Azara Blog: Papua New Guinea makes carbon proposal

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Date published: 2005/05/18

The BBC says:

Rainforest protection should be added to measures to prevent global warming, a seminar of climate experts from more than 150 countries has heard in Bonn.

The proposal, from Papua New Guinea, could open the way to a major expansion of the attempts to limit climate change.

The German meeting, organised by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is the first international attempt to look into what to do when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Plush red armchairs on the podium, for TV-style question and answer sessions after each clutch of presentations, underline the deliberately informal style of discussions here.

It is all part of the effort to avoid the diplomatic rancour that usually seems to afflict such get-togethers.

The forestry proposal from Papua New Guinea ran counter to the pattern of most of the discussions.

While other developing countries rejected any spreading of responsibilities beyond the industrialised countries already signed up to the Kyoto Protocol - "you caused the problem, so you show us how to fix it first" being the essence of the argument - Papua New Guinea actively welcomed the chance to be held accountable for greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the destruction of its rainforest.

Its position comes down, in part, to the success of the carbon emissions trading scheme launched in Europe earlier this year.

A tonne of carbon saved from the atmosphere now comes with a price tag - and Papua New Guinea argues that its rainforest carbon is as good as any coal or oil burnt in the West.

"A tonne is a tonne is a tonne," declared the Papuan ambassador to the UN. But at the moment, there is no way developing countries can trade avoided rainforest destruction on the international market.

When the rich people of the rich world get together with the rich people of the poor world you expect a certain amount of sanctimonious humbug to be expressed (the meeting itself just by taking place is causing a massive amount of environmental damage), but here for once it sounds like someone is at least trying to make a sensible proposal.

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