REDD and Rainforests
GLOBE-Net , 11 December 2013 | The European Parliament voted Tuesday in favor of reinvigorating Europe’s carbon trading program despite the differences in the region over energy policy. The legislation will help to restore financial incentives for an industrial shift away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. Policy makers and industry leaders have vigorously debated the effectiveness of carbon trading due to a near collapse in carbon prices. The parliament rejected similar measures in April of this year. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “The price of emitting one metric ton of CO2 rose immediately after the vote to over €4.70 ($6.10), from under €4 before the vote, according to data from IntercontinentalExchange Inc. ICE +0.94%”.
The world's largest remote camera trap initiative—monitoring 275 species in 17 protected areas—is getting some big data assistance from Hewlett-Packard (HP). To date, the monitoring program known as the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network has taken over 1.5 million photos of animals in 14 tropical countries, but conservationists have struggled with how to quickly evaluate the flood of data.
Stabroek News, 10 December 2013 | Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud yesterday came under intense scrutiny over permission granted to a Brazil company in November, 2012 to survey the south east of the country for minerals, an area that his ministry had said that no mining permits had been granted. The Permission of Geo-logical and Geophysical Survey (PGGS) to the Muri Brasil Ventures Ltd, while not a permit contains a clause which says that a maximum of 18 prospecting licences “shall be granted” for rare earth elements, bauxite, gold and diamonds and other minerals upon application. The PGGS was yesterday circulated to the media anonymously and appeared to have been sent to leading government officials and members of opposition parties. [R-M: Subscription needed.]
By Sean Carney, Wall Street Journal, 9 December 2013 | European Union lawmakers are set Tuesday to approve a long-sought fix to the bloc's struggling system for trading carbon-emission rights as Germany and other nations have recently indicated support for the plan to make it more expensive to pollute. The Emissions Trading System was designed to put a price on greenhouse-gas pollution by utilities as the bloc seeks to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020 versus 1990. But because of an initial oversupply of the emission rights and Europe's economic slowdown, a surplus... [R-M: Subscription needed.]
By John O’Connell, Capital Press, 9 December 2013 | An agricultural economist advocates for farmers and ranchers to receive credits with a monetary value for the carbon their acres absorb. The dean of New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences sees a financial opportunity for farmers and ranchers in future federal climate change bills. Lowell Catlett encourages the agricultural community to participate – if and when discussions about cap-and-trade energy policies are resurrected – so that crops, healthy soils and range land receive credits for the carbon they sequester. Under cap-and-trade, polluters receive marketable credits, redeemable by other emitters of greenhouse gases, for reducing emissions. Catlett believes “offset” credits for carbon absorbed by agricultural lands should be sold through the same exchanges.
By Caddie Brain, ABC Rural, 10 December 2013 | Beef producers may soon be able to claim carbon credits by changing the type of feed supplements used on their herds. By replacing urea supplements with nitrate salts, the amount of methane burped by cattle can be reduced by up to 20 per cent. Using a new methodology, producers could then claim credits on their herds' reduced methane emissions through the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative. RAMP Carbon developed the methodology with Meat and Livestock Australia and the Australian Agricultural Company. Director Phil Cohn says it could have a big impact on overall agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. "The major component of Australia's agricultural emissions actually comes from livestock as they digest their feed," he said.
Last Wednesday, the government of Ecuador shutdown the indigenous rights NGO, Fundación Pachamama, in Quito over the group's opposition to oil drilling in indigenous areas. More than a dozen government officials showed up at Pachamama's office with a resolution by the Ministry of Environment that officially dissolved the organization, the first such moved by the government which in June passed an Executive Decree that tightened governmental oversight of the country's NGOs.
1. Carbon concentrations hit 400ppm while the IPCC sets global carbon budget: For the first time since our appearance on Earth, carbon concentrations in the atmosphere hit 400 parts per million. The last time concentrations were this high for a sustained period was 4-5 million years ago when temperatures were 10 degrees Celsius higher. Meanwhile, in the slow-moving effort to curb carbon emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) crafted a global carbon budget showing that most of the world's fossil fuel reserves must be left untouched if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.
UNCTAD, 9 December 2013 | Experts meeting in Geneva will discuss how the sale and trade of goods sustainably harvested from forests, if expanded, may preserve stands of timber as carbon "sinks" and thus mitigate climate change. They will debate this topic and review efforts to conserve biodiversity during the Second BioTrade Congress (11-13 December 2013)... The Second BioTrade Congress has the theme "Integrating REDD+ into BioTrade Strategies".
By Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace, 9 December 2013 | Less than a month after the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) approved the seven decisions that comprise the “REDD Rulebook”, the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) today signed off on a new Methodological Framework for its Carbon Fund. Finalized during a meeting of Carbon Fund Participants in Paris, the new framework unshackles nearly $390 million already committed to REDD+ pilot programs in the developing world, and it could pave the way for millions more in pilot funding from donors... Lloyd Gamble, the Senior Forest Carbon Program Officer for WWF-US, says the new framework offers both an incentive to move forward and clarity on how to proceed."Tropical forest nations can now move forward and engage in REDD+ with a clear understanding of what they need to deliver in order to receive valuable performance-based payments for the conservation of their tropical forests,” he says.
By Kate Evans, CIFOR Forests News Blog, 9 December 2013 | In the birthplace of Arabica coffee — Ethiopia’s Kafa Biosphere Reserve — rangers are using Facebook to monitor and verify changes in their forests. In a joint study with the German nongovernmental organization Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and scientists from Wageningen University, in collaboration with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), use remote sensing satellite data to observe the area from space in near real time. If they detect a change, they immediately notify the 30 rangers on the ground via a private Facebook group. “From space we just see something is happening — but we don’t really know what, or why,” said Martin Herold, a professor at Wageningen University and a CIFOR associate. “But the rangers can go and say, firstly, if there is a change or not, and secondly, what’s the driver, what’s behind it. And that’s information you cannot see from space,” he said.
Analysis of forest cover using medium-scale satellite imagery may miss deforestation for small-scale subsistence agriculture, finds a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
In Brazil's Baturite Mountains, scientists have uncovered a new species of prehensile-tailed porcupine, according to a new paper in Revista Nordestina de Biologia. Dubbed, the Baturite porcupine (Coendou baturitensis), the new species was discovered when scientists noticed significant differences between it and its closest relative, the Brazilian porcupine (Coendou prehensilis). The name prehensile-tailed refers to these porcupines long, mobile tail which they use as a fifth limb to adroitly climb trees.
Tempo, 7 December 2013 | The Tasikmalaya Resort Police, West Java, raided two illegal storehouses and a wood processing factory in Gunung Kalong Village, Cibeureum and Jl. Letnan Harun, Indihiang district last Thursday. The teak woods (Tecona grandis) in the factory is believed to be obtained from illegal logging in the land belong to state-owned forestry company Perum Perhutani,Tasikmalaya Administrator in Cikalong region. According to the Police Adjunct Senior Commissioner Noffan Widyayoko, the police had seized about 50 cubic logs in the Cibeureum storehouse and 200 cubic of logs and furniture in Indihiang. Two guards of the storehouses have been brought to the police headquarter for further investigation. Noffan explained that the police had stopped three trucks loaded with firewood from entering Tasikmalaya city. After an inspection, the trucks were also loaded with the teak woods. "The firewoods are only a way to cover the teak woods," he said.
By Angela Dewan, Jakarta Globe, 4 December 2013 | Barges loaded with mountains of coal glide down the polluted Mahakam River on Indonesian Borneo every few minutes. Viewed from above, they form a dotted black line as far as the eye can see, destined for power stations in China and India. A coal rush that has drawn international miners to East Kalimantan province has ravaged the capital, Samarinda, which risks being swallowed up by mining if the exploitation of its deposits expands any further. Mines occupy more than 70 percent of Samarinda, government data show, forcing entire villages and schools to move away from toxic mudslides and contaminated water sources. The destruction of forest around the city to make way for mines has also removed a natural buffer against floods, leading to frequent waist-high deluges during the six-month rainy season.
By Richard Harris, NPR, 3 December 2013 | An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences is calling for an early warning system to alert us to abrupt and potentially catastrophic events triggered by climate change. The committee says science can anticipate some major changes to the Earth that could affect everything from agriculture to sea level. But we aren't doing enough to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts. And this is not a matter for some distant future. The Earth is already experiencing both gradual and abrupt climate change. The air is warming up slowly, and we're also seeing rapid changes such as the melting Arctic ice cap. Anthony Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, says abrupt change is the bigger worry. "When you think about gradual changes you can kind of see where the road is and know where you're going," Barnosky said at a news conference unveiling the report Tuesday.
By Silvio Marcacci, Renew Economy, 4 December 2013 | California’s cap and trade market will expand in 2014 after a successful first year of operations that quelled fears of a European Union-style carbon allowance glut while powering a clean energy economic boom. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced a minimum of 81 million 2014 allowances and 37 million 2017 allowances will be auctioned during 2014, and the minimum reserve price for allowances will be set at $11.34. 2014’s available allowances and minimum reserve price are both increases over this year, when 57 million available 2013 allowances sold at a minimum reserve price of $10.71. But beyond increasing the number and cost of permits, several other developments suggest California’s carbon market will have an even more successful second year of operation.
By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 4 December 2013 | One… hundred… billion dollars. Cue an outburst of Dr Evil-like pinky chewing in the offices of the new Green Climate Fund (GCF), just opened in South Korea. While the Austin Powers movie character threatened to destroy a major city every hour unless he was paid a large sum, the trustees of the GCF say that unless they get the aforementioned amount by 2020, developing countries won't be able to adapt to the worst impacts of climate change. So far, they've barely got enough readies to keep the lights on in their shiny new Songdo headquarters. Back at the ill-fated end-of-the-world-party that was the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, the rich countries promised to deliver the 100 billion sum by 2020. As a measure of good faith they said they would provide $10bn a year in fast-track finance, for three years, from 2011. But so far, the fast-track seems to be made of molasses.
By David Twomey, Eco News, 5 December 2013 | For the first time some institutional investors may consider investment in developing country projects as the United Nations-linked Green Climate Fund (GCF) opens for business. One such investor, the retirement fund PensionDanmark, that’s invested about US$1.8 billion in renewable energy certainly thinks its worth considering. “The GCF could be an interesting partner for pension funds” if it reduces the risks from investing in emerging markets, Torben Moger Pedersen, Chief Executive Officer of PensionDanmark in Copenhagen, told Bloomberg newsagency by phone. “We are facing the same challenges as other pension funds. Yields on government bonds are very low and not an attractive safe haven.”
BusinessDesk, 5 December 2013 | New Zealand's emissions trading scheme won't be able to trade certain international Kyoto units after 2015, due to the government's decision restricting access to those markets after the stalled climate change negotiations. From June next year, ETS participants will need to surrender New Zealand Units to meet their obligations after the government decided it will only allow Kyoto Protocol units to be used to account for obligations until May 31, 2015, Acting Climate Change Minister Simon Bridges said in a statement. The affected units are Kyoto Protocol first commitment period Certified Emission Reduction units, Emissions Reduction Units or Removal Units. Bridges said the current hold on issuing Letters of Approval for local entities to participate in clean development mechanism projects will continue, meaning the ETS will operate with restricted access to Kyoto markets from 2016.