Saturday, September 26, 2009

Last gasp for the forest

This Friday, The Economist published my three-page feature on avoided deforestation. Avoided deforestation is a hot topic these days as climate negotiators have enthusiastically taken up the idea that reducing the rate of deforestation the world can make a substantial dent in global carbon emissions.

For most of those at the coal face of these things, the feature only really grazes the surface of major unresolved issues. But the point of the piece is to introduce a wider audience to the idea of REDD and some of the issues it faces.

As with most pieces of this size and scale there is a substantial tranche of overmatter to follow on this blog. A great deal was left on the cutting room floor. I've picked up some helpful material about Waxman-Markey, and also quite a lot about palm oil which is, frankly, quite depressing. But for now, here is that piece itself. You can follow the link to read it at The Economist.

The conclusion I reach about REDD, for anyone who doesn't want to read the entire article is merely that paying for environmental services is basically a good idea, but whether it is going to work to deliver global carbon emissions reductions will really depend on whether we can get a lot of little details right. That remains to be seen.

I also take the point made to me by several people I interviewed, which is that if we decide it isn't going to work, then it absolutely isn't. My view is, lets give REDD a chance to work. Scary to think that it is one of the better options on the table.

Last gasp for the forest

Sep 24th 2009

A new climate treaty could provide a highly effective way to reduce carbon emissions by paying people to not cut down forests

IN THE south-eastern corner of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, in the municipality of Novo Aripuanã, there is thick forest cover—for now. But as new, paved highways are driven into the trees, illegal loggers inevitably follow. At the current rate of deforestation, around one-third of the forest in Amazonas will have been lost by 2050, releasing a colossal 3.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (More...)