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Who pays to preserve forests?

By Juliet Eilperin

The Associated Press published a story Sunday night saying "a proposal aimed at saving the world's tropical forests suffered a setback Sunday, when negotiators at the U.N. climate talks ditched plans for faster action on the problem because of concerns that rich countries aren't willing to finance it."

While the story pointed to an important development--negotiators cut language calling for cutting deforestation in half by 2050 because of uncertainty of whether rich countries would finance the effort--the issue is still in flux.

What happens to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, is important, because deforestation accounts for roughly 15 percent of global greenhouse emissions. (Some activists and reporters describe it as accounting for 20 percent, but that's too high; scientists working on the issue have recently revised their estimates and say it's closer to 15.)

Experts like Duncan Marsh, director of international climate policy for The Nature Conservancy, said the question of financing for tropical forest preservation will be resolved later this week, and that's when the climate goal will become clear as well.

"This is the opportunity for negotiators to dig deep and come up with a strong commitment to reduce global emissions from the forest sector and the financing necessary to support that," Marsh wrote in an e-mail. "The 50 percent goal has been endorsed by a broad range of stakeholders from the EU to a bipartisan US commission. This is a realistic and appropriate goal at this time."

So you can expect to see a lot of pressure from environmental groups over the next few days, as exemplified by what Fred Boltz, senior vice president of global strategies at Conservation International, wrote in an e-mail: "What we need now is for the US and other developed countries to provide the funding that will make it possible to end deforestation in our generation and take a major step in resolving the climate crisis."

Like most things in the Copenhagen climate talks, it will all come down to a matter of money in the end.


Juliet Eilperin

 |  December 13, 2009; 7:30 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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