World Bank: Nations with Intact Forest Deserve Carbon Credits Too

French Guiana is at risk for deforestation so it can benefit from reforesting "carbon credits."© Getty Images

A study recently released by the World Bank"s Global Environment Facility points out a big loophole in the Kyoto Protocol. Countries that have cut their forests and are now engaging in reforestation efforts are rewarded with so-called "carbon credits" for their efforts, while those that have worked to preserve intact forests receive no such benefit. Since trees help absorb the world"s primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), forest preservation remains vital to staving off global warming.

“The countries that haven’t really been the target of deforestation have nothing to sell because they haven’t deforested anything,” says Gustavo Fonseca, one of the study’s authors. “So that creates a perverse incentive for them to actually start deforesting, so that in the future, they might be allowed to actually cap-and-trade, as they call it: you put a cap on your deforestation and you trade that piece that hasn’t been deforested."

The report mentions that the countries most at risk for deforestation are those with some still-intact original forests, including Panama, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Belize, Gabon, Guyana, Suriname, Bhutan and Zambia, along with the French territory of French Guiana. According to Fonseca, the international community needs to develop a system of credits for these countries to involve them in the “global deforestation avoidance market."

Environmentalists hope that such market mechanisms can be part of the next international agreement to curb CO2 emissions while saving the world"s remaining tropical forests. According to Russell Mittermeier of the nonprofit Conservation International, as much as 25 percent of world CO2 emissions come from the destruction of tropical forests, but the issue is still not at the center of the global warming discussion. “People are talking a lot about vehicle emissions, industrial emissions, biofuels and recycling,” Mittermeier says. “Forests were barely in there and yet forests are … perhaps the major contributor” to global warming.

Source: Planet Ark