Developing nations differ on avoided deforestation

Developing nations differ on avoided deforestation

New Delhi: Differences between developing countries looked set to grow and fracture the united front they have thus far presented at the United Nations climate change conference at Bali. The differences among the 77 developing countries, the so-called G-77, came up over the inclusion of changes in land use and avoided deforestation in the clean development mechanism.

“The G-77 discussed this at length today but no consensus was reached. We are expecting more discussions tomorrow and then we will decide if the group will have a consolidated view on the matter or put individual country’s points of view on the table," said an Indian government delegate at the Bali conference who did not wish to be identified.

Mint had reported on 5 December that developing nations were demanding funds for avoiding deforestation. Their demand is that developed nations compensate them for protecting and conserving every hectare of forests, which contain emission of CO2 (trees use CO2 to synthesize their food).

The argument in favour of this is that the same forests can be cut down for timber or to make space for agricultural or industrial activities. Countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, which have significant forest cover, are pushing for this.

The issue being contested at the Bali conference is the exact nature of ‘avoidance’ that will be eligible for credits or compensation. “Brazil has been proposing that only avoided deforestation be eligible for carbon revenue while Costa Rica has been saying that conservation also be eligible and we are saying that forest management should also be approved. While other countries believe that all the proposals be put on the table, Brazil is bent on approval only for avoided deforestation," added the Indian delegate.

According to current regulations under the Kyoto Protocol, companies or organizations can earn carbon credits from planting trees but avoided deforestation is not eligible for credits. The issue of including such avoidance mechanisms in the carbon market framework is not new. But, difficulties in monitoring and regulation of forest cover measurement remain.

“One of the biggest questions which remains (unanswered) is scale and benefit sharing. Who will get the revenue and where do you draw the boundary for one unit of forest?" asked N.H. Ravindranath, chairman, Centre for Sustainable Technologies at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and a member on India’s scientific committee on climate change.

Critics say that such financial incentives can also lead to “leakage", which means that conservation of forest in one area could initiate deforestation in another area to meet domestic needs.

The issue will be taken up again on Friday.