AS/COA Online | Costa Rica, U.S. Ink Conservation Deal

Costa Rica, long seen as a model for environmentalism, inked a debt-for-nature deal that could put it on the global map for meeting conservation targets. The agreement paves the way for Costa Rica to expand protected marine and rainforest areas and become the first developing country to meet its environmental protection commitments spelled out under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. At the heart of the program is an accord signed Friday by Washington and San José whereby Costa Rica will draw down its debt to the United States and invest $27 million in conservation efforts over the next 15 years. The Nature Conservancy, which donated nearly $4 million, and the Central Bank of Costa Rica also signed the deal.

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AS/COA Online - Brazil Sets Climate Change Bull's-Eye

Presidents Sarkozy (L) and Lula agreed on a proposal they dubbed a "climate bible." (Photo: Ricardo Stuckert/PR)

During a trip to France, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva set a standard for next month’s UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. During a press conference with his French counterpart Nikolas Sarkozy, the two leaders agreed on a plan that calls for reducing global carbon emissions to 50 percent of 1990 levels over the course of the next four decades. The proposal also suggests that, by 2050, industrialized nations should decrease emissions to 80 percent of 1990 rates. The presidents labeled the plan a “climate bible” and it came just after Brazil announced a sharp drop in deforestation rates. Still, when the Copenhagen summit rolls around, bold plans could give way to a scaled-back agreement.

Read More / - Backgrounder: China’s Environmental Crisis

China's heady economic growth continued to blossom in 2007, with the country's gross domestic product (GDP) hitting 11.4 percent. This booming economy, however, has come alongside an environmental crisis. Sixteen of the world's twenty most polluted cities are in China. To many, Beijing's pledge to host a "Green Olympics" in the summer of 2008 signaled the country's willingness to address its environmental problems. Experts say the Chinese government has made serious efforts to clean up and achieved many of the bid commitments. However, an environmentally sustainable growth rate remains a serious challenge for the country.

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Co-authored by Jayshree Bajoria and Carin Zissis | China’s Olympian Challenges

When China won the bid to host the 2008 summer Olympics, it pledged to address environmental concerns, human rights grievances, and restrictive press laws. International Olympics Committee inspectors gave Beijing high marks when they held their first review (Reuters) of the city’s preparations in mid-January. 

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