Sarkozy opens Paris deforestation summit

Pangkalan Bunut forest in Indonesia
Pangkalan Bunut forest in Indonesia AFP

French President Nicolas Sarkozy opens an international conference on deforestation in Paris on Thursday. Ministers from 30 heavily forested countries and 12 potential donor countries are attending the conference.


“Forests are in danger,” France’s Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told a press

Deforestation - the facts and figures

About 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year;

Six of the ten countries which have lost the most forest over the last five years are in Africa;

Those ten countries lost 8.2 million hectares;

Logging, combustion and decomposition of trees gives rise to 20 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions – as much as that emitted by cars, lorries, trains, airplanes and boats together.

Deforestation is the major contributor to Indonesia and Brazil becoming the world’s third and fourth CO2 emitters.

conference on Wednesday where he called for efforts to fight deforestation to “step up a gear”. Preserving woodland, which store carbon, is seen as an essential part of the fight against climate change.

France intends to play a major role in saving the world’s forests, Borloo said, thanks to its “expertise in science and forestry”.

The summit aims to give a boost to the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme, whose declared aim is to reduce deforestation in poor countries by half by 2020.

The plan will be financed by aid from rich countries or by carbon trading, which allows countries which do not go over agreed limits on carbon emissions to swap them with those who look likely to do so.

The UN estimates that the scheme could generate 20 billion euros a year to protect forests in tropical countries. But critics claim that carbon trading, which was first proposed at the Kyoto climate change conference in 1997, may hand rich countries a licence to pollute while endangering indigenous peoples and allowing conversion of land into industrial tree plantations.

The Paris conference follows 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference and aims to prepare for two conferences in 2010, one in Bonn in April, the other in Mexico City from 29 November to 10 December.

A follow-up from the Paris meeting is planned in Oslo in May.

When there was no agreement on REDD at Copenhagen, six countries, including the US and France, announced 2.6 billon euros of finance for a mechanism known as REDD+ in 2010-2012.

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