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Climate talks heading towards weak forestry deal

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Proposals on forestry drafted as part of UN talks on a post-Kyoto climate agreement in Copenhagen have been seriously weakened in an attempt to reach a deal by the end of the week, according to a draft text given to ministers on Wednesday.

Targets to reduce deforestation and land degradation appearing in an earlier draft text have been abandoned. The EU wants to re-introduce such targets, ENDS understands. Proposals on financing from rich countries are much less specific than previously.

However on Wednesday US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said the United States, France, Britain, Japan, Norway and Australia had pledged $3.5bn over the next three years to help tackle deforestation in developing countries.

Several targets had been proposed for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, known as REDD activities, in developing countries, including halting forest cover loss by 2030 and reducing it by at least 50% by 2020, subject to financial support.

The latest REDD text is much shorter than an earlier version released on Tuesday morning. Environmental safeguards such as actions to tackle the possible displacement of deforestation activities from one area to another have been dropped. Others such as emission reporting requirements now appear in square brackets.

Despite the weakening, several REDD advocates told ENDS the text was a "great basis to work from". Their fear is that it will never see the light of day if negotiators fail to agree on a new global climate treaty. The NGOs welcomed that fact that it recognises the value of natural forests, as opposed to plantations.

*Meanwhile, separate discussions on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) under the Kyoto protocol track are much more advanced, ENDS understands. NGOs want industrialised nations to account for emissions from logging in their CO2 reduction targets.

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