Environment Forum

Making REDD work for illegal loggers

Hendri, 27, an illegal logger cuts down a tree in a peat swamp forest in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island. Illegal logging remains a project for forest conservation projects because timber represents quick income for villagers needing work or to feed families. Credit: Yusuf Ahmad

Hendri, 27, an illegal logger cuts down a tree in a peat swamp forest in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island. Illegal logging remains a problem for forest conservation projects because timber represents quick income for villagers needing work or to feed families. Credit: Yusuf Ahmad

It took just 30 seconds to fell the tree. Hendri, 27, a skinny Indonesian from Central Kalimantan on Borneo island, skilfully wielded the chainsaw more than half his height. The result is a thunderous crash and a tree that is quickly cut into planks on the forest floor near by.

And the reward for this effort? About 125,000 rupiah, or roughly $12 per tree measuring 30 cm or more in diameter. Hendri and the three other members of this local gang of illegal loggers make about $45 a day (not including expenses and bribes) cutting down between 4 and 5 trees and slicing them into planks with a chainsaw, using no protective gear. They work for about 10 days at a stretch.

Their work is tough and highlights the challenge of finding alternative livelihoods in communities surrounding projects that aim to save large areas of forest in the fight against climate change.

Another member of the gang, Maulana, 40, explained he didn’t like the work but he had six children to feed. If given a choice, he said he’d switch to growing rubber or managing a small area of palm oil if given the seedlings and land. Just a hectare of palm oil would be enough to meet his needs. That was preferable than the dangerous work cutting down trees in the steaming, flooded peat swamp forest, he said.

from Global News Journal:

Driving carmakers to distraction over emissions

car emissionsEurope's nominee to be climate chief surprised car manufacturers last week by saying she thought EU policymakers might have been too soft on them when carbon-capping rules were set in 2008.

Connie Hedegaard's forceful intervention during hearings for the European Commission raised the possibility of a renewed push by Europe to legislate car emissions if the Dane is approved by the European Parliament for the post next month.

The exisiting rules were hard-fought-over in 2008, with big European auto nations such as France, Italy and Germany arguing that a slow transition to tougher targets was necessary to protect jobs in a sector that is not only one of the EU's biggest employers but already feeling the heat from the economic crisis.

Newsweek’s Green Rankings: Perception meets reality

Three Greenpeace activists wearing bio-hazard suits, hold old laptops and wear face masks depicting Hewlett-Packard (HP) Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd during a protest outside the computer company's China headquarters in Beijing June 25, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray

Newsweek, encroaching on territory usually mined by activist groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, has unveiled its innaugural NEWSWEEK Green Rankings, which ranks the 500 biggest U.S. companies based on their “actual environmental performance, policies, and reputation.”

The magazine pointed out that compiling such a list was a challenge “because comparing environmental performance across industries is a bit like analyzing whether Tiger Woods or LeBron James is the world’s greatest athlete—there’s an inevitable apples-and-oranges element.”

Still, it believes it’s system makes sense. To come up with the greenest company, the magazine assigned each a “Green Score” that was then compared to the average score of the collective group. You can find out more about Newsweek’s methodology here. But, in terms of weighting, Impact and Policies were each given 45 percent and Reputation received 10 percent.

from UK News:

‘Green’ expert sees red over UK climate pledges

Professor Sir David King, the British government's former top scientific adviser, is no stranger to controversy.

 

He ruffled feathers on both sides of the Atlantic in 2004 when he described climate change as a more serious threat to the world than terrorism.

 

Earlier this year, he said the Iraq war may come to be seen as the world first’s “resource war”, based on oil rather than weapons of mass destruction.

“taking cars off the road”, or climate tokenism?

There’s no shortage of references these days in corporate and government reports to earnest, new steps to fight climate change. Often they promise to make carbon emissions cuts equivalent to taking millions of cars off the road…

For example, take Europe’s fourth biggest single source of carbon emissions, Britain’s Drax coal plant. It said in March that as a result of efficiency improvements it had cut carbon emissions equivalent to taking 195,000 cars off the road.  But of course that was a cut against a theoretical projection of rising emissions — not an absolute cut.

Take a similar announcement from Canada this week. The oil industry in Alberta is busy trying to extract oil from tar sands. That is a far more polluting, energy-intensive way than just sucking the stuff out of oil wells, because steam must first be injected into the sand to make the oil flow. Now Alberta is experimenting with a technology, called carbon capture and storage, with three test projects which by 2015 would “achieve annual carbon dioxide reductions equivalent to taking about a million vehicles off the road”, the province says.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. conservative Christians sound “cap and trade” alarms

America's social and religious conservatives are turning up the heat as they galvanize heartland opposition against the latest example of President Barack Obama-inspired "socialism" -- a climate change bill that aims to reduce fossil fuel emissions, which most scientists have linked to climate change.  

USA/

The Democratic Party-led House of Representatives passed the bill on Friday. It would require large companies, including utilities and manufacturers, to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels. It must still go through the U.S. Senate, where its ultimate fate remains uncertain despite the Democratic majority there.

Conservative Christians, a key base -- if not THE base -- for the out-of-power Republican Party, are among the biggest skeptics of human-induced global warming. In the eyes of many environmentalists, they were part of an "unholy alliance" with the energy industry that enjoyed its zenith under former president George W. Bush, who pulled America out of the Kyoto Protocol aimed at cutting emissions in the developed world. The Bush administration was widely seen as hostile to any attempt to cap emissions as well as the science behind it.

California gas stations defy new pollution rule

Wednesday is the deadline for California’s gas stations to install sophisticated nozzles and hoses to control vapor emissions at the pump, and the Los Angeles Times reports that some one in five station owners are in open defiance of the new state order.

Gas station owners say that the new equipment is so expensive that buying it during the worst economic slump in decades would put them out of business.

“It may be necessary to protect public health, but it’s unaffordable,” James Hosmanek, who owns a Chevron station in San Bernardino, told the newspaper.

Is California really banning black cars?

Has it come to this in California? Is the Golden State really banning black cars from its famous freeways, as reported in various auto industry blogs – and even The Washington Post – on the grounds that they require more air conditioning to cool?

The answer, a slightly exasperated spokesman for air quality regulator the California Air Resources Board tells Reuters, is an emphatic “NO.”

CARB spokesman Stanley Young calls the story a “very unfortunate case of misinformation from the blogosphere” stemming from proposed draft regulations that have since been put on the back burner by the agency.  But even those draft regulations, he says, never contemplated a ban on black cars.

  •