As COP26 looms and tropical deforestation soars, REDD+ debate roars on
on April 15, 2021 at 8:23 pm
- The United Nations REDD+ program (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) has been operating for more than 13 years as a multipurpose initiative, intended to curb deforestation in tropical nations, sequester forest carbon, combat climate change, protect biodiversity, and aid poor rural communities.- The REDD+ mechanism is largely paid for by wealthy industrialized countries contributing funds to less developed tropical nations, including those in the Amazon, Congo Basin and Indonesia.- Some 600 REDD+ projects have been initiated to date (with some 400 still active), mostly implemented by socioenvironmental NGOs or for-profit project developers, and financed by more than $10 billion in donor funds in more than 65 countries. But evidence of avoided deforestation and reduced carbon emissions is controversial.- With the COP26 Glasgow climate summit looming in November, Mongabay invited experts to weigh in on the global initiative’s successes and failings, with some supporting expansion of REDD+ via revised program rules and funding, while others support major reforms, or even the initiative’s replacement.
South Korea faces a public reckoning for financing coal plants in Indonesia
on April 15, 2021 at 3:21 pm
- The coastal town of Suralaya in Indonesia’s West Java province has eight coal-fired power generating units in its vicinity, which residents blame for respiratory ailments and declining fish catches.- South Korean public financial institutions are financing the expansion of the Suralaya facility through the construction of two new units that will be built by South Korean firm Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction and operated by a power company partly owned by a South Korean public utility.- Support for the project is ongoing, despite South Korea’s own domestic transition away from coal power and attempts by some lawmakers to bar public funds from being directed to the coal industry.- Activists view the South Korean government’s support for the project as an attempt to prop up the ailing Doosan, and to boost its ties with countries in Southeast and South Asia amid tensions with China.
Cambodia puts its arduous titling process for Indigenous land up for review
on April 15, 2021 at 10:38 am
- Since 2009, Cambodia has had a legal process by which Indigenous communities can obtain legal title to their traditional land.- Of around 455 Indigenous communities in Cambodia, 33 have been granted land titles.- People who have engaged in the Indigenous land titling process say it is time-consuming and arduous, and that even successful claimants are often granted title to just a fraction of their customary land.- This year, Cambodia has launched a review of its communal land titling process. Even people involved in the review are unsure what prompted it or what impacts the review might have.
Recognizing the true guardians of the forest: Q&A with David Kaimowitz
on April 14, 2021 at 12:01 am
- David Kaimowitz describes his career as a “a 30-year quest to understand what causes deforestation,” one that has brought him full circle to where he started: at the issue of land rights.- Kaimowitz, who heads the Forest and Farm Facility, based at FAO, says the evidence shows that secure communal tenure rights is one of the most cost-effective ways to curb deforestation.- In that time, he’s also seen the discourse around the drivers of deforestation change from blaming smallholders, to realizing that a handful of large commodities companies are responsible for the majority of tropical forest loss.- In an interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler, Kaimowitz talks about why it took so long for Indigenous people to be recognized as guardians of the forest, the need for conservation NGOs to address social justice, and society’s capacity to effect meaningful change.
‘We’re at a tipping point with coal’: Q&A with Bloomberg’s Antha Williams
on April 13, 2021 at 1:50 pm
- Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg was key in marshaling city and state governments across the U.S. to ramp up their climate action after the Trump administration pulled the country out of the Paris Agreement.- With the climate-focused Biden administration now in office, Bloomberg Philanthropies is going “all-in toward climate solutions,” says Antha N. Williams, head of the foundation’s environment program.- Among its main initiatives is the Beyond Coal campaign, which seeks to get OECD countries to transition away from coal by 2030 and the rest of the world by 2040.- In this post-Trump follow-up interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler, Williams discusses a just energy transition, the role of finance in driving change, and the importance of ocean protection.
‘We are made invisible’: Brazil’s Indigenous on prejudice in the city
on April 12, 2021 at 12:01 am
- Contrary to popular belief, Brazil’s Indigenous people aren’t confined to the Amazon Rainforest, with more than a third of them, or about 315,000 individuals, living in urban areas.- Over the past year, we dived into the census and related databases to produce unique maps and infographics showing not only how the Indigenous residents are distributed in six cities and in Brazil overall, but also showcasing their access to education, sewage and other amenities, and their ethnic diversity.- Access to higher education is a milestone: the number of Indigenous people enrolled in universities jumped from 10,000 to about 81,000 between 2010 and 2019, giving them a higher college education rate than the general population.- This data-driven reporting project received funding support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s data journalism and property rights grant.
Podcast: Though humanity exceeds key ‘planetary boundaries’ there are many solutions
on April 8, 2021 at 3:34 pm
- On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we speak with two recent contributors to our “Covering the Commons” special reporting project who wrote pieces that deal with the concept of Planetary Boundaries and how we can build a more sustainable future.- Claire Asher tells us about her recent article detailing the nine Planetary Boundaries, the four environmental limits we’ve already exceeded, and the chances 2021 offers us to make transformative change.- Andrew Willner discusses his recent article on how a “New Age of Sail” might soon transform the international shipping industry, the sixth-largest source of carbon emissions in the world.
Government inaction prompts voluntary REDD+ carbon credit boom in Brazil
on April 6, 2021 at 8:57 pm
- With the Bolsonaro government largely indifferent to participating in a carbon credit market, and amid intensifying pressure from clients and investors, a voluntary carbon credit market is booming in Brazil. The country, however, still doesn’t have any regulation about how and by whom credits can be issued.- REDD+ projects that issue carbon credits for reforesting or avoiding deforestation have caught the attention of financial market players. Amid the new carbon credit trading firms, such as financial technology company Moss, and other initiatives, Brazilian projects offer both examples of success and failure in forest preservation.- REDD+ supporters argue Brazil’s voluntary carbon credit market is allowing small-scale farmers and Indigenous and traditional people to get in the game, benefiting them financially, and helping conserve forests and protect the Earth’s climate.- But critics say it’s difficult to ensure that forest conservation promises made today can be kept in the future, especially in a nation notorious for illegal deforestation and record forest fires. Also, protecting one area can simply drive the deforestation to another area.
“Activism gives you hope”: Q&A with Wallace Global Fund’s Ellen Dorsey
on April 6, 2021 at 3:24 pm
- Ellen Dorsey, a veteran of the anti-apartheid movement, has used her activist experience and her leadership position at the Wallace Global Fund to push for divestment from the fossil fuel industry.- The Wallace Global Fund has supported the fossil fuel divestment movement from its inception. By 2021, the movement had propelled divestment of over $14 trillion in assets from universities, pensions cities, faith groups and more.- Dorsey launched Divest Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of over 200 foundations to divest their endowments from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions. She says foundations can still do more to invest their endowments in climate solutions, and shouldn’t be “hoarding acorns” in this “moment of urgent need.”- In an interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler, Dorsey talks about how the divestment movement makes financial sense, the futility of engaging with the fossil fuel industry to drive change from within, and how “everyone has to be an environmental activist if we’re going to save the planet.”
Helping Papuans protect Indonesia’s last frontier: Q&A with Bustar Maitar
on April 5, 2021 at 9:00 pm
- Bustar Maitar’s storied career in environmental activism began in the Indonesian region of Papua, the land of his birth and today the coveted target of extractives and industrial agriculture companies.- In his time at Greenpeace International, Maitar led a forest conservation campaign that pressured major corporations like Nestlé and Unilever to commit to zero deforestation in their supply chains.- Maitar’s new venture, the EcoNusa Foundation, brings him back to Papua, where it all began, to push for protecting the forests, waters and other ecosystems of this last pristine frontier in Indonesia.- In an interview with Mongabay founder Rhett A. Butler, Maitar talks about bridging international NGOs with local communities, ecotourism as a development model for eastern Indonesia, and the revival of the kewang system of traditional environmental stewardship in the Maluku Islands.