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For Immediate Release: December 15, 2009 04:01 am GMT +1

Earth Runs with REDD and Hangs in Balance

As climate change negotiations in Copenhagen drew to a screeching stop, nations of the world made unprecedented progress to tackle deforestation. The latest UN text on reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries (REDD) made enormous strides since earlier versions of the agreement last week. “We needed two critical pieces of text to catapult into a world where developing nations could see real value for saving tropical forests,” said John O. Niles, director of the Tropical Forest Group. “Forests and forest
peoples worldwide need “early action” language to fast track financing to save forests immediately. And the agreement needs clarification that national forest reference emissions levels will be discussed and decided
with concrete timelines. Both of these critical dimensions of a new global forest paradigm are now very much in play.”

The new REDD text in the UN process is still being negotiated, and brackets remain around these two key issues. The text from last week  did not have language to force decisions on reference forest emissions levels. These reference levels would set the level of deforestation developing nations must get below for new conservation funding. The text was discussed untilnearly 3:00 in the morning.

Cara Peace, Tropical Forest Group’s Assistant Director for Policy, said “Saving tropical forests has positively catalyzed the climate change negotiations – it is the only beacon in an otherwise dark night.” Although the larger negotiations for a new climate change accord have stalled, REDD is the most advanced sector to meaningfully incentivize national reductions in emissions. The current UN text on tropical forests
would also be a historic agreement with strong safeguards for indigenous peoples and local forest communities. At almost 2:00 am local time, the Holy See helped facilitate language on indigenous peoples rights under a REDD deal.

Another diplomat outside the talks said there are talks aimed at a new fund of many billions of dollars to support tropical forest conservation over the next five years.

Said Mr. Niles, “The forest diplomats are doing their job. Now they need a new Copenhagen accord to synchronize with and that is what the more than 100 confirmed heads of state are coming here to do.”

PRESS CONTACTS:
John-O Niles, Director +45 2791 6281

Cara Peace +45 6031 9814

Jeff Jackson+45 2693 0641