UN Climate Talks Split Over Deforestation Funds

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“Slowing economic growth in many nations, along
with high food and fuel prices, makes it harder
to find cash for forest protection.

“Friends of the Earth environmental group said
there were risks that an inflow of funds would
push up the value of forests and lead to a land
grab by foreign investors that could threaten the
rights of indigenous peoples on the land.”
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Reuters
Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:18pm BST

U.N. climate talks split over deforestation funds
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

ACCRA (Reuters) – A 160-nation U.N. climate
conference in Ghana split on Friday over ways to
pay poor countries to slow deforestation, blamed
for producing up to 20 percent of the greenhouse
gases caused by human activities.

Options suggested for raising billions of dollars
in incentives include markets that would allow
trading in the carbon dioxide locked up in trees,
higher aid from rich nations and levies on
airline tickets or on international shipping.

“It’s important that we get to grips with this,”
Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change
Secretariat, told Reuters during the August 21-27
meeting of 1,500 delegates.

“For many developing countries, avoiding
deforestation is pretty much the only way they
can engage in the climate change regime and reap
some benefits,” he said of schemes meant to slow
logging and burning of forests to clear land for
farming.

A U.N. climate conference in Bali last year
agreed to explore ways to pay people in the
developing world to leave forests standing —
trees soak up carbon dioxide as they grow and
release it when they rot or are burned.

The Accra meeting is working on details as part
of a plan to agree a sweeping new U.N. climate
treaty by the end of 2009 to avert heatwaves,
droughts, more powerful storms, risks of more
disease and rising sea levels.

“We think this is particularly relevant to
Africa. We want this next climate regime to
benefit Africa,” said Brice Lalonde of France,
speaking on behalf of the European Union. France
holds the rotating EU presidency.

He said the EU was willing to consider extra aid
or to work out new forms of carbon trading. The
European parliament voted this year to auction 15
percent of emissions from aviation and use proceeds
for measures such as slowing deforestation.

“NEW DAWN”

“We shall perhaps see a new dawn for tropical forests,” Lalonde said.

The Pacific island of Tuvalu, threatened by
rising seas, said a levy of $20 a tonne on
emissions of carbon dioxide from all
international aviation and maritime transport
would generate revenues of about $24 billion a
year.

“A levy of that level is about 0.6 percent of an
airfare price,” said Ian Fry of Tuvalu. Slowing
economic growth in many nations, along with high
food and fuel prices, makes it harder to find
cash for forest protection.

Friends of the Earth environmental group said
there were risks that an inflow of funds would
push up the value of forests and lead to a land
grab by foreign investors that could threaten the
rights of indigenous peoples on the land.

But some developing nations said partnerships with business were
inevitable.

“This is about rural communities and indigenous
peoples. This is about business. We have got to
bring communities and the private sector
together,” said Kevin Conrad of Papua New Guinea,
speaking on behalf of about 20 tropical nations.

De Boer played down worries about “carbon
colonialism”, saying that measures to protect
forests seemed to be in the interests of local
people who were dependent on the range of species
of animals and plants found in forests.

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http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

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