Environment, Carbon and Forests
By Roger Pielke and Daniel Sarewitz, Financial Times, 26 February 2014 | A recent report from the non-profit Center for Global Development estimates that $10bn invested in renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa could provide electricity for 30m people. If the same amount of money went into gas-fired generation, it would supply about 90m people – three times as many.In Nigeria, the UN Development Programme is spending $10m to help “improve the energy efficiency of a series of end-use equipment ... in residential and public buildings”. As a way of lifting people out of poverty, this is fanciful at best. Nigeria is the world’s sixth-largest oil exporter, with vast reserves of natural gas as well. Yet 80m of its people lack access to electricity. Nigerians do not simply need their equipment to be more efficient; they need a copious supply of energy derived from plentiful local sources.
By Jim Carey, BBC News, 1 March 2014 | "Everything about the eucalyptus tree is designed to catch fire, spread fire and then grow back once its competitors have been destroyed in that fire," observes Bill Gammage. I am crouched on a heat-cracked rock overlooking a valley of burnt bush as I talk to Bill, a semi-retired history professor from the Australian National University. "What people have forgotten is that a lot of these trees were not here when the Europeans first arrived," he asserts. As a historian, Bill examined thousands of old eyewitness testimonies, paintings and drawings and found that, before the Europeans arrived, places like the Blue Mountains once contained significant amounts of grass pasture. His book on the subject won the Prime Minister's Literary Award. Having lived and evolved on the continent for millennia, Aborigines managed the land almost like a garden - effectively using expertly controlled fires to keep the flora in check.
By Tiffany Stecker, E&E Publishing, 3 March 2014 | Poynton, 49, has built a reputation as the go-to man for large corporations to take deforestation out of their portfolio of issues. Whether it's a concession to pressure from environmental groups, a recognition of consumer demand for sustainable products or the threat of divestment, companies have been lining up to work with TFT. "We come with a health warning: It is unpleasant and difficult to work with TFT, because we will change you, and change is fundamentally difficult and stressful and full of tension," said Poynton, 49. "But if you're ready to go on the journey, the destination will be a good one."
Celestial Green Ventures, 27 February 2014 | The six Amazonian states of Brazil, which are members of the Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force – Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará and Tocantins – released a report presenting their contribution to the creation of the Brazilian REDD+ strategy, which is currently being developed by the Brazilian Ministry for the Environment. The publication presents the outcome of the meetings held during 2013 and introduces a consensual view from various stakeholders and representatives of the six Amazonian states. The report addresses the distribution of responsibilities and potential benefits from avoided deforestation and suggests a simplified allocation system for REDD+ credits.
By Ben Garside, Reuters, 26 February 2014 | A plan to prop up EU carbon prices was published in the official journal of the European Union on Wednesday, enacting into law the so-called backloading measure that keeps on track the European Commission's aim to allow the withdrawal of a maximum 400 million permits this year. The plan involves cutting the supply of permits to be sold under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in an effort to incentivize more investment in low carbon technologies. Carbon traders are keenly watching the progress of the implementation of backloading, as its rules mean that a March start would allow this year's total permit withdrawal to be 400 million, whereas an April start would allow only 300 million units to be withdrawn.
By Paul Polman (Unilever) and Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC), 25 February 2014 | Scientific American recently reported that floods alone could cost the world's cities $1 trillion annually by 2050. Anyone who wants to be in business over the coming years and decades needs to engage now on both the politics and the policy. Politically much depends on the choreography of key meetings in the run-up to COP21 in Paris in 2015, not least UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Climate Summit in New York this September. But most of all it depends on the extent to which leaders in every sector feel empowered to lead. This is why we welcome the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, led by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon. It is examining how nations, cities and companies can achieve their core economic and social goals whilst simultaneously reducing the risk of dangerous climate change. So what action do business leaders need to take individually and collectively?
By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 26 February 2014 | Market liberalisation and a policy certainty will allow green business to flourish, say the chief executives of Unilever, Dyson and Kingfisher. Paul Polman, James Dyson and Sir Ian Cheshire all dismiss the view that environmentalism is anti-green, arguing that it’s in a company’s best interest invest in new technologies and energy efficiency. Their views are part of a series of essays published today by the London-based Conservative Environment Network, part of an effort to engage right wing voters and politicians in the green debate.
By Shijo Joseph, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 24 February 2014 | Together with two colleagues from India, Jagdish Krishnaswamy of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, and Robert John of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, I have been working to assess the impact of climate change on global primary production — that is, the rate of fixation of carbon through the process of photosynthesis. Existing science says that global average productivity is on the rise due to climate change. However, most of these studies were carried out at the global scale without separating out drivers of local land-use change, such as expansion of agricultural areas. Therefore, an increase in global primary production attributed solely to climate change was not logical to us. So the first question we faced was how to separate out the impacts of local land-use drivers from the global environmental-change drivers.
By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 February 2014 | Peatland fires in eastern Sumatra, Indonesia, in recent weeks are again creating thick haze in the region, closing schools, canceling flights, and leading to the arrests of farmers accused of lighting the fires. For now, the weather is keeping the smoke away from neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, where in June 2013 wind-blown haze from Sumatran fires caused record-high levels of air pollution. Last year’s crisis produced international headlines and quick responses from governments: High-level regional talks in September led to a proposed transboundary haze monitoring system, and earlier this month, Singapore drafted a bill that would allow it to fine companies for fires that take place on Sumatran plantations. The return of fires this month, however, has illustrated the need for long-term, holistic solutions to the haze issue.
By Bruno Vander Velde, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 February 2014 | The source of a popular medicine for treating prostate disorders has been caught in a muddle that extends from the hills of central Africa to the halls of Brussels. At the center of this tale: tree bark. Prunus africana — more widely known as African cherry — is a remarkable tree. Related to the common rose, this large tropical tree is also called African stinkwood, on account of its pungent bark. It is found only in high-conservation value montane forests in Africa and Madagascar... Growing concerns about the sustainability of bark harvest led to P. africana being listed in Appendix-II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1995. Twelve years later, the European Union banned the importation of wild harvested bark from Cameroon, due to the overwhelming evidence that it was highly unsustainable. However, ... the ban was lifted in 2011...
By Peter Holmgren, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 26 February 2014 | Consider the SDGs the “slow food” of global development — a sometimes painstaking process that if “prepared” correctly could promote good, clean and fair outcomes for the environment and for people for the next 50 years. As with any complex dish or cuisine, patience will be needed in the crafting of the Sustainable Development Goals over the next 12 to 15 months. Diverse viewpoints are gradually coming together in UN meeting rooms in New York — and we are among the many who hope and believe that the final product will be worth the wait. And despite some fears, one of the key ingredients in the mix — forests — is amply represented. It is up to us to show how.
By Samson Foli and James Reed, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 27 February 2014 | Forests and trees underpin agriculture for food production in time and space. Most smallholder food production systems — which feed half the global population — take place in mosaics of tree cover and agriculture. Current population growth and the need to match an uphill consumption trend has not only led to intensification of farming but also expansion through conversion of primary forests for food, feed and fodder production. Growing concern about the sustainability of modern farming practices calls for a re-think of how we utilize nature for our well-being. The rising problems of resource degradation and biodiversity loss are paving the way for research that investigates alternative ways of producing food to feed a rising population with minimal damage to fragile ecosystems.
Belfast Telegraph, 3 March 2014 | Four of the most wanted fraudsters suspected of operating scams from Spain against the UK public are being hunted by Crimestoppers... Jeffrey Gordon, 54, is believed to be involved in the set-up and management of various boiler rooms. He has links to Romania, and possibly Colombia or Ireland, and his aliases are Jeffrey Darren Goodman and Michael Goodman, the charity said... Robert Douglas Lynch, 53, is believed to be involved in the set-up and management of various boiler rooms through alias names. He is accused of being involved in the set-up of accounts in Spain and the UK in order to facilitate the laundering of funds from investment fraud from the UK to Spain. He has links to Lowcarbon.com listed as based in the UK, the charity said. Lynch is also said to have links to Romania and his aliases are David Collins, Bob Collins, David Phillips, David Martin and Martin Young.
By Sophie Hobson, LondonlovesBusiness.com, 28 February 2014 | Ferraris, Aston Martins and hundreds of thousands of pounds have been seized by police in the biggest ever crackdown on criminals who have allegedly been misleading people into buying worthless shares. The multi-million-pound international “boiler room” fraud, which gets its name from the poky rooms often used by the criminals, is similar to the scams run by Leonardo Di Caprio’s character in Wolf of Wall Street, except where the Wolf managed to balance on a tightrope of legality for many of his schemes, these gangs are accused of far over-stepping it. There have been 110 arrests as part of the massive operation, led by the City of London Police, mainly in the UK (20) and Spain (84, of whom 40 were British), the BBC reports. Victims were duped into buying worthless shares and handing over amounts between £2,000 and £500,000.
By Justin Davenport, London Evening Standard, 28 February 2014 | Fraudsters who enjoyed lifestyles similar to the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street have been targeted by police. Officers from Britain and Spain carried out raids in Barcelona, Madrid, Marbella and London this week in one of the biggest anti-fraud operations ever staged. A total of 110 alleged fraudsters were held as police moved to stamp out so-called boiler room fraud, where investors are duped into buying worthless or non-existent shares. Among those held were criminal kingpins according to detectives who enjoyed lavish lifestyles, spending the stolen money on sports cars, designer watches, drugs and prostitutes. One of the suspects was believed to be paying £40,000 per month just to rent an apartment. An Aston Martin and Ferrari were among the cars seized by police, along with various watches and £500,000 in cash.
By Andreas Harsono, New York Times, 28 February 2014 | I grew up in the shadow of the Indonesian massacres exposed in Joshua Oppenheimer’s extraordinary documentary, “The Act of Killing,” which has been nominated for an Academy Award... “The Act of Killing” has now broken the official silence about the massacres. In response to the government’s unwillingness to approve the film for release in Indonesia, Mr. Oppenheimer made it available in Indonesia for free on YouTube. Despite limited Internet access outside of the cities, the film has been a distressing revelation for younger Indonesians. Indeed, it has provoked a public debate about the need for accountability for those crimes. The past two years have seen tentative steps in that direction. In July 2012, Indonesia’s human rights commission produced a report documenting the mass killings of 1965-66. The panel interviewed hundreds of witnesses to massacres, torture and rape.
By Mike Scott, Forbes, 27 February 2014 | I have spent much of the last three months editing a report on national climate change laws, which was launched this week in the US Senate by Senator Edward Markham. It was a big job – the study, put together by the Globe, the Global Legislators’ Organisation, and the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics, weighs in at some 700 pages and is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the reach and depth of climate change laws around the world. It covers 66 nations that account for 88% of global carbon emissions, from Argentina to Vietnam via emitters of all sizes from the Federated States of Micronesia to China and the US.
European Commission, 27 February 2014 | The number of allowances to be auctioned for the remainder of the calendar year 2014 has been reduced by 400 million to reflect the implementation of back-loading. The revised auction calendars published today by EEX and ICE take account of this reduction. The first auctions to be affected by back-loading will be ICE's auction for the UK on 12 March, followed by EEX's auction on 17 March for the Member States participating in the common auction platform and EEX's auction on 21 March for Germany. Auctions held prior to these dates are not affected. From April onwards EEX will not conduct any further auctions on behalf of Poland. Polish auctions will resume in 2015. The amendment to the Auctioning Regulation implementing back-loading was published in the Official Journal yesterday.
Frost Illustrated, 26 February 2014 | Two years after learning of the massive giveaway of Liberia’s treasured forests to foreign logging companies, the Liberian government locked up the former head of the Forestry Development Authority. Moses Wogbeh, former head of the forestry authority, was arrested and charged with allegedly defrauding the country of millions of dollars by issuing bogus permits between 2006 and 2012. Whistleblowers including the Liberia-based Save My Future Foundation, U.S.-based Global Witness, and the Canadian Sustainable Development Institute first raised the red flag over questionable permits that gave rights to nearly 6.1 million acres—23 percent of Liberia’s forests—to foreign logging interests. Logs were seen leaving the country even after President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson stepped in and ordered a halt to timber exports.
50 people were detained for boiler-room scams throughout Spain in collaboration with UK and US police
Euro Weekly News, 26 February 2014 | More than 50 people were arrested in different points of Spain in a National Police operation against illegal investment companies. Arrests took place in Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga in the operation against boiler-room operations, in collaboration with the UK and US police. The investigation remains open and police are carrying out searches in offices and private premises. Most of the detainees are foreigners based in Barcelona, charged with misappropriation and money laundering, as they found investors abroad and offered them substantial gains through non-existent investment opportunities, from which they kept the money. The detainees are due to appear before the National Court. It is thanks to these operations that fraudsters can be removed from the Costa del Sol. Recently the Euro Weekly News reported on Nigel Goldman who was masquerading as a financial advisor, while helping himself to the hard earned savings of his victims.