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1 April 2009 - Forests must be included in global climate deal      

Forests must be included in global climate deal

1 April 2009                              

Humane Society International (HSI) considers it essential that forest protection is included in the new international climate deal to be agreed in Copenhagen in December. 

We, therefore, congratulate Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong’s recent statement in New York[1] that Australia will actively advocate for the inclusion of measures to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD) in a post 2012 international climate change agreement.

Loss and degradation of forests currently contributes about 20 per cent of direct carbon emissions to the atmosphere. Further, a dwindling and degraded forest stock is less able to sequester the increased carbon load in the atmosphere from industrial emissions. “Indeed, it is only if all existing primary forest is conserved, that the international community will have any hope of preventing global average temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees centigrade,” said Nicola Beynon, HSI Senior Program Manager.

The principal reason for forest loss and degradation is the failure of the current economic system to value them properly for all the ecosystem services they provide, including carbon storage and sequestration. This means timber production and agriculture can out bid the value of keeping forests in their natural state.

For this reason, HSI supports the Australian Government’s position in the international negotiations to allow developed countries to purchase carbon credits from developing countries created through measures to stop deforestation and forest degradation.

“Emerging carbon markets present an unprecedented opportunity to increase the value of intact forests and leverage the sort of funds needed to stop their degradation and protect their precious biodiversity,” said HSI Director Michael Kennedy.

“The magnitude of the problem is such that multiple funding sources will be needed to combat deforestation and forest degradation around the world, both market based and direct financial assistance from developed countries. History has shown that benevolent aid alone from developed countries has never been enough to tackle the environmental challenges facing the developing world,” said Rod Holesgrove, HSI Biodiversity Programs Adviser. 

HSI believes it is possible to design a REDD market mechanism that will provide money to developing countries to protect forests without reducing the incentive for all countries to reduce their industrial emissions and that concerns forest credits will flood the carbon market are over-stated.

However, while supportive of the Australian Government’s stance on REDD, HSI is highly critical of the Government’s failure to commit to overall greenhouse gas reduction targets that have even the remotest chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.

“We are also warning the Australian Government it risks accusations of hypocrisy if it fails to bring an end to forest logging and degradation in our own native forests,” concluded Ms Beynon.


[1] Senator the Hon. Penny Wong.  ‘Building confidence toward an effective global climate change agreement - an Australian perspective.’ Address to the Peace Institute, New York, 27 March 2009.

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