Norway forests deal will continue beyond 2015

-Environment Minister

Norway’s forest saving partnership with Guyana will “most certainly” continue after 2015 but exactly how will be worked out at the appropriate time, the Scandinavian’s state Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim has said.

“That of course will be considered at that time, but we all understand that this is not any problem that can be solved in five years’ time. It will take many, many years to establish a growth path which is not destroying the forest so most certainly we will have to continue after 2015 but the discussions have to take [place] at that time,” he told Stabroek News in an interview on Friday.

The two countries in November 2009 inked an MOU worth potentially up to US$250 million ($51.7 billion) by 2015 for Guyana to preserve its forests. Norway has committed to provide up to US$250 million to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) up to 2015, based on independent verifications of Guyana’s deforestation and forest degradation rates and progress on REDD+ enabling activities.

Under the partnership, Guyana will accelerate its efforts to limit forest-based greenhouse gas emissions and protect its rainforest as an asset for the world. Norway will provide financial support to Guyana at a level based on this country’s success in limiting emissions. Total disbursements by Norway into the GRIF are US$70M with Solheim on Thursday announcing a disbursement of US$40M for this year. Thus far, no money has been released to Guyana for projects since these have not been submitted to the Steering Committee chaired by Guyana.

In a revised Joint Concept Note (JCN) for the MOU, it is stated that Guyana and Norway will work together to seek to get other Participants to join the partnership. The Participants’ goal is to reach agreement with other Participants by the end of August 2011. “We’ll reach out to several other countries, UK, US, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and other ones. There’s quite a number of countries that are heavily involved in climate and forest issues so we’ll reach out to them. We’ve already done that,” said Per Fredrik Pharo, the Deputy Director of Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative.

He said that the clarifications in the revised JCN and very clear rules now established will make it easier to sell the case.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had made the point on Thursday that the focus on climate change is shifting. Solheim said that climate the Deputy Director of Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative.

He said that the clarifications in the revised JCN and very clear rules now established will make it easier to sell the case.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had made the point on Thursday that the focus on climate change is shifting. Solheim said that climate issues are still on the agenda. “It is on the agenda. For example, the British government is currently running a spending review of how they are gonna use quite a significant amount of money for climate and forest issues over the next few years,” he said.  The minister also referred to a Japanese fund for climate, singling out Sweden, Denmark and Germany as spending on this as well. “There’s an increasing number of countries, developing and developed, joining this,” he added.

Scientists believe that standing forests which absorb greenhouse gases will help to reduce catastrophic impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels, floods and droughts.

Solheim said that as global climate talks continue, a solution has to be found. “We reached a global agreement in Cancun last year on many issues so we must build up on that in the future.  The problem this year is that some countries are indicating that they want to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and we have to find a solution to that in Durban,” he said. Durban, South Africa will host the next round of climate change talks later this year.

Norway has said it will commit for a new commitment period in the Kyoto Protocol with the European Union and some others, Solheim noted.

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