Environment, Carbon and Forests
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.
By Megan Kinninment, Northern Star, 7 April 2014 | Byron Shire Council has transformed its smelly tip into a money spinner, earning $150,000 from carbon credits. The credits were earned through the council's Myocum Landfill gas flare project in which methane is collected in pipes and then burnt at temperatures between 700 to 800 Celsius to create carbon dioxide; up to 24 times less damaging to the environment. The gas flare project was approved under the federal government's Carbon Farming Initiative in September last year... The council earned 6,616 Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) which were sold at a price of $22.60 per unit for a total return of $149,521.60.
By Lael Goodman, The Equation, 11 April 2014 | The answer, of course, is Harrison Ford. He stars in Showtime’s new dramatic documentary series on climate change Years of Living Dangerously, and deforestation due to palm oil is Ford’s latest crusade. While the show premiers on Sunday, April 13 at 10 pm, the first episode is already available for a sneak peek. Episode one focuses in on three main storylines: Don Cheadle visits Texas to talk about drought, climate science, and religion; Thomas L. Friedman explores the role of drought in the civil war in Syria; and Ford visits Indonesia, traveling by seaplane, motorboat, elephant, and helicopter to see firsthand the havoc being wreaked upon tropical forests and peatlands by encroaching oil palm plantations.
Ecosystem Marketplace, 9 April 2014 | California carbon market watchers on the lookout for any sign that the US state is still on a path to accepting international offsets from Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests (REDD) got a pretty good one when a California Air Resources Board (ARB) official stepped up to the plate at the Navigating the American Carbon World conference in San Francisco last month. In front of a packed and eager crowd, the ARB’s Jason Gray stated publicly that the agency will continue considering allowing REDD offsets into its cap-and-trade program. “The world is watching to see if California is going to implement REDD or not,” said Daniel Nepstad, Senior Scientist and Executive Direct of the Earth Innovation Institute.
Survival International, 8 April 2014 | A Bushman from the Central Kalahari travelled 5,000 miles from his home in Botswana today to tell the Prince of Wales, ‘We’re not poachers – we hunt to survive.’ In February Botswana’s President Khama was an honoured guest at a global anti-poaching conference in London, alongside Prince Charles and Prince William. The initiative resulted in the launch of Prince William’s United for Wildlife, drawing together seven big conservation organizations, including US-based Conservation International (CI). President Khama is a CI board member. But President Khama has banned all hunting nationwide, even for Bushmen who hunt to feed their families, under the pretext of clamping down on poaching. However, it has emerged that trophy hunters who pay up to $8,000 to hunt giraffes and zebras are still being allowed to hunt.
By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 8 April 2014 | Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and Unilever NV (UNA) joined 68 other companies in urging world governments to cap cumulative carbon emissions since the industrial revolution to 1 trillion metric tons to contain rising temperatures... “The threat of climate change is real and urgent,” Skanska AB Chief Executive Officer Johan Karlstrom said in the statement. “From a business point of view, it is already a competitive advantage to be a leader in green but governments can speed up the progress substantially by setting up a level playing field that rewards the leaders in low carbon technology and energy efficiency.”
WWF, 9 April 2014 | In this issue 2 of 2014, we highlight the Democratic Republic of Congo's submission of an ER-PIN to the World Bank-managed Carbon Fund of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. We also present an interview with Victor Kabenegele, the REDD+ National Coordinator for the National REDD Coordination Committee (CN-REDD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition, we bring you the latest REDD+ news, learning tools and information from WWF's Forest and Climate team.
Survival International, 7 April 2014 | A Bushman from the Central Kalahari is traveling 5,000 miles from his home in Botswana to tell the Prince of Wales, ‘We’re not poachers – we hunt to survive.’ In February Botswana’s President Khama was an honoured guest at a global anti-poaching conference in London, alongside Prince Charles and Prince William. The initiative resulted in the launch of Prince William’s United for Wildlife, drawing together seven big conservation organizations, including US-based Conservation International (CI). President Khama is a CI board member. But President Khama has banned all hunting nationwide, even for Bushmen who hunt to feed their families, under the pretext of clamping down on poaching. However, it has emerged that trophy hunters who pay up to $8,000 to hunt giraffes and zebras are still being allowed to hunt.
By Ed Crooks, Financial Times, 31 March 2014 | ExxonMobil, the US oil group, said it was “highly unlikely” that the world would cut greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to keep global warming within the internationally agreed limit of 2C. In two reports on the implications of climate change for its business published on Monday, Exxon rejected suggestions that policies to cut emissions would leave many of its oil and gas assets “stranded” – incapable of being profitably developed.
By Ben Popper, The Verge, 31 March 2014 | Cool Planet, a startup headquartered in Colorado, announced a major $100 million round of financing today. Investors include a roster of big names including Google Ventures, BP, General Electric, and ConocoPhillips. Last month the company broke ground on its first commercial plant, located in Louisiana, and this new capital will go towards completing that infrastructure and building two more Louisiana facilities. Like many biofuels companies before it, Cool Planet makes liquid fuel from plant matter, mostly leftover agricultural waste like corn cobs and sugar canes. Its insight was that during this process it could also create biochar, a substance that comes from burning plants under extreme heat and pressure with little to no oxygen. The biochar prevents carbon dioxide from escaping as the plants decay and can be spread on farmland, helping the soil retain water and nutrients, boosting crop yields.
The Australian, 3 April 2014 | Europe is unhappy with Australia's decision to drop climate change from the G20 agenda and is lobbying the Abbott government to reconsider. European Union officials say Australia has become completely “disengaged” on climate change since Tony Abbott was elected in September last year. They are disappointed with the Prime Minister’s approach, saying Australia was considered an important climate change player under Labor. One well-placed EU official has likened the change to “losing an ally”. The EU has a long-running emissions trading scheme which was going to be linked to Australia's market. But Mr Abbott has pledged to scrap the carbon price in favour of his direct action policy. Europe is sceptical of Mr Abbott's replacement plan. “You have a huge amount of scientists and economists saying the direct action policy isn't going to work,” the official, who did not want to be named, said in the Belgian capital Brussels this week.
EurActiv, 4 April 2014 | The UN's secretary-general has called on EU leaders to set an example and agree on an ambitious 2030 target at a Council Summit in June, that can be taken to a UN conference in Lima three months later, and shape a global, legally-binding treaty by the end of 2015. “Yesterday I [told] President Barroso and President van Rompuy that you must do it [agree a climate package] during the June summit meeting,” Ki-Moon said at a Brussels conference on 3 April. "Lead by example and bring your ambitious target to the UN summit meeting in September. I hope that you will press your leaders of each and every respective country.” The EU executive has proposed a 40% cut in greenhouse gas pollution and an aspirational 27% market share for renewable energies to be achieved by the end of the next decade, that Ban Ki-Moon said he strongly supported.
By Kathy Chen and Stian Reklev, Reuters, 3 April 2014 | Authorities in China's southern city of Shenzhen, China's oldest carbon market, said on Thursday they had issued around 30 million carbon permits for the 2014 compliance year to participants in its emissions trading scheme. The market, launched last June, regulates carbon dioxide emissions from more than 630 local companies as part of China's efforts to rein in rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions. The issue of permits for the current calendar year ensures trading can continue, as China's emission markets only allow spot trading. The Shenzhen government said last year it would issue a total of around 100 million permits for the period from 2013 to 2015, although some of them would be held in government reserves to supply new facilities and damp sudden price spikes.
By Larry Elliott, The Guardian, 3 April 2014 | Battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to 10 years as a result of climate change, the president of the World Bank said as he urged those campaigning against global warming to learn the lessons of how protesters and scientists joined forces in the battle against HIV. Jim Yong Kim said it was possible to cap the rise in global temperatures at 2C but that so far there had been a failure to replicate the "unbelievable" success of the 15-year-long coalition of activists and scientists to develop a treatment for HIV. The bank's president – a doctor active in the campaign to develop drugs to treat HIV – said he had asked the climate change community: "Do we have a plan that's as good as the plan we had for HIV?" The answer, unfortunately, was no.
By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, 3 April 2014 | In a world that has never produced so much oil and gas, the United Nations is seeking to persuade producers they need to leave three-quarters of their reserves in the ground and explore cleaner energy to combat climate change. “The fossil fuels we do use must be utilized sparingly and responsibly,” Christiana Figueres, UN climate chief, said in the copy of a prepared speech to the industry. “Three-quarters of the fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground.” The UN is seeking to enlist industry support to cut carbon emissions as 194 countries stewarded by Figueres work to devise a new treaty to fight climate change by the end of next year. UN scientists said in September that the world since the industrial revolution has already emitted more than half the carbon that’s compatible with keeping temperature gains within a safe range.