Analysis: Brazil struggles to cash in on carbon credits

Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:27pm EDT
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By Marcelo Teixeira

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 19 (Reuters Point Carbon) - A patchwork of regional legislation and complex rules governing land ownership have so far kept Brazil from cashing in on what could potentially be the world's biggest carbon offset market.

The country, home to the much of the planet's rain forest, has struggled to come up with a national strategy to make money protecting its vast ecosystem with projects that Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, also known as REDD.

Although not an official theme of the United Nations' Conference on Sustainable Development, REDD has been a hot topic this week in Rio de Janeiro, where policymakers from more than 190 nations are meeting to discuss environmental sustainability.

The idea is to get the private sector and governments to pay to reduce deforestation, which accounts for up to 17 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Advocates say REDD is needed to keep the planet from heating up and causing widespread famine and drought, a key objective at U.N. climate conferences.

"You cannot address climate change without including REDD," says Arild Angelsen, an environmental economist with the Center for International Forestry Research and a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

But Brazil, which could potentially produce 58 percent of global REDD credits according to the World Bank, risks falling behind African and Asian nations in attracting private and public investment.

"We have some 19 state-level legislations on climate and REDD and we will have to find a way to harmonize these rules under a national strategy," Brazilian Climate Change Secretary Carlos Klink said. "We know there is great potential, but also a huge difficulty to move ahead."   Continued...