I just landed in Beijing and am en route to Tinajin, the site of the UNFCCC intercessional meeting. This somewhat obscure meeting has not been receiving much press as of yet, but it is immensely significant in laying the groundwork for the upcoming COP16 climate conference in Cancun.
Will billions of dollars of aid pledged in the Copenhagen Accord be honored? Will China, the world's biggest polluter, step forward as an unlikely climate hero? Will dangerous loopholes that incentivize deforestation be removed?
This last question has risen to prominence as many believe a global agreement on how to account for forestry and other land use impacts might be finalized this December, a huge step forward. So it is not surprising that the sinister trio of European nations – Finland, Sweden, and Austria – have resurfaced and are pushing for a loophole that would allow them to cut down as many trees as they want without accounting for the related climate impacts.
This loophole could unravel the progress made in accounting the value of stored forest carbon, which allows poorer nations with tropical forest to be paid by high-polluting nations to keep those forests in tact.
Deforestation now accounts for nearly ¼ of global CO2 emissions, and while some argue that forests in northern countries aren’t worth as much as tropical forests in terms of carbon sequestration, the proposed loophole would mean both an increase in released CO2 and, perhaps more damaging, a crippling of the framework that many hope will put an end to the ravages of tropical deforestation.
AVAAZ, who did an action last year in Copenhagen dressed up as a bunch of trees, is running a campaign targeting the European Environment ministers, asking them to remove the loophole. You can support their efforts by visiting the AVAAZ petition site.