In December 2007, Norway’s then-prime minister Jens Stoltenberg launched Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI). Stoltenberg announced that Norway would be handing out more than US$500 million a year “to prevent deforestation in developing countries”. Stoltenberg was convinced that stopping deforestation would be quick and cheap.
“We have to reduce emissions from deforestation if we’re to prevent catastrophic climate change,” WWF argues on its website. At a first glance, it seems like a no-brainer. Forests store an awful lot of carbon. When forests are cleared for cattle ranching, or to make way for oil palm plantations, the carbon dioxide goes back into the atmosphere.