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Rainforest countries form pact to push global warming solutions

Rainforest countries form alliance to push global warming solutions

Rainforest countries form pact to push global warming solutions
September 13, 2007

Eight tropical countries containing 80 percent of the world’s remaining tropical forest cover have formed an alliance to have forest conservation included in a post-Kyoto agreement on climate change, reports the Financial Times. The “Forestry Eight”, as the group is called, includes Brazil, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Gabon, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Congo and Indonesia.

The group will convene for the first time at a UN climate meeting in New York on September 24 while formal negotiations on the next global framework will begin at a UN conference in Bali in December.

In forming the alliance, tropical countries have thrown considerable support behind the concept of “avoided deforestation”, whereby forested countries earn carbon credits for protecting forests that lock up large amounts of carbon. Deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gases, accounting for roughly 20 percent of global emissions. Steps to reduce forest clearing and degradation will help mitigate climate change.

Tropical deforestation rates from 2000-2005, ranked in descending order by the highest amount of average annual forest loss for 25 countries based on data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Image by Rhett A. Butler, click to enlarge.

As such, it is key that any agreement on “avoided deforestation” include Indonesia and Brazil, the countries that have the highest annual forest loss and are the world’s third and fourth largest emitters of greenhouse gases as a result of this clearing. Indonesia is a particularly important participant in any climate deal since degradation and destruction of its carbon-rich peatlands is estimated to release 2 billion tons of carbon (7.5 billion tones of carbon dioxide) annually. Involving countries with extensive forest cover but low deforestation rates (Papua New Guinea, Gabon, and Congo) is also significant. Without financial incentives to protect their forests, these countries could otherwise become targets for forest clearing.

Overall the avoided deforestation market could be substantial — on the order of tens of billions of dollars per year. Gains would extend beyond helping fighting climate change — avoided deforestation offers the potential to simultaneously conserve biodiversity, alleviate rural poverty, protect important ecosystem services, and reduce the risk of forest fires in the tropics.

Under the existing Kyoto agreement, only reforestation and afforestation are eligible for carbon credits — forest protection is specifically excluded from receiving carbon credits.

The “Forestry Eight” follows the “Coalition of Rainforest Nations” which formed in 2005 at climate talks in Montreal and was led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica.


Avoided deforestation could send $38 billion to third world under global warming pact
(10/31/2006) Avoided deforestation will be a hot point of discussion at next week’s climate meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. Already a coalition of 15 rainforest nations have proposed a plan whereby industrialized nations would pay them to protect their forests to offset greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, last month Brazil — which has the world’s largest extent of tropical rainforests and the world’s highest rate of forest loss — said it promote a similar initiative at the talks. At stake: potentially billions of dollars for developing countries. When trees are cut greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere — roughly 20 percent of annual emissions of such heat-trapping gases result from deforestation and forest degradation. Avoided deforestation is the concept where countries are paid to prevent deforestation that would otherwise occur. Policymakers and environmentalists alike find the idea attractive because it could help fight climate change at a low cost while improving living standards for some of the world’s poorest people and preserving biodiversity and other ecosystem services. A number of prominent conservation biologists and development agencies including the World Bank and the U.N. have already endorsed the idea.

Reducing tropical deforestation will help fight global warming
(5/10/2007) Scientists have lent support to a plan by developing countries to fight global warming by reducing deforestation rates. Tropical deforestation releases more than 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, though in some years, like the 1997-1998 el Nino year when fires released some 2 billion tons of carbon from peat swamps alone in Indonesia, emissions are more than twice that. Writing in the journal Science, an international team of scientists argue that the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation (RED) initiative, launched in 2005 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is scientifically and technologically sound, and that political and economic challenges facing the plan can be overcome.

Indonesia’s peatlands may offer U.S. firms global warming offsets
(8/29/2007) The following is modified version of a letter I’ve used to pitch U.S. companies on the concept of carbon finance in Indonesia’s peatlands. Discussions are slow and the critical December U.N. climate meeting is fast approaching, so I’m posting this as a tool to help you get American firms interested in avoided deforestation offsets. Please feel free to use, modify, and distribute this letter widely.

Indonesia wants to be paid for slowing deforestation
(1/31/2007) Indonesia voiced support for a proposal by a coalition of developing countries seeking compensation for forest conservation, according to a report from Reuters. Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia’s minister of the environment, told Reuters that poor countries should be paid for conserving forests and the services they provide the world.

Low deforestation countries to see least benefit from carbon trading
(8/13/2007) Countries that have done the best job protecting their tropical forests stand to gain the least from proposed incentives to combat global warming through carbon offsets, warns a new study published in Tuesday in the journal Public Library of Science Biology (PLoS). The authors say that “high forest cover with low rates of deforestation” (HFLD) nations “could become the most vulnerable targets for deforestation if the Kyoto Protocol and upcoming negotiations on carbon trading fail to include intact standing forest.”

Scientists endorse plan to save rainforests through emissions trading
(5/19/2006) The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), the world’s largest scientific organization devoted to the study and wise use of tropical ecosystems, has formally endorsed a radical proposal to help save tropical forests through carbon trading. Under the initiative proposed by an alliance of fifteen developing countries led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, tropical nations that show permanent reductions in deforestation would be eligible to receive international carbon funds from industrial nations who could purchase carbon credits to help them meet their emissions targets international climate agreements like the Kyoto Protocol.

Rainforests worth $1.1 trillion for carbon alone in Coalition nations
(11/29/2005) If a coalition of developing countries has its way, there could soon be new forests sprouting up in tropical regions. The group of ten countries, led by Papua New Guinea, has proposed that wealthy countries pay them to preserve their rainforests. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations argues that all countries should pay for the benefits — from carbon sequestration to watershed protection — that tropical rainforests provide.

Developing countries: pay us to save rainforests
(11/27/2005) At this week's United Nations summit on climate change in Montreal a coalition of tropical developing countries plans to propose that wealthy countries pay them to preserve their rainforests. The group of 10 countries, led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, will argue that they should be compensated for the services rainforests provide the rest of the world.

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