In the lead up to Copenhagen, letters, articles and reports about REDD are coming out thick and fast. Before looking at them, here’s some bad news. In 2005, a drought meant that in that year the Amazon rainforest did not sequester its usual 2 billion metric tons of CO2.
It also released 3 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere from dying trees. The total 5 billion additional tons of CO2 is greater than the combined emissions of Europe and Japan. This year there is another drought in the Amazon. The photograph above was taken last weekend by Paulo Whitaker. It shows a fisherman paddling through dead fish that died because of lower water levels on the on the Manaquiri River, a tributary of the Amazon River.
Had the carbon stored in the Amazon been traded, the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere would have been doubled – that released from the trees plus the emissions resulting from the sale of carbon credits from the hoped for avoided deforestation.
On that note, here’s a selection of some of the letters, articles and reports released just before Copenhagen:
- Last week, the Society for Conservation Biology wrote to Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, about the dangers of runaway climate change for forests. In the letter, after describing what happened to the Amazon in 2005, Luigi Boitani, the President of the Society for Conservation Biology points out that “The sequestration rates of other tropical rainforests from Malaysia to Costa Rica are also declining in the face of increasing ambient heat.” The Society has also produced “Eleven Conservation Principles For Decision-makers“, the third of which notes that “forests will not be able to steadily offset increases in greenhouse gases”.
- A new paper by Alain Karsenty of CIRAD titled “What the (carbon) market cannot do…” argues for a longer-term structural approach to ‘avoiding deforestation’, focusing on governance, rather than relying on markets with all the difficult (and perhaps irresolvable) problems involved with counting carbon, setting baselines and estimating future deforestation.
- The Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) has produced a Briefing Paper on the state of play of the REDD-Plus negotiations as we go into Copenhagen. For acronym junkies this is a special treat, but it’s also very useful for anyone trying to wrap their heads around what’s going to happen in Copenhagen. The briefing is also available in Spanish and French.
- The Ecosystems Alliance has written to the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer, asking that the UNFCCC process remains accessible to NGO observers: “We are therefore writing to respectfully request that during the up-coming meetings at COP15, including those of each of the AWG-KP, AWG-LCA, SBSTA and SBI, the reliance on closed sessions is strictly limited, and that any informal groups and sub-groups are kept open to observers.”
- Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation has published a new book by Tamra Gilbertson and Oscar Reyes of CarbonTradeWatch: “Carbon Trading – How it Works and Why It Fails“. REDD, Gilbertson and Reyes conclude, “has more to do with avoided responsibility than ‘avoided deforestation’.” Here’s what Naomi Klein has to say about the book: “Anyone who still thinks that creating a carbon casino can solve our climate crisis owes it to themselves to read this book. The most convincing and concise challenge to the green profiteers yet.”
- Another Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation publication, titled “Contours of Climate Justice“, includes a chapter on REDD by Simone Lovera of the Global Forest Coalition. “The problem with REDD,” Lovera writes, “is that there are simply too many ‘ifs’ to be true.”