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Financial Incentives for Preserving Forests Divide Brazilian Delegation

11/16/2016 - 10h48



One of the Brazilian diplomatic proposals at the United Nations COP-22 Climate Conference for implementing the Paris Accords is the source of desperation for environmental organizations here in Brazil.

The Brazilian government doesn't want programs that combat deforestation to generate carbon credits that could subsequently be bought by other countries that don't make enough reductions in their own territories.

This market was created by the Kyoto Protocol and allows for countries to exceed their quotas by paying for the efforts of developing countries. At that time, only rich countries had quotas. Today, with the Paris Accords, everyone has nationally defined quotas and any country can buy or sell carbon credits.

For regulating the carbon market within the new climatic accords, Brazil has proposed that the policies for combating deforestation not enter into the list of activities suitable for selling credits.

For NGOs that are active in the sector, the measure is detrimental to forest protection in Brazil due to the removal of the financial incentives. For the government, there is another injustice: the use of forest preservation serves as a subterfuge for rich countries that continue their emissions.

There is also a scientific argument behind the Brazilian criteria of excluding forests from carbon credits. Thelma Krug, a mathematician who holds one of the two Vice Presidencies on the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climatic Changes explains that the criteria prevent the responsibility regarding climate change from getting inverted.

"Given the fact that the majority of emissions of greenhouse gasses have been historically related to the burning of fossil fuels, and not deforestation and the utilization of land, it is the energy sector that should concentrate its efforts in maintaining the increase in global temperature below 2ºC", she says, emphasizing that forest preservation is a condition of emissions reduction.

The distinction between the positions of the Brazilian NGOs and the government in climatic conferences has generated friction at Marrakech, where the UN conference is taking place.

On Monday (14), the debate took over a meeting that ministers and diplomats usually hold to discuss advances in negotiations with all of the members of the delegation - including members from ministers of the Environmental Ministry, Foreign Relations and Agriculture, congressman, business leaders and representatives from civil society.

Senator Jorge Viana (PTAC) read a document, signed by eight congressmen and 14 environmental organizations (including SOS Atlantic Forest and Imazon), that appeals to the government to review the proposal that it took to COP-22.

The Amazonia Research Institute (Ipam) is one of the signatories of the appeals and a pioneer in the formulation of policies that compensate for successes at combating deforestation, which have become known as Redd (Reduction of Emissions by Deforestation and Degradation).

For Ipam's executive director, André Guimarães, there wasn't any dialog in the process of formulating the Brazilian proposal.

Government sources claim that the timeframe for this debate had been established since March, with the creation of the National Redd Commission, but that NGOs demonstrated surprise when they saw the Itamaraty proposal for COP-22, which hadn't been discussed within the country.

Since the Paris Accords have until 2018 to be fully regulated, there wasn't any expectation that the criteria would have been defined already in Marrakech.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

Read the article in the original language

Zhao Dingzhe/Xinhua
People attend a gathering to call for less fossil fuel development and a transition to renewable energy
People attend a gathering to call for less fossil fuel development and a transition to renewable energy

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