Don’t see REDD+ in the final Paris climate text? Look closer.

REDD+ and the land sector are already embedded in the UNFCCC, regardless of whether REDD+ is mentioned in the Paris text. Credit: Abigail's blog.

It’s hard to find a group more supportive than EDF of policies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). With our Brazilian partners IPAM and ISA, we helped pioneer the concept, which places a value on living forests and ecosystems, and rewards forest protectors. That means states, such as Acre, Brazil, and countries that have significantly reduced emissions from deforestation could produce credits that companies could use for compliance with carbon markets.

REDD+ and the land sector will be in the Paris agreement – even if just between the lines.

The world’s land use, such as forests and agriculture, accounts for nearly a quarter of global emissions –and absorbs a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere.

It might seem, then, that we would be concerned if REDD+ isn’t explicitly mentioned in the final Paris agreement, an accord that over 190 countries will negotiate this December. We’re not. Here’s why.

1) REDD+ is already in place legally and technically. REDD+ was first defined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in 2007 in Bali, Indonesia. Since then, a series of decisions at subsequent negotiations have added the necessary methodological guidance, culminating in the Warsaw Framework for REDD+. The last set of decisions agreed to in Bonn in June 2015 is ready to be approved in Paris. Those decisions over the last eight years solidified the role of REDD+ in the UNFCCC framework and mitigation before and after 2020, regardless of whether it is called out by name in the Paris agreement.

2) REDD+ and the land sector are mentioned explicitly in the current draft of the Paris outcome. REDD+ is in the current draft of the Paris texts addressing climate action in important sections on mitigation, adaptation, finance, and transparency. EDF has prepared a summary of the REDD+ and land sector references [PDF]. Even if “REDD+” gets dropped during the negotiations and thus isn’t spelled out in the final text of the agreement, the substance of many of these paragraphs would still provide an implicit signal for REDD+ by referring to forests, land use, or other terms.

3) Many terms in the Paris text implicitly refer to REDD+. The land sector is the only sector that can absorb a significant amount of greenhouse gases, so any reference to carbon “sinks” or “removals” is alluding to REDD+. For example, one paragraph of the text refers to “results-based payments”, which refers to a method where donors pay for verified emissions reductions achieved through REDD+. These references ensure REDD+ and the land sector will be in the text – even if just between the lines. With help from NGO colleagues, EDF created a glossary of terms and phrases that refer to the land sector and REDD+ [PDF].

Of course, mentioning REDD+ explicitly would be helpful to signal to tropical forest countries that REDD+ will be funded in the future.

However, that can be achieved – perhaps even more convincingly – through donor countries’ announcing that they will support REDD+ implementation and results-based payments. Expect to see such announcements from key players in the forestry and agriculture sectors alongside the talks.

And whether the Paris agreement includes straight-up “REDD+,” or goes with “sinks” or “removals,” REDD+ and the land sector will play an important mitigation role in a pre- and post-2020 world. Not being explicitly mentioned in the Paris agreement would not diminish REDD+’s future role in any way.


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