Bali Climate Change Conference revives hope for tropical forests
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) begins today (December 3rd) on the island of Bali. The Conference, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, brings together representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and the media. The two week period includes the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, its subsidiary bodies as well as the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol.
BirdLife International is attending and particularly wants to see the development and acceptance of a new mechanism under the UNFCCC, 'reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries' (RED). In climate terms, tropical deforestation accounts for about 20% of all human-induced emissions every year, roughly the same volume of greenhouse gas emissions as produced by the USA or China.
The 'reducing emissions from deforestation' proposal would enable developing countries to benefit financially from protecting their forests
The loss of natural tropical forests not only removes the vital ecological services that they provide but is also a catastrophe for the world’s biodiversity. Tropical forests are the most ecologically rich of all forest types. They are home to 70% of the world’s plants and animals, more than 13 million distinct species. They contain 70% of the world’s vascular plants, 30% of all bird species, and 90% of invertebrates. Deforestation is also a disaster for the many thousands of people who live in and depend on tropical forests, and yet have little say in their fate, and rarely benefit from their destruction.
The RED proposal would enable developing countries to benefit financially from protecting their forests. With this change could come the chance to protect the unique wildlife of tropical forests and offer sustainable livelihoods to the many people who depend on them.
BirdLife strongly supports the initiative and wants to see the following points firmly embedded in the global climate change regime.
- An international mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation is necessary as part of the post-2012 framework on climate change.
- Any mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation must be additional to commitments to deeper cuts in fossil fuel emissions by developed countries after 2012.
- Developed countries must provide substantial resources for capacity building and transfer of appropriate technology for effective monitoring and measurement.
- Any mechanism must enhance biodiversity conservation and ensure fair and equitable incentives for forest people.
- Any regime should cover ‘natural’ forests (including degraded sites and semi-natural forests) rather than artificial plantations.
- Means should be found to include countries that presently undertake little or no deforestation in any RED regime.
- To deliver meaningful climate benefits, any agreement must be founded on the establishment of national baselines and national approaches and deliver sufficient resources to negate the drivers of deforestation. We recognize however that many countries lack the capacity to adopt national approaches and that means should be sought both to build this capacity and support pilot projects in such countries.
- To download the RSPB/BirdLife pamphlet on Tropical Forests and Climate Change click here (PDF 2MB)