Reducing global GHG emissions can be aided by reducing deforestation, while simultaneously helping to protect forests and promote sustainable development. That’s the conclusion of a new report by WRI, and was the theme of WRI’s side event at COP-13 on December 7th. Download the report
The current climate change negotiations therefore present a unique opportunity to create mechanisms that help protect forests (and the people and ecosystems services they harbor) while bringing about substantial reductions in GHG emissions from extensive deforestation in tropical countries. Deforestation currently accounts for 15-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and 10.4 million hectares of forests disappear each year. Reducing deforestation must therefore be a central objective of a viable climate policy framework.
The side event focused on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), a hot topic at this year’s COP. The panel was chaired by WRI Climate Director Jonathan Pershing, and included forestry experts from around the world: Gisela Ulloa Vargas from Bolivia, Leonel Iglesias from Mexico, Pak Wardojo from Indonesia, and Bill Hohenstein from the United States. The panelists gave illuminating examples of successful policies and measures in each of their countries, while underscoring the challenges on how these policies would “scale up.” There was a sense among the delegates that there are real opportunities, but we must work hard over the next few years to make them a reality and generate substantial funding.
As Pershing noted, REDD “must first and foremost guarantee a successful outcome for the climate.” But a policy framework to successfully reduce deforestation—and related emissions—must account for the links between forest protection, economic development and climate change, as well as the essential capacity and governance structures to manage these policies. These elements must underpin a roadmap coming out of this COP if it is to successfully address REDD.
The REDD Flags report suggests that a suite of complementary policies may be necessary to address REDD successfully. Here are some options:
- National-level crediting which are based on national baselines and credits for forest emission reductions in tropical forested countries.
- Dedicated funds for REDD, which generate financial transfers to tropical forested countries for the protection of forests.
- REDD activities in development policies (SDPAMS), which support national policies and measures to produce positive outcomes for development and the climate.
- Supply and demand programs, including measures to reduce global demand for unsustainable forest and energy products
- or a combination of all.