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Forum for the Future of Aid

Southern Voices for Change in the International Aid System Project

The Forum on the Future of Aid is an online community dedicated to research and opinions about how the international aid system currently works and where it should go next

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Seeing the forest for the carbon?

Source: Bank Information Centre

December 3 marked the opening of the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP-13) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the international agreement under which the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions was established in 1997. As the leaders of more than 180 countries gather in Bali, Indonesia to discuss what kind of climate regulation regime will replace Kyoto when it expires in 2012, one of the hottest topics on their global warming agenda is tropical forests. Tropical deforestation is now widely recognized to be among the major causes of global warming.

The meetings, which are scheduled to run through December 15, are expected to be particularly important in charting the course for a post-Kyoto global agreement on carbon emission reductions.

Campaigners have been fighting to protect rainforests for years, citing their importance to forest-dependent peoples, their unparalleled biodiversity, and their medical, aesthetic and spiritual value for the planet, but it is their recently recognized significance to the world’s climate that has made forests an international priority today. While there is agreement on the need to stop destruction of the world’s rainforests, there is no consensus on how to provide the incentives necessary to do so, nor concurrence on how to calculate the value of not cutting them for the growing (though contested) trade in emissions reductions.

Even as the debate over whether and how to incorporate “avoided deforestation” into an international agreement on climate change mitigation continues, the World Bank has already proposed one solution. On December 11th in Bali, World Bank President, Robert Zoellick will launch its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, formally setting in motion the first initiative to include emissions reductions from avoided deforestation into the global carbon market. This latest foray by the Bank into carbon ‘market-making’ only heightens concerns among environmentalists opposed to emissions trading mechanisms in general, on the grounds that they will only perpetuate excessive pollution in the North.

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