The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is a key function of the Kyoto Protocol and is already being used in the emissions trading markets. It allows companies in developed countries to invest in certain projects in developing countries in return for emissions credits. For a project to be eligible for CDM credits, it must result in a net reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. Carbon capture projects, including reforestation, do qualify for CDM credits, but conservation projects that would avoid trees being cut down in the first place do not.
Some people say that projects that avoid deforestation should be eligible for CDM credits. They say that preventing deforestation would halt a root cause of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. The conversion of forests to poorly managed agricultural land leads not only to the release of carbon from trees, but also from soils that subsequently erode away.
The problem is of particular concern in Brazil, where most of the Amazon rainforest lies. Data from the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, a research institute in northern Brazil, suggest that deforestation is responsible for emissions of an estimated 200 million tonnes of carbon each year. That is equivalent to two-thirds of Brazil’s emissions of greenhouse gases and about 2.5 per cent of global carbon emissions.
But including projects that avoid deforestation in the CDM trading is unlikely to work in Brazil. Here are five reasons why.
First, the problem of deforestation in Brazil is tightly linked to internal migration. If an area were declared protected by a CDM project, farmers would be likely to continue their unsustainable agricultural practices by simply moving to unprotected areas. Leaving-dioxide emissions unchanged.
To avoid this, alternative economic opportunities would have to be offered to the farmers or effective sanctions would need to be applied. Controlling deforestation and the emissions that result from it would mean controlling migration. But this is difficult to do, say the authorities, because local institutions have limited funds and staff. Continue>