Forestry has a major role to play in reducing the cost of compliance with emission reduction schemes in the US, Australia and New Zealand as well as in other countries that have yet to contemplate or announce targets. Deforestation is now very low in developed countries so that the in-country contribution will come from sequestration of carbon by afforestation and reforestation projects. The extent of the role of forestry will depend on the global price of emission allowances and this in turn will depend on the deepness of the cuts that nations embrace in the post-Kyoto regime. There is a distinct possibility that the combination of the increasing demand for land for afforestation and reforestation, combined with the increasing demand for land for biomass production for biofuels, will raise the price of food and disadvantage the poor. Policies will need to be modified if research shows that such a scenario is likely.
It is apparent that non-Annex I countries, not subject to limitations under the Kyoto protocol, will soon, as a group, overtake Annex I countries as emitters of GHG emissions. For an international agreement to be effective in curbing global emissions, major emitting countries including principally the large emitters, India and China, will need to agree to GHG emission limits. If this were the case, the demand for forestry offsets in those countries could well be high depending on domestics policies adopted.
An examination of forestry in the CDM, through which countries with Kyoto caps can reduce their compliance costs through projects in developing countries, suggested that the role of forestry offsets will always be limited. The recommendation of this chapter is to continue with the basic scheme but with some improvements.
There is no time to lose in reducing deforestation in the tropical developing countries. The voluntary market is poised to make a contribution now that it is addressing the development of rules and transparency issues and given the strong motivation among developed countries to provide financial incentives.
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