The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

In US Contact: Daniel Kessler 1 510 501 1779
In Copenhagen Contact: Roman Czebiniak + 31 64 616 2009

Protecting Forests Could Set the Stage for a Greenwash Deal in Copenhagen


After two long years of deliberations, Greenpeace warns that the issue of deforestation in the climate negotiations could be used to greenwash the UN climate deal.
"A deal that fails to provide adequate and reliable public funding to protect forests and allows corporate polluters to offset their CO2 emissions whilst doing little back home, will most certainly put us on a path to exceeding 2 degree C rise in global temperature. This would be a disaster for the climate," said Roman Czebiniak, Greenpeace International political advisor.

During the Copenhagen negotiations, the deal to cut global emissions by stopping deforestation, so-called REDD, has come under attack by the United States, which is pushing for a free ride for corporate polluters by promoting a "sub-national" approach to REDD. Accounting for emissions at this level instead of at a national level would primarily benefit corporate polluters who expect to receive cheap offset credits for investing in forestry projects abroad so they can continue to pollute at home. A sub-national approach, especially if combined with offsetting industrialized countries' emissions, would significantly increase the risk of forest destruction simply moving to another part of a country or across an international border. The result could be an increase rather than a reduction in global greenhouse emissions.

"Progress made over the last four years by tropical forest countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Congo Basin, PNG to reduce global emissions by protecting their forests is now under serious attack," said Czebiniak.

"Instead of seizing the momentum, Obama's negotiators have threatened the progress and trust that has been built over the last few years - they are pushing new proposals that place corporate interests ahead of both the climate and the forests. When the President arrives, he must support a global fund to end deforestation and not trade forests away."

Some industralised countries have announced commitments for fast track financing but these numbers do not add up to what is really needed to protect forests and reduce deforestation by 2020. If it is agreed for the period 2010-2013 (and possibly extended until 2015), it would probably be invested in putting forests credits into the carbon markets to and lead to the creation of 'sub-prime-like' carbon credits. This would threaten the stability of the carbon markets and undermine the fight against climate change.

The Copenhagen agreement needs to include a global goal to stop deforestation by 2020, in a manner that protects biodiversity and fully respects the rights of local and indigenous peoples. Achieving this global goal is necessary for reaching a peak in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 and get to a decline by 2020. Instead, countries are pushing for weaker short term targets that would only slightly reduce the problem. To provide real permanent reductions for the climate, we need an end to deforestation, not just reduce it.

"Heads of State have 24hours to make a decision. The lives of millions and the extinction of countless species hangs in the balance. Will REDD be part of a deal that helps us avoid climate catastrophe or will it contribute to a deal that pushes us closer to the brink?" concluded Czebiniak.

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

+31 20 718 2000