Policies for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation REDD

The first part of this chapter discusses the mechanisms that have been put forward to account for the reduction in deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in developing countries and to reduce the risk associated with the impermanence of forests and the leakage of deforestation to other locations. It also reviews funding mechanisms that are being considered. The second part takes a hard look at REDD, examining the political economy in which deforestation is embedded, the socioeconomic implications of REDD and the prospects for its effective financing and implementation.

Under the Kyoto Protocol (United Nations, 1998, Article 2), Annex I countries with quantified emissions limitations and reductions are bound to promote sustainable forest management practices, afforestation and reforestation. Land use and forestry practices within Annex I countries can contribute substantially to reducing the costs of achieving national emissions caps, as discussed in theory in Chapter 1 and in relation to in-country policy in Chapter 7. Annex I countries also have the option of using the Clean Development Mechanism to mount forestry projects in developing countries to reduce their costs of compliance. However, deforestation takes place almost exclusively in non-Annex I tropical developing countries that are not subject to limits on their emissions (Figure 8.1), and is responsible for global carbon emissions of some 1.35 Gt per year, equal to about a fifth of global emissions generated by the burning of fossil fuels (Figure 8.2).

If deforestation remains unchecked it is likely to increase steadily due to the demands for agricultural products by growing local and global populations (Figure 8.3). Tropical developing countries are unlikely to accede to caps on their emissions and they will therefore lack a built-in incentive to reduce deforestation. Therefore special measures must be designed for REDD.

Specific proposals that included incentives or compensation for avoiding deforestation and forest degradation began to come forward in 2005 when Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica and several other countries proposed

Tropical America

Tropical Africa Tropical Asia

Non-tropics

Source: IPCC (Solomon et al., 2007: Table 7.2: 518).

Figure 8.1 Carbon emissions to the atmosphere from land-use change, mean estimates for the 1980s and 1990s

Figure 8.1 Carbon emissions to the atmosphere from land-use change, mean estimates for the 1980s and 1990s

Sources: The mean estimate is the mean of Achard et al. (2004) and Houghton (2005).

Figure 8.2 Carbon emissions to the atmosphere in the 1990s, mean estimates, GtCyr21

that REDD should be included in future climate agreements (UNFCCC, 2005). The eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties of the United National Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Montreal in 2006 set in train a two-year process to review the scientific, technical and methodological issues, as well as policy and positive incentives for REDD in developing countries. The UNFCCC's Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) was active in policy development, holding three workshops on REDD, in 2006, 2007 and 2008 (UNFCCC, 2006; 2007; 2008a).

Note: This forecast takes account of the agricultural expansion required by an increasing population, but does not include conversion of forests for bioenergy.

Source: Mollicone et al. (2007).

Figure 8.3 Forecast of global net annual forest area loss under 'business-as-usual' i.e. no intervention

At its Conference of the Parties (COP) 13 in Bali in December 2007, the UNFCCC decided to further stimulate action to reduce emissions from deforestation in developing countries through the Bali Action Plan. The plan launched a process that will enhance national/international action to mitigate climate change, culminating in an agreed outcome and decision at its fifteenth meeting in Copenhagen in 2009. The plan considers:

• Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country parties in the context of sustainable development supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner.

• Policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (UNFCCC, 2008b: 3).

The impetus for the inclusion of REDD in a scheme to succeed the Kyoto Protocol is enhanced by the relative effectiveness of reducing deforestation as opposed to afforestation and reforestation. Planted trees take decades to reach their full carbon storage capacity and face many hazards on the way that can limit their potential. Moreover, after a certain age the plantation forest may well deteriorate and become a net emitter of greenhouse gases. In contrast, where the deforestation of a hectare of primary tropical forest is avoided there is an almost immediate prevention of emissions of several hundred tonnes of GHGs, especially where the forest is burnt before being converted to agriculture. Intact primary tropical forests are generally old and in carbon equilibrium and, if not disrupted by climate change and direct human activity, could be managed to retain their carbon in perpetuity. In addition, the preservation of tropical forests maintains biodiversity and the delivery of vital services such as local climate moderation, watershed protection and maintenance of inshore water quality. Another factor that has re-ignited interest in the potential for forestry is the assertion that REDD would generate substantial reductions in emissions cheaply and quickly (Stern, 2006).

Before discussing policy for REDD, it is instructive to first consider the complex nature of causes of deforestation and degradation. Causes may be classified as proximate and underlying (Lambin and Geist, 2003). The nature of the proximate causes of deforestation differs greatly from country to country and locality to locality. A major proximate cause is the expansion of agriculture. The conversion of forests to oil palm and other highly profitable crops is a major cause of deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia; in South America it pays to convert large areas of forest to pasture for cattle grazing and soybeans for export; in Africa small-scale subsistence agriculture is a major driver. The extraction of wood and extension of infrastructure such as settlements and roads are also major proximate causes of deforestation. The proximate causes reinforce each other. For example logging roads allow access to logged land that can be more easily burned, cultivated and colonized.

The powerful underlying factors of growth in population and increasing consumption per capita lead to the increase in demand for agricultural commodities. At the same time national policies favor exploitation of the forest resource and the development of large-scale plantations, and these are facilitated by globalized capital and product markets together with improved technology in extraction of forest resources. The inability of weak governments to police logging and forest clearing, together with the propensity for government dealings in forest concessions to be corrupted, add to the underlying pressures for deforestation.

Property rights with respect to land and forest constitute an important factor that may serve to vary the causes of deforestation and forest degradation. In most tropical developing countries the land and forest is ostensibly owned by the government. But this by no means precludes the exploitation of forests and lands by local communities who may have depended on these resources for many generations.

The infinite variations and combinations in proximate and underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation mean that there is no silver bullet solution. Nevertheless, the provision of incentives for REDD has the potential to alter the crucial economic equation by increasing the opportunity cost of forest conversion, thereby affecting proximate decisions on land conversion and also underlying decisions on agricultural policy. Some prominent proposals for REDD that are on the table are now reviewed.

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