Giant Loophole in Forest Plans


December 02, 2008

For Immediate Release

POZNAN, POLAND -- A loophole in proposed schemes to tackle deforestation was exposed at the UN climate talks today.

Friends of the Earth International has called on Governments to reject current plans for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries (REDD) that would allow countries to buy up forests as a way of avoiding cutting their own greenhouse gas emissions.

The environmental federation has been campaigning to protect forests and forest-dependent people for three decades.

Current REDD proposals are critically reviewed in a recent report by Friends of the Earth International [1], which highlights three main areas of concern:

- LAND RIGHTS
Giving forests a market value is likely to lead to an increase in state and corporate control of forests. Because there is currently little global and national recognition of customary and territory rights, this will make Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities vulnerable to losing their land. Injecting money through the same channels that are currently responsible for illegal deforestation could reinforce corruption.

- OFFSETTING
Forest carbon trading is inherently flawed because it does not mitigate emissions. Emissions theoretically saved by reducing deforestation would simply be used to sanction the use of fossil fuels elsewhere. This carbon offsetting will undermine current and future emissions reductions agreed by industrialised countries.

- PLANTATIONS
Under the current proposals, plantations could be defined as forests -- so REDD funding could be used to replace forests with large monoculture plantations. At best plantations only store 20 per cent of the carbon of intact forests. Replacing forests with plantations has devastating environmental consequences as well as social and economic impacts on forest-communities.

Deforestation is driven by a massive demand for timber, meat, soy and palm oil mostly in industrialised countries combined with poor governance in rainforest countries. Friends of the Earth International is calling for these drivers to be tackled through policy changes -- for example through investment in public transport so we do not need agrofuels; and stopping industrial trade in timber that has been illegally logged.

Meanwhile, deforestation can also be tackled directly through funding schemes that conserve forests by devolving power to local people.

Friends of the Earth US International Climate Campaigner Kate Horner said:

“Around 20 percent of emissions come from deforestation so we must protect the world’s forests to avoid dangerous climate change. But placing forests in carbon markets isn’t the answer -- allowing rich countries to buy chunks of forests while still polluting won’t solve climate change, and it will trigger a land grab that will leave millions of people worse off.”

“Demand for meat, timber and agrofuels in industrialized countries is driving deforestation, so we need to tackle this head on, while also investing in local and national schemes that conserve forests while standing up for the rights of people living in forests. If money earmarked for forest conservation is used to fund monoculture tree plantations, an environmental, social and economic disaster will unfold on a global scale,” she added.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT in Poznan, Poland:

Friends of the Earth US International Climate Campaigner Kate Horner: +1 360 319 9444 (US mobile number)

Joseph Zacune, Friends of the Earth International Climate Coordinator, Tel: +44 79 67 87 75 93 (UK mobile number) or + 48 785401116 (Polish mobile number valid until Dec. 13 only)

Stephanie Long, Friends of the Earth International Climate Coordinator: Tel: + 61 414 136 461 (Australian mobile number) or +48 698 327 785 (Polish mobile number valid until Dec. 13 only)

Friends of the Earth International media line: +48 662 964285 (Polish mobile number valid until Dec. 13 only) or +31-51005630 (Dutch mobile number valid until Dec. 13 only).

NOTES:

[1] The report was released online at http://www.foei.org November 27
Read the executive summary of the report here: http://www.foei.org/en/publications/pdfs/redd-myths-exec

Read the full report:
English: http://www.foei.org/en/publications/pdfs/redd-myths
French: http://www.foei.org/fr/publications/pdfs/redd-myths
Spanish: http://www.foei.org/es/publications/pdfs/redd-myths

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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.