Seven nations pledge $4b to protect forests
OSLO — Developed nations pledged more than $4 billion yesterday to finance a program meant to help poor countries protect their forests and slow global warming.
An agency monitoring the aid will be up and running before UN climate talks start in Cancun, Mexico, later this year, the European Union’s climate commissioner said at a conference on deforestation in Oslo.
Also, Indonesia agreed to a two-year moratorium on issuing new permits for forest destruction as part of a $1 billion deal with Norway that would pay Indonesia a fixed sum per ton of CO2 emissions reduced through rain forest preservation. Norway has had a similar deal with Brazil since the mid-1990s.
Deforestation — the burning of woodlands or the rotting of felled trees — is thought to account for up to 20 percent of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, as much as is emitted by all the world’s cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships.
The new program — called REDD Plus, for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation — will encourage rich nations to finance forest-protecting projects while coordinating that aid to avoid waste and ensure transparency.
It was approved, but not implemented, at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December.
In Oslo, Germany, France, Norway, the United States, Britain, Australia, and Japan pledged $4 billion to finance REDD Plus through 2012, with Denmark and Sweden adding $73 million more to the effort yesterday.
The new monitoring agency would oversee individual agreements between countries to fight deforestation and educate local populations who live off forests to do so in a sustainable way.
EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the new agency, and a comprehensive database that will help streamline aid combating deforestation, were tangible results that would build momentum in climate talks ahead of the Cancun summit.
Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the new agency would “decrease a trust deficit’’ that has stymied progress in wider climate talks, as wealthy countries express concern about how aid money is used in poor nations.