The United Nations (UN) concludes the one-day summit on climate change at its headquarters in New York, U.S., Sept. 22, 2009. (Xinhua Photo)
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- World leaders and ministers gathered at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday to debate a provision in the climate pact that would help prevent deforestation in developing countries.
The program, known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD, aims to create the incentives to ensure reliable and measurable emission reductions by protecting forests. The debate was held on the sidelines of the annual general debate of the UN General Assembly, which kicked off here on Wednesday morning.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (4th L) poses for photos with other leaders at the UN headquarters in New York Sept. 22, 2009. President Hu and the other leaders were attending the UN Climate Change Summit in New York Sept. 22. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)
More than 85 governments, including 14 heads of state and senior ministers, appeared to agree that any deal negotiated in Copenhagen must contain a provision that mandates rich countries to fund developing nations in order to reduce global carbon emissions.
But there were signs of disagreement over the right mix of public and private financing via the REDD system as well as how to effectively implement a credible monitoring and verification system.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the cutting down of forests is now contributing close to 20 percent of the overall greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that some estimates show global deforestation contributed up to one-fifth of annual greenhouse gas emissions in the 1990s.
"Reducing deforestation is essential," said Ban. "Immediate action on REDD is a critical part of the climate change solution."
The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) applauds during the closing ceremony of the climate change summit at the headquarters of UN in New York, U.S., Sept. 22, 2009. The UN concluded the one-day summit Tuesday. (Xinhua Photo)
Most CO2 emissions from deforestation stem from the destruction of tropical forests. While some forests are logged, many are simply burned to make room for industrial agriculture like cattle ranching and palm oil plantations.
Despite the benefits of protecting forests though a fundamental problem arises when developing nations must choose between their forests and their people.
Some 1.6 billion people depend on forests for sustenance and income, said Ban.
Minister of the Chinese State Forestry Administration Jia Zhibang acknowledged the pivotal role forests play in mitigating global warming and said his country had invested 70 billion U.S. dollars in forest protection and renovation.
"The man-made forest is now 53 million hectors, accounting for one-third of the world's man-made forests," he said.
Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd endorsed both public and private financing but proposed forest projects should be included in carbon markets from 2013.
Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen speaks during the closing ceremony of the climate change summit of the United Nations (UN) at the headquarters of UN in New York, U.S., Sept. 22, 2009. The UN concluded the one-day summit Tuesday.(Xinhua Photo)
Greenpeace Climate Politics coordinator Martin Kaiser said in a statement that the Australian proposal for carbon markets is "an attack on the integrity of any Copenhagen agreement and would undermine international efforts to protect the climate and must be rejected."
"Developed country leaders at Friday's G20 meeting must ... provide the 140 billion U.S. dollars annually which is needed for technology, adaptation and forest protection in the developing world," he added.
Rudd closed his statement by saying that REDD must include an effective monitoring mechanism, something most would agree on but differ in the actual implementation.
If a system for measurement is flawed, said Rudd, it will undermine the credibility of the whole endeavor.
Special report: President Hu attends G20, three UN summits