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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Ahead of Cancún climate talks: MEPs support UN forests programme

The importance of forests in combating climate change is crucial as trees are absorbing carbon dioxide being emitted by human activities. What is more, deforestation and forest degradation account for a quarter of emissions. Forestry is one area where there are hopes of real progress at the forthcoming UN climate conference in Cancún, Mexico. Parliament's Environment Committee recognised this recently when they backed a resolution calling for more action in this area. When forests are damaged or cleared the burned or decaying wood releases stored carbon as CO2. Worldwide deforestation and forest degradation (e.g. through agricultural expansion) causes 20% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector.The deputy chair of the Parliament's delegation to the UN climate change conference in Cancún is German MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz (EPP). He told us that "the European energy sector emits about 4.1 billion tons of CO2 per year, while deforestation, illegal logging, burning off of the rain forests in Brazil, Indonesia and other countries cause about 6 billion tons of CO2 annually. It doesn't mean that we don't have to do anything, on the contrary. It makes clear our common responsibility".
A way to reduce the deforestation: the UN initiative REDD+ Behind the complicated name "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)" stands the simple idea to create a financial stimulation for developing countries to avoid deforestation and in this way to reduce emissions. This idea differs from previous attempts to preserve the forest, because it links the financial incentives directly with the carbon stored in forests. The carbon stored in the forest should be estimated and "measured". For the respective quantity of avoided deforestation the countries should get "credits". These credits could be sold in an international carbon market, or there could be financial compensations. The updated “REDD+” goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.MEPs from the Environment Committee in their motion for a resolution adopted in October called on the EU to support REDD+. The motion for resolution (which is on many climate issues)  sets out the Committee's position ahead of UN climate talks in Cancún, Mexico (29 November - 10 December). The plenary will debate preparations for Cancún during the November session in Strasbourg (24 November).The forestry issue is one of the topics where there are hopes of real progress in Cancun. "An agreement related to deforestation must be the focus of our efforts. There are already experts who speak of Cancun as a "REDD-COP". There is still a lot of work ahead of us, especially with respect to accounting and financing, but I'm optimistic" Karl-Heinz Florenz told us.

 Source: European Parliament