Schwarzenegger Pens Deal on International Forest Carbon Offsets

By Published On: November 21, 2008

To pave the way for energy companies and other California businesses to meet their state-mandated greenhouse gas emissions reduction requirements through international reforestation projects, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger November 18 entered a pact with the governors of six states in Brazil and Indonesia. They penned the agreement at the two-day Governors’ Global Climate Summit on November 18-19 in Beverly Hills. “Tropical deforestation accounts for 20 percent of all human-caused carbon emissions in the world,” said Schwarzenegger, who was joined by the governors of Wisconsin and Illinois in signing the agreement. The pact also could pave the way for companies in those states to satisfy their emissions reduction requirements under the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord. “With this agreement,” Schwarzenegger continued, “we are focusing our collective efforts on the problem and requiring our states to jointly develop rules, incentives, and tools to ensure reduced emissions from deforestation and land degradation.” The agreement focuses on developing ways to make sure carbon sequestration through reforestation and other forest management practice improvements is “real, measurable, verifiable, and permanent and capable of being recognized in compliance mechanisms” under laws aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. If successfully executed, the pact could open the way for carbon offset projects by California companies in areas that represent more than 60 percent of the world’s tropical forest lands. Governors from Brazil and Indonesia acknowledged that deforestation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In Brazil, 70 percent of greenhouse gases are from deforestation and 30 percent are from fossil fuels, said Carlos Eduardo de Souza Braga, State of Amazonas governor. The foreign leaders maintained that to solve the problem, people who live in forest areas will need new economic opportunities to replace forestry and clearing land for farming. In addition to the agreement on forestry, 26 officials from six nations signed another accord at the Beverly Hills meeting. It seeks to promote coordinated strategies across borders for tackling global warming by facilitating information sharing, investment, and clean technology transfers. “It’s all about technology,” said Schwarzenegger, “because we all know that the guilt trip the we have put on people has not worked, to tell them that they should not use the Jacuzzi, or the big, large plasma TV or to drive with a big SUV, a Hummer or something.” The governor said that such technologies can be made energy efficient and run on green energy so lifestyles can continue to improve both in the U.S. and abroad. The agreements capped the two-day conference, which opened with a videotaped statement of support by president-elect Barack Obama, who pledged to shepherd federal legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent. Editors’ note: For a more detailed version of this story, please see our sister publication E=MC2 – Energy Meets Climate Challenge. You can find it at www.energymeetsclimate.com.

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