COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Climate change negotiators meeting in Denmark moved closer to a pact that would pay countries for preserving forests and other landscapes, negotiators said.
If signed as anticipated, the agreement for the compensation program would provide a system by which countries could be paid for conserving ebbing natural assets based on their contribution to reducing emissions, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Environmental groups at the U.N-sponsored summit in Copenhagen, Denmark said the pact could be the biggest accomplishment of the summit.
"It is likely to be the most concrete thing that comes out of Copenhagen -- and it is a very big thing," said Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Environmental groups support such a program because forests absorb carbon dioxide, the primary gas linked to global warming. Rain forest destruction, which releases the tree-stored CO2, is estimated to make up about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
A final draft of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation was to be presented Wednesday to summit participants, but likely won't be announced until the end of the week when world leaders arrive, the Times said. Yet to be resolved are how to address the rights of indigenous people living on forest land and how a forest is defined.