Deforestation in the tropics annually of almost 6 million hectares of primary forest and over 3 million hectares of wooded land is contributing more than 2000 TgCyr21 of carbon to the atmosphere (Houghton, 2003: Table 3). In total, deforestation is responsible for some 27 percent of total carbon emissions (Houghton, 2003: Table 6). The slowing of such deforestation would contribute to the stabilization of climate. Presently, however, the developing countries of the tropics, where most deforestation is taking place, receive little if any incentive to reduce deforestation.
As discussed in Chapter 3, avoided deforestation was excluded from the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol 2008-2012 because of fears that it would crowd out mitigation efforts and weaken the market for credits. However, the UNFCCC agreed to study the inclusion of incentives for REDD, this commitment receiving a boost at the Bali Climate Change Conference in late 2007. But one of the stumbling blocks to the introduction of such a formal policy remains; that is the difficulty of measurement of the carbon retained in forests rather than released to the atmosphere after land-use change.
A few countries have made inventories of their forests but on the whole existing data on national carbon stocks is of questionable quality (FAO, 2006). Action is needed by individual developing countries as well as by developed countries in the global application of new technologies. The chapter turns to reviewing steps that need to be taken towards the introduction of policy for REDD.
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