Monday, December 17, 2007

Preserving forests to fight global warming

Interesting news from Bali, Indonesia. The World Bank launched plans for a US$300 million fund to fend off global warming by preserving forests in developing countries.

The logic is very simple explained Stephanie Meeks, acting CEO and President of The Nature Conservancy: " We’ll never solve the climate challenge unless we address the loss of tropical forests, which puts out as much carbon dioxide as all the planes, trains and cars worldwide".

So the idea is to give economic incentives to preserve the forests and to make it worthwhile to keep them alive, avoid logging and prevent further .

According to the Reuters report, a US$100 million readiness fund will provide grants to around 20 countries to prepare them for large-scale forest protection under a future climate change deal, also known as reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in developing countries.

This first funding stage will be used for surveys of current forest assets in developing countries, monitoring systems and tightening governance. A second stage of funding of US$200 million carbon finance mechanism will allow some of these countries to run pilot programmes earning credits for curbing deforestation. The credits will belong to the countries or groups that put up the cash for the fund.

The World Bank announced that of the US$300 million, they already have US$160 million pledged from seven developed countries.

The World Bank forest and climate change official Benoit Bosquet told Reuters that "the projects could include anything from straight forward reforestation and better zoning of agricultural and forest lands, to paying people for environmental services or improving management of forest areas".

Another contributor to the effort is The Nature Conservancy that has pledged $5 million towards a Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), an innovative new initiative launched by the World Bank as a part of the REDD efforts.
The emissions that will be saved will also have direct economic value - right now, under the Kyoto Protocol, emissions cuts from forest areas are not yet eligible for formal credits, but they may be sold on voluntary markets. After 2012 they might be eligible for formal credits.

There are some concerns - environmental groups say they are worried deals to prioritize the carbon-retaining value of forests might exclude some of the people who have most at stake - indigenous people that live in these areas. I hope these concerns will be addressed by making sure that the people live in these areas will be part of the decision-making process, so that their concerns will be heard and taken into account.

All in all, I believe it's a good plan. We have to give a value to keeping forests alive. In a perfect world it would be obvious, but we're not living in a perfect world and hence we need to make sure everyone will know that keeping forests alive is more profitable than logging.


Raz @ Eco-Libris