REDD: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Written by Margaret

Topics: Climate

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This is cross posted on Grist

Apparently, neither rain or large groups of NGOs descending on them to discuss climate change negotiations serves to deter people in Bonn from enjoying their orchestra in the park. That’s how the Climate Action Network meeting (an umbrella group of NGO actors) was serenaded today by traditional band music. It was all very innocuous until, as the non-governmental observers started launching through a depressing spreadsheet of 50 countries whose positions we’d like to change, the band started playing the theme song from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It seemed so appropriate, that I started thinking about the good, the bad and the ugly so far in the Bonn climate change negotiations around forests. Over dinner with some fabulous forest experts, we arrived at the following list.

The Good –

The good news on forests at Bonn is that the world is finally waking up to the fact that deforestation is a major contributor to climate change. The fact that a mechanism for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is being included in the talks represents a significant step forward. Politicians and the public are focused on tropical rainforests in a way that hasn’t occurred since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. And there are a few good possible results, including a prospect that the world may actually start accounting for the massive emissions that are resulting from the destruction of the world’s rainforests, peatlands, and wetland systems in places like Indonesia. There’s also still a faint hope that Annex One countries (those developed countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol) might take responsibility for the past and ongoing degradation of their ancient forests. Forest management accounting may become mandatory under new rules.

The Bad –

The bad news on forests is that the land rights of the custodians of the forest, including many indigenous peoples, are being excluded from meaningful participation in these negotiations. The limited number of indigenous representatives and observers at the negotiations are routinely out-resourced and out-gunned by professional lobbyists from the logging industry and governments. There are also a stunning number of closed meetings at this negotiation where indigenous participation is excluded, violating internationally recognized rights to free, prior and informed consent.

What’s worse is that there are already examples of how excluding human rights from forest protection mechanisms means dooming forest protection efforts to failure and spurring violence and political instability. This has been vividly illustrated by violence and conflict arising around forest resources this week in Peru and Papua New Guinea.

The Ugly –

The ugliest aspects of the forest negotiations are that the governments and corporate actors who are driving deforestation are lining up to write rules to benefit their interests over those of local communities and the atmosphere. While industrialized nations are busy writing rules for forests that will give them freebie “hot air” credits for business as usual logging practices, developing countries are asking themselves why they should be held to higher standards. This dynamic threatens to undermine the entire agreement, potentially making the final outcome of the negotiations worse than business as usual. Forestry (i.e. logging) and sustainable forest management (i.e. logging and the replacement of forests with tree plantations) are being held up by the FAO and their industry cronies as the raison d’etre of the negotiations, ignoring the fact that tree plantations hold far, far less carbon than natural forests. This amounts to hijacking the entire climate negotiations in exchange for access to timber and agricultural subsidies.

Overall, the picture is discouraging. While the existence of the conversation is in itself, hopeful, the process is in danger of being deeply compromised. Countries are unwilling to accept real, scientifically based emissions reductions targets and the process is moving far too slowly. For example, five days into the meeting, the draft text on REDD has yet to be formally discussed.

A colleague told me today that these negotiations should be about saving countries, cultures and critters. Forests are 20 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, provide a livelihood for over 1.6 billion people worldwide, and support some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth. Developed countries like the United States need to be taking the outcomes of this process more seriously, and we need to start seriously working to hold them to account, now.

4 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Ash Patel says:

    Second Nature a greeting card publisher in Portobello London, is looking to produce cards made from Stone paper, which does affect deforestation in anyway. The envelopes and card will be made from Stone paper only, using soya inks and biodegradable cello wrapping.

    See below the benefits of using Stone Paper.

    Stone Paper products are made completely free of traditional cellulose pulp.
    The revolutionary printing paper is made from inorganic mineral powder, gently extracted from the earth as the main ingredient.
    In addition to producing a much higher quality printing medium, Stone paper also helps relieve the global deforestation issue and protect our precious green natural resources in more ways than one, since the advanced production technique does not require harmful chemicals for pulping, neither does it create massive industrial waste water from bleaching.
    Stone paper can be readily substituted for traditional pulp-based paper in most of today’s printing and packaging applications. You can expect far superior printing characteristics, robustness, texture, and ink efficiency.
    Traditional paper making relies heavily on lumbering, since the fibre found in wood pulp must be used as the main constituent. As consumption of paper continues to increase in our world today, so does the problem of global deforestation.
    Today, statistical figures show that two out of every five trees are cut for pulp. A forest the size of a football field is cut down somewhere in the world every 10 minutes.
    In recent years, public awareness toward the deteriorating problem of carbon emissions has been in the spotlight. For the paper industry, however, its impact on the issue cannot be fundamentally reversed until a viable alternative for wood pulp is found.
    That solution is now available with the advent of Stone Paper. By not using any tree-based raw materials at all, Stone Paper is meant to be a complete substitute for traditional paper, while achieving the goal of protecting our valuable forest resources.
    Stone Paper is the new environmentally sensible choice for most paper products. As it becomes increasingly main-stream in a wide range of printing and packaging applications, a feedback loop of awareness about ecological preservation will be formed within our communities.
    Because only mineral powder (calcium carbonate), biodegradable resin and electric power are used during Stone Paper production, there is no washing and drying processes needed, nor are there any harmful particulates released into the air.
    In comparison with the traditional paper manufacturing process, Stone Paper does not require any water, strong industrial acids, bases, or bleach.
    Because of this, there is neither the problem of waste water being discharged during production, nor the danger of releasing the pollutants into water streams.
    To recycle traditional paper, water is added to the collected waste paper and mechanically blended, in order to regenerate the pulp.
    However, due to the old ink that remain on the waste paper, soaking and bleaching processes are required to remove the ink, in order to render the pulp reusable.
    In addition, the entire process of recycling has to be broken down into many complicated stages, each of those resulting in significant amounts of waste water.
    In contrast, Stone Paper is easy to collect, conserves fresh water in the first place, and consequently does not produce waste water.
    When disposed of, Stone Paper can be collected as regular plastic material. After being pulverized and re-extruded as granules, it can then be used as a superior additive for the processing of polyethylene (PE) plastic. Suitable re-use applications include colour plastic bags, flower pots, plastic cans etc.

    After being used, Stone Paper can also be processed as regular trash that can be incinerated. Out of the main mineral powder and the small quantity of non-poisonous resin contained in the product, only the resin substance is burned off.
    As the resin burns, the stone powder becomes detached, increasing the contact area between the resin and the air. This decelerates, but makes the combustion process of the resin more complete.
    Because of this catalytic reaction, no black fume due to lack of oxygen and incomplete combustion will occur.
    In addition, the non-poisonous resin does not discharge any harmful gas when burned, and the amount of carbon dioxide released is minimal, making a contribution to lessening the impact of global warming.
    Alternatively, if Stone Paper is left in outdoor conditions, after approximately 6 months of being exposed to the sunlight, it breaks itself down like egg shell. Since CaCo3 is the main raw material, it returns to the earth naturally, causing minimal load on the environment.
    As is the case with traditional paper, if Stone Paper is stored indoors and not exposed to extreme amount of ultraviolet light, the resin will not turn brittle or decompose.
    Also, Stone Paper has the advantage over traditional paper in that; it is resistant to yellow discoloration and insect damage. You can trust Stone Paper to safeguard all your important documents and images.

  2. margie lindsey says:

    Sounds like this IS the way to go ,If we can only stop the greedy ones.

  3. Ben H. says:

    Hey Im doing a school project where its a four way debate where we’re split into groups, Indigenous people, Multinational corperations, Gov., and environmentalists. Im indigenous people If you have advice or stuff that can help me please send me it at bmfh@pacbell.net

  4. Ben H. says:

    Hey Im doing a school project where its a four way debate where we’re split into groups, Indigenous people, Multinational corperations, Gov., and environmentalists. Im indigenous people If you have advice or stuff that can help me please post thanks

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