Prince Charles brokers $1bn deal to save Indonesian rainforests in TimesOnline.UK:
Some of the world’s most endangered rainforests will be saved under a $1 billion deal inspired by the Prince of Wales, due to be announced today.
Indonesia, the country with the highest rate of deforestation, will sign an agreement under which it will stop issuing new licences for forest clearance and establish a new unit to tackle illegal logging.
The deal, which follows a rainforest summit hosted by Prince Charles at St James’s Palace last year, will test the principle of rich countries paying developing nations not to cut down their trees. Norway has agreed to give Indonesia $1 billion (£690 million) in return for a commitment to “a two-year suspension on all new concessions for conversion of peat and natural forest”.
A draft of the agreement, obtained by The Times, also sets out measures for protecting prime rainforest permanently, subject to the United Nations reaching agreement on annual payments to Indonesia. An independent inspection system will verify that Indonesia is abiding by its commitments The deal will be signed at a meeting on deforestation in Oslo attended by 50 heads of state and environment ministers as well as Prince Charles and the international financier George Soros.
The Prince will remind leaders of the link between climate change and deforestation, which contributes up to a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Prince’s Rainforests Project published a plan last November for a €25 billion (£21 billion) fund to reduce the rate of deforestation by 25 per cent by 2015. Today’s agreement marks the first stage of the plan’s implementation.
Greg Barker, the Climate Change Minister, confirmed yesterday that Britain had agreed to contribute £300 million to the fund by 2012. He said: “Stopping the destruction of forests globally is vital if we are to solve the threat posed by global climate change. Tackling deforestation is one area where we can get some real movement over the next few months.” The expansion of its palm oil and paper industries has turned Indonesia into the third-largest CO2 emitter, after China and the US. Indonesia loses an area of forest the size of Wales every year and the orang-utan is on the brink of extinction in Sumatra.
In 2008 Britain imported 27 million litres of Indonesian palm oil to add to diesel in order to comply with a European requirement for transport fuels to contain a rising proportion of biofuel. The requirement is being reconsidered after revelations that rising European demand for palm oil is contributing to deforestation.