REDD signals!

Aditya Acharya and Mahesh Poudel

Published in The Kathmandu Post. This link – http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2018-03-27/redd-signals.html

Mar 27, 2018
It was discovered that deforestation and forest land degradation contribute to 17 percent of the worldwide carbon emissions which is a major factor of the current global warming phenomenon. So, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation was seen as one of the major issues to address this phenomenon. Conceived initially as RED (reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries), the current state of REDD+ was formalized during the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. The concept is to allow the developed countries (Annex 1 countries of the UNFCCC) to offset their emissions by providing financial incentives for the projects in developing countries (non-Annex 1 countries of the UNFCCC) that reduce emissions by preventing deforestation and degradation.

The formal term now is REDD+ which is an extension of REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest land degradation); an addition of three other components, forest conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in the later. REDD is the mechanism to curb emissions and UN-REDD is the program of the United Nations (UN) that assists the participating countries for the REDD readiness. And the UN_REDD program has 64 partner countries; 28 in Africa, 19 in Asia Pacific and 17 in Latin America and the Carribean.

Corruption in the partners

The Transparency International (TI) last month (February) published the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) Report for 2017 which shows the perceived level of public sector corruptions in 180 countries around the world. Of the 64 partner countries of the UN REDD program, 57 (89%) of them have the CPI score of less than 50 out of 100, zero score being the most corrupt and 100 the cleanest. Fifty five out of those 64 (86%) have the CPI score of less than the global average score of 43.07. Only 5 (7.8%) of them have the CPI score of more than 43.07 and 4 of them are not scored. Bhutan and Chile are the least corrupt countries among those 64 countries with an equal score of 67 and Costa Rica is the second one with a score of 59. Can we really be optimistic about the success of the mechanism that works among the most corrupt countries of the world? Is carbon finance fair and effective? The TI writes – “Sadly, many of the world’s most densely forested countries have a poor track record for corruption. In the current global economy, trees are worth a lot more cut down than they are in the ground, and politicians have been known to accept bribes – sometimes huge – to grant companies access to forest zones that should be protected.

Safeguards

There are seven safeguards which were adopted at COP 16 in 2010 in Cancun, Mexico (hence called Cancun safeguards) keeping in mind the potential risks that might arise during the REDD implementation, which also includes ‘Transparent and effective national forest governance structures, taking into account national legislation and sovereignty’. Just to remind, these countries are corrupt not because they don’t have good laws and policies but because the corrupt bureaucracy, the politicians as well as people there easily outsmart them. If the safeguards would really work, those countries should never be so corrupt. Yes, if the countries fail to meet the safeguards, they will not be paid. That is fine. But what about the billions of dollars already invested in REDD readiness then? Will that all be ‘water poured in the sand’?

There are so many complex, technical aspects included that even a well-educated person cannot completely understand. And the indigenous people of those countries, where the literacy percentage is also very low, are expected to fully trust the corrupt bureaucracy in their countries to deliver them the benefits of keeping the forests safe!

What should be done?

It is not that no works should be done in those countries fearing corruption but alternative ways of reducing the emissions should be sought. One confusing thing is – how the REDD benefits the environment when the developed countries can emit the same amount of GHGs as sequestered by the developing countries under REDD mechanism, just by paying them money!? This is not to mean that the developing countries should be allowed to deforest or degrade the forest land but that the developed countries should not be allowed to emit as much carbon as they want just by paying money. Is it the money or the reduction in GHG emissions that actually matters for developing countries? Why can’t the developing countries pressurize the developed ones to reduce as much carbon emissions as they sequester rather than asking for the payments? That way, the changing climate will have double benefits.

Either money that is going to the developing countries should be invested in the developed countries itself reducing emissions to an amount that developing ones are likely to sequester or corruption in the developing countries should be highly reduced. Otherwise, there are no green signals for REDD.

 The Kathmandu Post - REDD Signals

Epaper link – http://epaper.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2018-03-27/6

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Safa Hawa – An added segregation

In Nature Khabar online. This link – http://naturekhabar.com/en/archives/9601

April 27, 2018

A mobile application ‘safa hawa’ was launched in Kathmandu some days ago. The app is said to provide hourly updates of the pollution level from two air quality monitoring stations currently. And the app is said to be available for both android and ios platforms.

Forget about an Iphone, I don’t even have an android phone. So, my question is, don’t I have the right to breathe ‘safa hawa’? What about them who don’t even have a mobile phone? Don’t they have the right to breathe ‘safa hawa’? If I were to make a very, very bad comment on the question, it would be – “Why are you breathing till date if you cannot even buy an android phone?”

I have no acrimony towards the developers or launchers. My only concern is – why are only a particular group of people focused? And why are we thinking of running away and avoiding pollution rather than trying to resolve the root of the problem? If the policy makers really want to push for policy changes, they don’t need a mobile app to collect pollution information; they can simply get the data from the monitoring stations itself.

We already removed a lot of pollutant particles from the atmosphere by inhaling and depositing it in our lungs but such pollutants never seem to have decreased there in the atmosphere. Same as the Bagmati cleanup program!

Let’s return back to ‘safa hawa’. For e.g., I have to go to Thamel. But my ‘safa hawa’ app shows that the level of pollution is very high there. How can I avoid going there when I have to go there at any cost? Maybe you can say that I could go there with some safety measures. Is there any place in this capital city where people could go without sufficient safety measures against air pollution?

Why is this discrimination even in the air we breathe? If you can afford to install air purifiers at your home, you can breathe safe; otherwise you have to breathe toxic air. If you can afford to buy effective, surgical masks every day, you can inhale hygienic air; otherwise you have to breathe toxic air. And now, if you can afford to buy an android phone, you can avoid the pollution; otherwise you have to breathe toxic air. This is when being poor really hurts.

Another thing I fear now-a-days is – one day people might start selling the portable oxygen bottles, which we have not seen till date only because somebody has not discovered it yet, and that will be a new business in this city. Like the water bottle business, as is going on in the second richest country in the world in terms of water resources.


 

नयाँ बर्ष – डुल्दा डुल्दै शिवपुरी

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शिवपुरीको जङ्गलभित्र भेटिने एउटा दुर्लभ जन्तु

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लु बिष्णुद्वार जानुस् .. बाटो यता ..

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बागमतीको मूहान बागद्वार, विष्णुमतीको मूहान बिष्णुद्वार..

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A week of destinationless travel

It all began from Kharkatta village, Madi valley, Chitwan. Maja decided to take some rest as well as start some writings for her report. Maja, an MSc student from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark was doing her field work for MSc thesis, in the Madi valley of Chitwan. I had the responsibility of assisting her. At first the plan was like, to finish the whole field work within a month, or stay for some more days if we didn’t become able to complete our target. But she wished to take a break after two weeks of work. She planned to go to Sauraha and stay there for a week. I had nothing to do (except for a few transcriptions), nowhere to go!

“Should I go to Kathmandu or Pokhara?” I don’t know. I can go anywhere. But I have to go to Bharatpur bus park at first and get a bus, for her, to Sauraha.

February 17

We left Kharkatta at 7:30 and reached the Bharatpur bus park at 11:30. The auto drivers started decreasing their price themselves; we just needed to stand silently for a while. After haggling with one of them for some time, she decided to take an auto rather than bothering to look for buses that would go only to another bus park but not to the hotel she had booked.

But where should I go?

I had made mind to go Pokhara because it had been quite long I hadn’t met my college friends. But the Mugling-Narayanghat road section was closed till 16:00 for maintenance. That meant I had to consume around 4 more hours.

What suddenly came to my mind is – Why not go to Sauraha! The auto was right in front! And I had never been to Sauraha! How lucky me! And I travelled towards Sauraha.

After wandering around Sauraha for about 2 hours, I went to the Pokhara bus park. When I reached there at 15:45, there was only one microbus to Pokhara crammed with people. And the khalasi was saying that was the last bus to Pokhara. Lol, the road opens at 16:00 and the khalasi was saying, at 15:45 that, that was the last bus. More amazingly, there were people who believed. How easily these people believe khalasis! No matter to me even if that was the last one. Because there was nothing that I needed to reach Pokhara the same day. I could stay around there and go Pokhara next day early. So I just waited for another bus.

But it took too long. No sooner had I decided to look for a hotel than the bus came. It came at 17:00. I boarded the bus!

It was obvious that I would reach late. I reached Pokhara at 22:00. Where would I go other than my Institute of Forestry! That is the only reason, that there is this campus, I go to Pokhara. That was that.

February 20

After two days at Pokhara, Professor Santosh Rayamajhi called and asked if I was free for 2-3 days. He only needed a friend to travel to Tansen, Palpa for some of his work. That too in his car.

Why would I deny! I had never been to Tansen. And I was aimless throughout the week!

But he told later that he needed to go up to Tamghas, Gulmi. And the journey to Tamghas began on Feb 21.

February 21

February 22

The whole day, we travelled to remote villages of Gulmi; Isma, Dhurkot, Madane etc.

February 23

The journey back to Pokhara began. We stopped and wandered around Ridi bazaar, Palpa for a while. And in the evening, at Pokhara again.

February 24

Now it was time to go to Madi for work. I had to reach Bharatpur on Sunday, Feb 25. Being unsure if I would stay at Mugling in the evening and start for Bharatpur early next day, I started my journey from Pokhara at around 13:00. Fortunately, I reached Narayanghat the same evening.

And the week-long destinationless travel ended!

February 25