photo: World Resources Institute via flickr.
With the latest (and second-to-last) round of negotiations before COP15 just finished in Bangkok, the gap between rich and poor nations on each other's responsibilities, by many accounts, has not narrowed. And, according to the Ecosystem Climate Alliance, when it comes to aspects of the REDD forest protection scheme the European Union is actively blocking protecting intact forests from being converted to plantations:The ECA says the blocking by the EU -- with the support of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Equitorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo -- of language to prevent forest-to-plantation conversions essentially means that "industrial-scale logging and replacement of tropical forests with pulp or palm oil plantations could be funded by money intended to help developing countries reduce the 25% of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, forest degradation and peatland destruction."
While other developed nations were silent on the issue of including stronger wording about protection of intact forests, none other than the EU actively blocked it.
All of this is in the context that greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation eclipse those of the global transport sector, not to mention uncalculable losses to biodiversity and threats to indigenous people who depend on forests for their livelihoods.
What is REDD About if Not Preserving Intact Forests?
Calling the EU move a "disgrace", a spokesperson for The Wilderness Society said, "If at its core REDD is not about funding the protection of intact natural forests, everyone needs to ask what on Earth we are doing here."
Weak Enforcement Means Only Corrupt Political Elite Benefit
Considering the political record of the African nations backing the EU move, the following statement by Global Witness is right on:
There is little evidence that industrial logging has resulted in development opportunities for forest-rich nations. Most countries who will benefit from REDD have poor legal frameworks and weak enforcement, so REDD without safeguards will mean revenue lining the pockets of loggers and the corrupt political elite.
Interpol Says Organized Crime Eyeing Scheme
Hammering home the point about weak enforcement, let's remember that earlier in the week Interpol spoke out on the necessity of strong enforcement (and the difficulty in establishing it) under REDD. The international police agency indicated that it had already seen evidence that international crime syndicates were eyeing the UN program in order to exploit it.
UN Forest Protection Scheme Open For Organized Crime Abuse
Indigenous Rights Crucial to Reducing Carbon Emissions from Deforestation Rainforests Can Be More Profitable Than Palm Oil Plantations