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29 October 2009 - Copenhagen threatens to subsidise forest destruction      


29 October 2009                                  

Conservation organisations have today warned that the Copenhagen climate treaty threatens to subsidise the destruction of the world’s remaining rainforests instead of financing their protection.

Last minute negotiations over the final text for the proposed treaty resume in Barcelona on Monday and representatives from Humane Society International and The Wilderness Society are rushing over there to rescue the text on rainforests from a global disaster.

As the Australian Government plans to be a major beneficiary of rainforest credits to meet its emission reduction target, HSI and TWS are calling on the Australian Government delegation to Barcelona to insert language in the proposed treaty text to ensure credits are for genuine forest protection and strict safeguards are in place to protect biodiversity.

“Concerns abound that Copenhagen treaty will allow carbon credits to subsidise the forestry industry to open up intact rainforests to new logging operations or, even worse, to convert natural rainforests to palm oil plantations”, said HSI’s Nicola Beynon. “This would spell disaster for climate change and rainforest species like the orangutan”.

“Logging rainforests and clearing and converting them to plantations results in enormous carbon emissions. It is crazy for governments to be considering subsidies intended to address climate change for these activities”, said Peg Putt from TWS. “Yet this is exactly what the current treaty text for Copenhagen proposes to do”.

Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will allow Australian companies to offset all their domestic pollution by purchasing international carbon credits such as those from rainforest nations. As it plans to be a major beneficiary of rainforest credits, the Australian Government has a huge responsibility in Barcelona next week to ensure those credits will deliver genuine rainforest protection and emissions reduction”, said Ms Beynon.

The climate treaty is set to be finalised in Copenhagen in December. HSI and TWS are founding members of the Ecosystems Climate Alliance, a coalition of NGOs working at the climate negotiations to ensure the deal on forests secures their protection and the rights of indigenous peoples and that it is free from the rorts and perverse outcomes that have typified the treatment of forests in the Kyoto Protocol.

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