Thursday, August 21, 2008

Clash over plan to save tropical forests

Guardian (UK): Developing countries and human rights groups will clash today at a key UN climate change meeting intended to arrest the destruction of tropical forests. The felling is responsible for almost 20% of annual global carbon emissions, making it a crucial target in the battle against global warming. Diplomats from more than 100 countries are meeting in Accra, Ghana, to open negotiations on whether tropical forests should join the emerging global carbon market. This would allow countries and companies to earn money from not cutting down their trees.

The move, backed strongly by many developing countries and the G8, is expected to greatly increase the financial value of forests. It would encourage governments and corporations to protect them and would potentially transfer hundreds of millions of pounds a year to some of the poorest countries in the world. But human rights and environment groups from three continents are warning that the over-hasty inclusion of forests in the post-Kyoto carbon market could trigger a "land grab" leaving tens of millions of people worse off.

According to the groups, which include Friends of the Earth International, the Rainforest Foundation and the Rights and Resources Initiative, a coalition of environment and justice groups from around the world, it would:

· Undermine the world price of carbon, damaging the effectiveness of the market

· Drive indigenous peoples from the forests

· Benefit only a wealthy elite and increase the risk corruption

Without clear guidelines on land ownership and the involvement of local people, the groups say, the money poured into preserving forests could also fuel violent conflict….

Jungle burned for agriculture in southern Mexico, shot by Jami Dwyer, who has generously released the image into the public domain via Wikimedia Commons. Thank you, Jami

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