Forest Carbon Week in Review: Slogging Towards Cancun

The fallout from US elections put cap-and-trade on the chopping block at the federal level while California granted a reprieve to its embattled climate policy.  CCX announced it would be downsizing significantly, and around the world, several new countries joined up with multilateral REDD funds whom are just now beginning to share their thinking caps.  And as always, there’s the scandals…

The fallout from US elections put cap-and-trade on the chopping block at the federal level while California granted a reprieve to its embattled climate policy.   CCX announced it would be downsizing significantly, and around the world, several new countries joined up with multilateral REDD funds whom are just now beginning to share their thinking caps.   And as always, there’s the scandals…

NOTE: This article has been reprinted from Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon Newsletter. You can receive this summary of global news and views from the world of Forest Carbon automatically in your inbox every two weeks by clicking here.

12 November 2010 | Last week US citizens lined up to vote for their Congressional representatives and, at least in California, key issues related to climate change.   Across the nation, the outlook was dreary for carbon reductions.

A wave of Republicans that overwhelmingly oppose carbon regulation are set to take over the US House of Representatives, and even market-driven climate policy is looking down and out.     At the same time, President Obama commented last week that he would look to legislation other than cap-and-trade to achieve emission reduction targets.

For voluntary carbon markets, the Chicago Climate Exchange’s announcement that it will be closing the doors of its cap-and-trade program after 8 years is also surely a game-changer.   Citing a lack of policy movement and assurances at the federal level, the CCX is scaling back to solely function as a registry for 2011-2012 offset credits.

And now, in a cloudy month, the silver lining. California voters rejected a proposal to sideline their cap-and-trade program.   A big boost for forest carbon (at least in the US) also comes in the new life for AB32, as the room for offsets for California polluters was doubled in recent policy update.   A narrow vote from an environmental board also leaned New Mexico towards a carbon trading program within the Western Climate Initiative, but bigger hurdles still remain.

On the international stage, the seeds of hope seem to have been planted at the scaled-back meetings of the REDD+ Partnership in Nagoya, Japan, and many commentators are now looking optimistically again to Cancíºn for a fleshed out REDD mechanism.   Getting the finances in order for such an effort, this weekend also witnessed the first time three major UN and World Bank funds gathered together responding to a clear call for cooperative action on REDD+ financing and safeguards.

In Guyana, analysis of new reports issued by the government suggests major gaps remain to be traversed and argue that the Norway’s openness to paying Guyana despite a documented three-fold increase in deforestation over historical averages may be fundamentally redefining what counts as REDD+.

And so as not to deprive our scandal-loving readers of their regular fix, we also got a few updates from around the world on the latest forest carbon misgivings.   The case of alleged bribery and corruption in Liberia took an interesting turn when a government commission accused of a massive illegal carbon concession proclaims that there isn’t even a concession after all.   And a timely report from Australia about concerns over corruption and safeguards–particularly regarding PNG and Indonesia–got released the same week a prominent REDD+ negotiator from Indonesia is arrested in another alleged bribery.

Read about all this and more in this, the most recent edition of Ecosystem Marketplace’s Forest Carbon Newsletter below.
—The Ecosystem Marketplace Team

If you have comments or would like to submit news stories, write to us at [email protected].



US Policy

Cap-and-Trade in the Land of Enchantment

A New Mexico environmental board has approved a proposal that would establish a cap-and-trade program and allow it to join other Western US and Canadian states in the voluntary Western Climate Initiative. It came down to a close 4-3 vote, with supporters promoting the program as driving the creation of clean energy jobs while critics claiming that the increased energy costs will cripple the State’s economic development. The program is set to start in 2011. Read more about the vote and the new program from BusinessWeek here.

Presidential lessons on cat-skinning

President Obama’s pronouncement last week that “cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat” sent chills down the spine of many carbon market supporters. But meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Obama’s expected discussions in a trip to Indonesia seems to leave room for $700M US investment in REDD+ activities that may eventually translate into offset credits. Although the climate legislation that would have allowed REDD credits generated in Indonesia to be imported to the United States failed earlier this year, the US, along with Japan and Norway are certainly still up for putting up the big bucks to buttress Indonesian REDD. See Bloomberg connect Obama’s quote to a 1%–yes, that’s about 2 cents–drop in the price of one type of carbon credit here, and Reuter’s take on the President’s trip to his former home here.

The Dust Settles in California

The American frontrunner for comprehensive climate regulation, California’s AB32, was upheld this month by the widest margin of any Proposition voted on across the state. The law calls for a 25% reduction of California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The recent draft rules released for the California carbon trading scheme would allow polluters to buy credits generated by forestry projects across the US from as far back as 2005. However, Proposition 26, which did pass, now means that two-thirds of the legislature must approve changes to state and local fees, leading some to be concerned about the technical hurdles for implementing AB32. See how Reuters connect the California vote to Peruvian rainforest here and read more about the expanded role for forest offsets in the new rules from Carbon Positive here.

International Policy

A Green Light for REDD+ in Cancun?

The road to the Cancun climate talks has been bumpy for REDD, with setbacks like the Tianjin talks last month, but some journalists say senior officials attending the Conference on Biological Diversity in Nagoya were optimistic about the program and on its negotiation in December. Others suggest that the Nagoya REDD discussion represented merely another “plan for a plan” with its lack of binding obligations. Read about the view from Nagoya to Cancun from the Jakarta Post here, and from REDD Monitor here. And watch videos of the full REDD+ Partnership Ministerial Meetings that took place in Nagoya here.


Project Development

And the award for cheekiest CDM project name goes to…

La Fundacií³n Frontera Futuro has signed an agreement with the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Raintree Canada to initiate a new A/R CDM project in el Parque Nacional Nalga de Maco–yes, that’s Monkey Buttock National Park. Butt seriously, although the feasibility of the project has yet to be assessed, if the project proceeds, Raintree Canada, a supplier of sustainably harvested rain forest products will be tasked with capacity building and monitoring. Read about the early stages of the project, translated to English here and the original article in Spanish here.


China’s First Carbon Farmers

Ten farmers were awarded the first “carbon sequestration certificates” at a forum on forest carbon and China’s low-carbon economy held last month in Lin’an City, Zhejiang Province. The meeting, hosted by the State Forestry Administration and the Zhejiang Provincial Government, focused on preparing the country for a future domestic carbon market. The certificates were awarded for pilot projects that focused on sustainable forest management to increase carbon sequestration. Financed by China’s Green Carbon Fund, the featured pilot projects were the first phase of the pilot arrangements in China’s National Carbon Sequestration Forestry Experimental Zone in Lin’an City. Read about the pilot projects as translated to English here or in the original Chinese here.

Cargill considers joining the Indonesian REDD Party

The US-based agribusiness giant Cargill is mulling REDD investment in Indonesia, hoping to assure consumers that it’s products are not tied to the destruction of ecologically-sensitive areas. As of now, most funding and supported has come from governments and intergovernmental organizations, with the private sector sometimes endorsing the idea, but not providing official backing or material support. Cargill owns two plants in Indonesia that produce palm oil, was recently attacked for continuing to use SMART, a palm oil producer accused of destroying peatland and rainforest by Greenpeace. Read about Cargill’s leaning toward REDD support from Reuters here.

The Will They, Won’t They Corruption Case in Liberia

Back in June, a report from Global Witness led to the arrest of an English businessman, Michael Foster, involved in an alleged forest carbon concession deal and prompted Liberian President Sirleaf to establish a commission in August to investigate charges against Liberian officials. In mid-October President Sirleaf followed on preliminary findings from the committee, stating that 9 serving and former public employees at all levels would be prosecuted and calling for the extradition of Michael Foster to Liberia for trial. The Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PCCC) has now sent a letter in response to committee’s earlier report, arguing that it relies upon misrepresentations from Global Witness and that “no carbon credit concession agreement exits.” It now looks like the final word will rest with the President’s committee to decide whether the allegations are worth pursuing in court.

National Strategy and Capacity

Is the Norway-Guyana deal redefining REDD?

In Guyana’s Stabroek News this month, an analysis of the most recent progress report for the Norway-Guyana REDD deal provides a point-by-point argument that Guyana still has a very long way to go before any money should start to move. And what’s more, another report on the Guyana Forestry Commission’s REDD+ Monitoring Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) underscores a particularly troubling aspect of the deal. As Mongabay highlights here, despite a documented three-fold increase in deforestation last year compared to the average over 20 preceding years, Guyana is still outperforming the baseline it negotiated with Norway and could be on track for REDD payments despite the fact that both emissions and deforestation in the country have actually increased.

A whole TV show about Peruvian Forestry

In the latest episode of the Peruvian forestry show Viernes Forestales, Joseph Dancé Cabellero of the Colegio de Ingenieros del Peru offers an in-depth discussion with Julia Justo, the Executive Director of the National Environmental Fund about the opportunities for forest conservation and reforestation in Peru, highlighting the development of Peru’s 43 forest carbon projects. This is probably the most in-depth video we’ve come across covering the full range of forest conservation financing in Peru. You can watch the clip, in Spanish, here.

And on that farm he had some… carbon

Landholders down under will soon be rewarded for sequestering carbon and reducing environmental degradation through Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative. The $46 M scheme would include reforestation, fire management, soil carbon, biochar, excess manure control and waste emissions from landfill sites. Earlier this week, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet announced plans to establish a Domestic Offsets Integrity Committee to work out how the carbon credits under these project types will be measured. Read about Australia’s new carbon program here.


Corruption: It’s a family affair

The boatload of REDD+ funding headed to countries with poor corruption track records, like Papau New Guinea, has lead to increasing concern in the international community (that you can read about below). In Indonesia, former REDD+ negotiator and Special Advisor to the Minister of Forestry, Wandojo Siswanto, has been accused of receiving a bribe of $10,000 from the director of PT Masaro Radiokom to win favorable treatment in the Ministry of Forestry’s budget for the telecommunications company. Wandojo, who was questioned this week by Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Wandojo has been one of several figures in the investigation which includes the conviction of Anggodo Widjojo — the brother and business partner of PT Masaro Radiokom’s Anggoro Widjojo in August for attempting to bribe officials from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) with Rp 5.1 billion ($566,000) in an attempt to get it to drop a corruption case against his brother. Read about the Indonesian corruption case here


Finance and Economics

The Cash-Hungry REDD Hydra

This past weekend, the governing bodies of the UN-REDD Programme, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, and Forest Investment Program gathered in Washington, DC to strategize for cutting red tape and building on each other’s strengths. This is the first time the calls for cooperative action have materialized into a joint meeting, but some heavy lifting still remains for these handful of pilot-testing funds to meaningfully simplify access to the rapidly-expanding landscape of REDD-financing. Ecosystem Marketplace was on the scene, and turns out the inside scoop here.

British Bounty for Biodiversity Benefits

In the wake of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD, the UK Development Agency DEFRA has committed £100 M to international forestry projects that provide additional benefits for biodiversity. This REDD+ contribution comes from the UK’s Comprehensive Spending Review which includes £2.9bn in international climate financing to help developing countries achieve sustainable, low-carbon development and prepare for the effects of climate change through 2015. According to Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, the money will fund projects that deliver additional biodiversity benefits such as reducing habitat destruction and fragmentation and degradation of forests. Read about DEFRA’s forestry commitment here

UN-REDD: The More the Merrier

In October, Guyana and Gabon were welcomed as new partners to the UN-REDD Programme and as official observers to the UN-REDD Policy Board. The Programme currently consists of nine pilot countries and 18 other partner countries across Asia and the Pacific, Africa and Latin America. Read more about the new partner countries in the latest UN-REDD Newsletter here.

FCPF on top of the world

The World Bank has pledged $3.4 M for REDD in Nepal. The agreement to be signed in December will mobilize aid for the implementation of a Readiness Preparedness Proposal (R-PP) under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). The plan’s major components include capacity building, awareness and consultation across national to community levels. More work remains however in directly addressing drivers of deforestation and distinguishing them from underlying causes of deforestation; conducting a capacity analysis of monitoring and evaluation systems and participation of indigenous peoples. Read about the World Bank’s REDD funding in Nepal here.

Methodology and Standards Watch

The Sun Sets on CCX Cap-and-Trade

The pioneer cap-and-trade experiment based in Chicago announced last week that the voluntary trading program it designed among power companies, manufacturers, and others eight years ago will be shutting down in 2011. Market analysts attribute CCX’s decision to a lack of climate policy progress at the federal level. Beginning next year, the pioneering trading platform will be replaced by a registry to host and credit offset projects using the CCX offset standards for 2011 and 2012. See Reuter’s retrospective on the life and times of the CCX here and read the official notice with a few more details provided by CCX here (PDF).

Another REDD Methodology enters the VCS pipeline

A new REDD methodology for mosaic deforestation in semi-arid forests submitted to VCS has been opened for public comment. Proposed by Wildlife Works Carbon and written by ecoPartners the methodology includes a baseline approach to incorporate community surveys and expert knowledge, statistical methods for carbon accounting, and a robust GIS-based model based on an array of historical forest images from satellites and aerial photographs. Submit your comments until November 30, and read more about the methodology on the VCS website here.

Human Dimension

“The Brink of Planetary Suicide”

The Inter-ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Forest (AIDESEP) released a broadly-directed statement last week condemning the Peruvian government’s concession plans and seeks to permanently separate REDD from carbon markets. In large part, these grievances appear to stem from breakdowns in the Indigenous Consultation Law, which President Alan Garcí­a recently refused to sign that would require that affected indigenous peoples be consulted in advance of any legislative or administrative measure, development or industrial project, plan or program that directly affects their collective rights. Read the full statement from the Bank Information Center’s website here.

Consultations in “the land of trees”

A review in Reuters last week highlights the ongoing efforts of Guatemalan policymakers to engage local stakeholders in the development of a Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) for the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Hoping to resolve pressing rights issues with land tenure and carbon as property, Guatemala apparently postponed its planned submission of the R-PP this summer to dig deeper into the issues with stakeholders. Read the article from Jan Willem den Besten of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature here.



Science & Technology Review

Mapping Overlaps in Carbon and Biodiversity

Just in time for Nagoya, the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center released maps of different tropical nations around the world, detailing the carbon content and biodiversity of their lands. By overlaying themes, these maps are able to identify areas that are rich in carbon and biodiversity. This visualization will be instrumental in planning for management and policy to protect forests and animal species. Read more about the maps from UN-REDD here
and take a look at the maps themselves here.

Hungry, Hungry Trees

A new study from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory confirms what many researchers have long suspected. The initial “fertilization” of forest growth from increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is stunted eventually by soil nutrient availability, particularly nitrogen. In other words, the forest carbon sink that the earth relies on for much of its air conditioning can’t be on full blast forever. Climate change assessment models must clearly now incorporate nitrogen limitation effects among a myriad of other terrestrial-atmospheric feedbacks for more accurate predictions. Read the article’s abstract from the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science here and read more about the study and its findings from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation here.


Publications & Tools


A Five-Point Climate Finance Plan for the World Bank

A new study conducted by the Independent Evaluation Group finds that the World Bank’s commitment to development and climate change adaptation/mitigation would benefit from a focused realignment towards energy efficiency, forest protection, appropriate project finance, technology transfer and accelerated learning. In the area of forest management, the study notes that indigenous groups are the stars of sustainability. These projects must be financed well, but the study also points out that prevailing carbon prices have limited the effectiveness of carbon offset projects, leaving a gap for many project developers in up-front financing. Read more about the report from Business Day here and check out the study for yourself here.

Dodgy Firms Could Leverage Corruption in REDD Nations

A report by the Australian Council for International Development, released November 1, outlines the importance of transparent local governance in implementing REDD projects. Without proper safeguards against local corruption, an international forest carbon scheme could have adverse effects on climate and poverty conditions. The nation under the most scrutiny is Papua New Guinea, where Australia is currently funding demonstration projects. Read coverage of the report from Australian press here and download the report from the AFCID website here (PDF).



REDD+ Partnership meetings are set for Mexico later this month ahead of the COP16 climate meetings. The first is an workshop, “Enhancing Coordinated Delivery of REDD+,” which will focus on sharing best practices and lessons learned, including significant REDD+ actions and financing, practical experiences regarding safeguards, multi-stakeholder consultations and participation, and benefit-sharing mechanisms. The second meeting will focus on the Phase II Work Program (2011-2012). The meeting is taking place before the COP16 summit, so if you plan on attending you’ll need to book an earlier flight. Keep your fingers crossed that updates will be posted to the REDD+ Partnership’s website here.




Looking for a job as a postdoctoral fellow in Indonesia? How about as a CDM developer in India? Learn about current job opportunities at Forest Carbon Portal’s Jobs page, where you can also post your own job listings.


The Forest Carbon Portal provides relevant daily news, a newsletter, articles, a calendar of events, the “Carbon Connections” discussion forum, a profile directory, a jobs board, a toolbox of resources ranging from methodologies to policy briefs, and market analysis on land-based carbon sequestration projects from forest to farm. All Forest Carbon Portal community members can comment on articles and upload their own projects, resources, events and job opportunities, although user permissions and rights vary according to involvement. The Portal also includes the Forest Carbon Project Inventory, a searchable database and map of projects selling land-based carbon credits across the globe and those in the pipeline. Users can search for projects by country, as well as by a variety of criteria such as project type, standard, registry and size. Projects are described in consistent ‘nutrition labels’ which supply as much information as can be maintained in a consistent structure. Operational projects must either be third-party verified or have sold credits to be eligible for listing.


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