photo via flickr
If only Visa treated my debt the way the U.S. is treating debt from developing countries. On Friday, the Obama Administration announced that it will cancel debt from Brazil in exchange for forest protection. The U.S. has done the same for Bangladesh, Belize, Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and the Philippines. Deforestation accounts for about 20 percent of global warming emissions, making zero deforestation a priority in places like Brazil and Indonesia, which rank third and fourth for GHG emissions, respectively. In total, the U.S. will cancel $21 million of Brazil's debt in exchange for protection of the Amazon. This won't cancel all Brazil's debt payments, but it will lesson them over the next five years.
"Over time, these debt-for-nature programmes will together generate more than $239 million to protect tropical forests around the world," according to the State Department.
It's unclear if the debt cancelation agreements are part of the $1 billion pledge in fast-start financing over the next three years that U.S. has guaranteed to help end deforestation. It's also unclear if the sum is part of the $100 billion figure that Secretary of State Clinton announced in Copenhagen last year.
In November in Cancun, countries may agree on a forest financing scheme that would pay huge sums to developing countries to help end deforestation. The program, known as REDD, could be set to be funded by offsets, which will allow polluters to keep emitting while they pay for forest preservation efforts; or it could be set up as an independent fund, paid for by developed countries. We'll see in November.