Thursday, 2 April 2009 6:57 AM

Forests in Carbon Markets would Derail Climate Action: Greenpeace Report

Bonn, Germany - Including forest protection measures in carbon markets would crash the price of carbon by 75% and derail global efforts to tackle global warming, according to a new report commissioned by Greenpeace.

The report comes as international climate change discussions increasingly focus
on the need to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD), which account for about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

But the proposals currently on the table to include forestry protection measures in the international carbon markets would not stop climate change and would not save forests in countries like Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Meanwhile, countries like China, India, and Brazil could lose out on tens of billions of dollars a year for investment in clean energy technologies. If these countries don't get support for a switch to low-carbon technologies, emissions will continue to rise.

Greenpeace commissioned the report from one of the few expert organisations working on forests and climate (1), released at the international UN climate negotiations in Bonn overnight, as part of the ongoing negotiations on how to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD). Ending deforestation is one of the quickest and most cost effective ways of tackling climate change.

Discussions in the climate negotiations include various proposals to include REDD in emissions trading schemes. The report examines these proposals through the lens of how best to keep global warming as far below 2 degrees C as possible, a figure which the IPCC says is needed to stop runaway climate change.

Greenpeace forests for climate campaigner Paul Winn said the report concludes that including REDD credits in carbon markets would:
. Cut the price of carbon by up to 75%, driving the developed world to buy cheap offsets instead of making necessary energy reductions at home;
. Drastically reduce investments in clean and renewable technologies in both developed and developing countries
. Cause a "lock in" effect where dirty technologies, like coal fired power plants, continue to be built and operated which could increase the long term costs of combating climate change.
. Slash the number and value of energy credits, so countries like China and India would get less money for sustainable development policies (an estimated $10 billion per year for China alone);

Greenpeace believes that the carbon markets should focus on driving clean and renewable technologies; and developed countries should make an additional "tropical deforestation commitment" to help finance forest protection in developing countries.

"Cheap forest credits sound attractive but a closer examination shows they are a dangerous option that won't save the forests or stop runaway climate change. Of the many options for forest financing currently on the table, this one ranks as the worst," Mr Winn said.

Moreover, such a move could ultimately result in temperature increases which could lead to the irreversible loss of major tropical forests, like in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, due to increased fires, infestation and droughts.

"We need a plan that protects forests and stops climate change," Mr Winn said.

"Climate Change Minister Penny Wong seems to think that Australia can keep polluting and push the burden of its emission reduction responsibilities onto developing countries and their forests.

"But to have any chance of stopping climate change, all countries must dramatically reduce their industrial emissions and stop deforestation around the world.

The best way to protect forests and stop climate change is through a new forest fund that would value both the climate and biodiversity benefits provided by forests in a way that fully respects the rights of indigenous and local peoples.

More information on Greenpeace policies on REDD, including its Forests for Climate "hybrid" proposal, can be found at www.greenpeace.org/forestsforclimate

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