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Title: Saving tropical forests as a global warming countermeasure: An issue that divides the environmental movement
Authors: Fearnside, Philip Martin
Keywords: Deforestation
Environmental Management
Global Warming
Kyoto Protocol
Tropical Forest
Issue Date: 2001
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Ecological Economics
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 39, Número 2, Pags. 167-184
Abstract: Saving tropical forests as a global warming countermeasure has become one of the environmental movement's most divisive issues. Divisions are just as sharp as the better-known ones between government positions. While the debate is often couched in scientific terms and with appeals to high universal principles, the positions of the different partisans to the debate are better understood in terms of hidden agendas, conscious or not. In the case of European governments, which oppose inclusion of forests in the Kyoto Protocol's clean development mechanism, the exclusion of forests would lead to improvement of industrial competitiveness as compared to the US. In the case of Brazil, opposition to including avoided deforestation fits with conspiracy theories regarding internationalization of the Amazon. For European and European-dominated non-governmental organizations (NGOs), opposition to forests is best explained as an opportunistic blow at US consumption culture, which is reviled for reasons largely unrelated to climate change. From the point of view of Brazilian NGOs concerned with maintaining Amazonian forest, these alternative agendas are side issues that, attractive as they might be, do not merit throwing away a major opportunity for obtaining monetary flows for forest maintenance. More carbon can be maintained in the forests than the amount of carbon credit granted. In this way, even if the carbon in the forests is temporary, at some point a net benefit exists for the climate from having the forest project instead of a smaller reduction in fossil-fuel emissions. Proposals for ton-year accounting and for temporary credits effectively deal with issues, such as carbon permanence to make the climatic benefits of avoided deforestation real, allowing both a gain for climate and the maintenance of biodiversity and other values through carbon mitigation activities. The importance of tropical deforestation in global greenhouse gas emissions means that agreement will eventually have to be reached on how to account for the benefits of avoided deforestation and incorporate them into mitigation activities. This will continue to be the case regardless of the course of negotiations in the coming months in the wake of the March 2001 announcement by US president George W. Bush of his desire to renege on US commitments under the Protocol. © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1016/S0921-8009(01)00225-7
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