Reducing Emissions from forest Degradation and Deforestation (REDD) is a measure for mitigating climate change caused by loss of carbon in forest ecosystems. It uses a carbon emissions-offsetting structure that places an economic value on the safeguarding of forest carbon stocks and provides an incentive for investment in sustainabiity. REDD has the potential to be an important mechanisms for climate change mitigation. The IPCC estimates that 17% of total greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation.
At the UNFCCC conference in Poznan in Poland, negotiators reached a consensus that REDD activities should be broadened. The original two aims were to:
- Reduce emissions from deforestation
- Reduce emissions from forest degradation
The 3 new strategies for reducing emissions included in REDD+ are:
- The role of conservation
- Sustainable management of forests
- Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks
Key Issues in REDD+
- Measuring Carbon - New satellite technologies are making the measurement of carbon stocks feasible and accurate.
- Making Payments - There are still key negotiations about what should happen to money recieved from protecting forests.
- Accountability - At present, REDD payments will be made in advance. The issue is to make sure that forests remain standing.
- Funding - It is not currently clear whether major funding will come from a voluntary carbon market or a donor country fund.
Within the UNFCCC, the design of REDD+ is almost complete, although several components are still under discussion (2012). Outside of UNFCCC, many REDD+ projects have emerged with host countries and donor backing (Backgrounder document on REDD+). Success depends on securing reliable and long-term funding for REDD projects.
Launched in 2008, the UN REDD programme is designed to support the development of national REDD and REDD+ plans and to facilitate their implementation by providing financial and technical support. The programme currently has 49 partner countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Carribean, 18 of which are receiving funding to support the development of national programmes (February 2014).
Launched in September 2008 by the founding donor Norway, the UN-REDD programme is a collaborative effort to further the development of REDD and uses the convening power of 3 UN agencies (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Development Programme (UNDP)) to facilitate the process. The UN-REDD Programme Secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
So far, the majority of the money ($171 million) committed in October 2013) has come from commitments by European countries, with Norway, the founder of the scheme, providing the most finances ($141 million).
In the future money could come either directly from international financing schemes or from national government programmes (Norway, Denmark and Spain have already committed hundreds of millions of dollars). Some funds are available from REDD demonstration projects through the carbon market, but money challenge through new funds or markets from UNFCCC negotiations will not be available for several years.
REDD is seen as a way to 'buy-time' before the transition to low-carbon economies can be achieved. However it is unlikely that an agreement on REDD+ will be reached before 2020. Instead, many REDD+ programmes are now operating outside of the UN system. See the Voluntary REDD+ database for more details of individual REDD+ schemes.