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Forests cast shadow over climate talks

作者:庾竟    发布时间:2019-03-06 05:14:00    

By Fred Pearce Canada has become the biggest impediment to agreement on the Kyoto Protocol to halt climate change, with the US having withdrawn from the talks. These resumed in Bonn on Thursday, with Canada demanding the right to meet its targets for greenhouse gas reductions partly through improved management of existing forests. Canada is reported to want to meet 15 per cent of its national target this way. It believes that fire suppression and other techniques could allow its forests to soak up millions of tonnes of carbon from the air each year. This would help Canada meet its six percent emissions cut under the protocol, whose detailed rule book is due to be finalised at the Bonn meeting. Officials said that without such a dispensation it would not ratify the protocol. Japan, Russia and Australia are also asking for similar rights to offset emissions of greenhouse gases. All four countries also want to derive additional benefits whenever they plant new forests. But their push comes only days after the world’s top climate scientists, meeting in Amsterdam, warned that any claimed benefits from improved forest management will be very difficult to measure. Bob Watson, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said: “The question is: can you separate out natural variability from the effects of management?” Scientists also fear that governments will want to claim credit for successes in forest management, while ignoring failures. Tom Pedersen of the University of British Columbia said “trees covering an area the size of Holland are rapidly dying, because a run of warm winters has caused an infestation of mountain pine-bark beetle. The tinder-dry dead trees present the prospect of a forest fire of possibly unprecedented scale”. Mike Flannigan of the Canadian Forest Service in Edmonton, Alberta, pointed out that existing forest fires emit amounts of carbon dioxide equivalent to 20 per cent of Canada’s emissions from fossil fuels. The chairman of the climate negotiations, Dutch environment minister Jan Pronk,

 

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