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(un-redd.org) - Deforestation and forest degradation, through agricultural expansion, conversion to pastureland, infrastructure development, destructive logging, fires etc., account for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than the entire global transportation sector and second only to the energy sector. It is now clear that in order to constrain the impacts of climate change within limits that society will reasonably be able to tolerate, the global average temperatures must be stabilized within two degrees Celsius. This will be practically impossible to achieve without reducing emissions from the forest sector, in addition to other mitigation actions.
REDD - Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries – is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.
It is predicted that financial flows for greenhouse gas emission reductions from REDD could reach up to US$30 billion a year. This significant North-South flow of funds could reward a meaningful reduction of carbon emissions and could also support new, pro-poor development, help conserve biodiversity and secure vital ecosystem services.
Further, maintaining forest ecosystems can contribute to increased resilience to climate change. To achieve these multiple benefits, REDD will require the full engagement and respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities.
To “seal the deal” on climate change, REDD activities in developing countries must complement, not be a substitute for, deep cuts in developed countries’ emissions. The decision to include REDD in a post-Kyoto regime must not jeopardize the commitment of Annex I countries to reduce their own emissions. Both will be critical to successfully address climate change.
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Kimberly-Clark has set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of the wood fiber used in its products – including the flagship brand Kleenex – from environmentally responsible sources. By 2011, Kimberly-Clark will ensure that 40 percent of its North American fiber is either recycled or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – a 71 percent increase from 2007 levels, representing over 600,000 tonnes of fiber. Also by 2011, Kimberly-Clark will eliminate any fiber from the North American Boreal Forest that is not FSC-certified.
“The revised standards are proof that when responsible companies and environmental advocates come together, the results can be good for business and good for the planet,” said Scott Paul, Greenpeace USA Forest Campaign Director. “Kimberly-Clark’s efforts are a challenge to its competitors. I hope they pay close attention.”
K-C’s sustainability policy: Not just about protecting the Boreal
The Canadian Boreal Forest is North America’s largest ancient forest, providing habitat for threatened wildlife such as woodland caribou and over 1 billion migratory birds.
But clearcutting doesn’t just wipe out the biodiversity of a forest – it wipes out an essential carbon storehouse. Canada’s Boreal Forest stores an estimate 186 billion tones of carbon, 27 times the world’s annual fossil fuel emissions — meaning that a victory for the Boreal is also a victory for the climate.
While protecting the North American Boreal Forest has been a focus of the Kleercut campaign, K-C’s policy is about protecting Endangered Forests the world over. Greenpeace would not have agreed to anything less.
Because of K-C’s place in the paper products market, the company’s new policy will send a strong signal to its competitors, Procter & Gamble and Georgia Pacific, that creating a policy that protects ancient forests is a key element of sustainable business.
The United States has entered a new energy era, ending a century of rising carbon emissions. As the U.S. delegation prepares for the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December, it does so from a surprisingly strong position, one based on a dramatic 9 percent drop in U.S. carbon emissions over the past two years and the promise of further huge reductions.
Prominent among these carbon-cutting initiatives are stronger automobile fuel-economy standards, appliance efficiency standards, and the potential to heat, cool and light buildings with carbon-free sources of electricity. On the supply side are efforts supporting the development of U.S. wind, solar and geothermal energy resources.
Even though part of this decline in carbon emissions was caused by the recession and higher gasoline prices, part of it came from gains in energy efficiency and shifts to carbon-free sources of energy, including record amounts of new wind-generating capacity. This impressive drop in carbon emissions should enable the United States to push for a steep cut in Copenhagen.
Although Congress is considering legislation that would cut emissions only 15 or 20 percent by 2020, it’s clear to me that with just a little effort, the United States could far surpass this. Given the potentially catastrophic climate change the world is facing, we should push in Copenhagen for an 80 percent reduction by 2020.
The really big gains in fuel efficiency will come with the shift to plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. Not only are electric motors three times more efficient than gasoline engines, but they make it possible to run cars on domestic wind-generated electricity at a gasoline-equivalent cost of 75 cents a gallon. As the low fueling cost becomes more apparent, the shift to plug-ins and all-electric cars will come far faster than most policymakers anticipate.
With carbon cuts, it’s time to stop talking about political feasibility and start talking about scientific necessity. The science is scary. We need not go beyond ice melting to see that civilization is in trouble. The Greenland ice sheet is melting. If it were to melt entirely, and that obviously would take a few centuries, sea level would rise by 23 feet. The latest reports suggest that we are looking at a rise in sea level of up to six feet this century. Such a rise would inundate part or all of many low-lying coastal cities, such as London, Miami, New Orleans, Alexandria and Shanghai, producing millions of refugees. Such a rise would also inundate the rice-growing deltas of Asia, devastating harvests in Bangladesh and Vietnam.
The melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau will deprive the Indus, Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow rivers of the ice melt that sustains their flow during the dry season and the irrigation systems that depend on them. Let us not forget that China is the world’s leading producer of wheat and rice. India is number two in each. Anything that reduces their grain harvests will raise food prices everywhere.
If the United States pushes for an 80 percent cut, will the rest of the world follow? In particular will China, now the world’s leading carbon emitter, cooperate? And what about India?
In times past, if countries resisted international initiatives, the international community could resort to trade boycotts, export embargoes or tariffs on exports from the offending countries. Bilateral penalties are also an option. The United States is, after all, China’s largest export market.
On the renewable front, China’s wind-generating potential is seven times its current electricity consumption. Although a late starter, China is building wind farm complexes on a scale the world has not seen before. In recent years, the United States has led the world in new wind generating capacity, but within the next year, China will overtake the United States, moving so fast we might not even see it go by.
Source: The Washington Post
Author: Lester R. Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of the forthcoming “Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.”