View Full Version : Earning Billions for U.S. Farmers.

06-04-2010, 06:43 AM
More carbon credit legislation. Oh boy!!


As forests in tropical nations are cleared to make way for large-scale agricultural plots, U.S. farmers may be taking a hit to their wallets.

A new report issued by the National Farmers Union and Avoided Deforestation Partners yesterday finds that hundreds of billions of dollars are lost when forestlands are converted into croplands or cattle feeding grounds. The foreign timber, beef, soy and grain that flood the U.S. market from those fields undercut domestic goods, leading to price hikes, the report warns.

Staving off this rainforest destruction -- and subsequent revival of forestlands -- through conservation efforts like the United Nations' Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program would be a big win for U.S. farmers, ranchers and loggers, according to the report.

The findings underscore what a cadre of environmental and utility groups have been saying as they lobby for the inclusion of tropical rainforest offset funding in U.S. climate legislation. Though they say the forest preservation measures included in the draft bill put forth by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) fell short of needed levels, these groups remain hopeful that strengthened provisions to safeguard existing forest carbon stocks might still be included in final legislation.

"We hope to demonstrate the powerful benefits to the U.S. agriculture and timber industry of protecting tropical rainforests," Glenn Hurowitz, Washington director for Avoided Deforestation Partners and director of the Tropical Forest and Climate Coalition, said of the motivation behind the report, which comes just as senators will be heading to their home states for the Memorial Day weekend.

Globally, about 32 million acres of forest is destroyed each year, mostly in the tropics and, because trees absorb carbon dioxide, deforestation is responsible for some 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Curbing tropical deforestation, the report finds, would yield as much as $221 billion in additional revenue for U.S. soybean, oilseed, beef and timber producers by 2030. That figure rises to as much as $270 billion when accounting for potential increased market needs from U.S. producers, estimated cost savings from complying with climate regulations due to lower energy and fertilizer costs, and also projected offsets.

But getting loggers to put down their axes will not be possible without policies that ensure U.S. financial support for forest preservation, Hurowitz cautions.

Trees worth more dead than alive
Unlike the House version of the climate bill, which set aside 5 percent of all pollution allowances to pay for tropical forest conservation, the Kerry-Lieberman legislation aspires to the same goal of conserving forests but devotes no specific funding to the effort. That leaves the financing of such programs tied to annual appropriations, which forest advocates say would ultimately be a fatal blow to international forest conservation efforts.

Forest advocates are also pushing for offset standards in the Senate bill to be relaxed, since they say the restrictions around what type of credits could be counted for companies' investment will effectively block company investment in forest conservation. The Senate bill would not allow rainforest offset credits to be counted unless tropical nations already have a national or state-level deforestation cap in place -- systems which would likely take years to develop.

With the current Kerry-Lieberman language, Hurowitz said, "There is no chance we would meet the target of stopping deforestation by 2030, because there won't be enough incentives for individuals or countries to meet them." Currently, the trees are worth more dead than alive, he said.

06-05-2010, 04:37 AM

06-05-2010, 07:42 PM
That they actually believe this would work is astonishing.