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Bali Climate Change Conference…

…hopes revived for tropical forests

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) begins today (December 3rd) on the island of Bali. The Conference, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, brings together representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and the media. The two week period includes the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, its subsidiary bodies as well as the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol.BirdLife International is attending and particularly wants to see the development and acceptance of a new mechanism under the UNFCCC, 'reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries' (RED). In climate terms, tropical deforestation accounts for about 20% of all human-induced emissions every year, roughly the same volume of greenhouse gas emissions as produced by the USA or China. The loss of natural tropical forests not only removes the vital ecological services that they provide but is also a catastrophe for the world’s biodiversity. Tropical forests are the most ecologically rich of all forest types. They are home to 70% of the world’s plants and animals, more than 13 million distinct species. They contain 70% of the world’s vascular plants, 30% of all bird species, and 90% of invertebrates. Deforestation is also a disaster for the many thousands of people who live in and depend on tropical forests, and yet have little say in their fate, and rarely benefit from their destruction.

The RED proposal would enable developing countries to benefit financially from protecting their forests. With this change could come the chance to protect the unique wildlife of tropical forests and offer sustainable livelihoods to the many people who depend on them.BirdLife strongly supports the initiative and wants to see the following points firmly embedded in the global climate change regime:

1. Any regime should cover ‘natural’ forests (including degraded sites and semi-natural forests) rather than artificial plantations.

2. Means should be found to include countries that presently undertake little or no deforestation in any RED regime.

3. Countries which are overall afforesting or reforesting should not be included in an agreement to reduce emissions from deforestation, in part because there is already an international mechanism for crediting these activities.

4. To deliver meaningful climate benefits, any agreement must be founded on the establishment of national baselines.

5. For the RED regime to work, it must operate at a national scale, and guarantee that the savings made in one place are not being lost in another part of the same country.

4th July 2014