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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Forests in Europe or what's left of them

Two articles that try to point toward the problem with forests. If you ask me, at the present moment, they have no chance. With the economic crisis and the GRAND plans for carbon sequestration, nobody will pay attention to the obvious answer of the problem. Plants are natural CCS , that's what they do, take the carbon out of the atmosphere (and out of the CO2) and make it into food and mass. Less plants, more CO2. Obviously. True, they also emit CO2 in the night, but in any case, the plant mass is made of carbon. Thus they will always consume more CO2 than they will emit.
But no, let's discuss the great carbon capture and storage plans, let's fund a technology that is still not-available but sounds so good it simply must be true. I'm not saying that there's no future in the technological CCS, all I'm saying is that we must first exploit our natural resources and then go for the technology. It will be useful at some point, but trees will be always useful. They not only work on the CO2, they protect the soil, they enrich it, they clean the atmosphere, they create natural habitat for many species. We need them. Our planet breath trough them.
I ask, why forests are still out of the EU and EC plans? I answer you-because poor countries like mine, supply rich countries with cheap wood and everyone is happy. And if someone try to regulate the process, there will be very unhappy people.

Forests 'forgotten' in EU climate policy, MEPs warn

11 September 2008

Deforestation is widely considered to be a key driver of global warming since tropical and other forests absorb CO2, thus mitigating the effects of emissions on the climate. But EU policymakers are struggling to define rules to keep trees standing.

It is a "major mistake" not to address the issue of forests in the EU's climate package, Swedish Liberal MEP Lena Ek said yesterday (10 September) during a meeting of the Parliament's Industry (ITRE) Committee.

Her comments were seconded by Irish Christian Democrat MEP Avril Doyle, responsible for shepherding a proposal to revise the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) through Parliament. Europe will have "no credibility" in international climate negotiations without some sort of forest-related policy framework, said Doyle, who wants to see the issue "stitched through" both the EU ETS and a separate proposal on 'effort sharing', which spells out member states' commitments to reduce CO2 emissions in sectors not covered by the ETS.

Mechanisms to prevent deforestation – by giving landowners EU ETS credits for leaving forests standing, for example – were not included in the Commission's climate proposals, put forward on 23 January. This was due to apparent difficulties related to measuring emissions from these sectors with accuracy.

But the issue was also not "on the radar screen" of officials working on the EU ETS proposal in the EU executive's environment service (DG Environment), Dr. Bernhard Schlamadinger, a consultant to the UNFCCC secretariat, the World Bank and the FAO, told EurActiv in November 2006 (EurActiv 30/11/06).

Increasing EU energy demand may be at least partly to blame for this apparent oversight.

A push to use biomass for biofuels in transport or in home heating means that forests, and the land on which they stand, have a higher and more immediate economic value if exploited for energy-related purposes than if left standing. The Commission attempted to address the issue in its 2006 Forest Action Plan (EurActiv LinksDossier). But environmentalists, and industries that use forests for non-energy purposes, are increasingly worried that Europe's energy thirst will put too much pressure on forests and that the non-binding action plan is too weak to prevent an overshoot.

Forests may also be far from the climate change 'radar screen' of European citizens. A new Eurobarometer surveyPdf external on 'Europeans' attitudes towards climate change' highlights citizens' concerns about climate change without addressing the issue of forests at all.

At international level, parties to the 160 nation talks towards a successor deal to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012, are faced with their own set of difficulties in forging an adequate international forest protection framework. Even environmentalists are wary of draft proposals to include forests in global carbon markets due to fears that they could backfire (EurActiv 22/08/08). source

Old-growth forests important carbon sinks, says study

16 September 2008

Old-growth forests of the northern hemisphere act as global carbon sinks but are not protected by international treaties, according to new EU-funded research published in the journal Nature.

The international group of scientists' findings indicate that old-growth forests in the northern hemisphere account for at least 10% of global net uptake of carbon dioxide. This contrasts with the commonly accepted view that these forests are carbon neutral, a hypothesis based mainly on a single study from the 1960s.

The new research builds on 519 plot studies and shows that carbon accumulation continues in forests that are centuries old. Nevertheless, the Kyoto Protocol does not call for forests to be left intact, instead demanding changes to the carbon stock by afforestation, reforestation and deforestation.

Old-growth forests have been accumulating carbon for centuries, yet much of it will be lost to the atmosphere if disturbed, the study warned. The researchers therefore conclude that "the carbon-accounting rules for forests should give credit for leaving old-growth forest intact".

Deforestation is widely considered to be a key driver of global warming as tropical and other forests absorb CO2, thus mitigating the effects of emissions on the climate. But EU policymakers are struggling to define rules to keep trees standing (EurActiv 11/09/08). source


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