Can you envision industrialized nations (mainly Europe and the US) paying billions
of dollars to Indonesia and Brazil to make environmentalist feel good? Well, that's what's at stake in the next UN climate change (notice it's no longer global warming) summit at Bali.
Think of carbon dioxide, the main gas that causes global warming, and you'll likely picture a polluting factory in China; neon lights in Tokyo, an SUV sitting in traffic on the freeways of Santa Monica..........................While there are already international carbon trading schemes that help rich countries pay for reductions in carbon emissions from power or industry in poorer nations, no such mechanism exists for avoided deforestation. That nations are not compensated for protecting their forests has been a huge gap in anti-climate change efforts, and one that has to be resolved if the world is ever to achieve the kind of large-scale reductions in carbon emissions needed to avert catastrophic climate change. "Forests are the elephant in the living room," says Andrew Mitchell, director of the Global Canopy Project and a forestry advocate. "Powerful — but unseen and unrecognized."
At the UN climate change summit in Bali — hosted by Indonesia, home to some of the world's most extensive tropical forests — that's begun to change. Though negotiators still need to work out the details, nations here agreed to put deforestation and forest degradation — the damage of woodlands, which can also release carbon — as a main element of the climate change deal that will eventually succeed the Kyoto Protocol. That will eventually open up a new market that could be worth billions, as industrialized nations that need to reduce carbon emissions could choose to pay tropical nations like Brazil and Indonesia to preserve their own forests. The private market — which has been the engine of forest destruction in the form of logging — could end up saving the trees. "We have to solve this market failure by turning to market measures," says Mitchell.
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