The U.S. pledged $275 million to a efforts to reduce deforestation in developing countries, reports Reuters.
The commitment was announced by U.S. Ambassador Louis Susman during an event hosted by Prince Charles. The pledge was made in a letter from Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the US Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, to Prince Charles.
The letter stated the funds are “to protect biodiversity and support sustainable landscapes in fiscal year 2010 … with a focus on protection of tropical forests.”
Tropical forest in Madagascar
According the Reuters, the money would come from the $1.2 billion international assistance fund, although it wasn’t immediately clear how the funds would be dispersed. One possibility is the U.N. REDD Program, a proposed mechanism to compensate developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation.
The U.S. has lagged behind other rich-world nations in funding tropical forest conservation in recent years, especially Norway, which has committed more than a billion dollars to forest conservation efforts in Brazil, Guyana, Tanzania, and Congo Basin countries. The Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), the main mechanism by which the U.S. has funded tropical forest conservation, languished under the Bush Administration, which reduced funding while adding a coral reef conservation mandate, further diluting funds available for tropical forests. The most recent TFCA, passed in May 2009 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will provide up to $115 million in debt relief to tropical countries in exchange for commitments to conserve forests and coral reefs.
Norway emerges as champion of rainforest conservation
(03/19/2009) While citizens in western countries have long paid lip service to saving rainforests, Norway has quietly emerged as the largest and most important international force in tropical forest conservation. The small Scandinavian country has committed 3 billion krone ($440 million) a year to the effort, a figure vastly greater than the $100M pledged — but never fully contributed — by the United States under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA). Norway now hopes it can help push to include forest conservation in the successor to the Kyoto Protocol by providing funding and fostering cooperation among international actors like the UN and World Bank, as well as developing countries, to fund the creation of an international architecture which makes it possible to incorporate deforestation and degradation into a post-2012 climate regime.
Kerry, Lugar: U.S. has opportunity to lead on climate, forest conservation
(02/10/2009) The United States can reassert itself as a global leader on the environment by supporting an initiative to fight climate change by protecting forests, said leaders from a broad range of political, environmental, development and business communities at a meeting on Capitol Hill Monday. Joined by senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar, the “Avoided Deforestation Partners” coalition called for Congress to include “strong tropical forest protection measures in U.S. climate change legislation” ahead of this December’s climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.