Climate pact must include forest scheme: WWF

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 29 2009 02:03 PM | Updated as of Sep 29 2009 10:03 PM

BANGKOK - A leading environmental group on Tuesday urged delegates at UN climate talks in Bangkok to include plans to reward nations for saving their forests in any deal on global warming.

WWF International released a survey saying that investors showed "significant support" for a carbon market mechanism, which would address the estimated 20 percent of global carbon emissions due to deforestation.

The group released the poll as officials from 192 countries gathered in Thailand to try to agree on a text for a climate change treaty ahead of a crucial showdown in Copenhagen in December.

"Any global deal on climate change must take into account the significant role forests play in combating global warming," said WWF International director general James Leape.

The UN-backed reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) scheme is not yet part of the pact which could be signed at Copenhagen, a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases which expires in 2012.

The idea behind REDD is to work out how much carbon can be saved by not cutting down trees, and selling that carbon on the global market for big polluters to offset their own emissions.

Environmentalists say the world needs forests to absorb the carbon in the atmosphere that is causing climate change, and also to curb carbon emitted by rotting dead trees and burning.

The WWF said that for the survey it had questioned investors who have around seven trillion dollars of assets under management, and that they said they wanted initial public financing for any scheme.

They also wanted certainty from both international agreements and national legislation before they commit.

WWF said it spoke to 25 senior money managers, analysts and specialist sustainability investors in Europe, the United States and the Asia-Pacific region.

"If strong policies are put in place to ensure real reductions in emissions and real benefits to forest communities, investors can play a key role in supporting REDD," Leape said.

"Agreement in Copenhagen -- coupled with progress on national initiatives -- will be a signal to investors that REDD can and will succeed, and will ensure forests are more valuable standing than cut."

The Bangkok talks are the next to last before the Copenhagen meeting and the UN climate chief, Yvo de Boer, warned on Monday that time was running out to reach a deal.

There are major disagreements between developed and developing nations on the how much they will cut carbon emissions by and who will meet the enormous cost.