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U.S. contributes $0 to World Bank’s new $300m forest carbon fund

U.S. contributes $0 to World Bank’s new $300m forest carbon fund

U.S. contributes $0 to World Bank’s new $300m forest carbon fund
December 11, 2007

At U.N. climate talks in Bali, the World Bank officially unveiled its $300 million Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, a scheme that will offer tropical countries carbon offset credits to preserve forests.

The bank said that nine industrialized countries have pledged US$155 million to kick-start the 10-year initiative, including Germany (US$59 million), the United Kingdom ($30 million), the Netherlands ($22 million), Australia and Japan ($10 million each), France and Switzerland ($7 million each), and Denmark and Finland ($5 million each). The United States has contributed $0. Some 30 tropical countries in Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific could benefit from what the World Bank calls “the first financial mechanism to pay countries for saving their tropical forests.”

“The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility signals that the world cares about the global value of forests and is ready to pay for it,” says World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick.

According to the World Bank, “the facility consists of two components: A US$100 million Readiness Fund will provide grants to help countries set up systems and processes to monitor and credibly govern their forests. Several countries will also be able to sell emission reductions to a special US$200 million Carbon Fund supported by wealthy countries, as well as the private sector and organizations.”

The bank hopes the initiative will jump-start a global carbon market for avoided deforestation, whereby tropical countries are compensated for the carbon value of forests. Presently there is no such mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol even though deforestation and change in land use accounts for roughly one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Stern Report, a British government study on the economic of climate change, said that reducing emissions from deforestation by 70 percent would cost around $5 billion per year, making it one of the most cost-effective mechanisms for fighting global warming.

The Bush Administration has thus far dragged its feet on “avoided deforestation” measures at the Bali climate talks. Last week, the Tropical Forest Group, a forest policy group, reported that the Treasury Department plans to significantly cut funding for the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), the largest pool of U.S. government money exclusively for helping developing countries conserve threatened tropical forests.

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