Climate Change Correspondent, Asia, Singapore
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Oct 4, 2010

As world warms, U.N. lowers emissions cut goal

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – In a strategic shift, the United Nations has stopped urging nations to commit to tougher pledges to curb carbon emissions, fearing further debate could derail already fraught talks on a more ambitious climate pact.

It is better to start with pledges already offered and build from there, officials say, given the short time left to hammer out a pact that broadens the existing Kyoto Protocol by signing up all major emitters to fight climate change.

Sep 29, 2010

Study shows how scientists can find missing species

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – More than a third of mammal species considered extinct or missing have been rediscovered, a study says, and a lot of effort is wasted in trying to find species that have no chance of being found again.

Species face an accelerated rate of extinction because of pollution, climate change, habitat loss and hunting and that this rate of loss is putting ecosystems and economies at ever greater risk, according to the United Nations.

Sep 28, 2010

poor rift could derail conservation talks: group

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Tension between the European Union and poor countries could undermine U.N. talks on agreeing 2020 targets to preserve nature’s riches that provide clean air, water and medicine, a top conservation official said.

The October 18-29 talks in the Japanese city of Nagoya also aim to seal a treaty that outlines rules for access to genetic resources and discoveries, potentially a big source of cash for poor nations when dealing with drug and agricultural firms.

Sep 17, 2010

India firm to bundle solar projects for CO2 offsets

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – An Indian carbon firm has launched a program to link up developers of costly small-scale solar power projects to help them earn U.N. carbon credits and boost investment returns.

Emergent Ventures India’s program is part of a recently expanded form of a U.N. scheme, the Clean Development Mechanism, that aims to deploy clean-energy technology in a big way in poorer nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Sep 7, 2010

Analysis: Nod for Australia’s Labor likely boost for CO2 laws

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Australia is now much more likely to introduce a price on planet-warming carbon pollution after support by independents and Greens returned the Labor Party to office on Tuesday.

Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor backed Labor on Tuesday, with climate change among their top issues, ending a 17-day wait after an inconclusive August 21 election left neither major party with a majority in the lower house of parliament.

Aug 24, 2010

Indonesia project boosts global forest CO2 market

SINGAPORE/JAKARTA, Aug 24 (Reuters) – An Indonesian project aimed at saving a vast tract of rainforest has past a milestone seen as a boost in the development of a global market in forest carbon credits.

That market under the U.N.-backed scheme reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) could eventually be worth billions of dollars annually and is central to the goal of driving private sector involvement in forest protection.

The Rimba Raya conservation project covers nearly 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) of carbon-rich peat swamp forest in the province of Central Kalimantan on Borneo island. Forests soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide and scientists say curbing deforestation is a key way to fight climate change.

The project has earned the first-ever approval of an accounting method for measuring the reduction in carbon emissions under REDD and is being developed by InfiniteEARTH, with funding from Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Gazprom Market and Trading (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and the Clinton Foundation.

The Voluntary Carbon Standard programme, the most respected standard for voluntary carbon offsets, approved the methodology after it passed a mandated double auditing process.

The project itself is now undergoing third-party validation and is likely to become the world’s first VCS-approved REDD project later this year, Gazprom and InfiniteEARTH say.

The step is a boost for other REDD projects and investors wanting certainty on the quality of REDD carbon credits. There are several dozen REDD projects globally, including more than a dozen in Indonesia at various stages of development.

"This is seen as a landmark moment for the carbon market," Gazprom said in a statement. "Historically REDD projects have suffered due to their exclusion from the Kyoto Protocol," it said, as well as the absence of a recognised global standard.

The project is expected to reduce 18.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted in the first 10 years and up to 75 million tonnes in the 30-year life of the project.

At about $10 a credit, that means about $750 million over 30 years.



LIVELIHOODS

The future sale of carbon offsets from the project will help boost the livelihoods of more than 11,000 people in the area and save rare species including orang-utans and other primates, the statement says.

REDD aims to reward developing countries that save, protect and rehabilitate forests through large-scale projects. Poorer nations and local forest communities are meant to take a major share of the sale of the carbon credits to rich nations, which can use them to meet mandated emission reduction targets.

REDD is not yet formally part of a broader U.N. climate pact and potential buyers of the credits have been waiting for an approved global standard for forest CO2 credits to ensure the reductions are real and verifiable.

"The methodology was designed for conservation projects that avoid planned land-use conversion in tropical peat swamp forests in Southeast Asia," the statement said.

The project itself borders Tanjung Puting national park and the area has been under growing threat from encroaching palm oil plantations.

"It shows small-scale REDD can be done. This is also demonstrating the ability of project-based activities, that they can do that," Daniel Murdiyarso, senior scientist at Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), told Reuters on Tuesday. (Editing by Sue Thomas)



Aug 24, 2010

Australia’s “green” poll may accelerate climate action

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Australia could accelerate action on climate change, possibly resurrecting an emissions trading scheme, after independent and Greens MPs won the balance of power in elections that left a hung parliament.

Businesses like power retailer AGL and leading electricity provider Origin Energy have repeatedly said they need regulatory clarity on carbon pricing as they look to invest billions of dollars in energy infrastructure.

Aug 24, 2010

Analysis: Australia’s “green” poll may accelerate climate action

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Australia could accelerate action on climate change, possibly resurrecting an emissions trading scheme, after independent and Greens MPs won the balance of power in elections that left a hung parliament.

Businesses like power retailer AGL and leading electricity provider Origin Energy have repeatedly said they need regulatory clarity on carbon pricing as they look to invest billions of dollars in energy infrastructure.

Aug 24, 2010

Q+A: Why Australia needs a price on carbon

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Australia is the world’s top exporter of coal which generates more than 80 percent of its power, transports most goods by road and cars clog its cities.

But the country has been a laggard in passing a law enshrining a cap on emissions and a market-based trading scheme for carbon pollution.

Aug 20, 2010

Indonesia says forest moratorium to start off small

SINGAPORE, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Indonesia plans to initially protect less than half its remaining forest cover under a two-year ban forming part of a $1 billion deal with Norway aimed at fighting deforestation and carbon emissions.

The ban from 2011 on clearing natural forest has spooked palm oil and mining firms who fear it will crimp expansion and earnings. In a nation noted for corruption and the sway of its resources firms, the move will test resolve to use donor cash transparently.

"If we surrender to the negative forces, there is no solution," Agus Purnomo, the president’s special adviser on climate change, told Reuters.

"But if we go with concrete action, step by step, if we go with the very minimum level of commitment and then expanding the commitment in the future, we will be able to do it."

He sought to reassure investors that firms holding legitimate licences to clear forested land would be exempted from the ban on the issue of new licences.

For the programme to succeed, it was crucial to start off small and then expand later, Purnomo said from Jakarta.

An exact definition of natural forest was not crucial, he said, but the aim was to initially protect much of the 40 million hectares (99 million acres) of primary forest that remains of about 100 mln ha (247 million acres) of total forest area.

"I would like to go with the minimum, say the real, natural primary forest, because we need to prove this initiative will work," Purnomo said from Jakarta.

Many details of the $1 billion deal are still to be worked out, officials say, including how to handle the Norwegian funds for a special agency and pilot projects.

Purnomo said the aim was to finalise the financing process next month with the initial funding of $30 million by October.

PRESSURE

Indonesia faces international pressure to slow deforestation and the destruction of peatlands, which release vast amounts of planet-warming greenhouse gases when cleared or burned.

The country is now destroying about 1 million ha of forest a year and the ministry of forestry data says it still has about 100 million ha remaining, with government-controlled forest estate making up 71 per cent of Indonesia’s total land area.

Primary forests cover roughly a third, with overlogged areas sprawling over another third, and other vegetation making up the rest, the Center for International Forestry Research says.

"We still have about 40 million hectares of good standing forest," said Purnomo, adding that the government would issue a map before January 1 of areas to be protected by the moratorium.

"So the suspensions will not be standing on their own but they will be attached with a map. That map will be the delineation of the area under the moratorium."

Companies with valid existing licences could in theory still go ahead and clear natural forest.

"In principle, yes," he said. "What’s important is we will not issue the new licences. That’s the spirit of the moratorium. And if those companies are afraid their existing licences will be affected, I would like to assure them they should not because it will not affect them."

But firms would be urged to use degraded land where possible.

Some firms’ existing permits could be revoked, project head Kuntoro Mangkusubroto told Reuters on Wednesday, although Purnomo expressed doubts about this. [ID:nJAK540924] (Editing by Clarence Fernandez)





    • About David

      "I report on climate policy, climate science and the carbon market (CDM, emissions trading) in Asia. I'm based in Singapore. It's a great story in a fast-growing and fast-changing region. I've been writing about climate change since university in Canberra, where I did a life sciences degree, with a communications major on the side. I started writing science articles for newspapers and, soon after completing my studies, joined as a cadet on The Canberra Times. After a few years there, it was off to London and then Hong Kong."
      Hometown:
      Canberra, Australia
      Joined Reuters:
      1994
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