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Painting Copenhagen REDD (or perhaps not)

Below are some links to more REDD documents (to read during those quiet moments during the negotiations in Copenhagen).

Meanwhile, the debate on Cap and Trade is heating up. There’s a great short film that came out last week by Annie Leonard called the Story of Cap and Trade. If you’re in Copenhagen, go and watch it at the Klimaforum this evening. If you’re not in Copenhagen, it’s on YouTube.

James Hansen joined in the debate today with a piece in the New York Times: “Because cap and trade is enforced through the selling and trading of permits, it actually perpetuates the pollution it is supposed to eliminate. If every polluter’s emissions fell below the incrementally lowered cap, then the price of pollution credits would collapse and the economic rationale to keep reducing pollution would disappear.” Exactly.

Here’s today’s round-up of REDD documents:

  • From REDD to Green” – the Rainforest Foundation UK’s position on REDD. A series of 9 points outlining “What a forest deal in Copenhagen must include”, starting with this:

    If we lose the battle against climate change, we lose the battle against tropical deforestation.
    • There should be no deal on REDD without a legally-binding agreement requiring emissions cuts from Annex 1 countries of at least 40% by 2020 on 1990 levels;
    • REDD must not be used as an offset mechanism – emissions reductions from deforestation must be in addition to Annex 1 reductions;
    • Climate change, and associated increases in temperature and decreases in soil water and precipitation, are projected to lead to gradual replacement of tropical forest by savannah in eastern Amazonia and other rainforests.

    RFUK’s position statement is also available in French and Spanish.

  • In a letter to Nature last week, Simon Lewis of the University of Leeds argues that

    “Without careful planning, REDD stands to create large numbers of ‘carbon refugees’ as governments curb financially unrewarding deforesting activities such as those of small-scale agriculturalists and fuel-wood harvesters, who mostly pay no taxes on what they produce. . . . Extending legal collective property rights to forest users over large areas, combined with forest-encroachment monitoring by independent scientists and local agencies, could reduce deforestation without human rights violations. This plan may substantially reduce deforestation by cutting off the supply of ’empty’ land for outsiders to deforest.”

  • A Memorandum to the Government of India endorsed by almost 200 people’s organisations, social movements and trade unions has this to say on REDD:

    “We oppose both India’s position of ‘Compensated Conservation’ as part of the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) and its support for REDD. REDD and all other variants of carbon forestry encourage and promote the privatization and commodification of forests and their resources. There is the real danger that REDD will aggressively push a forced takeover of forest lands from communities by corporations and the Indian Forest Department. It will limit the access of forest people to their primary source of life and livelihood, who are already facing massive forced displacement in the name of ‘development’. REDD goes against people-centered forest governance, promotes the much opposed and discredited Joint Forest Management thereby undermining the recently enacted Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.”

  • Last week, The Rainforest Foundation, Global Witness and Greenpeace wrote to the World Bank criticising its role in the forest sector reform in the Congo. In the letter, they write that “Seven years after the introduction of Congo’s 2002 Forestry Code and ten months after the conclusion of the ‘legal review’ of logging titles, the forest sector is still marked by chaos and opacity.” And point out that “If the DRC is to benefit from a potential future REDD mechanism, it is imperative that failures in the forest sector be addressed and that lessons from unsuccessful Bank interventions – in the DRC and elsewhere – be learned.”

  • A new report by Global Witness, “Building Confidence in REDD Monitoring Beyond Carbon“, “identifies a critical weakness in the current REDD negotiating text and criticises the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for failing to set rules capable of combating weak governance and corruption in REDD-eligible countries through an effective monitoring system.” The report, which was produced with support from UN-REDD, criticises the UNFCCC for being lagging behind FCPF and UN-REDD in addressing governance. “Billions of dollars are expected to flow into countries where illegality in the logging industry is widespread, governance is weak and forest law enforcement is wholly inadequate. The chances of misappropriation of funds, a rise in carbon crime, and internal conflict are very real,” said Dr. Rosalind Reeve of Global Witness. “It is dangerously short-sighted to believe that measuring carbon will be enough to deliver results. If governance is not dealt with, then quite simply REDD will fail.”

  • A press release from the Ecosystems Climate Alliance warns of “inadequate language in the REDD negotiating text and alarmingly low ambitions for reducing fossil fuel emissions at the talks”. Bill Barclay of Rainforest Action Network, one of the ten NGOs that forms ECA explains that “We must save forests to save the climate, but saving forests alone will not prevent dangerous climate change. REDD only works as part of a comprehensive climate deal at Copenhagen that both reduces fossil fuel emissions and protects the world’s remaining tropical forests.”


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  1. Have you had the opportunity to observe and assimilate the SEEBif Initiative. Two hundred and fifty side event convenors have a copy and are responding. Hopefully advocates of responsible citizenary will do the same if the world wishes to eliminate climate chaos, human poverty and enable human development goals to be established, and to stope the end of evolution in the tropical realms…and all for the cost of a purchasing First Class UK stamp, on a weekly basis for G20 folk!

    An takers?….Do not make the critique/response to REDD indecipherable!

  2. James Hansen is obviously a brilliant man however regarding his comment on polluters emissions falling below the cap; wouldn’t this be an indication that the cap and trade scheme is working very well because imposing a cost on emissions has changed their behaviour in that instance. Because the cap is only imposed by a regulator it can be lowered more substantially the following year than the proposed trajectory if this was an unexpected event.

  3. @dh – if emissions fell below the cap it would be an indication that emissions had fallen below the cap. It could be the result of many things – an economic crisis, for example. Because of the global economic crisis, emissions fell. At the beginning of this year, the price of carbon collapsed. But the volumes traded increased massively. Partly what happened was that cash-strapped companies sold their emissions permits. Other companies bought up cheap permits which would allow them to expand polluting operations at some point in the future. The cap was not lowered. Neither, in the long run, were emissions reduced because polluting companies will simply start up all the old machinery as soon as the economy starts to pick up again.

    I agree that if the cap were to be lowered that would be a good thing. My concern is that the trade side of cap and trade (particularly through offsets) creates a gigantic hole in the cap.

  4. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “It is good to strike the serpent’s head with your enemy’s hand.” In this case, the “serpent’s head” is carbon trading and the “enemy” is the IMF: “Carbon taxes deliver more emission reductions: IMF“.

    The fund says the consensus among economists favours carbon taxes over emissions trading.

    It says the experience of Europe’s emissions trading system during the current economic downturn highlighted the weakness of these systems.

    The price of carbon has dropped from E29 a tonne to E13 since July 2008 because of weakening demand for permits.

    “Had a carbon tax rather than the ETS been in place in the EU, the reduction in abatement costs would not have brought about a fall in carbon prices but instead have led to a larger reduction in emissions,” the report says.

    On the other hand, any economic shock forcing a temporary increase in abatement effort would bring a very costly increase to the carbon price.

  5. @Dr. Nigel Miles – I’ve uploaded your SEEBif Initiative. It is available here (pdf file, 436 KB). Anyone who may want to discuss the SEEBif Initiative is welcome to do so here.

    And in case you’re wondering what this new acronym stands for, it’s the “Social-Ecological-Environmental Services-Biodiversity-Insurance-Finance Initiative”.

  6. Neither REDD or REDD+ should be used to offset FUTURE emissions. For this, the advice would be the same as that given to any addict: “De-addict yourself.”

    REDD+, which involves the restoration of ecosystems — not just planting industrial monocultures — should be so crafted as to ensure that the large industrial nations transfer funds to tropical countries whose forests, wetlands and coastal marine ecosystems can act as sequestration and storage infrastructures for the carbon that the ANNEX 1 Countries have ALREADY spewed into the air. As for recipient nations, they need to prove that the funds will go directly to communities (not to big business, or inefficient government departments) whose livelihoods depend on the restoration of such ecosystems. Today, all too often, such communities are pawns in an industrial game that pays them to strip the biodiversity on which the quality of their own life depends. This is then fed into a bottomless market.

  7. Bittu

    What you describe would indeed be ‘Good REDD’. The trouble is, as I understand, it is precisely what a lot of the tropical countries are trying to avoid. Why on Earth would they want nicely restored ecosystems with happy (and well compensated) local communities when they could have great big bribe-paying logging companies, bribe-paying and hard currency-earning palm oil companies, and big-industry pulp and paper companies, all of which, under the current technical definitions being used by the UNFCCC, would be allowed under REDD.