Environment, Carbon and Forests
By Agus P. Sari and Nirarta Samadhi, The Jakarta Post, 12 August 2014 | As Indonesia embarks on the next phase in the national implementation of REDD+ amid public debate over continuing deforestation and forest fires in the trouble-prone provinces of Riau and West Kalimantan, prominent questions arise, such as: What is the actual rate of the country’s deforestation despite the ministerial decree? The question is not so easy to answer, even scientifically. Politics makes it even more complicated. Not long ago, mongabay.com, citing a study published in Nature Climate Change by Belinda Margono et al (2014) from the University of Maryland (UMD), said Indonesia had become the world’s largest deforester... Meanwhile, the Forestry Ministry reported this year that deforestation of primary and secondary forests was estimated to be about 628,000 ha... The ministry claims deforestation is showing a downward trend.
Kaieteur News, 12 August 2014 | The price of hardwood in Guyana is far from cheap. In fact, despite increased forestry activity by local foresters, the price of the most durable hardwood, greenheart, remains prohibitively high. Right now, the cost of greenheart is around $350 per BM. Do not expect, however, first grade green heart at that price. If you are lucky you will obtain second quality. Georgetown used to be a wooden city. The use of local woods helped to keep the buildings cool. And in the old days, the wooden houses lasted very long before they needed repairs. This was because the sawmills did a good job in drying the lumber before they sold it. And the carpenters also applied their own treatment which led to the wood taking a long time before it went bad.
Kaieteur News, 12 August 2014 | A Partnership for National Unity is currently seeking the intervention of the Speaker of the House, Raphael Trotman, to call an “extraordinary sector committee meeting” to have Bai Shan Lin officials come to Parliament and explain their operations in Guyana. Parliamentarian Joseph Harmon told Kaieteur News that he does not believe that the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) is showing the type of energy to facilitate an investigation of this magnitude. Harmon said that all operations of logging should be halted immediately and Parliament should seek a full explanation about what the company is doing. Harmon said that he called the Chairman for the Natural Resources Sector Committee Odinga Lumumba, to discuss the matter, and asked him to facilitate a meeting. However, Harmon said that Lumumba seems very reluctant to meet and discuss the issue.
By Sam Shires, Guernsey Finance, 12 August 2014 | Last year the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA) brought legal action against the promoters and managers of an African Land Scheme and three Carbon Credits Schemes because of the FCA's view that they had been deliberately structured to avoid the need to be regulated. The African Land Scheme involved a rice farm in Sierra Leone in which an investor could purchase a sub-lease of a plot of land on the farm, so that they would receive the profit from the sale of the rice grown on their plot. The Carbon Credits Schemes involved similar arrangements in respect of forest areas in Australia, Sierra Leone and the Amazon, whereby each investor received the profits attributed to their plots from the sale of tradable carbon credits. In short, the English Court identified that the key question of whether the schemes were funds was whether each scheme was "managed as a whole", even if investors purchased a lease over an individual plot
By Gloria Gonzalez, Ecosystem Marketplace, 8 August 2014 | The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) aims to play a major role in California’s cap-and-trade program now that the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has decided to allow the VCS to help administer parts of its compliance offset program. But the VCS has its sights set higher: aiming to help California welcome REDD+ (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) projects into the program... VCS officials have high hopes for the potential inclusion of international REDD offsets in the California program using the VCS jurisdictional and nested REDD+ (JNR) approach, which features the first framework for accounting and crediting REDD+ programs implemented at either the national or subnational (state) level. The framework also establishes a pathway for existing and new subnational jurisdictional activities and projects to be integrated or “nested” within broader jurisdictional REDD+ programs.
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 4 August 2014 | As scientists and policymakers explore ways of making social and environmental systems more able to withstand shocks, there are growing concerns that existing inequality and power imbalances may be reinforced in the process, research presented at a recent conference suggests. “I’m afraid resilience becomes politically motivated into an instrument to make the powerful more powerful. It should be an instrument to do the opposite,” said Luca Alinovi, an economist with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), at the Resilience 2014 conference in Montpellier, France. Resilience science studies how socio-ecosystems react to change and how much it takes to shift over a tipping point from one stable state to another.
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 6 August 2014 | Projects to mitigate and adapt to climate change generally address two different things: cause and effect, respectively. Rarely, though, are mitigation and adaptation projects integrated into one, despite the widely acknowledged benefits of doing so. “On the ground, there is evidence that these two approaches can be combined. But at the international level, there is no fund explicitly supporting a combined approach,” said Giacomo Fedele, a research fellow at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), at the recent Resilience 2014 conference in Montpellier, France.
By Peter Moskowitz, Al Jazeera, 4 August 2014 | As the deadliest-ever Ebola outbreak continues its spread in West Africa, evidence suggests that human impact on the environment may have played a role in the latest epidemic. Researchers say the logging, road construction and even global warming may have precipitated the crisis by bringing animals infected with the disease in closer contact with humans. “Expansion of human impact can really trigger outbreaks,” said Jonathan Epstein, a veterinary epidemiologist at EcoHealth Alliance. “Deforestation, building roads, expanding farms into areas that used to be dense forest — all those things increase the opportunity for wild animals to get into contact with livestock and humans.”
By Pete Ogden, Foreign Affairs, 4 August 2014 | On June 2, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed the country’s first-ever federal regulation on greenhouse gas pollution resulting from existing power plants. The rule, intended to cut carbon emissions from the power sector to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, is an indispensable piece of the administration’s climate policy, which it has painstakingly assembled since a comprehensive energy and climate bill collapsed in the Senate in mid-2010. Predictably, Obama’s proposal set off a firestorm of political hyperbole. The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, decried it as a “dagger in the heart of the middle class,” and John Boehner, speaker of the House, called it “a sucker punch for families everywhere.” In fact, there is much about the rule to celebrate, including the notion that for the first time it puts the United States on track to meet its international commitment, made in 2009 as part of the Copenhagen Accord...
By Alex Kirby, The Guardian, 5 August 2014 | Climate change is here, it’s happening now, and for the last few decades it has been demonstrably bad news for many of Europe’s forests. An international team of researchers say in a report from the European Forest Institute that climate change is altering the environment, and it is long-lived ecosystems like forests that are particularly vulnerable to the comparatively rapid changes occurring in the climate system. The report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that damage from wind, bark beetles, and wildfires has increased significantly in Europe’s forests in recent years. Windthrow − the wind’s effect in damaging or uprooting trees − is an increasing problem.“Disturbances such as windthrow and forest fires are part of the natural dynamics of forest ecosystems, and are not a catastrophe for the ecosystem,”, says the study’s principal researcher, Rupert Seidl...
By Brian Kahn, Scientific American, 5 August 2014 | One of the best current paths to reduce the globe’s carbon emissions goes through tropical forests. They serve as a sink to sequester human emissions, but deforestation risks sending those assets up in smoke. A recent report argues that to avoid that outcome, indigenous communities should be involved in forest management. Currently deforestation and land use change accounts for 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions annually. That’s nearly equivalent to the emissions from the entire European Union. A new report from World Resources Institute (WRI) shows that rates of deforestation could be reduced even further and tropical forests' capacity to sequester carbon could become even more pronounced with a seemingly simple fix: preserving rights of local and indigenous communities.
By Al Gore and David Blood, Financial Times, 6 August 2014 | The call for investors to divest from coal assets, one of the most carbon-intensive energy sources, has been primarily based on the harmful social and environmental outcomes linked with carbon emissions. These would by themselves be sufficient to convince many investors to sell coal assets. However, it is also a smart investment decision for purely financial reasons. It is critical that investors understand the risks they are taking and ensure they are well compensated for them.
By Jenna Iacurci, Nature World News, 5 August 2014 | They may be small, but researchers say they are having a big impact. Ants may be able to save the world from climate change, according to a new provocative study published in the journal Geology. Though their life span is less than a year, in this short amount of time ants' effect on soil reportedly cooled Earth's climate as their numbers grew. "Ants are changing the environment," lead author Ronald Dorn, a geologist at Arizona State University, told Live Science. Dorn and his team found that certain ant species "weather" minerals in order to secrete calcium carbonate - more commonly known as limestone. During the process of making limestone, these insects inadvertently trap and remove a tiny bit of carbon dioxide gas from the atmosphere.
By Jeff Spross, ThinkProgress, 6 August 2014 | The hopes that the world will do something meaningful to reduce its carbon emissions now hang on the next big round of international climate talks in Paris in 2015. And according to a new analysis from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it’s probably going to be a letdown. The Paris talks will be the twenty-first gathering of nations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with the goal of cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions enough to hold any rise in global temperatures under 2°C. At this point, very few public commitments have been made by any of the countries involved, so what deal could emerge in 2015 is anybody’s guess. Nonetheless, the MIT researchers wanted to take a stab at a prediction, and see how close it could get the world to the 2°C goal.
By Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill, 6 August 2014 | Adviser to President Obama John Podesta met with billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros for a lunchtime meeting at the White House in February, according to meeting records. The White House visitor documents show that shortly after Steyer had committed to spend upward of $100 million on the 2014 election cycle for environmentally friendly candidates who helped put climate change on the map, he met with Podesta and Soros. The three met to discuss global climate change negotiations, and the process of the 2015 United Nations climate change convention to be held in Paris, a White House official told The Hill in an email. The administration is looking to build momentum going into the talks where 120 nations will work to form a global climate treaty, and set emission reduction targets. President Obama will attend the UN climate summit in New York next month to build on negotiations.
By Prakash Javadekar, Economic Times, 8 August 2014 | Meeting for the first time since the UN-sponsored climate change negotiations in Warsaw last November, ministers of the four BASIC countries—Brazil, South Arica, India and China-—sought to craft a common position for the next round of talks at Lima. At the first round of ministerial level meetings held here on Thursday evening, the quartet discussed the elements they would like included in the post-2020 climate agreement. Discussions on the new agreement, which will be finalised in Paris next year, are already underway. It is expected that the broad elements of a working draft will be agreed to at the year-end negotiations to be held in Lima, Peru under the aegis of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.
Canberra Times, 8 August 2014 | Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 to 70 per cent by mid-century will be needed to avert the worst of global warming that is already harming all continents, a draft UN report showed. The 26-page draft, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, sums up three UN scientific reports published over the past year as a guide for almost 200 governments which are due to agree a deal to combat climate change at a summit in Paris in late 2015. It says existing national pledges to restrict greenhouse gas emissions are insufficient to limit warming to 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial times, a UN ceiling set in 2010 to limit heatwaves, floods, storms and rising seas.
By Niina Heikkinen, ClimateWire, 7 August 2014 | Technologies for capturing carbon dioxide directly from the ambient air will play a key role in reversing the buildup of greenhouse gases if the process can gain wider acceptance, according to a Columbia University scientist. "It's not a question of if air capture technology will be adopted; it's a question of when," said Klaus Lackner, director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University's Earth Institute.
The Times of India, 7 August 2014 | forts are on to increase India's forest cover to one-third of the land area, environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar informed Rajya Sabha on Thursday. "Green cover is increasing and government's intention is to take it to 33 per cent (of the total land area)," he said during Question Hour. Stressing on the need for people's participation in the afforestation drive, he said, "we are going to make it people's movement" and awareness would be created using advertisements and social media. "To spread public awareness regarding conservation of forests and environment in the country, Information Education and Communication (IEC) activities through modes of mass communication — print media, radio and TV — are taken up in National Afforestation and Eco Development Board Scheme," he said.
Alex Kirby, The Daily Climate, 8 August 2014 | The aviation industry insists that it is making only a tiny contribution to global warming, with just 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions coming from its aircraft. The problem is the speed at which aviation itself is growing. One aircraft builder believes the number of planes in service in 2011 will have doubled by 2031. Whatever the industry's efforts to reduce its carbon emissions, they will be outweighed by the growth in air traffic, even if the most contentious mitigation measures come into force, according to researchers in the UK.