Everyone remembers the COP15 Climate Conference that took place in Copenhagen in December of 2009. Well maybe you don’t remember every detail of the agenda but you surely remember the Conference was not a big success. Now the United Nations will soon be at it again, with COP16 just looming from around the corner. COP16 will be

the 16th edition of the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP). It will also hold simultaneously the 6th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). “Parties” refers to all the national states that signed and ratified both of the international treaties, committing to observe and comply with its terms regarding international cooperation against climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has been signed by 194 State Parties (list) and the Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 184 State Parties (list). In accordance with article 7 of the Convention, the Conference of the Parties in its authority of the supreme body has the mandate of adopting the necessary decisions for the promotion of its effective application.

– From the COP16 website

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OK so there you have it, big words again. If COP16 follows in the footsteps of COP15, we are heading for yet another very expensive, CO2 emitting conference with no tangible results. But let’s be positive for a minute and look at what the conference could achieve.

This year, all eyes are turned to Indonesia and it’s forests. The United Nations’ REDD program (Reducing Emissions from Deforestations and Forest Degradation), a mechanism designed to preserve forests in poor nations by supplying those nations with money to use towards forest protection, is back on the table. If Indonesia agrees to protect its rainforest, this could turn out to be a goldmine for the country. We are talking about billions of dollars.

The reason why Indonesia is so important for the U.N. is twofold. First, and this is good news, the country houses the most extensive rainforest cover in all of Asia. Second, and this is really bad news, the rainforest is being degraded and destroyed on a daily basis by agricultural plantation and planning, mining, logging and population increase. Because of this the country is not only cutting down the longs of the earth one tree at a time, it’s also increasing its carbon emissions at a scary rate.

Back in September of 2009, Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to reduce the deforestation rate of the Indonesian rainforests by 26 percent by 2020 (in the business as usual model of course) and by 41 percent if provided with international help.

Taking a closer look at the REDD program, a reduction of 5 percent deforestation could provide Indonesia with 565 million EUR (about 765 million dollars) a year. With the REDD program, keeping the rainforest in Indonesia intact could turn out to be a goldmine. But is it really that simple?

Additional information:

REDD has come under significant criticism, including the argument that it is a way for rich countries to avoid cutting their own emissions. If you want to know more about this, click here for a report on this issue.

COP16 will take place from November 29th until December 10th in Cancun, Mexico. More information is available on the COP16 website.