Foreign Policy Blogs


I am sorry for having been off the air for a week.  The “holiday season” has been, as you likely have experienced, in full swing.  Among other activities, we entertained on Christmas Eve and Christmas, so there were kids and adults, presents to be wrapped and opened, and lots of cooking and eating.  (I specialize in high-calorie, high-fat desserts.  This is a particularly brutal recipe – not for the faint of heart.)

In any event, I’ve been thinking about stories and saving up good ones.  As you may know, one of the best things to come out of Copenhagen was a substantive agreement on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries.  This post, for instance, from me on December 16th, gives some background and references a useful Libby Rosenthal article from the “NY Times.”  This article today from “The Economist” says “Although there is still work to be done … the deal struck in Copenhagen made it into a real thing, not just an idea. The notion of reducing net deforestation to zero was not explicitly mentioned, but it looks much more credible than it did two years ago.”  (Most of the article, however, is about the enormous potential in “cool farming.”)

This press release from the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) describes an agreement announced in Copenhagen on $3.5 billion in initial funding to fight deforestation.  The participating countries are Australia, France, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States.  Gordon Brown said “An agreement to slow, halt and eventually reverse deforestation has to be central to the outcome here in Copenhagen.”

On the same day, a critical initiative in Ecuador took a big step forward.  The Ecuadorian Yasuní-ITT Proposal declared being on the verge of a final agreement which will preempt the emission of 407 million tonnes of CO2 by keeping 850 million barrels of oil underground in the Yasuní National Park.  “If the international community contributes with at least half of the revenue that the State would receive by extracting the petroleum…” – and this certainly looks perfectly do-able, given the commitment of financial resources noted above – then Ecuador will use the money to develop renewables, avoid deforestation and protect biodiversity in 40 national parks and indigenous lands (38% of the country), reforest, and work on sustainable development projects.

In Brazil, the government said recently that estimates based on analysis of satellite imagery show 7,008 square kilometers of forest were cleared in Brazil during the recent 12-month period measured, the lowest rate since the government started monitoring deforestation in 1988.  See this video for how Brazilians are waging the good fight.

Brazil is not just embracing REDD as a means for reducing its considerable GHG output.  It is also powering up its renewables industry – well beyond its considerable sugar-cane ethanol production.  (Biofuel production, of course,  has serious caveats to be considered.)  Brazil’s Wind Power Auction Spurs More Clean Energy Development is the story from the director of Brazil’s National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL), writing at “”  What’s the potential?  145 GW, according to a report from Brazil’s Electric Energy Research Center (Cepel).

Finally, re:  Brazil, AFP reported here yesterday that President Lula da Silva has signed a law “…requiring that Brazil cut greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent by 2020, meeting a commitment made at the Copenhagen climate change summit.”



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change