REDD Hopes in Cancun

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Free Speech Radio News, Cancun, Mexico

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference begins today in Cancun, Mexico. Kelly Benjamin, a fellow with Earth Journalism News, is attending the summit and brings us this report on what can be expected in the way of progress towards an international agreement addressing climate change at this year's summit.

Last year's Climate Change Conference in DENMARK resulted in the Copenhagen Accord, in which leaders agreed that "deep cuts in global emissions are required" and developed countries should provide financial aid to impoverished nations, many whom are already feeling the effects of global climate change. The agreement was widely criticized for being weak, non-binding, and not setting concrete targets for long term emission-reductions or greater protection for the world's tropical rain forests. At this year's UN Climate Change Conference, in Cancun, much of the hope of reaching an agreement to slow global warming rests with something called REDD, ///(/// OR reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation ///)///. Don Lehr is a spokesperson for the Eco-Systems Climate Alliance.

"REDD is a mechanism that was created at the conference in Bali in 2007 that will hopefully provide funds to developing countries to not cut down their forests and thereby prevent the emissions, the carbon emissions from cutting down forests and also enhance the sequestration that forests provide for carbon. In other words, forests suck up carbon from the atmosphere but when you burn them down or destroy them they release carbon into the atmosphere." (45 SECONDS)
Approximately 15 to 20 percent of total global carbon emissions come from deforestation, so establishing a fund to pay developing nations not to chop or burn down their forests is significant but not without controversy.
Mike Shanahan is with the International Institute of Environment and Development.
The idea of putting a price on the carbon that's in a tree is a tricky one because then you must ask, "who owns the trees?" Are they owned by a country, a community, or likely to be grabbed up by people who see trees do have money growing on them. One of the big problems for poor communities in developing countries is that many people live in and around forests and if forests come so commercially important as stocks of carbon... " (APPROX 38 SECONDS)
Many experts say addressing these issues and implementing A REDD AGREEMENT
is crucial to curbing cliate change. But Dr. Saleemul Huq, Senior Fellow with the International Institute for Environment and Developent makes a distinction between giving aid to poor countries and REQUIRING polluters TO COMPENSATE victims of climate change.
Climate Change is a problem that arises from greenhouse gases ... produced from rich countries...affect particularly vulnerable communities...affecting... need for polluters to pay the victims of pollutions. polluter paying victim of pollution because they are harming them. The polluters pays principal which is a very well known principal in national law.  (approx. 45 SECONDS)
As delegates prepared for negotiations in Cancun over the weekend, the environmental group Greenpeace flew a hot air balloon over the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. The balloon read: "Rescue the Climate" and "Stop Global Warming". Greenpeace activists say they wanted to highlight the fact that even the most advanced civilizations can collapse.
ROLF SKAR is a senior forest campaigner with Greenpeace:
We're campaigning hard to make sure that some of the basic issues, protection of natural forests, not tree plantations, protection of local and indigenous people's rights are included in the deal, that all those ideas are kinda highlighted because the most important thing about all of these proceedings are that they are really opaque, kind of wonky but the issues are important and matter to people all over the world. (25 SECONDS)
NEGOTIATORS FROM MORE THAN 190 COUNTRIES WILL BE MEETING OVER THE NEXT 2 WEEKS IN CANCUN. OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICIAL MEETINGS, ACTIVISTS AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD ARE ALSO GATHERING, HOLDING SIDE EVENTS AND RALLIES. THEY WILL BE PUSHING FOR STRONGER COMMITMENTS FROM RICH NATIONS AND A LEGALLY BINDING GLOBAL AGREEMENT.

Kelly Benjamin FSRN Cancun, Mexico