Thursday, December 10, 2009

Copenhagen Make Forests Count Scorecard

Check out the Make Forests Count Scorecard (Henschel Rating)!

I've used the Henschel Rating (Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down) to assess proposals from developed countries on accounting for emissions from forest management. Unfortunately the assessment is: a logging loophole for almost everyone!

Only Switzerland received a passing grade. Thumbs down for Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Japan, Russia, and the EU.

Who else will step up to make forests count?!?

CPAWS Press Release: Developed countries cheating on their targets to reduce forest emissions, according to score card results

Summary of Country submissions


Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

New Zealand may greatly increase logging in forests in the near future, yes. These are PLANTATION forests, established for the purpose of producing wood and now coming on stream. Because NZ has these forests, there is now virtually no logging of natural forest - although there are exemptions to allow for indigenous rights (which I believe you approve of?). Within 30 years all the carbon in the logged forests will have been re-sequestered following harvesting (and the products/residues will have substituted for products/energy produced in more harmful ways).

Granted there is chemical equivalence between a tonne of C in a 30-year old plantation forest, a 500-year old old-growth forest and million year old coal deposit. But ethically they are poles apart.

I'd suggest that if Canada had established plantation forests on marginal agricultural land 60 years ago, and had by now stopped all harvesting in natural forests, we wouldn't even be having this discussion, and you wouldn't be in Copenhagen. :-)

Chris Henschel said...

Thanks for your comment anonymous!

I agree that plantation forests are more appropriate for timber production than primary forests, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't account for the emissions when you cut them down (this is a climate treaty!).

NZ wants it both ways: it takes full credit for the plantation trees it plans and wants no debits when they are cut down.

If they really wanted to be fair perhaps they would account for a long-term average that balances the growth with the cutting. Now they only want to have the goodies and ignore the real emissions that the atmosphere sadly is not able to ignore.

Anonymous said...

Not quite, Chris. :-)
New Zealand wants full credit for the plantations it plants and full debits when they are cut. However, for plantations which haven't earned full credits (because they were planted before 1990), it doesn't want to be hit with full debits when they are harvested and replanted. This would be penalising those land owners who agreed with you that plantations are a better source of timber than natural forests (and a better land use than pasture or cropping).
Your 'long-term average suggestion' would be perfectly acceptable.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say that countries must account for the actual emissions and removals as seen by the atmosphere, and then applaud France for wanting to only account for emissions over-and-above some completely arbitrary historic baseline! As you say, it's a Climate Treaty - the atmosphere doesn't care about baselines!

If you accept THAT loophole - which unfairly creates winners and losers in an arbitrary way - then you're already well down the slippery slope of dealing with everyone's unique "national circumstances"... Good luck with that! :-)


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