Former Vice President Al Gore, a loyal CI supporter, received the Nobel Peace Prize today for drawing widespread attention to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's scientific advisory group – shared the distinction with Gore.
The prize was awarded at the same time that dozens of experts from Conservation International (CI) joined world leaders in Bali, Indonesia, to help shape a new-and-improved global treaty on climate change.
United Nations delegates are gathering in Bali to launch negotiations that will determine how countries respond to climate change after the existing treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, expires in 2012. CI is among many groups bringing ideas and expertise to Bali. For more than 20 years, CI has been making the world more resilient to climate change by conserving biological diversity in our lands and oceans.
The Kyoto Protocol commits participating industrialized countries to reduce their collective emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. It does not require developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but allows them to sell their reductions to developed countries interested in offsetting their own emissions.
Topping CI’s priority list in Bali is the conviction that countries should be given incentives for protecting healthy forests. The current Kyoto treaty does not give countries credit for protecting existing forests; Rather it only recognizes those who are reforesting areas already degraded. The destruction of forests accounts for about 16 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all the world’s cars, trucks, trains and airplanes combined. Healthy forests also house tremendous biodiversity and provide food, water and abundant natural resources for people worldwide.
"A new global climate change agreement must recognize and respond to the role of tropical deforestation in climate change," says CI President Russell A. Mittermeier. "Under the Kyoto Protocol, only the carbon storage of newly planted or replanted forests is eligible for credits that can be traded for offsets… A new global climate change framework must correct the oversight by also making the potential emissions of intact tropical forests eligible for tradable credits."
With four forest carbon projects already underway and nine more in development, CI and partners are leaders in forest protection projects developed specifically to mitigate climate change. The projects are designed to slow forest loss and consequently reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, released into the atmosphere. CI is also on the cutting edge when it comes to learning how life on Earth can adapt to a changing climate.
Linking Forests, Climate Change, and Biodiversity (PDF – 1.48 MB)
Climate Change and Conservation (PDF – 365 KB)
Five Effects of Climate Change on the Ocean (PDF – 287 KB)
Download the full IPCC report here.
Read Peter Seligmann's Op-ed on Conservation, Climate Change, and Developing Nations