Agreement intended to protect forests will end up paying loggers to destroy them
Bangkok - With the release of new text on Saturday, REDD, the forest component of the new climate change agreement, is clearly going in the wrong direction. However, instead of using their enormous negotiating power to create an agreement to reduce the 25 percent of global greenhouse gases that result from the deforestation and degradation of forests, the European Union has taken a position that is leading the negotiations backward.
"The EU is introducing logging language into the text," said Peter Wood of Global Witness. "If we don't change direction now, we won't end up with an agreement that reduces emissions from deforestation and degradation, we'll end up with an agreement that enables logging."
The EU's position is to use "sustainable forest management" (SFM) as the encompassing framework for REDD, an intentional change from the agreed language of the Bali Action Plan that brings undesirable baggage with it. Over the past two decades this term has been co-opted by the forest industry to lend a green image to some of the most destructive logging practices in the tropics, and the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes "SFM" makes it impossible to disprove such claims. Additionally, the EU position has made no mention of protecting natural forests, a key expectation for REDD.
With only two weeks of negotiations left before the Copenhagen meeting, this text will profoundly influence the shape of the final agreement, determining whether or not we will actually succeed in reducing the 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions that result from the continuing destruction of the world's tropical forests and peatlands.
There is still hope to create a strong agreement, however. Nine countries, including Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, Fiji, Soloman Islands, Serbia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Paraguay have signed a public pledge to make forest protection central to the REDD agreement.
"The world expects the REDD agreement to protect forests," said Peg Putt of the Wilderness Society. "Nations like Papua New Guinea, Mexico and Paraguay are standing ready to take leadership. The EU needs to get their logging agenda out of the way."
Contact: Don Lehr + 66 08 255 455 829; Margaret Swink +1 415 720 0080
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The Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA) is an alliance of environment and social NGOs committed to keeping natural terrestrial ecosystems intact and their carbon out of the atmosphere, in an equitable and transparent way that respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. ECA comprises Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Global Witness, Humane Society International, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Foundation Norway, The Rainforest Foundation U.K., Wetlands International and The Wilderness Society.