Copenhagen, Day Four: Saving Forests as the Clock Ticks for Tuvalu

The Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson is reporting on the scene from Copenhagen during the United Nations Climate Change Conference.


Fighting Deforestation

President Barack Obama “made his first public intervention in the Copenhagen climate summit” by supporting the Norway-Brazil plan to allow rich countries to fund the protection of rainforests. “”I am very impressed,” Obama said after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, “with the model that has been built between Norway and Brazil that allows for effective monitoring and ensures that we are making progress in avoiding deforestation of the Amazon.”

International approval for the Norway-Brazil proposal for a Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism still has a ways to go, especially as targets for reductions of deforestation have not yet been determined. In a possible breakthrough for the integrity of such programs, Google presented tools for the accurate monitoring of the rates of deforestation via climate satellite data.

Tuvalu Contretemps

Tuvalu’s proposal to amend the Kyoto Protocol to mandate strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions from all nations continued to embroil official negotiations, causing the shutdown of today’s plenary. China led objections to Tuvalu’s request for formal discussions, concerned that the negotiations could end up breaking the Kyoto Protocol’s delicate balance. Formal negotiations have been suspended until Saturday, when it is possible the delegates may take a formal vote on the amendments “” an unprecedented event.

European Disunion

Three European countries received awards from the International Climate Action Network “” two for setting the talks back and one for helping progress. Poland was deemed a Fossil Fool for preventing the European Union from strengthening its 2020 emissions targets in Copenhagen, while Germany earned opprobrium for its proposal that funding for climate assistance should be taken away from other international aid programs. In contrast, France was praised for challenging other EU members to close the “loophole in the accounting of emissions for forest management” “” namely, getting unfair credit for existing forests “” in Europe.

United States

The United States continued to have a strong presence behind the scenes and in side events, with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack joining a panel on the future of international agriculture, rich and poor. While discussing his agency’s plans to expand renewable energy in the United States, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar noted that President Bush “simply slept” through global warming. Salazar brushed off questions from activists about his agency’s continued support for the expansion of offshore drilling and coal mining.

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