Congo among nations advancing on forest carbon
OSLO (Reuters) - Nations including Democratic Republic of Congo are making surprise progress towards taking part in a $200 million project for slowing deforestation from late 2010, World Bank experts said.
They also said Latin America, with forested nations around the Amazon, had strong incentives to take part since most of the continent's greenhouse gas emissions came from deforestation and shifts in land use, rather than use of fossil fuels.
"We intend to start operations later this year," Benoit Bosquet, lead carbon finance specialist at the World Bank, told Reuters of the Carbon Fund, part of a facility that involves 37 forested developing nations and 14 donors.
The fund, a public-private project for which the World Bank is trustee, so far has pledges totalling $50 million and aims for a total $200 million.
"Some unlikely countries are coming out of the starting blocks, for example in central Africa," Bosquet said in a telephone briefing.
Democratic Republic of Congo was making strong progress, for instance, in defining plans and consulting local communities and indigenous peoples, he said. Five million people died in a 1998-2003 war and the country is still plagued by insecurity.
Elsewhere in Africa, Ghana was among those advancing well and in Latin America, Mexico and Costa Rica were among those with furthest progress, he said.
Burning of forests to clear land accounts for up to a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions from human sources blamed for stoking global warming, according to U.N. estimates.
Trees soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow. The world is trying to set up a mechanism to reward countries that slow deforestation as part of a future U.N. deal to slow global warming.
The Carbon Fund project would not just focus on safeguarding forests but also related projects such as improving crop yields to reduce pressures to burn forests. Cash could also encourage a phase-out of some damaging farm subsidies.
Ethel Sennhauser, the World Bank's sector manager for agriculture, Latin America and the Caribbean, said that 66 percent of emissions from the region were from deforestation and changes in land use, against a world average of 20 percent.
"No other region will have such a big incentive as Latin America," she said of the schemes, known as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).
A total of $4 billion worldwide has been committed to projects to slow deforestation by nations led by Norway.
At last year's U.N. Copenhagen climate summit, which disappointed many nations by failing to agree a U.N. treaty to slow global warming, developed nations promised "fast-start" climate aid for the poor approaching $30 billion for 2010-12.
The $4 billion "is a very important part of the fast-start funds," said Sergio Jellinek, World Bank manager of external affairs for Latin America and the Caribbean. "REDD+ was one of the bright spots of the Copenhagen discussions."