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Keeping the Lungs Alive (1/18)

Keeping the Lungs Alive (1/18)

January 20, 2011 at 10:28 am

Hans Brattskar graduated from Luther College in 1979 and now serves as the Norwegian Ambassador to the International Climate and Forest Initiative of the Government of Norway.  He met us at the tram stop and walked us to a beautiful stable-turned conference room on the third floor of a Peace Center building where we talked about Norway’s climate and forest initiatives.

Rainforests are the lungs of the world so it’s important that we work to preserve them, while also honoring the needs of local people living in rainforest areas.  Once we lose our rainforests there is no way to replace them.  We can never replace the biodiversity that exists now.  Every year we lose a chunk of rainforest the size of England and it’s our responsibility as citizens of the world to do something about this problem.

Hans taught us about REDD+ and its connection to development.  REDD+ is defined as:

R: Reduced

E: Emissions from

D: Deforestation and Forest

D: Degradation in developing countries

+: Reforestation, sustainable management of forests, conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks.

REDD is about correcting market failure.  People do not get compensated for leaving the forest alone and we have to find ways to account for this.  Hans shared with us that half of the world’s rainforests have disappeared since 1950 and that half of all deforestation in the world has happened in Indonesia and Brazil.

REDD+ is important for development reasons because it address emissions, livelihoods, biodiversity, ecosystems and sustainable development.

Climate issues are a large part of Norway’s development cooperation.  Along with much of the world, Norway has a commitment to keep the warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.  International cooperation is necessary, as is low-carbon development.

Climate change and fighting poverty are interconnected issues.  Developing countries need the support of developed countries.  Early action is necessary for the best results.  REDD+ must be included in any kind of world climate agreement that is reached because of its ability to bring multiple benefits to developing countries and the rest of the world.

Currently the US and Norway are each committing $1 billion US dollars to programs to prevent deforestation throughout the world.  Norway only has 4.6 million people, which is far fewer than the US, so they are committing a much larger chunk of money to this initiative.

Norway has a program in Brazil that will run until 2013.  Brazil’s efforts have been the most important climate initiatives in recent years.  They have put in place a very successful program and it hasn’t been people from the outside that have done this work, but rather the Brazilian government and related NGOs who see deforestation as a major issue.  Guyana has been a major partner in this initiative, which is important, because if Brazil stops deforestation, but it merely moves to Guyana, nothing has been accomplished.  It’s important that surrounding countries are on board with any initiative that is taken on.

Last year Brazil received $120 million for the initiatives they carried out.  Norway pays based on performance and Brazil has been delivering very well.  This compensation accounts for only a chunk of what they’ve done.  It is in Brazil’s best interest to preserve forests or else the Amazon will dry up and they will be in trouble.  They recognize this problem and are working to address it.

All of Brazil’s data is available via satellite to any third parties that wish to review it.  Data can be scrutinized by NGOs and individuals who wish to question anything the government says, which helps to hold the government accountable.  It is helpful to confirm whether funding is deserved.  This data is part of the MRV (monitoring, reporting and verification) programs that are constantly being carried out.

These initiatives are being carried out by people from the country where the deforestation is taking place, rather than being imposed by people from outside.  People in-country are coming up with their own solutions and putting them into practice, which is much more participatory and ends up being a much more sustainable model of development.

The International Climate and Forest Initiative only works with countries that make their own commitments.  Indonesia is the 3rd largest global emitter of carbon (behind China and the US) due to forest emissions, but they are committed to reducing their emissions 26% by 2020.

To sum it up:

  • Coordinated international efforts to address climate issues should address REDD
  • Early action is important and key to getting this done soon.  We can’t expect developing countries to do this on their own.  Developed countries must help.
  • We should support national forest strategies in tropical countries.  REDD is about more than just carbon.
  • We have only discovered about 1% of species in the world rainforests and the remaining species are fast-disappearing.  There are lots more plants to be discovered that could contain cures to diseases.  It is in the world’s best interest to protest the rainforests.

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