India gets its way, countries to be paid for planting trees

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS,

Copenhagen: While representatives of 192 countries bickered over virtually every word of the Copenhagen Accord and many ideas on how to fight climate change went into the dustbin, Indian officials were happy that the country had salvaged one of its big proposals – to be paid for enhancing forest cover.

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At least in the first two versions of the accord that was still being negotiated Friday, the final day of the climate summit, actions to halt deforestation – which contributes 20 percent of the greenhouse gases – had another aspect added, “enhancement of forest carbon stocks”.

Shorn of UN jargon, this means planting trees, which take in carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere. While the world has agreed that poor countries should be paid to arrest deforestation, for the last two years India – supported by China – has been trying to say nations that increase tree cover or area under forests should also be paid.

The original plan to help halt deforestation was called REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) while the Indian plan was called REDD-plus. Many countries had been wary of the addition, because they thought India and China may walk away with much of the REDD money.

But the Indians have got their way, unless the proposal falls during another interminable negotiating session.

The second version of the draft Copenhagen Accord (a copy of which is with IANS) says there will be “substantial finance” from developed countries “to prevent deforestation (REDD-plus)”.

The draft talked about setting up a Copenhagen Climate Fund for this and other purposes, but it was not clear if the formal Fund idea would survive negotiations.