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REDD in the news: 9-15 March 2009

REDD in the news: 9-15 March 2009

The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen generated several news items relating to REDD this week. The Guardian reports on a new study which finds that 85% of the Amazon rainforest could be lost, unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Another Guardian article reports on another study which finds that forests could become “major carbon emitters”. The Irish Times reports from Copenhagen on two presentations by scientists from the British Met Office. Worldchanging reports on Nicholas Stern’s and Yvo de Boer’s visits to Washington D.C. Kaieteur News reports on Bharrat Jagdeo’s visit. WWF writes to the presidents of the US and Brazil urging discussion of REDD. Other conferences took place in Aarhus and Minnesota.

UNFCCC released two documents relating to REDD. GTZ is starting a climate change readiness project in Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu, which includes a REDD component. Public Service Review interviews UNESCO’s Koichiro Matsuura. A CBD-commissioned report, written by EcoSecurities promotes trading in forest carbon. A client briefing by lawyers Clifford Chance on REDD is now available.


9 March 2009
On the Frontlines of Climate Change
Blog post on tubunas & dukduks about the UNESCO website On the Frontlines of Climate Change, a forum for indigenous peoples, small islands and vulnerable communities, which recently started a discussion on REDD.

The issue of climate change in PNG has been a hot topic in the PNG media as accusations have been thrown back and forth between Ministers, the Office of Climate Change and Environment Sustainability (OCCES), the Departments and persons involved in the formation of relevant policy and there have even been examples of propaganda spread by interest groups such as Rimbunan Hijau.

“Avoided Deforestation” Plan Gains Support
Article by Ben Block of Worldwatch Institute on Worldchanging. Focusses on visits by Nicholas Stern and Yvo de Boer’s to Washington D.C. last week. Also discusses Brazil’s Amazon Fund and forestry credits.

WWF President Carter Roberts was among the leaders who formerly opposed REDD. But at an event on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Roberts and the president of Guyana described REDD payments as vital for addressing climate change.

“There is no way Copenhagen is going to exclude REDD,” Roberts said.

Readying for climate change
Islands Business article about a €4.2 million project on climate change readiness in Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu, to be implemented by the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ).

The feasibility of integrating REDD into the international carbon market is under review. But it is widely recognised that avoiding deforestation will be an important strategy in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

It is anticipated that some agreement on the mechanism will be reached at the UNFCCC COP 15 (Conference of the Parties) in Copenhagen, December 2009. In the meantime, the programme will work with Fiji authorities to increase stakeholders’ knowledge of carbon market processes and strengthen institutional capacity with the aim of creating an enabling environment for REDD mechanisms.

The programme envisages the establishment of selected pilot sites where resource owners and users will be trained, thus enabling their active participation in the process.


10 March 2009
G20 nations must address the ‘most pressing issue of our time’
Article in Public Service Review based on an interview with UNESCO’s Koichiro Matsuura.

In an attempt to better understand rural and agricultural development approaches that have successfully combined economic and social development with the conservation of biological and cultural diversity, UNESCO relies on the World Network of Biosphere Reserves under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. Today, the network comprises 531 sites in 105 countries, where projects are conducted to analyse and further develop existing linkages between culture, local identities and site specific patterns of sustainable development in many rural, agriculture-based biosphere reserves, and then test and promote these approaches in other areas facing similar development challenges. As of 2009, UNESCO will provide training on climate adaptation schemes in biosphere reserves, including on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD).

President takes avoided deforestation to Washington
Article in Kaieteur News about two events where Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo explained the McKinsey-backed “avoided threatened deforestation” scheme to international audiences. WWF co-sponsored both events.

President Jagdeo, in outlining Guyana’s approach to addressing the issue of deforestation and climate change, underscored the work done with assistance from Mc. Kinsey and Company, one of the world’s top consulting firms, that advises businesses, government agencies and institutions on a number of issues.

Avoided Deforestation is now touted as a concept where countries are paid to prevent deforestation that would otherwise occur.


11 March 2009
CBD-Commissioned Report Addresses Business Case for High-Biodiversity REDD Projects
Post on climate-l.org about a report written by EcoSecurities and commissioned by the CBD. Perhaps not surprisingly, given EcoSecurities’ involvement in carbon trading, the report concludes that REDD should be integrated into international carbon markets and that REDD credits should be allowed for countries in the North to meet their emission targets.

EcoSecurities has published a report, commissioned by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Titled “Challenges for a Business Case for High-Biodiversity REDD Projects and Schemes,” the report is dedicated to the exploration of market payment options for “high-biodiversity REDD” efforts, or those REDD measures that contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Amazon could shrink by 85% due to climate change, scientists say
Article in The Guardian about a new study which predicts that 20-40% of the Amazon rainforest’s trees will be killed by a temperature rise of 2°C.

The research, by some of Britain’s leading experts on climate change, shows that even severe cuts in deforestation and carbon emissions will fail to save the emblematic South American jungle, the destruction of which has become a powerful symbol of human impact on the planet. Up to 85% of the forest could be lost if spiralling greenhouse gas emissions are not brought under control, the experts said. But even under the most optimistic climate change scenarios, the destruction of large parts of the forest is “irreversible”.

Climate change transforming rainforests into ‘major carbon emitters’
Article in The Guardian on research that suggests that “Drought, rising temperatures and deforestation are causing tropical forests to change from carbon sinks into a major carbon emitter”.

[N.B. This article is no longer available on The Guardian website.]

“Most carbon is in living trees, and tree mortality is not included in the models,” said David Hilbert of research organisation CSIRO at the Climate Congress in Copenhagen. “Trees grow faster with higher temperatures, but mortality goes up too. So despite higher tree growth and higher turnover of biomass, rainforests in a warmer climate have a reduced carbon storage capacity.”


12 March 2009
Call for urgent rainforest action to slow warming
Article in the Irish Times based on two presentations by senoir scientists from the British Met Office at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

“If strong policies for avoided deforestation are not implemented, the probability of achieving a 450ppm CO2 target, and hence the EU 2 degree target, is very low, even in the presence of the strongest mitigation action on fossil fuel emissions considered feasible,” states one of the papers.

The chances would fall from close to 50 per cent even if the UN’s reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) programme was implemented to less than 20 per cent if current rates of deforestation continued to below 3 per cent with complete tropical deforestation.

WWF Urges Presidents of US, Brazil to Add Climate Change, Deforestation to Agenda for Weekend Meeting
WWF press release about a letter to US President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The letter is signed by Carter Roberts and Denise Hamu the CEOs of WWF-US and WWF-Brazil, respectively. In the letter, WWF states its support of biofuels, which “will certainly play an important role in de-carbonizing the global economy and reducing greenhosue gas emissions”, REDD, which “can serve as one of the most cost-effective ways to bring down emissions in the near term” and cap-and-trade, towards which “The United States is finally moving, under the strong leadership of the Obama administration”.

Seven recommendations from Aarhus to COP15
Press release by the Melmholtz Association of German Research Centres about a conference, “Beyond Kyoto: Addressing the Challenges of Climate Change,” sponsored by Aarhus University.

Forest conservation including Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) constitute a major and cost-effective CC [climate change] mitigation opportunity

Biodiversity and in particular forests also constitute a major part of the solution to the CC problem. Emissions from land use change, especially tropical deforestation, contribute to ~20% of total anthropogenic CHG emissions. A important facet of CC mitigation is therefore forest conservation including reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD), especially in relation to carbon- and biodiversity-rich tropical forests. By reducing pressure on tropical forests, REDD is also likely to have direct benefits for biodiversity. Afforestation/reforestation can also contribute importantly to carbon sequestration and reduce pressure on forest biodiversity. To realize this key mitigation, it is absolutely crucial that economic structures providing incentives for forest conservation are implemented.

Key point: Biodiversity needs to be an integrated part of the CC mitigation and adaptation effort.


13 March 2009
Speak UP! questions and answers – installment #2
Comment by John Gunn of the Manomet Center about REDD at a conference in Minnesota: “Forest Values and Carbon Markets: Opportunities for Minnesota“.

There is significant effort globally to promote the concept of avoided deforestation, also referred to as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). This concept is not currently accepted under Kyoto or the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS). A group called “Avoided Deforestation Partners” is developing a methodology that they propose to be accepted under VCS – with the longer-term objective of having the concept accepted more broadly in the future. REDD is fraught with many of the same issues that prove to be challenging in managed forest offsets. Issues of additionality are crucial – Was the forest in imminent danger of conversion or another form of deforestation? And can you prove it? Leakage – if you prevent one parcel from being developed, will another one next door be developed instead? We have more experience in the US dealing with permanence through the use of conservation easements to prevent conversion. It may be cost effective to pursue easements that include carbon storage as part of a suite of ecosystem service values being provided by forests. In essence then, we’ve been rewarding avoided deforestation for some time, just not being explicit about the carbon benefit.

UNFCCC Secretariat Releases REDD Submissions in Preparation for SBSTA 30
The two documents are both relevant to REDD:

  • “Information on experiences and views on needs for technical and institutional capacity-building and cooperation” (FCCC/SBSTA/2009/MISC.2)
  • “Issues relating to indigenous people and local communities for the development and application of methodologies” (FCCC/SBSTA/2009/MISC.1)

Forestry Carbon Finance and REDD
Client briefing by law firm Clifford Chance about REDD (dated 1 February 2009).

REDD has the potential to attract investments in carbon finance on a tremendous scale. It has been estimated that reducing deforestation rates by 10% globally could attract USD 2.2 to 13.5 billion each year. However, this amount does not reflect the full potential as, according to the Elisasch Report, The scale of financing necessary to halve global forestry emissions (using avoided deforestation and forest management) by 2030 is estimated to be USD 17 to 33 billion annually. REDD represents an opportunity to recognise in forest resources an entirely new asset class and a number of financial institutions are already doing so. Notably the Macquarie Group and Merrill Lynch have already invested in REDD projects in the voluntary sector.

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