In the run-up to this year's climate talks in Copenhagen, governments the world over are proposing ways to reduce forest emissions. But are they backed by scientific evidence? And how can developing countries ensure they benefit?
Displaying 1-20 of 22 key documents
Source: CIFOR | June 2009
This factsheet from The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) aims to answer common questions about the role of reducing forest emissions in tackling climate change.
This includes explaining why reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is important and identifying the four key challenges facing REDD projects — measuring carbon, making payments, accountability and funding. The authors summarise ongoing global initiatives to implement REDD, including the UN REDD Programme Fund and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.
A glossary of terms used in the debate is included as well as a list of facts and figures on key variables such as forest cover and forest loss. Contact details for some of the key people involved in CIFOR research are provided.
Source: Environmental Science and Technology | January 2009
This feature article, published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, uses the Cordillera Azul national park in Peru as an example to introduce mechanisms for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) that are under global discussion.
The author discusses both the potential importance of and challenges associated with REDD projects. For example, although Cordillera Azul has been established as a national park by the Peruvian Government, funds for conserving it are still needed.
The article outlines some important milestones in progressing to an international framework for REDD, but notes that important details are yet to be resolved, such as how to ensure that beneficiaries of REDD funds deploy them effectively to protect forests.
The article suggests that active forest management is important and concludes with a brief introduction to the principle of proactive investment in natural capital (PINC) — the idea, promoted by the Global Canopy Programme, that forests should be regarded not only as a source of emissions, but rather as a public utility providing global ecosystem services that should be paid for.
Source: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) | November 2008
This book, written by researchers at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), poses several critical questions that must be addressed in designing a global framework for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) to be implemented after 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol runs out.
The authors frame their discussion within the 3E criteria, first proposed in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, of carbon effectiveness, cost efficiency and equity/co-benefits. Questions posed include how to set scales and baselines, deal with leakage, ensure permanence, and achieve co-benefits.
They examine various technical solutions for monitoring, reporting and verifying REDD projects, including remote sensing techniques and forest inventories. The political implications of implementing different technical options to distribute REDD income across different countries are also addressed.
The book highlights the need for flexibility in REDD strategies due to differences between countries and the need to allow for room to adapt to changes to the mechanisms as lessons are learned from initial implementation.
Source: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) | November 2008
This information briefing, published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), focuses on the implications of different country circumstances for measuring and monitoring forest degradation within activities for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).
The authors introduce forest degradation as a set of activities that can have different driving forces than deforestation, highlighting the fact that forests can remain degraded for a long time before becoming deforested. Degradation is typically caused by selective logging, fire and fuel wood collection.
The authors discuss monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) options for projects aiming to reduce forest degradation, emphasising the need to consider changes in both forest area and average carbon stocks per unit area. Based on a framework for forest transition with varying rates of deforestation and degradation, the relative importance for including degradation within REDD mechanisms for different countries is also outlined.
The briefing concludes that although monitoring and measuring degradation is more complicated than deforestation, developing a flexible MRV framework for including degradation in REDD mechanisms could be important for international equity. In particular, they expect that many African countries could benefit from the inclusion of degradation within REDD frameworks.
Source: Global Canopy Programme | December 2008
This policy brief, published by the Global Canopy Programme, proposes a system called Proactive Investment in Natural Capital (PINC), to reward countries for conserving large areas of tropical forest that act as 'global utilities' providing ecosystem services essential for preserving global food and energy security.
The authors suggest that the system, could complement current proposals for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). They argue that REDD could encourage countries with historically low deforestation rates to destroy their forests. They point out that if REDD successfully brings deforestation rates down — to zero eventually — then in the long-term, countries will not be able to receive payments for reducing deforestation.
The alternative, PINC, would build on existing systems that pay for ecosystem services, such as eco-certification, although scaling-up funding for standing forests is still a challenge, say the authors. To be effective, PINC requires capacity building and improved governance across the world. Land tenure reform will be needed in many countries, as will local participation in decision making and training in forest management. But, if appropriately designed, PINC could provide local communities with co-benefits such as poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation.
Source: Global Canopy Programme | June 2009
This guide to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), published by the Global Canopy Programme, reviews many of the REDD proposals under discussion in global climate change negotiations.
The authors highlight why strategies for REDD are needed, then outline and compare the 32 government and nongovernmental proposals being considered by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They frame their analysis by examining the proposals in terms of scope, reference level, distribution mechanisms and financing options.
Visual comparisons are included to show where proposals agree and differ, and highlight areas with emerging consensus. For example, the proposals generally agree that reference levels should be set at a national level, and that a phased approach using a combination of different financing approaches could be most appropriate. Some challenges for reaching agreement on REDD measures and areas of current research are also highlighted.
The book includes a chapter summarising key research on REDD, including the Meridian Institute's Options Assessment Report, written for the Norwegian government, and several papers published by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
Source: ODI | December 2008
This opinion article, published by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), argues that the real challenges to effective preparation for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) are creating robust governance and funding structures, not just capacity building.
The authors outline the practicalities of developing REDD mechanisms. They note that REDD could potentially mitigate the risk of climate change, conserve biodiversity and support development in forest areas. They express concern, however, that some approaches to implementing REDD projects have had limited success and note that reducing degradation can be particularly challenging.
The report concludes with suggestions for ensuring that REDD frameworks move from preparation to successful deployment. These include careful consideration of development implications for measures taken to promote reduced forest dependence and improve links between public and private finance to encourage complementary use of funds.
Source: Tebtebba | September 2008
This guide, published by Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education), outlines the expected impacts of climate change on indigenous peoples around the world, and showcases traditional methods of climate change mitigation and adaption.
Following a basic introduction to climate change and the bodies, mechanisms and processes used for addressing it, the authors outline how climate change is impacting indigenous peoples in diverse ecosystems. For example, food and water insecurity arising from increased flooding or drought, and loss of biodiversity and traditional knowledge from rising temperatures.
The authors discuss the likely impacts of climate change mitigation measures highlighting, for example, the limitations of market-based strategies such as the Clean Development Mechanism. They discuss a range of alternative adaptation measures already being practiced by indigenous people, providing several case studies and examples of innovative strategies used in different regions. For example, African farmers using zero-tillage practices to moderate soil temperatures, Asian farmers growing varieties of crops to minimise the risk of harvest failure, and Honduran farmers using agroforestry and terracing to reduce erosion.
The authors go on to discuss measures for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and emphasise the need for indigenous people to be fully engaged in the debate.
Source: WRI | March 2009
This policy paper, published by the World Resources Institute (WRI), suggests a range of sustainable development policies within frameworks for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD).
The authors argue that there can be significant barriers to countries providing guaranteed quantified measures of emissions reductions for use in carbon trading schemes. They propose that a broader range of sustainable development policies and measures, such as building institutional capacity to reduce fires or combat illegal logging, should be included within REDD measures.
The authors recommend that developed countries encourage developing nations to reduce forest degradation, including measures that do not produce tradable carbon credits, and support a range of approaches to measure, report and verify nationally appropriate mitigation actions.
Further work is urgently needed, they say, to develop and refine these approaches, including specifying acceptable metrics, determining how to make different countries' activities comparable, and exploring alternative sources of sustainable funding.
Source: Meridian Institute | March 2009
This comprehensive report on the options for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) under consideration for an international deal on climate change was prepared by the Meridian Institute for the Government of Norway.
The authors focus on four critical areas for successfully developing REDD measures: finance, reference levels, monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) and promoting indigenous peoples' effective participation. They propose a three-phased approach for REDD projects, to account for countries' widely varying capacities. This would start with countries receiving funds to develop national REDD strategies, followed by support to implement those strategies, which finally leads to payment for verified performance compared to agreed reference levels.
The report concludes that successful REDD implementation requires global partnership, led by REDD countries, in which indigenous peoples and local communities are fully engaged.
Source: FAO | 2009
This series of reports, published biennially by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, examines the current status of global forest resources and the role of forests in sustainable development. Each report includes one or more regional perspectives on forest resources and focuses on topical issues ranging from the potential economic benefits of forests to forest-based poverty alleviation to the links between forests and climate change.
The 2009 edition considers how forestry will have to adapt over the next 20 years to cope with variations in demand for wood products, environmental services, changes in forest sector institutions and developments in science and technology. It highlights the need to address imbalances in scientific and technological capacity by reducing barriers to international and inter-sectoral technology transfer, and mainstreaming environmental issues.
This article, published by Mongabay.com, discusses the use of forest conservation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in the Amazon. The author describes the 'reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation' (REDD) mechanism included in the Bali roadmap for international agreement on climate change. He gives a brief history of REDD, explains how it could work and discusses complicating factors including land rights, measurement of deforestation rates, displacement effects of conservation and funding.
The author also discusses how promoting ecosystem services could provide a route to conserving rainforests, citing the example of Canopy Capital — a UK private equity firm that recently bought the rights to environmental services generated by a rainforest reserve in Guyana. He also examines other market incentives that could be used, including satellite surveillance to enforce conservation and certification for farmers following conservation rules.
Source: IFPRI | 2008
This discussion paper, published by the International Food Policy Research Centre, examines the potential for mitigating climate change through carbon trading, with particular emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa.
The authors provide an overview of global carbon markets, highlighting Africa's share in these, while outlining the obstacles African nations face in participating. They also assess mitigation opportunities in agriculture, land use and forestry in the region.
They conclude that Sub-Saharan Africa has much potential for mitigating emissions through forestry and cropland management, but action is constrained by existing capacity, funds, property rights and the price of CO2 equivalents. They also suggest that integrating the region into global carbon markets will require new international capacity-building and advisory services, simpler rules for participating in the Clean Development Mechanism, access to emission allowances and credits, and more involvement in voluntary markets.
Source: UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre | 2008
This report, published by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, highlights areas where high carbon content and high biodiversity overlap. The authors argue that by identifying target areas, such spatial analyses can help tropical countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change while maximizing biodiversity benefits.
Regional maps of tropical Africa, tropical Asia and the Neotropics give overviews of carbon stocks and biodiversity values. National-scale maps covering Panama, Vietnam and Zambia show more detailed data on carbon storage and on the species richness of mammals, birds and amphibians.
The maps highlight protected areas of tropical Asia, which suffer the highest percentage of forest loss. The authors suggest that although mapping can help in conservation planning, it must be accompanied by effective management on the ground and monitoring of land-use change to effectively reduce emissions. It is also important to account for national priorities and country-specific pressures.
Source: HM Treasury | October 2006
This independent review, commissioned by the UK chancellor of the exchequer, examines the economic impacts of climate change, the economics of stabilising greenhouse gas emissions and considers policymaker's challenges in adapting to climate change and moving towards a low-carbon economy.
The review uses scientific evidence to highlight the risk of irreversible climate change impacts in normal emission scenarios. Evidence of threats to the basic elements of life around the world, including access to water, food production and health are presented, with poorest countries projected to suffer the most.
The review also shows that, left unabated, climate change will damage economic growth. Mitigating climate change effects must be seen as an investment. Moving towards a low-carbon economy may have a significant cost and challenge competitiveness, but it will also bring opportunities for growth.
In discussing the policy challenges for reducing emissions, the review emphasises the need for strong international cooperation and collective action. Climate change policy, says the author, will need to focus on carbon pricing, low-carbon technology, and the removal of barriers to behavioural change across the world. Developing countries in particular will need carbon finance to support emission reductions and curb deforestation, as well as international aid to implement adaptation efforts.
Source: Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO) | May 2004
The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change ends in 2012; at the time of writing, it remains unclear what will follow. Various approaches have been suggested, and the authors of this report analyse current thinking on future climate policy and make their own recommendations.
The report considers long-term climate policy targets, climate policy frameworks and their architecture, issues related to adaptation and sustainable development. The major challenges, issues and questions concerning the design of future climate policy are addressed throughout.
While somewhat lengthy, the report provides a thorough theoretical background for anyone interested in the intricacies of future climate policy. It is complementary reading to the Pew Center report International Climate Efforts Beyond 2012 (see above).
Source: Pew Center on Global Climate Change | December 2004
The emerging discussion on international climate policy after 2012 (the end of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol) has generated a number of approaches. Many of these are only now being analysed.
This report provides a comprehensive yet succinct overview of 43 different approaches to international climate efforts. Following an overview of key issues, each approach is explained in terms of its rationale, forum, time frame, mitigation commitment, institutional arrangements and other elements.
The document provides a reference guide to the essential characteristics of post-2012 climate approaches. It is most useful, and key reading for anyone interested in climate policy.
Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) | 2000
This IPCC special report was prepared in response to questions raised at a meeting of the subsidiary bodies to the UNFCCC in 1998. It covers a vast range of literature relevant to carbon sequestration published at that time and is a key publication at the international level.
The report sets out how land use and forestry activities affect carbon stocks and greenhouse gas emissions, and examines the implications of future activities in the land use and forestry sector for carbon uptake and emission. It was written with important questions in mind, regarding sustainability, environmental and socio-economic impacts.
This is essential reading for anyone interested in carbon sequestration. The report has been critical to the ongoing international negotiations and forms the basis of discussions today.
Source: Centre for Climate and Environmental Research Oslo (CICERO) | November 2001
This CICERO working paper focuses on policy issues associated with carbon sinks and provides a good overview of the potential and costs involved in implementing the land use, land use change and forestry options under the Kyoto Protocol.
After a brief background section on the relevant articles of the Protocol, the paper estimates the capacity of the world’s forests for carbon uptake, and projects the associated costs of doing so. While the paper reveals significant variations between the gain and cost, it is suggested that sequestration projects in developing countries are far less expensive than in the North.
This accessible paper includes some technical details on methods for carbon accounting. It also provides a useful section on the outcomes and implications of climate negotiations.
Source: Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) | 2002
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol aims to provide carbon mitigation benefits as well as sustainable development to local communities. This paper investigates the potential implications of carbon sink projects under the CDM for developing countries and examines what capacity is necessary to administer such forestry projects, particularly community-based ones.
The paper provides an assessment of the benefits and risks to local livelihoods from CDM projects, and concludes with conditions that enable benefits based on existing projects. Of particular interest are the sections assessing large-scale industrial pulp and timber plantations, agroforestry and community forestry plantations, secondary forest and fallows, forest rehabilitation and regeneration, strictly protected areas, and multiple use forestry.
The authors say that forest carbon projects can enhance livelihoods, provided that carbon prices are high enough and that project design is attentive to local social realities. This paper is accessible to anyone with a basic knowledge of carbon sinks and the international climate change negotiations.