REDD
REDD

REDD

By Rhett Butler

REDD — reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries — is a proposed climate change mitigation mechanism that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by paying developing countries to stop cutting down their forests. Tropical deforestation is the source of 12-17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, a share larger than all the world's cars, trucks, ships, planes, and trains combined.

A properly designed REDD mechanism is widely seen as a cost-effective approach to simultaneously conserve forests, slow climate change, protect biodiversity, foster sustainable development, and maintain important ecological services provided by healthy forest ecosystems. The concept of REDD has won support from a wide range of interests, including conservationists, big business, scientists, governments, development agencies, and some environmental and indigenous rights groups. However concerns still remain over how REDD will be implemented and whether benefits will be fairly shared between stakeholders.

History of REDD
The concept of REDD is not a new idea. Compensating tropical forest conservation was proposed by environmental scientists in the 1980s and 1990s but it wasn't until the later half of the 1990s that the idea gained much currency at the international level, when it was discussed at various United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) events, including COP3 in Kyoto in 1997. Nevertheless technical concerns and opposition from some environmental groups (led by WWF) resulted in forest conservation being excluded from the Kyoto Protocol by 2001.


Chart for 63 tropical countries
The concept of 'avoided deforestation' re-emerged on the international stage in 2005 with the formation of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations (CfRN), a group of tropical countries lobbying for the inclusion of forest conservation as a way to mitigate to climate change. Led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, the Coalition for Rainforest Nations presented a draft proposal "Reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries: approaches to stimulate action" at COP11 in Montreal in 2005. Two years of negotiations and technical advancements culminated in the Bali Action Plan of December 2007, which called for "policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries [REDD], and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stock in developing countries." Support for REDD has deepened and broadened since Bali: REDD was one of the only areas of progress during climate talks in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Since its inception as "avoided deforestation", the forest protection mechanism has expanded to encompass forest degradation (the second "D" in REDD). It later evolved to include sustainable forest management (i.e. reducing impact logging) and reforestation, becoming known as REDD-plus ("REDD+").

Key REDD issues
While there is now substantial support for REDD, many issues remain unsettled, including financing to support the mechanism and provide sufficient economic incentives to stop deforestation; 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; equity, including land tenure, ownership, and participation of forest-dependent communities; questions on how to address drivers of deforestation including consumption in rich countries; sustainable forest management (i.e. reduced impact logging) versus protection of primary forests as intact ecosystems; protection of biodiversity and environmental services in non-carbon-rich ecosystems; and controversies over carbon offsets and including forest carbon in market-based trading schemes.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation


REDD timing
Although an agreement on REDD has still not been signed, projects are already underway in a number of countries and industrialized countries have committed billions of dollars to REDD start-up initiatives via the UN-REDD Programme, the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, and other entities. Once an agreement is finalized, 2013 is the earliest REDD would formally commence, following the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol.

REDD Funding

The following overview is from the UN's Reporting REDD.

Once a system is in place, market-based funding mechanisms such as carbon trading, and private sector involvement, could be introduced. Some proposals back a combination of government and private sector funding.

Carbon trading is based on the idea that companies and governments may meet targets for reducing their carbon emissions by paying for carbon reductions elsewhere in the global economy instead. REDD could allow credits to be issued which would quantify the amount of carbon saved through 'avoided deforestation' — not cutting trees down. The credits could then be traded on carbon markets.

An advantage of carbon trading is that it could raise money quickly. A disadvantage is that flooding existing carbon markets with REDD credits could further dilute the already low value of carbon. A low carbon price means there is less incentive for companies to switch to technologies that reduce carbon emissions.

Developing countries would voluntarily opt in to the REDD mechanism, so for it to work the scheme would have to ensure that there is more money in protecting forests than in logging or agriculture. Because those responsible for commercially driven deforestation often control the forest area in which they operate, they need to be involved in REDD schemes. Typically, this involves paying them to manage the forest sustainably, or at least not to engage in large-scale logging or land conversion. REDD will have to compensate for income lost as a result of stopping forest clearance — known as the 'opportunity cost.' While REDD may be able to match this amount for poor farmers, matching lost income from lucrative agricultural production such as soya and oil palm cultivation or from valuable timber will be very costly. If payments are disrupted, or the amount falls short of the value of the timber in the forest or what could be grown on cleared land, a return to cutting down trees could quickly occur. To avert this problem, REDD would need to ensure a steady flow of funds over long periods. Negotiators concerned that fluctuations in the carbon market would be too erratic advocate a separate REDD fund based on donations from industrialized countries.


REDD news

Redd News | Mongabay Environmental News

Redd News

The development of REDD+ in Indonesia as an experiment in bringing together carbon abatement, equity development and biodiversity protection is continuing to attract global attention.

Norway and Colombia are in talks to establish a partnership to protect the South American country's rainforests.

Negotiators at U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany, have produced a draft agreement on the technical provisions of a plan to ...

Conservation efforts in Borneo's embattled rainforest may get a boost with the launch of the newest version of an advanced airplane-based ...

Environmental group WWF has released a new report projecting where the organization believes the bulk of global deforestation is likely to ...

Areas important for carbon correlate poorly with areas important for biodiversity in the country, a reality future REDD+ planning must take ...

Scientists are raising the alarm about the disparity between biodiversity goals and carbon goals in Brazil's Cerrado. New research is beginning ...

World leaders are continuing to overlook the worsening condition of tropical forests despite the biome's vast potential to help mitigate climate ...

In previous articles, we have seen an overview of the problems with the Indonesian palm oil industry. Such problems are largely ...

International aid to protect forests in Indonesia and Brazil pales in comparison to domestic subsidies for commodities driving deforestation there. A ...

Understanding forest dynamics is necessary for the sound management of forests, for both production and conservation. This includes an understanding of ...

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), global destruction of mangrove forests impacts biodiversity, food security, and the lives and ...

A new campaign is calling on consumers to directly support forest conservation with their wallets. Stand For Trees is an initiative ...

The world's first cabinet-level ministry dedicated to implementing REDD+ has been dissolved. In accordance with Indonesian Presidential Decree No. 16/2015 the ...

Countries poised to receive World Bank funds for achieving reductions in deforestation have insufficient safeguards for ensuring that local communities don't ...

Last month the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco brought together 167 scientists, educators, civil society leaders, artists, and interested ...

Television inspired Syafrizal to act. As he watched report after report of land conflicts exploding in Sumatra and Kalimantan, he realized ...

Only a small fraction of the $7.3 billion pledged under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program has actually ...

When Indonesia's former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared a moratorium in May 2012 on the issuance of new permits for logging ...

Indonesia's cabinet-level agency tasked with reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (BP REDD+), may be dissolved after only one year in ...
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REDD Resources

Official documents Key REDD Programs
Some notable REDD Publications

REDD Glossary

The following overview is from the UN's Reporting REDD.

Additionality
Extra amount of carbon saved or stored because of projects carried out through climate change agreements.

Baseline or Reference level (RL)
Historical reference point (date or year) against which the rate of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation or forest degradation can be compared.

Carbon rights
The right to use carbon credits or offsets to satisfy limits on greenhouse gas emissions or to reduce penalties for exceeding the limit imposed.

Carbon sink
Ecosystem that accumulates and stores carbon.

Carbon sequestration
Removal of carbon from the atmosphere and storage in carbon sinks through natural or human-induced methods.

Carbon trading
The process of buying and selling carbon credits. Large companies or organizations are assigned targets for the amount of carbon they are allowed to emit. A company that exceeds its target will need to buy carbon credits to offset the extra carbon it has emitted. A company that uses less than its quota can sell surplus credits.

Deforestation
The conversion of forest land to non-forested land through human activity.

Degradation
Human-induced long-term loss of forest, characterized by the reduction of tree crown cover, but not yet considered as complete deforestation.

Indigenous peoples
Tribe or community native to a particular region and sharing a collective identity who retain some or all of their own social, cultural and political institutions.

Leakage or emissions displacement
When efforts to reduce emissions in one area lead to an increase in carbon emissions in another area.

Liability
Obligation on the implementing party to guarantee that the emissions reduction credited in the REDD scheme is permanent.

Mitigation
Actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

Offsetting
Payment to emissions reduction projects to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions.

Opportunity cost
The cost of compensating for financial gains from deforestation practices such as logging or agriculture.


The following definitions are from the International Institute for Environment and Development.

REDD
The acronym stands for ‘reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation’. This issue was first placed on the agenda of the 2005 international climate change negotiations. At that point the agenda item was called ‘reducing emissions from deforestation in developing countries and approaches to stimulate action’. As a result, this is the name of the decision on REDD agreed at the 2007 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bali, Indonesia (decision 2/CP.13). Decision 2/CP.13 acknowledges that forest degradation also leads to emissions and needs to be addressed when reducing emissions from deforestation. The ‘DD’ in REDD now stands for degradation and deforestation.

REDD +
Along with the separate decision on REDD (see above), REDD is included in the Bali Action Plan (decision 1/CP.13) as a component of enhanced action on mitigation (curbing emissions). Parties to the UNFCCC have agreed to consider policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to REDD in developing countries and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. It is this last clause on the role of conservation and sustainable management that has added the ‘+’ to the REDD discussion.

REDD baseline
An expected, or business-as-usual, emission of carbon dioxide from deforestation and forest degradation in the absence of additional efforts to curb such emissions — used as a benchmark against which emissions reductions can be measured.

REDD conditions
To deliver real reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, REDD must satisfy the following conditions.
  • additionality - Proof that any reduction in emissions from a REDD project is genuinely additional to reductions that would occur if that project were not in place.
  • no leakage - Leakage is a reduction in carbon emissions in one area that results in increased emissions in another. A classic example is where curbing clearfelling in one region of forest drives farmers to clearfell in another.
  • permanence - The long-term viability of reduced emissions from a REDD project. This is heavily dependent on the forested area's vulnerability to deforestation and/or degradation.


    Participants in the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility


    UN-REDD Programme - Countries receiving support


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