The elimination of a key provision from the negotiating text for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries (REDD) mechanism could turn the proposed climate change mitigation scheme into a subsidy for large-scale conversion of natural forests to industrial plantations, warned environmentalists today at the resumption of U.N. climate change negotiations in Barcelona.
The provision, which included safeguards against the conversion of natural forests to forest plantations, was removed the negotiating text during the final session at climate talks in Bangkok three weeks ago. The European Union, backed by Democratic Republic of the Congo and other Congo Basin countries, blocked reinstatement of the conversion safeguard, despite strong requests to do so from Brazil, India, Mexico, Switzerland, Norway, and more than a dozen other countries.
Environmentalists say that without the provision, forestry companies could receive REDD payments for logging tropical forests and replacing them with single-species plantations, which are biologically impoverished and store less carbon relative to natural forests.
“The loss of text language guarding against forest conversion raises the specter that governments are willing to accept a REDD agreement which, perversely, will end up rewarding natural forest conversion to plantations in lieu of true forest protection,” Bill Barclay, Policy Director of the Rainforest Action Network, told mongabay.com. “Reinsertion of this safeguard language is crucial to creating a REDD system that provides incentives to protect forests, not to pay loggers and plantation developers.”
“Strong language identifying that forest protection has to be a primary objective of REDD AND safeguards against perverse social and environmental outcomes must be an outcome from Barcelona,” added Sean Cadman of the Wilderness Society in Australia, via email.
Due to widespread outcry over the text’s change, the conversion provision is expected to be reinstated at Barcelona talks.
“It was an unfortunate mishap,” said a Swedish spokesman at a press conference last month. “Sometimes negotiators think of tactical moves. In this case, he wanted to wait until the Barcelona talks next month (to reinstate it).”
A properly designed REDD mechanism is widely seen as a cost-effective approach to simultaneously conserving forests and helping slow climate change. Emissions from deforestation and degradation account for around of sixth of total CO2 emissions, a share larger than the global transportation sector.
Are we on the brink of saving rainforests?
(07/22/2009) Until now saving rainforests seemed like an impossible mission. But the world is now warming to the idea that a proposed solution to help address climate change could offer a new way to unlock the value of forest without cutting it down.Deep in the Brazilian Amazon, members of the Surui tribe are developing a scheme that will reward them for protecting their rainforest home from encroachment by ranchers and illegal loggers. The project, initiated by the Surui themselves, will bring jobs as park guards and deliver health clinics, computers, and schools that will help youths retain traditional knowledge and cultural ties to the forest. Surprisingly, the states of California, Wisconsin and Illinois may finance the endeavor as part of their climate change mitigation programs.