Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Forest management negotiations threaten to undermine climate agreement

Global Witness: Rather than being one of the solutions, negotiations at the Copenhagen climate talks on forest management, called REDD and LULUCF, are threatening to create loopholes that will destroy the integrity of any overall agreement. LULUCF, which sets the rules for land use, land-use change and forestry in the Kyoto Protocol, has become a means for developed countries to hide greenhouse gas emissions from forest management and undermine the accuracy of their emissions reduction targets. In fact, under the currently proposed LULUCF rules, around two percent of all developed country emissions could go unaccounted.

If the current LULUCF approach is adopted then very large real increases in emissions occurring from forest management will simply disappear from the accounts. The effect of this on overall Annex 1 (developed countries who are parties to the Kyoto Protocol) emissions compared to 1990 is that approximately two percent of total emissions disappear. If a reference level proposed by Switzerland based on reported emissions occurring in the period 2001 - 2005 were used, however, the percentage of unaccounted for emissions almost doubles to around four percent.

"Developed countries are trying every trick in the book to preserve business as usual greenhouse gas emissions," said Sean Cadman of the Wilderness Society. "How can we expect developing countries to accurately account for emissions from land use change and deforestation if developed countries continue to shamelessly game the system?"

Meanwhile, negotiations starting today on SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice) text prepared in June threatens to roll back elements of the subsequent six months of negotiation work on REDD, the part of the proposed new climate treaty intended to reduce the 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation of tropical forests. SBSTA provides technical guidance to the climate change talks, but its references to REDD, last discussed in June at the Bonn talks, in some respects have been surpassed by the REDD text. In effect, the negotiations concerning REDD are occurring on two different tracks. Merging the two risks losing important environmental, social and cultural safeguards that are necessary to make REDD work on the ground.

Particularly concerning is a lack of language in the SBSTA text concerning indigenous peoples' rights, an area where REDD has made significant progress since June. Additionally, the SBSTA text lacks adequate forest definitions and fails to differentiate plantations from natural forests, which is problematic as SBSTA is the only body capable of developing such definitional language. On the other hand, SBSTA does contain some text that is better than the current REDD text. A mandate for independent review of monitoring systems also needs to be retained....

At bottom left is a tropical evergreen forest with an extremely dense canopy, a forest type known locally as limbali forest. Most of the rest of the scene is occupied by a more open forest in which stands of trees (dark green patches) are separated from each other by a sea of lower-growing plants (light green)....This is one of hundreds of satellite images from commercial and NASA satellites that scientists from the Woods Hole Research Centre used to create a map of logging roads and forest disturbance across 4 million square kilometres of tropical African forests in the three decades proceeding 2003.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is even worse than described. In California the timber barons have forced the insertion of clearcutting into the new California Forest Climate Change Protocols. They are already devastating California and deforesting it through clearcutting and then convert natural biodiverse forests into tree plantations with high fire risk even aged crown structure. California talks a good talk on climate change but continues to allow huge CO2 emissions through clearcutting and is negatively impacting wildlife and water in our climate change scenarios. Any Google sattelite view of counties like Shasta or Calaveras will show that California is leading in deforestation. But California is preaching to the third world to save their forests.