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.
- 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
from an Avoided Deforestation Compensation Policy: Concepts,
Empirical Evidence, and Corrective Policy Options” –
June 2008A 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.”
- “A Core Participation Requirement for Creation of a REDD market” – May 2008learn more >
New Opportunity to Help Mitigate Climate Change, Save Forests,
and Reach Development Goals” – August 2007A 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.
and Methods to Estimate National Historical Deforestation
Baselines in Support of UNFCCC REDD” – July 2007Global 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 >final
published version available here >
- “Establishing Credible Baselines for Quantifying Avoided Carbon Emissions from Reduced Deforestation and Forest Degradation” – July 2007Global 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 >
Related mongabay.com articles
Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests forms to advise Congress, Obama on forest conservation
(06/18/2009) Leaders in business, government, advocacy, conservation, global development, science and national security have formed a commission to “provide bipartisan recommendations to Congress and the President about how to reduce tropical deforestation through U.S. climate change policies,” according to a statement released by the newly established group, named the Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests.
Cameroon rainforest given 30 days to be conserved or sold off for logging
(06/18/2009) An 830,000-hectare tract of rainforest in Cameroon has been granted a 30-day reprieve from logging following a 4-week exploratory expedition that turned up large populations of lowland gorillas, forest elephants, mandrills, and chimpanzees, according to expedition leader Mike Korchinsky, founder of the conservation group Wildlife Works. The Cameroonian government has given Wildlife Works, which pioneered the first forest-based carbon project in Kenya, 30 days to come up with a competitive proposal to logging. The group is now scrambling to secure necessary funding to finance the early stages of the project.
Climate pact must halt deforestation and industrial logging of old-growth forests, exclude carbon credits for forest conservation, say activists
(06/09/2009) A global framework on climate change must immediately halt deforestation and industrial logging of the world’s old-growth forests, while protecting the rights of forest communities and indigenous groups, said a broad coalition of activist groups in a consensus statement issued today at U.N. climate talks in Bonn Germany. The statement said the successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol should not include mechanisms that allow industrialized countries to “offset” their emissions by purchasing carbon credits from reducing deforestation in developing countries, a position that puts the coalition at odds with larger environmental groups who say a market-based approach with tradable credits is the only way to generate enough money fund forest protection on a global scale.
Forest degradation is huge source of CO2 emissions
(06/05/2009) Selective logging, understory fires, fuelwood harvesting, and other forms of forest degradation are a substantial source of greenhouse has emissions, reports a policy brief issued by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) at U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany.
REDD can compete financially with palm oil in Indonesia peatlands while protecting endangered species
(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.
Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries
(06/02/2009) Global forest covers around 30 per cent of the Earth’s land surface (nearly 4 billion hectares). Forests provide valuable ecosystem services and goods, serve as a habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna and hold a significant standing stock of global carbon. The total carbon content of forests has been estimated at 638 Gt for 2005, which is more than the amount of carbon in the entire atmosphere. Deforestation, mainly conversion of forests for agriculture activities, has been estimated at an alarming rate of 13 million hectares per year (in the period 1990-2005).
Brazil’s plan to save the Amazon rainforest
(06/02/2009) Accounting for roughly half of tropical deforestation between 2000 and 2005, Brazil is the most important supply-side player when it comes to developing a climate framework that includes reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). But Brazil’s position on REDD contrasts with proposals put forth by other tropical forest countries, including the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, a negotiating block of 15 countries. Instead of advocating a market-based approach to REDD, where credits generated from forest conservation would be traded between countries, Brazil is calling for a giant fund financed with donations from industrialized nations. Contributors would not be eligible for carbon credits that could be used to meet emission reduction obligations under a binding climate treaty.
Excluding forest carbon from climate policy will spur massive deforestation
(05/28/2009) Failure to develop policies that account for emissions from land use change will lead to widespread deforestation and higher costs for addressing climate change, warn researchers writing in the journal Science. Using a computer model that incorporates economics, energy, agriculture, land-use changes, emissions and concentrations of greenhouse gases, a team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Maryland found that efforts to limit atmospheric carbon dioxide levels while ignoring emissions from terrestrial sources would lead to nearly a complete loss of unmanaged forests by 2100, resulting largely from increased expansion of bioenergy crops. Meanwhile placing a value (“tax”) on terrestrial carbon emissions equivalent to that on industrial and fossil fuel emissions would lead to an increase in forest cover.
Indigenous people serve as guardians of forest carbon, must be involved in climate solutions
(04/22/2009) Efforts to create an international climate framework — including a carbon financing mechanism for forest conservation — must involve forest people, said indigenous leaders attending the Indigenous Peoples Global Summit on Climate Change meeting this week in Anchorage, Alaska.
Avoided deforestation projects highly desirable for carbon offsets finds survey
(04/21/2009) 91 percent of companies rated avoided deforestation as the most desirable forestry projects for carbon offsets, reports a survey by EcoSecurities, Conservation International, The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance and ClimateBiz.
Rainforest conservation can help U.S. businesses reduce costs
(04/20/2009) Carbon credits generated through forest conservation could provide a cost-effective way for U.S. companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, business leaders were told at a meeting in Columbus, Ohio
Rainforest conservation gains in U.S. and U.N. climate proposals
(04/14/2009) A proposed mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) figures prominently in the draft climate bill released last month by Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey as well as a U.N. document posted last week following a climate meeting in Bonn, Germany. Deforestation is the source of roughly 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.
Can carbon credits from REDD compete with palm oil?
(03/30/2009) Reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) is increasingly seen as a compelling way to conserve tropical forests while simultaneously helping mitigate climate change, preserving biodiversity, and providing sustainable livelihoods for rural people. But to become a reality REDD still faces a number of challenges, not least of which is economic competition from other forms of land use. In Indonesia and Malaysia, the biggest competitor is likely oil palm, which is presently one of the most profitable forms of land use. Oil palm is also spreading to other tropical forest areas including the Brazilian Amazon.
Norway emerges as champion of rainforest conservation
(03/19/2009) While citizens in western countries have long paid lip service to saving rainforests, Norway has quietly emerged as the largest and most important international force in tropical forest conservation. The small Scandinavian country has committed 3 billion krone ($440 million) a year to the effort, a figure vastly greater than the $100M pledged — but never fully contributed — by the United States under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA). Norway now hopes it can help push to include forest conservation in the successor to the Kyoto Protocol by providing funding and fostering cooperation among international actors like the UN and World Bank, as well as developing countries, to fund the creation of an international architecture which makes it possible to incorporate deforestation and degradation into a post-2012 climate regime.
more on REDD