A superb story in the WSJ by Tom Wright (which I think is available) reveals that the World Bank is moving to reduce CO2 emissions by saving tropical forests, especially in Indonesia.
The global effort to stem climate change could soon include paying countries in the tropical belt to not cut down their rain forests, beginning with a World Bank pilot project.
The World Bank is planning to start a $250 million investment fund to reward countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and Congo for "avoided deforestation."
Note that this effort is not yet funded. Because no binding targets for carbon emissions have been enacted internationally, this is exactly the sort of effort that has been stalled by inaction on Kyoto or another carbon-reducing initiative. Wright explains:
The prospect of addressing global warming by preserving trees is alluring. Amid intensifying global-warming regulations, it could give developed countries — and companies based there — a cheap way to offset their obligation to curb their own energy-related emissions at home. On the flip side, it could provide a source of foreign investment for developing countries, which don’t face emission caps.
But whether the World Bank’s fund will draw much investment is unclear. Under the Kyoto Protocol, saving existing trees doesn’t qualify as a means of generating emission "credits" on the international carbon market.
But $250 million to substanially reduce emissions sounds like a bargain. Interestingly, Wright also quotes the Stern report on the economic impact of climate change, which some on the right like to claim has been debunked. From from it, according to the WSJ:
The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, commissioned by the British government, last year highlighted the urgent need to bring deforestation into efforts to fight global warming. In March, a report by the World Bank and Britain’s Department for International Development found that Indonesia was the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the U.S. and China. That conclusion — Indonesia’s economy is relatively small — stems from rampant deforestation caused by forest fires that sometimes envelop much of Southeast Asia in haze, emitting huge amounts of carbon dioxide.
The article also includes a fully illuminating graph, showing how much forest-burning in Indonesia is contributing to carbon emissions. Save a forest; help save the atmosphere. Sounds like a good idea!