Extra permits to pollute the atmosphere would be given to corporations that invest in areas surrounding tropical rainforests under plans drawn up by one of Europe's most influential pressure groups.
With deforestation accounting for 20 percent of global releases of heat- trapping gases, the future of schemes ostensibly aimed at preserving tropical ecosystems will be one of the key topics for the United Nations' climate change negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, during November and December. Chief among these schemes is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), under which rich countries can buy "credits" that allow them to avoid reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) at home by financing environmental projects in poorer parts of the world.
Since the CDM entered into effect in 2005, only a handful of forestry projects have been deemed eligible for funding by the board supervising its activities. Forestry projects have also been excluded from the European Union's emissions trading scheme (ETS), which allows companies to buy and sell pollution licences.
BusinessEurope, the largest confederation of private sector firms, is now trying to convince policy makers to view forest credits more favourably.
Folker Franz, a specialist on environmental policy for BusinessEurope, said he believed that greater use of forest credits "would be the way to go to save the world."
A market-based approach could have environmental benefits, he contended. "If we'll see people profit from this, then let them profit, so long as it stops deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil," he told IPS.
But green campaigners argue that the concept of using forest projects in South America or Asia to "offset" emissions in Europe or the U.S. is fundamentally flawed. The UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change - - which bands together scientists advising the world's governments -- has calculated that emissions from burning oil and other fossil fuels needs to be reduced by 80-95 percent by 2050 if a catastrophic increase in the earth's temperatures is to be averted. Green activists maintain, therefore, that there is an onus on wealthier countries to ensure genuine reductions domestically, rather than simply investing in "clean" projects abroad.
(IPS News) Read more
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