Rich countries increase deforestation aid to $4 billion
The funds will go toward financing and facilitating the reduction of deforestation emissions from developing countries.
Thu, May 27 2010 at 11:56 AM
COOL DOWN: Combating deforestation could account for a third of all measures needed by 2020 to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. (Photo: luoman/iStockphoto)
Rich countries agreed Thursday to boost funds for fighting deforestation to $4 billion up to 2012, despite facing problems of their own because of the financial crisis, Norway announced.
"In today's global markets, forests are more worth dead than alive. Today we commit to change that equation," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said at an international climate conference in Oslo.
The amount includes the $3.5 billion pledged by the United States, Norway, Japan, Britain, France and Australia at Copenhagen's UN climate summit in December.
Norway said new pledges had been made by Germany, which promised about 350 million euros, and Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the European Union helped bring the amount up to 4.0 billion dollars.
The funds will partly go on financing and facilitating the reduction of emissions from deforestation in developing countries, including compensating populations that agree to give up deforestation-linked activities.
"It must pay off not to cut the trees," Stoltenberg told reporters.
The Oslo conference, a follow-up to the Copenhagen summit, drew ministers from around the world as well as international figures such as legendary financier George Soros and Britain's Prince Charles.
"The time we have available to translate aspiration into action is fast running out," Prince Charles said. Soros, meanwhile, agreed to contribute to the anti-deforestation fund.
Officials at the conference urged participating nations to stick to their pledges to deforestation efforts even though many are cutting government spending to reduce deficits.
"We should take care not to use the crisis as an excuse to downgrade ambitions in the climate field," EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.
"The climate crisis will not disappear because we have an economic crisis."
French environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo said it would not be a problem to come up with the funds, adding: "It has been budgeted, it is public."
Deforestation accounts for 17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world's modes of transport combined, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Combating deforestation could account for a third of all measures needed by 2020 to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, Norway said.
The Scandinavian country and France are at the forefront of the fight against deforestation and Paris hosted a conference on the matter earlier this year.
"Reducing deforestation and forest degradation can provide us with the largest, the fastest, the cheapest cuts in global emissions," Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg mentioned carbon taxes, taxes on airplane tickets and private donations as other ways to collect funds to fight deforestation.
In Copenhagen, Norway and the United States each pledged one billion dollars, France said it would give $375 million, Japan $500 million, the UK $480 million and Australia $120 million.
The Oslo conference also saw the formation of a 50-country partnernship which aims to creat a data bank of anti-deforestation measures, how they are financed and what results they bring.
Of a global forest area of four billion hectares, the world lost 13 million hectares, not counting replanting, per year between 2000 and 2010 — down from 16 million the previous decade, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The net forest lost over the past decade was equivalent to the land area of Costa Rica, the FAO says.
On Wednesday, Indonesia, which boasts one of the world's largest rain forests, said it would introduce a two-year moratorium on deforestation, as part of an agreement with Oslo.
Norway, which owes its prosperity to its vast oil and gas reserves, has already signed similar agreements with Brazil and Guyana.
Copyright 2010 AFP Global Edition