Industrial nations must tackle deforestation at Copenhagen, say MPs

| 30th June 2009
Logging in the Amazon
An area of forest the size of England is chopped down every year. Deforestation now accounts for 17 per cent of global emissions

An area of forest the size of England is cut down every year. Deforestation accounts for 17 per cent of global emissions

A Commons environmental audit committee has called for industrialised nations to change their patterns of consumption if alarming rates of global deforestation are to be arrested and reversed

A committee of MPs has called on the Government to lobby against deforestation at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, warning patterns of consumption must change in order to mitigate ‘a huge threat to the global climate’.

The Commons environmental audit committee has been gathering oral and written evidence since last year on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. Yesterday it released its report into the issue. Subtitled ‘No hope without forests’, it makes a number of recommendations for any agreement at Copenhagen this December.

Gordon Brown laid out the Government's proposals for the talks last week, including a £60 billion fund to help less industrialised countries deal with the effects of climate change.

According to the cross-party group of MPs, any successor to Kyoto must include measures to curb the supply-and-demand drivers behind deforestation, financial incentives for the maintenance and replanting of rainforest, and support to ensure the ‘development path’ of rainforest nations ‘does not drive or depend upon deforestation’.

‘Developed nations in particular must commit themselves to taking steps that will stop business profiting from deforestation and will ensure consumers can choose more sustainable alternatives,’ said committee chairman Tim Yeo. ‘Unless we do this, we will never dismantle the economic drivers that continue to fuel rampant deforestation. A failure to tackle deforestation could undermine all of the efforts that are being made to reduce emissions globally.’

Deforestation is the third-largest source of greenhouse gases globally, producing more emissions than transport and destroying an area of forest the size of England each year.

In order to reduce domestic drivers for deforestation, the committee recommended bringing forward legislation to ban illegal timber imports; effective sanctions for those dealing in illegal timber; the adoption of more robust timber procurement policies; a reassessment of global agricultural practices; the removal of agricultural subsidies and other trade-distorting measures.

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