Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Perhaps one of things that is often overlooked (especially in the U.S.) is that emissions from the tailpipe and smokestack are only part of the picture. Yes, we do need to reduce our CO2 emissions from both the transportation and the energy sector, but many don't realize that land-use changes account for around 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Conversion of forests or peat bogs to agriculture and pasture both removes a carbon sink and releases greenhouse gases; not only CO2, but also methane which is about ten times more powerful than CO2 and has seen an increase of nearly 70 percent pre-industrial levels. All week at the side events, our glut for energy has been overshadowed by the many presentations on forestry and agriculture, which have focused on arguably the only good that came of Copenhagen last year: REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).

Using a $4.5 billion startup, REDD+ is an effort to put a value for carbon that is stored in forests in less-developed nations. REDD+ is essentially a way to commoditize ecosystem services, and puts a value on the natural processes on which we depend. While the plan seems simple, there are many fears that it will take away forest sovereignty from indigenous peoples or even encourage deforestation by those wanting access to REDD funds. So far REDD+ efforts have been effective, but only time will tell.

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