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Forest Carbon Market Faces Bolivian Barrier at UN Climate Talks
2010-12-06 09:17:44.94 GMT
By Alex Morales
Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Bolivia is objecting to the creation
of a United Nations carbon market that would allow richer
nations to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by protecting
forests in developing countries.
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest
Degradation program would set out how to measure forest carbon
stocks and how to fund their protection. It builds on UN draft
decisions that allow for the use of carbon markets to reduce
emissions. Bolivia says it doesn't want the market mechanisms
influencing what's done in forests.
"We won't accept the REDD package if markets remain,"
Pablo Solon, chief climate envoy for Bolivia, said in an
interview. "Every country is free to do what they want within
their borders, but the international agreement shouldn't mention
carbon markets because then they're forcing us to accept them.
The market exists only if it's made; it's fictitious."
The objection threatens the establishment of a market
supported by at least 70 nations that the UN Food and
Agricultural Organization estimates could help prevent the 500
million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year from
deforestation. At current prices for UN offset credits, that's
worth about $7.8 billion.
Envoys from 193 nations at two weeks of UN climate change
talks in the Cancun, Mexico, are trying to set rules for the
deforestation program, known as REDD in UN jargon.
The REDD mechanism would be included in a package of
decisions that delegates aim to approve in Cancun. Other
measures include a climate aid fund, new pledges to cut
emissions in rich nations and methods to calculate and report
Forests contain an estimated 638 gigatons of carbon
worldwide, more than all the carbon in the earth's atmosphere,
according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,
which sponsors the talks. One gigaton is a billion tons.
UN offset credits for 2011, which allow companies in
developed nations to meet their emissions targets by investing
in clean energy and efficiency projects in developing nations,
traded at 11.65 euros ($15.57) on Dec. 3.
Negotiators "have a very advanced level of progress" on
resolving differences over REDD, Mexican environment Minister
Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said in an interview. In the absence
of a UN carbon market, countries including Norway, the U.K. and
France have pledged $4.6 billion to help developing nations
protect forests, he said. Norway alone has pledged $1 billion in
assistance to help safeguard Indonesia's jungles.
South Korean Ambassador for Climate Change Shin Yeon-Sung
and Chinese lead negotiator Su Wei both said in interviews that
REDD measures should be included in a package of decisions for
agreement on Dec. 10, when the talks wrap up.
"REDD is very ripe -- the package is more or less
negotiated," Brazilian Climate Change Ambassador Sergio Serra
said in an interview. Even if the main package on forests is
held up by Bolivia, it's unlikely to object to so-called fast-
start financing that can help nations develop the skills needed
to measure the carbon contained in their forests, he said.
Forestry carbon markets are promoted by the Rainforest
Coalition, a group of more than 40 developing countries nations
led by Papua New Guinea. The 27-nation European Union also
supports the measure and in a Nov. 28 briefing document said the
aim of any REDD mechanism should be to halve deforestation by
2020 and end it by 2030.
The Bolivians are backed by environmental groups including
Friends of the Earth in opposing monetizing the value of carbon
locked in trees. Brazil, home to the Amazon, the world's largest
rainforest, also has reservations, though it won't oppose a UN
decision that allows for it, Serra said.
"We accept the involvement of carbon markets in REDD on a
limited basis," Serra said. "If we give a prominent role to
the carbon markets in REDD, you end up with it being a self-
defeating scheme, because they are offsets."
Serra and Elvira Quesada both said that aside from
Bolivia's opposition, the forestry decision could get held up if
nations without forests demand progress in areas where they have
interests before accepting a final package.
"There needs to be a balanced set of decisions that are
useful to every country in the world," Elvira Quesada said.
"We have to be sure that if there are 10 or 20 countries that
REDD isn't useful for because they don't have forests, we find a
solution for them."
Bolivia's Solon said handing out carbon credits for
protecting forests makes it easier for industrialized nations to
achieve their emissions reductions targets without taking
domestic action to rein in greenhouse gases.
"We want to save the forest, but not save developed
countries from the responsibility to cut their emissions,"
Solon said. "We think there should be a forests mechanism, but
this mechanism should be integral and not only focused on one
detail of forests, the capture of CO2 emissions. Forests are
much more than that."
For Related News and Information:
Top environment and renewable energy stories: GREEN <GO>
Stories about the climate talks: NSE CLIMATE CANCUN <GO>
Locations of global energy facilities: BMAP <GO>
--Editors: Reed Landberg, Todd White
To contact the reporter on this story:
Alex Morales in Cancun, Mexico, at +44-20-7330-7718 or
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at +44-20-7330-7862 or