Saturday, August 23, 2008

Canada's contribution to the forestry discussions in Accra

Sorry if this post is too technical, but it actually give you a taste of what things are like here in Ghana, and all climate change talks. It's not welcoming to the new-comer because discussions are very detailed and very technical. I'm hoping that I am finding a middle ground here to spread the understanding to people who aren't directly engaged, but let me know if I am failing!

...Along with several colleagues here in Accra, I met yesterday with members of the Canadian delegation to discuss an approach that they have brought to the table (though they are careful to say that they are not yet formally proposing this approach).

The focus of the approach is to 'factor out' emissions from the managed forest that are beyond human control. Basically what this means is that Canada wants to make sure that Parties are neither penalized nor rewarded for emissions and removals of carbon from forests that result from natural effects like forest fires. It's a technical approach that involves using forest management and forest carbon models to separate out the effects of new management activities. This is especially important to Canada because Canada's managed forest has recently become a soure of emissions due to fires and the forest damage caused by the pine beetle outbreak in BC.

We communicated that we have several concerns with the approach:
1. The way the approach is designed, it would excuse Parties from being accountable for current emissions from forest management; the approach uses current emissions as the starting point and just rewards or punishes based on changes in emissions from this starting point. We don't like this because we think Parties must be obliged to reduce these emissions, like they are for all other sectors.

2. Factoring out means that you could get credits for the effects of carbon-positive management activities even if the managed forest as a whole is a major source of emissions due to fires, insect damage, etc. We don't think that Parties should be able to offset reductions in fossil fuel emissions with forest credits if the atmosphere is actually seeing a net increase in emissions.

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