Guyana proposes a deal

Here’s an unusual truth or dare challenge:

The government of Guyana has said it is willing to place its entire standing forest under the control of a British-led, international body in return for a bilateral deal with the UK that would secure development aid and the technical assistance needed to make the change to a green economy.

Guyana’s rainforest is larger than England (and not much smaller than New Zealand). The Independent describes the theoretical deal as ‘potentially the largest carbon offset ever undertaken’ and Guyana’s President, Bharrat Jagdeo, describes the deal as ‘a chance for Britain to make a “moral offset” and underline its leadership on the most important single issue facing the world – climate change’.

Mere days before this offer Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown said climate change was a ‘crisis‘ and ‘the great project of this generation’ which required a world wide commitment on a scale equivalent to that which rebuilt Europe after World War Two.

Guyana has an impoverished population and faces ongoing pressure to cut down its forests.

So, what does Brown say when the phone rings and it is Jadgeo on the line?

And, if Britain can’t do it, can the world’s first carbon neutral country help?

16 Comments Posted

  1. Im not going to get into a tidal argument, as I admittedly know very little about it, though I doubt land rises (you mean from earthquakes/subduction etc??) at the same rate as sea level the world over.

    Undoubtedly there are benefits for some over others. Sea level rise for the ‘megadeltas’ of Asia being an obvious expense, or the loss or farm land in Africa because of desertification.

    A guy called Gareth Renowden wrote a book called ‘Hot Topic’ about the costs and benefits for NZ based on the IPCC’s fourth assessment report – basically the hot and dry bits get hotter and dryer, while the wet bits get wetter, with more ‘extreme’ events for both.

  2. StephenR

    “What part of “20% of world carbon emissions? don’t you understand?”

    That was not my concern. My question and concerns remains

    “Who audits all this “avoided deforestation? stuff? Do little gnomes sit in front of computers and study Google Earth?”

    “Sea level is not uniform the world over”

    My observation is sea level at one very specific location hasn’t changed in forty years. A 30cm rise would have been very noticeable.

    Tide still rises (depending on the moon) to the same spot year in year out.

    Floating ice wont lift sea levels, so if we have a know volume of land based ice that has already melted (that is the real question) and we have to my observance no rise in sea level, does that mean the land rises at the same speed as the sea level?

    Even those exalted scientist at ASPSL&CM acknowledge that measuring sea level rises is not an exact science. Even with GPS it is not possible to record land mass movement (upwards or downwards) meaning sea level changes can have more than one cause and that the recorded levels should be taken with an open mind.

    Those island about to sink beneath the waves could, just maybe could actually be sinking back under the waves.

    One good thing about Global Warming. Bovines have replaced Reindeer for farmers in the now warmer Greenland. Because they are organically bred and fattened they fetch high prices. Progress for some people at the expense of others?

  3. What part of “20% of world carbon emissions” don’t you understand?

    I don’t know anything about 10% of non-floating ice, but it certainly isnt hard to find an organisation that says sea level has risen over the last century (seems to be 20-30 cms. An organsation would be the Australian South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring project).

    Sea level is not uniform the world over, and can be subject to many influences like: wind and ocean currents that can “pile up” the ocean water locally, temperature anomalies like El Niño, local ‘gravity wells’ of ice sheets and land masses, and regional salinity levels that alter the water’s density.

    Can get a lot more complicated than that though

  4. mikeymike,

    Who audits all this “avoided deforestation” stuff? Do little gnomes sit in front of computers and study Google Earth?

    Carbon credits and now “avoided deforestation” credits.

    Still of the opinion that it is not going to make diddly squat difference to carbon emmissions and prevent climate change.

    Here is a question for you.

    Is there a calculation out there that measures total non-floating ice flow loss caused by global warming todate?

    The reason for asking is that living on the shore of the Manukau Harbour I have yet to see any difference in the high water mark. Tide still comes in and reaches the same level on the boat ramp. It has not changed in the last 40 years (god i’m getting old).

    So if say 10% of the non-floating ice has melted what measure of sea level rise should I have noticed by now?

    Guess old age brings out the cynic, but all I see is a scam to rip people off with carbon and now “avoided deforestation” credits.

    Credits which will have no effect on carbon emmissions and thus preventing global warming.

  5. Gerrit, UK would only go for this if avoided deforestation (AD) was bought into Kyoto calcs. As it isn’t at the moment, AD credits can only be valued on the voluntary market. Thats where Shell (Kevyn) would typically come in.

    So not only do AD credits provide alternate income to felling, it clearly has habitat/biodiversity, watershed management, and of course emisisons mitigation benefits.

  6. Yeah, well there are always varying degrees of pragmatism anywhere, or commitment to ideology e.g. the ‘left’ and ‘right’ wings of the Labour party. I think many greens (worldwide) are fairly with it when it comes to the uses of capitalism – hence ‘green consumerism’.

    I think that this *type* of agreement would be a good way to reduce the ‘20% of carbon emissions’ figure that is attributed to deforestation, definitely.

  7. StephenR,

    Just making the analogy that many greens are anti capitalist but support carbon trading as a means of controlling/preventing climate change, when carbon trading is hugely capitalistic in operation.

    Do you think that this agreement will make a even a slight bit of difference to world climate changes as caused by carbon emmisions?

  8. Also the phrase ‘green economy’ means so much more than just what is done with the forests! Energy for electricity and transport, for one, but there was no mention of that.

  9. I’ve never heard of STANDING forests being used as a carbon sink – I think what they mean is that such a deal would guarantee that the 120 million tons of carbon would not be released through deforestation.

    There as a whole body of literature out there that deals with protected areas for wildlife conservation (also known a little pejoratively as ‘fortress conservation) and there are MANY ways for locals/indigenous people to make a bit of money themselves out of such a deal – like the article said:

    “eco-tourism, non-timber products and business ventures such as a butterfly farm”. Fairly sustainable, one would think.

    I don’t think anyone here is specifically vilifying capitalism anyway.

  10. Am I missing something here.

    The rainforest has always been there. Soaking up CO2.

    Now by a stroke of the pen UK CO2 emmisions are legitimised because they are being soaked up as they always have been.

    Where is the reduction? This is not going to make a diddly squat difference in reducing carbon emmisions.

    All it is doing is tranferring wealth and technology (which some say is a good thing) from the UK to Gyuana.

    This is a perfect example of why carbon trading is a scam and will not make a blind bit of difference to climate change.

    Mind you would not mind being the middlemen (Al Gore?) who organised the deal and made a percentage on constructing it.

    Being the independent auditor whom audits both Gyuana (to make sure they leave their forrests intact) and UK (to make sure their carbon emmisions dont increase) has a fee structure attached (mmmm – that will be profitable).

    One also has to question who audits the auditors?

    For those greens who vilify capitalism, have a look at the carbon trading structure and ask yourself – is carbon the new dollar and is private enterprise scooping in to control it?

  11. “Burning rainforests cause around 20 per cent of all carbon emissions, more than the entire global transport sector” Simple answer, Shell, Exxon-Mobil, etc could use their petty cash to buy up the worlds rainforests so would never have to worry about carbon taxes on motor fuels as they would all be certified as carbon nuetral.

  12. >And, if Britain can’t do it, can the world’s first carbon neutral country help?

    Who is the “world’s first carbon neutral country” – I didn’t know their was one yet… certainly not NZ, which emits 80Mt CO2e and does not yet offset this with international credits…

  13. Oh, and more from the Independent

    Burning rainforests cause around 20 per cent of all carbon emissions, more than the entire global transport sector, and just behind energy, yet until this year it has been little more than a footnote on the international climate change agenda…
    …Those who have deforested most in the past also stand to gain the most now, but there’s little in it for those nations which have opted to save their forests mostly untouched – like Guyana. Stopping the chainsaws from just finding a new home in these countries means working out how to value these amazing global forest utilities for what they are before they go up in smoke.

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