Biofuel madness continues to level tropical forests

“Developing nations could end up being paid billions of dollars to raze rainforests and build palm oil plantations in their place if the current text of the Copenhagen climate treaty sticks, a group of advocates warned at the United Nations climate talks on Tuesday. …

The 10-word provision – “safeguards against the conversion of natural forests to forest plantations” – was part of the proposal on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, known as REDD. …

The phrase vanished completely on the last day of UN climate talks in Bangkok in October.

The cut came from the European Union, with support from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and several other Congo Basin countries. …

[REDD’s] … underlying premise is to reward developing countries with billions of dollars in “carbon credits” for conserving their tropical forests. But for REDD to be successful, primary forests must be protected over vested palm oil interests. …

Without the safeguard provision, REDD would create a perverse economic incentive to clear forests to plant a polluting cash crop, environmentalists warn.

In recent years, there’s been a palm oil explosion. [A]n increasing chunk of new plantations are being used to meet biofuel mandates in wealthy nations.

Indonesia and Malaysia have the most existing plantations. Large swathes of forests in both countries have been cleared to fuel the boom. Newer markets in Latin America are beginning to balloon, with signs of massive growth on the horizon.

With out the safeguards in the Copenhagen text, REDD dollars could end up funding the expansion.” “Forest Protection Hinges On 10-Word Phrase

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