Rich & Poor Countries Turn REDD
The Oslo Climate and Forest Conference, attended by representatives of 52 countries, agreed on a non-binding framework to funnel aid promised by the rich world and set up monitoring standards to ensure money flows are based on solid results, while Indonesia agreed place a two-year moratorium on new concessions to clear natural forests and peatlands under a deal signed with Norway aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.
From The Guardian (27 May 2010):
Rich and poor countries have agreed on guidelines for releasing aid to save forests, in the first concrete sign of global action on climate change since Copenhagen.
Norway, which chaired last week’s climate conference, said aid pledges to save forests had risen by $500m (£345m) since the UN climate conference in Copenhagen last December.
But this is less than was expected just weeks ago – showing the limits of more state funding amid economic crises and unrest in the financial markets.
Some experts say the modest increase in state aid for forests, whose conservation is seen as the cheapest way of lowering carbon emissions, underlines the need for private sector engagement.
The Oslo Climate and Forest Conference, attended by representatives of 52 countries, agreed on a non-binding framework to funnel aid promised by the rich world and set up monitoring standards to ensure money flows are based on solid results. Such frameworks are known as Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programmes.
“The outcome of this meeting could be the first comprehensive component for a future international agreement on climate change [since Copenhagen],” World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said in a televised address from Washington DC.
In Copenhagen, global leaders failed to deliver a legally binding deal on manmade emissions. Rich nations did agree, however, to provide $30bn from 2010-12 to help poor states combat global warming, rising to $100bn a year by 2020.
The US, the UK, Australia, France, Japan and Norway had specifically agreed on $3.5bn from 2010-12 to save forests, a pool of money which has now grown to $4bn (£2.75bn), according to Norway.
“There is no way to mobilise that much money without mobilising the private sector,” Norway’s prime minister Jens Stoltenberg said, referring to a plan to spend $30bn on forests and other fast-track green financing until 2012.
Deforestation and forest degradation wipes away an area the size of England each year and is responsible for 17% of global carbon emissions – more than that made by the world’s cars, trains and planes combined, according to UN data.
“Reducing deforestation and forest degradation can provide the largest, fastest and cheapest cuts in carbon emissions,” Stoltenberg said. Such efforts could achieve “a third of the cuts in carbon emissions needed by 2020″, he added.
Norway, which is rich in oil, yesterday formally announced $1bn in aid to Indonesia to help protect forests in the south east Asian nation, which has been quickly clearing trees for palm oil plantations. It has a similar deal with Brazil.
Growing populations, agriculture and the timber industry have all reduced tropical forests from the Amazon to Indonesia, where it has become more profitable to cut down natural forests.
“Today, the market values forests more destroyed than standing,” said Papua New Guinea prime minister Michael Somare.
“We must find a way to value forests more alive than dead.”
To push people to protect forests, as well as to attract private sector financing, it will be essential to set up a global price for carbon emissions, either via a market or a carbon tax.
“This is a good day – it rebuilds trust in the international community’s ability to confront climate change,” said Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
“What is needed is a bit more assurance that the carbon price will be there and that the private sector will have input how the system of green financing is set up.”
Prince Charles was among the speakers at the conference, after being invited by Stoltenberg.
The prince told the delegates that three years ago experts warned him how serious the deforestation problem had become.
He said: “However, the great positive difference between the summer of 2007 and today is that we now have a serious group of governments – with none showing greater leadership than Norway – who are prepared to work together to find a durable solution which will effectively tackle the drivers of tropical deforestation.”
Reuters report on ABC News (27 May 2010):
Indonesia will place a two-year moratorium on new concessions to clear natural forests and peatlands under a deal signed with Norway aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.
Norway will invest $1.2 billion in forest conservation projects in Indonesia under a deal struck by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo.
“In the second phase of the partnership, Indonesia is prepared to suspend for two years new concessions for the conversion of peat and natural forest lands,” a statement said.
“Sufficient non-forest lands exist for Indonesia to accommodate the growth of its vitally important plantation industries, a major source of livelihoods in Indonesia.”
The suspension will encourage the development of new plantations “on degraded lands rather than vulnerable forests and peatlands”.
Previous concessions already granted to clear forest land are likely to still be honoured, since the statement only referred to new concessions.
Palm oil firms such as Wilmar and Indofood Agri Resources have big expansion plans in Indonesia, already the largest producer of an oil used to make everything from biscuits to soap.
Part of Norway’s $1.2 billion will be spent on creating monitoring systems and pilot projects under a UN-backed forest preservation scheme called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).
REDD allows developing nations to earn money by not chopping down their trees and preserving carbon-rich peatlands, seen as key to slowing climate change because forests soak up huge amounts of greenhouse gases.
Indonesia has vowed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent from business-as-usual levels by 2020, or by 41 per cent with sufficient international support.