Saturday, December 15, 2007

New ‘Carbon Partnership Facility’ Will Pay to Leave Forests Standing…

(Young people demonstrate in favor of forest protection at the UN climate conference in Bali, Photo: Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

A new fund to compensate developing countries for the value of their forests was launched on Dec. 11 by the World Bank at the UN climate conference in Bali, reported Environment News Service. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility was developed because forests are more important left standing than cut down, acknowledged the World Bank, which has a special unit dedicated to carbon financing.

“The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility signals that the world cares about the global value of forests and is ready to pay for it,” said the US head of the World Bank. “This can change the economic options for many people who depend on the forests for their livelihoods. There is now a value to conserving, not just harvesting the forest.”

The Kyoto Protocol does not give carbon finance incentives to developing countries for reducing deforestation and degradation (REDD), but the new facility will build the capacity of developing countries in tropical and subtropical regions to reduce emissions from deforestation.

On the sidelines of the Bali conference on Dec. 8, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) hosted the first "Forest Day" meeting ever held at a UN climate conference. "In the climate change process, there is growing political acknowledgement of the need to reduce emissions from deforestation," said the head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, adding that "if we do not sustain trees, we will soon live in a world that will not sustain us."

A new study by CIFOR presented on Forest Day warns that the new push to reduce emissions from deforestation is imperiled by a failure to grasp the root causes of deforestation. Based on more than a decade of research on the forces driving deforestation, the report shows that there is an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions if financial incentives are sufficient to offset political and economic realities that cause deforestation. The report sees promise in the idea that financial incentives can compensate landowners for valuable "environmental services" provided by forests.