At Climate Meeting in Warsaw, All Eyes Should be on Peru

In correlation with the 19th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 19) — currently underway in Warsaw, Poland — Human Nature is spotlighting some of the ways that communities, businesses, provinces and individual countries are making strides on climate change action. Today’s post focuses on Peru; read all our COP 19 posts.

Farm in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest in peru

Beautiful farm on the edge of the Alto Mayo Protected Forest. San Martin, Peru (© Conservation International/photo by Bailey Evans)

As country delegations gather in Poland this week, destruction continues of one of the world’s most overlooked barriers between us and a dangerously warm climate: tropical forests. Indeed, a forest the size of England is destroyed annually, releasing huge amounts of carbon back into the atmosphere.

Since the UNFCCC began discussing it more than a decade ago, REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) has been embraced by many to be a promising solution to this global problem. By providing financial incentives for developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, REDD+ was designed to allow these countries to sustain economic growth while simultaneously preventing, or even halting the destruction of their forests. Their avoided emissions would then be “sold” in the form of carbon credits to buyers in developed countries.

Despite the remarkable success of many pilot REDD+ projects, some of the momentum behind the forest carbon movement has faded; in fact, there are currently more people trying to sell carbon credits than buy them. This is a dangerous trend that threatens to undermine the progress that has already been made in linking protecting forests, reducing emissions and providing community benefits in areas like Peru’s Alto Mayo Protected Forest.

Conservation agreements with Peruvian communities (with support from CI, the Peruvian government and the Walt Disney Company) have already generated almost 3 million tons of emissions reductions — the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road for a year. Learn more in the video below.

In Poland, CI will share its scientific and technical expertise in REDD+, supporting the viability of this solution and highlighting the need for agreement on how to continue implementing it. After all, without compensating people for protecting their trees, our forests won’t stand a chance.

Molly Bergen is the managing editor of Human Nature. Read all our COP 19 blog posts

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