This paper outlines the ideas and political debates that contributed to the December 2007 decision of parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change to explore ways of reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries, what is referred to here as ‘avoided deforestation’ (AD). Although the decision reflected international concern at anthropogenic climate change and deforestation (especially in the tropics), the concept of AD, and contemporary debates on this subject, need to be understood in a broader historical context. International political disagreements on the distribution of the world's natural, financial and technological resources and on global social inequalities are now enmeshed with international forest and climate politics. The paper discusses two variants of an international AD; carbon trading and ODA. It then explores some of the political controversies that are likely to arise when agreeing the fine details of an international mechanism for AD.
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