5 years in, debates over REDD+ continue

/ Rhett A. Butler

An initiative that aims to slow global warming by paying developing countries to protect and better manage their forests is expected to be an important storyline during climate talks in Doha this week and next. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), as the mechanism is known, has grown in complexity since it gained momentum during the 2005 climate talks in Montreal, but is arguably moving forward faster than other areas of climate negotiations. Still, many elements of REDD+ continue to be as hotly debated today as they were five years ago when it got the conceptual OK from the U.N. These include the process for establishing baselines to measure reductions in emissions, safeguards to protect against adverse outcomes for biodiversity and forest-dependent communities, and financing and markets.

Rainforest logging.
Rainforest logging. Photo by Rhett Butler.

An initiative that aims to slow global warming by paying developing countries to protect and better manage their forests is expected to be an important storyline during climate talks in Doha this week and next. REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), as the mechanism is known, has grown in complexity since it gained momentum during the 2005 climate talks in Montreal, but is arguably moving forward faster than other areas of climate negotiations. Still, many elements of REDD+ continue to be as hotly debated today as they were five years ago when it got the conceptual OK from the U.N. These include the process for establishing baselines to measure reductions in emissions, safeguards to protect against adverse outcomes for biodiversity and forest-dependent communities, and financing and markets.

These issues are explored in a number of backgrounders from NGOs produced ahead of, and during, the Doha talks. A small selection follows:

Rainforest in Borneo.
Rainforest in Borneo. Photo by Rhett Butler.

REDD+ Overviews

Baselines / Reference levels

There is growing consensus that is is indeed possible to establish baselines and measure reductions in emissions from deforestation, but the details for doing so remain unsettled. Among the outstanding issues in REDD+ discussions are criteria for establishing credible deforestation baselines; technical aspects of monitoring and verifying change in forest cover; concerns over poor governance and illegal logging; international leakage, whereby forest conservation in one country drives deforestation in another; scale of implementation, including the debate over “national” versus “sub-national” projects, including the Climate and Forests Task Force (GCF) (Greenpeace vs. the GCF).

Safeguards
MBR

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