Tag Archive | "deforestation"

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REDD: No Clear Targets

Posted on 13 December 2009 by editor

Jungle on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Credit: Diana Cariboni/IPS

Jungle on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. Credit: Diana Cariboni/IPS

By Servaas van den Bosch

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) With five days to go at COP15 the REDD proposal no longer offers tangible targets for halting deforestation. A safeguard on the conversion of natural forest into plantations has been re-inserted though.

Reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) could lower global CO2 output by 15 percent, say scientists. Continue Reading

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Cattle, the Ignored Predator

Posted on 11 December 2009 by editor

Activists urge people to go vegetarian. Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

Activists urge people to go vegetarian. Credit: Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS

By Mario Osava

RIO DE JANEIRO (IPS/TerraViva) – Because of its effect on the environment, cattle must be given the same priority in global agendas as nuclear weapons, wars and, in particular, climate change, says Brazilian activist João Meirelles Filho, author of two books on Amazon deforestation. Continue Reading

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CLIMATE CHANGE: Brazil Defends Biofuels

Posted on 08 December 2009 by editor

 

Smoke from sugar cane burn-off chokes the air in the countryside. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

Smoke from sugar cane burn-off chokes the air in the countryside. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS

By Claudia Ciobanu

 

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Being the world’s largest producer and exporter of ethanol, it is natural for the Brazilian government and its partners to push biofuels as  the only real alternative for a world trying to wean itself away from fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.

Brazilian authorities were ready with their arguments at the United Nations climate change summit underway here. Over the past 30 years, since the country embarked on its ethanol programme, an estimated 800 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions have been avoided.

Brazilian delegates were at pains to show that not only is biofuel production the best way to reduce greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions but it can also combat poverty as exemplified by the country’s scheme to promote micro-distilleries to provide additional income for rural families.

Biofuels have, however, come under serious attack in recent years for eating into farmlands meant for food production. As a result, the European Union backed out, last year, from a commitment to introduce a 10 percent mandatory quota of biofuels in all transportation by 2020.

In Brazil itself environmentalists have pointed to biofuel production as one of the key reasons for the steady deforestation of the Amazon basin.

Countering such criticism, Jose Migues from the Brazilian ministry of science and technology said:  “We were told that biofuels lead to deforestation in the Amazon, but the ethanol production areas are 3,000 km away from the Amazon.’’

Migues referred to Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), a phrase describing the effects of biofuel production, which pushes human activities towards the Amazon rainforest. In the Sao Paulo area, where most ethanol production is concentrated, there has been a significant decrease in cattle raising and agricultural production.

“But is it fair to say that all of these activities are now moving to the Amazon?” asked Thelma Krug, another representative of the ministry.  “There is much room for making agriculture and cattle raising more efficient in Brazil.”

While the question of where Sao Paulo’s farmers have moved remained unanswered in Copenhagen, the planned expansion of the ethanol industry threatens further displacement. There are currently over six million hectares under sugar cane in Brazil, but Krug said there are “64 million ha available for expanding sugar cane production.”

She said the government is working on using satellite imagery to monitor the loss of forest cover and keep deforestation under check. A representative of Nature Conservancy, a Brazilian NGO, spoke of the thoroughness of forest protection laws.

As for food security issues linked to biofuel production, Andre Correa do Lago, director general of the energy department in the ministry of foreign affairs, stopped short of an outright denial that biofuels were to blame for the 2008 rise in food prices.

“Food security is one of the main concerns of our government,” he said. “Biofuels, like any other human endeavour, can be done in a better way. So we should not use the worst case as a general reference point.”

Legislation is under consideration to prevent biomass burning, which is responsible for large amounts of GhG emissions. Much of the waste, especially bagasse, is increasingly replacing polluting nitrogenous fertilisers. The production process is being made more efficient with nine units of energy being produced from bagasse for every unit of fossil energy.

But while admitting that “biofuels are no silver bullet,” Brazilian authorities insist that they are the best way forward for developing countries.
(END/2009)

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Poor Vendors in Swaziland Worried by ‘Flora Protection Law’

Posted on 05 December 2009 by editor

Firewood vendors Moses Ginindza and Mphumuzi Magwagwa. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi

Firewood vendors Moses Ginindza and Mphumuzi Magwagwa. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi

By Mantoe Phakathi

MBABANE, (IPS/TerraViva) – For close to three decades, Jeremiah Mkhonta has earned a living by selling firewood by the roadside. It’s not exactly lucrative: the father of 15 often goes for a fortnight without even selling a single four dollar bundle of firewood. But slow business is not what is bothering this ex-miner right now. He lives in fear that one day soon, he and his peers across the country could be arrested.

“I’ve learnt from the radio and from some of my customers that the Minister of Tourism and Environment said that we’ll get arrested for selling firewood,” Mkhonta told IPS. Continue Reading

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Deal On Forests Likely, But…

Posted on 05 December 2009 by editor

Credit: Fabricio Vanden Broeck

Credit: Fabricio Vanden Broeck

Servaas van den Bosch

WINDHOEK (IPS/TerraViva) – As debate ratchets up ahead of working out a climate change deal, a Dutch study says emissions from deforestation and land degradation are far lower than has been assumed. Will this have an impact on a deal to protect forests in Africa?

Emissions from deforestation and forest degradation had been assumed by parties in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be around 20 percent of global CO2 output. But a team of Dutch researchers from the Vrije Universiteit (VU) calculate that the true total is closer to 12 percent. Continue Reading

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Missing Gender Dimension

Posted on 04 December 2009 by editor

Sabina Zaccaro interviews IUCN gender advisor Lorena Aguilar Revelo

Lorena Aguilar Revelo. Credit: U.N.

Lorena Aguilar Revelo. Credit: U.N.

ROME  (IPS/TerraViva) Women are known to be innovators when it comes to responding to climate change. The question is how to ensure that the role of women and gender equality are reflected in climate change agreements.

Women in poor countries will be the most affected by climate change effects, according to the 2009 State of the World Population report, released last month by the United Nations Population Fund. This is because women comprise the majority of the world’s farmers, have access to fewer income-earning opportunities, and have limited or no access to technology. Continue Reading

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