EU grapples with deforestation ahead of Copenhagen

11 November 2009

 European countries are still undecided on how to handle the thorny issue of deforestation under a new international climate change agreement, with national interests coming into play as EU ministers gear up for a series of meetings next week.

BACKGROUND:

The global community is in the final weeks of negotiating a successor climate agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Addressing deforestation is central to the talks, as it accounts for a fifth of global CO2 emissions, according to the UN.   

The negotiating parties in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCCexternal ) are expected to address the issue of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) in developed countries. 

They are also expected are expected to agree to include a funding mechanism called REDDexternal (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) in the climate deal. The REDD initiative followed a 2007 meeting in Bali, which agreed to establish the details of the mechanism in time for the Copenhagen conference.

The European Commission published a Communicationexternal on addressing deforestation and forest degradation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss in October 2008, detailing its position on funding activities to tackle the issue. It proposed establishing a Global Forest Carbon Mechanism in a UNFCCC context, but acknowledged that the inclusion of deforestation in carbon markets could be tested in the longer term (EurActiv 20/10/08).

EU environment ministers endorsed this approach in their December meeting. 

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Future arrangements for tackling greenhouse gas emissions from forests are set to take on a dual approach in the Kyoto Protocol's successor, which aims to ensure that forests are better accounted for this time around.