European Union Proposal for Addressing Global Deforestation


The European Commission (the Commission) just released their proposal for addressing the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. This is the long awaited Communication on the European Union’s (EU’s) proposed position on global warming emissions from deforestation in the lead-up to the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen.

The lack of a specific position had caused some interesting back-and-forth between the negotiators for Papua New Guinea and the EU at the climate negotiations in Ghana. So, what clarity did the EU provide on its position as we move towards Copenhagen? (It is important to remember that this is a proposal and is not a definitive position of the EU, but rather begins to establish their negotiating position).
Serious goals for addressing deforestation are called for:...objective to halt global forest cover loss by 2030 at the latest and to reduce gross tropical deforestation by at least 50% by 2020 compared to current levels.Cutting deforestation loss 50% by 2020 is a similar goal to the one called for in the Eliasch Review (conducted for the United Kingdom government). This would cost an estimated €15-20 billion per year (~$20-27 billion), according to the Commission’s calculation.

Deforestation reduction credits not allowed in their emissions trading system prior to 2020 for a number of reasons including:

-- the scale of potential deforestation credits (deforestation emissions are roughly three times the total regulated emissions under the EU’s emissions trading system); and

-- unresolved monitoring, reporting, verification, and liability questions (e.g., what happens if the credited forest loss reverses due to a forest fire…who is held responsible?)

This is different than the approaches being outlined in two of the main climate proposals in the U.S.—the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner bill and the Boucher-Dingell discussion draft—which both envision that a portion of a company’s compliance could be met through the purchase of deforestation emissions reduction credits.

Major portion of EU’s funding coming from use of auction revenues from its emissions trading system (an idea proposed at the climate negotiations in Ghana). The Commission proposed that at least 20% of the proceeds from the auctioning system post-2012 be used to support climate objectives including tackling deforestation emissions. As the Commission notes, this could generate €1.5-2.5 billion (~$2-2.7 billion) per year in 2020 if 5% of the proceeds from the auction was dedicated to battling deforestation
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