Bali Roadmap Addresses Deforestation

Peter GoldmarkThis post is by Peter Goldmark, Program Director, Climate and Air, Environmental Defense. Also see his previous dispatch from Bali and background on the meetings.

As I reported in my last bulletin from Bali, after much sturm und drang, countries finally agreed to a two-year process that can lead to the next international climate change treaty in 2009 – the "Bali Roadmap".

Deforestation was a major topic at the Bali conference, and ended up being one of the most positive components of the Bali Roadmap. Environmental Defense helped lead the way there.

Annie Petsonk, our International Counsel, has devoted much time and intensity to the cause of Compensated Reduction to stop deforestation, and has led many of our delegations to international conferences. She wasn’t part of the Bali delegation (she recently gave birth to her first child, a son), but the fruits of her efforts were there for all to see.

On Friday, Stephan Schwartzman, co-director of our international program and the spearhead of our work on Compensated Reduction, arranged and moderated a brilliant, standing-room-only panel on deforestation in the Amazon and the Congo Basin. The technical experts presented a dazzling report on the reach and effectiveness of new technologies for monitoring carbon capacity and rates of deforestation.

But the star was Manoel Cunha, President of the National Council of Rubber Tappers, with whom Steve has worked closely. Manoel, who was our guest at the Bali Conference, lives in an extractive reserve (protected area), and speaks in moving terms of his own personal relationship to the forest.

There were a fair number of people at the Bali conference who opposed the use of markets to stop deforestation and the 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions it causes. But Manoel Cunha said the rubber tappers and indigenous peoples welcomed markets.

Over the last few decades they’ve won legal recognition for their rights to a fifth of the Brazilian Amazon, and they have organized themselves to control their territories and manage their resources. The area comprises over 1 million square kilometers of forest, equivalent to twice the size of California.

But, Manoel noted, they need support to improve access to health care and education, and to build the basis for durable prosperity in the forest. Access to carbon markets can provide the funds to do that.

He told the audience that if we do it right – with the active participation of forest peoples in designing the policy – markets can create the basis for large scale forest protection and durable prosperity for forest peoples.

And finally, on Saturday, the rest of the world – including the U.S. – agreed.

The Bali Roadmap gives developing countries an unprecedented opportunity to dramatically ramp up efforts to reduce deforestation. This will significantly help efforts to achieve the greenhouse gas emissions reductions that are vital to keeping global warming below 2°C, which scientists generally agree is the tipping point for climate change.

Despite the Bush Administration’s efforts to write the Bali goals in invisible ink – supported at various times by the delegations from Canada, Japan and Russia – the U.S. ultimately acknowledged the groundbreaking concessions by the Group of 77 (a coalition of developing nations that includes China), agreeing for the first time to actions mitigating the effects of global climate change.

The Bali Roadmap presents a workable path to a global climate deal and a big step towards ending tropical deforestation. We have moved a step closer to a serious agreement by 2009 on global warming. But to cross the goal line the U.S. will have to be a constructive player.

With the framework of the Roadmap, the U.S. can, if it chooses, assume a leading role in forging the 2009 global agreement. The entry stakes for the U.S. to play such an important role? Getting a law like the Climate Security Act on the books so that the U.S. is decreasing, rather than increasing, its emissions.

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  1. Posted January 18, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Be aware of Balinese sensibilities. Visitors who wish to visit the temple compound should dress appropriately and wear a sash when entering a temple. A sash over shorts and a T-shirt or a very brief top is not adequate. Make sure you have a sarong and sash handy for temple visits and ceremonies and wear long pants or a skirt and a decent shirt when leaving the seashore areas.

  2. Posted January 18, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Usually the island of Bali is a part of on top of the nation of Indonesia.

  3. Posted January 18, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    The actual island of Bali is a section of the entire country of Indonesia.

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