Officials are unsure when Laos will be able to start selling its carbon credits as the state agencies in charge of preparing for the sale have been working far too slowly.
Carbon credits are permits representing the amount of carbon that has not been emitted, showing that the owner has the right to offset that amount of carbon dioxide.
The country's extensive forest cover can be sold to other countries as carbon credits.
Laos would have started selling carbon credits last year had work progressed well, deputy director general of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Forest Department Khamphay Manivong told Vientiane Times at the recent meeting of the REDD + Task Force.
“Up until now Laos has not been able to sell its carbon credits as officials from state agencies in charge of the work do not understand what they were supposed to do, which has affected preparations,” he said.
The meeting discussed the organisational structure of new national REDD + Task Force office, which was suggested at a meeting a few years ago.
The office would work on preparing for carbon-credit sales and creating a law to govern them – Laos does not currently have one.
The World Bank has agreed to give US$3.6 million towards supporting preparations for credit sales.
Khamphay said when Laos is ready to sell it will need to find buyers around the world. He said potential buyers would want to come to Laos and check the forests to see how many tonnes of carbon they accounted for.
Laos is moving to sell carbon credits to join the worldwide fight against climate change. Carbon credit initiatives aim to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and promote sustainable forest management, leading to emission reductions.
Laos is now collaborating with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to sell its carbon credits and preserve its forests to reduce emissions.
Selling carbon credits is also a good way for Laos to help local people protect the nation's forests.
The government is planning to preserve 9.5 million hectares of forests to reverse deforestation and degradation, according to the ministry.
“The scheme is part of the plan to restore forest cover to 65 percent of the country by 2015 and 70 percent by 2020,” Khamphay said.
Laos lost about 134,000 hectares of forest every year from 1992 to 2002. More than 40 tonnes of greenhouse gases were released into the atmosphere due to deforestation.
The ministry said Laos had undergone widespread deforestation, with forest cover falling from 64 per cent in 1960 to 47.2 per cent in 1992, and 41 per cent in 2001.