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Climate negotiations drowning in a sea of brackets: Forest protection missing

Climate negotiations drowning in a sea of brackets: Forest protection missing

At the start of last week’s UN climate negotiations in Bonn, Yvo de Boer, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, described the negotiating text as “200 pages of incomprehensible nonsense”. By the end of the week, de Boer wasn’t much more optimistic. “We seem to be afloat on a sea of brackets,” he was reported as saying in the New York Times.

Drowning in a sea of brackets would perhaps have been more appropriate. “The speed of the negotiations must be considerably accelerated at the [next] meeting in Bangkok,” de Boer said.

REDD is, of course, part of the negotiating text. But NGOs pushing for explicit language on protecting forests “met a brick wall” in Bonn, according to the Ecosystems Climate Alliance, an alliance of environment and social NGOs founded in December 2008. Here’s ECA’s press release at the end of the week’s negotiations.

No remedy to this glaring omission as Bonn session concludes

MEDIA RELEASE – Ecosystems Climate Alliance
14 August 2009

Bonn, Germany – Protecting intact natural forests and stopping degradation of their organic soil is acknowledged to be a key component of a global climate change solution because of the vast quantities of carbon stored not only in the trees but also the organic soil. But the public rhetoric of governments is not flowing through to the latest negotiating text which gives no assurance that the tropical and peat forests of the world will be saved.

Campaigners from the Ecosystems Climate Alliance attending the international negotiations towards a Copenhagen agreement said that a week of meetings in Bonn where a strong push had been mounted for explicit language on protecting forests had met a brick wall.

“We all know that forests are the lungs of the earth and that protecting remaining intact forests from logging and clearing is vital to tackling climate change, but the claims that governments are serious about this are not borne out by the latest negotiating text for a Copenhagen agreement,” said spokesperson Peg Putt of The Wilderness Society.

“There has been a lot of fanfare about a new mechanism called REDD to get money into developing countries to halt the threat of deforestation and forest degradation, money which will buy carbon credits for developed countries.”

“It is alarming that instead of delivering protection as expected, this money could pay for the introduction of logging to untouched primary and peat swamp forests under a peculiar notion that slightly nicer logging will do the job.”

“Peat swamp forests that have been drained or cleared cause huge ongoing emissions and this must be tackled urgently. There are no guarantees of halting the clearing of tropical forests for oil palm plantations either.”

“A strong lobby was mounted in Bonn to get the forests aspects of these international negotiations back on track, but revised text released in the closing stages failed to put in the vital provisions.”

“We are blowing the whistle on the lack of political will to tackle the 25-30% of annual global carbon dioxide emissions from forest ecosystems, the loss of diverse forest species and the homes of indigenous peoples that will continue on if the governments of the world don’t do a lot better,” Ms Putt concluded.


Global Witness, The Wilderness Society, Humane Society International, Rainforest Action Network and Wetlands International are each members of the Ecosystems Climate Alliance.

The Ecosystems Climate Alliance (ECA) is an alliance of environment and social NGOs committed to keeping natural terrestrial ecosystems intact and their carbon out of the atmosphere, in an equitable and transparent way that respects the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. ECA recognises that avoiding emissions of terrestrial carbon stored in the soils and biomass of forests, peatlands and wetlands represents the largest potential single opportunity for cost-effective greenhouse gas mitigation. ECA advocates climate, forest and land use policies to give strong, equitable, transparent and positive incentives free of perversities for avoiding the degradation of terrestrial carbon stores and for rehabilitating degraded land, supported by effective forest governance, robust monitoring and demand-side policies to ensure meaningful outcomes.

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    Thank you all