miércoles, 2 de diciembre de 2009

REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)

Entering the province of Tarragona I read an article in this week's Time magazine, called "Keep the Jungle Alive",by Andrew Marshall, and it is hence dedicated to Anna (Lynn) Handley.
REDD is one of the big bets in Copenhagen, in essence, paying countries to keep forests intact. Forests are one of the largest source of carbon absorbtion from the atmosphere, so conserving them ensuresthat carbon will not be released hence contributing to global warming. Currently, forest destructionaccounts for 15% of global carbon emissions, and all forests store 300 billion tones of carbon dioxide,or 40 times the world's annual emission, so there is every reason to save them. This makes Indonesia, alergaly developing ocuntry the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide behind the US and China, as since 1950, more than 740,000 square km of forest have been destroyed or degraded (Greenpeace).

A project at Ulu Masen, in the tsunami-hot Indonesian province of Aceh, the first UN-based project that protectsexisting forests with the revenues from emissions trading. Under the Kyoto Protocol, a carbon market was createdwhereby companies and rich countries (Annex I) would buy "carbon credits" to projects in developing countries(Annex II) so that their emissions would be offset (although this is problematic, but more on this latter) However, The Kyoto Protocol did not consider carbon trading money to go into existing forests and it can only help restore destroyed or degraded forests. However, it is difficultto bring back forests that have partially or fully being damaged and it is wat eassier to protect existing forests(and this will be one of the big changes for a global agreement on climate change discussed at Copenhagen).

Now, preserving Ulu Masen over the next 30 years will prevent 100 million tons of carbon dioxide entering theatmosphere (or 50 million flights from London to Sydney). Thre are side advantages, such as the money financing the development of poor communities, protecting biodiversity and endangered species.

However, critics assert that carbon trading does not reduce emissions. This is becasue basically companies andAnnex I countries can "buy their guilt" out of the problem. Paying money when flying to finance the construction of solar-panelled houses in South Africa does not actually mean that the plane is not producing carbon dioxide.The carbon will be released anyway, so it does not help to tackle global warming. Cris Lang, who runs the websiteREDD-Monitor in Jakarta says that "funding REDD schemes through offsets or other market-based mechanisms would bea disaster". There must still be a reduction in emissions. And working out reductions according to a base year is important. The EU uses 1990 and the US 2005 (when emissions where obviously higher than in 1990). So it's not the samepledging emission cuts by 20% compared to 1990 and to 2005.

(Next stop: Tarragona)

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