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Green Blog: Elizabeth Baldwin

Alphabet Series, Pt. 6 of Many: Seeing REDD
REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a UN program designed to encourage more wealthy developed nations to financially compensate developing countries that reduce or eliminate deforestation and forest degradation. The expanded version, REDD+, also encourages forest conservation, sustainable forest management and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The UN has estimated that deforestation and forest degradation contribute globally to approximately 17 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions—a greater percentage than the global transportation sector and third only to the global energy (26%) and industrial (19%) sectors.

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) notes that “REDD+ could simultaneously mitigate climate change (through carbon capture and storage), conserve biodiversity, protect other ecosystem goods and services, increase income for forest owners and managers, and help address issues of forest governance.”

REDD/REDD+ has been financed by a number of countries, with Norway being far and beyond the largest contributor—since 2008 Norway has provided over $120 million. Denmark, Spain, and Japan have all provided additional contributions. The UN is seeking funds from other member countries. Nearly $60 million has already been provided to 14 countries including Indonesia, Bolivia, and Vietnam to help them develop their national REDD strategies.

REDD is not a carbon credit trading system, allthough that is often a resulting component within national programs. The REDD program provides funds to develop strategies for the reduction of deforestation and, for many nations, selling carbon credits is a common strategy.

The program has not been universally praised. One group notes, “The basic concept is simple: Governments, companies or forest owners in the South should be rewarded for keeping their forests instead of cutting them down. The devil, as always, is in the details.

“The first detail is that the payments are not for keeping forests, but for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. This might seem like splitting hairs, but it is important, because it opens up the possibility, for example, of logging an area of forest but compensating for the emissions by planting industrial tree plantations somewhere else.”

Another opponent of the program, Friends of the Earth Australia, said that, “By prioritizing REDD, the Cancun agreement is set to create a huge loophole in the international climate regime. REDD will enable countries like Australia to keep polluting by buying offsets in forest nations such as Indonesia."

Expect to hear more about REDD over the next few years as countries explore ways to fund sustainable management of their forest resources and reduce carbon emissions.

Some good REDDing, see the following offering opinions from both sides of the discussion:

Guidelines for REDD+ Reference Levels: Principles and Recommendations

REDD Introduction from www.redd-monitor.org

UN Web Platform on REDD

"REDD Forestry practices under fire" from Indymedia Climate

"The ABCs of REDD+: On Building a New Forestry Model That Works for Indonesia" from the Jakarta Globe

"Saving Forests? Take a Leaf From Insurance Industry's Book" by the University of Adelaide

And what about REDD in the United States? According to the Greenbiz.com article "REDD in the USA: Feds Grapple with Forest Carbon Offsets":
Several proposals visible so far include forestry offsets—usually in a form compatible with Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Although the debate over forestry offsets isn't likely to heat up until after the November elections, several trends are already evident… U.S. lawmakers are just beginning to grasp the classic carbon market debates over baselines, permanence, and leakage that define the role of forests in a cap-and-trade system…”

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