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Page last updated at 20:52 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 21:52 UK

Environment secretary's response

In Panorama: Can Money Grown on Trees? Guyana's President Bharrat Jagdeo says that he tried to move the debate forward on how to save the rainforest by asking the UK to help his country by looking into ways in which Guyana's entire standing forest could be placed under internationally-verified supervision.

Mr Jagdeo said he was prepared to do this under the right economic circumstances and if an alternative to deforestation could be found that did not compromise the aspirations of Guyana's people.

He first made this offer in 2006 and claims that he has had no response. Following the broadcast of the programme, Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, issued the following statement:

The UK government has responded to President Jagdeo's offer and the proposal raises a number of questions that we are examining further. The Eliash Review, to be published this Autumn, will feed into this. We are working to make sure that measuring and monitoring carbon emissions is accurate and addresses the potential for emissions being displaced. We are also supporting Guyana on accessing money for maintaining their virgin forest and channelling it back into forest conservation.

Protecting forests is an environmental imperative - they are the lungs of the Earth and play a vital role in supporting biodiversity and combating climate change. This is why we are supporting the development of low carbon investment in Guyana and have contributed 15 million to the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Fund, from which Guyana is receiving funding. We have also committed 50 million to tackle deforestation in the Congo forest basin and we are pressing for international action to target illegal logging.

The UK is taking a lead internationally, working closely with other countries, including Guyana, to ensure forests get the protection they need. We want an international agreement involving all countries and, having for the first time reached agreement on deforestation at the Bali conference last December, this should now be covered in a post-2012 climate change agreement. An international approach is essential otherwise there is a risk that conservation in one area will just displace deforestation elsewhere.

Decreasing CO2 emissions is a top priority for this Government - we are on target to go above and beyond our commitment under the Kyoto Protocol and, in addition, we are the first Government in the world to introduce a Climate Change Bill which will establish legally binding emissions targets to ensure we are on track to become a low carbon economy.

Can Money Grow on Trees?
05 Sep 08 |  Panorama
In video: Can Money Grow on Trees?
07 Sep 08 |  Science/Nature
Why the West should put money in the trees
08 Sep 08 |  Science/Nature
Can capitalism save the Amazon?
07 Sep 08 |  Science/Nature

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