Permanence

The question of the permanence of carbon sequestered in forests was one of the reasons the Marrakesh Accords exclude deforestation under the CDM; how the problem might be addressed is considered in this section.

There is no essential difference between a stock of carbon that has been accumulated by removal of CO2 by afforestation/deforestation and the stock of carbon whose release to the atmosphere has been avoided by REDD. While it can be argued that the carbon in plantations may decline with age while the carbon in mature rainforest is in equilibrium, both types of carbon sinks are nevertheless subject to similar risks from clearing, fire, insect attack or climate change.

In the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the developing country that hosts the afforestation/reforestation (A/R) project is not liable for any re-emission, given that it does not have a national cap on its emissions. Non-permanence in A/R CDM projects has been addressed by means of making CERs temporary, the investor being liable to replace the carbon that has been credited. The temporary CERs simply provide a bridge over time and not a reduction per se, as illustrated in Chapter 2.

The Mollicone et al. (2007) approach to REDD adopts temporary CERs where the buyer of the REDD credits must renew them on a regular basis. If the forest is depleted, the liability falls back on the buyer who must purchase carbon elsewhere to make up for the shortfall. Skutsch et al. (2007) agree that temporary crediting schemes may prove to be indispensible again, having been essential to reach consensus within the UNFCCC in the past with respect to forestry activities in the CDM.

One important feature distinguishes REDD credits from CDM credits and that is that the former will be accounted for in a tropical country national inventory rather than a project inventory, as in the latter. The issue of temporary CERs may therefore be avoided by the national government issuing a guarantee through its pooling of protected forests, keeping part of the pool as a buffer against non-permanent REDD. In the case of compensation proposals, as epitomized by Santilli et al. (2005), the host country must assume full liability for its carbon stocks, not only for the commitment period during which credits were issued but also for all future commitment periods. The initial decision to participate is voluntary but the subsequent liabilities would need to be made mandatory (Schlamadinger et al., 2005).

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