Friday, 25 September 2009

[From: tanikota tanikota] Guyana is a model of forest protection that could solve the climate crisis

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Deforestation is responsible for almost 20% of the world's carbon emissions ? more than all of the cars, planes, ships, trucks and trains on earth put together.

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Guyana is a model of forest protection that could solve the climate crisis

A Copenhagen deal must enable countries like ours to generate an income by conserving forests rather than cutting them down

Bharrat Jagdeo
Tuesday September 22 2009

The UN general assembly this week is going to change the world. This is because quiet conversations in meeting rooms and corridors around the UN complex will shape the world's climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December ? and all of our lives, and those of every generation that follows.

And this is all going to happen because of trees. This week, among the talk of recession and growth, defence and terrorism, economic stimuli and trade sanctions, world leaders will discuss one of the key solutions that we need to focus on to tackle climate change ? the world's forests.

Deforestation is responsible for almost 20% of the world's carbon emissions ? more than all of the cars, planes, ships, trucks and trains on earth put together. On top of this, forests and other biological systems are the only viable only way of actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere. So stopping deforestation is one of the most obvious and immediate solutions to climate change.

The particular solution the UN will discuss centres around a set of ideas called Redd (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) that looks set to be a key pillar of the forthcoming Copenhagen climate agreement. Redd should help to lay to rest one of the greatest mistakes of modern times ? the failure to include a mechanism for protecting forests in the Kyoto protocol.

Redd should be good news for Guyana, because we have a lot of trees, and a bold plan to make these trees the economic generator of our nation by offering their services in removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it for the nations who have been generating the emissions.

In fact, more than three-quarters of our nation is covered with trees, and we have been able to keep it that way while many similar nations have suffered from rampant deforestation. But Redd will only work if the governments of the world provide the money to make conserving forests a viable alternative to cutting them down, and it is essential that the UN delegates realise this.

A recent report estimated that Guyana could generate approximately $500m a year by cutting its forests ? money that is desperately needed for healthcare, education and infrastructure in a poor nation such as ours. But the world needs our forests to prevent climate change ? what should we do?

Since I last came to New York to call for forest conservation a little over a year ago, the world has lost an area of forest the size of my entire country ? more than 15m hectares, with huge impacts on the climate for many years to come. This has not happened out of malice or ignorance, but because most of the world's forested nations have no alternative but to generate income by cutting their forests.

Of course, tackling deforestation is only one issue that the international community needs to address in order to stop climate change. Fundamentally, the Copenhagen agreement must involve commitments to reduce global carbon emissions to keep the temperature rise to at most 2C by 2050.

But forest conservation is an essential part of the solution and, if Guyana's model is adopted for Redd, it will overcome this and put the planet on a new path, where protecting forests is more economically prudent than cutting them down, and where we will have a chance to prevent climate change from defining this century ? and prevent our generation being remembered as the one that failed.

? Bharrat Jagdeo is president of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana

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