Thursday, October 15, 2009

Forest Preservation and Climate Change Strategy

Forest preservation is a key strategy in the international effort to control climate change, but is it saving the environment? In the Noel Kempff Mercado Climate Action Project (NKCAP), a coalition of U.S. utility companies, nonprofit groups, and the Bolivian government have worked together to preserve more than 6,000 square miles of forest. This article in the Washington Post states that global deforestation leads to about 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions each year. But a Greenpeace report issued today claims carbon sequestration projects, such as Noel Kempff, are scams.

At issue are the motives behind carbon offset programs, which make carbon credits, such as forest preservation, more affordable for heavily polluting businesses under cap-and-trade systems. Some environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, contend that projects like NKCAP help big utilities keep costs downs but have questionable benefit for the local community and may not have additionality (proof "that a specific forest area would not have remained
standing without offset compensation").

Nevertheless, carbon offsets are playing a role in national and international policies on climate change, such as H.R. 2998 and an international deal that could be worked out at the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Copenhagen in December.

Want to find more resources about climate change? Take a look at our guide.

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