FACTBOX - U.S. climate bill backs forest offsets
REUTERS - A compromise U.S. climate bill unveiled on Wednesday will allow between 500 million and up to one billion carbon offsets into an emissions trading scheme aimed at cutting U.S. greenhouse gas pollution.
The bill, called the American Power Act, backs efforts to fight deforestation in developing countries and to allow offsets from projects that save forests from being chopped down, preserve peat lands and rehabilitate forests.
The United States backs a U.N. scheme called reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) that could usher in a global trade in carbon offsets from forest preservation projects potentially worth billions of dollars a year.
Deforestation is a major source of planet-warming greenhouse gases and preserving the remaining areas of tropical rainforest is regarded as a crucial way to fight climate change because trees absorb carbon as they grow.
Following are some key points in the Act relating to avoiding deforestation.
-- Scheme Administrator will, not later than two years after the enactment of the legislation, establish an assistance programme to drive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in poor nations.
-- The aims of the programme are to achieve emissions reductions of at least 720 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent in 2020, a cumulative amount of at least six billion tons of CO2 equivalent by end-2025, and additional emissions reductions in subsequent years.
-- It would also aim to help poorer nations build the capacity to reduce deforestation at a national level, preserve existing forests, improve measurement, reporting and verification of efforts to fight deforestation and illegal logging. Steps to prevent forest clearance that might simply be pushed into another location is another focus.
-- The Act reinforces it is U.S. policy that climate change is a potentially significant national and global security threat that is likely to exacerbate competition and conflict over land, water and other resources.
Protecting Americans from the impacts of rising greenhouse gas emissions meant fighting deforestation and its causes in poorer nations is a key policy objective, it says.
-- Projects eligible should improve the livelihoods of forest communities, maintain natural biodiversity and carbon storage capacity of forests, promote native forests and ecosystems and give due regard to the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples.
Projects should also be transparent in the sharing of profits and benefits from the sale of offset credits with local and indigenous communities.
-- A key requirement is establishing a national deforestation baseline. This must take into account the average annual historical deforestation rates of the country during a period of at least 5 years, the drivers of deforestation and other factors.
The baseline must also establish a trajectory that would result in zero net-deforestation by not later than 20 years after the date on which a national deforestation basline has been established.
(Reporting by David Fogarty; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
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