Tuesday, June 30, 2009

US & Indonesia sign $30million TFCA Sumatran conservation deal

The US State Department today announced the largest Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) deal ever in the ten years of the program's existence. TFG understands this marks a new direction toward fewer, larger deals by America's single largest dedicated funds for conservation of tropical forests.

As usual, TFG would like to see more details, which are always scant on these announcements, usually restricted to a press release. Specifically, it would be good to see more explicit expected conservation outcomes and more information on how the money will be spent. But for now, a toast to Indonesia and America for this important announcement!

Bureau of Public Affairs, US State Department
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 30, 2009

The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Indonesia, Conservation International and Yayasan Keanekaragaman Hayati Indonesia (KEHATI) announced today that they have concluded the largest debt-for-nature swap under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) since its passage in 1998. The agreements will reduce Indonesia’s debt payments to the United States by nearly $30 million over the next eight years. In return, the Government of Indonesia has committed these funds to support grants to protect and restore the country’s tropical forests.

Indonesia is one of the most biologically-diverse countries on earth. Funds generated by this program will help Indonesia protect several forest areas on Sumatra, Indonesia’s second largest island. These forests are home to species found only in Indonesia, including the endangered Sumatran tiger, elephant, rhino, and orangutan. In addition, these forests provide important ecosystem services such as maintaining the quality and quantity of freshwater supplies and carbon sequestration.

The swap was made possible through contributions of $20 million by the U.S. Government under the TFCA and a combined donation of $2 million from Conservation International and KEHATI. Grants provided under the TFCA program will support activities such as conserving protected areas, improving natural resource management, and supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities that rely on forests.

The Indonesia agreement marks the 15th Tropical Forest Conservation Act deal, following agreements with Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama (two agreements), Paraguay, Peru (two agreements) and the Philippines. Over time, these debt-for-nature programs will together generate more than $218 million to protect tropical forests.

PRN: 2009/663

Monday, June 29, 2009

addendum on vote numbers

The early reports were not quite right. It appears the final vote was 219 to 212.

You can find the roll call of who voted for and against the American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454) through the link in the title bar.

Friday, June 26, 2009

WOW!!! US House of Reps pass climate change bill with major tropical forest provisions

This is a day to celebrate. Several news agencies are reporting that the US House of Representatives passed by a narrow vote of 217-205 the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

A few years ago, this would have been absolutely laughable. America should be proud that such a bill could pass this chamber in such difficult times.

This vote will also give US negotiators to the UNFCCC some much needed credibility.

In celebration, I am posting one of my favorite photos for everyone to enjoy. You Bet! It's Mr T and Nancy Reagan.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Waxman & Markey Have support all the way at the top

This from NYT today.

June 23, 2009, 1:34 pm
Obama Urges Passage of Climate Bill
By John M. Broder
(Jason Reed/Reuters)

President Obama on Tuesday gave a full endorsement to energy and climate change legislation now pending before the House, calling it “extraordinarily important.”

At a midday press conference, Mr. Obama said that the bill, sponsored by Representatives Henry A. Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, “will finally spark a clean energy transformation that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and confront the carbon pollution that threatens our planet.”

He said the bill will be paid for by utilities and other industries that produce the bulk of climate-altering emissions and will help position the country as a global leader in clean energy technology. “And that is why I urge members of the House to come together to pass it.”

The president’s strong endorsement comes three days before a scheduled House vote on the 1,201-page measure that has as its centerpiece a cap-and-trade program to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that scientists blame for changes to the global climate.

As part of his lobbying efforts, Mr. Obama has dispatched cabinet officers and other top officials to a half-dozen states this week to tout the benefits of the bill and the administration’s spending on a variety of clean-energy projects, like wind power and loan guarantees for energy efficiency projects.

Mr. Waxman and Mr. Markey are still negotiating aspects of the complex legislation and there is no certainty that they will assemble enough votes to pass it on Friday over near-unanimous Republican opposition. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday evening approved a floor debate and vote at the end of the week, a signal that she believes that ultimately supporters of the bill will prevail.

revised UNFCCC negotiating text for Copenhagen

The UNFCCC has released the latest 199 page negotiating text (hyperlinked in title). This text follows from the Bonn climate change talks and is crucial to the UNFCCC process, since there are provisions with the Framework Convention on Climate Change that require a 6 month notice of proposed amendments to the Convention. With Copenhagen now less than 6 months away, this 200 page hodge-podge of ideas (plus other submissions by Parties) will be the mud from which a new agreement must be drafted.

TFG has yet to go through the latest version for key REDD language, but we will soon and will report back here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

breaking news on US Waxman-Markey climate bill

NYT (hyper linked in title) has an excellent update on where the Waxman-Markey climate change bill is. It sounds like there will be efforts to try and wrap up significant changes over the weekend. Thus far, no news about changes to tropical forests components.

Global Canopy Programme's summary of REDD post-Bonn

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Greenpeace Fake Newspaper: Funny & Wrong on REDD

Greenpeace, the global Juggernaut of NGOs, produced a funny faux version of the Euro-popular International Herald Tribune (IHT) for European leaders gathering in Brussels to discuss climate change.

The main link is here:

(The IHT has apparently asked Greenpeace to remove the "fake pages" so this link may not be up for long...)

In this imaginary version of the IHT, Greenpeace reports on a Pretend Copenhagen Agreement (complete with France abandoning nuclear power and ExxonMobil converting all to renewable). As far as shock value and humor go, this is clearly a winner.

If you look at their upper left hand button "Historic Win for Amazon Protection", it'll take you to an article about REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries).

In the Greenpeace pretend world, a new "fund" is miraculously created by negotiators in Copenhagen to fund reductions in deforestation. Greenpeace slams the use of carbon credits for forests. This is a view Greenpeace has held for more than a decade.

Luckily, many do not agree with this viewpoint. Many countries, local communities, states and provinces and environmentalists see carbon credits as an imperfect, but critically important new tool to save tropical forests. This is because miraculous new funds for saving tropical forests just don't seem to be catching on like they used to...Norway being the exception.

Luckily, real negotiators in the real world are heading toward a real treaty where there are likely to be new funds AND carbon credits for nations that reign in deforestation. Funds are great, bring 'em on! But for real, sustained financing (decades, at many billions of dollars per year) tied to actual reductions in deforestation (unlike funds), carbon credits are an important solution that this planet cannot afford to ignore.

For more information, check out one of our older blogs here:


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Precautionary tale of REDD in Peru

Clicking on the title will take you to a good blog by Ani Youatt with the Mexico and Peru BioGems project. The blog is hosted on NRDC's excellent blogsight, Switchboard.

It is a sad tale of all the right talk, and all the wrong (and deadly) walk when it comes to forests and local communities in developing countries. In this case, Bagua province in Peru exploded in deadly violence over the issue of forests and forest access just after the US government had certified a Free Trade Agreement (on the last day of the Bush administration) with Peru, including numerous forest governance safeguards.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summary Press Briefings from UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Talks

Here are links to videos of the press briefings by some key players at the most recent climate change negotiations in Bonn Germany.

US Briefing:

UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Chairs of the AWG-KP and AWG-LCA

Delegation of the European Union

Thursday, June 11, 2009

draft SBSTA REDD text: FCCC/SBSTA/2009/L.9

Here is the latest draft language from the Bonn climate change talks on REDD. This document (hyperlinked in the title bar) was not the final version of a SBSTA text adopted - that post is coming soon.

In this draft decision, there are no major fireworks that would accelerate or slow down the REDD process in the march to a deal in Copenhagen. Overall, this text is another indication that the UNFCCC is unlikely to be the process where a new climate change deal gets sealed. A general sentiment now is that the political will for a new post-Kyoto Protocol agreement will come from outside the UNFCCC process. There is significant buzz around the need for a bi-lateral breakthrough on climate change between China and the United States. And there are plenty of signals that if the US and China can hammer out something bold, a new deal could be announced in the Major Economies Forum or in the G8/G20 processes. If a new pact on climate change can be struck in time in one of these arenas, then the UNFCCC would hopefully be able to pull together a legally-binding agreement.

Key Points of the L.9 draft REDD text are:
1) The Chair of SBSTA is to report at SBSTA 31 on ways to facilitate coordination - which seems like it should give the Chair a fair amount of flexibility in deciding procedural issues.

2) Proposed an Annex on Methodological REDD Guidance with the following issues:
a) Indicative guidance" is in brackets - clearly a set back from the Bali decisions
b) Basic stuff it has covered before, including combination of remote sensing and ground-based forest carbon inventories
c) Has bracketed [undecided] that monitoring systems should be open to independent review as agreed by the COP

3) Suggests further IPCC guidance may be needed

4) As appropriate, guidance on effective engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities in monitoring and reporting.

5) Suggests reference emission levels and reference levels could take into account a whole host of variables (this is likely to slow eventual REDD implementation and make baselines less comparable)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Luke Cole, Thank You

Dear folks,

I’m sorry to bring this sad news to some of you.

Many of you know Tom and Linda Cole. Tom and Linda have been working in Africa for several years. Tom and I have been friends since we met in Cameroon in 1992. Tom is a wonderful person, Frisbee player and humanitarian. Linda is one of the most generous people in the world; she has been supporting women in refuge camps in northern Uganda for the past years through her organization, Community Action Fund for Women in Africa (CAFWA).

Tom’s oldest brother Luke, a world famous environmental justice attorney, was killed in a car crash in Uganda a few days ago. Luke was on sabbatical as the Director of the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. He and his wife, Nancy, had just been to see the King of the Batwa (a heavily-persecuted pygmy tribe in Africa) when the accident occurred.

Luke was pure inspiration. His great intelligence and humanity were rooted with severe real-world, real-human, positive repercussions. The magnitude of his work has only begun to uncurl. Luke is on the order of, just below probably, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. He was a wonderful gift, remarkable goodness, filled with ferocious happiness and quirkiness. Luke, we bid you an only temporary farewell for now, and all of our gratitude for your life and your work. We miss you and will take care of your work now that you have evolved.

San Francisco, CA: The Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CRPE) is mourning the untimely loss of its founder, Luke W. Cole, who passed away in Uganda while on sabbatical on June 6, 2009.

Luke was a visionary leader who helped define the role of law and lawyers in the environmental justice movement. With the inspiration and support of his mentor, Ralph Abascal of California Rural Legal Assistance, he founded CRPE soon after his graduation from Harvard Law School. Luke saw that as a legal field, environmental justice could be a bridge between the traditional environmental movement and the traditional civil rights movement. Although he worked hard to bring lawyers into the environmental justice movement, he was always mindful of the secondary role they should play. Luke recognized that in the end, environmental racism is a political problem, not a legal one, and therefore that the ultimate end is to empower disempowered communities. In his view, no legal strategy was adequate unless it met the test of three questions: Will it educate? Will it build the movement? Will it address the root of the problem?

Luke came from privilege, and he often laughed about being called a “limousine liberal,” but in his life and his work he walked the walk. He used his education, his race and gender privilege, his “macho law brain,” his charisma, and his heart to help those who did not have a voice influence the decisions that affect their lives and health. His “from the ground up” philosophy of environmental justice advocacy has influenced an entire field of legal practice and scholarship, as well as built lasting relationships with the communities with which we work. While we feel his loss deeply, CRPE is committed to continuing his work and ensuring that his vision of justice and equity is realized.



Luke Cole directs the Center’s work. He represents low-income communities and workers throughout California who are fighting environmental hazards, stressing the need for community-based, community-led organizing and litigation. Through the Center, he also provides legal and technical assistance to attorneys and community groups involved in environmental justice struggles nationwide.
Cole has worked with dozens of community groups in local struggles across the United States. He represented Kettleman City residents in their successful efforts to stop Chemical Waste Management from building California’s first toxic waste incinerator in their community. Current cases include representing residents of the Inupiaq Village of Kivalina in northwest Alaska in a suit against the world’s largest zinc and lead mine, which has polluted the village’s water supply for years. Other recent cases include representing South Camden Citizens in Action of Camden, NJ, in a historic civil rights suit against the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe of Death Valley in its efforts to halt open-pit cyanide heap leach gold mining in sacred ancestral lands; Desert Citizens Against Pollution in the group’s successful challenge to tire burning in several cement kilns; and Communities for a Better Environment in a civil rights challenge to California pollution-trading regulations. Cole has been instrumental in halting the proliferation of mega-dairy farms in California’s Central Valley, and a key player in forcing local jurisdictions in California to study dairies’ environmental impacts and mitigate them.
Cole was appointed by EPA Administrator Carol Browner to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), where he served from 1996 through 2000 (including chairing NEJAC’s Enforcement Subcommittee from 1998 through 2000). He also served as a member of EPA’s Title VI Implementation Committee. In 1997, the American Lawyer magazine named Cole to the Public Sector 45, one of “forty-five young lawyers outside the private sector whose vision and commitment are changing lives.” Berkeley’s Ecology Law Quarterly awarded Cole its 1997 Environmental Leadership Award for “outstanding contributions to the development of environmental law and policy,” and the American Bar Association’s Barrister magazine named Cole one of “20 young lawyers making a difference” for his pioneering legal work. Community organizations have also honored Cole for his contributions to the environmental justice movement.
Cole is the co-founder and editor emeritus of the journal Race, Poverty & the Environment. He recently published, with Professor Sheila Foster, From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (NYU Press, 2001). His legal publications include “Empowerment as they Key to Environmental Protection: the Need for Environmental Poverty Law,” in the Ecology Law Quarterly, as well as pieces in the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, the Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation, the Fordham Urban Law Journal, and the Michigan Law Review, among others. He has taught as a visiting professor at UC-Hastings School of Law, and also taught seminars on environmental justice at Stanford Law School, UC-Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, and Hastings. Cole graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and with honors from Stanford University.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Papua New Guinea puts REDD cards on the table

Below and in the link is the text for a new REDD+ mechanism. Coming from PNG, this is the lead REDD text to watch.

Some key synthesis points:
1) It establishes a new mechanism for fund and full market REDD+ support
2) The mechanism will among other things, produce Verified Emission Reductions and Removals Enhancements
3) The proposed REDD mechanism would be under guidance of the COP, and therefore within the Convention as opposed to the Kyoto Protocol
4) National reference levels (of deforestation, over a period of at least 5 years) would be submitted by developing countries to the COP.
5) Developed countries would also submit projections of how many REDD credits they expect to generate over a time period
6) Early action language would allow REDD credits from 2005.
7) Correction factors would be allowed (which are presumably to allow for different national circumstances but could also introduce substantial uncertainty into the establishment of credible baselines)
8) COP would establish a REDD+ Contact Group to consider submissions by Parties.
9) The UNFCCC secretariat would register information provided by Parties and create a independent settlement account to, essentially, hold the projected REDD credits.
10) Calls for use of IPCC guidelines (without being specific as to which ones)
11) Countries could identify areas that they are not able to govern or are remote and would be excluded from the proposed REDD mechanism.
12) Actual REDD credits would be "reviewed' by a new REDD Expert Team.
13) Public and private participation in the mechanism would be allowed, subject to guidance by the Parties (not the COP necessarily)
14) The new mechanism would not compete with or limit access to the CDM
15) The new mechanism would "recognize the rights and roles of indigenous peoples and local communities.
16) Additional REDD credits would be transferred to a "subsequent international agreement on climate change".
17) The mechanism could be expanded in the future to take into account bio-fuel and food production issues
18) COP would have to develop rules for the mechanism within one year after a decision is made on the new REDD mechanism.

More analysis will follow, but for now, here is the actual text.

Article for the REDD+ Mechanism
The following represents a synthesis undertaken by Papua New Guinea of related joint submissions from the following Parties:
Belize, Bolivia, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana,
Honduras, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Thailand, Uganda, and Vanuatu.

May 2009
A REDD+ Mechanism
1. A mechanism is hereby defined to support the voluntary efforts of developing country Parties to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, promoting conservation and the sustainable management of forests, and to enhancing forest carbon stocks.
2. The purpose of this Mechanism shall be to assist developing country Parties in achieving sustainable development while contributing to the ultimate objective of the Convention by achieving additional, measurable, reportable and verifiable emissions reductions and removals enhancements, and as determined by the Parties, may assist relevant Parties in achieving compliance with their quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments.
3. This Mechanism shall be subject to the authority and guidance of the Conference of the Parties.
4. By giving notice to the Conference of the Parties, a developing country may participate in this
Mechanism’s voluntary and stepwise instruments to:
a) build related analytical, technical, and institutional capacity;
b) facilitate the up-scaling of non-compliance forest mitigation and conservation policies
and measures; and,
c) achieve measurable, reportable and verifiable emissions reductions and removals
enhancements under a national reference level and national inventory system, that shall
be reported and independently reviewed.
5. This Mechanism shall assist in mobilizing financial and technical support and providing access to adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources for relevant mitigation action by developing country Parties, underpinning the instruments described in Paragraph 4 though, inter alia, new and additional official and concessional funding, market-linked sources, and full access to global carbon markets.
6. A developing country Party may notify the Conference of the Parties, related to activities under
Paragraph 4(c), of their intention to contribute to compliance with part of the quantified emission
limitation and reduction commitments of the relevant Parties, including in such notice the following information:
a) national reference level(s) taking into account historical data and national circumstances,
including low rates of historical deforestation and forest degradation, and assessed over a
period of at least five years;
b) total projected emissions reduction or removal enhancements to be achieved compared to
the relevant reference level(s) during an agreed timeframe, including the supporting
policies and measures;
c) emissions reductions or removal enhancements achieved under paragraph 10;
d) correction factor to the relevant reference level(s), either lower or higher, taking into
account national circumstances, historically low rates of deforestation and forest
degradation, developmental divergence and respective capabilities and capacities.

Upon receipt of this information, the Conference of the Parties will request the Subsidiary Bodies to convene a Contact Group to consider the information provided and make recommendations to the next Conference of the Parties.
7. On a periodic or annual basis, the Secretariat would register the information agreed by the Parties under Paragraph [5], and if achieved, any subsequent emissions reductions or removals
enhancements. Based on the total projected emissions reductions and removals enhancements, the
Secretariat would deduct an equivalent number of assigned amount units from the respective allocations to relevant Parties. Deductions would be equitable and held by the Secretariat in an independent settlement account. As emissions reductions or removals enhancements are reported to the Secretariat and independently verified, they would be exchanged by the Secretariat on an equal basis for the assigned amount units held within the settlement account. If the supply of verified emissions reductions or removals enhancements is less than the total deductions, then the
Parties may agree that they be auctioned with the proceeds used for the general purposes outlined in Paragraph 4; while if supply of verified emissions reductions or removals enhancements is greater than the total deductions, then the surplus may be made available under relevant flexibility mechanisms, as agreed by the Parties.
8. In order to ensure consistency between mitigation efforts, Parties shall apply the relevant IPCC guidelines when reporting, also considering:
a. Parties wishing to report on forest degradation should be guided by the most recent methodologies developed by the IPCC and approved by the Parties;
b. Based upon national circumstances, Parties may identify unmanaged or ungovernable geographic areas within their national borders that will not be included under this Mechanism due to such factors as war, rebellion, geographic remoteness;
c. Parties that do not account for carbon stock increases by re-growth after natural disturbances should not account for carbon stock decreases associated with natural disturbance events.
9. Additional, real, measurable, and verifiable emissions reductions and removals enhancements
resulting from this Mechanism shall be independently reviewed by an ‘Expert Team’ supported by the Secretariat and on the basis of voluntary participation by each Party.
10. Additional emissions reductions or removals enhancements obtained during the period from the year 2005 up to the date a Party gives notice under Paragraph 4 can be used to assist relevant Parties in achieving compliance with their quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments.
11. Participation under this Mechanism may involve public and/or private entities, and is subject to any guidance provided by the Parties.
12. This Mechanism must be complementary and additional to, and cannot simply compete with or limit market access for, actions taken under the Clean Development Mechanism.
13. Recognizing the rights and roles of indigenous peoples and local communities, all activities under this Mechanism should respect and support related social, environmental and economic objectives.
14. To maintain the environmental integrity within and between international agreements on climate change, at the end of an agreement period, any final surplus in accounted emissions reductions and removals enhancements compared to the reported quantity should be transferred to a subsequent international agreement on climate change.
15. Given the linkage between the loss of forest carbon due to bio-energy and food production needs, this Mechanism may be expanded in the future to include other emissions intensive activities or sectors, such as rural energy and food production, consistent with modalities, rules and guidelines approved by the Conference of the Parties.
16. Conference of the Parties shall, by its next session, elaborate modalities, rules and guidelines for implementing this Mechanism.

Found in: FCCC/AWGLCA/2009/MISC.4/Add.1

REDD at 2009 Bonn Climate Change talks: Part 1

Negotiators in Bonn Germany are at it again to try and hammer out a new accord to replace the Kyoto Protocol. The subject of REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries) has emerged in the past four years as one of the most exciting areas where a breakthrough is possible.

Expectations coming into the Bonn talks for concrete progress on tropical forests were mixed. There is a general sense that the UNFCCC process needs political decisions from outside (for example the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, or the G20) to drive the UN work.

A few observations about the status of REDD talks follow in subsequent blogs.