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California joins effort to fight global warming by saving rainforests - November 19, 2008

California has joined the battle to use rainforest conservation to fight global warming.

In an agreement signed yesterday at a climate change conference in Beverly Hills, California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged financial assistance and technical support to help reduce deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia. The Memorandum of Understanding commits the California, Illinois and Wisconsin to work with the governors of six states and provinces within Indonesia and Brazil to help slow and stop tropical deforestation, a source of roughly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The governors include Governor Antônio Waldez Góes da Silva of Amapa, Brazil; Governor Eduardo Braga of Amazonas, Brazil; Governor Blario Maggi of Mato Grosso, Brazil; Governor Ana Júla de Vasconcelos Carepa of Para, Brazil; Governor Yusof Irwandi of Aceh, Indonesia; and Governor Barnamas Suebu of Papua, Indonesia.

The deal is the first state-to-state, sub-national agreement focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation (REDD) programs. Governor Schwarzenegger's office says the agreement will "focus on improving forest carbon accounting methodologies and will work to link state greenhouse gas mitigation programs with REDD efforts in Brazil and Indonesia".

"Tropical deforestation accounts for 20 percent of all human-caused carbon emissions in the world, and the governors signing these MOUs with us manage more than 60 percent of the world's tropical forest lands," Governor Schwarzenegger said. "With this agreement, we are focusing our collective efforts on the problem and requiring our states to jointly develop rules, incentives and tools to ensure reduced emissions from deforestation and land degradation. We are also sending a strong message that this issue should be front and center during negotiations for the next global agreement on climate change."

The agreement commits the signatories to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and land degradation while increasing additional carbon sequestration through reforestation and improved forest management practices; jointly developing rules to ensure that forest-sector emission reductions and sequestration will qualify under criteria in California's proposed climate change legislation; and develop a plan to monitor progress of the initiative.

The Brazilian and Indonesian governors represent states and provinces that account for the bulk of current tropical forest loss. Forest clearing in Indonesia is primarily driven by logging and agricultural expansion — particularly for oil palm plantations. In Brazil leading causes of deforestation include land speculation, expansion of cattle pasture and industrial soy farms, logging, infrastructure development, and colonization schemes. In both countries these activities are contributing to fires that damage or destroy vast tracts of forest on an annual basis.

Governors Braga of Amazonas, Irwandi of Aceh, and Suebu of Papua have previously agreed to ban logging until until a new carbon financing mechanism for forest conservation is in place, a development that is expected to come by the conclusion of the next year's U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen, Demark.

REDD is viewed by some economists as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say the mechanism could eventually lead to the transfer of billions of dollars per year to fund conservation and rural development in tropical countries.

Deforestation and land use change are the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, a larger source than all the world's cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined.

Source -, November 19, 2008

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