Posted by: eengelh | December 4, 2007

New Greenpeace Proposal to Save Forests and Cut CO₂

Filed by Erika Engelhaupt

While Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol, I finished my trek to Bali, arriving late Monday night. I jumped into the meeting with an issue I’ll be following closely in Bali: the push to provide incentives for developing nations to cut CO2 emissions from deforestation, which now accounts for about 20% of global emissions and the majority of emissions from some countries, such as Brazil and Indonesia.

Greenpeace panelAt a side event held by Greenpeace on Tuesday, the environmental group released a new report outlining a proposal for halting deforestation in the tropics. (With a 13-hour lag from Bali to U.S. Eastern time; Tuesday night in Bali is Tuesday morning on the U.S. east coast.) The key, they said, is to provide incentives for countries to avoid deforestation, rather than helping them only to restore deforested areas. The event was one of many such meetings held by countries and organizations alongside the main COP events.

The Greenpeace plan calls for establishing a new international trading credit, called a Tropical Deforestation Emission Reduction Unit, which would be traded separately from carbon credits used under the Kyoto Protocol. Industrialized nations would buy a minimum number of credits under a post-Kyoto agreement, separate from their required energy-sector emission reductions. This would help keep developed nations “on the hook” for their own emissions, rather than allowing them to maintain high emissions at home while buying into offset projects abroad.

The governor of the Indonesian province of Papua, Barnabas Suebu, was at the event and called for international funding mechanisms to help slow rampant deforestation there. Illegal logging is common, and about 9 million hectares in Papua has been converted to plantations, primarily for palm oil. Suebu said that “log export, legally or illegally, should be totally prohibited” in Papua, envisioning instead a Papua-based industry to produce finished products such as wood flooring and moldings. That would raise local profits on a cubic meter of harvested log from about $10 to at least $1500, he said, encouraging more sustainable use of forests.

The Greenpeace approach to solving the problems of Papua and other deforesting countries “is not new,” said Osvaldo Stella Martins of Iniciativa Verde (Green Initiative) in Brazil. “The main difficulty is that you have to change the rules of the Kyoto Protocol to include avoided deforestation,” he noted. “It’s a good option in the long term, but we also need options for now” that build on smaller national projects, he said.

Preserving forests is shaping up as a major topic at the meeting, especially given its prominence in Indonesia, which ranks 3rd in global emissions because of its own deforestation problem.

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