An interest of mine at the moment is the REDD+ scheme which is one financial mechanism to combat climate change. On Wednesday I went to a very interesting session by CIFOR (centre for international forest research) all about REDD+ and have to share the complexities around this scheme with everyone.
First of all, for those who do not know. REDD+ stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. Deforestation is the permanent removal of forests and withdrawal of land from forest use. Forest degradation refers to negative changes in the forest area that limit its production capacity.
Very simply put, developed countries (annex 1 countries more specifically) actually pay developing countries such as Brazil, Indonesia and Tanzania to NOT cut down their forests which very obviously play a positive role in combating climate change.
REDD is considered a carbon offset scheme, where annex 1 countries pay forested countries to maintain their forests and then gain carbon credits. By gaining carbon credits the industrialised country then aims to reach its reduction goals/targets. Because deforestation and degradation accounts for 20-25% of the green house gas emissions, making it more then transportation at this stage.
There are a few complications with the REDD scheme. The first very contentious issue around REDD is that by declaring forests protected it often means that governments also deny the indigenous communities of the forests to harvest wood which is denying them land tenure they have known for their whole existence. Therefore the equity issues around forests have made indigenous NGOs very anti REDD. Unless the governments make alternative livelihoods available to the forest communities they suffer under REDD. Often the REDD funding only becomes available once a forest has been protected and therefore no money is available for the indigenous communities. Compensation to the indigenous groups is often in the form of money but if it only comes later, these communities cannot survive whilst waiting for it.
Another issue is that around acquiring REDD financing. Often developing countries have no intention of deforesting their forests but threaten to do so or begin selling sections of their forests to timber companies so that they can get the REDD fund. Therefore REDD has in some situations made certain countries threaten or begin deforesting which would not have occurred without it- this is the case in certain sections of the Amazon.
Another issue is that of MRV (monitoring, reporting and verifying). To be able to apply for REDD funding a country needs to provide reports and monitor there forest progress- which many developing countries do not have the capacity to do. Some people feel too much emphasise and money is spent on MRV which could go to indigenous communities.
There are also challenges around implementing REDD due to the fact that it has to be built onto national and subnational policies which is difficult and costly. I have no even skimmed the surface around the complexities associated with REDD but it is important just to know what it is and the theory behind it.