Fate of world’s rainforests likely to be determined in next 2 years

/ Mongabay.com

The fate of millions of hectares of tropical forests will probably be sealed this year and next year, reports a new set of policy papers detailing an emerging climate change mitigation mechanism known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). REDD has been proposed by the U.N. and other entities as a form of carbon finance under which industrialized nations would pay tropical countries for conserving their forest cover.

The fate of millions of hectares of tropical forests will probably be sealed this year and next year, reports a new set of policy papers detailing an emerging climate change mitigation mechanism known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). REDD has been proposed by the U.N. and other entities as a form of carbon finance under which industrialized nations would pay tropical countries for conserving their forest cover. Deforestation and forest degradation currently account for roughly one fifth of carbon emissions, more than all the planet’s cars, trucks, planes, ships, and trains combined.

Rainforest in Sumatra

The papers, underwritten and disseminated by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, indicate that REDD offers “immense opportunities and equally-daunting risks.” Potential benefits from REDD include conserving forests, their resident biodiversity, and the ecosystem services they provide; generating sustainable livelihoods for rural and forest-dependent populations; engaging developing countries in climate change policy; and offering a potentially cost-effective means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Concerns include whether REDD will destabilize carbon markets, thereby potentially reducing incentives for investment in clean energy; fairness in the distribution of benefits to various stakeholders, including forest communities; issues of transparency, governance, and rights to resources; and whether the mechanism can be designed and implemented to effectively cut emissions.

The lead report concludes that while many issues still remain to be resolved, “forests must be part of any effective effort to address global climate change.”

“Careful design of forest carbon policy is essential to the quality and integrity of forest carbon mitigation opportunities,” states the introduction in the lead report.

“International Forest Carbon and Climate Policy” Series

International Forest Carbon and the Climate Change Challenge: Issues and Options

A multi-author collaborative report highlighting the most promising opportunities and pressing challenges associated with the effort to bring deforestation and forest degradation into climate policy by Lydia Olander, William Boyd, Kathleen Lawlor, Erin Myers Madeira, and John O Niles.
Full report >
Executive Summary >
(Policy brief versions coming soon)

Including International Forest Carbon Incentives in Climate Policy: Understanding the Economics
A report discussing the economic dimensions of international forest carbon payments.

Full report >
Executive Summary >

Policy Impacts on Deforestation: Lessons from Past Experiences to Inform New Initiatives
A policy brief exploring what has worked in reducing forest loss and degradation and what has not, and the reasons for these different outcomes.
Policy brief >

(Full report coming soon)

The Crucial Role of Forests in Combating Climate Change
Policy brief >

International Forest Carbon in Current Policy Proposals
Policy brief >

Responding to Concerns and Questions
Policy brief >

Fundamentals for an International Forest Climate Policy
Policy brief >

Addressing the Causes of Tropical Deforestation
Lessons Learned and the Implications for International Forest Carbon Policy
Policy brief >

Experience on the Ground, In the Forests
Policy brief >

Event – Bonn Climate Change Talks June 2009 – Side Event
International REDD linkages: comparing US legislation and UNFCCC deliberations
Key UNFCCC REDD questions remain. Will REDD credits be fungible and if so when? Will there be a phased approach? Will REDD be a component of NAMAs? In the US, climate legislation also embraces international forest carbon. Experts from Tropical Forest Group & Duke University’s Nicholas Institute explore linkages, synergies and conflicts.

Presentation >

  • Event: March 6-8, 2009
    Forest Carbon Finance Summit 2009: Making Forest Carbon Markets Work
  • Event: Saturday, December 6, 2008
    US Government Perspectives on Climate Change and Forests
    Side Event at Forest Day 2 in Poznan Poland
  • “Leakage
    from an Avoided Deforestation Compensation Policy: Concepts,
    Empirical Evidence, and Corrective Policy Options” –
    June 2008

    A new working paper by the Nicholas Institute’s Brian Murray
    offers ideas on how policies now being developed to pay tropical
    forest countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions
    from deforestation and degradation (REDD) can account for
    and prevent emissions “leakage.”
    read working paper >

  • “A Core Participation Requirement for Creation of a REDD market” – May 2008

    learn more >

  • “A
    New Opportunity to Help Mitigate Climate Change, Save Forests,
    and Reach Development Goals” – August 2007

    A proposal to include avoided emissions from deforestation in
    the next phase of the global climate agreements has been moving
    forward rapidly. This paper provides an overview of the state
    of this proposal, what its implementation might look like and
    what this could mean for climate, forests, and nations that
    might participate. It also provides an discussion of the undecided
    issues in the proposal and recommendations for next steps to
    move thing forward.
    learn more >

  • “Data
    and Methods to Estimate National Historical Deforestation
    Baselines in Support of UNFCCC REDD” – July 2007

    Global climate policy initiatives are now being proposed
    to compensate tropical forest nations for reducing carbon
    emissions from deforestation and forest degradation
    (REDD). This working paper by a panel of experts from
    the Nicholas Institute, Conservational International
    and the University of Wisconsin-Madison reviews existing
    data and methods that could be used to measure historical
    deforestation and degradation baselines, including FAO
    national statistics and various remote-sensing sources,
    and thus aid in the creation of a credible benchmark
    against which future emissions reductions can be measured.
    read working paper >

    published version available here >

  • “Establishing Credible Baselines for Quantifying Avoided Carbon Emissions from Reduced Deforestation and Forest Degradation” – July 2007

    Global climate policy initiatives are now being proposed to compensate tropical forest
    nations for reducing the emissions of carbon from deforestation and forest degradation.
    This effort has the potential to include developing countries more actively in international
    greenhouse gas mitigation and to address a substantial share of the world’s emissions
    which come from deforestation. A baseline is an essential precursor to a viable and robust
    international compensation scheme for reduced emissions from degradation and
    deforestation (REDD). Baselines provide a benchmark against which emissions
    reduction can be calculated.

    read working paper >

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    (06/04/2009) A new paper by Oscar Venter, a PhD student at the University of Queensland, and colleagues finds that forest conservation via REDD — a proposed mechanism for compensating developing countries for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation — could be economically competitive with oil palm production, a dominant driver of deforestation in Indonesia. The study, based on overlaying maps of proposed oil palm development with maps showing carbon-density and wildlife distribution in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), estimates that REDD is financially competitive, and potentially able to fund forest conservation, with oil palm at carbon prices of $10-$33 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). In areas with low agricultural suitability and high forest carbon, notably peatlands, Venter and colleagues find that a carbon price of $2 per tCO2e would be sufficient to beat out returns from oil palm.

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    more on REDD

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