Climate pact must halt deforestation and industrial logging of old-growth forests, exclude carbon credits for forest conservation, say activists
A global framework on climate change must immediately halt deforestation and industrial logging of the world's old-growth forests, while protecting the rights of forest communities and indigenous groups, said a broad coalition of activist groups in a consensus statement issued today at U.N. climate talks in Bonn Germany.
The statement said the successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol should not include mechanisms that allow industrialized countries to "offset" their emissions by purchasing carbon credits from reducing deforestation in developing countries, a position that puts the coalition at odds with larger environmental groups who say a market-based approach with tradable credits is the only way to generate enough money fund forest protection on a global scale.
"Due to a broad range of ethical, social and methodological risks, forest-based carbon offsets will undermine an effective, equitable and socially just climate regime," said the statement. "Climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management must be based on different mindsets with full respect for Nature, and not on carbon offset mechanisms. Public funding mechanisms that ensure environmental integrity and equitable distribution of funds must be made established."
The coalition statement calls upon industrialized countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions 45 percent by 2020 and 95 percent by 2050 as an "absolute minimum" in addition to providing "sufficient financial and technological support to enable developing countries to halt the destruction of forests and other ecosystems." The targets are well above those laid out by industrialized countries, which generally fall in the 15-30 percent range by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050.
Advocates of a market-based approach that includes tradable credits say public funding mechanisms will be subject to political risk (funding for forest conservation would compete with other priorities under a public finance arragnement) and fail to provide sufficient funds to effectively address the drivers of deforestation, including logging, industrial agriculture, cattle ranching, and subsistence farming. In other words, the compensation scheme must make forests more valuable as living entities than the goods that can be produced from chopping them down. Otherwise deforesters - whether they be poor farmers, ranchers, plantation developers, or loggers - will continue to destroy them.
Negotiators will meet in Copenhagen this December to hammer out a post-2012 climate agreement. The agreement is widely expected to include provisions for forest conservation since research shows it will be impossible to meet emissions targets without reducing deforestation and forest degradation, which accounts for nearly one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, a share larger than all the world's cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships combined.
The undersigned broad coalition of NGOs, Indigenous Peoples' Organizations and women's groups call upon the Parties to the FCCC to take into account the critical role of forest conservation in climate change mitigation. The protection of forest biodiversity is vital for life on earth. Native forest ecosystems provide us with clean air, clean water, a safe climate, food, fodder and shelter and they are an important part of our global and cultural identity. Forests provide aesthetic and intrinsic values. Indigenous Peoples and traditional local communities of the forests are the guardians and original conservationists of the forest. They maintain a food sustenance and socio-cultural relationship to the forests based on their cosmovision.
For that reason, we call upon Parties to:
- Immediately put in place rights-based and equitable policies and institutions to halt deforestation and forest degradation and the destruction of other natural ecosystems like peatlands and grasslands in all continents
- Identify and address the direct and underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation;
- Ensure that these policies and measures uphold international human rights and environmental standards and are fully consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This includes the effective adoption and implementation by all Parties and all UN agencies and multilateral banks of the Right to Free Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and local forest dependent communities;
- Ensure that these policies take into account the specific role, rights and interests of women and are fully consistent with Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women;
- Ensure that these policies are fully consistent with the Convention on Biodiversity and its Expanded Program of Work on Forest Biodiversity and contribute meaningfully to conserving and enhancing biodiversity and related cultural diversity, traditional knowledge and spirituality;
- Explicitly exclude the establishment and management of monoculture tree plantations, including genetically modified tree plantations, and the practice of industrial logging from these policies. This also implies adopting a forest definition that clearly distinguishes forests from monoculture tree plantations;
- Ensure any policies intended to reduce deforestation and forest degradation include measures to reduce consumption of forest products, especially in the Industrialized North;
- Ensure these policies secure the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of forests and other ecosystems, both between countries and within countries, taking into account the critical role of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women in conserving and restoring forests and other ecosystems. This also implies recognizing the customary and collective land tenure and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensuring the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women in all decision-making processes related to forests;
We call upon developed countries to recognize the historical debt to developing countries caused by their excessive greenhouse gas emissions. This implies immediate and drastic cuts in their domestic greenhouse gas emissions (45% by 2020/ 95% by 2050 as an absolute minimum) AS WELL AS providing sufficient financial and technological support to enable developing countries to halt the destruction of forests and other ecosystems. It is too late for either/or policies. Any form of carbon offsetting, including CDM afforestation/reforestation and REDD offset projects will only increase the ecological footprint and carbon debt of developed countries and must thus be avoided. (Due to a broad range of ethical, social and methodological risks, forest-based carbon offsets will undermine an effective, equitable and socially just climate regime.) Climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management must be based on different mindsets with full respect for Nature, and not on carbon offset mechanisms. Public funding mechanisms that ensure environmental integrity and equitable distribution of funds must be made established.
The coalition of youth, environmental groups, NGOs, indigenous peoples' organizations, women's groups who have signed this survival plea include:
International Youth caucus in Bonn
Ecosystems Climate Alliance
Global Forest Coalition
The Wilderness Society
World Rainforest Movement
Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Foundation Norway
Rainforest Foundation UK
Friends of the Earth
Indigenous Environmental Network
Global Justice Ecology Project
Life gender, Environment and Diversity Germany
Sustainable Population Australia
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group
the Tanzania Community Forest Conservation Network MJUMITA
Stop GE Tree Campaign
RAVA Institute Indonesia
Timberwatch Coalition South Africa
Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition
Friends of the Siberian Forests Russia
Focus on the Global South
Womens Environment Network Australia
Women Environmental Programme Nigeria
COECO-CEIBA-Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
WALHI-Friends of the Earth-Indonesia
Down to Earth
Carbon Trade Watch
Women's Environment and Development Organization
Asociacion ANDES Peru
Ecologistas en Accion Spain
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
North East Peoples Alliance on Trade, Finance and Development India
WISE Inc. Philippines
FASE Solidarity and Education Brazil
Kingdom Narintarakul Thai Working group for Climate Justice
Union pour l'Emancipation de la Femme Autochtone