Two states in the Brazilian Amazon — Mato Grosso and Pará emitted more greenhouse gases in 2004 than all but six nations in the world. More climate pollution than Japan. By 2012 they had cut emissions so dramatically, they dropped beneath 37 other countries.
This progress, achieved through reduced deforestation, is a major reason for the 80% decline in Amazon deforestation between 2005 and 2014.
At the Paris climate conference, these two states rolled out plans for even more ambitious action.
(source: Observatório de Clima SEEG)
Ambitious forest policy is key to climate progress
Slowing Amazon deforestation has kept over 4 billion tons of CO₂ out of the atmosphere since 2005, several times more than the EU’s emissions reductions from 2005 – 2011. Major causes of the decline include better remote sensing monitoring, ramped-up law enforcement, credit limitations, company commitments to zero-deforestation commodity supply chains, large-scale creation of protected areas and recognition of indigenous territories.
The bad news is that plans positive incentives – payments from polluters to preserve forests — have not materialized. Consequently, while deforestation dropped to a historic low of 4,500 km² in 2012 (from a peak of 27,000 km² in 2004), it has crept back up to around 5,000 km² in recent years.
The REDD+ negotiators in Paris still have plenty of explicit and implicit references to REDD+ in the text that have a better-than-good chance of surviving this week.
While we would like to see an explicit reference to REDD+ in the Paris Agreement or its decisions that guide its implementation, what is most important for REDD+ is a good final Paris Agreement. That will provide the impetus for quicker implementation of REDD+ and the big, big signal some say it needs. This second week is when the ministers need to focus on delivering it.
The REDD+ negotiators have spent most of their time trying to unlock language around what some countries want to call the new “REDD+ Mechanism” (currently paragraph 3bis).
The COP21 climate negotiations on REDD+ made little progress last week – keep calm and see why here – while there was a flurry of announcements from countries regarding the implementation of REDD+.
In Paris, announcements on REDD+ finance and implementation by governments, companies and indigenous peoples will be as important as negotiations around text. Image: Flickr
The biggest tip-off as to how REDD+ will fare in Paris will come early on in the conference.
Heads of state and ministers are expected to announce new financial support for REDD+ countries on the Dec. 1, the second day of the climate talks, at the Lima Paris Action Agenda event on forests.
This financial support will target readiness—how prepared a country is to implement REDD+ programs—and results—the financial rewards a country will receive for verified emissions reductions.
At the same time, we expect to hear from REDD+ countries themselves about their progress in completing key milestones in the Warsaw Framework for REDD+. They’ll be addressing reference emission levels, REDD+ national strategies, and status reports on the implementation of safeguard information systems.
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.
The Paris climate agreement should incorporate the land sector, which includes agriculture and deforestation, in a way that makes best use of its potential for mitigation, adaptation and development. Credit: flickr/final gather
Land use—such as agriculture and forests—accounts for almost a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.
It’s obvious that land use will play a major role in curbing the impact of climate change—and here are three big reasons why the land sector will be key to an agreement made in Paris:
1) The land sector has huge mitigation potential:
The land sector accounts for about 24% of net global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, it has huge potential to reduce emissions, as well. Forests alone could absorb up to 11% of emissions. The IPCC also estimates that the land sector could provide 20-60% of cumulative mitigation by 2030. Without significant efforts to reduce emissions and enhance sequestration, it will be very difficult to stabilize warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
By Chris Meyer, Senior Manager, Amazon Forest Policy and Dana Miller, Research Analyst
Two tropical forest conservation efforts have gained momentum in recent years: zero deforestation commitments from the private sector and the policy framework Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). Both efforts are necessary, but not sufficient in themselves to eliminate global deforestation.
In a recently published paper in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry, we find that linking REDD+ and zero deforestation commitments offers a more efficient and effective solution to stop deforestation, which we call Zero Deforestation Zones (ZDZ).
The current state of private initiatives and REDD+
Deforestation, which is responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gases, is primarily caused by conversion for the production of four commodities in Brazil and Indonesia: beef, soy, palm, and timber products. To address this urgent problem, companies that control more than 90% of soy purchases in the Amazon, around half of cattle slaughter in the Brazilian Amazon, and 96% of palm oil trade globally have committed to stop deforestation.
While these company commitments are promising, many producers that clear forests can still sell commodities to companies that don’t have deforestation commitments, or they can even sell indirectly to the companies that have committed to zero deforestation. In other words, under the current policies even if companies clean up their own supply chains, they could be just creating islands of green in a sea of deforestation. Read More