Six found trespassing on state land

An anti-littering volunteer, five students and some fishermen were questioned by the police at a stretch of beach near the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.
Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 26 Nov 13

An anti-littering volunteer and five students who went to Tanah Merah to do research and clean up a stretch of the beach have landed in hot water with the authorities.

They were stopped and questioned by the police for trespassing on state land, and are now waiting to hear if they will be prosecuted.

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) volunteer Marcus Tay, 31, told The Sunday Times he was there last month conducting a usual site recce when the police stopped him for trespassing.

The group of five students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and several fishermen, who were also on the same stretch of beach, were questioned as well.

Mr Tay said he had seen anti-trespassing signs in the area but did not think they applied to where the group was.

"We've been cleaning up this area since 2010, and every time we go, we inform the National Environment Agency (NEA) so they can dispose of the rubbish we collect," he said.

The police confirmed that they have investigated Mr Tay and five students for wilful trespassing at the site on Oct 6. A spokesman said the matter had been referred to the Attorney-General's Chambers.

She said uninhabited coastal lands such as that Tanah Merah stretch had been used by smuggling syndicates to bring in contraband and illegal immigrants.

"These criminal elements often masquerade as members of the public, such as fishermen, to evade detection," she added. More importantly, she said, terrorist groups may exploit any vulnerability and deploy similar modus operandi to infiltrate the country.

In a joint statement with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the NEA, the police said fences and signs have gone up at prominent points along the coast to indicate areas that are out of bounds to the public, and more such signs went up in September this year.

But Mr Tay and NUS biology lecturer N. Sivasothi, who supervises the five students, said they had not been told before that the area was out of bounds.

Mr Sivasothi, who is also co-ordinator for the ICCS group, said he intends to seek clarification from the SLA about access to other state land that the volunteers clean, including at Lim Chu Kang, Pasir Ris and Selimang beaches, and the Sungei Pandan, Kranji East and Lim Chu Kang mangroves.

"The volunteers just want to help, and their enthusiasm needs opportunities and space," he said. "And if we don't do it, marine trash accumulates on our shores and hurts marine life."

The police said members of the public should approach the relevant authority for permission to enter restricted land, and such requests will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Under the law, any person who wilfully trespasses on state land without a satisfactory excuse can be fined up to $1,000.

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Best of our wild blogs: 26 Nov 13

“Every little bit adds up” – an encouraging two minute video to “Keep Our Waterways Clean” from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Dance of the Harlequin
from Bird Ecology Study Group

hawk cuckoo @ east coast parkway, singapore 24Nov2013
from sgbeachbum

Leatherback sea turtle no longer Critically Endangered
from news by Jeremy Hance

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Governments urged to put in place plans to resolve environmental problems

Lynda Hong Channel NewsAsia 25 Nov 13;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan has urged governments to put in place long-term master plans and policies to help resolve global environmental problems.

Speaking at the Responsible Business Forum on Monday, Dr Balakrishnan said: “Without that regulatory certainty, climate change and global warming or transboundary haze at the regional level will not be resolved. Because at the end of the day, as companies, you all know how to make money.

“But one key thing which you demand from government is - tell me your rules, be certain, be stable.”

He added that governments must also be able to execute the plans and policies, including prosecuting businesses and individuals who flout the rules.

Having attended the UN climate talks in Poland recently, Dr Balakrishnan said he is pessimistic that the talks will eventually help to cut global carbon emissions. And that is partly due to the lack of political will to drive efforts.

- CNA/ms

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Indonesia: Asia Pulp and Paper criticized by WWF for tiger habitat loss

The Jakarta Post 24 Nov 13;

An environmental NGO has said natural forest clearance conducted by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and its supplier companies has affected the endangered Sumatran tiger.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia communication coordinator Desma Murni said in Jakarta on Sunday there were many forestry timber concession areas that overlapped with the habitat of the Sumatran tiger – most of them in areas not yet entitled to legal protection.

“As the concession holder, from the very beginning APP has not shown responsible conduct by felling trees in areas identified as the habitat of the protected species,” she said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Desma said the Sumatran tiger was the only tiger sub-species left in Indonesia. Based on 2004 official data, she said, only around 400 Sumatran tigers could be found in their natural habitat and the number continued to decline due to excessive land clearing.

“If we continue to let this happen, the Sumatran tiger as a top predator will go extinct,” said Desma.

She said APP may no longer conduct forest clearance activities in the area. However, according to Eyes on the Forest (EoF) reports, as of April, the pulp and paper industry had continuously carried out natural forest clearance even after it signed a commitment to stop clearing natural forests.

Desma said most of APP’s industrial forest permit (HTI) concession areas, particularly in Sumatra, were located in peat lands, which used a drainage system as a water management system.

The company’s new forest conservation police (FCP) has indicated it will continue and/or carry out high conservation value (HCV) and high carbon stock (HCS) studies in areas that are both still heavily covered with forests and can produce natural timber.

“In fact, as we know, most of APP’s HTI concession areas have been cleared and converted into acacia plantations. It’s very unlikely there will be an evaluation of natural forests as stipulated in the HCV and HCS study plans,” she said.

Desma added the safety of Sumatran tigers and their existence in both the Kerumutan and Pulau Muda blocks remained a question due to APP’s lack of transparency in tackling human and animal conflicts. (ebf)

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Red List reveals conservation successes, but extinctions continue apace

Habitat destruction and human development causing decline of thousands of species, IUCN conservation thinktank warns
Damian Carrington The Guardian 26 Nov 13;

The blue-tongued forest giraffe, the national symbol of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is on the brink of extinction, according to the latest update to the Red List of threatened species. The stripy-legged creature, which appears on Congolese banknotes and is actually a species of okapi, has become another victim of the DRC's long-running war. But surveys reveal that conservation efforts have had a positive effect on ocean-roaming leatherback turtles and albatrosses, while a Californian fox has returned from the edge.

"This Red List update shows some fantastic conservation successes, from which we must learn," said Jane Smart, a director at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which compiles the list.

"However, the overall message remains bleak. With each update, whilst we see some species improving in status, there is a significantly larger number of species appearing in the threatened categories. The world must urgently scale up efforts to avert this devastating trend," she added.

The Red List now contains assessments of 71,500 species, including all mammals, birds and amphibians. The latest update added more than 1,000 species. Of the species understood well enough for a judgment to be made, more than a third are under threat. About half of known reptiles have been assessed and a third of fish, but only a fraction of invertebrates, plants and fungi.

Habitat destruction, hunting and the introduction of alien predators as a result of human activity are causing the greatest mass extinction of species on Earth since an asteroid strike wiped out the dinosaurs 65m years ago.

The shy forest giraffe is confined to the fast-disappearing and militia-filled forests of DRC, and its population is plummeting as its meat is prized. "It is revered in Congo as a national symbol but, sadly, DRC has been caught up in civil conflict and ravaged by poverty for nearly two decades," said Noëlle Kümpel, co-chair of the IUCN Giraffe and Okapi specialist group.

The animal, which has a prehensile blue tongue and zebra-like stripes on its behind, is extremely difficult to protect in an area rife with elephant poachers and illegal mining. In a notorious incident in 2012, armed rebels attacked the headquarters of the DRC's Okapi Wildlife Reserve and killed seven people and all 14 captive animals.

Other species whose prospects are plunging include the white-winged flufftail, a secretive African wetlands bird threatened by agriculture. "People treat wetlands as wasteland that needs to be drained," said Craig Hilton-Taylor, manager of the IUCN's Red List unit in Cambridge.

Assessments have been added for 24 Caribbean skinks – a type of lizard – but it may already be too late. "We went to look for them, but there is no trace," said Hilton-Taylor. Many may already be extinct, having fallen prey to mongooses that were themselves introduced to tackle an earlier alien predator: rats.

Among birds, the martial eagle – a sub-Saharan bird of prey – is struggling as it is shot and poisoned by farmers. Its numbers have plummeted by 60% in 20 years.

The decline of many species is linked to human development, but Hilton-Taylor warned that many people depended on wildlife. He highlighted bees and other pollinators believed to be declining globally. The IUCN has added assessments of 83 bumblebees and hundreds more are to follow. "Without pollinators, many food crops would not grow," he said.

Another example is aloe plants: "Virtually every aloe is used medicinally – if these species go extinct, then in poor countries, they have lost their source of primary healthcare."

A report in 2010 concluded that environmental destruction costs the world's economy trillions of dollars a year.

The recovering species highlighted have all benefited from conservation action. Leatherback turtles, a global species, have been plagued by the ease with which their beach-laid eggs can be poached and by being drowned in industrial fishing nets. Beach protection has led the Atlantic population to double in two years, although the Pacific population remains in severe decline.

Another ocean species that roams for thousands of miles, the albatross, has seen some recovery after action against long-line fisheries. The extended lines of multiple baited hooks attracted and ensnared many thousands a year. The black-browed albatross, centred around the Falkland Islands, and the black-footed albatross, concentrated around the Hawaiian chain, have moved down to "near threatened" status.

Another success is the island fox, which had been lost from some of the southern Californian islands on which it lived, but has staged a remarkable comeback. A captive-breeding and reintroduction programme was accompanied by vaccination against canine diseases, which had decimated numbers. Golden eagles, which prey on the fox, were also relocated as part of the plan.

"The trend is that things are generally getting worse," said Hilton-Taylor. "But it is possible to turn things around, and do it quickly."

Forest giraffe joins growing number of threatened species
IUCN 26 Nov 13;

The Okapi – a national symbol of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as the “forest giraffe” – and the sub-Saharan White-winged Flufftail – one of Africa’s rarest birds – are now on the brink of extinction, according to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Two species of albatross, the Leatherback Turtle and the Island Fox native to California’s Channel Islands are showing signs of recovery.
A total of 71,576 species have now been assessed, of which 21,286 are threatened with extinction.

The update highlights serious declines in the population of the Okapi (Okapia johnstoni), a close relative of the giraffe, unique to the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The species is now Endangered, only one step away from the highest risk of extinction, with numbers dwindling across its range. Poaching and habitat loss, as well as the presence of rebels, elephant poachers and illegal miners, are the principal threats to its survival.

“The Okapi is revered in Congo as a national symbol – it even features on the Congolese franc banknotes,” says Dr Noëlle Kümpel co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group and manager of ZSL’s range-wide okapi conservation project. “Sadly, DRC has been caught up in civil conflict and ravaged by poverty for nearly two decades, leading to widespread degradation of Okapi habitat and hunting for its meat and skin. Supporting government efforts to tackle the civil conflict and extreme poverty in the region are critical to securing its survival.”

According to the update, almost 200 species of bird are now Critically Endangered, facing the highest risk of extinction. The White-winged Flufftail (Sarothrura ayresi), a small, secretive bird which occurs in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, is the latest species to join this category. Destruction and degradation of its habitat, including wetland drainage, conversion for agriculture, water abstraction, overgrazing by livestock and cutting of marsh vegetation, have driven it to this precarious state. Urgent action is now needed to better understand the species’ ecology and to address these threats.

Although the global population of the Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) - the largest of all living turtles – has improved from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable, the species continues to face serious threats at a subpopulation level. Leatherbacks are a single species, globally comprising seven biologically and geographically distinct subpopulations. The Northwest Atlantic Ocean Leatherback subpopulation is abundant and increasing thanks to successful conservation initiatives in the region. In contrast, the East Pacific Ocean subpopulation, which nests along the Pacific coast of the Americas, and the West Pacific Ocean subpopulation, found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, are both in severe decline due to extensive egg harvest and incidental capture in fishing gear. Targeted conservation efforts are needed to prevent their collapse.

This IUCN Red List update also brings good news for some of the species assessed. Two species of albatross - one of the most threatened of the planet’s bird families – are now at a lower risk of extinction due to increases in their populations. The Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys) has moved from Endangered to Near Threatened and the Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) has moved from Vulnerable to Near Threatened. By-catch in fisheries is the main threat to these species.

The Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis), previously Critically Endangered, has also improved in status and is now listed as Near Threatened. Found on six of the California Channel Islands off the coast of southern California, four Island Fox subspecies suffered catastrophic declines in the mid 1990s mainly due to disease and predation by non-native species, such as the Golden Eagle. All four subspecies have now recovered or are approaching recovery. This is mainly due to successful conservation work of IUCN Member the U.S. National Park Service, which included captive breeding, reintroduction, vaccination against canine diseases and relocation of Golden Eagles.

“This IUCN Red List update shows some fantastic conservation successes, which we must learn from, for future conservation efforts,” says Jane Smart, Global Director, IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group. “However, the overall message remains bleak. With each update, whilst we see some species improving in status, there is a significantly larger number of species appearing in the threatened categories. The world must urgently scale up efforts to avert this devastating trend.”

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Yellow-breasted bunting 'endangered' as Guangdong diners refuse to stop eating it

Li Jing South China Morning Post 25 Nov 13;

It's a delicacy sold for a few dozen yuan amid hushed tones in certain markets and restaurants in Guangdong province. Sellers turn away customers who do not speak the local dialect - anyone caught can be fined as much as 100,000 yuan (HK$126,400).

Despite the threat of penalties, the market for yellow-breasted bunting, a migratory bird that flies from Europe to China for the winter, thrives on the mainland. Conservationists say poaching to supply the demand is a leading cause of the sharp decline in the protected species' numbers over the past decade.

The bird was today listed as endangered by the main global body that categorises the survival status of the planet's species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The union has two higher categories - critical and extinct in the wild - before a species is deemed extinct.

Guangdong made the bird a key protected species in 2001 - at a time when the union had it listed in its lowest category of "least concern".

But its numbers appear to have fallen rapidly. Experts are unsure exactly how many are left, but BirdLife International, a conservation group headquartered in Britain, has cited one study published in 2009 that estimates there were no more than about 10,000 migrating in China every season.

Another study published last year estimated the species' numbers had dropped by at least 70 per cent in European Russia in the decade to 2010.

Often known as "rice birds", the yellow-breasted bunting is a popular delicacy in southern China, especially Guangdong, where locals believe eating the animal can boost their sexual vitality and detoxify their bodies.

"The very rapid recent population decline in the yellow-breasted bunting is believed to be primarily driven by trapping at migration and, in particular, wintering sites in southern China and Southeast Asia," said Andy Symes, global species officer with BirdLife.

The birds usually flocked and roosted in large numbers in reed beds, making them vulnerable to poachers' nets, he said.

"They are mostly taken for food … [The practice] was formerly thought to be restricted to a small area of southern China, but has now become more widespread and popular owing to increasing affluence" among mainlanders, Symes said.

The deterioration or loss of their winter habitats due to changing agricultural practices could also be driving down numbers, Symes said.

The Guangzhou Daily reported last week yellow-breasted bunting was still sold discreetly at certain restaurants and markets in Dongguan, at an average price of 30 to 45 yuan.

"The birds are available when local people ask for them," said Tian Yangyang, a campaigner with Beijing-based environmental group Nature University.

"Information about such shops is spread by word of mouth among locals. But the dealers get suspicious and turn down outsiders who do not speak the local dialect. It then only becomes more difficult to uncover the illegal behaviour."

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China to launch two new carbon trading exchanges

David Stanway PlanetArk 26 Nov 13;

China will launch two new pilot carbon trading schemes this week in Beijing and Shanghai as it strives to cut soaring rates of greenhouse gas, reduce choking smog and determine the best system for a nationwide roll-out.

China, the world's biggest source of climate-changing carbon emissions, is under domestic pressure from its population to counter air pollution and has pledged to cut the 2005 rate of CO2 emissions per unit of GDP growth by 40-45 percent by 2020.

As U.N.-led climate talks stumbled in Warsaw last week, the country's chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua was keen to push the country's CO2 cutting credentials, challenging developed nations to match the efforts being made by China to tackle global warming.

The new platforms, which will force industrial firms to buy credits to cover any CO2 they emit above allocated quotas, also underscore Beijing's commitment to "market mechanisms" to slow emissions growth, in line with an ambitious raft of reforms outlined earlier this month.

"It is definitely a move in the right direction, but there are concerns about activity -- these are pilot schemes and are used as a learning experience, and local governments might not be particularly concerned by volumes," said Shawn He, a climate lawyer with the Hualian legal practice in Beijing.

Trading is likely to start slowly as the government treads cautiously and tries to learn lessons from Europe, where an excess of credits has left carbon prices in the doldrums.

Hualian's He said there were concerns how effective the pilot schemes would be, as no binding carbon caps would be imposed on enterprises and there were no legal means of forcing them to participate.


China's government hopes climate targets will help meet other policy goals on pollution, sustainable development and industrial restructuring.

The pilot markets would not only allow China to reduce CO2 but would also help "upgrade industries", Xie said in Warsaw last week.

Officials have suggested carbon credits could provide a financial incentive to close down inefficient steel or cement plants. Closures would free up the carbon credits to sell on the market.

The schemes are expected to draw in some of the country's largest companies, including leading steelmaker Baoshan Iron and Steel in Shanghai. The Beijing exchange will include oil giant Sinopec's Yanshan refinery, coal miner Shenhua Group and giant utilities like Huaneng.

While the fines for noncompliance are minimal, Hualian's He acknowledged the state-owned companies are expected to participate fully given political pressure to take part and the close relationship with local governments.

In the first phase, credits will be distributed to member firms free of charge, meaning participants will face additional costs only if they exceed their quotas and have to buy.

The Beijing platform is expected to force bigger polluters to buy more credits in coming years.

China is set to launch seven pilot carbon trading schemes in total, with one already in operation in the southeast city of Shenzhen. Another platform will be established for the province of Guangdong before the end of the year, and another three are due to go into operation in Hubei province and the cities of Tianjin and Chongqing next year.

Officials have said China's policy on emissions markets has been to "let a hundred flowers bloom" and see which one works best before a nationwide scheme is established.

Each regional-level platform has ambitions to dominate nationwide trade, with the Shenzhen platform already branding itself as the China emissions exchange and hoping its early start will give it an advantage.

"We don't know how all the schemes will develop but if I have to choose one I would look to Shanghai -- it is the most commercially friendly and active city in the country and is where market mechanisms will work the best," said He.

(Additional reporting by Kathy Chen; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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Team flocks to collect dead birds for research

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times 26 Nov 2013;

Have you spotted a dead bird? Then undergraduate David Tan is your man.

The 24-year-old promises to "drop everything and rush down" to collect the carcass.

The self-proclaimed snatcher of dead birds explained in a widely shared Facebook post earlier this month why he is a bag man for science.

His work is part of a wide-ranging new effort here to understand bird evolution, conservation and disease, and how this relates to and impacts humans.

And no bird is too common for the cause.

"While mynahs and sparrows might seem common and worthless", future research projects may require DNA extracts from their carcasses, he said.

He is part of the Avian Genetics Laboratory at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Set up in January, it aims to build up a repository of winged creatures' genetic material to better understand their evolution and ecology.

The lab's freezer is full of local species such as the Japanese sparrowhawk and red-legged crake, and the researchers have so far amassed records of more than 50 species.

The lab's head, Assistant Professor Frank Rheindt, said the data could be used to identify species in danger of extinction due to poorer genetic diversity, which could help guide conservation efforts.

Dr Rheindt, who is with the university's Department of Biological Sciences, said a large part of the lab's analyses has become feasible only in recent years due to technological advances that allow genes to be sequenced faster and more cheaply.

The 36-year-old has been studying birds for more than a decade, including at Harvard University before he came to NUS.

"When I finished my PhD at the University of Melbourne in Australia in 2008, I had worked for five years on two genes for 80 birds," he said. That is about one-millionth of a bird genome.

"With enough funding, my students could now do whole genomes in one afternoon."

Remarkably, the team is doing its work without sacrificing a single live bird.

The team collects flesh samples from the dead birds and gets blood from live birds in the field through a tiny prick on the underside of a wing.

Dr Rheindt told The Sunday Times that the impact of human activity on nature can be tracked by studying samples of the same bird species across time.

The researchers also study dead and living birds across the region to find out how they may have evolved, and to better understand their travel and mating patterns.

In Singapore, examining the same species across green pockets allows them to gauge how successful eco-links are - and which birds are on an extinction clock.

Dr Rheindt explained that the country's rapid development after the Japanese Occupation led to fragmented habitats. Trapped in small spaces, some birds may have bred within their own families.

"It's extinction with a time lag. It takes a few decades for everyone in the little patch to become cousins." Once that happens, the genetic defects start to pile up as the in-breeding continues, until the offspring are either stillborn or have disabilities and die soon after birth.

This may explain why some species such as the white-bellied woodpecker, which has not been seen for almost a decade, may have become extinct here, he said.
"We call some species 'the living dead'. They may be alive but they are functionally dead because their offspring will become unviable."

Another reason to make sure the birds have high genetic diversity is to protect people.

"A healthy biodiversity could mean that fewer birds are susceptible to the same disease, which could lessen the risk of the disease jumping over to humans," he said.

The lab's partners at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School are researching this issue. The Avian Genetics Laboratory's work for the school follows strict safety guidelines and is done in coordination with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority and the National Parks Board.

He added that bird flu has been around for a long time, even though recent chicken-rearing practices for the meat and egg trade may be increasing the instances of it crossing over to people.

Call Mr Tan on 9176-8971 if you spot a dead bird.

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U.N. talks limp towards global 2015 climate deal

Stian Reklev and Susanna Twidale PlanetArk 25 Nov 13;

Almost 200 countries on Saturday kept alive hopes for a global deal in 2015 to fight climate change after overcoming disputes on greenhouse gas emissions cuts and aid for poor nations at a meeting widely criticised as lacking urgency.

Governments agreed that a new deal in 2015 would consist of a patchwork of national offers to curb emissions, and would blur a 20-year-old distinction between the obligations of rich and poor nations.

The two-week meeting also set up a new Warsaw International Mechanism to help the poor cope with loss and damage from heatwaves, droughts, floods, desertification and rising sea levels - although rich nations refused to pledge new cash.

Still, many said Warsaw had fallen short of what was needed.

"We did not achieve a meaningful outcome," said Naderev Sano, a Philippines delegate who had been fasting throughout the meeting to urge action in sympathy with victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 5,000 people.

No major nation offered tougher action to slow rising world greenhouse gas emissions and Japan backtracked from its carbon goals for 2020, after shutting down its nuclear industry in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.


Environmentalists walked out on Thursday, exasperated by lack of progress. Rich nations are preoccupied with reviving their weak economies rather than climate change.

"The actions that have been agreed are simply inadequate when compared with the scale and urgency of the risks that the world faces from rising levels of greenhouse gases, said Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics.

The negotiators agreed that a new global deal, due to be agreed in Paris 2015 and to enter into force from 2020, would be made up of what they called "intended nationally determined contributions" from both rich and poor nations.

Until now, rich nations that have emitted most greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution have been expected to take the lead with "commitments" to cut emissions while the poor have been granted less stringent "actions".

"In the old system you had this firewall between commitments and actions, now there is one word for all," European Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. "There are many ways to Paris that would be more beautiful and faster."

The Warsaw deal called on those nations able to do so to put forward their plans by the first quarter of 2015 to give time for a review before a summit in Paris at the end of the year.

Under the last climate pact, the Kyoto Protocol, only the most developed countries were required to limit their emissions - one of the main reasons the United States refused to accept it, saying rapidly growing economies like China and India should also take part.

Until Saturday, the only concrete measure to have emerged in Warsaw after two weeks was an agreement on new rules to protect tropical forests, which soak up carbon dioxide as they grow.

Developed nations, which promised in 2009 to raise aid to $100 billion a year after 2020 from $10 billion a year in 2010-12, rejected calls to set targets for 2013-19.

A draft text merely urged developed nations to set "increasing levels" of aid.

(Additional reporting by Nina Chestney and Michael Szabo; Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Andrew Roche)

U.N. agrees multi-billion dollar framework to tackle deforestation
Stian Reklev PlanetArk 25 Nov 13;

U.N. negotiators on Friday agreed rules on financing forest projects in developing nations, paving the way for multi-billion dollar investments from governments, funding agencies and private firms in schemes to halt deforestation.

The agreement on "results-based" funding for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) was a rare breakthrough at the climate talks in Warsaw, where negotiators are struggling to make progress in discussions on emissions cuts and climate change aid.

The deal was "another big step forward", said Ed Davey, the British minister for energy and climate change.

Under the new rules, the fledgling Green Climate Fund will play a key role in channeling finance for projects to host governments, who in turn must set up national agencies to oversee the money.

Money will flow into host-country coffers when they can prove they have reduced carbon emissions without harming local communities or biological diversity.

Nations also agreed rules on how to measure and verify the emissions cuts from forest projects.

Deforestation has played an increasingly important role in climate negotiations, because the loss of forests accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions that scientists blame for global warming.

The Norwegian government has already paid out $1.4 billion in bilateral deals with nations such as Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guyana and Indonesia. The World Bank, the Global Environment Facility and a growing number of private-sector firms have also launched projects.

The governments of Britain, Norway and the United States earlier this week allocated $280 million to a World Bank-led fund operating REDD projects.

But a common set of rules for projects will provide regulatory certainty and draw more funds from investors, observers say.

"This sends a positive signal to national governments and to funding agencies," said Rosalind Reeve, a forestry expert with the Ateneo School of Government.

The framework will be formally adopted along with other decisions at the Poland talks, which delegates expect will run over time and might not be concluded until Sunday morning.

(Additional reporting by Susanna Twidale; editing by David Evans)

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