Environment, Carbon and Forests
By Robert Finlayson, ASB, 23 July 2014 | The ability of any scheme to meet its national target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus conservation (REDD+) requires understanding how its processes are linked across scales, from local through provincial to national and international levels. A single approach to reduce deforestation that is effective for a project in several villages might not be as effective at an aggregated level, such as a district. Accordingly, scale must be addressed in REDD+ schemes, including highly technical activities such as satellite mapping of vegetation cover. This is a critical feature, since knowing how the amount of carbon stock in the form of vegetation, of what type, and how it changes over time determines payments to local people for preserving, adding to, or depleting the stock.
WWF, 22 July 2014 | WWF-Indonesia is making major strides in partnering with local communities to demarcate and preserve vast sections of forest in the Kutai Barat area... WWF-Indonesia, along with support from the WWF Forest and Climate Programme, is also collaborating on the submission of an Emissions-Reductions Programme Idea Note (ER-PIN) to the FCPF which would potentially unlock funding for emissions reductions payments. If approved, funding from the FCPF Carbon Fund would add significant momentum for jurisdictional or subnational REDD+ in Indonesia and could help bring access to credible international partners and to technical assistance.
By Cath McAloon, ABC Rural, 22 July 2014 | Farming groups are pushing ahead with plans for projects to store carbon in soil, after the Federal Government approved a methodology that will allow farmers to earn carbon credits. The methodology for sequestering carbon in soils in grazing systems was approved by Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt last week. Louisa Kiely, director of Carbon Farmers of Australia, says having the methodology finalised and approved for earning carbon credits is the culmination of many years of research and negotiation. "It is significant not just for Australia, but it's significant world wide," Ms Kiely said. "This could help farmers all over the world, as well as the job of removing carbon from the air all over the world. "The landholders of Australia, the farmers, who control over 65 per cent of our land, can now start the important job of sequestering carbon into their soils for productivity improvement and selling the carbon into a carbon market."
By Susanna Twidale and Kathy Chen, Reuters, 21 July 2014 | Some developers of projects to cut carbon emissions in developing nations, particularly China, are likely to pull out of the U.N. offset scheme and move to markets with higher prices, if plans to allow them to exit are implemented. At a meeting last week, members of the board overseeing the U.N's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) said they would work on new rules to allow any registered project to exit the system. They will discuss proposed rule changes at its next meeting in September. Some developers in China, where almost half of all registered CDM projects are located, said they would be interested in leaving the CDM, because carbon credits can fetch much higher prices in China's new domestic trading schemes. "If we can only choose between one or another market, it is all up to the financial return," said a consultant manager with a Chinese state power company, who was not authorized to speak with the press.
Survival International, 21 July 2014 | Highly vulnerable uncontacted Indians who recently emerged in the Brazil-Peru border region have said that they were fleeing violent attacks in Peru. FUNAI, Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department, has announced that the group of uncontacted Indians has returned once more to their forest home. Seven Indians made peaceful contact with a settled indigenous Ashaninka community near the Envira River in the western Acre state, Brazil, three weeks ago. A government health team was dispatched and has treated seven Indians for flu. FUNAI has announced it will reopen a monitoring post on the Envira River which it closed in 2011 when it was overrun by drug traffickers. The emerging news has been condemned as “extremely worrying” by Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, as epidemics of flu, to which uncontacted Indians lack immunity, have wiped out entire tribes in the past.
By Liz Kimbrough, mongabay.com, 21 July 2014 | When a new road centipedes its way across a landscape, the best of intentions may be laid with the pavement. But roads, by their very nature, are indiscriminate pathways, granting access for travel and trade along with deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation. And as the impacts of roads on forest ecosystems become clear, governments and planning agencies reach a moral crossroads. Roads have the potential to greatly cut costs for businesses and farms, grant rural communities access to healthcare facilities and bolster economic growth. But the trouble with roads is that they can easily pave the way for more destructive activities. As they are built, loggers, miners, land speculators, ranchers and other potentially eroding forces follow swiftly behind roads crews, turning the relatively small line of deforestation caused by a road into a an amoeboid-like growth of deforestation.
By Fidelis E. Satriastanti, mongabay.com, 22 July 2014 | Inches away from being passed, a new regulation on peatlands management in Indonesia is drawing protests from civil societies that claim it may increase land tenure conflicts among local people. The Government Regulation on Peatland Ecosystem Protection and Management, initially drafted by the Ministry of Forestry in 2013, is getting mixed acceptance from civil society. On one hand, the regulation would offer more protection to the country’s vast peatland areas. However, on the other, some NGOs have slammed the draft as a potential source of new conflicts for local people. “The draft only categorizes peatlands into two functions, as protection areas and as cultivation areas,” Zenzi Suhedi, forest and plantation campaigner of ... Walhi, recently told Mongabay-Indonesia. “It does not touch on the ownership issue at all which brings out the question, what will happen to local people who are already in the areas?”
UN Human Rights, 18 July 2014 | The new United Nations sustainable development goals must not be a step backwards for indigenous peoples, a group of UN experts on indigenous peoples has warned today. Their call comes as the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals meets in New York to draft a set of goals which will be presented to the UN General Assembly in September. “Indigenous peoples face distinct development challenges, and fare worse in terms of social and economic development than non-indigenous sectors of the population in nearly all of the countries they live,” they said. “However,” the experts stressed, “they also can contribute significantly to achieving the objectives of sustainable development because of their traditional knowledge systems on natural resource management which have sustained some of the world’s more intact ecosystems up to the present.”
Department of Energy & Climate Change, 16 July 2014 | A blueprint which sets out the basis for the UK’s continued support for the EU ETS and outlines the priority areas for future reform: tackling the surplus of allowances; protecting sectors at risk of competitive disadvantage; and improving efficiency while cutting unnecessary red tape.
By Agus Purnomo and Yani Saloh letter to the editor, The Jakarta Globe, 16 July 2014 | A recent study on primary forest cover loss in Indonesia in the years 2000-12 that was published in the journal Nature Climate Change proposed some startling figures which led to the unsubstantiated and unhelpful Jakarta Globe editorial of July 2, which claimed that “a new study has proven that [President Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono’s statements [on deforestation] add up to nothing but lip service and empty promises.” Let us state clearly and up front that we welcome this study and thank the authors for their attempt to contribute to a better understanding of deforestation issues in Indonesia. We are proud that the lead author, Belinda Margono, is a home-grown talent from the Ministry of Forestry. Some of the figures proposed are indeed startling. If they are true, they certainly give cause for concern. However, not only are the finding counterintuitive, the conclusion is an outlier...
By Michael Bachelard, The Age, 29 June 2014 | Indonesia is destroying its tropical rainforests faster than Brazil, and the rate is soaring despite a five-year moratorium on new clearing. Exhaustive new figures show Indonesia is probably the single largest deforester in the world, and that most destruction is happening in lowland and peat forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan, the only habitat in the world where tigers, orangutan, elephants and rhinoceroses live together. The University of Maryland study, derived from satellite data and published in Nature, gives the lie to official Indonesian figures that claim the rate of deforestation has slowed under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s national forest moratorium, imposed in 2009.
By Bryan Adkins, La Luta Continua, 14 July 2014 | As I work for a company that is working hard to promote REDD+ projects worldwide, as well as the active development of REDD+ jurisdictional programmes, and national policies, it may seem slightly strange that I am saying that REDD+ has some challenges. However, practically speaking, I think we have a real opportunity with REDD+ to create transformational impact on the ground. If we are going to do that, we need to address some key aspects of how REDD+ is implemented, that are currently creating challenges. With a combination of innovative approaches, dialogue, pragmatism and cooperation, I believe that these challenges can be overcome.
By Amy Moas, Capitol Weekly, 17 July 2014 | If protecting trees in Mexico so that companies can pollute more here sounds dubious, that’s because it is. In reality, it’s impossible to guarantee that the forests used as offsets would remain standing over thousands of years. Tropical forests face the same threat as those in California, which has lost large tracts of forest to fires and other causes. Yet CARB has identified projects in Chiapas Mexico, and Acre in the Amazon as potential first suppliers of credits. Fires, droughts and illegal activities are not the only problems that make forests unsuitable as part of carbon offset schemes. Tropical forests are home to millions of people. In recent years offset projects have repeatedly led to serious human rights violations and threatened the livelihoods of local communities and indigenous people living there.
By Thomas Hubert, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 17 July 2014 | With climate change proceeding faster than previously expected, there is a growing realization that adapting to it will be as important as mitigating it. But how policymakers build resilience to climate change raises thorny questions. At what point do we stop pursuing incremental changes in favor of disruptive, transformative change? Do transformations occur only when it is too late? And what even constitutes a “transformation”? A recent conference saw climate and development experts grapple with these questions, drawing on real-world examples that reflected a diversity of approaches to some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. “In some situations, incremental adaptation may not be sufficient,” said Claudia Comberti of the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.
By Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar, The Guardian, 18 July 2014 | Forest cover in India increased by 5871 sq km (2266 sq miles) between 2010 and 2012. That’s the cheery headline news from the State of the Forest Report 2013 released this month by India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar. The findings appear to mark a turnaround from the previous survey, which had found a marginal decline in forests. But the fine print reveals a less rosy picture. The bulk of the increase in forest cover – about 3800 sq km – was in just one state, the report shows, and is partly attributed to a correction in previous survey data. In fact, India may be losing quality forests. Dense forests are degrading into scrub or sparsely covered forest areas in many states, says the report. “Moderately dense” forest cover – areas with a tree canopy density of between 40-70% – shrank by 1991 sq km in the two-year period, while “open forests” with less than 40% canopy increased by 7831 sq km.
By Ben Garside, Reuters, 14 July 2014 | The European Union handed out too many free carbon permits in its Emissions Trading System and did not set a deep enough emission reduction goal, China's top climate negotiator said on Monday. China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, is testing its own carbon markets and aims to set up a national programme by 2017 to help curb its emissions. Prices in Beijing's pilot carbon market became the highest in the world last week, rising to 74.07 yuan per tonne following a crackdown on compliance after some companies had ignored a key reporting deadline.
AP, 14 July 2014 | Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed former Irish president Mary Robinson as his special envoy for climate change. She has a mandate to mobilize world leaders to take action at the climate summit the U.N. chief is hosting in September. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Monday the Sept. 23 summit will be "an important milestone" to mobilize political commitment for a global climate agreement by 2015 and spur action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build "climate resilient communities."
By Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 15 June 2014 | Aid group Oxfam has called on other rich nations to follow the example of Germany, which has promised €750 million ($1 billion) for the U.N.'s fledgling Green Climate Fund. "This announcement ends the deafening silence we've had so far around the empty Green Climate Fund that is supposed to support poor countries in the battle against climate change. Now others must follow suit," Oxfam Germany's Jan Kowalzig said. "If rich countries such as the U.S., France, the UK, Japan and others manage to collect at least $15 billion in pledges ahead of the upcoming U.N. climate negotiations in Lima at the end of the year, this could give the talks a significant boost," he added in a statement.
By Stian Reklev and Kathy Chen, Reuters, 15 July 2014 | Nearly every carbon emitter covered by China's largest pilot emissions scheme met Tuesday's compliance deadline, a government official said, as permit prices slipped to an all-time low amid ample supply and with no last-minute scramble for allowances. The Guangdong scheme - one of China's seven pilot carbon markets aimed at controlling greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming - caps the carbon output of 202 electricity generators and manufacturers. The pilot markets are to prepare China for the launch of a national emissions scheme later in the decade that is expected to be the world's largest. The country is the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter and is under increasing international pressure to slow down the rapid growth in its emissions.
By Gavin O'Toole, The Guardian, 17 July 2014 | The market for green bonds has grown 60% this year compared to 2013, surpassing expectations and leading experts to say a niche has now become mainstream. The climate bonds initiative (CBI) and HSBC said on Thursday that green bonds with a total value of $18.3bn (£10.7bn) were issued in the first half of 2014. The figure greatly exceed issuance of $11bn in 2013 and have been fuelled by the activity of corporations, investment banks and even local authorities that are now piling into a market previously dominated by multilateral banks and agencies. So-called green bonds are designed to raise capital for the low-carbon economy, and agreement by banks on a set of “green bond principles” in January has been seen as a major boost to growth.