Tropical Forest Group’s Inflatable Tree Disappears – Symbolize ½ Million Acres of Deforestation during Talks

As the 2nd week of negotiations begins at UNFCCC in Bali, many questions remain surrounding efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD) in a post-2012 international climate regime. Negotiators have failed to agree on REDD issues, frustrating an essential component to save the world’s tropical forests and combat climate change.

There are three key issues that must be resolved as delegates work out the details of any REDD agreement:

  • Parties must define a timeframe for deciding on reference emissions scenarios. Without these deadlines, REDD may never move forward.
  • Negotiators should clarify whether REDD will function through a market mechanism or a fund for tropical forest nations. A market mechanism which relies on a cap-and-trade system is a much more powerful tool for reducing deforestation and carbon emissions.
  • Parties have not yet agreed on whether to include degradation in the draft agreement. Some parties, like Brazil, prefer not to include degradation in REDD, while others like the Coalition for Rainforest Nations want degradation as well as deforestation. Degradation is an essential part of any agreement, because carbon emissions from degraded forests are a large contributor to climate change.

As a symbol of the slow progress on negotiations over deforestation, Tropical Forest Group has removed one of its three trees from the display near the entrance gate. This lost tree symbolizes the loss of ½ million hectares of tropical forest that occurred during the first week of COP13. Each year an estimated 30 million acres of tropical forest are lost, contributing 20% of global greenhouse gases. Thus far the Kyoto Protocol has done nothing to incentive developing countries to reduce deforestation. If an agreement on REDD does not transpire by the end of COP13, deforestation rate will persist, driving carbon emissions and forcing global climate change. The remaining two trees will continue to be displayed as a reminder of what is at stake: our tropical forests and climate. Negotiators must not fail to address the remaining questions surrounding efforts to include deforestation measures in any post-Kyoto agreement.

co-written with Kim Carlson, Adrian Deveny and Scott Laeser