For release December 9, 2009 Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Media Release
Developed countries cheating on their targets to reduce forest emissions, according to score card results
Copenhagen – All developed countries except Switzerland get a failing grade in an assessment released today by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) of proposals for rules in the new climate change accord to address greenhouse gas emissions caused by forestry activities.
“It’s extremely disappointing that Canada and other developed countries, including the members of the European Union, New Zealand and Australia, are cheating on their targets and proposing to sweep increased emissions from logging under the rug so they don’t have to account for them,” says Chris Henschel, a CPAWS senior conservation manager and international expert on the UN negotiations on Land Use and Forestry.
The proposals would let developed countries off the hook for about one Gigatonnes of increased greenhouse gas emissions in the next Kyoto commitment period – or about half of the total Kyoto emission reduction target for the first commitment period.
Henschel’s scorecard rates the extent to which each developed country is prepared to take responsibility for the greenhouse gases it releases by cutting down trees. This is important because emissions from forestry account for a significant proportion of some country’s national emissions.
“Protecting natural forests helps us fight climate change; cutting forests makes it worse,” says Henschel. “Incentives for developed countries to stimulate greater forest conservation are critical in the next climate change agreement. Canada’s boreal forests alone are estimated to hold close to 200 megatonnes of carbon within their trees and soils.”
Instead, most developed countries are asking a planned increase in emissions from logging to simply be forgiven by building them into a “projected baseline” that would only penalize them if they emit more than they are currently planning.”
“We’d expected Canada and other countries, especially the EU, to take a much stronger leadership role in proposing rules for developed countries that would honestly account for emissions and stimulate greater forest conservation. Instead we’re seeing nearly every country trying to cheat the climate and forests,” adds Henschel.
Some of the report’s highlights – the EU has surprised analysts by joining a race to the bottom by spurning accountability for actual changes in emissions from a historical level. New Zealand proposes rules that would enable it to avoid accounting for a nearly 200% increase in greenhouse gas emissions from planned forest cutting. Japan is proposing no baseline at all for its forestry emissions.
To view the scorecard, with its “thumbs up, thumbs down” ratings and a summary of the rationale for each country’s score, go to www.makeforestscount.org.