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Indigenous people win voice in climate negotiations

Indigenous people win voice in climate negotiations

Indigenous people win voice in climate negotiations

Rhett A. Butler,
December 10, 2008

Negotiators at U.N. climate conference have struck a deal to give forest-dependent people a voice in determining the role forest conservation will play future agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reports the Associated Press (AP). The agreement clears a key obstacle that had been blocking progress on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), a mechanism that would compensate tropical countries for protecting their forest cover.

AP is reporting that the deal includes a provision for carbon credits from reforestation, a move widely seen as a concession to India and China for their massive tree-planting campaigns.

Deforestation presenting accounts for roughly 20 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions — a share greater than worldwide emissions from transportation. Each year some 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forest are lost, while vast areas are logged and degraded by fire.

The next step for REDD is addressing financing of the mechanism. Some parties prefer a market-based approach while others — most notably Brazil, which is home the bulk of the world’s remaining tropical forests — favor voluntary measures that reward tropical countries for reducing deforestation rates but don’t provide conventional carbon offsets to industrialized nations. The debate promises to be contentious.

The final text of the agreement will be ready Friday before the conclusion of the conference.

Indigenous groups and their advocates had staged an extensive campaign for better representation in climate discussions. Saying they had been excluded from talks to lay the groundwork for REDD, these groups expressed concern that the mechanism could lead to a land grab by central governments and carbon speculators.


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