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Please watch, this great video from Hong Kong’s Clean Air Network. It really says it all.
- Hong Kong University of Science and Technology/Civic Exchange research has shown that 53 percent of the time, the pollution that affects us most in HK is from transport – trucks, buses and ships
- Last March the government introduced retirement schemes for old Commercial Diesel Vehicles as well as selective catalytic converters for taxis and mini-buses
- And last year, data did show that HK’s air improved slightly
- More good news: The government recently tabled regulation in Legco that mandates ships switch to cleaner from bunker fuel while at berth
- But measures to improve our air have been largely offset by the huge increase in private car ownership in recent years as well as the massive development initiatives that are being undertaken
- The Hedley Environmental Index estimates that in 2014, air pollution caused 2,616 premature deaths, 32.657 billion in lost dollars, 174,926 hospitalizations, and 4.253 million doctor visits
- The so-called “end of pipe” solutions the government has introduced are certainly a beginning but inadequate alone
- Hong Kong needs to follow Singapore and European cities in establishing low emission zones, pedestrian zones, electronic road pricing and intelligent transport solutions
- We urgently need a smarter, cleaner city. This is within our reach.
The European Parliament Fisheries Committee could in the next days quite irresponsibly kill proposed legislation to phase out the use of deep-sea bottom trawls and other destructive fishing gear in the Northeast Atlantic.
Predictably, many of the committee’s 25 members causing the most problem represent districts with deep-sea fishing interests, according to Bloom’s Claire Nouvian and an Oc. 2 New York Times Op-ed written by marine scientists Les Watling and Giles Boeuf.
According to scientists, 90 percent of the ocean is below 200 meters but not much is known about life there, expect that it is home to countless species, many of them as yet undocumented. Research covers only about 1 percent of the vast area.
As fisheries have collapsed in shallow waters, the industry has looked to the deep for new species and have found only a few there that can be sold for human consumption or processed for fish meal. Yet trawls with gear heavy enough to reach 2,000 meters below the ocean’s surface have scooped up everything in their path, palatable or not, and thus reduced fish biomass by 80 percent over an area about the size of Britain.
According to the Op-Ed, in 2011, vessels from eight EU countries landed 15,000 metric tons of four species of marketable deep-sea fish, which represents only 0.4 percent of Europe’s fish haul. Because of the fragile and adverse conditions in the deepest areas of our oceans, the fish are slow reproducers so this sort of fishing causes irreparable harm.
There exist many fragile species in the deep that are simply swept up or smashed by the trawl gear, which can leave the bottom or mid-areas of the ocean completely bereft of life. A declaration by 300 global scientists has urged that this type of destructive fishing be eliminated from the deep sea – now!
The deep sea battle is just part of the ocean tragedy, described well in the latest audit by an international team of marine scientists from the International Programmed on the State of the Ocean (IPSO). Released earlier this month, the report showed that the world’s oceans and marine life face unprecedented threats from industrial pollution, global warming and rampant overfishing.
The IPSO paper calls for “urgent remedies” because the “rate, speed, and impacts of change in the global ocean are greater, faster and more imminent than previously believed.”
The battle over deep sea trawling then is over “a small fishing area that produces a diminishing number of fish for a handful of companies , who despite massive subsidies from the EU and their own states are not profitable – all the while destroying countless organisms that represent the library of life on Earth,” according to the Op-Ed
Clearly, Trawling should be eliminated from the depths of the Northeast Atlantic. Yet legislators, backed by industry, are staging an irresponsible fight in the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament that is against all of our interests and the real tragedy is that they could win.
An unbelievable and disturbing sight photographed Jan. 2nd in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong by Alex Hofford and Paul Hilton. An estimated 18,000 fins were found drying in the beautiful early January sunshine.
About 50 percent of the global shark fin trade passes through Hong Kong, largely to feed Asian appetites for shark fin soup and other shark-related product. Estimates are that possibly as many as 73 million shark are harvested annually in a lucrative trade estimated in value from US$540 million to US$1.2 billion.
A third of all fins imported to Hong Kong come from Europe, with Spain as the largest supplier, providing between 2,000 and 5,000 metric tons a year. Norway supplies 39 metric tonnes. Britain, France, Portugal and Italy are also major suppliers. Bags of fin labeled from Brazil were found on the Hong Kong rooftop.
As affluence has grown in Asia, particularly China, so too has demand for shark fin soup, which is eaten largely as an expensive delicacy at wedding and other banquets.
One-third of sharks species are threatened or near-threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN Red List.
One of the more important conversations that emerged from June’s Rio+20 Summit was around valuing natural resources and, ultimately, moving our economies beyond GDP as a sole measure of growth.
The concept is not a new one but it did seem gain traction. Included among the side events on one day alone were at least two standing-room-only sessions on the topic: “Measuring the Future We Want” and the Natural Capital Summit.
In Measuring the Future, the panel recognized that over the last 20 years we have seen poverty decline but at the cost of growing environmental challenges. The call was for governments to institute a framework for natural capital accounting.
The Natural Capital Summit, meanwhile, featured speeches from Britain’s Nick Clegg and Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, as well as remarks from the presidents of Gabon and Costa Rica, illustrating clearly the level of interest in the topic.
“How to value nature is one of the most important political decisions,” Stoltenberg said, shortly after Clegg had talked over a masked heckler, accusing world leaders and the World Bank of commoditizing nature.
Despite the mask and the point well taken about assigning value to nature, the reality is not so simple. As we have it now, few benefit from our forests, oceans, our extractive industries and water. The costs of pollution are borne by us all rather than the polluter.
This creates a world where we are rapidly depleting our natural resources for the enrichment of a few, and economic growth, as measured by GDP, is vastly inflated.
Both Rio+20 side sessions were short on answers or plans of action, despite some participants stating the desire to help international gatherings move beyond declarations – something that is sorely needed.
As a path toward action, however, also at Rio, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the UN Environmental Program, the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Climate Change (IHDP) introduced the Inclusive Wealth Index.
The idea is to consider a country’s assets to get a better picture of a country’s wealth and the sustainability of its growth. In reporting every two years, IHDP will calculate the IWI for 20 countries that together account for almost three-quarters of global GDP.
Unsurprisingly, the first report showed that despite strong GDP growth, the United States, China, Brazil and South Africa had significantly depleted their natural capital base. This was calculated as the total of renewable and non-renewable resources such as fisheries, forests and fossil fuels.
Again, not surprisingly, China showed the most dramatic difference between GDP and IWI. GDP growth alone was measured at 422 percent between 1990 and 2007 but IWI measured over the time was just 45 percent.
The report also showed that future growth, as measured by IWI, was dependent on the sustainable use of resources since all countries surveyed had a higher share of natural than manufactured capital.
The key factor here is that countries are using their natural resources faster than they can be replenished, thus challenging future economic development.
The strong sense in Rio was that governments need to step in to create a policy framework by which natural capital can be valued in order for real change to happen. The private sector, of course, wants a level playing field.
Meanwhile, some leading companies that are among the biggest beneficiaries of natural resources and free pollution, also stepped into the discussion this week in Rio.
Twenty-four of them, including Cocoa-Cola, Xerox, Dow Chemical and Kimberly-Clark announced a four-step framework for a methodology that would value natural resources.
Two-thirds of our planet’s land and water ecosystems are now significantly degraded thanks to human activity and climate change is only accelerating the damage. The UN estimates that mismanagement of natural assets costs the global economy an estimated $6.6 trillion a year or 11 percent of GDP collectively.
According to the report, these costs are expected to reach $28 trillion by 2050 and threaten core business interests through potential supply chain disruptions or costly substitutions, regulatory or legal risks.
KPMG has estimated that if companies had to pay for their own environmental bills they would lose 41 cents for every $1 in earnings.
The text of Valuing Natural Capital acknowledges that “each year our planet’s land and water systems produce an estimated $72 trillion worth of “free” goods and services essential to a well-functioning world economy.”
Because these are not bartered and sold in the marketplace it is hard to assign them with a value or corporate or government financial statements. “As a result this value has been largely unaccounted for in business decisions and market transactions.”
But this is starting to change, according to the document, with, “business executives recognizing the business imperative of safeguarding them.”
Among the natural goods and services on which the global economy was seen to depend are: Clean water and air; affordable raw materials and commodities; fertile soils; fisheries; buffers to floods, droughts, fires and extreme weather; barriers to the spread of disease; biological information to propel scientific and medical breakthroughs.
Still, the report although strong on the challenges is short on how natural resources will actually be valued.
Puma has been a leader in this field. Last year the company introduced an environmental profit and loss screening that represented an interesting step toward assigning economic value to resources consumed, to emissions and toward determining the true cost of production for the apparel and shoe brand. I have written about this here.
Finally, also this week the leaders of 37 banks, investment funds and insurance companies agreed to take better stock of the stress put on ecosystems by the economic activity they manage, and work towards integrating natural capital into products and services.
The Natural Capital Declaration is once again short on detail, but at least represents an acknowledgement of the issue.
In Rio this week up for discussion and negotiation (mostly negotiation) is a 49-page draft document that aims to establish clear sustainable development goals and action to achieve them.
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, better known as Rio Plus 20, marks 20 years since the Earth Summit, which at the time was the largest gathering of heads of state ever to talk about environmental challenges.
This time, the agenda has been softened to be about sustainable development, with an emphasis on development. Indeed, some people here don’t seem to believe that environment really plays any part in the conference. Earth isn’t anywhere isn’t mentioned – despite that this is clearly supposed to be a follow-on to the earlier event.
Yet it’s hard to imagine how the discussion of sustainable development can take place without careful consideration of our natural environment.
The reality and the urgency is that our world’s population is expected to rise from its current 7 billion to more than 9 billion in 2050. That’s scary in a world where already an estimated 3 billion people don’t have clean water to drink and 14 percent of our planet, to adequate food.
According to the final version of the Rio Plus 20 Common Vision submitted today under the title, The Future We Want, one in five people, over 1 billion people, still live in extreme poverty. By 2050 two-thirds of our world will live in cities.
So where we find food and water for another 2 million people in 38 years is the crux of the challenge and one that really can’t be denied, regardless of political leaning.
And we live in Asia, where most of that future population growth is expected to occur. This places the challenges front and centre for those of us engaged in work to combat environmental challenges and with communities without adequate means to survive.
Despite the enormity of the task at hand, however, few here in Rio are optimistic that real change will come from or be led by the conference.
The Brazil delegation worked hard in recent days to ram through a document that is in essence hollow, fearing more than anything a repeat of the Copenhagen disaster when no one could agree on anything.
I guess the sense is that if they can at least agree on nothing meaningful that’s better than agreeing on nothing at all over the three-day official proceedings, which begin Wednesday?
The conference document finalized today was, “the result of intensive and prolonged negotiations,” according to the press release, and is a “compromise text,” in which, “countries have had to both give and take to achieve progress.”
The text is to be approved by heads of state at the conference conclusion on Friday. Significantly, Barack Obama, David Cameron and Angela Merkel will not be present in Rio.
Still, the text does include a commitment at least to the concept of sustainable development and recognition that eradicating poverty is one of our greatest challenges. It emphasizes the urgency around “freeing humanity from hunger and poverty”.
The text establishes the clear linkages between sustainable development and the environment, between sustainable development and the means to bolster our struggling economies, and emphasizes the value of public-private partnerships.
Sadly, the hope that this translates into government action is absent from the jaded community spending long hours being bused among several distant event locations in fancy and frigid coaches that have nothing to do with sustainable development other than collective transport.
Part of the skepticism also derives from the fact that the earlier Rio conference ended with two treaties aimed at curbing emissions of greenhouse gases and conserving biological diversity that have since languished amid lack of political will.
There is, additionally, a certain exhaustion generally with the promotion of international frameworks to make sweeping change toward environmental progress.
Those just have been too hard to achieve in our economically challenged world that doesn’t yet seem to link better development, protection of our natural world and an improved economic environment.
like the posh buses, the main conference venue itself is a reflection of misunderstanding of the challenges we face. The huge Riocentro is two hours in traffic from Ipanema and Copacabana, where most participants are staying.
There, air conditioning blasts through huge buildings that are no model of efficiency – either in space or energy consumption.
At the same time, Rio Plus 20 is largely white and male – at least this is particularly true of the official and business delegations. Amongst the NGO community, women are better represented.
At the alternative youth summit in Flamengo, three hours from Riocentro in traffic and closer to Rio’s pulsing centre, the situation is considerably different.
Here, the youth and community-connected people are basing themselves, including many of the smaller NGOs – and diversity is evident in the variety of national dress, skin hues and music that accompanies many events.
In a long stretch of tents, people gather for animated discussion or to listen to seminars on topics related to conservation and sustainable development. Here, the environment is very much present although it’s hard to see where, concretely, the discussion will lead.
Official delegations are noticeably lacking these communities – the NGOs and youth. This is despite the final text emphasizing wide agreement among business, NGOs and government.
Perhaps one bright light here in Rio seems to be the talk on many levels of the importance of valuing our natural resources. Companies, NGOs and governments alike seem to recognize the need to bring environmental value into economic decision-making.
And engaging the private sector, governments, communities in this important dialogue, in partnerships to achieve results, is key to real change. As always in large gatherings it’s the back-room learnings and discussion that are the real drivers for change.
Yesterday the Shangri-La took the courageous step of declaring that effective immediately, the group’s 72 hotels and resorts would no longer serve shark fin in any restaurants or at wedding banquets.
In a press release, the hotel said that in December 2010 the company initiated the process of becoming shark fin free with the removal of shark fin products from its restaurant menus. “The new policy is a continuation of Shangri-La’s journey towards environmental support,” the release said
This follows the Peninsula Hotel’s decision in November last year to stop serving the soup in its restaurants and at wedding banquets as of January 1st this year.
The hotels should be applauded for their actions, which were not easy in a city that sees 50 percent of the global shark fin trade and where consumption of the soup at special events has been second-nature. Here, shark fin soup is seen as a symbol of wealth and prestige and consumed most often at weddings and corporate banquets.
Yet as the consumption of the soup has increased in recent years with greater affluence in Asia, shark populations have dwindled. In some species. populations have declined by as much as 90 percent. As many as 73 million sharks are caught annually, with millions of these believed caught for their fins alone.
Shark flesh is not a high-value meat, while dried fins can be sold for as much as $300 a pound. A bowl of the soup in Hong Kong can fetch as much as $100. Thus is some cases, shark are finned at sea with the bodies thrown back to drown in a practice that is both wasteful and cruel.
Bloom, the HK Shark Foundation, WWF and other conservation groups have been working hard in Hong Kong over the past few years to educate consumers and the trade about the ramifications of declining shark populations for our oceans.
The work has included research to understand both the cultural attitudes toward consumption of shark fin soup and the trade in shark products; educating the hotels on biodiversity issues related to sharks and learning about the challenges of ceasing sales of shark products; encouraging consumers to consider shark fin free weddings; encouraging companies to sign a pledge not to serve shark fin soup at banquets.
Despite a swell action from local and national governments worldwide to ban consumption of shark fin products, the Hong Kong government (consistent with its course of rarely acting in public or conservation interest) has refused to consider any such action – even a ban on serving at official banquets.
In reality, the assumption is that because of the cost, little shark fin soup is actually served at official banquets in Hong Kong and indeed government officials have alluded to this.
Certainly, however, with the growing awareness around threats faced by our oceans, the sense of inevitability of action as shark populations decline, the government must now be feeling the heat.
Last week the HK Marine Products Association was certainly feeling the heat. The trade group placed half-page ads in leading Chinese publications titled (in English translation) “Is eating Shark Fin Guilty?” and arguing that
- Shark fin is simply a by-product of the shark fishing industry
- CITES bans trade in only four species therefore fishing should be allowed in others
- Any conservation of a species should be based on scientific evidence not emotion
- States the MPA uses resources sustainably and contributes to conservation
Clearly, shark fins, for reasons stated above are not by-products of any shark fishing industry and clearly conservation of a species should be based in scientific fact, which exists and is documented: sharks are in significant decline.We would welcome any communication from the MPA related to their sustainable practices and conservation work.
The CITES issue mentioned in the ads is an interesting one and is raised frequently by the MPA, as well as both the HK and Beijing governments, which hide behind the treaty. The main point here is that CITES is not effective in protecting shark species globally and should not be used, counter-intuitively, as a a justification to fish endangered
CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at an IUCN (The World Conservation Union) meeting and entered into force in 1975 as an international agreement. Today, it has 175 signatories.
Its aim: to ensure that the international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The CITES mechanism to achieve this is by placing trade restrictions on species at risk. The Convention is, therefore, undoubtedly an important wildlife conservation agreement.
Yet CITES only includes three species of shark, despite that according to IUCN 143 species are threatened with extinction, either now or in the near future.
So why should a conservation agreement exclude threatened species? The answer lies in the fact that for a species to be bought under CITES trade restrictions, the signatories must vote.
In 2010, for example, six shark species were proposed for inclusion in CITES. Countries with vested interests in the shark trade, such as Japan, bargained with fellow signatories to ensure that highly lucrative species, albeit critically endangered, were not included in the Convention’s regulatory appendices. Science and sustainability clearly gave way to commercial interests.
In Hong Kong, CITES remains the only mechanism for regulating the shark fin trade and to make matters worse its implementation is unclear.
The Agricultural, Fishery and Conservation Department (AFCD) of the Hong Kong government is responsible for monitoring the trade in endangered plant and animal species.
Currently, visual identification is a commonly used to identify imported plants or animal species. While this may be appropriate for many species, it is extremely difficult, in practice, to determine the shark species from a fin without the carcass, and even more difficult if the fin has been bleached or processed. It is understood that AFCD do not carry out any DNA analysis.
Thus, CITES clearly is not an effective mechanism to monitor the shark fin trade in Hong Kong.
Scientific research based on DNA testing shows that in 2006 approximately 40% of the auctioned fin weight in the Hong Kong market came from 14 shark species listed on the IUCN Redlist of Threatened species.
So bravo to the Shangri-La and the Peninsula hotels for taking action, the 112 companies in Hong Kong that have signed the WWF pledge not to sell or buy shark fin as part of their corporate activities.
Going shark free is a groundswell here and abroad that we certainly hope will continue in time to save the apex predators and our oceans.
Our tropical forests are in dramatic decline, pumping tons of carbon into our atmosphere and causing changes in temperature and rainfall worldwide with potentially devastating consequences for our planet.
The problem remains, how to tackle this critical problem in developing regions, where corruption is endemic, how to pay the enormous costs of protecting forests and engaging the local communities that depend on them for their livelihoods.
Reversing global deforestation will require industrialized countries to invest billions annually in forest protection. It is worth remembering, however, that last year U.S. government put aside $700 billion for banks, insurers and automakers during the financial crisis as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
By now, we know the story: Rainforests soak up huge amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide. Deforestation releases retained CO2 released into the atmosphere. Forest destruction contributes about 20 percent of mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the U.N. climate panel. Indeed, tropical deforestation is more damaging to our planet than the transport sector or factories, with one day of logging equivalent to the carbon footprint of eight million people flying to New York.
And why do we care? Our rainforests form a vital cooling band around the earth’s equator, generating a large part of our rainfall and acting as a thermostat. We perhaps also aren’t aware that 50 per cent of life on earth exists in these humid forests, which cover less than 7 per cent of the planet’s surface. We are far from understanding the real consequences of losing the biodiversity we seem to take for granted.
Yet our governments, and indeed most of us, continue to act as though our tropical forests are expendable, that there is no impending climate crisis, biodiversity is a given, perhaps unimportant, and anticipate little, if any alteration in our lives of consumption and energy use.
Clearly, December’s global climate powwow in Copenhagen was the best reflection of this, with no real sense of urgency conveyed by governments gathered there. Country delegations arrived by private jet, were ferried around town in gas-guzzling limos – not exactly the right tone for a crisis meeting on climate.
There had been hope to gain a legally binding international treaty committing nations to mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases but none was forthcoming, lost once more in the all too familiar regional bickering. And chances are slim of any agreement from the next round of U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, particularly following the resignation last week of Yvo de Boer, who has led the process for four years.
The pledges that de Boer did manage to eke out of Copenhagen will merely stabilize emissions by 2020. By most accounts, we need to achieve reductions of at least 50 percent by midcentury – something that can’t be achieved without big cuts from the major emitters, which are the U.S., China, India and Brazil.
Part of the problem lies in ascertaining, at the international level, who should pay to conserve our forests. Developing nations want the right to develop unimpeded, while the United States wants to see significant emissions cuts from China and India that would be on par with its own and doesn’t want to be held accountable for cost. Fundamentally, the U.S. has no effective national strategy of its own and thus is really not in a position to take the lead.
The assumption is that at some point, nations will get it together to achieve meaningful emissions reduction and carbon will become a real part of the solution. In the meantime, regional initiatives such as the U.S. Climate Change legislation currently stalled in the U.S. senate are evolving and could bring some movement in the carbon picture, generating resources for forestry conservation.
But will this be too little too late for our forests and what is the solution for them while we wait?
The bottom line is that in an attempt to protect what is left of our precious stores of tropical timber and the estimated 1.6 billion people who live amongst them, environmental groups have poured tens of millions of dollars into conservation over the last two decades without any real gains.
Global Witness co-founder Patrick Alley, said in a worth-quoting speech last year :
Virtually every intervention by the international donor community into the forests sector over the past few decades costing hundreds of millions of dollars has essentially been to patch up the holes in enforcement to stop the haemorrhaging of illegal timber and corruptly looted revenues. And these interventions have ranged from certification, chain of custody systems, governance, capacity building, law enforcement and there has been precious little success in that litany. And on top of this, we have the increasing threats of conversion to plantations and agricultural encroachment http://bit.ly/fiCvz
The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization says about 13 million hectares, or an area the size of England, are still destroyed annually. In all, half the world’s tropical and temperate forests are now gone.
Author and environmental advocate, Gus Speth, ( http://bit.ly/bSBjOR) pointed out in a recent speech that species are disappearing at rates about 1,000 times faster than normal in a spasm of extinction not seen in 65 million years, since the dinosaurs disappeared.
Changes in our rainfall patterns have meant that over half the agricultural land in drier regions suffers from some degree of deterioration and desertification.
A key concern, if we are to reverse this trend, is either how to pay for conservation or, alternatively, how to make conservation pay; at a national level, how to justify the loss of revenue for developing countries that need the income.
The sad reality is that logging in the tropics generates enormous profit, but not for local communities and mostly not for governments in the form of taxes. Instead, much of the profit finds its way into corporate coffers and the offshore accounts of connected local individuals through corruption and illegal practices. The profit pressures on forests are huge from these interests. Biodiesel and palm oil have now also entered the equation, adding to the strains.
One initiative that tries to address the question of how to generate profit for conservation and formalized at the Copenhagen talks was a U.N.-backed forest protection scheme called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation or REDD.
This would include forests in the global carbon markets, allowing polluters to earn tradable carbon credits by paying developing nations billions not to chop down their trees. Local communities are supposed to earn a share of REDD credit sales to pay for better health, education and alternative livelihoods that persuade them to protect rather than cut down their forests.
But the revenue-sharing arrangements will differ for each country. Some NGOs worry that once again little support will filter down to the communities, with central and provincial governments demanding control of the money.
Another problem is that carbon measurement and accounting as part of any REDD design is complex and time-consuming, requiring laws to be enacted, officials to be trained and investors to be assured that the scheme won’t be undermined by corruption.
And finally, ensuring the forests aren’t simply cut down later, or that deforestation is displaced to another region or country, is another concern. REDD’s final technical design will have to address these issues.
Still, the well-regarded Eliasch Review (http://bit.ly/d99kM3) suggests that including REDD in a well-designed carbon trading system could provide the finance and incentives to reduce deforestation rates by up to 75 per cent in 2030
Still, in Indonesia, where the REDD discussion is quite advanced, there have been warnings that billions of dollars clearly are at risk from graft unless the country puts strong oversight mechanisms in place, according to a recent report released by CIFOR. (http://bit.ly/cfld28)
“Investors should be looking very carefully at the financial governance conditions in the countries where they will be investing their funds. Like Indonesia, many tropical forest countries have long track records of mismanaging public financial resources, particularly in the forestry sector,” said the report’s co-author, Christopher Barr.
Indonesia, which is one country in which ADMCF works on forestry issues, is the world’s third-largest area of tropical forest and the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon after the United States and China because of the massive destruction there of rainforest and peatlands.
Last year, Indonesia set up a legal framework for REDD. Several pilot projects are under way and the governments of Norway, Australia, Germany and the U.S. have promised millions of dollars in funding.
What we have seen everywhere forests are protected however, are the sad unintended consequences of the scramble for carbon: environmental groups that have been conserving forests are backing away from protecting them, fearing that as protected forest they won’t qualify under the REDD additionality clause.
It is uncertain whether already protected forests would qualify for REDD credits. This means that while we wait for REDD, for any sort of global or regional framework that will push forward the mechanisms that will allow large-scale protection, our forests are potentially more vulnerable than ever.