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Environment, Carbon and Forests

Agroforestry reverses deforestation trend in the Amazon

GFIS - 33 min 51 sec ago

In the Tome-Acu region of Brazil, farmers are “turning their back on Brazil’s old habits of treating the Amazon as nothing better than a limitless source of new land” and instead earning money and

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New tool to help quantify the socioeconomic value of forests

GFIS - 47 min 51 sec ago

A new sourcebook aims to provide a standard tool to measure the socioeconomic value of forests and their role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Farming worms for climate-smart agriculture in Vietnam

GFIS - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 23:00
Twenty-three farmers from My Loi village in Viet Nam were recently trained in vermiculture—raising worms on farms to produce fertilizer and improve soil. Vermicomposting will help the farmers improve one of their priority ‘climate-smart agriculture’ interventions—home gardens. Inspired...

World Rainforest Movement: The climate and forest crises cannot be solved with number games and false solutions

GFIS - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 21:52
In the run-up to the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Paris, World Rainforest Movement put out a statement. “Instead of spending time on real solutions like leaving fossil fuels underground, the climate talks have deliberately come up with mechanisms that enable corporations to continue doing business as usual,” WRM argues. WRM … read more

Unilever to stop using coal for energy within five years

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 21:32
By Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, 27 November 2015 Unilever, the consumer goods giant, has pledged to eliminate coal from its energy usage within five years, and derive all of its energy worldwide solely from renewable sources by 2030. The company will become “carbon positive” by 2030, through its own use of renewables, and by investing in generating more renewable energy than it needs, selling the surplus on the markets and making it available to local communities in areas where it operates. About 40% of the company’s energy use currently comes from green sources. Unilever made the commitment ahead of the crunch UN climate change conference in Paris, which begins this weekend. Paul Polman, chairman of the company, told the Guardian the target was “do-able, really do-able”. He cited a new factory in China which is powered by wind and solar energy, and an office in Paris which is “carbon positive”, contributing green electricity to the power grid.

Global Climate March: Clashes in Paris as Protesters Rally Ahead of COP21

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 18:04
By Matthew Grimson, NBC News, 29 November 2015 French riot police fired tear gas at activists protesting as part of global climate demonstrations Sunday, on the eve of the COP21 climate summit in Paris. About 200 protesters, some wearing masks, fought with police on a street leading to the Place de la Republique, which has become a gathering place for Parisians since the terror attacks on Nov. 13. By late afternoon, about 100 people had been arrested during the protests in Paris, according to French police, who said the clashes remained tense but no injuries had been reported. More than 2,100 events worldwide were planned for the Global Climate March, which organizers say is one of the largest climate change protests in history.

Sustainable investment in Africa starts with the law

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 14:56
By John Cannon, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 25 November 2015 Diamonds, gold, oil, natural gas, extensive forest and farm land: Africa has such abundant resources that it is little wonder that, each year, billions of dollars in investments flow into the continent from abroad. Yet such investments tend to enrich mainly elites and outside investors, to the detriment of the poor and the environment—and so don’t necessarily contribute to sustainable development. And that may be because existing legal frameworks tend to favor the powerful and vested interests, a new study of laws governing land use in three African countries suggests. “There are several factors at play in legal systems in these countries that thwart sustainable landscapes governance and investments,” said one of the study’s authors, Andrew Wardell, a senior manager at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Germany's Merkel urges strict, binding goals to tackle climate change

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 14:53
By John O'Donnell, Reuters, 28 November 2015 Germany's chancellor gave a qualified welcome on Saturday to China's pledge to tackle rising temperatures ahead of a global climate conference but she called for more ambitious goals to cut greenhouse emissions. In her weekly internet podcast on Saturday, Angela Merkel also underscored the long-term importance of coal-fired power for Germany, a country that remains one of the globe's biggest economies and exporters. "It is remarkable that China ... has given a timeframe for reduction of 2030," said Merkel. "But the proposed targets for reduction will not allow us to reach the (United Nations) 2 degree goal. That means we need a follow up process and that, in my view, must be binding." Merkel's comments come as world leaders prepare to meet for a summit that seeks to steer the global economy away from reliance on fossil fuels.

Paris COP21 climate talks: Millions urge world leaders to adopt 100% clean energy by 2050

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 14:53
By Priyanka Mogul, International Business Times, 28 November 2015 A 'mega climate petition' calling on countries to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2050 has gathered more than 3 million supporters ahead of COP21. The UN climate conference begins on 30 November (Monday) in Paris, bringing together more than 120 world leaders in an attempt to reach a universal agreement on global warming. Ahead of the climate summit, a petition organised by campaign group Avaaz.org has gathered 3,174,764 signatures. Calling on global leaders to phase out carbon pollution to zero by 2050, Avaaz has described the campaign as "the most important petition we've ever done". Avaaz campaign director, Iain Keith, told IBTimes UK: "Paris can deliver in a meaningful deal, with national commitments from all countries, a credible plan that includes financial help for developing countries and a long-term goal that can send an immediate signal that the world is getting off fossil fuels."

Paris climate talks won't beat dangerous global warming but they will try to build a vehicle that can

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 14:52
By Graham Readfearn, The Guardian, 26 November 2015 UN climate meetings are curious events where the future of the world’s climate and everything that’s part of it can come down to the removal of square brackets on documents and the strike of a gavel. About 40,000 delegates from more than 190 countries will be in Paris for the next major talks starting on Monday, including more than 130 heads of state and governments. If previous talks are any indication, then by the end of the second week the venue corridors will resemble a scene from an airport where all flights have been cancelled; most people are not really sure what’s going on, bodies are collapsed on the floor from sleep deprivation and every now and then an important person stands up in the middle to give an update. At least in Paris, there should be no shortage of caffeine and sugary goodness to keep the world from falling into a crevasse of it’s own unexploited fossil fuel reserves.

A ‘perfect’ agreement in Paris is not essential

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 14:51
By Johan Rockström, Nature News & Comment, 25 November 2015 How ambitious must the Paris agreement be to decisively support such a trajectory? To meet the 2 °C limit, the world must cut carbon emissions at about 6% per year. National pledges on the table at Paris will not get us close. From experience, we know that emissions cuts in the range of 0–2% per year are within the realm of incremental policy measures. A range of 2–3% requires ambitious adaptation. Once levels exceeding 3–4% are reached, experience indicates that radical measures are needed, such as carbon taxes and the phasing out of coal power. These are the kinds of changes needed to decarbonize the world economy, and above all, to send clear signals of a shift from incremental to transformative change. Success in Paris should thus be viewed as an agreement that corresponds to a pace of emissions cuts of greater than 3–4% per year, starting in the 2015–20 window.

Amazon deforestation report is major setback for Brazil ahead of climate talks

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 14:47
By Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, 27 November 2015 Trees covering an area more than seven times the territory of New York City have been cleared in the Brazilian Amazon over the past year, in a major setback for government efforts to combat deforestation. The grim statistics from Brazil’s environment ministry, which were released on Thursday, underscore the growing climate threat posed by deforestation ahead of a United Nations conference in Paris that aims to reduce global carbon emissions. Satellite data revealed that 5,831 square kilometers of land was cut down or burned in the Brazilian Amazon in year to 1 August: a 16% increase on the destruction of the previous 12 months.

The integrity and implementation of the EU ETS

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 12:59
European Court of Auditors, June 2015 There have been significant improvements to the framework for protecting the integrity of the system, notably through the inclusion of most of the spot market for allowances under the markets in financial instruments directive (MiFID) and market abuse (MAD (market abuse directive)/MAR (market abuse regulation)) regimes by the qualification of emission allowances as financial instruments. However a number of issues should still be addressed in order to make the framework sufficiently robust, to provide better regulation and supervision, and to encourage investor confidence, in order to leverage the EU ETS as a tool of environmental policy.

Emission impossible as EU fails to police main anti-pollution scheme

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 12:36
By Andrew Gilligan, The Telegraph, 29 November 2015 The EU’s main scheme for reducing CO2 emissions is almost never enforced, according to an official report by Brussels’ own spending watchdog. Only one EU country inspected – Britain – makes on-the-spot visits to factories to check whether they are staying within their carbon limits under the scheme, the EU Court of Auditors found. Even the UK only checks 1 per cent of sites, down from 5 per cent before. The auditors also said that attempts to stamp out endemic fraud in the EU’s flagship Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), from which billions of pounds of “carbon credits” have been stolen by criminals, are “not adequate” and continue to leave “significant security weaknesses.”

UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 12:12
By Simon Bowring, CounterPunch, 27 November 2015 In this context, the space given to interpretation and circumstance in the REDD text is startling for the display of utmost indifference towards the global impacts of deforestation. It is also worrying because, as it stands, REDD explicitly lays out a largely rich-world conception of environmental protection as an activity to be mediated through ‘market-based mechanisms’. This is an approach that the G77 and China made clear should not dominate mitigation financing, which should instead, they said, rely on funding.

COP21: Will it make any difference to climate change?

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 11:48
By Frank McDonald, The Irish Times, 28 November 2015 Twenty years ago a little-known woman politician with a mophead haircut from the former East Germany presided over the first UN climate conference, in Berlin. We – the delegates and the press – came to know her as Angela Merkel, and we thought she was brilliant, someone you could bring anywhere and she’d never put a foot wrong. Helmut Kohl had made her Germany’s environment minister a year earlier, and he had clearly made the right choice. Not only was Merkel a physics graduate (from the University of Leipzig), which gave her a clear understanding of climate change, but she was also determined to do the business in Berlin. It was, after all, the first Conference of the Parties – or COP1 – to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which had been adopted by acclamation at the 1992 Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, which aimed to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic” – or human-induced – “interference with the climate".

[UK] Investments that crash: how to be wise before the event

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 11:45
By Laura Miller, The Independent, 27 November 2015 Russ Mould at the pension and investment platform AJ Bell said investors should be wary of unusual assets promising high returns, like Keydata and Arch cru. "A lot of the past failures seem to be invested in the same types of underlying assets – property, overseas hotels and real estate, life insurance investments and unlisted securities. So any investment promising headline returns from those types of assets should raise a red flag." Other investments that should be treated with caution at the moment, he added, are car parking spaces, carbon credits, storage pods and renewable energy.

[Papua New Guinea] El Niño Meets the Rain Forest

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 11:42
By Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 27 November 2015 Forests are in the news. Deforestation accounts for somewhere between eleven and twenty per cent of worldwide carbon-dioxide emissions, and any deal that is reached at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, which begins on November 30th, in Paris, is expected to formally recognize its contribution to global warming for the first time. The draft text for the summit also proposes ways to encourage developing countries not to cut down their trees. One such instrument is Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD, a program that seeks to assign a financial value to standing forests and to pay local communities, via the sale of carbon credits, for their contribution to the world’s ecological well-being.

REDD+ in Paris – what could be in it for people and forests?

REDD monitor news - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 11:40
International Institute for Environment and Development, November 2015 A key problem is the lack of demand in carbon markets. At the end of 2014, 51.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in credits remained unsold. If carbon markets are unable to absorb this relatively small supply of emission credits, can this mechanism provide incentives for scaling up efforts to reduce emissions to the extent required? What initiatives will actually be undertaken in all those countries that UNREDD and FCPF are supporting? How will the world account for all the expenditure on the readiness process, strategy development and testing or renewing old approaches that could work if galvanized by REDD+? Finance is also important to enable people to access the means and the know-how to implement sustainable land use management practices.

Africa's Greatest Environmental Challenge -- Ever

GFIS - Sun, 29/11/2015 - 02:11

Loggers are bulldozing many new roads into the Congo Basin (photo by William Laurance).

Africa is becoming a global epicenter of environmental conflict.  A key reason: an unprecedented scheme to massively expand African roads, railroads, and energy infrastructure.

These projects are intended to promote large-scale development -- and their scale is breathtaking. 

If completed in their entirety, a total of 33 proposed and ongoing 'development corridors' will crisscross the African continent, spanning over 53,000 kilometers in length -- and opening up vast, sparsely populated areas to myriad new development pressures.

The 33 development corridors will penetrate into many remote and largely wild areas of Africa (from W. F. Laurance et al. (2015) Current Biology).

In a detailed study published this week, ALERT director Bill Laurance and colleagues rigorously evaluate this scheme.

The article is going viral, with global media coverage in the Washington Post, Science, The Independent, La Prensa, Mongabay, and scores of other venues. 

The best summary is this popular piece in The Conversation, but here are a few highlights:

People, food and mining

Africa’s population is exploding — expected nearly to quadruple this century.  With this, comes an urgent need to increase food production.

In addition, Africa is experiencing a frenzy of mining activity, with most of the investment coming from overseas.  China, for instance, is investing over $100 billion annually in African mining.

To feed its growing populace and move its minerals to shipping ports, Africa needs better roads and railroads.  Better roads make it easier for farmers to obtain fertilizer and new farming technologies, and cheaper to get their crops to markets with less spoilage.

Africa's 'development corridors'

But will the avalanche of new development corridors generate major social and economic benefits, or will they cause great environmental harm? 

For starters, there is no such thing as a free ride.  When located in areas with high environmental values, new roads or railroads can open a Pandora’s box of problems

A forest elephant shot in the back of the head by poachers (photo by Ralph Buij)

For instance, in the Congo Basin, forest elephants decline sharply, while signs of poachers increase, up to 50 kilometers from roads.  Roads can also promote invasions of illegal miners, colonists, loggers, and land speculators.

Even if well executed, Laurance and colleagues find, the proposed corridors would slice through over 400 protected areas and could easily degrade another 2,000 or so.  This bodes poorly for wildlife and biodiversity generally.

Looking ahead

The next decade will be crucial.  There is no question that Africa direly needs economic and social development. 

But unless advanced with great care, the development corridors could change Africa profoundly.  The economic and social benefits could be limited, dominated by foreign interests, and far from equitably distributed.

Zebras in the Serengeti -- where a major road project has been proposed (photo by William Laurance)

And in environmental terms, there is a very real risk that much of Africa could become environmentally impoverished -- a place whose iconic natural values and spectacular wildlife have been irretrievably lost.

For a two-minute video summary of this study, see here.



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by Dr. Radut