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Gabon will receive its first international payments as a reward for protecting its forests. What was only a promise with the agreement signed in September 2019 with Norway is therefore becoming a reality after eighteen months of discussions and audits to verify the solidity of the commitments made by Libreville.
Therefore, 17 million dollars (14.3 million euros) will be paid in return for the additional tons of carbon sequestered thanks to the measures implemented to fight against deforestation. These were estimated at 3.4 million tonnes over the two years 2016 and 2017 compared to the average emissions of the previous ten years and are remunerated at 5 dollars per tonne. Gabon could collect a total of $ 150 million if it maintains its efforts.
This step marks an important moment for the countries of Central Africa, which are home to the second largest tropical forest on the planet. “This is the first time that an African country has been recognized for having reduced emissions linked to forests at the national level”, underlined the Norwegian Minister of the Environment, Sveinung Rotevatn, on Tuesday, June 22, on behalf of the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) which brings together several industrialized countries and of which Norway is the main donor. This fund, created in September 2015, a few weeks before the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, is managed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The money received will have to be used to finance policies allowing to control the evolution of the forest cover which represents today 88% of the surface of the country. With a population of less than 2 million inhabitants concentrated in coastal towns, the pressure on forests is above all linked to logging. Until now, it has remained low, compared for example to the situation observed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has become the country with the highest rate of deforestation after Brazil.
The Gabonese Minister of Water and Forests, Lee White, thanked Norway for this mark of recognition, even if he does not hide that the prize chosen does not sufficiently recognize, in his eyes, the efforts made. Validation by international standards sends a strong signal to carbon market players with whom Gabon hopes to find a source of financing. “CAFI’s recognition of our monitoring system and data is particularly encouraging as it sets a global benchmark for payments for emission reductions linked to deforestation and forest degradation”said the British scientist appointed to this post in 2019 but charged with leading the climate negotiations for more than ten years.
In addition to the fact that tropical forests are home to around half of terrestrial biodiversity, they represent important carbon sinks in the fight against climate change. The African massif absorbs the equivalent of 4% of global CO emissions2 every year.