Norway offers $1 billion towards saving the Amazon rainforest
September 17, 2008
The announcement, made by Tuesday Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, was expected. Norway has pledged to contribute hundreds of millions of dollars per year to rainforest protection in an effort to slow greenhouse gas emissions that result from deforestation.
"The government of Norway has decided to contribute as much as a billion dollars to the Amazon Fund," Stoltenberg was quoted as saying by AFP. "To win the battle against global warming, we have to win the fight against global deforestation."
Brazil established the "Amazon Fund" earlier this year to promote sustainable use of Earth's largest rainforest. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hopes to attract $21 billion in donations from rich countries to protect the Amazon.
While critics have said the plan is vague in terms of how much forest will be protected and how funds will be used, the initiative is seen as a way for Brazil to shore up its Amazon conservation efforts without giving up control in the region. The sovereignty of the Amazon is an important concern in Brazil.
DEFORESTATION IN BRAZIL [Português | Español | Français]
Lula welcomed the deal and appealed for more funds from other countries.
"The day that every developed country has the same attitude as Norway, we'll certainly begin to trust that global warming can be diminished," he said.
Environment Minister Carlos Minc said Japan, Sweden, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland are considering donations to the fund. Donors will not be eligible for carbon credits that may be generated by reductions in deforestation, a concept that has been pushed in other parts of the world to create market incentives for reducing the clearing of forests.
While the fund has been criticized by some observers for relying on donations rather than market mechanisms for avoiding deforestation, Brazil is effectively asking industrialized countries to put their money where their mouth is. Environmental groups and governments in Europe and the United States have long blamed Brazil for its high rate of deforestation (the country accounted for about half of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2005), without offering much in the way of assistance to help slow forest loss. In fact, policies in the West, along with consumer demand for products produced on forest lands, are key drivers of rainforest destruction in Brazil. Failure to pay into the new fund would likely undermine any future Western criticism on Brazil's environmental performance.
The Brazilian Amazon
In recent years, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increasingly moved in step with soy and cattle prices: as prices surged to near record levels in the second half of 2007, forest clearing rose significantly.