Ground-Breaking UN Atlas Seeks To Tackle Climate Change And Biodiversity Loss
Boosting funding for efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation can simultaneously combat climate
change and conserve biodiversity, a pioneering atlas launched today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
The new Carbon and Biodiversity Demonstration Atlas – believed to be the first of its kind – pinpoints areas where high
carbon and high biodiversity converge.
“At a time of scarce financial resources and economic concerns, every dollar, euro or rupee needs to deliver double,
even triple dividends,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director
. “Intelligent investment in forests is a key example oῦ where climate benefits and ecosystem benefits can be achieved
in one transaction.
Deforestation accounts for nearly 20 per cent of deforestation, and the launch of the atlas comes as countries are
meeting in Poznan, Poland, for the latest round of UN climate change talks aimed at reaching agreement on a successor
pact to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
Participants are also seeking to further plans to fund efforts for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest
degradation, or REDD, as part of the post-Kyoto agreement.
Some 2,000 billion tons of carbon is stored in biomass above the ground and in the soil worldwide.
“Nature has spent millions of years perfecting carbon capture and storage in forests, peatlands, soils and the oceans
while evolving the biodiversity that is central to healthy and economically productive ecosystems,” Mr. Steiner said.
While human and technological efforts to capture carbon dioxide produced by power plants and factories before it enters
the atmosphere and storing it in oceans and other places play a role, “the biggest and widest returns may come from
investing in and enhancing natural carbon capture and storage systems,” he added.
This will also help sustain livelihoods and add hundreds of thousands of new ‘green’ jobs in forestry and conservation
in developing nations, the UNEP chief said.
Next year will be the year of climate change, a UN official told reporters in New York yesterday.
“The year between this meeting in Poznan and the meeting in Copenhagen is going to disproportionately on climate change
as it should be in terms of attention of governments of the world,” as well as the private sector and civil society,
said Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning in ῴhe Executive Office of
Economic recovery and climate change are heavily linked, he stressed at a press conference, “because you can’t really
deal with one without the other.”