Brazil Proposes Fund to Stem Rainforest Cutting
SAO PAULO, Brazil Brazil proposed Thursday a fund to compensate developing countries that slow the destruction of their rainforests, a move that could help lower emissions of gases blamed for rising world temperatures.
The Brazilian initiative, presented at a planning meeting for upcoming global climate talks in Rome, calls for creating a fund that countries could tap into if they could prove they had brought deforestation below rates of the 1990s.
"Once again Brazil is acting as a protagonist ... in presenting an innovative proposal," Environment Minister Marina Silva told Reuters at a conference in Sao Paulo.
Disagreements over how to address deforestation have hurt global efforts to cap emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and create markets for trading in carbon and credits.
Most emissions come from burning oil and coal, but deforestation is responsible for about 20 percent because trees store carbon dioxide when they grow and release it into the atmosphere when they die.
Global agreements allow credit for planting trees where forests have already been cleared but offer no incentives for preventing cutting in areas like Brazil's Amazon, home to nearly a third of all species and a quarter of the earth's fresh water.
Critics say developing countries want cash for preserving their forests.
Brazil has long objected to granting tradable emission credits for preserving forests because heavy oil and coal users like the United States might buy up credits instead of reducing their own emissions.
Silva said Brazil's proposal was a draft but it should serve as the basis for discussion at the next round of global climate talks in November.
She also said Brazil is working with Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, who backed an earlier proposal to grant tradable credits to countries who reduce deforestation rates.
Brazil slowed deforestation by 30 percent last year and will do the same or better this year, Silva said. Deforestation in Brazil hit its highest level ever in 2004.
Paulo Mountinho of the Brazilian environmental studies institute IPAM said the proposal was well received in Rome.
"People cut down trees because they're not worth anything standing," Mountinho said by telephone from Rome. "Addressing deforestation is fundamental because it's going to take 40 years to change global energy use."