Will the Biggest Success of COP15 be an Anti-Deforestation Deal?

amazon deforestation cop15 photo

Photo via For the Planet

With expectations getting lowered all over the place, the future of any truly productive results uncertain, and peaceful protests rising up with greater force--and police using force to beat them back--the legacy of the COP15 climate talks is entirely up in the air. Right now, many feel that the most successful results of the talks may come in the form of a finalized, global anti-deforestation deal.According to Climate Progress, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has pledged $1 billion dollars over three years towards decreasing deforestation. The funding will go to developing countries that develop REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) programs. CP has more details:

What source of greenhouse gas emissions was left out of the Kyoto Protocol and yet contributes roughly the same percentage of global emissions as transportation?

If you guessed deforestation, you nailed it. Opening an event sponsored by Avoided Deforestation Partners today in Copenhagen, Jeff Horowitz cited the statistic that every second of every day, the world loses a football field's worth of forests.

To close the same event, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack changed the frame and the mood. He announced that the U.S. will give $1 billion over the next three years to early actions in developing countries that develop REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) projects to build their countries' capacity to slow and eventually halt deforestation. Sec Vilsack said the funding will support 'ambitious' REDD+ plans.

The commitment is part of the US contribution of $10 billion announced before COP15 began to provide 'fast-track financing' that supports immediate implementation of climate and energy solutions. It is a meaningful step to begin to provide the international public financing called for by the developing countries.

And the New York Times reports that the REDD program is just about the only part of the talks that people are truly optimistic about: "It is likely to be the most concrete thing that comes out of Copenhagen -- and it is a very big thing," said Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund. According to the Times,
Negotiators have all but completed a sweeping deal that would compensate countries for preserving forests, and in some cases, other natural landscapes like peat soils, swamps and fields that play a crucial role in curbing climate change.
This is a significant achievement, though it's looking ever more likely to be overshadowed by the many shortcomings of the talks on the main stage.

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