WWF: Saving forests 20 percent of climate-change challenge
The WWF's Forest Carbon Initiative seeks to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emission from deforestation and degradation by 2020.
Private investors are willing to buy carbon credits from developing countries to finance preserving their remaining forest cover, the activists said, citing a recent WWF-sponsored survey.
According to the 2009 Forest Carbon Investor Survey, investors managing about $7 trillion in assets support an expanded carbon market mechanism - basically paying countries to make their forests more valuable by absorbing carbon dioxide than by being cleared for agriculture or timber.
However, potential investors are looking for "more certainty from both international agreements and national legislation before private funds can be mobilised," making it a priority to include the issue in the climate agreement to be hammered out in Copenhagen in December, WWF officials said.
Strong policies to ensure reductions in emissions and benefits to forest communities are a key for investors to support REDD, the UN programme for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation.
An agreement in Copenhagen, which includes REDD, would be a strong signal to potential investors, and "will ensure forests are more valuable standing than cut down," the WWF said.
"REDD is critical to a climate solution, and finance is critical to making REDD work," Don Kanak, chairman of the WWF Forest Carbon Initiative told a press conference Tuesday.
"In the long term, private capital could play a major role, if certain conditions are satisfied. We need governments to step up to create sufficient financing in the near term to support forest countries' efforts to become REDD-ready," he said.
About 4,000 participants and observers began meeting Monday in Bangkok for two weeks of talks aimed at finalising the negotiating text for the next climate deal. A main task is to simplify the current 280-page draft agreement to less than 40 pages.
WWF said Tuesday saving forests must be one of the priorities of that agreement.
"We need to make REDD work in order to get a successful climate deal," Kanak said.
Investors have a lot of knowledge about the REDD programme, believing it has strong potential for a future carbon market, the WWF survey said.
More than one-third of those surveyed in the 2009 Forest Carbon Investor Survey expect a forest carbon market will evolve from a voluntary to a compliance market over the next five to 15 years if certain conditions for a market-based approach can be met.