wild places | wild happenings | wild news
make a difference for our wild places

home | links | search the site
  all articles latest | past | articles by topics | search wildnews
wild news on wildsingapore
  PlanetSave 2 Dec 05
Papua New Guinea leading developing nations on protecting earth's atmosphere

Written by Phil Couvrette

BBC 30 Nov 05
Nations want cash not to fell trees
By Tim Hirsch BBC environment correspondent, Montreal

PlanetArk 1 Dec 05
Forests Urged as New Front in Global Warming Fight
Story by Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

MONTREAL - Forest preservation should be the new front in the fight against global warming with Third World nations earning cash for protecting trees, tropical countries told a UN climate conference on Wednesday.

"The present state of affairs is untenable," Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica wrote in a proposal backed by seven other developing nations, complaining that they lacked incentives to slow logging or forest clearance for farming.

"Globally ... tropical deforestation is the second leading cause of climate change behind fossil fuel combustion," they said in the report to a 190-country climate meeting in Montreal from Nov. 28-Dec. 9.

Most efforts to curb global warming center on reining in emissions from burning fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars in industrial nations.

But trees soak up carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming, as they grow. They release it when they die and rot.

The report suggested that tropical nations that slow the rate of deforestation -- perhaps tracked from space by satellites -- might win cash incentives from rich nations to encourage better management and more tree plantings. It estimated that deforestation, from the Amazon to Africa, represented losses of billions of dollars.

Forests are home to half the species living on land and a key source of food, building materials and medicines for people.


A net 7.3 million hectares (18.04 million acres) of forests - the size of Panama or Sierra Leone - was lost each year from 2000-2005, according to United Nations data.

The conference agreed to study the proposal and report back in a year's time. The proposal also had backing from Bolivia, the Central African Republic, Chile, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

Richard Kinley, acting head of the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the reaction among delegations was "very positive." "We'd be very interested in exploring it further," said Sarah Hendry, head of the British delegation. Britain holds the European Union's rotating presidency.

Some delegates warned, however, that it was extremely hard to measure forest area.

The Montreal talks are also looking at ways to widen a UN-led fight against global warming to involve poor nations and the United States and Australia, the two main industrial nations outside the UN's Kyoto Protocol.

Under Kyoto, about 40 industrial states are trying to cut emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12 to curb warming that may cause catastrophic effects including more powerful storms, rising sea levels and more desertification.

BBC 30 Nov 05
Nations want cash not to fell trees
By Tim Hirsch BBC environment correspondent, Montreal

An old argument which provoked years of acrimonious debate following the Kyoto agreement is resurfacing here at the UN climate conference: should people be paid not to cut down trees?

On the table is a proposal from the government of Papua New Guinea to start discussions on a system of financial rewards for developing countries which preserve their forests.

The link with climate change is that deforestation adds significantly to the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, both through burning and the reduction in the process of photosynthesis which takes carbon dioxide out of the air and "fixes" the carbon molecules into plant material.

Under the rules of Kyoto being confirmed at this conference, there is no mechanism to earn credits in the new carbon market through projects which avoid deforestation. Companies can, however, contribute to their targets for cutting emissions by funding the reforestation of denuded areas, or the planting of entirely new forests.

This is because Europe and other countries, encouraged by some environmental groups, excluded "avoided deforestation" projects from the rulebook negotiated in 2001, fearing this would open up serious loopholes.

Big players Bill Hare, of Greenpeace, explains: "The key loophole from the climate point of view was that people would say, 'look, we won't log this area of forest and we will gain the credits from this avoided deforestation'; then you could not be sure that the activity you were trying to stop, i.e. logging, did not just move across the mountain range to another forest and occur in an uncontrolled area. "In fact, it's a virtual certainty that would have happened."

An attempt to get around this loophole has been put forward in the Papuan proposal, which suggests that rather than earning emission credits from individual projects, the system could be based on the performance of entire countries in reducing the loss of their native forests.

According to Kevin Conrad, director of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, this would provide much-needed financial incentives to slow the rate of tropical deforestation. "We absolutely must do it if we are serious about climate stability. If you include deforestation from just Indonesia and Brazil alone, the carbon emissions from those two countries basically offset 80% of all carbon emissions savings which come from the Kyoto Protocol.

"Throw in a few more countries, and the Kyoto Protocol is not achieving much at all."

Financial incentives Another supporter of the proposal, John Niles of the Climate Community and Biodiversity alliance, says many countries are now starting to realise that the decision to exclude forest conservation from Kyoto funding was a big mistake, and he believes the proposal being discussed at Montreal could put this right.

"The UN estimates we need about $50bn a year to deal with tropical deforestation, and the world is spending right now about half a billion dollars; so we need a financial mechanism that can scale up very quickly," said Mr Niles.

Bill Hare accepts that basing the carbon credit system on national deforestation caps rather than individual projects would remove many of his original concerns - although there was still the potential for the emissions to "leak" across borders.

"With national caps it does not eliminate the problem but it substantially reduces it. "I think here is an idea put forward by New Guinea that we all have to take seriously and work very constructively to see if we can make it part of the international system one way or the other."

The proposal being debated in Montreal is only to start a negotiating process to look at these incentives, to reward the services to the climate played by forests. It is too late to change the system which will cover the first period of Kyoto targets between 2008 and 2012.

But it may eventually end what many see as a serious anomaly, and help rectify the bizarre economics which values a scorched wasteland higher than a richly diverse forest that performs services of incalculable value to human societies.

PlanetSave 2 Dec 05
Papua New Guinea leading developing nations on protecting earth's atmosphere

Written by Phil Couvrette

MONTREAL (AP) _ Wealthy countries would pay poor nations not to cut down their trees under a proposal that is gaining support at an international conference on climate change in Montreal.

The idea comes from Papua New Guinea, a South Pacific island-nation where hundreds of people face imminent evacuation because of rising water levels attributed to global warming.

Supporters say protecting a rain forest is as important to reversing global warming as cleaning up gas-spewing factories and developing clean energy alternatives.

Papua New Guinea's proposal, introduced on Wednesday, is aimed at developing nations not bound by greenhouse gas emissions reductions mandated under the Kyoto Protocol. Only the top 35 industrialized nations that signed the 140-nation accord are required to cut emissions to 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels by 2012 in an effort to curb global warming.

The proposed scheme would financially reward developing countries for preserving rain forests, which produce oxygen that helps clean the air. Some scientists maintain that deforestation contributes to about 20 percent of greenhouse gases.

"We have joined with many like-minded developing countries that may be prepared to begin, on a voluntary basis, reducing our carbon emissions from deforestation subject to the creation of meaningful incentives,'' Papua New Guinea's Environment Minister William Duma told the U.N. Climate Change conference in Montreal.

The proposal generated a buzz and was backed by powerful countries including Australia, Japan and EU members before the conference opened on Montreal.

In the week before the conference, Papua New Guinea was preparing to evacuate hundreds of people living in the low-lying Carteret atoll, which is sinking because of rising water levels in the Pacific.

Robert Aisi, Papua New Guinea's ambassador to the United Nations, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he had been getting "generally positive'' feedback, but consultations had just begun.

"Let's be very frank; this is just a start,'' he said. "Part of the proposal is to work out where the money would come from. I would hope that we can come up with a mechanism.''

One of the mechanisms under Kyoto, which went into effect in February, allows a system of bartering carbon emissions. If Germany, for example, is reluctant to clean up a particularly lucrative, but dirty power plant, it can still earn credit toward its mandatory emissions cuts by investing in sustainable technology in another country _ or, say, buying up a slice of forest in Papua New Guinea and not tearing down the trees.

The United States, which produces one-fourth of the world's pollution, has refused to join Kyoto. President Bush said it would harm the U.S. economy and his delegates at the conference insist the White House will not be a part of any mandatory emissions cuts.

U.N. Ambassador Aisi said Washington has not backed his proposal but "they have not said no.''

When Bush pulled out of Kyoto, his administration said it would help fight climate change by saving tropical forests, said John Niles of the Washington-based Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance.

He said Kyoto signatories are now realizing that the decision to exclude reforestation from Kyoto funding was a mistake. "Papua New Guinea made the convention realize that it forgot to deal with 20 percent of the emissions,'' Niles said.

Papua New Guinea has the world's third-largest tropical forest and as an island-nation is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Duma, the country's environment minister, said emissions cuts by industrialized countries alone cannot prevent global warming. He said tropical deforestation is "the single largest sector for carbon emissions within the developing world _ up to 20 percent of global carbon emissions during the 1990s.''

While developing countries are not legally bound by Kyoto _ including the big polluters China and India _ they are still launching initiatives to fight climate change, said Rafael Senga of the World Wildlife Fund in the Philippines.

"They can feel it, and are actually experiencing the impact of climate change,'' he said. While Papua New Guinea can count on the support of a number of countries, the proposal is still being debated within developed countries Senga says.

Related articles on Forests and Climate Change
about the site | email ria
  News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com