EU business lobby eyes pollution 'permits'

Sept. 16, 2010 at 10:31 PM
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BRUSSELS, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A European business lobby group says extra "permits" to pollute the atmosphere should be given to corporations investing in areas near tropical rainforests.

Plans aimed at preserving tropical ecosystems will be one of the topics for the United Nations' climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico, during November and December. One such plan is the Clean Development Mechanism, under which rich countries can buy "credits" allowing them to avoid reducing emissions of carbon dioxide at home by financing environmental projects in poorer parts of the world, Inter Press Service reported Thursday.

Until now, forestry projects have for the most part been excluded from the CDM and similar CO2 "credit" plans.

BusinessEurope, the region's largest confederation of private sector firms, is trying to convince policy makers to view forest credits more favorably. Greater use of forest credits "would be the way to go to save the world," Folker Franz, a specialist on environmental policy for BusinessEurope, said.

A market-based approach could have environmental benefits, he said.

"If we'll see people profit from this, then let them profit, so long as it stops deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil," he told Inter Press Service.

Jutta Kill of the forest conservation group Fern said using forest projects in South America or Asia to "offset" emissions in Europe or the United States "would be a very bad idea ... carbon offsetting is a big distraction from tackling climate change."

Magda Stoczkiewicz, Brussels director of Friends of the Earth, said "very often projects don't reduce CO2 but in reality just become trading and marketing tools." She said BusinessEurope's "main aim is turning the projects into a money machine."

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