Article by Guest Contributor: Natalie Antonowicz

Deforestation in Capixaba, Acre, Brazil (Image source: visionshare)

Launched in 2008, The UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programme aims to enable developing countries to reduce rates of deforestation via financial stimulation. Updated to REDD+, the program now encompasses conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks. The program currently maintains nine pilot projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Ahead of the Cancun Conference, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament has called upon the EU to support REDD+. Stressing the role of forests in addressing climate change, the European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for increased action against deforestation and forest degradation.

As described by German MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, deforestation represents a common responsibility, as “deforestation, illegal logging, burning off of the rain forests in Brazil, Indonesia and other countries cause about 6 billion tons of CO2 annually”, and is responsible for 25 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This acknowledgement is key, as developed-developing country cooperation – and their clear commitment – are vital for the success of REDD.

At COP15, states did not agree on what type of finance ought to be used for REDD- related activities and initiatives. As such, it remains to be decided how a previously proposed fund for all climate activities would be managed, and whether REDD would be included in it. Additionally, varied proposals exist regarding the scope of REDD+, and clarification of this is needed. The same is true for social and environmental safeguards for REDD, which have been discussed at previous climate conferences, but have not been definitively agreed upon. Specifically, the issue of how to hold funders and recipients responsible for safeguards remains ambiguous.

Significant progress on issues related to deforestation and forest degradation is expected at COP16. While pundits remain doubtful about the prospect of reaching an agreement about accounting and financing, as it pertains to REDD, many are optimistic about general REDD-related progress at the conference, and some have gone as far as to dub the conference ‘REDD-COP’.

Ultimately, delegates must tie the loose ends, and settle outstanding debates about REDD and REDD+, to ensure that states are able to adequately address environmental issues arising from deforestation and forest degradation.

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