An estimated 10 percent of the planet's forest loss (a surface slightly smaller than Greenland) occurred during the last two decades of the 20th century alone. This destruction resulted not only in species extinction and loss of biodiversity and natural beauty, but in certain cases even brought an end to entire ways of life for local forest communities. Yet this tragedy - and its horrible consequences - prompted little action, either on the local or international level.
Recent scientific information has added another twist to the issue. It is now universally recognised that deforestation causes about 20 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions. This means that cutting down trees is more destructive to the planet than the entire global transport sector. It is this final "loss" that has convinced the international community of the urgent need for forest protection.
Negotiations on the next commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (theUnited Nation's treaty for stopping global warming) must be decided bythe end of 2009. Because deforestation is a comparatively cheap andeasy way to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions, it must play a rolein the new agreement. Furthermore, to be really effective,deforestation in the tropical forests of Brazil, the Congo Basin andthe Paradise Forests (Indonesia and Papua New Guinea) must end by 2015.
Given that most tropical forests are situated in developing countries,the critical question becomes: How will an end to deforestation befinanced?
Greenpeace believes that the next treaty must include a new global,market-linked fund, overseen by the UNFCCC (The United NationsFramework Convention on Climate Change), which would provide financingto protect the world's remaining tropical forests. Our blueprint forsuch a mechanism is called "Forests for Climate".
The " Forests for Climate" mechanism differs from other proposals inthat it limits offsets by rich countries, thereby ensuring that largegreenhouse gas emitters like the US and China also effectuate emissionsreductions at home. Stopping deforestation is essential, yet alone willnot bring greenhouse gas emissions down to levels that would haltclimate change.
Forests for Climate also ensures protection of biodiversity, andinsists upon the participation and the protection of rights ofindigenous peoples. Not only do indigenous peoples often depend on theforests for their existence, but they are generally best placed todevelop the necessary means of forest monitoring and protection.
And Forests for Climate allows for early financing - because our fragile earth needs protection now.