2009 is perhaps the most important year for the world’s tropical forests. That forests are important in our attempts to curtail green house gases is not in question – it is the way in which they should be integrated into a climate change treaty that is in debate. In general it seems that negotiators are making serious progress on terms that will allow the inclusion of REDD into the current mitigation mechanisms. Join me as I cross my fingers and toes, and hope for, in Yvo De Boer’s words, strong “environmental, ecological and equitable” outcomes next week.
A far cry from the 200 people that attended the first Forest Day, today’s side convention had over 1500 individuals in attendance and had the attention of high level officials including, Yvo De Boer, Nicholas Stern, Rajendra Pauchari and the Minister of Environment for Denmark. The purpose of the event was to bring together stakeholders and policy makers to discuss issues around the design and implementation of the REDD/REDD+ mechanism that would hopefully be implemented in the next agreement to come out Copenhagen.
REDD or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest degradation in Developing countries, is a mechanism that is being proposed to stop and turn around the rapid rate of deforestation in the developing world. Deforestation is one of the largest contributors to global emissions. The demand mainly comes from the developed world and REDD proponents are proposing that any financial mechanism that transfers funds to fight mitigation efforts in developing countries should recognize avoided deforestation and afforestation efforts. Essentially this would mean that individual land-owners would be compensated for their decision not to cut down the forests on their land and this would compensate them for their opportunity costs. However, the fact that most forested land is in fragmented parcels, owned by indigenous communities with customary rights makes implementation of this proposal fairly complex. Add on issues with food security (where will the food come from if farmers are incentivized not to produce crops?), carbon accounting and the interests of agro business and you have a thorny issue. (Read Nick’s blog entry to soon follow on the development issues with REDD)
The main takeaways from the day’s events were that while REDD’s inclusion in the treaty may be possible, there is a need for intermediary financing that are crucial to catalyzing and scaling efforts. If one waits till 2015, to save the lungs of the earth, it is going to be much harder to meet our 2 degree target. While we are figuring out the financing challenge there is a urgent and pressing need for the financial accounting mechanisms to catch up. There is currently no guidance from IASB or FASB on how to account for carbon credits which makes it very difficult to compare different companies carbon exposure and risks. (See article by UofM colleagues -> http://www.forestcarbonportal.com/article.php?item=1118) THis is a gaping hole in the architecture for REDD moving forward and will have to be addressed fairly quickly.
And time is of the essence. It’s shocking to think that in the time that I attended the Forest Day, a rainforest the size of Copenhagen has been cleared. I will be following the development of the REDD text over the next week and will report on the conclusions as well as their implications – Remember, fingers crossed!
Written by AMRITA.