Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This is what happens when you stick people in a corner to talk to themselves

I was having a conversation today with an industrialized country delegate who was apologizing for not being a forester and therefore not really getting all of the intricacies and complexities and rationales of forest management carbon accounting.

I replied, "So, if you're not a forester, doesn't it seem strange to you that the rules have to be designed to ensure there is no negative impact on the forest sector for cutting trees? Why should the forest sector be the only one who should choose whether or not to reduce emissions rather than be forced to?"

The answer was telling and was something that I have often lamented: it's a structural problem resulting from the special status that this sector has - from the beginning it was an add-on with its own set of rules. What that has meant in practice is most decision-makers don't get it or try to, so it is delegated to the technical experts. What do you expect to happen when you ask a bunch of foresters to come up with rules for the forest sector? Or as this person put it, "If you stick a bunch of people in the corner of the room to talk to each other they will come up with funny ideas."

The ideas in this case are shameful: a set of draft rules that openly excuses all responsibility for emissions. Of all other sectors in this process we are demanding transformative change. In the forest sector we are demanding nothing. In fact we are doing worse than this - we are telling countries that if they like they can make things worse.

We are demanding emission reductions of 40% or more from industrialized countries. What are we demanding of the forest sectors in these countries? At most we are asking them to continue business-as-usual. If they do better we give them credits.

The only hope at this point is that developing countries negotiate hard on this. They are currently asking for the same thing we are: accountability for changes in emissions from 1990. I'm hoping we will see a new statement from them in the next couple of days.

1 comment:

SAAW International said...

In the run up to the Copenhagen climate change conference, it is vital the following information be disseminated to the public as well as to our political leaders.

A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to livestock….however recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang co-authors of "Livestock and Climate Change" in the latest issue of World Watch magazine found that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions!

The main sources of GHGs from animal agriculture are: (1) Deforestation of the rainforests to grow feed for livestock. (2) Methane from manure waste. – Methane is 72 times more potent as a global warming gas than CO2 (3) Refrigeration and transport of meat around the world. (4) Raising, processing and slaughtering of the animal.

Meat production also uses a massive amount of water and other resources which would be better used to feed the world’s hungry and provide water to those in need.

Based on their research, Goodland and Anhang conclude that replacing livestock products with soy-based and other alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. They say "This approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations-and thus on the rate the climate is warming-than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy."

The fact is that we are being informed of the dangerous path we are on by depending greatly on animal flesh for human consumption. We still have the opportunity to make the most effective steps in saving ourselves and this planet. By simply choosing a plant based diet we can reduce our carbon foot print by a huge amount.

We are gambling with our lives and with those of our future generations to come. It's madness to know we are fully aware of the possible consequences but yet are failing to act.

Promoting a plant based diet to the public is would be the most effective way to curb deforestation, we hope this will be adopted as a significant measure to save the rainforests and protect the delicate ecology.

Thank you for your consideration.