Can Criminals Affect Climate Change Using the Carbon Market?

May 30, 2009 by Tommy Linsley  
Filed under Climate Change


INTERPOL fears that forest-CO2 scheme will draw organized crime

Thomson Reuters Carbon Market Community

Can we call these guys “Carbon Criminals”?

Reuters, 29 May 2009 - Organized 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 is an environmental crimes specialist for Interpol, the world’s largest international police agency.  His organized crime fears are related to a U.N.-backed scheme called reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD).

The purpose of REDD is aimed at unlocking potentially billions of dollars for developing countries that conserve and restore their forests.  In return for their conservation efforts, these countries 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,” Younger told Reuters in an interview at a forestry conference in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian island of Bali.  Younger goes further to say, “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, organized crime will be involved.”

Younger calls on governments, multi-lateral bodies and NGOs (legally constituted, non-governmental organization created by natural or legal persons with no participation or representation of any government) to realize the need for more involvement by law enforcement agencies 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.

Can You Win With Carbon Credits?

Can You Win With Carbon Credits?

Realizing that he was the only law enforcement official at the conference, Younger also said, “Consider resourcing law enforcement efforts and not just relying on NGOs and other nice people to do it for you.”

Is the Problem Growing?

It is no secret that forests soak up and displace large amounts of carbon dioxide and REDD aims to reward governments and local communities for every ton of CO2 locked up by a forest over decades, equaling to a very large global cash flow concerning forest credits.

Rightfully, local communities should 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.

However, revenue-sharing policies have not been finalized and will differ for each country.  Some NGOs fear central and provincial governments might demand control of that money and severely limit the amount going to local communities.

“It starts with bribery or intimidation of officials that can impede your business.  Then if there is indigenous people involved, there’s threats and violence against those people.  There’s forged documents”, he added.  Younger also states, “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”.

~ Sourced from the Thomson Reuters Carbon Markets Community - a free, gated online network for carbon market and climate policy professionals.


Background: UN-REDD Program

UN Secretary-General and Prime Minister of Norway Launch UN-REDD Program

United Nations Secretary-General and Prime Minister of Norway Launch UN-REDD Program

(courtesy of United Nations Development Program)–>

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (third from left) poses for a group photo with Jens Stoltenberg (third from right), Prime Minister of Norway, and the other participants, following a joint press conference to launch a new initiative to reduce emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation.

The United Nations Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD Program) is a collaboration between FAO, UNDP and UNEP.  A multi-donor trust fund was established in July 2008 that allows donors to pool resources and provides funding to activities towards this program.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the cutting down of forests is now contributing close to 20 per cent of the overall greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.  Forest degradation also makes a significant contribution to emissions from forest ecosystems.  Therefore there is an immediate need to make significant progress in reducing deforestation, forest degradation, and associated emission of greenhouse gases.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agenda item on “Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and approaches to stimulate action” was first introduced at the Conference of the Parties (COP11) in December 2005 by the governments of Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, supported by eight other Parties.

Then skip forward, in response to a COP13 decision, requests from countries, and encouragement from donors, FAO, UNDP and UNEP have developed a collaborative REDD program.  The UN-REDD Program is aimed at tipping the economic balance in favour of sustainable management of forests so that their formidable economic, environmental and social goods and services benefit countries, communities and forest users while also contributing to important reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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How Does Climate Change Affect Agriculture and Consumers?

February 22, 2009 by Tommy Linsley  
Filed under Climate Change


The effects of climate change on agricultural production:
What does it mean to consumers?

The effects of climate change on agricultural production go much deeper
than the impact of unusual weather.  However, that is the basis for many
of the problems that farmers are facing.  Some of the stressing facing
farmers: the pesky weather not only causes floods and droughts that can
affect an entire year of production, but predicting when these might occur
has become even more of a guessing game than in the past.
Vegetables
A warmer climate also means that pathogens -bacteria,
fungus, molds- and harmful insects that have been more
easily controlled in the past become more and more
problematic.  Out-of-season rains in the vegetable
growing areas of the world can cause massive outbreaks
of fungus problems.  By the same token, late
freezes can wipe out entire fruit crops and that stress can be seen in these
trees for years to come.

Unusually warm winters can cause rodent and insect populations to spike out
of control.  And, though an increase in the levels of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere can facilitate faster growth and more biomass production,
actually getting a crop to market is wildly complicated by these new
factors that emerge with each growing season.

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Unusual Violent Weather

February 3, 2009 by Tommy Linsley  
Filed under Climate Change


Severe WeatherIf you live in an area that is known for violent weather,
then you are probably accustomed to severe storms.
But it’s quite another thing to live well outside the
range of hurricanes, say in Sweden, and then wake
up to a tropical storm bearing down on you.

Unfortunately, this is what our global environment
has seen in some recent years.  Preparedness is a key component of
sustainable development, but this is complicated by climate change.
The whole point is that you don’t know what could happen because
“normal” simply doesn’t apply anymore.

Preparedness scenarios become a problematic situation particularly for
folks who didn’t think to have a tornado escape plan for their trailer
park in January.  Springtime used to be the “normal” time of year to
expect tornado activity.   Preparedness may need some revision in Oregon,
USA, as its citizens are becoming acquainted with the sort of fire seasons
that Californians can now only dream about.

Then, ask the folks in sunny Los Angeles who wrecked their cars trying to
navigate a freak blizzard or truckers that got stuck in the mountains
during an early August white out.

Prepare to be amazed as chaotic weather becomes even more violent and
dangerous as our Earth tries to adjust itself in the wake of this fever
that mankind seems to have caused for her.

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Rising Sea Levels: Areas to Avoid Buying Real Estate In and Other Facts

January 28, 2009 by Tommy Linsley  
Filed under Climate Change


Climate Change It is no longer just a theory that the sea level will go up.
It is a fact, measured during the 20th century to be about
20cm or just under 8 inches.  Another fact, islands in the
South Pacific have begun to disappear under the rising
sea levels.  Some estimates of the impacts of climate change
predict a sea level rise of several meters/yards.  Not only
could this make beach front property a bad investment in the future, but
areas that are significantly inland and not far above sea level could be
inundated, too.

Unfortunately, Florida (USA) which suffers flooding from tropical storms
that just refuse to dissipate or move elsewhere is, quite simply, not a
good investment for the future.  That’s a real tragedy for the millions of
people who enjoy this sun-drenched peninsula for its beaches and unique
wildlife.  But, if one really wanted to prepare for the worst, a more
northerly location well away from overflowing oceans might be a duller but
safer bet.

While some locations seem to sink.  There are others that seem to simply
get drier and drier due to climate change.  These conditions seem especially
disconcerting for inhabitants of Perth in Australia where their underground
water seems to be drying up faster than could be imagined.

Another problem are is Lake Chad in Africa, which could almost be considered
dried up.  Once one of the largest lakes in the world.  That lake’s size has diminished
by approximately 95% since a survey done about 50 years ago.

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Fighting Drought Years

January 6, 2009 by Tommy Linsley  
Filed under Climate Change


Fighting Drought YearsClimate change has caused some areas to see their
climate take the form of lost summers, floods and
hurricanes.  In other places, the rain has been
very stubborn and refuses to fall at all.  This is
especially worrisome in areas that have never
needed summer irrigation before.  Retrofitting an
entire company with the irrigation equipment
previously reserved for very high value crops is
not an option considering current and likely future
commodity crop prices.  When growing maize for
a gas tank, for instance, it doesn’t make sense
to waste valuable water and resources when crop insurance allows
you to simply till it under and wait until next year.

However, irrigation in one form or another might become a practical
necessity in the Mid-west, just as it has been for a very long time in
the arid West.  Homeowners and farmers alike need to compete for water
during drought years.  As has been evidenced by conditions during the
100-year drought that has continued for several years in Australia,
extreme droughts can bring on some very unusual behaviors in the local
wildlife as well as the populace.

According to BBC News, “The Australian of the year 2007, environmentalist
Tim Flannery, once predicted that Perth, in Western Australia, could become
the world’s first ghost metropolis, its population forced to abandon the city
due to lack of water.”  It has been cited that the populace of Perth outpaces
the rest of Australia in terms of water usage.  And, in general, Australia
accounts for a large percentage of global energy consumption.

“Climatologists tell us that it is the most profoundly affected city in the
world. People have accepted that it is climate change.  In other parts of
the world people are thinking it’s something that’s going to happen to them
in the next 10 or 30 years and that they’ve got time to adjust. We’ve found
we’ve been living with it for 30 years now and we’re having to adjust very
quickly.”  In relation to Perth, Don McFarlane, of the Commonwealth
Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), had this to say.

Consider this quote taken from WikiPedia. “By far the largest part of
Australia is desert or semi-arid lands commonly known as the outback. A
2005 study by Australian and American researchers investigated the
desertification of the interior, and suggested that one explanation was
related to human settlers who arrived about 50,000 years ago. Regular
burning by these settlers could have prevented monsoons from reaching
interior Australia. In June 2008 it became known that an expert panel had
warned of long term, maybe irreversible, severe ecological damage for the
whole Murray-Darling basin if it does not receive sufficient water by
October. Australia could experience more severe droughts and they could
become more frequent in the future, a government-commissioned report said
on July 6, 2008.”

On a related note, consider Lake Chad in Africa.  It supplies water to four
bordering countries.  When surveyed in the early 1800’s, it was one of the
largest lakes in the world.  It nearly dried up twice in the 1900’s.  It is
said to be presently only an average of 5 feet deep.  Since the 1960’s, it
has shrunk in size by 95%.

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Observing a Warming Earth

December 26, 2008 by Tommy Linsley  
Filed under Climate Change


It seems that the idea of climate change used to be an intellectual
curiosity and yet another worrisome warning from people you wouldn’t
invite to parties.  However, in the span of just a few years, there has
been a dramatic shift in how people perceive climate change in North
America.

It may be disappearing polar bears or killer bees, but the wacky weather
that is now apparent to so many has been on the mind of climate
researchers for over a century.

While searching for the cause of ice ages, it was discovered that the
climate seemed to warm whenever carbon dioxide levels reached a critical
point.  Therefore, it was reasoned, the burning of coal could one day
cause the atmosphere to heat up too much.

When this was first proposed in the late 17th century, it was thought it
could take 500 years or more for such levels to be reached.  Had the
consumption of petroleum not become so widespread, that might have been
true, but in less than half that time, the Earth as far exceeded the
carbon dioxide concentrations that it were theorized would case the
opposite of an ice age to occur.

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