy quite like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). These projects have developed in voluntary carbon market circles as a way to place a value on the carbon sequestration provided by tropical forests and allow this value to be monetized in a way that ensures dollars flow down to local governments and community groups to encourage them to conserve forests. “There’s been great progress, at least in the voluntary space,” said Toby Janson-Smith, Director for the Verified Carbon Standard’s Agriculture, Forestry & Other Land Use program, speaking at the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) conference in San Francisco last month.
By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, April 2014 | Brazilian company Natura caused quite a stir in the global carbon markets in 2013 when it engaged in a first-of-its-kind deal to purchase 120,000 tons of carbon offsets from a project developed by the Paiter-Suruí indigenous community in the Amazon under the Verified Carbon Standard’s Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) methodology. In 2007, the cosmetics giant launched its corporate carbon neutral program, which now supports 15 carbon offset projects in Brazil and one in Colombia, Mariama Vendramini told attendees of the Navigating the American Carbon World conference in San Francisco. Vendramini is the commercial and financial director for Biofilica, which provides environmental services and develops REDD offsets for Brazilian companies. She estimated the total number of offsets voluntarily purchased by the company at 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).
By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, 9 April 2014 | The Yurok tribe has seen first-hand the devastation that deforestation wreaks on trees and plant and animal species living on its tribal lands. Now, with a big stamp of approval from California regulators, the tribe is hoping to tap into the carbon markets to help reverse these devastating trends. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) on Wednesday announced that the Yurok Tribe/Forest Carbon Partners CKGG Improved Forest Management Project was the first to be issued offsets under its compliance forestry protocol. The improved forest management (IFM) project will guarantee long-term forest protection, improve forest habitat diversity, provide benefits to salmon and steelhead populations, and generate revenues for the Yurok Tribe. IFM projects are those in which existing forest areas are managed to increase carbon storage and/or to reduce carbon losses from harvesting or other silvicultural treatments.
Climate Change Policy & Practice (IISD), April 2014 | The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has posted submissions from Parties on “methodological guidance for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries." The views presented from Parties are on: methodological guidance for non-market-based approaches related to the implementation of the activities referred to in decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 70; and the issues referred to in decision 1/CP.18, paragraph 40. A total of eight submissions were posted on non-market-based approaches and non-carbon benefits associated with REDD+. The submissions represent the views of 17 countries including the countries of the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
By Sara Santiago, Triple Pundit, 13 April 2014 | In the past two years, we’ve seen rapid changes in the forestry sector that we could not have predicted would be realized by 2014. As a starting point, we witnessed the chairman of Indonesia-based Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the world’s second largest pulp and paper producer, announce a groundbreaking Forest Conservation Policy on Feb. 5, 2013, committing to an immediate moratorium on rainforest clearing for its pulp and paper products. This announcement, met with considerable and warranted skepticism, actually set the stage for a new reality for Southeast Asian rainforests. Since February 2013, APP, along with NGOs, brands, and advisers, has strived to uphold that commitment. Astoundingly, by the end of 2013, the world’s largest palm oil producer and trader, Wilmar, quietly took the zero-deforestation commitment to the next level...
By Agus P. Sari, The Jakarta Globe, 13 April 2014 | In recent years, Riau has come under the international media spotlight at least once a year due to the major fires there, set to clear land for agriculture. In June last year, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono even felt the need to publicly apologize to neighboring countries for the haze generated by the fires — while overlooking the fact that residents of Riau were the worst affected by the smoke. The irresponsible act of slash-and-burn clearing for farmland can be attributed to the outdated thinking that the forest is considered more valuable when it is cut, and not when it remains standing, functioning as the lungs of the Earth. In a report by Nigel Sizer from the World Resources Institute, Global Forest Watch found 3,101 hot spots in Sumatra this year. A remarkable 87 percent of the fires were in Riau, and half of them came from concessions held by pulpwood, oil palm and logging companies.
By Cathy Prior, ABC Radio National, 7 April 2014 | It was meant to be a showcase of the former Labor government's push towards carbon trading: the Northern Territory's Henbury Station, destocked of cattle and turned over to producing carbon credits through regeneration. However, the much heralded purchase in 2011 of the 5000 square kilometre property by R.M. Williams Agricultural Holdings for $13 million, including a $9 million injection by the Labor government, was overshadowed by opposition from angry neighbours who claimed that pests, fences and fire risk on the property were not being properly managed. The Northern Territory government was also against the purchase, arguing it was not consulted on the future of Henbury and the property should remain a pastoral lease.
eKantipur.com, 7 April 2014 | A project launched this week in the Far-Western region to provide clean and energy efficient cooking stoves to 150,000 households has become the country’s first of its kind as part of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) scheme... In Nepal, the Bio-Gas Support Programme is the only CDM project certified by the CDM Executive Board for financing and has received cash as carbon credits. Due to very high transaction costs, poor market access and longer period for registration and approval, a majority of poor countries including Nepal could possibly not benefit from the scheme. The failure of CDM led to the launch of Programme of Activities modality in order to reduce transaction costs in CDM and expand the mechanism’s applicability to several micro projects, different from a large-scale single project recognised by the CDM.