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I’m a GNU. How do you do? A REDD animal appears in Paris with a promise of US$5 billion

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On the first day of the UN climate negotiations in Paris, the governments of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom pledged US$5 billion for REDD, between 2015 and 2020. The GNU countries say they “have signaled they will increasingly target results-based finance for countries who deliver verified REDD+ emission reductions”.

A press release from the Norwegian government states that the US$5 billion is “conditional upon continued leadership and ambitious action from forest countries and the private sector to protect, conserve and restore forests”.

Of course the press release doesn’t mention which countries have so far provided leadership on reducing deforestation or in which forest countries we have seen “ambitious action”.

WWF is encouraged, as are Unilever and Marks & Spencer

The Norwegian government’s press release includes a statement from Peter Graham the leader of WWF’s Global Forest and Climate Programme.

“We are encouraged by the joint statement by leaders at the start of the Paris conference, acknowledging the critical role of forests in combatting climate change.”

Of course Graham didn’t point out that COP21 is a climate meeting and that forestry and other land use accounts for 11% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the IPCC’s most recent report (click the graph for a larger version – forestry and other land use is orange):

Unilever and Marks & Spencer also feature in Norway’s press release. Of course neither of them made any mention of the need to stop emissions from fossil fuels in order to stand a chance of addressing climate change.

None of this should surprise us. Here’s a table showing how many times certain words appear in the COP21 negotiating text:

Oil 0
Coal 0
Fossil fuels 0
Forest 25
Deforestation 3

REDD is “politically and technically demanding”

A statement from the GNU countries explains that the three countries stand ready to:

  • Increase our annual support for REDD+ if countries come forward with ambitious and high quality proposals, with an aim to provide $1 billion per year by 2020, or to provide over $5 billion in the period 2015-2020, including a significant increase in pay-for-performance finance if countries demonstrate measured, reported and verified emission reductions;
  • Scale up support and technical assistance for countries to build capacity, improve governance, address land tenure, strengthen sustainable land-use, and promote the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in programmes that reduce deforestation and forest degradation;
  • Partner with the private sector to transform supply chains to become deforestation-free, and leverage hundreds of billions of private investment in forests and agriculture.

This talk of increasing finance to REDD, scaling up support and technical assistance and partnering with corporations is followed by an admission that so far,

implementing sustainable land-use strategies at scale, and achieving significant emission reductions, continues to be politically and technically demanding.

“Continues to be politically and technically demanding” is a euphemism for “still isn’t happening“, at least not on planet earth.

Pledges, pledges and more pledges

An annex to the GNU statement includes a list of support from the GNU countries since the New York Declaration in September 2014:

  • Germany and the UK have pledged over US$100 million to the BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL). Programmes are “being established” in Zambia, Ethiopia and Colombia, and Indonesia’s is anticipated in 2016.
  • The UK “provided” US$71.4 million to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund. This money did not appear in the FCPF’s 2014 Annual Report, but the report does include US$76.6 million pledged funding from the UK (click on the image for a larger version):
  • Germany and Norway signed a new agreement with Ecuador, for US$50 million through the REDD Early Movers programme.
  • Germany pledged US$114 million to Brazil’s Amazon Fund.
  • Norway intends to provide around US$150 million to follow up its new partnership with Liberia.
  • Norway has pledged US$40 million to “support the achievement of REDD+ milestones” in Peru, and US$200 million after 2017 for verified emission reductions.

Note how often the word “pledged” appears in that list.

In Paris, the GNU countries will make yet more pledges:

  • Germany, Norway, and the UK pledge US$339 million to the FCPF Carbon Fund – aimed at supporting “circa five new large-scale emissions reductions programs”.
  • Norway will continue to support Brazil’s Amazon Fund at around current levels up to 2020, if Brazil continues to meet its ambitions. (In the last three years Norway has handed over an average of about US$112 million to the Amazon Fund.)
  • Germany, Norway and the UK will give Colombia over US$100 million in payments for verified emissions reductions through the REDD Early Movers programme.

REDD offsets: “The last thing the world needs now”

Meanwhile, also on the first day of COP21, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that Norway is keen to include rainforests in future emissions markets, so that Norway can claim to be “carbon neutral”.

An article in Dagsavisen (in Norwegian – I used Google translate), Brazil’s chief negotiator on forests, Everton Lucero, is quoted as rejecting Solberg’s suggestion:

“Our position is very clear. Rainforest conservation in REDD+ is results-based financial support for development and conservation of forests. It has nothing to do with carbon offsets. It is not something to consider at all.”

Dagsavisen also quotes Nils Hermann Ranum of the Rainforest Foundation Norway. Ranum refered to Norway’s good reputation in forestry negotiations, and said that,

“It was particularly unfortunate that it was Norway who went out and said they want carbon credits from forests. To create a carbon market for forests does not make sense.
“To limit the temperature rise on Earth by 2 degrees, you have to cut emissions from coal, oil and gas and simultaneously stop deforestation. Doing forest conservation in a carbon mechanism, will replace reductions of emissions from forest conservation with emissions from fossil fuels. It is the last thing world needs now.”


Full Disclosure: Rainforest Foundation Norway has funded REDD-Monitor. Click here for all of REDD-Monitor’s funding sources.

And just in case you’re still wondering where the headline came from:


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Leave a Reply

  1. Chris: You are confusing REDD with REDD carbon credits. The political leaders believe REDD is REDD and you treat REDD as if it is REDD carbon credits.

    You need to change your explanations as REDD = Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. Thus your website has become defunct as it basically shows you don’t support stopping deforestation.

    You should change your Website name to: REDD Carbon Credit Monitor . Org.

    As this is what you are really against, I really have to think that your supporters are big oil and coal as you treat the people who are attempting to help with such contempt.

  2. @peter zimmerman (#1) – I do support stopping deforestation. One of my key concerns with REDD is that it is not stopping deforestation.

    Could you re-read the article, please? Particularly this bit:

    On the first day of COP21, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that Norway is keen to include rainforests in future emissions markets, so that Norway can claim to be “carbon neutral”.

    The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility aims to create REDD as a carbon trading mechanism. Price per ton of CO2 < US$5.

    Here’s a list of REDD-Monitor’s funders – as you can see big oil and coal is absent from the list.