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Reuters on REDD vs. palm oil, organized crime

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  • Jim Roland
    1. http://planetark.org/wen/53165 Palm Oil Could Scuttle Forest Carbon Plan: Experts Date: 01-Jun-09 Country: INDONESIA Author: Sunanda Creagh NUSA DUA -
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2009
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      1.  http://planetark.org/wen/53165
       

      Reuters Palm Oil Could Scuttle Forest Carbon Plan: Experts

      Date: 01-Jun-09
      Country: INDONESIA
      Author: Sunanda Creagh

      NUSA DUA - Carbon credits derived from a fledgling forest conservation scheme for developing nations will struggle to compete with palm oil as an investment, industry advisers and conservationists said on Friday.
      A UN-backed scheme called reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) allows developing countries to raise potentially billions of dollars in carbon credits in exchange for conserving and rehabilitating forests.
      However, profits from palm oil plantations could, in some cases, out-compete revenue from selling REDD credits, said Joe Leitmann, the World Bank's environment coordinator for Indonesia.
      "The opportunity costs we have to overcome in order for REDD to work can almost all be overcome, except for oil palm grown on mineral soil. That will be so profitable and so difficult to beat," he said, speaking at a forestry conference on the Indonesian island of Bali.
      Palm oil is used as a vegetable oil for cooking, in chocolate bars and margarine, as well as in soaps and cosmetics and in biofuels for transport.
      Indonesia and Malaysia produce most of the world's palm oil and large areas of forest have been cleared in both countries over the past two decades to fuel a boom in palm oil production.
      Early this month, Indonesia became the first country in the world to release regulations governing REDD, although it has yet to agree on revenue-sharing rules for the sale of REDD credits from projects that aim to preserve and replant forests.
      Earlier drafts of Indonesia's REDD rules said up to 30 percent of the money should go the government but this has been widely criticised by investors.
      INCENTIVES
      Agus Sari, the Southeast Asia policy director for carbon offset trading company EcoSecurities, said a tax that high could scuttle REDD.
      "Palm oil already gets a lot of incentives like very, very low duty rates," he said. "It is taxed at one percent and they are talking about 30 percent for REDD - it's easy to see where the money will flow to."
      Forests soak up vast amount of carbon dioxide and REDD aims to reward governments and local communities for every tonne of CO2 locked up by a forest over decades, equating to a potentially very large flow of cash globally for forest credits.
      Modelling done by the Indonesian government showed carbon credits would need to sell for around $21 per tonne to be more valuable than palm oil, but EcoSecurities research published last month showed that most carbon offset buyers were only willing to pay between $7 and $9 per tonne of carbon dioxide saved.
      However, a recent study by global conservation group WWF showed that "you can get better bang for your buck in palm oil if you increase the efficiency of existing plantations rather than expanding the plantations", Rodney Taylor, director of WWF's Forests Programme, told the conference.
      Rhett Butler, author of conservation website Mongabay.com, told Reuters by telephone that REDD credits could compete with palm oil if countries were required to buy them under a U.N resolution.
      Their purchase is currently voluntary but REDD is likely to be included in a new climate agreement the United Nations hope to seal at the end of the year during a meeting in Copenhagen in December. The aim is to agree on the broad outlines of a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012.
      Butler's economic modelling showed that REDD credits arising from 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of conserved forest sold over a 30-year period -- where payments were front-loaded so that most of the money was delivered within the first eight years -- could fetch about $118 million if those credits could be used to meet emissions obligations for rich nations.
      However, the same credits would fetch only $14 million if their purchase was voluntary.
      "Whereas high-yield palm oil would get about $96 million," he said, adding that even under a UN-backed compliance system, corruption and land-grabs would still be major risks.
      (Editing by David Fogarty)
      © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
       
       
      2.  http://planetark.org/wen/53152
       

      Reuters INTERVIEW - Forest-CO2 Scheme Will Draw Organised Crime: Interpol

      Date: 01-Jun-09
      Country: INDONESIA
      Author: Sunanda Creagh

      NUSA DUA - Organised crime syndicates are eyeing the nascent forest carbon credit industry as a potentially lucrative new opportunity for fraud, an Interpol environmental crime official said on Friday.
      Peter Younger, an environmental crimes specialist at the world's largest international police agency, was referring to a UN-backed scheme called reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.
      REDD aims to unlock potentially billions of dollars for developing countries that conserve and restore their forests. In return, they would earn carbon credits that can be sold for profit to developed nations that need to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
      "If you are going to trade any commodity on the open market, you are creating a profit and loss situation. There will be fraudulent trading of carbon credits," he told Reuters in an interview at a forestry conference in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian island of Bali.
      "In future, if you are running a factory and you desperately need credits to offset your emissions, there will be someone who can make that happen for you. Absolutely, organised crime will be involved."
      Younger called on governments, multi-lateral bodies and NGOs to involve law enforcement agencies more in the development of REDD policies and in the fight against illegal logging and deforestation, which are responsible for about 20 percent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions.
      "It struck me, as I sit here at this conference, as ironic that I am the only policeman here. You say you want to strike up partnerships to address illegal logging -- who with?" he said. "Consider resourcing law enforcement efforts and not just relying on NGOs and other nice people to do it for you."
      "GROWING PROBLEM"
      Forests soak up vast amount of carbon dioxide and REDD aims to reward governments and local communities for every tonne of CO2 locked up by a forest over decades, equating to a potentially very large flow of cash globally for forest credits.
      Local communities are supposed to earn a share of REDD credit sales to pay for better health, education and alternative livelihoods that entice them to protect rather than cut down surrounding forests.
      But revenue-sharing measures have yet to be fully worked out and will differ for each country. Some NGOs fear central and provincial governments might demand control of the money, with very little filtering down to local communities.
      Fraud could include claiming credits for forests that do not exist or were not protected or by land grabs, Younger said.
      "It starts with bribery or intimidation of officials that can impede your business. Then if there are indigenous people involved, there's threats and violence against those people. There's forged documents," he added. Younger said illegal logging was a significant and growing problem and that the same networks that are used to smuggle wood could also be used to traffic women and children, drugs, firearms and wildlife. There was evidence to suggest revenue from wood smuggling was funding armed conflict, he said.
      Younger, who also specialises in wildlife smuggling, said the illegal trade of caviar, orchids, tropical fish and ivory was also flourishing.
      "In illegal logging for instance, there are companies that may have a lawful side of the business and this is the dirty laundry on the side," he said.
      Better trans-national sharing of flora and fauna crime data and better resourcing of policing was needed to address the problem, he said.
      (Editing by David Fogarty)
      © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
       
       
      3.  http://planetark.org/wen/53166
       

      Reuters INTERVIEW - Governor says REDD scheme could save Borneo forests

      Date: 01-Jun-09
      Country: INDONESIA
      Author: Sunanda Creagh

      NUSA DUA - Nearly 60 percent of remaining forests in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province could be saved by a UN-backed scheme that aims to save forests in return for valuable carbon credits, the provincial governor said on Friday.
      Central Kalimantan, which covers an area of nearly 154,000 square kilometres or about the size of the US state of Georgia, has suffered from severe land clearing driven by logging and the palm oil industry.
      It has about 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of carbon-dioxide absorbing of forest left and Governor Teras Narang said more than half could be earmarked for projects under the scheme called reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).
      REDD's aim is to reward developing countries with potentially billions of dollars in carbon credits in exchange for conserving their forests.
      "In accordance with our plan, we will protect about 57 percent. Later it could be more. I hope so," Narang said in an interview with Reuters at a forest conference in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian island of Bali.
      Indonesia earlier this month became the world's first country to release a set of rules governing REDD but the scheme is in its infancy globally. It is expected to formally become part of a broader UN climate pact likely to be agreed in December.
      Deforestation is responsible for nearly 20 percent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions and tropical forests, such as those in Kalimantan on Borneo Island, in particular soak up vast amounts of CO2, acting like lungs for the atmosphere.
      RIGHTS
      REDD aims to curb the rate of forest destruction and promote replanting of damaged or degraded areas to help them soak up more CO2.
      But key issues such as how to distribute the money from REDD credit sales to local communities still need to be worked out.
      "We want to know about our rights and our duties, especially for the local people. We do not want, after we agree, [to discover] then our people do not know about their rights," the governor said, adding he considered REDD more important than palm oil plantations that cover large areas of Borneo.
      He said the province was already in negotiations for REDD schemes covering 5 to 10 percent of remaining forest area.
      Logging and palm oil plantations combined destroyed 2.4 million hectares of Central Kalimantan's forests between 1990 and 2005, said Fitrian Ardiansyah, WWF's program director for climate and energy in Indonesia.
      He said there was between eight and 10 million hectares of forest left in the province, adding the provincial government should be more specific about where they want forests protected.
      "If it's on mineral soil then it's not that significant. Most of the carbon is stored in the peat land, which is different to mineral soil," he said.
      Peat land locks away large amounts of carbon and clearing and burning peat forests is a major contributor to greenhouse gas pollution.
      Large areas of peat land have been cleared in Kalimantan and Sumatra and rehabilitation schemes initially focus on reflooding the areas to stabilise the peat.
      Rhett Butler, who runs the US-based conservation website Mongabay.com, believed REDD could help save forests but said it could also lead to land disputes and corruption.
      "Indonesia has a lot of problems with corruption and the forestry sector is one of the worst areas. If money is going into the same system that was broken before, why would it work now?" he said.
      (Editing by David Fogarty)
      © Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
       
       


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