Thursday, December 24, 2009

Is it a REDD Christmas? not really, not yet.

Santa's red suit got me wondering if there's any kid out there who asked Santa to do something about the REDD mechanism and put life into it. I'm not sure about it, but it sure looks like REDD needs some help, even after Copenhagen, when for a minute it looked like the only shining star around.

The agreement that came out of the negotiations in Copenhagen (Copenhagen Accord) includes a reference to REDD, as follows:

"We recognize the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals of greenhouse gas emission by forests and agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries."

The translation of this language is that basically there's a lot of good will and understanding of the need to initiate a mechanism with financial incentives that will protect the forests, but no promises are made and no time frame is provided.

There was also a draft that went into more details about the REDD mechanism, but as reported, it was weakened from earlier versions. REDD-Monitor adds that this draft "includes no mention of targets for stopping deforestation. There are no commitments for long-term finance. Safeguards are weak to the point of non-existent. Leakage is not meaningfully addressed. The principle of free, prior and informed consent by indigenous people is nowhere to be seen."

And there's also some money on the table as a result of the negotiations. The US, UK, France, Japan, Australia and Norway pledged $3.5bn in Copenhagen to start REDD in the over the next three years. Still, as Carbon Positive reports, there is some doubt as to whether these promises still stand in the absence of a comprehensive climate agreement.

Are these results satisfying? well, it depends who you're speaking with.
It's depressing," Kevin Conrad, executive director of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, a group of 40 forested nations, told the Associated Press. "REDD gets punted along for another year." John O. Niles of the Tropical Forest Group also didn't like the results and told that "The REDD text published is a major backdown from what almost everyone thought was an advanced text on many regards."

Others, like Jeff Horowitz, founding partner of Avoided Deforestation Partners, a group pushing for U.S. leadership on REDD, were more optimistic. He told that "We cannot let this procedural setback diminish our resolve to create policy frameworks that addresses this immediate and scalable solution to climate change. I am certain this delay in Copenhagen will serve to fire up the US environmental community, and our private sector partners, to be more motivated than ever to see the U.S. Senate pass climate legislation that includes robust international forest protection provisions in the first quarter of 2010."

The bottom line is that even though it looked for a couple of days that the REDD issue can be finalized separately and does not have to be dependent on a general agreement, it looks like it won't work this way. I think it's a bit naive to believe that REDD has a life of its own and can be launched successfully no matter what framework is agreed upon, if at all. Strong and effective REDD mechanism is possible only as a part of a strong and effective global accord.

This is I believe one of the main lessons from Copenhagen and I hope it will drive all of us who are worried about the forests to keep pressing the politicians to agree on a meaningful global accord with a meaningful REDD mechanism in it.

More articles about REDD:

Everything you always wanted to know about forestry carbon credits - A special interview with Paulo Lopes of Carbon Clear

Is REDD going bad? Is it going to enable conversion of natural forests into industrial plantations?

The potential and risks of forest-based carbon offsets:

Part 1 - the Carbon Canopy

Part 2 - Noel Kempff and the Greenpeace report

Part 3 - How it can actually work?

Happy Holiday!
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!