Thursday, September 25, 2014

Norway pledges $300 million to protect Peru's forests

During the United Nations Climate Summit in New York last Tuesday, Norway announced that it plans to spend as much as $300 million through 2021 to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to the destruction of Peru's tropical forests.

As Deirdre Lockwood noted in her guest post last month ("Speaking for Peru's Trees"), deforestation and forest degradation account for approximately 15% of anthropogenic emissions of CO2. Any honest effort to reduce CO2 emissions must therefore incorporate strategies to protect and expand the world's forests.

Apart from wildfires, the primary causes of deforestation are agriculture, animal husbandry, logging, and mining. In Peru, these activities go hand-in-hand with economic development, which makes preserving the country's forests particularly challenging. Even were the Peruvian government not ambivalent about the economic tradeoffs, curbing deforestation begins with the people, who often ignore environmental laws and clear forests to meet their immediate needs.

Norway's pledge is intended to give Peruvians a strong economic incentive to forgo activities that cause deforestation.
The deal runs up to 2021 and payments for emissions reductions are expected to start as of 2017.  
In agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emission, the donor country typically measures the amount of avoided emissions in tonnes of carbon dioxide and sets a price per ton. The host country is then entitled to receive the payments, which it usually distributes to landowners working on the projects to stop deforestation. 
(Marcelo Teixeira, "Norway to pay Peru $300 million for forest-based emissions reductions," September 23, 2014)
The return on Norway's investment will depend, of course, on whether the economic incentives ultimately pencil out for rural Peruvians.

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