Bali delegates agree to support forests-for-climate (REDD) plan
December 16, 2007
While controversial, the program, known as Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), has been widely seen by scientists and environmentalists as a way to address environmental degradation by assigning value to intact ecosystems like rainforests and peat swamps.
"[REDD has] the potential to shift the balance of underlying economic market forces that currently favor deforestation, by raising billions of dollars for the ecosystem services provided by rainforest regions," wrote a team of scientists in a paper published in Science last month.
"Conserving tropical forests could ultimately be one of the cheapest ways we have available to slow global warming," said Dr. William Laurance, a biologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute who has co-authored several papers on REDD. "The costs of forest conservation are modest and deforestation is a massive source of emissions, so slowing deforestation is like plucking the low-hanging fruit — there's a lot of benefit for not a lot of cost. And of course we're not just storing carbon; we're also saving the world's most biologically important real estate, providing a place for local and indigenous peoples, and helping to stabilize delicate soils and reduce catastrophic flooding."
Delegates at Bali apparently agreed, recommending that efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation should be "strengthened and supported" but stopping short of calling for anything other than voluntary action on REDD.
REDD still faces many challenges, especially in implementation. Issues range from "permanence" (whether a county can ensure that forest carbon savings are permanent) to "leakage" (what happens when carbon conservation in one area drives deforestation in another?) to baseline data establishment (how does one measure historic deforestation to establish a baseline for calculating reduction?). Further questions over land rights (will REDD trigger a land rush by industrial agriculture giants and forestry firms?) as well as how local communities will benefit (the cost of registering and establishing a REDD project may top $50,000, a nearly insurmountable sum for communities and small-scale forest holders in some of the world's poorest countries) are also valid. There is also ongoing squabbling between a coalition of forest nations and Brazil, which sees REDD as an attempt to limit its economic development of the Amazon rainforest. Some forest-rich countries that have low deforestation rates have expressed concern they will be left out of the process since their forests are not under immediate threat.
Despite these concerns, it appears likely the REDD initiatives will move forward. Last week nine industrialized governments announced plans to put US$165 million (114 million) toward the World Bank's newly created Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, a scheme that will offer tropical countries carbon offset credits to preserve forests. The U.S. did not pledge any funds but some 30 tropical countries in Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific stood to benefit from what the World Bank called "the first financial mechanism to pay countries for saving their tropical forests." In the spirit of the progress on REDD, Governors from the Brazilian state of Amazonas and the Indonesian provinces of Aceh, Papua and West Papua agreed to a moratorium on logging until the carbon values of their forest lands is assessed.
Peatlands restoration is a cheap way to cut CO2 emissions
(12/7/2007) Rehabilitating damaged peatlands in Indonesia may be one of the most cost-effective ways to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, said an international NGO.
U.S. contributes $0 to World Bank's new $300m forest carbon fund
(12/11/2007) At U.N. climate talks in Bali, the World Bank officially unveiled its $300 million Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, a scheme that will offer tropical countries carbon offset credits to preserve forests.
(12/10/2007) More than 10 percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions result from the degradation and destruction of peat swamps, reports the first comprehensive global assessment on the links between peatland degradation and climate change.
Aceh, Papua, Amazonas governors sign carbon-for-forests pact
(12/8/2007) Three governors have signed the Forests Now Declaration to protect tropical forests for their carbon value. The Governors, Irwandi Yusuf (Aceh, Indonesia), Barnabas Suebu (Papua, Indonesia), and Eduardo Braga (Amazonas, Brazil), agreed to the declaration's action plan which calls for compensation for reduced greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and protection of standing forests. Deforestation and forest degradation account for roughly 20 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, but steps to reduce forest loss will help mitigate climate change. The UK government's 2005 Stern Review said that forest protection could be one of the most cost-effective ways to address climate change.
Rainforest logging moratorium established in Indonesian provinces, Amazonas state
(12/7/2007) Governors from the Brazilian state of Amazonas and the Indonesian provinces of Aceh, Papua and West Papua signed a historic agreement to protect threatened rainforests.
Merrill Lynch announces carbon credits-for-forest conservation partnership
(12/6/2007) Merrill Lynch is working with Carbon Conservation, an ecosystem services firms, to explore opportunities in avoided deforestation and integrated sustainable land management. The partnership was announced Thursday in Bali, Indonesia, where more than 10,000 policymakers, scientists, and activists are meeting to discuss a post-Kyoto framework on limiting climate change.
Amazon deforestation could be eliminated with carbon priced at $3
(12/4/2007) The Amazon rainforest could play a major part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that result from deforestation, reports a new study published by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center, the Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, and the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. At a carbon price of $3 per ton, protecting the Amazon for its carbon value could outweigh the opportunity costs of forgoing logging, cattle ranching, and soy expansion in the region. 2008 certified emission-reduction credits for carbon currently trade at more than $90 per ton ($25 per ton of CO2).
Returns from carbon offsets could beat palm oil in Congo DRC
(12/4/2007) A proposal to pay the Democratic of Congo (DRC) for reducing deforestation could add 15-50 percent to the amount of international aid given to the warn-torn country, reports a new study published by scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC). The funds would help alleviate rural poverty while cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting threatened biodiversity.
Could the carbon market save the Amazon rainforest?
(11/29/2007) The global carbon market could play a key role in saving the Amazon from the effects of climate change and economic development, which could otherwise trigger dramatic ecological changes, reports a new paper published in Science. The authors argue that a well-articulated plan, financed by carbon markets, could prevent the worst outcomes for the Amazon forest while generating economic benefits for the region's inhabitants.
Carbon credits for forest conservation concept faces challenges
(11/27/2007) While environmentalists, scientists, development exports, and policymakers across the political spectrum are ethusiastic about the idea of offsetting carbon emissions by preventing deforestation (a concept known as "avoided deforestation" or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)), the concept still faces many challenges, especially in implementation.
Carbon offset returns beat forest conversion for agriculture in Indonesia
(11/21/2007) Conversion of forests and peatlands for agriculture in Indonesia has generated little economic benefit while releasing substantial amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, reports a new study from the the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and their Indonesian partners.
Avoided deforestation beats timber, palm oil, in tax revenue for Indonesia
(10/29/2007) Indonesia could more than double its tax revenue by protecting forests and selling the resulting carbon emission credits instead of timber and palm oil, a University of Michigan researcher told Bloomberg.
Is the Amazon more valuable for carbon offsets than cattle or soy?
(10/17/2007) After a steep drop in deforestation rates since 2004, widespread fires in the Brazilian Amazon (September and October 2007) suggest that forest clearing may increase this year. All told, since 2000 Brazil has lost more than 60,000 square miles (150,000 square kilometers) of rainforest -- an area larger than the state of Georgia or the country of Bangladesh. Most of this destruction has been driven by clearing for cattle pasture and agriculture, often in association with infrastructure development and improvements. Higher commodity prices, especially for beef and soy, have further spurred forest conversion in the region. While drivers of Amazon deforestation are stronger than ever, mounting concerns over climate change and the effort to reign in greenhouse gas emissions may provide new economic incentives for landowners to preserve forest lands through a concept known as "avoided deforestation".
World Bank offers $300M for forest conservation, emissions reductions
(10/15/2007) Tropical forest countries will be eligible for payments for preventing deforestation under a program unveiled last week by the World Bank.
Carbon for forests will help Aceh recover from war, tsunami
(9/18/2007) Carbon credits through forest conservation will play an important role in Aceh's recovery from decades of civil war and the devastating 2004 tsunami, which left more than 167,000 people dead and 500,000 homeless in the Indonesia province, said Aceh governor Irwandi Jusuf in meeting in San Francisco.
The Conference of the Parties (COP-13) Decision:
Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action
- Advance unedited version -
Recalling the relevant provisions of the Convention, in particular Article 2, Article 3, paragraphs 1, 3 and 4, and Article 4, paragraphs 1(a)-(d), 3, 5 and 7,
Acknowledging the contribution of the emissions from deforestation to global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions,
Acknowledging that forest degradation also leads to emissions, and needs to be addressed when reducing emissions from deforestation,
Recognizing that efforts and actions to reduce deforestation and to maintain and conserve forest carbon stocks in developing countries are already being taken,
Recognizing the complexity of the problem, different national circumstances and the multiple drivers of deforestation and forest degradation,
Recognizing the potential role of further actions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries in helping to meet the ultimate objective of the Convention,
Affirming the urgent need to take further meaningful action to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries,
Noting that sustainable reduction in emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries requires stable and predictable availability of resources,
Recognizing that reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries can promote co-benefits and may complement the aims and objectives of other relevant international conventions and agreements,
Recognizing also that the needs of local and indigenous communities should be addressed when action is taken to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries,
1. Invites Parties to further strengthen and support ongoing efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation on a voluntary basis;
2. Encourages all Parties, in a position to do so, to support capacity-building, provide technical assistance, facilitate the transfer of technology to improve, inter alia, data collection, estimation of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, monitoring and reporting, and address the institutional needs of developing countries to estimate and reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation;
3. Further encourages Parties to explore a range of actions, identify options and undertake efforts, including demonstration activities, to address the drivers of deforestation relevant to their national circumstances, with a view to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and thus enhancing forest carbon stocks due to sustainable management of forests; Advance unedited version
4. Encourages, without prejudice to future decisions of the Conference of the Parties, the use of the indicative guidance provided in the annex as an aid in undertaking and evaluating the range of demonstration activities;
5. Invites Parties, in particular Parties included in Annex II to the Convention, to mobilize resources to support efforts in relation to the actions referred to in paragraphs 1-3 above;
6. Encourages the use of the most recent reporting guidelines1 as a basis for reporting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, noting also that Parties not included in Annex I to the Convention are encouraged to apply the Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry;2
7. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to undertake a programme of work on methodological issues related to a range of policy approaches and positive incentives that aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries noting relevant documents;3 the work should include:
(a) Inviting Parties to submit, by 21 March 2008, their views on how to address outstanding methodological issues including, inter alia, assessments of changes in forest cover and associated carbon stocks and greenhouse gas emissions, incremental changes due to sustainable management of the forest, demonstration of reductions in emissions from deforestation, including reference emissions levels, estimation and demonstration of reduction in emissions from forest degradation, implications of national and subnational approaches including displacement of emissions, options for assessing the effectiveness of actions in relation to paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 5 above, and criteria for evaluating actions, to be compiled into a miscellaneous document for consideration at the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice at its twenty-eighth session;
(b) Requesting the secretariat, subject to availability of supplementary funding, to organize a workshop on methodological issues identified in paragraph 7 (a) above, before its twenty-ninth session, and to prepare a report on the workshop for consideration by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice at that session;
(c) Advancing the development of methodological approaches, taking into account the outcome of the workshop referred to in paragraph 7 (b) above at its twenty-ninth session;
8. Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to report to the Conference of the Parties, at its fourteenth session, on the outcomes of the work referred to in paragraphs
7 (a)-(c) above, including any recommendations on possible methodological approaches;
9. Invites relevant organizations and stakeholders, without prejudice to any future decision of the Conference of the Parties on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, to support efforts in relation to paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 5 above and to share outcomes of these efforts with the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice by providing corresponding information to the secretariat;
10. Request the secretariat to support, subject to the availability of supplementary funding, the activities of all Parties, in particular developing countries, in relation to paragraphs 3, 5, 7 and 9 above, by developing a Web platform where information submitted by Parties, relevant organizations and stakeholders will be made available;
11. Notes the further consideration, under decision X/CP.13, of policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries;
12. Notes further that when addressing policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, the efforts described in paragraph 3 above should be considered.