Looks like the UN climate talks under way in Cancun could yield at least one tangible deal—an agreement to start saving the world's tropical forests. The concept is simple enough: Developing nations such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea would be paid to stop bulldozing their forests, reports the Washington Post, which notes that global deforestation accounts for 15% of yearly greenhouse gas emissions.
The logistics, such as figuring out where that money comes from and how to verify carbon cuts, are a bit trickier. Grand plans once called for a global emissions-trading market, but Congress dampened that idea when it scrapped legislation that would have let US companies buy offsets abroad. Still, advocates see the so-called REDD treaty as an important first step, even if funding is low at first. The deforestation deal is "low-hanging fruit," says the UN Foundation chief. "Low-hanging fruit, if left on the tree, can rot." The pact could be approved by week's end.