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Guyana grants $$B in concessions, but unable to track benefits

9 hours 32 min ago
Kaieteur News, 30 July 2014 | Billions of dollars in concessions have been granted over the last two decades, but there are very few mechanisms in place by the various agencies and ministries to gauge how the country has been benefitting. Keith Burrowes, Head of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), the one-stop Government agency to help facilitate a smooth process for investors, admitted that the entity is guilty of failing to document and analyze the direct and indirect benefits. He assured that steps are now being taken to rectify this situation. Responding to questions, Burrowes said that it is important for investment agencies to go beyond the basic tracing of taxes paid and examine how companies, both foreign and local, contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) when contrasted against the concessions and tax breaks given. GDP is like a price tag on a country’s output, and it measures the size of the economy.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

The UN must stop sidelining indigenous people at climate talks

19 hours 44 min ago
By Alejandro Argumedo, RTCC, 29 July 2014 | Indigenous people are one of the most vulnerable groups to the impacts of climate change. They stand to lose so much because, as well as relying on the natural environment and biodiversity for their livelihoods (often in fragile ecosystems), their entire worldview or ‘cosmo-vision’ is intertwined with and based on complex interactions with nature and the environment. Indigenous people are also made vulnerable by their widespread and continuing neglect and marginalisation in national, regional and international climate change policy. Unfortunately, this state of affairs is no surprise; the false but prevalent portrayal of indigenous peoples as homogenous, backwards and vulnerable is a product of colonialism.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

How to encourage financial markets to engage in natural capital?

19 hours 48 min ago
By Jo Confino, The Guardian, 29 July 2014 | The natural world is being consistently degraded as a result of the pursuit of economic growth at any cost. While trillions of dollars are pumped into the financial system which powers this destruction, only a tiny trickle of money is directed towards the conservation and rehabilitation of our natural resources. This week a group of cross-sector experts from the worlds of business, finance, foundations, NGOs and institutions have been brought together by the Rockefeller Foundation and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the largest global environmental network, to come up with solutions for how to encourage the financial markets to become champions of nature.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

California and Mexico sign pact to fight climate change

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 9:20am
By Rory Carroll, Reuters, 29 July 2014 | California Governor Jerry Brown and Mexican environmental officials signed a pact on Monday aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an agreement that could eventually expand the market for carbon credits. The six-page memorandum of understanding calls for cooperation in developing carbon pricing systems and calls on the partners to explore ways to align those systems in the future. "California can't do it alone and with this new partnership with Mexico, we can make real progress on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases," said Governor Brown. California operates a carbon cap-and-trade system, which sets a hard limit on the carbon output from large businesses and requires them to either reduce emissions or purchase credits to meet the target. The state is on track to meet its goal of 1990 emissions levels by 2020.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Land rights in Latin America: where are the voices of indigenous women?

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 9:17am
By Natricia Duncan, The Guardian, 23 July 2014 | Latin America NGO director Omaira Bolaños explains the barriers to getting women's voices heard in climate change talks. Women play a very important role in food production and often have to bear the brunt of the added burden of adapting to climate change in forests and farmland. Natural resource developments such as oil palm plantations or oil and gas exploration damage their fragile ecosystems and affect their ability to produce food. Despite this, they seldom have the rights to their lands. Without these rights they stand to lose their sole source of food, income and shelter. Additionally they are often not allowed to participate in national and international strategies to tackle the issues that affect them. These are challenges that exist right across Latin America.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

[Tanzania] Why Lindi rural villagers admire REDD project

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 5:02am
By Gerald Kitabu, IPP Media, 28 July 2014 | Like in many communities, when the project on reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) started some few years ago in Lindi rural district, the villagers did not know exactly the benefits accrued from it. The value and benefits accrued from REDD were not well known and at some communities, it was beyond their knowledge, as many would benefit from the forest through illegal logging. Due to lack of such knowledge, many villagers were involved in charcoal and timber harvesting without calculating the effects of climate change in the region. Few years ago, the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) and Tanzania Community Forest Network (MJUMITA) started changing the mindset of the locals in ten villages after introducing REDD activities.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Give forests to local people to preserve them

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 4:44am
By Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 24 July 2014 | The best way to protect rainforests is to keep people out, right? Absolutely not. The best way to keep the trees, and prevent the carbon in them from entering the atmosphere, is by letting people into the forests: local people with the legal right to control what happens there. Given the chance, most communities protect rather than plunder their forests, says a new study by the World Resources Institute and Rights and Resources Initiative, both in Washington DC. The forests provide food, water, shelter, medicines and much else. The report, Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change collates many existing studies. It concludes that forest communities only have legal control over one-eighth of the world's forests. The rest is mostly controlled by governments or leased for logging or mining, often in defiance of community claims. But community-owned forests are often the best-protected.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

[USA] Activists say California fighting pollution globally but not locally

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 4:22am
By Evan Halper, LA Times, 29 June 2014 | I the Bay Area oil port city of Martinez, where a colossal Shell refinery has long tainted the air, the landmark California law that requires polluters to ease their carbon footprint seemed to some to promise new relief. But one big move by Shell to comply with rules on greenhouse gas emissions won't do much for Martinez. It will instead give a boost to the environment in the pristine Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where the oil company is helping preserve a 200,000-acre forest. California regulators are satisfied the forest project will be a sponge for greenhouse gases, helping reduce global warming. It doesn't matter that the trees grow nowhere near California. Advocates for the local community heatedly disagree.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

China's red furniture craze fuelling illegal logging in Guinea-Bissau

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:37am
IRIN, 23 July 2014 | Between March and May, during the cashew harvesting season, it is typical to see trucks line Amílcar Cabral Avenue in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau's capital, waiting to offload their cargo on to ships. But when they line up all year long, suspicion is raised, especially as demand for the nut has plummeted. From interior regions of Guinea-Bissau, the trucks openly haul tree trunks, said Constantino Correia, an agro-engineer and former director of the country's forest management agency. The cargo, mainly African rosewood, is destined for China, according to Abílio Rachid Said of the government Institute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas (Ibap). Environmental activists have been denouncing illegal logging in Guinea-Bissau for years, but now it may be too late, "as we risk not having [the African rosewood] in the coming years", Said warned. "It is a type of wood in extremely high demand in the Chinese market."
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Put a price on nature? We must stop this neoliberal road to ruin

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:35am
By George Monbiot, The Guardian, 24 July 2014 | It is not just that neoliberalism has failed spectacularly in that this creed - which was supposed to prevent state spending and persuade us that we didn’t need state spending - has required the greatest and most wasteful state spending in history to bail out the deregulated banks. But also that it has singularly failed to create the great society of innovators and entrepreneurs that we were promised by the originators of this doctrine, by people like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who insisted that it would create a society of entrepreneurs.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

[USA] More trees felled in Everglades as deadly fungus spreads

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:28am
AP, 25 July 2014 | A fungus carried by an invasive beetle from southeast Asia is felling trees across the Everglades, and experts have not found a way to stop the blight from spreading. Then there's a bigger problem — the damage may be leaving Florida's fragile wetlands open to even more of an incursion from exotic plants threatening to choke the unique Everglades and undermine billions of dollars' worth of restoration projects. Since first detected on the edge of Miami's western suburbs in 2011, laurel wilt has killed swamp bay trees scattered across 330,000 acres of the Everglades, a roughly 2 million-acre system that includes Everglades National Park. The fungus is spread by the tiny redbay ambrosia beetle, which likely arrived in this country in a shipment of wood packing material.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

[USA] California to Propose Lifting Ban on Alaska-based Forestry Offsets

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:27am
By Gloria Gonzalez, Forest Carbon Portal, 24 July 2014 | Forestry projects located in Alaska – “the Land of the Midnight Sun” – could soon be allowed to provide carbon offsets to California’s cap-and-trade program. Right now, forestry projects providing offsets to California’s program must be based in the lower 48 US states, but the staff of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) will propose allowing Alaska-based forestry projects into its carbon trading program. The aim is to have an update to the ARB’s forestry protocol ready for ARB board consideration in late 2014. Both the American Carbon Registry’s (ACR) and the Climate Action Reserve’s (CAR) voluntary forest offset protocols allow for the inclusion of offset projects located in Alaska. But the ARB did not allow Alaska-based projects when considering early action methodologies and programs back in 2011 because of the absence of data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis Program of the U.S. Forest Service.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars, says expert

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:25am
By Damian Carrington, The Guardian, 21 July 2014 | Beef’s environmental impact dwarfs that of other meat including chicken and pork, new research reveals, with one expert saying that eating less red meat would be a better way for people to cut carbon emissions than giving up their cars. The heavy impact on the environment of meat production was known but the research shows a new scale and scope of damage, particularly for beef. The popular red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions. When compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases... “The big story is just how dramatically impactful beef is compared to all the others,” said Prof Gidon Eshel, at Bard College in New York state and who led the research on beef’s impact.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Britain sticks with tough carbon target despite opposition

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:24am
By Susann Twidale, Reuters, 22 July 2014 | Britain's government said it would stick with a goal to curb emissions by 2027 to 50 percent of the 1990 levels, a target that has led to political opposition and that its own advisers have said will be hard to meet. The country has set binding targets for greenhouse gases over four five-year periods to 2027, known as carbon budgets, which aim to put it on track towards cutting emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by the middle of the century. "Retaining the budget at its existing level provides certainty for businesses and investors by demonstrating government's commitment to our long-term decarbonisation goals," Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, said in a statement on Tuesday.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Venezuela climate summit calls for end to "green economy"

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:23am
By Sophie Yeo, RTCC, 23 July 2014 | A UN-backed conference in Venezuela has ended with a declaration to scrap carbon markets and reject the green economy. The Margarita Declaration was issued at the end of a four-day meeting of around 130 green activist groups, which the Venezuelan government hosted in order to raise the volume of civil society demands in UN discussions on climate change. “The structural causes of climate change are linked to the current capitalist hegemonic system,” the final declaration said. “To combat climate change it is necessary to change the system.” The declaration will be handed to environment ministers when they meet ahead of the UN’s main round of talks in Lima this year.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Forest Rights Offer Major Opportunity to Counter Climate Change

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:22am
By Carey L. Biron, IPS, 24 July 2014 | The international community is failing to take advantage of a potent opportunity to counter climate change by strengthening local land tenure rights and laws worldwide, new data suggests. In what researchers say is the most detailed study on the issue to date, new analysis suggests that in areas formally overseen by local communities, deforestation rates are dozens to hundreds of times lower than in areas overseen by governments or private entities. Anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to deforestation each year. The findings were released Thursday by the World Resources Institute, a think tank here, and the Rights and Resources Initiative, a global network that focuses on forest tenure. “This approach to mitigating climate change has long been undervalued,” a report detailing the analysis states.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

[UK] Concerns over carbon emissions from burning wood

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:20am
By Roger Harrabin, BBC News, 24 July 2014 | Burning wood to fuel power stations can create as many harmful carbon emissions as burning coal, according to a government report. UK taxpayers subsidise energy firms to burn wood to meet EU renewables targets. But the report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows sometimes much bigger carbon savings would be achieved by leaving the wood in the forests. This suggests power firms may be winning subsidies for inadvertently making climate change even worse. The report has caused controversy within DECC as it indicates the initial subsidy rules were much too simplistic. The government has now promised to strengthen the regulations on burning wood, and to make standards mandatory. Environmentalists applauded the move but said they wanted to see details and a timetable for the new rules. They insisted that the proposed new regulations must be based on the new document.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Africa builds 'Great Green Wall' of trees to improve farmlands

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 5:18am
By Becky Crew, Science Alert, 24 July 2014 | Stretching over a space of 9,400,00 square kilometres and covering most of North Africa, the Sahara is the largest non-polar desert in the world. And it’s getting bigger. According to the US’s Public Education Center website, the effects of climate change are causing the Sahara to creep into bordering countries such as Senegal, Mauritania, and Nigeria, which poses a serious threat to their farmlands and agricultural productivity. The Guardian reports that by 2025, two-thirds of Africa's arable land could be lost to the desert if nothing is done to stem its expansion. To mitigate this and other environmental issues affecting Africa such as land degradation, the effects of climate change, and a loss of biodiversity, Senegal is leading a 20-nation initiative known as the Great Green Wall. Most notably, this initiative involves erecting a wall of trees across the southern edge of the Sahara desert, which will be 14 km wide and 7,600 km long.
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Leaked World Bank lending policies 'environmentally disastrous'

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 11:43am
By John Vidal, The Guardian, 25 July 2014 | Radical plans by the World Bank to relax the conditions on which it lends up to $50bn (£29bn) a year to developing countries have been condemned as potentially disastrous for the environment and likely to weaken protection of indigenous peoples and the poor. A leaked draft of the bank's proposed new "safeguard policies", seen by the Guardian, suggests that existing environmental and social protection will be gutted to allow logging and mining in even the most ecologically sensitive areas, and that indigenous peoples will not have to be consulted before major projects like palm oil plantations or large dams palm go ahead on land which they traditionally occupy. Under the proposed new "light touch" rules, the result of a two year consultation within the bank, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be shredded, countries will be allowed to assess themselves...
Categories: REDD and Rainforests

Forest Conversion in Lao PDR: Implications and Impacts of Expanding Land Investments

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 4:20am
Forest Trends, July 2014 | This policy brief examines the institutional and legal framework surrounding forest conversion in Lao PDR, giving special consideration to the social, environmental, and legal implications of expanding land investments to meet Lao PDR’s economic development goals summarized in the National Export Strategy (2011-2015).
Categories: REDD and Rainforests