Sunday, August 9, 2009

Australia, Indonesia in carbon trading plan

Tom Arup

The Age, August 10, 2009

AUSTRALIA and Indonesia will make a submission on using rainforests to offset carbon emissions from polluting industries at climate change talks beginning today in Germany.

The submission, obtained by The Age, states Australia is building a satellite receiving station near Darwin to monitor deforestation in Asia and the Pacific.

The second joint submission to UN climate negotiations from the two countries reflects the Rudd Government's desire to use Asian and Pacific forests as a cheap emissions offset for local industry through ''REDD'' - reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation - carbon credits. It outlines the extent to which Australia is working with Indonesia to ready the country to sell carbon credits based on carbon stored in forests, including holding ''technical sessions'' for officials on how to monitor the REDD program.

Australia and Indonesia are also developing two REDD demonstration projects under a $200 million Australian-funded global forestry-carbon program to present to the climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. Environment groups are expressing concerns over the make-up of REDD credits in the draft text of a new climate agreement before the UN, ahead of the discussions starting today in Bonn.

Peg Putt, international climate change campaigner for the Wildness Society, said green groups were alarmed that references to ''protecting forests'' in the REDD section of the draft negotiating text have been removed, and references to ''sustainable forestry management'' have increased.

She also said the international agreement had adopted references to ''REDD Plus'', which could potentially create carbon credits for crop plantations such as palm oil, which are causing deforestation in Asia's rainforests.

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