GREEN light for REDD+!

A global deal to protect forests and mitigate climate change was agreed on Saturday 11 December in Cancun. However, certain important issues such as threats to indigenous peoples and natural forests, funding mechanisms and MRV of “safeguards” and deforestation, remain unresolved.  This agreement on REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries) is part of the enhanced action on mitigation through nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties.

The agreement on how REDD+ will be financed does not explicitly state where long term finance will come from, but requests governments to explore financing options before the next round of climate talks in Durban, South Africa. There are also some disagreements between Parties over REDD+ finance to be generated through a carbon market, which would allow developed countries to buy forest carbon credits through REDD+ rather than reducing their carbon emissions at home. Many Parties prefer that resource distribution occur through a fund, rather than being left to market forces.

One of the weakest elements of REDD+ decision is the ambiguous sub-national accounting of emission reductions from deforestation. There is a fear that this could lead to an actual increase in deforestation if there are no requirements in place to account for ‘leakage’ – where deforestation moves from one part of the country to another.

Also, there has been no agreement on what would be the consequences of failure to report on environmental and social safeguards.

The agreement on REDD+ is expected to generate funding of up to USD5 billion to support REDD+ readiness for early actions until 2012.

Despite all these loopholes and ambiguities, many observers have hailed the agreement as a positive move towards climate change mitigation and protection of forests.

2011 is the UN International year of forests (http://www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/) and this agreement on REDD+ could not have come at the right time.

I think linking REDD+ to other environmental and social issues will be the order of the next few years!