Frances Beinecke is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She filed this report from the Copenhagen U.N. Climate Conference about the probable progress on reducing deforestation in the world.
"When I attended the U. N. climate talks in Bali in 2007, I realized that while the stage-crafted plenary sessions on emissions targets are a critical part of these negotiations, the quieter, sideline debates over specific details like financing or verifying reductions are just as important.
I expect the same will be true in Copenhagen. Negotiators will reach agreement on several key issues, and in turn, these agreements will become the building blocks of the final international treaty that will be signed in the coming months.
I believe one of those agreements will be about how to solve the crisis of deforestation--the source of 15 percent of the world’s global warming pollution. There are huge swaths of tropical forest in Africa, Asia, and South America that could continue to act as critical carbon sinks--but only if the financial incentives and the market values shift toward preserving forests rather than depleting them.