We might as well cut down our forests, says envoy, as frustration reaches trigger point (1)

News and analysis by Mathew Carr

Nov. 18-19, 2022 — EXCLUSIVE: Rainforest nations have said earlier that the world does not value standing native forests, so they might as well cut them down to help with national economic development.

A key climate envoy from a rainforest country repeated that scenario Friday at UN climate talks in Sharm el Sheikh, in an exclusive interview with CarrZee Carbon.

Forest felling is what most rich nations have done the past 200 years or so and beyond — slashed and burned — eroding the ability of the earth to deal with the heat-trapping gas that is changing the climate.

Now, the remaining forests absorb about 8 billion tons of CO2 a year, counterbalancing only about 16% of the emissions put into the atmosphere each year by humankind, according to some measures.

Greedy, reckless emitting nations and giant corporations are effectively abusing rainforest nations by refusing to pay for the valuable services they are now providing (pretty much for free).

Rainforest countries travel to climate talks every year, expecting that this year will be different, the person said. But it never is. The technical lead negotiator spoke on technical issues on a non-named basis.

The latest cover text for COP27 did “capture the role of forests,” the negotiator said on Saturday.

Even when wealthy countries do offer some financial support for the “earth-lung services” provided by forest countries, they are vastly undervaluing it, said the key negotiator.

The price being offered ($5 per metric ton to $10) is “very limited and it is frustrating. Because if we can get (climate finance) for any other sector, why are we not getting it from forestry?” The EU carbon price is the equivalent of $74 per ton.

Rainforest countries are using credible systems to verify their forest-protection services, the envoy said.

A standard called REDD+ is used to ensure the forest protection is environmentally credible. It stands for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.

There is a plus after the REDD and the plus is the enhancement of the carbon store and biodiversity conservation, and that happens in the standing forests, the negotiator said.

Emitting countries and those selling fossil fuels should pay up at COP27, or the remaining forests are in grave risk, they said.

“We haven’t got anything from this process and that’s factual,” the person said on Friday. On Saturday, envoys approved Article 6 texts, which may provide more incentive for forest protection.

On the Green Climate Fund’s contribution to forest protection:

“There is some room for finance there,” but it is nowhere near enough, they said.

(Updates with Saturday news, makes more clear)

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